Tag Archives: social media

The story behind the tweet

What came off as a completely natural off-cuff quip of the moment was actually the product of a well-scripted social media command center prepared to jump on the opportunity. Imagine a room with representation from marketing, creative, legal, and the “VP of Cookies” huddled around a table on Super Bowl Sunday, laptops open, ready to pounce on the latest conversation.

It’s all about catching the wave before it crests and surfing in on the momentum. One well-timed tweet netted 15,000 retweets and 8,000 new followers of @oreo on twitter and 20,000 likes on Facebook.

facebook-like

Ten Types of Facebook Likes

facebook-like

The Facebook “like” is a simple social action loaded with meaning. The act of Liking something online while sitting alone at the kitchen table in your boxers is, on the face of it, a solipsistic act, but it’s really much more complex. One click on that link causes a complex web of behaviors that ripple outwards across your social graph. By Liking something you are not only pushing a social signal to the author of the post, you are also signaling to all others that view the post that follow.

Social signals are often misunderstood online so it’s important to remember that a Like is not always just a Like. It could be any one of the following types of Likes.

I Saw It Like – this is the most basic type of Like. You want to let the author know that you saw their 49 photos of their trip to Costa Brava and therefore do not need to be reminded when you see them next. A simple click here allows you to cut off the conversation with a quick, “Oh yes, I saw them,” so you can move on.

Pile On Like – we all tend to swarm around causes. The Pile On adds your name to a long list of people as a way to add weight to someone’s mission. A friend posts how she was indignantly treated by the pizza delivery guy. Quel dommage! This is the perfect opportunity to add your name the pile. Satisfyingly non-commital. We feel your pain.

Like To Remember – we live in a busy world and our newsfeeds are always in motion. How to remember that clever t-shirt folding video that you saw? With this type of Like, it’s more because you want to retrieve it later, not really because you “liked” it. It’s a one-click ReadItLater link.

Lazy Like – this is another common type of Like. Writing something witty, especially when you’re late to the game and the one snappy comeback you had ready was hidden under the View More link – your wrung out but still want to contribute – it’s late, you’re lazy – Like.

Shine a Light Like – it doesn’t happen too often but every now and then something drifts across your feed that you just know no one else will see unless you breath some social air onto it by clicking Like. Maybe it’s that brilliant one-liner from your long lost surfer buddy from Chiba who usually only writes in Japanese. You want your friends to know him and his brilliance. You could Share but that feels like robbing him of something so you click Like.

Ironic Like – sometimes something is so awful that a Like is in order as the online equivalent of the Hardy Har Har. Someone listening to Katy Perry’s Firework Death Metal overdub? Like.

Like My Shit Like – God Dammit! I was so excited when I finished work on a animated mockumentary takedown of Sean Parker’s Redwood Wedding that I posted it at 3am as soon as it was done. Everyone was asleep so they missed it and now some big sports event is going off so all the conversation has pushed your video even further down somewhere below the copyright notices. It’s a last resort and a real noob move but you’re clicking Like on your own stuff just to put it back into rotation.

Condolences Like – while most times Facebook seems like a Happiness Competition, sometimes sad things happen and people post about them. Everyone knows you don’t “like” the fact that someone lost their job or didn’t get into their top choice school but you are sending good vibes and “I’m thinking of you’s” their way. That’s a Condolences Like, not to be confused with a . . .

Mercy Like – remember that loud PR girl you met in Austin that was discovering social media for the first time? She was so into you and was so grateful for all the tips and tricks you were sharing with her. She took out a little notebook and wrote down a bunch of URLs that you told her and she went home and got that dream promotion she told you about. She’s so grateful, a kid who just got the hang of her bike without training wheels. It’s such an *interesting* world out there! Did you know Samsung paid off their settlement to Apple with 30 trucks of nickels? Even though you know it’s not true, it’s easier just to click Like. Go get ‘em kid!

Absence of Like – what does it mean? You know someone saw your post but they didn’t like it when you specifically shared it because you knew they would like it. . .but they didn’t. Existential Cognitive Dissonance.

