Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

A more powerful and precise firehose

June 29, 2009

fire_hoseIt’s no secret that we are overloaded with information. Social platforms like Twitter and Facebook (especially with the new Facebook “wanna-be Twitter” home screen) remind me of a fire-hose. A very powerful fire-hose passing a whole lot of water each and every minute. Sometimes I think that I could literally watch my social streams 24 hours and not do anything else – that’s how much is out there. Obviously, no one does that. You tune into what’s relevant, and tune out the “noise”. Twitter search tools (web search, as well as search tools on Twitter clients) allow to extract necessary information, and not just from your own “network”, but from the entire Twitterverse. However, search and organization tools are still rudimentary. If I was an account manager handling AT&T in New York City, I would like to see AT&T mentions only in NYC. Right now, there is advanced search on search.twitter.com, but not via Twitter clients. What about people I follow? I may have a good reason to follow someone, but not want to read their every tweet. How do I find what’s relevant? I think fine-tuning search and contextualizing tweets is the natural next step. For example, if I follow John Smith, I only want to see John’s tweets about social media, and not about the food he ate today. As more and more people get on Twitter, we will follow more and more people, and will need a better fire-hose to extract valuable tidbits. Or risk losing a ton of valuable information.

friendfeed logoAre there tools now that attempt to do that? I think Friendfeed is positioned to do that. Friendfeed helps you aggregate your social media activity, to be tracked by your subscribers. Conversely, you can subscribed to others’ aggregated feeds. On the surface, Friendfeed is an even bigger fire-hose, if it aggregates Twitter and other tools (Twitter alone is enough). This is why I haven’t been an avid Friendfeed user – I simply do not want more stuff, I want better and more relevant stuff. However, if Friendfeed does it right, it will intelligently learn users I follow (based on their aggregate streams), at the same time as learning about me, and automatically curate what I see. For example, Friendfeed would know that I am interested in wine tasting, based on my tweets, videos and blogposts. Then it would extract relevant material from the streams of the people I follow and add it to my “Best of Day” section. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if a tool like Friendfeed would also observe my activity outside of the social networks (with my permission, of course) – based on my Google searches, Twitter searches, etc? I think so! And I think this is where the social web will be heading next: a socially semantic web.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

How portable is your data?

May 19, 2009

Quite an interesting development yesterday that Facebook is now implementing OpenID, allowing its user to sign-up and sign-in with non-Facebook credentials. I definitely did not expect this from the “walled garden” known as Facebook. Initiatives like OpenID are a fantastic move in the direction of being consumer-centric in the face of extreme web fragmentation. As the Web 2.0 bubble grew, more and more websites were created, forgetting that the user can only visit a finite number of websites. Expecting users to go to your niche social network is not a strategy any longer, especially since just about anything can be done inside of Facebook and a handful of others. It’s hard enough to get users to go to your site, it’s foolish to expect them to create a new set of credentials. Even if they do create the new login, coming back and remembering how to login is a whole other bridge that needs to be crossed. Which is why OpenID is super important now.

Another area that’s just as important and heavily debated is: what happens to your data when you do engage with a site / social network? What about the information that you have diligently provided to Facebook about yourself? What about all of your pithy wisdom that you have shared with your followers on Twitter?  What about all the photographs that you posted to Flickr and Facebook? What about all the diligent tagging, note writing, photo album creation, wall posts, comments on your friends status updates on Facebook? And oh my, what about the e-mails? Who owns that? We would like to think that we do, as it’s our content. But reading many sites’ TOS’s, that couldn’t be further from the truth – the site owns all of the content. Putting aside the possibility of a social network misusing our content (that’s a whole other discussion), what happens when the “new Facebook” (whoever that is) dethrones Facebook, and you want to take all of your content with you that you spent so many months, even years, creating? Do you have to start from scratch? It is my theory that this is why Facebook is so successful: we have so much skin in the game, we aren’t going anywhere, and they know it. And what about the not-so-remote possibility of a site like Facebook failing? Does all of your content die with it?

