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Social Media Roundup for November 4, 2011

Gmail’s New Look

Google seems to be ever-changing and upgrading these days. This week they released the new Gmail and Google Reader layout. The new layout is supposed to be about making your view more streamlined and efficient, although some users have a different take on this. Eventually, most of us will get used to the new layout, but lost functionality is a different story. Negative posts and reactions have been voiced, mostly pertaining to the changes to Google Reader, where you can no longer one-click share to social sites unless it’s to Google+. Check out the tweets that turn up when you search for @googlereader in Twitter:

Not only are people angry about this change for future sharing, they were also given no warning and so people that have used Reader to push content to their sites or blogs have lost that content. A little heads up would have been nice! The root issue behind this change is that it is disrupting the communities that we have formed and people can no longer communicate and share with their community, at least not through your Google Reader. And having to +1 something before it can be shared can even make people not want to share at all. How do you feel about having to share publicly first if you want to share with your network? A former Google employee even offered his services to come back on a contract to fix the Google Reader.

Google’s New Search Algorithm

Another update from Google this week is talk about their new infrastructure, Caffeine, which makes crawled content available in our search results more quickly because as soon as a page is crawled, it’s made available in our searches. Now it is reported that not only will results be “fresher,” it will also change 35% of your search results. This will impact your searches related to recent events or trending topics because Caffeine will be able to crawl those news stories or posts that people wrote maybe only minutes ago while they are at an event like Occupy Toronto. This seems a bit like Twitter where your searches will always be updating. If you search something in the morning, your results could very well be different by lunch.

Because I use Google often for research, I’m excited about this change. For example, if I want to know the best practices for measuring social media engagement, I can type this in and Google will now pull up the most recent reports and studies on this topic. If I did the same research a year from now, I would not want to see those same reports, because they are now outdated.

Another type of search this “freshness” factor is great for is when you are searching an event that is regularly occurring. Now, Google will know that when you type in “Who went home on America’s Next Top Model last night,” you will see highlights from this week’s episode and not say from Cycle 7, several years ago. Now you can make your searches with less thought, you don’t have to think about dates and specific keywords because it’s like Google is in your head, it knows what you want to see and read about.

This seems great – who doesn’t want the most recent news? But there is a potential downside, too. Although a story may be the most recently posted, this doesn’t always mean it is the most up-to-date. Think about people reading stories and then sharing them on their own blog. Their blog post may occur a few days after the original story, making it more “fresh,” but there is no promise that there haven’t been more updates to the story since the original story. So we must be careful.

Social Timing Insights Infographic

Speaking of “freshness” and timing, check out this Infographic for insights in social timing.

When your brand is posting on Facebook and Twitter, are you thinking about what your customers are doing at that moment? You wouldn’t want to post when most of your audience is busy and your update just gets pushed down their News Feed, so they may not see it. This Infographic gives us insight into when customers are most receptive so that you can reach the most customers and achieve maximum engagement.

What is Google+?

Recently I’ve been thinking that social networks are getting a little too messy. I’ve felt it’s time for another big shift in how people communicate, and I’d love to see companies start to pull all the small pieces together – That’s why I’m so interested in the new Google+ project.

Google + image

Google has attempted many things to encourage users to spend more time using Google products doing activities other than searching. While Gmail, Chrome and Android have been very successful, we all remember the flop known Google Wave. On Tuesday, June 26th, Google started a very limited field test for their latest social network project, Google+,and unveiled the first five features: Circles, Hangouts, Instant Upload, Sparks and Huddle.

Please see the video below for a quick tour:


Everyone is saying that the project is Google’s answer to Facebook. However, there are couple of signs showing that it could be much, much more than that. Google+ could be the centerpiece to Google’s entire strategic map to link search, social, and mobile together in a seamless and intuitive package.

Google+ was developed by Google’s internal team, unlike Google Wave, which was outsourced to an Australia-based team in 2009. Google+ is the result of a year-long project led by Google’s SVP of Social, Vic Gundotra, and hundreds of Google engineers. It involves almost EVERY Google product. Google is already showing a very strong commitment to this project.

