robert scoble – Stay N Alive

How to Replace Twitter With Facebook

I just wrote about how Twitter is becoming much less necessary for me.  In this post, I’d like to show you how, with just a few steps, you can get exactly what you’re getting on Twitter and more with just a Facebook account and a Page you administer.  It’s actually really simple now.  Here are the steps:

  1. Set up your Facebook Account. You’ve probably already done this, but if not, just go to, enter your details, and click “Register”.  Log in, and you’re set!
  2. Create your Facebook Page. You can do this at  I also cover this in detail in Facebook Application Development for Dummies soon to be released.  Create one that mimics your Twitter Profile.
  3. Go to your Facebook Page, and click “Use Facebook as (your Page name)”. You’ll see the options on the right change to “Use Facebook as (your Profile name)” when this has worked.  Also, note that if you already have a Facebook Page, just go to the new Page, upgrade it to the new profile, and you should also have these options.
  4. Click the big “Facebook” logo in the upper-left. You’ll now be presented with a news feed, just like the one you would normally see on your profile.  Looks familiar, doesn’t it?  It probably doesn’t have much information in it right now though.  Now you need to make that News Feed valuable.  You’ll do that with step 5.
  5. Find interesting Facebook Pages, and click “like”! On the right you should already be presented with some suggestions for Facebook Pages.  Click “like” on those if you like them.  Or, find friends and brands that you like via the search box and click “like” on those as well.  The more you click “like” on, the more you’ll have appear in your feed.  Looks a lot like Twitter, huh?  In fact, you could create multiple Pages, and use those as “lists”, each one following accounts that are relevant to just that Page.  Click “use Facebook as (Page Name)” for each Page, and you’ll get a new view of different types of users to follow on each.  Scoble ought to like this one 😉

Replacing Twitter Search

At the moment I’ll admit, Facebook Search isn’t quite as granular as Twitter search.  However, you can get search results from status updates, as your personal account, or as your Page.  Just type in “facebook” into the Facebook search box as an example and click on “See more results for Facebook” in the drop down.  Then, click on “Posts by everyone”.  You’ll immediately see a real-time stream of updates from people, that updates in real-time, of people and Pages posting in public about “facebook”.  Try it with other terms, like “Scoble”, for instance.

There’s also another, more advanced, way you can search.  It’s sort of a hack, but definitely possible, and something I also show you in Facebook Application Development for Dummies.  By calling in your browser you should get a parseable result set back from Facebook with all public Profile and Page results mentioning “scoble”.  You could technically call (replacing id with the id of the user or Page) on each post and look to see if the object type is a user or a Page.  Or maybe it doesn’t matter.  I imagine Facebook will get more granular with these results in the future though.  You can also, with some advanced magic, get back all the posts from Pages your Page subscribes to that match “facebook” or “scoble”.

What’s Missing Still

  • Search. Of course, Facebook still needs more search options compared to Twitter for them to be an exact parallel.  Twitter’s search was built to index and retrieve granular data at the user level, and you can subscribe to each resultset as simple RSS.  Facebook just doesn’t have this yet, although I wouldn’t doubt they see the power in this.  After all, Facebook’s CTO, Bret Taylor, founded FriendFeed, and they have perhaps an even more granular (when it’s working) search than Twitter has.  I have no doubt Facebook recognizes the value in this.
  • Lists. With Facebook, even before Twitter, you could organize your friends into lists of users you can follow and organize by list.  This is yet to be released for Pages.  While, as a user, you can organize a list of Pages, a Page cannot yet create its own lists.  Where a Page is more comparable to a Twitter account, adding list support, and public list support (which others can subscribe to) would significantly increase the value Facebook has compared to Twitter.  Public lists are one of Twitter’s crown jewels right now.
  • Firehose. Twitter charges for this as a whole and actually makes it very accessible compared to Facebook.  Right now I’m pretty sure you can get access to Facebook’s firehose if you have money and the right contacts and reasons to do it.  However, Facebook doesn’t make this very easy.  Maybe it’s rightfully so in that only a few developers and companies can be capable of even handling such data, but Twitter does make this pretty easy to access via services such as Gnip.  I argue this is an advantage Twitter has over Facebook right now.

What else am I missing?

Some Things Facebook Has That Twitter Doesn’t

While Facebook still misses some elements that Twitter provides, there are still features Facebook has, that, IMO, make it an even more valuable solution than Twitter, namelyI:

