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Web Weekly: Facebook Feature Invites Spammers, Twitter Adds Photo Sharing, QR Codes & More

Posted By abod on August 14th, 2011

Facebook Ventures Into Content Aggregation

I don’t often write about Facebook because there are already so many other people follow its every move. But a development worth noting that I haven’t seen too many people pick up on is

Facebook’s foray into aggregated posts. In addition to the usual chronology of updates from your friends, groups and pages you follow, the news feed publishes an entire list of updates from your network whenever another contact posts something relevant to a previous thread. This is also integrated into search.

Kelli Brown at Pixel Point Press writes that not only can it cause confusion, because the aggregator can’t distinguish between different types of keywords (just as “oatmeal” the cereal and “the oatmeal”, a funny cartoon website), but it also is an open invitation for spammers to prey on popular topics and clog a news feed.

So far this new feature seems a lot more annoying than useful. I wish that there was a way to switch off aggregation in the news feed. Do you see any benefit?

 

LinkedIn “Share” Button Gains Popularity

You’ve probably been seeing a new button on your favorite websites. LinkedIn released a “Share” button late last year, and it’s been really taking off lately. HubSpot reported that the button now appears on more than 100,000 websites.

Do you think blogs are getting too button crazy?

 

LinkedIn Helps You Develop Your Profile

Speaking of LinkedIn, if you’ve checked out your profile page recently, you probably a noticed a large box with a blue background at the top which asks you questions about your profile. If you’ve clicked out of it, you’ll see a new yellow button in the upper-right part of the page that says “Improve Your Profile”. It’s clearly designed to encourage users to completely fill out their profile, but often times there is a good reason why certain areas aren’t completely filled out.

Take the following example:

LinkedIn profile optimizer

Like most high schools in the United States, the one that I attended did not offer specialized degree programs. If you run into a similar situation, you can click “Skip” or “Does Not Apply”, and once you’ve responded to all of the prompts, the yellow button will change to say “Share Profile”.

LinkedIn "improve your profile" button

While it’s a bit annoying, I think it’s for a good cause. LinkedIn claims that your profile is 40 times more likely to show up in search results if it is 100% complete, and they are trying to help you do that. Anecdotally, it seems that the most popular reasons for having an incomplete profile is because the user didn’t post a profile picture. Search metrics aside, I think that users are going to be a lot more interested in a profile that has a photo.

Twitter Adds Photo Sharing

Now you can add a photo to your Twitter post without using an outside client. It’s about time, right? Just upload your photo right from the Twitter interface at Twitter.com or from one of your favorite Twitter apps (most of which have been providing this feature for a long time!)

twitter screen shot

This new service essentially renders photo-sharing sites like TwitPic and yfrog obsolete.

 

QR Codes Penetrate U.S. Mobile Market

It wasn’t so long ago that I asked what that alien symbol was on a handout from a conference. QR codes were used by 14 million Americans (representing 6% of the mobile market) in June, according to data published by HubSpot.

In February, a QR (Quick Response) code-enabled display of grocery items debuted in a Seoul, South Korea subway station. Passersby could order items to be delivered to their homes with the ease of a cellphone scan.

Last year a QR code was engraved on a headstone in Haifa, Israel, linking to a website honoring the deceased. “I was most concerned about 20 or 40 years from now, how will she be remembered,” Medan told Mashable about the installation on his mother’s tombstone.

What’s the most creative use of QR codes that you’ve seen?
Other Social Media and Tech Headlines

  • On August 9, Apple passed Exxon-Mobil as the most valuable company on the stock market apple. Who else is kicking themselves for not buying stock 10 years ago when shares were about $30 each? Tech in general is keeping the sagging economy alive.
  • A Pew Internet survey published this week found that despite the growth in social media usage over the past few years, search and email are still the most popular online activities among U.S. adults. According to data gathered in May, 92% of online adults use search engines to find information on the Web, 59% of whom do so on a typical day. Among the same group, 92% reported using email, with 61% using it on an average day.
  • Google announced this week that online games are now available on Google+

Web Weekly: Google+ Celebrates 1 Month, Useful Sites

Posted By abod on July 31st, 2011

Google + Celebrates 1-month Birthday

Can you believe it’s already been one month since the release of Google+? My how time flies when they’re young! Even though it’s still in limited release, that didn’t stop Google+ from become

the fastest-growing social network ever, hitting 10 million users around July 12. The core of the user base remains techies, but the hype is growing mainstream. Those who have been able to snag an account seem to report the same thing: “I signed in, I poked around, and now what do I do?”

