241 posts categorized "Social Media"

Have You Joined The "FIR Podcast Community" On Google+?

Fir communityIf you are interested in social media, PR, marketing, podcasting and similar topics, have you joined the "FIR Podcast Community" on Google+? While the community is intended for listeners of the "For Immediate Release (FIR)" network of podcasts it is just a great place to go to keep track of current issues, ideas and trends within the world of PR/marketing/communications.

The community has a good mixture of posts by FIR podcast hosts about their shows and also from listeners and others who post links and engage in topics that are along the lines of the themes of various FIR shows.

It's one of the communities on Google+ to which I regularly go and participate in as often as I can. Pretty much every time I visit I see some links that I find helpful.

Anyway, if you have not yet joined the FIR Podcast Community on Google+, I'd encourage you to do so!

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My Unexpected Comment On YouTube - Via The Google+ Integration

Today I received a personal reminder of the new strong linkage between Google+ and YouTube.  Given that today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day here in the USA, I posted a link to a YouTube video of Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech to my Google+ account.  

I had forgotten, though, that... 

Every post on Google+ about a YouTube link is DISPLAYED ON YOUTUBE as a comment!

So a little while later when I went to get the link again to pass along to someone else, I refreshed the page in my browser and there was my smiling face staring back at me...

Martin Luther King I Have A Dream Speech August 28 1963 YouTube 6

Now, in this particular case, I don't particularly mind. I just had forgotten that this integration was already in place between Google+ and YouTube. Google rolled it out in November and almost immediately came under fire for increasing spam comments on YouTube (which they are now trying to address through new tools for YouTube creators).

I need to remember this, too, because when posting a YouTube link to Google+ I may be thinking about it in the context of my Google+ page and the content I post there... but I have to remember that my text will also be seen by people viewing the video on YouTube and without the context of having perhaps regularly seen my Google+ content.

Similarly, I need to remember that ANY sharing on Google+ will wind up on YouTube. For instance, on Facebook I have on occasion re-shared a video that I thought friends might be interested in... but that I might not necessarily want to have my name attached to. It might just be a silly video that I found funny.

With this G+ integration, however, any time I re-share a video in this manner on Google+ my name and my comment are going to appear on the YouTube page for that video. I'm not sure how I feel about this.

I will say it will make me be much more careful about what kind of YouTube links I share on Google+.

How about you? What do you think about this integration between Google+ and YouTube?

P.S. And going back to the original video link that started this all, if you haven't watched Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, it truly IS a powerful speech!

UPDATE: Here's an issue with the integration - my Google+ comment is displayed over on YouTube, but my name "Dan York" on YouTube links over to my YouTube account instead of my Google+ account. While that makes sense: 1) I don't use that YouTube account; and 2) I left the comment in the context of Google+ and now people have no way to see that. So it's a kind of a one-way integration...

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Are You In The Business Of Rapid Content Creation?

Rapid content creation 2It's 2014. If you are in PR, marketing or communications - or have that as part of your role, even if you are not formally in that "department" - is part of your business the rapid creation of online content?

The Internet provides all of us with a fundamental opportunity on a scale great than we've ever had before:

We can tell our OWN story, in our OWN words, through our OWN channels.

The gatekeepers of the past to whom you had to beg permission for them to publish news about your organization are now... gone. Disrupted by the Internet.

As Tom Foremski famously wrote, "every company is a media company." (Also see these posts.)

But have YOU embraced that?

Are you thinking like a "media company"? Are you thinking about how you can best tell your story online? Are you thinking about how you enable many people within your organization to tell your story?

I'm not just talking about social media and encouraging employees to share or retweet corporate tweets or posts on Facebook or Google+.

Are you enabling people within your organization to rapidly create online content related to their roles?

Can they easily post blog posts? Can they post videos to YouTube? Can they create an audio podcast episode? Can they post photos to Instagram or Pinterest or Flickr?

Or does everything have to go through YOU in the PR or Marketing department? Are YOU the only one who can post information about the company online?

And if so, can you/your department scale to truly represent your company online when thinking like a media company?

