The New Age of Advertising

Advertising has been changing over the years, and the way companies have connected with their customers has gotten more and more creative.  Every so often a new ad campaign is introduced that catches the attention of the general public, and influences the way products are marketed in the future.

Chipotle:

One ad that comes to mind is the Chipotle Scarecrow campaign.  In this campaign, introduced in 2013, they featured the sad story of the Scarecrow that had to work in the food processing factory.  We learn later in the advertisement that the scarecrow is a farmer and decides to make his own food to sell that is healthier than the competition.  The scarecrow in the ad represents Chipotle, and their message was that as a restaurant they strive to use healthier ingredients and set themselves apart from the competition.  Along with the video ad, Chipotle also introduced a game app based of the scarecrow ad.  This was a brilliant strategy because it engaged a large range of ages in the same campaign.  I believe that because this campaign was so successful, we are going to see many more campaigns modeled after it.

Budweiser:

Another ad that changed the course of advertising is the Budweiser puppy ads.  During Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, Budweiser changed the pace of the majority of Super Bowl ads and went with a more cute theme.  This ad was so well received that most of the ads in the Super Bowl XLIX in 2015 went with a cute or serious theme for an ad.  This puppy dog campaign was a great choice in my opinion.  It was just different enough from their usual ads, but still had the things fans expect to see, like the Clydesdales.

Most super bowl ads all air during the superbowl.  Even though this year’s puppy Super Bowl ad was featured during the game, it was also released to the public online a few days before.  I believe this is in response to the growing consumer need for rapid information. For example, on Black Friday stores started opening their doors at 5pm on Thursday. Just like on Black Friday consumers couldn’t wait to see what the Super Bowl ads were going to be, so the companies released them in advance in order to get people excited, as well as to get preliminary reactions before the ad’s grand debut.  I believe that we will continue to see a trend of holiday or event ad campaigns being released before they typically would be.

Coca-Cola:

Coca-Cola is one of the first companies that I think of when I think of brilliant ad campaigns.  From the Enjoy Thirst campaign to Open Happiness, Coca Cola has done a great job over the years with their ads.  However, I think one of the best campaigns they have had has been the, “Share a Coke with..” movement.  The idea was to get consumers involved and interested in the advertisement, and not just the product.  By printing very common first names on the bottles of Coke, they added a level of interaction that was not present in their earlier marketing techniques.

One of the ways Coca-Cola is able to spread this movement was to bring specialized Coca-Cola vending machines to colleges and public places.  In this opportunity, one is able to type in their name and a name of a friend and then the machine will spit out two Cokes with the names on the can.  I think this is a fantastic way to engage your customers and help get the product to trend.

The Future:

With all of these great marketing campaigns coming out over the last few years, one has to wonder what we can look forward to in the future.  I believe that the future of product marketing is a interactive one.  The old way of getting your product heard of was to tell people about it and hope that they listen.  The new way will be to get your audience involved and interested about the product.  You want the customer to feel that the product was made just for them, even though the product was made for the masses.  Coke enabled customization and interaction with the Share a Coke movement, and Chipotle developed family-friendly, interactive advertisements with The Scarecrow.

With all of these brilliant marketing marketing campaigns emerging over the last few years, I cannot wait to see which corporation is going to have the next big marketing break.

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Social Media: Is It Enhancing Or Hindering Our Communication?

First and foremost, I firmly believe that I am an old soul. I adore all things vintage–more so styles in the 1920’s-1960’s–and I love to be romanced as I am a total hopeless romantic. I could genuinely read poetry all day, I see chivalry as a rare and remarkably charming quality within a man, and I am in love with hand written letters and the sentimentality bound to them. I know that these things don’t necessarily classify me as an old soul, but I look around and I truly see that I don’t quite fit in. For one, I’m the only one looking around while the rest of my peers are looking down, captivated by their smartphones. Today for example, I was riding the bus and almost everywhere that I turned someone had their face buried deep into their news feeds on their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly amusing watching people make ridiculous faces into their phones or walk into things that they would have otherwise seen if they weren’t zombiefied–totally made that word up–by their fascinating, social media enabling smartphones. However, the silence between so many people forced into such small quarters is horrifying. Social media supposedly ‘connects’ us to so many people, but really these so-called ‘connections’ are mostly shallow, surface relationships. Rather than striking an interesting conversation with that potential friend sitting right next to them, people remain isolated and scan through a sea of redundant news feeds hoping for something interesting to pop-up and entertain their short-lived attention span. That person sitting right next to them could have been their soulmate or their best friend, but that is something that they would never discover because social media is distracting us all from the rest of the world. As a generation, we let so many ‘could have been’s’ pass us by and just relinquish them so easily as ‘would never be’s’.

