Category Archives: Social Networking

What I love about.me

If you’re digitally hip, you’ve likely heard of this site before – about.me.

But if you’re normal, you haven’t. Normal people don’t care about things like this. They just care about e-mail and Facebook at best. Twitter is one of those dumb things you hate because you can’t get into it. QR codes seem designed to make you feel inadequate because you can’t even install Angry Birds onto your phone without throwing it across the room, much less a QR scanner.

The truth is, though, that’s why about.me is such a perfect site for the technically challenged: It is an online business card that introduces you to anyone who lands on it. It’s less of a “social networking” site than it is a social networking Hamburger Helper – it accentuates what you’re doing, but doesn’t add anything to the content.

Okay, bad metaphor. Moving on…

I'm an SEO, a blogger and a zombie killer.

About.me works because it’s easy to get, easy to use, easy to understand. AOL recently bought them, I think because they see the potential behind the online business card and want to grab it up before it becomes expensive.

If you’re a tech geek, it’s great because you can show the various profiles you have on other sites like WordPress, Twitter, Flickr, Linkedin, whatever.

For the luddites in the audience, (see how the word “luddite” is underlined and/or colored differently depending on your browser preferences? That’s because it’s a link – if you’re a luddite, you can click on it to find out what you are!) about.me is easy to use and easy to understand. You simply plug in the URLs of the sites you’re on and like into the profile when you sign up. When you need to add a page link to yourself somewhere, if you don’t have a blog or site of your own, you can leave your about.me page in it’s place.

This is my own about.me page. This took about 10 minutes to sign up, and as you can see it has links to a LOT of different profiles on the web. While it gives me a lot of options for modifying the look, the majority of the screen is whatever picture I want to upload to it. I like that too – it means I get to dominate the look of my page. Where Facebook dictates the entire look of the page, and WordPress practically requires a Master’s degree in tedious coding to make it pretty, all about.me needs is a picture.

Finally, it’s a lot less obnoxious sharing an about.me page than it is a lead gen form or a blog on social media profiles. Sure, you don’t get all the traffic from your profile link to your blog – that’s a strike against it. But if you’re more into sharing your real life with people, you look less like a desperate marketer and more like an actual, real life person.

Check it out – it’s very cool stuff.

There is no Facebook Phone – but wouldn’t it be great if there was?

Reports of Facebook building a phone with their own proprietary OS (like Apple and Google before them) are untrue. It’s a rumor that’s been floating around a lot lately, particularly after another story was released this week that they were not only developing one, but that HTC was due to launch it.

Facebook phone

Well, so what? A lot of rumors get floated around all these Internets – we’re all used to it by now. But given Facebook’s new messaging platform, which includes SMS updates and a @facebook.com e-mail address, doesn’t a phone actually make a lot of sense for them?

The Apple phone made sense when it was launched, as it is an extension of the user’s Apple computer experience. Android was an extension of people’s Google experience.

But Facebook, which is frankly in the business of content developed by all of your friends, would make the most sense as a phone provider. A phone that’s an extension of the interaction with your own contacts? And is tied into this messaging nexus they’ve rolled out? Why not?

It would make particular sense for a company whose value is in the billions, but doesn’t have any discernible income. There have been rumors of charging people to use Facebook even longer than the phone rumor – but that would never happen, as they know people would leave the site in droves. The biggest revelation of the Internet revolution is that we want everything free, and there’s enough of us we can demand it.

A phone, on the other hand, requires payment just to get it working. The site itself could remain free, as a vestigial attachment that’s a little easier to use when you’re not on the go. All of the jazzy stuff, however, could happen on your phone – wherever you go. The “Facebook experience” would then be truly opened up to the rest of the world – and things like Facebook Places might actually make sense.

All of the Facebook apps available for all the existing phones are fine, but what if that app was the entire operation system for your phone? You’d not only have a contact list already in place, but multiple options for contacting them – phone, text, chat, e-mail, post, comment… even a “Like” if you’re particularly lazy, I guess.

