I knew this charade couldn't last forever. Like lonelygirl15 and fake Steve Jobs before me, I went to great efforts to create a compelling illusion: not only an Alexandra Samuel blog, but a consistent profile on every online community site from del.icio.us to Facebook. Even a complete fake company with me as the fake CEO.
But today, the illusion is at an end. Darrell Houle has unmasked me as…..Suzanna Cavatrio, copywriter for Enormicom.
That's right, Darrell came across my alter ego on the tour page for Highrise, a CRM product from 37Signals, the makers of Basecamp. Check it out:
I'm happy to take this re-purposing as a sign that someone at 37Signals saw my obsessive blog post about Basecamp workflow. Or maybe it's a tribute to the talented man behind the camera — Kris Krug, who took the original photo. Maybe this is kk+'s chance to become official photographer for 37Signals?
Reflections on responsible entrepreneurship by Jerry Greenfield of Ben & Jerry’s fame.
From Blade Runner to the Matrix, from Star Trek’s Borg to Battlestar Galactica’s Cylons, we’ve spent a lot of time imagining the day when our super-strong, super-smart robots get tired of vacuuming and decide they want to rule the world. That’s given me an opportunity to consider a more immediate threat: Facebook. Not just Facebook, actually, but all the social networks and online communities to which we give our eyeballs, braincells, hearts and dollars. Could these online communities constitute the machine threat that sci-fi has taught us to anticipate?
I'm besotted with Facebook. I can see it becoming the primary way that I — and many other people — interact online. So if you aren't on Facebook already, join now. Now.
Still here? Don't tell me, you need actual reasons to join. Fine, here goes:
- It's huge, and it's growing. While Facebook started as a network for college students, it opened up to anyone who wanted to join in September 2006, and grew more than 75% — to almost 25 million users — by February. I haven't found numbers more recent than that, but I can say that between 1-3 people in my own personal address book (1500 email addresses) are joining every day.
- Your friends are already there. If you import/connect to your address book when you sign up , you'll discover all the folks you know who are already on Facebook. This is a great way to keep in touch with them. You can even find out who in your universe is already on Facebook, before you sign up yourself.
- It mixes business with pleasure. Unlike LinkedIn, which feels like some sort of massive rÃ©sumÃ© swap, Facebook brings a personal side to its user interactions. More than half of my Facebook friends are colleagues or professional acquaintances, and now I'm finding out about their personal passions as well as their professional pursuits.
- It's one-stop shopping. Facebook offers blogging, photo sharing, messaging, web-to-mobile communications, social networking, and groups.
- It's a window on your world. Once you've added your contacts to your list of Facebook friends, your Facebook home page will be the best place on the web for you to find out what's going on with the folks you know. My favourite part of Facebook — the thing that makes it truly addictive — is checking in to see what's going on with all my friends and groups. I can see my friends' latest status reports, their latest new friends and groups, their notes, their photos….all in one place. The best way to get how cool this is is to take a look, but I don't think I can really share a screenshot because that would mean sharing details on my friends' activities. And that underlines what is so great about the Facebook feed: it feels far more personal than what you'd normally see on the wide open web.
- It's pretty. God knows, I've fallen in love with my share of social media tools, but most of them have required me to look past a barebones or even downright ugly interface in order to appreciate the inner beauty of content sharing, social networking, or whatever. In contrast, Facebook has a very polished interface.
- It can help you connect with your community. Facebook has now got an API — application programming interface — that lets people extend Facebook with all sorts of little applications and enhancements. (Check out some of the options so far.) And that API is going to see Facebook integrated into more and more 3rd party sites. If you find it easier to connect with your members, supporters, customers or friends on Facebook than to lure them into registering on your own site (and for most organizations, it will be MUCH easier to connect via Facebook) you need to start thinking now about how you can integrate Facebook's community and functionality into your own site.
I'll have more to say about Facebook — and especially about the options for integrating Facebook with external web communities — in the coming weeks. But if you want to understand why this matters, you need to join Facebook now. And once you do, be sure to add me as a friend!
I’m having a little trouble with the difference between notes and posted items. I’m trying to set up my external blog (http://www.alexandrasamuel.com
) to aggregate in my Facebook existence, and I’m not sure whether to aggregate Notes (pros: don’t have to post each note to my profile, so less work; cons: excludes bookmarks and photos) or Posted Items (pros: can include any content I want; con: I’m not sure I want to add every note/photo to my posted items.)
I’d love input from other folks on how they use posted items.
UPDATE: OK, I think the solution is to NEVER post a note. That way I can set my blog to aggregate both my Notes (i.e. my Facebook blog) and my Posted items (i.e. links/photos I’ve shared).
And I’m tagging “facebook” as a friend in this note, so I can see how my aggregator handles that inbound tag.
Tags can help you drive traffic to your website and build engagement in your online community. Here are my secrets to tagging success.
I’m just back from SXSW, where I was reminded that there are still a few people out there who are thinking about the Internet as a potential business opportunity rather than as a chance to reinvent democracy.
At the panel I was on — Remixing Business for a Convergent World — it seemed that what is really converging is how both business folks and political hacks are looking at the Net. Let’s take, for example, the question of how to make strategic use of blogs — a question that my fellow-panelist, Robert Scoble, addresses in his recent book Naked Conversations.
Thanks to blogs, businesses can no longer afford to ignore even their smallest customers. Traditional blue-chips are starting to recognize that their next p.r. crisis could be precipitated by a cranky shareholder or dissatisfied customer who blogs about the company. As for the latest generation of web start-ups — sites like Squidoo, Frappr, or LinkedIn — they’re not only sensitive to customer perceptions: their entire business models are based on user (i.e. customer) contributed value.
Once you start to see customers are value creators, rather than value consumers, a lot of business truths get turned upside-down. Take, for example, the idea that businesses are primarily accountable to their boards or shareholders. Does anyone out there think that the success of del.icio.us or Flickr depends more on Yahoo shareholders than on the users who are contributing bookmarks, photos, and software plug-ins?
If businesses find themselves suddenly accountable to their users, that kind of accountability is old news to both government and civil society organizations. Governments have always been primarily (if imperfectly) accountable to citizen-voters, and civil society organizations (whether community service groups or political advocacy organizations) have always been primarily accountable to their members and donors.
The net result is that it’s business that now needs to learn from civic and public organizations about how to enage at the grassroots level. It’s not like public and nonprofit organizations have all the answers — great examples of effective two-way member/voter engagement online are still rarer than the many examples of organizations that are still in “broadcast” mode — but at least there’s a decade of effort to look at.
For those of us who’ve been thinking about online democracy and grassroots engagement for something like that long, the rise in business interest should come as (mostly) good news. Sure, there’s more competition for public attention: efforts at getting voters to participate in policy discussion now have to compete with businesses offering free ipods in return for customer feedback.
But there’s also a rapidly expanding toolkit for grassroots community-building. Tools like Squidoo, Flickr, and del.icio.us offer entirely new ways of involving members and encouraging members to interact with one another. Just as important, the private sector’s growing embrace of customer “community” may help to build a broader culture of pervasive engagement.