Thursday, December 22, 2011

Salesforce.com signs on the dotted line, acquires Radian6

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Summary: Salesforce.com signs agreement to acquire Radian6, one of the industry’s leading social media monitoring platforms

Today, Salesforce.com announced that it will be acquiring one of the original gangsters of social media monitoring, Radian6.

As one of the largest owners of customer/contact data in the known digital universe, I think this is a smart move by Salesforce.com. In my opinion, I think they’re gaining more out of the data than they are from Radian6’s actual product offering. Their arduous and unintuitive interface is not something that many have been a fan of.

If Salesforce.com can successfully and accurately start marrying public social data with individual contacts and groups within Salesforce.com’s databases for their customers, the sky is the limit for business development, market segmentation, and targeted communication for both B2B and B2C.

Things to think about

It will be interesting to see what happens to Radian6 as a product. Will they trash the presentation layer and start fresh with a new, more thoughtful interface that is fully integrated with their own product suite or just leave it and add to/improve it?

It will also be interesting to see what happens to all the companies that make their cheddar as a social CRM solution. If Salesforce.com can do it right, this infusion with Radian6’s data will render some third party solutions useless. Their only hope may be lower pricing.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

SocialVest raises $1M in Series A funding, helps consumers give back

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Posterous follows the personal curation trend, introduces "Spaces"

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Summary: Taking a hint from Google+ Circles, and Facebook’s new Inline Profile Controls, Posterous launches “Posterous Spaces,” available on the web or on their iPhone and Android applications. As a Posterous user, would you use this new feature?

Earlier in the week Posterous announced its launch of Posterous Spaces. It’s clear that all the positive feedback about Google+ Circles prompted both Facebook’s addition of Inline Profile Controls and now Posterous Spaces.

Introducing Posterous Spaces from Posterous on Vimeo.

The other cool thing about this update is that the Spaces feature is also included in the Posterous Android and iPhone mobile apps so that you can make sure that your content is organized and flowing to the right group of people every time. They’ve also added a couple new features including a new reading experience, 3x faster load times, and five new professional looking themes.

If you are a new blogger, or an experienced blogger who likes things simple, accessible and easy-to-use, Posterous is a great solution for you.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twitter scoops up TweetDeck: The rumor mill grinds again

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Summary: The buzz about Twitter acquiring TweetDeck started flying again. No deal has been signed yet but everyone is waiting to see what happens next.

The rumors of inevitability finally moving into the realm of reality, are well, still rumors. CNN did a great job of “getting all TMZ” on us with the headline Twitter acquires TweetDeck to pull in some page views but the deal has not yet been inked. Back in April the Wall Street Journal started buzzing about the talks between Twitter and TweetDeck but nothing ever materialized.

TweetDeck, has been one of the most popular, if not THE most popular, third-party Twitter clients to be adopted and used by the masses. I’ve been using it for personal Twitter activity and hashtag monitoring on my desktop for a couple of years now and love it.

Twitter plays an interesting role in social media. They don’t have the best third-party app for their own users (hence the TweetDeck acquisition possibility) and they don’t have the best stats/activity tool available to make sense of their own data for the rest of us to use for business or otherwise. However, they house billions and billions of conversational patterns from all over the world. While I don’t think they’ll ever eclipse Google when it comes to the importance and value of data housed - 140 character conversations vs. search queries - regardless if you like sites like Tumblr or Posterous better, Twitter is the king of the microblog universe.

After LinkedIn’s IPO and the rumored Zynga IPO being kicked around, will Twitter continue on a strategic acquisition warpath with an actual acquisition of TweetDeck, or a monitoring/measurement solution, and maybe some other tools to eventually set the stage for a big IPO opportunity?

[ UPDATE: It looks like it's official now. Breaking news is very breaking in this day and age. Here's a link explaining what the acquisition means to you - http://bit.ly/kEOGOW ]

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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ZionEyez unveils 'social media eyeglasses'

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Summary: ZionEyez announces “Eyez”, eyeglasses equipped with a built-in 1080p HD camera and 16GB of flash memory, designed to stream first-person video to your favorite social site.

I’m usually a pretty open-minded person. In my line of work, innovation and crazy ideas are a staple. It’s part of the reason I enjoy what I do. However, I have to draw the line somewhere.

ZionEyez recently announced “Eyez”, a pair of glasses that will supposedly ‘revolutionize’ video on social networking sites. The goal here is to provide a first-person perspective from a more conspicuous version of a helmet-cam that streams HD 1080p video via Bluetooth or USB to your computer, tablet or mobile device. The social tie-in is being able to stream the video straight to your favorite social networking sites.

Their press release reads as if first-person-video-on-a-website-from-your-everyday-Joe Q. Public-for- everyone-to-see‘ is a brand new idea. When you go to their website, it’s flash-heavy, enshrouded in dramatic music and provides a ‘Place Order’ link that spawns a window containing placeholder copy from lipsum.org. Sigh.

All I see so far is less revolution and more known technology with the words ’social media’ attached it. ZionEyez, the “social media company” (it says that on their website) should consider chilling out on the buzz words and concentrate more on delivering their own version of putting personal video on the internet.

Sorry guys, a product that does what most of us are already doing isn’t innovation. Also, a little website QA goes a long way. :-)

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Monday, December 19, 2011

HootSuite hatches reporting, deeper analytics

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Summary: HootSuite’s latest release includes their new Report Builder feature, allowing customizable and scheduled reporting for their customers.

I’m a little late to the breaking news party with this information (HootSuite announced this offering Friday, March 11) however I’m ok with it as I was packing for Austin, TX and can plead SXSW.

I’ve been using HootSuite at an enterprise level now since March of 2010 and one of the crucial features that I always thought was missing with their solution was solid, robust reporting. In the enterprise, thoughtful, customizable, extensive social media reporting is what will allow any social media professional to ensure that all the conversations and interactions being monitored out there can be put to actual business use, helping to drive real business decisions for a company in a proactive manner.

