Tragedy is a human reality and we'll never be able to avoid it. People and nations may minimize it for long periods of time, but tragedy is a part of life on this Earth unfortunately. We all experience it at some point, no matter who we are, where we're from or how we go about our daily lives.
This week we saw tragedy strike in an unlikely setting when two explosions detonated in quick succession near the finish line at the Boston Marathon on Monday.
We learned that news spread faster than ever. Most of our Facebook and Twitter feeds were covered with photos and videos within minutes. We watched raw footage alongside news anchors and bloggers, trying to process what was happening in real-time.
Whenever something like this happens we learn about our online friends; we can immediately tell which ones are prone to make jokes and which ones are capable of empathy and respect.
Because we've grown accustomed to "LIKE," follow and subscribe to brands on social media, we also learn about how companies communicate amidst tragic world events.
On the day of the Bostom Marathon, most companies showed their respect by going quiet on social channels. These companies acknowledged that their promotions, sales and campaigns could wait a few days due to the circumstances.
Some, like the New York Yankees, decided to go above and beyond to show support. Others shared insightful thoughts and the meaning of the Marathon and Boston to their company.
Some companies, such as Virgin America and AirBnB, decided to add value in a time of need, providing utility in a manner that was relevant and timely. Their efforts seemed genuine and I will assume that those who received some form of help from them will remember it for quite some time.
A few companies probably forgot about their automated campaigns, as Foursquare did with this unfortunate automated email.
I wish the story ended here, with the good and the not-so-good, but there's always at least one company out there that goes too far and way too soon... In this case, that brand was food site and mobile app Epicurious.
Epicurious showed not only insensitivity, but also a complete lack of empathy, maturity, and common sense. The company tweeted these somewhat subtle self-serving messages the morning after the bombing. The tweets were deleted and an apology was soon posted, but screenshots will preserve the tweets until the end of time.
It's no longer 2009 folks.
Companies tweeting such senseless things shouldn't fire agencies or team members. Oh no, I think this is a deeper issue than that. Such tweets are but a symptom of a greater problem that lies beneath a company's drumbeat of social media content.
At best, Epicurious had a strategic issue. Perhaps social media was a bit of an afterthought there or perhaps the focus was on engagement for the sake of engagement; impressions for the sake of impressions. Perhaps someone was sick or someone took over without permission, and the right guidance simply wasn't there. Regardless of what happened, the strategy is clearly one to revisit.
Without giving social media the importance it deserves, a company's social media team(s) will certainly be more likely to fail publicly. Recognized brands ranging from Chrysler to Kenneth Cole have embarrassed themselves time and time again on social media.
I'd like to give Epicurious the benefit of a doubt and hope this really was just a mistake and not a complete lack of leadership, a lack of cohesiveness, and strategic planning.
I'm speaking as someone who has had the responsibility of guarding, protecting and representing a brand in a public forum, and I've always believed that a brand is always a tweet away from disaster. This is what leads me to question whether mistakes like this can continue to be called "mistakes."
Mistakes like this display symptoms of a flawed social media strategy, one where public communications with the entire world, including those who spends their days and nights on sites like 4Chan, Imgur, Wikipedia and Reddit, continue to take a backseat.
More than a social media strategy flaw, this could also go as far as being a flawed overall brand strategy.
Brands like American Apparel purposefully generate strong emotions - as they did with their purposefully insensitive "Sandy Sale" offers - but they do so in a way that's calculated and consistent. Their worldview is set and some will find it offensive while others will find it funny. Is American Apparel's approach and worldview flawed? Only time will tell, but at least it's clear.
But what about Epicurious' worldview? I mean, seriously, what does breakfast energy have to do with a bombing at a marathon? This makes me wonder... How do they view their users and customers? How do they view themselves and the world at large?
I personally think there is not excuse sometimes. If you're communicating publicly, you need to be accountable. There should be no place for leveraging a tragedy for the sake of attention and reach.
