Category Archives: socialgraft

Are you backing up your twitter history?

machine-surfingFigure A: Typical Twitter experience /artist’s impression

Scoble has a great rant up today on twitter’s failing as a platform. This is similar to Jevon’s epic (and correct) rant on why you shouldn’t build a business on Facebook… or otherwise on someone else’s platform. At least not unless you are prepared to take the risks.

Risks being: did you know that twitter’s search history only goes back a few weeks? Did you think that all those pithy tweets and all those nice things folks may have said about you in @replies would be around forever as an archive or historical record? Don’t count on it.

Maybe, if we’re lucky, Twitter [see illustration] will be around forever, maybe if we’re lucky they’ll keep alive the archives of and twitpic etc. so in the future we’d have some idea of what those links were pointing to. Maybe part of that business model will be the charging for access to the tweet archive. But there’s no guarantee.

To twitter’s fault/credit these problems relate to twitter being a little too good at what they do. It only becomes a problem once everyone (well at least all the cool people) pervasively filter a big part of our daily lives, our ideas, world events, our businesses through this single channel.

Does it make a lot of sense to route the western world’s realtime social backchannel through a single point of failure?

Historically, what is the life expectancy of any hottest new social platform? friendster, icq, geocities, hotmail* all had a good run while they lasted?

reminds one of an old haiku, the zen of 404 messages:

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
This page is not here.

my advice? go out and invent the world’s next open-standards, distributed realtime social presence application. Or if you don’t have time for that, at least think about archiving your tweets. You never know when you might want them back.

more: Twitter’s platform shortcomings

more: tools for backing up your tweets. I haven’t tried them yet (I should probably get on that). tips?

*cough myspace, *cough* yahoo inc., AOL, compuserve, gopher the list could go on /for another deadmedia post

Noise Aggregators

Jevon has a great post up today on how the new trend towards social aggregators is missing the point.

I’ve called these things underpants business models. Collecting a lot of people’s seemingly-useless personal stuff in one place, but then, through some magical step 2, everyone profits. I, like Jevon, and everyone else, are still waiting for anyone to come anywhere close to step 2. Yet the aggregator startup fad just keeps coming. Everyone seems to be wearing them these days… Jaiku, plaxo, friendfeed, socialthing etc.

But, as Google has proved since 1998, there’s little value in aggregating the whole internet, but a lot of value to be created in synthesizing it. Aggregating random data easy. Relevant, human-interesting synthesis hard, but the only place where value is created.

What exacerbates the synthesis problem is that, often with these apps, even the underpants suck. Most of these sites aggregate feeds based on any/all of what feeds your friends have available rather than what’s meaningful. No thanks, I don’t need an unfiltered list of every single track you listened to in iTunes yesterday.

I think only facebook -in it’s heyday, before the application spam took over, and drowned out all semblance of meaningful social interaction- ever had it close to right. (The original) facebook filtered heavily and focused only a few relatively high-social-value feeds of information. Even this has been debated.

As Bruce Sterling put it a year ago following a lot of blogs/twitter/social-presence can be like watching someone getting beaten to death with croutons.

Or to keep with the cruder underpants metaphor: Nobody wants an experience that feels like drinking from the firehose social diarrhea.

Anyway, thanks to Jevon for pushing me towards getting down the real post I’ve meaning to write…

Coming up on : Why the Social media is still absolutely important, and why it don’t matter at all. (a.k.a. How socialness is just one of many vital prerequisites, but not the point, of the future of software)

Facebook Fatigue, it’s Spreading

Attention Virus
Do you feel like the applications are killing Facebook? For all the gold rush and hoopla surrounding the Facebook platformitization, is it living up to expectations?

I don’t think it is. The world could use a great social operating system. But the best applications on facebook are still the original ones: pictures, events, the basic poke.

The facebook platform is still young. Only 4 months old. Lets hope that the good kids at FB find a way to reign in the social viral crapware.

And that’s what most of it is. Almost all of successful apps on facebook are distractions or “entertainment”. Or advertisements. The original facebook apps were about socially enabling the user. The new apps are about enabling their own propagation.

I’ve come up with a new term for it:

Facebook applications = Attention Viruses

They spread just like real viruses, through social contact. Their lifecycles are short and evolution is constant thanks to the rutheless pressures of competition on the open platform. App DNA is all about self propagation – and stealing away our attention fraction by fraction.

The same will go for OpenSocial apps as well once they get here.

We’ve seen this before. In the race to monetize a web property, the original value is corroded away. Remember when facebook was a revolutionary clean, sparce and refreshing change from the gaudyness of myspace and friendster?

The internet’s universal advertising model is partly at fault here. Sometimes I just wish that as users we would grow up, stop expecting everything to be free and pay a couple bucks for the tools we use and media we enjoy.

