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I’ve had a few people ask recently whether I sleep. Of course I sleep! Sometimes I sleep too much. But it’s easy to see why someone might think that. If you see a tweet from me at 2am or 4:30am chances are that you’re going to assume that I’m awake and tweeting for some particular reason. While it might be a correct assumption on any particular day, it’s probably more likely that what you are seeing is my use of the web service Buffer to schedule my tweets and posts throughout the day and night. Why would I want to schedule my tweets? Sometimes my brain is full of silly little things that I’d like to share. It doesn’t make sense to send them all out in one big bunch. Better to spread them out. Twitter is chaotic and most of us follow too many people. It’s easy to miss something. Using Buffer I can spread my thoughts out, and schedule them for the times suited for reading. Notice how those after hours ones generate questions? People are reading those. 🙂
Another great use of Buffer is the built-in analytics that quickly shows me which tweets were replied to, favourited, or re-tweeted. It’s nice to see which ones are successful… although the downside is that some tweets don’t quite measure up in the real world as they did in my head 🙂
Buffer isn’t just for Twitter either. You can link your Facebook, Google+, or Linked In accounts as well. It’s great for staggering posts across different social media networks, and really allows me to be much more productive.
I’ve put together a short Buffer tutorial. I’m trying to get more used to speaking during these tutorials, and it’s not as easy as some people make it seem. Trust me. The end gets a little rocky, but after no fewer than 10 attempts, this was as good as this one was gonna get! I’m striving for improvement, not perfection. So go easy on me if you decide to leave a comment. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
I’m writing this as the manhunt in Moncton is still ongoing in the search for a man who opened fire yesterday on RCMP officers, killing 3 and wounding 2. His name and face have been splashed across the world, but I won’t bother to repeat them here. I don’t want to give this murderer any more attention than he’s already gotten. Only to say that I hope this comes to a swift conclusion.
Instead I’m going to write about social media’s role in this story, and how even in a time of emergency, we don’t always get it right.
Last week we heard that a newborn in Trois-Rivières, Que who was snatched from the hospital nursery had been recovered after a harrowing 3 hour search, spurred in great part to a plea shared through Facebook. Score one for social media!
But last night as I took to Twitter and watched the activity on #Moncton scroll by faster than I could comfortably read, I was alarmed at how social media was not helping, and even harming, the search for the shooter. I found it incredible that police would even have to ask the public not to post the location of officers as they searched for the gunman. Human nature makes us want to be part of the story, to be the first to say “Look what I saw!” but that’s not always for the best. The sheer amount of misinformation being passed around as quasi-fact only leads to confusion or even panic. Imagine reading that the shooter might have carjacked a vehicle on a road that is somehow relevant to you. That sort of uncontrolled speculation doesn’t help anyone. It only feeds the chaos. And don’t get me started on the internet trolls who occasionally interrupted the continuous stream with their jabs about redneck Maritimers being somehow lesser Canadians than the rest of the country. Go find another sandbox to play in.
The internet is an amazing tool. Social Media networks like Facebook and Twitter allow us to converse in ways that we’d never even dreamed of years ago. But for all the advances we’ve made, people are still people. There will always be good and evil, leaders and followers, smart and stupid. That’s never going to change.
My thoughts go out to the people of Moncton, and the families of those brave RCMP officers who died protecting them.
Some people have noticed that I considerably reduced my online footprint recently. That’s right. I closed my social network accounts for Facebook (this is nothing new), Foursquare, MyFitnessPal… and my beloved Twitter. The big question is always the same… WHY?!?
There are many reasons to become involved with social networks… personal, professional, or otherwise… but in my case it seemed as though the magic was fading. The social aspect had been turned on its head. In short… it was no longer fun.
That’s not to say that there aren’t some great people out there, and that I don’t occasionally wish that I could fire off some witty tweet to random followers… but for the most part… I think that my social networking experiment is largely done. I say “largely” because I do have a few Twitter accounts that are directly related to other websites that I have created, but these aren’t used for random silliness that pops into my head. They’re a little more targeted than that.
