The Facebook Commenting System: A Tool for the New Influential

There I sat, early morning, a warm egg McMuffin sandwich in hand, and some hot cocoa not far too away. Powering up the Mac Pro in front of me, I log onto my Google Reader and click on the latest posts from TechCrunch.

Hmm. I wonder what Techcrunch will declare dead today?

Not seeing any “death” posts, I ended up clicking on some article about venture capital investor Adressen Horowitz.

Bored, I cracked a yawn and reached for my hot chocolate. Taking a sip, I scrolled down to see the comments, and subsequently sprayed hot chocolate all over the shiny Mac Pro in front of me.

Instead of the Disqus commenting system I was so used to seeing, was now a brand-spanking new Facebook Commenting System.

Oh yeahhh. Facebook is releasing a new commenting system today. Duh.

After reading a few blog posts about Facebook’s new commenting system, I began to think about how the new system would affect people like us, the New Influential.

I noticed that there were essentially two sides to the debate: readers vs. the websites and companies and brands that operate them.

From a brand or company perspective, the new commenting system makes a lot of sense. With the Facebook commenting system, readers are using their real identities, so anything they post gets traced back to them.

The new system means less trolls and livelier, more interesting discussion. It also means that brands have more face time yours and your friend’s newsfeeds.

There seem to be two major gripes by readers however. One, readers are skeptical of granting more third-party companies access to their private data on Facebook, and two, since whatever comments you post on a site like Techcrunch are also posted to Facebook, readers fear certain people reading their comments. Maybe you don’t want your girlfriend to see that comment on Askmen.com about the 25 hottest women in sports.

Personally, I think that the new Facebook commenting system will be a boon for the New Influential.

It is hard to build online influence if you are not authentic, and Facebook comments is a great way to show who you are, and what you care about. If you provide helpful and/or entertaining comments, people are likely to follow you around the internet and hear what you have to say.

Another benefit is Facebook’s 600 million person user base. By integrating Facebook comments on your site, it increases the likelihood of your content going viral.

I can think of two scenarios where the new Facebook commenting system might help.

Imagine if you were a fashion blogger, and you just posted a positive review of a new pair of Jordans released by Nike. Your post receives dozens of positive comments from “real” people, a few buy the shoes, and you get affiliate fees. Your readers’ Facebook friends also see the comments in their newsfeed, and are curious to see what shoes their friends are looking at. Clicking on the link, they visit your blog, and decide that they want to buy shoes as well.

Voila! Influence.

Or what if you were holding a contest that allowed readers to come up with a clever tag line for your new product. You ask your readers to write their own tag lines in the comments. Your reader’s friends see this, and decide that they want to join as well, and now you have more participants and readers than you did before.

The new Facebook commenting system is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination (no Twitter or Google integration. or the voting system), but the potential is there.

I can’t wait for the reaction I get when my comments on TechCrunch start showing up in my newsfeed.

What do you think of the new Facebook commenting system? Do you think it helps from a branding perspective?


Is the Concept of Online Influence Overrated?

If you’ve been following me around the Interwebs lately (why would you? That’s called stalking. Unless you’re a marketer of course) then you would know that the subject of online influence really gets me going.

Wanna know how I’m obsessed?

It all started when I had to create a class blog on online influence.

I called it The New Influential.

I thought (still do think) it was brilliant.

So brilliant that I had to make it my Twitter handle. And now I obsess over Klout scores and PeerIndex scores, and like a drug fiend, I zip through my Google Reader, trying to get the latest fix on online influence.

But today Tom Webster wrote a post on Social Media Today titled, “The Limits of Online Influence”. Webster discusses how he enlisted the support of A-List influencers like Chris Brogan and Ed Shahzade to help raise awareness for the earthquake disaster in New Zealand.

He wanted people to create a simple 20 second message, and hoped that his influential friends, which have hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers, would cause an outpouring of 20 second messages.

With a little help from his friends, Webster’s message had a combined reach of 308,000, and generated over 400,000 impressions.

Those might seem like big numbers, except when you consider that only 389 people clicked on the actual link, and only 10 left a message.

Wow. Talk about disappointing.

So does this mean that the idea of online influence is overrated? Webster would think so:

“What this experience suggests to me, however, is that if you thought online influence has been a bit oversold, you are wrong. It’s been exponentially oversold.”

I would say yes and no.

First of all, how we define influence as it pertains to the web is still ongoing. Is influence the same as popularity? Is Lady Gaga influential because she is popular?

Well, it depends.

When it comes to music, definitely.

But when it comes to online marketing, probably not.

It also depends how much work, planning, and preparation is put into making an influencer outreach program work. In his post, Webster talks about his good friend Matt Riding, who rattled off three things that Webster could have done differently to engage more people.

I guess it served as a wake up call to me because I figured you could just rely on the inherent potential Twitter and Facebook to carry your message and influence the masses.

Apparently not.

Lastly, I think it’s important to say that we are just beginning to live in the digital age. Remember 6 years ago when services like Facebook and Twitter did not exist, and blogging was not for moms?

I do.

