The Flop Three of Social Networking

March 30, 2010 by

Not each founder of a social networking site turns out to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. In the outskirts of the World Wide Web, a collection of the most dreadful, horrible, unreal and ludicrous digital ‘friend finders’ take up way too much bandwidth. Time to recognize mediocrity of internet amateurs by presenting the SNS Razzies!

3. Farmers Only

In our high-tech urbanized world, young girls leave the countryside to find an exciting life as an actress in the big city. As Hollywood movies cover the successful story of the talented girls, the left alone farm boys are never mentioned. Farmers Only finally present the solution for desperate farmers to fall in love. As the biggest competitor of the Philippine Girls Import Industry, this social networking site gives farmers the chance to find equally minded females. Please do remind: players of Farmville are not allowed.

2. My Free Implants

Rosy, shiny letters welcome you on the one social networking site that contributes to the dream of all men. Helpful gentlemen are gathered here to create a better world and provide poor women that aren’t being rewarded by God… With big breasts. Take Cindy, a hot blonde that is only one step away from finding a plastic surgeon. She already raised $ 9,343.76 and needs just a couple more bucks to tune her A to a double D. Next stop for this charity network: the Nobel Peace Prize.

1. Spot a Potty

I wonder where Samantha, the joyful founder of Spot a Potty, got her Eureka-moment. Something tells me that it was not in a bath. However, she did launch a website where users can share their view on public toilets, watering closet architecture, group visits to the National Museum of Feces and other literally ‘shitty’ topics. Strangely, the members mainly choose to stay incognito and refuse to add a profile picture. Oh wait. I forgot to inform you that the website is overflown with spam to recommend you the best laxative!


Facebook hits the panic button

March 30, 2010 by

The communication spread by Facebook on the probable implementation of a ‘panic button’ was more than confusing. Official statements of the social networking site announced opposite actions within four hours.

The discussion regarding a ‘panic button’ to report suspected paedophiles flared up in October 2009, after the first Facebook-killing. Asleigh Hall, a 17-year-old British girl, was abducted, raped and killed by her brand new Facebook-friend and sex offender Peter Chapman (33). The latter pretended to be 19 years old and gained the trust of Asleigh, who finally agreed to meet up with her online buddy in real life. Whereas Chapman was jailed for life, Facebook didn’t proclaim any measures.

Until March 18th, when the organisation Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) presented a effective solution in terms of a police-run panic button on the main page of Facebook. In the early afternoon, Facebook representatives told UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson that the company had “no objection” to installing the software on the website.

The deal seemed to be sealed, but less than four hours later Richard Allen, director of policy for Facebook Europe, suddenly refused to install the ‘panic button’. Instead the social networking site remained vague and stated that it would “develop its existing system”. The big shot at Zuckerberg’s company claimed that the Ceop button might be effective in principle but only “for other sites”, and hence not on Facebook. Another spokesman of the website suddenly came up with the evolution of “Facebooks innovative system”, which had been developed by analysing millions of reports submitted over the years. Yet, the communication used by Facebook raises questions of reliability…




March 30, 2010 by

The Gross National Happiness Index and Facebook. Where the dark art of noetic science meets social networking.

Ever since I read ‘The Lost Symbol’, the latest bestseller of Dan Brown, noetic science has raised to the top of my personal chart of hot topics. Noetic science or noëtics, often called ‘the future of science’, basically studies the power of the human spirit in terms of thoughts, feelings and words. Behind this philosophic approach, the Princeton University presents the most practical experiments that provide hard facts concerning the dark art. The noetical research department developed forty Random Number Generators and placed them in different places around the world. These devices can actually analyse the human mass conscience and are the main tools for the Global Consciousness Project. Right before the sad events of September 11, 2001 for example, the RNGs measured immense inconsistencies compared to the regular mass conscience. As if the world already knew which terrible incidents were about to happen…

“What the hell has all this incoherent blabber to do with social networking sites?”, I hear you wonder. Yet, the relationship is quite clear: the Web 2.0 and the gathering of people who share their personal opinions on social networking sites gave us an excellent tool to explore this mass conscience. Thanks to the internet we are the first generation of mankind who can know with only one click how people in Myanmar live, what kind of food the Congolese eat or the fact that a butterfly has 12,000 eyes. Social networking sites combine us into one giant community as the global village is finally born.

