Tulane VISTA Blog

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Field Report: CPS – Social Media

Social Media Overload?

I recently read an article discussing the latest addition to Facebook called Facebook Places. This is not to be confused with Google Places (which used to be Google Local Business Center) or the new Twitter Places. Confused yet? Well, you are not alone. It seems like the longer and deeper I delve into the whole Social Media trend the more information overload I experience.

So first thing is first, let’s first get caught up with the new Facebook Places. If you are a Facebook user you may have noticed posts in your News Feeds noting geographic locations with a hyperlink. Well, this is the beginning of Facebook’s new location-based service that allows users to “check in” to various businesses, stores, and places, and then share their location, via Facebook, with their friends.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), to take advantage of this new feature a user must download the new version of the Facebook iPhone application. If you don’t have an iPhone, you will have to use the Facebook touch mobile site that supports both HTML 5 and geolocation.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? In June 2010 Twitter announced, the launch of Twitter Places. Twitter Places allows users the ability to tag Tweets with specific places and create new Twitter Places. Along with this, Twitter announced they are working on bringing Twitter Places to their other mobile applications, including Twitter for iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

So how is this different from Google Places? As of April 2010, Google began offering business owners, organizations and customers the opportunity to list their business on the new Google Places (formerly known as the Google Local Business Center).   Among the new changes is a Customized QR Code feature. Using this feature, businesses can download a QR code that is unique to their business which can then be placed on business cards or other marketing materials. Customers can then scan them with certain smartphones to be taken directly to the mobile version of the Place Page for that business.

To me, Facebook Places, Google Places, and Twitter Places sound awfully similar to geolocation networks provided through Foursquare, Loopt, and Gowalla.

The influx of networks with eerily similar features has left business owners and organization leaders with a feeling of information overload as well – and rightfully so. To my knowledge, there is no Better Business Bureau for social media networks. So what is one to do? Well, there are plenty of rating and review sites. From a business model perspective, my best recommendation would be to check third-party reviews and examine case studies on how various businesses are actually using such tools to support their business plan. Remember, just because you can and it is free doesn’t always mean an organization should take advantage of each and every network out there. It is too much to keep up with and frankly there is not enough time in the day. Keep asking yourself, how will this benefit my consumers? How will this help achieve company objectives? It is easy to get caught up in the latest tech trend or emerging network, but remember the (desired) results should dedicate your actions. If you do not see the potential for a set of desired outcomes, then maybe your time would be better spent pursuing other efforts. – Dominica Garza, AmeriCorps VISTA 

Dominica Garza is the Social Media Liaison with the Center for Public Service at Tulane University, you can contact her by email at: mediavista@tulane.edu.

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Notes from the field from the AmeriCorps VISTA team at Tulane University.

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