It's 2013 and it's time to act like it. If brands keep tweeting stuff like this, they're going to generate hundreds of thousands of tweets, but they're not going to be pretty.
Is it ok to make "mistakes" and apologize 20 minutes later?
All brands need to take social media seriously. This is not a choice anymore. Brands don't dismiss the press, they don't dismiss traditional advertising channels, and I doubt they intend on dismissing customers. By dismissing social media, they're dismissing all of the above.
Social media "mistakes" may not affect a company in the long-term (and they most likely won't) but is that a risk you want to take?
Let's hope next time there's a tragedy, brands won't make the mistakes they've made in the past. When in doubt, think about this: If you're not going to add value (to your audience), it's best to say absolutely nothing.
Tragedy will always be around us, but hopefully the brands around us will stop trying to leverage such tragedies for their own benefit. A tragedy leaves no room for anyone to benefit, at least not while the Internet is watching.
When I first joined Samsung USA as a Social Media Manager, my role was both strategic and tactical in nature. While my mind was constantly concerned with how to scale efforts and enhance engagement, growth, sentiment, impressions, etc., community management was very much a part of my day-to-day job. I lived in constant hybrid mode; consistently thinking about the future of Samsung's approach to social media while also being concerned with how Samsung should "behave" and "speak" online each day. The job had its perks and its exciting and nervewracking moments, few moments were as rewarding as some of the interactions I had with Samsung fans (and former critics!).
As a Samsung Social Media Manager, I communicated with the brand's customers and potential customers on a daily basis. Back in 2010, jobs like "social media manager" and "community manager" were still somewhat new and many people seemed shocked to learn that companies actually paid employees to tweet and respond to messages on Facebook. I must say that it was a privilege to be in a role that allowed me to act as a synapse between people in the outside world and people within Samsung's internal walls. It was truly an honor to be the first (or one of the first) to be 100% dedicated to Samsung's growing presence in the increasingly social web.
My role at Samsung evolved over the years to become something much more strategically aligned with driving towards broader marketing and digital goals, but I continued to interact with social media users who were passionate about Samsung, and even now, months after leaving Samsung, I still enjoy having conversations online with Samsung fans. I am one of them and it's amazing to think that former customers are now part of my life, even if just through 140 character messages, Facebook status updates, and Google+ comments.
There is something about community management that is special and those who have done it likely have likely benefited greatly from it, sometimes without even realizing this. Community managers are learning to master a collection of valuable skills that would've traditionally been associated with marketing, customer service, IT, PR and corporate communications professionals. The best community managers are gifted with unique abilities that can make a meaningful difference in building a brand and satisfying customers in a way that advertising, sales and traditional customer care efforts often cannot, and I believe that community managers will become increasingly important as the world realizes the value of lightweight interactions with consumers on social networks. Reach, frequency, and creative work may not mean as much to a customer as interactions that solve problems, show attentiveness, acknowledge issues, and create an emotional connection beyond a temporary 30 second spot or YouTube video. Social networks are in many ways an informal setting and that is not the kind of setting that businesses have ever been a part of in the past.
Community managers can make things more personal. When someone wants to reach out to Samsung on Twitter, they don't just reach out to @SamsungTweets - they can also reach out to @SamsungJessica or @SamsungCarla. Sure, many community manager interactions with consumers consist of one single exchange of messages, similar to "single-serving friends" as described in the movie Fight Club, but such short interactions may make a big difference. Some social conversations can lead to a permanent shift in how a consumer views a company, and believe it or not, sometimes these interactions can result in new friendships (I say this speaking from experience). While there are many customer-facing jobs out there, community managers can build relationships with customers, both as individuals and on behalf of their brands, and they can also enable relationships among members of online communities.
Social media's benefit for companies is becoming evident. There are still skeptics out there, and that's a good thing, but the fact is that some of the world's leading companies are not only getting a return on their investments, but also increasingly investing in all things social. More companies than ever before are active in social networks and many of them have become experts in listening to consumers and interacting with them in real-time. Many are now accustomed to responding within minutes - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they are consistently optimizing the way they create and curate content, the way they filter, moderate, collaborate, and respond to incoming messages, and the way they measure and report on all this.