And that’s when I discovered that Facebook is studying the positive and negative words used in status updates of Australian, Canadian and British users. Consequently, Facebook has its own mini-version of the Princeton Global Consciousness Project and contributes to the Gross National Happiness Index. The latest data show that Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day as well as weekend days present the happiest moments of our lives. Certainly, these data are not as sensational as the Princeton findings, but also give a certain insight into the human conscience. Finally, I can only hope that I stimulated your interest for the weird world of noetics by sharing this philosophical approach on social networking sites.


Qzone, the Chinese Facebook

March 30, 2010 by

With 1.3 billion inhabitants China presents the perfect setting for social networking sites to broaden their user community. However, online giants struggle to enter the People’s Republic, where millions of users choose for the national Facebook clone: Qzone.

With only 1,452,000 Chinese members, Facebook fails massively to gather a Chinese audience. In contrast to Google, it’s not the government that prevents the largest social networking site from recruiting citizens of the biggest country of the world, but Chinese alternatives. The Chinese youngsters prefer to connect online via Qzone, a social networking extension of the most popular instant messaging program in the Asian country. The all-Chinese website gathers a user community of 376 million registered accounts and already ranks 10th on the Alexa Global ranking (2010). In comparison, Facebook connects 400 million users… Worldwide.


The reason for the success of local SNS players on the Chinese market can mainly be found in cultural differences. The applications on the social networking site appear to hold the key to the Chinese success. Games, quizzes and tests are massively marketed and almost get a viral aspect. Pushy app requests that force users to invite other members or perform various kinds of tasks before entering are extremely common. Interaction with other players and advertisers is also much higher than on Western applications. This typical variation doesn’t only attract more users, it’s also an attractive business model as Chinese social networking sites are much more profitable than their Western counterparts. If Facebook ultimately wants to compete in China, it will have to make clear alterations for its Chinese audience.


(Too) Fluent crisis communication

March 30, 2010 by

Every company may face one day a serious crisis, because a “zero risk” factor simply does not exist.  So it is important for companies to be prepared to be able to communicate in a quick, efficient and effective way.  So, being quick is good, but is this also the case when being too quick? 

More than a month ago already (15-02-2010), two trains dashed against each other in Buizingen (Belgium).  In less than two hours, a ‘disaster plan’ was announced, and two crisis centres were set up.  A press conference was given by the governor and the minister of home affairs, clearly stating the cause of the crash.  From a crisis communication point of view, you can say, well done as they acted in a quick and honest way.  Nevertheless they oversaw some general guide-lines. One hour after these statements, the CEO of the NMBS (National Company of the Belgian Railways) was not quite amused with the press conference earlier on and put a halt to the governors statements, saying he should not rush to conclusions.  Although later on it turned out that the governor was right, he nevertheless ignored some key-rules of crisis communication. 

In crisis communication it is all about timing.  A crisis has different stages to go through, each  stage with different information needs.  During the first stadium, the beginning of the crisis, the information has to stay factual : answers to the questions who, what, where, when…  Meanwhile, prepare the answers to further questions, such as cause or responsibility for the crisis.

Secondly, speculation about the incident or crisis must absolutely be avoided in the message.  It is important to provide the media with exact facts and figures.  However, the necessary research to back up statements is often forgotten.  So, it is confusing for people, when afterwards, other officials contradict the earlier statements by telling more research is necessary.  This can be avoided by consulting all parties involved, before each communicates his own truth.  Especially with disasters such as the accident in Buizingen, there is the danger of too many people declaring various statements.