Do I miss it? Sure I do. Will I be back? Probably… in one form or another… social networking is not going away. I’m simply enjoying a much needed breather.
I’ve been noticing a change in my Twitter habits lately. I’ve become a little disenchanted with Twitter, and I can’t really pinpoint why. I don’t know if it’s turned into a clique of sorts, or what the problem is for me… but I just haven’t found it as enjoyable as I once did.
So I’m taking a bit of a break. I’ve even gone as far as disabling my account (along with my Facebook account) which according to Twitter means that I have 30 days to log back in, or my stuff will all be deleted. We’ll see how that goes.
I still believe in the power of Twitter as a social media platform… I guess that I’ve just found myself in a little Twitter-funk and I think that I need to focus on a different area with my online time.
UPDATE Oct 18: I’ve been told that this fix no longer works. Facebook has apparently changed things again. Need I mention how much I dislike Facebook again?
Still using Facebook to stay in contact with all your friends? Sorry to hear that. There’s a better option out there (Google+) but I’ll save that lesson for another day. Since you are still using Facebook, you’ve probably encountered their latest enhancement… the social ticker. This lovely gem sits on the side of your Facebook experience and continuously scrolls random updates, while you try to concentrate on whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. Facebook could have been kind enough to offer a simple way of disabling this annoyance. They did not. Thankfully there are some very intelligent (and very vocal) people out there who dislike having their familiar Facebook layout tinkered with. You can argue whether or not Facebook users have any rights until you’re blue in the face. It’s a free service, and at the end of the day, Facebook will do what Facebook wants to do. At that point, you have three options.
I saw this posted recently on Google+ (you know… the other social media network that you should be using) and loved it so much that I tweeted (yes, yet another social network that is better than what you’re probably using) it… but to those people who are stuck in the Facebook era… assuming that you haven’t already seen this (and really.. there’s a good chance that you already have) I thought that I would dedicate a quick post to it here.
Say what you will about Darth Vader… the guy looks great in black!
Somehow I completely missed the announcement that Justin Timberlake had purchased a majority stake in MySpace, the all but forgotten social network of yesteryear. I guess that I must have been more interested in planning my Canada Day weekend, because I was shocked to find out that news very recently. So shocked that I wasn’t sure if I even believed it at first. Sure enough… Mr Sexy Back is determined to bring life back to MySpace. And all for the incredibly low price of $35 million, which is a bargain considering the initial selling price was supposedly $100 million! And even that was much lower than what it had originally been purchased for. Yes… there was a time when MySpace attracted a lot of eyeballs, and in turn, that attracted a lot of advertising dollars. It’s been quite a few years since MySpace has wielded any clout in the world of social networking, outside of musicians who continued to cling to it to help build an audience. I’ll be curious to see whether Justin and gang can turn the sinking ship around, and bring any of the former glory back to MySpace. Curious indeed.
As curious as I am about the MySpace purchase, the really interesting stuff is what’s happening with Facebook and Google. Everyone’s known that Google was going to make another attempt to push into the social networking space. Google Buzz was more of a bust than anything else, but if Google has proven anything, it’s that they do not take “no” for an answer. So when Google was preparing to make their announcement, the world was ready. For what, exactly? We didn’t know. But we knew that Google was rolling out something big. That something is called Google+ (how original) and today I read that Google+ surpassed the 10 million user mark, which is incredible considering that it was launched only 2 weeks ago!
