Category Archives: social-media

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.

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #7 & #8

Have you noticed a rise in business press exploring the benefits of using Twitter? Business Week just joined the wave of Twitter promoters with a recent blog post announcing “Why Twitter Matters:”

Businesses such as H&R Block (HRB) and Zappos are now using Twitter to respond to customer queries. Market researchers look to it to scope out minute-by-minute trends. Media groups are focusing on Twitterers as first-to-the-scene reporters. (They were on top of the May 12 China earthquake within minutes.) Loads of new applications and services are growing around the Twitter platform, leading some to suggest that the microblogging service could become a powerhouse in social media.

“Responding to customer queries” is part of it, as you already know if you’ve read tips #1 & #2, #3 & #4, and #5 & #6. But these next two tips focus on building visibility for the conversations you create on Twitter, so that you attract and keep “Followers”…people who choose to add your Updates to the stream that fills their Twitter Screen.

7. Open up and integrate your Twitter presence. When you are as committed to a Twitter presence as you are to a mobile number or an email address, then it’s time to get the word out.

Reference your Twitter profile link in your blog, email signatures, newsletters, biz cards, more—anywhere you’d include that phone number or email address. Add a Twitter badge to your page or blog (from Twitter’s directory of “how to” hints) so that visitors can follow you on Twitter.’s blog features a Twitter stream and “follow” button, and it has definitely generated followers. Remember, Twitter hasn’t quite yet broken out to the masses, so don’t give up if you don’t get tons of uptake.

Guy Kawasaki (follow him on Twitter) has written an in-depth post on his experiences with Twitter as a traffic driver. Recommended reading.

If you are committed to entering the social conversation, you want Twitter in your outreach and community-building efforts. Over time: “if you build it, they will come.”

8. Give more than you take. Offer information. Ask questions. Make offers. Be generous. Please don’t look at Twitter as yet another advertising platform. If you’re blasting, spamming, or overtly marketing, you will be “outed” by the collective, and you will lose followers. Beyond that, you’ll miss opportunity to build, and learn from, a Twitter community.

Watch some business Twitter mastery (a “Getting Started on Twitter” guide) in action here, once again from Zappos’ CEO. Note that he also is open about the list of Zappos employees who also Tweet and a few other juicy tidbits that are worth navigating through. How does this open up conversations and increase Zappos’ visibility…and credibility? What from this example might help your business begin a dialog with users, potential customers, and other people you can learn from?

Your Twitter activity will work best if it comes from a place of authentically wanting to communicate something that matters: your value to your users; tips and inspirations for using your product or service; a genuine desire to understand your customer community and deliver a relevant product or service to them.

Next: Twitter Tips for Business #9 & #10. Stay tuned!

MicroPost: … search = search

I was curious about Summize when I read a post about it in Mashable today, so I went over to play. Try it for yourself. It’s the nicest search I’ve seen for Twitter so far (I had been using TweetScan), mainly because you can click on to see threaded conversations…very helpful for remembering Tweets you exchanged over time…

Threaded conversation on

I searched on my own Twitter name, and found pages of results. It was helpful: I saw a few things that mentioned my name but hadn’t reached my “replies” box (“@” sign not at start of message). But that got me thinking: hmmm, could anyone search Summize and find out what I’ve been saying? Even if they didn’t follow me…or use Twitter?

So I tried it with the name of someone I know who uses Twitter, but is not connected to me either as a “Follower” or a “Following.” Summize showed me all of his Tweets.

Important to be aware of this as a privacy…what? Issue? Concern? I’ll just call it reality. In essence: your Tweets are public; anyone can search them on Summize. (Note: a Mashable editor correctly pointed out that Tweets can be found in Google searches as well…but the difference with Summize is that the whole “opus” of your Tweets, plus threaded conversations, can be searched in one place. The same is true with TweetScan—minus threaded conversations—and likely with other search apps. See Comments, below.)

EXCEPT: if you “protect your updates” (on Twitter’s Settings page) so that people have to request to follow you, and then be approved. This seems to put you behind a “wall” where your Tweets can’t be seen…

Summize, would there be value in having people sign in with their Twitter names/passwords, and make sure that they can only search on names that are actively Following or Followers?

People on Twitter: Tweet wisely, or set your privacy accordingly.

Top Twitter Tips for Business: #5 & #6

Two new Tips! New to this? Read Top Ten Twitter Tips and #1 & #2 or #3 & #4 Twitter Tips for Business…and you’ll be up to speed.

Two more tips for building conversations, community and momentum on Twitter.

5. One voice only. Choose one person to be in charge of your Twitter presence, agree to rules, and let them—and them alone—be the Tweeter. If more than one person is Tweeting for a business profile, things are going to get messy. Repetition, inconsistency will ensue; it will feel spammy and the messages will step on each other…and on followers. This is a one-person job.

As for WHO? Well…depends. CEO Tweeting rocks, but it has to be authentic and engaging, and the CEO has to be willing to listen as well as to talk. Product people will learn a great deal about the marketplace and products in it; Customer Support experts will establish great exchanges with customers.

Choosing who Tweets depends largely on your overall Twitter goals, but once you’ve decided: make sure it’s someone who is excited to do this (the passion and enjoyment will show), who can write correctly and well, and who is comfortable with the tech, naturally. And encourage others in the company to Tweet on their own, to follow and engage in conversation. It builds momentum, really.

Worried about time? Fear not: this can be managed. Although you can spend tons of time on Twitter (and may feel like you do when you first start) as you get to know the system you can visit in interstitial moments, much as you might with email. Most people say that they can manage a lot of Twittering in 30 minutes/day.

To help build value and understanding, have the Tweet-er capture relevant content and share Twitter progress with team on a regular basis.

5. Tweet often. If you’re going to do this, take it seriously. Show up. Daily, at least, but I recommend more than once daily. Since there’s some “serendipity” to Twitter—meaning you don’t know exactly who and what will be shaping the conversation when you show up—you broaden your exposure by dropping in frequently.

To start, plan on Tweeting several times each day. Post an update or two each time: links to on-site information, reports from the office, questions you’d like to see discussed. Wine guy Gary V has elevated this to art, while, even with a quieter voice, also succeeds in conversing. Spend a moment looking at the dialog (and Tweet) frequency; these are good guides.

Be sure to check and respond to your replies (“@”) and direct messages (see basic Twitter Tips) whenever you sign on.

Although you can set your preferences (under “Settings”) to have Twitter tell you when messages come in, and to remind you to update, my advice is that if you’re going to rely on this you’re not going to maximize the benefit of being on Twitter

OK. I hesitate to mention Tweetlater because it’s no proxy for live Tweeting…but it can be very handy for travel days, big announcements, time zone issues, etc. Tweetlater lets you pre-schedule Tweets so that they post to your Twitter profile at specific times. Do not use this to replace an ongoing Twitter presence…that’s spammy. You will learn much from checking in and listening to what’s going on; be sure that’s part of your plan. But Tweetlater (and others; Google “schedule Twitter”) will help you remain consistent and current when timing isn’t your friend.

Stay tuned: Tips #7 & #8 on their way.