Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Social OOMPH

I cannot believe the sort of banal things that get comments and likes on Facebook! I'm hoping it's because my friends have got so many friends that my posts are getting lost in their news feeds, and not because they're ignoring me.

I realise that one of the problems could be that I go online and tweet or post status updates intensely for a couple of hours then leave it for ages. Not everyone is online at the same time, and just judging by the length of my own News Feed, and the length of my TweetDeck columns, and given that I've only just started, it's obvious that you have to catch people at the right time. However, at the moment I have no way of predicting that. The most sensible thing to do is to stagger my activity and post regularly but with intervals. But this is quite demanding, and would involve me sitting in front of a computer, or on my phone all day long. So that's when I go searching for some kind of program which will allow me to throw a load of posts to Twitter et al but post them later automatically, at regular intervals.

What I need I discover is called a drip, or 'auto-drip' feature. There are plenty of applications which allow you to schedule your posts to a specific later time and date, but a 'drip' feature would allow you to set up a load of posts in a queue, and 'drip' them through at an interval you specify. Then, if you want to add more posts, you simply add them to the end of the queue - no need to select a specific time and date. Unfortunately there are very few that seem to be able to do this. OR they do it from blogs only.

SocialOomph allows you to 'drip-feed' tweets and Facebook status updates, among other things

SocialOomph is one application that will do this, and does it perfectly, with customisable multiple queues (they call them reservoirs) and you can set different interval times for each. It will even email you when a reservoir runs dry. But unfortunately only in it's paid version, SocialOomph Professional - although you do get a free 7-day trial. I might just sign up for that.

SHOCK: My favourite is a friend of mine who posted a smiley face :) ... they got loads of replies! This just goes to show that your interaction is dictated by the affinity your online friends feel for you, not so much on the content you post!

LANDMARK #3: Got my first potentially nasty comment on Facebook! :) It was in German, that's why I say potentially. Also, got a MENTION on Twitter! But it turned out to be spam (again) :(

Monday, 17 October 2011

My (secret) virtual identity

Surfing for interesting stuff, especially late at night, I experience that strange specific-to-social-networking feeling of being 'exposed'. Think about it - if people want to they can track what you're doing, when you're doing ti: so if you 'like' some mundane video at 3am in the morning, people might reach the conclusion that you need to get out more! And of course this brings me on to the next thing: be very, very careful you don't hit 'like' on some dodgy file sharing site, or some decidedly un-politically correct link somebody sends you. Not that I look at dodgy file sharing sites or un-politically correct links, of course...

But this gets me thinking: turn it round the other way - essentially what you are doing is building up a profile of who you are: an online personality, or virtual identity, that shows what your sense of humour is like, what your political and religious beliefs are, even down to what foods you like, what music you listen to and what you find attractive in a sexual partner. If you are a business, while traditional marketing can tell your customers and collaborators what you stand for, and what your mission is, social networking is the quickest, most effective way to create trust: by proving to them that you put your money where your mouth is, that you truly believe what you stand for. And whether you are a business or not it offers a way for your (loosely termed) audience to question and challenge those principals.

Online me - good looking, charismatic, cool, popular, all-knowing...you get the picture.

And the biggest bombshell here for me is - it's all a lie. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but what I mean is, your virtual personality is a creation that you control. You can be whoever you want to be. You choose what photos go up, you can remove yourself from tags in Facebook, you can 'like' things on the net to show you support or agree with them. Even if you say "I only use Facebook to keep in touch with friends", or likewise with any other social media platform, you cannot actively engage with it unless you make a decision on what you are going to share/comment on/like etc. By tweeting while I watched Predator, I told the world that I liked (or disliked) that film, that I'm the 'sort of guy', who likes that film, and others who see that either warm to the idea or decide that they can't relate. You can choose who you want to be. From supervillian, to superhero.

First impressions last, the saying goes. In real life (you know, the one where you can touch and smell things), that's usually the way you dress, your accent/voice and the first few things you say. Online, it's your profile pic, your 'info' or 'about' page, and the first couple of status updates or tweets someone reads. You are essentially marketing your soul.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

You've been pushing too many pens, Dylan!

TweetDeck is totally confusing me. So recently I tried to do more research on it. Looking further into 'trends' (TweetDeck has a column you can add for 'trending topics', or your Twitter home page lists them on the right) I notice how they just seem to be truly banal. One is #DennisTheMenace. Curious, I do a search for it, and in realtime I'm getting about 1 new tweet every few seconds. Looking at what people are saying I see that the film "Dennis the Menace" is on TV somewhere in the states, and people are talking about it in real time. This takes me back to the idea behind Comedy Central's dashboard for the Charlie Sheen Roast. Later I try it with the film 'Predator', an army classic. Setting up a search column in TweetDeck for the hashtag #predator means I'm flooded with quotes from the movie, and interesting anecdotes like 'look out for the boom in the shot in the scene with Mac and Dylan'. Cool...well, maybe a bit sad, but potentially cool!

