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Facebook Fan Pages – I Love Me, Will You Love Me Too?

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Not All Buses Are Heading the Right Way

I am typically a supporter of some of the innovative ways that folks want to promote themselves.  Social Media is a great platform for innovative ideas and often some of those ideas have passed us by before we realized how successful they really were, but I don’t think this applies to Facebook Fan Pages. I’ve leaving lots of room to be wrong here and I’m willing to hear another side.

I’ve been inundated with “I’m a fan, do you want to be too” invitations from people I’ve never heard of.  Typically they are fan of themselves and want you to be as well.

Todd Carpenter wrote about this at realtor.org, and one of the comments actually clarified what I couldn’t put my finger on.  I knew that I didn’t like the practice, but didn’t know why until Ginger WIlcox asked this:

“Is it worth it to violate standards of engagement and potentially offend our fan base (or potential fan base) just to get a vanity url? Couldn’t we inform people that we have a page and what we plan to include on that page. See if it sparks an interest?”

I’ll Let This Pass Me By

Look, if I’m really a fan I will seek you out.  I don’t think it’s a FanPage, if you’ve created it yourself.  Then it’s just a Narcissism Page.  I’ve sought out people and companies and become fans of their service, ministry or product; but rarely have those folks asked me to like them.  It defeats the intent of purposeful engagement.

If I want to engage you and be engaged than I’ll happily do so on your profile page.  I don’t understand the virtue of a Fan Page for an individual practitioner.  Sure, it’s a gathering place and yes if you get (I think) 100 fans than you get a unique URL, but can’t you register any old URL for $10 a year on Godaddy and point it to the Facebook fanpage? Is it to see if folks will congregate naturally?  I’ve always felt that the organic following that can occur in Social Media is far more powerful than this false sense of creation that a FanPage allows.

Somebody help me out, I’m sure I may be wrong on this.  There are some folks who’ve jumped on this bus, that I am truly a huge fan of.  But, if I am a fan of everyone, does it really carry a lot of “Wuffie”?

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45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Clint Miller

    June 30, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Matt — I am soooo with you on this issue. The fan page tidal wave crashed through my desk today after I received 37 separate requests today. I have never been a “fan” of the fan page…I dont have one for myself or for my company.

    Perhaps the narcissists should just invest in mirrors? 😉

  2. Michelle DeRepentigny

    June 30, 2009 at 10:42 am

    32 “be my fan” request in inbox this am – I really love some of these folks, but I am going to have to pay someone to accept all the invites, if I do. Whine…..

  3. Matt Stigliano

    June 30, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Matthew – I think the difficulty lies in the terms that companies use to define their sites. I heard a great discussion the other day of the danger of the word “friend” in relation to Facebook. The people I was talking with had a heated discussion over whether the “friend” status has created a false sense of a relationship when one doesn’t exist. They were not suggesting that friendships can’t be created through the online experience, but rather that the term makes for that false sense. As one “unfriends” someone, suddenly feelings are hurt, questions are asked, and in some cases feuds are waged. I wonder if things would have been different if Facebook (and other sites) had used different words to define the different aspects of their site.

  4. Lani Rosales

    June 30, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Between social networks inventing arbitrary benchmarks people must garner followers for in order to gain access to something (in this case, a vanity url) and social media “gurus” teaching crappy methodology, this behavior will not end any time soon, especially with all the hacks teaching realtors how to use social media. I think Matt Stigliano can tell you about his “Intro to Blogging” class he took once upon his time as an example.

    I’ll be your friend and that’s a pretty big endorsement. But to be a fan? I’m only a fan of a few things: (1) Jesus (2) my husband (3) University of Texas Football and (4) food. That’s about it, so if you’re not a deity, married to me, a college football program or a type of cheese, please keep your begging to yourself, thanks.

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    June 30, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Lani: I can be pretty cheesy! 😉

  6. Matt Stigliano

    June 30, 2009 at 11:30 am

    Matthew – You stole my “cheesey” joke. You’re too quick.

