My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 030609

From the home office in Damascus, Syria….

#1: Twitter has another huge growth month in February, per compete.com: http://bit.ly/aJ0p

#2: It always cracks me up when people say Twitter is nothing more than glorified IRC (http://bit.ly/KD3H6). Most people I know never used IRC

#3: A lot of posts like this lately: “Twitter destined to replace Google Search” http://bit.ly/14G7nn Some truth, but overstated.

#4: On Enterprise 2.0: “There is a big difference between an integrated user experience and a suite.” ReadWriteWeb http://bit.ly/6Njb

#5: Flashes of insight cannot be willed, they are spontaneous – Willam Duggan, Strategic Intuition

#6: Visa commercial uses Smashing Pumpkins “Today” as its theme. Visa gains some cool points.

#7 Anyone remember the Nestea Plunge? I have this game with my 4 y.o. son where I catch him falling backwards. Call it the Nestea Plunge.

#8: Just want to note for the record…last night’s ’24’ was great. The show is strong this season.

#9: I miss the plastic bags we’d get from grocery stores here in SF. They were perfect for the little trash cans around the house. #ecoprogress

#10: My 4 y.o. son Harrison is a huge fan of the PBD Kids website http://pbskids.org/ Well done, incl. games with his fave PBS characters.

The 10/20/30 Presentation Approach Fails in Social Media

Photo credit: Presentaiton Helper

Photo credit: Presentation Helper

Guy Kawasaki has a well known blog post from 2005, The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint, in which he articulates why less-is-more when it comes to presentations. This post is really good for in-person presentations, and continues to be well-received as seen by the blog links to the post and Google search results.

The tenets of Guy’s post include:

  • Only 10 slides, because the audience will only be able to follow that many
  • Target 20 minutes of talking
  • Font size no smaller than 30 point

The post is part of a larger canon regarding presentations. For maximum effect, keep each slide simple, with few words and no bullet points. Graphics are a better way to present concepts, with the presenter narrating heavily. These principles have vastly improved presentations in-person or on a conference call.

But they’re terrible when it comes to social media. At best, they force readers of the presentation to guess what the presentation is saying. At worst, they cause people to come away with the wrong impression of what is being said. This week saw an example of that.

Fred Wilson and Twitter’s Search Plans

Fred Wilson, the Union Square Ventures venture capitalist behind Twitter, gave a presentation titled Startup culture, the Internet, and Television. Included in that presentation was this slide:

fred-wilson-slide-twitter-search

Now Twitter is the subject of much speculation. And this slide seems to show something about their future. Search + matching users + featured user. Of course, all we have to go on is this slide. This comment on Fred’s blog foreshadows what would happen next:

Good example of the Great Deck Paradox. Given a great deck should provide context and visual cues rather than the contents of the talk itself, a great deck by itself is pretty unintelligible without the talk. Still, the key point came across: guidelines for success in TV = guidelines for success on the net.

Fred’s slide was picked up in a post by Eric Berlin on Louis Gray’s blog.

A Case of Misunderstanding

In the post, Eric does a nice job of breaking down the implications of what’s seen in the screenshot from that slide. There were no notes that accompanied the slide on SlideShare. The slides were an aid to the true content of the presentation, Fred’s talk. Unfortunately, there was no audio included. So without notes or audio, the slide has to stand on its own in venues like SlideShare.

It turns out the analysis that Eric did ob the slide was wrong. Not so much on the analysis itself – that was top-notch. But on the premise behind the analysis. Namely, that the slide was showing the future direction of Twitter.

In a follow-up post, Fred wrote that bloggers were getting the wrong impression of the slide, which was some alpha version floating around Twitter. Here’s what he said about Eric’s post:

But it gets even more nutty. Today I saw a story on louisgray.com that assumes the title of slide 22 “Where We Are Going” implies that the search results page I showed was about where Twitter is going. And then it goes on to evaluate the business model implications of the page I showed. Well the post is pretty interesting, but it’s based on a false assumption. The “We” in “Where We Are Going” means TV users and the TV business, not Twitter.

Let’s trace this:

Incomplete information on slide -> Blog post based on incorrect assumption -> Fred Wilson refuting posts

Could Fred have added some content on the slide or a note to mitigate the possibility of misunderstanding? Yeah, probably.

Recognize Two Separate Audiences for Your Presentations

In How to Integrate Social Media in Product Marketing, I noted this issue about presentations put up on services like SlideShare and Scribd:

When people are viewing your PowerPoint, they will not have the advantage of your voiceover. You can’t provide a spare slide with just a picture and hope everyone gets what you’re saying. In the webinar, you’ll have a nice narration for the slide. In SlideShare and Scribd, each slide has to stand on its own.