Unless you've got a large staff and budget, I think the answer for most people is that to truly embrace the "media company" thinking, you have to look at how you enable more people within your organization to rapidly post content about their aspects of the company. Your role can then evolve to be in helping with the overall strategy and with enabling the individual groups within the company to rapidly create online content - and also to post

If you are embracing the "every company is a media company" opportunity that is out there (and guess what, if you aren't your competitors either already are or will be soon), then you need to start asking yourself some questions:


Do people within your organization have the authority to create online content related to their part of the organization? Can they do so rapidly? Or does everything have to go through 15 layers of approvals before it can go out?

Do you trust certain people within your organization to communicate online on behalf of your organization?


On a purely practical level, CAN they rapidly create content? Does your website or blog system allow them to rapidly create content? Do they have the tools - and training on the tools - to be able to create content?

Have you reduced the "latency" in your processes? Is the user experience as fast as it can be?

If someone wants to post something online, particularly someone who might only be doing this as a small part of their larger work, can they get into your system, enter in their content fast, and publish it quickly?

Or is your system slow, with many different screens and fields that just don't make sense?

If you have a non-tech-savvy person who just wants to post an article with maybe a photo, can they do that fast?


To that point, do the people in your organization have the skills to rapidly create content? Do you have people who can write well who are tasked with communicating for their group? Do you have people knowledgable in how to create videos or well-done photographs? Do you have people who understand the nuances of using different types of social media services?

Think about this - have you ever considered "embedding reporters" into the different groups and teams within your organization? Hiring people with communications skills who don't work directly for, say, the PR department, but instead are working within the actual product teams or other divisions within your company?

Could you do something like that with those embedded communications people having some connection to your central team? (And some companies are doing exactly this by hiring some of the journalists who have been laid off from the true "media companies" (ex. newspapers) who have been disrupted.)

Can you help people within your organization to gain the skills to help tell their part of your larger story?

The Internet has fundamentally disrupted the traditional view of PR, marketing and communications. The opportunity is there for people who can embrace the new world to truly rise above the others out there and tell their story in their own words.

Are you embracing that change?

Are you enabling the people in your organization to rapidly create their own content?

Are you thinking like a "media company"?

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"It's all content! It's just story!... They want stories! They are dying for them." - Kevin Spacey's Brilliant Speech

Kevin spaceyDo you want to understand the future of television? of online video? of the future of creating video content? Actor Kevin Spacey really nails it in this speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival.

If you have 45 minutes, the entire speech can be found on YouTube:

Some of the key points I enjoyed were around the 39-minute mark, but the whole piece is a brilliant look at where online video and television is at right now.

If you only have a few minutes, someone at the Telegraph in the UK made a 5-minute edited version that hits many of Spacey's key points:

It truly is a great analysis of where we are today... and where the opportunities are...

I loved, too, that Spacey said something very close to what I wrote here back in January 2012 about the key to reducing piracy: give the people the content they want in the channel they want at a reasonable cost. It really is that simple.

I do hope that people in leadership positions within the media industry will watch / listen to this speech... if they want their businesses to survive and thrive in our new world, I believe many of the keys can be found here in this talk.

What do you think? Do you agree with Kevin Spacey?

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Amused By Spotify's Clever Suggestions of Popular Music "When You Were In School"

Working in a home office, I've found that I enjoy having Spotify on in the background playing a much larger range of music than what I have in my own collection. I have found the "Discover" tab to be quite a useful way to learn of newer bands that I have never heard of before. I did have to laugh yesterday, though, when I encountered this box in the Discover tab:

Spotify suggestions

Yes, indeed, as any child of the '80s can attest, both of those were quite popular... I remember a summer around 1985 when it seemed like every radio station (remember them?) had "Money For Nothing" on near-constant repeat.

Similarly, Spotify noted that songs were "huge when you were a teenager", such as:

Spotify huge

And I do remember, and still play, that Billy Joel song, although I'll admit that I don't really remember that Eddie Murphy song at all.

Regardless, it's definitely a clever and fun way that Spotify is using my age data to help highlight songs that I might want to listen to again.

If you have been using Spotify's Discover tab, have you rediscovered some old songs this way?