As companies evolve their social media efforts, they must not forget about the importance of the role of the community manager. Community managers are the voice of the company and they are attuned to consumer sentiment in a way that deserves not only appreciation, but also respect and celebration.
On January 28th, 2013, I will join others all over the world to celebrate Community Manager Appreciation Day. My gift to community managers is that on CMAD I will make my book SOCIAL STATE available at no cost to anyone who wants to read it. My hope is that the book will help and inspire community managers and aspiring community managers.
For the 24 hours of CMAD, SOCIAL STATE will be available for *FREE* in the following digital storefronts:
- Amazon Kindle http://bit.ly/socialstateamazon
- Apple iBooks http://bit.ly/socialstateibooks
- Barnes & Noble Nook http://bit.ly/socialstatenook
- Vook (ideal for international readers) http://bit.ly/socialstatevook
In closing, I'm excited to see the role of community managers grow in scope, maturity, creativity, and overall value. Some of today's community managers will become tomorrow's business leaders, and they will play an essential role in how companies of all sizes think about and interact with consumers.
Join the #CMAD movement as we thank community managers for the role they play online and offline.
ps. Check out this Facebook event to remind yourself about this one-time sale on CMAD.
There are 1 billion people all over the world sharing their lives on Facebook, and that's only one of many services enabling and dictating how we connect, how we learn, and how we act.
All in public.
At its core, social media is about people. As we change, it changes with us. However, the very nature of social technologies is affecting us.
Everything we know is being re-imagined.
Will we become more or less “human” as we embark on a one-way trip to socially aware devices, websites and companies?
Will the “Internet of Everything” become the “Internet of Us?” And what will we look like, talk like, and feel like when it does?
All of us have a role in the development of the “Social State.”
In 2013, choose your role wisely.
SOCIAL STATE (the book)
Amazon Kindle http://bit.ly/socialstateamazon
Barnes & Noble Nook http://bit.ly/socialstatenook
Apple iBooks http://bit.ly/socialstateibooks
Jeff Rosenblum is the co-founder of Questus and the creator of The Naked Brand, a documentary about the future of the advertising industry. The documentary shows how the industry can help save the planet one small step at a time, and features business and marketing leaders like Kevin Plank, Tony Hsieh, Alex Bogusky and B. Bonin Bough.
I interviewed Jeff for my book SOCIAL STATE, and below I've included the content included in the book, as well as the rest of our conversation. In this Q&A, Jeff shares about the origins of The Naked Brand, as well as the industry's evolving role, corporate transparency, and much more.
“We had no idea that we would discover this amazing story that the advertising industry can help save the world.”
Social Nerdia: The Naked Brand is a documentary about how advertising needs to evolve. What’s the story?
Jeff Rosenblum: The funny thing is that we never set out to specifically make a documentary. We simply started out with an observation. We realized that consumer communication has gone through a complete revolution over the past decade. Search, mobile and social technologies have made brands completely transparent, and simultaneously, ad avoidance technology has completely disrupted the marketing industry. So, we set out to create a brief video discussing the revolution that is going to take place in the world of advertising. We had no idea where it would take us, and we certainly didn’t think it’d turn into a documentary including some of the most important and influential executives in the world. And, we had no idea that we would discover this amazing story that the advertising industry can help save the world.
Social Nerdia: Why and how should leading brands celebrate and empower consumers?
JR: Consumers are already empowered. Advertising campaigns no longer create brands. Rather, a brand is created through the totality of an experience, and perceptions of that brand are based largely upon the way consumers communicate with each other. Rather than trying to manipulate their social image, businesses should focus inwardly - create great products, provide excellent services, diminish the negative effect that the business has on the environment, and treat employees with respect. Subsequently, consumers will admire the corporate values and carry the brand message forward. The fundamental discovery in the film is that a brand identity is based upon its behavior rather than its advertising message. This doesn’t preclude a company from doing powerful and exciting things through social media. But many brands focus first on leveraging social media to empower consumers before considering corporate behavior, and that is extremely inefficient.
