Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

The Search Generation

June 13, 2011

The Connected Generation Doesn't Need Today's ToolsOne of the ways I hope to keep myself on the professional cutting edge is to offer a fresh perspective on the way content is consumed.  One of the best ways I know to gather this information is to watch my kids (11. 0 and 8.5) and their friends as they gather around an iPod or computer.

Today though, I had the chance to go into 8.5’s third grade class and talk her peers.  While under the guise of talking to them about journalism and news (which we did a little), I used it as an opportunity to find out how my daughter and her generation seek out and share information.

While it’s not a huge surprise (at least I hope its not), TV, radio, newspapers were not even in the discussion.  I was a little surprised-Facebook and Twitter was not either.  There are a lot of reasons for the latter-responsible parents is my hope, but the reality is 8-10 is well under the age requirements for those sights.

However, based on the discussion-text, text chat, video chat and especially search are far more important anyway.

On the discovery side-when I asked a class of 20 or so third graders how they find things out-and things I defined as news, information, websites, songs, videos, movies and entertainment-search was the number one way to find things.  And when I pressed the kids, they didn’t care what the search engine was (Google was as good as Yahoo was as good as iTunes search).  All they need is a search box and an execution point.

The quick take away on this is to over tag if necessary, but make sure tags capture all the keys to the content and all the imaginable entry points.  While I am among the people who believe SEO, as we know it today is a dying art, the reality is SEO will continue to be a discoverability driver in some form.  (An interesting note, one of the kids wanted to know about a way to search content shared via text chat, hmmmm).

On the consumption side, once again search was a huge driver to finding content.  One of the girls in the class even talked about setting up an RSS homepage-similar to Pageflakes or MyGoogle to capture key elements.  But a huge consumption driver for text and video is images.  It’s a concept I am late to embrace but important.  In the digital clutter, you still need to capture eyeballs.  See any of the e-book stores (Amazon, B&N, iBooks).  Which books are you likely to purchase if you are just scanning a topic?  Eye-catching cover art is the driver.

Finally, when it comes to sharing information text, text chat chat (including video chat) was the focus.  One boy in the class said (and his classmates agreed), “I can send an email, but no one reads email,” from the mouths of 8+s comes great truth.  Email has been a dying medium for more than five years now.

The take away here is to make sure your packaging includes interoperability to share via text-because that is a key driver to reach the generation that is not tethered by Blackberry Enterprise Server, Outlook Exchange or Gmail on the go.

(My) Tween(s) and Social Networking

April 14, 2011

Which of these sites is your tween on?As the parent of one tween (10.5 who will be 11 in two months) and an 8.5 who wants to do what her big sister does-social networks like Facebook, Twitter, You Tube etc are sources of big concern for me-and I know a lot about them.  Which seems to put me well ahead of my peers who are parents confronting these issues.

To fully understand the issue I (and other parents of tweens today) face-you need to understand the landscape.  Chances are if  you are reading this blog, you do-but for the sake of clarity:

At school, softball, camp-pretty much any place more than three kids gather, eventually the conversation turns to Facebook, texting, You Tube and any one of a myriad of social games.  Now, like many parents I am guilty of enabling this conversation by outfitting my kids with the iPod Touch-which opens up the magic of the app store to them.  I am aware of at least three apps that my girls and their friends use regularly that are not compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).  And these are the ones I worry most about.

Through the age of 13 (which is why its the magic number for Facebook, You Tube, Twitter etc) COPA provides some rigorous rules about how kids under 13 are treated on websites.  Speaking as someone who has had to consider COPPA compliance-it’s not treated lightly in large companies.  I can see in some start-up environments though there being more of a “let’s wait to see if someone complains” attitude.

Basically, COPPA provides strong content guidelines and enforcement as well as protections against the collection of PID (personal identification). Enforcement of COPPA  falls on the Federal Trade Commission.

So back to my parenting conundrum.  Both of my kids (more so 10.5) have friends who are on Facebook, regularly post videos to You Tube and are on social gaming sites like Second Life etc.  My kids, not so much.  They have email, I let them on Opionaided (it is COPPA compliant) and they can play social games targeted at tweens that are COPPA compliant.

