Brian Shaler

Occasionally Interesting

Gravity is for chumps

Posts Tagged ‘social’

Impromptu, Unsanctioned “Social Media Breakfast” in San Francisco

It is Friday, and I am half-way through my March trip to San Francisco. I made sure my return flight is Saturday night so I have all day Saturday to hang out with people I know in the area and meet some new people.

I missed the first Social Media Breakfast in Phoenix, AZ, and noticed that San Francisco was not listed as a SMB city. I figured Saturday morning would be a great time to try it out!

8:30am-10:30am Saturday, March 22nd, 2008
Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery
2 Townsend St, San Francisco, CA

To RSVP, go to the Upcoming event: (You can still show up if you don’t RSVP, but if we can’t get a bigger table at the last minute…. Oh well..)

Here is a map: Town’s End Restaurant & Bakery

Breakfast is on me (within reason, like $20 each) for the top 3 most-followed Twitter users who show up. Ideally, we’ll verify by sending a text message from your phone to 40404 (Twitter) with “stats” and see what number it returns. It’s a good way to verify that you own the account and that we are comparing the latest stats on your account.

Facebook Poke-A-Thon Friday

Facebook - Application Requests & Pokes - Screenshot

If there is one feature on Facebook that I just don’t “get”, it’s Poking. You can poke a friend or a non-friend and that person will see a notification in their sidebar the next time they sign in. It would be a cool feature if Facebook did not have the “news feed” that displays your friends’ recent activity, because the poke could represent an unobtrusive way of saying “Check out the changes I made to my profile.”

I don’t know if I have as many application requests as Clintus McGintus (I caught a glimpse of his flooded Facebook sidebar at PodCampAZ). I used to clear out my requests every time I signed into Facebook, but realized that those seconds add up and only served to distract me from going in there and doing what I really wanted to do (check my FB fanmail*). I stopped clearing out the requests and noticed that the sidebar filled up quickly. With 10,000+ Facebook applications available, you can imagine how your Facebook sidebar could end up looking if there are not measures in place to limit the number displayed (and provide a link to show the rest). After 40 applications piled up on my sidebar, I started thinking about the 7 pokes I had below that.

It is a simple experiment and perhaps I am the only person who wonders about this. How big can that sidebar get? Application requests come naturally as your friends install and use them. If you ask for more of those, you are asking for a lot work from your friends (go to application page for each application, find invite utility, select my name, send invite). However, with pokes, you can provide a link and anyone (friend or not) can poke you in a matter of a few seconds.

I grabbed the link to my profile and sent it out to my friends on Twitter, asking them to poke me. I discovered that, unlike the application request list, the poke list does have a limit to the number of items displayed at a time. After 20 pokes, a link appeared to “see all” on another page. With almost 80 pokes, I had 4 pages of pokes to view. 

For the sake of an interesting visual, I used Photoshop to piece together the 4 pages of pokes to show how they would look without the “see all” functionality. Only the top 20 pokes are actually appearing on my Facebook home page.

* = That “FB fanmail” remark was a joke ;)

Social Media Club – December 13, 2007

I finally made it to Social Media Club. It was my first time and overall, it was a worthwhile evening.

The topic was a presentation by Arizona-based white label video site, V:social. I have heard about the site, but it was great to see a more detailed view of their platform. It was also great to see some of the implementations of their product. As a white label video player, you can be watching V:social video without even knowing it (and I have!). Great company. Great product. Great presentation. Glad to hear about companies like this thriving in Phoenix.

There were two other highlights of the night. As I introduced myself, Francine Hardaway, an “uber” networking maven if I’ve ever seen one, interrupted me immediately after I said my name. “Oh HEY!” she said. “I (@hardaway) follow you (@brianshaler) on Twitter.” That happens from time to time with people I’ve never met, and it’s always awkward. But because this was Francine, it was awkward + awesome.

The other highlight was the guy that introduced himself by saying “I invented Web 2.0 in 1991.” Yes, an Al Gore joke inevitably followed (it wasn’t me, I promise…. but it was definitely on the tip of my tongue).

Social Media Club meetings are on the second Thursday of every month. Check out for more information.

Networking: To Add Or Not To Add

While at a party last night in Manhattan, I was involved in an interesting group conversation about social networking. I was thinking on my own thoughts on the subject. We were discussing where to draw the line for adding new “friends” on social networks.

Like most people who actively participate in social networking, I have come across quite a few different philosophies on friend-adding.

“This Network Is Too Small.”
Starting on one end, there is the type that only adds close friends to their networks. They have a valid point about the definition of the word “friend” and keeping that definition consistent both online and off. However, the main problem I have with this is that it prevents many benefits of social networking. One of the most important aspects of social networking is creating potential business connections with people you otherwise would not have met.

“This Network Is Too Big.”
On the other end of the spectrum, there is the type of networker who seems to be out for nothing more than being popular. This means adding anyone and everyone, with no intention of ever communicating with them. With this perspective, social contacts are treated much like a currency that cannot be spent. They fight to get to the top for no other reason than to be so wealthy with this currency that they can swim in it. This strategy, much like the previous one, renders social networking nearly useless.

It is important for one to find a sweet spot in the middle, to harness the power of social networks. Within the last year, I have made very visible changes to my social networking strategy. A lot of people will disagree and have disagreed with my approach as of late, but I think my current position is well-justified.

I have found that two key principles of social networking can open the door for a lot of (mutually) beneficial business relationships. As you should notice, these are derived from the two extremes above, and must be implemented together.

Principle 1: Think Outside The Circle
You must reach out beyond your circle of friends when using social networking tools. If you constraint yourself to only connecting with people you know well, you will not be able to use this platform for meeting new people. If you are not meeting new people, you might as well stay off social network sites. Email, instant message, and the phone are much more efficient tools for communicating with your circle of trusted friends.

Principle 2: The Law Of Probability
If you connect with more people on social networks, you improve your chances of making very valuable contacts. This could come in the form of a skilled professional that you can work with, the CEO of a large company in your industry, or a Connector that knows those types of people and can match you up. If you do not put yourself out there, you are stifling the chances of meeting these people.

Based on these principles, I have taken a fairly unmoderated approach of connecting with people on social networks. At least 95% of my Twitter network consists of people I have never met or directly communicated with. Thanks to that large pool of individuals, I have been able to connect with quite a few relevant people in my industry, both online and in person.

“This Network Is Just Right.”
The vast majority of my social network contacts will never benefit me in any way. But for the few, highly beneficial connections I have gained because of the large, open-invitation network, it is well worth it. What makes my approach different from the popularity-seeking networker described earlier? I am not building a network to be popular. I am trying to start conversations, connect with new people, and build relationships — albeit with a shotgun approach.

My strategy might not work for everyone, but for me, it has been more successful than I expected.