I’m a big fan of Gmail, and Google Calendar, so I already have a Google account. I also regularly use Google Docs, and Google Analytics. I may not have swallowed the Google Kool-aid, but I’m certainly sipping at it. And seeing as I’m not a fan of Facebook in the least, I was itching to get my hands on a Google+ invite and test it out. I had envisioned writing a long post about how great Google+ is, and how Facebook should be running scared. If anyone can produce a real, sustained threat to Facebook, it’s Google. After dabbling with it for a short time, I suddenly remembered why I don’t like Facebook. To me, there’s no difference between the two in premise. I am absolutely positive that for people who are more familiar with Facebook, they can point out a dozen major differences between the two social networks without even breaking a sweat. There are plenty of blogs that outline the pros and cons of each, and if you are looking for a serious discussion of that topic… I suggest that you look elsewhere. I just couldn’t get excited about Google+. I thought that I would be. I really did! I wanted to be blown away… unfortunately, I grew bored with it and went on to something else.
As for Facebook, they’ve stepped up their own game by announcing a partnership with Skype to provide video calling to your Facebook friends from within the Facebook site. This is a pretty smart move, and it’s surprising that it’s taken this long to come around. By integrating Skype within Facebook it brings VoIP calling to a huge audience whose technical skills may not extend much past sharing pictures with friends, and planting a turnip garden in Farmville. After all, who cares what Voice over IP is… or even what Skype is! All they know is that they can now see their niece holding up the latest addition to the family, and make cutsie gaga noises into the camera… all in real time! The user experience is more important than the link that makes this all possible. And all of this is accomplished without ever leaving the familiar Facebook environment. Bonus!
I do wonder how much of that deal was already in the works prior to Microsoft making their play to purchase Skype. It’s a strange world we live in.
I think that it will be interesting to see how these three fare in the boxing ring where I don’t see much growth opportunity for the market as a whole. Are people willing to switch from one network to another if their friends don’t come with them? Are people willing to add another one (or two) social networks to their existing mix? Each of them have something to prove, and I think that anything’s possible at this point.
Should be fun!
I have to ask myself… what kind of world do we live in where a company that essentially consists of a whole bunch of computer servers is valued at $50 Billion? Despite my personal dislike for the site (I’m ready to turn my account off again, except that I’m getting slaughtered in a couple of their Scrabble-clone games), I willfully acknowledge that Facebook is the king of all social networking. Period. It’s essentially become a worldwide phonebook, and if you’re not part of that network people seem to think that there’s something wrong with you. So it’s a powerhouse. I get that. A zillion users logging in to share photos, send messages, play silly games, and creep anyone who doesn’t have their security settings set to block strangers… or even friends. Facebook is the King of the sandbox, and maybe rightly so.
But $50 BILLION? Really? I thought that the days of hyper-valued IT .coms were over… I realize that the money follows the eyeballs… and Facebook has a ridiculous number of eyeballs locked onto it. But $50 Billion? I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around that number.
It just seems wrong to me.
Twitter has this little feature on their website that recommends random people to you, based on some magical guess at who you might be interested in following. I’m sure that it’s a Facebook-like thing, because it’s quite annoying, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of shutting it off, so I’ve gotten used to it. If you click on someone, it will show you two other people who are supposedly similar to that person. I have no idea what the criteria are, and I don’t think that I’ve ever added anyone based on this, but maybe someday I will.
So the other day I clicked on my own profile because I wanted to check something, and I noticed that one of the people it listed as “More Like AboutStephen” was Yasmine Mustafa (@myasmine on Twitter). I’ve mentioned Yasmine before. She’s the CEO of 123Linkit, a startup company that has developed a free WordPress plugin that allows bloggers to easily monetize their blogs without having to sign up for a bunch of different affiliate marketing accounts.
I was shocked!