If you are already using HootSuite, after logging in you’ll notice right away that the whole upper left-hand corner has been simplified into clean iconic organization, removing some of HootSuite’s branding from the interface. As much as I love seeing HootSuite owl staring at me all day, I’m really glad they did this. The implementation is much more intuitive now and feels faster, cleaner and easier to use.

Where the rubber meets the road

Now let’s get to what makes this latest release really useful for businesses - reporting. Since HootSuite was already pulling in data from your tweets, Facebook Insights, and Google Analytics, building out their own reporting system to leverage all this data for customized reports was the next logical step. Their first foray into this is nothing short of awesome.

You can basically construct your own custom reports with their Report Builder, have them emailed to select team members either manually or on a schedule. This is especially useful for enterprise-level requirements where you have multiple teams that use social media for different reasons and need to see different types of data in their reporting presented in a very specific way. Social media data is only useful if it is presented in a meaningful way to a key decision maker, tailored to their specific needs. This is now possible with HootSuite.

In large companies and organizations we all know that there is no single report that makes sense for an entire company so the real benefit of HootSuite’s reporting feature is that each report can contain a set of specific data types that you choose out of a huge bucket of items. Just hover your mouse over the plus sign of any module and simply add it to your report.

This is a huge step for HootSuite as they to build out their feature sets for big business. With the release of Report Builder and an interface that was always easier on the eyes than other tools like Radian6, HootSuite shows us that they are listening to their customer feedback and making changes quickly and accordingly. I’m looking forward to more great features and improvements from them in the coming months. They are definitely on the right track.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Winners, losers and surprises, the social network battle rages on in 2011.

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Summary: Ignite Social Media puts demographic data from Google about various social networks in their latest infographic.

A couple weeks ago Ignite Social Media put together an infographic covering the current state of social networks in 2011. All the data behind this information came from Google, primarily through Google Ad Planner and Google Insight for Search.

There are the obvious results you’d expect like Facebook’s dominance and the decline of MySpace, however, there are also a couple other nuggets in there that were eye-openers for me.

It’s clear looking at the data that we may have finally reached a plateau when it comes to the rise of social networks but it’s also very interesting to see which networks are in the top ten, broken out by gender, age and economic status. The most interesting part of this infographic to me is the rise of the microblog and content consumption management sites like Reddit and StumbleUpon. It’s no mystery that there is now so much information accompanied by millions of conversations about said information that we all now realize the major need to organize all of it before our heads explode.

The rise in LinkedIn activity and membership is probably the result of a struggling economy and the fact that they’ve made the syndication of their content easier with a more open API.

I’m not surprised that the Ning numbers are in decline. White-label social networks were only successful before we knew how much work it took to maintain a niche social network versus just being a participating member.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Klout updates profile & dashboard [beta]

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Summary: Klout updates their dashboard and profile with more data, a new look and feel, and more expanded layout.

On April 26, Klout announced a new look and feel (updated profile & dashboard) that is now available to current Klout users as a beta program. It looks nicer, has better tools to compare your Klout score with others,  and makes it easy to check out what you can do to improve your score with some recommendations.

I’m not sure why Klout is encouraging people to compete for a higher Klout score when it’s not really clear why everyone should be worrying about how influential they are as individuals all the time. It makes sense from a business standpoint but encouraging everyone to focus their internet behavior on a number like this seems a little silly. Why should everyone worry about their personal brand….? I’ll hold that thought until my next post…. :-)

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Is automated content curation helping or hurting?

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Summary: The quest to clean up the noisy Twitter streams with efficient content curation is needed but can it be done effectively.

Every time I publish a post and hashtag it with #socialmedia on Twitter, I get notifications about how someone’s latest “Social Media Daily” being released with “Top Stories” by me and others has just been published. Most of you in the social media world are aware of sites like Paper.li - they allow you to set up an account and automatically aggregate content based on hashtag and organize it into what looks like an online news publication.

In probably one of the noisiest chapters in the online content era, I agree with the need for some help with meaningful content curation in an effort to cut through the noise that has rendered most high-level hashtag streams worthless because they’re so bloated. Initially I thought the Paper.li type service made sense until lots of users I follow or that follow me, started using it. Now I see dozens of Social Media Daily tweets containing all the same content as other Social Media Daily tweets from these users on top of their actual tweets and retweets.

I definitely don’t blame the users themselves for their intent to organize their content for their followers. I also don’t blame Paper.li or see their service as spammy. The bigger chicken/egg problem though is that while automating curation feels more necessary than ever, the byproduct of everyone doing it ends up achieving the opposite of what the desired intent was in the first place.

It can feel like taking a cab in New York. Your intent is to consolidate and use public transportation but if you replace personal vehicles on a packed street with taxi cabs, you now just have streets gridlocked with taxi cabs.

[image source]

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Steve Jobs made technology adoption worth it for everyone.

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Summary: Thank you Steve for showing us that technology and innovation can be such an integral and seamless part of our lives.

As I sit here now and type this post on my MacBook Pro, flanked by my upright iPad 2 on my left, my iPhone 4 on my right, both plugged into USB ports, all three devices receiving notifications and photos and videos from various internet mediums simultaneously from friends, family and coworkers, I realize that these products have become personal permanent creative appendages of communication for me. I use the Apple fan boy product trifecta every day. Steve Jobs knew how to connect people with technology products in a way that only he could do, a way that would change the world.

The video below is one that my friends are tired of me sharing, but he tells us very clearly (at about the 1:50 mark) what the big secret is. Steve’s success, and the products that pretty much invented the tech fanboy genre, are done well for one simple reason. He knew technology would be a waste if it was a bad experience for those that needed to actually use it. He knew that innovation would only be able to progress if it inspired creativity and stimulated the user’s imagination as opposed to just being a product of his own personal invention. His passion for the potential of everything technology was unbridled. Some hated him. Some obsessed on him. Most were just waiting to see what direction he was going to take us all next.

I’ve been in tech for more than fifteen years and I’ve never seen a technology company whose products play such a big role in people’s lives. Whether someone is starting their own business, raising a family, going to work, heading out on vacation or entertaining friends, millions of people use Apple products all day every day to work, play, create and explore. Apple is a phenomenal product experience backed by an even more phenomenal story.