  • Insights. Facebook provides very granular data on how well each post is doing, demographics that are visiting the Page, growth of the Page over time, and much, much more.  Twitter has been rumored to be making a similar analytics suite, but has yet to release anything comparable to what Facebook provides.  (I wouldn’t count Twitter out of providing one in the future, though)
  • Richer, inline content. Facebook shows photos, videos, links, and more that a Page has posted.  You can also view the same, all inline, with the News Feed view of those accounts you’ve liked.  With Twitter, you have to click on each post, and only occasionally that content appears on the right column of
  • Viewing Wall Posts of Other Users. On Facebook, as a Page admin, I can enable the default view of my Page’s Wall to be posts to the Wall by other people that have “liked” the Page.  This is an interesting strategy if your brand has a devoted audience, as it’s a great way to show people that are interested in your brand and show that you have a loyal following.  It’s also a great way to maintain a positive perception of your brand.  With Twitter there is nothing even close to this.
  • Events. Each Page can create its own events, that other users on Facebook can RSVP and have their friends see they RSVP’d.  This is built into Facebook, making it an integrated part of the experience, and a very viral tool for getting information out about a particular event occurring surrounding yourself or your brand.
  • Customization and Branding. With Twitter I get a background and a profile picture.  While Facebook doesn’t allow background images, it does allow a default, full HTML view, for every Facebook Page that chooses to do so.  Therefore, I can set it so the first time you visit my Facebook Page you are presented immediately with a welcome message from me and any other relevant information. This is very powerful!  (I show you how to do this in Facebook Application Development for Dummies)  You can’t do this with Twitter.
  • Advertising. As I mentioned earlier, frequent requests to return no response (others are tweeting me saying they’ve seen the same, despite spending millions on Facebook).  There is no interface to create ads for the common user.  It’s almost impossible to advertise on Twitter.  On Facebook, it’s as simple as visiting and following the instructions.  In fact, I can see close to exactly how many impressions I’m going to get through my ad on Facebook.  Facebook has been pretty transparent in this.

What else am I missing?

There’s no doubt Facebook is making it harder and harder to justify Twitter any more.  For many, this article may actually convince you.  My hope is that a) Twitter realizes this and adapts to compete, or b) Facebook realizes this and closes the final missing pieces to remove all needed functionality that a Twitter account can provide.  There are actually very few of those missing pieces any more!

If you haven’t yet considered a Facebook Page or the possibilities it can provide, now may be the time to start considering if you’re on Twitter.  Assuming Twitter does get acquired, or Facebook does continue competing the way it has, you’re going to want an audience on Facebook just the same as you have on Twitter.  More importantly, build your own presence and blog so it doesn’t matter any which way what network you’re on!  2011 will be an interesting year, that’s for sure.

Hey Zuck, You’re Not Making My "Answer" an Easy One

I’ve been going back and forth with Robert Scoble and others today on why I should use the emerging Question and Answer service, Quora, when Facebook Questions is already pretty effective for me.  I often post a Facebook Question and get answers very shortly after, often from very smart people already knowledgeable about the topics I’m asking about.  I find it especially good if the questions are personal, and related to every day life questions.  That’s why I found it surprising after looking at Mark Zuckerberg’s own Facebook profile, that he’s only asked 2 questions there, where he’s asked 5 questions on Quora.  Are Facebook Questions just not that important to Mark?  How about question sites in general? Quora certainly doesn’t have much use by the CEO either.

Robert Scoble insists that what makes Quora more powerful than Facebook Questions is the quality of people answering questions there.  While I don’t doubt that CEOs are using it and often answering questions on the service (it started exclusively with invites to bloggers and influentials), who are those CEOs?  Mark Zuckerberg has only answered 5 questions on the service, and even fewer on his own site.  Is Bill Gates answering questions?  How about Michael Dell, or Steve Jobs, or even Bill Clinton?  It seems to me that smart and perhaps even successful entrepreneurs are using the service – I’m not sure either services have hit full potential yet with use by real legends like those above.  That still doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be using it though.  Quora does have an excellent search, and seems easier to find interesting questions as a whole.

At the same time I’m seeing great results from Facebook in the questions I ask there, and it’s already a part of my existing workflow.  For example, check out this question on my Ford F-150 truck’s lock problems, where with one answer I had a Ford certified technician providing me detailed howtos on how I could fix the problem I was having.  Or, check out this question on what speakers I should choose, and the audiophiles all giving me great feedback on my question.

I’d love to see Mark Zuckerberg show off how useful these questions services can actually be.  I’m having a really hard time deciding if I really need to add another service to my already busy and often distracting workflow when services I already use like Facebook  provide a tool I can use and potentially (assuming they eventually launch it to everyone, which they haven’t yet) have hundreds of millions see it, or if I should start another tool and have “smart people” and “CEOs” see it as Scoble implies he’s seeing on Quora.  Of course, the fact that Mark Zuckerberg himself is using Quora more than he is using Facebook Questions isn’t helping my quest either.

So Zuck, how about giving me some hints here – which one should I use, Quora or Facebook Questions?  In fact, I’ve created a Facebook Question on the topic – please vote and leave your own reasons why there: (only available to those with Facebook Questions enabled)

I’d love to see Mark Zuckerberg use his own service a little more to help convince me to stay with my current decision on Facebook Questions.  Or maybe it’s just an experiment at the moment and I need to be trying other services?  I can’t decide!

