Tag Archives: Twitter

Google+: A Threat to Tumblr?

In response to John Battelle’s blogpost: Google+: If, And, Then….Implications for Twitter and Tumblr, I wrote the following: (Note such posts harken back to one of my blog posts about blogging itself: That is, if you find something you are interested in, and read blogs about the topic, often times your replies become long enough to qualify for blog posts. Also, by replying and leaving a link to your blog, it drives a little traffic as well.)

That was one of my first thoughts when I experienced Google+ that Tumblr was in trouble

Still they have a community. I’m on it. My impression of it is more of photo and gif sharing, but not personal photos as much as interesting photos, magazine like photos, that people are posting from somewhere else. To get attention on a Tumblr to post, the photos need to be striking, extremely funny, or otherwise “headline” grabbing.

Like Twitter, not a lot of personal feel to it, but fun, and I like Fred’s attitude that companies don’t kill other companies as much as companies kill themselves.

But my main takeaway from Google+ is not so much the service itself, although it is great, as like you say, it’s integrated with all of Google’s other services. Google may be Germany, but the seem to be the one company of all of these that has all the pieces. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And that will be a powerful value proposition.

It almost reduces Twitter and Facebook to applications on this vast Cloud OS, rather than platforms in and of themselves. And Apple, for all it’s wonder, doesn’t have a Cloud Syncing OS, much less a Social Network. I think Apple should buy Twitter and Facebook should merge with MSFT.

The deep integration of Google+ with Android will be compelling and I don’t see the “app” for the iPhone as being as robust an experience as it will be on Android. This could be a long term threat too Apple as well if they don’t get their Cloud Offerings together.

Google+: Everyone Seems to be Missing the Big Picture

Young people already having fun in "Hangout" the killer video app that will drive mass adoption to Google+

My introduction to Google+ was by way of watching  yesterday’s episode of TWiG, which featured Bradley Horowitz and Vic Gundotra, the two leaders of the Google+ project.

But what caught me,  got me really excited about Google+, happened in the minutes before the show actually started.  Leo jumped on a feature of Google+ called “Hangout,” an instant video conferencing application that is automatic, and which can include up to 10 people from your various “Social Circles.” What immediately jumped out at me was how FUN, spontaneous, and effortless it seemed (as well as being productive). You don’t have to place a call to someone or schedule a video chat. If you see someone “hanging” out you can just jump right in, sort of like the serendipity of jumping into a Twitter or Facebook conversation (known as dipping in and out of the “stream”).  But those are text,  and this is VIDEO, and that makes a big difference. Leo’s first friend who “popped” into his video hangout was Trey Ratcliffe, noted photographer, and for some reason, watching it, there was this surreal feeling that Trey (who happened to be in Chicago I believe) was actually inside the computer, like behind a cardboard cut-out, instead of being thousands of miles away. It made me think of all those hundreds of avatars I see each day on Twitter or Facebook, if they could suddenly come alive, instead of being frozen as they are in still photos. Suddenly the internet had “come to life,” as it were. A marvelous feeling. Among other things that are great about Google+, it seems more “alive” than the other social networks. More living, breathing. And “Hangout” is a big reason why.

Leo said it himself, almost spontaneously,  that Hangout was one of the coolest things he’d seen in a long time, and I agree.

The rest of Google+ is beautiful, engaging, and full of potential, but Hangouts is the killer app, I believe will drive mass adoption.

So the conversations around Google+ were inevitably “Will it kill Facebook? Will it Kill Twitter?”

That question remains to be seen, but I think folks nitpicking this feature compared to that feature, and on and on, are missing the BIG PICTURE.

The big picture is what Google is after, and I would argue has the most vision about, and the most resources to execute.

