A colleague forwarded this and while I don’t know the people behind it (CHForum.org), there were some interesting slides related to several macro events that have affected nations globally.
Executive Director: Oliver Sparrow
Oliver is a director, board advisor or non-executive director of a number of companies. He is also director of a charity called the Leadership Capacity Trust. He serves as a member of number of UK government projects. He was a commissioner on the World Commission on Globalization.
Oliver spent the bulk of his career in Shell, chiefly in strategic planning, corporate renewal, public affairs and venture capital. After Shell, he spent five years as a Director at the Royal Institute for International Affairs, also known as Chatham House. Country assessments - their stability, their weaknesses and potential, negotiation around conflict - were and remain a central skill.
Oliver has lived and worked in a considerable number of countries, predominantly in the Pacific, Asia and Latin America. He speaks good Spanish. One of his companies is developing both gold mines and urban waste disposal projects in Latin America. He was born in the Bahamas and brought up in Africa. He was educated at Oxford, with a science and economics background which has since expanded into many fields. He enjoys exploring wild parts of the world for orchids, particularly the Himalayas. He is a fellow of the Peter Drucker foundation.
Dear App Developers:
But we know there are more of you out there….somewhere…
Here’s the problem. The world is kind of…well, large. And you…you maybe are large or just small and starting out…we’re trying to find out about you, your apps, and what you can do for others. As in…help other people build apps for Blackberry/RIM, Apple iOS, Google Android, or Microsoft Windows Mobile.
With some magic luck, our group has had a slight surge through discovery and extended networks on Facebook. So that is where we will build the community.
The group is searchable in Facebook as “APP DEVELOPERS”.
Or simply go here:
What can you expect?
- A friendly bunch of professionals
- Content curation and industry related articles
- An international flavour in terms of group membership
- More interaction and dialogue from an international perspective
- Posts can get emailed to you or sent via SMS - based on your settings
Google+ just didn’t seem active enough for my network and I…even at a personal level. I found people far more connected to Facebook so it was easier to join up app developers there.
Twitter may be good at some level too but right now, we’ve got a good thing going on Facebook.
Give us a try and please…PLEASE participate. The group has no value without active participation. All of us have some great information and opinions parked in our brains which needs to get out there. Free the information. ;-)
Join APP DEVELOPERS today on Facebook:
I tweet. You follow. You tweet. I follow. The world is happy.
Here are some things I’ve noticed with my own social interaction:
Social Media SIX months ago:
But I really like Twitter a lot now for the engagement and real-time curation of information by like-minded individuals.
There’s something more human about it compared to an RSS Reader workflow model.
- 5 Ways Marketers Can Use Quora (grasshopper.com)
- 26 Social Media Marketing Hidden Treasures You Never Knew Existed (hubspot.com)
FACEBOOK. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re in your face.
- They had a messy IPO
- They constantly change the user experience to the chagrin of many
- Their mobile strategy has been shockingly disappointing given the obvious that a huge chunk of their base only interfaces with the platform via mobile device
- They ad targeting algorithm is delivering strange target results
- As of this past week, multiple colleagues in my Facebook network experienced an UNEXPECTED rise in friends.
I want to first focus on the value and nature of connections before moving into the latest hiccup in social media network land.
The Power of Connections — The Philosophy
Just two weeks ago, I opted to tighten up my Facebook network (tidy up, so to speak) on the basis of connection (friend/family, current/past coworkers, industry colleague, long-tail contact, and passive/non-active based on their profile). The end result was that I found the “loose connection” around industry affiliation (mobile/tech/digital) did not generate useful engagement. In fact, this labourious review netted some surprising details:
- A great number of my “friends” were hardly engaging in their profiles (no activity)
- A shocking number had long since deleted their Facebook account but still apparently appeared as a “connection” (friend) through my profile on Facebook.
The most engagement on Facebook (minus some token veterans of mobile/tech that I consider close friends) really rested on the shoulders of my closest friends. This isn’t surprising really. However, the real connectors or rainmakers of tech (I consider myself one) do engage the most and as a result, I have a healthy bunch of social friends that I’d consider rainmakers/connectors, thereby driving social engagement.
