Archive for November, 2010


When it comes to ROI, do you want fans, or followers?

Since companies and organizations began embracing social media, the debate has been on.  Who is more valuable: Facebook fans, or Twitter followers?

While it’s hard to put a hard qualifying number on either, a recent study by Forrester Research finds that Twitter followers have the potential of being more valuable in the future.  The study confirms that Twitter followers are more likely to buy from brands they follow (37% vs. 21%), and recommend brands to friends (33% vs. 21%). These two factors are the yardsticks by which many social media branding campaigns are measured.

But it’s hard to ignore the immense advertising opportunities of Facebook.  With an audience of 550 million, Facebook offers powerful connectivity where friends can share reviews of their favourite products.  Word of mouth has long been touted as the most potent form of advertising, and right now there is no other platform that allows people to share brand sentiment as quickly as Facebook.

A major difference between the two social media site comes down to marketing theory.  While both sites are interactive–Facebook involves more “push” marketing, offering fans incentives and rewards for interaction.  Companies use third-party offers to obtain fans.  For example, Bing used the social gaming network Zynga to build a Facebook fan base for its launch.  Zynga offered “Farm Cash” rewards to entice Farmville players to become fans.  While the launch was a success, that success can be short-lived since the brand is disconnected from the offer.

But used appropriately, Facebook can get the attention of a massive audience.  Nike did just that by utilizing the multimedia platform of the social networking site.  By posting videos and commercials directly on the page, Nike has attracted more that three million fans, thousands of which comment and “like” regularly.



Homeland security uses Facebook to debunk “green card marriages”

The U.S. government is embracing Facebook and may be looking to be your friend.

The Department of Homeland Security is turning to the popular social media site to determine whether applicants for citizenship are guilty of entering into “green card marriages.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services documents reveal how immigration agents are instructed on how to “friend” applicants for citizenship on social networking sites to observe their lives and determine if their marriages are actually valid.

The advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation uncovered these documents that base their success on the theory that “Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of ‘friends’ link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know…This provides an excellent vantage point for [the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security] to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.”

Although the government’s action are legal, the EFF argue that this form of validation should be cautioned.  Apart from characterizing those with a large friend network as having ‘narcissistic tendencies’, this method relies on the fact that online profiles accurately reflect offline lives.
And since the agents are not required to reveal their identities or jobs when “friending” users, it is possible for agents to monitor more users than just the applicants.

EFF staff attorney Jennifer Lynch says that “Unfortunately, this memo suggests there’s nothing to prevent an exaggerated, harmless or even out-of-date off-hand comment in a status update from quickly becoming the subject of a full citizenship investigation.”

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November 2010
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