Is Twitter herding sheep back home by creating ‘real time news-outlets’?

6 11 2009

I was half listening to the Gillmore Gang show with the Silicon Valley wiz this afternoon and heard many interesting things like the eID conference. I think David Gillmore generously said that “Facebook was opening up and Twitter was closing”… smiles on many faces, smile on my face.  If you look at Twitter traffic, it’s been plateaued for months and even when you take into account external apps (Tweetdeck, Seesmic, PeopleBrowsr… or phone apps Twittie, SimplyTweet), Twitter is pretty much not visible compared with Facebook’s atomic growth as Brian Solis points out with his recent social graph post.

What happened, where are we going? How about in opposite directions? That’s the Facebook and Twitter story. Opposites attract, don’t they? Facebook has built a generally closed environment. The average Facebook user only uses Facebook and became social online because of Facebook, and their friends and communities out there. Well, Twitter went pretty much in the other direction. Why compete head to head? Let’s just go ‘open’ all out. Anyone can pull or push info from Twitter.  Twitter got $100 million in funding back on September 24th. FriendFeed was swallowed by Facebook (I still prefer FriendFeed). Both are now accumulating enough reserves for the next step: growth and domination. Google and Bing are both watching closely behind every move. Bing powers Facebook’s search (owning 10% of FB) and both search engines announced agreements to deliver Twitter results.

We’re going to see a HUGE spike in Twitter traffic when data is released by Nielsen, Comscore or Compete next month. Twitter is now bringing the sheep back home and after building the most fantastic eco-system of apps ever (after iTunes maybe). They are moving towards bringing some key features in house. Last week, for example, the Twitter lists appeared.

This week, the ‘RT’/Re-Tweet feature (= “forward” in email language) is rolling out today. The millions of Twitterers are being asked to come back home to the sound of the ‘ego bell’. We had to rely on home-made lists to figure out who to follow. Now, lists will dictate influence. Groupings and communities of influencers are congregating to become the ‘new media’. Lists clearly have the potential to become what a TechCrunch or a Mashable has become — ‘real time news-outlets’. Lists can compete with traditional news sources and yes, it’s going to shake this cool world further. The savior for the most common of us is that it’s still organic and not corporatized, well, not just yet.

@YannR

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Gluecon tries to solve the Cambrian Explosion

15 05 2009

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked in several birthing and evolving tech industries. I was born in the storage industry which had no standards and moved quickly to storage virtualization and storage area networks; then I moved on to database applications which were a lot harder to integrate and ERP systems forced integration. At the base of all these experiences are consumers and customers needs, cost reductions for enterprises, and just plain efficiency. When innovation becomes unbearable for users, the next phase is consolidation. We’re getting there and very fast. RSS 2.0 standards were agreed upon back 2005 and we’ve seen a wild ride since then. Web 2.0 has mushroomed. I can pretty much sign up to 5-10 new web services every day if I wanted to.

This journey brings me to the Glue Conference which just finished yesterday in Denver, CO.  We’re there again. Mitch Kapor actually used the analogy of the “Cambrian Explosion” while talking about Social Media / Web 2.0. Like during the Cambrian, we’re at a stage where products and ideas are developed at a greater speed than before because it has become so cheap to develop web and social applications. It has gone wild, the big players are trying to control it (e.g. Facebook Connect…), while the savants are wrapping their heads around Open standards and data portability (e.g. OpenID and Information Cards)

So here is a quick synopsis of my take aways from the conference. I am no technical person but I love technology, so forgive me if you were there and see that much stuff has flown over my head.  I am a shrink not a geek.

1. The Consumer first: The biggest headache the web services industry is putting on the consumer is “signing in”. How many IDs and passwords can one self have and need to get around? If you keep them somewhere it can be unsafe. If you use the same password everywhere… it can be unsafe. If you rely on a third party, to manage your identity… you know what I am going to say. We’re slowly getting there. e.g. Facebook Connect and other services like this… Safe? Maybe, but it’s becoming like Credit Score ratings… I am not sure I like it and my identity becomes the property of a corporation, so to speak.

