change – Stay N Alive

Your Constantly Evolving, Constantly Changing Social Media Plan

When I was younger things were simpler. TV, Print News, and when the internet, even websites would remain pretty static. My, how things have changed! In a world of “Generation Me”, with Millenials being raised on the internet and using technology and social media for most of their lives, marketing, and technology is so much different! As a marketer, your audience expects change, and they expect it fast.

It’s for this reason that social networks evolve so quickly. I remember numerous companies rising up on the backbone of Facebook, only to find out Facebook’s rules for their platform changing and completely going out of business as a result. I learned this the hard way with my service, SocialToo, which, based wholely on the premise of a user’s social graph on Twitter alone, and the ability to auto-follow, was quickly overrun by changes in Twitter’s API policies which rendered my business model obsolete.

Am I bitter? Maybe a little, but the fact is I’ve learned my lesson. In this ever-changing world of social media, marketers and business owners need to be willing to adapt very quickly, and look to the future, expecting these technologies to change fast, and the rules that go with them. What works today will likely not work tomorrow.

Facebook is already making this evident in their changes in News Feed policy, suggesting they will begin punishing “memes” and “calls-to-action” in posts on Facebook Pages. In the past, this is what performed best because it produced the greatest engagement, and in fact still does! Marketers are looking towards a sore wake-up call if they are not preparing for these changes.

In every presentation I make, even in my recent course on Facebook Ads (you can download it here!), I always tell people not to believe me. Always test, test, test. What works for me may not work for you, and most of all, Facebook is in a state of constant flux and change due to the ever-changing attention spans of its users. Marketers need to study these early, and study them often, and continually test the strategies they employ on social networks or their social strategies will not work.

The strategies and techniques I share in my courses and consulting and speaking work – I’ve tested them, and they have produced results for me. But a Social Media Marketer needs to be on their toes. What works for me may not work for them. A good Social Strategy needs to be constantly evolving, constantly changing, and forever in flux. There should be no end in technique and growth of that technique. That is where you will see your greatest success – constant change.

Twitter, Two Years Later and Nothing Has Changed

Last year, exactly 1 year yesterday in fact, I wrote an article reminding developers, while venting that we were in a constant state of being at Twitter’s mercy.  In the last year, Twitter has actually improved a lot in regards to stability – they attribute that to Unicorns.  I think it’s because they’ve hired a lot of good people over the last year.  Yet, the core problems of 2 years ago still exist, and you know what – I’m fine with it now.

Check out the interview (again) that Robert Scoble and I (mostly Robert) did with Ev Williams and Biz Stone almost exactly 2 years ago.  This was in response to Alex Payne writing a blog post calling Robert a “whale” and blaming Twitter’s scaling difficulties on that.  At the time I was also very concerned about the developer ecosystem, and that has not changed since.  Robert Scoble since has been replaced by pop-culture icons on Twitter’s suggested user list, and, as one of Twitter’s top promoters and even the top user for quite awhile, he was thrown under the rug by Twitter as well.

Here’s the thing though – as I said in my article yesterday, I have no problem with this.  Twitter is a business.  They have a core technology they need to build, and they’re going to continue building that to compete.  They even had auto follow for awhile – I competed, we provided a better service (and probably even had more users than Twitter using it), and Twitter eventually didn’t see the need to continue supporting it.  They’ve since replaced several other features my business offers.  We’ve continued to compete there as well.  They even asked me to remove specific features because it was not in their core interest.

At first I was dumbfounded at how I was being treated by Twitter.  I even left the service for a short while due to my disappointment.  Then I think I went into denial.  I’d continue making the same mistakes over and over, continuing to release features only to see Twitter replace them.  For some reason after each time I’d still get mad, complain, and the cycle would continue.  It wasn’t until this year that I’ve finally come to terms with all of this.  Yes, I have a service that relies on Twitter.  Yes, I have many features that risk getting replaced by Twitter.  No, I probably will never be acquired by Twitter, nor will any of my competitors.

I’m okay with that though.  I’ve provided some great services to many people and people actually pay for this stuff and like it.  We still provide the best stats of new and lost followers on Twitter.  We have some of the best filters on the planet for Twitter.  We have one of the best auto follow tools on the planet and have upheld our responsibility to keep Twitter clean in the process of doing that.  We’ll continue to improve these features and add new features in the future.  I started it – I can’t just quit until it’s all over and either someone acquires me, or Twitter completely puts me out of business.  I’ve come to complete terms with that, while at the same time I realize I need to come up with a core and move towards that as a focus.

