Posts Tagged ‘social networks’

Small, Slow and Closed

Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

At last night’s Feast on Good Event, hosted at the very cool MEET at the Apartment, I had the opportunity to listen to a collection of great speakers address the concept of innovative social change through the lens of digital.

During the beautiful presentation by Nathan, of Crush + Lovely, he challenged the audience to imagine an internet that was personalized just for you.   Does it look similar to the one now? What would you change?  He challenged us to move away from the standard cheers of big, fast and open and think about an internet that is instead small, slow and closed.  Small  in a way that is highly personal, slow as in thoughtful and meaningful, and closed in a way that enables more value-driven interactions that challenge the traditional social graph.

Fitting nicely within this concept, although maybe a bit differently than he originally intended, is one of the platforms presented during these talks:

Catchafire, is an organization that is working to enhance (and save) the volunteer experience by helping non-profits scope much-needed work and access skilled volunteers.  By charging non-profits a small fee to participate, Catchafire slows down the process and helps these groups think about what will truly be valuable.  Rachael, the founder of Catchafire, spent her talk discussing the hidden dangers of “free” for non-profits.  Free stuff, free bodies, free services – these things often have unintended costs (staff time for management, organization, maintenance of Free) and can distract non-profits from their primary goals and needs.   Using a process that is a bit more tailored, a bit more methodical, Catchafire is able to help non-profits connect with a tailored group of volunteers who can serve specific purposes.

In a similar vein, by using LinkedIn profiles, the organization easily identifies volunteers’ skill sets and offers up personally tailored opportunities.  This makes the volunteer experience more meaningful, as volunteers are doing projects that they find interesting and that fit their skills.  This thoughtful approach ensures a more positive volunteer experience – hopefully encouraging more participation in the future.

The platform interrupts typical behavior (both on the volunteer and non-profit side), provides personalized content, and fosters off-line connection.  I know that I, for one, am looking forward to volunteering through them.

‘Tis the Season: Social Shopping

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Social Shopping 1Given that the next 48 hours marks the final days of shopping sanity for while, it seems like a good opportunity to talk quickly about social shopping.

A recent study by Deloitte showed that 17% of consumers would use social media during their holiday shopping. Just over one-half of that group was ages 18 to 29.  The graph to the right shows the breakdown from there.

Maybe more significantly, Deloitte showed that:

  • More than one in five (22 percent) consumers anticipate they will shop primarily online this year and
  • 44 percent of shoppers expecting to use a coupon they obtained online.
  • 39 percent) indicating they often read consumer-generated reviews of stores or products online, and
  • 25 percent) saying they will likely purchase a product this holiday season based on an online recommendation.

Similarly, E-marketer reported on a study that showed that while relatively few  (7%) online shoppers who plan to both research and buy holiday gifts online this year will look for ideas on sites such as Facebook, nearly one-half (45%) will use social networks to research items, compare prices and look for offers.

Mashable categorized social shopping into a few buckets- the most important of which, especially given the stats above are:  instantaneous product reviews, real time deals, and group gifting.  For products and brands – especially during the mayhem of holiday season –it is more important than ever to rise above the clutter and create incentives for shopping and recommending.

Social platforms like Facebook and Twitter provide quick and easy ways to promote customized deals and amplify those positive real-time product reviews.  While community-based shopping sites tend to fall into two categories.  Group gift sites, like eDivvy and others make it easier for cash-strapped consumers to make bigger ticket gifts, and curated gift sites, like StyleHive, and even Best Buy’s community forums that allow for highly personalized, recommendation-based gift ideas.

And with that – let the Black Friday games begin!

Social Fund Raising

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

The topic of fund raising came up in a meeting yesterday, and when I got home and was trolling through my Google reader, I came across  KickStarter, a Brooklyn based site that allows users to pitch in to fund creative projects – artwork, design, animation, music, and more.  Donors receive updates throughout the process and can track the project as it travels from concept to reality.


I love that the concept of social networks and fundraising has the ability to translate beyond the bounds of charities and non-profits (which are obviously important), and help foster creativity and innovation and other under-funded pursuits.