2. Glue the networks? I tend to use most networks in conjunction with each other. I also like the synchronization that FriendFeed offers me. I also think that most  people are using networks separately. Being friends with your boss on Facebook or your mother is still contentious. All of us have multiple identities due to our life styles and not all identities fit across networks. Should we use networks like islands or enhance them so that noise is reduced? My preference goes to the latter. Networks and web UI and websites need more standardized metadata features e.g. I want to be able to share a mountain biking article with everyone who cares about mountain biking across my networks… Don’t ask me to choose the networks, but the identities… and it should be automatic. I don’t want to spam my foodie friends for example.

3. ID and Identification: Much debate was happening around these two, and I think the consensus was around the freedom to have different IDs but the necessity for proper identification.  It was observed that individuals have different behaviors depending on networks and if identities become unique everywhere, it limits freedom. Someone should not be banned from all networks because his/her ID was banned from one network.

4. Trust VS Reputation: It always starts with identification (who’s logging in). We can then build the trust of individuals or entities across the social web. Once that layer is achieved, we get to reputation.  Reputation could be based on character (e.g. participation) or knowledge (social media, internet or mountain biking… you’re pretty safe with me). Above all, ‘reputation’ depends on ‘Context’. Applications and social web platforms need to move to a more ‘context’ based information sharing model. Context gives meaning to words and information. The semantic web will be contextual.

5. Moving into the cloud: Pretty much everything is moving to the cloud. Applications are increasingly moving to data centers outside of companies as it’s rarely a core competency of businesses. It was clear that the cloud is something that will be totally transparent to the consumer. No one cares if your emails are sitting in Denver or San Francisco.

6. The online social graph is pretty much based on 3 worlds of social graphs:

  1. The first graph is based on email / IM (instant messaging). Everyone really knows each other but it’s a closed environment.
  2. The second graph is based on eCommerce platforms. As a shopper, you’re influenced by other shoppers and more and more networks via those platforms.
  3. Finally the social networks graph, which is probably the most open of all. You may or may not directly know someone who is connected with you. Depending on your purpose, you’ll use them with people you know or at the other extreme, be an ‘open networker’ and accept every invite.

Glue-on then. It is clear that the suggestive web or web 3.0 will require clear identification of individuals and groups. We need to move to a place where platforms and systems bring you better information based on the graph. People’s identities and conversations create enough data to give context and meaning to conversations. We’re still in a communicative world. The sender and the receiver of information still need ‘coding’ to understand each other.  Given that social media is producing an explosive growth of information, better information will be subject to context.

All in all, it’s all about context. I know it’s thick but bringing the right information to the right people was not good enough in the media world, new media has multiplied that information quantity. Now is the time to bring quality to new media.

Cheers

Yann





Conversation Drawers VS Sink Hole, FriendFeed kicks ass

5 05 2009

I have found lately that my amount of conversation on Twitter has decreased. I wasn’t quite sure but maybe the hype is just becoming too much or maybe it’s just because every clone can now have a social media megaphone. And then along came an old acquaintance….

I originally used FriendFeed as my ‘pipe management’ system. 12 months ago back in 2008, social networks were harder to sink and FriendFeed was just an obvious method to sink my rich media activities. But I was also being told by many, to try again, try again… so I did and it failed again. But how many screens do you need? The real success of Twitter has been to let everyone else do the work via the API and let people build all kinds of cool apps for Twitter. The best of all these apps being TweetDeck. I could finally cut the noise, do my job, be in the know and feed my appetite for new stuff. But here comes a Keyword: Noise. Cutting noise. The new FriendFeed came out in March 2009. This time, I have been really giving it a try diligently since last week. Here are some key points that are jumping at me after using it as my primary social application for 7 days:

– Pipes management: More than ever I can manage my rich media and social media activity from a single console. From Flickr, Youtube, social bookmarks, Disqus, Twitter…. or any web 2.0 tools you’re using out there, they can all be plugged into FriendFeed to share your activities. Of course you can feed (send your activity stream) to other places like Twitter.

Bookmarklet (found here): This feature is what a mouse is to a computer. (Do you remember when computers didn’t have mouse? I don’t). The gist of it: I can literally grab any webpage, with any pictures or videos in it and share all that in rich media. Exempli gratia: sharing a page and photo from BBC below.

-Share your “Likes” with Twitter, FB… If you use Twitter: RT, or ReTweet is like a rating system. Someone may like your stuff and basically push one button in TweetDeck or place RT in front of your message and pass it on. When many people do it then it becomes overwhelming. FollowFriday was born of a great similar concept but then every Friday it’s like constant noise going through Twitter. It’s ok but the overall stream of information out there is cluttered. Noise kills information. It especially kills conversation! With friendfeed, the rating system is embedded, with the likes, so you can be aware of it or not (through your lists) or look at the “Best of the day”.