The Key here is that the Whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

If you take the individual pieces, you could say Twitter is better at what it does, Facebook is better, and Apple is better with it’s mobile OS. I think it’s fair to say that each of their individual pieces is better than the individual pieces of Google’s platform, albeit, just from one evening with Google+ it seems to be every bit as good as Facebook and perhaps better especially with the Hangout feature and the Social Circle feature, which makes it FUN to create lists. No one wants to create lists, but everyone likes to have them. And one more thing about creating “Circles” Did you notice how “Applely” it feels to drag so easily your contacts into the circles. It has the same feel as dragging things on OSX. A prime example of how an operating system can execute with the same feel as a desktop system. One little nudge in Chrome’s direction (Another piece of the puzzle)

But the key here is that Google has all the pieces. Think about it. Neither Twitter or Facebook has a mobile OS. Google does. Apple has an OS but doesn’t have a Social Network, nor the back end Cloud Syncing Data capabilities that Google has. This is why Apple and Twitter are having a “shotgun” wedding in iOS5 and why Microsoft is engaged with Facebook. But these types of “bolted” together arrangements rarely work. Two different companies, two different cultures. But still you get the point: These other companies don’t have all the pieces to bring together the new paradigm of the Web and Mobile being the new productivity platform. Google does have all the pieces. Their “jigsaw” puzzle type logo is now making more sense.

This isn’t just about a Social Network. This is about a platform of services that are tightly integrated.

What became clear to me last night is that this isn’t just about Google+ (as great a product as that is and will be), it’s about the fact that, with this launch Google has, in effect,  reduced or ‘highlighted’ Twitter and Facebook-type functions as mere applications, powerful and important as they are, within a much greater whole, but not platforms. In a sense, they are apps without a platform and Apple is a platform without an App. I know that sounds silly with what all the hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, but what I mean is a data app, a cloud app, an app to Data Productivity Services that syncs all of your data immediately in the Cloud, as well as to a Social Network, which I am arguing is simply an “App” of this new Cloud Computing World. Apple Apps are wonderful, beautiful, but they are in a sense isolated islands.

Why is the Cloud so important and why is it considered the leading paradigm? The “Cloud,” as it were, marries the two most important aspects of the data revolution: Automation (Micro Electronic Revolution) + Distribution (The Telecommunications Revolution).  Light and Electrons. Electrons for storing and automating data, photons for delivering, communicating, distributing data. The Cloud is needed to leverage the exponential productivity gains that comes from combining these two separate technologies. Each separately have given us productivity gains as great or greater than even the Industrial Revolution. But together the productivity gains are even exponentially more so. One which both businesses, individuals, governments, and society alike find opportunity and achieve higher standards of living.

Apple is trying with iCloud, but does anyone actually think they have the ability to compete and execute on that front (or maybe I should say ‘back-end’) with all the Data Centers and Engineering expertise in the Cloud that Google does? I don’t. At all.

Last night Scoble scoffed, “Hangouts is kinda cool.” Kinda Cool? What? That’s it? No other company on the face of this Earth could emulate what it takes to make that product happen at scale. Facebook can’t simply copy that feature. They don’t have near the resources or engineering to do it. Not to mention Twitter. Apple has the cash, but I’d argue, it’s not in their DNA. Apple likes to sell things, not connect things. Cloud Computing is not their forte, their passion. They’ll endure it, but I don’t see the product or experience as being particularly promising.

But let’s not get bogged down by individual features. Let’s look at the big picture. Google is the only company that has all the pieces of the puzzle, and as they bring these pieces together, it will invoke a value proposition that users would be depriving themselves of if they didn’t join.

Think for a moment about what I said about Facebook not having a mobile OS. It’s simply an app on the OS that you have to open each time and load your photos manually.

With Android tied to Google+ all of these signals, including photo uploads happen automatically. And that’s just the Social Network aspect, the social signal: Automation.

Google has a plethora of other invaluable services, Maps, Gmail, Location, Search, Music, Video, Cloud back up, automatic effortless syncing, and on and on. And they’ll continue to add productivity and all the categories of apps that people find useful. And with an OS that is tightly integrated with those services, I don’t care how beautiful your hardware is, how beautiful the interface is (I love my iPhone by the way), I’d bet my bottom dollar even diehard iPhone users will think long and hard about what their next phone is going to be, and in a year or two their tablet as well. Google is building and connecting a platform that essentially is the most valuable “content” for mobile computing and experiences. Even when they get around to an iPhone app, the experience won’t be nearly as robust as if one were using it on an Android device.