Social Nerdia: What are examples of a recent agency execution that demonstrates otherwise?
JR: There are a lot of great brands that are creating inventive, successful ads. Chipotle’s “Back to the Start” is an incredible advertisement. Red Bull’s initiative to support Felix Baumgartner’s jump from outer space is an unprecedented project, and I think, an example of the newest definition of advertising. The ironic part is that when brands actually focus less on advertising they create the opportunity to develop a world class ad, because those ads are based on reality, and it’s simply the role of the agency to develop a creative, emotional layer that sits on top of that real world story. The other thing you’ll notice is that the creative canvas has fundamentally expanded. We’re no longer limited to a 30 second TV spot, or a full-page print ad, or an 350*250 banner ad. Great brands create immersive platforms. When brands have a great story to tell and can do it in an unprecedented way, consumers want to immerse themselves in that content and spread the story in a way better than paid media ever could.
Social Nerdia: Can social media help rebuild lost trust?
JR: Sure, social media can rebuild trust, but it can also break down trust. Social media really just provides a lens to corporate behavior. So the real focus for brands should be on internal behavior that gets consumers to say what the brand wants said on social media. Ad gimmicks in the social space won’t have any real meaning in the long-term. Social communication will happen whether a brand participates or not, so it’s the brand’s job to create something worth advocating.
Social Nerdia: Companies like Pepsi have made bold moves with "social good" campaigns like Pepsi Refresh, and we can all agree on the win-win benefits of this approach. However, is there a danger in corporations having so much power that they start taking over the responsibilities of other organizations, such as non-profits, churches and government begin? And what's the danger in jumping on bandwagons only for the sake of profit?
JR: I don’t think there’s any danger for corporations getting involved in social good. You can never have too many people participating in making the world a better place. I think the only danger for corporations is when they start doing it for solely altruistic reasons. Then it just becomes a short-lived marketing trend, and brands will move on as soon as they see a new shiny object. One of the important messages within the film is that when brands do things that move the planet forward, they make more money. Those are the stories that consumers want to share, and when consumers share a story it becomes a de facto ad platform. As long as corporations can be more responsible for the planet and find a way to build their brands and generate profits, I see absolutely no downside.
Social Nerdia: Alex Bogusky is an example of someone who drove change in the ad industry and then left when he didn't see enough impact in terms of meaningful business transformation. What can ad executives and CMOs learn from Alex and his new venture Common?
JR: There’s a lot to learn from Alex Bogusky, who was instrumental in constructing the story behind The Naked Brand. Specifically, I love his philosophy on corporate transparency. “Transparency,” he says, “is not a choice. It’s going to happen. The only choice is: does it happen to you, or do you participate in it? And when it happens to you, it has proven to be really ugly.” What we can learn from Common is their dedication to transparency. For example, in the spirit of community and being transparent, they broadcasted their board meetings on the web with real time streaming. Regardless of whether the information was positive or negative, they decided to share it. I don’t think that’s going to make or break the Common brand, but it is an important demonstration of transparency. And that’s extremely powerful.
Social Nerdia: If today's hot startups were to become tomorrow's big corporations, what would you recommend they do in the next few years in order to make the world a better place?