How the Little Guy Can Get Published – an Autobiography

As I just wrote, we live in an era where having a voice is much easier than it used to be.  Getting published is actually quite simple if you’re willing to work for it.  In fact, I’m living proof.  Just 3 years ago I was working a 9-5 job as my sole source of income as a programmer for a major health company, doing nothing but that.  I was a nobody.  No one knew me.  In very short time I was approached by my 3 publishers, amassed thousands of readers on this blog, and many more on Twitter and Facebook, and built a reputation for myself.  I truly believe this is something anyone can do.   Here’s what I did (this is still tough to write, as I still don’t believe I’m anywhere near my potential – to me, I’m still a nobody):

I Started a Blog

I actually did this a long time before I wrote my first book with HappyAbout.  I was trying to build an open source pseudo blogging/CMS platform, which actually powered this blog at one point.  In a sense, the goal was to eventually create a social network, something we tried to do at a previous job I was at and never completed.  This was before Facebook or Twitter or even Digg or anything like it.  In a sense, it was the next dimension of a GeoCities, or (where I worked on the founding team doing Support in 1999).

I noticed a few friends blogging at the time to share tricks they had used to fix coding problems, or ways they got their various computer problems working.  I knew I had done a few things that I needed to write down for memory and others to benefit, so I started using the blog to share these things.  Soon that turned into me just sharing thoughts to what was mostly a non-existent audience, but I didn’t care – I was doing it for myself mostly.

Then I really started subscribing to other bloggers, especially around Utah and elsewhere.  I think Google Reader probably played a big role in this.  I subscribed to Phil Windley, and Janet Meiners (NewspaperGrl), Jason Alba, Phil Burns, Thom Allen, and others.  Utah actually had a bustling tech blogging scene back then (many of those I mention are still active bloggers and great blogs to follow).  As these guys blogged, it inspired me to join their conversation and post my own thoughts on the topics they were writing about.  I’d link to theirs, and others’ articles, and my links would appear in their trackbacks and they would notice.

I began to make a name for myself by just sharing what I knew, and writing about it.  There is no better way to share knowledge and show others you have that knowledge than through a blog.  This blog eventually grew and grew as I did this, eventually getting recognition by sites like TechMeme, featured on TechCrunch, mentions on Mashable, and many others (I keep a log of coverage for my record at  I say this not to brag, but to show you that by simply posting a blog, and sharing your knowledge, while at the same time truly participating in the conversation in the blogosphere (aka “the memes”), you’ll grow your blog as well and quickly gain a voice.

Now when I write, people listen – in some ways, it doesn’t matter if I have a publisher, and that gets more and more possible the more my audience grows.

I Became a Pioneer

It wasn’t until the launch of Facebook Platform at the very first F8 that I really started making a name for myself.  I decided at that point my idea for a Social Network wasn’t needed any more because now I could just build niche ideas on top of Facebook.  Facebook grew, and grew, and grew, and I was with them from day one, building apps for their platform.  I saw this niche, and I saw the value in it, so I took it and ran.  I became an expert in that niche and made it mine.  Not just that, but I stuck to it. (Interesting note – I’ve actually been building on Facebook Platform longer than many Facebook employees have.)  That eventually branched out and I took on Social Media and APIs in general, and now I’m even embracing much of the world of Marketing as we know it (even though I’m technically just a Developer by trade).  I learned everything I could about this stuff, and actually applied it, creating application after application both on my own and for others to prove myself in this area.  It was partly from this that SocialToo was born.

In many ways I was inventing an industry.  I was with many others, but because I took it on early I was still one of the few “pioneers”.  Becoming a Pioneer is so important.  If everyone else is doing it, and you’re not the first, you’re not going to be recognized.  You’ve got to pick a skill, perhaps find a new movement of many, and jump on that one.  Even if you are one of many, if you’re one of the many firsts, you can now be taken seriously.  I suggest taking it even further and finding a niche amongst those firsts (mine was the brand of “Social Media Developer” rather than just “Social Media Expert”) and embracing that.

How do you pick the right niche to be a “pioneer”?  I think more than anything it has to feel right to you – make sure you have a clear vision of the future of that industry.  For me I saw a new, social world where social was tightly integrated into every piece of the web.  I saw a Building Block Web, where social pieces were tightly coupled together in an experience the user wasn’t even aware the social elements existed.  I saw the power of bringing power to developers.  I also followed bloggers, like Paul Allen and Robert Scoble, who really caught onto this vision (although I admit I met Scoble later in the game).  Note that this niche also solved some of my own needs, which also contributed to my desire to learn more about it, and I discovered along the way how powerful this stuff actually was.  Vision is key.

You’ve got to figure this out yourself, and perhaps that’s the hardest part.  If I were you I’d be looking in the mobile space, and at what companies like Kynetx are doing, though. (and at a minimum, more than anything, consider and understand the concepts and visions these companies have)  Read my article on the Future with no login button for my own personal vision, but you have to come up with your own.

I Promoted the Need, and Networked Like Crazy

Once I had discovered a need and tried to establish my skills surrounding that need, I began blogging about it.  I realized this was a new market, and one that had the potential to be very powerful.  It was one with very few blog posts on the topic, yet.  I began to write posts making it known that I knew Facebook, and in particular Facebook development.  I was actually at one point the number one search result on Google for “Facebook Developer” because of this.  That wasn’t on accident.