But the battle continues. Then comes the part that confuses me, although I know it should not.  Since becoming a single parent, I am more apt (perhaps more open) to talking with other parents at school events, temple, parties etc-and they seem unaware of the kind of information their children are sharing on social networks.

They are shocked at what I know about their kids and their family trips-just through a casual glance at Facebook.

Now this is a lesson I am trying to teach my kids as well-as I will not count on the FTC or COPPA compliance to keep my kids net safe.  That said, its not easy to say, “no” to the relentless stream of asks to join Facebook, You Tube and other sites.

When the girls want to try a new site out, I tell them I have to look at it first–and the first thing I look for is COPPA compliance-sites that are COPPA compliant brag about it, so its not hard to find.

The other items I look for:

  • Is there a secure log in procedure on the sign up page? (look for the HTTPS or the lock)
  • Look through the TOS on the site and check on their policy for PID-do they trade it or sell it to third parties?
  • Once registered, make sure the sign in page is also a secure log in.
  • I keep the girls’ computer in the middle of the family room.  That is their online portal, where I can dip in as needed.
The other thing I do (and perhaps its a bit over the top) is I have my iPhone set to get the girls’ email so I know what they are signing up for, and can shut them down pretty quickly.

Social Gaming, The Emergence of a Frontier

March 21, 2011

Even without a full picture, the information NGMoco released about We Rule on the game’s one year anniversary in the app store reveals a lot about social gaming and engagement via some very powerful mobile platforms.

Social Game at 1 Year

NGMoco’s We Rule has more than 13 million downloads in a year-a number anyone in the app space would covet.  But the more impressive (to me and hopefully you) number is the 3 billion minutes players have spent on We Rule in a year.  The 15 million mojo’s transacted each day is impressive too-although what is not clear how many of those are hard-dollar purchases versus free acquisition via the game.

What is clear though is that the hybrid “freemium” model NGMoco introduced is a viable business model, with significant hooks into many digital facets to bear close study no matter what your core business is.

For the uninitiated, We Rule is a free game to download for iOS devices.  The game is mostly simple, through touch and swipe gamers are able to grow and expand their kingdom from a single plot of farmland growing corn to multiple (now up to eight) realms with purchases of businesses and amenities to create an empire.

My We Rule has a dark realm where I keep dragons and land scarring structures; a water front with a ship yard, fish monger, naval ship.  (this is also where I keep the three little pigs and a butcher shop).  I have an opulent castle (recently upgraded) and I am eyeing one of the four new realms that opened with the last download of the game.

Some of the unique qualities of the game though-the ones to seriously look at and contemplate for products are:

  1. SSO-the games are tied to a gaming hub, which recognizes me when I log in and remembers me across games.  It also remembers friends from my networks (including Gmail, Twitter, Facebook).
  2. Real time app updating through downloading.  These are graphical components served into your game via a server side download-which means no new submission to the app store.  When there is a structural change to the game board, there is a standard Apple update.
  3. Hooks to keep finding and refining my in game friend list through my social networks.
  4. In-app purchase of mojo (the game currency), and other game components.

While the game is fairly engaging and easy to play and understand, there are some components that can be improved-and I would think knowing the way NGMoco has rolled out other games (I also play Adventure Bay and Castle Craft (esd714 is my gamer name in all three games) there is a constant review.

  1. It would be nice to integrate some level of real time twitter feed into the game (maybe via hashtag?) so I can brag about purchases and accomplishments in real time.
  2. There is no way to remove a friend’s game once it is connected to mine.  I have some friends who played some, but stopped, and their kingdoms and islands are part of my game experience.
  3. As the games become more complex, there is an increased crash rate, especially when WiFi capability changes in mid-game.

Product Review: Greplin

February 19, 2011

Greplin logo

For the last few days, I have been messing around with Greplin, self-billed as the search bar for your life.  And so far, while not quite the utility I was hoping it would be (although I am not sure I can quantify that statement), it has been effective and useful.

Admittedly, because sometimes life gets in the way, I am trying to catch up on some emerging products and companies that have cool tools-and Greplin is one of them.  I heard about them earlier this month when Sequoia stepped in with Series A funding.