(Sorry, this blog post is becoming more of a rant but I urge you to check out this video and to keep reading because I had a revaluation in the end!)

Personally, I made the decision to replace my smartphone with a very basic one about, wow, maybe a year and a half ago. I decided I just needed a phone that would serve as a phone, enabling me to call and text. Sure there are definitely some cons to this, like not having the ability to find out the answer to any random question that plagues me by just simply tapping a button or staying current with all the social media news feeds. Yet, there are certainly many pros. For instance, my battery lasts up to 3 whole days on a single charge. Plus, I have loads more time to be productive. Even more than that though, I found out who my truly devoted friends were. I’m talking about the ones who still text to just say, ‘Hi’ or ‘I miss you’ and the ones who take the time to send a Christmas card and the ones who don’t need the Facebook reminder to know to say, ‘Happy Birthday!’ Obviously not all social media takes place on smartphones, but I’d say because of its convenience, a vast majority does. Social media can be so powerful, but it can also be a debilitating crutch that inhibits us from truly being able to deeply know one another. It doesn’t have to be that way though!

If everyone just enrolled in ‘Topics in Social Media,’ then I think more individuals would use social media much more constructively, as opposed to just mindlessly scrolling. I sincerely mean this! A class on proper social media etiquette would be so beneficial for everyone, it has been for me! Clearly, I am a little leery of being enveloped by the world of social media, but I’ve learned that social media has layers (kind of like ogres and onions ;P). As an individual aspiring to have a personal business, I’m understanding that I can manipulate social media to market myself and my product to an array of potential partners or clients and that each social media platform serves as a unique way to reach my target audience on many different levels with visuals or short blurbs. I’ve come to know that social media can help my brand thrive and that it isn’t as threatening as it appears. I still have a lot of learning and practicing to do, but I will click, tap, and press on!

TIPS TO PRODUCTIVELY UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA:

  1. Use in moderation
  2. Balance social media networking/connections with actual personal connections
  3. Content is crucial, write/post deliberately
  4. Post, pin, snap, tag, and tweet with purpose⇒ DO: aim to grow YOU brand and promote yourself ; DON’T: procrastinate and scroll through news feeds
  5. Look up every once and a while and enjoy the view! :)
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Twitter and the Transformation of Television

In today’s world, one does not simply watch TV. With the advent of web 2.0, sitting down and just watching TV has become a thing of the past. Today, watching TV is an interactive and immersive experience. TV shows and channels have harnessed the power associated with web 2.0 not only to extend the reach of their marketing arm but also to allow viewers to become more engaged in what they are watching and in some cases even determine the outcome of some shows simply by using a hashtag.

Hashtags were originally used in IRC(Internet Relay Chat) chatrooms to connect with people that used the same hashtag. It wasn’t long before twitter realized the potential of the hashtag and adopted it to connect and categorize tweets. Hashtagging really gained traction on twitter around 2008-2009 when users were able to search for specific hashhtags. This pivotal point in time allowed the public to share their thoughts about certain TV episodes and their content as well as view the thoughts/reactions of others and respond to each other. By 2010, TV outlets began adopting their own hashtags to promote TV shows and topics. The hashtags were used to promote TV shows ahead of airing to get people talking. To encourage talk about certain shows, Twitter handles associated with TV networks or TV shows will often retweet a user’s message with the associated hashtag. When a show airs, often times tweets using the appropriate hashtag will be shown on live TV to promote viewers to share their thoughts on twitter. Other times people can use twitter and the appropriate hashtag to ask questions of people on the air. This was a method Discovery channel used in 2013 for Shark Week.

