Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Power of Facebook

Forget TV, print, and radio (ok, not completely). But social media is where it's at.

If you're like me, you've ditched the part of Facebook that is keeping tabs on your frenemies, rolling your eyes at status updates you'd rather not read, and not worrying about having an impossibly high "friend" count. I've recently deleted a large amount of "friends" and photos in efforts to turn my Facebook into more of a communication tool. I'm also going through a faze of de-cluttering my social media pages.

I started thinking that I was on the right track doing this after I came across a post on my Twitter feed that directed me to a website page that talked about the power of Facebook as a marketing tool. To me, this means using Facebook professionally and tastefully. Using Facebook as a marketing tool for businesses is nothing new, but using it as a self-marketing (or self-branding) tool is pretty much the same idea. We all know that having a strong presence online, and strong brand, is important.

Check out this website page to find out some interesting Facebook facts and how the site can help your marketing goals.

Friday, December 16, 2011

China and Google

I came across an interesting story in the Winnipeg Free Press (WFP) Twitter feed a couple days ago. The article was about how China is proposing to ban movie content that harms national honour, incites ethnic hatred, spreads superstition, and portrays obscenity, violence or terror. So pretty much every topic American movies have a hay-day with.

The end of the WFP article reads: “The proposal is part of an overall tightening of cultural industries that are fueling more independent viewpoints, particularly social media and hugely popular microblogs where citizens often vent anger and frustration.”

I have to be honest that I don’t know much about how Chinese government is run, or U.S. government for that matter. But, it’s obvious this ban would tighten control over what people in China see which sounds pretty scary. Growing up and living in North America, I feel like I have ample freedom to say almost whatever I want and wherever I want, especially with free outlets like Facebook, Twitter and blogging. Because of this, I find the proposed tightening of social media in China concerning.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but I don’t see the strong correlation between movie content and social media. Social media allows people to express their thoughts and opinions freely. Sure, movies often contain contentious material, but they’re also meant to be recognized as a form of entertainment. You can choose to ignore movie content that you don’t agree with just like to can choose to not reply to a Facebook posting or follow someone on Twitter.

So is there really a correlation between the two?

I was watching Erin Burnett’s OutFront on CNN last night. Burnett was interviewing Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt. Their discussion moved to China. Burnett asked Schmidt if the engineers in China and India were better than the ones in America.

“They certainly have some of the best in the world. We try to hire them. We would rather have those Chinese engineers working for us in America producing great products and benefits for America,” says Schmidt.

You’d think this push for an “American innovation” hierarchy would have the U.S. government waiting with open arms as people escape the presumed censorship they face in places like China. Wrong, says Schmidt.

“Our government takes the smartest people in the world and brings them to America, gives them PhDs and then kicks them out to go found great companies outside of America. This is madness,” he says.

There are Chinese equivalents for American firms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. All of which are successful.

Google has 60 offices in 30 different countries. Schmidt says that Chinese censorship laws make it difficult for American companies to enter and operate in China. After five years of attempting to change this, he explains how Google had to move to the “other China”: Hong Kong.

“You’re subject to these horrendous censorship laws. There is a ‘Great Fire Wall’ that blocks content they don’t like between Hong Kong and the mainland forcing them to do the censorship. We just could not abide by their rules,” he says.

Schmidt says China hasn’t been able to do what the U.S. has done because of such censorship laws.

“China is the world’s manufacturer, but they do not yet have all the advanced society functions they need: independent judiciary, political dynamics, creativity, advanced universities…to do what we’ve been able to do in the U.S,” he says.

Schmidt explained how innovators create millions of jobs in America, and how the U.S. needs to welcome engineers from their own and other countries. Burnett asked Schmidt if he thought the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs will be born in the U.S. or China, or somewhere else.

He says, “The next one of those people will be born in America and will be a successful American entrepreneur because it’s not just the person, it’s the system they’re part of.”

To my interpretation, the WFP article and this Google story on OutFront are strongly related. If China hasn’t been able to do what the U.S. has done in terms of innovation due to strict censorship laws, is the proposed ban going to be a really bad move for China? And if these censorship laws move on to stricter censorship laws, is Google going to have any opportunity in China whatsoever?


You can check out some of the Twitter discussion between Burnett and Scmidt by following the hashtag #OutFront. Also, if you want to watch the OutFront interview click here.

Friendly reminder for my friendly readers: This blog is simply meant as a media discussion. I blog about things I read or watch in the news. This blog is not meant to create ridiculous controversy; its main purpose is to pose questions and ideas related to media.