The social web allows entrepreneurs, non-profits and ambitious individuals (often-times students) greater access to a wide range of potential donors.  We’ve seen sits like Kiva take off in recent years – allowing donors to provide micro-loans to fund small businesses in developing countries.  Closer to home, donors can help a student pay off their loans or help a friend save money for a trip.

Individuals, like Drew, have created movements through the use of sites like Twitter (just search for #blamedrewscancer), and major corporations have backed similar projects- equating mentions (awareness raising) to matched funds (#beatcancer is another).

One of my favorite examples is American Express’s Members Project, which allowed members to submit charities and projects needing funds, and vote on the most worthy causes.  American Express donated $1 million dollars to the cause with the most votes.  This concept has sparked others, such Target’s Bullseye Gives program, hosted through Facebook.

All of these opportunities- community based, often event-driven- succeed because they put faces to issues.  Through these social platforms, donors can track progress, follow the people they are helping, feel ownership though voting and promotions, and ultimately feel connected enough to continue the cycle of giving.

Facebook Vanity URLs

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Yesterday, Facebook announced in a blog post that starting 12:01 EDT, Saturday, June 13th, vanity URLs will be available for all Facebook profiles and Fan Pages.  This is an important step for Facebook. They are perhaps the last of the major social media platforms to offer them, as both  MySpace and Twitter already do.

A vanity URL is key for your personal brand because it allows us to find others online, by name and without a lot of work. Sure, Facebook has a search bar, but right now the problem is that once you search for someone and it pulls up results and then you still have to dig through those all of those to find the “right” person.  Once Saturday hits, you can easily just type in a friend’s specific URL and you’re DONE. Much easier.

This also means that Facebook can now play a more pivotal role in a person’s online brand.  Across all social media platforms, most of us try to keep consistent whether we use our real name or a pseudonym, people learn about us and look for us based off of the personal brand we have built.

Why else does this matter? It’s good for SEO and it allows us to find exactly what we’re looking for and know what we’re looking at. Something with a bunch of random numbers and symbols at the end doesn’t really tell us if we’ve found the right person or page. It also makes me dig even more when searching.

A few questions I have about the change though: will we find that Facebook users will begin to utilize the platform differently? Will search be as popular and will we still browse through the hundreds of random “John Smiths” of the world until we find the right one?  It will be interesting to see if this alters behavior in any significant way.

 What are your thoughts on the new vanity URLs? Will you be staying home this Friday to get one?

Also, to stake your customized claim on Facebook this weekend, you can visit

Radio Playing the Status Update Game

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

A BPP die-hard, I was skeptical of The Takeaway – seemingly NPR’s second stab at a hip, in-the-know, multi-medium news show.  Most days, I follow the RSS feed and actually listen-in on Friday mornings durring my commute.

Last Friday, I was treated to a surprise:  The Takeaway was asking their audience to play a massive game of Foursquare.  Throughout the show, listeners “checked-in” with updates from the mundane to the exciting.  Some were starting their day, some were already in the throes of closing out a week.  It was weird hearing these updates verbalized when you’re so conditioned to reading them in an endless stream of ephemera.  That might be why status update services like Twitter work so well/have been adopted so quickly but that is a post for another day.  You can click through to listen to some of the best ones they received.

Scott Lamb, senior editor at another personal favorite of mine – BuzzFeed, was also a guest on the show and broke down the appeal of these hip new social networks:

Like the absurd mundanity of Twitter, Foursquare encourages broadcasting the small stuff, letting people know where you went for lunch. And that’s exactly the appeal — get to know what I do, and you’ll get to know who I am. And there’s an undeniable joy at finding yourself near the top of the week’s leaderboard. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check in — I’m trying to earn some points here.

Much like CNN on Twitter, it’s always very refreshing seeing and experiencing mediums whom are undergoing massive change (in terms of consumption) embrace new technology that maybe their entire audience doesn’t get just yet but, most importantly, the passionate ones are already using.

Update:  Producer Jim Colgan gives the back-story to why they decided to experiment with Foursquare, etc.:

No major news was broken with this experimental journalism. But in many significant ways we broke down the barriers between the radio hosts and the radio audience. Even the people who didn’t call in were hearing about the people who did, fellow listeners whose experience they shared each time we played or read a response.