The LinkedIn Effect — Painful
Of late though, there has been a rise in something I called the “LinkedIn Effect” where unknown individuals from distant locations are trying to connect with me on Facebook because I know one individual. Sorry, but no cigar. That doesn’t qualify for “friend status”. Oddly, some confuse FB as a networking tool which I have never considered it to be. But the far-off friend requests keep coming from one individual’s social network. Not cool.
ON LinkedIn, these connection requests have become a terrible problem as they fall into three camps:
- Unrelated industry professional, 2nd or 3rd generation connection
- Spam account (appears new, has no meat to profile, no photo)
- 3rd generation connection request, unrelated industry professional
Sadly, they all come with the compelling, “Hi Alex, I’d like to connect you to my professional network” response. I end up ignoring these requests. For a while, the intensity of these requests was quite high before things eventually died down. LinkedIn really was built on the premise of trust-based connections. People knowing people to drive business development opportunities. It’s no surprise that some of my colleagues have experienced the drastic post-add scenario where this unknown connection then asked to be introduced to one of your connections.
Do you really think this is really going to work? :-)
At one point, as co-founder of MobileMonday Toronto, Jim and I were getting many requests to connect with folks in the Toronto mobile industry via LinkedIn. So we did. As a non-profit in 2005, we didn’t have a robust community platform. There wasn’t a twitter platform that year (and when it arrived in 2006, it didn’t have user scale) and we used Yahoo! Groups mailing lists to drive communications. Also, LinkedIn’s Groups was very restricted and not easy to use or manage until they re-launched the module. So, in the absence of business cards (since we were too busy running the events vs networking! :-)), a LinkedIn connection made sense to use the email functionality.
The goal was really to source talent and stakeholders easily for event-related networking, collaboration and business development. Did these connections work out — that is, the ones we knew little about? Nope. Missing in all of this “connection” business is the personal connection. Obvious. Certainly, some folks could be in the industry but for us to be in a position to refer them or drive opportunities, our comfort levels certainly go up when we know the individual. In most cases, we had to pre-screen the individual with a call or meeting to get a feel for individual, the idea or business before any action was done. Time-consuming and defeats the real purpose of LinkedIn.
The Challenge of Large Ecosystems Like Facebook or LinkedIn
As these large platform ecosystems evolve, problems begin to arise. The recent hack with LinkedIn passwords only exacerbated the mistrust factor and shaky relationship individuals have with their digital/social presence and privacy on these services.
This week, I reported on Facebook if anyone in my network had noticed a surprising rise in “friends” on their profile. After bringing my down from 750+ to 390, I noticed mid-week that I had 413 friends. Odd. I never accepted requests and never received them. Then I saw another colleague in my network report the same experience and then another and then when I repeated the incident in another status update, two other friends reported having 500 new friends and some as a high as 1000.
Herein lies the problem. There hasn’t been any media talk around this…ANYWHERE. I did a Google search and the only thing that came up with the question (image above) was posted by another user a week ago which has gone unanswered by Facebook or the community. Definitely, unfortunate that no response has been provided by THE social network.
In our digital age, we’re dealing with more complexity (not simplicity) with profiles, profile management, password management, and interaction touch-points (connections). The fact that so many users in my closer Facebook network experienced the same problem only indicates that the problem is much wider and needs investigation and resolution. I don’t like the idea of have close to 23 unexpected friends connected to me? How do you feel when you hold a house party and your friends bring friends of friends to the party?
Facebook. Your focus on growth and constant product development is starting to show some serious cracks. You haven’t had a good month or two and you’ve probably included something into the code-base that you don’t want there. Or it’s simply a business rule that needs a change.
Well, it seems someone else is reporting about this. Specifically, Josh Wolford at WebProNews. Apparently, Facebook is including Deactivated Facebook Accounts in our friend count totals. Something which I theorized above (to my surprise) and which is now validated by this article and Facebook.
(Source photo: see URL at bottom)
Something interesting happened this week at Apple’s WWDC 2012. Outside of a slew of announcements introducing new features like passbook, maps (flyover), and fully refreshed MacBooks, iOS6 (and to some extent, MacOSX Mountain Lion) took the centre stage. Importantly, Apple announced a “deeper” integration of Facebook into iOS — essentially, baked-in to enable the millions of iOS users to “share more” of their “stuff” to friends and their broader networks.
