I think Twitter should take notes: Instead of thinking how to make it easier to use, think of how to make Twitter more Fun, Creative, and Useful alà Peach and Google Now. Twitter feels stale, like it has hardly innovated since 2006, and it feels like its catering to brands and celebrities instead of the user. I wouldn’t accuse Google of having Social and Fun in their DNA, but one does feel like they are constantly innovating, in the name of the user, trying to make themselves more useful. Peach also has a personal, interested in the user first, mentality. They’re coming at if from the fun, creative side, but there are seeds of service popping up like the “move” and “song” magic buttons. I’m having fun in Peach, which keeps me in there, and going back more often, and in this attention economy, that quality is hard to overestimate. Twitter should be thinking in terms of pushing into “personal digital assistant” in as much as being a public message bus.
- The Choose Yourself Era – How to Get 100,000 Facebook Fans– James Altucher – Man, this is an incredible post by one of the Co-Founders of Buddy Media, which recently sold to Salesforce.com for 800 million. And from my understanding there business was and is about helping big brands with their marketing efforts using Facebook Pages.
- 7 Easy Ways to Increase Your Page’s EdgeRank – Post Rocket
- Facebook Timeline for Business Pages – 21 Key Points To Know – MariSmith.com – Boy this Mari seems to be the Goddess of the Facebook Fanpage! How did I find it? I needed to know that the Masthead image for a Fan Page should be 851 x 315 px, and as I thought the profile image is square and has to be at least 180 x 180. (I’ll probably make a 360 x 360 one.) But man, there is a ton of info on this page, and I get the feeling that her whole blog is about Facebook Fan Page Marketing.
- 12 Tips to Optimize Facebook Page for Maximum Reach and Brand Visibility – Wchingya.com
- A Simple 6 Step Plan for Creating a Facebook Page that Works – NetWitsThinkTank.com
- You’ve Got Facebook Fans, Now What? Booshaka Raises $1M to Ensure Your Posts Earn You Money – TechCrunch.com
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.
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 :)”
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
Remember when I wrote about Mylikes, the social media ad platform, that allowed you to leverage your Social Media efforts? Well, I still love it, for all the reasons I mentioned in the post, but I noticed lately I haven’t been as active on it. There are more than a few reasons for this, but one of the biggest was LAZINESS. For one thing I got a new Mac, I didn’t remember my password, and I’d have to walk ALL THE WAY to the next room to log on. Just think of that: I’d rather walk to another room, boot up another computer, than simply reset my password! I just found out last night that I can log in to Mylikes through Twitter (or Facebook for that matter) but I was alway hesitant to do that because when I used that strategy with CinchCast, Cinchcast simply opened up another account for me, instead of linking me to my existing account. Not Mylikes. Simply logon through Twitter or Facebook and it links you to your existing account. Nice.
But it gets even better, and easier.
A Retweet is All it Takes
I noticed the other day that they have set up a special account called @Mylikes_retweet that tweets ads, and all you have to do is simply retweet (use the twitter retweet button) and of course not only is that ad published to all of your followers, any time that it is clicked you earn money! Talk about removing any friction! Not only do you not have to go to Mylikes and pick an ad, the copy is already written for you. And it’s great, eye catching, fun copy that is more conducive to “clicking” (translate, good for publishers!) As a matter of fact when I do it, I almost have to keep myself from clicking the retweet in my own stream (which would be against the rules.)
I love this feature because of its ease, but not only that, it interests me because it shows the innovative nature of the company. I mentioned in my earlier post that the founders, Bindu Reddy and her husband were ex-Googlers and that that fun, innovative approach was in their DNA, just like it is at Google.
Fun is something that is way underestimated, especially in Western Culture. We tend to divide “fun” away from our business life. Almost a firewall between fun, life, and business. But I just finished reading Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose,and the secret to Zappos’ culture is just the opposite: Fun, social, caring are intrisic to Zappos’ DNA. In fact it is their business model.
This theme struck a bell inside me earlier this week. I was chatting with a web developer friend. I mentioned that I was looking for a photo editing, creative application that wasn’t so intimidating (and expensive) as Photoshop. He mentioned Pixelmator and after telling me all the nice features about it, at the end in an unconscious exhuberence spouted, “And it’s fun!”
Well, for all the philosophical debate we have over advertising and it’s place, especially in Social Media, what about the philosophy of Fun?
If you are already a member of Mylikes, simply go to @Mylikes_retweet and pick an ad from their tweet stream. Simply retweet it, and see if you don’t have some fun as well as potentially earn some money.
And if you are not a member go sign up here: Mylikes.com (It’s free, and if you sign up with that link, I have a chance to win an iPad2, which you can too once you are a member.)
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.
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,
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.