“Build it and they will come” only works in the movies.

“Build it and they will come” only works in the movies. Social Media is “build it, nurture it, engage them, and they may come and stay.”

Seth Godin

People need widgets


People need widgets in order to meet other people.  The widget can be a dog, a beer, or a coffee, anything that increases the likeliness of people talking in a social setting.  People feel more confident and more engaged when they’re holding on to something and have a reason to be there.

It’s easier meet new people when we’re younger because there are simply more free time and more opportunities: at school, in organized sport, clubs, and countless other extracurricular activities.  Adults are either too busy or too jaded to participate in social activities every day.  That’s why they may go online and socialize on Twitter and Facebook instead.  It’s quicker, easier, and can be done from the couch.

People are social animals whether or not they prefer to be social.  We identify ourselves in comparison to other people.  At the end of the day, we seek validation. The central question we all ask is “Is anyone listening to me?”

Sunday Social Roundup

Let’s make this routine. Since I post my favorite articles from the week on Saturdays I thought I’d make Sundays the day where I focus on some key takeaways in social media and tech from the past week.  

  1. Facebook is building its own version of Snapchat after failing to buy the service and after shutting down its first apparent Snapchat competitor, Poke. Facebook’s version of Snapchat is doomed to fail. It’s yet to build a successful mobile-first app on its own. It looks like Zuckerberg is going to have to make feisty Evan Spiegel an offer he can’t resist, maybe even higher than the 19 Billion paid for WhatsApp.

  2. Soon enough the whole Internet will look like Pinterest, not just in its mosaic layout but with cards that feature bits of clickable metadata. Facebook is already experimenting. Google Now is this way now. Speaking of which, when does Google just suck it up and and buy Pinterest, currently valued at $5 Billion.

  3. Swarm is the new offshoot app from Foursquare. It’s tries to do one thing well, tell you where your friend are at a contextually relevant moment. I don’t think this apps sticks around, surely not an app worthy of the home screen app. As for Foursquare itself, it’s sitting on a mound of the useful check-in data. But even that’s being threatened.

  4. Twitter is losing some value as a simple communications tool. Dave Weiner suggests at least 300 to 400 characters. Marc Andreesen wants at least 300 to 400 characters.  Not to mention that a lot of people prefer to digest their news through Instagram images. Maybe all this bickering is proof that the 140 character constriction per post is just about right. Then again…

  5. Do we really need to record and share everything? Our memories get dulled down by digital copies. Yes, social media is a place to sell yourself and your art but sometimes a memory is worth keeping vague enough so it can be edited and exaggerated. Isn’t social media already edited real life?

Space and Time

Location either liberates or constricts action.

You probably talk more with your co-workers or fellow students in a bar than you do at work or in the classroom, and vice versa.

Place and context influence social behavior. Like a chameleon, adaptation increases your chance of survival. But all you actually have to do is be yourself.

Expression is the best form of impression.

Teens aren’t abandoning “social.” They’re just using the word correctly. — Understandings & Epiphanies

Kids aren’t leaving social networks. They’re redefining the word “social.” Rather, they’re actually using the word with the intent of its original meaning: making contact with other human beings. Communicating. Back-and-forth, fairly immediate dialogue. Most of it digitally. But most of it with the intent of a conversation where two (or more) people are exchanging information and emotion. Not posting it. Exchanging it.

Social, as in conversation, where every post gets a guaranteed response and relationships are built to last; not “social” as in mass distribution (Twitter/Facebook) where most posts go unheard because no one is paying attention.

You Are What You Tweet


“You are who your last dozen tweets say you are.”

Your content is a bumper sticker.

I tend to tweet about the following: Arsenal & US Soccer, creativity, art, inspirational quotes, new music, new technology, social media, with the occasional joke. That’s why Google Reader is such an indispensable tool: it helps me find the nuggets of information I’m interested in which I then broadcast to the world.

I typically mix aspirational tweets with my own original content: blog posts and Flickr/Instagram photos, and more recently, Vine videos.