An interesting take on the deeper baking came out of an article from TechCrunch which, interestingly enough, has been something of a theory I’ve held for a while among a close group of friends. No, nothing earth-shattering or Billionstagram-like but interesting to see it written up by someone else. It also validates an actual use-case I’ve seen with another “social network” - again, further validated by another subject-matter expert. More on that near the end of the article.
My Breakdown of Twitter User Personas:
- Subject Matter Expert: Someone who openly shares his knowledge with the world and engages his or her audience! (Tomi Ahonen is a perfect example of this user persona on twitter. His blog, Communities Dominate Brands, is a powerhouse of great opinion!)
- Curator: Someone who actively curates for a specific topic out of personal interest, industry employment or for reasons to build and support a community they’ve developed using niche topic specialization on twitter to drive awareness for a brand or community
- Porn or Any Kind of Spammer: Someone who foolishly believes that by following @momotoronto or @abosika (1) We’ll follow back (2) We’ll “stumble-upon” their product(s) and buy (3) OUR followers will “stumble-upon” their product(s) because they’re following US
- RSS Reader: Someone who follows SME’s (subject matter experts) to simply curate “real-time” twitter knowledge on a particular theme or topic in a similar fashion to RSS feed curation and aggregation
- The Automaton: Someone who overdoes “automation” in the grand belief that a data spurt of any volume alone to a wider audience will somehow “drive interest” for them and their brand or for products and/or company
- Look At Me: Someone I’ve classified as the “celebriterati” that is only interested in sharing their personal world (daily life) to unknown people for the sake of pure attention vs. anything else. This is generally an “ordinary” user with no particular celebrity “status” but acts like one. You’ll discover this type of digerati-type on photo-sharing platforms like Facebook with the “look at me” photos in night clubs, followed by the endless swooning, and comments about their youth, beauty, and whatever else comes to mind.
Points 3 and 5 are of the worst offences when it comes to social media. Use cases for point 3 and 5 are simple examples where there is no expectation on the part of the twitterer to “actively engage” their “audience”. Their goal is a one-way trip to heaven or hell. I’ll elaborate on these two points and how it relates to the Techcrunch article and Apple’s WWDC12 further into the article.
In point 6, I had an experience when a social media “samurai” (“expert” - add sarcasm here), obviously handling the account for a rap musician, hit me up on my personal twitter account (@abosika - look at me! lol) with a very thinly veiled attempt (no, obvious!) to follow the rapper back “if I liked their music” and to tell others. Oddly, I didn’t feel the connection in those drive-by roadkill moment because I didn’t know the musician and sadly, instantly felt carbon-dated because of my lax music up-keep with “modern music”. I grew up when Public Enemy was blaring out tunes like “Rebel without a Pause”…So there! You can call me old but I am cool (look at me! LOL) because Public Enemy is the bomb..or was it cool beans? Well, you get my point.
Anyways, back to my point (grin)
What these social media guru-aka-samurai-aka-I am extremely important-types don’t get is this. Like Google’s contextual ad targeting and delivery platform, social media really is all about relevance. Most people follow people on Twitter out of some common reference point - be it a historical footnote, similar music interests, a taste for wine, or some technological tribal reason like, “Apple Rulez!”. The common relevance is what encourages the conversation and engagement on platforms like Twitter. Seth Godin was so correct about “Tribes”. This is definitely the case with Twitter. On Facebook, I found the path to be very different. It was more an initial connection with family and close personal friends which then evolved to co-workers and former work colleagues to community contacts from network platforms like the one I co-founded: MobileMonday Toronto.
This is the very essence - the hot sauce - behind social media interaction. Let’s not even get into brand engagement models here! Not my focus. Let’s focus on the ecosystem which is “people first” and why they “connect”. Those first connections are tethered to a common footnote (topic, interest) which grows over time and converts into long-term loyalty because of your content, your level of engagement. This interaction and relevance is what causes people - to get together.
So for the spammers out there, be forewarned. Irrelevant, untargeted follows, content association with @ symbols, and lame attempts at retweet’s are nothing but useless blackhat tactics that will fail in so many ways — most importantly, your credibility is destroyed well before you’ve been able to monetize whatever it is you’re trying to spam all of us with.
