September 2010 – Stay N Alive

How do I get People to Interact and Build Lasting Relationships?

Today I received 2 similar requests, so I thought I’d share the answer here so others could learn as well.  The question was, “How do I get people to interact and build lasting relationships?”  Other forms of the question previously have been, “how do I build my followers?” or, “how do I create traffic?”  There’s even a book about it called, “How to win Friends and Influence People.”

While I don’t think the actual answer is very hard, the process does involve hard work.  It shouldn’t be easy.  It’s something that  involves much more than just “creating numbers.”  Actually, the question, “how do I build my followers?” or, “how do I build my traffic?” are probably the wrong questions you should be asking.  The correct question is just what another person asked me today, which you read in the title – how do we build relationships?  How do we build community?  How can you build an audience that will listen when you speak?  Even better:  How do I build an audience of people that listen that have even larger audiences of people who will listen?  I think that’s the key.

When I was asked this earlier, here is how I answered:

“What do you have to offer? Find people that are interested in what you have to offer, and offer to help – it’s pretty much Karma. The more you give, the more you will get back and the more your community will grow. Build cool stuff. Create cool content. Find people that need help and offer to help with the talents you have to offer. The most successful have mastered these things.”

To another person I suggested building a monthly consulting plan where we work gradually towards that goal.  I am worried that person is too focused on numbers though – he will not be nearly as successful.

Earlier I shared my biography of how I got to where I’m at now.  I mentioned an important piece to that puzzle to building influence (in my case, getting published, and building a reputation) was how to network.  I also mentioned to Jolie O’Dell, which she mentioned in a recent piece on Mashable that this is key to aspiring web developers looking to grow their talent (and I argue this can apply to any position out there).  What I haven’t shared is how to network to build that influence.

One of my first memories shortly before I quit my job and started working for myself was Guy Kawasaki visiting Utah to speak.  I heard great things about Guy and wanted to learn from him.  One of the most vivid things I remembered from his presentation was to always tell people after you help them with something, “I know you would do the same for me.”  You see it’s all about Karma – some call it The Golden Rule.  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Find the needs of those that can help you, and find ways you can use your own talents to help them in their needs.  Some call this “Social Capital”, or “Whuffies“, being a form of currency for that Capital.

I actually took Guy Kawasaki up on his offer, funny enough, to Guy himself.  As a software developer working a 9-5 job as I mentioned earlier I followed Guy on Twitter – he was a guy I wanted to learn more about, someone I wanted to learn from.  My Dad always taught me to always surround myself with people smarter than me, people that I look up to and aspire to be.  Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, make this possible and the people don’t even have to know who you are.

Guy mentioned on Twitter that he was looking for a script to automatically follow the people that follow him on Twitter.  It had just so happened that I created one of those for myself, and even published the source code on my blog earlier (there’s an entirely similar story with Chris Pirillo, who I now consider a friend, who inspired me to release that due to a similar need he mentioned on Twitter earlier on – I would be wrong not to mention his influence, as well).  I decided to offer this to Guy.  To my surprise, Guy responded!

To make a long story short, I adapted my script to a format Guy could use, and I even made it so others could use it in a nice, easy to use UI.  Thus became the birth of the service I still run, SocialToo.  In a private message, Guy thanked me for setting that up for him.  He also offered to let me write a post about Facebook on his blog, since I had just published my first book with Jason Alba (which you can read here).  My response to him: “My pleasure – I know you would have done the same to me.”

Several months later Guy approached me again, this time with an idea to publish surveys targeting Twitter and other social networks on SocialToo.  We built the product, I launched it on SocialToo, and it became one of many more features we have added to the service since.  Guy at that point officially became an Advisor to SocialToo, and I consider him a good friend, mentor, and Advisor.

Networking is all about relationships.  It’s about how you can help others.  It’s about opening yourself up, saying, “here’s what I have.  How can I help you?”  It’s not about the numbers.  It’s not even about gaming people by pretending you care in order to get them to like you back.  It’s about building true friendships. It’s about building real relationships.  It’s about really caring.

