Uncategorized – Stay N Alive

Android is Finally "Enough", but I Still Miss My iPhone

I’ve written a few times on this blog about my trials with Android and dissatisfaction with devices under Google’s operating system. The fact is, lack of consistent experience because Google doesn’t own the experience, means they will likely never have a leg-up on the experience iOS gives users, considering Apple controls and owns the entire experience in their OS. Google proved me only partly wrong in this though, with their latest release of Jellybean and the Galaxy Nexus, yet I still find myself missing my iPhone. I’ll explain.

At Google’s recent developer conference at Google I/O I was given a Galaxy Nexus to try and play with as my device. I’ve been using this as my primary device since around May, and for the first time ever, I find myself actually enjoying the Android experience. The voice controls are solid. I love the animated background and the new widget layouts. Google Play predicts my travel and tells me how long it takes to get to where I’m going, when I’m going, without me ever needing to ask. Gmail is seamless and provides an experience that I just can’t get on iOS. Google Calendar and other Google products work seamlessly. The battery actually lasts this time.

Yet I still find myself missing my iPhone. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many cool features and integrated components Google adds to the Android experience. Because Google doesn’t own the phone – even on their stock experiences such as the Galaxy Nexus – they can’t control the full experience of the user. On my Galaxy Nexus, which is supposed to be the stock Google experience, I find the camera to be sub-par. It takes about 5 extra steps just to make a phone call. The phone gets triggered on every time I put it in my pocket, occasionally pocket-dialing people.

Then there are the apps. Google doesn’t monitor their Google Play app store like Apple does with theirs. Google doesn’t provide stock controls like sliders, scroll buttons, etc. to developers like Apple does, so app experiences aren’t consistent. As a result, I’m finding apps to be much more buggy than their Apple counterparts. I find apps crash a lot more in Android than they do iOS. In some cases the apps are available for other Android phones, but not my Galaxy Nexus. On Apple, almost always, apps are always available for every Apple iOS device. Until Google controls both the hardware and app store experiences, they simply won’t be able to compete with the experience Apple provides.

I think that’s okay to Google though. Google will always have the masses, very similar to the approach Microsoft took in the Desktop market (until Microsoft figures out the mobile market and competes with Google). They will always be sub-par to Apple I’m afraid, unless they can solve the problems I mention above.

Do I love Android? I still do! It’s a beautiful OS. It does some things much better than iOS. For an overall experience that will save me the most time though, I’m still looking forward to my iPhone 5 shipping tomorrow, and I will likely use it as my primary phone moving forward. If this ever changes you can bet I’ll be the first to write about it and tell you right here. As a lover of technology, it’s great to see the competition! I just hope Google can take this as feedback.

What do you think?

Originally posted on Google+!

Defining Social Product Strategy Within the Organization – a New Role I Think Companies Should Pursue

Over the last several years, as we’ve seen Social Media grow and mature within organizations, I’ve been in a bit of a struggle as I’ve tried to define my role at each organization. As a software developer and entrepreneur interested in product design and growth, I’ve been forced into this world of marketing, a world where developers typically avoid. I’ve grown to enjoy it, and I think I’ve gotten quite good at it – so much that I now see myself as a sort of bridge between marketing and technology. You’ll notice that, as the tag line of this blog often changes as I try to define what I do. It’s a gap not many cover. Yet I still can’t help wonder if my struggle is because my expertise is one that is not yet properly embraced by organizations.

My expertise – a mix of product management and design, marketing, understanding of software development and what it’s capable of, and a user experience centered around social interactions between people – is one that a typical marketer just won’t be very good at. At the same time, other roles I fill and I think I’ve gotten good at – Facebook Page and Social Media Account management, social advertising, social media campaign management, are roles the typical product manager or software developer will understand. I’ve come to think that there is a need for a new executive-level role at organizations where a focus on social within the product can be fully embraced. I’m going to call this role the Social Product Strategist, and it should be at the same level as Social Marketing Strategist (formerly called just, “Social Strategist”).

The Problem with our Current State of Enterprise Social Media

One of my favorite bloggers around the role of social media in enterprise is Jeremiah Owyang, a partner at Altimeter Group, who specializes in research in the way large corporations embrace social media. In his writings he discusses the role of Social Strategist within organizations, and the structure an organization should build around social media. They suggest a Hub and Spoke model, where a hub around social media, lead by the corporate social strategist, helps lead individual “spokes” within departments of an organization. This role of Social Media strategist is also likely to fade back into the organization, likely into a marketing department. I love their focus on this effort – I’ve embraced it in many of my efforts.