Google made significant changes to its user interface (UI), likely in order to accommodate Google+.  And remember, historically Google has been really conservative in changing their minimalist webpage, adding a black navigation bar at the top is definitely a big step for them.

Google+ is also a mobile app. By making use of Android’s dominance in the mobile OS market, Google+ has the potential to become an integral part of the Android experience, and will easily end up in the hands of all the existing users.

The key for Google is to figure out how to leverage the huge number of Gmail users. They have to identify and focus on people’s real needs for a social network, while providing the best product experience that links social, search and mobile together.

Here is the question I’ll leave for everyone: Do you think you that you will ‘hang out’ more on Google than Facebook?

P.S. Check out the Google+ virtual tour to see more videos and experience it yourself !


Social Media Roundup for November 19, 2010

Got a Minute?

Would you give a minute to make your city better? That’s all that CEOs for Cities, a “civic lab of today’s urban leaders” is asking you to do. Their new Give a Minute program encourages citizens from Chicago (with Memphis, New York and San Jose to come soon) to enter into a public dialogue with their leaders via social media. The initiative asks, “Hey Chicago, what would encourage you to walk, bike and take CTA [Chicago public transit] more often?” Users then submit their ideas to the site directly or via SMS. Responses, on colorful post-its no less, appear on the site to be reviewed by community leaders like the chairman of the Chicago Transit Board.

While some suggestions might not take off (as a Chicago-area native and CTA veteran, I think a Starbucks at every stop might be a bit hard to pull off), there are plenty of reasonable ideas like train-tracking apps for your phone or pricing incentives. For everyone who’s ever thought they had the secret to fixing their morning commute, this is a much more productive outlet than grumbling into your coffee cup.

Let’s Analyze Some Tweets

In exciting news for data geeks like us, Twitter announced this week that they’re testing an analytics product for a possible release later this year. According to Mashable,

“With Twitter Analytics, users will be able to see a plethora of data about their account; for example, information about which tweets are most successful, which tweets caused people to unfollow, and who the most influential users are that reply and retweet their messages.”

As if that wasn’t enough good news, rumors indicate that the product will be free.

Underworld Goes Online

In what is bound to be the most interesting news about the Underworld action movie franchise, filmmakers of the latest edition are searching for their talent somewhere new: online. With this first casting call posted to Face of the Fan, Sony Pictures’ foray into virtual casting calls, potential stars can log in, download selections from the script, and upload their audition videos to the site. Will aspiring actors from the Midwest stop packing up their things and moving to Hollywood now that the casting call is on their laptop? (via Onion AV Club)

Facebook Has a Message For You

As many predicted, Facebook’s big announcement this week was about their messaging and email capabilities. Over the next several months, Facebook will be bringing users a new type of messaging, complete with a email address. But Zuckerberg & Co. stressed that this is not email.

“There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.”

It’s going to differ from email, as well, in that Messages will build a conversation history for each person you correspond with, whether it’s by chat, email, or SMS.  And similar to Gmail’s Priority Inbox feature, Facebook Messages will sift through conversations to separate out those that are “more meaningful” (i.e., from your friends and friends-of-friends). Will this be enough for you to move your correspondence into the Facebook system?

Activist Wizards

Photo courtesy of

With Harry Potter fever going strong this weekend, NPR ran a feature on the Harry Potter Alliance, a nonprofit organization that mobilizes young people to take action on campaigns like Helping Haiti Heal or Wizard Rock the Vote.

“Our mission is to empower our members to act like the heroes that they love by acting for a better world. By bringing together fans of blockbuster books, TV shows, movies, and YouTube celebrities we are harnessing the power of popular culture toward making our world a better place. Our goal is to make civic engagement exciting by channeling the entertainment-saturated facets of our culture toward mobilization for deep and lasting social change.”

The HPA should serve as a model for any group trying to mobilize young people. They reach out to kids using cultural touchstones that are important to them, in the shape of the pop culture icons that they love, and utilize social media tools to bring them together.  It’s no surprise they’ve been so successful; their campaigns have raised thousands and helped countless numbers of folks in need.