'Read it Later' is an app that allows you to save articles you find to read later

I'm spending a LOT of time social-networking. Too much time to read everything I find in my quest to locate interesting stuff. I fin this app, called "Read It Later". It allows you to click a button in your browser (if you download the Google Chrome extention for example) and send whatever you're reading to an online account that stores articles you want to read later. Best thing is, it syncs through the cloud, so you can use it on any computer, even via an app on your phone (and in this case it downloads the sync'd articles, which is brilliant for those moments when you're sitting waiting for something and your phone doesn't have a signal). Also, it presents them in a clear easy-to-read format (removing all the clutters of ads and 3rd party links etc.) by default; or you can switch back to the web page itself.

Today I started downloading a few games and looking for useful apps for my phone. There's some really useful stuff out there. Some will feature here soon, no doubt!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Look at my dog doing a thing...

Here's an interesting one: what is the ideal amount of time you should spend on social networking per day? Well the obvious answer is going to be something related to your aims, i.e. if you're a business the answer is going to be very different to a casual user, or someone like me that has open ended goals. A much more interesting question to ask is: what is the ideal amount to keep your audience stimulated?

If you've been posting like mad, aggregating the most fascinating links, quotes and observations you can find or come up with around the web, putting in a few hours each day, but not getting many 'likes' or 'comments', what do you do? This is what I'm doing, with the same disappointing result. This really baffles me - I've posted some great stuff! I'm beginning to wonder if I'm posting too much and annoying people. Maybe they're ignoring me. Or worse still maybe they've turned off my updates or muted me!

So off I go to do some research on how to use Twitter and come across this hilarious article: The 27 types of Twitter User which I consider now my Landmark #2 (1st being my first 2 followers, who turned out to be spam) because I realised I'm currently a combination of "Mr. Clever ReTweet" and "Mr. TV Critic". Most of my Brazilian friends (possible being from the country with the biggest consumption per capita of self-help books worldwide) are Mr. or Mrs.Aesop (anecdotes and morals about life and why it's great).

People love to Tweet about their pets
The thing is, you can use Twitter for anything - and like most technological revolutions (from iPhones to Facebook), it's uses are destined to evolve and change organically in ways that no-one can really foresee. From co-ordinating revolutions and gathering military intelligence to telling the world that you have a cat or a dog, Twitter's uses are manifold, and therefore, it only stands that the way to use it must be manifold too.

Bottom line is: I'm still not sure how I should be using it. Let's see if that changes soon.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


Today I closed my YouTube account and created a new one. The old one was basically a scrapbook of homemade booty-shaking videos, nasty comments I'd left on posts, and loads of guys who'd seen a rather risque (but not too risque - it was her idea) video I put up for an ex-girlfriend asking me to MSN them. My new one is going to be a whole lot healthier. First of all I brand it. Gave it a catchy name, uploaded a background, selected a decent profile pic, wrote a little bit about myself in the About Me section. Then I uploaded a load of vids from my time in Latin America (Cuba, Colombia, Brazil) which I thought people might find interesting. Gave them some ironic titles and witty descriptions, did my best to fill in all the details, like tags, location, etc. Not date though. Some of my vids are from around 2005 and shot on a low-resolution stills camera. The plan is to progress through my 'archive' of vids until I get round to digitising the MiniDV hi-res footage I've got of later trips. In otherwords, it's a start - and if there's one thing I'm sure of, with this scoial networking thing you have to build - and that will take time.

Then I spent the rest of the day looking for cool channels to subscribe to, vids to 'like', 'favourite' and 'add to playlists'. Wanted to look like my channel was already building momentum to anyone who goes to it, otherwise I was afraid they'd just think I was sad and ignore it! In other words, I think it's important to show that you 'have something to say'.
Spam - it's not healthy.

And I got a nice surprise with my Twitter - I got my first 2 followers! The elation of discovering this was directly proportionate to the almost immediate deflation I felt as I quickly discovered that they were both spam. They looked legit on my 'followers' page, but when I clicked to go to their profile pics, their URLs given in the 'About Me' section were along the lines of www.nudysexvids.com. So I blocked an reported them for spam, which was very satisfying.

Went to sleep at 4am, after editing a video to put up on my channel. Now that's social dedication for ya!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Lock the door and pray for morning

Addiction. It's a strong word. But when it comes to the internet there's no better way of describing what it is when you have to constantly drag yourself away from the screen at 4am in the morning, still frantically looking for links, doing 20 things at once, absorbing so much information you feel like it's the middle of the day. OK let's bring it back into perspective - I could be exaggerating here. What I'm spending my time doing is what I would call, building clout. Strengthening my portfolio. Profile. Whatever. Fact is I have all these social networking accounts, they're all synced up, to my phone, to my desktop, to my laptop (yes, on occasion it seems I live in a Batcave) but what to DO with them?

Twitter: well first, I need to find interesting people/things to follow, and interesting things to post. Not many of my friends are 'on Twitter', so I start doing searches for "top 10 best twitter feeds" etc. I discover the term 'Twitterati', used to describe the most popular, authoritative Twitter feeds on the web. A site called Twitterati.com tracks these, and has on its front page (left hand side) the 'Top 100 blogs'. This is a good place to start - they all have Twitter feeds. So I grab a few of those. Then I start searching for my interests. As I've mentioned before, these are really diverse, ranging from Samba music and dinosaurs, to Greek mythology and science. And of course, technology. But still, I 'follow' about 20 or so Twitter feeds which I think I'll find interesting, and they start rolling into Tweetdeck.

