Using Social Networking Sites To Tune In or Tune Out?

I was on Facebook yesterday when I saw my friend Ellin’s update and post of this picture.

© Good Lord Above on Facebook

The shared photo was created by a satirist who goes by the name  ‘Good Lord Above’.  You can read his witty and relevant commentary on Facebook. He is wildly popular and to date has received 1,000,000 ‘Likes’.


The bite of the  message was shocking and stopped me in my tracks. Clearly, “God” as he is sometimes called, was poking fun at the collective outrage displayed on social media outlets concerning the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman the day before. Could Affleck generate more social interest than Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s alleged gassing of his own people? As many as 1300 people had recently died in the latest attempt to quell a civilian uprising.  Yet, a great deal of the buzz on social media was whether Affleck was the right choice for a movie not yet shot and due for release in 2015. The irony, Affleck is a humanitarian in his own right and has lent his fame to highlight the plight of Congolese refugees.


Where was the uniform moral outrage about Syria instead of Affleck? We live in a world where we have never been more accessible to people and the sharing of information instantly. And yet, I think at times we have become increasingly superficial and disconnected from each other.  So, I am asking the question: Are social networking sites to blame? The cool thing about social media was the notion it could bring society and people even closer. In fact, Facebook – the mother of all things social media – states their mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. I think our fascination with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, and Pinterest is having the opposite effect. Now you can share and connect without leaving home or even speaking to people. Compared to our grandparents or even our parents, we appear to live in a more isolated and disconnected world. Can we really be alone while living with 7 billion other people?

Another friend, who is a wellness professional, recently used her Facebook page to implore her male friends and family members to request ultrasounds to detect early signs of  kidney cancer. She was spurred to write the post because a friend (the 5th one to be exact) had recently confided he had been diagnosed with kidney cancer.  She had also lost a cousin far too young to that same disease so this is a cause she understands first-hand. To her amazement, her friends and extended family were far more interested in knowing who the sick friend was. The superficiality and gossip held far more interest than the important warning.  She was shocked.


Long before the Internet, people took their message to the people to affect change. People naïvely wrote their government officials; protested, sat-in or marched  to be heard. What would have happened to the Civil Rights Movement if it had been launched via the Internet?  As we mark the upcoming 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I had a dream speech’ at the end of August,  it is timely to ask if it would have had the  same impact  had he posted it on LinkedIn and Facebook. Now, success would be measured by the amount “Likes” or “Retweets”? Dr. King’s oratory skill and passion would have been lost if communicated through most social media channels….YouTube would have been the exception. The impact of having 250,000 people marching to the Lincoln Memorial united for change and hear Dr. King deliver his speech would have been lost as well.

Perhaps in a world often out of control, social network sites allow us to block out the bad and focus on what we deem relevant.  By and large, it is an environment you can create and control. These sites tend to form people into groups who all have the same point of view and opinion. It is the illusion of control in a world sometimes gone mad.

Does social media allow you to tune in or to tune out?


Devine intervention of social media at the 2013 Papal Conclave


The papal conclave is one of the Roman Catholic Church’s most sacred and secretive traditions. So how does a tradition centuries old fit with technology, 24-hour instant media and social media?  Well, you don’t have to be Catholic to be impressed by the positive impact technology played during the 2013 Papal Conclave. Leading up to, and especially the past two days, much of the world remained connected to the selection process of a new pope.

Tech meets Old World- The creation of a virtual Papal Conclave


In the past, the College of Cardinals conducted the business of electing a pope exclusively behind the closed doors of the Sistine Chapel. Any sharing of news or details took hours, and in some cases, a few days to disseminate.  But times are a changing in our socially connected world and the Vatican granted unprecedented access to the conclave workings up to the voting process.  There were even large LED screens set up to keep the tens of thousands gathered outside in St. Peter’s Square informed.

