Kudos to LOFT – Another Brand That’s Listening

For those of you who know me, you may know that one of my guilty pleasures is reading fashion blogs. Fashion? Social media? Count me in!

A few months ago, you may remember that Ann Taylor LOFT was caught red-handed in participating in a blogger payola program, to which the FTC promptly said “nuh uh!” LOFT was offering bloggers a chance to win a $500 gift card if they blogged about a LOFT-sponsored event within 24-hours of its occurrence.

Well, it seemed that LOFT had done it once again — tried something fun with social media — and failed. Wednesday, LOFT’s Facebook page included photos of their new “drapey silk cargo pants.” No, the fail wasn’t the fact that they had created silk cargo pants — or in the fact that they shared them on social media. It was the WAY they showed the pants being worn. Some fans commented that the pants looked good on the model, but wrote that the pants weren’t
“universally flattering” and wouldn’t look great if you’re “petite,” “curvy,” “a mom,” etc.

The Infamous Silk Pants

So what did LOFT do? Did they ignore the comments? Did they tell facebook users to get off their lazy butts and work out if they wanted to look good in the pants? No — they responded. They created two new albums: How I Wear Our New Silk Cargo Pant, where Julie, LOFT’s Digital Media person shows how she’d wear the pants and How LOFT Is Wearing Our Favorite New Pant, where other LOFT employees of all shapes and sizes share how they’d wear the bottoms.

The response, through nearly 50 comments on each album (as of Friday) has been great. Most readers have even suggested that after seeing it on a LOFT employee with their shape, they’d be likely to buy the pants.

Looks like LOFT did a good job this time!

Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions – Part Three: Using Social Media to Help Others

*Note* This entry is part three of my blog posts in the 2010 series, Social Media For New Year’s Resolutions, as explained in this post.

So you’ve made a resolution this year to help others – good for you! You’re not alone, either. E-Philanthropy is on the rise (it grew 4% in 2008 and is growing each year) and it’s no surprise why – social media provides nonprofits, charities and other organizations or causes the ability to tap into a large, focused and connected network. Whether it’s donating your money or your time, social media can help you connect with the charities and causes you’re looking for.


Some tools you may find useful:

Good search: If you’re anything like me, you use Google (or Bing if that’s your fancy) on a daily, nearly hourly, basis. Wouldn’t it be great if searching online actually helped someone out? It can – check out GoodSearch.com. A do-gooder friend of mine showed me this site in college, and I’m glad to see it’s still up and running. It’s easy too – you choose a charity you support, search the web as usual, and they donate to your cause each time you search. You can add a Good Search toolbar to your browser to make searching (and donating) even easier.

Facebook Causes: Facebook describes its Causes Application as such: “Causes provides the tools so that any Facebook user can leverage their network of real friends to effect positive change.” Causes is a Facebook app that allows nonprofits (any U.S. registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit or Canadian registered charity) to raise money and alert Facebook users about the issues facing their organization today. If you’re looking to use social media to directly learn about a cause, hear what your networks or saying and/or donate directly, I suggest you browse the causes available.

If you’re sick of Facebook, there are other social networking sites that you can use to show your support and talk with others about a cause. Check out Care2 and Change.org to learn about issues and raise money for the charity of your choice.

YouTube: YouTube is so much more than laughing babies and drugged children coming home from the dentist. [Check out my post entitled YouTube…Why You Should Take It Seriously for some proof] If you’re a visual learner, why not use YouTube to get involved with a charity?  If there’s a charity you’re particularly interested in, you can search YouTube to see what they say about themselves. You may learn something you didn’t know about them or find out about a new campaign. Or, check out the full listing of Nonprofits on YouTube and see which ones interest you. Some YouTube channels even let you donate to them right on their YouTube page via Google Checkout (see the pages of Autism Speaks and the ONE Campaign for examples).

Get Involved! There are some great sites that can let you know where help is needed and how you can help. Check out DoSomething.org and VolunteerMatch for an ever-growing list of local volunteer opportunities. Idealist.org also has a listing of volunteer openings, in addition to its record of paying jobs at non-profits.


Because of the lowered transparency level that comes with social media, you’ve got to be careful about donating your money – you don’t want to be scammed. Never ever give your credit card information (or any other private info) to an organization or a cause you’ve never heard of – and always be wary of providing personal information you wouldn’t need to give out in real life (e.g. social security number, etc.). [Sidebar: Check out this post I wrote about a common Money Order scam on Craigslist] If something feels wrong, it probably is – trust your gut. The San Francisco Chronicle just did a nice piece on what to look out for when donating to Haiti relief funds, but the tips apply to all charities.

Speaking of Haiti relief funds, the use of social media for the recent Haitian hurricane relief is a great case in point. Stay tuned for a post about that!

Man’s Wife Featured In Facebook Dating Ad

hotsinglesA man was surfing Facebook and noticed an ad on his screen (you know, where the annoying “Lose 10 lb in one week on the Angelina Jolie diet” ads are?) that said “Hot singles are waiting for you!!” This would have been normal, except for the fact that the woman pictured in the ad was of this guy’s wife!