Fiksu, a mobile app marketing company, has come out with an interesting eBook called, “How to Acquire Loyal App Users” which spells things out very clearly when it comes to customer/user acquisition with mobile apps. Blackhat techniques to drive downloads and rankings in Apple’s App Store and elsewhere cost more in the long-run because what is lost is the simple fact that you NEED ”loyal users” vs. one-time download and one-time use app customers. Their short report is a reality-check and simply reflects that a “flight to quality” drives loyalty and engagement. In the context of social media, this flight to quality is in the degree of your engagement with the audience (followers), your quality of content for sharing and your general aim to serve this “highly relevant” audience when compared to the AC130 Spectre/Spooky approach to audience targeting/engagement which essentially assaults your target with irrelevant content.
Points #1 and #2 are the least offensive for the creator and the consumer. I’ve been personally guilty of #2 as a creator and a consumer for my twitter handle at @momotoronto and @abosika for two reasons:
- Curation as a creator has enabled me to get a better “targeted following” of people working in the mobile industry or simply, those interested in mobile. As a result, I’ve been able to build up more awareness for MobileMonday Toronto as a result but admittedly, it’s been hard to commit so much time to engagement — it really is a full-time job! My curation theory was based on the idea that we’d get better interest about our MobileMonday Toronto chapter based on relevant tagging, topics, and moderate audience engagement. Actually, my engagement was set on high for a period of three weeks and I saw my follower, @ association, and re-tweets (RTs) skyrockets. Again, it took a lot of my time.
- Curation as a follower is a natural by-product of my online behaviour when using RSS readers like Google Reader to collect and curate information relevant to me as a reader, as an industry subject matter expert (digital, mobile) and as a researcher who is more likely to engage with twitterers in the same field as I on topics of common interest. This online behaviour has accelerate whereby my active participation in answer communities like Quora has afforded me the “luxury” to connect with people in broad areas like mobile and more specific areas like mobile payments (see Admeris.com where I consult) to collaborate, ask questions and provide answers. The value of that type of engagement has been immensely helpful to me as a constantly-learning individual and someone looking to build brand awareness and engagement for my mobile/digital knowledge and for payments space knowledge and my company, Admeris.com.
Recently, I joined the DARK SIDE. To build-on my curation strategy which I found was taking a lot of personal time with committed active engagement via twitter channels, I decided to dive into some GREY HAT techniques using automated tools to drive niche relevant topics for @momotoronto. Not being able to find volunteer social media guerrillas to manage this time-absorbing task, I opted to act like a partial automaton with the MobileMonday Toronto feed to curate rss-driven mobile topics so as to the keep the “social juice” flowing, so to speak.
Yes, I am guilty as charged! LET ME CLEAR MY NAME as I am NOT PAYING $200 to go to jail!
I theorized that my dark side actions with partial automation would help sprinkle some social joy to our twitter channel to drive more awareness. But engagement took a backseat in the process. Guess what? Awareness didn’t really take off — if were are to assume the basic KPI of increased twitter followers, we did not see a dramatic rise from the effort. None whatsoever. In fact, I monitored the follower count closely after doing some partial automation and a few things happened:
- My twitter tweet count exploded: this metric may/may not have value in the long-term
- My twitter follower account experienced slight rises before stabilizing back down to a number based on the law of averages - so it went up a bit, then went sideways, and then returned back to levels before the partial automation
In all, @momotoronto may have added approximately 40 ‘total’ followers since partial automation took effect with some re-tweets (RTs). But not a lot. What does this tell me? Curation for the sake of curation without active engagement does nothing for your message, your voice, or your platform. You might get some buzz but ultimately, you need to be an “active stakeholder” with the mantra that two-way exchange is essential for communication to “thrive” on platforms like Twitter. If not, you will lose!
My test at automation failed miserably! (OK OK… it was a sick attempt to join the dark side and use grey hat techniques — screw you Luke! LOL)
And herein lies my point in all of this — spurred on by Apple’s WWDC12 remarks about deeper Facebook integration and this TechCrunch article — if you decide to blast out your stuff without engagement, whether you are an active or passive participant, is a recipe for total social media failure.
Apple’s dangerous path with deeper integration of Twitter and Facebook for status updates and content sharing with iOS will end up making all of us “content broadcasters” in the digital/mobile arena turning us into vainglorious digerati. After all, if we’re only talking without a conversation, what do we have? Since when did people want to hang around folks who only talk about themselves at the company party koolaid table?