As you build your strategy, are you trying to build numbers, or are you trying to build stuff that helps others?  How are you changing the world?  How are you building relationships?  How are you touching people?  Look at Gary Vaynerchuck – I believe he calls it, “Crushing it.”  He approaches people that don’t even know him and offers to help, one-by-one.  Today’s he’s a brand that even non-social media folk know and turn to for help.  He did that one-by-one, starting with the comfort of his own Wine Store in New York.  I think you’ll find similar stories for each and every successful person or business out there.

So my suggestion to you: don’t worry about numbers.  Worry about relationships.  If you have one person completely devoted to helping you because they believe in you that’s so much better than thousands of people that barely even know you’re there.  Once you have a large audience, keep in mind you have to shout really loud to get everyone to hear!

Anyway, I thought I’d share this while it was on my mind.  After all, I know you’d do the same for me. 😉 (but really, I do this because I want to help!)

Want to Come to Hawaii? I’ve Got a Great Excuse for You

I hear there’s no better time to visit Hawaii than October.  It’s just when things are starting to get cold in many states in the U.S., and I hear the weather is great there. On October 5, I’m going to be speaking at the Hawaii Social Media Summit at the Ala Moana Hotel, and I’ve got a great excuse to get you there.  Well, 2 great reasons: $97 and Double Bonus Miles on Delta.

My co-presenter (“co” meaning we’re each presenting at the same conference, not together in case anyone was confused), Andy Beal (MarketingPilgrim), put it quite well in stating that a conference like this normally, just for entrance, costs around $2,000 or more to get in.  You’ll join myself, and world-renowned speakers such as Andy Beal and Roxanne Darling and others as we talk on the technologies, techniques, and strategies you need to know to figure out how to use this thing called Social Media and turn it into profit for your business.  The title of my presentation is “From Fishers to Farmers – Bringing Your Brand to Your Customers Using Social Technologies”, and I’ll be showing you all the techniques I use with the businesses and brands I work with in order to integrate Social technologies into your own brand and website, and how you can gain full penetration of your brand on the social networks you participate in.  Roxanne is one of the best at viral video I know, and you can learn a ton from what she’s presenting with “Use Video and Go to the Head of the Class”.  Andy Beal is perhaps one of the top Marketers in the world and he’ll be speaking about “Reputation Management and Monitoring”.  In addition, you’ll get to hear from other experts in the industry who have all achieved top honors in their field.

Here’s the excuse you should pitch to your employer:

A typical conference of this caliber costs $2,000+.  Web 2.0 Expo at the end of this month in New York is $4-5,000 full price.  Hawaii Social Media Summit is just $97.  My plane ticket costs about $500, round trip (and I even got that non-stop from Utah).  If you search Craigslist, you can find rental apartments for around $100/night.  $97+$500+2 nights at $100 = Just about $800, a fraction of the cost of a typical conference plus hotel!  And as a bonus for you, Delta is currently offering Double Bonus Points for trips anywhere in the Continental U.S. to Hawaii between now and November.  So around $800 plus double bonus points for the entire trip is a steal!  Not to mention you get to stay in Hawaii!

Anyway, I don’t mean to be pitchy on this blog – I don’t get paid for this, other than my travel being covered (and a great getaway with my wife).  I just thought Andy Beal made a great point – this is an opportunity many of you shouldn’t pass!  Will you be there?

You can register here.  See you there!

With the New Design, Twitter Kills RSS, Literally

The blogosphere is abuzz lately about the latest trend: “RSS is Dead,” everyone says.  Other blogs say “RSS isn’t dead.” (of which side I tend to agree with).  The debate lies with the fact that more and more people are starting to use Twitter, Twitter lists, Facebook, and other social means to just get the news from the streams they follow on these sites rather than typical RSS Readers like Google Reader.  For instance, even on my own Google Reader shares, you can get them right on my @jesseslinks Twitter stream if you don’t ever want to touch Google Reader (yet I’m still using Google Reader to provide those to you).  Whatever side you agree with, I just discovered one thing we’ll all be able to agree with: at least on its own site in the new design, Twitter has quite literally killed RSS.  Into thin air it’s gone in the new UI.

I talked previously about Twitter increasingly becoming less and less open and more and more a walled garden.  Facebook itself just added RSS to its feeds for Facebook Pages and opened its database so you can reformat their content, so long as users approve, in any way you like.  It appears, as no surprise, Twitter is moving in the opposite direction.  In the new design I can’t find an RSS feed anywhere.  Previously there was a link to the lower-right allowing you to add an RSS feed.  They also had a link to the RSS in the source of the HTML so your browser would automatically recognize the feed, and just entering the URL for the user profile into Google Reader, they could automatically detect the feed for you.

