Category Archives: Industry Developments

PS and WHAT? @Mark Z….

And WHAT? No “@” capabilities in the “Post Link” feature (this is a continuation of yesterday’s Facebook rant). Here’s my workflow: 1) find cool post 2) capture URL 3) post to Facebook profile with attribution….OOOPS….can’t attribute?

Of course I’d want to direct the post to others who would be especially interested. What is wrong with me that this seems so obvious (and so easy to deliver? It worked in status updates…)?
Is it just me? Or would this deliver value? Bring it, Facebook, please?


Dear Mark Zuckerberg: Ask the Question

Dear Mark Zuckerberg,

Facebook added a new “questions” feature to my profile today.

I guess that this will help you somehow by putting the squeeze on other “question” sites, but I don’t know. I never used those sites and was never going to, and I don’t plan to use this new feature on Facebook.

And apparently you don’t either, or you might have asked, “Hey…people! What features do YOU want to see on Facebook?”

See, if you asked that question, maybe you’d give me the service that I want to use – not the one that you want to deliver. And, based upon past history, the service that you want to deliver is often one that could benefit from a second opinion.

But if you did ask that question, I would answer. Here’s what I’d say:

Mark, make Facebook useful to me. Help me harness it to capture the intelligence and insight of my network of friends in the ways that  I want it.

Help me weight my friends by the value of their feeds so that I can see more of some people and less of others. I know that I can “hide” people, but what if I just want to turn them down? Or up? If I knew that posts from my most helfpful friends would stream onto my feed more efficiently, heck, I’d make more use of your service.

Let me put 5 stars on the stuff that I like and none on the stuff that I don’t, and use that info to filter and weight what I see on Facebook over time.

Help me see my friends’ updates on time. I was excited to have news pop up on my feed that my friend Gopal was having coffee just across the street from where I was. But – 00ps – he’d posted that update eight hours before it popped onto my screen. Glad I didn’t dash over…chances are he’d finished his latte in that time.

(An eight-hour-old update? In the age of Twitter and Gowalla and FourSquare? I have trouble wrapping my head around that concept.)

If my “stars” help you know who my favorite people are, you’d know that I want to hear from them pretty quickly, and – wa-la! – I’d have a whole new level of value on my feed.

Help me manage my friends without multiple clicks, links, and page refreshes. Right now, setting up my friend levels is a painful, time-consuming, one-by-one process that’s unparalleled in its slowness and lack of clarity. Set up a screen that displays multiple friends and let me radio-button or otherwise check the “level” of access I want them to have.

Make it easy for me to fine-tune and I’ll say “yes” to those friend requests that are waiting in my queue. I don’t want to accept them til I set up the right levels of access, and it’s so cumbersome and confusing that I don’t have time to do it. Ask me and I’ll show you services that do this really really well. Do it like they do and Facebook will be much more useful for me.

Give me back the control I had in 2007 and 2008 where I could “turn up” or “turn down” the types of content that streamed on my feed. If I didn’t want photos, or relationship updates, or who-friended-who, I could move levers around on a control panel and my feed would respond accordingly. I still don’t want to know who friended whom. But it shows up anyway, overriding posts and content that could actually offer me value. I – not you – should get to decide what streams on my feed. Long term, that makes me a more satisfied, active, and (thus) valuable user of your service.

And what’s with a product that’s actually more clunky in 2010 than it was in 2007?  Ooops, sorry: that was a question.

(Side note: A few years back, I frequently spoke at professional gatherings, business meetings, webinars and more on “The Business Value of Facebook,” helping professionals understand how to build and learn from the networks they built on your service. I also spoke on “Facebook for Parents,” encouraging moms and dads to relax about their kids’ use of Facebook and to sign up for accounts themselves. Sometimes 200, maybe 300 people in the audience would open Facebook accounts, real-time, during my talk. I loved it.

I stopped giving those talks because I just couldn’t convince myself (and ergo an audience) that there was any business value in using Facebook. The inability to fine-tune features and privacy and the movement to blare on the news feed made me eliminate those talks from my repertoire. Things just felt wrong on  a gut level; as it turns out, recent research says this was more than a feeling.)