JR: I think the most important thing we need in corporate America is powerful leadership. If you consider some of the most important brands, whether or not they’re in the film – Apple, Amazon, Under Armour, Patagonia, Chipotle, Virgin America – all of these brands have powerful leadership teams that are willing to take risks and break down the silos that exist within their organization. Their marketing, operations, customer service, and product development are all in close communication with one another. They realize that it’s the totality of the consumer experience and the synergy created through interdepartmental communication that creates a breakthrough brand, not simply a great advertising department. And that’s pretty easy for a small start-up to do. Many of them are conceived around a ping-pong table doubling as a conference room. But as many of them grow up and gain responsibility, it becomes easier to be siloed. The breakthrough brands are the ones that fight against the natural pull toward boundaries and corporate silos and continue to focus on the needs of the consumer. Apple is now the most valuable company in the world. According to the Steve Jobs biography, every single Monday he got key leaders of his team together for a meeting. That’s extremely hard to do, of course, because everyone is busy, and adding one more meeting to the calendar is difficult. But it proves is that even giant corporations – when they’re committed to breaking down the silos – can act like a start up, and the returns are unprecedented.
Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to young advertising professionals who want to drive meaningful change?
JR: Take risks. Have a good time. Break the rules. Be positive and supportive of your teammates. But don’t accept anything but their absolute best. Remember there’s going to be a revolution that takes place in the world of advertising. You can be a part of that revolution, or you can watch from the sidelines. The choice is yours.
Ekaterina Walter is the author of "Think Like Zuck" and a Social Innovator for Intel. I've been fortunate to know Ekaterina for several years and I must say Ekaterina is the real deal not only as an author, thought leader, speaker, and strategist, but also as a practitioner driving change at one of the world's most recognized brands.
In this Q&A, Ekaterina talks about her exciting first book (out today!), why she wrote it, the publishing process, and much more.
“Zuck has a clear long-term vision of where he wants to take his company and he is executing on that vision.”
Social Nerdia: Who should read “Think Like Zuck”? What should a reader expect to get from the book?
Ekaterina Walter: Anyone who has a passion for innovation and disruption. Those who have an entrepreneurial streak, whether they are an intrapreneur (a person who drives change within a large company) or an entrepreneur (someone who owns his/her own business). And just anyone who wants to learn from other successful leaders.
Packed with examples of Facebook’s success principles in action - as well as those of Zappos, TOMS, Threadless, Dyson, and other companies — Think Like Zuck gives you the inspiration, knowledge, and insight to make your own mark in the world; to build a business that makes a difference, and to lead your organization to long-term profitability and growth.
Social Nerdia: Why did you write "Think Like Zuck"?
EW: I wanted to share the mentality and behavior of successful people, the lessons I learned on my own journey, and insights from the brands that have made it.
In my experience within large companies, and in my mentoring of a number of start-ups, I observed and experienced a number of things that successful people, as well as companies, did well and also the mistakes they made (that includes my own experiences and my own mistakes, by the way). I’ve also worked closely with Facebook for over four years and watched them grow as a company. Beyond that I interviewed other great young leaders like Jake, who started Threadless, and Ricky who started Connected Ventures (Vimeo, CollegeHumor.com among others), who now run large and well-known companies. And then there are just plain average people who I worked with who may not have been heads of companies, but were some of the most amazing leaders that I have ever had privilege working with. I wanted to share that knowledge with others.
Social Nerdia: What was the process of taking the book from idea to bookshelves?
EW: It’s pretty involved. First you have to agree on the idea for the book with your publisher. Then you have to do research, interviews, and ideation for different parts of the book. Then you write and review the manuscript with your editor, ensuring you get an outside perspective on your content. Once you polish your content, a copywriter needs to review for extra grammar issues and the flow. And then there is the book’s layout, cover, and final touches on everything. You have to leave time to get the praise for the book and the foreword if you want to include those as well. And the real work starts – promotion of the book. LOL.
Social Nerdia: What makes Mark Zuckerberg such a unique leader?
EW: Long-term strategic outlook and the courage to stand up to the pressures (both internal and external) that would veer him away from his vision. For example, everyone was saying NewsFeed was a bad idea (when it first came out) and now it is the feature we can’t live without. People were saying Facebook becoming a platform was not the right strategic and business decision, but now 24.3% of the top 10,000 websites in the world have some form of official Facebook integration on their home pages.