 So, a quick and honest reaction can be brought to nothing when not all parties are on the same line.   

 Source :

Fat or Fab?

March 30, 2010 by

The thin female beauty ideal is often seen as unfeasible, but skinny models still appear in almost every ad we see.  Some protests have not gone by unnoticed, like the ban on overly thin models in Madrid’s fashion week of 2006 and the Dove Campaign for real beauty.  However, according to a study of Radboud University, some women are more vulnerable to the negative impact of skinny models than others. What’s more, not every woman prefers to see fuller and more realistic models in advertisements.

The Radboud University shows that four characteristics play a major role in the preference for fuller models. Firstly, women with a higher Body Mass Index prefer plus-size models, because they can more easily identify with them. Secondly, young girls are more influenced by the beauty ideal, so they don’t like to be confronted with skinny models either. Thirdly, plus-size models are more appreciated by unconfident women, who compare themselves more to models in beauty magazines. Fourthly, social standards such as “Clothes hang better on thin fashion models” have an influence on customers.  Women who don’t internalize these social standards prefer fuller models.  Because the preference for fuller models depends on personal characteristics, marketers should keep in mind their target group.

The Radboud University study shows that women are not always against skinny models. Using fuller models can thus have a negative impact on your brand. However, the realistic and beautiful models of the Dove Campaign for real beauty appealed to different types of women. The success of the campaign was mainly due to the debate it created.  By opening a discussion about a controversial subject, Dove drew consumers into the conversation. Because Dove challenged people to decide what they thought about the models, customers were more involved in the advertising campaign.

Ketelaar, Paul, and Anneke Willems. “Volle en slanke modellen in reclame – Mag het een onsje meer zijn?” Tijdschrift voor marketing Dec. 2009: 29-31. Print.

Social networking sites, are they safe?

March 29, 2010 by

Last Wednesday (24-03-2010), an article appeared in the Belgian newspaper ‘De Standaard’ stating that in the British districts Sunderland, Durham and Teesside the number of people with the sexually transmitted disease syphilis has been quadrupled over the last year.  The victims are for the larger part young women.  The reason for this increase : Facebook!

 In these three areas social networking sites are the most popular, especially amongst youngsters.  The chance of these youngsters logging in on social networking sites are 25 % higher than in any other district in Great-Britain.  Experts linked these 2 data and pointed out social networking sites, such as Facebook, to be the cause of the increase.  Quite some victims had sexual intercourse, encouraged by the contacts they made through these networking sites, making it a lot easier for people to meet and have sex with each other.  

Even though Facebook itself is convinced it is complete nonsense to link them to a rise of syphilis, yet a Facebook spokesman gave some parental advice to the users, to take the necessary precautions and be careful when meeting someone they met on the internet.  But of course, as an intermediary (see previous blog), Facebook can not be held responsible for what is being communicated on their platform, let alone for what is happening outside the platform.  The users themselves still remain responsible for their own deeds. 

  Sources : -(   


Google not responsible for infringements commited on their platform?!

March 29, 2010 by

In 2003, a french luxury group LVMH, among other things, owner of Louis Vuitton, went to court to accuse google of  infringing trade mark rights. 

One of the pillars of Googles businessmodel in Europe is google adwords.  Through this advertising system, Google sells search terms to website owners, linking their website to these search terms.  This means that, for example, I can buy the search term Louis Vuitton without having any connection with this brand, for  € 0,41 cost per click.  When somebody enters this search term, my website appears on top of the page.  This is exactly what a website with luxury counterfeits did.  The LVMH discovered it, and went to court.  Eventually Google was acquitted.   However, the most important issue about this case, is the fact that it sets a precedent and establishes clarity.  These last years, intermediairies, such as Google, were held responsible for infringements commited on their platform, even though European regulations concerning electronic commerce say otherwise.  Now, this guideline says intermediaries like Telecom, and hosting companies are not responsible for messages spread through their platform, provided they do not know the content of the message.