September of 2005 was the month that restored my faith in technology and computing and its place of relevance in my life. It was the month that I switched to Apple products and never looked back.

Thank you Steve for raising the product bar so high. You were one of a kind and will be missed.

Read what other ZDNet bloggers have to say…

Steve Jobs - 1955-2011
Steve Jobs: Our digital version of Walt Disney
The spontaneous San Francisco Apple Store Memorial for Steve Jobs
Recalling a summer when Steve Jobs saved Apple and the Mac
Google reflects on Steve Jobs’ passing
Remembering Steve Jobs in pictures

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Social media books: Can they stay relevant in a fast-paced industry?

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By Jennifer Leggio | March 3, 2011, 11:15am PST

Summary: Some even recent books are dangling near irrelevance due to the lightning speed at which the industry moves. Look for books that are timeless, some of which are listed here.


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Friday, December 16, 2011

Google+ finally launches Business Pages, now what?

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Summary: Google has finally released Google+ Business Pages. Now, just like Google+ itself, we need to figure out the value of these pages for, well, business.

It’s the moment marketers, social media professionals and brands have been waiting for. Google+ Business Pages had finally been released out into the social networking world. I first saw the news on Google+ from a share by +Robert Scoble. There were profile pics, “About” sections, and initial posts about how brands had arrived on Google+, oh my!

Yet, as expected, they’re really not that much different than a personal profile. The only difference I saw after creating one for the company I work for was that I didn’t have to use a human name anymore. Yawn.

It’s evident (once again), that you have a company with amazing technology, scientists and engineers who even after years of seeing how businesses are using Facebook, still either left out, or chose not to create, almost all of the crucial components used by marketers to engage and build their communities. What about contests? Polls? What about the ability to view engagement analytics about your page or provision spots for other admins now that it’s common for multiple teams to be managing social pages for brands?

Look, I was as excited as the next Google geek, social media professional, or technophile, to check this out and get it going as soon as possible. I had very high hopes. I created my business page within minutes of the announcement and was ready to roll with it and factor it into the mix of web properties for a big brand I help manage. But while it only took me minutes to create the page, I realized the only reason it took only a few minutes was because there wasn’t much to the page after the fact. Unfortunately it was just a personal profile with a company alias and logo slapped on top of it.

The only thing I liked about the business pages was how it can be used within the context of Google Circles, making it easy to share Circles with partners and other brands. At the end of the day though, all that says is that I like something that really had nothing to do with the Google Business Pages launch in the first place, I’m still really just enamored with Circles.

We all know the potential of Google+ for business. Now that we’ve had a few years to work out some marketing/PR kinks on Facebook for brands, we know that with Google’s engineering expertise, they could really create something amazing. I really think that their next release needs to focus on making available the marketing focused pieces of the puzzle to be competitive and make it worth it for brands to get their top social media folks in there to build it out and invest some in it, beyond just a company logo, profile info and a ‘Hello World!’ statement.

You can’t build something that will serve a marketing purpose if you don’t think like a marketer while building it. Start with the humans and reverse engineer the functionality to serve them.

SIDE NOTE: They need to be careful with the automatic switching of who you are logged into Google+ as. When I would go to my business page, it automatically switched me to be using Google+ as the brand. If you aren’t careful and don’t pay attention, you’ll be posting photos of food and your OccupyWallStreet rants on the social network as the company you represent and not as yourself. Ouch.

Also check out…

Google+ Pages: The power of search is the game-changer

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Badgeville launches Dynamic Game Engine and Widget Studio

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Summary: Badgeville makes marketing through gamification even easier with the release of its Dynamic Game Engine and Widget Studio.

In an era where rewarding customer involvement has exploded to a whole new level through social media, companies are starving to get their hands on solutions that they can leverage to take advantage of social gaming and it’s popularity. Back in December I wrote about Moxsie.com’s use of Badgeville as their weapon of choice for building customer incentive through a Facebook badge program in an effort to involve their fans in the buying process.

Badgeville won the Audience Choice Award when it launched at the Tech Crunch Disrupt last September and the demand for their social reward system has gone nowhere but up. Industry leading brands like Island Def Jam (Universal Music), The Active Network, Bluefly.com and more have signed on with Badgeville to harness the viral power of gamification to help reach user-driven objectives, turning it into profit.

Dynamic Game Engine and Widget Studio

There are two objectives that most companies are now trying to figure out in social media. First, how do we include our customers and potential customers in our marketing/PR strategy by making them feel like our extended marketing and PR team? Second, how do we retain them as brand evangelists by staying connected with them and keeping the relationship alive and fun? Now that gamification has reached a new level of popularity thanks the rampant success of some of Zynga’s ideas, Badgeville has introduced a way for companies that aren’t Zynga, to take advantage of the social network gaming craze.

According to the official press release:

“Badgeville’s new Dynamic Game Engine revolutionizes the gamification industry with support for advanced business rules to trigger rewards including time-based mechanics, activity missions, and integrated game mechanics across a network of web sites, mobile, and virtually any digital property. This gives brands the ability to create a consistent rewards experience across their web, mobile, and social programs, optimizing the ROI on game mechanics designed to drive and track user behavior.”

Need to make sure you reach people outside of Facebook or Twitter through your other web properties? This is where the Widget Studio comes in. You can integrate easily with your other websites or mobile user experience no problem. It features lightweight, configurable widgets to help drum up the competition and involvement including leader boards, live activity streams, showcases, and more.

Badgeville has become one of the most popular SaaS companies in the social space in such a short amount of time and fortunately for them, it has always been part of the plan according to CEO Kris Duggan. “Our vision for building Badgeville is to offer the most powerful, lightweight Software-as-a-Service Platform to reward, influence and measure user behavior. Now with a growing team of thought leaders in game design, engineering, and social media, this vision has become a reality.”

According to Gartner Research, gamified initiatives and their integration into the consumer goods marketing mix will be become as important as Facebook itself. They’ve found that more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application by 2014.