Google+ is a lot more versatile than the Facebook behemoth, and its future is still of course uncertain. For some tools that will make your experience a lot more fun and functional, The Next Web posted “The Mother of All Google+ Resource Lists“. It’s so huge in fact, that I’m providing a summary list of what I think are the most useful and interesting pieces on the list.

  • The Chrome extension Google Plus Bar Minus lets you remove the Google bar when you don’t want to be distracted by Google+ notifications when logged into Gmail, or other Google apps.
  • And if you want to be distracted, Notification Count for Google Plus updates your notifications even if you don’t have any Google pages open, by placing a button next to your address bar.
  • Start Google+, developed by Zane Claes, is places your Twitter and Facebook streams inside your Google+ stream, ensuring that you’ll really never leave the computer or get any work done. It allows you to reply or retweet Google+ content on Twitter as well as comment and like Facebook posts. Also, you can automatically post anything you share on Google+ to both Facebook and Twitter.
  • Extended Share makes it easy share your, or anyone else’s, Google+ on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Tumblr.
  • When Facebook first came out, it was quickly recognized as a way to “stalk” people, or maybe more innocently try to find out if that cute guy who sits in the second row of the Sociology lecture is single. FindPeopleonPlus has indexed nearly 10 million Google+ profiles, or most of the user base, which you can scour for statistics. It allows you to search for users by location, gender, relationship status, occupation or follower and following count. I’m sure that your research into people’s Google lives will be for a noble cause.
  • +OneFB is a Chrome extension which lets you +1 Facebook posts. The great thing is that it shares the actual link, as opposed to the Facebook update.

I encourage you to graze through the full post.

Undoubtedly, Google will continue to roll out improvements based on beta user feedback. I’d really like to see the following:

  • An official iOs app
  • Better search of Streams. That’s right, work on your search, Google! Meantime, try Google Plus Search.
  • Full public release

 

Useful Websites

Hey, remember plain ol’ websites? This week’s picks of some creative and handy ones:

  • GigSavers, a website that connects bands suddenly short a member with a temporary replacement.
  • Fyels lets you send files up to 9G

Discover something great recently? Share it in the comments!

 

Just For Fun
Rocketboom explains Google+ and how it fits into the social media scene in an entertaining video.

 

Web Weekly: Google+ Review, Facebook Responds, LinkedIn Use, and More

Posted By abod on July 10th, 2011

Google + Emerges

The social media technorati have had their eager paws on Google+ for over one week now,

and the newest mainstream social media network to hit the ‘net has gotten mostly positive reviews. That is, skeptical, yet positive reviews. Despite the flat landing of Google’s other attempts at social media in recent memory (Buzz and Wave), it seems that the Internet giants have got it right this time.

  • Greg Sullivan at Search Engine Land writes that all the hype is a result of “pent-up demand” for a serious Facebook alternative.
  • Danny Sullivan writes that Google+ is picking up a lot faster than Buzz ever did. Though some businesses have successfully opened up a profile in the new real estate, Google is shutting down non-user profiles and will be opening up pages for businesses soon.
  • Jay Baer says that Google essentially took the best from Facebook and Twitter, calling Google+, “essentially a Facebook Twitter hybrid with outstanding ease-of-use and eye-popping potential.” He also predicts that within the next few months, Google will allow businesses to open up pages on Plus to AdWords customers. Then, clicks PLUS “+1″ will impact organic search engine rankings, totally changing the game. Facebook, on the other hand, has no impact.
  • Chris Brogan says that Google+ replaces Quora, can be used as a blogging tool, and entertainment sharing platform (to replace that aspect of YouTube). He also dismisses the claim that people will be unwilling to abandon their investments in Facebook or Twitter. “AOL, anyone? People migrate. It happens.” He also makes several recommendations for added functionality (see 31-50) on his Google Plus 50 post.
  • Michael Arrington at TechCrunch says that group video chat in Google’s Huddles is a valuable functionality that Facebook can’t provide. On the other hand, he calls Facebook’s one-to-one video chat via Skype a “near perfect product”.

