A Slice of Life
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commentary on issues in politics, culture, environment and technology
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14 May 11 Have You Sold Your Soul to Facebook?

A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...

Image via Wikipedia

Some time ago Facebook changed it’s image viewing feature.  There was some discussion at the time around the social media traps, many commenting that they weren’t in love with the changes but eventually this died away and most seem to have accepted the changes without thinking too much about them.  The problem is, sooner or later you realise that the changed layout means you can now only view images, you can’t actually download them.  This may seem like no big deal but the implications are actually quite sinister.

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04 Aug 10 Consume, Be Silent and Die: A Valediction Against Lurking

flock of sheep

Image via Wikipedia

The vast majority of internet users are lurkers; passive users who never generate any content, never participate in discussions, never post comments.  This to some degree explains the extraordinary success of Facebook.  The ubiquitous Facebook ‘like button’ allows passive users to interact with online content with a simple click; you don’t need to comment, you don’t need to exercise your brain at all.  Perhaps it also why social media platforms such as MySpace have been less successful.  You can customise MySpace profiles a great deal more than you can with a Facebook profile, especially if you’re comfortable using a little html, but you really need to post some content to get anything out of it.  The simple fact is, most people just aren’t interested in how their profile pages appear.  Posting the odd trivial message, clicking ‘likes’ and playing games like ‘Farmville‘ is a rewarding social media experience for many. Just what is wrong with that?! I hear you ask with a rising tone of indignation and outrage.

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30 Jul 10 Ask and Ye Shall Recieve: Dealing with Twitter Complaints Part II

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 10:  MC Hammer sp...
MC Hammer speaking on the power of social media. Image by Getty Images via @daylife

In a previous post on this topic, I related how I experienced dissatisfaction with a company’s services and how I sought satisfaction from the company in question by making my complaint online via Twitter.  Had a made my complaint by more conventional means, say by telephone, I’m sure it would have been much less successful.  “Yes sir, we’re very sorry but there’s not much more we can do…”  Most are familiar with being fobbed off by less than sympathetic sales staff, getting nowhere and ending up feeling frustrated and angry.  Complaining via social media is much more effective; you have a potential audience of millions and the whole thing ends up being a PR exercise which may be mutually beneficial.  If you are involved with an online complaint, there are a few things to be aware of that might help. (more…)

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27 Jul 10 Ask And Ye Shall Receive: Complain on Twitter

hitler on the phoneI first noticed how effective a Twitter complaint could be some time ago.  I was casually discussing a problem I was having with a WordPress plugin ‘SezWho‘.  To be honest, I wasn’t terribly fair; I tweeted something along the lines of “this plugin sucks” when in actual fact, the problem was most likely caused by conflict with some other plugin and not really a problem with SezWho at all.  I was surprised that within hours of making my comment, SezWho contacted me via Twitter and went out of their way to resolve the problem.  I apologised to them for jumping to conclusions and I was very pleased and impressed by their diligence and professionalism.

Many companies now have a social media presence.  If you have a complaint, you can easily find their social media profile and complain to them directly.  Just Google “so and so on Twitter” or “so and so on Facebook” and you’ll find the company you’re looking for very quickly.  Don’t make the mistake I inadvertently did: do a little research before you complain to make sure the problem is actually the fault of the company in question.

Dealing with complaints on social networking sites has become an important public relations exercise.  Many companies employ a ‘social networking team’ to deal with such complaints.  Dealing with a problem positively can turn bad publicity into good and an angry customer can change from a bad mouther to a singer of praises.  As is usually the case, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and if you are dissatisfied you might as well get some grease. For example:

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04 Apr 10 Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-04-04

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02 Aug 09 Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-08-02

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12 Jul 09 Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-07-12

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26 Mar 09 Dear Facebook

Today I am very honoured to feature a guest post by kate on a topic which seems to be on a lot of people’s minds lately.


Dear Facebook,

We’ve become very close over the last couple of years, I would even go as far as saying I love you, just a little. In that time we’ve had some fun, shared the highs of discovering how to import external content, and lows of my abysmal track record at your wide variety of 3rd party word games. Through it all, we’ve stuck together. I even supported you during the furore surrounding the infamous 2008 makeover. However, I fear things are no longer the same. You’ve changed, and not for the better.

I can understand your desire to make some money. I admire your quest to adapt and improve. But really, did you have to become so aloof, so impenetrable? Why must I now click 2, even 3 times to find what you used to share so openly? Why do you insult my intelligence by assuming I want to know when one of my friends has sent virtual flowers to fifteen of her friends? You seem to think I do because you serve up the message fifteen times. At first I assumed this was a joke because the Facebook I know and love would never seriously believe it was a good idea, then I discovered your bizarre notion of highlights.

Your interpretation of the word highlight seems somewhat loose. So loose in fact, I suspect you may have been hitting the bottle, and in a drunken state got it mixed up with another word. Hmm, now which word was it? Oh yes, trivial. Far from highlights, what I see in the right sidebar is a list of stuff I have no interest in. I don’t recall ever mentioning a liking for tongue piercing, motor sport or reality tv. Just because my friends like something it doesn’t mean I do too. We are not one homogeneous mass; we are not the Borg. Why don’t you see me as an individual, am I just another member to you? Even worse, these so called highlights are embarrassing. What if someone peers over my shoulder and discovers I know people who are fans of Jeremy Clarkson?! Did you ever pause to consider my feelings?

I think I should come clean with you Facebook. I know you’ve had your suspicions about my dalliance with Twitter. In fact, I believe you’ve tried to turn yourself into a copy of him in some desperate attempt to compete, but it will never work; you are simply a pale imitation. I’m sorry, he is not the only one, someone else has caught my eye, Friendfeed. He may not be as popular as you, but he is appealingly uncomplicated. Friendfeed shares with me. I go to my home page and everything I want to see is laid out before my eyes. He will even auto-update the content if I ask. You used to do that! Now it’s just too much trouble isn’t it? Typical!

It seems to me, your amazing success has gone to your head. You are no longer lovable Facebook who was all about users. You’ve become cold, distant and less functional. But, it’s not too late! You can still change. Why not give the live feed back to me, and offer a way to make the ‘highlights’ into something useful? We could then put all this behind us, and I’d love you a little bit more.

Kate x

Kate lives in the north of England and usually blogs here.

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