From this vantage point, Twitter and Facebook are looking a lot like Lotus and Wordperfect did in the 80s. Even though Microsoft Office wasn’t as good when it first rolled out, it iterated and became “good enough” then as good and then better. And the momentum was the integration and trust that came from the suite being tied to the OS.

The same will happen for Chrome, Android, Google Services, and Google Productivity suites all driven by the powerful backend, unmatched backend of Data Centers, the Cloud, and their unmatched expertise in those areas.

Before, Google was the backend that needed Apple for distribution. Now with Bradley Horowitz designing a beautiful front end for Google’s interface they have their own distribution channel, and a way to bring all of their enormous resources to bare in the marketplace.

Is Twitter dead? Is Facebook dead? Or Apple? No, not by a longshot. All of these companies are run by innovative geniuses who are not going to spit out the bit like Myspace. This will be a horserace, and a damn good one, but if I were placing my bets today, I’d say Google will win by a nose at the wire. They’ve always had the best horse. And now they have a winning jockey.

But in the end, the essence of the web is not a zero sum game. One can imagine all of these companies growing, being prosperous, and what’s more important, imparting enormous benefit and productivity gaines to civilization, all without having to annihilate each other. I’d say Myspace went down for lack of vision, lack of focus. In other words, not because of Facebook, but because of themselves.

John Wooden used to say that he rarely scouted the competition, that instead he focused on he and his team competing with themselves to get better. Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google all have this same drive and spirit. And what would be better than one defeating the other, is if they all constantly innovate, are “into” it, and in effect, all win.

Update: 7/2/11: I’m kind of angry. Today Tom Anderson wrote the following on G+, which is my same idea, yet it got an enormous headline on Techmeme via being copied in a post on Mashable. Kind of makes me mad, because I wrote this post on Thursday and sent it to Techmeme. On the one hand they must have put a small link to my post because I did get some traffic from techmeme, but nothing like a big headline they are giving Tom. Well, I guess that’s life. Tom is Somebody. But still, the idea is exactly the same as mine and yet they gave barely notice, but now that Tom said it, it’s the talk of the town, so to speak.

“Google+ seems like a “reaction” to Twitter/Facebook. But are you starting to see the ways that Google+ just makes Google a better, more integrated set of services? Google already has top-notch products in key categories–photos, videos, office productivity, blogs, Android, maps and (duh) search. Can you start to see/imagine what Google+ does for Gmail? Picassa? Youtube? Not to mention search? The +1 system that Google now has control of (unlike Facebook Likes) can really influence and change the nature of their search.

My original vision for MS was that everything got better when it was social–so I tried to build all the super popular things used on the web (blogs, music, classifieds, events, photos) on top of MySpace’s social layer. When Yahoo launched 360, MSN launched Spaces, and Google launched Okrut, I was shakin in my boots. But quickly I saw that it’s really hard to layer in social to features after the fact. At MySpace we had the luxury of having social first, and building the products on top of that layer. Then I choked and Facebook realized that vision. 😉

But Google+ really seems to be primed to make good on that original premise–that everything gets better when its social. And unlike FB, Twitter, or anyone else, Google already has the most advanced set of products. And if I can clearly see where this is headed, then I think what we are getting is a much better Google. Does that kill FB/Twitter? Who cares? I’d use all 3, but more importantly, I’ll be using Google products I never used, or use them in new, better ways I never used them before.

Oh yah and I love my Google TV :)”

Tom Anderson, Founder of Myspace in a post on G+ on 7/2/11

More interesting reading:

Gina Trapani – Smarterware.org – What Google+ Learned from Buzz and Wave

Google+ Everything You Need to Know – TechRadar.com

Finally Getting Google – BigEvidence – Thom Kennon

Ad Free Google Plus 50 – Chris Brogan

The Top Google+ Tips and Tricks – Ranker.com

Is Google Hangouts It’s Killer App? – Nytimes.com

Google+ Improves on Facebook – David Pogue Review for the NYtimes.com

Google+: The Complete Guide – Ben Parr for Mashable.com

10 Things CMO’s Need to Know About Google+ : Chris Brogan writing for Forbes.com

Google+ is the Social Backbone – Ed Dumbill – O’reilly Radar

The Best Way to Use Twitter

Update 9/27/11

Here it is in a nutshell. You don’t need to read the rest of this post: Don’t worry about getting followers. Just fill your inbound (who you follow) with cool people your interested in who, and this is key, whose information will somehow make your life better. Help you learn cool new stuff.  That’s how you get value. And the same would go for Google+.