    Lani – Oh, the blogging class story. An MCE class no less. I had been blogging for a few months here, but my main site hadn’t really started. I was hungry for any knowledge I could get, especially on the topic of blogging. What I got out of the class? A mention of Teresa Boardman (just a mention of her name, no real explanation of who, what, why, how), a list of blog sites (ActiveRain, WordPress, eBlogger, etc.), a few questions about agent’s personal sites and a 40 minute advertisement for the teacher’s motivational style teaching group (a paid service, of course). I learned NOTHING. The agents around me all seemed to pat themselves on the back for the knowledge they had garnered, but I left with nothing but questions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting high and mighty and saying “I know more” and ignoring the fact that most of the class didn’t know much about blogging and therefore walked away with (for them) a wealth of knowledge. They didn’t get a thing out of either and I can bet that none of them rushed out to write a blog the next day either – since most of them were still scratching their heads trying to figure out what a blog even was.

    Recently, I attended our local board’s (SABOR) Town Hall meeting at which a local PR guy gave a talk about social media. I thought it was excellent for beginners and more experienced users. He understood it. He would never call himself a genius or guru, but the fact is, he’s the closest thing to one. When anyone with an internet connection can claim they can teach you all there is to social media and dazzle you with their sheer numbers (followers/friends/fans must mean you’re the expert, right?), it becomes all to easy for the “work-at-home” sales pitchmen to come out of the woodwork and sell you grape juice and tell you it’s a vintage bordeux.

  7. tomferry

    June 30, 2009 at 12:17 pm

    Matthew-

    Interesting conversation and as I am reading, I am nodding my head with you. I am happy with my private Facebook page and really wondering the “true” benefit on the fan page … other than the publicness of it.

    Does anyone here think that Facebook will remove their 5,000 max rule for private pages????

    Tom

  8. Drew Meyers

    June 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    I’m with you too – no offense to anyone who has sent me a request over the past few days, but I’m getting somewhat annoyed with all the suggestions to join fan pages.

    My experience with fan pages is that they are just one more channel resulting in marketing messages showing up in my (facebook) inbox.

  9. Thomas Johnson

    June 30, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    A million fan pages @ $10/month=$120 million/year. Just thinking they can charge industrial users and keep the free side free.

  10. cindy*staged4more

    June 30, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    I think it’s a brilliant point. Although from a business owner point of view, it’s such a pain to list out the entire URL that is cluttered and difficult to remember. Going from https://www.facebook.com/s.php?q=ecojoe&init=q&sid=0#/ecojoe?ref=s to facebook.com/ecojoe is quite handy when I need to send a quick link out to people, instead of tinyurl it, then send it out to people.

    I don’t think there would’ve been such a frenzy if FB didn’t bump up the requirement from 25 to 100 the day of the deadline. I hated keep asking friends for it, but I wanted to protect my business interest. Facebook page is an incredible tool for a small business if leveraged correctly. I must say my vanity URL had become very handy even if we just had it for a couple days.

    I also must say that now I am running a service based business and a product based business, the business models are similar but still different. Therefore the effectiveness of becoming a fan is very different for a product vs. a service.

    Just my 2 cents 😉

    Cheers,
    Cindy

  11. Ken Brand

    June 30, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    @MattRathbun

    It’s interesting to watch the ebb and flow of human nature, IRL and on-line. I must admit, I’ve had a “Fan” page sitting unpublished for some time. Then suddenly, a “don’t miss out” meme, sweeps through FB and I hit publish too. Why? Because I’m human and weak and easily sold….ok…forget all that weak and easy stuff. I’m human….I think?

    I think 99% of the “fan” page stuff is simply reactionary to the URL deal and seeing so many others do it too. Who want’s to miss out. It me be important everyone’s doing it.

    It’ll die down in a few days and it’ll be back to normal, only there’ll be 1,000s of abandoned Fan Pages next month.

    Lastly, I think for most of us, there is a visceral aversion to the word “FAN”. It’s a horrible name choice. I don’t know about everyone else, but asking someone to be a “FAN” of mine sounds like such a dick-thing to say or ask. And the idea that I’m a “FAN” of anybody let alone a mere mortal civilian, well, that’s sounds stupid too.

    It’s sorta the same thing with “Friends”, come-on, if you have more that 20 or 30 friends….are they really friends? No. They’re something else, important but not friends or fans.

    Having said all of that. Having a larger network is better than a smaller one – provided you’re not pimping the hell out of your smack and you’re sharing something worthwhile. My 2cents.

