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19 Aug

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Creating your online experience: Don’t be the capsule hotel

August 19, 2008 | By |

When you’re creating the online experience for your organization, brand or even yourself, keep this simple advice in mind: Don’t be the capsule hotel, be the dinner party. It may sounds somewhat strange, but when I stumbled upon these two images I couldn’t help using them to illustrate this point: A shared online experience is always better than a solitary one.

Don’t be the capsule hotel, where people are isolated and by themselves. They may be technologically advanced and offer cool features, but they offer a solitary experience:

Luxury Capsule by Flickr user madrigation Image: Luxury Capsule by Flickr user madrigation

Be the dinner party. Everybody’s chatting away happily, and your friends are invited too:

Friday Night Dinner Party by Flickr user Angelo Image: Friday Night Dinner Party by Flickr user Angelo

Even if it’s more crowded and maybe not as perfect as the capsule hotel experience, it’s more fun, more interesting, more social. You’d prefer sharing dinner with friends to a night in the capsule hotel anytime, wouldn’t you? Well, the same goes for online communities. Take all steps necessary to make sure you offer the most social, shared experience possible. It starts with simple, small steps: Let your guests talk to each other by enabling comments, and make it easy to get in touch by opening up contact channels. See what works for you and what doesn’t, but please, say goodbye to the idea of having a controlled user experience if that means cutting out social aspects.

07 Jul

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Protect your tweets – or don’t

July 7, 2008 | By |

Recently I proposed to add a little Twitter feature, namely an indicator for why you protect your Twitter feed. (Why is this important? To prevent social awkwardness.) Tapio picked up on this issue and asked (among others) me:

You folks out there must have come across that situation: a new follower request comes in, you don’t know the person, what do you do? Simply deny? Feels impolite, doesn’t it? So here’s a meme: Why do you protect your Tweets (or not)?

Well, I’d love not to have my Twitter RSS feed indexed: So my 140 character ramblings wouldn’t be archived by The Google & co. On the other hand, all the cool mashups and extra services like FriendFeed wouldn’t work with Twitter, either. But so far, I figured the following: I’ll keep my Twitter feed public: That way, feed aggregators work, and it’s easier for new and old Twitterers to follow my tweets, i.e. to get in touch. To prevent awkward moments in the future, I’ll simply not write what I can’t stand by; and not post anything while annoyed. Both of which I guess are kind of good guidelines for any kind of communication anyway.

So back to Tapio’s meme: I’m curious, why do (or don’t) you protect your Tweets? Let’s hear from Markus (Twitter, blog), dotDean (Twitter, blog), Felix (Twitter, blog) and Michelle (Twitter, blog)

09 Jun

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Obama’s Election Campaign: It’s The Social Media, Stupid!

June 9, 2008 | By |

The U.S. elections have been an interesting spiel of old vs new, of traditional vs social media. While Republican Senator McCain and Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton have put their money on traditional media (think Clinton’s “phone in the middle of the night” TV spot and its, shall we say: mixed success), Obama’s campaign strategists have been a lot smarter.

One of Clinton’s old-school TV spots, (not too successfully) pushing her message:

 

The Obama campaign has been a lot better at harnessing the power of the web. Also, they clearly have a better understanding of how to address the web community. Example? While both Clinton and Obama are on Twitter (Clinton: 1, 2; Obama), only Obama (as Leo Laporte pointed out in Net@Nite) followed people back from the beginning. It’s this engagement on eye level that really makes a difference in social media.

BarackTV’s Your Story: Engaging the voters, (successfully) asking for grassroots support:

 

And the engagement paid off for Obama. Says PoliticsOnline:

Senator Obama surpassed an ‘old school’ campaign, changing and breaking the rules of the Washington game. He has taken a quantum leap from the stale websites of past politicians, going on to raise millions of dollars through small donations from millions of people and creating a network of diehard volunteers. While ensnared in one of the most cut-throat political campaign races in history, Sen. Obama’s online campaign helped to diminished the quantitative significance of the million mark; whether it was millions of supporters, millions of YouTube video views, or millions of online donations. Raking in over $265 million is as worthy of historical prose as being an African American with the name Barack Hussein Obama.

The whole micro-donations issue has been on the table since the 2004 U.S. election campaigns. It’s really hard to imagine why the more conservative elements in both parties haven’t picked up on this. Anyway, it should be interesting to see how it all plays out, and which aspects are going to be part of the next German elections…

05 Jun

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Social Networks Enter Popular Culture

June 5, 2008 | By |

Social Networks have hit mainstream. (The student body on Facebook isn’t enough to really be mainstream, or is it?) How can you tell? Social Networks are increasingly becoming part of popular culture:

And the Daily Show also tells us how, and why:

 

Quarterlife (the video about a bunch of emotionally, shall we say, charged twenty somethings) already made the jump from web to TV. We’ll see plenty of more cases like this over the coming years. For now, let’s stick to more incidents of social networks picked up in more mainstream media, though: There’s plenty more examples over at Jeremiah’s.

02 Jun

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Did Deutsche Telekom Track Journalists’ Movements?

