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What do you think of the new design? Does it look vaguely familiar to you?

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T-Mobile has launched a new ad campaign on Facebook. At first glance it appears to feature an old phone with a badly cracked screen. To make matters worse, the photo of the Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone with the dandelion/shattered screen came from a Samsung photo shoot. This means that two different marketing departments thought this looked ok! Even if you don’t see a smashed screen when you look at it, how do you really feel about dandelions? Probably not the best way to illustrate the Galaxy S III’s sharing capabilities.

I wonder if the team who designed this campaign still works for T-Mobile? Perhaps they never did . . .

Some of their Facebook fans had the same reaction:

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If you hadn’t yet noticed, Facebook made a pretty significant change to your Facebook page this week and it might make you a little bit upset!

If you had an email address listed in the “About” section of your timeline, it no longer is displayed. Nope, Facebook decided that you would rather use your Facebook email address. (Cue the guy muttering something under his breath about not even having a Facebook email account). Ahh, but you do! Facebook gave it to you one night while you were sleeping!

Now don’t worry, you can change it back to your preferred email address. It’s still there. I will guide you through the simple process in a moment.

The question is: “Why?” What does Facebook stand to gain by doing this and risking ticking off most, if not all, of its 900+ million users? As Facebook continues to wipe the egg off of its red face in the aftermath of its ill-fated IPO, you would think that the directive from the new Board of Directors would be, “Let’s not do anything stupid . . . not yet.”

But Facebook has always preferred asking for forgiveness over asking for permission. Besides, this is reversible . . . where’s the real harm? Not unlike bullies on a school bus, Facebook continues to taunt and do as they please, taking a “We’re f’ing Facebook . . . deal with it” attitude. I can’t help but think that the public will eventually have had enough. I just don’t see any signs of that yet.

How to switch back to your old email

  • Go to your Timeline (your name, not “Home” in the top right of your screen)
  • Below your small profile picture, click on “About”
  • Under “Contact Info” heading, click on “Edit”
  • You will see a list of all emails associated with your account. The new Facebook email account will be the only active account (grey circle, no slash).
  • Click on the grey circle to the right of the Facebook email account
  • Click on “Hidden from Timeline”
  • Do the same for any email addresses you want Public by clicking on the circle to the right of it and clicking “Shown of Timeline”
  • Once you are satisfied with the setup, scroll to the bottom of the box and click “Save”

That’s all there is to it! Now scratch your head like I am doing . . .

I was at home tonight, enjoying the rumbles and flashes of the first thunderstorm (on the eve) of Spring, when I received a text message. I reluctantly pulled my phone out of my pocket, fully expecting it to be one of my kids asking me to come and help them change a tire in the downpour. Much to my relief, it was just an innocuous message from some silly third party, offering 3 trivia alerts a week for just $9.99 per month, followed by the standard “Reply STOP to Cancel” message that I’ve seen a hundred times. Though I am quite a trivia buff, the thought of spending $10 a month for 12 tidbits of trivia seemed outrageous. I immediately replied with my “STOP” message and considered following up with “DAMMIT!” but managed to restrain myself.

Then something ominous occurred to me. My head started filling up with “what ifs?”

What if this was a scam?

What if my phone had just been hacked somehow?

What if I replied incorrectly?

After all, the text actually said “Reply STOP to Can For Help call 18888906150.” Did I just get tricked into accepting their service? After about an hour on Google, I had determined that there was a pretty good likelihood that I had.

Next step – call my cell carrier. I called ATT Mobile and spoke with a very pleasant young woman who assured me that she could help me with this. After accessing my account, she confirmed my suspicion . . . I had indeed been scammed. No wait, she didn’t say “scammed,” she said “crammed.” I asked if there was a difference. She said that their term for this is “cramming.” Again I pressed for an explanation as to the difference between a “cram” and a “scam.” All I could get out of her was that this is different because it is done by 3rd party vendors. Huh?

