Category Archives: Social Media

Facebook, Friendfeed, the Real Time Stream, and RL

Today’s big news, in case you are — let’s just say — a surgeon in the operating room or the President in a Summit–is that Facebook acquired Friendfeed. I have several minor insights to contribute to the conversation about this:

1)Only the unemployed or underemployed even know about it yet, because they are the only people with the time to participate in the real time stream. The folks who spend their lives in corporate meetings, teaching children, or walking police beats probably will find out later. The real time stream is a nice idea, but there are entire days when I can’t dip my toe into it until dinner time. It is, therefore, of minimal utility to most people.

Today I happened to be down for routine maintenance (manicure, pedicure, hair colored) so I was available for the stream, which soon became a tsunami, to wash over me.

2)There has been a firestorm of sadness (what a mixed metaphor) from Friendfeed early adopters, and a mass of questions from pundits about what Facebook is going to “do” with Friendfeed.  Do They don’t know what they are going to do. They bought it because it was doing some things they felt were important and they either wanted to remove it deftly from the market or get a look at it up close and personal so they could knock off its features better.  Or both. But it’s like when you buy a sweater.  You think you know what you will wear it with, but it doesn’t become a worthwhile purchase until you find something absolutely unexpected in your closet that it updates and improves.

3) Or maybe they just wanted to make an acquisition, because they can. And because companies that make acquisitions get noticed by investment banks and maybe get to go public and cash out more early investors and employees.

4)At any rate, this is typical echo chamber news — fascinating to the people in Silicon Valley and of little consequence to global warming, health care reform, or Afghanisan. Or is it?  Can we use it to share breaking news? Naaaah, that”s Twitter. So what are these two platforms, now joined in unholy alliance, good for?

5)Community and conversation.  That’s what they have in common, how they differ from, and probably don’t even compete with, Twitter.  And that’s why they probably belong together.

Time to get the color rinsed out of my hair:-) The real time stream is the gray going down the drain and the blonde replacing it.

And boys, it’s only business.  Friendfeed wasn’t your baby. Get over it

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media

Friend, Follower, Fan, or Fake?

It’s a beautiful morning to think about what’s happening to the winning social network sites as we early adopters all get what we thought we wished for: mainstream acceptance. Well, now here came everybody and we have to deal with it.  Chris Brogan has a great post about this called Quid Pro No, which deals with unwelcome reciprocal friend/follow requests, and Brian Solis tackles the problem of “sponsored conversations,”  over on Tech Crunch. Ugh. The mere fact that the FTC is getting involved with how brands use Twitter means we’ve got problems, no matter which way it shakes out.

Here’s Brian: As you could possibly imagine, the reality of mass-sponsored tweets will raise a Tweetstorm that will immediately trigger a blogstorm, which will ultimately escalate into a full-blown Category 5 media hurricane. But the reality is, whether you agree with them or not, sponsored conversations and paid tweets are already here.  The question is how to use them correctly and responsibly.

And here I am, participating in the blogstorm.

Like many people who have been on all three major sites, I face the problem of potential “relationships” with both people and brands every day, because once people get on social media and figure out why they are there, they all become brands, even me.The same people who teach courses like “Advanced LinkedIn” teach “Growing Your Personal Brand.” I am, of course, throwing up in my mouth as I write this. I’m both a victim and a perpetrator.

As a person, and as a human-brand, I finally decided to treat online relationships like I do IRL. My brand is authenticity. I am fond of saying “I am transparent.” Well, I am. For example: I have quit following back on Twitter, am deleting people I followed back in the beginning when Twitter was smaller, and only follow people I have something in common with, know, or who post great content that can teach me something. I also have separate accounts for health care (ushealthcrisis) with @Karoli and @azentrepreneurs for my startup conferences. I’ve announced this on Twitter multiple times, and will continue to do so. It was getting so I couldn’t see the tweets of my guru, my daughter, and my business partner. Not to mention breaking news and other interesting links I want to follow, posted by people I respect.