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“The Shark After Dark” show would recap the previous shows from Shark Week on live television with comedic commentary as well as tweet whenever the #sharkafterdark hashtag was used. Another show that allows viewers to engage in the show by voting through twitter is the singing competition “The Voice”. Users were prompted to tweet #VoiceSave with the artists name they wanted to save during the final elimination rounds.

voice

This allowed viewers to engage with the show and effect the outcome by saving their favorite artist from elimination all while NBC and The Voice enjoyed the organic marketing.

Even though networks try to anticipate what the best hash tag is for TV shows or episodes, social media often has their own idea. When the TV show “How to Get Away With Murder” first aired, NBC used the hash tag #HowToGetAwayWithMurder in order to get the name of the show out to the public. However, in social media where the the number of characters matter, selecting the best official hash tag is paramount. When the show aired, two-thirds of people on twitter discussing the show used the official hashtag while the other one-third used the abbreviated name #HTGAWM. This defeats the purpose of the hash tag as people are no longer united under a unified category. If users of social media opt to create their own hash tags, the category becomes fragmented and the organic marketing generated wouldn’t be as strong as it would if everything was united under one hash tag. Now users have multiple hash tags to search through to find content instead of just just being able to search for one.

Web 2.0 is becoming such an integral part in how we watch TV that smart TVs integrate apps like twitter and the data derived from social media to work in tangent with the hardware. When the consumer tries to find a show to watch on their television, smart TVs can look at what shows are currently on air and trending on social media and will suggest those shows. If you have a Twitter account, you can even have your Twitter feed open on your TV and post to Twitter directly from the TV while watching watching your favorite show. The integration of social media however isn’t always appreciated. With the tight relationship between social media and television, often times the consumer pays the price in the form of spoilers.  Spoilers used to be prevalent Twitter but now web plug-ins and 3rd party Twitter apps are available that allow users to set filters so plots of shows or movies aren’t spoiled by those who may post in their Twitter feed.

Media consumption has been greatly affected by twitter and web 2.0 in the past decade. This new outlet for marketing and audience interaction will continue to evolve to capture greater market share and the opportunities seem to be limitless.

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Are You Ready For Your First Time?
by Jake Schoenberg

There once was a time in this joyous little life of ours that if we had that curious little itch the only remedy was to go out into the world and go to town on that scratch. From our adolescence pondering if the pain of getting a new tattoo was worth the permanent ink and to our later years wondering if we were getting too old to dress up like James Bond and fire a machine gun, we’ve all had these fantasies in one way or another. Yes I can say for one, I’ve day dreamt about a few of these things during my finance classes, curious for what my first time with any of these experiences would be like.

Thankfully in this age of information and cat videos these life changing experiences can be brought to you for less than what you pay for Netflix, but who are we kidding you probably still share the account with your parents. Today we have internet media news companies like BuzzFeed to walk us through our first time. If you were to simply go on YouTube and type “BuzzFeed First Time” you would be greeted with over 100 different videos all made within the past 6 months on almost anything you’ve been curious to try, but never had. Always wanted to know what Vegan Cheese tastes like? Got it. How about an afternoon of yoga? A particular brand of makeup? They have it. Click on any of these and you will be shown a two to three minute video of five twentysomething’s who will share with you their first hand experience with these products and services.


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What makes this formula so successful is based on the two ideas of curiosity and social vicariousness. Right from the get go there is this great sense of relatability in these participants because you like them will going through what they’re experiencing for the very first time. You can’t help but place yourself in their shoes and live through the experience as though you were there in person. These videos have proven to be so successful amongst the curious viewers of the Internet that on BuzzFeed alone this particular content has generated over 150 million views. So simple in their concept many other channels have emulated this formula on popular channels like Cut.com, Complex, and The Fine Bros.

Now of course this has caught the attention of many major corporation who are always eager for new platforms to target potential customers. I would be naïve to say that a global media organization like BuzzFeed has never teamed up with corporate level sponsorship, but this has not always been in the way you might think. BuzzFeed was one of the world’s first organizations to engage in native advertising; a form of online advertising that matches the form and function of the platform on which it appears. In this case BuzzFeed has allowed companies like L’Oreal to use their website to promote their products all under the guise that it was written by BuzzFeed. Sneaky? Perhaps, but this is where our new first time videos have come in to play.