I’ve been saying this over and over again on this blog over the past 2 years.  Twitter isn’t going to change their ways.  They’ll continue to compete.  They’ll continue to add features.  They’ll even buy one of your (or my) competitors.  That’s life.  And I’m okay with that.  I’ve been through this too many times to get mad any more.

One year from now I’m sure I’ll say the exact same thing I said this year, last, and the year before.  Twitter won’t change.  They’re a business, and they have to compete to stay alive.  It’s time we all start innovating, and let Twitter be Twitter.  The complaining, quite honestly, is getting old (I think I invented it).

It’s funny how Twitter gives us this reminder almost the exact same time every year, yet we all seem to think it’s news when it comes around.

8 Late Predictions That Will Change the Web in 2009

I’ve been intending to write this all month, and until now have had to put it off due to a really busy month on SocialToo. I’ve been tracking multiple web startups this last year, and many news stories around technology. In January and end of December you may have seen the predictions of blog after blog for what they predicted will happen in the year 2009. I missed this opportunity last year, so this year, I noted mine on Twitter, favorited them so I could reference back to them, and will list those here for you to reference next year and see if I was right. Here are 8 predictions that will change the tech space in 2009:

1. SixApart and Automattic will enter the microblogging space (Original Twitter prediction) – Twitter has a monopoly right now in the microblogging space. Even though there are serious contenders like Friendfeed, it’s hard not to leave such a large network of connected people all communicating with each other, so competing with such is a hard task to accomplish. Like it or not, Twitter is still a micro-blogging platform, emphasis on “blogging”. It’s a way to express thoughts and news quickly, in short space, in a very social way. SixApart and Automattic, the two competing blog platforms that make such software as WordPress (that this blog is hosted on) and MovableType, know Twitter hits their audience and fills a void their platforms don’t fill at the moment. They will pose as serious competition by bringing the space of micro-blogging back onto the user’s blogs themselves. We’re already seeing them start this effort with SixApart’s Motion software, and Automattic’s BuddyPress. David Recordon at SixApart is already actively involved in pushing standardization in lifestreaming with Chris Messina and others, an effort Twitter is oddly absent from. Oh, and let’s not forget SixApart’s acquisition of Pownce, solely for their developers! At the same time, I asked Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Auttomatic what their competition to Motion was, and he responded BuddyPress was the answer.

2. Facebook will overtake Craigslist and/or Ebay in online classified sales, or become a very strong competitor (Original Twitter Prediction) – What??? It’s true, Facebook doesn’t even have a classifieds site right now, for the most part. They’ve taken most of it down, and what’s left is rarely used. However, Facebook has announced plans to integrate with existing online marketplace provider, Oodle to integrate their own social offerings and network with the existing Oodle marketplace. I still think there is a huge social marketplace that has not yet been tapped, and of all companies, I think Facebook is the one that gets this, and they’re trying to get it right. I truly believe this year is the year they’ll get it right, and they’ll do such with a combination of developer platform options, micro-payment options, and even more social ways to spread what you’re selling by word of mouth. However, with the tremendous size of Ebay and Craigslist, Facebook has a very steep hill to climb – we’ll see if they’re able to do it this year or next.

3. Robert Scoble and FastCompany will do something truly innovative with all the “likes” he has been sharing on FriendFeed (Original Twitter prediction) – While Gabe Rivera has done a tremendous job responding, Scoble has made no secret his frustrations and love/hate relationship with the service, TechMeme</a. And, as the most followed individual on FriendFeed, he has a unique position to present the news from that which he finds in his huge list of friends, in a social, living manner that others cannot. While, knowing Scoble, I know he does this because he truly enjoys new information, smart people, and innovating startups, I can’t help but wonder if some of his activity is in planning for something he is also doing with his employer, FastCompany. We’ll find out in the next 11 months I guess.

4. Facebook will launch a serious developer platform, solely for mobile phone developers (Original Twitter prediction) – I predicted this middle of last year, and Facebook has confirmed this, sort of, as Ben Ling announced at F8 last year that they would be releasing libraries for Facebook Connect on top of the iPhone at some point. I asked again in the following Press briefing, and he confirmed it there as well. I think Facebook has tremendous potential on the iPhone. While technically it is possible to integrate Facebook Connect and the Facebook platform into any environment with an internet connection, Facebook has not put their focus in this area for developers yet, nor have they made it easy. However, once they do expect an even larger boom for Facebook as they launch to the 3 billion world-wide cell phone subscriber base out there. Imagine not only friend and status information being shared, but geo-location, on-the-spot photos and videos, and more. I think this is the year for that to happen for Facebook.

