Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Google Plus

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The idea of Google releasing a social network to compete with Facebook has been floating around for a while, but they hit us by surprise with the soft launch of Google Plus. This was also used to facilitate a redesign of other Google products – namely Gmail, Google Search, and the service-wide top bar.

Let’s circle back around later

When first setting up your account, you’re encouraged to set up “circles”: groups of people that you can use to control who sees what. A really cool UI powers the dragging and dropping of people into different circles…it feels familiar, but I can’t quite place it. You can add people to your circles and they can add you to their circles, but the person on the receiving end can’t see which circle they’ve been added to. It took me a while to fully grasp the level of mutualism; in this sense, it’s a lot more like Twitter than Facebook. It’s not zero sum – adding someone to a circle doesn’t require them to do the same with you.

Once circles are set up, entering profile information is pretty straightforward. Integration with your existing Google Profile is nice, and from here on out it’s essentially what would be expected of a standard social network.

Similarity to Facebook

It’s tough to describe functionality without using the word “Facebook”. The core of the app, especially the news feed, is very reminiscent of Facebook, but there are a few differences. With Facebook, segmentation of your friends is a hard-to-find afterthought, but in Plus, it’s one of the first things you do. Collaborative video chats (“Hangouts”) are something that Zuckerberg has yet to fully implement, but that’ll be changing soon, likely as a response to Plus. The user interface, although a little cleaned up, mimics Facebook in many ways, from the layout of a sidebar on the left to the indented format of comments. It almost reminds me of the Microsoft Store to Apple Store comparison.

A lot of things are awesome

Based on search queries and the potential for data collection with +1′ing, Google can have a much better idea of who someone is than Facebook does, and it’d be really cool to see some integration of that into how you’re connected to people. The fact that the Google header follows you around in Gmail, search, maps, etc. is also helpful.

But why could this be better?

Google does have a few advantages in terms of a userbase and ties with existing products, and is definitely better positioned to have a social network. But the timing’s way off. They’re putting up a brand-new silo right next to Facebook, and I’m not sure the segmentation will be a good thing. Photos are especially an issue – the inconvenience could be huge to have some photos on Facebook, some photos on Flickr, and now some photos on Plus.

And although it’s a small problem that’ll likely be taken care of in the future, there’s a significant delay between when you get a notification in Plus and when the email is sent. Not a huge deal, but it does throw you off when getting an email that’s notifying you of something that happened a few hours ago.

The bottom line

It’s a cool webapp. But when it comes down to the sandpaper, they’re not solving a real problem or filling a real need – they’re just trying to keep up with everyone else.

SoCon09: I Connected Because I Could

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Last weekend marked the third annual SoCon, a social media unconference in Atlanta, GA. I’ve been blogging and tweeting for roughly a year, but have never been to a meetup-type event before.

networking_dinner_socon09

Maggiano’s

SoCon09 kicked off with a networking dinner at the Cumberland Mall Maggiano’s. For the first half-hour or so, we just hung out and talked to everyone in the private room. I had an awesome time meeting some awesome people, including Jeff GarbersDougal CampbellAdam WexlerTyra MitchellErik Turner, and Eli Wendkos. Later in the evening, everyone split into tables based on different topics (Video, Podcasting, Entrepreneurship, Twitter, etc.). I sat at the Twitter table, which was led by Tessa Horehled of Drive a Faster Car. Everyone seemed really into the discussion; subjects included marketing via Twitter, favorite clients, how to get started, and the like. This was the first time that I’ve actually met fellow tweeters, and it was exhilarating to be around individuals who knew what at-replies, DMs, and third-party services were.

The next day, the conversation continued with a breakfast at Kennesaw State University. Around 8:30, we headed to the auditorium for Leonard Witt’s opening remarks, in which he was presented with a $1.5 million grant from Ruth Ann Harnisch via video conference. As AEJMC explains,

The gift, one of the largest ever offered to a citizen journalism scholar, is pledged by the Harnisch Foundation to the Kennesaw State University Foundation. It will help Witt “seek new business models so that high quality, ethically sound journalism continues to have a role in our democratic society.”

Next up was a presentation by Andrew Wilson of Atlanta.net about our niche in the social media universe. There were definitely some good slides, although some amount of control was lost. The discussion kept steering more towards ATL in general, incorporating less and less about social media as the mic was passed between contributors.

The unconference continued with Jeff Haynie, CEO of Appcelerator, Inc., explaining his experiences from Silicon Valley. The main points of the talk included:

  1. Location matters.
  2. Hire the best, fire the rest.
  3. Measure and test.
  4. Cash is king.
  5. Take care of your community.
  6. Think Global, Act Local.
  7. Have a backup plan.
  8. Build your network.
  9. Your idea sucks. Make it happen.

My personal favorite out of all these was #9, “Your idea sucks.” It stated that no matter how many cool ideas you have, they’re only ideas, unless you can execute them and show people how cool they actually are. Very true.

Chris Carfi

Chris Carfi

Chris Carfi of Cerado, Inc. stepped up after Jeff, and began the keynote presentation about flashmarkets. He described these as markets moving away from vendors and becoming more customer-based. I especially liked the fact that his slides were very visual, and simply helped guide the conversation instead of containing it. Best quote of his talk: “A consumer is not a gullet that eats products and craps cash.”

We then breaked for a light lunch of sandwiches and chips at KSU’s student center. I sat with a few people that I had met the night before, and was also introduced to some new faces. On the way out, I saw something quite intriguing: an ink vending machine in the lobby, an idea that’s right up there with the iPod vending machines.

After lunch, I attended two breakout sessions - What it Takes to be a Winning Technology Entrepreneur, moderated by Jeff Haynie, and Online Etiquette: How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Image Online, moderated by Amber Rhea.

What it Takes to be a Winning Technology Entrepreneur emphasized the importance of location even more. Jeff compared Atlanta and Silicon Valley, saying that you could be huge in Atlanta, yet merely a speck in the Valley. Here, you could settle down with a nice house and a few boats, while there’s real motivation to continue your career in Silicon Valley. This further substantiated my rough plans to eventually end up out there.

Signup sheets for breakout sessions.

Breakout signups

Online Etiquette: How to Balance Your Personal and Professional Image Online was a topic I was particularly interested in, as I’ve been migrating profiles and usernames over the past month in an effort to unify myself both online and offline. The discussion wavered between management of profiles and the appropriateness of what’s said in a business context.  Many people here had “dual lives” online, including Thomas Strickland, who was tweeting for both himself and UPS. He preferred to keep his personal and professional profiles completely separate – being himself on his personal Twitter, and being “UPS Support Guy #4″ on his business one. Others were seeking answers about what level of separation would work for them, if they chose to separate at all.

SoCon was a blast, no doubt. I gained lots of followers on Twitter that day, and #socon09 was the #1 hashtag for a few hours. In other words: THIS WAS BIG. So big that it warrants the overly annoying use of capital letters.

Can’t wait to do it all again next year.