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Recently BuzzFeed has made these try videos in conjunction with major brands. Only a few months ago amongst the craze of the first Dunkin’ Donuts opening up in California our very channel came out with “Californians Try Dunkin’ Donuts For the First Time”. On top of that there have been other big brand videos like “Americans Try McDonald’s For the First Time” Ultimately it is still up to the viewer whether they take these first hand accounts in stride, but needless to say it sure gets the brand right out front on your YouTube home page.

Naysayers of the Internet may spout this all coincides with the modern age of continual detachment from reality. This idea that those of us of generation y don’t need to go out to experience the real world in person but we can do this through our computer screen, tablet, phone, Google Glass, or soon to popular Oculus Rift. Perhaps there truly will come a time where there will be no need to try vaporized alcohol, Thai food, or Kim Kardashian makeup because the major players will be there with a panel of likable twentysomething’s like myself to take care of that curious scratch for me.

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Volvo is #Hip

volvo-superbowl-hed-2015

Every year, many different companies from many different industries spend millions upon millions of dollars in creating the most interesting, most fun, and (usually) most hilarious television commercials.  And these commercials air during the prime time of the year: the annual Super Bowl football game.  Moreover, the majority of these ads are for the automotive industry.  And every year, car manufacturers spend millions of dollars (an average of $4.5 million for a 30 second spot this past Super Bowl, to be exact) to create these television commercials.  However, there is one subtle albeit important and vital problem: most of the commercials (for car manufacturers, at least) are for the most part the same, in both content as well as production style.  It goes something like this: a (sometimes) vague introduction is shown where most viewers are not aware that it is the beginning of a commercial for a car, the car of interest comes into view, drives unrealistically quickly and makes unrealistic maneuvers, some features of the car are shown, something funny happens and/or something witty and quippy is said, possibly more features are shown off, and the commercial ends after 30 seconds with the terms and conditions (either for purchase or lease) and local dealership information where you can purchase or lease said car.  Done.  $4.5 million, please.

 

So, as one can witness, there is not much variety in terms of both content as well as production techniques when it comes to car commercials (or at least the ones that air during the Super Bowl game).  However, one car manufacturer did something different during this year’s Super Bowl game.  Quite different, in fact.

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Volvo, the Swedish premium car manufacturer of wagons, SUVs, crossovers, and luxury sedans, did not even create let alone pay to air a television advertisement during the Super Bowl.  Instead, Volvo created a quite innovative but simple, understandable, and straight-forward marketing campaign.  Cleverly dubbed “The Greatest Interception Ever” (official contest page can be found here:  http://www.volvointerception.com), Volvo asked viewers of the Super Bowl to tweet its hashtag (#VolvoContest) not at random times but when commercials for OTHER car brands were airing.  The prize?  The chance to win a brand new Volvo XC60 crossover.  Volvo said it would give away five XC60s.  “Participants will nominate a friend or loved one to win a new Volvo XC60 luxury crossover, with the idea being that the company wants to focus on real people rather than its own marketing message,” says AdWeek.  “Selected tweets will get a response from Volvo, asking why each nominee was chosen.  Five winners will be selected.”  “‘People have always been at the heart of Volvo, inspiring the products and experiences we create,” said Bodil Eriksson, executive vice president, product, brand, marketing & communications, Volvo Cars of North America. ‘We want to bring that mindset front and center and celebrate the people and passions that inspire us and our customers,'” quotes AdWeek.  With seven different car manufacturers (down from 11 in 2014) purchasing spots during the Super Bowl (Fiat Chrysler, BMW, Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz), air time during the Super Bowl has become quite competitive not to mention lucrative. However, and possibly even more importantly, a whopping six car manufacturers have decided not to air any commercials during this year’s Super Bowl.  General Motors (which includes brands Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac), Acura, Volkswagen, Audi (part of the Volkswagen Group), Jaguar, and Lincoln did not show any advertisements whatsoever during this year’s game.

