In a world where being able to connect with old friends, family, co-workers, and connections is now the “norm” it surprises me when we start to see backlash as we are with Facebook recently. Especially when these are FREE services. However, everyone in the Internet age has been foregoing bits and pieces of their privacy for the convenience of connecting with each other and interacting in a social way online.
The thing is that when we interact online we are always leaving a little digital signature of who we are, where we came from, what we did, etc. Part of this is an aspect of the Web in general through cookies and GPS coordinates. Another part is just by virtue of how the Web works and how analytics are tracking site behavior. While Web sites may not know who you are specifically (unless you log in), they will certainly get a good idea of what you like and deliver better content next time.
Free sites have to make money. Running Web servers, development costs, etc all costs money and no investor or venture capitalist is going to invest in a company without the potential to get their money back. So for companies like Facebook, Twitter, Hulu, (insert name of cool website with free service), they all have the same issue; how will they make money? For many, it will be in online advertising. Google does this with most of its products from Google Search to Gmail to YouTube. Facebook does it with ads and virtual gifts. Even LinkedIn does it with their online recruiting (job board), research arm, and advertisements. However, nobody really seems to care about it when it is advertising because most often it is what keeps the service free to use. Do you remember when Google first rolled out ads that were contextual to your search, or your email messages? Everyone was outraged, yet millions of people still use those services. When you go onto Amazon and you see products that are based on your behavior, your information you have shared and more. No matter what we do online, the more we want convenience of personalized information and use of free services we will have to give up a piece of our privacy. When you check-in at a restaurant using Yelp, Foursquare or Gowalla, you are sending out your location over the web. “I’m here!”
The easiest way that Facebook, and other social networks, are integrating your personal information is via their authentication tools. In Facebook?s world this is Facebook Connect. It allows you, the user, to log into another website with your Facebook credentials. In some cases, like a registration for a site, you can populate certain fields and share your activity with this new site with your Facebook friends. This is where everyone is getting their arms up air over this privacy invasion. But if you want the convenience of not having to remember dozens of usernames and passwords, using one, like what you use for Facebook becomes convenient.
The other big discussion is around Facebook?s social widgets. These are actually less intrusive as one might think. They are what we call iframes, which means the ?Like? button that they just rolled out is actually a page within a page. The Web site that the ?Like? button is on actually doesn?t get any information about that person. So for me, I have the ?Like? button on this blog post. If you see other people who ?like? this post, I get none of that data. It doesn?t go into a database of mine, or into an email to me. Zip. Nada. What makes them attractive to Web site administrators, like me, is that it provides a level of personalization that I couldn?t achieve otherwise. And because Facebook is 500M strong, the chances are of that personalization working on my Web site is pretty good. The same goes for CNN and thousands of other sites which have integrated these new features into them.
The next time you think about your privacy and where your information is being shared, or even sold, think about he conveniences you have online when you use Web sites. You are giving up your privacy every day, but you are also willing to do so. In fact, if you really want to know who else is using your personal information just look into the fine print of the following:
- Your Bank
- Your Credit Cards
- Your Loyalty Cards (Grocer, Movie Rental, Book Store)
- Google Account (Oh, how quickly we forget about them)
- Professional Association or Trade Association
You may be surprised on what you read.
Socialnomics, the economics of the social world and social media. It isn’t a fad, it is here to stay. Brands, companies, and industries have been paying attention — have you? Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics has updated his video that has mind-blowing stats regarding the use of social media in today’s world. It is an update of his original one that came out when he launched his book. Some of his interesting statistics include:
- If Facebook were a country it would be the world’s 3rd largest ahead of the United States and only behind China and India
- Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web
- 80% of companies use social media for recruitment; % of these using LinkedIn 95%
- 78% of consumers trust peer recommendations
- Kindle eBooks Outsold Paper Books on Christmas (COMMENT: I wonder how this will change next year with the iPad out)
- Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like Mad Men Listening first, selling second
Here is the latest video. What do you think about the stats? Anything jump out at you?
I will have some thoughts on this and other Facebook stuff soon.
In the world of social media, one of the most viewed pieces of content is the tweet or status update. Updates and photos. Those are the biggest social media traffic builders. In fact, according to a recent PEW Internet study “Some 19% of internet users now say they use Twitter or another service to share updates about themselves, or to see updates about others.” In addition to this stat, at Chirp, a developer conference for Twitter, it was stated that Twitter has over 55M Tweets per day compared to Facebook’s 60M status updates per day. I first saw that stat come from Steve Rubel, a VP at Edelman PR and I immediately replied back what was obvious to me, “but how many of those status updates are really tweets?” And there lies my problem.