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FIR Podcast Hits Episode #700 - Publishes Special Interview With Shel and Neville

As most readers probably know by now, I'm been a weekly contributor to the "For Immediate Release (FIR)" podcast since back in 2005, and all those years later I continue to find the FIR episodes extremely useful ways to stay up on what is going on with social media, marketing, PR, podcasting and the intersection of all of those topics along with technology and business.

Last week Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson, the FIR co-hosts, passed the tremendous milestone of FIR episode #700. It's a pretty remarkable achievement to publish 700 instances of anything... but of a 60-90 minute podcast, week after week after week, is pretty amazing.

Shel and Neville tried to keep the actual FIR episode #700 to be fairly "regular" in terms of content, but at a suggestion from the FIR Google+ Community, they did allow themselves to be interviewed by Donna Papacosta about the show. Both the show and the interview are well worth listening to, in my opinion.

Congratulations, Shel and Neville, on publishing 700 episodes of FIR! Now I'm looking forward to the next 700 episodes...

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Every Minute You Spend Consuming Content Is A Minute You Are Not Creating Content

WatchThink about it... right now, while you are reading this, you could be writing an article for your blog or website. You could be recording a video for YouTube or an audio segment for SoundCloud. You could be working on a new application if you are a developer. You could be writing a guest blog post to appear on some site somewhere. You could be writing up future posts so that they will appear at some later date and keep new content appearing on your site.

Or you could be reading this article... or liking posts on Facebook... or interacting with people on Twitter or Google+... or watching the latest video on YouTube that-you-absolutely-MUST-see-because-it's-so-amazing... or watching that series everyone is talking about on Netflix or commercial TV...

In every moment, you have a choice:

Every minute you spend consuming content is a minute you are not creating content.

Do you read this article? Or do you create a new article that feeds your sites and social networks?

Do you spend time interacting with content other people create on social networks? Or do you create new content that you share out onto social networks?

Obviously, the key is... balance.

We all like - and need - to consume content. We learn by reading, hearing and viewing the articles, podcasts and videos that are out there. We are inspired and amused and delighted and saddened and angered... and every other emotion. We deepen our friendships (and meet new people) by interacting with content created by others.

In fact, sometimes we may need to consume content, in order to create new content of our own. We may need to read articles to research a topic we want to write about - or we may want to read other points of view to bring depth to our own article. Or our own new content may be a "curation" of other content with perhaps added commentary for context - and so we need to be a consumer of content in order to create the new content.

Consuming content may in fact be an important part of the creative process.

BUT... if consuming is all we do... then we are not adding to our own online presence. We are not building our own online reputation through the material we create. We are not providing our own content that others can share. We are not out there telling our own stories and sharing our own information. We are not helping people learn and grow from our experience and knowledge.

Are you just a consumer? Or are you a creator?

Consume? Create?

In every moment, you have a choice... choose wisely.

P.S. A month or so ago, I recorded an audio commentary on a similar topic that you may also enjoy:

UPDATE: After a comment by Alan Percy on Facebook related to this post, I added the paragraph "In fact, sometimes..." and the following one-line paragraph to clarify that consumption may very well be part of the creative process... but again, it is finding the balance.

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One Image To Show The Incredible Importance Of Sharing Web Pages Versus PDFs

So you have that report, infographic or other document as a PDF, right? And now you want to get that massively shared out in social media, right? So that everyone can see your document and learn from it?

Do you...

  1. Start distributing the link to the PDF and ask people to share it?
  2. Wrap the PDF in a basic web page, share THAT link and ask people to share it?

If you answered #1, read on for why you should think of #2.

This morning the World Economic Forum (happening this week in Davos, Switzerland) published an excellent infographic about the Internet as "The Innovation Engine" outlining a series of recommendations for leaders with regard to key Internet issues.

The only problem was that they only published the document as a PDF file on their site. The link that was being sent around was just for the PDF.

Links to PDF files do not "share" very well in social media!

Thankfully, someone on our (Internet Society, my employer) Communications team was able to put up a simple web page that provided a nicer link for sharing.