I first started thinking about it when I saw exactly how formidable the amount of user-generated content is when I witnessed the below exchange, generated by my Facebook status update. My friends wrote many, and quite lengthy, comments (which could’ve been blogposts in their own right). They were so engaged and free to share, and we all got so enthralled by the discussion that we forgot that we may never see this content again after sharing it.

fb1b

fb pic2b

One way to ensure that all of your comments at least get funneled into one depository that you can point to, and make part of your digital footprint, is to use commenting systems like Disqus. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of a site going out of business and taking you down with it.

How do you preserve and backup your content? I have tried tweetake.com to back up my tweets. It does a great job of throwing your tweets / direct messages / favorites / all of the above into a spreadsheet. However, it only goes back a couple of months; at least it did for me.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Do You STREB? You Should!

April 15, 2009

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of experiencing the most amazing show I have experienced in a while! I was lucky enough to win free tickets on my friend Mike Davis‘s blog. To enter the contest, all you had to do was sign up for Mike’s YouTube show – he will have more contests, so you should definitely join. Not to mention, Mike rocks!

I had never heard of STREB before, but I had read the description on the web, and was immediately fascinated. I didn’t know what to expect, but all I knew was that it looked like urban Cirque du Soleil. My friend Josephine had seen STREB shows before (Elizabeth Streb, by the way, is the choreographer who has given life to the PopAction genre), and had mentioned to me that it reminds her of a more powerful, and slightly more violent, version of Cirque du Soleil. Josephine had mentioned to me before the show that the dancers would be slamming into each other and into walls, which left me utterly confused. Elizabeth’s bio on the site states that PopAction  ” intertwines the disciplines of dance, athletics, boxing, rodeo, the circus, and Hollywood stunt-work. The result is a bristling, muscle-and-motion vocabulary that combines daring with strict precision in pursuit of the public display of “pure movement”, and I find this the most eloquent and terse description that fits perfectly, so that I couldn’t add anything further.

I find myself reaching for words to describe STREB accurately, because it’s something so extremely original and unprecedented. A group of extremely toned dancers with beautifully muscular bodies, present various dance numbers, in which they use their bodies to tell stories with top-level precision and power. The show starts with dancers slamming into a large plexi glass in the middle of the stage. It sounds bizarre, but looks amazing when two dancers slam into each other from two different sides and look like a mirror image of each other. Josephine and I discussed this number afterwards, and found it very symbolic of our time. We are wanting to make a difference, connect, but are frustrated with external (economic or otherwise) factors. Another favorite number of mine was the trapeze dance against the wall (pictured below), where dancers danced with their feet on the wall, strapped into harnesses.

img_03771

It was so beautifully synchronized, and required such precision (and freakishly strong ab muscles!) to pull off in a completely horizontal position.

img_03791

Another definite highlight was the “hamster wheel” (pictured below). It starts out with one dancer spinning inside the wheel, making it rotate by walking inside of it at a constant and controlled speed

img_03931

To my amazement, more dancers started hooking onto the wheel and doing various pirouettes inside, under, over and every which way.

img_03991

What a mind-blowing exhibit of synchronicity, extreme precision and control! One wrong move, and not only do you hurt yourself, but you also hurt your teammates! (none of the dancers were harnessed).

img_04021

The entire show was a true tour de force of a human body. In everyday life, perched behind our MacBooks, we forget of what a tremendous instrument we were given (for free!) and what our bodies are really capable of. Everytime that I see something so incredibly powerful and precise, I bow my head in respect and admiration. See below some more examples of the nimble amazingness that is STREB:

img_0382

When the show was over, Kim Cullen, the Producing Director of the show, reached out to Josephine and myself to chat about the show and social media. I was extremely happy to hear that STREB was considering integrating social media into their current marketing mix. I just love meeting people who “get it” and are open to these new channels of engaging new consumers, because they realize that this is really the future of communication. This type of performance really lends itself well to the virality of social media, because as each social-media-engaged viewer sees the performance, he / she is going to share it with Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites, write and comment on blogposts, post pictures to Flickr, videos to YouTube. Through the power of narrative and experience sharing, the word spreads; and this really was an experience worth spreading. I will definitely be going back to take pictures with my good DSLR camera (Nikon D60), and hopefully a video device (anyone care to lend an HD Flip?) – these iPhone pics, although a good start, do not do it justice