Then I start posting links to Facebook. Tweetdeck helps because with a tap of a button, if you've linked your accounts, you can choose where each post goes, including 'retweets'. During this process, I am of course commenting on other people's Facebook posts. What's interesting about this is having 're-branded' myself with my real name, and getting serious about the whole social networking thing, I'm really self-concious about what I say - I'm acutely aware I have to be diplomatic. These may be my 'friends', but in virtual space, through text on screen, a lot can get misinterpreted. So I'm trying to be honest and open, while trying not to be too liberated, or too honest. I suspect that thinking before you speak could lose you friends here, much quicker than the real world.

I discover what 'trending' is. OK I knew about it, but I really needed to understand the hashtag (#). Hashtags are what you can put in front of a word (or a phrase without sentences) to show up in searches on Twitter (or third party apps like Tweetdeck) for that topic. Nowadays you don't even need to put the hash character. If enough people are tweeting using this phrase/word, it will begin to 'trend'. There are various sites which track trending, including your Twitter hompage itself. Tweetdeck can do it too.

Some people have such huge followings that they can create trends through Twitter, if they get enough people to use their word/phrase. For instance, today I noticed that 'thebieberbrazil' said (translated from Portuguese): "We're the sh**, we made three topics trend: Latin girl in Brazil, Bieber or Die, JB rules the world" and lo, they are right : two of those were still trending in Brazil (you can change the location of the trends Twitter or Tweetdeck reports on). But then they do have over 14,000 followers. And no, I'm not a Justin Bieber fan.

So I've learnt a lot today, but being so open, and trying to 'share' so much....I don't know...it just feels kind of...wrong, somehow.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Pimp my phone

So I've just got this new phone. It's the iconic HTC Legend: a unique design (they never made anything quite like it before, and haven't since) that doesn't open the traditional way (front and back fascia) because the body is a single, glorious piece of brushed aluminium with no seams. It's the only phone to have trumped the iPhone in design awards over the last few years - and when I say trumped I mean it constantly placed above it in polls. It's small enough to operate with one hand but big enough to watch videos, read web pages and run all the latest apps.  It's rooted with a custom-mod, overclocked and running the latest Android OS. And yes, I'm in love with it (I'm a techie - get over it). I won't lie though, the ability to use or download and use all these social apps without being a socialnetwork-ite is a bit like having a £1,000 voucher for iTunes but only being able to spend it on Country & Western. So I felt it was finally time to put on a Stetson, shout 'Yeee-haa' and join the Twitterati.

At approx. £500,000 and encrusted with 120 carats of grade 1 diamonds, the Goldvish 'Le Million' is officially
the most expensive phone in the world - but it doesn't do the Facebook, the Twiiter, or the Google+
My 'as new' HTC Legend that I bought with a part-exchange for £30 at CEX does, however.

First thing I did was get back on to Facebook after hardly ever using it. I found a load of messages and friend requests that I'd never even bothered to look at (don't think I even knew how) and a load of pop-ups asking me to friend this person and that person and authorise this and that. There was so much junk in there. My main concern has always been privacy, so the first thing I did was go to the 'privacy' section in settings and made sure that the only people that could ever see anything were my accepted friends. Facebook has a huge amount of privacy settings which give you full control over who sees what. The thing is, because it's so detailed, it can be intimidating. You really do need to sit down and give it your full attention for 10mins so that you can come away knowing exactly who will see what. After that, not wanting to receive emails every time someone I vaguely know breathed or blinked, I started on the 'notifications' section. Again, it's straightforward, but detailed. Go through it item by item and make sure you are only getting emails for things you really want to know about - everything else you can find out about just by logging in. Then I began the long hard trawl through my current friends list and all the people Facebook mysteriously knows I know even though I might have had no contact with them for the last 5 years, blocked some, accepted others, and brought my list up to date. That took a while. Oh, and most telling sign of my embracing of Big Brother was to change my Facebook name from some weird pseudo-monicker to my real name. There's no going back now!

TweetDeck allows you to connect to all your social networking accounts in one place

Then I logged into Twitter, deleted my old, hardly used account and opened a new one (again, in my real name), did some basic 'branding' (chose a background, uploaded a profile pic) and downloaded a great free program called 'Tweetdeck' which is one of the best tools to write, track, sort and search tweets and was recommended to me by a friend who works professionally with social media. Of course I was a bit overwhelmed by it to start with, but I know I'll get it with time. On my phone I logged into all the apps - the Facebook app, the Twitter app, the Google+ app, and of course, Tweetdeck, which allows you to post to all 3 (well, to Google Buzz, not Google+, but that's another story).

So now I'm strapped, loaded with the latest arsenal of apps all synced to my phone, desktop and laptop PCs and ready to go into the cloud. I'm going in....and there's no-one to cover me!