e-mail – Stay N Alive

Facebook Starting to Test Fan Page Notifications

My wife just got an interesting e-mail notification from Facebook about a Facebook Page she is a fan of.  The notification was a summary of the activity on the Page for the day.  The text of the e-mail goes as such:

“Here is this week’s summary for the Facebook Page: **************

0 Fans this week (7 total Fans)
0 Wall Posts, Comments, and Likes this week (0 last week)
2 Visits to your page this week (1 Visits last week)

Update your Fans:
Visit your Insights Page:
Get more Fans with Facebook Ads:

The Facebook Team”

Granted, the Page she was a fan of is not one that gets a lot of activity, it leads me to wonder if Facebook is beginning to enable e-mail notifications for Facebook Page activity on the site.  I wonder if there were comments or Wall posts if those would have been included as well.

Facebook has had amazing notification features for normal user Profiles up to this point, but for Fan Pages, the notifications have been lacking.  Users have been forced to resort to third party solutions such as NutshellMail (of which I am a user) to deliver notifications for such Pages to their e-mail inbox.  On my own Fan Pages for myself and my Facebook books, this has been the biggest complaint amongst Fan Page administrators, that there was no way to be notified off the Facebook.com site when new activity occured on their Fan Page.

It appears this very soon won’t be the problem any more.  Usually when Facebook tests features like this, it means a solution is just around the corner.  Now the big question is, how can I get this enabled on my account?

Is anyone else seeing this on their Facebook Account?  I’m interested to hear what you’re seeing.

Services Need to Stop With the Twitter Kool-Aid

Kool-Aid ManTonight for about a full hour many Rackspace sites, including their own Slicehost service, inquisitr.com, Laughing Squid-hosted sites, Posterous, Tr.im, and even my own SocialToo.com.  Ben Parr of Mashable even noticed, asking if a bunch of websites has all just crashed.  I was reminded to check the status of my own site by a few posts by Duncan Riley on FriendFeed.com/Twitter, followed by a blog post of his own.  That prompted me to realize my entire site had been down for over an hour, which prompted me to check their Twitter account, which prompted me to check their status blog that gave a few more details.

This got me thinking – why are services so reliant on Twitter to get the word out to their customers?  Have we gotten that lazy? In the past a service with “Fanatical Support” would have sent out a brief e-mail to their customers notifying them of the update.  Do they just expect all their customers to be checking every single one of their Twitter updates?  I have to admit as a customer I’m a bit disappointed.

I don’t mean to pick on just Rackspace though.  Rackspace aren’t the only ones doing this.  It has come to be common practice amongst companies to just post status updates on their own Twitter account and (occasionally) blog without using the oldest means of notification, a push means for that matter out to their users – e-mail.  I admit even my own service SocialToo has been guilty of this occasionally and I have vowed for more mission-critical issues facing my customers that we will try to be more diligent in letting them know, via e-mail of the issues facing them, as soon as possible.  That said, I’m one of two employees/contractors working for the company right now, as compared to Rackspace’s and other companies’ hundreds.

I think it’s time companies that provide mission-critical services start laying off the Twitter Kool-Aid, and focusing on more serious means such as e-mail so their customers can become aware, as the issues are happening to the accounts they pay for.  It’s time we get back to using e-mail as a communications medium.  Now that I’m aware of the issue, I’m checking their blog frequently for updates, but a simple e-mail would have made huge strides in making the $600 I pay monthly to the service more worth it.

As of the end of this writing it appears the problems are mostly resolved.  I am anxiously awaiting an e-mail explaining the problem, but hope in the future they can get infrastructure in place to quickly notify us via e-mail as fast as they were able to do on Twitter.  I hope other services can also learn from this and prepare for similar circumstances.  While I’ll continue to enjoy the service I’ve had from Slicehost, I would have liked to see more than just a Twitter update surrounding this.

UPDATE: Ironically, Ed Millard on FriendFeed pointed out that the support address for Rackspace is twitter@rackspace.com. sigh

Gmail is My FriendFeed Client

FriendFeedA couple days ago I showed you my own unique way of managing Twitter. This method utilizes my e-mail client, Gmail, to track and force Twitter messages to come to me instead of myself needing to constantly check the site or my preferred Twitter client for new messages about me, my brand, or other topics I like to monitor. I’ve also spoken recently about my hiatus from RSS and how I’ve significantly reduced the number of feeds I monitor and instead I “media-snack” (as Robert Scoble calls it) on FriendFeed where I am still able to get as much, if not more information about the latest and greatest tech news as I have always done before. But how do I manage FriendFeed? You may be surprised to hear that I do it in almost the exact same way I do Twitter – I use Gmail. Here’s how I do it:

Native FriendFeed Notifications

Let’s start with the fact that FriendFeed actually provides its own useful ways of monitoring your conversations so you don’t have to keep coming back to the site, something Twitter and various Twitter clients have not been very good at doing (PeopleBrowsr seems closest to providing the ideal solution to this). On any page (except saved searches – we’ll get to that later), you’ll notice a new feature in the upper-right that says “E-mail/IM”. If you click on that it will drop down some more options. You can select it to deliver just new posts on the given page, new posts and just your friends’ comments, or new posts and all comments. You can then select any option to deliver those to either your e-mail, IM client, or FriendFeed’s own native desktop popup client (which you can download and install here). FriendFeed then uses the e-mail and IM settings you have set in your settings to deliver this information to your desired location. The great thing about this is that you can use it for any of your friend lists, any room on FriendFeed, or even your own discussions page (“My Discussions” on the right).

