The Next Great Web Filter

Time to cry information overload – again!

how we've filtered the web

how we've filtered the web....what's next?

Way back, in the early days of the Internet, there was lots of excitement about all the information available online.  Organizations quickly learned that having a website was a requirement to operate a successful business, and people began turning to the Web for most of their information needs.  As websites  multiplied, people struggled with how to make sense of it all, sort through it, find what was most valuable to them.  An exciting new communication channel soon blossomed into information overload with no effective filters.

Enter search engines.  Google, Yahoo, AOL rose to fast prominence by giving people a way to navigate through the morass of websites and find what they wanted quickly.  Then SEO, blogging, and content marketing were born, and smart marketers started feeding the search engines to get them to point people their way.  It started with link buying and swapping, then moved to a content creation craze.  Now, instead of website overloading, we’re inundated with “7 Lessons Learned” “10 Best Ways to…”, “6 Tips for…” headlines intended to lure people and links.  An exciting new search marketing field soon blossomed into content overload with no effective filters.

Enter social media.  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ all rose to fast prominence by connecting people, establishing online relationships, and giving people a way to chat and share information.  Now, in addition to search engines navigating and giving meaning to web content, friend recommendations are helping people to filter and discern what’s worth paying attention to.  But what happens when you gather 500+ friends and you’re following their lives, their interests, their shared links?  An exciting new communication channel soon blossoms into information overload with no effective filters.  Hmmm…sound familiar?

Enter… what’s next?  I don’t know about you, but I’m now yearning for the next great filter that will save me from drowning in all my social media activity.  Too much information.  Too much wasted time.  What new technology is going to help me navigate through all the social clutter and find my way to meaning – and still leave me time to live my life?

What are your thoughts?

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Facebook’s F8 Announcements – Too Much Information!

September 23, 2011 Filed under: Internet Marketing,Social Media Marketing — Tags: ,

As always when major news happens in the online marketing arena, I’ve spent a fair amount of time today digesting the announcements Facebook made at its F8 Developer conference yesterday (see Facebook’s page on the event).  While I’ve never been much of a Facebook fan to begin with (I’m just not exhibitionist by nature), the new features seem over-the-top… even for people who do like to share.  How much do we really want to know about hundreds of other people, after all?  And how much more time do people really have to waste on daily trivia and minutiae?  I think it’s time to call TMI.

If you haven’t seen or read about the new Facebook updates, these were the key news highlights:

Timeline. The redesigned Facebook Profile includes a “Timeline” allowing users to go back as far as their birth date and fill in with pictures and important events, essentially creating & sharing their entire autobiographical photo history.

New Apps. With a new developer capability called Open Graph, Facebook apps will now allow users to share with their friends whatever they’re doing – automatically.  You’ll be notifying your friends about what you’re reading, what music you’re listening to, what you’re watching, and whatever else developers can think of for you to share.  The news of your activity will appear in a new Ticker stream. Then your friends can copy you or share the experience with a single click.

Facebook Partners. To illustrate what you can do with the new Open Graph apps, Facebook announced partnerships with a bunch of media and entertainment companies (see Why Netflix, Spotify and Others are Friending Facebook).   All of them referenced examples of how you can share and consume news & entertainment — without ever leaving  Facebook.

So, does this make you want to jump in and add, not just your recent photos like before, but your entire life history in pictures for the world to see?  Does it make you hungry to know everything that all your Facebook friends are reading, watching and listening to?  Does it tempt you to leave behind the onerous task of browsing all your favorite news & entertainment websites, so you can consume their content from inside Facebook?

Hmmm.  Not me.  Doesn’t make me want to jump aboard.  Maybe I’m a luddite or a hermit or just anti-social.  But what I’ve read elsewhere about the Facebook updates shows I’m not alone.  Here are some reactions from others that I happen to agree with.

New York TimesFacebook as Tastemaker.  Can Facebook become the primary channel for web users to determine where and how they spend their time & money?  Perhaps, but some think such big goals will eventually be their undoing, just as Microsoft and AOL stumbled by overreaching.

Biznology. The New Facebook: I Get it and I Don’t.  Facebook’s focus has now turned from acquiring new users (who doesn’t use it at this point?) to expanding what users do on the site.  But who can (or wants to) absorb and learn all these new things?  Not me, says author Frank Reed.