For you social media and marketing professionals out there (particularly those in a consumer space), have you considered gamification as an option or opportunity? If you’ve used a service like this before, were the results what you expected? I’d love to hear from you.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cisco launches its own industry news site - "The Network"

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Summary: Cisco launches their own technology news site called “The Network,” aimed at aggregating and curating the news within their industry.

When it comes to business, the definition of what it truly means to be a leader is changing. On the web and before social media, a leading brand was defined by a combination of product/service sales, stock price, search rankings, and traffic to their own web site. After social media arrived and everyone went up-in-arms about actual ROI measurement, everyone and their great grandma’s dog were associated with one of the “hot new startups” that had popped up like a horde of prairie dogs in a field the size of Silicon Valley, ready to help us all count “mentions” of our brand. We have even gone as far as attempting to glean human emotion from strings of ASCII characters that supposedly represented positive, neutral, negative, or something in between.

Most of us social media folks would probably agree that we are on the right track for the most part when talking about what’s important in social media versus what is just a steady stream of ones and zeros that amount to nothing. However, I do think we need to start understanding that it’s not just about engaging with negative customers and “fixing” them to be positive ones by replying to their tweets. Nor is it just about making the best quality products, providing the best quality services and shotgunning exorbitant marketing dollar amounts towards email blasts, landing pages, and campaigns to promote all of it. It’s now also  important to provide an industry forum for the hard questions that don’t necessarily have an answer yet. It’s getting tougher and tougher to find a relevant digital ecosystem that offers focused information and insightful opinions, where relevance is maintained and kept real for customers, partners and industry professionals alike. This is where Cisco steps in.

Be the news

Cisco has realized that it’s not just important to be a market share leader. Like any formidable enterprise, they know they now need to stay ahead of the game of information, not just sales, or they’ll be lost in NoiseNet (the web as I currently see it). This realization has resulted in the launch of their new site “The Network.”

The topics covered on the news site include Data Center, Core Networks, Video, Collaboration, Cisco Culture, and Social Media. Each one of those topics has been assigned a “page manager” by Cisco to ensure that there is someone monitoring all content and engagement throughout the site with the goal of keeping things focused, fresh and compelling. Another great function they have built in is the ability to sort the news by date and content type on the All News tab. While Cisco will be able to help curate the content, there will still be a lot of it so the ability to fine tune your own experience while on the site makes it much more useful.

Like most sites nowadays, content across the entire site is wrapped in social content from Twitter and Facebook so no conversation is missed by the readers. Every page is easily shareable, accommodating your social network of choice, easing the flow of syndication of all the site’s content. They have even built their own customized embeddable widget for use on other sites.

Leading the conversation with leading content

The web audience is easily bored and easily overwhelmed at the same time. One of the largest challenges of a site like this is maintaining a constant injection of fresh, relevant content that doesn’t all start to look the same after a week or two. The Network hopes to lead the aggregation and curation of tech industry news as it pertains to Cisco’s business, market segments and key partners. Right out of the gate the site will have eleven contributors made up of Cisco staff as well as well-known technology journalists like Steve Wildstrom (BusinessWeek), Mark Gunther (Fortune), and John Carey. If everyone consistently contributes, looking for new angles on topics, and can help push the envelope for industry discussion, The Network definitely has a shot at going beyond joining the conversation. Most companies know that now is the time to not just join, but to lead and steer the conversation. That’s where real influence happens.

As someone who is familiar with the challenges of leading social media in the enterprise, I’ll be interested to see how well this site does both from a thought leadership perspective, as well as how the maintenance and upkeep are handled. Making a site like this successful is no small task and requires decent budget, executive sponsorship and a long-term commitment. I’m looking forward to seeing it do well over the next few months and how the content changes over time.

More information

Official announcement by John Earnhardt

Cisco’s “Introducing The Network” Video

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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LinkedIn shares top $90 at IPO, doubling their offering price

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Summary: LinkedIn’s IPO tops $90 a share, more than doubling the evaluation when trading began today at 10AM EST on the New York Stock Exchange.

One of the most talked about companies in social media as of late has finally done it. LinkedIn (LNKD) started trading on the NYSE this morning at 10AM EST at over $90 per share. After a couple hours they’ve settled into the $80’s range.

LinkedIn has been the ultimate source for business professionals for years now. With several enhancements to user experience, that in some cases are Facebook-like, they’ve made lots of changes to accommodate businesses and recruiters, opened up their API for third-parties, and have grown considerably year over year. There’s no stopping them now from becoming the “Facebook for professionals.”

Fellow ZDNet writer Larry Dignan spills more of the details here and speculates on a possible stage to be set for more social media/internet IPO’s to come.

[Official Statement]

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My first Facebook imposter experience

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Summary: Social networks have become a playground for hackers. With phishing at an all time high and other methods at getting access to your life, do you feel like there is enough information out there on how to protect yourself?

Earlier this month, I received a friend request from someone I knew I had already connected with last year. I was a little perplexed but sometimes people set up non-work accounts or cancel and then re-sign up so I didn’t think much of it. Even though she never really uses Facebook that much because we mostly communicate once a week or less via email, etc., I thought she was getting more active on Facebook and reaching out so I re-accepted.

Randomly on September 2, the same day I got her new friend request, I received a message from what I thought was her: “how are you doing today?” I didn’t answer right away as I was bustling around downtown San Francisco and didn’t have a chance to get back to her. She hit me up again that same day with another random “hello.” Feeling bad that I hadn’t responded right away before, I quickly replied with a “Hey [redacted]!”

When I first became suspicious, I perused my friend’s account to see how she was using Facebook in general. One person had said on her wall, “Hey I thought we were already connected here, but no problem. Glad to see you on Facebook!” That kinda confirmed my gut feeling that something was weird. What appeared to be her responding to posts on her own wall was not her at all I found out later. Yikes.