date 6/23/11 –

Just saw this tweet from @steverubel (Good guy to follow) “How To Answer The Question “How Often Should I Tweet?”http://j.mp/kyTYGR ” – Thought it’d be a good and perhaps valuable read for this subject.

Update 2/06/11

If you’re a member of Twitter, then I’m sure you got this email recently from the Twitter team on how to get the best experience from Twitter. I’ve copied and pasted it hear and put my comments in parenthesis:

Happy New Year,

Our resolution is to help you get the most of out of Twitter this year. To start, we thought we’d send this note with four simple suggestions. Come on by our web site to try these out anytime! http://twitter.com

1) Follow your interests. We’ve found that the people who enjoy Twitter most tend to follow a variety of accounts: friends, family, people in their profession, local shops and events, and most importantly, people who share their passions.
(This hasn’t been easy in the past. For the first few years twitter was all “techies”, but now that it is becoming more mainstream, it’s becoming more possible.)

2) Get specific. Like sports? Follow your favorite leagues, teams, players, coaches, commentators, writers and fellow fans. Love food? Follow chefs, restaurants, critics, bloggers, specialty shops and respected foodies.
(Obviously, no-brainer. 🙂

3) Don’t panic. People turn to Twitter during emergencies. Snowstorms, power outages and fires are just a few emergencies where Twitter may be helpful. Search for #hashtags and follow local civic accounts to stay informed.

(This may be one of Twitter’s most understated assets. Search in general on Twitter is not that good. But when you are searching for something that is happening right now, it’s fantastic. For instance, my team was playing the other night. Their schedule said it was broadcast on “CSS” which is Comcast something. I don’t have Comcast. I have Dish, but I thought maybe somebody was “Ustreaming” or something. So I did a real time Twitter search (Search is the box at the very top center of the page). Couldn’t find anyone Ustreaming it, but what I did find was even better. Someone tweeted loud and clear, “Arkansas vs Georgia on @ESPN3 tonight” ESPN 3 is the online streaming arm of ESPN. )

4) Return to Twitter. There are about 200 million accounts on Twitter now – that means new interests, new voices, and new ideas every day. We offer services in seven languages, apps for most devices, and SMS worldwide.
(Wow, 200 million is a serious number. But I believe it. Every where I go, everything I hear, Twitter and Facebook are mentioned in the same breath, same tandem. So it makes sense that Twitter would start to be getting “Facebook Numbers” so to speak)

Thanks for being part of Twitter,

@Biz, @Ev, & @Jack
Co-founders, Twitter

Part I: What’s in it for You?

Firstly, I wish the follower counts weren’t listed on Twitter. It becomes an obsession, and it works against the first tenant of how Twitter is best used for the “average” user.

If you are an average human being, who isn’t interested in being “recognized” or being a digital “star” the best way to look at Twitter is simply what value you can attain from it. You shouldn’t care a hoot who or how many people follow you. You should only be concerned about following people who interest you, who can give you value for your life, entertain you, whatever turns you on. You’re first objective is that Twitter should be a pleasure, not a strain. You should look at it as a media source, the same way you look at which book or magazine to buy that will give you those same things.

  • So, firstly, you should find 150 or so great people to follow or whatever your “Dunbar” number is, and leave it at that. Don’t follow people just so they will follow you back or just because they are following you.
  • You would rather follow 1,000 of the most awesome people in the world and have 0 followers, than have 10,000 followers and be following 5,000 people who tweet things that aren’t adding value to your life.

