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Author Archives: DanJee

Weekly Summary: Education Evolution in the Age of New Media

This week we dive into the discussion how education is changing with the rise of new media and how the education systems should change. In particular, we look at the point of view of two scholars, Cass Sunstein and Don Tapscott. Sunstein tells of potentially dangers of too much evolution and what we must do to avoid these perils in MyUniversity.com while Tapscott vehemently argues for how the system of higher education must adapt and change to the rise of new technology and new methods of learning in The Impending Demise of the University. Let look into what these two scholars think and said:

MyUniversity.com? Personalized Education and Personalized News by Cass Sunstein

Cass Sunstein looks into how education can be personalized for individuals. Sunstein states that personalization brings much efficacy in terms of learning more and faster and thereby makes education more efficient. Moreover, he explains that certain level of personalization is inherent in the education system in the very basic level of education such as students choosing which college they wish to attend. However, what Sunstein focuses on in his article is the level of personalization that education should be given. Sunstein argues that too much personalization can bring about a problem of “filtering” and make the society into fragmented heterogeneity without a binding force. Sunstein suggests that while personalization should be embraced, two requirements must be kept:

1) Unanticipated encounter: Being exposed to materials and knowledge that one would not have sought out individually under complete personalization.
2) Common experiences: Shared experiences among people to enable people to understand one another.

In order to explore this concept, Sunstein asks the readers to imagine a utopian world with complete personalization. During this thought experiment, he states that the feasibility of such world is the least of our worries with the rise of emerging media. Indeed, since the publication of this article in 2002, the world of today somewhat resembles Sunstein’s thought experiment. Yet, the differences between this thought experiment utopia and today’s society still exists. As Sunstein explains while the world has become more personalized, we are still able to experience “unanticipated encounter” and “common experiences”. In Sunstein’s example, he states that while more newspapers have become available and one may choose to read the newspaper that has the topic he is most interested in, he is still susceptible to being exposed to content he would otherwise not have encountered in that newspaper.

Sunstein states that in an over-personalized where individuals are nearly completely isolated from each other in terms of news and education can also cause the problem of reduced “public sphere”. Sunstein suggests that as the world becomes more personalized, we must keep the public forum doctrine to promote three important functions:

1) Speakers can have access to wide array of people. Sunstein shares examples that if one wants to speak out about high taxes or police brutality, existence of public forum helps them to share this opinion with many others.
2) Speakers can have general access not only to a heterogeneous group, but also to specific people and institutions with whom they have complaint.
3) The public forum doctrine ensures that the people will be exposed to wide variety of ideas and other members of the society.

In the new emerging media world, such public forums should be present, not just the specialized and isolated forums. Sunstein states that effects of isolated personalization can be especially traumatic in the case of education without proper control. As people inherent seek what is interesting to them, groups will become divided and polarized, leading to increased racial and cultural divide as well as political rifts. As a whole, Sunstein is for personalization, but only under an appropriate degree and not complete personalization.

The Impending Demise of University by Don Tapscott

Tapscott in The Impending Demise of University states while universities and colleges have the highest attendance than ever, yet they are losing their hold on the “monopoly” of higher education. More innately, Tapscott states that there exists a definite and clear disparity between the pedagogy defined by the instructor and one by the students. In the ages of digital, according to Tapscott, the students are no longer bound by the one-way street type of teaching the old pedagogy offered and are limitless and map-less in their pursuit of knowledge through the medium of Internet. (Tapscott also mentions that the universities have become too concentrated on research and less on education itself. However, I would personally argue that this is not a recent phenomenon and unrelated with emerging new media.)

Tapscott argues that “Industrial model of student mass production” must end and will end. He says the current pedagogy is a “broadcast learning” system where the instructor is the “broadcaster” and the students are the listeners. However, Tapscott points out the rise of technology and internet has enabled the students to tune into different broadcasts as the source of knowledge. Moreover, the new generations of students are adroit in their use of such medium and such method of learning. The teachers—“broadcasters”—must adapt to cater to these new students:

“They’re used to multi-tasking, and have learned to handle the information overload. They expect a two-way conversation. What’s more, growing up digital has encouraged this generation to be active and demanding enquirers. Rather than waiting for a trusted professor to tell them what’s going on, they find out on their own on everything from Google to Wikipedia.”

