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February 25th, 2014

WhatsApp bought by Facebook: “Well, that’s great…”

WhatsApp bought by Facebook: “Well, that’s great…”

WhatsApp is undoubtedly ‘what’s up’ in tech news these days, with business experts and digital pundits everywhere weighing in on the colossal $19 billion deal (£11.4 billion).

Facebook is buying the instant-messaging service for $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook stock, and setting aside another $3 billion in stock units to be dealt out to founders and employers over the next four years. Mark Zuckerberg is trending on Twitter this week as a result, and took the stage at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona – the world’s premier mobile industry event – to share his plans for the messaging service.

To put the deal into perspective, it’s bigger than, well, any tech deal pretty much ever, and that includes Google, Microsoft and Apple acquisitions. The closest in recent years was Google’s deal for Motorola Mobility, but that was only a paltry $12.5 billion three years ago. Chicken feed, compared with the WhatsApp acquisition, right? Old news.

WhatsApp is an app that lets users chat with their smartphone contacts either individually or in groups, and send texts or photos (there are also plans on the horizon for video calling).  The app already had 450 million users, now reportedly being boosted by an extra million each day.

The gist of the strategy behind the purchase of WhatsApp is to further expand Facebook’s growing empire of connectivity worldwide. The companies’ shared values and goals appear to be the driving force behind the acquisition. In yesterday’s keynote, Facebook’s CEO sung WhatsApp’s praises (as if the money didn’t speak for itself) stating that: “it’s the most engaging app that we’ve ever seen exist on mobile so far.”

The company plans to keep WhatsApp separate from the Facebook platform. Zuckerberg stated: “There are very few services in the world that can reach that level. The vision is to keep the service exactly the same.”

Outside of the blockbuster deal, Zuckerberg also used the MWC stage to raise awareness and advocacy for worldwide, easily-accessible internet for all, though his ‘internet.org’ project. His vision is that the internet should be as accessible and affordable as picking up the phone and dialing 911 – an essential service that should not be limited to first world countries.

So what do we think as WhatsApp users? Well, we’re kind of split across the whole gamut of it being great, from “Well, that’s great…”* to “Well, that’s great…”**

*Said by one of our Brits in a somewhat sarcastic tone
**Said in an overly enthusiastic American voice

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Posted in Technology | Comments Off on WhatsApp bought by Facebook: “Well, that’s great…”

 

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August 12th, 2013

Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

The #.

Whether you‘re a Brit and call it the hash key or North American and know it as the pound sign, when it comes to social media, # is lovingly known as the hashtag.

It originally made its debut on Twitter in 2007. Over the past six years it has spread to Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr. It’s even been sneaked in by LinkedIn.

Hashtag help

When it comes to hashtags, do you know how to properly use the ‘#’ symbol?

The hashtag is a very useful way to tag content; yet there’s nothing more counterintuitive — or annoying — than too many hashtags. Even the earliest adopter of the hashtag, Chris Messina, the open source advocate and engineer credited with introducing the symbol to Twitter,  said: “The worst thing is what I might call ‘poor hashtag grammar.’ Like #when #people #tag #every#word #in #a #sentence!”

Yes, sometimes it’s a way to flag something different and you can be quirky and have some fun with hashtags. But we all know that one person (or company) that consistently #s almost every word.

To not be that person, double check against some practice hashtag tips the next time you find yourself wanting to hit the # key one too many times:

  1. Consider the # as a keyword or main topic of your post – it should reinforce whatever subject you are writing about
  2.  (Generally) hashtag nouns not verbs. For example, when talking about your fast and secure cloud technology, anything can be fast and secure — so hashtag ‘cloudtechnology’ or ‘cloud’ to get better search optimization.
  3. Be specific. Hashtags are valuable because they help users pinpoint relevant information. The more specific you are, the more they will appreciate you and your content.
  4. Don’t use spaces or punctuation marks in your hashtag. It breaks up the searchable term, and you’ll look like a social media rookie. (Example: #publicrelations, NOT #public-relations or #public relations.)
  5. Limit yourself to a maximum two hashtags per post. Even Twitter tells users, “Hashtags are most powerful when you use them judiciously. Including more than two in a tweet is probably overkill.”

