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Why Google Should Take an Interest in Pinterest

May 10, 2015

A Pinterest search for Fathers Day gifts

Pictured: Search results for “fathers day gift” on Pinterest.

Going forward, Google’s competition will not come from traditional search engines. You see, the nature of search is changing. Today’s generation of kids are using the web in ways that are far different from us.

The Nature of Search is Changing

On the way to school one morning, my daughter’s sixth grade classmate told me about the Fathers Day gift she made over the weekend: an apron that her dad could wear while grilling.

For ideas on what to make her dad, she searched Pinterest. Scanning through images of gift ideas, she came across the apron. She read the description, then clicked through to the website. The site listed instructions on how to make the apron.

When I asked my daughter’s friend if she was aware of Google Image Search, she answered, “Of course. But Pinterest is better.”

Why Pinterest?

Why is Pinterest winning share with today’s kids? It comes down to a few C’s:

Content

Let’s compare the broad reach of Google to the targeted reach of Pinterest. When you’re trying to find an answer to a question (e.g. “What is a storage area network?”), then indexing the entire web is an advantage. Chances are you’ll find the best answers in the search engine results pages.

But what if you’re looking for ideas for Fathers Day gifts? And what if you want to only view images of those gifts? Pinterest provides an advantage, since they only index images “pinned” by their users. Google Image Search, on the other hand, indexes the entire web.

My daughter’s friend determined that Pinterest search will give her better results than Google search.

Related Post: How a Pinterest Board Gained Popularity After I Stopped Pinning

Also, the core activity of Pinterest is to browse, and for that activity, Google is not even in the game.

My daughter and her friends own smartphones and each of them is an active user of the Pinterest app. They like images related to their interests: celebrities, singers, food items, pets and humor.

They value Pinterest for the content it delivers. And while they’re already using the app, it’s easy to perform searches right there. No need to navigate over to a separate search engine.

Curation

Some of my daughter’s friends are so active on Pinterest that they’ve accumulated several hundred pins. Whether they know it or not, they’re mastering the fine art of content curation: finding interesting things and deciding which ones they should share with their friends.

While my daughter’s friend didn’t re-pin the Fathers Day apron, it’s only natural for kids to do this: perform a search on Pinterest, find something you like, then re-pin it to one of your boards.

This is a missing element of the Google search experience.

When I find something relevant (or interesting) in a Google search, I have no means to “pin” that or share it with someone, other than emailing them the link.

Related Article: Google Takes On Pinterest With Google+ Collections (Marketing Land)

Community

My daughter and her friends follow each other on Pinterest (side note: they follow parents as well!). For the most part, “community” on Pinterest is about the people they know.

Related Post: The Real Reason Google Spent $1B to Acquire Waze

While they do get followed by strangers, most of their re-pinning comes via their friends, or via well-known brands they follow. They’ll also send each other private messages (via Pinterest) to share pins.

So not only does Pinterest allow them to find interesting content, it also provides tools to share, connect and bond with one another over shared interests. This “community element” is essential.

Bringing it All Together

Pinterest serves a good model of what Google Plus might have been: a way to tie Google search users together, from content that’s created via curation and community.

While Google prides itself on being a series of “one and done” experiences (i.e. take users quickly to the right/best search result), maybe there’s value in providing an “always on” experience, like Pinterest.

After all, today’s kids seem to be always on Pinterest. And that has implications for the future of search. Google needs to take a greater interest in Pinterest.

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10 Ways to Prepare for Your Social Media Manager Interview

August 10, 2013

How to prepare for your social media manager interview

Introduction

Social Media Manager has become a rather popular position lately. Whether it’s a dedicated or partial position, the function exists within most organizations.

Enterprises, non-profits, small businesses and associations understand the benefits of maintaining social media channels to generate awareness, engage with prospects and interact with customers and partners.

A Friend’s Interview

Recently, a friend of mine was preparing to interview for a Social Media Manager position. He was looking to transition into that position from a related role and asked me for advice on how to prepare for the interview.