Tapscott states that universities have been the slowest to adapt as smaller liberal arts colleges are beginning to change and internet universities and classes are rising. In certain cases, there are new models of education being innovated. Tapscott shares an example of “Good Questions” program from Dr. Maria Terrell of Cornell, combining the web-based elements and in-class lectures. Students can ask warm-up questions before class and the professor can cater their class to address those questions (Very much like our class, I think). According to Tapscott, interactive learning allows for students to learn at their own pace and making direct input to what is being taught and therefore exhibits better efficacy.

As students find more channels to learn and find knowledge, Tapscott says that universities must adapt and that “universities should be places to learn, not to teach”. By doing so, he makes several challenges to different aspects of universities in order to become a place to learn:

1) Challenge to Teaching: Tapscott says teaching system should accommodate for next Geners, who are used to interactive learning and learning from each other in groups. New methods of pedagogy must be defined.
2) Challenge to the Revenue Model: classes in universities must differ from internet lectures and classes that can be had for free in order to justify its high prices.
3) Challenge to Credentialing: new method of credentialing must be determined to effectively measure the aptitude of university as a learning institution.
4) Challenge to the Campus: campuses should be able to offer a holistic package of education experience, in which students get together and think and learn together and ultimately enhance the learning experience.
5) Challenge to the Relationship of University to Other Institutions: Tapscott states that students should be able to learn not just from instructors of a particular university he is attending, but also from intellectuals from other institutions through the digital medium (not just through books).

In conclusion, Tapscott makes a bold statement that if the universities cannot adapt and change, they will perish.

My University.com, My Government.com: Is the Internet Really a Blessing for Democracy?: Presentation by Cass Sunstein

This is a talk at University of Michigan in which Sunstein discusses several of the points he made from the previous article. The article did seem somewhat ahead of his time, but this talk was held December 2008 and seems more relevant to today (he brings up Google News). In this presentation, Sunstein mentions additional experiments and meta-analysis that reveal striking effects of group polarization, and thereby stresses the dangers of over-personalization and “architecture of serendipity”.

First experiment was held in Colorado Springs, which leans conservative, and Boulder, which tends to be liberal. Participants in both cities were asked to give their views anonymously on three issues:

1) Should the US sign the international agreement to control the emission of greenhouse gases?
2) Should employers engage in race conscious affirmative action policies?
3) Should Colorado recognize same-sex civil union?

Following submission of their anonymous views on these topics, people engaged in discussion for 15 minutes. Then participants were asked to submit their view again in anonymous manner. According to Sunstein, the experiment revealed three interesting results:

1) After discussion group views were polarized and became more extreme.
2) Before discussion, internal diversity became existed but when examined after discussion, internal diversity disappeared.
3) The difference opinion of median between Colorado Springs and Boulder became dramatized.

The second example, Sunstein shared involved a meta analysis of Courts of Appeal in the U.S., which is comprised of three judges. Looking at historical judicial decision, the decisions are far more extreme and ideological when the panel is composed completely of Republican appointees or completely of Democrat appointees. For instance, Republican appointees vote pro-gay rights 14% in a 3R panel. Democrat judges vote pro-gay rights 100% in a 3D panel. Sunstein states that these percentages increased/decreased closer to 50% when the panel was mixed with both Democratic appointees and Republican appointees.

In the third example, 1,000 jury-eligible people in TX involved in the study. The participants were presented with asked to rank a hypothetical corporate misconduct on a scale of 0 to 6 and assign proper dollar amount of punishment. The median score in a group of six tends to be highly predictable measure of the median score of another group of six and were also in line with median American score. However, there were a lot of unpredictability on dollar value of punishment. In a follow-up study, instead of just submitting their score and monetary punishment value, the participants were grouped and asked to delivery a decision as a group after a discussion. According to Sunstein, there is a systematic severity shift: “people who are disturbed get more disturbed and people who were lenient became more lenient.” In other words, issues that had a median score of 5 become a 6 on the severity rank scale and issues that had a median score of 2 became 1. In addition, groups were systematically severe in terms of monetary punishment level. In 25% of the cases, the punishment level was at least as severe as the highest individual member’s punishment level before the discussion.

