Tag Archives: Robert Scoble

4 tips for social media optimization on Facebook from Robert Scoble

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NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen has been trying to trick Facebook’s algorithm by starting his updates with “You guys! Exciting personal news: I’m moving to New York!” and “Big news in my personal life. I’m engaged!” and “I have some exciting personal news. A new job!”

What Rosen is experimenting with here is social media optimization (SMO), or the art and science of getting your updates seen on Facebook and other platforms. In 2014, SMO is still something of a dark art, but in an age when people are using social media to discover news, getting seen there is now as important to media, marketers and public officials who want to find immense audiences online as search engine optimization has become over the past decade.

Without this hack, Rosen says, “Facebook won’t show my posts to nearly all my subscribers.”

When they are shown, they get good engagement. The hack puts them in front of people who never received a thing from me, despite subscribing to me.

Robert [Scoble] is convinced that’s because I used some humor and sounded like a person. But it isn’t. It’s because I used some idiot phrases (“exciting personal news”) the algorithm responds to. That gives my posts a chance to be seen. When they are seen people engage with them. When people engage with them they are seen by more people.

Robert [Scoble] and Dave [Winer] are telling me it won’t work for long and I am sure that’s true. Meanwhile, I have many people telling me they never saw my posts and now they do.

Rosen’s tactic prompted Rackspace’s startup liason officer, Robert Scoble, a power user of social media platforms, to make several suggestions for crafting Facebook updates that get seen in the newsfeed. Here’s a short, paraphrased summary of those tips, courtesy of Robert Scoble’s comments on an update in Rosen’s feed.

1) Short, one paragraph updates often get more engagement than updates with a photo.

2) One photo in an update often gets more engagement than an update with multiple photos.

3) Including a call to action with a URL like “Click here for insight on open government, technology and society: http://e-pluribusunum.com” in an update leads to 80% more clicks.

4) Sort your friends into lists and then remove friends who don’t engage from those lists. (This is different from unfriending them.)

I’m both personally and professionally interested in this advice: I have 129,000 subscribers to my public Facebook updates but am quite certain that the vast majority never see what they subscribed to when they clicked the “Like” button. While the rare Facebook update blows up, many are just never seen.

Questions for you:

1) Have you tried these techniques? If so, what came of it?

2) What other SMO tips do you use?

3) Do you use Facebook lists?

Two cautionary notes

First, just as blackhat SEO leads Google to penalize people for gimmicks, Facebook could flag pages and profiles that overuse them, leading to account issues.

Second, marketers, social journalists and community managers that find success with SMO experiments should take note of a recent Pew Research Center survey on social media and the news, the source of the graphics on this page, which found that “visitors who come to a news site through Facebook or search display have far lower engagement with that outlet than those who come to that news website directly.” That means that SMO doesn’t replace SEO for publishers, or the need to create great stories and interactive content that stands on its own.

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Finally, it’s worth noting that social networks are full of people. Ultimately, the best way to “optimize” your interactions on Facebook or elsewhere is to be a human, not a marketer. Meaningfully communicating with other humans is going to require a different strategy than crafting headlines and URLs that highly relevant to search engines.

Hat Tip: Post by Jay Rosen.

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Google Wave: Good for a 2009 Year in Review but is it useful for more?

Barb Dybwad over at Mashable picked up on a video by Whirled Interactive where they use Google Wave as vehicle for a clever 2009 Year in Review that breaks down the major news events.

As Dybwad writes, this video shows the potential for Wave as a “video production medium,” like the “Pulp Wave Fiction” movie that Mashable shared elsewhere. And as Adam Ostrow tweeted, the folks over at Whirled Interactive are “super talented.”

As funny as these videos may be, I’m still looking for a personal use case for Google Wave. I’ve been dipping in and out of Wave for months as new people log on and explore. I expected the network effect of having more contacts there to result in some pick up. Enterprise 2.0 is not THAT big of a deal,as Andy McAfee says: what about Google Wave?

The Good

Google proposes any number of functions for Google Wave, including:

  1. Event Organizing
  2. Creation and Management of “Living” Group Projects
  3. Drag-and-Drop Photo Sharing
  4. Creation of “Living” meeting notes
  5. Interactive Gaming

The best way to learn about the software, however, is to read Gina Trapani and Adam Pash’s Complete Guide to Google Wave and to watch this (long) intro video from Google itself:

Lorraine Lawson wrote about Google Wave’s potential for enterprise integration over at IT Business Edge back in June and offered any number of potential use cases. (I have yet to hear about their transition into case studies.) Dion Hinchcliffe was bullish on the potential of the tool when he wrote about the enterprise implications of Google Wave at the end of May. He offered an excellent “first look” review there, for readers who want a more detailed breakdown of what Wave it and how it works.