Certainly Facebook has to do something if they want to keep themselves from withering away in the next 10 years. People didn’t think that could ever happen to Yahoo!, and it did. People didn’t think it could happen to Google either, but with the right eyes you can see they’re in the middle of it already.

Expanding their market to devices their users already use, with content their users already want, would be a no-brainer.

A new Twitter follower tool: Followers4.me

Wow – it’s been nearly a month since I posted something here. Between the holidays, work, and starting a business, I’ve been wrecked. God that makes me sound old!

But now that the holidays are over, and I’ve inserted my gratuitous SEO link to my other site, I think I’m ready to get back to business.

One thing I’ve been working on a bit lately is my Twitter follower count. Anyone who’s read more than a few of my posts will know I’ve always had a dim view of people obsessed with followers. It’s usually the sign of someone just trying to inflate their ego by rounding up a few thousand people so you can point to them and scream, “they LIKE me!” like some kind of digital Sally Fields.

But I recently did some work for the site, Followers4.me – a Twitter follower tool that helps you build your following in a fun way. That got me interested.

The premise is relatively simple: When you sign up with Followers4.me, you start with 100 “coins.” You use these coins as exchanges with other users on the site for their follow.

So let’s say you start out offering 5 of these coins to anyone who follows you. With your initial 100 coins, you can get 20 new followers, and in turn they can get more coins to do the same thing themselves. If you want more coins, you can go follow others, get other people to sign up, or just buy them with real money.

In short, they’ve taken the follow/follow back politics of Twitter and turned them into an exchange game. Maybe you go on and follow everyone, and collect a bunch of coins. Great, but then you have too many people you’re following without anyone following back. Okay, so you up your reward for followers. You get more, but that runs out your coin… you end up managing bids for new followers as much as you do followers, but since the coins aren’t real money, (unless you’ve paid for them,) and Twitter followers themselves aren’t worth anything, (unless you have a strategy to monetize them,) it really does feel like a game of Go Fish.

This is a new way of looking at social media that feels like it started with Foursquare: You’re doing something anyway, so there will be rewards for your work. For Foursquare it’s badges that do nothing. Here, it’s coins – but at least they have a value. Either way, making a game out of social activity breathes new life into all of this socializing we do.

8 Types of Twitter Bios that Piss Me Off

Your Twitter bio is the first thing people see when they’re notified by e-mail that they have a new follower. What you say about yourself in that first 160 characters makes or breaks people’s decission to follow you or not.

Twittiots

So I made a list of the things people put in their Twitter bios that are turn offs. If you’re guilty of any of these things, look at your bio again and try to think of a more creative, interesting write up. Because all of these are done by a LOT of people, and they don’t entice anyone.

1) Your family.
“I’m a loving Father,” “happily married, parent” “I have 3 wonderful kids”

It is neither mathematically nor philisophically possible for me to care any less that you spawned. Unless your Twitter account is going to be all about your kids, it has no place here.

And if your Twitter account IS all about your kids, I really have no place for you either.

2) Your resume.
“Social Media Manager & Marketing Virtual Assistant providing services for High Level Business Owners.” (yawn)

You may care, but no one else does that you’re an SEO, or a PHP designer, CEO of your company or a collecter of rare, classic German pornography. Well, scratch that last one – that is actually a little interesting.

3) Sales pitches.
“For over 14 years the experienced and friendly team at [company] has been offering impartial and well-informed advice to thousands of holidaymakers”

Telling people off the bat that they should buy what you sell lets them know that all of your tweets will be equally antagonistic and silly. Profiles with these bios are usually just publishing information from a feed, without any real “author” writing anything. Companies that want to use social but not actually talk to anyone are big on this too.

4) Trying to appeal to everyone
“I am interested in everything,” “always discovering, always creating something,” “Never shy away from an opportunity!”

Cut the chatter, Red 2. You’re wasting your bio trying to be all things to all people. If you’re boring here, your tweets are probably boring too.

5) Including a URL
“Co-founder of http://www.crap site.com – the company behind http://www.another crap site.com, author (http://www.yet another crap site.com), blogger & passionate about project management”

You get ONE URL on your page! It’s even clickable! If you put a bunch more in your bio, no one can click on them, and no one would bother if they could. We aren’t here to help you get more traffic.