These examples stressed the point Sunstein made in the article about the dangers of group polarization. In order to prevent dramatic polarization, Sunstein suggests that “architecture of serendipity” must be put in place in education. The “architecture of serendipity” is essentially the two rules he suggested in the article of “unintended, un-chosen encounter with a person, a topic, or an argument” and “shared experience that unite people across differences”. Sunstein states that his ideas on public forum doctrine and implementation of architecture of serendipity in education system were inspired from Jane Jacob’s theory on urban public spaces in American cities. Sunstein believes that education system and Internet society can function like the urban public spaces that Jacobs described, serving as places in which people can meet others that differ not only in terms of looks but also in ideology and more importantly co-exist in harmony with them.

Sunstein points about that in the current blogsphere, political topics and views have become fragmented and polarized. Readers will tend to go from one blog representing one particular end of the political spectrum and move to another blog of similar content and political view, making oneself more extreme. One solution Sunstein suggests regarding this is that people start to practice more respectable linking to provide readers with means of becoming exposed to blogs and ideas that are not necessarily aligned with the current blog they are on. Sunstein states that the over personalization–through blogs or digital education–can be dangerous because of two factors:

1) People have natural tentativeness to reach conclusion on a given topic; however, ff given corroboration, people become extreme. Being exposed to only one view or side of a topic will push the people to the extremes.
2) Personalization of information and education brings about lack of exchange of information. In a filtered group, people will have chance to listen to only views that reinforce one view and will not have the chance to be exposed to other views.

In order to stress the danger of this, Sunstein shares a famous social conformity experiment. (He didn’t say, but I am pretty sure that it is by Solomon Asch). In this experiment people were given series of lines and were asked to choose on that is closest in length to a given line. The experiment session involved several people at the same time, but only one was a subject and others were confederates. When the confederates all chose a clearly wrong answer, the experiment subject also chose the wrong answer on 70% of the times despite the fact that the correct answer was very clear. Sunstein states that if social conformity is so powerful even when the answer is clear, on moral, political, and social topics, restricting oneself to only “personalized” views can make them conform to ideas that he/she might have otherwise thought too extreme.

Overall, Sunstein’s presentation is very much aligned with his article. However, in the presentation he even more strongly stresses the dangers of potential group polarization towards extremes and lack of exchange of information that can be caused to too much personalization. He does concede that in certain cases, the isolation through personalization and polarization may be a good thing as in the cases of anti-communist movement in the USSR or civil rights movement. However, it can also be the cause of birth of terrorists. He stresses that we must proceed with caution on the growing individual personalization through new media.

Mobile Advertising: Location-Based SMS

So my several attempts at trying to use SlideShare failed miserably. Here is my first log for the Travelogue #4 in series of images. Sorry about the late post guys.

Apple’s Anti-Porn Crusade: The Real Motive and Squashing the Weak

My title may have been somewhat misleading. Yes, I did do more secondary research on the real motive behind Apple’s banning of “overly sexual content”, but “squashing the weak” has more to do with the lack of response I have gotten from Apple.

The first thing I did was I went to the Developer Forum under Apple’s Support page. In the Apple’s developers support forum, I was unable to find any questions or discussion surrounding Apple’s banning of sexual content-related apps or any apps for that matter. I cannot say for sure, but I am leaning towards concluding that Apple may have removed these posts or discussions for the sake of making this matter more down-low and under-the-cover. I cannot imagine that nobody has asked a question regarding this matter. So I dug a little deeper. Let’s try to ask a question myself. Well, as soon as I tried to post something to the forum, I got to the “Apple Discussion User Agreement“. Typically, I would ignore something like this and just click agree and move on. But WAIT! Let’s read a bit deeper into what can be discussed on this forum. Under Section 2: Submission, Apple Discussions is here to help people use Apple products and technologies more effectively. Unless otherwise noted, do not add Submissions about nontechnical topics, including:…2. Discussions of Apple policies or procedures or speculation on Apple decisions.” In other words, I am not allowed to post anything or ask questions about why Apple is banning sexual apps from the App Store, or what the boundary is. It also states in the earlier part of the agreement that “Apple retains the right, but not the responsibility, to edit or remove any Submission, including those deemed by Apple to violate the Agreement.” In other words, what I thought previously was true. Even if a person was able to successfully post a question regarding Apple’s decision or policy without getting it banned, it WILL get erased by Apple.