Roundup Flashback

While this isn’t exactly new, it’s new to me, and too fun not to include. Did you know that rapper Coolio has his own YouTube channel? Did you further know that instead of uploading his music videos or clips from his stint on Celebrity Big Brother, this channel features mostly his web show, Cookin’ with Coolio? Neither did I. Enjoy.

(via @bud_caddell)

Social Media Roundup for August 6, 2010

New Twitter algorithm tells you who to follow

Find your friends and colleagues_1281125063953

Following in the footsteps of Facebook, last week Twitter launched a new suggestion feature that helps users find new people to follow. The tool looks at who you follow, and who the people you follow follow, and then suggests new people for you to follow. This new feature is gradually being rolled out to users and probably explains the huge influx of random follower requests I’ve been receiving all week.

This new feature in combination with Twitter’s enhanced name search results should be the start of expanding Twitter’s social graph.

Google’s back at it

Google‘s been hard at work the past few months making all kinds of improvements to Gmail. Continuing on their drag and drop feature streak, this week Google added the ability to drag and drop attachments to your desktop. This small improvement should yield lots of happy users for those who receive multiple attachments.

Blackberry Torch to compete with the iPhone


This week, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) announced the upcoming release of the BlackBerry Torch (also known as the BlackBerry 9800 slider). Lots of people are excited about the new device, comparing it’s functionality to the iPhone 4.

BlackBerry fans in some parts of the world may have to stick with the iPhone though, as countries like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates have started to shut down BlackBerry messaging services due to security concerns and RIM’s failure to meet regulatory requirements.

A testament to the power of social media

Yesterday 10-year Tanner Bawn was en route to New York on an Air Canada flight to witness a charity run called “Tutus for Tanner,” a muscular dystrophy fund raising event organized by Tanner’s blogger aunt, Catherine Connors. Although Tanner arrived in New York a-OK, his wheel chair was damaged on the journey.

Tanner’s aunt and a network of bloggers and Twitter users, who for the past week had been helping to raise money for Tanner’s family to renovate their home, instantly starting tweeting about the issue. Air Canada, although slow to respond at first, quickly jumped on the issue as it exploded online and repaired Tanner’s wheelchair and offered him and his cousins a free trip to Disney World – one of Tanner’s last wishes.

According to Tanner’s aunt, ““If I hadn’t been with Chrissie (Bawn, Tanner’s mother) and Tanner, if it were any other kid without a vast social media network behind them, it wouldn’t have turned out this way.”

Gotta love social media. Happy weekend, everyone!

Social Media Roundup for May 14, 2010

What else can we get Betty White to do…

Betty White sure is one popular lady. The former Golden Girls star started making headlines after a Facebook page campaigning to have her host Saturday Night Live (SNL) attracted more than half a million fans. The effort paid off and White hosted SNL this past week, bringing SNL its highest ratings in 18 months. With her successful hosting gig behind her, Betty White fans have turned to loftier ambitions now pushing to have the comedian host the Emmys and the Oscars.

Twitter followers gone wild

Last week Facebook experienced a privacy glitch that allowed users to see and accept or decline other users’ friend requests. This week it was Twitter’s turn to let users take control of follower lists. A bug on the site allowed users to type “[tweet] accept [username]” and force any user to follow them. Twitter jumped on the case quickly and patched up the bug, but for a short period of time, famous Twitter users like Conan O’Brien (who notoriously follows only one user) started to follow a much larger number of people.

Gmail continues to add drag and drop features

A few weeks ago, Google added drag and drop file attachment functionality to Gmail. Now, Google has wowed us again by allowing users to drag and drop images into email messages and resize files on the spot. Only Chrome users can take advantage of this slick feature for now, but Google promises they will soon be rolling out all of the drag and drop goodness to other browsers.

Fix your Facebook privacy settings in 2 minutes

If you’re still not feeling confident about navigating Facebook’s new privacy settings, Huffington Post has put together this video tutorial on how to fix up your settings in 2 minutes. This week, the New York Times reported that Facebook users now have 50 settings with more than 170 options to wade through to fully set up their privacy.