In terms of product marketing, this is important for making sure you effectively get your point across. Here’s an example of what I mean, from the presentation How to Double the Value of Your Social Software:

example-of-self-explanatory-slide

The left graphic is a good visual aid. My voiceover is shown on the right. If you want to combine in-person slides with social media-ready slides, the little talk bubble on the right can be a custom animation that doesn’t appear during your narration of the slide until the end. You get the minimalist approach during the presentation, readers get the context afterwards.

That’s from a product marketing perspective. But as this incident with Fred Wilson shows, it’s a lesson that applies to any presentation you put up on social media sites. Perhaps Guy will update his 10/20/30 Rule to reflect the ways in which people consume information in 2009.

I’m @bhc3 on Twitter.

Power Twitter Gets More Powerful with Latest Release

fred-wilson-power-twitter

A few days back, I noticed something in Fred Wilson’s tweets. He was using some sort of app called Power Twitter. Now Fred is the highly visible Union Square Ventures VC behind Twitter. When he uses an application to engage with Twitter, I’m curious why. So I checked it out.

Power Twitter is a Firefox add-on built by Narendra Rocherolle. Power Twitter, as its name implies, supercharges the web -based interface of Twitter for Firefox browser users. The added features are those that a lot of Twitter users want. As John Tropea tweeted:

@bhc3 twitter should have this inhouse, just like what happened with replies, and what also should happen with hashtags

Power Twitter got good coverage on TechCrunch in January of this year. On February 26, a slew of new features were released. These new features have made Power Twitter even better, and perhaps give a glimpse of what Twitter could do in the future.

Packed with Valuable Features

Here’s a screen shot of the Twitter page with Power Twitter installed:

power-twitter-home-page

Let’s talk about the numbered features.

#1 – Post Photo: Have a picture you want to tweet out? Use the handy Post Photo link. When you click it, you’ll be presented with a familiar dialogue box asking you to upload a picture. Once you select your picture, it is automatically posted to TwitPic. Your TwitPic picture will have its own URL, which is automatically pasted into the “What are you doing?” box. Then you type out whatever you want to accompany the picture. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#2 – Shorten Link: Sharing links is a prevalent activity on Twitter. According to Ginx, 20% of tweets are sharing links. With the Shorten Link feature, you paste a long URL into an input box, and Power Twitter automatically shortens it using bit.ly (see previous bit.ly coverage here). You then type whatever message you want. One downside is that it doesn’t associate the bit.ly URL to your bit.ly account. But for most people, that’s not an issue. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#3 – Retweet: The retweet is emerging as the new thing to do on Twitter. As Robert Scoble wrote in a comment in a FriendFeed discussion: “I judge myself off of how many times I get retweeted. That demonstrates readership, credibility, engagement, interest, etc.” Power Twitter now makes it easier to retweet those tweets you like. Every entry has a little “RT” to the side. When you click the “RT”, the entire tweet is copied to your “What are you doing?” box, along with “RT @[person]”. Very easy. This is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#4 – Expand Shortened URLS: One problem with the shortened URLs is that you don’t know where they go before clicking them. Power Twitter automatically expands the shortened URLs so you see the full URL. This is something that was implemented on FriendFeed a while back, and it’s great for fully extra secure before clicking those links.

#5 – Search and Saved Searches: Search is another aspect of Twitter that is emerging as hugely important. Twitter bought the third party search service Summize to provide search to its members. However, they have maintained search as a separate URL from the Twitter home page, although they are testing the addition of search to the homepage currently. With Power Twitter, you don’t have to wait. Search is embedded right on your home page. When you run a search, Power Twitter runs it against the Twitter search engine and presents the results right on your homepage.

Power Twitter also links # hashtags to a Twitter search. When you see a hashtag, click on it. Power Twitter returns a set of results including the hashtag. Power Twitter retains a list of your previous searches if you want to run them again. The saved search history is new with the Feb. 26 release.

#6 – @Mentions: Twitter added the @replies tab a while back, which shows those tweets that begin with your Twitter handle (e.g. @bhc3 lorem ipsum…). Power Twitter also includes @mentions, where your handle is included elsewhere inside the tweet (e.g. RT @bhc3 lorem ipsum…). A quick way to see if someone retweeted you or otherwise mentioned you in a tweet.

#7 – Facebook: You can view the status updates of your friends on Facebook, right from the Twitter page. I assume this leverages the new Facebook status updates API. For me, this is a hugely valuable addition. I don’t log in to Facebook too often, meaning I don’t see the updates of my connections there. Now, I regularly check the Facebook tab in Twitter to see what my friends are up to. Really, really helpful.