Discouraged by running to one dead end, I decided to go Apple’s iPhone Dev Center. This really confused me. It seemed like the site was really for developers (as it should be) and included mostly technical information regarding coding and programming. I looked around for anything involving content restriction or what sort of content is allowed, but failed to find any information regarding this. So it seems that my second stop got me nowhere as well. Perhaps an information is hidden deeply in that pile of instructions and guidelines about programming, but it is so well hidden that I cannot actually reach for it. It’s almost like a hidden treasure.

So I thought let’s contact Apple directly. I went to Apple’s “Contact Us” page. There is no contact number or e-mail for developer’s or about App Store specifically. The only one that seemed even remotely close, was “U.S. iPhone technical support”. I called the number, but apparently you need to own an iPhone to get to talk to representative, because it told me to enter a case number or iPhone number.

Looking around blogsphere, I was able to find what the e-mail that bans an app looks like:

The App Store continues to evolve, and as such, we are constantly refining our guidelines. Your application, Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored), contains content that we had originally believed to be suitable for distribution. However, we have recently received numerous complaints from our customers about this type of content, and have changed our guidelines appropriately.

We have decided to remove any overtly sexual content from the App Store, which includes your application.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter. If you believe you can make the necessary changes so that Wobble iBoobs (Premium Uncensored) complies with our recent changes, we encourage you to do so and resubmit for review.

iPhone App Review

So this is not something that was set up “originally”, but only implemented and enforced recently. Actually what is more odd is that by digging around I was able to find out that Apple did ban such Apps in the beginning, but changed their stance and decided to be more open and flexible about such boundaries. This is very concerning because it doesn’t just show that Apple changed their decision on what they define as appropriate, but their definition can be flexible to best serve them.

So in conclusion, I ended up running in circles in my personal research to contact Apple directly or find something about from them. Meanwhile, after running into dead ends, I had my friend who actually works for a company that develops games for iPhone to contact Apple directly. I will include this information in my wrap-up post on Monday if I hear something back.

Apple’s Anti-Porn Crusade: Why is Apple doing this and where is the line of impropriety?

So as Mushon pointed out, I guess I forgot to clearly state the question I am hoping the answer through my travelogue. The main question(s) I hope to answer through my travelogue is:

Why is Apple engaging in anti-competitive and seemingly anti-profitable business practice of banning application with “sexual” content from its App Store, and what is the line at which an application is determined by Apple as “inappropriate” for mass audience?

Some of my assumptions and norms regarding this “environment” is that:

1) Developers can choose to develop whatever application they find worthy of developing.
2) Developers also have the right to choose which platform they want to develop their application. (i.e. iPhone OS, Android, Blackberry, webOS, Window Mobile, Symbian, etc.)
3) Companies that own and control the OS and the application market can choose to reject the application from their platform.
4) Apple has been fairly controlling of what can be allowed and not allowed on their app store even before this controversy.
5) Open development and lifting of such restriction results in more vibrant developer community and ultimately more advanced development.
6) Apple is the dominant players in the application market with the majority share.

The approach I plan on taking to answer above questions are:

1) Research on blogsphere about what the technocrats and developers think about the latest move by Apple.
2) Deeper analysis and insights into why Apple might take this approach.
3) 1st person investigation into where the fine line between banned and not banned is drawn.

Hopefully this makes it more clear for everyone on what I will be researching more about in the following weeks. (I sort of started on the first task this previous week).

Initial Thoughts on Apple’s Anti-Porn Crusade

So as some of you may have heard, Apple has banned certain apps from their App Store for having sexual content in it. This does not come as a big surprise given the stance Apple has been taking over controlling contents on their products. Apple would be anti-open source that we discussed last week in class. However, what is causing controversy and concern is that the line between what is allowed and what is banned is not clear.