I became one of the only people on LinkedIn with “Facebook Developer” in my title, and soon I began getting calls asking for help in this emerging industry.  I made it easy for people to find me by publishing my e-mail address and even my phone number on my blog and working to make it as easy as possible for people to contact me on LinkedIn.

More than anything though, it was this blog that made a name for myself.  Well, this, and following other bloggers through Google Reader at the time.  I started to learn of local “Blogger Dinners” here in the Salt Lake City area where local bloggers were getting together to just meet and network.  I decided to attend one or two, and it was there I met who would soon become my co-author on my first book, Jason Alba.  Jason had previously written, “I’m on LinkedIn–Now What???” and I had followed him on his blog.  I can’t remember exactly how (I think it was a Seth Godin talk, ironically), but he had heard I was the local “Facebook guy”, and was looking to do a book similar to his first on Facebook.

He had already established a relationship with his publisher through his first book, and approached me, asking me to help him with his second book, giving me half of his royalties in the process.  We went forward with the book.  At that point because I had established a reputation, and was already a published author, that lead to O’Reilly contacting me (through my good friend, Joseph Scott), and now I’m writing my third book with Wiley in a Dummies series.

Networking is so critical – it is truly who you know that matters.  It has been through Social Media and networking that I met Jason and that lead to my first book.  It was through meeting a need of Guy Kawasaki’s and Chris Pirillo’s that lead to creating the first script on SocialToo and I feel I can now call them good friends.  It was through answering a FriendFeed post that I met Robert Scoble and I can now call him a good friend.  That meeting lead to me meeting my great friend Louis Gray.  We’re all normal people, and it’s social media that makes us normal.  It’s through this technology – Twitter, Facebook, and especially blogs, that we’re able to connect with people we were never able to meet before.  Embrace that!

I Believed in Myself!

More than anything, I think it was when I realized I could actually do this stuff, that I started to do it.  There is something to be said for the law of attraction – be it faith, God-driven, or Universal laws, it’s real.  When you truly believe you can accomplish something, it will happen.  I grew up not believing this.  I grew up thinking I’d never write a book.  I grew up thinking I’d never start my own business.  I grew up thinking I was a nobody.

It wasn’t until I caught a glimpse that this was possible that I started to think I was truly capable of anything.  And it was when that happened that I started seeing incredible success as a result, and I’m still seeing that to this day.  Anyone can accomplish what I’ve done – I’m the little guy.  I’m a nobody, but I can be anybody I want to.

I hope this blog post doesn’t come off as a “I’m better than you” story to anyone – it was intended to be the exact opposite.  You see, Social Media and the web as we know it today makes it possible for any of us to gain a voice.  The Book Publisher, the Sports Conference, the Music Label, or even the VC or major Tech Blog are all much less relevant than they used to be.  Your potential is greater than it ever has been, and while you can still use these tools as launching platforms, you get to own the process along the way.  Anyone can do this, and I think we need to break away from “the man” at least a little bit to have full flexibility in doing so.  This is why you see Seth Godin leaving his publishers.  This is why you see BYU leaving its Conference.  This is why you see many musicians leaving their labels.

The little guy is much more relevant than he used to be.  Social Media is about empowering and bringing a voice to the individual.  Embrace that.  Accept it.  You too can have a voice.

This is What an RSS Reader is For

RSSYesterday Robert Scoble wrote a critical post claiming Chris Brogan was using Twitter wrong, stating Chris isn’t separating his content on Twitter well enough.  As one who had to create multiple Twitter accounts to separate out my activity, I am one of the first to support this method.  As it stands though, even I will be first to admit this is a hack.  The only reason I’m creating multiple Twitter accounts is because Twitter, by nature, makes it very difficult to separate out activity like this.  What Scoble wants is a way for him to better read people’s feeds on Twitter, and separate out your blog post from the rest of the content on Twitter.  The problem is, despite what everyone says, I think Scoble is realizing the weakness of Twitter which is that it isn’t really an RSS Reader.

Scoble wants a way to take all the Tweets, by list of those he follows, and read their blog posts, just like he would in an RSS Reader.  My guess is that this is so he doesn’t have to leave Twitter to find new blog posts, a legitimate excuse.  However, Twitter just wasn’t built that way.  As one of the most vocal critics of Google Reader, I think what Scoble and others with this problem need is just what they’re criticizing – an actual RSS Reader built around reading blog posts.

I’ve always been a proponent of the mantra that Social Media is not how you give – it’s how you receive.  If you have a problem with the way others are Tweeting or blogging or posting on Facebook, then find a better way of receiving that data, unfollow, or do something so that you’re only getting the data you want to receive.  There are so many tools out there – FriendFeed (FriendFeed is so much more than just community – it’s an incredible tool!), Google Reader, TweetDeck, Seesmic Desktop, Brizzly, Twitter’s own interface, Facebook’s own interface, and many, many more, that surely there has to be something that enables this.