So when you find yourself clicking the ‘Post’ or ‘Tweet’ icon, remember to think before you hashtag…

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Posted in Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices, Social Media | Comments Off on Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

 

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July 8th, 2013

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

wordpress logoWe’ve already blogged about the importance of establishing a company blog.  You may be considering which platform to host your blog on – and we would recommend your answer be WordPress – and here’s why.

WordPress really has come a long way since it was considered a basic blogging platform. With plug-ins, new features and other enhancements, it has become the premier content management system, with over 68 million pages on the Web run on WordPress today.

Three reasons why we use, encourage our clients to use, and train people on WordPress:

Ease of use:  The best advice has always been to keep it simple. WordPress does this fabulously – allowing users to post content in visual or HTML text version. Whether you’re a diehard coder or an amateur, these options are designed to cater to all levels of experience.

Enhancing SEO:  WordPress’ blog code attracts Google robots and other magnets, helping boost your SEO and webpage traffic. With the right setup and plug ins (we like Yoast SEO), the platform will tell you just how high you rank when it comes to search terms and keywords, and where you can improve.

Seamless with social media:  With the right plugins, WordPress can post new content directly to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As a PR firm with experience in social media, we can’t stress the importance of cross promoting on social networks, and this WordPress feature now makes it easier than ever to do so.

Want to try it for yourself? Then head to wordpress.org to install WordPress. Want some pointers?  Then join our  Google Hangout tomorrow at 2pm EDT or, if you’re in the Boston area, sign up for our ‘(Successfully) Wrestle with WordPress over a weekend‘ courses.

More reasons to follow tomorrow!

 

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Posted in Boston, Prompt locations, Training, WordPress | Comments Off on Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

 

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April 5th, 2013

Enhancing thought leadership, website traffic and more: Why your company must blog

Enhancing thought leadership, website traffic and more: Why your company must blog

In every market, the need to stay ahead of competitors and establish yourself as a thought leader is essential to business success. Sure, you may have a great-looking website, with fancy flashing images and professional headshots of nearly every employee – but is that really going to make a prospect stay on your page or an industry analyst contact you for insight? To put it simple, that’s not enough.

The solution lies in creating, and regularly maintaining, a company blog. Blogging can be a great testing ground to show the personality of your company and that of your spokespeople, while simultaneously giving internal team members an outlet to voice any (appropriate) opinions.At Prompt, we believe blogging is essential to the visibility and growth of a company.

Not only does blogging showcase your expertise and leadership, but it also creates a fresh social media channel – to accompany your booming LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook pages – where you can communicate key corporate messages to customers, prospects and the broader community.

Need more reasons to start drafting your first post? Additional benefits to blogging include:

Increasing SEO:  Blogging optimizes website SEO by driving traffic to the main website with qualitative clicks into core content.

Creating an everlasting archive: By establishing a searchable archived blog, published content will be available long after employee contributors move on, giving you a long-term library of knowledge. As a company, look to reuse and reference such content in whitepapers, sales material, bylined articles and much more.

Boosting direct marketing:  Have a webinar or sales promotion fast approaching? In addition to sharing it on social media and sending an invite via email, why not blog about it? It’s a great way to market self-promotional initiatives, in more than just a 140-character tweet.

One company that has experienced the positive results firsthand is former client, Sogeti UK. Learn how this software testing provider boosted thought leadership, content creation and website traffic (with over 4,300 blog visits in one month) by downloading Prompt’s free case study here.

If you’re interested in jumpstarting your own company blog, please click here to learn about Prompt’s latest offering, classroom-based WordPress training. At our WordPress workshop, you’ll learn the ins and outs of maintaining a website, which includes thorough training in web servers, DNS directs, dashboards, plugins and more. We hope to see you at our London classroom soon!

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Posted in London, Social Media, Training, Website development, WordPress | Comments Off on Enhancing thought leadership, website traffic and more: Why your company must blog

 

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April 1st, 2013

Why email etiquette hasn’t reached extinction

Why email etiquette hasn’t reached extinction

As a public relations consultant, I am constantly using email as a means of communication – whether I’m sending an internal note to a colleague across the pond in London, or a media pitch to a journalist in New York City.