According to Philip W. Schiller, head of worldwide product marketing at Apple, the ban was due to “an increasing number of apps containing very objectionable content….It came to the point where we were getting customer complaints from women who found the content getting too degrading and objectionable, as well as parents who were upset with what their kids were able to see.” Really, Schiller? I don’t question the fact that they may have gotten complaints from super-conservative or super-liberal activist groups (As I was writing this, I found it interesting that groups from both end of the spectrum could have made this move. Right-wing activists concerned with “family values” could have been involved, but also left-wing women’s right groups may have been involved. Is Apple making enemies with both ends of the politics?) However, what defines “very objectionable content”? Does Schiller really think we are that stupid to believe that Apple is banning apps for the good of mankind?

So the image on the left is a Sports Illustrated application which has not been banned, and the image on the right is an application from On the Go Girls which has been banned. The two apps from pictures look very similar to me. They both show women in bikinis, but what exactly separates the two? What is the difference? Nobody seems to be able to answer this. In fact, Playboy app has not been banned either. Jenna Wortham, the author of the New York Times article, asked Schiller about this very point, and I was utter amazed by his answer: ““The difference is this is a well-known company with previously published material available broadly in a well-accepted format.” So let me get this straight, Mr. Schiller. If you are a big company and a known commodity that show women in bikini you are okay, but if you are a smaller no name company who wants to show the same exact pictures you are no good? As many in the class know, I tend to be very business friendly and lean right on the political spectrum. But what Schiller says come across “evil” even to me. Does Apple want to make their App Store into a political and business power negotiating field? A way they can build diplomatic relationships and make business agreements to further their agendas? I cannot but associate this to the iPad development. Sports Illustrated was one of the few publications given access to and ability develop iPad ready magazines. If Apple had banned their Sports Illustrated Swimsuits Edition from their App Store, would they have been open to showcasing their development for iPad? I am not so sure. What is next? Are they going to start banning Victoria’s Secret apps because they show Miranda Kerr in lingerie? Let’s get real, that what Victoria’s Secret makes?

Some bloggers have been very kind to explore this topic on their own for quite a bit. Here are some Joel Jonson of Gizmodo found that has not been banned, but could perfectly be as offensive or even more offensive than girls in bikinis:

1) “An app that discusses abortion and birth control law”
2) “An app that helps you hook up with gay guys”
3) “An app that teaches you how to evangelize the fundamentalist Christian religion”

Understanding the real motive behind this app banning is extremely important, but I am afraid that this will go un-acknowledged by most. Why?

1) Because not everybody really cares too much about this issue. It doesn’t really change their day-to-day lives because not everybody feels the need to “sexy” apps. Yet, I find that on principle this should be addressed.
2) Because it’s Apple. Consumers and the media tend to get so enamored with Apple that they are willing to overlook and forgive Apple. It’s Apple. So, it must be so cool. So they must be right. They are the truth. Righteous!
3) Because smaller companies getting shafted here are not powerful enough to fight against Apple.

In my following travelogues, I will attempt to take a deeper look into Apple’s motive behind these app banning of “sexual” contents. It cannot be simply for profit, because these apps bring Apple money. What is Apple gaining by sacrificing definite revenue opportunity? Of course, my investigation will be mostly indirect inferences, but let’s hope we get more insight into this topic.

Steve Jobs: Not Sexy?

So I had already posted on the topics I was considering for my next travelogue. Well, I have another one. Apple banning “sexy” apps from its App Store, or as ABC News calls Porn Purge. Well, there seems to a lot of controversy around it. Can Apple do this? While we know Apple has been known to be a overly protective of their products, is this being too controlling? What defines apps that can be banned and not banned. Unfortunately, I am a Android phone owner and will not be able to conduct this journey first-handed by trying different things myself. However, I hope to tackle this from an investigative journalism type of travelogue. Sort of trying it in a way Alexandra did with Gawker Stalker. I plan on looking at what apps have been banned and why some like Sports Illustrated Swimsuit have not been banned. Some people (and the media) can become a bit enamored with Apple sometimes. I am leaning on the side of thinking they are being business-like and evil in a way. Could they be allowing certain “sexy” apps based on who made them? As in they cannot dare to fight with the Big Boys and corporations and banning their apps, but can afford to squash the weaker (and perhaps correctly more perverted) laymen? Let’s find out!