Currently the only way to find an RSS feed is to log out and visit the profile of the user when you’re not logged into Twitter.  This might also be why Google Reader still recognizes feeds when you enter user profile URLs in the “Add Subscription” box.  Firefox doesn’t recognize the feed when I’m logged in – it does when I’m not.  It does make you wonder how long the RSS feed will be in the unauthenticated version.

It’s hard to tell if this is intentional or not, but we do know Twitter wants to be a source for news.  Perhaps they think this is in their best interest – the harder they make it for you to read your news elsewhere, the more likely you are to come to to read your news from your friends.  One thing is for sure however – the new Twitter design is certainly less open than it was before.  Twitter, especially with the new design, is now a walled garden.

I’ve contacted Twitter about this and will update here with any response.

UPDATE: For some reason Twitter’s PR never responded.  However, even better, Isaac Hepworth, a developer from Twitter, responded on Buzz, inferring some of it was a mistake, while some of it was intentional to make things simpler:

“Hey Ade, thanks for the cc and sorry for the delay jumping in. I’ve been talking to people internally to work out what happened here so that I could untangle it properly.

Here’s the scoop: the RSS itself is still there (as Jesse’s roundabout method for finding it shows). Two things were removed in #NewTwitter:
1. The hyperlink to the RSS on the profile page; and
2. The link to the RSS in the profile page metadata (ie. the element in the ).

(2) was wholly accidental, and we’ll fix that. In the meantime, Jesse’s way of finding the RSS is as good as any, and you can still subscribe to user timelines in products like Google Reader by just adding a subscription to the profile URL, eg.

(1) on the other hand was deliberate, in line with the “keep Twitter simple” principle which we used to approach the product as a whole. Identifying RSS for a page and exposing it to users per their preferences is a job which most browsers now do well on their own based on s.

Hope that helps!”

The Next "Facebook Platform" for the Modern Web, and Why Twitter’s Running the Wrong Way

I’ve talked previously about “the web with no login button”, a vision of the Building Block Web that follows the user where they go, knowing who they are and adapting as they move.  With the advent of mobile, entire operating systems running on the browser, cloud-based personal information stores and APIs such as Kynetx to manage both user and application data for the user, we are so close to being where we want to be!  There’s one hurdle we have to jump before we get there though, and I’m concerned Twitter just ran the wrong direction with their new UI.  The hurdle we’ve got to get around is that of allowing a user’s social connections to also follow them wherever they go, uninhibited by any single corporation.  Not a single big player seems willing to take this step yet, but when it happens, I guarantee you’ll see a revolution at the scale of when Facebook Platform launched in 2007.  The first person to do it gets the opportunity to lead the pack, and hundreds of millions will follow.

I mentioned earlier on Twitter that something about Twitter’s new UI (which I’ve actually only seen screenshots and demos of since I’m not on their Press list) really bugged me but I couldn’t put my finger on it.  Perhaps it was hearing Ev emphasize “yet” when talking about CoTweet-like functionality. Perhaps it was hearing Jason Goldman talk about improving their “following” interface to something that I think could potentially threaten some of what I’m doing with my business.  Perhaps it’s the feature they just asked me to kill on SocialToo that I haven’t announced yet.  Perhaps it’s their lack of a solid roadmap like Facebook has to warn developers of what’s ahead and who will be replaced next.  As a developer, every step like this Twitter makes is certainly a threat to my business model and anyone else like me.  It’s definitely a token to their closed nature.  However I think it’s much bigger than that.

I think Alex Payne, of whom I just became a big fan after his recent post on his perceptions of the new UI (a must read), said it perfectly, “all communications media will inevitably be decentralized, and that all businesses who build walled gardens will eventually see them torn down.”  Now, I don’t think all walled gardens will die – Ev William’s own original startup,, remained closed in a time where sites like LiveJournal and WordPress were going completely open source and it was still bought by Google.  In those days, going open source and giving people the opportunity to own their own data stored on each blog was the equivalent of federating social connections would be today – instead of owning content people would now have the opportunity to own their own relationships and port those from site to site if they choose, or host the relationships themselves if they also choose (I’m kind of doing that at  Blogger obviously survived and is now one of the largest blogging platforms on the planet.

