Archive for March, 2008

Social Media Housekeeping, and How Can I Work 4 Hours a Week?


Just a few minor things:

I read all your comments and tweets
Firstly, when I meet blog readers, I often ask for feedback, to me the constant feedback reinforces what I’m doing right, and what I can improve and grow on. Today, one reader suggested that I make sure to close the feedback loop when it comes to comments. While we both agreed that it’s impossible for me to respond to each comment, I want you to all know that I read each and every comment. Why? it makes me smarter around topics that I’ve initiated, so thank you all for that. If you can’t tell, I try really hard to listen, I just can’t always respond to all messages.

I’m not adding any more new Twitter followers
Secondly, I won’t be adding many new followers on Twitter. I’ve noticed a massive influx of new Twitter users (perhaps due to SXSW) and will no longer be following those who are following me. I can’t click on that many emails, and It’s not offering me any additional value as my message stream is already very large. It matters little as you can still @jowyang and I’ll see your message. Sam Lawrence did analysis on my Twitter behavior (even on a Sunday) and noticed that about half of my tweets are @replying to others.

How can I scale?
The trend here is that I’m having a hard time scaling, but I’ve nearly completed my clone in my bio-vat in the garage, so there will be another Jeremiah appearing soon, well, I wish. I’m trying ways to stay efficient, I’ve reduced the amount of time I spend answering non-essential email, and downloaded Xobni with limited satisfaction.

At some point, I may have to follow Tim Ferris’s advice (although I’m a big skeptic) and start outsourcing some of my life, see his video. I’d start with email, then editing some of my reports for grammar.

Up Close and Personal with Technographic Data


(Part 1 in a 3 part series)

Although it’s Sunday, I’m up early reviewing the data that Andres R, (one of our consultants) and I will be presenting to a client. It’s my first official project that I’m delivering and it’s a real learning experience. I’ve been in heaven lately, swimming in lots of social media data from our massive surveys we deploy, and in this case, we ‘cut’ data from the database to help a client understand the Technographics of the people they are trying to reach.

Being new to this process at Forrester, the research is similar to user experience research I used to conduct. We conducted stakeholder interviews to understand the business goals and drivers, worked with our data team to match the client provided persona and demographic information with our own data, and then conducted analysis.

While I certainly can’t give away any of the details, it’s very clear that two of the three personas that client is trying to reach has heavy use of social media, and the third doesn’t. Furthermore we segment the persona down to the Technographics, to understand how they use each social tool (from blogs, social networks, bookmarks, rating sites, etc) and to then share with client.

Armed with detailed knowledge about how their personas use social media, they are better equipped to move forward with their plans. It’s very clear, based on the data, which tools would work well for the particular personas, and which ones would not. It’s important to understand the people that you’re going to reach before deploying tools. Put people before tools.

You can learn more about Technographics, we’ve made some high level data available on the Groundswell site.

Wish me luck on my first project deliverable.

Twitter Is My Social Computer –How it could extend to be yours


Computers exist everywhere
It took me a while to figure out that wherever I go, whenever I want, I’ve access to one of the world’s most powerful computers. It’s not an IBM Mainframe that spans my whole living room, nor Google’s search engine, and not the latest Alienware box. It’s Twitter.

Social Computing Defined
At Forrester, we define Social Computing as: “A social structure in which technology puts power in communities, not institutions.” and this is true for social networks –esp small and fast ones like Twitter.

What Google can’t do
While Google is great for finding information and websites, it’s NOT great for getting opinion, hearing nuance, or telling me relational information. With Twitter, I can ask information about opinions, and receive responses from real people (many I know, most I don’t) that often have first hand experience with the question at hand. Lastly, real people understand detailed and complicated questions and situations, and the more people answering, the more chance of you getting your answer.

How I’ve used Twitter as my Social Computer

Recently, I was at a swanky restaurant in SF, a CEO was picking up the tab so I could order whatever I wanted. I asked folks on Twitter “what should I order at Restaurant X” I received several responses, and immediately noticed a pattern and ordered the ribs with confidence, it was a success.

I frequently ask questions about what people think about in the news, I often receive popular opinion back from politics, tech issues, and other question. There’s a lot of gray answers here, but it’s a quick way to scan and obtain the variety of opinions about a particular topic. This method fuels the start of my initial research phase, I can get all the ideas on on a table, then hone in on the ideas that matter.

Lastly, referral content is shared, topics spread and people will offer up new suggestions, related content that isn’t necccearily going to be found in a web search.

Success requires lots of followers…a potential workaround
Now I realize that I’m fortunate in having so many followers (unlike other guys who ‘buy’ they friends by trying to offer a Mac Book Air) I’m grateful to all of the followers. Yet not everyone can gain from the network benefits, so I’ve thought of a way this can be shared with others, but I don’t have the tools to build it.

A Framework for Enhancing Twitter to be a Social Computer –For AnyoneIt’s possible that someone can build an engine that lets anyone participate in Twitter as a social computer, here’s how it could work:

Purely opt-in: Members could indicate they want to answer questions (and in return can ask them).

Members could then post a question “#question what are some romantic restaurants with a view in SF”

Anyone that is a member would then see the #question come in with a unique ID number attached to it
“question1853 @jowyang asks: question what are some romantic restaurants with a view in SF”

All members who received the question can choose to respond
“@question1583 Check out Starlight lounge or Waterfront restaurant”

All of the answers would then be aggregated on one page viewable by anyone, common answers by keyword would get weighted, and those who are ‘friends’ of the member would weight higher.

Of course, it needs to be very easy to use.