That statement around Social Media fading into a marketing department has always bugged me about the role of social media strategist though. I’ve always seen a strong importance around product and social media in the organizations I work with, and the need to integrate social deeply into the products I work with. Things like finding ways to embrace Facebook and Twitter to bring a user’s friends into the experiences that are being built. I think social media is much more than just adding “like” and “share” buttons on a site, and should have an even more important focus around determining what your existing “social network” is, and embracing that for each user using your product. This needs someone that understands social design. It needs someone who understands product design, social APIs, and what can be done with them. I don’t think this is a marketing role. It fits more in the product, or technology arm of an organization, if even that.

Defining the Role of Social Product Strategist

I think there’s now a need for a parallel focus in organizations around the focus of Social Media. Yes, there should be a social marketing strategist role as is already being implemented in many organizations, with a focus on the marketing elements surrounding Social Strategy. These are the types of roles that will fade back into the marketing arms of organizations. However, there needs to be an equivalent level, parallel role around social Product strategy. This should be a VP or Director-level role around the development and deep integration of social experiences into every product the company develops.
I see this role as figuring out where the current relationships of your customers exist, and determining how to bring out those relationships into the experiences of every product built. The role should seek to build new experiences that are social, as well as embrace existing experiences, and make it easier for your customers to stay on the site, feeling comfortable that their friends and family are there with them.
Google as the Example

Google has done this well as they’ve tried to embrace social media. Many know Google for taking a developer-centric focus around the products they build. I think they’ve embraced this philosophy well by hiring Vic Gondutra to figure out their challenge around social product design within Google’s organization. Notice that Vic doesn’t focus on Facebook ad strategy or Page management or anything else like that – Google’s Marketing and PR departments handle those types of investments.
Instead, Vic decided he needed to create a new network, Google+, to get the entire organization on board with bringing out the real relationships their users have, and he made that available to the entire organization to use within their products. He figured out the already existing “social network” that existed in Google products, and found a way to build technology around embracing that social network. It’s a pure product design strategy. Other companies should also be considering this approach in their organization, and it goes way beyond the corporate social strategist.

I propose that more organizations start considering this role of Social Product Strategist into their organizations social media strategy. The typical “social strategist” won’t handle this as well as a product person can. Organizations should seek out product-focused managers within an organization that have strong experience building social user experiences into the products they work with. Someone who has managed Facebook apps and experiences would fit well into this position. Someone who understands the benefit of social design into products should be considered.
I think its time organizations start taking this role seriously as a new role within the organization. This is something that I think we’ll start to see develop more and more in the coming year or two as organizations look back to see how they can embrace their own existing “social networks” that exist within their products, and find ways to embrace technology to bring out the relationships that already exist between their customers and users.

Why Corporations Should Pay Less Taxes and Individuals Should Pay More

This is a cross-post from my other blog, Stay N Faithful, a blog I set up for Political and Religious posts (be sure to click and subscribe if you want more posts like these). I asked my brother, Ben Stay, if he could comment on the current tax situation of America, and gave him access to post there. The article was so good, and since he used Google and Google+ as examples, I thought it was worth sharing here – it’s definitely worth a read if you’re worried about the current state of employment in this nation. Ben is an International Tax Consultant and works with taxes on a day-to-day basis. He consults with companies and people that are dealing with cross border transactions and ventures. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did – my eyes were opened as I read it.

Currently the US essentially has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world at 35% and by including state taxes. Many people probably think that because they are big, rich companies, they should be paying at least as high as the individual tax rate. Corporations also do not get tax breaks for capital gains like individuals do, nor do they get a tax break on dividend income unless it’s from another US company in which they own 80% or more. This means that US corporations potentially have a higher tax base and thus may be paying even more taxes than individuals. So you may be saying, “So what? At least I’m not paying more taxes.” Well…this is what we’re seeing because of the taxes on corporations.

To put it conceptually, the government needs to fund itself and needs to get revenue in one way or another. This is not a debate about how much revenue the government should use, just a debate in the method in which they get it. If you think about it, the profits that corporations make are taxed twice: once by the corporation and a second time when distributed to their shareholders. This means that people can get more money if they plan around that. Any US citizen is taxed by the US government no matter where they live, so there’s little to be done to avoid the individual taxes. However, corporations and the locations where the income is earned is pretty flexible given how flat the world has become. The result is planning around where the income is earned and in corporate tax planning.

