community – Stay N Alive

It’s About Technology That Creates Community

Plug and Socket - building relationships with technologyI’ve been rambling on Twitter, FriendFeed and Facebook tonight about the differences in how Facebook, Twitter, and FriendFeed’s founders participate in each community.  Look at Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Fan Page.  Notice how he basically talks at the community?  I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a comment by him with his followers (perhaps part of the reason why it’s so difficult to manage Fan Pages right now).  Now look at Ev Williams and Biz Stone’s Twitter profiles.  You’ll notice a little more participation, but mostly with their inner circles and occasional outreaches to the community.  Now go read Paul Buchheit and Bret Taylor’s FriendFeed profiles.  Notice that they’re very actively involved in the conversation, responding in their own threads to people they barely know, participating in others’ conversations, etc.  I think if you look at the profiles of other employees in each of the three organizations you’ll see a similar trend.  Why is it that the community where the founders and employees participate the most is the smallest community with the lowest growth rate?

I’ve been contemplating this tonight.  FriendFeed, as a whole has one of the tightest communities of all.  For those that participate actively in the site, we quickly come to know each other – it’s the place where everybody knows your name.  That’s why Scoble, and Louis Gray, and myself are so passionate about it.  It is a great place to go meet new people, find more information, and grow with a community that cares and knows you.  I asked the question why Facebook and even Twitter don’t see this as an opportunity to win a new audience, much of which feels a bit betrayed by the sale of FriendFeed to Facebook, and many who have never done much venturing outside the network to new places. It seems like an opportunity to me – after all, when Facebook bought FriendFeed, they bought the technology, not the community.  The community is something that has to be earned, not bought.

Yet, at the same time I wonder if it really matters.  With Facebook and Twitter’s immense growth, do they really need to be paying attention to the small FriendFeed community?  FriendFeed has great technology, and great talent that built that technology, now working for Facebook (one who just left).  Can the community be won in other ways?  I think it can, and it goes back to the first paragraph above – look at the numbers compared to participation.  I argue a community’s growth is not relative to the participation of its founders, but rather the technology’s capability to build community even further.  It’s the technology that trumps community any day because it creates and enables that community.  Technology that empowers individuals to create their own communities wins any day, and trumps founder participation hands down.

Gasp!  You say – you mean I don’t have to participate to build a community?  No, that’s not what I’m saying.  If you’re a user of the tools, you definitely must be participating, nurturing, and sharing for your community to grow.  What I’m saying though is that no matter who the founders are and whether they participate in your personal community or not, you’re going to take your community to the places that enable you to nurter, build, and grow a community the best.  That’s why Facebook grew the fastest.  That’s why people use Twitter.  It’s also why FriendFeed was the smallest, yet had a great acquisition of some very talented individuals who know how to build this type of technology.

Let’s look at the technologies:


Facebook not only enables you to share status updates with your friends, but enables you to share photos, videos, notes, links, and more, all in an integrated environment.  You have privacy controls to which you can control how public the information you share with your friends is.  This encourages a native environment where family and close friends can communicate and share with each other, focusing on each individual’s roots to build community out of.  You have lists that you can organize these individuals and filter their updates in your news stream.

At the same time Facebook provides Fan Pages, indexable by Google, for which you can subscribe, or “fan”, similar to the way you would do on the other networks.  This is your public, more anonymous persona, something I think each individual needs as well.  This enables you to share with the rest of the world what you’re doing, and build community and share through that means.

Then you have the API.  Not only as an entrepreneur, developer, or community builder do I have access to create applications that create and nurture community within the Facebook environment, but Facebook has also given me the technology and tools to do that on my own website, all with the community I’m working to build on Facebook itself.  It enables me to do that with my own community, and enable them to bring their communities into my own.

The richness of that experience is what makes Facebook so big, and is the reason for its growth.  That has nothing to do with its founders or their participation.  I’m not sure they need to participate so long as they keep building technology that further enables individual communities on the network.


Twitter baffles me at times, but I think I understand it.  Twitter’s openness and focus on such a simple thing, status updates, is what has made it grow so big.  Users can do whatever they want with the network.  They can use it to update their friends with what they’re doing, respond, and grow a community through open communication.

Twitter also encourages the initiation of conversation.  You post something on Twitter, link to somewhere else, and the communication continues elsewhere.  Some times that filters back to Twitter.  Some times the entire communication happens on Twitter.

Twitter’s API is as open as it can be.  It’s fairly limited as compared to Facebook’s, but has enabled many people to bring their communities on Twitter back to their own brand and vice-versa to further grow community.