That really could be the end of it for most of us. Think of Twitter like a book. If you’re reading an awesome book that enriches your life, do you care if that book “Like you back” so to speak, or “follows you back.” Heck no. Even if you were Ashton Kutchner or John Mayer, you would be better off with ZERO followers but following only people who were enriching your life. This really is the top priority of Twitter. What can I get out it that adds to my life. Not, oh, if I can only get Roger Ebert’s or Steve Martin’s attention!

Part II: Your Still Not Satisfied

OK, so you still want to be a “Digital Star” part of the “digerati.” If you do want to attract honest to goodness followers, and by that I mean folks who aren’t following you just so that you follow them back you need to

  • Create original content in a subject that you are passionate about, preferably in video format.

It’s easy to tweet interesting content that someone else created, say the New York Times, the Tech Blogs, etc. But everyone is doing that. It’s ok at times, and especially if its something you find truly interesting and that you have actually read yourself and thought about, but people are more interested in the source. They may follow you, but they are listening to and influenced by the source. Because the source is the guy who is passionate about his subject, he’s going to deliver the most interesting, not only content about it, but perspective and opinions about it.

So find your passion, no matter what it is, and create original content around it. It may not be tech or some of the other popular Twitter topics, but even if no one else on Earth was interested in what you were covering (and that’s highly unlikely) at least you’ll be living on the edge of excitement all the time.

And one of the points of Twitter is that you would rather have 1,000 followers who are truly interested in your tweets than 10,000 who are only following you so that you follow them back. That is akin to having a conversation with someone who is only there so that you’ll listen to them.

What are your thoughts about the best way to use Twitter? Love to hear your insights.

The iPhone Could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (9).

Update 10/07/10 – It definitely could be just a bad USB port causing it. That same port that was causing this error for me is also crapping out every few seconds when I plug in a mouse. So that’s definitely what it was for me. I don’t know why or how USB ports can go “bad” or what to do about them, but I see that it can happen.

Update 9/20/10: Well I just successfully updated to 4.1 without a hitch (But not without some fraying nerves, mind you!) so in this case it looks to be like solution 1 below, simply changing the USB port that the phones chord is connected to is the ticket. I learned this from Joseph Thornton @jtjdt on Twitter, so if you run into further problems you might try to contact him. Which begs the question: Why isn’t such a simple solution not mentioned on Apple’s website? And what’s the difference between one USB port and another that would cause this problem to begin with?

If this situation happens to you try:

  1. Simply hook your USB chord to another USB port. Simple as it sounds this solution worked for me for the 4.02 update, and I assume it would have worked for the 4.01 update a month ago, but I didn’t know about it.
  2. If that doesn’t work, try the solution mentioned in this MacRumor’s forum post. This is what I did when I initially had problems with my 4.01 update, and it did work.
  3. Before you Update your iPhone always make sure that copies of your photos, notes, videos etc. have been transferred over to your desktop. Because by the time you get this error message, although you will be able to fix it with one of the solutions above, all data is wiped out on your phone. You’ll have to restore from the most recent sync.

Days, after I got my iPhone 4 in July, Apple came out with an update 4.01. So, while the phones is tethered to iTunes on the Mac, I click the button to update. It goes through the process, everything’s looking fine. The little meters that show progress are humming along. The Apple Logo comes on the phones screen, then the white update meter on the phone is updating. Then when everything’s almost finished, it stops and in iTunes a pop up message says, “The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occurred (9).

So then your phone gives you an image like so:

Then it says that because of this error I needed to restore the phone from its last good backup. But trouble was, when I attempted this, the identical thing happened. It gets almost to the end and says the same thing, “Unknown Error (9).”

So there I was, first day I’ve got my iPhone and the thing is bricked with seemingly no way out.

Well, I googled and found a solution in a forum that worked for me. Ah, it was a MacRumors forum. Here’s the link to the solution that worked for me in unbricking and successfully installing 4.01 onto my new iPhone 4: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=969080

Now the only bummer is that I lost all the photos and videos I’d taken on the new phone because I hadn’t transfered them over to the desktop. It was only a few, because I literally had only had the phone a day, but still, just enough to get under your skin. So definitely lesson 1 is to never update your iPhone before you’ve transferred all your media to your desktop.