I make a living off of helping corporations plan where their income is earned. Being a US practitioner, my expertise is in US tax law, and given the high US corporate tax rate, my planning is around shifting income out of the US. Globally, any tax practitioner knows that you plan around the US by avoiding pushing any income into the US. The common places to use with planning are Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Switzerland which have given great incentives for corporations to move their businesses and income to their countries. They do it through tax rulings. Essentially their tax system is not solidified with rules that are intended to catch everything a company does, so most everything is negotiated with the tax authorities. The tax authorities will give you a lower rate the more income you are bringing into their country. In other words, they incentivize companies to move income out of their home country and into one of these European countries. They then receive tax revenue they did not have before and we in the US lose the tax revenue.

Perhaps this still is not completely clear, so let me run through a common example of how it’s done. Google, a US company, was in the news for its 2.4% effective tax rate. That means that based on its billions in revenue only 2.4% is the amount anticipated that will be taxed. The report mentioned that it was using a Dutch sandwich structure and pushing income offshore to Bermuda. I do not know exactly what the structure entails, but I imagine it is something like this:

Google owns all sorts of brands and has operations throughout the world. Only one company can own the brand, so the other companies operating elsewhere in the world will pay a royalty fee for the right to use the license. The company that owns the brand or Intellectual Property (“IP”) receives the royalty payments as income. This is where a lot of income shifting is done. Even though Google is based in the US, they set up companies in countries throughout the world and one of those locations is the Netherlands where they probably get a very favorable tax rate from a negotiated ruling. The Netherlands is probably willing to give a really low rate considering they generate billions in IP income. Let’s take Google+ as an example. This is a more recent brand that Google developed. If they “developed” the brand in the Netherlands (the details of this can be complicated but it’s what companies do globally), then any other company in the Google family that utilizes that brand pays a royalty to the Dutch company. The companies paying the royalty get a deduction just as they would from salary expenses. That means the US company gets a deduction that reduces the amount of US taxes that are charged.

Google also has a lot of cash built up and is generating a lot of new jobs. However, this cash is likely not available in the US and the jobs are likely going overseas. This is because it’s too expensive to bring the cash back to the US (remember 35% tax rate on dividends) and the jobs are going overseas to support the development of IP outside the US. The bottom line is it’s too expensive to do business in the US, so all the cash and potential jobs that are being created by our huge iconic US companies are going overseas where they can get more profit. This is not about patriotism or pride, this is simple economics. Companies will go under if they don’t do similar planning because their competitors will be more profitable and run them out of business.

The solution? I am not completely sure, but I can tell you what the UK is doing. The UK had a 28% corporate tax rate, significantly lower than the US. However, they are lowering the rate further by reducing it by 1% each year until they get to 23%. They are also giving incentives for companies to do business there through some debt schemes and other strategies. Their version of the IRS (HMRC) is working together with my UK tax counterparts on how to give incentives to bring business and income back into the UK. In other words, they are supporting tax planning schemes that will compete with these Dutch, Lux, and Swiss schemes. I would love to sell work to clients on how they can save money and hassle by moving income into the US, but it would require a fundamental change in the corporate tax system.

I love my country, but we are behind the times and perhaps too prideful to lower the rate, thinking that since we are such an economical powerhouse and land of opportunity companies will do business here regardless. However, I think we are losing money and jobs at a tremendous rate and will continue to do so until we make ourselves competitive. If you want domestic examples of what happens economically, look at why Volkswagen moved their US headquarters from Detroit to Northern Virginia…taxes! Virginia has made themselves very business friendly and has given incentives for companies to move here. Companies move among states for tax incentives, so are we surprised that companies would completely leave the US given the disparity in tax rates between countries is even larger than the disparity between states.

Is this a solution to the jobs crisis? Perhaps. In order to lower the corporate tax rate, we can’t be afraid of increasing the individual tax rate. The idea is that if we bring more money and business to the US, the number of jobs and the standard of living will increase and offset the cost of an increased individual tax rate. Look at the individual rates in the UK and Switzerland. These countries also have a Value Added Tax which may be described as a federal sales tax that is ultimately paid by the end consumer. We will be paying more in taxes out of our pockets but decreasing taxes paid by our US corporations that are providing us jobs. We will get paid more to offset the cost and over time make our country competitive again. So let’s get off Wall-Street and over to the Hill and help Congress enact these cuts to provide future jobs and a better economy for our country. A number of people in Congress have put this on their agenda, but it would require a larger public support to see anything pass. I hope this article sheds some light on the situation and the action that our government needs to take. I think you will find that this is an issue that both sides would agree needs to see some action or we will be left in the dust with everyone moving offshore.