On Facebook, I now actively friend only people I’ve already met IRL. I accept friend requests, but if I don’t recognize the name I don’t add the new people to my feed. I have several different lists, too. And I don’t become a fan or join a cause except in exceptional cases of true belief. I have also announced that. I spend one day a week hitting ignore. Events are a different story; I still want to know about them so I can decide to attend if I’m in town. If your event is in Cleveland, don’t invite me. I can’t come, and I probably won’t even RSVP, which will throw off all your food counts:-)

On LinkedIn, a site I hate, I maintain a public CV for speaking engagements and accept connections as a courtesy if I know the people.  I don’t spend much time there, because I find it an awkward site to manipulate. To me, it needs a total makeover. But I stay there because I want to connect people I value when they need my help. Having been there a long time I have a large network. I actually WANT to make that useful in the right circumstances. But I get to choose. Reputation is all I have. And connecting people is like fixing them up on blind dates. If they have a lousy time, they blame me.

It’s very hard to get me to write a recommendation for you, though, even if you write one for me:-) unless I mean it. I’m not a person who feels compelled to reciprocate about anything. People who have repeatedly invited me to dinner would starve if they waited for me to invite them back. (I don’t cook.)

These curious curations and apparently frivolous filters allow me to be authentic without relinquishing the joy of discovery or my “privacy.”

And thank you Chris and Brian for forcing me to collate my thoughts around this crucial subject. I would friend you both anywhere:-

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Filed under Current Affairs, Daily Living, Early Adopter Stuff, Social Media

What We Did Before Home Entertainment Systems

Sometimes they gathered in each other’s homes and listened to music.
That’s why one genre of classical music is still called “chamber music.”
It was played in people’s living rooms, three or four instruments and a
small group of listeners.

A few friends and I had this magical, back to the future experience last
night as we listened to Tom Milsom, a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from
London, who my old friend Michael Markman discovered on YouTube
and fell in love with. Milsom has “released” a
CD called Awkward Ballads for the Easily Pleased,” and he appeared at
my door with a keyboard and a ukelele to play for my guests.

Because Tom has had all the influences of the Internet, he knows
everything from the harpsichord to Tom Lehrer. He has a delightful wit,
and a transparency about revealing his personal experiences that comes
from the present generation’s casual relationship with privacy. When he
talks about being rejected, he’s not trying to make it more attractive,
he’s really telling it, tinkling piano keys and horrific emotions and
all. As he told us, he likes to write happy songs about sad subjects —
he has a song about the death of a lobster, one about abortion, several
about the girl who rejected him for a less perfect man. Oh, and he has
done a three-part requiem for a dead cat.

If you find these subjects offensive, I can only tell you that had you
been there, you wouldn’t have. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.

Milsom is touring the US, helped by his Twitter friends like @mickeleh.
Tom himself is @hexachordal. He’s been using Twitter as his main
marketing tool, although last night he got a good lecture from Robert
<a href=” “>Scobleand <a href=” “>Steve Gillmor,
who explained the virtues of <a href=” “>Friendfeed.
That’s where the conversation got
into the future of music, and how a musician finds an audience today.

On the Internet, of course. And how does he grow it past his own
friends? By entering the real time stream and going where the people are
who will appreciate him.

Although I had to forcibly eject my guests so I could go to bed (I
remember this from the past as well), as they went out the door they
were still talking about going where the “index” is, because in the
future, owning the index will be the replacement for having a record
label and being able to monetize your music. You will have to contact
@stevegillmor to find out what he means by that, because I didn’t hear
the end of the conversation — but it was a moment of extraordinary
mentoring for Tom, and an opportunity to amplify his signal virally (as
in, to people like those on this list, who probably don’t scan YouTube
for music videos from London).

Invest a few minutes with a set of good headphones listening to Tom’s
music. Share the delight I experienced last night. You missed the
conversation, but at least enjoy the music.

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Filed under Music, Social Media

The Conversation is on Facebook, Geeks!

I’m not an engineer, so my life is made up of individual datapoints, not formal tests. But last night I posted a link to a NY Times article on sub-prime mortages and loan modification scams to Twitter, so my friends there would see it. This morning, I awoke to six or seven email notifications on Facebook that my friends had been having a conversation about the article and the situation surrounding it while I blissfully slept. And all it was, was a link from Twitter that fed my Facebook status updates.

What amazed me wasn’t the number of comments, which certainly doesn’t equal what Scoble gets on his blog, or Leo LaPorte gets on his Friendfeed page. Rather, it was the depth and thoughtfulness of the conversation. People had taken the time to write long posts, and sometimes not even to me — to each other. People on FB actually still see each other’s streams.