More recently, Lifehacker included Google Wave on its 5 best collaboration tools, and collected an impressive breadth and variety of Google Wave use cases that range from family life to wedding planning,  disaster relief to translation for research.

The bad

For me, combining a heterogenous suite of wikis, microblogging, email, IM and Skype has continued to be more useful than Wave. As a working environment, I’ve found it to be both noisy, as I watch other contribute, and often unstable.  (I even gave it a try on my iPhone over wifi, an experience akin to pouring molasses down a snowdrift).

My colleague, Rachel Lebeaux, expressed much the same reaction when she wrote about Google Wave as an enterprise collaboration tool. (She found a CIO who is installing a Wave server in her comments; I hope to hear more on that.)

Since then, however, the reaction online has often been withering, due in part to the learning curve required of new users that don’t have the attention span to watch that video or read the manual. For good or ill, people expect to be able to figure out collaborative software without that time investment. The editor-in-chief of TechRepublic, Jason Hiner, put the software at the top of his “worst tech products of the year.” Tough year in review to make:

“After trying Google Wave when the product was released into the wild, my opinion hasn’t changed (and others such as Robert Scoble have come to the same conclusion). Google Wave is basically a super-chatty IM client, and a badly overhyped one at that. The only use I can see for this product is for geographically dispersed project teams collaborating and brainstorming on documents and product development ideas in real time.”

And as Shaun Dakin @replied tonight, “@RWW named it as one of the top 10 products failures of the year, I agree. Solution in search of problem.” To say that Jolie O’Dell was rough on Wave is an understatement:

“We have to hand it to Google’s publicity team; we don’t know one geek who wasn’t positively salivating for a Wave invite. The ReadWriteWeb back channel was a complete melee when the first invites were rolled out to team members. But once we got there and saw the new tech tricks, like watching one another type, we started thinking about use cases. And the more we struggled to understand and use this product, the more frustrated and bored we became. Blame it on the steep learning curve. Blame it on our misunderstanding the product. Mount whatever feeble defense you like, but techies know Wave was a flop.

The trouble-y

Even with all of that negativity, I still have trouble with dismissing Google Wave as a victim of hype. I’ve already read about some innovative use cases for those who can get through the UI challenges. And I’ve met CIOs and CTOs who are interested in what happens next, when Google’s engineers iterate to address user feedback.

Many media organizations are trying out Google Wave for news, as Leah Betancourt shared on Mashable and Lifehacker wrote about above. As she writes:

Additionally, as Revolution Magazine reported, Welt Kompakt, a spinoff of the German daily Die Welt, is among the first newspapers around the world to integrate Google Wave into its coverage.

When I asked if any of my followers had found a use for Google Wave, Wayne Kurtzman @replied that “Google Wave is amazing if people use it as a collaboration tool; not just e-mail. Google does not make it easy to learn how & holds it back. I used Wave to collaborate on a voice over script for a video; elements SoundFX, vid, script, etc. Goog has no resources to teach others. Security, cultural (collab) and our size are challenges. Wave can be a game-changer.”

As quoted in Forbes, Tom Mornini, CTO and founder of Engine Yard, “pointed out recently (see: “The Real Meaning of Google Wave”), the major impact of Google Wave will ultimately come from its power as a development platform for serious, distributed applications.” If you’re wondering at how far Google Wave will get, consider whether enterprise software makers like SAP are taking it seriously as a platform. As Forbes described, SAP Research  used of it in its Gravity demonstration prototype, combining SAP’s business process modeling (BPM) technology with Google Wave.

My colleague Kristen Caretta was balanced  in assessing what Google Wave may mean for IT, offering that Gravity use case. Kristin also wrote that “Salesforce.com is working on a prototype extension to Google Wave that could help its customers provide customized, documented support in their own businesses.”

Attendees at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco this fall were presented with other Google Wave use cases by Google Wave product manager Gregory D’Alesandre, including Novell Pulse and ThoughtWorks. The collaboration tool is certainly part of Google’s plans for its enterprise customers. “Wave will be available as part of the Google Apps suite if you have Google Apps for your domain,” said D’Alesandre.

That might all imply that at least some techies do not, in fact, regard Wave as a flop. Google continues to add more to its development team with the recent acquisition of Etherpad, a Web-based collaboration app that may well be a boost to Google Wave.

As for this geek, caught somewhere in the intertices between journalism and techiedom, I’ll be on the lookout for more enterprise and media use cases. If you have one at hand, please share it in the comments.

Welt Kompakt, a spinoff of the German daily Die Welt, is among the first newspapers around the world to integrate Google Wave into its coverage, Revolution Magazine reported yesterday.
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Takeaways from Day 1 of #140Conf: The real-time Web disrupts the media

Newspapers & Twitter panel

Newspapers & Twitter panel

Kudos to Jeff Pulver and his staff for creating what turned out to be an extraordinary day of discussion and learning, not to mention more than a little music and humor.