Notice the difference in the image of my Facebook NewsFeed this morning:

Sharing a pdf vs a web page

The first link, from LACNIC, was for the PDF-only link. It has a URL you can't understand and just the domain name listed. No preview image. No title. No text. Sure, I can know from the status update text what the link is about... but the "link preview" doesn't grab me in and make me want to click it.

The second link, from the Internet Society Comms Team, is to the web page wrapping the PDF. Note here it has a preview image. It has a title. It has some descriptive text. This "link preview" provides enough information that I may want to click on it right away without even reading the Facebook status update.

Ultimately, both links bring you to the same PDF file. The difference is that the second link is to a web page that provides enough "meta" information that the social network can use that information to build a "link preview". While my example here shows Facebook, it works similarly on Google+ and probably works the same way on other social networks.

Note, too, that the web page wrapping the PDF is nothing special. It's a very basic page with a preview image of the PDF, a couple paragraphs of text, a title and the link to the PDF.

That's it.

But that's all that's needed to provide a much better sharing experience when that link is passed around in social networks.

Something to think about the next time you are looking to share out a PDF of a image, infographic, report or other document. Wrap it in a simple web page and your sharing will be much more effective!

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The Challenging Intersection Of Facebook And Religion - And The Blurring of Public and Private Lives

Facebook religionFacebook creates a challenge when it comes to religion (and politics) for many of us who also use Facebook in a professional / work environment. I fervently believe that a person's religious views are their own private matter. Each of us should have the right, in my opinion, to hold whatever beliefs we want and to practice (or not) our religious views in whatever manner we wish.

For us to work together in a business setting, our religious views shouldn't come into play. In an ideal world, your choice of religion (including "none") shouldn't bother me - and mine shouldn't bother you. In the real world, of course, where we are imperfect humans, these choices, when known, do very often have impacts.

The reality is that there isn't really any reason for us to know the religious views of the other people around us in a professional setting.

Of the hundreds of people I've worked with in the corporate world over the past 20 years, before the world of social media I probably knew the religious views of only a very few. Usually it only maybe came up in a side conversation - or it was someone who was very open, or who was very involved in church fundraisers, mission work or other public activities. In a few cases I have worked with people who were also ministers and were public about that.

But for probably 99% of the people, I have had no idea - and that's perfectly fine.

Facebook, though, makes this complicated.

The Twin Taboos

Way back in 2007, I wrote about how the twin taboos of politics and religion were entering the workplace because of the many people who were then signing up on Facebook and "friending" other people at work... and filling out the various form fields on their Facebook profile with their politicial and religious views. I wrote in part:

A strong "born again" Christian may see that the problems of the world are because people have not accepted Jesus Christ as their lord and savior and need to do so. A strong atheist may see that the problems of the world are because of the very existence of religion and that it is the root of all evil. These are deeply-ingrained views:

Politics and religion are part of our core identity that helps form who we define ourselves to be.

When that part of our identity is confronted by a polar opposite, we naturally react. Conservative Christians will have second thoughts about atheists, and atheists will have second thoughts about conservative Christians.

Five years later I still see that article as on target. You can substitute, of course, any religious affiliations in that part I quoted. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists... pick your religion. Even within a "religion", different sects may have widely divergent viewpoints and deep emotional attachments. (Ex. Protestants/Catholics in Northern Ireland or Sunnis/Shiites in the Middle East)

With the emergence of the TimeLine replacing the "Wall", Facebook moved those religion/politics fields a bit. You have to click an extra link to actually find them, so their prominence is much less... but the TimeLine also created new challenges I'll mention below.

The Blurring Of Our Lives

The underlying issue is that we are engaged in a grand experiment of blurring all the various facets of our lives together, something I wrote about in 2009, asking whether this improved co-worker connections or just felt creepy. We all have many different contexts in which we interact with people. We maintain various different personas for each of those contexts. How we interact with our co-workers in the office may be very different from how we interact with our friends at a local bar which may yet again be very different from how we interact with people at a church or in a community group. As I said then:

This is particularly true with the divide between our "work" and "personal" lives. Sure, we've always shared some parts of our personal life inside the walls of our "work" environment. We've talked to our co-workers... gathered at water coolers or in break rooms or cafeterias. Some people have shared very openly about what they are doing and we've learned much about their overall personality. Others have remained very private and shared virtually nothing. To some degree, we all have a facade that we construct that is how we appear to our co-workers.

