Posts tagged ‘social media’

Twitter Tip: Create Your Follow Friday During the Week

Follow Friday is one of the best ways to engage people on Twitter.  Simply tweet a list of Twitter users that you recommend others follow on Fridays with the hashtag #FollowFriday or #FF.

Lately, I have been neglecting to do so because I have been spending less time on Twitter.  So I wanted to find a simple way to get back into the practice.  My solution was to create a draft on Monday, schedule it for Friday delivery, and then add users during the week who shared valuable links. (I use HootSuite, but many other tools, such as TweetDeck, allow you to schedule your tweets)

It was quick to edit the tweet during the week, and then I didn’t have any additional work on Friday.  In fact, my Friday ended up busy and I would have missed the opportunity entirely.

Another time saver is forgetting about creating a new, unique list every week.  Too much cranium time for what should be a time-effective task, and no one’s keeping track.  If I end up repeating users often, it’s because I like their feeds that much.

Do you have any tips that help you stay engaged?

October 17, 2011 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

On Your Mark … Get Set … GooglePlus

We’re off! Yes, we’re all on GooglePlus, poking and prodding.  For me, it solves one of my pet peeves with Facebook: it’s easy to publish posts only to certain people with Circles.  There is stuff I want to share with my adult friends, but not my teenage nieces.

Another advantage according to a photography buff friend is that photos are much better.

I would like to connect the items I share via Google Reader with Google Plus.  If I could stream my shares into consummable posts like Twitter, I might not need Twitter.  I love connecting with new people on Twitter, something I would never do on Facebook. However, I may do that on GooglePlus because of Circles.

But do connections want every type of content from all of their “friends”? Circles should work in reverse, too: I may want text posts from my co-workers, but not their personal posts. Likewise, I like hearing from my nieces, but don’t need the latest YouTube videos of cats, Bieber, or cats dancing to Bieber. (One of my nieces, however, just quoted Rush on Facebook and I am so proud.)

Life is never as orderly as we like, but increasing signal-to-noice reduces the chaos.

July 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment

Google +1 Takes on Like and Tweet

As with their other social initiatives, the introduction of Google’s +1 button has generated excitement mixed with head-scratching functionality questions.   It’s another step in their ongoing quest to add the social graph to their ranking algorithms, originally based upon linking popularity, before Facebook can erode Google’s dominance by doing the reverse.  I personally feel that Google has a more difficult task than Facebook.  +1 does nothing to dissuade me.

+1 is a version both of Facebook’s Like and Twitter’s re-tweet: a way to share content you like.  But at first glance, +1 falls short in two areas.

Like vs. Re-Tweet vs. +1

How to Use – On the Website

How to Use – Off the Website

Public / Private

Rewards for Using

Facebook Like “Like” statuses and comments in your Facebook news feed or on Facebook pages “Like” content to share it back on Facebook; pervasive distribution

Private

Sharing allows you to start or add to conversations; strengthens your private network
Twitter Re-Tweet / Tweet button “Re-tweet” tweets you like in your Twitter stream Click “Tweet” button to share content to your Twitter stream; pervasive distribution

Public

Sharing allows you to start or add to conversations; strengthens your public network; influence search results (bec. Google has integrated tweets)
Google +1 Click +1 to indicate you like a link in Google search results Click +1 button to share content back in your Google profile; distribution will likely be pervasive if feature gains traction

Public

Share links; influence search results (degree of influence is unknown)

The first shortcoming is how to use it on Google itself.  A search engine is by definition designed to help you find content and go. In order to click +1 on Google, you need to return to the search results and click +1.  That’s unnatural. Especially when good sharing options are readily available on the content page itself (i.e. Like, Tweet, and every other social network under the sun).  Adoption of +1 will depend on publishers adding +1 buttons to their content en masse, which they admittedly are inclined to do (after all, it won’t cost too much real estate, and the opportunity to influence Google search results is irresistible).

The second more serious shortcoming is defining exactly what rewards a user reaps by using +1.  Sharing links on your Google profile page by itself certainly won’t float anyone’s boat.  And, at this time, there’s no conversations or networking generated by +1.  While there’s an obvious connection to Buzz that could be built, Buzz has its own issues.

So, Google remains as it was before: owning very nice discrete pieces, but without a clear compelling connection between them.  The potential remains, though, and that will continue to get us excited for each announcement.