As you can see in the screen shots, following the fairly innocuous exchange that almost had me hooked for a second, this person plunges right into a horrible impersonation attempt, not taking into account how random they sound and how obvious this whole sham comes off. How they thought roping Robert Casey Jr. into the conversation would be the clincher I have no idea. On screen shot #4 you can even see where I tried to get them to stop by saying “I know who this is” maybe to psych them out a little bit and yet, they kept on coming back with more.

The scary thing is that this person was interacting with her family, coworkers and friends on her wall pretending to be her. It freaks me out to think about someone trying to interact with my kids while pretending to be me.

Mind your social business

Nowadays, most of the time we can rely on our friends to get a hold of us when something spammy shows up on our Twitter feed or Facebook account that doesn’t appear to come from us. In this case though, my coworker had set up an account intended only for checking in with her family every couple of months. The hacker’s access to her account set the stage for possible access to hundreds of her friends, family, business connections, etc. without her really knowing until I had emailed her personally. I guess the reminder here is to make sure that if you set up an account anywhere, whether it be email or social network, be sure to consistently check these online properties for your own safety and change your passwords regularly.

Have you or any of your friends’ Facebook accounts ever been hacked and/or exploited? How far did it go before you realized what was going on?

Note: When it first happened, I Googled “Robert Casey Jnr” and the email addresses “agenthelpdeaf@gmail.com” and “agenthelpdeaf@yahoo.com” and got nothing. I tried it again before this post, still nothing.

Also check out…

Cybercrime costs $338bn to global economy; More lucrative than drugs trade

The Definitive Facebook Lockdown Guide

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Reppler Facebook app reports on the cleanliness of your content

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dear parents of the Facebook Generation, it's time to step it up.

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Summary: Whether you are a Facebook junkie or can’t stand the site and never use it, your kids are on Facebook and you need to plug yourself in so you aren’t in the dark about what your children are doing online.

When a 13-year old Tacoma, Washington boy named Vito LaPinta, Jr. learned about the death of Osama Bin Laden he decided to help warn the president on Facebook about what might happen next regarding suicide bombers. A week later, Vito was called into the principal’s office of his middle school and greeted by a suited up Secret Service agent wearing dark glasses.

Vito, admittedly terrified by the agent, was then told by the agent that his post was considered a ‘threat towards the President.’ When asked about how she felt about what had went down, Vito’s mother Timi Robertson stated “My 13-year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.” As a parent I too would’ve been livid. I agree with Timi’s reaction but I also wonder if she’s doing everything she can to monitor what her son is doing and saying online.

The challenges for us parents

Being a parent in this day and age can be really tough. Back in the day, it was harder to keep track of our tweens and teens because we couldn’t get ahold of them as easily. Now, while it’s much easier to stay in touch via mobile phone, SMS, Facebook etc., there’s a whole new set of challenges that really put our parenting skills to the test.

Nowadays, parents have a new job and it’s in the field of online PR training. Tweens and teens biologically are not good at self-perception awareness and in tune with how the world sees them as individuals. They don’t fully realize (and can’t because of their age) that if they joke about murder, suicide, sex, drugs, alcohol, race, religion, etc. on a site like Facebook where they might be connected to parents, grandparents, parents of their friends, etc….it’ll result in an inadvertent rippling storm of offensiveness to many people that they care a lot about. Something small and meant to be harmless could get them, and their parents into big trouble, not just legally, but in family and academic social circles.

An aversion to technology, the web, or Facebook is no excuse

With so much information, content and opinions being so easily shareable, therein lies the importance of your child’s understanding of their potential audience AND their understanding of how what they say and do online is easily seen by so many. If you have a teenager online, watch how they interact with their friends, family members etc. You’ll be able to see quickly how great of a job you are doing (or not) monitoring and preparing them for such a transparent and communicative world.

Believe or not, I still know quite a few people that don’t even have an email address let alone a Facebook account. Many of them, out of fear of the unknown and stubbornness mostly, refuse to get on board. I’m fine with that if you don’t have kids that are online. If you do have children that are on social networks like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, if you don’t at least have an account on any of the sites that your child is on for monitoring purposes and also know what their personal login is, you are another failing parent in the digital age.

Another scary thing is that 7.5 million of the 20 million minors on Facebook are below the minimum age.

Yikes.

While I know that kids will always lie and experiment and push the envelope with us parents, it’s important that we minimize the risk by communicating with them often and making sure to keep a close eye on those under 13 years old. It’s our duty to monitor the appropriation of sites visited, content downloaded, and activity shared online.

Many teens also have an iPod Touch and a Foursquare or GoWalla account (I’ve deemed geo-location apps off limits to my teenagers). This also means they are able to plot their locations when Wi-Fi is available, sharing it with the world, not fully understanding what it really means to create database records of their movement, their most frequented hang out spots, and how it could be used against them.

As parents of children in one of the most fast-paced eras of information where API’s make it possible for anyone to track our children’s activities unless they’re off the grid completely or have had help from their parents to lock down their privacy settings, our presence and involvement in their day-to-day is more important than ever. Even when you think you’ve done a great job with this, it never hurts to have regular discussions with them and remind them about the impact of their content and activity online. It’s important for both their safety, and more importantly, their offline reputation.

Other related articles

Zuckerberg: Facebook not working on under-13 access, not going public (yet)

Reppler Facebook app reports on the cleanliness of your content

Facebook continues to test our relationship culture and our ability to be appropriate

[image source]

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Monday, December 12, 2011

LinkedIn: A little historical nugget of an Infographic just for you

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Summary: The most popular Infographic this week presents some history on LinkedIn, it’s milestones, successes and otherwise.

This LinkedIn infographic, like most, is being spread around the social media blogosphere like warm honey butter on grandma’s cornbread. To ensure our ZDNet audience didn’t miss out on the data and an opportunity to consume one of the tallest (in pixels) images on the internet, here it is.

The Value of Being LinkedIn
[Source: OnlineMBA.com]

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


View the original article here

How Facebook Messenger blew up my iPhone

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Wow.

Wow oh wow oh wow.

Ha! Unreal. The article itself was only mildly interesting, but, that line "an old communication landscape like email" wins the latest prize for "IT tech savvy guy being way out of touch with Joe Average".