Mark, make me feel like Facebook is a cool place where I want to share and preserve information for a very long time. Do that by taking everything I’ve said above and inverting it so that the people who care about me see my information, and see it on time. I recently posted news of a job change on my Facebook profile. One of my close friends, who logs onto Facebook 4 or more times a day never even saw this in his feed! What a lost opportunity for both of us.

Set things up so that my “Limited Profile” is all people can see when we’re not connected – again, like you did up until 2009. Did you know that when a person I’ve put on Limited Profile “unfriends” me that, poof, suddenly they can see my entire public profile? They see more as a stranger than they do as a friend! Concept #2 that I just can’t get my head around.

Don’t shove the same stuff into my feed again and again if I don’t respond to it. I didn’t watch “Jane Austen’s Fight Club” when it showed up this morning and I’m not going to watch it now. In the meantime, my friend John Hagel has posted an article about neuroscience that’s right up my alley…but, ironically, nowhere on my feed.

Give me back local. I loved seeing what was happening in and around my hometown; it connected me to things I might have otherwise missed and now look for on Meetup and Twitter.

Make ads relevant to me. Really! Who has more information about my likes and dislikes than you, Mark? Who knows the type of friends I hang out with, the things I click on when they post, even what my conversations and status updates suggest about my love life? And yet you serve me (wait, let me look) something about a PPC search network? I wish that your Irrelevant/Uninteresting/Repetitive choices when I “X” out ads had an “All of the Above.” I’m never going to click on that, and if you paid attention to that, over time you might attract some advertisers I’d actually respond to.

Mark, there’s more, but this is enough for now. I’ve come so close to pushing that “deactivate” button, but I gotta confess: you have me over a barrel. My kids are there, my sisters and brothers, my co-workers, my adorable Uncle Harvey and my high school friends and people I’ve met in my travels; they’re all there. Some of them also see Facebook as the online application we most hate to love; I’m right there with all of those folks who are highly dissatisfied but can’t bear to log off.

I’m just one of your 500 million users, but somehow I think there are a few others who think like me – and maybe we’re the people you should be listening to.

But I could be wrong. I’d like to know. So…what do you say? Ask the question, Mark. And then give us the service our answers describe.


Ellen (a Facebook user since 2007)

Obama’s Victory: the REAL foundation of success


Building a Movement
Building a Movement

Articles are emerging everywhere about the Obama campaign and how its use of social media led to its groundbreaking success. Let there be no doubt: the campaign’s insightful, savvy use of tools like Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and of course its brilliantly-concieved (and managed) web presence. Every touchpoint led to success.

Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang showed Obama’s social media success in comparative stats. 

It would be easy to hand some of the credit for the Obama victory over to social media–in fact, a number of industry voices have already done so. But to look to social technologies as a, or even THE, reason that the campaign succeeded would be to shortchange both the campaign and the technologies behind it. Obama gained leadership because he believed in the power of people to create change–and he harnessed the right social tools to mobilize this power toward a shared vision and goal.

Social tools are meaningless on their own, or, if not meaningless, little more than a conduit for noise and yammer. As such they work well. The “social grid” is unprecedented in its ability to transmit messages of any sort across connected populations. Free of friction, messages spread–for better or for worse.

It’s easy to imagine a campaign that utilized all of the required social conduits to spread its messages out, utilizing the “tubes” or “highway” metaphors that help people visually depict the “nets” part of the internets phenomonon.

And, sure enough, a campaign could certainly put a car on that highway or potato into that tube and fuel it forward to some desired destination knowing that it would get…somewhere. Maybe not there, but at least somewhere. We might have seen a campaign or two do this in the past months; we’ve certainly see businesses approach social strategy this way.

But if a campaign were to begin with a vision that the true power behind it was the power of people–their voices, their energy, their intelligence–and decided to honor the power of those people by offering tools that let them mobilize their energy toward a goal that they believed in–then, perhaps the destination could be reached.

This is what the Obama campaign did, and did WELL, as the evidence (regardless of the outcome) clearly states. The foundation of the vision began with people. The next level was the articulation of a shared misison, one that these people could rally behind and see as a collective destination. The third level was the creation and utilization of social tools that allowed these people to choose and use the way that they wanted to join this movement and pursue this shared mission.