Even worse (and I have been party to this), are the folks who blast stuff out (like this post) to multiple social networks. Sometimes, it works. In most other cases, it does not.
Use-case examples as follows:
- An Instagram photo-share on your twitter, Pinterest and Facebook profile can work for engagement (Photos are sticky and people talk about them if they’re zany, crazy or unique. So much that they become viral. Now you know why Facebook bought Instagram — a huge threat to their photo-sharing paradigm because photos in Facebook spur conversations!)
- A curated twitter feed of mobile topics being dropped constantly on your Facebook profile will result in DE-friending, UN-liking, or unsubscribes because that type of frequency doesn’t sit well with Facebook as it is more of a playground for a community of friends, family and close personal/professional connections to share in daily life commentary - photos, events, social debate etc.
- A twitter share to your LinkedIn profile is probably the worst use-case of all examples because no one really engages on LinkedIn. I don’t. Touted as a social network, its failed attempts at community-building with Groups has been misaligned by unfettered spamming; thus, forcing group owners (hint hint: LOOK AT ME!) to adopt stringent approval mechanisms in the absence of moderators. A twitter share on LINKEDIN suggests you’re too busy using twitter to go over to LinkedIN to add a unique content/topic share. Almost everyone on LINKEDIN has added twitter as a connection to their profile but rarely do I see any of the twitter-enabled status updates with any comments or robust, threaded interaction. Oddly, this almost feels like a Google+ wall post and community. Ouch. :-) LINKEDIN is a business development Rolodex with ‘some social’. The platform is trying too hard to be like Facebook and can’t do it. In fact, Quora has emulated the “Facebook Effect” (or feel) far better and is doing a great job in the “answer community” space to built engagement, proper communities (“boards”) in a very similar manner to Pinterest’s “pin boards”.
In a nutshell, Apple’s iOS6 is going to turn us into “content broadcasters”, DE-coupling us from our followers with a one-way blast/share sequence for news/other content denying all of us opportunities for engagement. Unless we’ve all misunderstood the use-case around iOS6’s deeper integration, this doesn’t bode well for any of us in a social media context. We only need to look at how many people blast twitter shares to LinkedIn to see how limited the engagement level really is.
Engagement is everything and a one-way toll to hell isn’t going to help you meet your maker.
That said, I am fairly comfortable with my thoughts around this given my personal experiences. Though, don’t take my word for it. The esteemed Scott Stratten from UnMarketing.com posted an interesting rant on his blog with his article (see point #3) called, “The Five Ways You Stink at LinkedIn”. Naturally, I (LOOK AT ME!) commented in the comment threads to brand MobileMonday Toronto.
Call me a hypocrite but sometimes, you have to ply your trade heavily. :-)
To conclude: If the God of Social Media (yes - Scott Stratten - you “look at me” digerati! — grin —) says that one-way marketing (spamming) doesn’t work and engagement is all that it’s cracked out to be, who am I to even challenge this?
After all, I figured it all out by my little self. :-) Can I have my ice cream now?
Alexander S. Bosika
IT HAPPENED AGAIN.
We’re living in an age of digital paranoia. It’s becoming far too complex to manage online profiles, identities, and other personal information. This is why companies like Lastpass thrive in today’s world. Known as an encrypted digital locker which opens all your profiles with a single click, you can push that security further with Yubico’s USB thumbprint security key to prevent any UNauthorized attempts on the Lastpass Manager which resides on PC/Mac browsers like Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer (Windows only), and Safari.
The number one thing that everyone should do is make their passwords longer with numbers, letters, and symbols. And please please please - don’t use the same one across services!
LinkedIn appeared to respond late to this breach but they also made it be known that “enhanced security” would be added. Really? Wasn’t enhanced security supposed to be the first thing they should have considered pre-and-post IPO. Not entirely impressive and articles calculating odds and percentages around your individual risk being one of the unlucky few to have your password floating around on Russian hacker forums is totally unprofessional.
I see lawsuits in the future. Sure, it’s just LinkedIn and someone could play ‘funny’ with your profile but as we get “layered on” with services online and through mobile smartphones, it’s going to become a “chore” to handle reactionary and protection-like measures as a result of lapses by third-party stakeholders.
Privacy is serious business. Security is serious business. Don’t make it a bottom-line cut-out in your product or business model because it could be the last thing your business ever does as a result.
Alexander S. Bosika