Archive for category Social Media Tools

Is it ok for companies to pay to be featured users in Social Media sites?

TwitterI don’t know how I let this distract me from my work I am doing in my hotel room [oh wait, is that an Eagle flying over the BC Place Arena out my window? shoot, where was I? oh yes, Twitter] – So I stopped in on Twitter and happend to see this tweet from Robert Scoble and mistakenly clicked the link, only to get my panties all in a bunch at the level of pettiness and noise in the comments on his post about the importance or unimportance of having more followers on Twitter and on this one about whether or not TechCrunch paid to be featued on Twitter’s list of suggested user’s to follow. [if you can spare a few hours and resist the temptation to scratch your eyes out, there are some really good points in both of the threads if you can get past the baseless and off-topic ones]

As Robert admitted in the comments, he did a bad job of framing the question on TechCrunch and Twitter, partly driven by a desire to get you involved in answering it (ie getting more ppl like me excited and upset which is what people with journalism degrees sometimes do, obviously with some effectiveness).  As such, I want to try to reframe the issue with some clearer questions and thoughts. NOTE: I did not read all the comments because I don’t think I cold avoid the impulse to scratch my eyes out or go deaf because of all the noise in that thread (personal aside: wow, do we need Insytes more then ever today).

Before going further, I want to point out that we should not unfairly target our good friends Ev/Biz and their hard working team which needs a real business model to ensure their service is sustainable.  The reason for me dropping what I am working on for Social Media Club Portland tomorrow night and Social Media Club Seattle Tuesday night (both sold out unfortunately) is that this is really important question that should receive some critical examination.  The issue is important to consider for all organizations online, most especially social networks, blogs and web services – but also for media companies, associations and other non-profits who work with advertisers, sponsors, donors and/or patrons.

This is clearly a discussion on disclosure first and foremost, but as a result, I hope other important lessons can be learned too…

Q1: Is Twitter adopting a pay to play model for being featured anywhere on its site? Are other sites doing this without making it clear? If so who?

A1: I don’t know, do you?  Besides answering here in the comments, maybe we need a wiki page to list those who do things like this but dont disclose it properly?

Q2: Does this sort of advertising (and the sort that has GaryVee using adsense to promote his twitter account) have a positive or negative impact on other users? on the Web 2.0 / Social Media era? on the broader society?  Does it matter at all? Q2b: Does this conversion of dollars into the power to get attention take away from our open/transparent/meritocratic ideals? In which situations is this ok?

A2: I think it is ok accompanied by simple disclosures and transparency as that will reveal true intentions and we, as informed citizens, can make our own judgments on the value of that reccomendation. In the case of Garyvee, it just seems odd, but there is nothing wrong with that.  Strategically he is the BRAND of his company (do you know what his company is?) so advertising his Twitter account does help his company/.  Personally, I believe that strategically he would be better off putting WineLibrary.TV in the ads for increasing the overall awareness of his great wine buying advice site, despite the likely decreased click through rate from a non-personal, company branded ad. Of course, the mere fact of breaking ground in this way has led to plenty of other new followers for him as a result of people like me writing about it… but that’s Gary, always passionately leading the way for others to follow…

Disclosure: Just last week I contacted the folks behind TwitterCounter to see if we (aka me for @SocialMediaClub) could buy a ‘follow us’ ad on their top 100 page – as the noise gets louder, we need better ways for getting noticed. @SocialMediaClub was in the top 100 on TwitterCounter for several months until recently being kicked off the list by the volume of hollywood celebtrities joining conversation (which is a more interesting issue in itself to talk about a bit later).

Q3: Will the user community (especially new registrants) be better off if Twitter is open about how they are doing it?

A3: This is the only one I will answer in detail because I am sure that everyone will be better off.  This is similar to the need to put the word advertorial on top of paid placement in print. People know a banner ad when they see it, but a ‘friendly recommendation’ that is soley based on the ability of people to pay that doesn’t inform the consumer is harmful to the  spirit of transparency we are trying to manifest in the world. It may even potentially be an issue for the FTC, so let’s do our best to solve this before someone else does.

This hits on two of Social Media Club’s missions, both Media Literacy and Ethics.  It’s hard enough for most people to know when they are being advertised too already, so this, if true, is a real problem for me personally and professionally.

Q4: Should celebrities and companies be on separate lists – should we have user ‘types’ to differenentiate and allow people to see different accounts? Shouldn’t companies (including perhaps our non-profit Social Media Club) with over 10,000 followers pay a reasonable fee for the service? It certainly would still be cheaper then a newswire for a press release]

A4: Well, let’s be honest, this is my suggestion not a question, so my answer to these questions is yes.

What do you think?