Here are ten tips on how to prepare: they’re meant for people who haven’t done the job before.

1) Clean up your social media profiles.

It's important to manage your privacy settings on Facebook

Pictured: privacy settings options on Facebook.

I can guarantee you that your social media presence will be a key consideration for this position. Your prospective employer will look you up on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (in that order).

Congratulations on passing the “sniff test” – you scored an interview.

That being said, between now and the interview, clean up and optimize your profiles. Professional-oriented sites like LinkedIn are a given; also be careful to review the “Who can see my stuff?” settings on Facebook and un-tag yourself from photos that you wouldn’t want your mom to see.

2) Find and discover the organization’s “brand voice.”

Every organization has a “brand,” which means that every organization has a brand voice. In other words, do some research on your potential employer.

Check their website for a listing of their mission statement or core values (example: the core values of Zappos).

Understand what’s important to the organization, along with their vision for the future. Then, subtly reference some of the information you learned during your interview. When you get the job, you’ll need to tweet, post and pin with the brand voice.

3) Practice being the organization’s Press Secretary.

Jay Carney (photo via Wikipedia)

Photo of Jay Carney via Wikipedia.

Jay Carney is President Obama’s Press Secretary. Like all presidential press secretaries, Carney has a challenging job. He needs to stand up in front of the White House Press Corps and answer questions.

Sometimes he’ll be thrown “softballs,” while other times, he’ll need to address pointed and difficult questions. Carney needs to answer the questions in the “brand voice” of the Oval Office. As a Social Media Manager, your followers on Twitter (for example) are the press corps and you’re the press secretary. So watch a few White House news briefings and see how Carney handles questions.

4) Immerse yourself in the role.

Plan a number of 30-45 sessions during which you observe brands in action (on social media). “Like” some brands on Facebook, both in the target industry and a few outside of that. See how they’re crafting their status updates on Facebook.

Then, venture over to Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and other social networks and observe how brands are using those channels. Pay particular attention to how those brands engage with their audience. You get bonus points for tracking a single brand across channels and figuring out how they uniquely use each one.

5) Be prepared to define ROI.

It’s great that you’re proficient at tweeting, posting and tagging. It’s even better when you can do it in the brand’s voice. Some organizations will want you to take it to the next step and measure the Return on Investment (ROI) of social media.

So do some research on ROI models (for social media) and be prepared to talk through some of them. Then, turn the question around and ask about the organization’s goals with social media. Suggest particular social media metrics that can be assembled to tie back to those goals. The key point: the definition of social media ROI should be unique to each organization.

6) Do research on social media advertising.

Twitter's Promoted Tweets set-up

Pictured: some of the targeting options available in Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.

There are lots of options for spending money to augment your reach on social media: Promoted Tweets, Boosted Posts (Facebook), Sponsored Updates (LinkedIn), etc.

Do some research on how these work: how are they priced, what are the benefits, how can you measure, etc. If your prospective employer is not yet using these tools, you can score bonus points by planting the seed (with your knowledge).

7) Consider celebrating your outsider status.

Let’s say you’ve never worked in the industry of your prospective employer. Especially for social media marketing positions, employers are starting to look past the “industry experience” pre-requisite.

If the topic comes up during the interview, be prepared with a way to celebrate you outsider status. You may bring a new perspective to the organization’s approach to social media and be able to communicate in a fresh, new way (while maintaining the brand voice).

8) Research agency relationships.

While this may only apply to larger organizations, do some research to see if your prospective employer uses agencies in its social media: PR firms, design firms, interactive agencies, etc. A good place to check is the “Press Release” or “News” pages on their website. Having this information in your back pocket keeps you better informed going into the interview.

9) Think up a creative idea or two.

Do NOT tell your prospective employer what they’re doing wrong on social media. However, it’s fine to observe what they’re doing and think up new and creative ways to do the same thing. Sort of like this: “I noticed you’re doing <this>, have you considered doing <that>?”