I think this also highlights a weakness Apple has around data. They’re just not good with data. They don’t treat your data with the kind of respect it needs to be treated. This is an advantage that Google/Android has.

So fast forward to last week. New 4.02 update after the Apple announcement. Every time I plugged my phone into my computer I became wary. There was a pain in my stomach. Didn’t want to do the update. Felt like something bad would happen.

Anyway, I felt like since I had downloaded the RecBoot to solve my first upgrade problem that that same program would keep me immune from another one. Still, I made sure that I copied all my phone’s photos and videos over to the desktop before I did.

Sure enough the same problem and error message happened again. And sure enough I wasn’t even able to restore it. AGAIN!. GRRRRRRR!

So I Google,  but I couldn’t find that same solution that I had found a month before.

I had tweeted the solution, feeling like I was being a good ‘netizen’ to all the other souls with the same problem who may be searching for it in ‘real time’ on twitter.

But here’s a good lesson when it comes to social media. I’d been better off blogging that information. Because with Twitter, I couldn’t find the tweet through a search. If I’d blogged it, inane as the post may have been for those who read blogs expecting original content, it would have been in my own repository of information that I could have easily retrieved (with the search function in WordPress and I assume that’s also in all the other blog platforms.)

Twitter doesn’t treat your data with much care either. Although they are coming on strong with new features, and I’ve heard that searching your data base of tweets is one of those features coming. Still, you can never completely trust a third party with your data. You need your own copy of your data at your fingertips at all times. And the blog is the best solution for that. Also the blog has two more salutary effects: Writing about something helps you learn more about the topic, expand on it, and so become more educated in general. Writing, in fact, ironically, is more important to learning than it is for teaching, for broadcasting a message of sorts.

Then of course, when you blog about a solution. Its searchable in Google to others looking for said solution and you also can create more links, images, meta information around it and also have a place where folks can comment and contribute to the conversation.

So I’d say, score one for the blog. Of course you can tweet it too, but make sure blogging it is your first priority.

After the post is done, then you can tweet the post itself. Remember Twitter, Social Media in general, are yesterdays newspapers, and your tweets are like ads in those papers.

Oh, anyway, back to my 4.02 adventure. How did I resolve it. I had seen in my initial searches that some had solved this problem simply by changing USB ports. At first I thought that sounded too simple, but then after I had tweeted about my problem using the hash tag #iphone an Apple employee reached out to me and advised that solution.

Turns out it worked. So I’d definitely try that first before downloading some software like BootRec. And I was pleasantly surprised that 4 or 5 knowledgeable people reached out to me on Twitter. I had almost gone into a phase, like Leo Laporte that Twitter had become a vast echo chamber and no one was listening, certainly not personally engaging.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised that not only an Apple employee reached out to me, concerned about my problem, but that an Apple employee was even on Twitter itself, seeing how the company seems to feel about Social Media in general.

Well my phone did get updated to 4.02, and I didn’t lose data because I took precautions, but the state of the phone was not the same. All kinds of apps weren’t on it that had previously been on it, etc. So it was still unnerving. Of course, I simply had to drag those apps over from iTunes onto the phone again. But still my folders structures that I had spent time setting up were gone. Stuff like that. Just a pain. And unnerving that your data can so easily, and quite often does, disappear, as well as “meta” data such as your folders, etc.

What is Social Media?


Well it can be a lot of different things. Which is one reason it is so exciting and presumably so valuable.

From the point of view of a business or an individual who has their own personal website or blog, one thing that Social Media is, is advertising.

In the 90’s I owned and ran a retail furnishings store. We advertised mostly in the local newspaper and to some extent on local television and radio.

In the webspace, to a private website owner, the simplest way I can describe Social Media is that it is like new media’s version of the local paper. And your blog or website is like your ‘store’ if you will.

Simply put, social media is exposure, a way to extend your web presence to a larger audience with the scaling help of automation (electrons) and the virtues of the communications’ revolution itself (photons).

Translation: A little bit of intent and pushing a few buttons equals a ton of leverage and distribution.