The way Greplin works, after you register for it (I have invites for anyone that needs, although I don’t think you need them any longer) you register your social networks, email accounts (looks like gmail only right now). One nice thing is they include LinkedIn with Twitter and Facebook. One of my personal complaints is that I really do try to keep my LI professional based only and there are few bridges between my Facebook and LinkedIn. My Twitter is one of the bridges but not very effective.

Once set up and permission are granted, Greplin then acts as a search engine and crawls your networks and creates an index.

A couple of early adopter issues:

  1. There is a free version (which I use) and a premium version (which I do not use).  I understand and support monetization, but it seems the lines are a little arbitrary.  I can register 3 gmail accounts, but not Google Voice, or Google Docs.  Dropbox is free but Yammer and Evernote are premium.
  2. I am not one to use most search bars in browsers, but this is one that I would use, but it does not exist.
  3. At this point, search returns are presented by platforms and then relevance-the options to be 100% relevance would be good.

All in all, for an early product its useful.  I think once I can figure out what I am expecting-and watch how Greplin goes through its next few drops–I think it will become a great utility.

 

24 Hour News Cycle to Never Ending Cycle

February 15, 2011

In many circles, cable news, and specifically CNN are credited with creating the 24 hour news cycle.  This is something I am a part of, and understand it.

For discussion sake, lets call the 24 hour news cycle: reporting an event, reporting reaction to an event reporting repercussions of an event, onto the next event.  realistically there is more nuisance to it, but in essence that is the 24 hour news cycle.

With the advent of social media-the time from event to reaction is shorter-there is now instant analysis and instant reaction of events.  Want to track events in Egypt in real-time? Follow the #Jan25 hash tag. Want to go back further, see how the crash of an Air France Jet in Brazil played out in real-time in June 2009. Or think more contemporary, and the fate of Justin Beiber and perhaps the cooling of Beiber Fever?

The point is-for these events (and any others you like Esperanza Spalding, the fallout of the Islanders/Penguins brawl play out for days and months on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s almost quaint to say there is a 24-hour news cycle, when the reality is there is constant reaction and analysis in real-time 24/7 on events days and weeks after they occur.

While it’s still critical to manage the first 24 hours of an event, more and more its being broken down into hour-long cycles.  It will be interesting to watch how this plays out.  2012 will be an interesting campaign cycle–as seen in Egypt, the power of the masses all shouting out at once is tough to manage, and even tougher to silence.

Identity as the Holy Grail

January 31, 2011

Despite my early tempestous relationship with Quora, I have found some great insights and moments to think and contribute.

One of them occurred last night as Quora’s designer posed an interesting thread (I am not sure it was in the form of a question but I supposed that’s OK for an insider) about identity-and specifically mobile identity.  You can read Rebekah’s thoughts here or follow her on Twitter here.

Rebekah poses that identity is more than just your email, or your pictures or your Twitter stream for that matter.  Your digital identity is how you manage access to your attention.  Will you read your Twitter or your Facebook wall?  Will you update your Tumblr or your blog?  How you manage external access to that attention is your identity.  The other pieces (email, SMS, Facebook etc) are all components.

Rebekah believes (and I largely concur) the battleground is your mobile device.  This is the access point to your attention, thus the access point to your identity.

Rebekah and I diverge on one point-which is neither huge or insignificant in that I include tablets as part of that access point.

When talking about the consumer experience in digital media and roadmapping over the next five years, the central figures are your cell phone (the assumption being the curve of feature phone to smart phone conversion holds) and I believe the tablet.  The two devices as Apple has shows work together in a lot of ways, and we’ll see that in 2011 from the likes of Samsung and others who merge the Android OS on phone and tablet.

The reality is, chances are if you read this blog you never leave your house without at least one cell phone (the assumption being that readers of this blog probably carry more than one) and more than 90% of the time the tablet it with you as well.  The laptop is easily forgettable, and the desktop is a distant memory.

When thinking about capturing and holding attention-designers need to think about utility and IA.  Content folks need to think about real estate and connection.

I am convinced the way I got my job at CBS Mobile more than 5 years ago was my understanding of the personal nature of the mobile experience–which means that as a product person I need to be able to clearly make the experience sustainable across devices and across OS experiences.