Yet the fundamental problem is this:

We have ONE Facebook profile.

All of those different people see one common Facebook profile. (Similarly they see one common Twitter stream.) And so when we write about religious issues or our religious views, or when we "share" images or content from our church into our NewsFeed, all our "friends" see the info.

There are more subtle, ways, too. When a friend posts a set of photos from a recent church service, I now learn of his affiliation. Or when another friend "checks in" at their church, I learn of her religious views.

Interestingly, the Google+ social network tries to solve this by letting you set up many different "circles" and then sharing information only out with certain circles. While a great idea in theory, choosing the circles with which you wants to share info adds time to a posting that most people don't seem to have... pretty much everything I see posted to Google+ seems to go to all of someone's circles and often even is posted as "Public" for all to see.

I asked in that 2009 post these questions:

What if the person sharing the "revealing" information is a co-worker? Do we understand yet how (or if) this changes our relationships? Do I gain more respect learning of a serious childhood illness now overcome? Do I lose respect for that co-worker when I learn of the drunken binges they go on each month? What if I don't like their politics or religion? Does any of this change the way I interact with the person? On one level, how can it not change my views of that person? - but can I/we move beyond that?

Have our "culture" and "conventions" caught up with the degree of information our tools now let us share?

Where is the line between information we share with co-workers and our "personal" lives? Is there even a line? Or is the very concept of such a line just a quaint anachronism of another era?

Three years later I'm not sure we're any farther along in answering those questions. Perhaps we will not be for many years to come.

"Frictionless Sharing"

In fact, in the last couple of years Facebook has made this even more complicated by removing the "friction" from sharing information... in other words, they have started sharing information about you without you being involved.

The classic case of this is sharing when you "Like" a page. Click the "Like" button on a page, such as that of your church, and... ta da... that will show up in the NewsFeed of many of your friends - or the "Ticker" running in the upper right corner of their Facebook window in a regular web browser.

Similarly, if you "Like" or comment on an item on your church's web page, that action, too, goes out into your newsfeed.

And if you've linked any location-based applications into Facebook, like FourSquare, that activity goes out into your NewsFeed:


The end result is that from all sorts of angles you wind up passing information about your religious views and activities out into your Facebook friends - sometimes consciously through postings, check-ins, etc.; and sometimes more inadvertently "leaking" through likes, comments, etc.

The Professional Challenge

The challenge, as noted earlier, is that if you use Facebook and connect with people from your work, sharing your religious (or political) views can potentially impact those relationships. We certainly saw this in the most recent U.S. election, where many people posted (or shared info/images) very passionately related to either the Obama or Romney campaigns. Those posts, at least the more venomous of them, may have caused some people to block others... or to unfriend them... or to simply lose some degree of respect for others.

This is particularly a challenge, too, if you are a "public" face of a company or organization. Whether you are an executive, a spokesperson or even just someone writing online for a company or organization, you become connected to that entity. Now if you are also sharing your religious views in ways that are easy to find, it could become problematic - do you wish to potentially alienate some % of your potential customers?

Moving it to a global scale, there are many parts of the world where religion plays a much larger role than others. Given the current conflict in Gaza, how well will parties from the other religion be received? If you interact with people on a global scale, you may need to have an even more heightened awareness of cultural sensitivities around religion.

Now let's be honest, though, and note that MANY (most?) work connections on Facebook may not even notice or remotely care about your religious views. "Meh, whatever..." is a commmon enough view. Particularly here in North America or in western Europe where the strength of religious concerns in society is nowhere near what it once was.

But what if someone who does care about your religious viewpoint happens to be your company's largest customer? Or your manager? Or your employee? Or CEO? Are you willing to take that risk?

Splitting Your Personality

In reaction to all of this, some people use multiple Facebook accounts. I have friends who have one Facebook account that they use for all their professional/work "friends" - and a completely separate Facebook account that they use for their close friends and perhaps family. One Facebook account is their "work persona" while the other is their more open and candid persona.