By the way, +1 has not been rolled out to everyone.  You can to opt-in to use it at http://www.google.com/experimental/

How to Use – On the Website

April 2, 2011 at 6:03 pm Leave a comment

Innovation on Display at Health 2.0

In the sublime movie Curse of the Were-Rabbit, the indefatigable inventor and entrepreneur Wallace concocts a machine to “cure” rabbits of their insatiable desire for vegetables. Wallace wants to change the rabbits’ behavior in order to save them from angry gardeners protecting their prized vegetables.  And by reducing the rabbits’ intake, he’ll contain the rising costs of taking care of the rabbits after he catches them. Luckily, Wallace can count on his resourceful and loyal dog, Gromit, to help him navigate these complex situations.Wallace and Gromit and one of their coolest inventions

Behavior change, rising costs, and patient advocacy were three topics in the spotlight at the Health 2.0 2010 conference October 7 and 8.  The semi-annual event showcases innovative companies who are creating new ways to provide patients with greater control over their care, generate better outcomes, elevate our medical literacy, promote evidence-based medicine, enable greater provider cost and quality transparency, and to encourage us to eat more, not fewer vegetables.  It was an impressive collection of innovative thinkers who are as committed and creative as Wallace, but luckily not so hare-brained.

A main theme of the show was the increasing sophistication in how health data, such as user-generated content, medical knowledgebases, industry sources, or government databases, is being utilized.  One driver of these advancements is the increased quantity of health data available to us today, such as personal data from biometric devices or crowdsourced research from online communities.  Another is more advanced cloud computing and web services, which allows greater ability for applications to access these data. A few examples:

  • Provider Search: Multiple websites are integrating user reviews, cost and quality data, and other patient-provider communication tools. For example, Castlight Health is hoping to be the “kayak.com of healthcare” and announced they have raised $81 million. Vitals.com is another; they announced integrations with an online-appointment application and with a point-of-care eprescribing system.
  • Health & Wellness: TweetWhatYouEat is an online diet management tool, which leverages crowdsourced nutrition information.  To participate, you do exactly what the name implies.  Users’ accountability to a larger community encourages healthy behavior; this is one of many companies using social media for this purpose.  Zamzee.com is a rewards systems for kids to combat childhood obesity. Kids wear a biometric device that records their physical activity.  Zamzee announced a pilot which had produced a 30% increase in moderate to vigorous physical activity. However the gain persisted only for 12 weeks. MedGift.com is a medical gift registry, on which patients in need can create profiles findable by consumers who can contribute to their care. Qpid.me is a text messaging service aimed at combating STDs. Users are able to text a person’s name and receive back their STD test results (HIV, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia) and date of test.
  • Business Solutions: CyPak enables lab results and tests to be directly read by mobile and diagnostic devices. Razoron Health Innovations creates barcodes (aka QR codes) containing patient and procedure information that can be read by mobile devices.

The lineup of speakers was impressive, too. Aneesh Chopra, Todd Park, Esther Dyson, Susannah Fox, Thomas Goetz, and Elizabeth Cohen were just a few who added starpower to the panels. The main achievement of the show, though, was to pack the two days with as many creative companies, mostly start-ups, as humanly possible..

As exciting and potentially disruptive as some of these companies may end up being, it is important to remember that much is unproven.  In fact, despite significant innovation, it is unclear whether adoption is growing beyond the segments of the population already engaged in healthy behavior. Other observations:

  • Infrastructure (e.g. cloud, identity, permissions, security) is evolving, but many barriers remain for greater data exchange. However, data liquidity appears to be inexorably advancing, if slowly.
  • Healthcare social media has significantly evolved beyond community support and patient literacy, and is now being deployed to attack costs and behavior.
  • Likewise, mobile devices are driving innovation across the entire spectrum of applications.

The show would have done better if it gave voice to more opposing viewpoints.  While there were cautionary notes on the pace of change in healthcare, the conference erred too much on the side of trying to be inspirational rather than sober.

And though Alexandra Drane, president of Eliza, convincingly described how issues such as marital life, job stress and financial concerns impact our health, there still wasn’t enough discussion of the role mental health plays in our overall health.

Half the fun of Wallace & Gromit is seeing them find new ways to solve problems, and that same spirit was evident at Health 2.0.  I’m looking forward to watching how their agenda evolves. Please ping me if you’d like to compare notes or discuss.