Understanding the way consumers take in data and control their data intake is at the heart of understanding identity.  In context, a news organization can have this generations equivalent of the Pentagon papers.  Unfortunately just having them is less than half the battle–presenting it to a highly connected audience that demands personalization is the key.

Watch as Faebook, Twitter and products that we don’t know yet introduce new ways to access information-that access point will become the key.  It’s a way to sync your self to your data and your phone (and tablet) are at the hub.

So, Do You Quora?

January 7, 2011

Well, do you Quora? Huh?

At least in the circles of social media, its become a very hot question.  And if you do, the next hot question is, “How does it work?”

For the uninitiated, Quora is a collection of crowd-sourced questions, categorized by the crowd and answered by the crowd.  Kind of Wiki for asking questions.  (BTW, Quora is another in the long line of start-up companies that for some reason either spent way too much time, or not enough time working on a name)

The questions have a pretty broad range–here is a sample from my home screen:

Real time Quora questions

Similar to other social networking sites, you can follow people, and they can follow you.  There are connections to Facebook and Twitter than will share your questions and answers with your broader social networks and you can vote up or down questions and responses.

The user can categorize questions as well as the people who answer it.  You can also comment directly on another user’s response.

After using Quora for a few days here are some quick gut checks that are somewhere between interesting and quirky:

  1. To add a question, you type into what looks like a search box, in this age of over Google its a little counter intuitive.
  2. When setting up a profile, you pick topics you are interested in (and it makes some recommendations based on something but not sure what) and you can always add more.  However, there is not a very effective way to search other questions.  The result of this is there are probably 2000+ questions that circle around the Goldman/Facebook deal and none of them rise to an authoritative voice.
  3. It seems like the designers/UX engineers went out of their way to be out of the box, the UI takes some getting used to
  4. Although I have my blog registered into my profile, I am not sure what that does or what the interaction between the site and my blog is.

That said, there are some interesting components to this as well–I found a great place to eat lunch scanning through the recommendations of downtown restaurants yesterday, and so far I have not seen (I am sure there are a bunch there) any flame wars.

As always, dip in and see what it’s about.  As someone who does not use Wikipedia all that much, if the content resonates this could be a more direct way to get answers.

 

EMail, Spam and What Me Worry?

December 21, 2010

Its been a while since I was able to update this blog–a time when real life gets in the way of theory is the best way to explain it I guess.

Anyway, today an interesting confluence of events happened which prompted this–I was reading with some interest the New York Times write through on the updated Facebook email.  As Quincy used to tell me regularly when we were at CBS, I should not get my tech news from the NY Times.  But in this case, because of the aforementioned real-life stuff, I am a little behind, so I read the times.

As this was going on, I got a daily email from a company called Gilt Groupe which I can thank my 10-year-old for signing me up.  And then the final piece to this puzzle–one of the LIRR warriors I follow on Twitter, @hfleming checked in via FourSquare to Gilt Groupe.

So, this was a reminder to me that I needed to find out more about Gilt Groupe–since I am getting their daily emails, and since I have at least exchanged Tweets with someone who I think works there, I figured why not go to a source, rather than surf around?

I sent @hfleming a tweet (she does not follow me) with my email address in it, and I instantly got back a spam tweet from @emailbot telling me I just potentially opened myself up to spam email.

So, first-spam in my Twitter stream is far more annoying that spam in my email in box, or more likely in my spam folder where I will NEVER look at it.

Beyond that, I would think anyone on Twitter has a “social media” email account–where they expect to get spam, am I wrong about this?  In my case I use my itsonlytv@gmail.com email address.  Now, I still get that email to my iPhone, iPad and BB–after all it also has some useful communication on it via my social networks.  But it also has pretty aggressive spam filtering in place.

So spam away to my email–but leave my Twitter alone.

The Right Network for the Right Message

November 26, 2010

My recent brush with semi-unemployment taught me an interesting lesson about social networks (which I admittedly belong to far more than any one per should).  Each one has a unique place and when leveraged in a meaningful can drive results.

So among other places, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and right here on WordPress (which for the sake of this argument I will position as a social network).

Before I left my office at CBS News for the last time (this was late in October) I updated my Facebook status and put out a tweet.  Both were intentionally misleading, as people who knew my situation at work knew what was up–and those who didn’t had questions–but I really did not want to deal with it.