    Oh well – onward march and hey if you wanna be my “FAN” and who wouldn’t, I’m a freaking giant in my own mind, you can FB search for me at: Ken Brand – Brand Candid. Ha,ha.

    Seriously….it’s a whacky, fun, amusing world. When’s the next Party Wave gonna roll in…start paddling surf doggies.

  12. Brad Nix

    June 30, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Matt:

    I have had a published FB Page for my ‘company’ for a couple months now (April 14th to be exact). I created this company page almost a month before I noticed individual agents creating pages about themselves. It annoyed me so much, I wrote this post: https://bit.ly/HDMAG completely against real estate agents creating facebook pages about themselves.

    My page (https://www.facebook.com/maxsell) grew organically and locally for months until I noticed the June 29th land rush for vanity URLs announced on Mashable. So on Sunday afternoon, June 28th, I spent some time sprucing up my ‘page’ in hopes of growing from 90 organic fans to 100 (the magic FB #) in one afternoon. I never sent a Facebook message to all my friends asking them to friend me, but I did post some status updates on my wall and replied to a few twitter conversations about the building buzz of pages. It worked and I easily bumped up to 116 or so fans just before the land rush began at midnight.

    I tell this story just to point out that I agree and disagree at the same time.

    I disagree with Lani about only being a fan of a few things in life and challenge her to rethink the statement. She may find she’s a fan of meat, or sunny days at the beach, or toe-curling sextuplets. It’s just that it’s really damn hard to be a fan of NOTHING. And almost all the recent pages have nothing published. Agents have no business creating personal pages for people to fan anyways – even though ‘I love me some me’. It’s a lot easier to be a fan of company than it is to be friends with one. It’s also easier to be a fan of location (real estate) than it is to be a friend with a city. Therefore, sometimes FB Pages are valuable and applicable – but just make sure they have content (and content worth curling your toes over before expecting fans to flock).

  13. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    July 1, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Ever since Facebook, et.al. became the new medium for Realtors (and other business people) to try and interact with clients or potential clients, this proliferation of “follow me, I’ll follow you” has exploded. I’m guessing that the old saw, “It’s a numbers game” is holding true in social media. If you get enough people to follow, friend or fan you it will look like you are one big, hunkin’, mega producin’ superstar. Or you might get the stray customer that stumbled across your page.

    Everyone loves a celebrity. That’s what they exist outside of social media, too. (STARpower, CyberSTARS, SUPERservant, SuperSTAR…more).

    Perception is everything. Even if all your followers, friends and fans are other real estate professionals (as are about 90% of mine) it gives the appearance that you are really, really popular and/or successful.

    However, Matt, the big corporate giants are also trying to attract fans to their Facebook Fan page. Discover, Dell, Visa, Starbucks…just to name a few. This is the way they interact with a customer base. I’ll admit it probably works better for them than for real estate professionals. After all, they have a global customer base. Mine is about 20 miles in diameter.

    I’m with you, though, a GoDaddy URL and organic growth is probably a lot better than a bunch or reciprocal follows.

  14. MIssy Caulk

    July 1, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I think I am torn. I didn’t see the point either at first and didn’t start one. But, I wanted a vanity URL that I could put on my business cards not the long one.

    I do think the flurry will pass as we were all trying to get the magic number of 100.

    I have to tell you I did feel like a begger, it was weird…but my “friends” came through. Plus some local Ann Arbor businesses that I hope to connect with in a more meaningful way.

    I had Mike Mueller add my Altos Reports so I am hoping that will keep the A2 folks looking.

    Every new social network that started seemed the have so many requests and then it died down.

  15. Joey Marino

    July 1, 2009 at 10:21 am

    While I agree somewhat, I still think fan pages have tremendous value if done right. I have a fan page for “Joey Marino | Canton Ohio Real Estate Agent” and it’s got my professional picture and only gets updated with real estate information. I just got 100 fans! I only invite each friend once.
    – The invitation is valuable as well, you are informing people that you are an agent.
    – It helps separate me from my business.
    – It’s a great way to bookmark all the RE advice I post.
    – Another great thing is that my face, name and the term “real estate agent” is on all my fans profiles.
    – Also, whenever I get a few additional fans at once, the fan page gets highlighted on the news feed for all their friends. People tell me that they’ve seen my realtor fan page in the highlighted section numerous times. This is like free advertising.
    – I link to my face book fan page so the user isn’t sorting through all my personal posts to find any real estate information.
    – I have to attribute more deals from the fan page than my profile.
    Check out my fan page facebook.com/pages/Canton-OH/Joey-Marino-Canton-Real-Estate-Agent/75674412836

  16. Joe Loomer

    July 1, 2009 at 11:39 am

    I’ve never created a fan page and don’t intend to – on FB or anywhere else. My primary reason for joining Facebook came from a desire to find the scattered buddies from my Navy travels – and it’s worked wonderfuly for that.