10) Research past campaigns and contests.

Take a look at past social media campaigns and contests run by your prospective employer. Understand what they were looking to achieve and how it was received by participants. You’ll have a role in campaigns and contests going forward, so speaking knowledgeably about them during the interview puts you ahead of the pack.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember the “larger calling” of your role. It may be neat to tell friends that you get paid to tweet, post and pin, but it’s all in the context of the organization’s goals.

The social networks are the tools that you use to help achieve those goals. Portray that message during your interview: your excitement about the opportunity is less around social media and more about leveraging social media to advance the organization’s cause.


20 Social Media Predictions for 2013

December 17, 2012

20 Social Media  Predictions for 2013

Introduction

It’s December, which means that it’s that time of year. Predictions! While 2012 was an exciting year for social media, I find it challenging to look back and characterize it. Was it the year of the mobile app? The year of the pinboard? Pinterest was certainly one of the big stories of 2012.

What will 2013 hold for social media? Let’s explore.

Social Media Predictions for 2013

  1. Social media becomes a “given” and we no longer call it out separately. We use terms like “marketing strategy,” “engagement strategy” and “audience generation strategy,” and NOT “social media strategy.”
  2. Likewise, organizations with “social media” job titles broaden those roles to cover a wider set of responsibilities. For instance, the “social media marketing manager” broadens to become the “marketing manager.”
  3. We see the major players doing more blocking and disabling of each other’s services, not less. The measures taken by Twitter and Instagram (in 2012) were the start of what we’ll see far more of in 2013.
  4. Venture capital will dry up for “pure” social media start-ups. You’ll need to pair your social media offering with a mobile or big data angle – or, whatever will emerge as the hot new thing in 2013.
  5. The “social media darling” of 2013 will be a new app that uses your social graph, your “interest graph” and your location to facilitate face-to-face connections. It’ll have specific features to discourage its use as a dating app.
  6. There will be a drop-off in blog postings on the topic of social media (consider this one an endangered species).
  7. Twitter publishes its definition of “spam user / spam bot” and drops those users from its official registered user count. Its reported user base drops by 20%, but advertisers give them a pat on the back.
  8. One among Klout, PeerIndex and Kred will be acquired for an eight figure sum. My money’s on Kred.
  9. Yahoo! acquires Quora for $800MM. Quora remains an independent site in 2013, but merges its user database with Yahoo’s.
  10. Despite investigations of anti-competitive actions, Google places increased emphasis of Google+ content in its search engine results. This forces social media marketers to tell their clients, “If you’re not on Google+, you lose.”
  11. We’ve gone from blogging to microblogging. In 2013, our sharing isn’t 140 characters at a time, it’s 1 character at a time. As they say on Wheel of Fortune, “Can I have an ‘E’?”
  12. Twitter’s makes further progress with the stability of its infrastructure. The fail whale faces extinction.
  13. MySpace expands beyond music into sports, recreation and other selected hobbies. It makes some acquisitions to grow audience in those areas and becomes the talk of the town at year-end 2013.
  14. After making significant concessions to the Chinese Government, Facebook is made available in China.
  15. As Facebook, Twitter and others focus on growing revenue, their end users experience “ad fatigue” and response rates (e.g. clicks) take a hit.
  16. Finding success on Twitter, The Pope expands to Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. He declines an offer, however, to become a LinkedIn Influencer.
  17. Facebook considers a move into the “data locker” space, figuring that they already have the critical mass of users – and, that it’s more effective than serving banner or text ads. See this related piece on data lockers from the New York Times.
  18. If there’s such thing as a “social media product of the year,” then in 2013 it will be Google+ Hangouts.
  19. Crowdfunding via social media is big. In 2013, it becomes huge.
  20. This post will receive precisely 17 comments. So leave your own social media predictions –and perhaps you can make this 2013 prediction come true in 2012.