By the time I made my way to Penn Station (admittedly I stopped at a couple of bars) I had job interviews lined up one via a friend (who to this day I have never met in person) through Twitter and one through a good friend (who I actually know) via Facebook.

As the days rolled on, I came to realize that I could make connections to people or reconnect to people across the expanse of my social networks.

  • On LinkedIn I found some folks whose contact information I did not save to my file as I left my CBS office.
  • On Twitter I was getting @ messages and DM’s with links to posted jobs.
  • On Facebook came support and a few laughs.
  • On WordPress I found some tips for better presenting my skills and background.

I have always been a believer in karma when it comes to things professional–I help people (including employees) jobs.  Former employees always have a reference from me. Part of me wants to believe the great support I got was Karma coming back to me–because I will keep on doing what I do.

Beyond the notion of karma though is the reality that we can all be connected–and be there to support one another.  Knowing where to go and how to tap into that resource is part of the emerging field.

My quick takeaways–as I am not sure I have all of the answers on this–and the reality is the place I landed was born more from hard work than working the systems is something like this:

  1. Don’t try to solve all of your problems in an hour or a day.  It’s a process, treat finding a job as a job and make it part of your day-to-day.
  2. Accept help when it’s offered, and don’t be afraid to ask.  None of us have all the answer-but together we are a pretty good knowledge base.
  3. Make sure all of your networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are presentable to anyone who does a Google search.
  4. Be an active contributor to the communities you want to work in.
  5. Be proactive.  This blog was born out of uncertainty about my job at CBS more than 2 years ago.  I wanted to have a place to send people to see my expertise.  Become and expert and have a place to share that expertise.

Let me know if you have any additions to my list–I am happy to add them on–and I always give credit.

The Front Door to the Information Superhighway

November 3, 2010

I am willing to admit to being old enough to remember the promise of “the internet” as promoted by AOL

Or even before that Prodigy

Those early “web” services provided access to a vast array of information–some of it cataloged, most of it untapped.  Along came independent browsers and broadband at that pretty much all but killed the relative beauty of the dial-up service provider:

For those who did it–who can forget that pleasure of surfing looking for dial-up ports that would work, the second number and more….

As what one of those companies promised “the information superhighway” evolved–along game our friends first at Yahoo then at Google who were able to bring order to the relative chaos.  (Yes, I am leaving out the likes of AltaVista, Lycos etc)–you know the search engine.

Open up the page, type in some keywords and you have a menu of options to choose from.

But as technology improved, so did the capabilities of the information providers.  No longer was having a lane on the great information superhighway enough–we needed attention.  So came the skill of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing). In essence rigging the system–making my content the top of the search returns, after all we all know no one scrolls.

But alas, internet time waits for no one.  The AOL commercial at the top of this post is from 1995.  A mere 15 years later, and that front door to content has once again morphed.

Think about the way you discover things on-line (if you are even still using a computer or laptop).  Yes, search engines still have their place.  And yes you still have that Yahoo email, but how do you find things?

My bet is more than 70% of the time its through your social networks.  An interesting link on your friends Facebook wall like this one?  Maybe something from your Twitter stream that looks like this?

The reality is we are so connected to our networks, that search engines are a secondary source.  Case in point, over the weekend when Fox Networks and Cablevision settled the two-week imbroglio (it’s the NY Post headline writer in me-sorry) about retransmission, it was on Facebook I found out.  My confirmation was from Twitter, before I hit Google to find out the details.

{Couple of interesting asides here:  1-nornally I get this information first from Twitter, but on an early Saturday evening, my Facebook network was right on it.  2-the email from Cablevision came 5 hours later (a comment on email as a point of dissemination)}.

Our social networks are the touch point we use between information and our day-to-day–and its possible that the front door to the vast reaches of the information superhighway have changed again–from 256k dial-up–to 140 characters.

Where we get and share information is an evolving point of contact, and very individualistic–because it has to serve our needs.  I know 90% of my Twitter is mobile, and less than 5% of my computer based Twitter is on twitter.com.

Think about where and how you get information–and see if perhaps its time for a tune up, or realignment.


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