If not, bloggers need to be petitioning developers, not individual users of these services, to change their ways.  For instance, why can’t I separate out the Tweets with links in them from the rest of the Tweets on Seesmic Desktop?  Or why can’t I specify what my blog is on Twitter and have Twitter distinguish that as meta data for other developers to separate from the rest of the stream?  Why can’t I preview the links before clicking on them?

If you’re not getting what you want from Social Media, this is the fault of the innovators, not the users.  In the case of RSS, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – this is why I never left Google Reader or FriendFeed in the first place, and don’t anticipate doing so any time soon.  They solve the problem Robert Scoble is speaking of for me.

That said, to be considerate of those on Twitter I may still start an additional account that imports just my blog posts, but why? So just one or two individuals can read it? At what point am I separating my Twitter stream so much that you can’t find everything you want to find out about me?  IMO the mantra still exists that you should always be using the best tool for the job, and for reading blogs, Twitter just doesn’t cut it.

Annoyances: My BlogWorld (Coke) Drinking Game

pepsi-bottle-25I’ve spent the last 3 days at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada, and being the good Mormon I am I’ve pulled out my Coke or Pepsi and I played a little drinking game.  Maybe it’s because my Excedrin hasn’t kicked in yet, but I’m quite simply annoyed by several things so if you notice me on a sugar-high while at the conference that’s why.  Hopefully you picked your beverage of choice and were able to join me.  Here were the rules:

1. “Twitter” – every time I heard the word “Twitter”, I took a sip of my Coke.  Let’s face it – this is BlogWorld Expo, not TwitterWorld Expo.  I think every single presentation I’ve been to has mentioned Twitter in some way.  No blogging. No microblogging.  Actually, I’m not even sure I heard the word Facebook at the expo (except by myself in the panel I was on, in which I was quickly flamed for thinking it was a good conversations platform, oh, and Mari Smith’s presentation which was all about Facebook). Come on guys – Twitter is not the entire blogging world – it has its place, but it should complement your blog, not replace it.  We should be talking about the fact that people are leaving their blogs and losing the previous quality of blogging and switching to Twitter, not the fact that Twitter is a quality platform replacing blogs.  Or, what about the simple concept of “microblogging” – Twitter did not sponsor this conference (nor do they have representation in any form) at all.  Why not talk about, or some of the things Automattic or SixApart are doing int he microblogging space?  Why not PubsubHubbub or rssCloud? Drink.

2. “Scoble” – I love Robert to death – check the last few articles on this blog and you’ll probably see quite a few good mentions of him.  He’s also a good friend.  However I’m sick of him being the only blogger people ever mention here.  How about mentioning some of the things up-and-coming bloggers are doing, and how pitching a large group of them can often be a more effective technique in pitching bloggers than pitching TechCrunch or Mashable or Readwrite Web?  Robert Scoble’s awesome, but there are so many other things to talk about as well. Drink.

3. “Louis Gray” – Last year it was Robert Scoble.  This year it’s Louis Gray.  Louis is one of my best friends as you can probably tell from some of my tweets, and our families are good friends with each other.  If you’re not following him, you should (as I mentioned earlier here).  However, again, let’s stop the fanboyism at these conferences.  Yes, these guys have influence, but they’re all normal people like you and me. Maybe it’s deserved, but I’m just tired of hearing the same names in every panel or presentation I attend.  Drink.

4. “What party are you going to?” – Every day I’ve been here that’s been the topic of conversation.  Yeah, Vegas is fun, but BlogWorld has brought bloggers who had no fun in College to the city and they all-of-the-sudden go into “I’m back in College” mode again.  It’s like a 4-day frat-party the week BlogWorld is in town, and I’m tired of attending these parties where all they talk about is Twitter and everyone is drunk or gambling.  Is this really fun? Maybe I’m missing out on something.  (Oh, and why do we call these “Twitter” parties at “Blog” World???) Drink.

5. “iPhone” – Okay, I’m guilty of this as well, but it’s still driving me crazy.  Everyone at this place has an iPhone! I kind of feel bad for the Android or the Pre or the Blackberry phones out there.  I’m sure they feel a little left out.  And when we go places, it’s all about, “let’s check into FourSquare” or “What Twitter Client are you using on your iPhone?”  Maybe I’m just a little out of place as a software developer that thinks the Android is cool (when my contract is up I’ll be getting an Android phone).  Drink.

6. “FourSquare” – Yes, my last annoyance.  People are obsessed with it here!  Who’s Mayor of the Expo? Who’s Mayor of the Hilton?  Who’s Mayor of the elevator in the Paris.  I’ve tried to keep up but I just can’t!  Please stop – you’re making me hyper! Drink.

