Tag Archives: online

Generation Friend

Drawing lines between social generations has become increasingly difficult. Advances in technology, beginning in the early eighties, have created overlapping layers of individuals who fall into multiple cultural generations. These generations are now more likely to be determined by personality traits combined with birth dates, rather than by age alone. I myself am an Eighties Baby (1983, to be exact) and fall on the line between the end of Generation X and the beginning of Generation Y. Additionally, I was part of a new generation of children who saw the full evolution of video games, from Atari and Nintendo (16 bit) to PS3, Xbox 360, and now the long-anticipated Wii U.

The time has come to usher in a new cultural distinction, one that has developed recently and will span many social generations: I call it Generation Friend. Before I go any further, I’d like you to ask yourself the following questions (and welcome you to post your answers in the comments section below):

  • Have you sent a Friend request in the past month?
  • Do you have more than 100 Friends on Facebook?
  • Have you searched for a Friend this month?
  • Have you used the term “Facebook Friend” within the past month?

I answered yes to three out of the four questions (and that’s only because of a Friend cleanup that I recently performed).

Getting back to my main point, I came to this new social distinction recently, after I referred to my brother as a “Friend on Facebook.” This got me thinking: Has Facebook cheapened the meaning of “Friend”? In short, my answer is no. To be fair, Facebook allows users to categorize their friends very precisely. Even though Facebook only recently offered this option in response to Google +, LinkedIn has been letting users categorize their connections from the beginning.

Facebook, just like email, music, and pictures, requires a user to invest time to keep it organized and up to date. We’ve all gone through the Friend-request binges that have led to a bloated list of Friends, but it’s time to roll up the sleeves and cut the loose Friends—err—strings. Maybe Facebook will evolve over time and become intuitive enough to categorize connections by the type of interaction, frequency of interaction, the amount of pictures you’re “tagged” in, and by shared connections. Until then, it’s up to you to de-friend the ex, an old roommate from college, or the person you met in line yesterday at Starbucks.

Author: Michael Hiney


Online and Social Checkup: The Full Three

Twice a year we change our clocks to abide by the controversial daylight savings time, at which time we are told to change our smoke detector batteries. Once a year in October, retailers, television networks, nonprofits, and average citizens blanket the world in pink to bring attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Heck, there is even Movember, during which men grow facial hair to raise awareness of men’s health issues, which competes with the likes of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). All of these events bring annual attention to a particular topic and call people to action, whether it be changing one’s batteries, getting screened for cancer, growing a mustache, or writing a novel. While the safety of our humble abodes and family health will always be paramount, we should not neglect our online and social health.

In a time when some employers are asking for social log-ins during the hiring process and many companies use social media to vet employees or learn more about vendors or business partners, why not take time to run your online and social checkup? Go ahead, Google yourself––I’ll wait. What did you find? A public-facing LinkedIn profile, tweets, press releases, or embarrassing photos? Depending on your celebrity and the uniqueness of your first and last names, you may have some heavy competition for the top results. For instance, if you shared a full name with an English soccer star (with a pretty sweet theme song), you would have to add several search operators like the minus sign (-soccer, -football, -athlete) to eliminate any online content associated with the soccer star to finally get a result relevant to you in particular.

Here is your prescription:

  1. Google yourself. Examine the search results and add search operators to eliminate the noise to get to the good stuff. Either way, clip the results to your Evernote notebook, or if you must, print out the results and store in a file folder hidden, unsearchable, in some dreaded physical file cabinet. Regardless of your storage preference, keep note of what changes over time.
  2. Social profile review. Depending on your search results and your social media account settings, you may find profile details, posts, or other details strewn around the net for anyone to pilfer, exploit, mock, or fact-check. Make a list of the profiles that are easily found through search engine activity. Then dive down into each account settings page by platform to determine what content you want to limit access to and how to limit that content.
  3. Ask the tough question, what is your brand? Other people are, or will be at some point in the near future, using your online/social presence (or lack thereof) to vet you for something or learn about the brand called “you.” What does a Google search, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, blog, or Facebook account portray about who you are? A smattering of personal info or interests may make you seem more approachable and human if that is the message you want to portray. Your “brand” can and will change as your personal and professional lives progress, but during those different stages in your life, what persona does your social presence promote? Complete a brain dump (mind map) of what makes your brand unique, then hone your social presence to fit the brand that you want others to see.