Obama gave people a destination to move toward and the tools that could help them get there, and the people–the movement–took it from there.

It’s a hard thing to put into words but I think we all felt, regardless of affiliation, Obama’s authentic trust and respect for the PEOPLE in his movement created the movement…the social technologies simply enabled it. This is a key message for any of us that look to use social media in our work or, really, in any way. I see it as one of the first lessons that I will learn from Barack Obama’s leadership. I believe, based on what I’ve seen, that there will be more.

Please–if you have a way to more clearly articulate the thoughts I’m reaching for here, add your comments below. Yes, you can.

Charting the Social Media Landscape

Thanks for being part of the discussion on the business value of social media. I’ve put together an array of links to streamline your own tour of social media sites.

1) Facebook

The Facebook home and registration page:

Facebook demographics and statistics

My personal Facebook profile

“Retailers on Facebook”

Facebook Advertising start page

61 Hints & Tips for Using Facebook for Business

Facebook Basics for Your Business

“All Facebook”…”the unofficial Facebook blog”

2) Twitter

The Twitter home and registration page:

My personal Twitter profile:

“Search” on Twitter (just key in the word/s you wish to search)

What NOT to do on Twitter

3) LinkedIn

The LinkedIn home and registration page:

My professional profile on LinkedIn

News on LinkedIn adding apps

Guy Kawasaki’s “10 Ways of Using LinkedIn”

Slideshare (the “YouTube of PowerPoint presentations”)

4) Social Media Best Practices

The Obama Campaign & a Small Business commentary on it

Feel free to review my presentation deck on Slideshare.

5) Blogs showcased in the IFEC presentation

Bread and Honey

Cooking with Amy

Port Townsend Farmers Market Blog

Restaurant Marketing Blog

Please ask any questions in “Comments,” below…I would be happy to answer them or point you to sources that can.

MicroPost: Data Portability…what’s in it for me?

Am I the only one that’s not jumping up and down with excitement over the recent data portability announcements from MySpace, Facebook and Google?

I mean, I can understand why opening up the data on these platforms is good for them, but I’m still waiting for an innovation that feels like it’s good for me—the person who uses these platforms.

Sure, being able to share with, invite, and find new friends serves their business model. They have my data, and now they’re going to make it easy for my friends to know what I’m doing, buying, saying…but all, it seems, with a mind to promoting more products and pushing more media.

But what part of these innovations helps me do what I want to do socially? What part helps the picture I upload to BrightKite find its way over to Flickr or my Facebook albums…to let the stats I upload on Concept2 show up on my Twitter feed, or better yet to a place that I choose within Facebook…to let a link to my latest blog post automatically show up on my LinkedIn profile? MySpace may be doing some of this…but it feels more “MySpace-centric” rather than “what people really want-centric.” If that makes sense.—from Berlin, natch—gives me a whiff of this value. When one of my friends opens a link I’ve sent the, I get a direct message in Twitter, if I’d like. There’s value for me in that (thanks, Mento!).

I do so many “thin” things on different social networks these days. Real utility for me would be about bringing some of these things together in a way that made it more fun, social and valuable (hey, relevant) for me to put my data up on these networks. I’d rather do that than see more ads and automatically blast my friends with updates on what I’m buying and doing.

It seems that all of this data portability has been shaped by the platform provider’s business plan, and the need to keep up with all things open, than by any real sense of what people might want to really do socially, or by providing a service that delivers real utility and satisfaction.

Am I missing something? What do you think?

Ten Top Twitter Tips

I’ve been Tweeting (making posts on Twitter) for some time now, both for personal learning/enjoyment and to engage in community conversation on behalf of several clients.

Twitter is a micro-blogging service, allowing users to send little 140-character messages out to “Followers,” exchanging tidbits of conversation and potentially exposing that conversation to a larger grid.

Here are some hands-on tips to help you get started on Twitter, or add some insights if you’re already there. To really understand this, reg for Twitter and toggle between your profile page and this post…but you’ll get the general idea by just reading it.

1. Play with a friend. To get to know Twitter a bit, encourage a friend or two to sign on when you do. Then play. Post Tweets, poke around, get the feeling for how it works.