For me, I use Twitter distinctly different than Facebook. What I share with these distinct audiences is different, and purposely set up to be different. In fact, I’m more likely to connect my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts than I am Twitter and Facebook. You see, I use Facebook for personal reasons. I don’t have two accounts like many people do (which violate their terms of service, you know that thing you agree to when you create accounts on sites that you most likely never read). I leave my personal / professional network to Twitter and LInkedIn. I often see people using the convenience of tools like Tweetdeck, FriendFeed, or even just built in integrations between Twitter and Facebook (with a Facebook App) to update a status once and let it go to many social networks. I think that is a mistake.
I know I’m not alone when I find a tweet in my news feed on Facebook annoying. Twitter uses different protocols for replies and use of hashtags for topics. While Facebook has attempted to incorporate the @ symbol as well, to be frank, I just think that audience doesn’t get it, and that’s why it isn’t used. I also think the way people tweet, at times linking people to other content, websites, or replies to people is different than how people publish status updates on Facebook. This makes for a very disjointed news feed. It has gotten to the point that I’m about to “unfriend” all my Facebook friends who integrate the two together. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t work for me.
Presumably you use your networks differently as well. Maybe not to the same degree I do, but the people you friend on Facebook may not be the same people you follow on Twitter or connect with on LinkedIn. So why send them all the same message? Just like marketers have to segment and target their messages to get the most return on their investment, you too should be conscious about what messages you send to your networks. You will have stronger networks in the end who will pay attention to what you have to say, not ignore you because the last 10 tweets had nothing to do with what you talk to your friends about on Facebook.
I never found out the answer to my question regarding how many Facebook status updates were really Tweets. Maybe someone will publish that stat someday.
Recently the BlackBerry device was delivered two important apps for business users to their app store, Twitter and LinkedIn. For the last year the iPhone has been the dominant device for most major app development with Android becoming a distant second. BlackBerry devices seemed to be falling by the wayside. Which strikes me as odd seeing how BlackBerry devices are very dominant in the business world and growing in the consumer phone world as well. I know the easy answer is that the touch screen and just plain sex appeal of an iPhone is better than owning a BlackBerry (myself included), but I think these two apps will start to change that thinking. The reality is that the BlackBerry codex is more complicated and thus the apps cost more to make. However, as a business user, my BlackBerry rules and I need apps for it. After I recently had my BlackBerry upgraded to the Curve 8900 I started to look at apps not only to see what they looked like and how they worked with an eye to something we might build for my organization, but also just to see what was out there. Not much existed. While there are plenty of apps, nothing was ringing the same way my friends who have iPhones would talk about their apps. Hey, if we “bump” our phones together, we can share contact information. But maybe that was the point – the BlackBerry market is just different than the iPhone market.
I know that BlackBerry is more complex to write an application for. It has a different user interface and that can’t be simple to compensate for a lack of touch screen as an input (well there is the Storm(2). But I’m hoping these two apps start a push; a push for more apps to be developed. The Twitter and LinkedIn apps are important to me because I use them for professional purposes. And while I like looking at Facebook updates on my BlackBerry, I really have ignored my professional network on LinkedIn…until now. This app is a much needed upgrade from their mobile site, allowing me to do much more to monitor or share with my professional network. This is good.
Before upgrading to the new Twitter app I was using Über Twitter. Uber Twitter was nice at the time because it did more than just going to the mobile site of Twitter.com. However, it had ads that I found annoying, even if they were minimal intrusion. Now that Twitter has an official BlackBerry app, I’ve bailed on Über Twitter. I have to try the official app. According to the BlackBerry site, Twitter for BlackBerry features include:
- Get your Direct Messages as soon as they arrive
- Reply to tweets, re-tweet and send Direct Messages
- Post a link from your BlackBerry® Browser
- Take a funny picture and upload it
After a few days of use, I like the interface. I find the integration into my inbox for notifications useful. One of the downsides right now is that you can’t integrate multiple Twitter accounts or access them without logging out. The latter is something I like about Über Twitter. Also, you can’t edit a re-tweet in the official BlackBerry app. I will live with these two cons for the additional pros of accessing trending topics and overall Twitter search. Right now I have to find a balance between monitoring my Twitter accounts when I’m at my desk vs. on the go. Desktop monitoring is done via TweetDeck, which doesn’t have a BlackBerry app yet. The jury is still completely out on the official app, but it is a good first step.