5. People will grow tired of traditional social media services and move, possibly en masse, to bigger, and better solutions (Original Twitter prediction) – Microsoft has yet to seriously contend in the social media space. Google keeps trying and failing (or so we perceive). Yahoo has yet to be successful. However, each of these have massive chat platforms all with friends lists and networks that, with a little tweaking could be modified to work, just like Twitter, or possibly even Facebook or similar. Microsoft has shown interest in this by having a representative at Steve Gillmor‘s Bearhug camp last year. Each of these platforms dwarfs Twitter in size. I think there is a very strong possibility Twitter will either be acquired by one of these, or the big 3 will start competing in Twitter’s space and we’ll see serious competition out there. I think this is just one example of ways this can happen in the Social Media space we know today.

6. RSS will lose its anonymity (Original Twitter prediction) – one of the strong points of RSS is that anyone can subscribe, and no one has to know they subscribed to the content they want to read. However, in an increasingly “Social” world, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to remain anonymous. I think the days are numbered that RSS keeps its anonymity. With services like Feedburner beginning to fail, and services like Google FriendConnect and Facebook Connect taking shape, there is a serious possibility bloggers will soon be able to know each individual, personally, who subscribes to their blog. If you think I’m blowing smoke about this, just look over there on the right – see all those names and faces? I’m willing to bet each one of them subscribes to this blog.

7. FriendFeed will be acquired by a major news organization. (Original Twitter prediction) – FriendFeed, even more than Twitter, is a news source. It’s a way to gather and read more than just statuses, but blog posts, Google Reader shares, Facebook posts, and more, in one single location. News organizations worldwide are dying. It’s becoming too expensive to produce good content any more, especially as others are producing content for free via blogs and other mediums. For this reason, I think the successful News organizations will be Content enablers, not providers, and will be the ones providing the technology, and services for ordinary citizens to report the news where they are, at the time it’s happening. Of all available networks out there, I think FriendFeed does this best. Think I’m crazy? It already happened to FriendFeed’s competitor, SocialMedian, acquired by news organization, Xing. It happened to MySpace with News Corp. Smart news organizations will realize this and you’ll see many more acquisitions like those.

8. Content aggregation will move to blogs (Original Twitter prediction) – I covered this a little in number one. However, I think it’s worth re-emphasizing. People like to own their content. I think people are getting frustrated that they can’t aggregate, communicate with their networks, and more, through their own home base, being their blog. I think the smarter services will enable the ability to aggregate on users’ own blogs, and network with others’ blogs and content aggregation at the same time.

So there you have it – heard here first, 8 predictions that I think will change the web in 2009. In economically troubling times people are desperate – they work harder than ever to make things work, and I truly believe that much of the landscape as we know it will be different, come 2010.

This Utah Texan’s Voting for Obama

election_2008.pngI rarely pipe in with Political rants here because well, it’s a tech blog. However, with the change in the economy and lead-in to an election, politics seems to be the only thing people talk about these days. I’m going to make an exception today because I think, as an Independant, I’ve made a decision that is quite significant for me. For the first time, ever, I’m voting Democrat this election. Yes, “my friends”, I’m voting for Obama.

I grew up in a very Republican and conservative family. I have extended family that are very Democrat and liberal, but for the most part, my Mom, Dad, brothers and sisters all seemed pretty conservative growing up. I married a conservative, my brothers, father, father-in-law, and now sister are all accountants and for the most part, pretty fiscally conservative. I grew up in Houston, TX, and I currently live in Utah, 2 of the most Red states in the nation. So I’ve had conservatism all around me. I’ve always been a very “independant” person though. I hate the two-party system. To me, picking a candidate is about picking the best person for the job, not picking a person just because they belong to one party or the other. If I ever run for politics, then I’ll pick a party and pick where I stand on things. As a normal citizen, I get to be a learner, not pick sides, and choose the side that will be best for this nation. Why Obama? Let’s pick a few issues that have convinced me:


This was a big one for me. I used to work at UnitedHealth Group, and learned a lot about how large HealthCare companies work, and what the problems are that face this nation in regards to HealthCare technology.

What convinced me on Healthcare is in the last debate when Obama talked about “digitizing medical records in Doctors offices”. Obama, more than anyone else gets technology. His campaign has done an excellent job targeting people on Facebook, Twitter, via Youtube, and other means that McCain I imagine simply hasn’t touched. (Don’t get me started on McCain’s “disability” – if McCain really knew technology he’d know there are very good accessibility option on most Operating Systems these days. I know blind people better at computers than McCain.)

