Since their announcements at F8 about Open Graph Protocol (OGP), I’ve been following Facebook far more closely that I normally do. Why? From the moment I watched the videos about what OGP does, I knew that the way the internet works will be changed forever. Today I saw something that confirms that Facebook now controls the internet. No, I’m not saying that to be sensational or dramatic, I believe it to be true…a shift has occurred with OGP that will forever change how brands and consumers interact, and Facebook owns it all. How do I know? Because long time rival Google is already embracing Facebook’s new protocol.
More about that in a moment. But first, if you are not familiar with what Facebook has done, let me give you a very brief overview.
Those of you that have been following my adventures for a while know that I put my heart, soul and mind into social media. Since writing my own blogging platform a decade ago (the billion dollar idea that I never capitalized on…) to my almost-obsessive fascination with brand interaction on channels like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, I am constantly observing and strategizing ways to make the interaction and engagement between companies and customers better through social media. I have spent quite a bit of time over the last couple of years consulting businesses of all types and sizes regarding their engagement (or lack thereof) within these online communities. From Fortune 100 companies that distribute hardware all around the world to non-profit agencies that are doing their best to make a difference in the world, I have worked with groups to lend insight, support, ideas and action to social media programs. Given all of that, I’m quite pleased to announce that I have taken a new role within the industry.
With so much information moving around online communities these days, it’s not often that I watch and then re-watch a 5 minute video. This morning I did just that, with the video embedded below called “Did You Know 4.0”.
You won’t see babies rollerskating or a funny wedding entrance in this…what you will see in a lot of data coming at you quickly. Data that talks about the changing communication landscape, the convergence of media and the massive impact that social networks are having on day to day life. I think it’s all incredibly fascinating, and is a brilliant and useful follow-up to another powerful video, “Shift Happens”. If you are connected to media, social networking, marketing or crowd communication in any way, please check this out and let me know what you think in the comments…not just about the video (which is top quality) but about the concepts and statistics brought up in it.
I wrote a down-and-dirty article last last April about Twitter. Over the last couple of weeks I have received several emails and DMs asking me how to use Twitter. Instead of reprinting it all, just go here and check it out. It’s Twitter for n00bs, so if you have been using it for a while it probably won’t be of interest to you. Click here to go check it out, and then follow me !
I suppose at this point if you aren’t using Twitter then you are either a)very unlikely to no matter what I say, or b)living under a rock and haven’t heard about Twitter.
If you fall into category c, which is “I am on Twitter and I love it” add me and I’ll add you back!* Join the community, folks!
*I will add you back if you meet just a tiny bit of criteria.
- You aren’t a spammer. I will look at your ratio of followers/following right and know right away
- You have at least a full page of tweets so I can see if you do this regularly
- Yes, you need to tweet regularly. People that tweet once a week are like newspapers that publish once a week. I’m sure there is a market for both of them, but not in the economy of short attention, heavy input
- You aren’t on Twitter just to sell something. I don’t mind if you do sell something on Twitter, but it had better be with a 10:1 ratio of other tweets
- You need to have made at least one witty comment in all of your tweets. C’mon, dig deep! ;)
UPDATE: Just a couple of hours after writing this post we had an earthquake in Southern California. The FIRST “news” source that I went to for info was Twitter, and within just a minute or so knew that all of my friends here were okay and all of the details of the quake. Awesome! You can go to the old Summize site and see all of the chatter.
I read a series of very interesting blog posts today, a rabbit trail of writing that dove into the subject of the (apparent) psychological dysfunction of some bloggers, the decent new media balance of others.
I started with a post by Brad Feld called “I Blog, I Tweet, But Why“. Being new to Brad’s blog, I looked around the header and sidebar for interesting tidbits before I started reading. What caught my eye is his Feedburner box in the upper right corner. At first I thought it said 1205 readers. Wow, that’s quite a few. Wait a minute…that isn’t a five, it’s a “k”. What the…one hundred twenty thousand readers? Is that right?!? But I digress.
In this post Brad talks about living a public life, a life of blogging and tweeting. It’s a short read and does not go too deep, but he brings up some interesting points. I like what he says about his oversharing, his mis-tweets. He says,
The notion of living in public is an unintended side effect of this.
It’s part of the package if you really want to engage with this stuff.
I’ve had my share of bad moments; like Fred the worst is when I piss
off my wife Amy
with something I write. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and
then I get an email saying approximating “please delete that tweet”.