I realize, that in terms of the latest greatest web tech, email is now conventional and to some degree, old school. But in the world of Mr. & Ms. Average who have businesses to run in the real world email is not only the most modern practical communications methods, its integrated into the business world to such a great degree that its not going to change any time soon.

Sorry about that to the tech savvy who ride every new wave of tech like its the only proper way of doing things, but thats just the way it is. Its not like I made up the rule or something, its just the reality of the real world that far far too many writers here just cannot get their heads around.

We really need to have some sort of set of truths that exist in the non-tech savvy real world where most humans live so that writers here can get their head around whats really going on in the world and whats actually important to the "outside" world and the humans in it. While everything of course is on some kind of a bell curve continuum, and obviously doesn't apply like some kind of rigorous doctrine, there are certain general truths about the average man on the street that causes them to think and act, on the average, in a significantly different way then tech savvy people, most particularly those tech savvy people who work and live in the high tech world, and even more so in relation to many of the writers here who honestly have to know and live by the latest and greatest tech if they want to stay relevant in their own field.

Such as:
1. People don't understand the significance of "updating". They now seem to understand a little better then past years the computers operating system has to be updated to stay secure, but they still don't put it all together in their mind that most software has to be updated, web browsers, flash players, all kinds of things, they just haven't had it sink in yet.

2. People generally, often only have the most rudimentary understanding what an operating system is. That, in all its endless degrees of understanding leads to all kinds of interesting conundrums.

3. Most people do not follow to ANY degree about advantages/disadvantages of various bits of hardware, software and tech. They go to a store, some guy there gives his spin and they go with that, along with whatever their best friend/uncle/ significant other/ parent/school chum or co-worker told them.

4. Most average people simply don't care, at all about many of the technical details about why one bit of hardware is better or worse then another. And certainly, no where near the degree that most writers around here rightly do, for writers here, its their business, for those in the real world its a niggling detail they could care less about.

5. In the real world, where people don't sit around and argue nit picking details about what makes one platform marginally better in some area than another, they don't have the kinds and numbers of problems people who post here claim they do. Piles of people who post responses to articles here are simple outright liars in order to justify their choice of software and/or hardware. Its not needed. For example, I know people who use Macs and people who use Windows. Both are happy and neither have any significant or major problems. Both are happy and people who dwell here and claim horrible ghastly flaws in either platform are clearly liars because for one, they should have enough knowledge to know better, and secondly, those who live in the real world do not have those problems. If I see one more liar post a response to an article on ZDNet where they talk about how they have to spend all their weekends cleaning all the viruses out of their friends and families Windows computers I will vomit. Any tech expert who has to spend any time doing that would be the last person on earth I would ever hire to do any IT work for me. In the outside world people generally know how so simply secure their computers and only the true idiots, or really unlucky run into trouble.

There are endless truths that exist in the real world, as opposed to the world of so called experts. And far far to often I see articles and even more so in response posts, nonsense based entirely on an "experts" view that will never pan out in the real world.


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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Google +: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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Summary: Google + has generated lots of opinions after launch. Whether you think it’s good, bad or just plain ugly, WCG’s Aaron Strout gives you his take on the new social platform.

[a guest post by Aaron Strout]

If you have a pulse, there is a good chance that you’ve heard the buzz about Google’s latest foray into the world of social networking. Their new offering is called Google + (that’s pronounced “Google Plus”) and at first blush, it seems to have hit the mark. Although the new social network is still in closed beta (invite only), It has already amassed north of 10 million users. More importantly, numerous online influencers like Chris Brogan, David Armano and Robert Scoble have spent dozens if not hundreds of hours kicking the tires. For anyone that follows social media, getting the “in” crowd to adopt a new technology or social media is key to greater adoption.

As someone that has spent time personally and professionally with social media for six plus years, I’ve been intrigued with the possibilities that Google + offers. This curiosity comes with a healthy dose of skepticism on my part given Google’s poor track record of building and acquiring companies and services such as Jaiku, Wave, Dodgeball and Buzz. In spite of that skepticism, I’ve spend the better part of the last few weeks watching, posting and commenting on Google +. During that time, I’ve had a chance to witness some of the good, the bad and the ugly with Google’s latest offering.

The Good
One of the main reasons that Google + is taking off the way it is is because they seem to have gotten the friending/privacy/social graph right via a convention called Circles. Circles are powerful for a few different reasons:

The circles come pre-set (although you can customize) so right out of the gate you can start adding people to buckets titled, “Family, Friends, Acquaintances, Following and Work.” In order to connect with someone (the equivalent of following or friending), you need to put them in a circle.As a result of the bucketing connections into circles requirement, all of your connections end up in pre-defined groups. This allows you to decide which circle or circles you want to share with every time you post. This is a big win on the privacy front.Unlike Twitter lists or Facebook Groups, you can not only view your circles by different criteria including first name, last name, relevance and recently updated but users also have the option to see only a stream from a specific circle or to view that circle’s activity in a separate tab.

Although I haven’t tried them yet, I do like the concept of the Hangouts on Google + or the ability to spontaneously create group chats (text and video) with your connections. You can add and subtract people from these groups on the fly giving you flexibility.

Probably the biggest opportunity for Google + is its ability to meet the need of social for business. If you think about it, Facebook is much more for personal interactions than business interactions (although important for businesses to play a role). LinkedIn is for business but still isn’t particularly social. Twitter falls somewhere in between but doesn’t allow for the robust conversation threading and image/video sharing that Google + and Facebook do. Even better, Google + has the opportunity to be the social glue that sits between all of Google’s apps and tools (Docs, Maps, Blogger, Picasa, etc.) This creates all sorts of internal and external collaboration opportunities over time.

The Bad
Two of the biggest knocks on Google + so far are the lack of groups (one of the more valuable features of Facebook) and the awkwardness around multiple people mentioning a post (this would be the equivalent of re-tweeting on Twitter). In the first case, I’m guessing that Google will fix this soon by adding in a type of public or private circle that users can administer. On the latter, I’m also assuming that a solution like collapsing posts in one’s stream that share redundant information so that they take up less room makes sense.