Why on earth did Twitter pair Yasmine with the likes of me? How disappointed someone would be if I was also listed on her end, and they came to MY Twitter page and saw me rambling about my dirty laundry, burning supper, or how much I hate snow! And then I started to think about it a little more…
Oh sure, on the surface the similarities are somewhat remarkable… Yasmine is an attractive young female CEO in a male-dominated industry. She regularly posts tweets about her running or elliptical adventures , or donating money to help the less fortunate while enjoying a healthy meal at a local establishment. She is highly motivated, focused, and a self-professed perfectionist. Her Twitter tagline states “Looking to make a difference in the world”. She is outgoing, and gives presentations to inspire more young girls to enter tech-related employment areas. She’s a role model. She’s even working on setting a World Record by dribbling a basketball until her arm falls off (or something like that). And as if all of that wasn’t enough… her smiling face is featured in advertising campaigns such as this one:
OK, well someone apparently has too much time on their hands, but you have to admit, the goatee is kinda sexy. And no, that’s not an edit of the original. That’s a picture that Yasmine tweeted upon discovering it a few weeks ago.
So it’s easy to see why Twitter might want to lump the two of us in the same category. The parallels are uncanny… I sometimes post about my sleeping adventures on #Sleepkeeper… I built part of a model once before throwing it away in frustration… I like to eat… I’ve dribbled a basketball a handful of times… White men can’t jump… or shoot… or dribble for that matter… well.. maybe that’s just me… and as for any advertising opportunities… No one has been beating down my door, but it’s only a matter of time once these videos get noticed!
Yeah, that was my first test video… It’s even older than the one I posted earlier on the blog. It reminds me of a Gnome from EverQuest.
So it’s pretty obvious to me that Twitter is a poor judge of who may be “more like” me, or anyone else. And to prove my point, I just now went to take a look and see who they might recommend…
@special_needs – My sister?!?
@frankenteen – The guy who plays Finn on Glee?!?
There’s definitely something up with that…
Oh, and the caption under Yasmine’s picture isn’t personal… it’s part of a song from my highschool days, by a Canadian band called The Northern Pikes. You can watch the video on YouTube here.
I’ve discovered something about what I would consider to be the two most popular social networks, Facebook and Twitter. People tend to be a fan of one, or the other. Rarely both. Some of my best friends are on Facebook, and have no desire whatsoever to use Twitter. Everything they post is on Facebook, and if you want to connect with them, then that’s where you have to do it.
I’m quite the opposite. I recently deactivated my Facebook account again because it annoys me. I personally think the biggest reason people “connect” on Facebook is to check out pictures, and see who your friends are. That’s it. I don’t have much of a use for that. I think my favourite description of the difference between the two networks is this:
“Facebook is for people you know, but don’t want to know anymore. Twitter is for people you don’t know, but want to know.”
Before I deactivated my Facebook account, I looked at my “friends” there. Some of them are friends from school. Some are family. Some are friends I’ve met over the years. Sometimes I would receive a periodic request from someone who I barely spoke to in highschool, simply because they showed up as a “You might know this person…” as a friend of a friend. I rarely authorized those people. What was the point? We really had nothing in common then… has that changed at all?
On the other hand, I find Twitter to be a fascinating place to find people to converse with! Everyone has something to say, and you can easily tap into these mini-social networks by contributing to the conversation. When I look at the people I follow on Twitter, the number of people I have nevermet in real life exceeds the number of people I know in person. And many of these are people who I regularly converse with. It might be sharing some technical information, a laugh, a cry, or just about anything. There are interesting local people who I might unknowingly pass by in the mall, and not even realize that it was them. There are interesting people as far away as Australia, who I will probably never meet, yet enjoy chatting with late at night. There’s a CEO of a tech startup, a business mentor, a web designer, a business owner… the list goes on. These are all people who I think if I ever met in real life, that I’d love to sit down and share a drink with…
I don’t get that same feeling from Facebook.
Yeah, it’s nice to be able to go and look at peoples photos, but that wears off real quick. It’s voyeuristic, and not usually meaningful. I could just as easily receive them in an email link, or on Flickr or some other photo sharing site.
I know that many of you will disagree with me. You will say that I don’t “get” Facebook. You will say that you don’t see the point of limiting your conversations to 140 character tweets. I understand that. To each, their own. But I still maintain my position… Facebook is the dominant social network, but it’s not the right one. Certainly not for me.
Time to get my tweet on!