(Photo courtesy of wallaceandgromit.com)

October 18, 2010 at 9:46 pm Leave a comment

Superhero Apps Could Be Super Social

This week, I downloaded the Marvel app on an iPod Touch.  Even on a smaller screen than the iPad, where it is Marvel iPhone Appearning rave reviews, the app impressively uses the medium.  Dramatic touches are added by animated panel transitions.  The ability to view either horizontally or vertically maximizes each panel, as does zooming.

DC, owned by Time Warner, released their version this week, which unsurprisingly does not differ much from the Marvel app because both were built by Comixology (it keeps crashing, so I have not used it much). Marvel is owned by Disney.

Non-publishers such as Comixology and Panelfly had launched their online comic book shops before Marvel and DC introduced these apps.  But the publishers have actually been trying to make a digital business for some time now. For example, there was a Marvel section in the old AOL walled garden as far back as 1995. Dial-in speeds, alas, did not make for pleasant viewing. Now, with always-on fast connections and superior consumption devices, the market is ripe.

DC iPhone App

Both follow the itunes ecommerce model.  Download the app for free, and pay for each comic (which are less expensive than the paper versions). A selection of comics is offered for free, and is regularly updated.  The publishers seem to have struck a balance between the online and offline channels.  Marvel is reporting that the app is driving offline as well as online sales.

Social components are still missing, though. Panelfly does have Twitter and Facebook posting capabilities integrated, but that is the tip of the iceberg:

  • Integrated Facebook like buttons on issues and other components, too, such as characters
  • Discussions, which fit the nature of long-running and intertwining stories. Even driving Twitter discussions – much like Lost – would be valuable. This could also help newer readers catch up on history – further engaging them in the comics universe. Links to other stories within a story would help in this regard, too.
  • Share specific panels with friends, with likes and favorites
  • Reading lists, which could organically lead to wishlists and gifting capabilities
  • Online readers’ catalogs to allow fans to show off their collections.  Integrate with Google Goggles to more quickly enable people to catalog their physical collections, which would enhance the sharing, enhancing, and ecommerce capabilities.  The Marvel and DC apps already have recommendation engines, which would be enhanced by social graphs.
  • Multi-user “What If” scenario creations (comic teamups and alternate story lines are the forefathers of mashups and remixes)
  • Geo-location identification of app users at, say, a movie or bookstore

This is just my quick list.  There’s certainly more great ideas, some of which are probably already being developed.

What’s really intriguing is the extent to which community will drive growth. This is a market which has historically benefited from a dedicated community, but one that has been somewhat niche in nature.  If community has enhanced the comic book experience for its traditional fans, wouldn’t the same be true for newer readers? The app may become a gateway for more casual readers to join a more dedicated community of heavier purchasers or form their own community.  Or it may grow the existing dedicated community by making it quicker, easier, and less expensive to follow up on a recommendation or interest with a purchase.  But the key, either way, is community.  Social components will accelerate online sales and transform the industry.

June 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm Leave a comment

Was It Something I Said?

This past weekend, I took my 6 year old son on a trip to our nation’s capital.  It was one of those rewarding parenting moments where you introduce a child to something you find special, and you can see those feelings reciprocated. “Why don’t we move to Washington, D.C.?” he was asking by the end of the trip.

We visited the Air and Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the International Spy Museum.  You might already know this if we were friends on Facebook or you followed me on Twitter, because I used Foursquare to check-in at these and other locations.

But I arrived home to an unpleasant surprise.  No, not an imposing travel bill. Instead, Unfollowr informed me that 28 people stopped following me on Twitter Monday. That’s about 7% of my followers.  What happened?

I didn’t announce any life changes over the weekend or post anything controversial.  The frequency of my Twitter usage – moderately active – hasn’t changed. The only change I can point to is the aforementioned Foursquare postings.

"Having a great time ... wish you were here ... and still following me."

"Having a great time ... wish you were here ... and still following me."

A little history: I did not start using Foursquare until recently, because I knew my activity would be minimal. With two young children and a light travel schedule, I will never become the mayor of anywhere interesting, unless you are enamored of my couch or office. Eventually, I succumbed out of curiosity and competitiveness.  But, this weekend, I checked-in frequently for the very reason that I’m not usually spotted at too many hip establishments: I was stoked to be sharing these great places with my son.