!img_0381

You can see the rest of my photographs (apologies about the quality; iPhone is not the best at capturing motion) – http://bit.ly/streb

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Revolutions

January 13, 2009

After spending the holidays with my parents, my dad and I somehow got into a discussion on revolutions. My dad, who is the smartest person I know, and is also a walking encyclopedia of jokes, anecdotes and quotes, told me the following quote from Otto Von Bismark: “Revolutions are conceived by intellectuals, executed by fanatics, and the fruits of their labor are used by freeloaders.”

Wow, these words ring so true as I reminisce about my (albeit poor) knowledge of world history, thinking of famous revolutions,  such as the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution and others. It also got me thinking about the revolution in which we are now, which is the social web revolution. With the advent of blogging, commenting, microblogging and social networking tools, everyone now has a voice, the web has become a two-way conversation and much more democratic than ever before. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a true revolution, albeit a non-violent one (which is always a good thing in my book).  In a true revolutionary sense, it has altered, and in some cases, upended and disrupted current companies, business models and even industries.  For example, traditional journalism has had to change to accommodate a new brand of citizen journalism. Shareability and streamability of web music engines like Last.fm,  is making the once insulated music labels of yesteryear feel nervous.

So if we were to apply Bismarck’s wisdom to our current digital revolution, what cycle would we place ourselves in? Are we at the stage of  conception (thought of  by intellectuals), the execution (carried out by fanatics,) or the mainstream use (used by freeloaders)? Or do these stages even apply anymore? I am inclined to think they do. I am also leaning towards evaluating our stage as late fanaticism to early freeloader mainstream cycle. Just like in the dot-com bubble at the turn of the century, during which web companies without real business models got created and funded, a whole slew of me-too social networks and other wanna-be’s have been dominating an impending Web 2.0 bubble.

Remaining winners who are left standing at the end of this inevitable bubble, will go mainstream (arguably Facebook has already gone mainstream long ago) and “cross the Chasm.” As they do so, the temptation will be for  (mostly corporate) users to to “bastardize” this method of communication. Without really understanding the authenticiy and the comaraderie that characterizes the contributors and consumers of social media, companies will start jumping in (already started, by the way) head first into social technologies and using them the same way they have been using TV advertising: as a one-way talking platform, used to talk at consumers, not with consumers. We must realize that this new style of communication must come with a very different conversation style. Or else become inauthentic “freeloaders” who have hijacked the platform and thus altered the initial intent of an authentic two-way conversation and relationship building.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Customer Service is Dead. Long Live Customer Service!

November 20, 2008

An unsavory customer experience today has prompted me to think of customer service. Here is what happened. I am totally swamped, and didn’t have time to run down to the neighborhood deli to grab a sandwich or to cook my own lunch. So I opted for a delivery of a salad from a nearby restaurant. As a co-founder of HomeShopr, I tend to frown upon takeout, but desperate times call for desperate measures (i.e. too busy and no time for grocery store right now). At least the salad is a healthy option; I get steamed calamari, not fried. I call over there, only to find out that my salad option is not available, as they didn’t order enough calamari. They did offer me fried calalmari instead (yuck!). I inquired about alternative steamed / grilled seafoods, and they told me that the shrimp salad was an option, but it cost $2 more. I asked to speak to the manager, explaining to him that I would like to have the shrimp salad for the price of the calamari salad. The manager wouldn’t budge. I explained that I really want the calamari, and not the shrimp, but I would settle for shrimp, if it was the same price (it certainly is not my fault that I can’t get my preferred choice). He said no again. I reminded him politely that I had been ordering from there for months (I don’t order all the time, once a week maybe, and it’s the only takeout I really order). I also asked him if he thought it was worth it to potentially lose a loyal client over $2. To which he quickly retorted, in a very rude tone: “I don’t care. I have enough business.” After which, I told him that he lost a customer for life, and he told me to go F myself.  He could still reject my plea, but his tone and cursewords were completely uncalled for.