In-Line Media

This isn’t new, but merits mention. Power Twitter displays the media associated to links to several different services including:

  • TwitPic
  • Flickr
  • YouTube
  • Google Maps
  • Song.ly
  • Others

The song.ly links include a simple player to hear the song that was tweeted. Very nice. Here’s an example of what a TwitPic looks like as it hits your Twitter stream:

power-twitter-twitpic-inline

That tweet only had a link to a TwitPic URL. But Power Twitter found the TwitPic URL, and pulled the actual picture into the tweet.

Some people may not like the inclusion of media in their Twitter stream, preferring text only. If that’s the case, Power Twitter lets you turn off the inclusion of rich media in tweets.

But one thing that occurred to me is that this resembles somewhat the experience you have with FriendFeed, which does a great job with including media inline on its pages.

Quick View of People’s Last 5 Tweets

Power Twitter also lets you see the last five tweets of people. When you move your cursor over someone’s picture, a hover box appears. The hover box shows the last 5 tweets of that person. Here’s what it looks like (I added the red dotted line to highlight):

power-twitter-last-5-tweets

A very nice way to get a quick look at what someone is up to.

Continual Innovation

Power Twitter isn’t done innovating either. One of the items listed with the latest release is:

added foundations for new upcoming features

Looking forward to new features in the future. If you want to get more from Twitter, I recommend installing Power Twitter.

*****

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How Much Scale Is Needed in Enterprise 2.0 Employee Adoption?

A couple recent items caught my eye with regard to the issue of employee adoption of social software.

In Reversing the Enterprise 2.0 Pricing Model, Julien le Nestour argues that pricing per user for social software should increase as more employees use it, because the network effects of higher participation make the software more valuable. It’s a great theoretical piece, tying pricing to value received. But in the harsh budgeting realities of the enterprise and in the comparison against other software pricing models, it’s not likely we’ll see anything like this.

Atlassian, maker of the Confluence wiki and developers tools, recently passed the cumulative revenue mark of $100 million. In the post announcing this milestone, Atlassian blogger notes that the company has no sales force. People just download the app. I know some of the Atlassian guys, and this kind of viral, bottom-up adoption is core to their philosophy. They don’t sell to upper management, adoption occurs at the departmental level. That being said, I am aware from my work at Connectbeam of some large-scale rollouts of the Confluence wiki by Fortune 500 companies.

What connects these two items? The first post describes the nature of Enterprise 2.0 apps and how their value increases as more employees use them. The second post points to the value that departments have received from Atlassian’s Confluence wiki, even without broad adoption. In other words, network effects are not a critical aspect of the Confluence value proposition.

From these posts, other readings and direct customer experience, the following occurred to me:

You don’t need a high level of adoption to get value from some Enterprise 2.0 apps. Others require broad participation.

In some ways, that may seem obvious. Yet I don’t tend to hear this distinction being made. Usually, all social software is lumped together under ‘Enterprise 2.0’ and there is a collective view that wide-scale adoption by employees is a necessity. It’s actually more nuanced than that.

Varying Adoption Levels Required

The graphic below depicts the relative levels of participation required for different apps to “deliver value”:

enterprise-20-employee-adoption-to-derive-value

Here’s a quick summary of the graph:

  • Employee participation is defined as contributions and engagement (views, edits, comments, etc.)
  • Moving from left to right, the percentage of employees involved gets higher

This graph has a couple of implications for Enterprise 2.0 vendors. Before that, here’s an explanation for why I put the different applications where I did.

Consider the Purposes of the E2.0 Applications

Before discussing these applications, I want to note this. All social software applications get better with higher adoption. There is no disputing that. The distinction I want to make is that some apps require increased participation before they deliver value.

Blogs: The nature of a blog is a single person’s thoughts, observations and ideas. Inside companies, these applications can be tools for the ongoing recording of things that fall outside the deadlines and process-oriented activities that make up the day. Making them public is a great way to share these contributions with other employees and establish your record of what’s happening. If only a few key people blogged inside a company, there will be value in that.

Wikis: Wikis actually have two purposes: (1) knowledge repositories, and (2) projects and collaboration. It’s that second purpose that makes wikis particularly valuable even with small participation. I’ll use Confluence as an example. We use it as our low home for putting up documents accessible to anyone else, and for free-form contributions on all manner of things. It is very much a utilitarian use case for us. If we weren’t using Confluence for this purpose, we’d share documents via email. In larger organizations, Confluence may replace usage of SharePoint or the company portal.

Using wikis as knowledge repositories, such as [Company Name]-ipedia type of implementations, requires a larger percentage involvement. Sparsely populated company versions of Wikipedia are of little use. As are wikis that are not updated regularly with new information. I’d put wikis-as-knowledge-repositories up there around prediction markets in terms of required participation.