FriendFeed E-mail/IM link

So here’s what I do: I simply went to my “My Discussions” page, selected the option to deliver all new posts and all comments to my e-mail client, and now anything I comment on, or like, or any likes or comments on the posts that I import into FriendFeed now get delivered to my e-mail account. I don’t miss any of the conversation this way .  I think everyone should do this, even if you don’t participate on FriendFeed because it ensures you know, immediately, when anyone comments on one of the things you’re already importing into FriendFeed. If you’re not actively using FriendFeed, you should do this out of respect to those that are.

Now here’s where Gmail is important: if you actively like or comment on other members’ posts, you’ll then get every single comment on that post afterwards. Usually, that’s not so bad, if you’ve ever participated in one of Robert Scoble’s threads, or any other hot topic on FriendFeed, you’ll quickly notice that the number of comments can go into the hundreds at times. This will very quickly fill up your inbox!

Gmail solves this problem easily. On the thread in Gmail you’re tired of hearing from, simply click the “m” button on your keyboard. Instantly, the thread gets moved to your Archive folder and you’ll never see it again unless you click your “All Messages” folder. You’ll notice in that folder it now has a “muted” label next to it. Go to the thread and click “m” again and it will un-mute itself. There’s no better client for managing this. And if you know me, I’m religious about reading all my e-mail. Gmail makes this possible.

In addition, FriendFeed also enables users to respond to the conversation, right in their e-mail client. I simply hit “reply” on any conversation I want to add to right in Gmail, and my comment immediately (yes, in real-time) gets added to the conversation. Not only that, but you can easily DM me on FriendFeed, yes, via your e-mail client. Simply send any message, including photos (works great from my iphone!) to jessestay@friendfeed.com (my username@friendfeed.com – works the same for your username) and your message will go straight to my FriendFeed DM box. Or, send any message, or photos (again, works great from my iPhone!) to share@friendfeed.com and your message and/or photos will go straight to your public stream on FriendFeed. You never have to leave your e-mail client.

Now, what if you want to track what others are saying about your brand, and don’t want to have to keep checking back in your saved searches links on the right in FriendFeed? (you are using saved-searches, aren’t you?) Yes, there’s an app for that.

Introducing BackType

We’ll cover this in the next post in this series more thoroughly, but BackType is a service that tracks and reports comments around the web. FriendFeed is one of the sites it tracks comments for. To get notifications when your name is mentioned on FriendFeed, simply go to BackType, set up a saved search for your name, brand, or whatever other terms you want to track, enable e-mail alerts for those saved searches, and now you’ll get mention of everything anyone says about you on FriendFeed. I don’t miss a thing anyone says about me – try and mention my name somewhere and see!

By enabling users to manage their brand and conversation via e-mail, FriendFeed has just become the most manageable micro-blogging client and service on the internet. Now I get to treat my news like a newspaper – pick it up at my own leisure, “media-snack”, read what I like, and put it down. I don’t have to worry about missing anything, and most importantly, I don’t waste time needing to constantly check the site to see if someone has said something I need to know about.

So thus far I’ve managed my online identity through:

  1. Significantly reducing my Google Reader and RSS subscriptions by unsubscribing and “media snacking” on FriendFeed subscriptions
  2. Managing my Twitter brand through TweetBeep and my e-mail client
  3. Managing my FriendFeed brand through IM/E-mail notifications, BackType, and Gmail

My next installment of this series will be about how I subscribe to your blogs through Gmail.  Sure, I’ve talked about how I use Google Reader to manage the subscriptions I absolutely can’t miss, but what about the stuff that slips through the cracks?  I’ll show you how to use BackType, Google Alerts, and other tools to ensure this doesn’t happen.

The Feature FriendFeed Must Have to Go Mainstream

friendfeed_logo.jpgWhat is the one feature FriendFeed must have to go mainstream? E-mail. FriendFeed must have some sort of notification when someone comments on anything you post. Obviously, this should be a feature you can turn off, but people will continue to think FriendFeed is too complicated until this is in place.

Facebook has this currently – any time someone comments on a status update or anything I post, I get an e-mail from Facebook with the comment right in the e-mail, giving me the option to respond on Facebook. FriendFeed already does this, sort of, if you haven’t been on the service for awhile. However, there is no way to get an e-mail on every comment sent for certain posts. People are used to this, and as long as you can turn it off, it will not be construed as spam. If FriendFeed is to compete, they must support e-mail, on every post you send to the service.