Ideas for Travelogue #3

I am still somewhat confused how “current” our topics have to be for this round of travelogue. But here are some ideas that I thought I might look into for the “Live Reporting” travelogue.

1) Gilt Groupe Explosion
What a fascinating idea. Two girls from Harvard MBA decide to go ahead and make on-line sample sale site, and BAM it goes nuts generating money left and right. This ingenious combination bringing together high-fashion, competition, word of mouth, and most importantly saving money, is being heralded by media everywhere. What made Gilt Groupe such a success? What drives their business? How do they maintain what they do with all the retailers? I will be exploring into the story behind the success of Gilt Groupe, and what lies ahead when the economy improves and retailers don’t find the need to rely on places like Gilt Groupe to dump their inventory.

2) Google ISP
Well, we thought we went through the whole Google is everywhere thing. But perhaps it’s not over yet. Google has been in the news recently concerning their plan to take over the world with Google Energy and Google ISP. The energy part if interesting as well, but for the sake of our class, I found Google ISP perhaps more of interest. Yes, it is only experimental and yes, it will be severely limited. However, it will be light years faster than anything other ISPs can provide, and would anybody be willing to save some dough and get faster Internet provided by Google? Some might say no, but some might say yes. I will be exploring into the blogsphere and trying to read what the sentiments around this new Google ambition are while also trying to precisely understand the pros and cons of Google ISP.

2) What Bing+Yahoo Really Means?
This is sort of old news in a way in that Microsoft and Yahoo are going to be working together in on-line search world to fight Google (well, that’s not what they said, but what they mean in reality). But it only became approved by the Department of Justice and the European Commission last week. Now it really won’t start until end of the year according to some articles, but let’s try to get some head start on it. What does this mean for normal people like you or me? Does this change anything that we will do daily for search? Will be help us? Will this signal the demise of Google? Let’s look into this.

I am very much torn about where to go with this. If you can help me find a bit more direction on this, it would be great. Thanks!

Facebook Business Travelogue Concluding Post: Deeper Dive into Social Media Marketing

So my second travelogue originally began as a way to explore into how Facebook is generating revenue and where their advertising money is coming from. However, somewhere midway through my journey, I landed on a destination somewhat more interesting for both me and the class. Last week, this deviation from my planned route landed us on how businesses and advertisers use Facebook fan pages to engaging with customers and forming brand images in more efficient manner than traditional print or TV advertisements. Specifically, I gave Victoria’s Secret Pink and Sears as two examples of good uses of Facebook fan pages.

This week I will attempt to conclude my second travelogue with deeper dive into how companies should be and is using social media in general (not only Facebook fan pages) to monitor their brand image and promote their wanted brand images. (By the way that image is a book by Shiv Singh, who is the VP & Global Social Media Lead at my company. Incredibly smart guy, but I haven’t got a chance to actually read that book). First let’s take a look at more examples of good uses of Facebook fan pages. Although somewhat outdated Callan Green takes a look into five cases studies of successful uses of Facebook fan pages to drive engagement from consumers.

Green points out Pringles, Coca Cola, Starbucks, Adidas, and Red Bull as five examples of excellent use of Facebook fan pages. Of course, these are not the only companies with successful uses of fan pages, but examining Green’s reasoning behind pointing these five out specifically reveal what makes a Facebook fan pages an effective one. I summarize some key points:

1) Facebook fan pages should first and foremost generate user participations.
All of the Facebook fan pages mentioned by Green is effective in driving users to participate actively through posts or views. This may get even more apparent with some new development by Facebook. According to Shiv Singh, Facebook may be close to implementing an ability to showcase impressions and clicks. This information could be immensely useful for companies and advertisers. You can now measure and gain insights into user participation and engagement not only through posts, but also by number of impressions it served and number of clicks on that post. In other words, in the near future companies may be to more effectively know indirect user participation and engagement.