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With stiff competition from seven other manufacturers who are paying big bucks to have their brands appear in front of hundreds of millions of viewers for a half a minute to a spread of manufacturers who went silent with their advertisements for this year, Volvo had its work cut out for it.  By straying away from the mainstream mode of advertisement delivery (aka television), I believe that Volvo took an ENORMOUS risk.  It was a risk because something like this (having viewers/participants tweet during a major sporting event to win a car in a car manufacturer-sponsored contest) has never been done in the past.  Viewers/participants could have not bothered with this since it involves user interaction and therefore the viewer/participant must divert their attention from whatever is on screen at that moment (in this case, a car advertisement from another manufacturer) just to tweet something.  In addition, instead of just tweeting something simple (such as, but not limited to, one’s name, hometown, school, whether they are rooting for the Patriots or the Seahawks, etc.), the participant has to actually engage, think, and come to a decision on who they thought deserved a new Volvo prior to tweeting.  Again, this is VERY risky on the company’s part.  Many people do not want to be bothered let alone forced to have to think and released private/intimate information, ESPECIALLY publicly.  Nevertheless, Volvo hit the nail on the head.  They offered a potentially large incentive (a brand new car) for just a few moments of one’s time.  Moreover, they also were able to successfully accomplish one more thing: redirecting the viewer’s attention from a leading competitor’s advertisement to theirs.  And do not forget that Volvo (most likely) spent NO funds on this (apart from a YouTube video they released a few days before the big game, which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntMit7V27LI).  Again, no advertisements were posted on television and twitter is free, as we all know very well by now.  And judging by the response on twitter (which can be found here: https://www.twitter.com/hashtag/volvocontest), Volvo’s strategy seems to have been extremely successful.  So successful, in fact, that Volvo ran the contest not just on game day, but all the way until 11:59 PM on 2/8/15.

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A great interception, Volvo.  A great interception, indeed.

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The News Feed

I’ve been aware Facebook has been tweaking its News Feed algorithm for a while now, but I wasn’t really cognizant of how that actually might impact me until a just few months ago. In fact, Facebook has tinkered with the algorithm for the News Feed regularly since 2012. Ever since then, I’ve noticed how I could see things posted hours and even days previous to when I was scrolling through the pages of updates.

I noticed I was seeing less annoying over-posters who feel the need to share everything in their day. You know, that type of person who makes hundreds of statuses about what they’re eating, what they’re watching on TV, how much they want a puppy, what they currently think about their significant other (for better or worse), how clean and or dirty their car is, what their health issues are, and notably the always tasteful calling out of their so-called “friends”, who happened to ditch them last weekend. Maybe they would hang out with them if they weren’t so painfully annoying on social media! Or, perhaps their true friends don’t mind… Perhaps I’m seeing less of these statuses because its clear I find that type of thing bothersome, and Facebook is protecting me from what I don’t particularly want to see.

I noticed that I saw less baby pictures. I think we all know the type of unabashedly proud new mom that posts so many pictures (especially the Pro Pic) of their baby that it seems less and less like their personal Facebook, and more and more like it’s the Facebook of a newborn child. I love babies, but I didn’t often “like” them, so they started becoming a rarity on my newsfeed. I love posts about music and politics and funny videos, and those started becoming more prominent.

I’ve stood witness to my friends whose News Feeds are inundated with funny videos. Exclusively. No pictures of babies, no status update regardless of message, just page after page of funny videos and memes.

It’s all thanks to the algorithm, which dictates that historical and post-level engagement are the critical factors to exposure. Over the course of several years the algorithm has developed a great deal of complicated features (and there likely are still more to come) but fundamentally the posts that get more clicks, likes, or shares are more often at the top of the News Feed. Consequently, if one doesn’t tend to click, like, or share a certain type of status, it is far less likely to receive priority.

Objectively, this makes for a more enjoyable social media experience. Despite the complicated algorithm, I end up seeing more of “the good stuff” and less of
“the boring stuff”. To be fair, there’s far too much content to see everything, and important things are necessarily going to fall through the cracks. The algorithm is supposed to remedy that. Still, I’m not sure this is a desirable outcome from a personal connection standpoint – a tenant to the integrity of social media – because it smells of forced virality. If a post gets hundreds, then thousands (and then maybe even millions) of likes, I want it to be because the content disserves that kind of attention, not because it used the language that the algorithm categorizes as exciting so therefore more and more people see it, resulting in a snowball effect of viral communication.

