Inside the Profession

Friday Five: Social Media Constantly Evolves to Solve User Needs

Social media and mobile technology are changing the way we communicate and share information in profound ways. Today, fewer people (especially younger generations) communicate using email and desktop tools. Instead they are increasingly likely to check in via social media sites and use smartphones for internet access. As social media platforms grow to accommodate the growing needs of their users, there are a number of skeptics that question whether or not these platforms will be able to outperform themselves year to year.

In this week’s PRSA “Friday Five” post — an analysis of the week’s biggest public relations and business news and commentary — we look at Facebook’s slow comeback after a failed IPO, new user-friendly features being offered on a number of social media platforms, and discover how small businesses are tapping into the power of social media and technology to operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.

Is Social Media Dying? (The Huffington Post)

Facebook was dealt a bad hand when it launched its IPO on May 18, 2012. This was the first big IPO failure that the tech sector had experienced in a long time. Many have questioned whether this is a bad omen for other IPO’s in the social media space or if this will stunt the growth of social media. What the majority of social media users should takeaway is that Facebook does not represent all social media platforms. Although Facebook is a leader in the social networking category and the IPO failure was a major speed bump for social networking, Facebook was over-valued. As communication professions, we understand what brand perception can do for a company, and this was clearly the case of perception leading the over-hype. Facebook must prove their worth and value to shareholders, while maintaining trust and reliable user experiences for the billions of Facebook users logging in daily.

Klout Unveils Updated Scoring System (

Klout, the influence-measurement platform, has made some major revisions to its algorithm, which may affect your Klout Score. New score factors include more data points (12 billion vs. 1 million) and include user’s actions on Twitter, Google+, Foursquare, Facebook, and Linkedin. Wikipedia has also been added as a new primary data source. There is also a new feature that’s been added called “Moments.” “This feature displays the content and ideas that have been most influential across all of your networks, all in one place,” says Joe Fernandez, the CEO and co-founder of Klout, on the company’s blog. Even the Klout website has been redesigned, but is only being made available to a small number of users. While change can be a good thing (especially if accuracy improves) only time and social media postings will tell if Klout users are happy with the adjustment.

Branch, a Group Conversation Site, Publicly Branches Out (Bits/The New York Times)

Twitter founders recently broke the 140-character mold with Branch, a website that opened to the public on Monday. Branch allows people to have a group conversation in 750-character sound bites and gives people an opportunity to start a longer, more in-depth conversation about a specific topic. The best part about this new website is that it allows participants in a group conversation to avoid any obnoxious comments, since only people involved in the conversation can invite others. “I realized that in the real world, at a dinner party or over a couple of beers, there was always a healthy debate with my buddies and I wanted to replicate this type of real-life conversation online,” explained Branch co-founder Josh Miller. Branch was developed by the Obvious Corporation, an idea incubator started by Evan Williams and Biz Stone, the two co-founders of Twitter, and Jason Goldman, a former Twitter executive.

Google+ Begins Rolling Out Vanity URLs (Mashable)

On Monday, August 13, 2012 Google announced that it would soon be introducing Google+ vanity URLs. The goal of these new URLs is to allow users to further customize their profile pages. Google employee Saurabh Sharma recently shared in a blog post that vanity URLS are short, easy-to-remember web addresses that link directly to a member’s profile or page on Google+. Presently each user is identified by a uniquely assigned number string URL that looks something like this: For the time being the vanity URLs are only being made available to celebrities like David Beckham, Hugh Jackman and Britney Spears. Is this change going to impact the way people use Google+? We will most likely have to wait and see after this feature is opened to the general public.

Social-Media Tools Can Boost Productivity (USA Today)

USA Today started a series where each Monday they highlight new ways that companies are gaining an innovative edge in a tough economy. This week USA Today looked at how one physician’s practice (which operates as small business) uses a social media tool, Doximity, to nurture a close knit circle of about a dozen referring doctors and specialists with whom he confers and shares records on a daily basis, mostly on his iPhone. Doximity is a professional networking tool exclusively for physicians and health care professionals. Dr. Howard Luks, chief of sport medicine and knee replacements at Westchester Medical Center, has witnessed his office progress from relying on fax machines and clerical staff to tapping into online posting and sharing of technologies as part of the office’s daily routine. Dr. Luks’ practice is just one example in this article of small businesses tapping into technology to further the development of their office operations.

Nicole Castro is the public relations associate at the Public Relations Society of America.

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Nicole Castro

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