Bonus Prediction Number 1

Bonus Prediction Number 2

Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne)

This prediction comes from Heidi Thorne (@heidithorne):

In 2013, I think that people will continue to collapse the number of social networks in which they participate to the Big Three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

YouTube, though I have a hard time classifying it as a “social” site, will continue to dominate the web. Google Plus, while an awesome platform, will continue to struggle to be relevant due to their late entry into the social game, but will be used for unique functions such as Hangouts.

Pinterest? I’m biased, but I think its sizzle will fizzle in the not too distant future. Other social sites, such as the reinvented MySpace, will become, for lack of a better term, “sites.” May have social sharing capability, but would not qualify as social “utilities” such as Facebook or Twitter.

Conclusion

Thanks for stopping by throughout 2012. Hope you had a good year and I hope 2013 is even better. Happy Holidays!

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


How a Pinterest Board Gained Popularity After I Stopped Pinning

November 19, 2012

@dshiao's MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest

Read my prior post: 5 Things I’ve Learned About Pinterest

Introduction

At the start of the baseball season, I created a MLB 2012 pin board on Pinterest. Throughout the season, I’d pin images (mostly of players) as I read articles about the teams I follow.

I’d see a modest amount of Likes and Repins. I’d get more activity around popular or “interesting” players – injured closer Brian Wilson (of the San Francisco Giants) fitting into the latter category.

As the regular season drew to a close, my activity on Pinterest waned. My last pin was on September 30, 2012, before the start of the post-season. Throughout the playoffs, I’d continue to see modest amounts of activity on my board. And then the San Francisco Giants won the World Series.

Current Events Drive Interest in Pins and Boards

Once the Giants won the World Series, activity on Giants-related pins increased

While I’m a diehard New York Yankees fan, I reside in the Bay Area. And that means that I follow the local teams, the Giants and the A’s. Not surprisingly, you’ll find lots of Yankees, Giants and A’s in my MLB board.

The Email Settings menu in Pinterest

My Pinterest account is configured to send me email notifications for activity on my boards. And let me tell you, ever since the World Series ended, I’ve been receiving a daily stream of emails. Users are finding images I pinned (of Giants players) and they’re Liking and Repinning quite a lot.

Of course, shortly after the World Series comes the post-season awards (e.g. Cy Young, MVP, etc.). So it’s not a coincidence to see activity (on my Board) related to the award winners: Mike Trout and Bryce Harper (rookies of the year) and Buster Posey (NL MVP):

Activity for pins on Bryce Harper, Buster Posey and Mike Trout

What Makes Pinterest Unique

I found the result counter-intuitive: that activity would pick up on a social network after I ceased my own activity on it. That would not happen on Twitter, Facebook or Google+. And that’s what makes Pinterest unique. Let’s consider the reasons.

It’s Both Timeless and Timely.

I’ve written before about how Twitter rules the roost on the real-time web. Real-time content, however, is “forgotten” a minute, hour or day later. On Twitter, it’s quite rare to receive a retweet on content tweeted a few days (or weeks) prior. On Pinterest, as you’ve seen with my MLB board, the activity continues to occur on images I pinned weeks (and months) earlier.

And while the unit of content (an image) is timeless, interest around that content can be tied to timeliness (e.g. the Giants winning the World Series). So as far as content sharing goes, you have content that “lives longer” than real-time content – and, can spur activity around events happening in real-time.

It Drives a Different Consumption Model.

Twitter (and Facebook, too) is all about the “scan.” I have hundreds (or thousands) of items in my feed and I quickly scan for items of interest, not paying particular attention to any one item. Pinterest also drives “scans” (of images), but because of the timeless aspect, there’s more browsing than scanning.

On Twitter, the half-life of content is short: current events, sports scores and the like, and that adds to the “quick scan” consumption model. On Pinterest, users are more apt to browse, discover and take their time.

