Some neat stories about the impact of social media beyond the web

A few fascinating items on the impact of social media beyond the realm of web addicts heavy internet users, and out into the real world.

The first, from Media Post online publication Media Daily News, is interesting because it’s the first I can remember where a significant news story broke in user-generated / social media first. This is such a great example of the importance of citizen media, because the whistle-blower pitched mainstream media first, and could not convince them to touch the story:

Is this a case of citizen journalism sounding an alarm so loud that the mainstream media has to act? Not really, says one expert. “This is terrific, certainly if the guy is speaking the truth. But it’s not journalism,” says Edward Wasserman, Knight Professor of Journalistic Ethics at Washington & Lee University in Virginia. “It’s his story–his side of things. A journalist would take his claims and talk to other people to reach the truth.”

What this really is, adds Pete Blackshaw, CMO at Nielsen BuzzMetrics, is the latest permutation of the Web’s “consumer surveillance” trend. “Video has dramatically raised the stakes for companies, and now the government, because it tends to be more viral,” he says. ” And like television advertising, it’s far more persuasive.”

Since The Washington Post broke the story Tuesday, viewings of De Kort’s video had risen from 8,000 to nearly 50,000 by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

This one below, excerpted from Media Post’s Online Media Daily:

Brand Mascots Have MySpace Habit USA Today

By all accounts, brand mascots should have a profile page on MySpace. And marketers should deploy their most creative people to come up with something kitschy and fresh to put on it. Wendy’s mascot “Smart,” for example, has more than 81,000 friends who’ve linked to his page and posted notes that say “I luv u.” Rival Burger King also has a page for its “king.” Columbia Pictures posted a profile for Will Ferrell’s character “Ricky Bobby,” the fictional NASCAR racer from the movie “Talladega Nights.” You get the idea. But these profile pages, unlike user profile pages, don’t come free or cheap. For CPG and other big-brand national advertisers, these profile pages are the best MySpace has to offer. Past success shows that consumers are willing to make friends with a brand if a mascot’s profile manages to stay cute and a little offbeat. Buyers of these MySpace pages get some fancy features for their money, and the profiles receive extra promotion to other users through banner ads and text links. Costs run anywhere from $100K to more than $1 million, depending on the technical aspects and the level of internal promotion, says Michael Barrett, chief revenue officer at Fox Interactive. MySpace also accepts unpaid commercial profiles, but these sites are limited in their functionality. All commercial profiles are governed by the following rules: no direct selling from the page, and no profanity, offensive content or nudity. MediaPost columnist Max Kalehoff, vp of marketing at Nielsen’s BuzzMetrics, warns that too much commercialism could ruin the MySpace experience. “There’s a ton of advertising dollars that are waiting to throw themselves into these platforms,” he says. “But ultimately, the value comes from the members. What draws members into these gathering places is the realness and authenticity. … The bombardment of commercialism could destroy what makes it great in the first place.”

I thought I was fairly up on what was happening with user-generated media, social media and the like, but nope. I had a few incredulous moments reading the Wall Street Journal article, ‘The Moguls of New Media’. Really interesting.

I knew that blogs were being used in some interesting ways in kids’ healthcare orgs, like March of Dimes.   From Healthcare Vox, I learned how some healthcare nonprofits are beginning to integrate social media into their communications and PR plans:

Healthcare Non-profits: Robert French is currently helping Camp ASCCA, an Easter Seals camp for disabled youths based, in Alabama leverage social media technologies. The American Cancer Society has employed blogs and the virtual reality program Second Life to help raise awareness of fundraising activities and new initiatives. Given this, I wouldn’t be surprised if technology savvy healthcare nonprofits use the new format to communicate with their constituents.

Cool, eh?

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