2) Integrate “varied, fun, and interesting” content that can be easily shared by users to their friends.
The big advantage Facebook fan pages have over other social media is that it can aggregate rich content advertising in addition to user participation. For instance, Starbucks fan page include not only videos and photos of Starbucks products, but general info about coffee. Adidas fan page includes several video ads that can be easily shared with other friends to promote viral marketing. Red Bull fan page has a twitter update of all the athletes it sponsors, brining in additional content element to give users and fans more holistic experience through the fan page.

3) Utilize Facebook fan pages to drive more on-line or off-line product sales or to promote off-line marketing events.
Finally as we discussed last week, companies can include coupons and promote off-line events (such as parties, pop-up stores or flash-mob like events) to create synergy between “branding” and off-line activities, or between “branding” and actual sales. This type of effort might see some evolution and revolution in the near future as Facebook might implement e-commerce on fan pages.

While utilizing Facebook fan pages are effective in user engagement and viral marketing, companies should not remain confined by Facebook. Indeed more recently they have been keeping up with Joneses through the twitter channel as well. Let’s examine the fashion industry for an example. Hitha Prabhakar looks into how the fashion industry is adopting social media into their branding and marketing plans. Shiv Singh is quoted in the article saying, “Brands are learning how to humanize without killing their mystique…You look at brands like Chanel, who have pushed designer Karl Largerfeld into the social media sphere to further connect with their customers, or Victoria’s Secret, who has 2.63 million fans on Facebook and 1.7 million for Pink — you are able to see how these brands are able to connect with their customers and monetize on it through awareness, loyalty and engagement.” In fact, according to the article, since Diane von Furstenberg got more engaged in the social media realm last year, it has seen its online traffic increase by 13%. As shown by this example, having more “engagement” with the consumers on a more eye-to-eye level through social media does help immensely in driving up interest, and ultimately product purchases.

Within the Prabhakar’s article, the CEO of Jones Apparel Group, Wesley R. Card, is quoted in saying “As a chief executive, you want to think that you have complete control over what is being said about you or your company, and you want to make sure what you are saying isn’t getting misconstrued. Even though I know we need to embrace it as a corporation, I am a little apprehensive.” I would like to close by travelogue by taking a quick dive at addressing this statement and what the social media marketing is moving towards now to address this statement raised by Card. Whether Wesley Card wants accept it or not, his company’s products are still going to be discussed on-line. The fact that he feels apprehensive shows that he is very much behind. Even if Jones Apparel Group does not engage in social media marketing, that does not mean people won’t talk about Jones New York, Nine West, or Anne Klein (some of the brands owned by Jones Apparel Group). He needs to accept this fact and learn how to gain “control over what is being said about you or your company”. Yes, it is true that you won’t have complete control, but you can influence and help shape this landscape in your favor.

Radian6 is one of the larger social media marketing firms. In their introductory video, they state “You need to know how your brand is being discussed online. And you need to deliver and act on those insights with your company.” They continue on to explain that through their monitoring platform you will gain ability to “know who is talking about you, what they are saying, who the influential voices are in your industry, and where your community is hanging out on-line….Listening is just the beginning. Businesses need to engage with their communities….Radian6 helps you understand the landscape of social media, where your brand fits in, and how you can evaluate and benchmark the impact of your work. We scan millions of posts from main stream on-line news to blogs, forums, videos, and comments, social networks, and micro-media.” What Radian6 claims to do, and is capable of doing is where the industry is heading. They are capable of knowing where specific brands are talked about in positive or negative or even neutral manners. In fact, aforementioned Shiv Singh developed a SIM (Social Influence Marketing) score to come up with a measurement of how your company or brand is talked about on-line. As Radian6 video explains, the industry is also now moving to identify and target key influential voices, and are able to find out share of voices the brand has as well. None of this is exact science right now in terms of analysis. There are way way way too much information available, and not enough scientific ways to interpret these data yet. However, in the near future, social media marketing may become a norm and a standard much like search advertising or display banner advertising.