While this works, it does require a rigorous degree of discipline. You have to make sure you are in the right account before posting. On a mobile device, where I'm often posting to Facebook, this may require using separate apps for each account. For instance, one friend uses the Facebook app on an iPhone for his "work" account and the Hootsuite app for his "personal" account.

It can be done... but my worry, and the reason I don't do it myself (yet, anyway), is that it seems FAR too easy to mess up. Forget which window or app you are in and... BOOM... that more private post gets seen by all your work colleagues.


The Counterpoint

The counter-argument to what I made above is that by being open and talking about your religious views (or at least not suppressing them) is that you may find new opportunities and connections. Rather than finding a percentage of people alienated by your views (or perhaps in addition to that %) you may find a % of people who actually embrace your religious views. Work connections may come forward with the information that they, too, share your views. Or they may be curious and want to know more. A learning experience may emerge that may lead to greater understanding.

Others with whom I've had discussions along these lines in the past have pointed out that by sharing, even if only through Likes or comments (i.e. nothing direct like posts), you are allowing yourself to be "whole" and true - that you are thereby giving yourself the permission to be who you really are both online and offline. Others have argued that if someone is not willing to work with you due to your religion, do you really want to be working with them?

Another group contends that the "Millenials" and others entering the work force today just expect that sharing of this kind of information will occur... and they are just going ahead and sharing it all, while we of the older crowd are writing over-analyzing articles like this one.

All good points, certainly, although I would note that in work contexts we don't often get the luxury to choose who we will work with as customers, co-workers, partners or vendors. Sometimes we do - often we don't.

What To Do?

I don't know.

I struggle with this myself. I've been online for over 25 years, since the mid-1980's, and have been writing prolifically since around 2000. Yet in all those many years of writing, tweeting, podcasting, etc., I don't know that you could find many, if any, references to my religious views in any of my writing. Ditto with political views, although I will admit to being a bit more forthcoming on that front in this past election within the walls of Facebook.

I don't believe either of those viewpoints should have any role in my current professional and work personas.

Yet I'm a pretty hardcore political news junkie (living in New Hampshire it is hard NOT to be!) and have had a lifelong passionate interest in religion and spirituality. Offline, I'm active in my local church, yet I don't bring any of that activity online - and I do struggle with that.  On a simple level, I would like to "Like" my church's Facebook page... but in doing so I start crossing that divide and blurring my own lines.

I have had any number of colleagues who are very open about what they believe and what their religious views are.  I've had many, many more who have kept that information to themselves.

As we continue this experiment in merging our lives together, this kind of information sharing will become increasingly unavoidable. Unless, of course, you choose simply to not participate, but even that will become harder as more of more of our communication moves online and into "the cloud."

There is certainly the potential that this increased sharing can lead to more connectedness between people and better communication and understanding... yet the potential is also there for increased division and fragmentation.

In the words of Facebook, "It's Complicated."

If you've read this far, what do you do?

Do you keep your religious and/or political views offline and/or private? Or do you not worry about any of it and just let all of that information hang out there? Will this kind of sharing become more expected and "normal"?  How will it change how we interact with each other? Or will it not? How will our cultural norms evolve?

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Now Amazon Rolls Out Pages And Posts, Too?

As if companies and brands don't already have enough places to establish their presence online, now comes word that Amazon.com will let you create a URL with your brand name where you can promote your products and other information. You also will be able to create "posts" for your page similar to a Facebook Page.

Amazon spells out more details in the FAQ for "Amazon Marketing Services", including the fact that these pages are free to create and that there is a verification process for brands. It notes that in building your Amazon Page you have a choice of three templates - and that Posts can also be cross-posted over to Facebook after you link your Amazon Page to a Facebook account. It also notes that there is "Amazon Analytics" to show you the interaction with your page.

I have not yet explored setting up a Page myself, but I can certainly see the value for any company selling merchandise through Amazon. I expect we will see a rush for brands wanting to own their own brand name at amazon.com. For marketers this becomes, though, yet one more place to potentially establish a presence.

What do you think of this move? Will you establish your own Amazon Page?