Twitter’s new UI, while I’m sure it will increase page views for them and bring them lots of money, is too late for Twitter to do any sort of innovation in this space.  Facebook already did this, and they were called a “walled garden” as a result and are now trying to break out of this reputation as users were getting ready to revolt.  Maybe that’s what Twitter wants, and I’m sure it will make them a lot of money.  They may even gain a large segment of the masses.  Businesses will still flock and so will the money.  I’ve mentioned Twitter’s need to own the UI before, but I argue it’s now too late to be focusing on that.

Twitter could however, have an opportunity to create a new wild west – a new playing field if they choose, a new canvas.  If they do so they need to focus not on the UI, but on the platform and decentralizing it significantly.  Then new opportunities arise such as payments, new service models, search, ad platforms and more that can still make them profitable.  The difference is they’re now spanning the entire web instead of their own walled garden.

I think Facebook started to make moves in this direction as they released Facebook Connect last year, and then Graph API this year along with no restrictions, redacted term limits on storage, and a push further and further away from building on their own UI.  They introduced a new protocol in fact that enables websites to be indexed more properly and enables those websites to more easily bring Facebook connections into the experience.  Facebook is moving from the walled garden approach out into the open web.  Twitter, it seems, is moving in the complete opposite direction, which seems perplexing.

Even Facebook hasn’t hit the nail on the head yet – maybe they’ll make the first move at the next F8 conference.  The next revolution of the web will be when one of these players that currently owns your Social Graph completely federates, creates a standard for others to follow, and then other companies are forced to follow as a result, forcing all the others to rush to find what they’re good at which wasn’t owning your data or social connections.  Then at that point you will truly be allowed to bring your social connections with you wherever you go, allowing for a web with not only no login button, but one where your family and friends follow with you along the way.  That’s a really powerful concept!

Kevin Marks (who led the OpenSocial platform at Google) mentioned the irony in a tweet earlier today of installing the open source social network Diaspora as we were discussing Twitter’s very centralized real time streaming API and federated environments.  I think that Kevin may be part of the revolution and we just don’t know it yet.  If none of these players make a move, it will be the next open source project like WordPress, or LiveJournal did in the early 00’s that will emerge from the dust, gain traction, and the landscape will naturally adapt.  It has to happen – it’s going to happen, and the first big player to do it will lead the way. I’m excited to find out who makes that move and I’m already thinking of ways I can jump on that bandwagon as a developer.

Picture courtesy

Loud Noises Be Gone! Mute Posts by Source in Google Buzz

I’ve long said that in good social networks, it’s not how you give, but how you receive that makes the social network powerful.  This is why I like Facebook – I can hide the types of applications I don’t ever want to see, or I can just hide individuals.  I liked FriendFeed even better because they took it a step even further by allowing me to not just hide by source or application or just the user, but they allowed me to hide specific applications for only specific users.  So, for instance, if I wanted to hide all the Twitter posts from Robert Scoble I could click a button, “hide entries like these”, configure it correctly, and now I would never see a Twitter post from Robert Scoble again, even though I might still see Twitter posts from others.  Google just entered the scale of FriendFeed with the same level of granularity in what you want to receive.

In a post on Buzz, Rick Klau, the person over Google Profiles, formerly over Blogger, and originally one of the founders of Feedburner, posted, “Some of us would rather keep up with our friend’s Google Reader shared items in Google Reader or our co-worker’s Twitter posts in Twitter. So, by popular request, you can now mute Google Buzz posts by source for each person you follow.”  So, in typical Google fashion, Google is using the “mute” functionality from Gmail and other areas to allow you to hide specific applications from specific individuals you don’t want to see.

According to Klau, to turn on the functionality:

“You can do this from two places:
1) Click the arrow in the corner of any post
2) Click a person’s name from the Buzz tab

If you ever want to unmute a source, just click the person’s name from the Buzz tab again and “unmute.”