6) Hubris
“Social Media Expert, Professional Blogger,” “social media enthusiast,” “I’m The King of straightforward information about franchising”

Who are you trying to impress?

This used to be a bigger problem, until there was a backlash of people saying, “people who say they’re social media experts only show they don’t know what they’re talking about.” Since then, these people have taken to calling themselves, “social media junkies” or “really interested in social media.” But it’s all the same thing: “This thing you’re doing on Twitter? Well, I’m doing it too! But I do it better! Please give me a job!”

7) Nothing at all.
“”

This is just lazy. Sit down for a few minutes and think something up! Even if it’s nothing more than a, “I’ll have something to say later.” As long as you actually DO put something more creative in there later.

8 ) Your book
“Family 1st! but after that, Businessman, @winelibrary, @Vaynermedia, Author of Crush IT and a dude that Loves the hustle, people and the @nyjets”

There’s actually a lot of things in this bio that piss me off. Other Twitter profiles you should go to, family, hubris, meaningless chatter about “hustle” – but also an ad for a book. There are about another 1,000 of these author-types every day. If you were a writer of any note, we’d already know about it. You wouldn’t have to inform us in your bio, Gary.

9) “I follow back”

(I know I said, “8 types of Twitter bios that piss me off,” but I remembered this and kind of got on a roll.)

This is self-explanatory. People tell you they’ll follow you back if you follow them. Again, it’s desperate, and only appeals to those who are on Twitter just to build up more followers. That fact alone tells you they don’t post anything more than posts to their articles, sales, and a truck load of positive, airy, meaningless quotes.

But so you don’t think I’m just grouchy, here’s…

10 of the best Twitter bios EVER

@antifuchs I hack on things for people.
@jephjacques Surprisingly conservative for someone who has sex with dolphins.
@wytukaze I RAGE UNCONTROLLABLY
@tinydoctor I’m a Pentecostal Atheist putting on a tent show revival, speaking in tongues and witnessing to the Word of not god but the Mammon of my counterfeits of meaning
@tommyismyname I blog. I beatbox. I get the asses in the seats.
@virgiltexas i prefer my earlier work
@ISaidDont Seriously, don’t. And don’t touch my stuff either.
@grempz always fall asleep with your makeup on face down in the pillow so when you wake up you have something beautiful to kiss
@GorillaSushi Internet jealousy is measured in precise units, called butthertz.
@Giania I am full of vitriol & nonsense and will probably give you shit if I think you’re trying to sell me something. :D

Extra special thanks to @Giania, as most of these come from her list Rad Dudes.

10 Ways to make Twitter Work for you

1. Listen more than you post – Too many people only post on Twitter without reading what their followers are doing. If you spend a few minutes a day reading what others are up to, and responding to what you think is even mildly interesting, you’ll both have a lot more posts and show that you’re someone who is worth keeping up with.

2. Don’t automate you posts – I go off on this a lot, but it really can’t be overstated. Relying on tools to send “thank you” messages to anyone who follows you, or having feeds create posts for you shows you really don’t want to engage anyone on Twitter. If you need to use these, Twitter probably isn’t for you anyway.

3. Connect every service you can to your account – This may sound like it flies in the face of the last bit of advice, but it doesn’t. Posting from an automated feed means you’re never responsible for what gets posted. But when you post from other services like YouTube, Foursquare, Yelp, blogs or news sites, you’re sharing something you yourself found interesting.

Keep in mind, with the new Twitter layout, people can view some of your content without leaving the site. So people will appreciate the YouTube videos or Flickr pictures you share with them.

4. Share things that are fun – If you only post links to your latest blog post and your company’s latest promotion, you’ll be boring and no one will want to engage with you. Don’t be afraid to have fun with Twitter. Post pictures of places you’d rather be, or links to funny stories you find, or just something you over heard. If it’s interesting to you, it will be interesting to someone else.