When I mentioned this idea last time, a lot of folks didn’t think it was ethical (as some of the terms included leverage) but I believe there’s an opportunity for an entrepreneur to build a answers or Q&A tool that is successful on LinkedIn and Yahoo. Let me know if you build it.

Social Networks could have more info about Generation Y than Government


This is entirely speculative post, as I don’t have access to US Government databases, yet the concept worth thinking about. I certainly don’t know the answer, and posed the question to my twitter community with a variety of responses, there wasn’t a clear agreeing side.

Government Data
The US Government has a wealth of demographic, workplace, educational, and financial information about it’s citizens, I’m sure there are other databases collecting information. Yet when I think about the information being created by ourselves on the social database (myspace, facebook, blogs) only a portion of the above data may be found, but an entirely different set of information can be found.

Social Database
Our research indicates that a majority of teens in North America are using social networks, in fact more than 2/3rds are active monthly users, and about 1/5th are daily users. We’re all aware of the stories of how teens are using these tools to communicate as their primary forms above phone, and even email.

Types of information commonly found in the Social Database of Gen Y:

When I take a look at a few of my younger friends I see they’ve uploaded (willingly) information about their: age, sexual preference, political stance, work, school, email address, IM clients, phone numbers

They also share some of of their psyhographics: what they like, what motivates or saddens them, hobbies, music. With some time, you could eventually interept their profile to find some inner drivers and motivations. Status messages can really be telling, it’s obvious to me when someone is going through relationship pains.

While not as complete as formal research, they also share their technographics (how they use technology) by looking at their activity, mini-news feed, see what type of applications they’ve downloaded and used. Beyond web use, you may see elements of consumption of cell phone, tv, and other technolgies present.

Relationship Network
Perhaps most importantly, they share their network information, you can see who has become their friends, what they think of each other (top friend apps) and eventually find nodes, influencers, and sneezers.

Although much of this profile information is hidden, privacy continues to be a top concern, yet many of those afflicted with information sharing in a way they weren’t expecting have to always remember they were the ones who put that information out there in the first place. Even if someone decides to delete a profile, they comments, applications on third party sites, will leave a residual ghost that may be impossible to erase.

Generation Y (and everyone else) should have a mental filter in their mind before publishing anything on the web. One should assume that this information (or pics) should be considered public, seen by those you don’t want to see, and here forever. While this may not always be the case, it’s a good filter to have.

Weekly Digest of the Social Networking Space: March 27, 2008



I’m respecting your limited time by publishing this weekly digest on the Social Networking space, which I cover as an analyst.

I’ve created a new category called Digest (view archives). Start with the Web Strategy Summary, then quickly scan the succinct and categorized headlines, read text for my analysis, and click link to dive in for more.

You can subscribe to this digest tag only, which filters only these posts tagged digest.

Need to make decisions about your web strategy? I’m here to help: subscribe to my blog, sign up for emails (right nav), or follow me on Twitter, (I’ll follow you in return).

Web Strategy Summary
This week is slow, as my host Dreamhost has been down. Updating this draft post has been difficult. The most significant news is Yahoo joining the OpenSocial alliance. Expect to see more social networks and widget creators focusing on building OpenSocial compliant applications.

OpenSocial: Yahoo steps into the fold
In a not so surprising move, Yahoo joins the OpenSocial collective, and a non-profit organization is formed.

Market: VCs: “No More Social Networks”
I have to agree with this, I can’t stomach another social networking pitch either. We need to stop deploying the same tools and figure out what really matters: how to communicate and be part of communities.

Privacy: How to use Facebook’s Privacy Features (video)
Teresa did a great video on how to use the privacy features on Facebook. Well done.

Widget: Mytopia launches pan networks
This widget game creator is launching several widgets on multiple platforms without being OpenSocial compliant. Unlike OpenSocial the games work across the different social networks, not as individual installs or instances.

Profile: Widget creator slide profilled
Money magazine dives into the world of slide and interviews Max Levchin. With a large inventory, and disappointment with advertising on social network sites, can Max’s ‘engagement’ metrics be they key?

Money: Hong Kong Investor pours more into Facebook
Li, a HK investor continues to put more cash into Facebook: “Li had previously invested US$60 million for 0.4% of Facebook. Li didn’t specify Thursday how much of a stake he now owns in Facebook”

This digest is a bit thin compared to previous weeks, so please leave a comment if there was something relevant that was missed.

Silicon Valley Sightings: SF Chronicle


The San Francisco Chronicle

Above, SF Chronicle perches pleasantly at Fifth and Mission in SOMA district (Google Map)

One of the real pleasures I’ve had as an analyst (thanks to Tracy in our PR department) is the opportunity to meet many of the journalists and reporters in the tech industry. Yesterday, I had the privilege to meet the tech reporters Verne Kopytoff and Ellen Lee who contributes tothe Tech Chronicles blog of the SF Chronicle that are covering technology and social computing.

This landmark building, near the Metreon, SF Shopping center and Moscone was an impressive building to see. Below, you’ll see the stained glass windows paying homage to the Gutenberg printing press, the letters on the ceiling in the main foyer, and the ever present TV stations.

Today, I’m off to UC Berkeley to speak to the Journalism School on the impacts of social networking on news, I’ll be sharing that the SF Chronicle’s comments often get up to 80 comments per article, a unique way how the audience starts to participate.

Gutenberg WindowPublishers' OfficeI dream in fontsLobby

(Silicon Valley Sightings is an ongoing PhotoBlog that captures the intersection of Tech Culture in the San Francisco Silicon Valley Bay Area, check out the archives. All photos by Jeremiah Owyang)