So if you’re on Buzz or you want to try Buzz, you can safely turn on your Twitter feed or whatever feed you chose, and now it’s up to those receiving your feed on how noisy they want to be.  Now MG Siegler doesn’t have to complain about how noisy my Twitter stream is any more. 😉

UPDATE: The post by Rick Klau was actually a re-share of a post by the Google Buzz Team here:

7 Strategies I’m Pitching for Businesses to use Facebook Places

Facebook Places is the latest and greatest service offered by Facebook that has many Brands raging around how to build a strategy.  Never has the advertiser or brand had so many options as they do now on Facebook to target demographic, interested parties, that you can now actually track whether they’ve been to your physical location!  My good friend, Jolie O’Dell of Mashable, wrote a great post on the American Express Open Forum last week on “How SMBs Can Start Using Facebook Places Now”.  Granted, the brands I’m used to working with lately are much larger entities and far from SMB, but I think the strategies I suggest in the large corporate Brand environments can still apply in a Small Business setting.  In addition to what Jolie recommended (which are great tips), here are some of the ways I’m suggesting businesses deploy Facebook Places.  Also note that these strategies only work if your customers (or visitors or users) actually have a place to meet and congregate in real life.  Perhaps you could create these real life places for them as part of your strategy.

Claiming the Place – Why This is Important

Jolie Touched on this – she said that as a business you can claim a “Place” and turn it into a real “Page” (or “Fan Page”) on Facebook that you can manage, add pictures, moderate, and more as soon as you’ve proven you are the owner of the actual location.  This is powerful, and you want to be sure you’re doing this if you want to be aware of what’s happening online at your locations.

Here’s why it’s powerful.  Let’s say you have an event at a particular store – let’s say it’s a grand opening.  Or let’s say you’re a band and you’re performing at a particular arena.  Now you can have a physical location you can brand in preparation for your event.  Let’s say your store is a restaurant and you have a menu you want to be sure only your Facebook customers are aware of.  You can post that on the Facebook Page, since you claimed it, and only those that check in on Facebook can know about it.  Or perhaps you own a venue and you want to pitch events to frequent visitors.  Anyone visiting your Page currently can see what’s coming up and what they can look towards in order to come back again at the right time.

I’m not going to cover this now, but I have a hunch that you’ll even be able to advertise with this data in the future, so it’s to your benefit to try to own these venues that people are checking into on Facebook. (What happens when Facebook enables Push notifications on the iPhone in the future for Venue owners?  Just a thought.)

Deals, Deals, Deals! (and Events)

Here’s where a little API knowledge is helpful, and why you’re going to want to read my next book that comes out in a few months. (hint, hint)  Right now you can make a simple call to[place page id]/checkins, appending an access token you get from Facebook to identify your application and you can have all the people that have checked into your place.  With a little code, all you have to do is add a tab to your Facebook Page, query that URL above to get the list of people that have Checked in, and if the current user visiting the tab is in that list you can offer them a special deal, only for people that have checked in on Facebook.

This has several benefits.  First, for each person that checks in on Facebook their friends see that checkin and have the opportunity to click through and like your Page (you did claim the Page, right?) and learn about your Page.  Hopefully you have a welcome Tab (which I talk about below) to welcome those people.

Second, it gives people motivation to visit your location.  You could set up a deal that offers a discount at the store only if they’ve previously checked in on Facebook Places, or perhaps they have to check in more than one time.  You could almost turn this into a loyalty rewards system of some sort.

Or what if you’re managing an event?  Let’s say you’re a band and want to promote your latest CD.  You could offer a sneak preview of streamed songs only to your most loyal and devoted fans who have checked in at one of your concerts and have liked the Page (I would require both, as once they like the Page you can then promote future events and sales).


One thing I really like about Places is that for each Place users check into you have a running tally of everyone that attended that event or visited that store or location that felt the need to check in on Facebook.  I can now go through that list and get a running total of how many people are checking in on Facebook and what they’re saying during their visits.  Let’s say I run Best Buy’s Social Media campaign.  I could now have a running view of what type of experience all the visitors of my stores are having as they check in (assuming they want to share that experience).  We could maybe even feature some of those on our main corporate website using Graph API.  You can browse this manually or use the Facebook Graph API to tally it automatically for you (with very little effort).

SMS – Yes, Facebook Has This, Too

One little used feature on Facebook Pages is something I think that has a very powerful effect.  I use this every time I speak.  Did you know that if you send the text message “like stay” to 32665 (FBOOK on your mobile phone) you’ll get regular updates sent to your cell phone of every post I publish on  Try it. 🙂  Not only that, but you have now liked my Facebook Page, and even if you turn off the mobile phone updates you’ll get them in your Facebook News Feed.