(We’d probably earn it back 10 times over in foregone distraction and unprocrastination) and the web would be a cleaner and more productive place.

Michele quit* facebook last week. Drastic medicine for sure. But her and good company are saying, I’d like to use facebook, I just don’t have the time for it anymore. Or time for it the way it’s become.

original photo: Marcelo Alves

*temporarily, she’ll be back at some point

Social Network Optimization is the new SEO/SEM

Or, how to buy friends and influence people:

“need someone with knowledge on how to post and title youtube videos and digg articles in a compelling manner… will be paid bonuses for results (ie getting on the first page of Digg, getting lots of viewers, comments, channel subscribers etc) in Youtube”NYCraigslist Posting
“We need someone with experience in adding friends via Friendblaster Pro or other similar applications to Myspace company profiles… We could pay by the friends. Say fixed amounts for every 500 friends. This is a lucrative position and would be long term. We already have a number of clients lined up.”NYCraigslist Posting
“We are looking for active Facebook users with lots of friends in their network. Since we are building a highly social app, it would be expected that you share it with your friends network…For current college students this could turn into a longer term campus rep position. “NYCraigslist Posting

The sharks are moving in. Buy your social network distribution now, while the kids are going cheap.
File under social graft. [tmJay Goldman]

thanks to M for the keen eyes and amazement.

What you need to know about FaceBook

fbcamp crowd
My home town Toronto just held it’s second ever FacebookCamp to another near-soldout crowd. I’d say approaching 250. You really can’t swing a cat in this town without someone tagging the cat on facebook.

Ami Vora form facebook led off, followed by a rather exhaustive series of talks and demos from local facebook app builders and marketers. of note:

At Harvard., Amy Vora maintains 43 friends

This is a just small fraction of 43M active users this week. 3% growth each week
1 in 5 canadians on facebook

Canada is wildly overrepresented on facebook and will be soon a good case study of what happens after you saturate a country (will the book still be as interesting without a constant influx of new faces?).

Canada is bigger than UK. 20% of all Canadians are on facebook (something to do with long winters?).

International and non-english countries are not on the radar. They say internationalization is coming soon though. Yes, some people in the world don’t speak English first. The bastards.
Demographics are different everywhere except the US. US or A is totally college dominated, everywhere else is not. There was a pretty chart.

FB is creating the social graph of how ppl interact (really?). Everyone thinks social graph is a stupid name.

Social graph powers massive more usage of facebook photos/events than flickr, evite
From a scientifically rigorous 3-person sample size of a facebook HQ lunchroom snapshot, I can reveal that everyone that works at facebook is also under the age of 23. This may explain a lot.
If the social graph is so important why are the relationship descriptors so weak? (We hooked up once, it was awesome has been pointed out as a relationship descriptor you may/may-not want to use amongst your professional colleagues. Or after the age of 23. Depending I guess on exactly what your profession is. The word from Amy is that facebook might be working on this.

As a platform Facebooks thinks about providing
1) Gowth (powerful viral distribution)
2) Engagment (all those great feeds and alerts)
3) No business model. Sorry kid, you’re on your own to figure that out.

Facebook is also a little confused about this idea of monetizing apps. They list their granting fund and VC as options. No, these are financing options not business models.

Advice on how to provide engaging content
• Relevant info
• Showcase interaction
• Usability
• Fresh content
• Use integration points well
• Develop and iterate, low investment, quick feedback, lots of control
• Think of intelligent promotion
• Incorporate privacy

And this is just the beginning. Only 4 months in to platfomification of facebook

Here’s how to make money on facebook

How to monetize by Greg Thomson of My Garden and My Aquarium fame:

You need at least 250k installs, 10k users to start making money

$3.00 an active user is worth per year [really? To be safe assume 20% of your users are worth $3]

He’s at 8M installed users

Start with a base of ad-support: Appsaholic pay per click 0.10/click. Adsense 0.07 click

CPM rates of about $2. Depending on page view frequency per user

Most of the popular apps are entertainment

Ads peak after a day or two. Keep them fresh. Constantly need to keep monetization and ads fresh.

A/B testing has huge benefits. [flip side: This isn’t a turn it on and walk away money making machine]

Selling your app. Never happened. $1 install, $8-$10 per active user

Have a base of banners and sell incentiviszable offers. they can earn “coins” to spend on fish for their tank if they click on surveys for which you earn commission. (see your favourite affiliate ad network)

What’s it take to support 8M users in this case? 2 servers. 10 rendering servers uploading flash to jpgs on s3

Don’t spend more than a week(!) on an app, or the risk goes up

How experienced this grizzled veteran of the blue and white book? About 3 months now.