Its Attribution Model Facilitates Curation

Let’s compare the retweet to the repin. Here’s how a retweet (that I performed) appears in my profile:

How a retweet appears in the user's Twitter profile

You’ll notice that the original tweet is preserved, including the “author” of the original tweet (@AllthingsIC). Now, let’s consider a repin. I originally pinned this image of Brandon Crawford and here’s how the repin appears on another user’s board:

How a re-pinned pin appears in the user's board

You’ll see that my original caption (about Brandon Crawford) is preserved (although users have the option to change it when repinning), but notice that, unlike in a retweet, my identity (as the original author) is not listed. You have to click on the pin to see the attribution:

The original pinner has attribution listed on the pin detail page

This attribution model facilitates curation because it leaves a “cleaner” board, while providing proper attribution one level deep.

For Marketers, It’s The Gift That Keeps Giving.

My MLB 2012 board has taught me that on Pinterest, content can have nine lives. Online marketers using Facebook and Twitter should consider a Pinterest strategy. Pinterest can create an annuity around your content: an investment that continues to pay out over time.

And here’s the kicker: you pin content from pages, which means that users who find your pins have the option of clicking through to the page (on which the image is found). What does that mean for online marketers? The ability to drive page views – and even product sales, for online merchants.

Conclusion

Let’s recap. Pinterest is an entirely unique social network. It all starts with a timeless “sharing unit” (an image), which can gain popularity around current events. The consumption and attribution models help to drive sharing (via curation). And users (i.e. pinners), can receive ongoing returns for activity they generated months (or even years) prior.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


Top 10 Tips for Social Media Time Management

August 17, 2012

Introduction

Whether you use social media for work, pleasure, personal branding or all of the above, one of the trickier questions is, “How do I manage my time on social media?” Like New York, social media is the “city that never sleeps” and there seems to be a new social network emerging every week. So how do you keep up? Consider these ten tips.

1) Understand that you have a fixed amount of time.

Time (in the day) is a zero sum game, at least for those of us who require sleep. The 20 minutes I spend fixing the kitchen sink is 20 minutes I won’t have to do something else. So think of your social media activities as a continual give and take. Give the effort that you’re comfortable with, but don’t let it take over your life.

2) Let automated tools assist you.

On social media, you can find a tool (or app) for just about anything. A good number of tools are absolutely free, while others are paid (or freemium) tools. The Next Web published an excellent list of “50 (mostly) free social media tools you can’t live without in 2012.”

One tool that I like to use is Buffer, which allows me to schedule certain tweets at specific times. If I have an article to share late one night (on the West Coast of the U.S.), it won’t be seen on the East Coast, as most everyone has gone to bed. So I’ll use Buffer to schedule it to be posted (automatically) the next morning.

3) Know what you’re good at.

Figure out what you’re good at, along with what you enjoy the most (they’re very often one and the same). Then, schedule your activities such that you’re focusing 60% (or more) of your time on that very thing. My primary focus is Twitter. Other social networks may come and go, but I’ve enjoyed Twitter the most. And that’s where I spend most of my social media time.

4) Get into a routine.

Just like the morning coffee, the afternoon walk or the after-dinner dish cleaning, social media is incorporated into my daily routine. I have social media with my morning coffee, in fact. As I’m checking the morning headlines, I’ll tweet some interesting articles. As I see what’s written about my favorite sports teams, I’ll check whether any images are worth pinning on Pinterest.

5) Find the right blend.

Don’t stick to one sort of activity (e.g. tweeting links). Find a good blend of activities, which include publishing, sharing and interacting. Jenise Fryatt (@JeniseFryatt) coined the term “EIR” (Engage, Inform, Retweet) and routinely lists (and thanks) Twitter users with the hash tag #EIR.

When I started with Twitter, my activities were all about publishing. These days, I find roughly 25% of my tweets are interactions (e.g. at replies, retweets, etc.).

6) Use social networks’ mobile apps.

On my iPhone, I’ve downloaded mobile apps for Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest (to name a few). The mobile apps have been tremendous for time efficiency.