Mob Wars – Tomayto, Tomaahto…

The GodFatherSince today seems to be a slow news day and some sites seem to be anxious for traffic I thought I’d put my hand into the ring for a piece of that traffic (hey, at least I’m being transparent). Let’s start by saying I really like Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch.  Quite honestly, I gained a new respect for the way he handled and explained the misunderstanding which happened between him and Leo Laporte on a recent (and possibly the last) episode of the Gillmor Gang. I do think he is a genuinely nice guy with good intentions and an amazing brain for business – I highly respect him for that.  I think we could be good friends in person.  He quite often gets a lot of flack  which I think is undeserved – I think that gets to him at times.

That said, I think his recent article comparing FriendFeed to “Syphilis”, a rapidly spreading disease that will kill those in its path until it evolves is quite unfounded. First of all, I’m only aware of 3 people that has happened to (quit FriendFeed, not contract Syphilis), which happened only recently, and only after Mike Arrington started this idea that “Mobs” were killing FriendFeed.  Each one of those cases (besides Arrington’s) were people that only post to the service and rarely interact.  One of them even admitted he just didn’t have time for an extra service – a somewhat legitimate answer.

I also admit that about a year ago there was one additional “mob-driven” departure from FriendFeed during the political campaigns – a Conservative (most of those leaving seem to have been conservatives claiming to have been driven out by their Liberal counterparts on FriendFeed – note that I am also a Conservative) left briefly from the service due to disagreements and attacks on his own Political views.  He is back in full force on FriendFeed today.  I admit, it’s hard to be a Conservative on FriendFeed and express your political opinions (I usually choose not to).  Heck, it’s hard to be Conservative on the internet in general!  The organized nature of FriendFeed, while it has this con (which does not stand for Conservative), is still a very strong platform for organizing well-thought-out conversations.

However, there are 2 sides to this “Mob War”.  Remember last July when I decided to leave Twitter?  Check out the comments of that post – they look very similar to that of my friend who recently decided to do the same with FriendFeed.  That was just my blog (I especially like the one that called me a “self-centered douche” – that made me want to stay on Twitter even longer) – the problem is I have no way to organize all the comments that occured on Twitter which were  offensive or hurtful. You should have seen how bad it got after that post made it on TechMeme (which wasn’t my intent for that post – I had only been on Techmeme about once before that post I think).  TechCrunch’s rage towards FriendFeed is easy to understand – FriendFeed is much easier to point the finger at because the discussion, both the good and the bad and even the ugly, is all in one place.

Is it a Mob or a Groundswell?

Now let’s look at another side of the coin.  Remember that term, “Groundswell”?  If you haven’t, go check out the book by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li tomorrow from the Library, or purchase it from Amazon.  All this “Mob” stuff sounds very familiar – in fact, it was originally termed by Forrester as a “Groundswell” – in Bernoff and Li’s book they define it as “A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations”.  That sounds awfully similar to a mob, with the exception of the Technology part.  So would this more accurately be called a “Groundswell” instead of a mob?

One example they cited was that of Digg’s users rioting against Digg due to its original stance on the HD-DVD encryption key.  Those users wanted to see Digg pay for their actions.  I’m sure it hurt a lot reading some of the things which were said at that time.  Digg rectified the situation and listened to those complaining, and turned around the entire movement to a “Mob” or “Groundswell” promoting Digg and fighting the AACS instead.  Mobs can be controlled, but a mob’s still a mob, no matter which side they’re on.  Was that a Mob or a Groundswell?  What about when Digg turned it around to their benefit?

The problem with today’s “Groundswell” is it now targets the personal brand as well as the corporation.  We see that in Arrington’s situation, as well as several others that have recently been targeted.  It could have happened on Twitter.  It could have happened on Youtube, or Digg, or anywhere else.  The fact is when someone the majority likes is targeted, or the service the majority likes is targeted, or has the appearance of being attacked, the mob goes in defense mode, attacking back.  When this is someone’s personal brand we’re talking about and not just a corporation or entity, it hurts a lot more.  It’s impossible to not take at least some of the comments seriously – we’re all human after all.

At the same time, Groundswells can be used for good as well.  Look at what Drew Olanaff is doing with his #blamedrewscancer on Twitter.  He’s gotten me to donate $25 a month to the American Cancer Society because of it, along with many others.  Or look at what is happening in Iran – I’m sure it looks like a “Mob” to the Iranian government.  It’s still a Groundswell no matter which way you put it.

I still think the recent article on TechCrunch is wrong in targeting only FriendFeed in this matter.  The words he used were quite harsh, and unfair to the service’s hard-working founders whose service has been working far better than that of the hard-working founders of Twitter.  Arrington seems to be offended (or looking for traffic for his upcoming conference – it’s hard to tell), and riling up his own Groundswell against the service – perhaps this is just his response to the Groundswell.  Just check out the comments on his post, then read the comments on Scoble’s FriendFeed response and those comments that are being deleted from TechCrunch.  If that’s not the case I really don’t understand the strong words against the service, and why TechCrunch is seemingly only targeting one service in all this.

Mike Arrington calls this a “Mob” – I call it a “Groundswell”.  Is there really a difference?