Social media apps – Adopt a Cardinal

Thanks to social media,  a variety of creative apps and websites popped up creating a virtual papal conclave. It created a global following and a groundswell of emotion as a record number of people a connection to their religion.  As an example, over half a million people joined and provided their e-mail address to a German-based The website, nicknamed the “Adopt a Cardinal” e-mailed participants the profile of a cardinal to “adopt” in prayer throughout the conclave and for three days after the election.



Cellphone users were able to subscribe to a“Pope Alarm” app to receive a vibrating message at the first sign of white smoke billowing from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel and tens of thousands people in Rome participated in a form of a flashmob (but with purpose) by immediately racing to St. Peter’s Square to become part of history and watch the introduction of the new pope  to the world.


Fake Twitter accounts popped up for the papal chimney (@PapalSmokeStack), the Sistine Seagull that temporarily rested on that chimney stack (SistineSeagull @SistineSeagull Hanging out at Conclave. Loving Life. And Cheetos), and for Pope Francis I such as Jorge M. Bergoglio @JMBergoglio.  And there were the assorted Internet memes and an immediate update for the 2013 Papal Conclave on Wikipedia. When Pope Francis I sent his first official tweet yesterday it set Twitter atwitter. It seems the pope used capital letters throughout the tweet.

Re-energizing the religious brand

 As we have seen, there is sometimes an upside and downside risk for brands that are scrutinized through the social media lens. In the case of the Roman Catholic Church brand it has only reaped the rewards.  Social media facilitated an unprecedented and rapid evangelism of Catholicism (broadcasting and dissemination of information) rekindling the connection between the Church and many of their followers without having to reach them via the pulpit. The irony: the conclave election results were initially communicated via the low-tech method of  a white plume of smoke announcing the “habum papum”- We have a Pope.

The future becomes even more friendly-social media predictions for 2013


New Year’s has always been a time for reflection and looking forward to what will be. Many of us (almost 40%) plan on improving, progressing and bettering ourselves personally as well as professionally. It is with this in mind that I sit down to write my first blog of 2013.

Professional Growth

In reflection, 2012 was my year of professional growth. I stopped talking about Social Media and started walking the walk with my  own marketing blog. I also committed to being more active on Twitter and LinkedIn and sharing my professional insights and observations. And I created my Pinterest page.

2013 Predictions and Prophecies

Many of my fellow marketing bloggers have also wasted no time wading into the marketing prognostication pool for 2013.  It seems we all agree 2013 will be exciting and subject to rapid change. Perhaps the key takeaway? The consumer will continue to stay in control of the mediums and how they interact with the messaging,

Here are some other interesting trends to take note for the coming year:

• Mobile marketing has finally come of age and maturity due to smartphones and the mobile internet. It will no longer be
considered an after thought in marketing campaigns and tactics.

• There is no much more to social media life than Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  To reach your customer/audience, an increased
focus will be paid to Google+ and to more non-traditional social channels like SlideShare, Pinterest, Flickr/Picasa/Instagram
and discussion forums and question areas.

• Companies are recognizing and embracing the power of retail time marketing content to build deeper relationships with
customers and increase sales. Newsjacking will be key to being found on-line and delivering the appropriate message.

•  Companies will convert consumers into friends and friends into customers by building their web presence. Once they receive
permission and validation these companies will then develop the appropriate tactics to maximize that dialogue.

• Companies with large brand footprints such as Nike and Coca-Cola are bringing their social media and content marketing
activities in-house as opposed to leaving it to their digital agencies to handle. In doing so, they are now able to build a more intimate relationship with their social community and produce the editorial content they would like to tell.

• Integrated social marketing gains further momentum and the use of e-mail continues to remain strong but there will be an increased  focus personalization and real time communication. As an example, you now receive location-based phone texts and  e-mails as you walk by a retail location with a special offer. The opportunity is personalized and the message delivery is timely.

• Some new application or platform will come along to energize the marketplace.  It may be just like Pinterest or Instagram. At one point, few people knew of these applications, and then suddenly, everyone was using it.

What are your predictions for 2013?