Facebook Monetization Part I: How Companies use Facebook Fan Pages

So in my previous post Mushon had commented that another question warrants some investigation is “While we know what incentive the user has for clicking on an ad relevant to their search query, how is/can social media creating a context that supports the advertiser’s messege and might effect consumer habits?” This is where social media triumphs over traditional online media such as search or display (it feels odd saying digital advertising is traditional, but I guess it has become traditional compared to newer media such as Social or Mobile). Facebook is essentially creating a mini-portal for companies through fan pages. Fan pages have become an essential part of company’s presence on-line and connecting with its consumers. In March 2009, Samir Balwani wrote an insightful post on Mashable explaining what an effective Facebook fan page involves.

According to Balwani, first and foremost, a fan page by definition and purpose provides a network with other platforms. Below are two examples, from the original post that show this synergy.

VS Pink Facebook Fan Page

The first picture is the Victoria’s Secret Pink homepage. This is a company-owned, controlled environment. However, you can see that there are abundant “re-directs” to Myspace or Facebook. The second picture is the image of Victoria’s Secret Pink Facebook fan page. Fan page contains direct video advertisement and elements that users might find interesting. It is still controlled environment, but it allows for users for interact with the brand and the company. Yet still, they do not hold the control or can change the fan page directly. It is a perceived control and perceived interaction. But it is an amazingly effective way to lead potential consumers down the marketing funnel and more engaged on the brand.

In addition Balwani explores how Facebook fan page can be used to more effectively conduct promotions and target wanted audience. Below is an image showing an example of Facebook coupon offers and store location finder for Sears:

Facebook Coupons

As you might imagine, this is much much much more cheaper and easier to conduct than print couponing. It also gives the companies more control. If they think too many coupons are being used, they can easily change the discount rate or even take the coupon down whenever necessary. Also, by being able to track where these coupons are being downloaded and used, they can more efficiently evaluate their market positions and strategy. Moreover, by knowing that people who come on your fan page are already more refined than the general audience, you know that you are reaching a more targeted audience. This becomes even more important for companies focused on younger population. For instance, Victoria’s Secret Pink mentioned above MUST utilize this since their target audience are all over Facebook.

Finally, Facebook fan pages provide a valuable channel to measure “buzz” around the brand. For years, buzz has been an essential element of marketing and advertising, yet it was always dismissed to a certain extent as unmeasurable marketing-speak. However, on the digital spectrum, measuring buzz and moreover measuring the value of buzz is becoming a reality. In fact, the General Sentiment recently shared “value of buzz” for major companies.

Facebook fan page is only one way in which companies utilize Facebook for marketing/advertising and only one way in which Facebook could generate money. I am not sure if Facebook charges companies for fan pages, but even if they don’t they should be making large chunks of money from click-through on coupons and ads on the fan pages already. In the near future, I believe Facebook could utilize fan pages to more effectively measure “buzz” themselves to provide individualized reports and consulting for companies (similar to Google for SEM/SEO). Or Facebook could earn money by adding security elements to the fan page and having companies pay for them. Facebook could use fan pages as direct e-commerce channel, which would be absolutely HUGE in terms of revenue opportunity. Whichever way Facebook decides to proceed, fan pages by itself shows a significant potential, if not already existing opportunities, in which Facebook generates money.

Facebook: Where is the Money Coming From?

We all know that Facebook is immensely popular. Almost everybody we know seems to be on it. Mark Zuckerberg, the creator and CEO of Facebook, declared in December 2009 that Facebook has over 350 million users around the world. Quite an amazing membership count. And although nobody seems to understand quite clearly how, Facebook and social media world in general are generating advertisement revenue. In fact, according to a Forrester Research projection social media marketing spend is expected to exceed $3.1 billion. While nowhere near $20 billion Google is making of search advertising, it is still a gigantic amount of money we are talking about being invested in social media. It is estimated that Facebook alone was able to generate $500 million in 2009.

Why is there so much money being invested in Facebook? Where are these ads showing up? Who is spending this much money? How are these “advertising” helping the companies that use Facebook to advertise? What does social media marketing really mean outside customer management? I will explore what is going behind the scenes to allow Facebook to operate and to expand at such astonishing rate.