Just last week, my brother, got into a similar discussion (read argument, as my bro is from New York) with some friends of mine about education after something I wrote in my FB notes. Again, people were wildly arguing with each other at great length.

Conclusion from these data points: the real conversation is where the real people are — on FB. More conversation is taking place than we geeks are aware of, and it is taking place where the barrier to entry is lowest: on the social network everyone is already on.

I have a larger number of FB friends than most people, and as a result the conversations come from all over. I’m beginning to find this more fun than Twitter, and more diverse than Friendfeed. And I just got a reply from Adam Glickman that he also finds his FB activity picking up.

Thoughts, folks?

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Social Media

Is Social Media a Waste of Time?

No way. Social media has given me a platform on which to share my knowledge of things I care deeply about. Health care and the environment are two of those, and still another is the current economic crisis and how it is affecting me and my world. Without social media, I’d be in a far smaller community around these very troubling issues, and I could easily be very depressed.

Most people also think I care deeply about new technology, because I write so much about it. They’re wrong. I only care about technology to the extent that it enables a person like me, well-informed about things I care about, to offer some information to people who don’t have the time to acquire it first-hand, and to gain strength from others who have found ways to deal with problems I also have.

I start with Google Reader, through which I subscribe to a dozen trade journals and blogs each about health care, environmental issues, and economics. I also subscribe to tech journals and blogs, and to major news sources like the New York TImes, Wall Street Journal, and my local papers in Arizona and on the Coastside in northern California. I read about 1000 items a day, often just scanning to weed out repetition. I try to read several sides of controversial issues, so I know how the doctors, the insurance companies, the patients, and the IT people feel about health care. When something’s really good, I “share” it with other friends of mine who are on Google Reader.

But it doesn’t stop there. I want to discuss what I read with people who can either help me understand it, or tell people what I’ve found out. So I also maintain profiles on Facebook and Twitter. On the latter, I maintain several accounts. One’s for general posts; another is @azentrepreneurs, and is specific to Arizona’s entrepreneurship community. Still a third is @ushealthcrisis, which a colleague and I use for our volunteer web site with health care reform information.

When, in the course of my day, I come across something that might help or interest one of these “constituencies,” I post a link or a mention to one of those accounts. Less important for general sharing, but very important for learning more, is Friendfeed, which aggregates the combined knowledge of many educated and intelligent friends and acquaintances of mine, often in extended conversations. Every so often, to spread news of professional opportunities and networking events, I’ll even use a status update on LinkedIn.

And oh yes, in addition to all this, I blog. That’s mainly a place to display my own thoughts and syntheses.

Do I tell people on Twitter what I had for breakfast? Never. Do I write about my personal problems? Only if they can be a metaphor or an example for other people’s experiences (like my effort to modify my mortgage loan). People who are not using social media always worry about lack of privacy. My theory? If you don’t want people on these platforms to know something, don’t tell them.

Now let me answer the questions I get asked all the time when I tell people what I’ve just written about.

"Wasting TIme on Social Media"How much time does this take every day? As much as I want it to take. If I’m very busy working, very little. On other days, or perhaps in the evening when there’s “nothing” on the 200 channels of digital TV in my home, several hours. It’s not a compulsion; it’s a pleasure. It makes me feel like 19th century people used to feel in a salon. Participation is a choice.

And what does it do for me?
It has introduced me to an entire new community of engaged, educated people who discuss the world. These people are located anywhere — Brazil, China, New York, India. It finds me friends, investments, and cousins I haven’t heard from in years. It increases the time I spend talking with my brother.

And last, but not least, it makes me money. It exposes me to the world and people can hire me to advise, to write, to teach. In other words, sometimes when you are useful, there’s a payoff:-) And no, I do not call myself a “social media guru.” I leave that for others.

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Filed under Current Affairs, Daily Living, Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media

LiveBlogging #CrunchUp for the Folks at Home

There’s no way not to love Ron Conway’s experience. Here at Crunchup, he’s talking about the startups he has invested in with John Borthwick from BetaWorks, Steve Gillmor, and Mike Arrington. He has made two fabulous points so far. The first is very general, but tells the story of the difference between Silicon Valley and other areas of the country that hope to be centers for entrepreneurship. :Here in Silicon Valley, we invent something first, see if there’s a market, and then monetize it.”