Hmmm!!! He gets more than enough business? Really? If and when this recession gets deeper, I wonder if he would sing the same tune. If another joint with excellent salads opened up in his neighborhood, taking all of his clients, would he sing the same tune still? Does he realize the power of word of mouth, and especially negative word of mouth? He probably doesn’t know that I can quickly ruin his reputation via virality of Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, blogging, etc. Personally, I am not going to stoop to his level and slander his establishment. I am sure another slighted consumer will do that. The point I do want to amplify is that in this day and age of social media, word of mouth can spread like wildfire (just look at what happened with the Motrin ads). The social web is making everything so transparent, and as more and more people go to the web as a resource (especially listening to other users’ feedback), companies can no longer take the lackadaisical approach to managing their reputation. Even though this restaurant is an old-fashioned establishment, and I really doubt that the manager uses too many social tools, and thus not managing the restaurant’s reputation proactively, he should at least be aware of the damage that negative word of mouth / bad will can bring.

Before, bad word of mouth could spread through the neighborhood. Today, bad (and good) word of mouth can spread virally through the whole world in a matter of minutes. If you don’t know what your users are saying about you, please make it your business to find out. And even better, take steps to proactively change it for the better. Reach out to your most local haters and try to make them whole. Most likely, they will stop bashing you. Above all, listen and be authentic in your response. Problem-solve and reach out. Most likely, your haters are just hurt and need to know you care. In this age of social media and rapid communication, every company needs to be a service company. No matter what you produce.

For great examples of companies that do this extremely well, check out Zappos. Even though they sell shoes, they consider themselves a service company. Internally, they say: “We are a service company that happens to sell ________” Service is so deeply part of their culture that their social media approach reflects those values. The channels of communication with customers via Twitter is wide open (click here for all Zappos-related conversations, or chat with the CEO directly here).

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Will Twitter Moms Ever Buy Motrin Again?

November 18, 2008

Any blog talking about social media and traditional marketing in consumer products companies would be remiss if it didn’t address the recent fiasco of the Motrin “babywearing commercial”. By now, the ad has been taken down, so I am not going to link to it on YouTube. If you missed it, it basically was a throwback to Babywearing Week, which is happening right now. Babywearing week celebrates wearing your baby in a sling or a similar device vs. in a carriage or stroller. Motrin created a web ad, which I believe was put on their own website, as well as YouTube (not sure about other web video sites). This ad, while meant to commiserate with the physical pain in women caused by babywearing, in an “I feel your pain” kind of way, didn’t stay on message. The goodness of the original intent was paved over by a condenscending tone, delivered in a “valleygirl” fashion, as well as by an almost mocking first sentence that referred to babywearing as nothing short of a fad. Now, I personally didn’t think it was the most offensive commercial in the world, albeit somewhat insensitive (judging by the voluminous outcry on Twitter, one would have thought that Freddy / Fannie failed again. It IS only a commercial) . However, it doesn’t really matter what I thought, as I am not part of the target demographic (babywearing mom). Which brings me to my next point.

Oftentimes, marketers, despite their best efforts, have a hard time getting “outside of themselves” to really “walk a mile” in their customers’ shoes. I saw it all the time during my career with CPG brands. Oftentimes, focus groups get conducted within geographic proximity to the market research office. Hmmm… That is bound to produce muddled results. You know, birds of a feather…. Just because everyone in your high school, college, workplace, city, etc. thinks a certain way, does NOT mean that all of America thinks this way. I fall into that trap myself all the time, and forget that the whole country is not using Twitter and is not on Facebook. What? You are not on Twitter? That’s preposterous! In short, Motrin should have done a better job of testing this ad with social media moms.

The great thing about tools like Twitter is that advertisers / brands have an almost-immediate feedback loop about their product / ad / PR effort, etc.  Smart marketers will figure out how to utilize it. Tools like Twitter Search (you can search for a term and watch the conversation in real time) or Tweet Beep (like Google Alerts for Twitter – it emails you each time a keyword is mentioned), can be used to understand what the users are saying about your brand / effort. Even though Twitter is not mainstream by any stretch of imagination, it can at times serve as a proxy for understanding a certain demographic. Twitter users tend to skew towards the more sophisticated / cutting edge / educated of the population. The moms on Twitter felt offended by the Motrin commercial talking down to them. These are thoughful, educated women, and they don’t need to be “talked at” in a condenscending tone. You can see their angry responses in the video below.  My understanding from following these conversation threads, is that Motrin didn’t respond fast enough to the Twitter backlash, and when they did respond, the angry Twitter Moms didn’t consider it a sincere apology written by a real executive.