If you’re not yet on Google+ but would like to try it out, send me a message or leave a comment on this post, and I’ll do my best to get you an invite. The limited release has done a lot to raise hype, and beyond that, it makes sense to test on kinks on a limited set of users. That said, I still find it kind of annoying. Anyone remember how long GMail was in beta trials for?

 

Data on LinkedIn Use

A lot of people ask me “what does LinkedIn do?” There are many answers to that question, and I think it might be more fun to show it visually. Mashable delivers a graphic of LinkedIn user survey results that shows how users use the social network, The LinkedIn Profile. For survey methodology and results data, contact info@lab42.com.

My most surprising takeaways:

  • 81% of users belong to more than one group. Groups have gained wider penetration than I expected, and this is a pleasant surprise, because they are one of the best ways to exchange information.
  • 39% of users pay for some sort of premium account. Wow! The free features are so vast that I’m surprised that so many people found large enough incentives to pay up.

 

Twitter Reaches Out to Journalists

I first joined Twitter back in June 2007, while I was working for washingtonpost.com. I saw it as a passing fad and let my account go stale. As the network picked up steam in 2009, I intermittently began to see the value, and today it’s a useful tool for staying on top of trends, meeting people with similar interests, and maintaining brand identity for myself and my clients.

Many reporters have been using Twitter for a while now, but Twitter published “Twitter for Newsrooms” this week in order to encourage journalists to use Twitter as a resource not only for communicating with readers and broadcasting their latest posts, but also how to use Twitter for research and finding sources.

 

Funny Tweets

Things worth re-tweeting from the past week @ilenerosenblum:

@MikeonTV: @corvida I use Google+ to view friends in a circular manner. Then I see they aren’t on Google+ & I message them on Facebook.

@ahoova: given how we agree life is a miracle, we sure do bitch about it often http://bit.ly/rlTt3J

BeKnown: First Impressions

Posted By abod on July 4th, 2011

BeKnown, a social networking hub for career development launched this week. An application for Facebook, BeKnown is really a social network within

a social network. That sounds confusing, but it’s actually quite easy to use.

That is, if you want to bother. There are so many new social networks these days, that I need to be convinced that a new profile and contacts to keep tabs on is really going to be worth my time. Even if your main focus right now is finding a job, you still need to be careful about where you place your time and efforts.

 

What I Liked

  • It’s easy to use. BeKnown installation was a total snap. You just click a button. Literally. Also, because I’m already in Facebook, I don’t have to open another window or tab or remember another username and password combo.
  • It’s fun! There is a cute little bee as the logo, and you can earn badges for your efforts in the network and personal career gains.
  • It’s available in 19 languages (as compared to 9 in LinkedIn or 1 in BranchOut).
  • It’s an easy to way to keep Facebook friends that you know in a professional capacity away from some potentially damaging data. While it’s always recommended to be very careful about what you post on Facebook or online in general, creating lists and adjusting privacy settings in Facebook is a bit of a hassle, and I always have this sneaking suspicion that I didn’t set something write, forgot to add a person to a more limited friends list, or I neglected to adjust the settings on a photo album. BeKnown keeps professional data and contacts where they belong.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Mostly, I don’t feel like recreating all of my efforts on LinkedIn. I have more active business connections on LinkedIn than I do on Facebook. I like to keep my Facebook the place where I go for fun and entertainment.
  • A sigh of relief came when I saw a box at the top “In a hurry? Import from Monster or LinkedIn”. But when I clicked the “LinkedIn” button, I got an error message saying that LinkedIn blocked the import. Ho hum. It turns out that LinkedIn shut off API (application programming interface) access.
  • No personalized requests. On LinkedIn, when you ask to connect to someone new, default message text saying “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” appears, but you can edit it. On BeKnown, you have no choice but to say “Hi – Please join my professional network on BeKnown. Now we can connect professionally on Facebook without mixing business and friends. Thanks.” I don’t want to say that! I feel like that’s saying to a Facebook friend, “I don’t actually want to be friends with you.”
  • You risk annoying people. I already asked several former colleagues and people I’ve done business with to give me a recommendation on LinkedIn. I really don’t want to bug them again for BeKnown. I’m not sure I want to invite many contacts to join the social network either. I recently invited a lot of people to LinkedIn, and very few took me up on it.
  • It’s associated with Monster. I never had anything remotely resembling luck with Monster when performing a job search. I always got totally unrelated jobs sent to me and a lot of spam n’ scam.
  • “Skills” interface. One of the things you’re directed to do in order to get a complete profile is to fill out your skill set. You can only automatically import from Monster, which I haven’t visited in years, for reasons stated above. So I tried to manually fill out my skills. You’re supposed to list how long you’ve had a given skill and where you used it. Except your choices are displayed in a drop-down menu. Bad. The first thing that I submitted was “Writing”. Well, I happen to have used my writing skills in more than one job, but I couldn’t indicate that, so I left that part blank.
  • One of the things that I like about having professional contacts be my friends on Facebook is that I have things in common with them as a result of our shared professional interests. I might post an article on Facebook that they will find interesting and vice versa. I don’t see a way of sharing new articles or links as I would in the normal Facebook interface (or LinkedIn).


