Monthly Archives: June 2010

I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours – location services

New location services are being launched at a decent rate, all with promises of having the best features, integration and fun.  It is getting to the point where a clear winner is not necessary.  A goal to having the location services is.

Foursquare is trying the game approach coupled with specials from advertisers that show based on your location.  The ads are tiny, in the upper right as green icons, but it is monetization.  Gaming the system to be mayor is harder than before.  As I stay mayor or a location, do I really gain anything?  Has anyone made business connections?  Has anyone gained followers you can reach by being mayor? Does the number of tokens I receive get me business?


Google Latitude just shows where you are.  Plain and simple. It works across Google Maps on all the platforms and makes no promise to do anything more for you.  I appreciate the simplicity, but know Google has much more planned around Google Ads based on my location soon enough.

Brightkite, one of my longtime favorites, offers a linking of pictures, posts and comments around a place.  But, they seemingly have gotten lost in all the Foursquare buzz recently.  The service is running strong, but I wait for the monetization to kick in as well.

It goes on from there. The point I am getting at (lengthy as I sit down at World Cup with time to think) is how all of these benefit me.  What have I gained by sharing my location?  Is the effort put into broadcasting my location measurable with any return?  or does it drive revenue for the location service itself to sell ads based on the number of subscribers geographically?

So I am asking the location services, new and old.  Show me yours (plan to assist me) and I will continue to show you mine.

Facebook takes on Mahalo

Facebook has made the call for beta testers of a new knowledge product.  I was intrigued by the idea of Facebook making that type of announcement when I read the following:

As a beta tester, your job will be to ask great questions and provide great answers about your favorite topics. Economics? Skydiving? Relationships? Mexican Restaurants? It’s up to you. You’ll be the first person outside of Facebook to use this product. Your expert writing will be seen by tens of millions of people

Facebook is quite apparently looking for free writers to begin filling in pages of information on any topic.  To be a beta tester they want you to also submit a writing sample on pre-listed questions with links to external sources included.

Before we can give you exclusive beta access, we’d like you to submit one great sample question and answer. We’re looking for evidence that you can write clearly and authoritatively on familiar subject matter.  Where relevant, cite and link to third-party sources such as Wikipedia.

What this means, is as you browse these topics, your profile grows in areas of interest and Facebook finely tuns targeted marketing towards you.  As you fill in topics, they begin to build a table of your knowledge as well.  It is a confusing matrix of information they will learn about you.

I would hesitate submitting for this opportunity, even with the promise that the top writers get invited to the Facebook offices to meet the team.  They make no mention of monetization towards you, nor how the data will be used.  They make no promises to you that you own the content you create.  It looks as if they claim the content as well.  So work for free, input tons of your knowledge for free and let them make advertising dollars from your work.  A perfect plan.

Mahalo, I know, pays the writers for this very same type of content. (No I am not writing for them so no disclosure necessary).  While they own the content, you do get benefit and the content creation is not linked to your profile inside of the largest social network.

My perspective on Social Media at the World Cup in South Africa

I am lucky enough to be at the World Cup 2010 in South Africa for a few weeks (our blog with photos, videos and more) and after a few days here this posting hit me while returning from a game tonight at Soccer City in Johannesburg (Brazil v Ivory Coast).  The social media movement is not what we see in the US, parts of Europe and Asia by any means.  I am not noticing where it could fit in daily.  But, I see how it wouldn’t at the same time.

Major sponsors of the event are Sony with their 3D TV initiative, a local cellular carrier (MTN) and Budweiser beer. None of them have been pushing any activity over social media channels.  Signs at the sites and around cities only pointed you to SMS codes.  By sending in a keyword you could get a prize, coupon or information only.  No one was pushing presence on Facebook, Twitter, location services or anything else we know in the social media world.

I am not saying this is bad in any way at all.  Just a difference in how we interact.  I was pleasantly surprised to see many places already listed on Foursquare and tons of people checked in.  But can you guess what some investigation found?  Those large amounts checking in were not from South Africa.  Sure, by mere percentage you would think there would be more non-locals due to the draw.  But I am also talking about local malls, shops, restaurants and a few other places we have visited.  It just is not something they do.  SMS and calls are the mainstay.  pre-paid phones are common.

Are we way beyond the curve in what we expect of business and individuals?  It seems to me the word is carried out quite well without it.  Everyone knows where everything is (locals we constantly ask for help and direction) without having to be engulfed in social media.  Products are still displayed prominently on billboards, radio and signs on transportation.  No one says check-in here or be our fan on Facebook.

Once I get back from World Cup 2010, I might adjust how I think about the way I interact.  Not saying cutting back, but how I can communicate more effectively with all the channels I reach all of you through.  I welcome you thoughts and suggestions and also from my new friends and readers I meet while in the amazing South Africa.

Evil – a website showing phone numbers from Facebook

Before you panic too much, Evil is a great implementation showing the lack of privacy controls most people place when posting information, such as phone numbers, into their stream.  Evil simply scans Faceook, blocks half the number for security and shows them at random on a webpage with an avatar of the person as well.

The site owner also does a great job explaining how it works, how anyone could do it, no tricks involved and what parts of the Facebook API he uses to make it all happen.  While phone numbers can easily be changed by anyone in today;s world for security, it is amazing how much information is now tied to it and shows when doing searches in Google sometimes.

So go into the new privacy settings and beware what sharing selection is made when you make a post on Facebook.  If you have doubts, simply send it via a private message instead.