It isn’t easy to withstand that pressure, especially when you are in your early twenties. It is even harder to walk away from a billion dollar buy-out offer. But Zuck has a clear long-term vision of where he wants to take his company and he is executing on that vision.
Social Nerdia: How have you leveraged your own "Zuck" lessons learned at Intel?
EW: Intel is naturally a culture of innovation. Risk-taking is encouraged. Our philosophy is that failure is just a stepping stone to something greater. My management encourages creativity and gives us freedom to dream and innovate. They trust that we will do a great job and they empower us to paint the blank canvas. We have a clear vision of where we want to be and hire great people who fit within our culture. We partner smartly. Just like in any organization there are ways to improve, but I wouldn’t have been able to help lead social business transformation within the company in the past four years if the above wasn’t true.
Social Nerdia: What inspires you, and what concerns you about the current state of social media?
EW: What inspires me is the adoption of social listening, engagement, and response by more and more brands. That’s the right direction. What concerns me is the influx of tools that is becoming harder and harder to sort out and the huge amounts of data that marketers don’t know how to analyze yet.
Social Nerdia: What should marketers do in 2013 to help their companies leapfrog competitors?
EW: Listen even more intently. Engage communities even more passionately. Respond even faster. Delight with better customer service. Focus on fundamentals. And break through the noise with outstanding content.
Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to young marketers seeking to follow in your footsteps?
EW: Take risks – try out new things. Show initiative – if there is a gap, bridge it. If there is an unhappy customer – help address the issue. Constantly improve. And keep on learning. No one is a guru; if you are passionate about what you do you will find the way to break through. Remember, sometimes curiosity and naiveté trump experience. Don’t be afraid to ask “why?” and “why not?,” and keep an open mind.
Note: This is an excerpt from my new book SOCIAL STATE.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”
– Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
In 2012, Facebook reached a milestone: 1 billion active users. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world.
In an age where couples meet, date, and announce everything from marriage to pregnancy and divorce on Facebook, it is clear that social media has had a meaningful impact on how modern connected human beings live their lives. Facebook has become the de facto platform for sharing life’s most meaningful milestones. It is where our announcements become official, and where we celebrate our biggest accomplishments.
We already have too many photos stored inside our smartphones, digital cameras, laptops, email accounts, and external hard drives. The amount of disk space required to store a lifetime of photos seems to be outgrowing the abilities of our devices. Can you imagine how much more will be required to store the photos of a generation whose lives are being documented on a moment-to-moment basis? Will tomorrow’s tweens embrace our social media addiction, taking it to a whole new level by sharing their every action and thought seamlessly, involuntarily, and automatically with strangers, acquaintances, and friends alike? Or will they rebel against our ways and set out to create small, micro-communities where they can easily control how and when they are exposed to an outside world?
Before we think about the future, let’s consider how “old” the most popular social media sites are today:
LinkedIn: Born May 2003 - Almost ten years old
Facebook: Born February 2004 - Almost nine years old
YouTube: Born February 2005 - Almost eight years old
Twitter: Born March 2006 - Almost seven years old
VK: Born September 2006 - Over six years old
Tumblr: Born April 2007 - Almost six years old
Sina Weibo: Born August 2009 - Over three years old
Pinterest: Born March 2010 - Almost three years old
Instagram: Born October 2010 - Over two years old
Google+: Born June 2011 - One year and a half years old
It’s hard to imagine life without many of these web sites.
For an annual cost of $0, these social networks allow us to share our lives instantly, effortlessly, and with a whole lot of metadata. When aggregated, this paints a picture of who we are, what we like, and how we live our lives.
If someone wanted to go through our every social interaction online to create a comprehensive profile of our identity, it wouldn’t be difficult. They could compose a map displaying where we’ve been (whether we have actively “checked in” or not), what we’ve said (or agreed with), who we care about (and despise), and what we think about.
