Facebook may rule the social networking roost these days, but this past week I saw a couple of reminders of how fleeting that status can be. First, here’s an email that arrived from Friendster, once a dominant player in the online social space:
We are introducing a new and improved Friendster site in the coming weeks. As part of this change, we will remove a number of social networking functions in Friendster. This includes your existing account profile, photos, messages, blogs, and shoutouts. However, your list of friends will be preserved, along with your basic profile information.
We understand that your photos, blogs and other private data may be important to you. An application is available in the “Apps” section of the site, until May 31st 2011, to help you download or export them securely to third party sites, such as Flickr or Multiply. The application is available here.
Well, “bribery” of a sort: over the past couple of days, two different organizations have tried an interesting tack to build their Facebook followings, promising to make a donation to a cause if people “like” their Facebook pages. First, Credo Mobile:
In honor of Earth Day, we’ll plant a tree for every new person who “Likes” CREDO on Facebook between Earth Day (April 22, 2011) and the end of the month (up to a max of 75,000 trees)
New guest article, new guest author! Beth Becker’s first piece for Epolitics.com reviews a mobile CRM tool with implications for elected officials and campaigns alike. Look for more from Beth to come, and also check her out on Twitter and at one of her latest projects, ProgressiveCongressNews.
Visible Vote: Bringing Constituent Relations to the Mobile Phone
Visible Vote was founded in part as a response to frustration by Chicago resident Paul Everton after he tried to find an easy way to track what was going on with the 2009 economic stimulus bill and to make his opinion heard. A long conversation with his brother led to one of those classic light-bulb moments, and a new idea was born.
Why do I love Visible Vote? It’s the first tool for communication between elected official and constituent that is built for the mobile app environment. The only way to access Visible Vote other than a smart phone is through the company’s Facebook app. The cool part? That Facebook app and the app on your mobile phone sync with each other at the touch of a button, so if you bounce back and forth you won’t lose information or see the same poll twice.
Howdy folks! Sorry for the brief publishing hiatus, but other parts of life needed tending-to for a few weeks. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to take the occasional break from the writing, painful as it can be to restart. But now I’m looking at a slew of article ideas all stacked up and crying out for love, so it’s get to work. First up, though, a guest article — let’s give a warm e.pol welcome to Beth Becker’s debut on the site.
These days, corporate brands and nonprofits alike are diving into Facebook marketing — for a small indicator, look at how many TV commercials now drive potential customers to a Facebook page rather than to a company’s own website (ten years ago, it might have been a AOL page!). And of course pushing a product or cause on Facebook makes intuitive sense, considering how much time we now spend on the site — you want to go where the audience is. But here’s the elephant in the room: what good are those followers if we can’t actually get them to DO anything?
Note that I’m not talking about the Gladwellian “soft ties” argument about the potential of social media to change the world — to me, Egypt and Tunisia are proof enough of social media’s ability to provide people the tools to self-organize for political change. I’m thinking from the point of view of a practical professional marketer, someone who’s trying to get attention for a product or (more relevant for our purposes on Epolitics.com) to build a following for a candidate or a social cause.
Unlike so many a past political-portal wanna-be, PopVox is NOT trying to be everything to everyone. Instead, the company’s founders have settled on a straightforward primary purpose — to aggregate public and interest-group opinion by bill/issue and by legislative district.
Again unlike many past attempts to create systems to influence or educate Congress, the people behind PopVox have either worked on the Hill themselves or have a great deal of experience advocating on behalf of issues with members and staff. In other words, they know how Congress works and what staff actually need.
Finally, PopVox doesn’t charge organizations to participate, unlike at least one past effort to aggregate information on issues (National Journal’s now-defunct Policy Council). This last factor is absolutely key, since a project like PopVox will only succeed if a critical mass of organizations and advocates choose to use it to communicate with Congress. Free is a tough price to beat.
Next up: let’s see if it works, but I have a better feeling about this one than I have about most new advocacy technologies that get tossed this way.
Mergers and acquisitions? Why not — all the cool kids are doing it. So let’s go after the ghost of AOL, now firmly wed to the web’s most impressive self-reinventor, Arianna Huffington. Let me check my pockets…hmmmm, five bucks and a quarter, that should just about do it.
April Fools! Here, let me make it up to y’all, seeing that it’s Friday and all:
Epolitics.com, your first choice in online cruelty. Mwahahahahaaha.