Here’s a great video portraying in real-life how quickly a “Mob” or “Groundswell” can be formed:


Erick Schonfeld Misses the Point – It’s About Quality, Not Quantity!

blogging.pngLast week Erick Shonfeld, a writer for TechCrunch, posted a rather uninspiring article after Technorati released their “State of the Blogosphere” stating that “The More [bloggers] Post, the Higher [they] Rank”. In it, he argued that because a majority of the Top 100 blogs tracked by Technorati post more than 5 times a day, and 43 percent of those post more than 10 times a day, that the quantity of those posts is the reason for those blogs entering the top 100 of Technorati. While perhaps true for some, I argue it may be the means, but definitely not the reason the top 100 are where they are.

On Technorati, Quality Trumps Quantity

Let’s face it – every site in the top 100 in Technorati is there because they have put time into their posts. Sites like TechCrunch and Mashable and ReadWriteWeb employ bloggers to professionally blog for them, giving those bloggers the time and motivation to put effort into the posts they write. They have editors which look over the posts each author writes and those editors add an additional level of quality to the posts that they write. They all started small and have grown to the level they are, enabling them to keep the spots they are at.

Because more time is spent on each post, and these sites are able to crank out many of those quality posts, yes, they get more links in a short amount of time. More people are interested in them. They get the breaking news first because startups and other PR firms know that they generate traffic and buzz. This keeps them interesting.

Quantity Plays a Very Small Part

However, I argue that quantity is not the reason most of these people are in the top 100. The problem with quantity is people get bored of you. When you’re cranking out so many posts a day that people can’t keep up they begin to tune out. Sure, they may still subscribe to your feeds, but they start to reduce your importance in their minds. You get links only because you’re cranking out so many posts in a short amount of time. In fact, I suggest this isn’t healthy for the blogosphere. The blogosphere thrives on being personal and unique, not robotic.

Therefore these blogs may have gotten to where they are because of quality, but that does not mean they are invincible. Posts like Erick’s seem to imply that they are and that the little guy has no way of getting “into the blogging elite”.

It is Possible to Get in the Top 100 and Not Post Every Day!

I was reminded of this point when Chris Brogan very humbly made mention on his blog that he had broken the top 100 blogs on Technorati. While Chris does post almost every day and sometimes more than once, he also skips days at times, and I can tell you that blogging is by far his top priority! Chris writes quality, well-thought out posts that make you think and teach you things. He’s not a news breaker, unless he thinks you can learn from it. People like this, so they link to him. He has become more than just a “blogger”, but a “thought-leader” and example.

Seth Godin is another example. Currently Seth is number 17 on the top 100 of Technorati. He’ll never let you know that, by the way. Seth posts short, thoughtful posts, once a day, which make you think. You feel inspired after reading just the short paragraph or two that he writes. Seth too is considered a thought leader because of this. He could care less about quantity. His quality is what has made his blog.

Robert Scoble is another example. There are days and even weeks he goes without blogging, but when he speaks, he speaks with passion. He tries to inspire, and show you by his actions what the upcoming technologies are. Because of this, lots of people link to him.

Then there’s Guy Kawasaki. Guy’s last post was 2 days ago. He blogs because it’s fun. He blogs because he has something to share, not because of a duty to blog. Guy got in the top 100 naturally, not because of an army of bloggers working for him.

You Can Do it Too!

I’ll be first to admit that I’m not there. True, it would be cool to be there, but frankly, it’s not important. What’s important is that you stop focusing on the robotic nature of blogging just to blog, and blog because you care. Blog because you have something to say, and blog because it makes sense.

It doesn’t matter if you blog 5 times a day, once a day, or even once a week. If you write quality posts, lead in your thoughts and actions, and show that in your writing, others will link to you. Despite what Erick Shonfeld says, don’t listen to him – quality trumps quantity any day, especially with Technorati.

(Image courtesy

Louis Gray Tops Robert Scoble in Web Presence

pictures-909f19f1ff5645b2b95c94e0d9fc74d6-large.jpgpictures-251dca2ee33f11dc8d47003048343a40-large.jpgAs many are aware, it’s hard to avoid personalities like Louis Gray and Robert Scoble on the internet these days. Chances are that if you belong to a social network, and have friended them, they have interacted with your updates on the particular networks you belong to in one way or another. Louis and Robert seem to have a particular “omnipresence” to them, and both have an amazing knack for tracking the latest news and updates, and most importantly staying up with the actual people they follow. If you mention one of their names anywhere on the internet, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll know and respond in some fashion or another.

Louis Gray is relatively new to this however. Scoble has touted him as being “the next Scoble“, but in reality he has only become popular in just the last year or so. Scoble has been pretty popular for several years now, and a lot of his ability to be in so many networks at a time comes from experience. I’ve witnessed both of their abilities to multi-task and share and follow activities of others they follow first-hand, and it’s quite amazing to watch! Both are just as good at actually listening to most of the people they follow on each network they belong to.