The problem with Twitter as compared to Facebook is that it is only status updates.  You can respond, reply, and even retweet items you read, but it all centers around those status updates.  There’s not much more depth than that, limiting the type and size of community one can build on the network.  Yet at the same time the openness and lack of rules around users and its developer platform has enabled people to do things they would not normally be able to do with a community on Facebook.  That’s why they’ve continued to grow and are the size (and hype) they are right now.

At the same time because they’re not quite the enablers of community in regards to their technology which Facebook is, I think their Founders and employees need to participate and get involved a little more.  The technology still doesn’t quite sustain the building of community the way Facebook’s does.


I could probably argue FriendFeed has better technology that encourages and enables community building better than Twitter’s.  The problem with FriendFeed is that almost all the technology found in FriendFeed keeps getting gobbled up by Twitter and Facebook.  There’s not much new to it, and now that they’ve been bought by Facebook, that doesn’t appear to need to fully compete – it would just be an additional complement to the community-building offerings Facebook offers.

Beforehand FriendFeed was doing a good job keeping up, and perhaps could have even caught up to at least Twitter.  Its growth was even starting to show that before they were acquired.  Yet their founders still participated, as did the other employees of the company.  Why is this?  It was possible because the community was smaller – the founders were simply growing with the community, and the community was and is still a tight-knit community of people that knew each other.

I think as FriendFeed continued to build technology that enabled others to build community and relationships, that participation would have slowly evolved to each of the founders’ own close communities.  They would not have needed to participate for the community to grow.


So what do we make of all this?  I think the moral here is that entrepreneurs need to focus more on building technologies that encourage and enable community.  When you’re writing code or having others write it is it enabling people to build relationships?  Is it enabling people to share with others?  How much so?

The Facebook/Twitter or even Google or Microsoft or Apple battle isn’t over yet – in the end it will be the one that best enables their users through technology to build their own communities and communicate better with each other.  The better competitors will master this.  There will be other entrants.  It’s not the participation of a community’s founders that determines its success.  It’s the technology of the company which creates community that does.  In that regard, technology trumps community, hands down.

The You, the Me, and the We – How I’m Changing How I Use Twitter

Sad PuppyI accidentally unfollowed all my followers.

I was testing out the unfollow all feature on my site,, and just happened to hit the “delete all friends” button by mistake without realizing it. For that, I apologize.  I learned something valuable from it though – out of the 23,000 people I unfollowed on accident, I was very surprised at the number of people that have auto-unfollow on by default.  About 6,000 to be exact.  So out of the 23,000 people following me 1/4th of those probably still have no clue I unfollowed them – 6,000 people following me had a meaningless relationship with me!

There’s more though – I post a lot of links to my profile.  A lot of those promote other people.  Some promote blog posts I write.  In general, for the blog posts I write, I generally only get about 20-50 of you on Twitter that actually click on the links!  That’s a depressing number coming from a follower base of 23,000 people.

This got me thinking about how I can build stronger relationships with the people I follow.  How do I get people to add me to their whitelist?  How can I get to know you better, and how can I get you to know me better at the same time? Twitter is very difficult to nurture this type of relationship – it was built as a broadcasting platform that happened to evolve to become a communications and is trying to be a relationships platform.  It also degraded to the point that most of the people that follow you now aren’t even real people! I would venture to say that a good portion (1/4th?) of Twitter’s populace are there with the sole intent to gain a larger follower base.

This isn’t why I use Twitter. I came here to share something.  I came here to learn something from others. The connections we gain from learning from each other are what matter to me. Some times we entertain each other.  Some times we teach each other.  I’m here to strengthen others’ knowledge and learn from others at the same time, not inflate a number for anyone, especially myself. IMO the whole “numbers thing” should happen naturally.  That’s how we engage.  That’s how we build real relationships – that’s what true marketing is, or should be about.

So starting today I’m starting something new with my Twitter account.  I want to strengthen my relationships with each and every one of you.  I want to build a community, and I’m starting with Twitter.

Starting today I’m now using 3 Twitter accounts.  The first one, which you are already familiar with, @Jesse, is about me.  The second one, which I’m starting today, @JessesLinks, is about YOU.  The third one, @JesseStay, is where the community happens – it’s about WE.  Here’s a little more explanation:


This account is about me.  It’s not your typical Twitter “me” account any more.  Starting today, I’m only posting content here.  Pure content – no links, no replies.  Just 140 character morsels of knowledge as I feel like sharing.  Its intent is to be informative, entertaining, and educational.  I may also share a link to a blog post or two of my own where I feel I need to elaborate.  I won’t be replying to anyone publicly on this account any more.  I won’t be auto following at the moment. The purpose of this account is pure content, for those that want to consume it.  This is a public account for all to see and follow.