Maybe something did change in my Twitter usage.  After all, I tend to use Twitter for professional, not personal, reasons.  So perhaps tweets that let everyone know how excited I was to visit the Air & Space Museum contrasted poorly with my previous tweets.  Perhaps folks who happened to be pruning their accounts saw the preponderance of newer personal tweets and absence of recent professional tweets.

"I can't believe you posted that ... you are SO unfollowed!"

"I can't believe you posted that ... you are SO unfollowed!"

If this is true, the unsurprising lesson is Twitter efficiently rewards those who stay on message and punishes those who don’t. It implies a few interesting experiments with your personal / professional mix to see who follows and unfollows you ( I did gain a few followers over the weekend).  It also implies that Foursquare should not introduce a feature that I had thought made sense: award more points to those who announce their check-ins on a wider range of networks. I don’t know if this was a consideration, but it seems like a tempting way to broaden their viral promotion.

Quite frankly, though, I don’t care about followers who are that uninterested in me as a person.  Like many others, I have stopped being concerned my follower / following ratio, and this validates my decision.

Of course there are alternative explanations, too.  I’d be interested in your thoughts on whether I’ve reached a knee-jerk conclusion.

So a great time was had by all … except for my followers.  And Unfollowr’s profile picture turns out to be a bit ironic for me (below).  Next time, I’ll make sure to check-in at Ford’s Theatre and show the big guy some love.

Unfollowr Profile Picture

June 3, 2010 at 11:05 am 9 comments

Why Twitter Should Re-Name the Re-Tweet

Why would Twitter tinker with arguably its most powerful feature?

Let’s face it, the name “re-tweet” is an idiosyncrasy – one of many on Twitter (ex: “hashtag”). Idiosyncrasies are hurdles to new users. And Twitter has an issue engaging new users. It needs to overcome these issues to ensure it remains as powerful a conversational medium as it is a broadcast medium.

So re-name “re-tweet” what it really is: “like”.  The reason we re-tweet is because we read YouTube's New Like Buttonsomething we like. Instead of working hard to educate new users on a unique convention, let’s teach them to hit the “like” button.  Easy.

There’s no harm following a popular convention, as YouTube recently demonstrated. And there’s no bigger rival to Facebook than Google, so if they can swallow their pride to adopt a convention that Facebook popularized, Twitter can as well.  The change would initially create hassles for the Twitter community, but we’ve survived changes before. And it will be easier to manage sooner, rather than later.

This seems to be a relatively simple way to make Twitter easier to use and maintain the power of the re-tweet.  And that will lead to an increase in engagement that will serve all of us better. “Re-tweet” needs to go.

May 10, 2010 at 11:28 pm Leave a comment

Buzz Usage Demonstrates Social Media Saturation

Tamar Weinberg recently published an excellent post stating that the real social media innovators have moved on, and that its saturation has diluted creativity and increased push-style, mass communications.  She posits that this may be due to a lack of time or attention for building relationships.

While I do not agree with everything in the post, PostRank released statistics last night which seem to support the arguments above.  It turns out that the vast majority of activity on Google Buzz  is re-posts from other social networks (approximately 90%).  One wonders how much of  remaining 10% is one-and-done trial, and how much originated from outside the echo chamber.

ReadWriteWeb also reported PostRank’s findings, and now it’s ricocheting through the Twitter-verse.

The conclusion: most have tried Buzz because it’s Google, many are using it as a push tool to try to expand their reaches, but it’s not being widely used to build relationships.

As with Wave before it, Buzz may not fill a market need yet.  Certainly, it would be imprudent to label these innovative products as failures so soon, but it is safe to say that they are clearly not yet successes.  It casts doubt whether a company with scale, like Google, can ever launch a new social media product. Not an individual feature or an acquisition, but a new product.

Trial usage of Google Buzz

None of the most prominent social media products (e.g.: Facebook, Twitter and its ecosystem, MySpace, etc.) were launched by established companies.  And none of the products launched by established companies have taken off (e.g. various Yahoo efforts, Google Wave and Buzz, Windows Live, etc.). Why? Two potential reasons:

1. Scale leads to over-exposure. So many trials are generated, that the networks get saturated with untargeted, low-value content.

