Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Spin Cycle, 5/13

A round-up of recent happenings in the world of PR, marketing, and other things I find interesting.

The Yelpification of Foursquare: Foursquare just may become relevant again -- was it ever truly relevant? -- with its new Explore feature, which gives users personalized recommendations for restaurants and other venues. I've never used explore but I am a heavy user of Foursquare, though it reaps me few benefits. I've redeemed a handful of check-in specials, and we've used it effectively at work to hype events. Foursquare users who cross-post their check-ins to Facebook, Twitter, and, God forbid, LinkedIn probably do the service no favors by friends and followers who find these status updates annoying.

RIM's lame flashmob: The maker of the Blackberry tries to employ another fading relic of the digital age to get some attention and poke a stick at Apple: a flash mob, and a lousy one at that. Really, a flashmob? People are still doing those? It raises the question, what if someone attempts a PR stunt in the forest and no one notices except for PR bloggers? It's always so cute when someone updates their Facebook status with a Blackberry, like people who still use AOL email addresses.

Is Facebook 2012 the same as AOL 2001?: Speaking of the Internet graveyard, my friend and former colleague Dave Copeland wonders if the Facebook juggernaut is headed for the same kind of fall as America Online, which once stood astride the digital world like a colossus. Certainly Facebook can't take its success for granted. It's a service that millions use but, in my experience, few actually love. In that way, it's the Microsoft of social networking, another rather foreboding comparison. One key difference between AOL and Facebook is that while the former tried to offer users a unique way of experiencing the Internet and the web, those are open systems to which numerous competitors, regional and national, offered access. Facebook offers features that, as of now, haven't been replicated all in one place, and is closed to nonmembers. If you want to be part of Facebook, you have to be part of Facebook.

The Chronicle of Higher Education Stands By Its Woman, Until it Doesn't: Higher education's leading trade publication finds itself in a crisis-control mode after ditching a conservative blogger who take a broadside at black studies. I don't offer any comment as to whether the publication was in the right or in the wrong. That would pose a severe conflict of interest for me and my employer. I will say that it is always fascinating to see the tables turned on a news outlet, which is used to asking the questions, not answering them.

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