social network – Stay N Alive

A Walk Down Path Takes You Home Sweet Home

I’m no stranger to the power of social networks. I have 3 books on Facebook and 1 on Google+, and have built an entire business around Twitter. So far, the majority of my current career is built around bringing attention to people and brands through social media (of course, while making them more personable).

As a result, I’ve built what some consider to be a considerable audience in the process. When I speak, there’s a good chance people hear. When I share, people of all types receive, comment, and share my posts, many that I’ve never met. This comes at a cost though. Now I have to think twice when sharing pictures of my kids. I have to think carefully the personal, religious, or political posts I want to share, or when I just have a thought I want to get out of my mind. To be honest, I can’t really share “me” as much as I like. That’s why when Path recently did a Pivot towards being a “smart journal”, I listened, and boy do I feel at home!

When I first started using social networks like Twitter, and eventually Facebook when they allowed people to post status updates (yes, Twitter offered that first, technically), I used them as a journal. Twitter, for quite some time, was a way for me to let my wife know what I was doing. I even used it to share the birth of my 4th child to my family. As someone who keeps a journal, but doesn’t have the opportunity to update quite often enough, I found these sites a great way to keep an archive of my life, 140 characters or so at a time.

Unfortunately I’ve lost the ability to do that though. Facebook and Google+ have lists and privacy controls so I can target updates to lists of close friends and family, which I use, but I find there’s a barrier there that makes me have to think of just one more step, one more learning curve, to allow me to share my most personal updates with my close friends and family. That’s where Path comes in.

Path — The Smart Journal for Your Life

Path, originally just a photo sharing app for the iPhone, has rebranded to become a journal for your life. There’s one caveat though: it only allows up to 150 friends. This makes you think – “before I accept this friend request, do I really know this person?” or, “Am I okay with this person receiving my most personal updates?” With Path, I don’t have to think twice before posting – I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that what I’m about to post will only be seen by the people I want to see it, so it’s much easier to share.

On Path, nothing is public. Nothing is visible to “everyone”. Everything on Path is limited to your personal, real friends network. That’s what makes it powerful! It’s actually what Facebook originally intended to be!

Path Makes Your Journal Automatic

Path isn’t just about sharing though. There are really simple ways to share photos, with Instagram-like filters (even premium ones you can buy!). There are ways to share really short videos of what’s happening around you, and even filters for that. You can attach a location or friends that are with you. It’s very feature-rich! Path is much more than that though.

Path focuses on automating your life’s activities. As you travel from place to place and open the app, it notes the cities and the areas you’re in (you can turn this off if you’re uncomfortable with it). As I traveled from Salt Lake City to Anaheim to go to Disneyland, it noted that automatically for me. You can note when you sleep, and when you wake, and it will automatically notify your friends and yourself the temperature and weather outside when you wake up. It will also tell you how much you’re sleeping. They’re even rumored to be working on solutions to integrate devices like Fitbit to automatically track your health, sleeping habits, without any interaction from you.

Path Integrates Into Your Private Circles

I’ve know Dave Morin, founder of Path, since he was at Facebook and was one of the key players to launch Facebook’s developer platform to the world (which in turn likely made Facebook the powerhouse it is today). He knows the power of integration. The cool thing about Path is that when you share outside of Path, it doesn’t just share to the world. It uses Facebook’s privacy settings to only share with the people that are in your Path friends list. This means only they will see it on Facebook.

I can anticipate many other integration points in the future – there is all kinds of information they could be learning from your various social profiles around the web and adding to your Path journal automatically for you. Imagine photos from Facebook getting added automatically for you, or places you visit being added automatically. Or what about Foursquare checkins? Who knows what they could add in the future – I’m excited to see what happens!

If you’re looking for some peace and quiet in the world of public social media; If you’re looking for a place you can feel much more secure about what you’re sharing online; If you’re looking for a way to journal your life, and share with your most intimate friends and family, go check out Path right now. I see a bright future for Path, and it will only take you home!

Path is available for iPhone and Android devices. Go download it and give it a try. If you know me look me up!

Facebook Quietly Launching Friendfeed-like Live Commenting

Tonight, in a moment of rare form, as I was singing Hakuna Matata on Facebook with Krystyl Baldwin and others (an occasion one must do often) I noticed a new feature pop up before my eyes.  Instantly, with no refresh of the page, my News Feed was literally singing with new comments.  It appears Facebook has taken its “Recent Items” feed to a new level, introducing a very FriendFeed-like live commenting system, also similar to Facebook’s new Groups and Messages system.