LinkedIn is a different beast in and of itself. Similar to Facebook, but also not. LinkedIn is really the defacto profession network. While specialty networks will still arise, like MH Connected for lawyers, LinkedIn really addresses the business world as a whole, no matter what industry you are in.
Again, according to the LinkedIn blog, the app features:
- Network Updates. View and share crucial business intelligence and updates with your network. Perfect for those spare moments between meetings.
- Search. Search across over 60 million global professionals, and get the answer back in seconds. We’ve implemented a unified search across both your direct connections and the entire LinkedIn network.
- Connections. LinkedIn is your address book in the cloud. Get quick access to any of your connections to get their up-to-date profile information, and the ability to send them a message immediately.
- Invitations. Why wait to get back to your desk? Accept outstanding invitations immediately.
- Messages. Messaging is one of the reasons that BlackBerry owners love their devices, and we’ve worked hard to integrate your LinkedIn Inbox.
- Reconnect. You can’t leverage your network if you don’t build it. This module brings suggestions for new connections to you anytime. Now you can build your network from anywhere, in seconds.
These are great features that I have started to use. It reminds me a lot of the Facebook for BlackBerry app, but better.
Taking Advantage of the Platform
According to the announcement blog post, the LinkedIn app also takes advantage of several native BlackBerry applications. These include:
- Contacts. Integrate your LinkedIn connections with your BlackBerry address book, and view the profile of any contact directly on your BlackBerry.
- Messages. LinkedIn invitations and messages will now appear in your BlackBerry Inbox, just like any other email. You can also view the LinkedIn profile of the sender of any email you receive.
- Calendar. You can now view the LinkedIn profile of any attendee of a meeting on your BlackBerry calendar.
I can’t stress the importance of integration with the native features of BlackBerry OS. If you are going to use these third party networks, integration is key and this is one of the great aspects of the LinkedIn app. Going from the mobile site which was really basic and clunky to this app is like going from a pinto to a corvette. Nice job.
Overall the BlackBerry market needs to get a kick-start. Mobile professionals, while migrating to the iPhone and probably the Droid phones now too need apps for the BlackBerry. I’ll be frank in saying the pure interface of a BlackBerry is one of its biggest challenges. Whether it is the roller ball, the touch pad, or even the touch screen in the Storm(2), developing for the BlackBerry can’t be as easy as the Android and Apple devices. But here is to hoping. Hoping that more business applications come out that support good business use on the BlackBerry device.
This short video is worth watching on how Best Buy is adopting social technology to change their business strategy.
In social networking one of the first things we think about with LinkedIn and Facebook are the relationships we have and make. We have Connections and Friends. Through our contacts we acknowledge through a virtual “handshake” that we can have a symetrical relationship. We grow our “friends” or “connections” sometimes through widgets of “Who you may know” or through referrals.
With Twitter, we “follow” other Twitterers. You don’t have to acknowledge, agree, or allow someone to follow you. They just can. You can follow more people than follow you, and vice versa. This asymetrical relationship with your followers introduces a different type of relationship than Facebook or LinkedIn. The only exception is if you have a closed Twitter account, you have to allow certain people to follow you, which in essence is a form of a symetrical relationship.
After reading Relationship Symmetry in Social Networks: Why Facebook will go Fully Asymmetric by Joshua Porter, it got me thinking about his theory of these two types of relationships. While Porter states that Facebook will take on a Twitter model because of the different style of relationship it allows you to have, asymetrical and thus a larger “network” than a mutual agreed upon one, I believe social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn should adopt a hybrid approach.
While Porter articulates the four types of relationships that Twitter allows highlighted by a post by Andrew Chen, there is something that is truly to be said about having a formal knowledge of who is attempting to claim a relationship with you.
The four relationships of Twitter are:
- People who follow you, but you don’t follow back
- People who don’t follow you, but you follow them
- You both follow each other (Friends!)
- Neither of you follow each other
“Following” not that different than RSS Subscribers if you think about it. A blogger writes posts, and one or many people subscribe to an RSS feed, or read that blogger on a regular basis. Twitter takes the writing to a micro-level, but the “relationship” is the same.