June 2, 2008 | By |

Over the last couple of weeks, a major privacy scandal has been unfolding in Germany: Deutsche Telekom – the company that also monopolized use of the a certain shade of magenta – spied on their management. Not only their on their management, though, Telekom also spied on journalists.

(Please note: Quite a few of the linked sources are in German only as most material on Deutsche Telekom is only available that way.)

Stasi 2.0 by flickr user skepWhile Germany’s Minister of the Interior & big-time surveillance fan Wolfgang Schäuble says he’s shocked and invites leading Telekom representatives for a nice cuppa coffee, the Telekom managements (both former end current) keep bouncing back and forth responsibility for ordering the super-illegal surveillance. Schäuble, sadly, doesn’t seem to be drawing the correct conclusions: That privacy is worth protecting, and not as he proposes in his interpretation of the war on terror a matter to be dismissed lightly. But back to Deutsche Telekom.

The Telekom had, or so it seems, suspected someone leaked confidential information. How to hunt a mole? Spy on our board of directors, our shareholders, and those pesky journalists. And how to do that best? First you hire a Berlin-based consultancy run by former Stasi spies. And since they’re the predominant German telco, they could just tap into journalists’ phone calls, trace their movements and map their social networks. This stinks.

Fun twist: As of Jan 1, 2008 all telcos (including Deutsche Telekom) are forced by law to save all connection data for six months as part of the war on terror. Well, after all we’ve learned about the Telekom’s data handling, we can surely agree on their trustworthiness, right? Oh boy. Just to be clear: This kind of spying is absolutely illegal in Germany.

I’m curious how this is going to play out. While I’m watching the drama unfold, I’m quite happy that I don’t use any Deutsche Telekom services anymore, and I’ll make sure to encrypt my surfing and my email more thoroughly to avoid being eavesdropped on by not-so-trustworthy organizations.

07 Apr

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Re:publica 08 #4 (Wrap-up)

April 7, 2008 | By |

So re:publica 08 is over, it’s the week after and things are back to normal. I’m only posting this just now since my weekend pretty much went into moving to a new apartment, but now that I’ve settled in, I’m back on a more regular schedule after after a trip to New York and San Francisco and visiting the blogger conference.

To quickly wrap things up, re:publica was fun, and again very well organized. A big thanks to Newthinking and Spreeblick!

One thing that struck me as noteworthy was how many attendees used Twitter. Twitter was all over the place, much more than last year, when the odd (and oddly addictive) messaging service/social network hit mainstream at SXSW. (If you’re on Twitter, say hi.) Probably this was the highest Twitter density ever reached in Germany. Twitter was so ubiquitous that it pretty much made obsolete the SMS wall behind the main panel, so we had several layers of meta discussion at all times: While in the background text messages (and the occasional tweet) were projected, there was a much more lively backchannel via Twitter. Also, this made it pretty clear how much of an echo chamber Twitter still is, with mostly Social Media folks using it while the outside world hasn’t even noticed.

Speaking of echo chambers, Alana Taylor did a fun, brief video poll among students around NYU, asking them about Facebook, Flickr and Twitter:

(Admittedly, I was surprised how few folks were familiar with Flickr, which I always had down as quite mainstream..?)

The whole event was, of course, not just about content, but also about meeting folks, so networking was high on the agenda. The location, called Kalkscheune, is a great venue in that respect, as it has smaller workshop rooms, a big panel room, a coffeeshop-style lobby as well as a nice backyard, and it’s located very centrally in Berlin Mitte.

Someone (who, by the way?) also tried to facilitate networking by printing out Twitter follower stickers, so you could tag, or rather: follow, your fellow attendees Twitter-style with neat little stickers. Of course, this didn’t help the infamous conference-chat, which consists of not locking into people’s faces but at their name tags, but lots of stickers were seen, so obviously the concept resonated.

I had the chance to meet a whole bunch of folks, but since I couldn’t be there all the time, I’m sure I’ve also missed quite a few. If you had planned to get in touch, please do, via email, Twitter or what you prefer.

16 Mar

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Presentation: print is dead, at least to the young

March 16, 2008 | By |

The print vs online discussion is as old as the internet, and I can’t even recall how often I’ve heard that print is dead. However, it’s not quite as common to also deliver the necessary data to back up this statement. One person who really has the science pat down and can back up his theories is Steffen Büffel, German media consultant and blogger. And he’s spot on in this presentation (which sadly we only have in German as of now):

(This version includes audio. If you’re looking for a slide-only version, you’ll find it here.)

My favorite point? Newspapers are the medium of our great grandparents, TV maybe the medium of our parents. But we live in the web.

Also, Steffen gave this presentation at a cross media seminar. Judging from the audience’s questions and feedback, they felt quite uncomfortable with his ideas. Which, of course, leads us right back to the main problem traditional media are facing these days: The media makers, or at least the decision-makers, largely belong to a different generation of media users than following generations. This development isn’t just going to go away, so big media: Why don’t you just come talk to us? You are familiar with good ol’ Cluetrain, are you? So come out and play!

Disclosure: I’ve been working with Steffen on Blogpiloten.de and may be biased.