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The Wild Wild West 

Sometimes the Internet feels like the Wild West. While some rules are made to be broken, in this instance we think the laws governing the Internet are only beginning to catch up to the misuses – and it won’t be long until the sheriff is in town.

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Three Questions for Lenny Rachitsky of Localmind

Photo: Eva BlueLenny Rachitsky is the co-founder and CEO of Localmind, a location-based app that’s very cool and bound to be the next big thing. He’s kind of a big deal. He’s also a really nice guy and answered our questions about what social media means for him.

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How smartphones and social media are changing the way we think about relationships 

The All Beef Media team muses about connecting with the plugged in and the tuned out.

Photo: Tina PhillipsJoanna: The other day I forgot my iPhone at home, which was a crisis because I not only had loads of on-the-go work to get done, but I was also on the verge of unlocking TWO Foursquare badges (double fail). I’m in the business of social media, so I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that I can’t live without a functioning smartphone. But it’s not only about business; I can’t stand still for more than 30 seconds without checking Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Most of my friends understand, but there are some who simply can’t relate to my perma-plugged-in state. Take my parents: Two years ago my mom was forced to exchange her pager (yes, pager) for a cell phone, and even now, it’s often turned off, and the voicemail has yet to be activated. My dad fares only slightly better: He owns an iPhone, but he hasn’t downloaded a single app and he insists on slowly tapping out texts using an absurdly large font. At least when it comes to my parents, we tend to use the old-fashioned telephone, but what happens when your friends aren’t as mad about technology as you?

Janna: You bore them to death with drawn-out sermons on the supernatural powers of the iPhone and the magic of social media. (Kidding. Well, half kidding.) I’m sure you’d agree that nearly everyone we know is currently using at least one social-networking platform (parents and grandparents excluded). You know how they say your friends can make you fat? Well, they can also make you follower-focused and Facebook-obsessed. Most of my friends have slowly but surely signed up for Twitter and Foursquare, caving after months of resistance because they’re fed up with not understanding the sweet victory of securing a mayorship and feeling left out of conversations that revolve around a tweet. But this does raise an interesting question: Can you really connect with someone who’s not as connected as you?

Jenn: You can, but you have to speak two different languages. I can separate most people I know into two groups: Those who employ social media and those who eschew it. With the former, tech talk gets casually tossed around, but for the latter it’s a matter of explaining social media in metaphorical terms. For example, I was at my book club the other night and my otherwise forward-thinking friends were talking about “tweeting” and “texting” as if they were lesser forms of communication. How, they wondered, could people really connect in 140 characters or less? Putting on my best Grandmammy voice, I asked: “What’s this crazy tellyphone thing all the young people are using these days? Doesn’t anybody handwrite letters anymore?” The way I see it, communication methods are constantly evolving, and new forms of language develop to meet emerging communication needs. I know that the social media tools we use today, including Twitter and Facebook, may not be around forever, but what’s coming next emerge from what we have now. Not embracing social media seems to me like the first step toward becoming irreversibly out-of-date.

Jacquie: For me, the value of smartphones and social media for brand building, engagement and marketing is immeasurable and non-negotiable in today’s wired world. Yet, there is a significant difference of mobilizing it for professional and personal purposes. That said, I also got a whole bunch of my family to download Angry Birds over Christmas. They are now addicts, too.
It seems we at All Beef Media can’t help but spread the tech and social media gospel. What about you? How does your level of connectivity factor into your relationships?


A Quick Note on MySpace

It’s no secret that MySpace is struggling. And despite a recent redesign to clean up its hot mess of an interface, MySpace’s parent company News Corp issued a “shape up or log off” warning this week that gave the nearly passé networking site mere months to pick it up.
Our secretary Merlin working his best MySpace angles

The problem is that people have already moved on. We deleted our MySpace accounts years ago and quite honestly have no interest in rejoining no matter how badly RandomModelSinger69 wants to connect with us.

A fresh look is, simply put, too little too late. No matter how cool the club looks, if your friends aren’t there, you’re not going to go. (And why would you, when all your friends and more than 500 million people are partying at the cleaner, more user-friendly Club Facebook?)

It just goes to show how important is it that social networking sites remain, above all else, social.


Tweeting Transparently: The Difference Between Ghost-Tweeting, Spokes-Tweeting and Content Creation

When summing up what we do in the simplest of terms (“We update Facebook and tweet for companies”), it’s not unusual for people to ask if that means we ghost-tweet. The answer to that question is no: We don’t ghost-tweet, we create content — and the difference between the two is subtle, but important.

Ghost-tweeting involves hiring someone to tweet for you, as if they are you, and, not surprisingly, it’s a subject of contention among social media experts. It’s not unlike the concept of ghostwriting and lip-synching, the response to which is remarkably varied. Nobody seems to be particularly upset with Carolyn Keene or V.C. Andrews (who’s mysteriously capable of writing books from the grave), but the scorn from devastated fans drove one half of Milli Vanilli to suicide after it was revealed that their songs had actually been recorded by less-chiseled but more talented singers.

The social media community is built entirely on trust, vilifying hustlers and charlatans while honoring openness and sincerity. So, when Paris Hilton tweeted that she was enjoying a particularly funny episode of Family Guy at the exact time the world was received news she was behind bars for cocaine possession, the @ParisHilton jig was up. Followers who thought they were gaining insight into Paris Hilton’s mind through her tweets felt deceived (though probably deserved it if they ever thought insight into Paris Hilton’s mind was worth anything in the first place).

The problem with ghost-tweeting is that, for the most part, it is dishonest. As relationships develop through social media channels, people need to be engaging with someone who is real. And to find out that the Great Wizard of Oz is really just an old guy pulling levers behind the curtain is disappointing at best.

We consider our role in the process to be that of content creation. We accept brands and businesses as clients, but never individuals, other than to offer them training, coaching and support. One of the first issues that we discuss in our initial meetings is that of transparency. Although we think advertising our services in every tweet with a byline is a tad excessive, we insist that our clients state clearly on their websites that their social media content is created by us, and that we be able to list them as clients on ours.

Some companies have worked through the transparency issue by hiring “spokes-tweeters,” well-known industry personalities who represent a brand to its social network. While this solution allows for outsourcing and honesty, it runs the risk of conditioning a brand’s following to identify with the spokes-tweeters personality instead of its own. The brand may gain followers who are attracted to the spokes-tweeter’s personal style, but lose them again if they change to a different spokes-tweeter, or take up their social media in-house.

Either way, outsourcing for expertise is just common sense. In the same way PR is outsourced to PR companies, and advertising is outsourced to advertising companies, if your company lacks the means or the expertise to manage its social media marketing in-house, outsourcing those services is just smart business.

The important thing is to make sure it’s honest business, too.