2. Meet your neighbors. There are a few ways to do this…

  • Use the “Search” box (just right of big Twitter logo; top of page) and key in topics/tags that interest you. When names show up, check the profile, and if it feels like an appropriate connection, press “Follow” beneath the profile pic.
  • If you find a profile you like on Twitter, and you “Follow” them, you have access to a mosaic of the people they follow (the pictures in the column toward the right of the Twitter page). Hover over those pics to see names; click on them to see profiles. Again, if there’s affinity, you can choose to follow.
  • Watch your Facebook (and other social network) friend statuses. If if reads “(Name) is twittering:“ then that person is using Twitter. Click through to their name, scan their profile for the Twitter application, and follow. Or just search for them on Twitter (but note: many people use a “handle” on Twitter that differs from their real name—I’m “ chep2m ”—so you don’t always get a direct hit).

Remember that as you “Follow” people the larger Twitter community will have access to you through the “Twit Grid,” so follow where you want to be found. And use discretion. Follow only when there is some sort of click; build slowly and you’ll find the right people.

3. Crack the code. Two simple Twitter tools to start with:

  • The “at sign” (this guy: “ @ “). Use it when you want to send a public message (called a “reply”) to a specific person. For example, if you sent “@chep2m : testing Twitter” it would reach me (even if I don’t follow you) AND it would show up in my “Replies” tab (near the top of your profile page…see it? Be sure to check this whenever you sign in to Twitter; it’s where people send replies or public messages specifically to you. (Note: if you send a reply message, make sure that you don’t add punctuation right after the name. “ @cheptum “ will reach me. “ @cheptum: “ (note colon) will not.
  • Direct messages. The letter “ d “ allows you to send a direct, private message to anyone you follow who also follows you. Access these direct messages through the narrow column to the right of your Twitter profile, following the phrase “Direct Messages.” Note that this will only work for mutual followers (when both parties follow each other). Practice this with one of your Twitter friends.

4. Read the Twitter blog. Just book an hour and do it. And check back now and again. It feels like the people at Twitter can’t keep up with all of the noise and growth (love that problem) but they bring some good info together here. It’s worth a wander; enjoy…subscribe if you like it.

5. Keep a list of Twitter enhancements, or bookmark mine (coming soon). The list is growing every day; some of them are quite useful. If you come up with a new one, add it to the list.

6. Make noise beyond the Twittosphere. Only way to build a following is for people to know you’re there. Add your Twitter address to your email sig, your online profiles, even your business cards. Add a Twitter RSS feed to your Web page or Blog (details in my Business Twitter Tips). Here’s how I added a Twitter “friend stream” to my WordPress blog.

7. Tweet early, Tweet often. Show up. Post Tweets. Ask questions. Join conversations about things that interest you. Comment (using the “ @ “, of course) on smart things your Twitter friends say. Say “thanks!” when others share good info. Just engage in the whole Twitter thing and you will figure each other out.

8. Go mobile. Tons of Twitter apps for the iPhone and Blackberry… and beyond. Set your preferences to dial up/down on what actually hits your phone (almost nothing hits mine) but send updates even when you’re remote. I use PocketTweets but Twitter mobile clients abound.

9. Don’t be a stranger. Say hi on the weekends. Tweet in the evening. Bring a bit of your self into your Tweeting, even if you’re using it primarily for business connections and learning. You check in with your colleagues about their outside lives and interests, right? Same applies to Twitter.

10. Enjoy. Twitter delivers a cool world of conversation, chat, social currency, and great information to one fun, active place. Work and play with it. Twitter is a cool landmark in the growing social ecosystem and I believe it has an ongoing part to play in the growing business conversation that all of are a part of. Have fun!

One more thing. Eleven is such a random number, but I had to share one more: use Tweetburner if you are posting URLs in Tweets. It shortens them (remember: 140 characters max) and makes them trackable, plus you can post to your Twitter account directly from the Tweetburner window. Be sure to add a bit of (con)text before you post the URL. Try it…easy.

Want more? Read Tara Hunt’s excellent post on Twitter and these good insights from WebGuild.

Stay tuned. I’ll do a Top Ten Twitter Tips for businesses very soon.