5. Don’t be afraid to retweet –  This also gives you something to post, and shows the person you’re retweeting that you’re listening. It has the added advantage of not requiring you to come up with something to say. If you’re not big on actually writing posts, that’s a pretty neat deal.

6. Make a list of your favorite followers – After a while you’ll probably follow a lot more people than you actually interact with. That’s okay, but you should keep a list of the people who you do interact with often, and who respond to you. They may need your help reposting something some day, and could help you out doing the same thing if you need to get the word out about something.

7. Don’t just follow anyone – On Twitter, you are who you follow. If you are following a lot of company profiles that never interact with anyone, that’s going to be how you experience the site. Don’t follow someone just because they follow you. If they don’t post anything of interest to you, forget about them. Maybe they’ll unfollow you later for not returning the favor – but if all they do is promote their own products, who cares?

8. Use hashtags – Sometimes a conversation topic will turn up on your profile page as trending:

Twitter page

If there’s something in there that you’re into, use the hashtag yourself and join in the conversation.

9. Spend 15 minutes a day with Twitter – You don’t have to do this all at once, either. Go to Twitter for 5 minutes in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. Then Devote yourself to reading other people’s posts, writing responses, retweeting, and adding anything you feel like to your feed.

10. Don’t worry about how many people follow you – Again, I’ve touched on this before. Don’t think about how many people are following you, but how many people engage with you. Social media is a bad place for broadcasting. It works best when you’re communicating with people one-on-one. That’s what Twitter is best for, and it’s really how you should be using it.

12seconds.tv Shutting Down

12seconds.tv

12seconds.tv, the micro vlogging site, is closing it’s doors this month. All of it’s users received an e-mail today (included beneath this post) from founder Sol Lipman saying goodbye.

I have mixed feelings about this, frankly. Last year I posted about the reasons I felt 12seconds never took off like so many people thought it would initially. After that I used the site more, and found I rather liked it – even though my initial criticism was, I feel, correct: People who post video want more than 12 seconds worth, YouTube has a larger potential viewership, and most people aren’t brave enough to constantly shoot video of themselves.

http://embed.12seconds.tv/players/remotePlayer.swf
12erator: The Song That Best Captures How I Feel Today on 12seconds.tv

Above: An example of 12seconds’ embedding code not working. Among all of the other points I made in my initial review of the site, this one is still the most annoying to me. Ah well – what do you want for nothing, right?

Still, the concept for 12seconds did grow on me. After a few months I managed to shoot some bits at least I was happy with. It seems the real magic of 12seconds was that, since you’re only on the spot for a short amount of time, you can only make yourself look so stupid – so go for it because how bad can you possibly make yourself look in 12 seconds?

The problem is, with 20% of social media users actually producing content, far fewer of them are willing to regularly broadcast video of themselves. Not when a Tweet or a Facebook update takes less effort and doesn’t make them self-conscious. It’s a subtle issue that they could never have gotten around, as it was baked into the concept of 12seconds itself.

Actually, given the recent news of Twitter’s updated page, and how they were going to partner with 12seconds.tv among other sites, I thought they were doing better. I had even planned on using them for a project coming up in a Twitter/12seconds hybrid campaign. I guess I’ll be going back to Vimeo after all.

What’s strange to me is that no other site stepped up to buy them. It seems like the kind of concept Facebook would be all over, getting more users to post free content and hopefully make a run for all that YouTube traffic. Perhaps Twitter would have found it more useful, as the only major site that doesn’t have it’s own in-house video solution? Perhaps the site didn’t seek out any offers, and simply wanted to lay it to rest rather than sell it?

Hopefully there will be more details in the coming weeks. Suffice it to say, though, you’ve just lost one more use for that dusty webcam on top of your monitor.

Dear 12ers,

Nearly 3 years ago, David Beach and I decided to grab a beer at a local pub and talk about startup ideas.  I told him a dumb idea and he told me about one called 10seconds.  I said, “we should do that one.”  He said, “okay.”  And that was it.  That is until we figured out that 10seconds.tv was already taken.  12seconds sounded pretty good to us too.