Since you claimed your Checkin location as a Page, you can now do this for your Page as well.  I think every retail store in the world should have a sign that says, “Send ‘like suchandsuch’ to 42665 (FBOOK) on your mobile phone for updates and deals!”  This gives you a distribution channel right to the actual hands of every customer of yours that takes advantage of this, bringing more engagement and more participation by your customers.  This is a very powerful tool you should be taking advantage of.

Or, what if you’re a band?  Take a moment during your concert to ask your fans to do that, right then, then have everyone hold up their cell phones showing that they did, swaying back and forth as you begin the next song.  Then, send out a message to your fans during the concert offering a special deal on the CD for the concert that only those that checked in at the concert can take advantage of.  See what I mean?  You’ve just acquired an audience of thousands that have come out to see you in person, all at once.

The Welcome and Other Custom Tabs

The Welcome Tab is powerful.  Check out my article over on Techipedia on how to set this up in a simple manner.  Since you claimed your Place as a Page, you can now add these to your Place.  You should use these to welcome new customers visiting the Page (keep in mind that most people checking in probably haven’t liked the Page yet, so you want to be sure to give them a welcome message and get their e-mail or promote a deal or something similar that encourages them to like the Page).  You can create tabs for specials you offer.  Remember what I said above about offering special deals to people that checkin at your locations?

Most Frequent Customers

One custom tab you can offer is one that the Social Media development firm, Context Optional, created that creates a “Leaderboard” on your Page of the top checkins for your location.  I think there is value in knowing the most frequent customers of a location.  You could offer a contest, giving a deal to the 10 most frequent customers of your location, for instance.  This is a great way to find out who your most loyal fans and customers are and reward them as such, creating competition with others to also do the same.  If you need a similar tab contact me and we can talk about getting this added to your SocialToo account as well.


This post is about Facebook Places, but I did want to briefly mention FourSquare.  Gowalla also has similar strategies you can employ.  There is one strategy with these that I think brands should employ, and will target a younger audience (Facebook’s average age is 38 right now – FourSquare’s and Gowalla’s should be much younger).  That is the process of creating an account on FourSquare for your brand and encouraging your customers to follow it.  Then, post “Tips” for your place – this can be a deal, or additional info, or whatever you like.  Then, when people who are following your brand on Foursquare check in nearby your locations, they’ll get these tips and hopefully feel motivated to come by and take advantage of what you have to offer.

I’ve only mentioned a few strategies here – there are so many more you can take advantage of!  Knowing the location of your customers and knowing, especially when they’re checking into your location is a powerful concept and gives you so many opportunities to virally grow your brand online.  I strongly suggest you take a look at how Facebook Places can benefit your brand – this is perhaps Facebook’s most powerful tool ever to enable brands to engage and convert sales from customers.

Want to learn more cool stuff like this?  There are just 3 more days until the 50% off deal is over for Facebook Success Summit registration (after that it’s full price).  I’ll be one of the presenters and will be covering stuff just like this.  I get 50% of all sales through this site (I don’t get paid otherwise), so please register now!

Who are the Utah Tech Bloggers on Twitter?

I had this long-winded post on how I thought startups, entrepreneurs, and investors in Utah aren’t reading enough Utah based tech blogs, hoping to start a “Read Utah” campaign, but I figured I’d do something about it instead.  I’m looking for every Utah Tech blogger you know on Twitter.  The Rule is they have to post new blog posts at least somewhat regularly on their Twitter account.  I’ll put all those you list on this Twitter list: – please tell your friends about it, get them to follow it, subscribe to it in TweetDeck and FlipBoard, etc.  Add their blogs to Google Reader (anyone want to create an OPML file of their blogs?).

My hope is that we can create a list of who these bloggers are so that a) startups can invite them to their press events, and b) so that we can start to get the Utah tech scene “Reading Utah”.  I think it’s too often we default to Silicon Valley when we think of blogs to read.  How many Utah blogs do you read?