You pay for this exposure, not with money, but with content. You and the rest of the network of members are providing the social media site its content, and in return it is providing you with exposure and extending your reach, along with a platform for making new connections.

On Google’s algorithmic, non-human network your website or business is passive, and the prospective customer, if you will, is active. Actively searching for something that you or some other site or business may have.

On the human, social network, you the business, website, or promoter, if you will, is the one being active. And the prospective consumer is in a passive mode, using the network as a river to dip in and out of, as entertainment, news, communication, emotional outlet, or just plain fun.

I think there is not only room, but a need for both types of networks, and that the rise of Facebook and Twitter doesn’t mean at all the demise of Google. There are times when we want our network to be flowing, serendipitous, and fun, and there are other times when we are in a more deliberative, utilitarian mode. We need (or want) answers, and we need them now.

Except with Social Media you are not selling your wares directly. You are indirectly selling your self as a real person, a genuine person with real interests. It’s a way to scale your ‘legitimacy.’ Trust is one of the biggest factors in making a sale. And social media is a way to scale the communication of your trust.

From a business standpoint or even just a human friendship standpoint, one’s activity in Social Media is comparable to the “Opening of the Sale” where the goal is to talk about anything except business. In sales this is what is known as the “Schmoozing” process. But before you start thinking how creepy it is to think in these terms, “Schmoozing” only really works if you are truly interested from a sincere standpoint in the subject you are “schmoozing” about. Any insincerity in this process, either in real life or in the venue of Social Media, and one would have been better not signing up for Twitter or any other such service.

So one way to look at Social Media, is as an advertising medium, a free way to extend your reach and your message. But in social media the message is your personality, your real point of view, and what you are selling is your integrity, your trust.

Let’s take one example that I remember coming up recently. Lisa Bettany (@MostlyLisa) is a professional photographer. She posts much of her work on Flickr, the most popular Photography Social Media site. She doesn’t post her work there with each caption screaming “Buy This Now Because I’m Great and I Need Money!” along with a Paypal link. She posts there because she loves photography and loves sharing her work and the tips behind her work with others. Such actions build trust and integrity. She feeds the site with its content. The popularity of the site feeds her with exposure.

She recently told the story of how this photo, which she posted on flickr over a year ago for no money, was recently purchased unexpectedly by Penguin, the book publisher, for use as the artwork for a book cover. Penguin only found the photo because it was on Flickr. They knew flickr to be the most popular photography sharing site. So they went there to search for the right potential content for their project. If the photo was only posted on her private website, it would not have been found. No transaction would have been made. So, the Social Network, in the virtual world, is like the Commons or Marketplace of a University or City in the ‘real’ World. It extended her personal work’s reach into the public sphere for consumption, enjoyment, and productivity.

That’s one example of the Social Network’s virtuous cycle. The users provide the content for free. And the network provides the user with free exposure.

This is just one thing that a Social Network is from the decided point of view of the business/website/blog owner, or anyone using the internet itself to scale a message.

Ads that you pay real money for are the ones for direct selling, talking about your product, its Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

Social Media is like hob nobbing at the Country Club or local Charity Fundraiser but without having to get into your monkey suit and drive down to the venue. Still, you need to be truthfully interested in that person you are chatting with, and really care about that charity you are raising ‘funds’ for, and not be in it just for you or the ‘sale.’

I think most would agree that’s a more fun way to live anyway.

Fail Whale: The Shadow Side of the Social Media Experience

Update Thursday Aug. 26th 2010As you can see I wrote this Sunday the 22nd the day after Leo’s blog post. I was a bit too negative and ranting. So I sat on it a few days. Read the always non- controversial Louis Gray’s piece that was also in response to Leo’s original piece Soaked it in. All in all, I’d rather have had Twitter and Facebook over the last few years than not. They are exciting in many ways. Facebook’s like rediscovering old friends. Twitter is new friends. There have been a lot of positive experiences. Still I’ll publish the original rant I felt and wrote Sunday pretty much unchanged, because going forward these negative issues are important and need to be addressed and kept in mind.