We set out on a journey that would take on a wild ride of ups and downs.  We experienced birth, death and (Beach) even battled cancer.

Today we are announcing the end of 12seconds.

Why?  As you probably know, everything has a life cycle.  12seconds is in its twilight.  After all the new product launches and attempts at a revenue model, fundraising with VCs and late night coding sessions with Jacob hunched over his monitors – it’s time to call it.  It is time to end 12seconds.

However, if 12seconds had a bucket list it would have filled it up with amazing life experiences!  We launched an innovative micro-vlogging system, built crazy mobile apps, created revenue with legit sponsors, we were nominated for awards and had the best users on the Internet – our beloved 12ers.

12seconds is not a failure – it is a life well-lived.  It really is about the journey.  I know this because I’m at the destination.

You’re thinking, “holy crap I made like 1000 12second videos, what do I do?”  Later this week, we’re going to release a download tool for you to capture those moments in time.  It will be available until we pull the plug – on October 22nd.

If you have any questions or want to say goodbye, feel free to reply to this e-mail or click here (goodbye@12seconds.tv) to wish us all well.

There were a lot of team members and users who made 12seconds an incredible experience.  I can’t possibly list them all here but you know who you are.  Finally, to my co-founders Beach and Jacob – I love you guys.

Sol Lipman
Founder

Twitter Redesign doesn’t show Posting Source

I really want to like Twitter’s redesign. It does a lot of things I like, and I know I have a bad habit of finding the bad side of most anything.

Unfortunately, the redesign does remove a post’s source, and this is a big, big problem for me.

I know it sounds minor, but it isn’t. I’ve posted at length on this blog about discarding potential followers because they use autoposting services for their tweets – particularly the Twitter API itself. On the old Twitter page they look like this:

I don’t have many, if any followers that use the Twitter API, because I unfollow them as fast as I find them. But here is someone who uses Twitterfeed, which helps users commit the same sin: Auto posting from a feed.

Auto posting is a way to continuously have content pouring into your Twitter profile, so that you never have to read anyone else’s posts. It’s an acceptable tool if it’s part of your overall posting strategy, but if you only want to import stories, you aren’t really on Twitter.

And I shouldn’t have to put up with you.

With the redesign, you can’t simply see how people are creating their posts. As such, if I suspect someone has created a dummy profile connected to a feed, I need to research them further. Is every post a story with a link? Do they ever respond to anyone? Does anyone retweet them? If the answer is yes, no and no, then they’re gone.

But I should be able to do that at a glance. If the post source didn’t keep people honest, it at least gave me a tool to get rid of spammers. If that’s gone, the people who do this will flourish – and Twitter will become more and more noise without conversations.

Twitter, please, put this feature back into the redesign. Believe me, those of us who are sensitive to this kind of misuse and do something about it are only helping you.

Windows Live Profile is the 2nd most popular social network? Seriously?

Today the news was delivered: Twitter had beaten Myspace for third place as the most visited social network. When I heard that I thought, “Well what the hell’s in second?”

Xbox Live

The answer is confounding to me: It’s Windows Live Profiles.

That’s right, Windows Live Profiles – of course! Haven’t we all spent just hours pouring over our… uh… Profiles and did… stuff?

Seriously, Windows Live Profiles? Do you even know what that is? I do – it’s the social “enhancements” attached to Hotmail. In other words, it’s part of an e-mail client, but not a social network. If that’s the criteria commScore used, I’d imagine Google Buzz does very well, since it runs by default on Gmail. Of course, no one uses Buzz either – cross posting from Twitter doesn’t count. Or does it? I don’t know! The standards here are beyond confusing!

After I read that, I could almost hear the gasp of online marketers across the land moaning, “But I don’t do anything with Windows Live Profiles! I don’t even know what the hell it is! Guess I’d better start setting up my company’s profile!”

Well you can relax. It isn’t a social profile the way you think it is. Windows Live Profile is used to access Xbox Live. There, players can game against each other, exchange messages, and in that way it’s a social platform. There are a lot of Xboxes in the world, which would explain why there are so many users.