Google+ for Apps – the Perfect Competition for Yammer and SalesForce Chatter

I’ve always suggested that the business collaboration space is a very saturated one. There’s perhaps the most popular one – Yammer, and then there are solutions such as SalesForce Chatter, MangoSpring, Cisco Quad, Confluence, and even build-your-own solutions such as Status.net. Even Microsoft and Sharepoint are beginning to enter this space. Those are just the most popular – there are many, many more solutions available. The fact is, there’s just a lot of competition in this space and they all offer similar features to one another. However, a new competitor has just entered this space that I think has the potential to shake up this saturated market, and it’s a big name, with big pockets and a whole lot of existing enterprise clients. That company is Google, and believe it or not, their latest announcement of integration of Google+ with Google Apps puts them right, square in the middle of this competition for business collaboration, and it’s a powerful one!

The Power of Circles

Google+ for Google Apps all starts with Google Circles. When you sign up for Google+ through your Google Apps account, you are given the opportunity to target updates to a circle just for your organization. This means you can use regular Google+, just as you do with your normal Google+ account, but you can make posts that only other members of your organization will see. Sound familiar? It should if you’re a user of Yammer or SalesForce Chatter or any of the other popular business collaboration suites.

Now, on top of your other Circles you can go back and click on just your company’s circle and view just the updates from other employees in your organization. Or, view your main stream and you’ll see updates from just your company, mixed in with the updates from your other friends on Google+.

Internal AND External Communication

The one thing I keep asking my reps at Yammer and SalesForce is that I need the ability to make some posts sent to my internal network public. Yammer sort of allows this by allowing posts you push to Twitter to also appear on your internal network (you do this by appending the hashtag, #yam, to your Tweet and it gest read by Yammer). None of the networks allow you to publish posts on their own network to make them also appear on external networks.

On Google+ this is built in. You post an update, target it to your company circle, but you can also target updates to external circles that you’ve created on Google+. This provides a powerful tool that can enable both people inside, and outside the company to participate in the conversations you start. It can also be a great way to get external feedback from a select group of people outside your organization – perhaps you could involve a focus group in the release of a new product before you launch it to the public. Circles make the perfect tool for this.

Targeted Notifications

I haven’t seen how thorough this works on Google+ for apps, but the potential is there. Right now on Google+ I can mouse over any of my circles and opt to notify everyone in the circle. They don’t even have to be following me for me to get their attention. For a company this can be very useful. Now you’ll have the ability to get the attention of a group of people in your company and start conversations around topics you need their participation in.


This is a really cool feature. Already, corporations across all of the world use various video collaboration and chat software. Most pay a lot of money for this. Google+ Hangouts is free, and can allow even more people to participate than many video collaboration tools on the market.  Not only that, but you have the potential to also allow video broadcasts to your company, and perhaps even allow people outside the company to participate and see your broadcasts. I hear Google uses Vdyo software to power Hangouts, and many companies are already using this, and paying big money for it. With Google+ for Apps and Hangouts, the service is free!

Microsoft Exchange Competition

The great thing about Google Apps is it gives an alternative to Microsoft’s email, documentation, calendaring, and contact management software, Exchange. Now businesses have an even greater reason to switch from Exchange, to, in my own opinion a more superior, cloud-based email software tool (Gmail/Google Mail). With Google Apps, businesses no longer have a need to host their own email or calendaring services. Google takes care of it for them. And on top of it you get Google+ for business collaboration which will integrate more and more with these other tools Google provides. Google+ just gives more reason to switch to Google Apps over Microsoft Exchange.

Google Apps is cheap compared to Exchange and other alternatives, especially when you consider all the things you get with it, now including Google+. To me it’s beginning to become a no-brainer for businesses to start considering Google Apps as an organization. The cool thing is that non-profits and single individuals can get Google Apps for free – that’s the power of a major enterprise software product, for no cost at all! It’s a no-brainer.

If you haven’t been considering Google Apps up until now, Google+ for Google Apps ought to start making you think. Google has built a pretty compelling product, and the thing I’m not seeing many people talk about right now is that Google+ now puts Google in a serious position to start entering the Enterprise space. I’m very excited for this move by Google and can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Disclosure: I am author of the just-released book, Google+ For Dummies, Portable Edition – that said, I am also author of 3 other Facebook books. My excitement is solely because I think this is a cool, and powerful feature of the Google Apps suite!

