Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Facebooking without a Home

I recently discovered something interesting and rather perplexing. I can’t quite wrap my mind around it. I’m over-flowing with questions, so here it is. I know someone who is recently homeless…and still on Facebook. They are actively updating their status (about being homeless) on Facebook!

I have so many questions. There are the obvious ones such as how does this individual update their status? Are they using a cell phone? Wait; do they even have a cell phone? Maybe they’re using a computer at a public library. More importantly though, why are they still on Facebook. Perhaps Facebook is their major mode of communication with their friends and family. It might be a luxury or comfort while they are going through a difficult time. Maybe it’s just a habit that is hard to break.

With several questions swirling around in my head, I can’t help but also think about the more important things that this sheds light on. Unfortunately, homelessness is on the rise, and it affects people just like you and me. Homelessness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care if you were once affluent, if you owned a gorgeous home, if you have a graduate degree, if you loved your job or volunteered in your community. Homelessness doesn’t even respect your successful social networks. Sigh.

But seriously, many of our communities’ homeless are ordinary people, going through a rough time. And some of them are willing to share their experiences using social media.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

To Tweet, or Not to Tweet?

A serious question, perhaps. My current dilemma is, after a bad experience at a restaurant, should I tweet about it, hoping to catch the attention of the restaurant? We know that social media gives the consumer an incredible amount of power. With 140 characters (or less) I can share with the world (or at least with my followers) my discontent with a certain soup and sandwich chain, which gave me at most ¾ of a bowl of soup. But what do I really achieve?
I know that if this restaurant has a good marketing team working on social media, they will see my complaint and perhaps respond. But, let’s be honest, my life was not greatly impacted by the fact that I had less soup fordinner. So maybe I was a bit hungry, and maybe I was especially frustrated because after being sick, it feels wonderful to eat real meals, but it’s just soup.

In the end I opted not to complain via Twitter. And I opted to leave the name of the restaurant out of this blog post. But I want to throw the question out there, what would you do? Knowing the full power of mediums such as Twitter to attract attention would you, or have you used social media to voice your customer service complaints? Did you get a response? Was it the one you were hoping for?

I leave you with a couple thoughts. First of all, we have probably all seen the video of “United Breaks Guitars”that got international attention and became a PR nightmare for the unresponsive United Airlines (If you haven’t seen it, please YouTube it). While in my New Media Marketing class at UCSD extension we consider what this type of power means for companies that must respond to their customers via social media, I also question what it means for us as consumers. Is this power a good thing?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Is surfing Facebook the new high school reunion?

Last week my high school class held its ten-year reunion. From what I hear, out of a class of approximately 450 people, less than 30 attended. 30 people?!?! To be honest, I never even considered going. It just wasn’t something that sounded interesting to me for a variety of reasons, but when I heard how many of my fellow sultans seemed to share my sentiments I started thinking – what caused such low participation.

Now it’s entirely possible that a lot of people were busy, living out of town, couldn’t find a babysitter, weren’t a fan of the venue, or didn’t want to be reminded of what they looked like in high school with braces, but I would like to offer another possibility. Is it possible that social media, specifically Facebook had something to do with the low attendance? Think about, traditionally a reunion was a chance for everyone to scratch their nosy itch, and find out what everyone else was doing with their lives 10, 20, 30 years out of high school. You could find out who went to college, got married, got divorced, had children, loves their job, traveled the world, got plastic surgery, never grew up…the list goes on and on. But now, in today’s overly connected world, all you need is a Facebook account to learn all of this and much more (in some cases more than you EVER wanted to know).

So I throw the question out there – is social media changing school reunions? Have you attended or do you plan to attend your high school reunions? Do you think social media has made you feel differently about a reunion? Has Facebook mitigated the value of a reunion?