What Micro-Blogging is All About?

Many people wonder about the utility of micro-blogging using Twitter, Pownce or the Facebook Status Update. It’s difficult to explain but I’ve found a philosophical answer from Douglas Coupland, famous Canadian writer, in his book Life After God (published in 1994):

“And if we were to collect these small moments in a notebook and save them over a period of months we would see certain trends emerge from our collection– certain voices would emerge that have been trying to speak through us. We would realize that we have been having another life altogether, one we didn’t even know was going on inside us. And maybe this other life is more important than the one we think of as being real– this clunky day-to-day world of furniture and noise and metal. So just maybe it is these small moments which are the true story-making events of our lives.”

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I am Media: From Theory to Practice in 6 Days

Remember last Saturday morning when I shouted “I am media”? Want to know what happened since then? I accidentally went from theory to practice… 🙂

Robert Scoble picked up my post and confirmed my theory. My blog received 10 times more traffic than usual for two days and I’ve had many interesting conversations during the weekend. I also added many friends to Facebook, Pownce and Linkedin.

And just when I thought that wave had subsided, the magic of Facebook connected Colin Carmichael and I on Tuesday morning and put us on a mission to save Business 2.0 magazine. Alerted by my status update feed, Colin created a Facebook group dedicated to this cause and we started leveraging social media to create some buzz around the group. You can read the chronology of these events here.

The group now has about 1075 members. We’ve been adding 1 member every five minutes since the launch and all of the major industry influencers have joined the group. Since the launch, we’ve received coverage from the following major media/blogs:

Valleywag, “Facebook to the rescue!

Advertising Age, “Can Fans Save Business 2.0?

San Francisco Chronicle, “Save Business 2.0

GigaOm, “Saving Business 2.0, Facebook Style

Fast Company, “Can A Social Network Save Business 2.0?

Washington Post, “Trying to Save A Magazine Through Facebook

San Jose Mercury News, “Facebook group hopes to save Business 2.0

Business 2.0, “Can Facebook Save Business 2.0?”

I even got mentioned by name in the San Jose Mercury News article! Many Business 2.0 readers have had the chance to express their love for the magazine, many subscriptions have been sold and some people even registered on Facebook just to be part of the group! I think we’ve already made a difference in the lives of the Business 2.0 team. I think there’s a lot of things we can learn from this experience especially about the various social media vehicles working together but I’m still digesting as this is an ongoing process. It’s been a good ride so far. What a week.

One thing’s for sure: I am media!

Can the Power of Micro-Blogging Save Business 2.0 Magazine?

I read with great dismay this morning the possible demise of one of my favorite magazines, Business 2.0 .

According to the New York Times article, even though the magazine has a circulation of 623,000, there’s a couple reasons why this might happen:

Aside from the overall downturn in the magazine business, current and former Time Inc. employees point to what appears to have been an ill-advised move this year to combine the advertising sales teams of Time Inc.’s finance and business publications, which include Fortune, Money, CNNMoney.com, Fortune Small Business and Business 2.0. Consolidated under a single banner, Time Inc.’s Business and Finance Network (or Tibfin, as it is known inside the company), Time sales representatives stopped pitching the distinct appeal and audience of Business 2.0 to focus on the larger titles like Fortune. That often turned Business 2.0 into an afterthought; big advertisers like Microsoft and Intel were offered discounts on other Time Inc. business titles if they would also buy pages in Business 2.0.

I’ve been a reader for many years and even though I read multiple blogs and online news sources daily, I always find interesting stuff in the magazine. It also helps me synthesize what I’ve read on the Web in the last few months. I’ve also found it’s a great media vehicle to introduce non-web business people to new web initiatives.

I then posted a short status update in my Facebook micro-blogging feed that said “Sebastien is sad to think Business 2.0 magazine might fold in September…

45 minutes later, I get an e-mail from one of my new “friends”, Colin Carmichael, who’s inviting me to a new group he’s created to save Business 2.0. He told me I had tipped him off to the demise of Business 2.0 and he wanted to do something. I obviously joined the group and invite you to do the same if you like the magazine.

What it means: it’s my first opportunity to experience first-hand the power of micro-blogging, those small atoms of information written in new communication tools like Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce and Facebook (via the status update section). Very powerful tools. On another note, I believe print magazine usage growth (and by extension revenue growth) will come from specializing, not becoming more generalist. By consolidating their sales force, publishers run the risk of abandoning their specialty titles and future growth. The same debate takes place all the time in the directory business. Should publishers use a different sales force for Internet products or for vertical publications? I think you need to take a good look at where you think your growth will come from in the future and support adequately those initiatives.

Robert Scoble is Media

I’ve been thinking about Robert Scoble’s post on Facebook since I blogged about it yesterday. In it, he invites people to become “friend” with him on Facebook (and he does it again in his last post yesterday night). Intuitively, I knew he was unto something and I asked the Praized blog readers to do the same thing (you can do it by clicking here).