This is a very telling comment that presumes the availability of capital to support the new concept or technology until it is ready to be monetized. He said it with respect to Twitter, a product almost everyone is curious about. How will Twitter make money?

Here are the top ten, according to Ron, ways Twitter can be monetized. Although Arrington pushed him for his entire list of 30, which he said he summarized in an email to Evan Williams a while ago,(update: Arrington grabs the email out of his hand and finds out it’s really to Heather Hardie) he wouldn’t reveal the entire list, so there’s something even better in the cards. His Top Ten list includes
lead generation
coupons
analytics
crm
payments via real time web
commerce
user authentication
syndication of new ads
context sensitive ads
display ads, and
acquiring followers

This panel agrees that much is also happening outside Silicon Valley, especially as we begin to participate in real time communications on a large scale. John Borthwick of Betaworks says his company has just announced a $sm investment in Tweetdeck, which stores groups and search, and navigates and manages streams. Betaworks has also incubated bit.ly, which has gone in less than a year from incubation to 27 million decodes a day thru its partnership with Twitter. (Arrington pushing to know when bit.ly will sell to Twitter.)

Which brings me to the next point Ron makes that I loved: “real time stream” is the wrong term for what’s happening now, because it doesn’t take into account the social nature of these conversations. Instead, let’s call in something like “now media,” which makes more of the social interaction that takes place.

For me, the real time is not nearly as important as the social. Because I live in two cities, I have two sets of friends. There’d be no way I could stay in touch with both without the now-media-social-real-time-stream. I’m ecstatic that SIlicon Valley will invent things I can use without worrying how they will make money. And this is why, at the end of the recession, Silicon Valley will recover. It’s the people, stupid.

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Filed under Early Adopter Stuff, Entrepreneurship, Social Media, Web/Tech

Legal Ramifications of Social Media in Enterprise 2.0

We all know social media is difficult to “control,” from a central corporate location. It has gone way beyond the marketing department, where it started as a means of listening to the customer and responding with carefully crafted “messages,” into a free-for-all in which digital natives come in to corporations with expectations about what they can say on their Facebook and Twitter pages, and what opinions they are entitled to express. Life isn’t always divided into home and enterprise, nor is the enterprise with its increasingly flattened management and instantaneous internal communications, separated into the former operations v. marketing silos.

At the same time, large companies, especially public companies, are still guided by SEC regulations. This leads the CEOs of many publicly traded companies to fear social media, which can be a valuable marketing and customer service tool, and shy away from it. The SEC, however, changed its rules to include blogs as a means of disclosure, so there’s a real reason to be proactive in the IR area, if only to create another arena beyond the Yahoo Finance boards that challeneged companies in previous decades. Sun Microsystems has been a pioneer here, and the National Invetor Relations Institute had a program about how Sun, whose CEO was one of the first CEO bloggers, evolved its IR portal. EBay went so far as to Tweet its earnings calls, which brought the company to the attention of the SEC and forced some guidelines.

But truthfully, IR is perilously close to marketing, and a perilously small part of any enterprise. The PR/IR people are the “controlled” bloggers and tweeters, who have absorbed the caveats and best practices of social media, and can probably (if they are good) get away with a fairly wide social media presence without running afould of rules.

It’s when we get into the employee guidelines for social media that we can get into trouble in the enterprise. Every company now needs policy guidelines as to what an employee can and cannot say on a social media platform, and those are probably best developed in conjunction with HR, and disseminated when the employee is hired as part of orientation. Policy guidelines could include how an employee represents the company outside the work environment, what the company policy is toward certain language, and certainly instruction on how to represent the company’s values and corporate culture. This will become increasingly necessary as ordinary employees begin to monitor sites like UserVoice and GetSatisfaction and participate in dialogues with customers around issues like product development, product roadmaps.

These are not simple questions, and this is an evolving arena. It’s complicated. I need your help here, especially the help of people who are in HR or legal at large corporations, or who have been on the employee end of some good policies. How is this evolving? How can it evolve? Are there any “best practices” that are enterprise-wide rather than just marketing-centric?

Please comment below, or let me know on Friendfeed or Twitter

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Filed under Enterprise Software, Social Media, Uncategorized