Miss My Google Reader Updates? Here Are 4 Ways You Can Still Get Relevant Tech News

If you’re an avid Google Reader user like me, you are well aware of the recent changes Google Reader made to their interface, removing the ability to share news with friends, and as a result, killing the means for over 1,500 of you to receive relevant tech news updates from me. As a long-time supporter, and defender of Google Reader (I defended it even when others were saying it was dead), it’s no surprise I’m disappointed. However, I’m finding other ways, without Google Reader, to still get you the news you need. Maybe you didn’t even follow me on Google Reader before. Regardless, here are 4 ways you can follow my favorite tech news from around the web without Google Reader – I hope you can find value from one of these.

The Stay N Alive Newsletter

Every Tuesday or Wednesday I send out a newsletter to all my followers with my favorite news from throughout the week. In the newsletter it always has the most relevant highlights from the week, and things that I think you should know about in the tech world and other things I’m interested in. If you subscribe to anything of mine, you’ll definitely want to subscribe to this, as it’s the simplest way to skim through what you may have missed from the previous week. Have other items you want to see on this newsletter? Just let me know and I’ll see if I can highlight those as well.

To sign up for this newsletter, just fill out the form on the right column, or click the “Newsletter” link at the top, or just go here and fill out the form. I’d love to have each of you get this.


Want something a little more relevant and real-time? Before I had Google Reader and you could just read each item I shared, right in your browser. With Google Reader’s changes, that’s no longer possible. However, I’m still sharing everything I used to share in Google Reader over on Twitter. Just subscribe to me at http://twitter.com/jesseslinks (@jesseslinks) and you’ll have all my favorite news delivered to you in real-time. Consider that the firehose (but it’s good water!)

Want to get updates on your cell phone? You don’t even need a Twitter account. Just send “follow jesseslinks” to 40404 (you don’t need a Twitter account, but that is Twitter’s SMS service) on your cellphone and you’ll immediately start getting news updates delivered to you via SMS as I share them.  To stop the updates, just send “stop” to 40404 and they’ll stop.


One of my favorite News reading apps for the iPad is Flipboard. I like it because I can plug in just about any feed to Flipboard and immediately it turns it into news I can read, right on the Flipboard.

To get my shares on your Flipboard is easy. Just add the Twitter account @jesseslinks to Flipboard, and you’ll now be able to read the news I share right inside Flipboard. I think that’s probably one of the best ways to get your news and never have to leave the app to do it – consider it your “Stay N Alive Newspaper”.


Lastly, and I should disclose that I’m an advisor of Xydo (and that’s for a reason – I only advise companies I believe in), Xydo.com can be an excellent way to get your news from me. You can just go to Xydo.com/Stay and get my updates there. Or, sign up for the site, register your Facebook and Twitter accounts, and get news from not just me but all your friends that are sharing news on Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve followed @jesseslinks on Twitter, those links will appear there as well (you can do that under the “Connections” link, or you can just let it pick the most relevant news out for you – it’s pretty smart!). Want these on Flipboard? Plug in your Xydo RSS feed for me, your personalized feed, or any Xydo topic into Flipboard and you’ve got news on your iPad!

Xydo is actually one of my biggest replacements for Google Reader social sharing at the moment. If you’re looking for a good replacement and don’t just want my shares, it may solve the problem of finding relevant news for you. I highly recommend them, and I’m not just saying that because I’m and advisor. I’m actually finding much more use out of them since Google Reader social sharing went away.

Blogging’s Definitely Not Dead. The Conversations Surrounding it Seem to Be.

Today was an unprecedented day on StayNAlive.com. I saw more traffic in one day than this blog used to get in an entire week. It was thanks to this article (the traffic was certainly unexpected, but I knew it was news, so I tipped Techmeme to let the world know what I discovered). It started with a bunch of you retweeting the article, and soon I was the top article on Techmeme. In the same day I ended up on the front page of HackerNews (currently article 2), and got retweeted by notables with an incredible retweet following such as Scoble, adding to the attention. By the end of the day, at least as I currently write this (with one hour still to go), I have 919 retweets of that one article, 122 likes on Facebook, and a total of almost 21,000 visitors. It was the perfect storm. It was traffic and attention I’ve never received before.

Yet one thing struck me. Despite all this traffic and all the attention this post had gotten, none of it happened as a result of conversations in the blogosphere. According to Techmeme, not a single blog wrote about this news today – it was all spread via Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, and other social mediums. In addition to the traffic that post generated, the way it spread too was unprecedented. I’m beginning to realize the conversation is moving away from the blogosphere and into the social ecosystem.