Now, I’ve been “friends” with Robert ever since I met him at Google Zeitgeist 2005. We were sitting at the same dinner table and had the occasion to exchange a few words (he’s a great guy BTW!). For those who don’t know him, Robert was one of Microsoft’s technical evangelists. He was part of the Channel 9 MSDN Video team, walking around the Microsoft campus and shooting very informal new product videos. He became extremely popular by having a more balanced view about his employer (more balanced than traditional PR people), sometimes congratulating and sometimes criticizing Microsoft. More info can be found on his Wikipedia profile

Since meeting Robert, he’s been part of my LinkedIn network, and recently I added him in my Pownce network. I obviously added Robert to my Facebook network yesterday afternoon after reading his post (and he accepted it quickly).

Now, if you look in his Pownce public feed, you’ll see that Robert has been micro-blogging about stuff he’s doing. He currently has 1253 “friends”, all early adopters as Pownce is still in beta. In Facebook, he now has 2702 “friends”. Yesterday night, I got a message in my Facebook news feed section. Robert had uploaded a video and
I got an alert about it because he’s in my friends list.

It made me wonder: why would Robert Scoble accept “friends” invitation from people he does not know? Why do you want to be connected to people you don’t know and alert them to stuff you’re doing? And then it hit me! Robert Scoble is media. He’s building his own broadcast network. He understands that media is completely fragmented and, by participating in all these new social communication vehicles (blogging, Twitter, Pownce, Facebook), he’s aggregating readers and viewers,
thereby increasing his penetration and his worth as a media. I’m convinced Robert reaches close to 100% of all early adopters in Silicon Valley (and a good chunk in North America). He now has tremendous influence on “influencers”.

Now, I finally understood why I invited people yesterday to connect to me in Facebook. I am media as well. By writing the Praized blog every day since October 2006, I have become media. And if you are media, you want to build up your “circulation” to increase your influence and by extension, your value. But be aware: you have to accept the reciprocal conversations though. Robert Scoble receives updates from 1253 Pownce friends and 2702 Facebook friends. The noise level is very high. This conversation is not unidirectional.

I have seen the future of media and it’s Robert Scoble.

Silicon Valley is Abuzz about Facebook

Silicon Valley is currently crazy about Facebook. Robert Scoble has captured some of the discussions:

John Battelle asks a compelling question: why Facebook and why now?

Scott Rosenberg of Slate follows up with another point: that Facebook’s friends definitions are all messed up.
Over on TechMeme everyone is talking about how Facebook’s advertising isn’t working.

Robert also offers some explanations about why this is happening:

First, why does Facebook’s advertising suck?

Because it isn’t tied to people or applications. Everything I do in Facebook is about interacting with people. For instance, at the top of my Facebook inbox right now is Ryan Coomer. The advertising next to him says “Try Forex Trading Today.” There is absolutely NO connection between who Ryan is and the advertising that’s put next to him.(…) Translation: Facebook needs an advertising platform and it needs one in the worst way. I’m not going to even look at the ads until the ads are tied to the people on Facebook. Facebook knows what we’re into, put ads for those things onto our profiles and messages.

Second, how could the friends definitions and ties be improved?

1000 ways. I’ll be honest, I don’t use them at all. I just add you as a friend and don’t put any details in there about how I know you. For one, adding that kind of detail is a competitive advantage for me and for PodTech and not something I’m really anxious for other people to know.(…)

Finally, why Facebook, why now?

Well, I compare it to LinkedIn (which is the competitor that comes up the most in conversations), Twitter, Pownce, and Jaiku. All of which have a social network component where you can keep track of your friends. First, Facebook has far better contact management than Twitter, Pownce, Jaiku. If I look up someone on all three networks Facebook shows me more, brings it up faster, and has a better look into their own social networks. That leaves LinkedIn to compare it to. I dropped off LinkedIn a year ago cause the expected useage model there is to have your friends do things for you. Pass along resumes, give references, etc. (…) There is no such expectation on Facebook.(…)

To tell you the truth, the reason Facebook is the better networking tool is BECAUSE it’s personal. (…)

What other reasons are there for Facebook now?

Quality of people on the network. When I say my Facebook contact list is like a who’s who of the Tech Industry, I’m very serious. And I’m still adding more people to my friends network. I’ve been on Facebook for about a month and I’ve already gotten 2,452 friends. (…)

But, that brings us to the grand daddy. Facebook’s application platform.

This is the real reason why I turned on Facebook. I don’t really care about the social network piece. There’s already other places I can get that. (…) But now my social network brings me cool applications. Well, some cool ones, like iLike and Zoho. But a lot of really crappy ones. It’s interesting to see what people add to their profiles, though. I wish I could see when people remove things from their profiles, in addition to adding them. (…)

Anyway, it’s the application platform that got me interested in Facebook and THAT is where I expect to see the hot new advertising models pop up.

What it means: I’ve recently heard (or read) that you have to have a Facebook profile if you want to be taken seriously in the Valley and that it’s slowly (or quickly!) replacing LinkedIn as THE networking site for business. BTW, I’ve been beefing up my network recently and if you want to add me as a friend, click here. 🙂 I think that what’s happening is that personal and professional online social lives are merging. But I also think we’ll need to be able to create closed networks for friends & family as you don’t want to share everything with everyone. Finally, I think the fact that Facebook is a “closed” network (closed to search engines, that is) with a lot of traffic & social interactions makes it a credible threat to Google.