Following is a digest of some of my favorite moments, as tweeted. I already blogged about the extraordinary discussion that took place between Ann Curry, Robert Scoble and Rick Sanchez: “RickSanchezCNN was listening to #CNNfail: Did Twitter change CNN coverage?

Aaron Strout also liveblogged the 140 Conference and @stevegarfield has added many #140conf pics on Flickr.

I will note, and indeed tweeted, that I was surprised that no one on the Twitter for business panel talked about when NOT to use Twitter, given the legal or compliance issues in regulated industries. I’ll be writing more about that later this trip.

After all, collecting links and ideas from the day from a conference about Twitter from Twitter makes sense, no? I remain sad that I missed the keynotes by @JeffPulver, @Jack, @FredWilson and @TimOReilly that started the day but know that I’ll be able to watch them later and that the hundreds of other attendees here will summarize those words and insights perfectly well for the rest of the Web.

On TV

“Twitter is not cost-prohibitive. @JimmyFallon has 1.3 million followers. He tweeted a Zack Morris pic before the show. That became a trending term before the show aired.”-@GavinPurcell

On Newspapers

Twitter is changing newspapers, both in their relationship to readers and within the newsroom. Editors and writers are collaborating more on news or events, in real-time. As Patrick LaForge (@palafo) said during the panel when he was watching Twitter, he saw a tweet come in that “There’s a plane in the Hudson.” The Village Voice has created a private account to coordinate coverage.

Journalists are receiving tips and sharing news with their followers, engaging in so-called “process journalism.”

On Digital Journalism

JohnAByrne of BusinessWeek shared that perspective, noting that “now journalism” — reporting on news as it breaks and evolves on the real-time Web, is enabled and extended by Twitter. Reporters now use Twitter to report, share & discuss news. The extension of news gathering and sharing into these digital platforms changes it from a product to a process. Indeed, Byrne believes that “Twitter as a collaborative and engagement tool is essential to any kind of forward-thinking journalism.”

A journalist from the Middle East, @moeed, of http://aljazeera.net, stated that “Micro reporting has transformed how we do reporting, particularly in crisis situations, like war.” He shared a number of innovative digital platforms that are enabling Al Jazeera to both disseminate information and to leverage the distributed eyes, ears and phones of people scattered across a region.

On Music

Chris (@1000TimesYes) of http://RollingStone.com and the @VillageVoice) is reviewing 1000 records on Twitter in 2009. Michael brought down the house, too. He was both hilarious & darkly poetic in bemoaning the death of the music critic.Crowdsourcing killed punk rock,” in his view, along with many other alternative or indie genres.

On Love, Microsyntax, @CNNBrk, Kodak & Power

Panels and speeches also included the following, all of which you can find commentary and quotes from or about on #140conf:

  • a love letter to Twitter from @pistachio
  • @stoweboyd on his microsyntax nonproject at Microsyntax.org
  • @imajes on the story behind @CNNBRK (he created a script that posted CNN email alerts into Twitter)
  • @JeffreyHayzlett on Kodak and Twitter, which included a crowdsourced term: “twanker” for a Twitterers that show bad form
  • @ajkeen on Twitter and power (a contrarian’s take to be sure)

Sessions to come include panels on Twitter cewebrity wtih @adventuregirl @ijustine @juliaroy and @chrisbrogan, Twitter for social good, which includes @drew & @twestival.

On the real-time Web

This was aa tremendous day. The conversation that has been unfolding on the tension between information about events coming in over the real-time Web and so-called “old media” organizations that seek to uphold journalistic standards honed over decades is fascinating. It follows on the blog up…er, blow up between TechCrunch and the New York Times regarding process vs product journalism earlier this month. For journalists, getting the story right, with corroboration, attribution and validity is crucial. Finding a way to do that in the context of the torrent of real-time news will be a central challenge of newsrooms in the month to come.

These are tough questions, debated by the world’s best thinkers on digital journalism and technology. My Twitter conversation with Jason Pontin yesterday lingers: what are the opportunities for distributed, “open source” journalism? Twitter and blogs from #IranElection are a novel source. And as Jason pointed out, we know that there’s misinformation and rumors there; how can journalists do real reporting on Twitter?

Journalists are filing links to pictures and video, which helps — harder to fake the latter — but there are real challenges. As Jason tweeted, “reporting requires verification from at least three sources, posted or printed in an authoritative, independent publication. If I were editing #iranelection stories, I’d want: who is the open source? What conflicting interests? Cross-verification? Open source journalism, appropriately handled, could provide verification.”

It’s possible some technologists in today’s audience or  in Silicon Valley, India, Israel or home from MIT for the summer might find a way to provide all of that. For now, I’m looking forward to learning more from the Web luminaries here at the 140 Characters Conference.

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