I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, but if you can please forward this to a Utah tech entrepreneur or investor that you know, I’d really appreciate it.  Retweet this, share it on Facebook, Google Reader, and Buzz.  Send it in an e-mail or print it out.  Truth is I don’t get a ton of people from Utah reading this blog – my audience is mostly outside Utah.  I’d like to change that.  I’d like to change that for every Utah tech blogger.  Let’s grow this community from the inside out!  It’s time we “Read Utah” – our community will never grow if we don’t.

If you’re not in Utah, maybe you could do the same for your community?  Share with me your own community lists, as well as any Utah blogger you’re aware of that I can add to mine in the comments.

UPDATE: Will King has created an awesome list of not just tech bloggers, but tech companies in Utah here.

Tragedy Turns Into Inspiration as Thousands Turn to Help Slain Bishop Through Social Media

My heart just tears at the thought of this story as it hits really close to home – I can’t help writing this without a tear in my eye and heaviness in my heart.  A man enters a Visalia, California LDS Church meetinghouse, asks to meet with the leader over the congregation, and gets referred to the Bishop (all Bishops are volunteer, lay clergy in the LDS Church).  He meets with the Bishop, pulls out a gun, shoots him in the foot, then drags him out into the hall and shoots him in the head in front of his congregation and family.  The Bishop, Bishop Clay Sannar, is a husband and Father of 6 sons, ranging from the ages of 14 years and 3 months.  The wife and children are now left without a father, and the Congregation heartbroken as the man who served them was slain doing what he believed to be right, helping the poor, comforting the afflicted, and feeding the needy.  The shooter and the Bishop had never met prior to the event.

There’s a good side to this story though.  Connor Boyack (Twitter), a local Utah activist (he used to manage the Social Media Campaign for Mike Lee for Senate), geek, and I think all around good guy, heard this story and decided to do something about it.  He created a Pledgie campaign, setting a goal of $60,000 to raise for the family that was left behind – that’s $10,000 per boy in the 6-children family.  In just a couple days, they’ve met that goal, and in a single day they are in fact exceeding it and have raised over a thousand dollars just today.  The brother of Bishop Sannar has asked to keep the pledges going, on behalf of the family.

The fundraiser seems to be raising records for Pledgie as well, raising over 45,000 pageviews just in the few days since last night for the site, bringing over 1,100 pledges, and a total of $63,000 for the family.  The fundraiser hasn’t stopped either – it is spreading like wildfire, starting in LDS/Mormon circles, and expanding to many more who feel a need to donate.  It’s inspiring!  It, to me, shows the power and good of Social Media and that there’s a little good in each of us, and while this family will never see their father again, hopefully this effort can at least remove the burden financially for them so they can focus on resetting their life without a Dad.

If you could, would you please donate?  Just a few dollars is sufficient.  If you can’t afford to donate (and even if you can), would you please share this story on your blog, Tweet about it, tip Techmeme, post on Digg (I don’t even care if you do this for my article – feel free to post other articles that explain it better if you like), or whatever you might do to help out?  This family could be any one of us, and their Dad had put his whole life out to help others, even ahead of himself and his family.  Let’s show some good Karma and give back at least a little towards his priceless life and what is left behind.

As I write this, the family is grieving at the Father’s funeral (again, this just breaks my heart!).  These boys will never have their father to go to Scout camp with.  He won’t be able to watch his boys grow up.  While I hope justice is served, let’s show a little compassion and mercy by helping out this family.  Will you please donate?  As a father of 3 boys, this just tugs at the bottom of my soul.  Please help me out, and thank you for any help you can give.

You can do so now by just clicking this widget:

Click here to lend your support to: Help Bishop Sannar

Apple is Creating a "Social Network" the Right Way

Today Apple did one of the most powerful things they have done since the launch of the iPod.  Notice that I didn’t say “revolutionary”.  There’s nothing new about it.  Note that I didn’t say “innovative”.  There’s nothing unique about it.  Today Apple launched, quite simply, a “Social Network for Music”.  What’s so powerful is that they’re not really trying to create a social network at all.  Apple realizes the Social Graph is just a complement to something bigger.  Instead, Apple focused on one of the biggest strengths they have – their music, and made it social.  I think this is powerful, and here’s why:

I think Dave Winer got it right earlier today – this is only the beginning for Apple.  You see, the secret to a successful anything on the web (not just “social”) is to focus on what you do best, and revolve around that.  Google’s strength was search.  Microsoft’s strength was the consumer OS that could be installed on almost any affordable PC, and has since become Exchange and Outlook and Enterprise apps.  Oracle’s strength is the database.  Facebook’s is the Social Graph.  No one does these things better than these guys, and it has been their focus that has made them big.  The moment they lose that focus is the moment they start to fizzle.