I’ve mentioned frequently here that Facebook, with its FriendFeed co-founder CTO Bret Taylor, and developers such as Benjamin Golub and others from the FriendFeed team, is quickly becoming more and more “FriendFeed-like”, gradually implementing all the features that were cool about the site  One of those features was live, real-time commenting, where the comments appeared before your eyes without having to refresh the Page.  The live commenting, I’ve found, increases the engagement within the conversation because one isn’t stuck waiting for an email or Facebook notification notifying them to refresh the Page and find the conversation again to continue commenting.  The conversation just naturally flows, making conversation much easier.

Facebook seems to have launched this tonight, as I don’t remember seeing it before on the main News Feed.  This is a feature that has been already in wide use on Facebook Groups and the new, Facebook Messaging system that launched recently.  It seems natural that Facebook would extend this into other areas of the site.

It’s unclear whether this launch is just limited to a select group of users or whether this is widespread, but whatever it is I think it’s pretty cool.  I’m pretty excited to not ever have to refresh my News Feed on Facebook again.  Now, if we could just get FriendFeed’s search built into Facebook I’d be in Nirvana.  No worries! To Discuss Living/Dead Relationship Technology With New RootsTech Conference

One of my favorite things to do is research my family history.  Even more interesting to me is the technology that can make finding and exploring your heritage even easier.  As a former employee of, a former Consultant for and, and a current employee of the LDS Church (who owns, I think my passion has shown over the years.  In fact, I even have mockups from before Facebook was popular on a way to take my previous Open Source project, Jeans (the original platform for this blog, in fact – click to see my very first post!), to become a Family-oriented Social Network.  The fact is I love technology that brings us closer together, both in real life, and the life beyond.  That’s why I’m really excited for the conference is putting on for Technology professionals of all types called RootsTech.  This conference aims to discuss ways we can connect, in a better way, the living with the dead.

When you think about it, the process of connecting, throughout history, all the different types of relationships is fascinating.  Technologists, developers, and the like are only currently discovering the complexities of mapping out relationships as we work to sort out the living and their interactions on Social Networks.

Now imagine the complexity of going beyond this life to map those living with those who have passed on.  There are different historical relationship types to consider.  There is historical context to consider.  There are discovery aspects to consider. claims to have billions of user profile records in its database (that’s at least twice the size of Facebook’s active user base!).

With the advent of mobile, social networks, new database technology, new hardware technology, we are now able to find ancestors and learn more about our origins in new and unique ways.  More information is available at our fingertips than was ever possible before.  We are able to collaborate in ways we were never able to before.  We’re learning things about those who have previously paved the way before us in ways we have never done before.  RootsTech,’s new Family History Technology conference, aims to get all the best minds in this industry together to discuss these challenges, and share new ways of approaching relationships and data archiving and retrieval in this life and beyond.

The conference won’t be interesting to just Genealogy professionals though.  The conference will be Keynoted by Shane Robinson, CTO of Hewlett Packard, as well as Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive.  It should be interesting to all technology professionals with an interest in organizing relationships.  We will have Unconference sessions with moderators such as Phil Windley, founder and organizer of the Internet Identity Workshop and others very involved in Semantic web technologies.  I will also be participating in Phil’s panel.

If you’re interested in any sort of relationship-oriented technologies, there will be a lot to be learned at this conference, and you’ll learn many new and creative ways to organize data and relationships.  I hope to see some of my Facebook, Google, and Twitter employee friends there.  So come on out, book a ticket, and come for what is sure to be a really interesting, and fascinating event centered around relationship technologies among both the living, and the dead.

You can register and get more information here.  The cost for registration is just $99 for a regular registration.  It’s $35 for students.  I can generally get a round trip plane ticket to/from California for around $200-$250 so it should be a fairly inexpensive trip!  Oh, and come say hi if you’re in town visiting.

This post is my own opinion and by no means an official announcement or declaration by my employer.  Family History is a personal passion!  That’s why I’m sharing this with you today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture courtesy

Apple is Creating a "Social Network" the Right Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Now You Can Check in on Twitter Through Facebook Places

This post is syndicated from the SocialToo Blog – please check it out! I think this feature’s pretty cool:

Recently Facebook launched the ability for users to checkin to any place with their mobile phone, sharing with their Facebook friends where they are and what they’re doing, but what about their Twitter friends?  Services like FourSquare and Gowalla offer the ability for users to share their checkins to Twitter as well as Facebook (or just leave them on Gowalla or Foursquare).  Facebook, with the exception of Pages, has seemed reluctant to include Twitter syncing for Facebook status updates.  That is where SocialToo comes in.  Starting today, you can now sync your Facebook checkins automatically from Facebook to Twitter using SocialToo.

The feature is completely free for anyone on Twitter and Facebook. To enable the feature, just log in to SocialToo through your Twitter account, click “Settings”, and click “Associate a Facebook Account”. Once you have both a Twitter and Facebook account linked in SocialToo, go back to the “Inbox” tab, and check the box next to “Facebook to Twitter” in the upper-right. You can now check the boxes next to the things you want to share, including, “Autopost Places” to automatically post checkins from Facebook. Once checked, any new checkin you post on Facebook will now go to Twitter.