Society is still not at a point where social media is absolutely essential. I mean c’mon, most companies still haven’t figured out how to get a ROI from social media. How are they supposed to know how to run influencer campaigns?

I believe that as society grows more comfortable with these new tools marketers can then create more effective influencer campaigns. There will be more data available, and better tools for collecting and analyzing that data so that a formula is established.

So to say that the concept of online influence is overrated is shortsighted.

A service like Klout might be pretty meaningless to Joe the Plumber in 2011, but what about in 2025, when there will be billions of people connected to the internet?

Just something to chew on.


How Will You Be Remembered?

Do you remember watching Britney Spears on TV when you were younger? You wanted to be just like her, singing and dancing at the MTV Music Awards with thousands of adoring fans screaming your name.

Or maybe it was Kobe Bryant. You wanted to slash to the rim and dunk over other superstars in the NBA Finals, in front of an audience of millions.

You wanted to be famous and you wanted to be influential, just like those figures mentioned above.

I don’t blame you. I wanted (and still want) to be famous and influential. It’s part of human nature.

As humans, we have this innate need for attention. For the most part, we like to be recognized for our work, for our beauty, for our personality; for something. Whatever it is that we own or have accomplished in this life, we need that feeling of validation.

And just as we’ve needed this feeling of validation since the Stone Age, we also need this feeling of validation in the Information Age.

You’ve probably heard talk about how our generation (Gen Y) is becoming more and more narcissistic, and that may very well be true.

Consider this story for example:

I don’t normally spend much time in Duke’s Law School, but the Law Library is a great place to study during finals. Finals that semester were particularly tough, and I had been awake for 48 consecutive hours. Tired, I walked up the stairs, pushed open the double doors, and then proceeded to use the bathroom, not sure of where I was going.

As I walked in, the first thing I noticed was that there were no urinals.

That’s odd I thought. Unperturbed, I finished my business, washed my hands, and then walked out, only to see a female pass my by and look at me very strangely.

What’s her deal? I remembered thinking.

And then by chance I glanced up, and saw that I had just used the “Ladies” bathroom.

Oops.

Instead of being embarrased, I was thought it was incredibly funny, and posted it to my Facebook.

So tired that I just walked into the Ladies bathroom in the Law School Libs. LOL!!!

Or something like that.

Within minutes, I had about 10 comments that read, “Hahaha”, “LOL!!!”, “You so stoop!!” and “You would do that!”

While your status updates may never be as extreme as mine was, at some point (probably today even), you’ve posted an update that you knew/hoped would get liked, commented on, or retweeted.

You wanted to create something memorable, so that people could look back and say, “remember when you said that?”

And that, is the whole idea behind fame and influence: legacy.

People will always remember Britney Spears because she makes great (depends on your taste in music) pop music and continues to influence generations of teen girls.

And people will always remember Kobe Bryant as being one of the greatest basketball players of all time, and for inspiring a generation of kids to shoot turnaround jumpers in their backyards.

We, as humans strive for influence because if we can have an impact on a certain number of people, then that many more people will remember us after we are gone.

It doesn’t have to be millions, thousands, or even hundreds. We just need to exert enough influence so that someone remembers us after we are dead and gone.


Why I’m Too Cool For A Style Guide

 

Source: englishclub.com

 

I’ve always considered myself a good enough writer that those grammar and style books never really applied to me. I could remember reading Strunk and White’s Elements of Style in 11th grade and that was the only book on style that I have ever read.

But over the past year my writing has shifted from mostly writing history papers and essays to writing blog posts, comments, and status updates, and I’ve come to realize that the online world requires a different writing style than does a paper or essay.

In one of my classes, “Digital Writing“, we are using the Yahoo Style Guide to learn how to write for the web. Chapter 6 was all about the correct usage of punctuation, and when going through the list, I realized that I was misusing some of the punctuation in my blog posts.

I was a bit worried about this, because I want to be thought of as a smart writer, and at first I felt that my incorrect use of punctuation, plus my still evolving voice, would damper that.

But then I remembered reading a blog post by Judy Dunn on Cat’s Eye Writer Blog, where she said it was ok to have typos and break convention.

My friend, sales strategist and experienced blogger Lori Richardson, said: “As much as I try to not have spelling issues, it still happens. I like bestselling business author Michael Port’s emails. He always says, ‘P.S. I don’t charge extra for typos. They’re just my gift to you.’”

And she is right. Those typos will get through, even with spell check, even with editing and proofing. They just do. Don’t beat yourself up over it.

I don’t want to beat myself up over a misplaced semicolon, or an incorrect usage of a dash. To do so would hinder my creativity. This is my blog, and these are my words, feelings, and emotions.

No one should be able to tell me how to write.

Could I use some consistency and correct usage of punctuation in my blog posts? Sure, in order to become a better writer I will probably need to do so.

But overall I don’t think that you will notice much of a change. This blog is still all about me, and I hope to keep it that way.


Facebook: The Social Network for Revolutions?

source: The Sovereign Independent

 

I can say with 95 percent confidence that when Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook in 2005, he did not create it with the purpose of sparking political revolutions.  Yet, it seems that in 2011, Facebook is doing exactly that.