That’s why I question when I hear people saying “we’re creating another Social Network.”  Or, “so and so is competing against Facebook” (even though I did say earlier today this is a threat to Facebook – I’ll explain that in a second).  The minute I hear that I immediately tune out.  The age of “Social Networks” is gone.  Social has become ubiquitous, or at least it should be with all the tools available to us now.  It’s time to focus on your core, and Apple has done that brilliantly with this new Ping launch.  They will sell boat-loads of music from this because now rather than trying to find new music through search, people are going to be finding new music through the things their friends are interested in, an even more powerful factor in the purchasing process.  That’s just the start.

As Dave Winer implied, this social experience will eventually expand across every service Apple operates.  Apple is only building the Social Graph right now.  You’ll build your list of friends to learn of their music, even import your Facebook friends in the process to help port that Social Graph over to Apple, and you’ll start to build conversations and spend time in iTunes in multiple environments.  It won’t be long before you see Apple bringing your friends into the entire iTunes experience, showing Apps as well as music, along with, right next to Albums you want to purchase, other friends that have liked or purchased those Albums.  Soon Apple will let you take those friends into Mobile Me to share photos with each other.  They’ll let you take those friends into your contact lists on your iPhone.  They’ll build it into the camera app on the iPhone and iPod devices.  You’ll be able to see what your friends are watching on your AppleTV and you’ll be able to pull that entire experience into the operating system – both OS X and iOS.  All of these elements will go into the Ping experience, and I bet that eventually branches out into the browser.  Keep in mind these aren’t just anonymous friends – these are real-life connections.  My Mom uses iTunes.  I bet many of your Grandparents use iTunes.  This is perhaps bigger than Facebook (According to Wired, iTunes in just 2005 had over 200 million users – anyone have a more recent number?).

Now, for the pinnacle event – the equivalent of Facebook’s F8: the Platform.  You can count on it.  Eventually Apple will integrate these connections into the SDK and you’ll now be able to bring over your Ping friends to the applications you use and the games you play.  I think it’s no accident the ability to play against friends in the SDK was mentioned in today’s announcement.  Now Ping’s Social Graph becomes a standard, something all apps will be fighting for, and they’ve all of the sudden hit the caliber of Facebook Platform.  They’ll be able to port those connections to the web, and now Apple has just as powerful a search and recommendation algorithm as both Facebook, and perhaps more than Google currently.

Today’s move was inevitable, but genius on the part of Apple.  I’m glad they didn’t try to build an entire Social Network out of the box.  Start small, and gradually bring your users along for the ride as you expand that experience.  I think perhaps that’s where Google went wrong – where’s my news feed in Picasa?  Where can I see what things my friends are searching for and have opted me to see?  How do I port my Facebook Social Graph over to those experiences?  Google’s focusing too broadly – I think they realize that.  I hope they don’t rush to a large social network, but rather start slowly and gradually bring it all together.

I’ve talked about building on your core – your core is key.  Apple, quite literally, showed its core today as it stayed focused on one of the things they do best right now – Music.  Everything else is just a complement, and that is totally evident in Ping.  I think Apple just confirmed what we all knew up to this point – “Social” is now just a commodity.

Want to Follow Steve Jobs? "No Soup for You!"

Evidently a few of my friends have found Steve Jobs’ profile and followed him.  Apple must have discovered that, because whenever I click on his profile, I get the following popup, saying, “Your Ping Account is Disabled.”  Of course my account isn’t disabled because I can still follow other people, but it’s definitely interesting.  I can only reproduce this with Steve Jobs himself.  This brings up the question, is Apple going to need to do the “real person” and “fake person/brand” thing that Facebook is doing with personal profiles and Pages?

What if Steve Jobs wants to share his music with only his close friends and family, but he wants to maintain a more public demeanor to the world?  Will the 2 profile system be allowed?  Does Apple need more privacy preferences?

Steve, I understand if you don’t want me following you, but please don’t disable my account!