When I started realizing the power of blogging, it used to be all about links. I found out that if a person wrote about something interesting, if I continued that conversation on my blog and linked back to them they would notice, and could respond back to me. The entire conversation happened around blogs, and links between blogs. It can still happen that way if you want to get attention for your blog – I still encourage it. This is called a “Meme”. It’s because of this that TechMeme was formed, and it organized headlines based on links between blogger conversations. It was a great way to determine the popular news of the day.

If you look at Techmeme today though, look at my article – nothing but Twitter conversations linked to the post. The top story on Microsoft earnings only has Twitter conversations attached. I see 2 blog conversations on the second headline, and only one blog conversation on the third headline. You used to see up to 10 to 20 blog conversations for each article on Techmeme. If Techmeme is any indicator, it would seem that the conversation, via blogs, is going away, and instead moving towards mediums such as Twitter. Maybe that’s why Techmeme added Twitter conversations as added related content.

Notice there are only Twitter handles in this Meme

As I wrote earlier, the concept of “subscribing” is dying in favor of a more “follow”-based model. We see trends such as today’s realization that Twitter and Facebook have removed the visible RSS Feed links from their sites and in some cases completely. People are simply moving their conversations to more short-form conversations and into the cloud of social network ecosystems. It’s easier to do it that way. The conversations via blogs, and the links that go with those, have gone in favor of short-form messaging. No wonder Google is scared.

Is the blog dead? Certainly not. As you notice, on Techmeme all the headlines are still blogs (although you will get an occasional, monumental “Tweet”). Blogging still remains the single best way to get out a strong, long-form message and have everyone (for the most part) understand what you’re trying to get across. The blog still makes a big statement and should not be abandoned. It’s the conversation that is moving away from the blogosphere. The “Meme” has moved towards Social Networks, and perhaps that’s a good thing.

Maybe today is just an off day but I’m seeing a trend here.

I’d like to know – where have you moved your conversations? If you blogged before, do you still continue conversations on your blog, or have you moved them to Twitter and Facebook? I’m willing to bet I can guess what your answers will be.

A Few Things I’ve Learned From My 260,000 Fan Facebook Page

I manage several Facebook Pages in the hundreds of thousands, but of those, one I’ve had the privilege of personally owning (the others are owned by Brands I represent). Somehow, my first book’s Facebook Page (http://facebook.com/fbbook), has accrued over 260,000 fans in just a few months, and it’s been a lot of fun having the experience of managing a personal Facebook Page with that many fans that I can do whatever I want with. Here are a few things I’ve learned. I’ll share more as I have more time to experiment:

  • What’s in a name? Everything. The number one reason for my Facebook Page’s success and popularity has been its name. The name, “I’m on Facebook–Now What???”, which is the name of Jason Alba’s and my book, is catchy. When someone clicks like on the Page, it says, “so and so likes I’m on Facebook–Now What???” Their friends get a giggle, go to the Page, click like, and so the cycle continues. Consequently, a large portion of those that have ended up liking the Page have been a very young audience. I have ways of solving that which I’ll share in a later post.

    The name of your Page can make or break how viral your Page goes. Think about what it will look like when in a friend’s stream, it says, “so and so likes such and such”. If it stands out enough, their friends will like it as well.

  • Facebook Questions are a lot more fun when you have an audience. I’ve posted a few questions to the Page, and almost immediately I get hundreds of responses. This can pose for an excellent opportunity to get valuable insight on data you want to learn about from an audience that can often be bigger than the samples that common polling agencies will gather for you.

    Consider contracting with someone who has an audience similar to yours that you can poll (or build your own audience in a similar fashion).

  • Posts have a lot more value the more fans you have. When I post on the Page, almost instantly people respond and like the posts. In many cases it’s immature responses like “first!” and other trollish responses, but some times there can be some really interesting discussions that result. It has been a really fun way to learn about my audience and what they want, giving me more ideas for future posts.
  • For this Page in particular, enabling posts by fans on the Wall significantly increases the number of likes per day. I tried an experiment. I enabled fans to be able to post on the Wall and for that to be the default view for the Page. I then turned it off for a few weeks, and then turned it back on again. In the graph (which you can see below) of daily likes that Facebook provides, the parallel of likes to having the Wall posts enabled is almost equal, and very significant. It is very clear that allowing posts by fans on the wall increases the number of daily likes, and that I should leave it on.

    I recommend you try this experiment on your own Page though. One Page is not enough of a sample to determine if you will see the same results. Let me know if you see similar.