If the insensitivity of the Motrin commercial may have gone unnoticed among some moms, the highly-educated social-media-consuming Twitter Mom demographic was certainly going to recoil in horror. This is classic segmentation gone bad. You have to talk to your consumer segments via different channels, while adjusting your message and voice  to that particular segment. You simply can’t carry over the same commercials from one channel to another. The web allows for much more granular targeting and segmentation vs. TV and print. So it’s up to the advertiser to change the message for each segment and subsegment.

As far as the impact that this snaffu will have on Motrin, it is hard to predict. I have no idea if anyone outside of Twitter Moms and YouTube Moms was as enraged. But I do know, that there are a lot of “influencers” who hang out on Twitter, so making them unhappy is not a good thing. Myself and other marketers will certainly be watching how this story develops, and if Motrin can figure out how to use social media to be authentic in their apology.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

October 30, 2008

As many of my social media friends would agree, ever since Twitter burst out onto the scene a couple of years ago, communication has never been the same. In the circles of the tech elite, the communication paradigm has been completely upended. I am neither the most popular twitterer (expressed in number of people following you), nor the most prolific (expressed in number of “tweets” – short messages of 140 characters or less), nor the most long-time twitterer (I only started this summer). However, since I started using it, and started relying on it more and more every day for communication.  I think I do more communication via Facebook and Twitter combined than I do via e-mail these days. Twitter is how I find out about news, talk to my friends, do market research, spread my message, microblog events, make social plans, etc. The uses are endless, and I will continue to explore it in several posts, because it’s way too much for one post.

Let’s back up for a second. For those that don’t know, Twitter is a microblogging platform that allows you to answer one question, and one question only “What are you doing?” – it’s like the status update on Facebook. There is a catch: you need say whatever you need to say in under 140 characters (genius! we could all use a tad more brevity in our lives). Twitter does one thing and does it well (after they seem to have surmounted their downtime issues, that is), it is genius in its simplicity and has a clear brand and a focused marketing message. Huge turn-on for a marketing person like me!

How does it work? You enter your tweet (status update) and everyone who follows you gets your tweet in their stream. You get the tweets of all those whom you follow. You can reply to anyone’s tweet by placing an @ sign, followed by that user’s handle. Your tweets and @ replies are public, and you can also send a direct message to someone by typing D, followed by the user’s handle. Direct messages aren’t capturedin the public stream. You can tweak your settings to either receive the “statement” tweets from folks you follow, or to receive their tweets AND @ replies. This choice is going to be driven primarily by the reason you are on Twitter in the first place.

The inspiration for this post came from a conversation I had with a friend this morning about relative volumes of tweets that different twitterers produce. He tends to be of the school of thought that less is more. And I agree, if your goal is to share a few gems of wisdom and make those gems stand out, which would be hard to do if you consistently pump out mediocre tweets: even for the most brilliant of us, it is very difficult to make every tweet a gem. I don’t put out a ton of volume, unless I am microblogging from an event, but I do use @ replies quite a bit. And that’s because what Twitter has become for me is a rich conversation platform. When I decide to follow / not follow a person, I look at several indicators of their Twitter behavior (let’s coin a term “Twitterhavior”: you heard it here first!), one of which is the ratio of their tweets to @ replies. I am not going to have a very rich experience with someone who talks AT me, not TO me. When I first joined Twitter, I had no idea what I wanted from it, but as I started to make it my own, I have formed my own Twitterhavior. As a sidenote: my friend’s offline personality does not stand for “less is more”. He is definitely more than more, talking over others and feeling the need to dominate each conversation. I am the opposite: much more demure and appreciative of a collaborative conversation. I suspect that your online identity is somewhat complimentary to your real-life identity, helping you fill gaps and become a fuller person. Your online self is, or at least should be, an extension of your offline core values and belief. Now that everyone “has a microphone”, development of an authentic online self is key. If you aren’t authentic, your message will get lost and dismissed. While extending yourself from offline to online in an authentic way, we also seek to fill in our real life shortcomings. I think this is key.