Original Post from Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Leo Laporte’s post yesterday “Buzz Kill” about how Google Buzz had failed him recently, and more importantly how Social Media had failed him in general, really got me thinking.

A) I totally agree with him. He nailed it. You should read the piece. We put all this energy into “Social Media” and what do we have to show for it? That information and energy goes into a vacuum, a black hole, if you will, and never comes back out again.

It’s our energy that’s creating the value in these networks, the content, and not only are we not compensated for our energy, we’re practically slapped in the face for it. “Who the heck are you, you pion with your 50 followers? You worthless piece of nothing loser! Why can’t you be more like Aplusk or John Mayer with their millions of followers or at least a porn star with their thousands? Yeah, you heard me, you’re not even worth what a porn star is worth in our eyes!”

Dial it down, Stephen. Dial it down! OK, I’ll meditate on it a few days before posting this, but isn’t that what Twitter, if not literally,  seems figuratively to be screaming at us all day long?

If they hadn’t had the followers number highlighted would the service have taken off? I don’t think so. So Twitter had to appeal to a lowest common denominator “High School Popularity Contest” mentality to, not only make it work, but for it to keep working.

When I first joined Twitter in early 2007 thanks to following early adopters like Leo and Scoble, I thought, “How cool is this? Even though no one in my small town knows about this, I can do all kinds of cools things.” I had always noticed how inspirational or ‘insightful” thoughts would come to me when I least expected them, usually when I was out somewhere in my car, at dinner with friends, etc. and now I could simply text such thoughts to my Twitter account and retrieve them later for expanding. Or if I simply wanted to remember something cool that I saw or heard while out. Just tweet and retrieve. A repository of my daily life, my existence, my continuum, my stream of consciousness.

But where are these insights, these things I wanted to remember, this digital outline of my life that I so dutifully recorded the last 3 years? Gone. I can’t retrieve them. I can’t search them. I can’t find them. And even though one hears that Twitter has been working on such a feature that will be released ‘sometime’ in the future, its like “Gee thanks Twitter, it’s my information, for God’s sakes. I don’t need it some time in the future. I need it now, and every day since I’ve been using your service, feeding your service, so that you could sell me out down the river to Microsoft and Google with your ‘firehose.’

If instead all of this info had flowed into my blog, it would still be there, searchable, mine, the true archive and repository that it was meant to be. Some will say, “Well that is the price you pay for ‘free'”

Oh yeah really? You know, I’m not the biggest fan of Ma.tt in the world, but look at WordPress.com. Totally free. Holds at least a thousand if not a million times more information than Twitter or Facebook, and it yours, you control it. You can put it in and you know you can always get it out. He’s not selling your information to third parties for his gain. He’s upselling (the freemium model) on additional features and using the popularity of the WordPress site and name to make a cut on Web Hosting purchases for those who choose to self host their wordpress blog. He’s Smith Barney. He’s making his money the ‘Old Fashioned’ way.

But look, this is not an attack on Twitter, per se. Facebook is 10x as bad. At least Twitter is semi part of the ‘Open Web.’ Facebook hides behind its wall, not because it wants to protect the privacy of its users, but because it wants to protect its monopoly at the expense of its users. You post a picture into Facebook, it ain’t comin out again. You post a video into a Facebook, not only is it not coming out again, you can’t even SHARE the damn thing with the internet. I mean, how evil is that? That is crazy evil. All the comments and exchanges and time you put into writing messages on the Twitter or Facebook platform? They’re not yours. They belong to these companies. And they can and do disappear at the drop of a hat.

Not to single out Twitter and Facebook. Tumblr, Posterous, Foursquare, Flickr, (just go to Scoble’s Google Profile to see a list of every Web 2.0/Social Media company that’s every existed) just to name a few are all the same. ‘Evil’ gets thrown around a lot. That’s too strong. ‘Evil’ is Hitler. How about ‘Unethical’? More interested in building a brand, a critical mass or ‘network’ effect as they call it, ala the Zeitgeist of the ‘Start Up’ crowd, so they can have a profitable ‘exit’ and IPO rather than being ‘into’ it and wanting to build something cool to benefit the user him or herself.