Lack of business pages also falls into the “bad” category. Companies like Ford and NPR News have been allowed in to test the service but as of yet, Google + is not yet open for companies to sign up. While many consumers may consider this an actual plus, I know of a lot of companies that are champing at the bit to get in and start to test this shiny new tool. We all know that Google will eventually allow for business usage but hopefully they don’t wait too long.

The Ugly
I’m happy to report that there really isn’t that much ugly with Google +. The few things that would fall in this category are more nuisances than major flaws. For one, the mobile app (just made available to iPhone users today) still doesn’t allow for notifying one’s connections using the “+” sign (similar to the @ sign in Twitter and Facebook). This applies to both posts and comments. Instead, it looks up gmail addresses and other search garbage.

Another item in the “ugly” category is a feature that is near and dear to my heart i.e. Google +’s check-in functionality. My experience with the Web version is that it’s not that accurate. After downloading the iPhone version, it seems like the geotargeting there is better but it has a much narrower database of places (at least at present) to draw upon than those of Facebook or foursquare. With all the geo data that Google has via its Maps and Places services, I would think this would be stronger out of the gate.

Are you using Google + yet? If so, what has your experience been? And will you plan to use it instead of Facebook and Twitter or as a complementary service?


Aaron Strout is a 17 year digital marketing veteran. He is currently the head of location based marketing at global agency, WCG. He is also the co-author of the book, Location Based Marketing for Dummies. Aaron does most of his blogging these days at The Common Sense Blog. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Survey Results: The current state of corporate social media in 2011

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Summary: Useful Social Media, a company in the UK, releases their survey on the state of corporate social media in 2011.

Yes it’s true. There is a company in the UK actually called “Useful Social Media.” Whether they did this for SEO reasons knowing what search string would be used most by executives searching through the B.S. or that they just couldn’t come up with anything more creative upon their launch back in 2009, they do have some interesting, useful, eye-opening data. Thanks to my buddy Michael Brito for sharing his opinion on this information in his social media blog.

While I felt compelled to poke fun at their name, in all seriousness I really do appreciate their high-level approach. They recently released “The state of corporate social media in 2011,” result from an extensive survey they conducted with several large corporations who leverage social media at various levels, in various industries, from various parts of the world.

If I had one complaint about this report, it’s a little heavy on the inclusion of marketing pull quotes from partners, promo and fluff in the beginning of it but once I got past that, the data they provided accompanied by some fairly insightful observations about said data was sound. On that note, let us dig in and see what they’ve found.

The survey, the data

The survey is based on responses from over 100 companies and was taken back in December of 2010. I won’t include every chart they’ve created in this blog post but there are some decent high-level nuggets that are worth thinking about.

Here’s the breakdown by industry. Having been in tech for such a long time, it’s easy for me to forget how much tech is only a small facet of what’s going on out in the social media sphere.

As Brito had pointed out in his post, this is one of the more surprising charts to me in some cases. However, this slide also unearths a couple speculations that are not so surprising. I still think established companies struggle with the idea of integrating social into the folds of their business. I also think social media professionals, agencies and specialists have way more learning to do than they are willing to admit which keeps skeptical executives in gun-shy mode. Their only way around that is to explore through ‘testing it out’ by adding some social media responsibilities to the plate of current employees in PR, marketing, etc.

This next one is interesting. Useful Social Media concludes “…there appears to be a consensus building that there is no need for staff to work exclusively on social media – that it can be integrated into existing roles as a ‘part time’ assignment.” They also say “Whilst it’s true that the majority of companies have one or more people working solely on social media, far more of them have significantly larger teams who work part time as social media practitioners.” I agree that there’s definitely a place for social as a side dish of someone’s overall work entree.

The only problem I see for large companies here is that if you don’t have at least a few dedicated social media people pulling all of this engagement together from all these ‘part timers’ into palpable high-level reporting to aid in driving big picture business decisions, the value of their work can be lost and written off as a necessary time sucker taking away from their ‘real jobs’. At least that’s how some uninformed executives might view it initially if there’s not a thoughtful dashboard for them to look at regularly.

The last chart I’ll show in this post was very encouraging. The level of direct interaction with social media by VP’s, C-levels, and other execs was much higher than I thought it would be. In large companies those folks have traditionally been the hardest nuts to crack as far as social media adoption goes, especially those at companies that are ten or more years old.

In the full report, there’s a ton more data, insights, comparisons between the United States and Europe, and even a foreword from Ryan Holmes, the fearless leader of HootSuite. To get the full report, just go here, fill out your information and you’ll get an email with a link to download the PDF.

I believe that the balance of people/agencies using social media versus those that use social media in conjunction withbasic business fundamentals is still out of whack but I’m hopeful that the practicality and real business sense will eventually prevail, tipping the scales in the right direction. What say you?

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


View the original article here

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Open Letter to Google: I love you, Google+, but...

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Summary: Former ZDnet “Social Business” blogger Jennifer Leggio has been involved in love fest with Google+ for the last week. Here, she writes an open letter affirming her commitment to the service, that is, if Google can give her what she wants.

[A guest post by Jennifer Leggio]

Former ZDnet “Social Business” blogger Jennifer Leggio (@mediaphyter) has been involved in love fest with Google+ for the last week. Here, she writes an open letter affirming her commitment to the service, that is, if Google can give her what she wants.

Dear Google –

I know we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye on your development of social networking technologies (aka Google Buzz). I know that it hurt you when I took the side of Facebook in the social networking web war, too. However, I’m willing to give you another shot. You’ve almost stolen my heart with Google+.