A great example of this is in a panel at BlogWorld Expo last week, Stowe Boyd (aka StoBo) said something which Drew Olanoff re-tweeted. Scoble just so happened to be driving back home, but next thing we know, Robert was joining the conversation through FriendFeed and Twitter, all from the wheel of his car! We hope that Maryame was the one driving. Both of their abilities to know what is being said that is important at any given time is amazing.

In doing some research today though, it appears that Louis Gray may have surpassed Robert Scoble in the number of networks he belongs to. Doing some research on the recently announced, the username, “scobleizer” is on 26 of the listed networks. I am unaware of any other username that Robert Scoble uses around the internet, so we have to assume this is all for him. “louisgray”, the main username for Louis Gray, is on 18 networks. However, if we take the username, “louismg”, another username he uses (taken from his FriendFeed shares), we get 15 more networks he belongs to. Add to that the username, “asypta”, which Louis uses on stumbleupon and delicious, we get 5 more. That would, assuming these are all his usernames, make Louis Gray involved in a total of 38 networks. This is why Louis Gray has been so successful over the last year. I believe Louis Gray has just become “omnipresent”.

Any other names you can think of that rival Louis Gray or Robert Scoble in network involvement? I believe these two are tops in my book.

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Scoble and Twitter, Behind the Scenes

IMG_0024.pngToday I had a very unique opportunity to in many ways get in the middle of the Twitter Fiasco, the VentureBeat article suggesting that Robert Scoble was the reason for Twitter’s failures, and Robert’s response to it. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget, and before I start I want to thank Robert for bringing me along to be able to participate and hear all of this, first hand (and still getting me back to the airport in time). Robert Scoble’s such an amazing guy and no one could ever tell me otherwise – I wish all could meet him in person, hang out with him, etc. like I was able to do today.

Originally Robert and I were just going to go up to the Disqus new offices and see the founders, Daniel Ha and Jason Yan (they said they are readers of this blog!). However, today around lunch he called and said we were going to make a pit stop at the Twitter offices in South Park. I was told they had made an offer to him (and he was happy to accept) to come by and chat about the recent blog posts and frustration between the two.

When we got to Twitter I was actually quite impressed by the professionalism of Ev and Biz at Twitter, along with Robert as they discussed the matter. There was some nervousness on both parts I could tell, but after the cards were laid out on the table and both sides understood, I think both felt a little better about the situation. In the end, here’s what I got out of the conversation (which you can view via Robert’s Qik stream here):

  • There is still a long way to go before Twitter will have a fully functional product – they are in the process of re-architecting it all so they can scale further as it grows further.
  • It does seem they’re still trying to work with it to make the existing system work with what they have.
  • The problems they are having are NOT because of big “whale” (and I doubt the picture on Twitter’s error page was meant to reflect this) users such as Robert Scoble or Michael Arrington.
  • The problems they are having are very much due to problems with their current architecture, and in particular the way their API is currently set up to handle. Their system was built as a prototype and ended up becoming the product.
  • There is no good immediate solution to this. As they remove API features, applications like Twhirl and TweetScan, and other 3rd party applications with thousands of users will fail, and thus the users will complain and leave. They simply can’t punish the developers as a whole because it would end up offending their users as well.
  • There are still some pretty smart people at Twitter and I really think they know what they’re doing – they’re just stuck between a rock and a hard spot because they designed their architecture wrong.

The most interesting thing for me, and should be for developers as well, IMO, came at the end however, and I think it’s a smart move the faster they can implement it. Twitter is looking into the possibility of having a better way of tracking the Applications developers write on the Twitter API. By doing such, they can first of all put an end to spammy applications that are abusing the system and killing their traffic with too many unnecessary requests (similar to the way Facebook does with notification limits), but secondly they can begin to organize the Applications and provide a centralized directory for all the Twitter applications out there.

I recorded this video to get Robert’s thoughts on the interview afterwards – I think he shares the same feelings as I do:

[vimeo w=400&h=300]
Getting Robert Scoble’s Thoughts After the Twitter Interview from Jesse Stay on Vimeo.

You can also see some more of my thoughts afterwards, although I think I was still processing it after we were done so I didn’t say much. You can see that on Robert’s Qik stream here.

In all, I think while there’s still a long way for Twitter to get everything worked out, what they said to us was very promising. It’s promising, yet frustrating at the same time because I know it may still be some time. They are willing to accept help and ideas. If you are a developer and want to offer your time to help them out, join their mailing list, offer your assistance in any way. Most of all, as was pointed out, if you’re going to do any heavy hitting on their API, let’s talk to them the same way they’re talking to us now. Let’s build an open communication between the developers and the Twitter dev team themselves and I think perhaps we can all work together to make Twitter an even better place than it was before.

I’m going to talk a little more about my trip to the Bay area in another post coming up. I feel like I visited half the Web 2.0 internet, in person, in a matter of 3 days, and I’m still processing it all. The Bay is an amazing place that you just have to see for yourself to believe. Now Robert – my offer still stands if you ever want to come out to Salt Lake and have me show you around next time!