“So, cramming,” I asked, “is it ever legitimate?” “Well . . . . no,” she replied. “Why then, don’t you just block it all?” The conversation quickly went downhill from there. She told me that they can’t block “crammers” and that they have no control over them and how this has even happened to her personally. Somehow that didn’t make me feel any better.

So, the wheels were really turning now. I asked for an explanation for why they would approve of fraudulent activity on their network – back to the cycle of non-answers;

ATT:    “Again, Mr. Peterson, we don’t consider these scammers, some of them provide legitimate services.”

ME:     “Like what? . . . wait . . . so, I wasn’t scammed? You already admitted that this is NEVER legitimate!”

ATT:    “Sir, I have told you that we will take this charge off of your bill.”

ME:     “If I hadn’t caught this, ATT would be collecting the money for this, right?”

ATT:    “Well, yes, it gets billed on your account.”

ME:     “And I pay YOU for this ‘cramming?’”

ATT:    “Sir, I have already credited your account for the charges.” “Is there anything else I can help you with tonight?

I was just getting warmed up . . .

ME:     “Yes there is. Could you tell me how much ATT gets from these charges?”

ATT:    “Sir, I told you. We are refunding your money, so we don’t keep anything.”

ME:     “How about the person who doesn’t catch this in time and pays his bill?”

ATT:    “Then we pay the 3rd party provider.”

ME:     “So, are you telling me that you have a contractual arrangement with them?”      

ATT:    “Well yes, they bill for the services they provide on our phones and we in turn pass through the payment to them.”

ME:     “You said you had no control over them. In fact, you are complicit in this rip-off!”

(the sound of dictionary pages rustling)

ME:     “If you are the entity collecting the money from this admittedly fraudulent scheme, why don’t you just refuse to pay them?”

ME:     “How much does ATT keep from each $9.99 that you collect?”

ATT:    “Sir, you should now have received am email from ATT, stating that the charges have been removed from your account. It may take 24 hours or more for the actual charges to appear, but the credit has already been issued.”

ME:     “Why don’t you just block THIS 3rd party from doing business on YOUR network? We both know for a fact that they are running a scam.”

ATT:    “We are working with the FCC to try and change this.”

ME:     “Does that mean that you are being investigated by the FCC for fraudulent activity?”

ATT:    “I can also put a block on all 3rd party content providers for you, Free of charge.”

ME:     “Why isn’t blocking them the default and then you can let your customers opt in to ‘cramming’ if they want it?”

ATT:    “You will also receive a PIN by text that will allow you to actually make a purchase if you choose to in the future.”

ME:     “Like another scam?”

I was clearly losing her now . . .

ATT:    “Is there anything else I can help you with tonight, Mr. Peterson?”

ME:     “No thank you, you have been very helpful. I’ll be sure to let everyone I know in on this little secret that you have. You have given me lots of good material for my blog on this subject.”

ATT:    “Have a good evening, Mr. Peterson.”

I will hand it to her, she maintained a cool head through this grilling (which lasted 26 minutes with hold time). So, here’s the deal . . .

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Your cell service provider IS NOT on your side (I hope you already knew this)
  • You can be “crammed” without ever signing up for anything
  • Texting “STOP” to these crooks does not mean that you don’t already have charges on your bill
  • Some “crammers” start charging you only IF you reply, regardless of WHAT you reply

ACTION TO TAKE – NOW!

  • Contact your cell service provider TODAY by phone
  • Ask them to block all 3rd party content (this does not prevent you from purchasing apps)
  • Have them check for any unauthorized billing on your current activity
  • Check your statement EVERY month, better yet, twice a month
  • Don’t reply to questionable texts

You are particularly susceptible to being “crammed” if you are set up on auto-pay for your cell service. Some crammers will only charge $2-4/month and hope that you don’t notice. As long as there are people, there will be people who will try to take advantage of others. This is one crook that you can stop. But you can just bet that they are already working on their next scam . . .