Thanks to Adam Kazwell for sparking the conversation over lunch and all the folks on the Dev team at GigaOM for the extended exploration of Katy Perry overdubs during a lull in the action.

Information as Entertainment

OK, so word is out that Solid State Drives (SSD) are not as reliable as they were once thought to be. Essentially, we projected the decades of expertise that have gone into making hard disks reliable onto these new drives and expected more or less the same level of reliability. Of course, as people started to buy these drives in mass and own them over time, we realize that we were not comparing apples to apples.

In other words, past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance if you change the fundamental technology underneath.

Still, folks like Jeff Atwood are willing to give up the occasional, “catastrophic, oh-my-God-what-just-happened-to-all-my-data instant gigafail” because their seek times are so good. Jeff tells the tale of someone who bought eight drives over two years only to have them all fail. Some within 15 days! As long as you plan for failure as a known, then you can enjoy mass storage performance that even your RAM will have a hard time keeping up with.

To put it in his words, “SSDs are so scorching hot that I’m willing to put up with their craziness.”

With that behind us, which of the following videos do you think does a better job selling you on the speed and reliability of an SSD?

This one?

or this one?

One video had 673 views, another had over 3.7 million.

New York Times Project Cascade

NY Times – Project Cascade

The New York Times R & D group (nytlabs) has a sexy demo video up on their site showing off a new tool they are using to visualize how their content is amplifed and shared via the Social Web. In their words:

This first-of-its-kind tool links browsing behavior on a site to sharing activity to construct a detailed picture of how information propagates through the social media space. While initially applied to New York Times stories and information, the tool and its underlying logic may be applied to any publisher or brand interested in understanding how its messages are shared.

Hit the mini-site for Cascade and check out the video. It would be great to learn more about the nuts and bolts of how Cascade works. The video only mentions twitter and bit.ly but I’m sure there’s more.

More coverage on Neiman Labs blog,  The New York Times’ R&D Lab has built a tool that explores the life stories take in the social space

Yahoo Like Log

Social Decay

The money shot from yesterday’s Yahoo Research’s Like Log study is the social activity graph below showing how this activity drops off a cliff after the first 24 hours.

Looking at over 100,000 articles across 45 big media sites over the course of three months, Yahoo researcher Yury Lifshits found that a vast majority of the Facebook Like and Twitter Retweet activity. Broadly, 80% or more of the activity takes place during the first 24 hours following the posting of a story. No surprise here, News is about New.

The conclusion from  Yury makes is that sites that put out more than one story a day actually run the risk of splitting their traffic if they can’t double it. Each additional story/day diminishes the return and may contribute to burnout of your audience. This runs counter to the leaked AOL way memo pushing for quantity over quality.

Gawker Revisits the Front Page

Gawker famously underwent a redesign that reinforces the conclusions made by the Yahoo research. Look at the redesign before and after and you can plainly see. The image below is their traditional “blog” output which presents the latest story at the top with newer stories pushing the older ones down the page. The default Popular Now column on the right gives some counter-weight but otherwise it’s the standard, reverse chronological layout.

Gawker.com Old View

Now contrast this with their new look below. Notice how much more emphasis is placed on the images. This view is called their “Top Stories” view and they’ve taken away all timestamps on the stories as that is not the point of how things are laid out. This layout has an editorial touch to it, the Gawker editors are putting stories in front of you they want you to see.

Gawker.com New Design

Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker, posted at length on the thinking behind the redesign.

We need a few breakout stories each day. We will push those on the front page. And these exclusives can be augmented by dozens or hundreds of short items to provide — at low cost — comprehensiveness and fodder for the commentariat. These will typically run inside, linked by headlines from the blog column, so the volume doesn’t overwhelm our strongest stories.

and later,

A prominent “splash” slot on the home page — taking up the two-thirds of the page — can promote the most compelling gossip and scandal. But it also provides the opportunity to display our full editorial spectrum. The front page is our branding opportunity. It’s a rebranding opportunity, too, a way to demonstrate intelligence, taste and — yes, snicker away! — even beauty.

Back when I was selling the idea of blogs to media companies, I remember saying to them that the front page is dead and that people were coming in the side door to their sites via shared links and pointers from the search engines. This was why it was important for them to make sure each page could stand on it’s own as its own front page for their business.