One of the largest and costliest issues facing our nation right now are old insurance companies and old doctors still using paper for most of their record-keeping. These papers at some point have to be converted to digital format, which in many cases leads to errors and costly mistakes. The large insurance companies are making money off of this, creating systems around leaving a flawed system in place. It’s wrong, and Obama understands this. Our economy will be better because of this. (and no, Obama isn’t doing “true” universal healthcare – he’s just keeping the stupid from costing us money by not having healthcare)


As a fiscally conservative individual, this was a big issue for me. Frankly, neither McCain nor Obama have good plans. The fact of the matter is, when Bush leaves office, our taxes are going to go up. Both Obama and McCain have ways to give back to the citizens, but economically speaking, they’re both the same. McCain gives back to everyone, keeping corporations from being taxed, and giving money back to the rich that may not need it as much.

Obama wants to do a weight-distribution of the money. He’ll tax corporations, which in turn will pass that cost onto the consumer. At the same time, the middle-to-low income consumer will have more money due to tax cuts and rebates given back to them. In the end, the rich still get paid because the consumers, now with more money, can spend money on their products. It’s simple economics – the wealth gets distributed either way. Both plans are near identical if you ask me so this isn’t a huge issue for either.


As an Independant, I’m against the death penalty. I could never, in any way, imagine myself in a position to be responsible for someone else’s life, and for that reason I could never directly vote for it or agree with it. For that same reason, I’m against Abortion, except in the cases of rape or incest. I would never allow my daughter to have an abortion, would not support my wife in such a decision, except in very rare circumstances.

At the same time, it doesn’t affect me one way or another if you or your friend or your sister or mom get an abortion. That’s your business, not mine. Economically speaking, in Freakonomics it actually suggests that it is better for the nation to allow abortion – there has actually been less crime since Roe v. Wade than before. Allowing choice, statistically, has had an indirect affect on the crime-rate of this country. Again, I’m not saying I support it – I’m just saying it’s not that big of an issue for me.

For this reason, I don’t buy those that say bringing in a Liberal to lead the nation could enable the Supreme court to be tipped liberally, forcing Roe v. Wade to be enforced. One way or another, it’s your choice – we all have the responsibility to make that choice. IMO, this nation is not affected adversely by allowing it. So regardless of Obama’s stance, this is just a non-issue for me.

Foreign Policy

McCain scares the living daylights out of me in regards to Foreign Policy. ‘Nuf said.


Obama’s “Change” theme has annoyed the heck out of me. However, I think I finally got it after this last debate. We are in a circumstance in this nation right now that is unprecedented. All of those running were not living the last time this happened. We simply don’t know how to solve it. Therefore, it requires an adaptive President to manage the situation. It takes someone who is willing to change and adapt with the circumstances. Obama showed that this last debate with some of his change in position. McCain is still doing the same things he always did. For this reason above all, I’m implementing “change” in my life and voting for Obama this election.

(Note, it’s not too late to convince me otherwise – if you think I’m wrong, and have solid reasons to back that up, I’m all ears! Again, I’m in this to learn!)

I’m Changing Gears

Picture 1.pngI mentioned earlier I was going to announce a big change this week. I’m “on the move“, as Jeremiah Owyang would put it. Today was my first day working full time at a new Silicon Valley startup with offices here in Utah, where I will be leading their Social Product strategy moving forward. I am phasing off my regular consulting, and moving to this new Entrepreneurial effort in helping them grow.

At the moment, I can’t reveal much more, other than the fact that we’re building the next era in Interactive Entertainment on the iPhone. The company I’m working with right now started out as a client of mine, and I liked their product so much I decided it would be worth helping them out full time. I believe fully that we are going to change much of the way you watch TV today. We will be launching most likely next week, and you can follow the Twitter account @MediaMyWay to catch our launch announcement and follow our updates (I’ll also point you there from my Twitter account when we launch – we’ll announce it there first!). Other Twitter accounts you can follow for updates and “clues” are @JustintheWhitt, @Romay, and our CEO, @BradPelo.

How will this affect the other stuff I do? In reality, not much is changing, other than what I do full time. I have received permission to keep going part-time, as it has, unless it takes off. Expect some very cool things to come from SocialToo in the near future – we’re working on a completely new design and a really cool new feature that will be released in the next couple weeks.

As far as my blogging and book-writing is concerned, I see nothing changing, and I intend fully to continue blogging regular, unbiased articles that I feel inspire and educate. I will disclose where necessary if I feel my current employment has any influence in what I am writing. I still hope to continue writing in other capacities as well, as long as speak as I’m asked to do (I’m speaking in Dallas next week to the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, in fact – come see me speak!).

So, keep watching the @MediaMyWay Twitter account, and you can also follow this blog and I’ll be sure you’re aware of the latest of our happenings (we’ll have a company blog here shortly, which I’ll let you know about). In the meantime I’ll keep posting regular, educational, and original content as I always have and always will. “Stay” Tuned!