Thursday, September 30, 2010

"You Have 0 Friends..."

The creators of South Park have once again tackled another craze of our generation--Facebook. The cleverly executed episode in Season 14 pokes fun of the obsession and infatuation with Facebook that everyone has succumbed to.

Everyone in South Park is hopping on the Facebook train and becoming completely consumed by it. The episode mainly focuses on Stan Marsh's resistance to being "sucked into Facebook" but after his friends create him a page, he has not a chance to avoid it. Everyone in his family, school, and town is pressuring him to respond via Facebook.

Unable to live his life, he has had enough of this annoyance and his solution to end it all is by deleting his profile. While the deleting process takes place, the computer screen deletes him from existence to where he is only alive in a virtual world, literally "sucked into Facebook."

The libertarian creators of South Park never cease to amaze me on how well they grasp and exaggerate any political or social issue. The symbolism of being deleted from the world by deleting your Facebook raised a few questions and thoughts.

In class we have discussed the concept of "real-time" updates from everything to Twitter to Facebook and how this can benefit PR practitioners for getting facts straight. But what if you did delete your Facebook and Twitter and you were non-existent virtually? It is difficult to imagine what it was like before Facebook, Myspace and even Instant Messaging.

I once deactivated my profile for a brief period and simply could not handle it. I felt so out of the loop and disconnected from my friends whom I do not see every day. But people become so obsessed and watch others' every move on Facebook it gets quite annoying honestly. I almost wonder if this causes some unnecessary anxiety for some. Everyone says, "if it's not on Facebook, it's not official." This idea can be true or not true from relationships to events being held.

In the episode Stan is challenged by his Facebook profile to a virtual game of Yhatzee. The point was to see who was more powerful, the user or the profile. So who is more powerful? It is like the chicken and the egg, without Facebook you are no one, and Facebook is nothing without users.

Below is the link to the full episode of South Park "You Have 0 Friends"

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"You know.... Google!"

Political comedian Stephen Colbert had Google's CEO Eric Schmidt as his featured guest on last night's Colbert Report. As usual, Colbert probed and ridiculed his billionaire status and standardly mocks Schmidt's figure.

Google has been one of the reoccurring topics in my social media class and ironically Colbert brings up valid arguments in which we have previously discussed.

Colbert tries to tap into the system Google has adopted for its search engine functioning, however Schmidt attempts to debunk the idea of Google using the data mining system, completely denying the fact they use data mining as their way to employ into topics of interest. He claims they use specific algorithm when ranking most relevant websites to a searched topic or word.

Colbert also tries to force an answer out of Schmidt about Google remembering what people type into their search engines. Schmidt claims that the people workign at Google do not remember but the computers will always have that information stored. This leads to the issue of personal privacy.

There has been claim that eventually our generation will be able to erase our virtual history and start fresh, however when Schmidt was quoted of this he now claims the idea was but a joke. Even though this statement perpetuated some negative PR on himself. It seems almost as if he is trying to make his company seem innocent and nonchalant of monitoring usage. Although he never denies it, he acts like this virtual record everyone in the world has is not an important or alarming idea.

In my opinion, Colbert does a fantastic job of playing the devil's advocate of Google's policies and functions. I feel that Colbert had the opportunity to ask Schmidt questions in which most of the general public would be interested in knowing, but he is able to say it in such an insluting way it almost makes the interviewee feel inferior.

Also I think it is interesting how Schmidt pulls himself out of these situations and recover to make him and his company still retain its image.

Below is the link to the interview from September 21, 2010 episode:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To Tweet or not to Tweet

For the longest time I avoided conforming to the social networking craze Twitter. I always thought it was silly to update friends or strangers of your every move. But before taking this PR class, my good friend nearly forced me to sign up for a Twitter account.

For a while I definitely had no idea how to use it or what to do, but once she gave me a quick tutorial can now say I am addicted and partially obsessed!

Although I rarely "tweet" what I'm currently doing, I try to tweet at different companies and brands that ask their followers various questions in hopes they will retweet my responses.

So far only one company has RT one of my responses.

Some of my favorite companies and figures include Steven Colbert, Kim Kardashian is always interesting, Titos Vodka and Smirnoff are looking for consumer feedback. Red Bull and Starbucks typically have promotional events and ideas to tweet about. Southwest airlines also are good about keeping their followers updated.

As much as I enjoy keeping up with some of my favorite companies and their seek for feedback, I really wish more of my favorite companies and establishments would tweet more and update their followers more.

Some of these companies who should update their followers more include KFC, Travelocity, JCREW insider and a few others. I think it is important for companies to encompass their follower's tweet decks and such in order to ensure their company, product, promotion event--whatever is seen, heard, and "retweeted."

These brands and companies may as well use this free social networking tool to their advantage.

I think celebrities are also pretty entertaining to follow, but it gets a little redundant knowing that they get paid to tweet about some brand. It's good PR for whoever is paying them but gets a bit annoying to read. I want insider details, not "Hey! check this website for discounted designer stuff!" It just gets old and makes me question whether or not they're really the ones tweeting.