Competing with the likes of Movember and NaNoWriMo is difficult, but how about this? Regardless of what you do, about every 28 days you experience a full moon, and––except for those in extreme latitudes during summer months––this large, glowing rock in the sky should stand as a reminder to perform your social checkup. Twelve or so times per year isn’t a big investment. So every full moon, complete the three steps of the social checkup. Maybe you could even perform your checkup under the full moon––just find some moonlight with Wi-Fi and let the checkup begin. See you under the moon.

Author: John Carew

Reinforcing What You Already Know: Make Screen Marketing as Important as Print Collateral

Traditional print and print-centric design organizations (think magazines, newspapers, book publishers) have struggled to balance print- and screen-based consumption of their products. The variables affecting the transition from print to screen are complex from the very start. Economic, advertising-based factors significantly influence the investment that businesses put toward both print- and screen-based initiatives. In October 2010, a study published by the Rochester Institute of Technology Printing Industry Center, Print versus Screen—Presentation Medium-Dependent Picture Consumption, addressed some early findings on screen versus print consumption. The study focused on understanding how college-aged young adults consume and retain information on screen versus print and if there is a preference for either medium. The 2010 study consisted of 3 smaller experiments aimed at “identifying and understanding the differences in how information is consumed from print in paper versus computer display.”

The study contained three separate experiments:

Part I: Viewing preferences, printing behavior, and content-management habits
Part II: Identification of behavioral and cognition-based differences between print and screen consumption
Part III: Study of eye movement while viewing screen versus print content

The study used photo books of images located in Rochester, NY, and on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus that were familiar to the participants. If you extract the findings of the study and apply them to larger visual communications efforts, the following conclusions should be considered as you evaluate work effort and the priority level given to screen and print collateral:

  1. The 56%/44% split of print versus screen preference indicates that design emphasis should be placed to both mediums equally.
  2. More frequent eye movement (fixations) for screen viewing compared to print suggests that the traditional design rules that work for print need to be rethought for a new medium.
  3. Initial studies indicate that the medium does not impact the time spent with the print or screen version, but time spent with screen media is less than print.
  4. The split or fragmentation of end users’ preferences has and will continue to pose a hurdle for any visual communicator. As these young adults age, their buying power will force visual communicators to align their design priorities, but at the very least, print and screen design should be at the same level.

Applying traditional print rules to screen design and layout is a bit like taking an auto mechanic and expecting his manual dexterity to give him the talent to paint an oil masterpiece. The Adobes and Quarks (whatever may come of it in the future) of the world have an interest in creating an application that lets users create content for both mediums, but just because you can, doesn’t mean it is functional, correct, or usable.

Proceed with caution, but remember the mediums are not the same. The RIT study begins to prove that younger people have preferences that embrace both mediums.

Author: John Carew

15th Annual Webby Awards: Vote Now!

Be part of the 15th Annual Webby Awards by voting for who deserves to take home a People’s Voice Award.

The Webby People’ s Voice Awards honor the year’s best work in websites, interactive advertising, online film & video, and mobile formats. You have an opportunity to view some truly amazing art from great agencies, designers, writers, developers, and others.

Step up onto your soapbox and let the web know who rules your digital world. Voting’s open from
April 12 through April 28, 2011. So get voting now to have your say on who should win.

Kudos and good luck to all who have entered!

Author: Eric Swenson

What Do Consumers Want From Brands Online?

In order to gain a competitive advantage, many forward-thinking companies have established a social media presence. Social media marketing definitely adds to a company’s positive image, helps to make a stronger consumer connection, and encourages consumers to engage. Social media marketing has been a success for companies that listen to consumers and actually give them what they want and need.

What is it that customers really want from brands online?

Are people willing to engage more if incentives––such as free products, coupons, or discounts––are offered, or are they interested in problem solving and brand information?

According to the Ad Age article cited below, what consumers most want from brands online are:

• Coupons (65%)
• Better customer service (42%)
• Games or other entertainment (28%)
• Company news (22%)
• None (19%)
• Other (7%)

In order to succeed in attracting social media fans and followers to the brand and retaining them: don’t act irresponsibly, don’t send spam and/or too many messages, don’t post irrelevant content, make sure to respond to comments and/or concerns, and don’t delete negative comments.

Whatever the social marketing offer, it has to be meaningful to the target audience and add value to people’s lives. Be clear, concise, personable, honest, and real!

Author: Marina Kaljaj