So as far as reasons to be on Twitter, we have discussed a couple so far:

  1. To share what you are doing, in hopes that someone reading is doing the same thing and will join you. This is the social element that will only get enhanced by further developments in the mobile GPS arena. Although, the privacy issues and stalker potential scares me a bit. Network effects kick in here, and for this to work, your friends need to be on Twitter too.
  2. To share your wit and wisdom without nurturing a conversation, talking AT people, which is neither wise nor witty. In my opinion it turns people off. There are a couple of those types I used to follow in the real estate industry (my startup MeetMOJO is in the real estate space); their streams rarely show @ replies. These types heard of Twitter, decided to add it to their toolbox of promotion, without really understanding or internalizing how to nurture the Twitter ecosystem. As a result, they come across unauthentic and not much different from a TV ad, talking AT you. I will focus several more posts on this point, because one of the missions of this blog is to marry traditional marketing to social media, I do hope that marketers will find this useful. As business units enter Twitter (and Facebook for that matter) for business purposes, they must be exceedingly careful to not disrupt the authenticity of exchange on these platforms. One business person that does it well is @zappos, the CEO of Zappos, a mail-order shoe company.
  3. To share your wit and wisdom in hopes of starting a conversation, talking TO people. I put myself in this group, although I use reason #1 quite a bit as well. Starting authentic conversations is key to establishing your brand, whether your brand is just you, or your product, or your company. As a business unit, you could tweet for market research / to gain input on what’s important to potential users. Or you could provide a customer service tweet-line, allowing people to vent and proactively fixing issues. You can make it do whatever you want. But don’t put a tweet out and ignore the @ replies that come back to you. People will stop trying to talk to you. If you care and if you talk back, your announcements about new products will be received with more open arms than if you used Twitter one way. I have even met strategic partners on Twitter. Create a community, ask for feedback, make people feel appreciated. You should do this online and offline.

I will stop here. There are more uses that I am only learning about. Twitter is a living, breathing thing. The more we use it, and the more of us that use it, the more tools that get developed around it, the more uses we will find for it. One thing is clear, it is a culmination of the online conversation paradigm shift. Web 1.0 talked at you. Web 2.0 lets you talk to it and other people on it. Now we have all this information, all this user-created content. Web 3.0 will be all about making sense of this stuff we created in 2.0, as well as creating new stuff of course. As someone commented on Fred Wilson’s blog (I read that comment weeks ago, and can’t get out of my head still) – “Twitter is the railroad tracks for communication in the 21st century”. That sums it up. It not only allows for conversations to happen in real time, across geographies and industries, it also allows for community creation, as well as leveraging the richness of conversation for a business goal. Whatever you reason to join Twitter, you can certainly make it your own. Just remember to be authentic, in 140 characters or less.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

A New Blog is Born

October 22, 2008

I am excited to introduce my new blog to the world. I have been blogging fairly prolifically (some months more than others) at the company blog of my startup MeetMOJO.  I felt the need to start my own personal blog that would deal with anything from my views on the world, technology and social media, which I have come to learn and love through building my 2 startups, to marketing and general business, which I studied extensively in undergrad and MBA.

I used Twitter to source the name of the blog, and one of the suggestions really struck a cord with me. This person recommended that I take advantage of the fact that my initials are M.O., which also stands for Modus Operandi. I thought it was very clever, and decided to adopt it.  “Web 2.0” fascinates me, as it allows you to have so many conversations with so many people at the same time, or asynchronously. Being able to reach out to all my friends on Twitter AND Facebook and tap their collective creativity for a question / issue I am exploring is priceless. Individuals, as well as companies, must take advantage of these technologies to initiate conversations that are more than 1-way or even 2-way.

I look forward to sharing more of myself and my thoughts.

Cheers!

Maria