If it holds true to its early form, 2011 just may be remembered as the Year of the Revolution. Feeling the aftermath of Tunisia overthrewing its government in late 2010, Egypt just deposed President Hosni Mubarak from power, and it seems that Algeria, Libya and other African and Middle Eastern nations may soon follow.

Political revolutions are nothing new. It’s just that in 2011 Facebook and Twitter have overtaken the traditional outlets of print and television as the conduits for political protest across the Middle East.

Which is why Newsweek’s piece on Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and Africa, is so fascinating.

There is always that one still image that defines a revolution and marks its beginning.

Khaled Said was a businessman who was beaten to death by local police after using Facebook to disseminate a video of police stealing pot from a drug bust.

The beating was captured on film and disseminated around the web when Ghonim saw it, and inspired, he created a Facebook page titled “We Are All Khaled Said” in Said’s honor.

Running the page as “El Baradei”, or the Martyr, Ghonim was able to convince 50,000 people to attend the “revolution” on Facebook. The most interesting line of the article comes on page 3,

In another conversation, he mocked the idea that any politician could corral the growing protest push. “A virtual guy that they don’t know is telling them what to do,” he said. “I have the people on my side.”

What is so extraordinary, is that Ghonim was able to translate virtual support into tangible support by using the Facebook page to promote democratic ideals and schedule and organize individual demonstrations.

“El Baradei” was the perfect storm of Ghonim’s expertise and the unfortunate death of a businessman – Khaled Said was viewed as a martyr for dying to uncover injustice by the local police, and Wael Ghonim used his marketing savvy to channel the online frustrations of Egyptians into productive demonstration.

Wael Ghonim was just one example of an individual exerting influence on a network of people. No doubt, there were hundreds, if not thousands of individuals exerting influence on their neighbors, family, friends, strangers, and fellow Egytpians to participate in the revolution.

What do you make of the revolution in Egypt? Do you think you have what it takes to spark a revolution?


Tarik Adams – “Wake Up”

This song by Tarik Adams is the first song that an artist has personally asked me to feature on my blog. (This isn’t even a music blog yet!?!?) But I decided to do so anyway. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was actually pleasantly surprised.

Unlike a lot of independent artists, the music video is really well done and from that alone Tarik scored points in my book.

But the song wasn’t too shabby either. While not the most original concept for a song, I found that Tarik was able to make it work really well for him. The beat is catchy and Tarik’s song writing abilities make up for what he lacks in vocals.

Overall, a pretty good, well produced track.


Help! The Cloud Ate My Homework!

Angry computer eating homework.

Source: Deviantart.com

 

Well, not really.

But the thought of the cloud eating my homework and the rest of my personal data does in fact scare me.

I’ve experimented with a few cloud based services in Dropbox, Box.net, and Evernote, and all three services have freed me from the constraints of traditional computing and allow me to access my data at all times.

That is the benefit of cloud based services – that you can be productive anywhere as long as you have access to the internet.

I have three mobile devices – a Blackberry, a netbook, and a laptop. My laptop is really a desktop (no battery) so it stays at home, and I use my netbook and Blackberry when I’m on campus. However, having two computers and a Blackberry means constantly shifting documents, videos, photos, and music between my two computers and smartphone.

It was getting incredibly annoying to continue shifting, so I decided I needed to upgrade either my Dropbox or Box.net account for more storage space. But as I was about to shell out that $9.99/month for 50GB worth of Dropbox storage, I stopped dead in my tracks.

What am I doing? I asked myself.

Up until that point, the question of online privacy had never reared its ugly head. Did I care about Facebook selling my personal data to advertisers?

Yes, but you wouldn’t know it from the fact that I still use Facebook everyday, and haven’t looked at nor changed my privacy settings in ages.

I couldn’t have cared less about my privacy when it came to using Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin, but when I considered putting my most important and personal documents and files onto the web, I balked at the thought.

A 2009 blog post in the New York Times titled, “Does Cloud Computing Mean More Risks to Privacy?” seems more relevant to me now than it did two years ago. The post discusses how the concept of online privacy is virtually nonexistent – pretty much anything you put on the web can be accessed by anyone.

The government can subpoena your information easily, and the company which holds your data is not even legally required to notify you about it. Contrast this with keeping your data on your hard drive, where the government instead must obtain a warrant, which is a more scrutinized process.

How prescient this post was, given that just last month the U.S. government subpoenaed Twitter to obtain the personal data of Wikileaks journalists (although Twitter did notify the individuals).

And it’s funny to say this, but what really scared me most about the cloud was losing all of my music. What if I kept all my music in the cloud? Could the Department of Homeland Security seize my files if they thought I was downloading music illegally?

They’re already doing it.

So I have yet to fully make the jump to cloud computing and bring all my documents and files online with me. Currently, I only use the cloud for schoolwork, so I don’t have too much sensitive information online.

But when I graduate and eventually start life in the real world, the question of “who really owns my data?” becomes more and more pressing, and I will need to make the choice between the ability to access my data at all times but giving up control, and keeping my data at home but maintaining true ownership.

What will you choose to do? Share your thoughts in the comments below.