Brands have evolved from asking “Should we be on Social Media?” to “How can we improve our Social Media activities?” At the same, they want to understand “What is the value of Social Media?”  That simple question of value transcends company size, industry and focus.

Three months ago, Awareness set out to answer the question of uncovering the value in social marketing by conducting research and meeting with social media practitioners and experts alike. During the interview process, they asked the group to tell them what advice they would provide Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) as they set out to design, manage and measure their social marketing strategy.  Here are their insights:

  1. Have a plan! – Jason Falls, principal of Social Media Explorer:
    “Go into social with a plan. Social channels are like other marketing channels – treat them with the same diligence. Don’t just test the waters – commit to social. It is the way of the future.  Test and iterate. Integrate social with your marketing and business initiatives – social marketing cannot exist in a vacuum.”
  2. Passion is contagious – David Berkowitz, senior director of Emerging Media and Innovation for 360i
    “Don’t think of social only as a way to drive leads and sales.  Social is about passion – Oreo has over 22 million fans because the brand has given voice to the passion of its consumers.”
  3. Focus, test and learn – Paul Gillinauthor of “Social Marketing to the Business Customer
    “Focus on a limited number of tools initially and build your portfolio where you see tangible traction.  Develop a center of social marketing expertise to avoid repeating the same mistakes other brands have made.  Consider hiring social marketing experts to help you develop that expertise.”
  4. Think like a publisher – David Meerman Scott, marketing strategist and author of “The New Rules of Marketing and PR
    “In the world of social, companies need to think like publishers. The first thing that companies need to do is understand where they rank in search engine results. Smart companies know what their prospective customers are searching on. They then create social content – blogposts, YouTube videos, webinars, etc. that leverages key words to improve search engine rankings.”
  5. Integrate social into your business – Nathaniel Perez, head of social experience at SapientNitro
    “If your level of maturity with social marketing is low, rely on agencies and consultants to help you succeed. You will need carefully integrated content, processes, and governance in order to succeed. Social is not media-centric, it is customer-centric. Once you have gained experience, work towards integrating social deeper within your business. Plan your resources around the following key functional areas: research and insight, engagement and community building, media planning and integration, and data and analytics.”
  6. Understand your goals and tie into existing business processes – Andrew Patterson, manager of new media at MLB Advanced Media
    “Start with understanding your goals with social. Where and how you want to participate is a business decision. Look at your industry and beyond for best practices.  Choose a social media publishing and monitoring platform that serves your specific needs. Social requires full integration with your current analytics systems – make sure you partner with your vendors for success.”
  7. Budget and prioritize – Jeremiah Owyang, industry analyst with Altimeter Group
    “Allocate your social marketing budget based on your level of social marketing maturity. In our February 2011: How Corporations Should Prioritize Social Business Budgets, Altimeter reported that the average social media annual budget in 2010 was $833,000, but that figure fluctuated based on annual revenue and social marketing program maturity. Use industry benchmarks to allocate your budget.”
  8. Commit to social long term – Jonas Nielsen, co-founder and managing partner of Mindjumpers
    “Go in for the long haul, and don’t put social in the hands of junior brand managers.  Social is one of the one important channels of the future – your own media that will position you to spend less resources over time – for marketing, customer service, and product development.”
  9. Start by focusing on existing customers – Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business
    “The best companies understand social touches every aspect of their business. Start with answering why you want to run social programs and what success looks like.  Remember: only a portion of your social efforts can be tracked directly down to sales.  Most of social is relationship-based – it is a longer-term investment in your brand. Focus with your existing customers – they will spread the word for you. Welcome to the world of mouth.”