I haven’t had that experience too much, although I can relate to what he is talking about. Sometimes those of us that live in the virtual world do share too much about our actual worlds, and it causes more than a little friction. At the beginning of his post, Brad mentioned Fred Wilson and one of his posts, so I clicked on that to see what inspired his words for today.
I recently started following Fred Wilson on Twitter, at the urging of my friend Jared. I haven’t been reading his blog though, so this was a first for me. His post from May 25 is called “Can We Live In Public?” In it Fred goes more in depth than Brad did, looking into a life under the lens of public observation via social networks and the new media. He mentions Emily Gould early on, we’ll get to her in a moment.
Fred talks about mean things being said in the comments from people he doesn’t know. I’ve experienced this many times. To my initial surprise (although I am no longer surprised by this, I have learned), I have even received mean comments from people I do know! Fred responds by saying this:
But there will be mean things said in the comments. It’s easy to say
mean things to a computer. Harder to someone’s face. I’ve learned to
take the hit and move on. I never delete the comments unless they are
spam or porn or hate speech (and I don’t mean hating me). I figure by
leaving them there, I am airing their hateful views for everyone to
see. And I love it when Jackson or someone else who knows me well gives
them a piece of mind.
I have opted toward a similar stance and have only deleted comments a handful of times in 8 years of blogging. Even though it stings to see those words come across a computer screen, I leave them there, unless…especially if…they are referencing somebody else. I can take my licks, but I won’t let my blog be a forum for others’ hatred toward the world. Fred wrapped up his short post (though longer than Brad’s) with this great thought:
But why live in public? It is necessary? No it is not. But humans are
social beings. We were social in caves. We are social in cyberspace.
And those who are extroverts will be extroverts online. And there is a
lot to be gained from living publicly online. As long as you know where
to draw the line.
And therein lies the problem. Many people don’t know where to draw the line. For a look into this world of online social activity I clicked through to Emily Gould’s recent article in the New York Times simply titled “Exposed“.
This is a lengthy article, probably one of the longest articles that I’ve read online in a long time. Usually if something can’t be summarized in the first 1,000 characters I don’t read it. However, this article had me captivated.
For ten pages (web pages anyway, five minutes worth of reading) she goes into great detail about her online adventure with Gawker, a site devoted to “media gossip and pop culture round the clock”. Not a site that I have ever been to before, nor will I go in the future, but it’s obviously very popular.
Emily talks about how her obsession led to the destruction of at least two relationships, a job and maybe even her sanity. It’s a gripping and somewhat sad tale, although Penelope Trunk does not seem to have any sympathy for her. On the fourth page of her article, Emily mentioned another blogger that openly stated, “attention is my drug” and infers strongly that she can relate. She even talked about the addiction of receiving comments on her blog:
It’s easy to compare the initial thrill of evoking an immediate
response to a blog post to the rush of getting high, and the
diminishing thrills to the process of becoming inured to a drug’s
effects. The metaphor is so exact, in fact, that maybe it isn’t a
metaphor at all.
I encourage you to read the entire article, it can be found here. If you are a blogger or a tweeter, I especially encourage you to read this. If you click through to the comments you will find that she gets absolutely blasted, as does The Times, for this article.
In part two of this post I’m going to discuss what fuels attention blogging and oversharing from my point of view. It’s not scientific and it’s not pretty, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate in too many circumstances. It may hit too close to home. Stay tuned.
In the last post we talked about creating a blog, this post will talk about following other bloggers.
I currently follow just over 200 bloggers. You may wonder how I keep up with all of them without spending all day clicking from one page to the next. The answer is simple: I use a feed reader.
A “feed” is the name for a post that goes onto a blog that is supported by RSS (really simple syndication). RSS allows people to dump their feeds into one place so they can neatly sort and read them. Think of it like a newspaper: the blogosphere is the entire newspaper, made up of different sections and articles. One blog post equals one article. Just like you wouldn’t expect the newpaper company to deliver one article to you at a time, likewise you should not expect to have to read one blog at a time. Enter the feed reader (the newspaper), which help you collect them all.
While there are many choices of feed readers, I’m going to explain how to set this up through Google.