The biggest drawback I see to this practice is that while the algorithm may show people what they typically would want to see, it may not show them what is good for them. The algorithm doesn’t guarantee that same sense of confrontation that the old Facebook did – where the good the bad and the ugly were displayed out in chronological order for all to see (though it is still an optional setting).

I can see that this would implicate a lot for social media activism. Activists once posted so all their friends, politically active or not, could at least glance at their rant about some outrageous practice. It arguably might have made a difference. But as we all know, political – let’s call them “debates” (to be kind) – can get colorful, hateful, and sometimes just downright ignorant. Even if the issue is of concern, a lot of people on Facebook just don’t want to see spiteful banter. The newsfeed algorithm helps with that.

But it also means that less people in one’s social network see the politically charged posts, and those that do are likely to be the type of person already engaged with the issues. Instead, the friends that don’t think to challenge the status quo can continue with their lives blissfully ignorant. I’ve noticed this quite a lot during the recent (and politically charged) posts that followed the State of the Union, as well as the Michael Brown and Eric Garner verdicts. What once would have forced controversy in the face of the people, allowing it to get hashed out in comments, is now somewhat reduced to activists telling other activists how messed up the world is. The News Feed algorithm does make Facebook more personalized and enjoyable, but it also somewhat encourages homogony of content. I don’t think that’s a great feature for the world’s largest social network.

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The Facebook Legacy Contact

The Legacy Contact… Planning a Digital Afterlife?

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If you haven’t already heard, Facebook has released a new updated feature to its popular social networking site – a Legacy Contact.

Facebook describes the legacy contact as “someone you choose to look after your account if its’ memorialized.”  This contact has the option to “share a final message on your behalf or provide information about a memorial service, respond to new friend requests, and even update your profile picture.” You are able to name a legacy contact, or choose to have your profile completely deleted after you’ve passed away.

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We’ve all seen it before: a loved one passes away and their Facebook page is flooded with pictures and posts. Facebook considers this a memorialization of this person’s page. If you choose to select a legacy contact, your page will have a “Remembering” label before your name. What Facebook is instilling, is for the legacy contact to see to it that this page is still managed. Is this necessary? Personally I don’t think so, but apparently Facebook does.

I see both sides of the story.

This feature could be useful, for example, for a parent of a child who passed away and they want their child’s memory to live on. But on the other side, doesn’t this seem a bit superficial as it is on a social networking site? Is that what it’s all about, so you can be remembered on Facebook? I don’t believe so, but I know there are people who believe otherwise.

The next point I’d bring up is when do you decide to assign a legacy contact and who do you choose? This is a big decision – you’re practically making a will for Facebook. My first thought would be to choose one of my sisters or best friends, but why would I want to put this emotional burden on them. I don’t want them getting a notification every time someone has posted something on my wall, to further remind them of my passing. I wouldn’t want to pass this burden on to them. Also, once you’ve chosen a legacy contact, that person can’t delegate the task to someone else.

facebook < My thoughts exactly

And secondly, when do I choose and assign my legacy contact? Do I have this morbid conversation with my family, sit them down, and announce who my Facebook legacy contact will be? It all seems a bit artificial to me and I think my family would agree. I believe if people want to use my Facebook page as a way to remember me, I’d personally want it to be left exactly how it is when I passed; that’s truly the only way you can assure that your “Facebook personality” will be as authentic as can be.

So, did Facebook make a smart decision to create this feature? Personally I don’t believe it’s necessary but from other blogs I’ve read, it seems this is a need and want for a feature like this. This feature isn’t created for the deceased in question, but more for grieving family and  loved ones. Facebook stated in their press release “Our team at Facebook is grateful and humbled to be working on these improvements. We hope this work will help people experience loss with a greater sense of possibility, comfort and support.” Maybe it’s just me but this all seems a bit superficial. I don’t believe when I pass away that the first thing my family and friends are going to be concerned about is how my Facebook page will be remembered.

Brooke Lavallee

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