Notice the dip that happened when the Wall posts were turned off
These were a few results I had seen in managing this Facebook Page and I thought I’d share in case others could benefit. As I learn more I’ll also share those here – please let me know if I can try any other experiments for you.
Lastly, if you know anyone who has gadgets or freebies that you can give away to an audience of 260,000 very young fans, I’d like to talk to you. My next experiment will involve working to get many of these fans to get their parents involved in liking the Page, and I’d love to give away one of your products as part of that process. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll explain further. (you can always email me at jesse@staynalive.com if you want to discuss this further)

RSS is Not Dead. The Concept of "Subscribing" Is.

Show me your numbers. There are a lot of blogs out there claiming, “RSS is dead.” “RSS isn’t dead.” The problem is very few of these articles have any substance to prove that fact. The fact is, based on my numbers, the number of new people actually subscribing to this blog is tapering off, and you can see the graph here to prove that:

Notice how both the higher, and lower numbers are starting to plateau?

The green line represents subscribers (which, actually, is most of you reading this right now). The higher points are what this blog looks like when FriendFeed subscribers come into play (FriendFeed submits to Feedburner that all your followers there count as subscribers on your blog(s)). The bottom dips in the line represent what the actual number of subscribers for this blog are (the lower ones towards the end are when this blog was down as I switched from WordPress to Blogger – another post on that later). No matter which trend you look at, though, you can see it’s not an exponential growth. It’s not even an “up and to the right” trend. It’s starting to plateau. There simply aren’t as many new subscribers as there used to.

In an informal poll where I brought up this same issue on Facebook, it seems many of you are seeing the same thing. Joshua Simmons said, “Personally I’ve abandoned my Google Reader (which I never could keep up with) — now I just use Facebook Newsfeed and wait for relevant articles to percolate through my social network.” Glen Campbell said, “I gave up on blogs about 18-24 months ago. Just couldn’t keep up with them all.” Kathy Fitch said, “I never sub to blogs. Since blog search is so easy, and they are returned in standard search results, anyway, I’d rather happily discover new ones that way. Others, I discover through FB and Twitter posts. A very few, I just drop in on from time to time.” David Terry said, “I still use RSS, but not nearly as much as in the past. There is only so much time in the day that you can spend on things… today my attention is split across more outlets and RSS is only one of them and probably the least effective of any of them at finding stuff that interests me (because not every post on any given blog is worth reading). So I use it, but I’d imagine my own usage will only continue to decline.” The list goes on.

Maybe my blog just isn’t as popular as it was before. That could likely be the case. However, when you look at my pageviews and visitor counts, those are still up and to the right, and consistently growing. Because of that, I don’t think it’s a matter of you don’t like my content (although I won’t blame you if you think that’s the case).

Even when you look at Google, it seems even they are putting less emphasis on the concept of “subscribing.” In the new Google Profiles, you see a tab that links to Google Buzz, but very little emphasis on where they could be linking to your Google Reader shares and posts.

The fact is, people are getting more and more used to the concept of “following”, and less and less used to the concept of “subscribing.” Even I, perhaps one of the most active Google Reader users out there, find myself actually subscribing to individual blogs less and less, and just following the shares of others more and more. It takes a whole lot for me to decide I want to actually subscribe to an individual blog vs. just follow another individual who has a lot of good shares. Even Google Reader is moving more and more to the “follow” model.

Is RSS dead? Of course not, and I would debate anyone who suggests it is. The fact is RSS is just a protocol that powers many things on the web, even the items that are being shared by the people you are following. However, what I think a lot of these blogs actually mean is that the concept of “subscribing” to individual blogs via RSS is going down, and that I can stand behind. I think many of the blogs arguing this fact are seeing their subscriber numbers, something they used to pride themselves on in the past, and calling RSS dead is how they’re trying to explain that fact.

If, indeed, subscriber numbers are slowing, I’d like to see more bloggers show that fact. Don’t just say “RSS is dead”. Put your money where your mouth is.

Am I killing the RSS feed for this blog any time soon? Of course not, and I probably will never do that, because that kills the opportunity for you to get shares in an automated fashion and share those with the people that follow you. I did, however, decide to kill the widget with the number of subscribers this blog had in the upper-right of StayNAlive.com. You’ll now find the emphasis placed on following me on Twitter, Liking me on Facebook, and knowing where you can follow the real me to get my updates. That seems to be where the trend is going.

With the sheer amount of data we have to process as humans in this day and age, the “News Stream” is where people are now going to get news, and it’s from their friends, not blogs. They now skim and sift – they don’t just read.