Step 1: Set up an account with Google
Look in the upper right corner of the Google homepage. You’ll see an area that says “sign in”. Click that, then on the next screen, click “create an account now”, which you can find on the right side of the page. Your next screen will ask you for several pieces of information, but should be quick and easy to fill out. Got it? Great…sign in and move on to step 2
Step 2: Log into Google Reader
Google Reader will store and sort your blog feeds that you want to follow. Go to www.google.com/reader to get started. Once there, let’s go find a blog to subscribe to! Open a new tab or window and go to www.LeadingWithALimp.com
Step 3: Add a Feed
Once you have arrived at the blog you want to subscribe to there are a few ways to add this to your Google reader. First, look for the universal RSS symbol, which is a orange square with white waves in it. At Leading With A Limp you can see that it appears in two different places on the page…on the right column and in the address bar. It appears in the address bar in Firefox, in Internet Explorer it’s going to be in the menu bar that stretches across the screen right above the main viewing area. When you click these they should give you an option to subscribe in Google or in a feed reader of your choice.
Another way of subscribing, which a lot of people find even easier, is to copy and paste the address of the blog right into the Google reader. It will magically find the feed and at it to your list! This is particularly effective when services like Feedburner mess up. It happens, technology isn’t perfect yet…but it’s getting there!
Step 4: Sort
Just like a newspaper has sections (sports, business, metro life) I like my feeds to be sorted into categories. I have labeled mine things like “Pure Geek”, “Marketing” and “Bel Air Blogs”. Using the settings found in Google Reader, I categorize and sometimes even rename the blogs that I subscribe to. Since I follow so many blogs, this makes it easier for me to read what I want and when I want it.
Step 5: Start Reading!
You will naturally find blogs over time that you want to subscribe to, so don’t worry about finding everything all at once. Very often bloggers keep blogrolls on the sides of their main page, so if you find a blogger you like, browse through their blogroll since they likely subscribe to similar people. Add away! Here are some tips for the morning reading time:
- In Google Reader your bests friends are the “J” and the “K” keys. Striking “J” moves you forward to the next unread entry, striking “K” sends you back one. Very useful.
- If you find something that you want to read more in depth or refer to at a later date, just “star” the item! You can find “Add Star” at the bottom of each post you are reading. Later you can go back to your starred items and go through it closely, or refer it to a friend.
- Speaking of referring to a friend…you should share the most interesting stories! Right next to the “Add Star” button is the “Share” button. This will put it onto your shared blog (everyone in Google has one, here is mine), or if you are a geek like me, you can add a widget to your blog that will show all of your shared stories. Another cool and recently-added feature is that your shared posts will go to friends of your that have gmail accounts and have agreed to see your shared items. I love this…people that are similar to me recommending blog articles to read!
That’s it! Well, that is to say, that is it for this post. You can explore Google Reader or another feed reader, they will have plenty of other options for customizing your reading experience. If you follow more than a handful of blogs, I strongly recommend using the RSS technology to keep track of them.
See you in the next post, where we will explore Facebook with a little bit of depth.
This is the first entry into a mini-series I am writing about the New Media. To some, the NM is a way of life, to others it’s a foreign concept and to still others it’s a threat to the old way of communicating ideas and actions. No matter where you fall in this, I think this series should be of some interest to you. Today I will cover blogging, how to set one up, and what to do once it is set up.
Blogging has been around for the better part of a decade, although it’s really come into maturity in the last few years. I actually missed my billion-dollar idea about eight years ago when I coded an entire blogging platform by hand, but then never pursued the commercial application. I thought, “sure, I like to post up my thoughts and have others comment on them, but would this idea really take root in the real world”? We all know the answer to that question now. So instead of owning my own country, here I sit in front of my computer in SoCal, telling others about blogging and it’s benefits. :) Me? Bitter? Nah…
The word ‘blog‘ is a shortened version of ‘web log’, in other words, an online journal. Most people have kept a journal or diary of some sort at some point in their life, so think of a blog that way. The difference? Anybody can read your journal, and not just read it…but leave comments about what they think! Yes, the New Media is about radical transparency and global information collaboration.
If you are comfortable with the idea of blogging and want to get your ideas out there for the world to see, I’m going to tell you how to get started now. BTW, as a side note, most blogging platforms can let you set your page to ‘private’ so that only people you allow or invite can read your blog. You’ll have to figure that part out on your own however, I’m going to tell you how to share your information with the world.