    The unintended consequence has been a growth in referral business as my shipmates from all corners of the planet have referred folks my way for real estate. Having spent my Navy days in the cryptologic trade, I’ve seeen the duty stations for my retired buds in government employment – and those still on active duty – dwindle to precious few locations – one of them being here in my area of Augusta, Georgia.

    I do work my posts, send what I believe are relevant links, and create lists of friends from different backgrounds, locations, and employment – including past clients. Can’t really say if a fan page would really help me or not because I’d feel weird asking someone to be my fan.

    Do I sometimes tailor my FB efforts to generate business – of course. Do I do so with all my posts? Not even close.

    For now, I’m with Lani – the Big Cheese of AG.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  17. Matthew Rathbun

    July 1, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    To all,

    Great points on all behalf and I think that everyone has learned some perspective. Many of you have shared that you have FB pages and some I have actually joined; because I really am a fan of yours.

    However, once I start seeing the same update from the profile page and the fan page, or start getting a lot of spam, I’m going to unfollow. Not to be mean, but because there is just too much junk to keep track of. I want to be able to actually follow things about each of your lives that makes you; you – not what makes you money.

  18. tomferry

    July 1, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Matthew and all-
    Just wanted to say thanks again … all of your points of view and conversation have been really helpful to me! Thx

  19. Lani Rosales

    July 1, 2009 at 12:31 pm

    Long comment, but bear with me, the juicy stuff is at the middle and the end:

    There is one detail everyone is missing!!! If you’re casting your net in the wrong spot, it doesn’t matter how many “fans” you have, you’re not catching fish. If you’re an Alabama broker and you’re inviting me in Austin along with 20 friends you met when you came to visit here last month, none of us are going to use you as a broker and the best you’ll get out of me is the 1 referral every 10 years for someone moving from here to Alabama. Your time is better used if you reach out to locals instead of the never ending drumbeat of realtors reaching out to other realtors which gets you to the vanity url point but has FAR LESS value than local connections.

    It’s not just Facebook, it’s Twitter, blogging, etc. where agents are getting their egos stroked by other agents and then wondering why they haven’t converted any leads.

    Think of it like this: if I’m a college student and I’m looking to network to help aide my future, I will want to meet professors in my field, executives in my future industry, recruiters from my field and experts that can help me going forward… I would NOT throw a keg party and put up posters inviting everyone because the only people that will show up are the new freshmen looking for beer which makes for one hell of a party, makes me feel cute and popular but does absolutely nothing to advance my career goals other than the drunk 18 year old who barfed on my couch whose daddy owns a firm in my field and drunk kid might connect me with his dad if he remembers my name the next day.

    This comment is pretty harsh, so let me share that I WILL make exceptions:
    1. I am a fan of Brad’s company because he set it up for the obvious reasons he stated and he was clearly not gaming the system, just look at all the locals that are fans.

    2. If Ken Brand sends me a fan request, I’ll fan him because I know a lot of people in Houston, people move from Austin to Houston sometimes AND because I like the hell out of him personally and AM an actual fan.

    3. I am a fan of Missy Caulk and Maureen Francis. People seem to relocate to that area from Texas for whatever crazy reason and I’ve had the opportunity to send more than one referral to that area.

    4. We are fans of our writers and readers and will be friends with almost anyone in the real estate industry but I personally wade through hundreds of emails, messages and phone calls every day and my time clock cannot afford to wade through fan page messages just because someone I’ve never talked to in Waxahachie needs a vanity url for their page.

