FIRST LOOK: A "different question every day" Twitter: Plinky

Jason Shellen has seen the social media world grow up and has been in the lead group. He was one of the first employees at Pyra back when it started Blogger. After that got sold to Google he was the guy who came up with Google Reader (and kept pushing for it even after executives at Google told him the idea was lame).

Now it’s his turn to start a company and an hour ago they turned on their new service called Plinky. What is it? It’s riffs on Twitter and Facebook. Instead of asking “what are you doing?” it asks you a different question every day.

Yesterday I sat down with Jason and he gave me a demo and told me stories about his view on social media.

My account is at:

Outlook for social media messaging inboxes

Fuser is something I took too immediately upon seeing it because it helps me with a new pain: keeping up with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media messaging systems. See, hundreds of people are trying to send me messages on those systems. But they don’t work in old-school email systems like Microsoft’s Outlook. That’s what Fuser is for, it gives you a common UI to handle all your social media inboxes. Here I get a 26-minute look at Fuser with a couple of executives from the company. I’ve been using it ever since and love it.

A tale of two photos on Flickr

Last night I uploaded two photos at the same time.

As of this posting one had 96 views on Flickr and the other had 1,389 views.

Some other facts:

The photo with 96 views used a fisheye lens that cost 4x more than the other photo. (Thank you to Pro Photo Rental for coming along on the Las Vegas Blog World Expo photo walk and bringing $40,000 worth of equipment for all of us to try!) Shows that exotic equipment isn’t guaranteed to bring in views.
The photo with 96 views required better camera technique to make than the other photo.
The photo with 96 views is of a far more recognizable landmark than the other photo (the Bellagio in Las Vegas).

Yet one photo has gotten more than 13x more views.


A few things.

1. Promotion. I Twittered the photo that got a lot of views and kept the conversation going on both Twitter and on FriendFeed throughout the evening. Also, my first Tweet about this photo was designed to get all six of these items communicated to my audience.
2. The subject. The photo with all the hits is Hugh Macleod, famous blogging artist who did the art on the SXSW bags and the TechCrunch party posters and, among bloggers and other influentials, is very popular (about 20% of all business cards I have from well-known bloggers, including my own, were done by Hugh).
3. Scarcity. There are thousands of cool photos of the Bellagio. But how many photos of the Las Vegas Convention Hall of it empty with one person standing in it have you seen?
4. Socialness. People “favorited” the photo of Hugh 17 times while the other one was only favorited twice. Each time someone clicks “Favorite” on a photo, it is sent to their audiences. Plus, if you’ve registered Flickr on FriendFeed it will get reshared there. Also, many people retweeted my Twitter message and sent it to their friends.
5. Humor. Hugh’s blog is called “gapingvoid.” The fact that I got him to stand inside a gaping void long enough to make a photo of him is funny.
6. Serendipitous. The photo with 96 visits was prepared for. We were on a planned photo walk. We all had our cameras, expensive equipment ready, and were looking for photos. The one of Hugh? Totally unplanned. A friend had to pick something up at a Kinkos down there, I saw this opportunity, pulled my camera out of my bag, and took 20 seconds making the image. If I hadn’t carried my camera everywhere I would never have gotten the more viewed shot.

All of these demonstrate how to succeed in the media business. The same formula works with blog posts, videos, or photos.

Oh, one other thing. The Web actually works against the photo of Hugh. It’s hard to see him on the average laptop monitor. This works a lot better as a 16×20-inch or larger print (I’m going to make one for Hugh, cause he’s brought me so much joy).

Other things I’ve learned from the photos I uploaded last night? Laughing baby photos pull 3x more than regular baby photos. Also, photos with women in them outpull photos with men in them.

Keep in mind that I haven’t applied ANY of Thomas Hawk’s lessons (he does a lot of post-processing, er, Photoshop manipulation to make his photos more “social.”) Watch his photo blog and see just how much more interesting his images are than mine. That’s cause none of mine have any post-processing done to them yet.