It seems as we have come full circle with the larger blog sites now focused back on the front page, picking favorites to be their star headline stories for the day. Are we giving up on social mediation to solve the information filtering problem? Are we going back to a world where we start each day with a collection of bookmarked top sites we visit daily? Are we going back to appointment television? Do we abandon the firehose feed and stick to just the top stories?

Singularity and Sentience

I tuned into the launch of Echo’s social media mixer, the StreamServer, which they describe as a platform for the activity streams-based economy. As the saying goes, in a world where the amount of information is ever-expanding and time remains constant, attention is what is of value. As your phone and computer beeps and buzzes with the latest urgent notification, the ability to monitor, much less take action on a signal becomes impossible. All information is approaching real-time in the constant battle to be first.

The volume of this “me first” wave of data increases causing the half-life of information to get shorter. Steve Rubel quoted a study that found that 92% of retweets happen in the first hour. If you can’t get your point across so that it resonates with someone else within that first hour, that thought is gone for good. Scrolled away, below the fold, decayed away.

So we wire things up to make things faster and we put systems in place to help us make sense of all this information flowing around so we can pick up a signal that we can use in a meaningful way. Something that will hopefully make our life better than it was before we had to deal with all this information that gets pushed at us.

Then we build filters. And what are filters but a search query that swims mid-stream. Not a respective search like what you would type into Google to search an archive but a prospective search, one that looks forward in time. And each of these queries we type are nuggets of intelligence. We fine-tune them to get exactly what we want and filter out what we don’t.

Follow all my LinkedIn contacts (that have twitter accounts) that are in the Mobile Phone industry and have over 500 followers that are saying anything with a hashtag of #MWC and has more than 5 retweets.

In plain English (kinda), that is what we want our filter to do and a smart system will look at how we respond to the results of that filter and try and automatically make it better. More like this, less like that, etc.

So we teach the machine how to think. We tell it how we connect the dots and draw conclusions.

So I dig around the aboutecho.com wiki and scroll down to the Philosophies section (I dunno, sounds intriguing) and click through to read this post on http://synapticweb.org/.

Social profiles are becoming real-time streams. If the old profile was a neuron, the stream is a neural pathway or pattern. It is the connective tissue between applications and people that feeds information from one node to another. Profiles come and go, people express themselves using countless tools and technologies – the stream, however, is the consistent and persistent channel that matters. It is the new presentation metaphor that increases the level of information we can consume while reducing our sense of overload. Just like synapses, they fire, and like synapses, it is the collective patterns of multiple firings – multiple signals or re-tweets – that creates a pattern. Patterns create meaning. Tune in, tune out, it doesn’t matter. The information will find you if it matters. Implicit information derived from content and gestures is one of the great opportunities of the Synaptic Web. To observe a set of gestures and connect them together creates a dynamic profile of interests, intentions and friends that can be used for discovery and filtering.

This is heady stuff. Yeah, I read Kevin Kelly’s book too but we’re going to have to evolve quite a bit beyond brute force keyword filters. How do you encode a vibe, a hunch?

Don’t get me wrong, Echo StreamServer looks like an interesting idea and I’m sure we’ll hear something along these lines from Facebook soon too. Big minds are at work on this. But let us not fool ourselves into thinking that a bit of hacking is going to solve our information overload problems. We’re just taking the tools out of the toolbox and learning what we have.

Two ways to watch the SOTU

Last night I watched the 2011 State of the Union address, conveniently streaming it via YouTube in 720p over the home wifi and out to my flatscreen Samsung TV here in Finland. I found the archive easily enough and noticed that the White House had conveniently split the screen to show helpful infographics on the right synced up with what was being said by President Obama on the left.

We are now officially a PowerPoint nation. Simple talking is no longer enough to engage us.

I’ve always voted democrat and am generally support the President but always take a grain of salt with any spoon-fed messages such as the one above (why is the kid on the right jumping for joy? Is it the tax cut?). There are other ways to look a the speech and the Vox project over at Rutgers is an interesting one.