– Conversation drawers: When at a good party, you might be better to track the good groups and conversations.  I remember when at The Enthusiast Group (outdoors vertical social networks), Steve and Neal had to basically stay glued to the amount of info coming in and take the best stuff to put it on the front page. Anyone who would come to the home page would see the latest good stuff. We were marrying Social Networks and Editorial power. It was the only way to keep the good stuff above. Here, and again in comparison to Twitter, each time you participate (Comment, Like, Share or simply Post) FriendFeed keeps this in your “My Discussions” tab, it’s easy to come back and you can even set alerts via emails, IM… to keep abreast of the discussions. Here on the left, the thread and discussion between everyone is right below the original post.

Lists: aka the noise cutter. I’ve heard some say “I’m lazy, I don’t want to build those lists”. At the time I kind of agreed. But then I am the first one to admit that I wouldn’t have stuck to Twitter if TweetDeck hadn’t made it easy to create groups. I am also limited by the number of groups I can create in TweetDeck. In FriendFeed, I can very easily create Lists by topics or rank of importance.

Auto-refreshing: Every other network (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin….) needs you to refresh the page if you want to get what’s new or updates on conversations. Here FriendFeed refreshes for you ‘live’ and superfast. I actually run Tweetdeck and Friendfeed simultaneously to compare both. FriendFeed is plainly ‘LIVE’.  Conversations happen and you can track them overtime. In comparison, Twitter and to a lesser extent Facebook, are sink holes. It’s just hard to track things and they disappear if you’re not in front of your computer.

Any drawbacks? hmm… Oprah is not on there yet 🙂 Ok, you won’t find as many people but I find that quality is well managed here. I’ll certainly hang here for a while.

Now, where to start? Sign up here. Once you’re signed up, I would import your pipes:

Step 1:  Go to Services

Step 2: Then find your friends: import friends from Facebook, Twitter….

Step 3: Participate.  You can find me there: http://friendfeed.com/yannr



Cheers

Yann





Social Media Marketing: The Basics

11 09 2008

Social Media Marketing… it doesn’t bite …really… it’s as respectful as you are… now rock on!

But before you start out, here are some basic ideas:

Content is KING: the best content in your industry is worth gold.
Numbers count: everyone understands that the more connected you are, the more relevant you are.
Distribution: you OWN distribution of your content, there is no barrier between readers/prospects and your company – There is no editor in chief privileging your competitor story.
It’s about being Human: We are gregarious by DNA. We like social contact and we’d rather buy stuff cos our friends told so and it is fixin’ our basic and not so basic needs.
‘It’s business, (stupid)’: If you doubt it, just look at the valuation of those puppies…. The so called Social Graph will soon have more power than any other sales force.
Authenticity rules: Be true to your brand and your customer or you’ll go to hell.

The Basics

The Basics by http://www.Extanz.com

If you want to experiment yourself, you need a blog.  No blog – you don’t exist, seriously.

Now meet the mighty graph which explains the basics of what I call an RSS Architecture….. if you like it, say so, bookmark it (funky button at the bottom of that blog). If you don’t, tell me how you would modify it.  Now we’re being social!

So what are the basic steps?
– Connect your customer-friend-ecosystem to your company brand online.
– Feed them / publish excellent content that will make them happy to have read or seen you (youtube,flickr…).
– Allow for 2 way conversation with them and respond (to what matters, not everything).

Oh YEAH! This is applicable to the following:

– A brand
– A business — small or large (larger can’t move very fast so they struggle a bit with that)
– A [true] customer centric company
– A product launch
– A message as part of your overall marketing strategy
– An individual (brand)
– Selling a house
– A political campaign 🙂
– A non profit fundraising endeavor
– A product development team

….and too many others to list…..

It is NOT applicable to:
– Spammers
– Arrogant brands
– People afraid to lose control of the message (you’re lost anyway).

Now stop thinking that Social Networking is just for kiddos who are bored…. it’s you, me and everyone else thinking stuff, buying stuff, reading stuff.

TOGETHER WE RISE. 🙂

Yann

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