Anyway, just some fun on a Sunday afternoon. Here’s the two original photos.

96 views, Bellagio at Night:

Vegas at night

1,389 views, Hugh Macleod standing in South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center:

Hugh Macleod of

The sixth question companies ask about social media

I was just reading TechMeme and saw that Jeremiah Owyang has a great post on the five questions that companies ask about social media.

I have a sixth one: “how will doing this help my sales?”

How do I know that? A multi-billion-dollar-a-year company just asked me that.

Yeah, that’s similar to #2 on Jeremiah’s list, but gets much more directly to the point.

Of course, this is a question that isn’t answerable. Even if you think you can answer it, this is “code” for a way to tell the person asking to please go away and don’t come back.

Why do I say that?

Because there’s no way to prove that ANYTHING a business does will lead to more sales.

Even those “pay per click” ads on Google aren’t guaranteed to increase sales.

Quick, name one thing that’s GUARANTEED to increase sales at any company. Any one that you could come up with I could say “um, no” to if I wanted to.

And, anyway, companies do things that aren’t directly tied to sales all the time.

How about those press releases that the same big company just sent me. The speeches at conferences that this big company does all the time. The sign on the side of their Silicon Valley office. Does that increase sales? Cost a lot of money.

How about the security equipment that you have to pass through in its lobby. Did that increase sales?

How about the CEO’s nice windows in his office? Did those increase sales?

Ahh, but I do like hearing this form of no. It makes my creative juices run and they are giving us a chance with another meeting, which is better than hearing “hell no, now get out of my office.”

How do I answer this? Well, why did a guy who is selling $50 million a year in wine take half a year away from his business to learn to do this? He told me that it cost his business $24,000 per day that he was away in lost sales. Ask him today about the impact of that investment on his business and he sure is smiling a lot lately. But, can he prove that it increased sales? Why, yes he can, but then he took the time to do it and not say “I’ll only do this if it increases sales.”

How would you answer that question?

Best answer left here gets a new Seagate/Maxtor 160 GB BlackArmor hard drive. Encrypts all your stuff so if it gets stolen no one can break into it.

How late adopters get into social media

See, the early adopters are forgetting to study how the late adopters actually do get involved in our worlds.

Those in the social media worlds seem to often forget that it’s still a Google World. Most normal people who aren’t frantically checking FriendFeed or Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn all day long are just hanging back doing 1998-style searches for stuff. And most of those, in my experience, are using Google. So I call it a Google World now for late adopters.

Lately a BUNCH have showed up here looking for info about recession. I couldn’t figure it out, until I looked at my referer log, then looked at Google.

Here, do a Google search for “recession 2008.”

Hundreds of people do that, or one for just plain old “recession” every day for MONTHS.

Welcome late adopters.

OK, OK, I see that people are saying that we should stop calling our latest economic troubles a recession because, well, technically we’re not in a recession.

So, we need a new term for what we’re going through.

We’re not jobless, but our paychecks in the US are worth less and less every day thanks to a combination of dollar weakness and oil price increases.
Our home prices, according to Zillow and our neighbors have gone down so much that we won’t be able to sell our home and come out ahead anymore. Our equity is gone, and that’s if you’re one of those who still can afford to make payments. If you are one of the unlucky ones who didn’t plan ahead you now are renting some cruddy apartment and your credit is in the toilet.
We’re still paying for a war by printing more funny money, which means there will continue to be pressures on our economy.

Maybe we’re not in a recession, but we’re in a deep hole of economic dung. DHED. You heard it first here.

If you’re a late adopter and don’t know about all that newfangled RSS stuff, not to mention you haven’t heard of Twitter yet, not to mention FriendFeed, that’s OK. We love you just the same. Hope you visit again sometime thanks to the wonderful quirky Google World.

Oh, and if you are a late adopter and you see this thing called FriendFeed over on the right side of my blog? Ignore it. You won’t need to know much about it for at least six more years. Not to mention, don’t think of watching those videos we’ve been shooting. Someone might see you watching videos and think you’re on YouTube or something.