Happy New Year!

In last week’s Surfin’ Safari, I linked to a couple of items that explained how social media is changing the way we do business. Infographic, “The Social Business Shift” showed how Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Wildfire, Kickstarter and other “new media” sites are connecting commercial enterprises to existing and potential customers.

Anecdotally, an antiquity is availing itself of that Internet technology to increase its exposure and revenue. The Biltmore House, 107-year-old historic landmark in the heart of Appalachia built in the late 1890′s by George W. Vanderbilt, grandson of steamship and railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt (who in his day, was the richest man in the United states, worth $100 million at his death in 1877), is returning the manse to its Gilded Age, in a manner of speaking.

Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, the 250-room castle and 8,000-acre forested estate in western North Carolina struggled to stay financially solvent for the better part of the last century. Today it thrives as a tourist destination that encompasses several related profit centers, due in some measure to its embrace of modernity. With an official website, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account, the Biltmore Company is typical of forward thinking businesses, whether young or established, that are capitalizing on social media to improve and thrive via instant feedback, suggestions, tips and two-way communication with its visitors, potential and existing customers, employees and traditional media.

The “Social Business Shift” Infographic from Eloqua shows how and why social media are changing the way operations like Biltmore do business. Infographic breaks it down into four categories: Sales, Human Resources, Marketing, Research & Development.

“Where once businesses had limited access to background info on customers and prospects, now social media mining tools are being used to find a wealth of information volunteered by customers and prospects,” the article reports.

The newest tool – “How to Use the New Twitter Archive to Analyze Your Marketing Tweets” – shows how “businesses using Twitter can now download an archive of their tweets and retweets, enabling decision-makers to determine a plethora of information for future marketing efforts.”

Making sure the customer is satisfied is the No. 1 goal of successful businesses. William “Bill” A.V. Cecil would certainly know. As the president of the family’s privately owned Biltmore Company, he’s the sixth generation of tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the industrial capitalists credited with building America. One can only imagine what more he could have accomplished with today’s social media.

Facebook censoring accounts?

It appears so. Natural News claims Facebook took down its page for quoting Gandhi.

“The reports are absolutely true,” Natural News claims. “Facebook suspended the Natural News account earlier today after we posted an historical quote from Mohandas Gandhi. The quote reads: iAmong the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.’ – ‘Mohandas Gandhi, an Autobiography,’ page 446.”

Facebook’s censors reportedly suspended the account and gave Natural News a “final warning that one more violation of their so-called “community guidelines” would result in our account being permanently deactivated.”

Aren’t you glad you don’t live in China?

China is now requiring Internet users to register their names, and is now deleting posts and pages considered “illegal” information.

Scratch the surface here, you might find China

U.S. Senate green lights continued warrantless wiretapping.

“Come fly with me …”

“The aircraft doors are now closed in preparation for departure. Please turn off all electronic devices and make sure they are properly stowed.”

We hear that announcement whenever we board and buckle up. But how necessary is it really to turn off our Nooks or Kindles, iPad card game or iPod player? For that matter, does a cell phone really interfere with cockpit communications? Some pilots have told me confidentially that it matters not a whit.

Understandably, the airlines want your undivided attention during the emergency safety demonstration. But look around you. How many passengers are paying attention to the flight attendant showing how to place the mask in front of our face? That being the case, perhaps the airlines should also remove all in-flight magazines from the seat back pockets as well.

Could it be the real reason is that carriers suspect not all their passengers want to be crammed between others who are streaming videos, playing music, games or talking on their cell phones?

Whatever the reason, the Federal Communications Commission has taken a step closer to allowing airlines to obtain their own broadband Internet aboard the aircraft. The FCC decision reportedly comes “as consumers and technologists question restrictions on the use of electronic devices on planes,” according to this published report.

Picture it

Did you know that geodata associated with photos taken with your iPad or iPhone is accessible to Facebook if you have opted to allow PhotoSync? Even scarier – you might have inadvertently opted to upload your photos with Facebook’s new PhotoSync feature. Yikes! So here’s how you can put a stop to Facebook automatically importing your pics. It’s a snap.

And speaking of photography, an app that automatically rotates your iPhone 5 to make 360 degree videos is being met with mixed reactions. What do YOU think?

Welcome to 2013!

Apple is rumored to be developing a touch-screen gadget you wear on your wrist that could communicate with your iPhone via bluetooth. The futuristic timepiece is called iWatch. Dick Tracy would be envious.


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