Whatever the area code (or time zone), one thing is for certain – my email won’t be a one-liner. Almost always, I frame my email drafts to include a proper greeting and a positive sign off, even during a time when many question if such forms of etiquette are the digital definition of ‘rude’.

Last month, Nick Bilton of The New York Times expressed his thoughts on communicating during the digital era, stating ‘thank you’ emails, ‘sincerely’ sign offs and even voicemails are irksome time wasters. In an age where 140-character tweets and texting has taken over, is a lengthier, friendly email really such a bad thing?

Typing a lengthy email

To me, the answer is, and will always be, no. It takes one second to glance over the opening sentence that wished you a good afternoon, and even less time to get through a sign off. At the end of the day, being nice won’t cause any harm – in fact, it will most likely bring a small smile to your contact’s face.

So, the next time you’re writing an email, take a moment to consider just how you’re responding. If the sender took his or her time to ask how you were doing, don’t just respond with a snappy demand or request. Yes, email communication exists to accomplish tasks remotely, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your personality along the way.

After all, presenting yourself in the best light – whether by email or any other form of communication – is what public relations is all about.

Do you have an email etiquette tip of your own? Why not share them with us on Twitter, Facebook, or – you guessed it – email today.

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, PR Practices, Technology | Comments Off on Why email etiquette hasn’t reached extinction

 

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October 12th, 2012

Social media buzz and the 2012 presidential election

Social media buzz and the 2012 presidential election

Social media has so many different purposes and each user’s habits are unique.  From communicating with family and catching up with old friends to sharing content and breaking news, it is one of the easiest ways to connect with friends, family, and strangers alike.

As most of us know, Election Day is less than a month away, and the presidential and vice presidential debates are flooding the TV channels around the US.  However, it’s not just TV talking-heads that are having an input – opinions of candidates, issues and everything in between are being shared by all types of people across social media, specifically Twitter.
Social media buzz hits the 2012 presidential and vice presidential debates.

The Pew Research Institute reports that 66% of online adults and 80% of online teens use social media.  With Facebook reaching one billion users just last week, social media is being used now more than ever.  With the presidential election in full swing, it seems users have one eye on the television and the other on their computer or smart phone, typing their opinions on every move the candidates make.  The Twitter blog reported that the first presidential debate, on October 3, was the most tweeted about event in US politics, with 10 million tweets.  The conversation consisted of a wide variety of topics, leaving nothing to the imagination – and yes, this includes Big Bird.

The first and only vice presidential debate aired yesterday, and there were 4 million tweets – featuring opinions on everything from foreign policy and tax reform, to Paul Ryan’s water drinking habits and Joe Biden’s laugh.  The debate saw the highest tweet per minute rating (58,275) when Biden asked Ryan, “Now you’re Jack Kennedy?”

The numbers surrounding the debates and Twitter usage are astounding proof that social media isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon.  With the number of new users joining the Twitter-sphere growing each day, the possibility of the second presidential debate nabbing the title for most tweeted-about event in US politics seems very likely.

For the latest news in PR, marketing, tech and even the presidential debates, be sure to follow the Prompt team on Twitter: @PromptBoston or @PromptLondon. Don’t be shy – tweet us your thoughts on social media today!

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Events, Media, Technology, Twitter | Comments Off on Social media buzz and the 2012 presidential election

 

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September 12th, 2012

Spotted: Wizards on broomsticks in the city of Boston

Spotted: Wizards on broomsticks in the city of Boston

As a copywriting, media relations, and digital communications firm located in the bustling Kendall Square, we love venturing out into the city scene and discovering all that the streets of Boston have to offer.

You never know what you’re going to find – street performers playing great beats on bucket brims, vendors selling the latest Red Sox apparel, and wizards and witches playing Quidditch in the Boston Commons.

Four years ago, Emerson College (Prompt Boston’s neighbor, located on the other side of the Charles River) formed its own Quidditch club based off the hit novel-turned-movie series, Harry Potter.