The question is, of course, what does intermediary exactly mean ?  Are social networking sites, for example, intermediaries?  In a way, you can say they are, because they provide a platform for their audience to post information on.  In this case, it would also mean that facebook can not be held responsible for the contents appearing on it.  Lets say you have a website where people can give fashion advice to each other, based on the uploaded pictures of themselves, and lets say it has some pro-ana members giving other members a hard time with comments, is my website responsible then ?  It is an intermediary as well !

With the enormous boost of social networking sites, it might perhaps be recommendable to revise the European regulations, and to stipulate what the term ‘intermediary’ exactly covers.

 Source : “Google schendt merkenrecht niet met reclame”.  Het Nieuwsblad 24-03-2010. p. 32.

(R) evolution on the work floor?

March 29, 2010 by

While looking for an internship, I noticed that my class mates as well as myself, were not writing to the big shot companies.  And that surprised me, in a way.  We prefer smaller companies without a fixed hierarchy, but with a more personal, team-oriented approach.  Indeed, for youngsters with ambition, the big companies with educational and promotional possibilities are no longer ‘the place to be’.  This is only one of the work evolutions that appears from research conducted by Trendwolves.

 Employers recently made complaints about youngsters lacking discipline and responsibility, while, on the other hand, these youngsters see themselves as team players, eager to learn…This miscomprehension can be explained by the difference between baby boomers (born after WO II) and generation X (born between 1960-1980), and the youngsters (generation X, born after 1980).       

 Generation X has been educated differently from the two generations before them.  They have been taught to ask the ‘why’ question.  That is the reason they quit if they do not find their job meaningful.

  1. Twenty-year olds do not accept just any job, they are convinced they can make a living with something they love to do.
  2. Youngsters today learn more in their free time than they do in school.  Skills are very important to them.  Those who can learn something from their superior/employer will stay longer, doing the job.
  3. Personal branding by the social media is the latest trend.  Generation X promotes themselves, even on the work floor, instead of promoting their employer, as other generations would do.

 So companies who want to understand and attract young people, will have to reorganise and take these (r) evolutions into account.  Times, where all employees desired the classical career path, with promotions every … year, are over.

  Source : “Werkgevers begrijpen jongeren niet”.  By Katrien Stragier : Jobat 20/21-03-2010.

Preparing for the perfect pitch…

March 29, 2010 by

30 March. After working on our internet start-up the entire year, the day has come to give a pitch to the investors. Because we have put a lot of work in the development of our idea and the preparation of our business plan,we should prepare properly for the pitch.

Therefore I googled ‘giving a good investor pitch’. The first result I came across showed me that I wasn’t the first to use Google to look for information on the best way to persuade the investors, Scott Gerber had the same idea. However Google wasn’t able to prepare him for his meeting with the investors.

Scott Gerber entered the meeting room with a lot of confidence, he was sure he would be able to persuade the investors. However things took another turn and Scott Gerber had to leave the room without any money.

Fortunately for us, Scott Gerber analysed his failure and consequently he wrote a blog about the 6 lessons he learned.

  1. Less is always more: present your business to the point in a short and enthusiastic way
  2. Never hypothesize: execute, execute, execute: inspire confidence with facts not fiction.
  3. Leave the hockey sticks on the ice: excite investors about your big picture, but be reasonable and responsible.
  4. Learn to love discount stores: prove you’re a fiscally responsible manager who knows how to get the most out of a buck.
  5. Rome wasn’t built in a day – your business won’t be either: investors appreciate companies with sustainable step-and-repeat business models that are poised for exponential growth.
  6. Choose not to be the smartest person in the room: build a team of credible experts.

Taking all these 6 tips into account, our first pitch will hopefully be more successful than Scott Gerber’s first pitch. We will do everything we can to convince the investors to join our RateMyStyle adventure.