Tag Archives | social networking

Coming May 31st: A Conference About Twitter for Business

TWTRCONI’m happy to report that Technologizer is helping Modern Media plan TWTRCON SF 09, a conference on how businesses can join the world of Twitter to make their customers happier, at San Francisco’s Hotel Nikko on May 31st. I’m happy about it because I think it’s a good idea–and I think it’s a good idea because…well, it was my idea.

Among the confirmed TWTRCON speakers are Porter Gale of Virgin America, Seth Greenberg of Intuit, DanceJam founder MC Hammer, Twitterville author Shel Israel, Silicon Valley renaissance man Dave McClure, and PR blogger Steve Rubel. The event is cohosted by Gina Smith and Modern Media’s Tonia Ries. And I’ll be there too, providing the official Twitter feed of the day’s doings.

I’m looking forward to attending the event, sharing ideas, meeting people, and–most of all–learning from it. If you’re going to be there, lemme know. And you can keep tabs on news about the conferencing by following @TWTRCON at Twitter.

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Get Into Lunch.com's Private Beta

Lunch.comTake one part Facebook, one part Yelp, and one part TripAdvisor. Stir in some Wikipedia, and add a dash of Twitter. You might end up with something a little like Lunch.com, which is debuting today at the Web 2.0 Expo show in San Francisco. It’s still in private beta, but the Lunch folks have offered to provide a limited number of invites to Technologizer readers. To get signed up, go to Lunch.com. In the Sign Up box on the right, click on the Click here next to Have an invite code? Then enter Technologizer as the invite code and your e-mail address–you’ll get an e-mail explaining how to take it from there,

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"My #1 Twitter Tip…": Smart Advice From 36 Twitterers

Technologizer on TwitterA major part of the world of Technologizer continues to happen over at Twitter, where I’m @harrymccracken (you can also get a simple feed of all Technologizer stories at @technologizer), and the whole Technologizer conversation keeps on keeping on, in convenient bite-sized chunks. My recent post What I Know About Twitter was a hit here, so I decided to collect more Twitter tips by asking some savvy Twitterers–namely, my friends over there–for their best advice. I tweeted:


I need lots of tips for getting the most out of Twitter for a Technologizer story. What’s your #1 tip? If I use, I’ll credit and link to ya.


And I got tons of good tips in return–all of which you can read after the jump.
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Digg This: The White House's Social Media Experiment

Reviving an experiment it conducted during the transition, the Obama administration is using a Digg-style collaborative system called Open for Questions to collect questions for the president to answer. Here’s why it’s doi–oh, heck, wouldn’t you prefer to hear it from the horse’s mouth?

Open for Questions lets registered users submit questions and vote on questions submitted by others. I can’t understand why the interface is trapped inside a tiny window that involves lots of scrolling, but the questions that are rising to the top are no worse than those that citizens tend to ask when presented with the opportunity at town-hall style meetings with elected officials. Here are the ones at the top of the rankings when I checked:

Open for Change

I’m not sure what anti-tampering measures are in place at Open for Questions–you gotta think that even now, someone’s plotting a prank like the one that resulted in Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf being voted People’s Most Beautiful Person of the Year in 1998. And I found that it’s more fun to read the unfiltered questions that the service shows you for voting–they’re wackier and crankier. A high percentage are from folks who are fretting about immigration (illegal and otherwise), and some are from conspiracy theorists, obsessives, and people with unique ideas for fixing the economy:





The president will answer questions from this round of voting tomorrow (on the Web, naturally). I’m not sure if he’ll simply respond to the most popular ones, no matter what they may be–or if he’ll be more selective. Betcha that none of the four above will make the cut, though..


Facebook Members Give New Layout Thumbs Down

Facebook LogoFacebook’s new, more Twitter-like interface is overwhelmingly unpopular with users, according to a Facebook application that is polling Facebook users on their feelings about the site’s layout changes. Today, the application’s reported results had just over 5% of the nearly 800,000 respondents approving of the changes. While the poll is far from being scientific, its results are still telling.