Now, when I’m stuck on a 30 minute security line at the airport, that’s 25 minutes I get to check in with friends on Facebook, see what’s happening on Twitter, etc. (the other 5 minutes is consumed by fumbling for my driver’s license and untying my shoe laces).

7) Use email notifications to alert you.

While some have declared a death to email (partially due to social networks), I find it to be the “glue” that connects all of your social media activities. In particular, email is great for notifying you to take action.

For instance, I get an email when someone mentions me on Twitter. I can read the details (in the email) and if I’m on mobile, I can tweet back to the user right away. Similarly, I receive emails when someone comments on my Google+ post, so I know to reply back when I get a chance.

8) Spend 15% of your time experimenting.

Craft a 15% budget towards R&D (or, trying out new things). When Google+ first came out, I didn’t jump on board right away. But when I did, I spent a good chunk of my time on it, to learn about Circles, Hangouts and more. While Twitter rules the roost for me, that may not be the case forever. And it’s this experimentation that may identify whatever comes next.

9) Use aggregation and recommendation services.

The best example I can give is Summify – their service is so neat that they were recently acquired by Twitter. Summify creates a “daily summary of the most relevant news from your social networks.” In a given hour, you may have 7,000 tweets in your stream. You need to skim through a lot of text to find content that interests you.

Summify finds the particularly popular links that people you’re following have shared. It’s now incorporated into the daily email (sent by Twitter). The recommendations are so good that I click on more than half of the links.

Related services include LinkedIn Today and Twitter Stories.

10) Take a break.

You shouldn’t be on social media all the time. It may be hard to do, but allocate periods of time where you go completely offline. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the break and you’ll return with a fresh perspective on things. I took a break from social media to go camping – and it was fabulous.

Conclusion

So in closing, I’ll reiterate a few of the key points:

  1. Find what you’re good at (and enjoy) and spend most of your time doing it.
  2. Technology (tools, emails, aggregation services) will aid in time efficiency.
  3. Find the right blend of publishing, sharing and interacting.
  4. Use email notifications to alert you to take action.
  5. Take a break and go offline.

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .


In Case You Missed It: Posts on Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus and Personal Branding

June 16, 2012

Topic: Pinterest

Topic: Twitter

Topic: Google Plus

Topic: Social Networks

Topic: Personal Branding


How Social Networks Facilitate Discovery and Engagement

May 24, 2012

Introduction

Successful social networks rely on a combination of user growth and “stickiness” – discovering users, discovering content, connecting with users, and engaging with users and content. As I study some of the most successful social networks, I find that they use a common set of techniques to create and maintain this stickiness. Let’s take them one by one.

Second Degree Activity

“Second degree activity” refers to actions that your friends take within a social network.

The Quora home feed (pictured above) is a great example. When I login to Quora, my home feed does not display topics I’m interested in. Rather, it takes the set of users that I’m following on Quora and lists the actions they’re taking (e.g. “following a question,” “voted up,” “commented,” etc.).

The concept: if I’m following someone, then I’m interested in what they think and do. If they’ve published a comment, then I may want to read it (“what they think”) and if they’ve voted up an answer, then I may want to check it out (“what they do”).

Other examples of second degree activity include:

  1. Twitter’s Activity tab, which can be found on Twitter.com by visiting Discover -> Activity. For folks you’re following, it lists actions that they’re taking: follows, favorites, addition to lists and more.
  2. LinkedIn’s Home feed, which lists new connections (made by your existing connections), status updates, profile updates and more.
  3. Facebook’s Newsfeed, which lists new friends (made your by your existing friends), Like’s (on friends of friends status updates) and more.

Featuring Popular Content

Pictured: The “Popular” tab in the mobile app Instagram.

Featuring popular content is an excellent stickiness tactic, as it provides proof to users that there’s great content to discover and consume. Popularity is democratic, in that it’s measured by the “votes” of the social network’s users (e.g. views, likes, comments, etc.).