Twitter is a reflection of your interests and what you think about all day.  It’s the identity you want to project to the world.


Sharing hugely impacts behavior. One of the main reasons I walk to and from work is so I can capture interesting content to add to this blog. It’s a way of saying, “Look where I am right now,” as Ricky Van Veen so eloquently puts it in the video below.

Social media is our public microphone. Which means you also have to take complete responsibility for what you share and say.  It’s fun, and a bit risky.

TV and the “Second Screen”

The smartphone/tablet is commonly known as the Second screen.

But what’s actually happening is the reverse.  People are merely listening to the TV and picking their heads up to catch the biggest moments.  The majority of programming therefore is just noise

We give our companion devices more attention.  We can Tweet, Facebook, Instagram, blog, YouTube, and read a book all at the same time.  It’s truly a multi-media, content-shifting experience.  

TV and devices aren’t even fungible.  We’re so hyper-connected that our devices act like second brains.  We’re never bored and certainly over-entertained.   

The shift from TV consumption to online participation is only growing more rapidly.  Unless the TV becomes smart, it’s going to become unnecessary like the landline phone.  

“See you on Twitter”

That is the common going away message at SXSW this year for those who follow each other and communicate on Twitter.

Chances are re-meeting that person or developing a tighter relationship are slim. “See you on Twitter” is a nice way of saying, “I like what you have to say and will keep listening but I don’t necessarily need to see you again.”

Twitter relationships are only as meaningful as you make them. You must follow up with the person if you want to cultivate a real relationship.

PS: Thanks to Hugh MacLeod for blogging my picture of his Rackspace artwork. We’ve never met face to face but thanks to Twitter at least he knows I exist:)

Below are some of the big ideas gathered from SXSW:  ”Lessons from Yuri Mulner (A Chat with Vanity Fair)”:   We need to place more emphasis on science to increase the likeliness of “moon shots,” i.e. achieving the incredible.   “Intellectual achievement does not have practical applications.”  We must support the impractical, like Einstein, in addition to investing in short-term business ideas for profit.   “We outsourced functions of our brain to Google.”  A reminder that we still have brains even if you take Google away.  “In the next few years we’ll be able to figure everything out.”  This is why the current moment of curiosity is so precious.   Social media is not an impediment to work but an “enabling mechanism” to share more information with other people.

Disruptions: As User Interaction on Facebook Drops, Sharing Comes at a Cost

ultimately the value of the product disappears as the stream of information in your social network, one that used to be rapid and friction-free, is no longer there and now consumed by advertising,

If you’ve visited Facebook lately it’s littered with ads in the central newsfeed. Yesterday I saw one for Breastfeeding, obviously mis-targeted. Even a group old ladies on my train ride this morning complained about the invasiveness.

Facebook is clearly in the run for profit to meet Wall Street demands and disrupting the user experience to squeeze any pennies it can get. But this is just the beginning of Facebook’s challenges as Teens move onto other sites like Snapchat and Tumblr.

It turns out being cool makes a difference.

So what happened after The Great Unfriending? Facebook became a whole lot more usable as a particular kind of network — the one that lets me see what actual friends and family are doing, including those who are far away… Except for my teenaged daughters, of course, who don’t even use Facebook any more, preferring to spend all their time on Tumblr and Twitter. That’s just one of the things that should worry Mark Zuckerberg, I think.

— Mathew Ingram | Why I unfriended almost everyone  (via courtenaybird)

Facebook is the iTunes for friends and I rarely use iTunes other than to organize a few tracks I want to keep.

The State of Social Media Users


In 2012, according to Pew Internet: Social Networking:

  • 15% of online adults say they use Pinterest
  • 13% of online adults say they use Instagram
  • 6% of online adults say they use Tumblr
  • 67% of online adults say they use Facebook
  • 16% of online adults say they use Twitter
  • 20% of online adults say they use LinkedIn  

Most notably, “Pinterest has practically caught up with Twitter.”