Like many of you, I’ve seen my friends complaining the new layout. Some of their gripes focus on how Facebook is mirroring Twitter.

Today one wrote, “I joined twitter and lost interest like *that*. I’m supremely narcissistic in thinking you all care about my whereabouts and status updates all day, but the new layout feels like that’s all Facebook is focusing on now… that functionality existed before the change, but it also allowed me to see wall comments, videos, pics and notes more easily. hatin’ it…”

I have to agree with that assessment. The only major change that I thought Facebook needed was to become more intuitive for the average user. Features like wall comments, videos, pictures and notes differentiate Facebook from Twitter and make it more interesting.

Don’t get me wrong –Facebook’s willingness to change is a good thing. I stopped using Friendster and MySpace because they became stagnant, and Facebook was a better alternative. Facebook’s inclusion of the events stream into its last layout was a good idea, and I started to visit the site more frequently throughout the day–even through my iPhone.

However, Facebook moved too far in Twitter’s direction, and lost some of what makes it unique in the process. It should listen to its customers and make some tweaks to the layout to keep them happy. What do you think?


What I Know About Twitter

twitterlogo[NOTE: Here’s a post that first appeared in our free T-Week newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.]

I don’t claim to be a Twitter genius. (Even though I was flattered when Jason Hiner of TechRepublic recently ranked me #1 among tech Tweeters.) And I’m pretty sure I’m not addicted to Twitter. (Although there’s no social network I enjoy more or spend more time fooling around with.)

After spending a couple of years Tweeting, however, I do feel like I’ve learned a fair amount about how to have fun with it–especially over the past eight months or so, during which it’s become core to my daily online regimen. Whether you think of Twitter as a low-maintenance Facebook alternative or a form of micro-blogging or a hybrid of chat room and party line or something else–and me, I think it’s unique–it isn’t always instantly obvious how to get the most out of it. So herewith, a few Twitter tips. They’re not gospel–no two people use Twitter exactly the same way–but they work for me. (If you’re a total Twitter beginner, start by reading this good guide to the service’s nuts and bolts.)

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Facebook Users About to Get Vanity URLs

With Facebook increasingly more popular these days, and more and more social networking users ditching their MySpace profiles for the service, its no surprise that Facebook is beginning to borrow some of its competitors conveniences. One of them is the vanity URL.

Simply put, it’s so much easier to give someone your MySpace URL. I jumped on that bandwagon real early, so mine is nice and short: http://www.myspace.com/edoz. However, on Facebook, there’s no way I’d remember this doozy: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1014145619.

Up until recently, you had to be a band or group in order to get one of those nifty vanity URLs on Facebook. Well, that policy appears ready to change. A few folks, including Demi Moore, Aston Kutcher, and now Digg’s Kevin Rose have their own vanity URLs on Facebook.

When will this happen? It’s not quite clear just yet. But with it beginning for those social media elites already, its only a matter of time before us commonfolk get the same opportunity.


The Diggbar is Just Not a Good Idea

digg-logoA Flickr photo has set off a firestorm of speculation across the web as to the social news sites future plans, which apparently involve the launch of a application-free browser toolbar. It would appear that the toolbar would work much like application StumbleUpon debuted last year.

SU originally started as a browser add-on, however it ditched that model to use HTML frames instead in September. Users start their experience from the SU homepage, and their browsing afterward appears in the framed user interface.

A user would be able to digg stories without actually going to the site, as well as submit content. Like SU’s app, they would also be able to randomly surf to another digged site from the toolbar itself.

It would also allow for the easy sharing of digged sites through Facebook messages, e-mail, Digg “shouts,” or through Twitter.

Now this sounds all well and good, and interesting, so how is it a bad thing for Digg? Simply put, its going to add a significant amount of noise to the site. Digg’s submission process acts somewhat as a filter of sorts, discouraging people from digging everything and anything.