The headline isn’t meant to mislead. There is actually a very good parallel between the two. Just as the over-abundance of foreclosed homes lowers the property values in a given neighborhood, a preponderance of Social Media “experts” in a given job market cheapens the value of the labor pool to potential employers. While this may seem like a good problem on the surface, as we dig deeper, we find that the reality of this situation is fraught with caveats. As businesses start to recognize the reality of SMM and make the decision to buy in, many are tempted to go after bargains. The potential for failure and frustration facing these companies is enormous . . . the effect of this trend on gifted candidates is the devaluation of their earning potential.

Like realty signs on foreclosed properties, we see business owners displaying signs of their cluelessness, caving in to the idea that Social Media Marketing is something “simple” that can easily be added on to an existing employee’s duties. I recently talked with a successful business owner who was looking at hiring an SEO expert as well as an SMM expert. In our conversation she declared that “Social media is easy, so I can probably just do that myself.” Easy? Really? I wonder if she has ever tried to attract fans to a page that has limited sex appeal or name recognition.

The signs are also showing up on job postings where the oxymoronic “Social Media Marketing Intern” title is thrown about as if it was something relative to anything. It is not. An intern may be able to set up a Facebook page or a Twitter account, but when it comes to making that account viable, they are a recipe for imminent disaster. And if you plan to trust your content, message and interaction to such inexperience, you will not get my sympathy.

The truth is that there are very few real Social Media Experts in the world. There are individuals with solid backgrounds in business management and marketing that have made the effort to embrace this new culture and are willing to change their views on how to engage with their audience. These realists are finding that the ever-shifting sands of SMM are exciting, but at the same time challenging, testing the mettle of even the most gifted and experienced marketer.

We are in the midst of a new frontier, a new “gold rush,” if you will. While many hope to stake their claim on this potential windfall, only a handful will succeed. The successful Social Media Marketing Manager/Director/Consultant will not be an intern or someone who simply has a background or even an advanced degree in marketing. Rather, the new breed of SMM leaders will be those who understand how to run a business first and who are then willing to embrace and immerse themselves into this unpredictable and often hostile environment.

If you take anything from this article, let it be this; Knowing how to set up a Facebook page no more makes one a Social Media Expert than having a camera makes one a professional photographer. Until employers put an end to their foolish quest for cheap Social Media “fixer-uppers,” legitimate users of the craft who deserve more attention will continue to see their value diminished.

There is nothing peskier than posting a favorite YouTube music video to your Facebook page only to get the dreaded “Embedding Disabled” message when you or a friend clicks on it. While you can still view the video by redirecting to YouTube, many of your friends will not go through the hassle and will skip viewing the video altogether.

As Google continues in their attempt to dominate the internet (and the revenue that follows), you can expect more of this sort of issue. While Google’s acquisition of YouTube dates back to 2006, it seems that they have waited until recently to really dig in with changes. The latest changes to YouTube are intended to thwart copyright infringement for musical artists and include sampling of uploaded videos to search for unauthorized use of copyrighted music tracks. In December of 2009, VEVO was created as a vehicle to control the sharing of music videos and now makes itself home to almost 30,000 music videos.

While casual YouTube viewers are unlikely to see the changes brought on by the introduction of VEVO, those of us who like to share our favorite music videos with our friends on Facebook have found that the YouTube sharing function inevitably renders the “embedding disabled” message for VEVO hosted videos. By logging in to vevo.com, you will be able to search for the video that you want to share and post it without the embedding issue. Once you find it, simply click on the “SHARE” button at the top of the viewer and you will be forwarded to the familiar “sharing” screen that you normally get when sharing a YouTube video. Type in your optional message and post!

When you return to Facebook to check your video, it will appear just like any other video post with the standard video player screen. Click the “PLAY” button and the VEVO player will open within your post. The VEVO player does take a bit longer to load than the standard YouTube player, but it generates a larger viewing area with more control options. And, with very few exceptions, your VEVO video posts will be HD quality.

This simple workaround fix will make embedding VEVO-hosted music videos fool-proof again.