Mashable. Is Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy?  Good question, as the new features encourage users to put their entire life online.  If you don’t want your friends knowing or sharing all this information about you, Facebook provides inline privacy controls so you can manage how much you want shared (though given their acquired social habits, many users won’t bother).  But even if you don’t mind sharing your details with friends, you should still be concerned that Facebook will own all the data – and has yet to reveal how they’ll share and act upon that knowledge.

ReadWriteWeb. Reactions to Facebook’s F8 Keynote. Want to know what the audience thought at the F8 event?  This infographic will at least tell you how they tweeted about it.

GigaOm. Media Companies Revisit Their AOL Days with Facebook.  Among the news from Facebook’s F8 Conference yesterday was the partnerships with media companies such as The Washington Post, The Guardian newspaper, The Daily from News Corp. and Yahoo News that will allow users to consume their news from within Facebook.  Many news commentators are calling this approach a “walled garden” (e.g. users get everything they need inside FB and will never venture out), comparing it to the early days of the Internet when AOL offered users a single portal to make it easier to navigate the scary new online world.  But is anyone really still scared to explore the Web on their own?

What about you?  Do you like what Facebook announced at F8?  What have you read about the announcements that makes the new features sound enticing?  I’m open to being converted, after all.


Yes Popularity Does Matter

December 21, 2010 Filed under: SEO,Social Media Marketing — Tags: ,

It was true in high school, it’s true on American Idol, and now Google admits it’s true in search rankings.  Popularity matters.  The good news is that it’s no longer about which clique you hang out with or how well you sing and dance.  Or…is it?

According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, Google does take your popularity rankings on Social Media sites such as Twitter and Facebook into account when deciding how to rank your website.  See his commentary on the subject in the video below, and read Danny Sullivan’s report about what this can mean for your website.

Now, about that high school analogy.  It actually …sort of…IS like high school.  It is about what clique you hang out with, because getting Twitter and Facebook followers who  matter counts more than gaining followers who don’t.  Remember when the guy who dated the homecoming queen was more popular than the one who dated the wallflower?  Well, Google also gives you popularity clout for hanging out with and getting followed by the most popular Social Media players.  If you’re followed by well-followed followers, you get more ranking credit for your website than if you’re followed by the non-followed.  Simply put, popularity matters.

And much like the American Idol winner is the one who gets the most votes for singing & dancing talent, Twitter and Facebook performers who win the most followers are those who produce the most valuable content that others want to follow and share.  Which means, in simple terms, that popularity can be earned through what you say and do (and write).

So, as technology continues to change, the human dynamics stay the same.  And high school, of course, is a metaphor for life.


Social Media For Small Business: It Boils Down to 2 Steps

June 3, 2010 Filed under: Social Media Marketing — Tags: ,

There’s no getting around the fact that involvement in social media takes time.  It’s the one thing I hear small business people fret most about when they decide to get involved.  “How can I find time to do this?”  “I have a business to run!”  “I’m overwhelmed before I even begin!’  The next thing I hear from them is “What will I write about?”

Can you relate?

Social media marketing is all about sharing content and connecting with people across the web.  In the early days, critics dismissed social media channels like Facebook and Twitter as little more than gossip and chat outlets, leaving many business people with the impression they weren’t serious enough for business interactions.  That is no longer the case.  Facebook and Twitter have both evolved into critically important communication channels for business of all sizes and industry types.  LinkedIn has also evolved from a networking tool to a major resource for discussions, information sharing, and prospecting.  Blogs have become a primary source of expertise sharing, discussion, and basic education for professionals and consumers everywhere.  Bottom line:  whether you think you have time for it or not, social media is fast becoming the norm for business communications.  And like anything you do in your business, you’ll be more successful if you approach it with clear goals and a deliberate strategy.  Here’s a simplified, holistic way to build your social media strategy.

At its most basic level, social media marketing consists of 2 primary activities:

  1. Creating content
  2. Sharing content

Here’s a summary of how to execute those 2 things effectively.



How do YOU Twitter?

May 29, 2010 Filed under: Social Media Marketing — Tags: ,

Twitter.  How do you twitter?Seems like everybody’s doing it.  And everywhere you go, someone is talking about it.  There’s really no “right” way to do it, but there are plenty of examples of companies experimenting, listening and learning about what works for them.  Want to jump on board?  Here are some resources to help you chart your own Twitter course.