In addition to checkins, you can also automatically post links and status updates. Any checkin with a note attached will show the note as the text of the Tweet and a link back to the checkin on Facebook. To exclude the checkin from Twitter, just add a “-” after a space at the end of your note and it won’t go to Twitter. The same goes for status updates and links that you post to Facebook.  We are also considering the potential for an opt-in “+” in the future (let us know in the comments if this is interesting to you).

Hopefully some of you find this feature useful.  We think it’s a powerful way to let others know, now on both Twitter and Facebook, where you are and what you’re doing, and has the potential to generate some interesting conversation.  Let us know how you plan to use it!

More about SocialToo:

SocialToo provides features to complement the experience people, businesses, and brands, have on the social networks they participate on. We’re a utility providing tools to help automate the process of managing a brand image, while at the same time enabling users to clean up spammy messaging, track followers and friends, and manage those friends and followers in the process. Here are some of the features we provide:

  • Auto Follow – follow back the people that follow you or your brand, providing potential discovery and networking opportunities, opening up communication channels, and giving those that follow you a sense of belonging in your community

    • Auto Follow is a one-time $10 fee.

  • Automatic DM and Stream filtering – do you get spammy DMs on Twitter? We’ll delete them automatically for you. Set up simple filters with keywords in DMs you don’t want to receive, then set rules, such as “unfollow”, “delete”, or “ignore” to get rid of them. Turn off Twitter’s DM e-mails and turn on ours, and we’ll also respect your rules with the DM e-mails we send, meaning if you say “ignore”, we won’t send you the DMs that match your rules. In addition, you can filter out people that say certain things in your stream, or that Tweet from specific (and some times spammy) applications.

    • DM filtering is free up to 4 filters. Stream and Application filtering comes with the monthly SocialToo Premium plan. The monthly SocialToo Premium plan is $29.95/mo, and includes every feature we offer, including support for unlimited Twitter accounts (and all features for each). There is a 7-day free trial.

  • Bulk Unfollow – need to start over on Twitter? Unfollow all the people you’ve ever followed at once. Set a whitelist under “Friends” and you can exclude specific people as you do so.

    • Bulk Unfollow on Twitter is a one-time $35 fee.

  • SocialToo Stats – one of our most popular features, you get a daily e-mail with all the people that followed you and stopped following you the previous day on Twitter. We try to organize them by the Tweets we detected at the time of the unfollow or follow. We also provide additional information about each person and the ability to unfollow or follow them straight from the e-mail. In addition, for our monthly Premium users we provide an organized interface, showing a timeline of all your new follows and unfollows in a graph, your number of Tweets, and if you click through to any day it will show you the new followers and unfollowers for that day at any point we’ve tracked, along with your Tweets for that day.

    • The daily stats e-mail is a one-time $20 fee. The monthly SocialToo Premium plan is $29.95/mo, and includes every feature we offer, including support for unlimited Twitter accounts (and all features for each). There is a 7-day free trial.

  • SocialToo Surveys – a “Social” way of posting quick polls to your friends on Twitter and Facebook. Create a quick poll, and share it with your friends on multiple networks. Your friends can take the poll, share it with their friends, comment on it, or create their own!

Facebook Questions as a Strategy – Answering Questions for Your Brand

Facebook logo
Image via Wikipedia

In the last few weeks Facebook has been slowly rolling out a feature that, while not exactly new in concept, I think gives businesses and brands another opportunity to think strategy surrounding their Facebook efforts.  The feature is Facebook Questions.  The feature is pretty much a re-release of Facebook Polls (see my previous article on in 2008 where I discussed this as a business tool), with even greater viral potential.  In fact, it makes even more sense today than ever, with the increased focus on Facebook Pages, something Facebook has chosen to focus on with the new Questions feature.

Facebook Questions, in many ways is like my SocialToo Surveys, with a pure Facebook focus (on SocialToo we have Twitter and Facebook integration, with more Social Networks coming soon), and the ability to completely take the poll out of the question (no pun intended).  Facebook Questions focus on one question that the user can ask to his or her friends, and those friends can answer anything they want to (something you can do in SocialToo’s comments for each SocialToo Survey).  The difference is that on Facebook you can vote up or down each answer, and the most popular answers get pitted at the top in a more prominent position.  This puts it at more of a competing stance with Yahoo Answers, or Quora, or Aardvark.

With each Facebook Question, the person asking can also add a poll, allowing other Facebook users to answer a set of pre-defined answers, allowing the person asking to see what the most popular of his or her own answers might be.  All this while allowing users to also add their own answers and vote those up or down.  I admit, it’s a pretty cool implementation, and something I’ve long wanted to do with SocialToo Surveys (and hopefully we will).