Using a toolbar would simplify this process dramatically. It would also probably have the effect of muddying the site with a lot of submissions that are of little value. This would also cheapen Digg’s brand in my opinion.

While yes I understand the sites desire to increase traffic, I am not so sure going to a toolbar may be a good idea.


Facebook's Radical New Approach to Terms of Service

facebooklogoLast week, Facebook reversed some changes it had made to its terms of service after it faced an uprising of unhappy members who weren’t pacified by founder Mark Zuckberg’s initial explanation of why the amendments shouldn’t bother anyone. That was expedient. Today, the company followed up by doing something kind of extraordinary: It’s created drafts of overarching Facebook Principles and specific Facebook Rights and Responsibilities, and is soliciting member feedback on them before they’re finalized. Zuckerberg also says that members will get to vote for or against the revised versions of both documents, although I can’t tell from his post whether those votes will be binding.

The Facebook Rights and Responsibilities aren’t radically different in spirit or style from a traditional TOS document, but they’re written in something closer to plain English than most and go further to explain the rationale behind the rules. But the linkage of this document’s specific policies to the philosophical stuff in the Facebook Principles is a big deal. Most terms of service are about lawyerly ass-covering, but Facebook is trying, at least, to make its rules about fulfilling the company’s mission. And if it truly listens and rolls member feedback into the final versions, that’s cool.

For a company that’s all about conversation and communications, Facebook often comes off as mysterious and autocratic–not just with this recent flap but also with earlier dust-ups like the one over Beacon “social ads.” In the past, it’s done a decent job of listening to members–but only as the third step in a process that usually went A) institute new policy; B) get all defensive when members carp about it; C) revise new policy based on their feedback. It’ll be fascinating to see how flipping that sequence of events around goes; I hope it works wonderfully well and influences other companies to make their terms of service more realistic, idealistic, and comprehensible…and to get their customers in on the conversation early on.

Full disclosure: Technologizer has its own terms of service, which are based on the ones that govern use of WordPress.com, the platform that powers most of our site. I think they’re pretty fair, but they’re definitely traditional in tone and takeaway. According to Google Analytics, they’ve been viewed a grand total of 101 times since this site’s debut–and at least a few of those clicks came from yours truly. But if you’ve got any input on them, lemme know. And I just might come up with a set of Technologizer Principles for your input…


Hi5 Pairs Games With Social Networking

hi5The social networking site Hi5, which pulls in 60 million unique visitors per month thanks to its success in Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa, is launching a games channel with community features.

On description alone, this appears to follow in the footsteps of Facebook, as both sites allow friends to track high scores and challenge each other in a variety of games. The difference, a spokeswoman explained to me, is centralization.

Hi5’s game page — accessed through a tab on top of the screen — resembles popular flash game sites like Miniclip and AddictingGames. You’re presented with a smattering of colorful, simple flash games like “Eek!” (read: Whack-a-Mole) and Skee-Ball. But unlike Facebook’s game apps, which require users to “allow access” before playing, Hi5’s offerings are immediately available to all registered users. All games on the site share a common scoring and challenging system, because Hi5 builds it into each game.

Monetization efforts are more in your face on Hi5 than they are on Facebook, featured prominently at the end of each game. In time, Hi5 will add premium games and in-game content as another source of revenue. Region-specific games and crowdsourced translations are also in the pipeline, both of which fall in step with the site’s global popularity.

Hi5’s setup and features remind me of another social networking site, Kongregate, which is geared exclusively towards gamers. Users there get Xbox-style Achievements and dedicated chat rooms for each game, plus the usual global and game-specific high score lists. Given that Kongregate has been around for a while, I’d choose that if I were looking to build a new community of fellow flash gamers. Hi5 might work best the other way around; if you’re already using it, and you want to get your friends in on some gaming, it seems like good times.