However, this past weekend, Boston.com reported that city park officials swept the broom players out of the Common, banning the students from using the public space for games and practices until a permit is obtained. In the past, the college has secured a permit, but miscommunication barred the Quidditch club from getting the magic pass this year.

For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter -isms, Muggle (non-magical humans, like the majority of Emerson College students) Quidditch consists of two teams of seven players, who run (‘fly’) with brooms between their legs as they toss around a deflated volleyball (the ‘Quaffle’scoring ball) through hoops that act as goal posts. As if that didn’t sound distracting enough, two other balls (‘Bludgers’ – like a kickball aimed at your face) are used to disrupt scoring.

So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of the city with nothing to do (which is near impossible), we recommend trying something new like joining a Quidditch league – you may just be the next Muggle champion of Quidditch.

To stay up to date on the latest media and city happenings, be sure to ‘like’ the Prompt Boston Facebook page or follow the Beantown team on Twitter: @PromptBoston.

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Prompt locations, Twitter | Comments Off on Spotted: Wizards on broomsticks in the city of Boston

 

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July 12th, 2012

Prompt celebrates two decades of the first-ever Web photo

Prompt celebrates two decades of the first-ever Web photo

This photo, showcasing the parody band Les Horribles Cernettes, was the first to be uploaded onto the internet.

This photo, showcasing the parody band Les Horribles Cernettes, was the first to be uploaded onto the internet.

Here at Prompt, we are fascinated with the constant evolution of technology—as every high-tech and green-tech PR and copywriting agency should be. In fact, we couldn’t imagine spending a single day without one of the most innovative creations in the tech realm – the internet.

And what better way to acknowledge such a powerful resource than to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first Web photo upload.

This week marks 20 years since a picture of the parody band Les Horribles Cernettes entered the cyber world. The image was edited using the first version of Adobe Photoshop, and was then saved as a GIF file. And the photo upload created some revolutionary aftermath. The internet, which was originally used to conduct serious business and research, quickly became a social space for sharing photos, posts, location check-ins, and other personal information.

Here are some interesting statistics that were all derived from a photo of four women in a parody band:

250 million – photos are uploaded onto Facebook each day

1992 – the year the first photo was uploaded onto the Web

196 – hours of YouTube videos an average user will upload each year

11 – new users join Twitter every minute

2 – Twitter accounts where you can follow the Prompt team: @PromptBoston and @PromptLondon

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Posted in Boston, Copywriting, Events, London, Prompt locations, Technology, Twitter | Comments Off on Prompt celebrates two decades of the first-ever Web photo

 

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February 3rd, 2012

Facebook: What the mark of one billion users means

Facebook: What the mark of one billion users means

It’s hard to go anywhere today without an advertisement asking you to ‘like’ and ‘follow’ a product online. So when I heard that Facebook expected to pass one billion users this August, it got me thinking – is social media even more powerful than we realize?

In its infancy, social media set out to connect people, and turned into a fun activity that many picked up in their spare time. Today, social media is still connecting people, but often within the business-to-consumer relationship. Social media is now a major part of the marketing and public relations plans of countless companies and individuals.

Founded only eight years ago, Facebook is one of the biggest players in the social media world. After many (and continuing) changes, the site currently has over 800 million users, equating to about one million new users per year. Although it is certainly not the only platform of its of its kind today, it certainly has the most participants.

This week, reports are swirling around that the social media giant expects to have one billion users by the end of this summer. That means an astonishing one sixth of the entire world’s population will be able to update their individual status and check in with friends whenever they like. of course that’s also one billion people that will see and act on placed advertisements. While Facebook doesn’t disclose its advertising costs, it’s amazing to think that companies can reach consumers on every continent in the world so immediately.

While Facebook has teased the trading world about going public for quite a while, it’s predicted that when it does, Facebook will become a $100 billion IPO. Where the giant corporation’s influence will go to next, it’s hard to tell, but we will be along for the ride to find out.


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March 1st, 2010

Please (Don't) Rob Me

Please (Don't) Rob Me


Whenever my family leaves for vacation, we keep the upstairs light on and arrange for our neighbors to take in the mail. “This way,” my mother reasons, “Burglars won’t know we’re not home.”

