Archive for September, 2010

Facebook Places....coming soon

Image by dnfisher via Flickr

I just updated my Facebook iPhone app.  Upon opening it, Facebook Places was highlighted.  This was my reminder to go in and change my privacy settings.  There was an instance that made its way to my ears through noon hour chit-chat in our lunch room earlier this month.  The friend of a coworker had reached a hotel in the Eastern US while on vacation with his family.  He didn’t realize that while the hotel was checking him in, so was Facebook.

I don’t know this man.  I don’t know how web savvy or non web savvy he is.  I don’t know if he hit a button by accident.  But the reality is, he checked in on Facebook Places somehow and didn’t realize he was doing it.  His check in was broadcast to his friends on Facebook.  Not a big deal, right?  Well, that depends on how picky you are about who you’re friends with on Facebook.  As my coworker commented, “what a great way to let people know the opportune time to break into your house”.

Facebook has ruffled more than a few feathers in its unconventional approach at defaulting to share your information.  I for one am a fan of the culture shift they’re heavily influencing.  It’s forcing each of us to be more aware of our actions and interactions, our relationships on and offline, our participation.

I think many people are up in arms about Facebook privacy because they want Facebook to do this work for them.  They’re accustomed to someone else looking after them and their information.  Well guess what?  It’s on your shoulders.  Facebook has given you the ability to take full control of what you’re sharing with your network and what you’re not sharing with your network (and don’t forget that the possibility exists today that ANYONE has the potential to see what you’re posting).  In my mind, Facebook is doing us all a favour.  The stakes are high if you haven’t looked into customizing your privacy settings or taken a good look at the information you’re sharing with your networks.

In a day and age where we cannot rely on the world around us to make smart decisions for us, where it is up to each of us to look after our own health (both physically, mentally and financially), where taking more and more ownership over elements of our lives is becoming the rule rather than the exception, Facebook is but a smaller piece of this really big pie.

Think about it.  Self serve banking, managing your employee benefits, building your own website, doing your own home renos.  Everywhere we look, there’s a DIY (do-it-yourself) format.  So why is it that we’ve embraced it elsewhere and yet resist it so readily on Facebook?

The bar we once held to companies to protect us is now being held to each of us.  We hold them to high levels of due diligence, do the same for yourself.  Acknowledge the favour Facebook is doing for you, be an adult, and be accountable for your actions online.  It’s not up to Facebook to protect you.  It’s upto you to do that.


Is laughter contagious?

Posted: September 24, 2010 in random

You tell me.

Happy Friday 🙂

facebook is down - Service Unavailable - DNS f...

Image by abdallahh via Flickr

Once upon a time, the talk of the web was on which service to run your social media campaign.  Do you pick YouTube?  Or Facebook?  Maybe it’s on Twitter?  We quickly realized the value in diversifying campaign touch points across services.

But what about your day-to-day social media interactions?  Social media best practices tell us to communicate on the same platform that the conversation is happening on.  To which I agree, but what happens if and when that platform goes down?  You’re unplugged.  So are they.  Some of them may be connected to one another in other ways (maybe they still use that numerical identification system I’ve read about… it had a funny name. I think it was tellafone). But how else are you connected?

Facebook says there are over 900 Million objects that people interact with on Facebook (pages, groups, events and community pages).  TechCrunch estimates 3 million active Facebook pages alone as of August, 2010. It’s easy for users to interact with your brand on Facebook’s platform.  It’s easy for you to talk to them too.  There’s also the strong pull of demographic info.  Who likes our page?  What do they like to do?  What age category are they in?  Depending on what users have shared, this is a data gold mine for a company.  It’s no wonder there are so many eggs sitting in the Facebook basket.

And yet, what do you do when Facebook goes down?  How do you communicate with all of those people?  If you’re smart, you’ve already begun to find other ways of connecting with these same consumers (*ahem* blog, Twitter, email, SMS, snail mail, carrier pigeon *cough cough*).  You’ve told them about your email newsletter list, or the perks they get for enrolling as a member on your website.  If you’re not, you’ve just been cut off from the thousands of people you’ve been cultivating a connection with over the past few months, or even the last couple of years.

Starbucks, one of the first big brands to really embrace Facebook tools to market themselves, does this well.  Connecting Facebook users to their MyStarbucks account was Brilliant.  Notice their primary goal isn’t to get more people to like their Facebook page.  No, this is but the first step in their Facebook customer funnel.  Facebook is the attractor.  It has interesting tidbits for new and current users alike.  It has tools that enable Starbucks lovers to share that love of Starbucks coffee with others.  Their Facebook presence is like the employee holding the sample of deliciously salty pretzels dipped in creamy sweet milk chocolate on the busy street corner and as you sample this new Starbucks treat, they point you towards the open door where you can buy some (along with the pumpkin spiced latte that’s back for a limited time… btw).

When Facebook is down, Starbucks isn’t out an entire community, it just means their sampler called in sick.