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Chris, Chris, Chris & Kris – Taped from SxSW

I sat down with Chris Brogan and Kris Smith (with special driveby guest Chris Messina) for a great podcast on BTRex during our last full day of SxSW this year which you can listen to here. We had a rollicking good time talking about social media and so much more. Some portions of it are potentially NSFW, and some aspects are not fully PC, but if your sensibilities can get beyond those minor issues, this is one heckuva entertaining and informative podcast.

I still love the line I laid down during the opening section, “Serendipity is a weapon!” gotta love it.. and be careful of it.

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Utter your Support for your Presidential Candidate

Yesterday, Utterz (my client) announced its new election focused social media tool, a widget you can easily place on your blog, web site or social network, that tells the world who you are supporting in the US Presidential Election.  Unlike most of the badges that are available from the main campaign Web sites that are just GIF Banner Ads, the Utterz Voice Your Support widget contains an audio message that you personally record, telling everyone why you support your candidate.

Whether you are behind Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, Ron Paul or even Ralph Nader, you can get a Voice Your Support widget that activates your blog readers to understand why you are supporting your candidate of choice.  When they first announced the widget on the Utterz blog yesterday, it came out with only the top 4 candidates – but listening to the feedback from everyone, they quickly added an additional 4 widget options.  In addition to Ron Paul and Ralph Nader, they added an independent option and a ‘fix the electoral college’ option.  <plug & praise> This is what I really like about the team at Utterz – they are really responsive to the community and totally focused on their users. </plug & praise>

So enough of the pimping, I want to get more into the subject matter at hand – the elction… Perhaps you saw Larry Lessig’s excellent video on why he supports Obama – this is a powerful way to move beyond static banner ads, simple blog posts, and lawn signs, to lend your real voice and your real reasons to your candidate.  As all of us social media folks know, we trust each other, more than we trust media or institutions. This new widget allows anyone, from their computer or any telephone, to record a message and display it easily for everyone to hear.  Its so cool.

As you may have already seen, I placed a Voice Your Support widget on my blog the other day, putting my support behind Obama.  Why? Well, click the play button and listen for yourself…. ok, I am waiting.  So, as you heard, I am supporting him because I think it is time for a visionary leader – someone to see beyond this mess we are in and who isn’t held down by ‘the way its always been done’.  If we keep doing it the same way, with the same insiders, playing the same game – our game called Life may soon be over. Don’t agree?  I am up for talking about it civilly – here in the comments or over at Utterz.

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Please Join Me for an Utterz Meetup in Boston

Tomorrow afternoon I am flying out to a very chilly Boston, MA for a couple of days of meetings with the good folks from Utterz (our new client), so I thought it might be a good time to try to meet some other Utterz users too… Chris Brogan, Simeon Margolis and hopefully a few other friends from Boston’s great Social Media Club chapter will be there, talking about how we are using Utterz and what the outlook is for Social Media/Blogging in 2008.

It’s kind of last minute (very), so it will be a pretty low key affair for a couple of drinks and maybe an informal geek dinner afterwards somewhere nearby. We will be meeting at Vox Populi on Thursday January 3 from about 6-8pm. If you are able to join us, please rsvp on the Utterz Meetup page on Upcoming, or if you don’t have an Upcoming account, you can do so here in the comments…

It’s very important that you RSVP – if the group is large instead of small, we may need to go to another nearby venue so the RSVP will give us a way to contact you 🙂

Mobile post sent by chrisheuer using Utterz. Replies. mp3

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Will Tagging+Attention Make 2008 the year of Smart Agents?

I have been noodling on what 2008 might bring for the wonderful web world in which we live and I think I finally hit on it this morning after reading Marshall Kirkpatrick’s excellent post called Five Ways You Can Fall in Love With Tagging Again. His five (and a half) ways are:

1. Re-enforce your learning at the end of year
2. Build a collaborative tag stream for a community of practice
3. Create a shared items feed and put it on your web page
4. Tag into a mobile reader
5. Tag your microblog posts
5 1/2 The future

I am very glad he has brought this important topic back into the spotlight as we enter the new year. The lull in uptake of tagging, particularly in some new applications I have seen lately has actually troubled me. It is a feature that can provide so much added value for the people who use it (and those who will casually benefit from those who contribute to it) that I think it can be the difference between a success and a failure.

In reflecting on the adoption (or lack thereof) of tagging systems, I believe we won’t see a real rise in usage until we see the next generation of apps. Yes Twine is one potential member of this class of apps, but real knowledge management folks don’t trust systems to do classification for them (yet). I think Marshall’s point 5 1/2 is heading in the right direction which he describes as:

In a future that leverage our Attention Data, we’ll be able to tag things in order to influence our Attention Profiles. What does that mean? It means that once you’ve exposed your Ma.gnolia APML (Attention Profile Markup Language) to your Bloglines RSS reader – then you’ll be able to influence the feeds that Bloglines recommends to you by tagging certain things in Ma.gnolia.