As much as I’m starting to fall, I do still have some kinks that we need to work out of our relationship. I don’t know how much to trust you or if I can commit to using Google+ in the long-term. You see, I had such high expectations before and was let down. In order for us to build the sustainable relationship we both want I’d like to kindly ask you to consider the following:

Let my people in. I realize that “ego marketing” is the Google way and you want all of us web nerds to talk about what we have that others don’t. You’ve done it with Gmail and other successful products. However, I’m going to quickly look elsewhere for my social satisfaction if my friends and family can’t join my circles.Give me a better way to manage these circles. Don’t get me wrong – your drag-and-drop friend management makes me weak in the knees. But I need more. I currently don’t have anywhere to put people who I don’t know. It seems harsh to block them but I don’t want to have to filter through them every time I get a new request. I could create a circle to dump them into, but then I have to a) manage people I don’t know and b) I can’t use the “extended” and “all circles” options. My friend Bob had a great idea – allow a clean UX process to post to all but X circles. Or, allow me to set permission within circles. I know Google doesn’t want to “be evil” or even too closed, but I at least need the guise of control in order to feel happy with my social network.I currently like that there aren’t yet obvious uses for businesses to market to me via Google+ yet (though I see a future connection with that intuitive curated content!). This separation from businesses makes me feel safe in an otherwise over-marketed world. I know you can’t keep it that way if you really want to compete with other social networks, but thanks in the short-term. (Somewhat begrudgingly, I share with those interested a great post from Christopher Carfi on How The Enterprise Can Use Google+.)Perhaps I am suffering from a bout of Facebook assimilation, but given all of these fancy schmancy circles I’d really like to be able to leverage them to manage real-time events. Google, I know you don’t want people to spend a lot of time away from their computers, but if you allow us to do some face-time then we’ll have more pictures to post to Picasa. I’d love to be able to invite one of my circles to a housewarming shindig, or perhaps a Silicon Valley Tweet-Up. Of course, you’ll always be my +1… (insert groan here).I very much love the multi-user video chat and the ability to watch videos of cute cats on YouTube in real-time with my friends. However, you and I both know you need to step up your game with Facebook’s rumored Skype announcement. How about some screen sharing as part of the “hangout” feature? It’s great to be able to sync with friends in real-time but it would also be nice to share stuff beyond cute cats on YouTube in real-time. Down the line, there might also be a premium opportunity for business users (again, I say begrudgingly). I’ve already had a couple of instinctual desires to use this type of feature, so can we make it happen?See, Google, I really do believe in your social prowess. I know you have an amazing team of superstars who have been knocking at this day and night, and, for the first time I do believe you have a winner. I want to be in this with you for the long haul, Google. I want to be a champion for the service but in order to do that I have to feel the love, as well as see my friends and family become embraced as well. What do you say, Google? Are we in this together?

Love,

Jennifer

Jennifer Leggio is a frequent writer and speaker on social media, marketing and communications trends, as well as security and privacy. Find her on Twitter at @mediaphyter.

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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Facebook Timeline: Personalization without all the mess

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AppId is over the quota
Summary: Facebook Timeline was announced yesterday at the f8 conference. The opportunity to better curate your own Facebook content for your friends and family is here but within a slicker, more controlled interface than MySpace ever had.

One of the reasons I used MySpace for a grand total of about two hours years ago was that I couldn’t stand how everyone had something to say or share but they had no idea how to curate it. We can’t really blame anyone for that. With a demographic made up mostly of teenagers and not UX/web designers, it was bound to be the case. I remember back when someone would say, “hey man check out my MySpace page.” I’d cringe before I even booted up my laptop to go check it out. More often than not, as expected, their page would have seventy-two embedded videos from YouTube and Vimeo, a high-res print-ready image as a tiled background (file sizes exceeding 3-5MB in some cases), and a color scheme that made no sense if you had any interest in reading anything they had to say (small dark grey fonts on a black background, ugh).

I believe that one of the reasons Facebook took off so quickly is that people were tired of the mess. Just like Starbucks, sure all the places you go on Facebook look the same, but at least you were getting a consistent product that was controlled and you knew what to expect. As Facebook Timeline is rolled out over millions of users it will be interesting to see everyone’s curation skills put to the test. It’s apparent that at least one of the many reasons why Timeline was created is the complaint about not being able to customize your Facebook page to be more reflective of who you are so you can make it as personal as possible. It’s kind of a chicken/egg scenario for Facebook though because they know that their controlled consistent framework really is a major part of their success, capitalizing on the bad taste MySpace left in our digital mouths. They also know that if they give their users too much freedom with customization and its integration into their profiles, the content itself could dismantle the Facebook’s overall user experience and palpability. In my opinion, Timeline is Facebook making an effort to have their cake and eat it too.

Our lives in the cloud
My teenagers are on Facebook. Eventually my eight year old will as well when he reaches his teenage years. This will be, and is the way it works now, until either Facebook goes away (doubtful) or another social network takes its place. Like it or not, Facebook and other social networks have effectively been woven into the fabric of American adolescence and adulthood. I think about how great it will be to go to Facebook 10 years from now and be able to look back at milestones in my sons’ lives. I can revisit photos of them when they got their driver’s licenses, their high school graduation, when they went off to college, met their first serious girlfriend, etc. just by scrolling through their timeline. Assuming I help them understand the privacy issues and settings, this will be amazing for all of my close friends, non-local family and distant relatives to be able to see what’s going on in their lives.

My only concern about this is that if Facebook is the life-documentary platform of choice by the people, what happens when you’ve trusted thirty years of your life to a cloud platform and they go out of business? What if they change their business model (like MySpace after it train-wrecked)? What if phishers and hackers wipe out someone’s entire documented life because either their password was easily guessed or Facebook had a security hole for an hour? It would be devastating to today’s younger generations to last that info/time investment decades later. Hopefully Facebook realizes this and continues to simultaneously develop a robust, easy-to-use solution for backup.

In general I’m excited to see it in action because, security/privacy paranoia aside, it’s a really cool idea that I know people are going to have fun with and it’s a such a great way make the profile experience more rich, creative and interesting.

Also check out

How to get the Facebook Timeline (officially and unofficially)

Facebook is finally getting redesigns right with Timeline

A closer look at the Facebook Timeline and the Open Graph

Rich Harris has been a web marketer for over 10 years, with over 14 years experience in high-tech, both in the consumer and enterprise spaces.


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