But if that’s how they’re calling it a social network, I think it’s cheating. You need a Google account in order to use an Android phone. If Buzz is attached to your Google account by default, (which it is,) that would make it pretty damn popular. We know it isn’t, of course, because no one uses it. But there are a lot of Android phones on the market, enough to make even Buzz seem like it’s happening too.

But at least you won’t have to set up yet another company profile no one’s going to be interested in.

Twitter Auto-posting Services hurt your brand

After two years of Tweeting, I’m still seeing a lot of services designed to post to Twitter for you – Hootsuite, dlvr.it, Ping.FM, and worst of all, the Twitter API to serve an RSS feed. If you are using these services and you follow me, you are BEGGING ME not to follow you back.

I don’t have a problem with these services used as part of your overall approach to Twitter. I don’t ignore someone just because I see, “via dlvr.it” at the end of a post. But I do if every post is.

The reason is obvious: Let’s say you do this, and you follow me, and I follow you back. I will occasionally see these automated posts of yours, but you’re never going to read anything I share. This works for you, because you don’t care what I’m posting. You only want me reading what you’re sharing. You want a one-way delivery of information.

But why in the hell would I ever want that? I’m on Twitter to have chats with a lot of people. I’m there to be social.

You’re there to broadcast. And I have no use for you.

Social networking is a blessing and a curse to businesses – there’s a lot of people using it, but unfortunately, you’re also asked to actually talk to those cretins whose money you want. Can you see where most of us would find that vaguely insulting?

The only reason for me to follow you is because you’re following me – so I can brag about the number of people following my magical tweets. That probably does work for people who think a follow count is important. (Hint: It isn’t. Not even a little bit.)

If that’s how you get people to follow your business Twitter account, what do you think is the quality of those follows? They have no interest in what you’re RSS feed is tweeting for you, they’re just glad to have one more follower. They won’t click on your idiotic links, they won’t come to your site, they won’t buy anything.

By trying to get more customers through social media, you’re really just spinning your wheels.

If you are hiring an agency to do your social media for you, and they’re doing it this way, you’re being ripped off. They will claim they’ve increased brand visibility on Twitter by X% month by month. They will say that because, frankly, it’s the only deliverable they can quantify. The real result of a campaign run this way is that the mass of people tweeting know your brand doesn’t care enough about them to do social well. That, and you’ll have a Twitter account followed by all the other businesses and consultants who do nothing but self-promote. They won’t click on your links any sooner than you’ll click on theirs.

I do some version of this same post every six months or so. Mostly because I cannot believe no one has yet figured out that auto-posting 100% of the time doesn’t work. I’m not the only one decrying this, either – do your research. Read some case studies. If you really care about making your brand known on social, you cannot be lazy about it and expect it to work.

A Great Example of how Not to use Twitter: Celebrity business pitching

There comes a time when you’ve seen everything – and then, you see something else.

It started with a follow request from this person:

Crazy Twitter 01

As you can see, this is a new-ish account. Following a lot of people in hopes some will follow back. The people you usually get to follow you back are the people who also only care about follow counts, though, so even if you get 10,000 of these followers, none of them will ever be terribly interested in what you say.

But there’s nothing new about that. Anyway, I don’t follow people back unless they post something interesting.

The fun really begins with:

Crazy Twitter 04

Because why wouldn’t Justin Timberlake want to talk to a complete stranger from Twitter about his life insurance, which I’m sure he’s thinking about all the time, right?

But you have to give it up to @LifeHealthIns for persistence:

Crazy Twitter 03

The problem is when persistence becomes stalking. You try on the 8th, you try again on the 11th…

Crazy Twitter 02

But if you can’t catch on by the 14th that your plan doesn’t work and you won’t get  a response, don’t you think either JT or his social media guy (if he has one) checks his Twitter account a little more often than once a week?

I’m sorry, Life – he’s just not that into you.

Still, I have to get you props for not limiting yourself:

Crazy Twitter 05

If you’re dedicated to this course of action, you might want to use this list of celebrities who use Twitter. Seriously, there are hundreds of names on here of famous people who will be happy to ignore you.

Good luck!