It’s easy enough to do for Starbucks.  They’re a corporate giant.  They have the dollars and the manpower to build that regardless.  What about Mom &  Pop Coffee?  There’s no way they can do the same thing.  Except… wait a minute.  They can.  The community may not be as big, the tools may not be the same, but the concept sure can be.  Mom & Pop Coffee, do you have an email newsletter your Facebook fans can sign up for?  How about a variety of ways for you to share specials with them?  Perhaps using Yelp?  Or maybe Foursquare?  There’s the new fad too of daily deals like Groupon or LivingSocial.

So when Facebook goes down and you’ve got something to say, are you at a loss as to how you will get the word out?  Or are you able to bring out your phone tree and spread the news anyway?

Two different things happened today to spark this post.

  1. I read an article over on Read Write Web about website inefficiencies and the need to take a step back and look at optimizing the entire process for service up websites instead of just network issues.  The argument made was that websites with inefficient code and large file formats are just as much to blame for the slowness we experience when a site is loading as our internet connection.
  2. My friend Ultimate Rob was talking about buying books versus going to the library on Twitter today.  It gave me the idea for a blog post (not this one) and I said as much.  Ultimate Rob’s response “LOL I think me talking about gum sticking to your shoe would give you an idea for a blog post”.  Turns out he was right.
    gum on shoe

Have you stepped on a piece of gum lately?  Go check the bottom of your shoe.  There might be one there now.  For the first part of its journey, that gum picks up whatever it can along the way.  Dirt, dust, germs, pieces of hair… By the time you notice it’s there, it’s a disgusting piece of grossness that you really don’t want to touch and it has become so engrained in the bottom of your shoe that it’s almost more tempting to leave it there than to try to pry it apart from the grips in your soles.  There’s always the chance that it will wear away with time, but while you’re waiting for that to happen, you’re still stuck with gum on your shoe.

How many of us actually check the bottoms of our shoes on a regular basis?  I sure don’t (but I might after I finish writing this).  Imagine if you caught the gum while it was still sticky.  It’s been freshly chewed, and just latched itself to your feet earlier this afternoon.  You can take that gum off now.  Sure it’s a little gross when it’s chewy, but there are ways around that (like an ice cube).  Your shoe will stay cleaner and you’re less likely to pick up a lot of crap along the way.  You prevent a buildup of unwanted bits and pieces from the world’s toe jam.

Look at the piece of gum as a bad habit or cutting corners on the web.  Maybe it’s inefficient code, perhaps it’s a computer that hasn’t been cleaned out in a long time, maybe it’s an overloaded network.  The point is, somebody’s chewed up gum can appear anywhere, and it WILL collect more grossness along with it.  If you haven’t cleaned up an area you’re accountable for, there could be four or five pieces gumming up your performance.

Observe what you’re doing and what your building.  Are you leaving something sticky for someone else to step in?  Or have you tracked in something extra that doesn’t need to be there?

Whatever it is, keep a continual eye around you.  And for heaven’s sakes, scrape that gum off the bottom of your shoe.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about just how much reading I do in a day because of the internet.  And just how much I take that for granted.  I began to wonder just how many people out there don’t or can’t slurp up knowledge like many of us do online simply because of the fact that their reading skills don’t allow them to do so.  Was there some way I could influence more people to use the web to their advantage?  Helping out with adult literacy seemed like a good place to start.

Being that today is the 1st of September and many kids are headed back to school (along with my teacher friends), I wanted to do something to join in the fun.  I decided that I would attempt to go an entire month without using an exclamation point.

100 days without using an exclamation point

No exclamation points for 100 days

It didn’t take long for other Twitterati to respond with some heckling.  @jonincalgary didn’t think I could go for 10 minutes, other people gave me a week.  @jkitte asked if there was a pool going yet as to how long I would last.  Within a few moments, my little challenge linked itself with my desire to do something for adult literacy.

Twitter literacyAnd so my challenge was born.  Not only would I go the entire month of September without using an exclamation mark, but I would go 100 days without using one in any personal form of communication.  This includes any non-work related, text-based piece including emails, Facebook or MSN chats, tweets, blog posts, text messages, comments on other blog posts, status updates on any social networks, etc. from today until December 9th.

If I make it to December 10th at 12:00 am without using an exclamation mark, I will donate $100.00 to the ABC Life Literacy Canada.  If I slip up, I’ll double the donation.  Your job – see if you can catch me slipping up.  The more I write, the more I talk, the more I tweet, the more likely it is that I will accidentally slip an exclamation mark in there somewhere.

Now, for those of you without the time to heckle me and trip me up on my punctuation, I’ve created a Giving Page should you feel the desire to support the cause as well.  You can find that page here.  Any donations made through this page go straight to ABC Life Literacy Canada.  I’ve set the goal at $100.00 to match what I’ll be donating on December 10th.

After setting up the Giving Page, I figured that was it.  I’d go on my merry way not using exclamation points.  But when I googled ABC Life Literacy Canada and came up with their website, I also discovered that September is literacy month.  Could my timing be any better?  I don’t think so.

Here I am, giving up my favourite piece of punctuation in hopes of making a small dent on those who can’t make as easy and efficient use of the internet as I do.  Goodbye exclamation point.  Goodbye.