    The resolve I’ve come to through this thought process though is that this is not the fault of the agents, it’s the fault of Facebook. Facebook needs to allow people to get a vanity url for their fan pages for a reason other than gaming the system and forcing people to have 100 followers of the page, rather Facebook needs the qualifying factor to be time so that if a fan page has been active (not just set up and abandoned) for over 30 days, it should be seen as legitimate. So Facebook, quit sucking and creating this problem or innocent Realtors will be punished. You don’t want that, do you, Facebook?

  20. Matthew Rathbun

    July 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    Yeah…what Lani said…

  21. Judy Moriarty

    July 1, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    My two cents. I don’t understand why people didn’t brand themselves when the first goldrush for vanity URL’s took place. I didn’t use my name – I figured people who knew my name could find me by searching that themselves. I used my “chick” brand. This way people can find me either by searching FB for my name or by searching “realestatechick”. It seemed to make a lot of sense to me at the time. And now, with this recent rush to “fan me” insanity, I know it was the right choice.

    I have the “vanity” URL (for what that’s worth) and I avoided the need to beg my peers to “like” me. (beginner’s luck, I guess……)

  22. Ken Montville - MD Suburbs of DC

    July 1, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    A thought about Lani’s comment about Facebook and Fan Pages.

    If Facebook was out to totally just make the life of Realtors miserable than the “time qualifier” might make sense but Facebook isn’t about Realtors. It’s about creating a space for businesses of all kinds to create a page and then pay for an ad to drive people to the fan page. It’s not rocket science. The big boys (and girls) can pay for ads and do all the time. The smaller businesses (can you say: “MLM”?) want to drive people to their pages from all over the place and may be willing to pay for ads. It’s not about Facebook being “local”. Facebook is global. They could care less if your client base is 10 miles wide or 1000 miles wide or the entire circumference of the earth.

    It is just an unhappy and, possibly, unintended consequence of the vanity URL. Like Missy was saying, a vanity URL can go on a business card or anything else and drive people to…..Facebook. More eyeballs on Facebook, more clicks on ads, more $$$ in Facebook’s bank account.

  23. cindy*staged4more

    July 1, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Lani’s got a great point (as usual), but this just goes with my point as well. If you have a product based business, vanity URL will work vs. service based business. For a staging company in San Francisco, a fan from any other place doesn’t really matter since the chances are slim that I’ll get a referral or actual work. But a product is different since anyone anywhere can potentially buy it, as long as they got some money.

    I think vanity URL still has its merits.

  24. Karen Rice

    July 1, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Here’s my take on it, if anyone is interested. I know that most of you who are “dead set against” this won’t agree, but oh well.

    Facebook pages are SEO friendly, or so I have been told. Unlike people’s profi les that are protected/hidden, the pages are crawled by Search Engines, which makes them a good thing to have for your business.

    Being a “fan” on facebook is merely a more casual relationship than being a “friend.” Being a fan of a page is just a way for users to give a page a virtual thumbs up. Nobody is going to hold you to it, I highly doubt that many people look to see who the other fans are on a page.

    This is facebook’s fault for upping the ante on the required number of fans for a page to have a vanity URL. Previously it was 1,000. Then they dropped it to 25. Then for some crazy reason at the 11th hour, they jumped it to 100, making it nearly impossible for pages with humble fans like mine (I had about 30 fans, I believe) to qualify.

    It’s just a matter of helping one another out, when you get down to it. Unfortunately, a lot of real estate agents are of the lone ranger frame of mind – “why should I help you? what benefit does it have to me?”

    Well, shucks. It has the benefit that you helped someone else meet a benchmark to obtain something they wanted, that would only have taken a couple of minutes to comply with. Interestingly, I responded to about 15 “fan” requests yesterday, and only gained about 3 or 4 fans myself.

    Nice. I still don’t have my vanity URL. Sure, I could pay $10 a year for GoDaddy and re-direct it. Never mind that search engines don’t like redirected URLs as much as standard ones.

    I’ve always believed in the adage “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.”

    It’s no different than connecting with people you don’t know in real life on LinkedIn.

    Go ahead, be a lone ranger. That’s what social networking is ALL about, isn’t it?

  25. tomferry

    July 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    Karen- I hear what you are saying!

  26. Karen Rice

    July 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Judy – re: vanity urls – the ones that were available recently to everyone were the ones for our profiles, not for your pages.

  27. Matthew Rathbun

    July 1, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Karen,

    All of what you say would be fine, if it wasn’t for the natural and overwhelming inclination of agents to abuse any tools they are given.