That being said, “popularity begets more popularity,” which means that once content is marked popular, it tends to get more popular, at the (perhaps) disservice of similarly worthy content. You see this same phenomenon with “Most Popular” and “Most Emailed” lists on many online news sites.

Examples of featuring popular content include:

  1. Instagram’s “Popular” tab.
  2. Pinterest has a “Popular” tab that lists popular pins.
  3. Google+ has an “Explore” tab that reads “Explore What’s Hot on Google”.
  4. Facebook posts receiving a high degree of engagement get “pinned” to the top of your Newsfeed.

Recommendations

Pictured: “Who to follow” on Twitter.

Amazon was an innovator in algorithmic recommendations, with its “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…” LinkedIn, for some time, has had a similar feature, “People You May Know,” which is listed prominently in the upper right corner of the LinkedIn home page.

In addition to recommending other users, social networks have begun to recommend content. The thought behind this, of course, is the more interesting content you find, the longer you’ll stay.

Examples of User Recommendations

  1. Twitter’s “Who to follow” tab.
  2. Twitter’s “Browse categories” tab, which provides curated lists of Twitter users within particular categories. Here’s the category list for Technology: https://twitter.com/#!/who_to_follow/interests/technology
  3. LinkedIn’s “People You May Know.”
  4. Google+ lists people “You Might Like” on its “Explore” page.

Examples of Content Recommendations

  1. Twitter’s Discover tab, which lists a series of “Stories.”
  2. Twitter’s Trending Topics – an innovative feature that is particularly unique to Twitter.
  3. LinkedIn TODAY, “The day’s top news, tailored for you.” – visible in the top area of your LinkedIn home page.
  4. Facebook’s “Recommended Pages.”

Email Notifications

It seems we’ve been writing off email for years. The rise of social media has brought into question whether email is still relevant. Well, it is. Despite claims to the contrary, we continue to be dependent upon our inbox.

In fact, I consider email to be “the glue” that connects (and returns you) to your assorted social networks. Email helps inform you of activities that occurred on a social network – and, it provides reminders for you to return.

Examples of email notifications:

  1. New followers or connections.
  2. A mention (of you) by other user(s).
  3. Getting tagged in an uploaded photo.
  4. A new comment or “like” to a post that you’ve liked.
  5. Follow-up comments to a comment you left – this is particularly useful on blogs, as well as discussions within LinkedIn Groups.
  6. Direct or private communications from a particular user.

Full-Mesh Communities

Pictured: The home feed on Nextdoor.

Nextdoor is a neighborhood-based social network that was recently profiled in The New York Times. There’s a Nextdoor community in my neighborhood (The Highlands in San Mateo), for which I’m a member. Nextdoor uses a “full-mesh model,” (my term) in which everyone “follows” everyone else by default. The newsfeed on your home page, in fact, displays posts from everyone.

There’s an absence of a follow/follower model altogether. If the size of a community is manageable (i.e. the number of members is at or below the Dunbar Number), then this full mesh model is ideal:

  1. It “removes friction” for establishing connections. I don’t have to worry about whom to follow, since the system’s done that for me.
  2. It “removes the risk” of my missing an important post because I’m not following the poster.
  3. It allows for “everyone to know everything,” and I think that’s completely fine in an online community based on your neighborhood.

I think the full mesh model is well suited to the online communities of small to medium sized businesses (i.e. for tools like Chatter, Yammer and Jive).

In a small business, I’d argue that similar to Nextdoor, everyone should know everything – and of course, private groups are always an option for things like compensation and employee reviews.

Conclusion

A quick recap of what we’ve discussed:

  1. The more (and better) social networks can recommend users and content, the stronger they’ll be.
  2. Second degree activity is an effective way to promote both users and content.
  3. Popularity and recommendations are additional avenues for discovering users and content.
  4. Email is the glue that ties your social networks together and keeps you coming back.
  5. Full mesh networks can be effective for particular use cases.

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