Our life, or at least the digital version of it, exists as rows and columns in massive databases somewhere in a “cloud” of computers that we will never see, hear or reboot. We simply know that our information is recorded somewhere in the mysterious global network we know as the Internet and that as long as we click “refresh” on our browsers, everything will be ok. And yet, this means that we do not fully have control or ownership over some of the most memorable recordings of ourselves.
The fact is that social media is both exciting AND scary.
From the early days of the World Wide Web, the Internet has consistently created both new opportunities and risks. The web allowed for an integration of life and technology, and social media represents an era in which Internet users have opted to reveal their true identities as they interact with the world around them. A more “open and connected” web, as Mark Zuckerberg likes to say, brings a whole new set of excitement and creepiness into an already complex digital landscape.
Sharon Feder is the Chief Operating Officer at Mashable, a "leading source for news, information and resources for the Connected Generation." Sharon started as an Editorial Assistant in 2008 and is now responsible for the company’s business operations including sales, marketing, community and human resources.
I've witnessed Mashable's rise over the years, from a personal blog to a "one-stop-shop social media hub," and I have great admiration for the team's ability to grow and evolve while taking a stand for all things "social good."
In this Q&A, Sharon tells the story behind #GivingTuesday, and shares her thoughts on some of the most memorable trends and stories of 2012.
“We now have more than 2,000 partner organizations and companies planning activations around #GivingTuesday with their respective communities.”
Social Nerdia: What's the story behind #GivingTuesday?
Sharon Feder: Henry Timms, the Deputy Executive Director of New York's 92nd Street Y approached me and others with this great idea that he had started thinking about during last year's holiday season: We have a day for giving thanks, two days for getting deals. Why shouldn't there be a day for giving back?
The idea is simple: Why not create a structured day that encourages corporations, individuals and families to give back in a way that's meaningful to them, whether through volunteerism or donation. We started to recruit partners, participants and social media ambassadors and quickly saw online communities embracing and taking ownership of #givingtuesday and turning it into a movement.
We now have more than 2,000 partner organizations and companies planning activations around #GivingTuesday with their respective communities.
Social Nerdia: Mashable has done a lot to encourage "social good" over the last few years. What does contributing to the world mean to the Mashable team?
SF: A few years ago Mashable's CEO and Founder Pete Cashmore donated his birthday to Charity:Water to raise money to build a well in Ethiopia. His efforts were successful and we were all moved by what our community was able to achieve.
We realized we have a powerful platform that can inform and create positive change. As a result, we've become more involved over the years in covering innovations in social good, we've partnered with organizations like 92Y, UNFoundation and others to host our annual Social Good Summit, as well as become involved in initiatives like #GivingTuesday.
We truly feel that technology has the ability to solve global problems and make this world a better place.
Social Nerdia: What did you think about how companies leveraged social media this Black Friday?
SF: I was more focused on the general shift to online this Black Friday. For the first time ever, Black Friday online sales topped $1 billion. Brands like Amazon were smart to push big deals on Black Friday and also smart to push their customers to their price check app.
Social Nerdia: You've been Mashable's COO for almost a year now. What were some of the news stories and events of the year that you will remember as highlights?
SF: This truly has been an incredible year with big trends, shifts in consumer behavior and lots of global events. It's been incredible to see visual sharing networks like Pinterest and Instagram take off and to see people increasingly valuing and sharing beautiful photos and images. Additionally, to see such a big shift to mobile and the rise of big data. All of these trends and more inspired the new Mashable, which launched in beta two weeks ago and will be launching to the public soon.
I think the biggest story for me this year was Sandy. It personally affected me, my family and the neighborhood I grew up in: Rockaway, Queens. Experiencing the storm and a week of blackout in NYC was one thing, but now seeing the power of social media in sharing the stories of those affected by the storm and organizing the grassroots efforts to recover and rebuild are another.
Social Nerdia: What advice would you give to young professionals who want to drive meaningful change in the world by leveraging social media?
SF: I'd say go for it! And #GivingTuesday could be the perfect day to start. You have the drive and the tools. It's time to make something happen!