    There are lots of good and healthy ways to build SEO that don’t involve the need for me to spam my “friends”.

    With the large number of Facebook Fan pages, it’s only a matter of time before Google starts moving them out of the algorithms. IMHO.

  28. Brad Nix

    July 1, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I still love me some me (and some Lani too).

    Matt – the fact that you have this conversation adds so much value to the real estate community. The pros and cons are all displayed and it lets individual agents decide on which side of the track their brand should play.

    Thanks!

  29. Tobias Kaiser

    December 3, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Matthew, just found your comment through speakingofrealestate – you expressed my queasy feelings about fan pages short and sweet. Practically all fan page requests I receive make me cringe to begin with, so why do I want to jump in then and create one myself?

    My personal FB page, which started out for friends only, now has over 50% business contacts. Arrrrgh. I am (or was) considering moving them to a fan page, a second profile or over to LinkedIn. But then your expression of a “narcissism page” hit the nail on the head, so it sank a misguided idea like a torpedo. Thank you for saying what I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

  30. Eric Hempler

    December 3, 2009 at 11:36 am

    A fan page should really be a watered down version of your website. Something basic enough that you can utilize the FBML on a facebook page tab that will show something of a preview of your website. I’ve found a few I really like and would like to do that at some point. For now I’ll try to provide content that may get traffic to my site and perhaps clients.

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Social Media

*New* TikTok Insights launch: Content creators finally get audience analytics

(SOCIAL MEDIA) The popular short-form app, TikTok, finally launches the anticipated Insights feature, where content creators can view target audience data.

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Two girls filming on TikTok.

Marketers searching for the zeitgeist which means TikTok scrollers pause to watch their content and then click through to buy a product have a new tool to help make that happen.

  • TikTok Insights offers marketers bite-size bits of user demographic information that will help build content that leads to sales.
  • With TikTok Insights you can learn more about your audience’s behavior, their interests, and their general sentiment toward brands.
  • TikTok Insights is free to use. Marketers can find TikTok user demographics by using filters to determine what they’re looking for.

The demographic info can be age-focused, focused on specific types of marketing, or even as specific as holiday or event marketing.

This is a step in the direction marketers have been asking for as they create content for the TikTok platform; however, creators looking for detailed analytics like they get from meta need to wait. Insights doesn’t offer that for now.

Like TikTok says in its own analytic information,

“While analytics are helpful in understanding the performance of your videos, you don’t need to create future videos based primarily around them. It’s best to consider the bigger picture, lean lightly on analytics, and use them as a source for insight rather than strategy.”

Marketers trying to key into reaching TikTok’s billion users worldwide are left, right now, searching for the magic that leads to consumers making the jump from the platform to using their purchasing power.

For marketers that means keeping things creative and collaborative, two key factors in TikTok’s success. And that success is huge. Users spend an average of 52 minutes on the platform when they log in and a staggering 90% of users say they log on every day.

TikTok Insights will help marketers find ways to connect, but the content TikTok is looking for is authentic.

And while entrepreneurs can bid for advertising like other social media platforms, they need to remember when planning that spend, that most TikTok marketing success stories are more accidental than planned. Have fun with that knowledge. Instead of pressure to create the perfect plan, TikTok Insights allows marketers to keep it creative and to find a way to tie it into what they enjoy about the platform.

Like all other social media marketing, focus on creating content that stops the consumer from their continual scroll. Make it a challenge and keep it real.

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Social Media

Grindr got busted for selling users’ data locations to advertisers

(SOCIAL MEDIA) User data has been a hot topic in the tech world. It’s often shared haphazardly or not protected, and the app Grindr, follows suit.

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Grindr on phone in man's hands

If you’re like me, you probably get spam calls a lot. Information is no longer private in this day and age; companies will buy and sell whatever information they can get their hands on for a quick buck. Which is annoying, but not necessarily outright dangerous, right?

Wrong.

Grindr has admitted to selling their user’s data, however, they are specifically selling the location of their users without regard for liability concerns. Grindr, a gay hook-up app, is an app where a marginalized community is revealing their location to find a person to connect to. Sure, Grindr claims they have been doing this less and less since 2020, but the issue still remains: they have been selling the location of people who are in a marginalized community – a community that has faced a huge amount of oppression in the past and is still facing it to this day.