The future Marshall references as point 5 1/2 is a very important one to consider – one that I think is indicative of a broader vision. It is, I believe deeply, the goal we should all be moving towards, especially in 2008. What we really need is smarter systems that do more for regular people automagically, tools that will recommend and deliver useful information, resources and services to us when we need it most without having to express more then our intentions, learning from everyone’s attention and explicit descriptions.

If 2007 was the year of the widget, I hope that 2008 is finally the year of smart agents…

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Mustard is Better Then Quechup

First my apologies to anyone who received an email from me inviting me in to join the new network from Quechup.  (which is a decent use of Drupal as far as I can tell)  It was not from me and I feel harmed that any service would do this sort of deceptive mass solicitation without permission, trading on my good name and damaging the trust I have with my friends and colleagues.  It seems a lot of other people fell into this trap too, so I can get past my embarrassment, but not the betrayal I feel.

It seems that the people behind the site is, where Mark Finch is the CEO.  If you received an email from them, or if you had many sent on your behalf, you may want to let Mark  know how you feel about it by emailing him at [email protected]
There is a great discussion about this all going on over at Chris Hambly’s blog.


My Top 5 Social Media Tools

Ok, Todd Defren, I’ll bite and spread the meme, and answer the important question, what are my top 5 social media tools.

  • Firefox – Most people forget the browser is still the core of the read/write web – I Mozilla for all my posting, tagging, editing and more – the latest crop of plugins and extensions make it invaluable – like being able to twitter from inside my URL bar! This is tied with WordPress for me.
  • Twitter – though it is often clogged up with personal messages between friends to which I can’t see the other side of the conversation, it is great for promoting blog posts, asking questions, getting support and quickly sharing insytes that come to me while walking around the real world – like last night when talking with Eric Doyle about measuring social media success – would have forgotten Engagement, Tonality and Actions if I did not capture it somewhere…
  • Google Alerts – so I don’t have to keep doing vanity searches all the time, it does it for me and lets me (or rather lets Kristie) know when someone has given me some link love
  • Delicious – God, how I want to quit you! With no real improvements in a very long time (that I know of), I have tried to quit it several times – even imported everything into Magnolia at one point – but the fact is that it is integrated perfectly into Firefox and easy to use. I just wish it had more auto-publishing controls as I mentioned to Joshua a couple times – make my link blogging look prettier – please?
  • Podcast Rig/Recorder & Digital Camera – I hate to call it out by name since I have had so many troubles with it, but being able to record interviews, conversations, meetings and more, to later share it with the world is still awesome. Of course, same goes for being able to have a little creativity and artistry in each day with my Canon XL – even with my problems with the autofocus, I just love it. More about being a real digital scribe I think, but these are my favorite social media tools…

Since we need to pay it forward, I will need to tag Dave Coustan, Will Pate, Greg Narain, Grace Davis and Sally Falkow.


Got Vox? The UI to Rule Them All

My Vox SiteA new friend of ours, Magic Safire, was asking us at Bloggercon which Blogging tool to use for a less technical user. Naturally I responded WordPress since I love it and think it hits the usability/configurability sweetspot for power users like me while still being simple enough for intelligent beginning Bloggers like Safire. If I had to answer that same question today, I would certainly pause a moment before saying the tool of choice is Vox. It is quite simply the best and most elegant UI I have seen when it comes to social media publishing tools. While I am sure I will find a few areas lacking as I kick the tires some more, I am just so blown away by how smooth an experience it is that I felt compelled to write a post on it using my Vox Site to suggest some ideas and try to publicly sell some product development ideas to them.

After Gnomedex I was speaking with Kathleen Craig about what my big takeaways were for the conference. I really saw two big things that were new and interesting to me – 1, that Gnomedex is the new TED for social media tool developers and interested others and 2, that the most important and successfull companies today were really offering a UI solution, not a complicated/protected technology solution. Vox will prove this to be true or not.

Though they are different products with different markets, in comparison to People Aggregator, which shares some backend philosophies, Mena, Ben, Anil et al are light years ahead. (BTW, Marc Canter – see a name like Vox falls within the name does not matter category – a name like People Aggregator just sux because it is too Orewellian – when you are ready for a new name and have some dollars to spend with a creative friend who does branding, call me). In regards to more direct competitors, Blogger may as well make plans to shutter its doors unless it decides to finally invest in some much needed upgrades in order to stay relevant in a world where people can Get the Vox so easily.  Now once they have it setup so we can show our music too and share affiliate revenues with them on all the books, videos and other things that get aggregated there, I might switch myself.  Make it easy and make it beautiful and they will come!
So have you Got Vox? Email or call me for an invite, I have a few left for friends…

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