This account is about YOU. This is where I share your stuff.  If you have something cool you want to share with me, let me know there.  I may retweet a few good Tweets here.  I’ll even auto follow on this account.  While I won’t be @replying to anyone publicly on this account, this is where I get to share your content. Maybe I’ll do a couple #followfridays to promote specific people as well.  You can DM me here.  This is a public account about you – those that follow this account will learn more about other people and the content they share.


This is actually my old account – I thought I’d put it to good use.  This account is all about US. Those that request access to this account will be followed rigorously by me.  Depending on how big it gets I may even follow your updates via SMS to ensure I get them.  This will become my “favorites list”.  I’ll actively interact with you through this account.  I’ll respond to your tweets.  I’ll import all the best posts from @Jesse and @JessesLinks here.  I’m going to manually (yes, manually) follow every person that is real and requests access to this account.  This is where I want to build true relationships.

I want to try a little experiment with this account though.  I’m going to make it private. This is so our conversation remains intimate.  This is also so you have to do a little something to join the community.  It makes each person in the community a little more real.  As I said earlier, I plan to follow every real person that requests access to this community.  There’s one caveat though – I’m going to ask each individual that joins this community to introduce themselves.  I want you and me to get to know each other better. I want all of us to get to know each other better through this community.

If you have to pick one account to follow I would recommend joining the @JesseStay community. This is where I want to empower relationships between us.  This is where I want our conversation to become one-on-one, and real.  Will you join me here?

This is all just an experiment for now.  I’m curious if I might be able to strengthen the relationships of those that follow me through this method.  I want to build real-life relationships with each of you – let’s work to do this together.  Maybe I’ll post a follow up later on how it all goes.

Let me know your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.

Stay N’ Alive Has a New Design!

If you haven’t been by to visit the actual blog lately (hello my loyal RSS Readers!), you might want to click on the link up there to come see what it looks like. Thanks to my friend and talented Graphic Designer, Brandon Babb, we now have a new design! I’d also like to announce a few new directions for Stay N’ Alive.


You’ll notice on the right there’s now a “Community” sub-section with options to join the community on either Google Friend Connect, or Facebook Connect.  Choose one, or the other, or both!  Right now it’s a great way to know what other friends of yours are readers of this blog, or perhaps get introduced to someone new.  Or you can just invite your friends and tell them about a story you like, asking them to join the community as well! (I suggest you personalize your message)

It should be noted that by joining Friend Connect (just a single click if you have any Google account anywhere), you’ll have the option to also post on the wall you’ll see under the same “Community” subsection.  I encourage you all to get on the wall and communicate!  You can leave a message for me, or respond to others’ messages.  The replies are threaded, so it makes for a great place to just talk amongst yourselves.  Also, through Friend Connect, if you are a Twitter user, you can now invite your friends to read an article via Twitter by clicking the “Invite” link, choosing the “other” option, and then Twitter.  Google just announced this today.  I’m sure you’ll see many more features launched in the future as Google tries to compete with Facebook.

If you join Facebook Connect, you’ll have the option to invite your Facebook friends.  In the very near future you should be able to also use this same identity to comment on posts, post those comments to Facebook, among other things.  (It’s still unclear if this will be through Disqus or not)  For now you can still share the posts to your profile, and see other Facebook users and friends that have visited the site.  Expect to see much more as I begin to enhance and expand both Friend Connect and Facebook Connect to further enhance the site.

More About Me

Let’s face it, I have to pay the bills.  So I have included some more information about me, and about the blog.  Go ahead – click on the “About” section.  Oooh – see it expand and contract?  Pretty cool, eh?  This will only get better.

You’ll notice I now have information about my Speaking, and Consulting.  If you know someone, or have an opportunity in either of these areas, please don’t hesitate to send people my way.  I’d love to see how I can help you, as I feel I have a few talents I can share with you and your friends in various capacities.  Check out my client list if you want to know results.

Also, I’m avoiding it for the moment, but those little square boxes in the upper-right could be for sale if you would like to make an offer.  I also have 3 more boxes that could go below those, and they can be combined to make bigger boxes.  Let me know if it’s something you’re interested in.  Make me an offer and I’d love to consider it, although I’m still debating if I want to sell ads here or not.


Dooce, watch out – I’m coming for you!  There’s more than enough room for the two of us here in Utah, and us Daddy bloggers can compete with the rest of ’em!  As of yesterday, I’m now starting (at least) a photo of the day.  What the subject of these will be I’m still debating, but I’m open to suggestions, and feedback.  My goal is to tell a story.  Photography is a passion, and hobby of mine – I’d like to share some of that with you.

You’ll still get the same tech news, same early adopter technologies.  I’ll still be blogging regularly on,, and occasionally (just search for my name on any of those sites), but this is always my home.  Keep coming back!  Oh, and trust me, there’s much more to come.