Who in their right mind thought this was okay? Grindr initially did so to create “real-time ad exchanges” for their users, to find places super close to their location. Which makes sense, sort of. The root of the issue is that the LGBTQAI+ community is a community at risk. How does Grindr know if all of their users are out? Do they know exactly who they’re selling this information to? How do they know that those who bought the information are going to use it properly?

They don’t have any way of knowing this and they put all of their users at risk by selling their location data. And the data is still commercially available! Historical data could still be obtained and the information was able to be purchased in 2017. Even if somebody stopped using Grindr in, say, 2019, the fact they used Grindr is still out there. And yeah, the data that’s been released has anonymized, Grindr claims, but it’s really easy to reverse that and pin a specific person to a specific location and time.

This is such a huge violation of privacy and it puts people in real, actual danger. It would be so easy for bigots to get that information and use it for something other than ads. It would be so easy for people to out others who aren’t ready to come out. It’s ridiculous and, yeah, Grindr claims they’re doing it less, but the knowledge of what they have done is still out there. There’s still that question of “what if they do it again” and, with how the world is right now, it’s really messed up and problematic.

If somebody is attacked because of the data that Grindr sold, is Grindr complicit in that hate crime, legally or otherwise?

So, moral of the story?

Yeah, selling data can get you a quick buck, but don’t do it.

You have no idea who you’re putting at risk by selling that data and, if people find out you’ve done it, chances are your customers (and employees) will lose trust in you and could potentially leave you to find something else. Don’t risk it!

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Social Media

BeReal: Youngsters are flocking in droves to this Instagram competitor app

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As Instagram loses steam due to its standards of “perfection posting,” users are drawn to a similar app with a different approach, BeReal.

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BeReal is one of several “Real” apps exploding in growth with young users who crave real connections with people they know in real life.

According to data.ai, BeReal ranks 4th by downloads in the US, the UK, and France for Q1 2022 to date, behind only Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.

BeReal flies in the face of what social media has become. Instead of curated looks that focus on the beautiful parts of life, BeReal users showcase what they’re doing at the moment and share those real photos with their friends. Their real friends.

It’s real. And real is different for a generation of social media users who have been raised on influencers and filters.

As the app says when you go to its page:

Be Real.

Your Friends

for Real.

Every day at a different time, BeReal users are notified simultaneously to capture and share a Photo in 2 Minutes.

A new and unique way to discover who your friends really are in their daily life.

BeReal app

The app has seen monthly users increase by more than 315% according to Apptopia, which tracks and analyzes app performance.

“Push notifications are sent around the world simultaneously at different times each day,” the company said in a statement. “It’s a secret on how the time is chosen every day, it’s not random.”

The app allows no edits and no filters. They want users to show a “slice of their lives.”

Today’s social media users have seen their lives online inundated with ultra-curated social media. The pandemic led to more time spent online than ever. Social media became a way to escape. Reality was ugly. Social media was funny, pretty, and exciting.

And fake.

Enter BeReal where users are asked to share two moments of real life on a surprise schedule. New apps are fun often because they’re new. However, the huge growth in the use of BeReal by college-aged users points to something more than the new factor.

For the past several years, experts have warned that social media was dangerous to our mental health. The dopamine hits of likes and shares are based on photos and videos filled with second and third takes, lens changes, lighting improvements, and filters. Constant comparisons are the norm. And even though we know the world we present on our social pages isn’t exactly an honest portrayal of life, we can’t help but experience FOMO when we see our friends and followers and those we follow having the times of their lives, buying their new it thing, trying the new perfect product, playing in their Pinterest-worthy decorated spaces we wish we could have.

None of what we see is actually real on our apps. We delete our media that isn’t what we want to portray and try again from a different angle and shoot second and third and forth takes that make us look just a little better.

We spend hours flipping through videos on our For You walls and Instagram stories picked by algorithms that know us better than we know ourselves.

BeReal is the opposite of that. It’s simple, fast, and real. It’s community and fun, but it’s a moment instead of turning into the time-sink of our usual social media that, while fun, is also meant to ultimately sell stuff, including all our data.

It will be interesting to watch BeReal and see if it continues down its promised path and whether the growth continues. People are looking for something. Maybe reality is that answer.

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