“Subscribing” is in the process of extinction. The “follow” is the future. It’s now about people more than content.

Xydo Now Tracking Over 1 Million People’s Shares on Twitter

A few weeks back, Eric Roach, Xydo.com‘s co-founder and CEO, had lunch with me to show me a new, Digg-like network for sharing articles in a modern way. The service attempts to track retweets and shares across social networks to identify, automatically, what the top news of the day is. It’s amazingly fast and accurate at predicting the news. Today I noticed they surpassed tracking 1 million users, bringing tens of thousand of shared items to the service as a result of those users’ shares.

Xydo attempts to detect shared content across the web based on what people are sharing and really interested in. While it places emphasis on retweets and shares, users of the service can also vote up articles on the site, very similar to Digg and Reddit and other similar vote-up news services. The difference being the news is submitted by your shares on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.

Xydo comes with a twist though. You can organize your own news feeds by topic and RSS feed. You tell it the topics you want to follow, and you can edit those topics, almost in Quora-like, wiki-like fashion, and you get a nice list of the top news within that topic you want to follow. Eric showed me how he can just add the RSS feed for the specific topic he wants to follow to FlipBoard for the iPad, and it’s all displayed in a nicely formatted way for me to read the news. You can insert this into your own news reader as well, for instance. (Let’s say, the “technology” topic, for example)

I admit I’m already hooked on Xydo as it quickly becomes a new way for me to consume personalized news on the web. Being a Utah company, it’s great to see more innovation out of this area. If you’re not already one of those 1 million users being tracked, be sure to register for the beta at http://xydo.com.

In the meantime, be sure to see Robert Scoble’s video below where he interviewed the founders:

Kynetx Kicks off the Web With No Log in Button With New Browser Extension

In previous posts I have talked about the concept of the “Web with no login button“. I call it the next iteration of the web, Web 3.0 if you may, where the web follows you. Everywhere you go, the web knows who you are, what you are doing, where you are, and it adapts based on what it knows about you. The kicker is no server anywhere needs to know who you are. Only your browser, on your machine, will ever store any private details about you, and it will be up to you to decide which sites you share that with. Today at Kynetx Impact Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kynetx made that much more a reality with a new browser extension that runs off the Kynetx platform.

I’ve shared here several plugins that were written with Kynetx platform. There was my “like button for Twitter” extension, which puts Facebook like buttons on your Twitter stream posts. Former Kynetx employee Mike Grace wrote several extensions, such as one that adds the old style retweets to the Twitter.com interface. He wrote a filter to allow me to filter out Tweets on Twitter.com that match certain key terms. Ed Orcutt wrote an extension that shows all the other networks a user belongs to by just hovering over their profile on Twitter.com or Facebook.com and other sites. All these were written on Kynetx platform, and work on almost any browser.

Previously, I had to install a separate browser extension for each one of these. It was a pain to manage! With Kynetx new browser extension, I just install one extension, choose the Kynetx platform apps I want to add, they’re all installed, no other set up necessary. I get all that functionality in one single plugin.

Here’s were it will get powerful though. Now imagine a time where this Kynetx plugin supports Information Cards, or a similar standard. At the moment Kynetx takes you through the Twitter and Facebook authorization processes to access your data on Facebook and Twitter. An auth token from that process gets stored on Kynetx’s servers.

Now, as you go from site to site, your identity will follow you where you go, no login buttons to click, no entering in any id information. Your browser will know who you are and what you like.

Do you like Target? Target could install a Target Kynetx app. All you need to do is have the Kynetx extension installed in your browser, install the app, and now you’ll be seeing experiences Target has set up for you on the websites you visit around the web.

Do you like Facebook? Facebook themselves could be building experiences on top of Twitter and Google using their platform, using the identity you have stored in your browser, bringing your Facebook social graph into those experiences. The kicker is Google and Twitter wouldn’t be able to do anything about it because you, the user, are opting to bring your preferred experience into that environment.

This launch of the Kynetx browser extension, while small in scale, has huge potential for the future of the web. It is not limited to any one browser. It’s not limited to any one site. Now, your identity and preferences follow you around the web, and you get to decide what that experience will be.

To try it out, play with some of the apps at http://apps.kynetx.com – the extension automatically installs when you try to install any of the apps. If you’re a developer, try out their platform and create an app for your own users which follows them around the web. The possibilities are endless! I admit this has gotten me using Twitter.com a lot more. With Kynetx, the Twitter inteface, and the web in general, is my platform as a developer, no new APIs to learn.