Vox Event Analytics takes a look at the speech and syncs up a filtered tweet feed based on keywords and hashtags and then plays those back in the right margin while you view the speech. Along with this synchronized playback is also a playback of the tweet volume, keyword analysis, and sentiment of tweets over time. Vox, as the name implies, tries to reflect the reaction of the people (as reflected through their tweets) and it’s interesting to see what’s being said as the speech is going on.

Which do you prefer?

Smart LinkedIn Integration

Congratulations to whomever is turning up the heat over at LinkedIn. It’s been just over a year since they opened up their API and now we’re really starting to see the fruits of this effort.  The latest integration with Fortune on their 100 Best Companies to Work For demonstrates how a professional social network can add value to a web publication. Browse through this list while logged into LinkedIn and on each companies profile page you’ll see a list of any of your connections that work at that company. It’s like the old Six Degrees game but with a purpose. You’ll be surprised at who shows up (Hi Mark!)

  • The hackday-inspired Resume Builder takes the data you’ve already added to your profile and gives you a series of templates for a cleaner output in PDF format suitable for sending via email or printing.
  • LinkedIn Share buttons that you can add to your site works just like the Facebook Like button, crowd sourcing the curation of the web.
  • Integration with OneSource iSell product to combine their “triggers” with to help Sales teams connect with their prospects through existing relationships.
  • Bump integration making connecting via LinkedIn easier than ever.
  • A Microsoft Outlook social connector to add LinkedIn profile information to your email and contacts.
  • Ribbit Mobile integration resulting in a product they call Mobile Caller ID 2.0. It installs on your mobile phone (sorry, UK and US numbers only) and does a dynamic lookup on incoming numbers to see if LinkedIn (or other connected networks) has any information about who is calling and what they have recently shared on the social web.
  • LinkedIn Tweets, an application that has a cool, somewhat hidden feature, that creates a twitter list of all your LinkedIn connections that have twitter accounts and (and here’s the cool thing) will add new members to that list automatically as you add new connections on LinkedIn.

All this is on top of heaps of new features they’ve added to the site including the faceted search UI and the ability to customize your profile to name just a few. Really stellar work.

Finally, what prompted this whole post to begin with, and I’m not sure how widespread these emails are, was this customized visual that summarized who in your network has changed jobs. What a contrast to the old, text-heavy, anti-social LinkedIn of 2009 where “connections go to die” – the new LinkedIn is much more vibrant and connected with the world outside. Looks like they’ve taken Dave McClure’s advise from over a year and a half ago when he berated them and screamed,  it’s all about the faces.

LinkedIn 2009

LinkedIn 2011

Social Cruft

First I read through a longish piece outlining how Forbes is re-inventing itself into a hub that harvests it’s audience and transform them into content producers in a new media factory.  Then I read about how Gawker is embracing the transformation of the web into a visual medium, prepping their web pages for the eventual living room, lean-back consumption model.

And now I click through (via twitter of course) to land on this abomination of design from MSNBC.

I count no less than twelve potential interaction points to share or otherwise spindle this piece back into the social-sphere. This isn’t even counting the 50+ links that are drawing me off this page. I guess what really sends me off are the four icons next to the scroll bar. Some genius thought that click through rates on those little gee-gaws increased engagement. Look at it, there are only two lines of the article above the fold!

All I can think of  is that this site is looking like that kid in your neighborhood who would deck out his bicycle with fancy horns, reflectors, and baseball card/clothespins on the rear wheel to make his old Scwhinn look cooler than it really was.

I think we’re in the awkward, adolescent stage of Mass Media adoption of social media. Eventually more sane minds will prevail and attention and praise will flow towards more nuanced design. Less is more my friends, really.

Social Media Isotope

I moved my blog from a dedicated host over to Laughing Squid’s cloud service (thanks Frank and Zahaib for your help!). Some hiccups with the images coming over on the wrong directory but some delicate SQL surgery fixed that. Think of this post as a sort of Social Media isotope to make sure that what gets posted here makes it out the other end in one piece and as intended.

Oh, the image? Just want to say the move to the cloud was easier than I thought. Hopefully this post proves that it resulted in a soft landing.

Please?