Foursquare, a location-based social networking website, has gained a ton of popularity recently. The website encourages people to connect and explore their communities, particularly local businesses. Members earn points by ‘checking-in’ to locations, unlock ‘badges’, and become the ‘Mayor’ if they accumulate the most check-ins at one location.

When a lot of people start using a new social network, it’s almost guaranteed that some won’t get the point. People who check-in to places far from their usual neighborhood are exposing that their home is empty, and those who check-in to their homes might as well broadcast their address for all to see.

This is where Please Rob Me comes in. The “dressed-up Twitter search page,” as proclaimed by its founders presents ‘opportunities’ to visitors to ‘Please Rob Me’ when it appears someone is not home. The website’s main aim isn’t to help people burglarize homes, but rather to point out the dangers of publicly telling people where you are.

Burglars and other would-be predators have every reason to pay attention to social media, however. British insurance and investment management firm Legal & General found that almost 40% of social networking users share holiday plans on sites like Facebook or Twitter. In addition, 13% of Facebook users and 92% of Twitter users accept follows without checking up on the source.

The main point: Be careful about what information you share on the web. As Please Rob Me creators reasoned, publicly telling people where you’ve checked in is dangerous because it leaves one place you’re definitely not: home. And if you’ve checked in to the airport 5 minutes ago, that upstairs light won’t fool anyone.

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December 10th, 2009

Facebook is more popular than email or SMS to keep in touch

Facebook is more popular than email or SMS to keep in touch

Today, we announced the results of our survey on trends in communications [read the whole release here]. Our findings were surprising to say the least.

First, Facebook was the most common tool for communication with friends and family, with 96% of users citing their use of it to stay in touch – slightly edging SMS and email. In just the few years Facebook has been around, it has become a central part of many people’s everyday lives.

Yet, people are ambivalent towards the way that technology and social media are impacting society. 60% of people believe that they rely too much on technology, and 71% believe social media is making communication less personal. This indicates that even though they are using social media more, they feel they are having real human interaction less. But they are addicts – over 52% claim they couldn’t last a week without social media.


It is important to be aware of these trends when working in communications. Even though social media tools are growing and are a great avenue for interaction, people still crave real in-person human interaction. We like hearing each other’s voices and seeing expressions on faces. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, call an old friend or a journalist, and meet with them. And then you can let your friends know how great it was on Facebook when you get back.

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October 29th, 2009

Facebook and the ugly face of change

Facebook and the ugly face of change

It’s that time again. No, I don’t mean the beginning of the holiday season (as marked by the pretty snowflakes that adorn my Starbucks cup and my Coke can). I mean the time for harsh backlash in response to the latest of Facebook’s changes, namely the addition of a dual-feed layout. The “Live Feed” features real time updates from each of a user’s friends, while the “News Feed” features updates solely from friends that Facebook determines to be the most interesting or most important at the time.

In the past, whenever the social media giant has made any changes to its layout or policy, it has been almost immediately shot down by very large numbers of its very vocal users. Does anyone recall the new layout in September 2008 that had millions of users calling for a boycott? How about the “Facebook owns you” debacle? History has shown that hours, minutes even, after any Facebook changes occur, groups such as “MEMBERS WANT THE OLD FACEBOOK BACK! and “I hate the new Facebook!” spring up all over the place. You think that after a string of poorly received alterations, Facebook would learn its lesson and stop making changes to its site, right? Or not.

Still, the speed at which these groups appear makes me wonder whether or not these new updates are given a real chance (not that Facebook owning all my content even deserved a chance in my opinion). Apparently there are others who think the same thing; find them at “I AUTOMATICALLY HATE THE NEW FACEBOOK HOME PAGE” I mean, wasn’t the “old” Facebook layout that people are now demanding rejected too when it first came out?

I understand why people are annoyed when things change (I’m still trying to figure out where the “events” link moved from the last redesign), but we all know that this will blow over before you know it. So please, if you hate Facebook’s changes so much that you feel you need to let everyone know in all capital letters (with multiple exclamation points), write a letter to Facebook directly instead of sending your buddies multiple invites to your “let’s bash Facebook” group. Your friends will thank you for it, trust me.

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