Other Thoughts

From a job recruiter’s perspective, there are many more benefits to BeKnown. What immediately stands out is the ability to mine Facebook’s approximately 700 million users, thereby extending recruitment reach into more passive job seekers.

According to an article in Personnel Today, BeKnown is expected to release an additional feature next month that will provide financial compensation for professional referrals, though it didn’t say if payment was contingent on the referral turning into a job placement. It’d better be, otherwise this feature will quickly be abused.

BeKnown is coming on the heels of BranchOut, a Facebook application released in July 2010 that allows you to connect with others and network for jobs on Facebook without having professional contacts see your personal data. It has already grown to 800,000 users.

Summary

BeKnown is a user-friendly interface for job seekers and recruiters to make professional connections through Facebook. The global reach of Facebook provides it with a tremendous user base that facilitates making these connections and sidesteps the hassle of creating another profile on a separate social network. On the other hand, several features do need to be rebuilt, and some users may shy away from mixing the business of professional networking with the pleasure of goofing around on Facebook.

The ideal market for BeKnown is probably recent college grads. They are entering a hostile employment market, likely haven’t devoted too much time into professional social networking, and they might just have a photo or two in their Facebook profile that a potential employer or boss really shouldn’t see.

If I hadn’t already established a solid base of professional contacts in the regular Facebook interface and especially on LinkedIn, I think that BeKnown would hold greater appeal, and millions of people fit this bill. Despite the initial skepticism that I and others share, it seems that there is potential for mining the captive market in Facebook’s global empire. After all, people spend a lot of time on Facebook. According to comScore, Facebook accounted for 10 percent of U.S. page views last year, while three out of every ten Internet sessions included a visit to the site. Rather than steal people away, savvy startups like BeKnown are trying to get their piece of the pie from within.

Why Should I Tweet? Why Should I Blog?

Posted By abod on June 30th, 2011

Social media engagement can be a tough sell. We’re all so busy, and keeping up with blogging, tweeting (posting on Twitter), and Facebook pages (not to mention LinkedIn and other social media networks) can be quite overwhelming.

But first you hav

e to know why you’re bothering!

And the answer isn’t “because everyone else is.” If it is, then just stop right now.

Social media can work for you. And here is why. Because seemingly everyone else is out there, if you aren’t too, then potential customers are paying attention to the competition. Stand out, be noticed, and stay in front.

If you’re busy just keeping your business running, caring for your family, and whatever it is that you like to do in that elusive spare time… guess what? So are most other people! There is a lot of noise in our daily lives, and if you and your brand aren’t out there, you will be forgotten.

Involvement in social media is a way to get in the mix in a cost effective way. Find people where they play (Facebook), where they connect (LinkedIn), and where they go to get information (Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora). Be a contributor. Ask and answer questions. Maybe advertise. Even online advertising in Google and social networks is cheaper than the traditional print or billboard ads. Plus, you target your audience!

Social media marketing is so popular because it works. And it can be fun! But it must be done right. That means staying actively engaged all the time, not opening up a Facebook page and saying “sayonara”.

But don’t take my word for it. Here are two data excerpts from report by the inbound marketing experts who create marketing software at HubSpot based on their 4,000 customers. I think that the charts drive the point home.

facebook datatwitter useblogging data

Remember, your social media presence is best managed by you. Outsourcing only works if the person managing your accounts is engaged in your business and up to date with the latest trends and information.

To answer the question “How do I tweet?,” see my previous post.