Broadly, social networks allow us to reap two professional benefits:

  • Gain Insight: by exploring and conversing with trusted sources, we expand our expertise
  • Enhance Reputation: by becoming a trusted source, we influence the conversations and end up promoting ourselves

When a social network starts small and grows organically, the value of the existing members and of our subsequent participation is clear.  Members sign up because they are truly interested.  But when an organization with scale launches a network, the hordes rush in.  And potential members can not sift through the content to find unique value or a true community.

2. Scale leads to distrust. Features, which are beneficial elsewhere, do not translate well to big social networks.

For example, when I enter a new contact into my Droid, Google Contacts automatically adds their email address (from its email application), and their picture and profile link from the Facebook application.  Brilliant!  When this same concept is applied to Buzz, mass hysteria reigns.  Google Health, though not a social network, is another good example. A recent study (pdf link) found that “third-party” electronic PHRs such as Google and Microsoft HealthVault (i.e.: not medical providers, health plans, etc.) are among the least trusted for sharing medical data (i.e.: the networking part of the product).

Ultimately, Buzz and Wave will evolve and continue to be innovative. In my view, though, Google will cherry-pick the best features and absorb those elsewhere in its ecosystem.  And we could be more creative and productive by being more deeply engaged with our existing targeted networks, rather than broader exposure in the widest possible array of networks.

Tamar Weinberg (http://www.techipedia.com/2010/social-media-boredom/ ) recently published an excellent post stating that the real social media innovators have moved on, and that its saturation has led to too much push-style, mass communications.  She posits that this may be due to a lack of time or attention for building relationships. (this does not do justice to all of her keen observations)

While I do not agree with everything in the post, PostRank ( http://blog.postrank.com/2010/04/google-buzz-a-robot-party/)  released statistics last night which seem to support the arguments above.  It turns out that the vast majority of activity on Google Buzz (approximately 90%) is re-posts from other social networks. One wonders how much of  remaining 10% is one-and-done trial, and one bets that even less of it originated from outside the echo chamber.

ReadWriteWeb (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/90_of_content_on_google_buzz_is_bots_report_finds.php ) also reported PostRank’s findings, and now it’s shooting through the Twitter-verse  (http://search.twitter.com/search?q=Google+Buzz )

The lesson: we’ve all at least tried Buzz because it’s Google, many are using it as a push tool to try to expand their reaches, but it’s not being widely used to build relationships.

As with Wave before it, Buzz may not fill a market need.  Certainly, it would be imprudent to label these innovative products failures so soon, but it is safe to say that they are clearly not yet successes.  It also casts doubt again whether a company with scale, like Google, can ever launch a new social media product. Not an individual feature or an acquisition, but a new product.

None of the most prominent social media products (e.g.: Facebook, Twitter and its ecosystem, MySpace, etc.) were launched by established companies.  And none of the products launched by established companies have taken off (e.g. various Yahoo efforts, Google Wave and Buzz, Windows Live, etc.). Why? Two potential reasons:

1. Scale leads to over-exposure. So many trials are generated, that the networks get over-filled with untargeted, low-value content.

Broadly, social networks allow us to reap two professional benefits:

  1. Gain Insight: by exploring and conversing with trusted sources, we expand our expertise
  2. Enhance Reputation: by becoming a trusted source, we influence the conversations and end up promoting ourselves

When a social network starts small and grows organically, the value of the existing members and of our subsequent participation is clear.  Members sign up because they are truly interested.  But when an organization with scale launches a network, the hordes rush in.  And potential members can not sift through the content to find unique value or a true community.

2. Scale leads to distrust.  Features, which are beneficial elsewhere, do not translate well to big social networks.

For example, when I enter a new contact into my Droid, Google Contacts automatically adds their email address (from its email application), and their picture and profile link from the Facebook application.  Brilliant! When this same concept is applied to Buzz, mass hysteria reigns.  Google Health, though not a social network, demonstrates this as well. Pew recently found that “third-pary” websites such as Google and Micrsoft HealthVault are among the least trusted for sharing medical data (the networking part of the product). ( pdf link http://www.chcf.org/documents/healthit/ConsumersHealthInfoTechnologyNationalSurvey.pdf )

Ulimately, Buzz and Wave will evolve and continue to be innovative. In my view, though, Google, as with other products, will cherry-pick the best features and absorb those elsewhere in its ecosystem.  We would be better served by deeper engagement with our existing networks, rather than broader exposure in the widest possible array of networks.

April 21, 2010 at 10:10 am 1 comment


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