Step 1: Select a Platform
There are many, many blogging platforms (services) that you can use. I have been using TypePad for about 2.5 years and I love it. This is a pay service, and it allows me a tremendous amount of control over content and code. For about $15/month I can do what I want, when I want to my blog. This may be overkill for the beginning blogger, I’ll talk about free services in a moment. If you want to get started on TypePad, just click here and you will be taken to a page where you can start a free trial. It should take about 10 minutes to set up, and it’s very intuitive, you just follow the prompts and fill in the information that it asks for.
Another very popular platform is WordPress. This is a free or paid service, depending on which features you want. I don’t use WordPress, but I know a lot of people that do. A lot.
My favorite totally free service is Tumblr. It’s a very simple platform without a lot of bells and whistles. I like that! I like it so much, I started a mini-blog over there a while ago, intended to be my floating thoughts. I saw a Twitter stream the other day between Kem Meyer and others that involved Tumblr as a destination for some beginning bloggers. I totally agree. From sign-up to first post should take you about 2 minutes…if you’re slow.
Google has a great blogging service called…well, blogger. It’s free and very popular. This is also a great option for people to use, and signing up is simple. You never know who you’ll find there, people like my wife and my son.
Now is the most important part…select one of those platforms (and this is far from an exhaustive list, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with choices) and sign up! Then on to step 2…
Step 2: Know Your Audience
Are you writing your blog for Uncle Floyd and Aunt Mildred in Kansas so they can keep track of the kids, or are you wanting to share your business knowledge with a broader audience? If you want people to follow you…and keep following you…then you need to know the answer to this.
A personal blog, that is, one that is familial and very personal, can be done very well. Take a look at my friend Alli McKenney’s blog. She takes approximately 6,430 pictures of her kids every day and then puts the best of the best online for her friends and family to see. It’s very well done! That’s an example of a good personal blog. Cute kids, too!
Think you know a lot about your industry? Then write about it! Check out VC and marketing guru Guy Kawasaki’s blog. He gets a ton of traffic through here because he is an authority on many things, and people want to know what he has to say. Same thing with Seth Godin’s blog. He’s an author and speaker, and very well respected. He’s an authority, so he writes about what he knows. That isn’t to say that you have to be super popular to have a great blog. Perhaps you like to knit. Hey, who doesn’t? Make a blog about it and share your passion and knowledge with the world.
Step 3: Write, Baby, Write!
Want a lot of readers? Keep your posts short. I know, I am totally violating that right now. Call it creative license. But do write…and write often! I lost 500+ regular readers over the last 8 months because I haven’t been blogging with frequency or passion. If you stay regular, and if you stay passionate, you will have people find you and follow you, it’s just that simple. I think if you are putting up posts (the name for an entry on your blog) 2-3 times per week, you’ll be just fine. Of course some people have to post every 15 minutes, but that is more of a spiritual gift than anything.
Step 4: Interact
At the bottom of most posts is an area for people to comment on what you just wrote. There is a reason that is there…people want to interact with you! A blog is a platform for you to get your ideas out to others (like a lecture of sermon), but the big difference is that it’s also a place for people to respond. So suddenly your thoughts have moved from a lecture to a roundtable discussion! I’ve found that fewer than 10% of the number of people that come by and read actually comment, so if you only get one or two people leaving their thoughts, don’t be discouraged! Make sure you talk back to them! Leave a comment in your own comment section in reply to them! One blogger that does this just about better than anyone is Anne Jackson. Reading through her comments feels like eavesdropping on a fireside chat…it’s very conversational, and she often replies directly to those that say things about her posts. Very cool.
Of course some people don’t want to have comments on, and that’s fine. Seth Godin, who I mentioned earlier, doesn’t allow any comments on his post. This works well for Seth, but probably not so well for start-up bloggers.
Step 5: Share The Love!
Once you start blogging, others are going to follow you (which I will explain in detail in the next post). You will follow others as well. When you find some bloggers you like, share the love with your readers! Create a blogroll. That’s an area in the sidebar where you link to other blogs. Some people have blogrolls as extensive as a phone book, others (like myself) believe that too much information just makes people ignore it. On my blog I have a rotating blogroll, so every time you refresh the page it’s a different group of people. Three categories (soon to be four), five people in each category per page load. Simple is better. If you want to know how to create a rotating blogroll, check out my post here.
If you made it this far….God bless you for your persitence! In the next post we’ll look at how to follow other people’s blogs without clicking through to each page one at a time. It’s easier than it sounds, I personally follow 201 blogs and it takes very little time or effort to do so.