Here’s where you should get involved with your brand though.  With each Question, the person asking can assign “Topics” to the Question.  Each “Topic” is essentially just a Facebook Page somewhere.  It can be any Facebook Page, and doesn’t even have to be one the person asking has even liked or administers.  Assigning a Question to a Topic ensures that the Question has the potential of appearing in the list of Questions on the side of other users’ News Stream who have “liked” the Pages listed in the Question.  So, in essence, you have the potential for a targeted, free, Facebook Ad if the Question is pitted right (albeit with much fewer customized options for targeting).

Businesses and brands ought to be taking advantage of this.  Ask interesting questions to engage your audience, and tag Pages you think have people that might be interested in that question and your brand.  Keep in mind though that Facebook currently has no way to moderate (or delete) the answers to the Questions you ask, so be prepared if a Question happens to turn against you.  You can create Facebook Questions as an individual user, or as a Facebook Page.

In addition to asking and essentially tagging specific audiences with your Questions, there is another great strategy surrounding answers that you can utilize.  I actually saw this with Facebook’s own “Facebook Pages” Page on Facebook.  A user asked a question about Facebook Pages, and “Facebook Pages” answered the question for that user.  I’m sure this brought more attention to that Facebook Page, and the user was even more satisfied as a result.  Not only that, but future users will be able to see the “official” answer from Facebook on the issue.  In a way, this also makes Facebook Questions a competitor to GetSatisfaction, as it can be a great Support Channel for your brand.

I wanted to know how Facebook did this, so I asked my own Question on Facebook.  Damien Basille quickly answered with the following: “You must be an admin of the Facebook Page you want to answer as. Then, next to the Publish Answer blue button it will say “as [First name Last name] (change)”. Click on the (change) link and you will be able to answer as any of your FB Pages that you change to.”

So, with a simple click of the “change” link I’m now posting as my own Facebook Page, answering Questions all around Facebook about my brand.  I think that’s pretty useful!

If you’re a brand, you should be carefully looking at Facebook Questions and figuring out a good way to integrate this great tool into your current Facebook Strategy.  We can only hope that we’re given even more flexibility in the future to access these questions via an API.  Hopefully a search API is provided, and we’ll start to see tools allowing brands and others to easily search and find people asking relevant Questions on Facebook.

If you’re not yet seeing the “Ask a Question” link in your status update box at the top of your news stream, have no fear – it will be there soon, as Facebook slowly rolls out this feature.  This is something all brands should be looking at right now.

You can learn more about Facebook Questions at

Enhanced by Zemanta

Brazen Careerist Launches Site for Job Seekers That Gen-Y-ers Can Actually Enjoy

Generation Y, those that grew up with the web and many of which probably know of no life without it, is prime target for those looking for fresh blood in the Job Marketplace.  It is this generation that is just entering the marketplace, and which Employer after Employer is fighting to gain access to.  These are the founders of Facebook, the latest entries to the Google workforce, and the future of Microsoft.  These are those that will shape the ideas of our future.  Just recently, Brazen Careerist, a site targeted towards Job Seekers, became one of the first to jump at this market by building an entire Social Network targeted towards the Generation Y Job Seeker.

Brazen Careerist hits all the points that Gen Yers love.  Being a much more open audience than their older peers, the site focuses on this fact, bringing attention to a Facebook or Twitter-like stream.  The first question it asks you is, “What are you thinking?”, a question the Gen-Y audience is likely to be more than willing to share with employers.  The entire site integrates well with Facebook Connect, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other networks, enabling users to share across multiple networks, import from their favorite sites, and discuss the ideas their friends are sharing.

In my early 20s, working for startups such as, and, I was known as the idea man.  At the time I didn’t have that much experience, but, being the entrepreneur that I am, I always had an idea that I was sharing.  I think you can still see this today on this blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

Brazen Careerist helps to highlight the less-experienced workers’ way of thinking by enabling thoughts, and ideas to be shared and discussed.  For an idea person such as myself, this service is a God-send in empowering the truly innovative minds of our society.  At the same time it is a great tool for employers to discover those bright minds, as, one of the first questions most employers ask in the interview process is “Tell me about yourself”.

Let’s face it.  LinkedIn is for old people.  It has hardly innovated over the years.  While still a great network for the Gen-Xers and more experienced workforce to network, it is just too hard for a new employee entering into the workforce to get the most out of such a site, especially in a group of people so willing to share information about themselves.  The new Brazen Careerist takes the LinkedIn Resume, but adds to it the ability for each potential employee to truly express themselves in a way history just hasn’t manifested yet.  In a much more open workforce it seems suitable a new entrant into the networking marketplace came forward.

If you’re one of these Gen-Yers looking to gain an edge with your peers and potential employers, Brazen Careerist is the perfect tool to accomplish that.  I encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think in the comments.  You can also “fan” me there at