How did this happen? Was the woman working for the dating service? Had she, herself, signed up for the dating service? Nope – it all had to do with Facebook Applications’ Privacy Settings, which are set (by default) to allow YOU to be featured in THEIR ads! That’s right — Facebook has the right to use your photo in ads unless you opt out.

Yet more proof that by default, Facebook owns everything you have ever posted….and more reason to always update your Privacy settings!

If you don’t want to appear in one of Facebook’s ads (I know that I don’t want my belly featured in one of those BEFORE weight loss ads!!), here’s what you have to do:

  1. On the top of your Facebook page, scroll over Settings. Click on Privacy Settings.
  2. Click on News Feed and Wall.
  3. Then click on the tab reading Facebook Ads.
  4. In the Appearance in Facebook Ads box, select No One.

fb ads

I just checked and sure enough, my settings were set up so that I had to opt out. I wonder if I’ve already appeared in ads for some of my friends? I guess I’ll never know!

Yo Mama’s So Social… She Uses Social Media

Surprise surprise! Yet another study found that motherhood and social media go hand in hand. Last week, BabyCenter LLC, which runs several social media parenting sites and communities, released results from its latest research on moms and social media. The findings can be summed up as follows:

  • 63% of moms are using some form of social media (compared to 11% in 2006)
  • 44% of moms use social media for recommendations on brands and products
  • 91% of moms reported that they never leave their house without a cell phone and many of them are likely to use that phone to surf the Web
  • 77% of moms use the Web as their primary source of finding recipes

I know firsthand that more and more moms are using social media. In fact, I actually just signed my own mom up for Facebook a few months ago (so she can catch up with her old high school friends).

As a PR professional, I know that moms are one of the largest growing populations using social media.  I love it when studies like these come out, because it’s nice to have some statistics to back up this fact when telling clients that they need to be using social media to reach their market.

Any information about moms using social media also helps to disprove the popular (though unfavorable) myth that social media users are just young men who live  in their parents’ basements and blog in their pajamas.  Social media users are a lot older than most people realize, and I’m in favor of any statistics and demographics data that supports this fact. (Also see another related study: Facebook Users Are Getting Older)

Is your mom using social media? Are you a mother using social media? Why do you think moms are such a growing social media audience?

Facebook Vanity URL Saga: Part Three

After all the chatter about the Facebook vanity URLs, I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I did not, as I suggested I would, stay up until midnight with the rest of the nerds world on Friday night, waiting to get my very own FB username. I went to bed early because I was running a 5k Saturday morning, and my rest seemed more important at the time.

I also did not race to facebook.com Saturday morning to get my URL. I forgot about it until (*Gasp*) Sunday night – and went then. Luckily, my name isn’t the most popular one out there, or at least not super popular among tech geeks Facebook users, I was still able to get it.

If you’re like me, and you forgot to get your own URL, don’t worry-  it may still be there. You can use this form to check the availability of your vanity URL or sign into your Facebook account. They’ve conveniently reminded you to choose your URL once you log in.

Did anyone experience any problems obtaining their username? Were there network overloads to those who stayed up until midnight? Did any of the mass chaos as predicted here occur?

The FB Username Countdown Continues…

For those of you who are counting down the days and hours until you can obtain your very own Facebook Vanity URL, here’s something you can do in the meantime. Stop twiddling your thumbs, biting your nails, etc. and check out this funny post, mapping out day by day, hour by hour, what will happen during the Facebook username goldrush. Written by @anildash, it’s pretty funny, but I can definitely see parts of it coming true. My favorite part? The post suggests that when things don’t work out as planned, people suddenly realize that Facebook username can be shortened to FU. Anil writes:

June 13, 1:00am: #FUFacebook becomes a Trending Topic on Twitter. People who are presently whining about how expensive it is to buy a new iPhone because they bought a new iPhone last year will have the chance to see how obnoxious and overprivileged they look, but will not take the opportunity.

June 13, 9:00am: The first mainstream coverage of the feature happens in the New York Times, which includes a one-line mention of the launch in a lengthy feature about Twitter’s Verified Accounts. The story includes a colorful illustration of Kanye West, but omits any mention that you can also register a real domain name that you can own, instead of just having another URL on Facebook.

If you’re one of the few people actually counting down for your new Facebook username, you’ll probably enjoy the rest of the post.

Get Your Facebook Username While It’s Hot!

Facebook announced today that it will be finally offering vanity usernames. This landrush begins June 13 at midnight. Not sure what a vanity username is? This means that you will finally be able to control your FB profile url! Instead of the link to your FB page reading something that looks like: facebook.com/profile.php?id=987654321, you can have it be something like: facebook.com/FirstnameLastname.

I know what I’ll be doing Saturday night!

For more info, see what Facebook has to say here.