Forums: The old man of Enterprise 2.0…forums. These are the place where topics can be posted, and a scrum of conversation occurs. To really get value out of these, it helps to have larger participation. Blogs are solo voices with interesting content. Wikis can have a very specific collaboration purpose among a few employees. Conversations around a topic require a wider variety of voices. Otherwise they fail to give people a sense of what others are thinking. Nothing sadder than forum post with no comments.

Social bookmarking: Bookmarking sites you find useful has value by itself. So in that sense, “social” bookmarking can work for very few employees. But it’s not really “social”, it’s simply a replacement for your browser bookmarks. You get value by finding those gems your colleagues deem interesting. The odds that any single bookmark will be useful to you are small, so you need a healthy amount of bookmarks to increase the chances of finding links that will help you. And to get a healthy amount of bookmarks, you need broader participation.

Microblogging: In some ways, microblogging could be compared to forums. Both are public places to serve up topics. But they’re fundamentally different. And that’s why broader participation is more important here. Forums have a distinct purpose – the discussion of a particular topic. You need participation by those who know something around the topic.  Microblogging is a more free-form, personal activity. You don’t need a distinct purpose to post something. You post all the things that occur to you during the day. Some of which will have value, although it can be hard to predict for whom. It also helps to know that people are seeing these posts, because there is a conversational aspect to microblogging. The free-form, who-knows-what-might-be-interesting, conversational aspect of microblogging require larger participation than forums do.

Prediction markets: Prediction markets thrive on having a variety of ideas, events and initiatives. They also require the different perspectives of employees, leveraging different perspectives, knowledge and experiences. This is true wisdom of crowds work. Limited participation limits the value of prediction markets. These benefit from broad employee involvement.

Social networks: I put these at the top of the chart in terms of employee involvement. Perhaps one of the best use cases for social networks is finding colleagues with the knowledge or interest in projects you’re working on. This requires large-scale participation. If a social network only is used at the departmental level, it doesn’t provide value. In terms of expertise location, you’re probably already aware of what others in your deparmtent know. It’s breaking out of that traditional sphere of contacts where social networks shine. I know I’ve heard many instances of large corporations suffering from “reinventing the wheel” syndrome because employees lack visibility about what others know. Broad participation addresses this issue.

Implications

Three implications of this view about required involvement come to mind.

Greater required participation correlates to greater impact on a company’s value: Generally, you could change the metric in the chart above from percentage of employee involvement to impact on company value. The increased participation means the associated application will also have a larger effect on the company’s strategies and operations. It’s not an tight correlation, but a general trendline. Exceptions will abound.

Top-down vs. bottom-up: General observation is that broader participation requires a greater amount of senior management support. That’s the way things work inside companies. Employees will listen when the executives of the company push something. For applications that need lower participation, the name of the game is to provide a compelling application with a low entry cost. Departmental budgets and the green-light from employees at lower levels of the organization are all that are needed.

Time for application to gain traction: With applications that require low levels of participation, there is plenty of time for the application to grow virally. It serves its purpose for a select few, and over time others will see the value and elect to participate. These apps can be resident inside companies for long periods of time. Those that require higher participation to see value will need to show results sooner. They are on senior management’s radar, generally cost more and have a greater number of employees who will be watching to see the results.

So it matters what type of application we’re talking about when it comes to Enterprise 2.0. It matters for companies and vendors. It impacts the skills required for everyone’s success.

A nice post that complements this one is Adina Levin’s Scale effects in enterprise social software.

*****

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 022709

From the home office in Denver, Colorado…

#1: Please, I don’t want your automated DMs after I follow you. This practice needs to stop. I never click your links, it’s just spam.

#2: To all you social media whales doing the mass unfollow routine, I say: “Go ahead, make my day.” Got my unfollow trigger finger ready.

#3: Reading @loic post about the realities of following thousands http://bit.ly/CR6A9 Future = Dunbar’s Number + @replies + keyword tracking?

#4: Yammer rolls out new features: lifestreaming a la FriendFeed, and DM like Twitter. VentureBeat: http://bit.ly/qamnq

#5: “Discovering problems actually requires as much creativity as discovering solutions” The Myths of Innovation, Scott Berkun

#6: Innovation myth inside companies: “if the idea were any good, the people at the top would have thought of it already.” http://bit.ly/CfPgl

#7: FriendFeed guys have created the FriendFeed Therapy Room, featuring Eliza http://bit.ly/LseaI See if you can get past her therapist tenacity

#8: Do you suppose accident rates are down in California now that we’ve banned cell phones in the car? Do you feel safer?

#9: My favorite Jelly Belly beans: 1. coffee 2. watermelon. My 4.y.o. son Harrison: smelly skunk (betcha didn’t know about that one). You?

#10: Driving down 101, behind this car. Smelled an odd sweet odor that I recognized. Pass the car minutes later, sure enough dude had a fat one.