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This morning I was discussing my frustrations with Facebook and Google+ with a friend. Most of my frustrations with Facebook (and who yet knows about Google+) is that it is the same articles, statuses, and posts are regurgitated over and over again. There is a “herd” mentality on FB.

His next question was – doesnt Twitter have the same issues as Facebook (same content appearing over and over) and my answer was – not in my feed.

My Twitter feed is made up of so many different people from all over the world who are interested in a huge variety of topics. I purposefully chose not to just follow people in the high-tech scene. I wanted variety .. I wanted to learn new things and this was the forum do just that.

And the most astonishing conclusion I came to this morning was: I do not have the email addresses for the people who I consider most interesting on the web.

And this is why Facebook and Google+ will never satisfy my needs. I want to connect to strangers, not people I know.

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Originally posted on my old blog on 16.9.07

I remember the days when I used to make phone calls to connect to friends, family and business colleagues. Those days are long gone replaced now by the internet. My personal evolution away from using the phone to connect others started with email, then AOL chat-rooms, IM chatting, Skype, social networking sites like Friendster and Myspace, blogging, Vonage, LinkedIn, Facebook and now Twitter.

I have watched my personal relationships with most of my friends diminish over time while my business connections have grown and strengthened.

I remember being a teenager and always being on the phone with friends and we would share our daily lives with one another. We would rehash the day events repeating stories over and over on every call to every friend until it was time for bed.

Email arrived in my house but at the time I was the only person I knew who had email and so until my friends caught up with me the technology sat on the back burner. AOL and chatting in the Jewish chat rooms became the hottest thing to do. I chatted with my friends and random people in the chat rooms of AOL but never once did I meet a stranger from the online world in person.

By senior year of high school I had a close friend who was in Israel for his freshman year of college and we communicated mostly via email (the phone calls were too expensive). I printed out and saved those emails for years and years re-reading them like old love letters. I never wanted to lose them and felt that by printing them out I would never have to worry about loosing them.

My freshman year in college was spent in Israel and I branched out of my old AOL email address and old IM into the new world of MSN hotmail. I still use that email address from almost ten years ago. Email then was more widespread and we used it to connect to our parents back at home and forwarded on the chain emails that today I now mark as spam.

Instant messaging and email helped my keep in touch with my new friends from all over the world. Phone calls were sporadic at best with my international friends but they did occur. Our sporadic emails would be long and detail oriented letters sharing the intricate web of college, boyfriends, husbands and life.

By the end of college everyone had a mobile phone and we were all instantly connected to each other. Any time I felt the need to share with a loved one a thought, feeling or idea I just dialed their number and connected to them. It was a time of instant gratification and instant connection.

Fast forward a few years later when I decided to move to Israel and leave behind America I came armed with my new MySpace and Friendster accounts and my new Vonage router allowing all of my US friends to dial a NY number to reach me abroad. The MySpace and Friendster accounts were the sites my friends back at home were used and this was a way to instantly connect and share my life with them via the internet. I shared pictures, sent cute notes and posted a message on their page letting them know when I’d call them that day.

I also began a blog in 2004 as a place for me to chronicle my moving to Israel and verbalize to the whole world what I felt and still feel is important to me. The blog shows my evolution from being a wet behind the ears “olah” to a more knowledgeable and mature “olah”. I branched out from just blogging about my life here in Israel to my work life which revolves around technology. I no longer feel the need to separate my love for Israel and my love for technology. My friends were able to comment on my blog and it was rare for my blog posting to initiate a conversation between me and my readers. I was able to share and connect without doing it face to face or even over the telephone.

My new friends in Israel took up blogging as well for the same reasons. They too wanted to share with their friends back at home and their new friends here in Israel what is going on in their daily lives. I love reading their blog entries and felt that this was a fantastic medium to get to know my new friends and new contemporaries that were also going through the same transitions I was going through. I too was able to share my opinions and connect with my fellow bloggers via their comment sections.

Fast forward to today where almost every one of my friends has a Facebook account. The frenzy around Facebook opening up its doors to the non-college email user was astounding. We began messaging each other, planning events online, creating groups for different purposes. Slowly as the excitement of Facebook wore off so did my connection to my friends.

Facebook replaced the phone calls and emails. Why pick up the phone and spend money when you could share your entire life via one site? My pictures, videos, blog posting, email etc are all displayed and sent via Facebook. I check Facebook more times a day than I’d like to count. I could chose to read the messages, flick through the pictures and read my friends walls to see what is going on with their lives without ever having to directly ask them “How are you?”

The downfall is that now in order for me to really connect to my friends I need to start all over. I need to learn how to have a conversation that does not bore me with the details. I cannot scan a conversation looking for the key points. I need to remember that people communicate differently in person then they do online.

I love technology and I love my technology evolution so far. What I need to remember and what I think others need to remember is that technology is great but it does not replace face to face relationships or phone calls. In order for there not to be a backlash against technology we all need to figure out how to utilize the technology in our own ways without forgetting how important a personal connection is. These technologies are there to enhance our current and hopefully new relationships but never to replace the current methods of connecting with solely an online connection.

(This post was originally posted on my old blog on 21/2/07)

Over the past few years there has been a great increase in social networking sites. I think it is wonderful way to connect to new and re-connect to old friends via these different sites. I personally have accounts on Myspace, Friendster, Facebook, schmooze to name a few. The reasons for joining the multiple sites have to do with various reasons but mostly due to the different friends on different sites.

As of right now I am seeing the darker side to the social networking world.

If you follow the US news, there has been a tremendous backlash against the social networking sites. A large point of contention is the accessibility pedophiles have with children via these sites. Recently a senator proposed a ban on social networking sites, Wikipedia, etc in schools and universities. As an adult I am wary of random strangers connecting to me via these sites. When I was a teenager and used AOL back the earlier days- I encountered pedophiles the via chat rooms. I am not as naive as I once was.

But I believe in the positive aspects of social networking sites and understand the dangers and risks of these sites. I have met and made new friends with individuals I would have never had the opportunity to meet or connect to without the help of these sites. Plus I have the ability to communicate to a larger audience in a much more timely fashion through these sites- and I can tell you planning a Thursday night out with the friends is much easier now.

But the biggest danger to the users of these sites are not only the pedophiles, stalkers but the users who chose to slander a person/people to a larger audience via these sites. These actions can cause tremendous psychological trauma to teenagers and adults alike. There are even cases of kids committing suicide based on what was happening in thier social networking life.

Recently I have come across a group where the founder of the group is using it to unleash his continuing barrage of insults directed at a specific person who is no longer in his daily life. The pretext of the group is to make fun in general but it is easy enough to understand who this is really directed at.

This groups exemplifies the darker side to social networking sites. My only wish is that the founders of groups like this one see clearly what they are doing and are not delusional about their intentions.

These sites were created to meet new people, talk to the friends you currently have, share information with each other but not slander and hurt others. There is an entire world out there and this is just one way of connecting to each other.

Facebook Groups have morphed into Facebook Fan Pages and on the most part they are worthless placeholders within Facebook’s closed garden.

ahuvah friendlist

The common (mis)conception is that brands need to have a Facebook Fan Page to show that they are active on the network but I want to point out the fallacies in this theory. Dont get me wrong, there are some amazing Facebook Fan Pages but they are used as a placeholder in the network. These fan pages bring something new to their fan base that their blog and other online activities do not offer.

But I am not going to go into detail for Facebook pages that get it right, this post is how brands get it wrong.

Creators of fan pages tend to assume that since Facebook has such an enormous amount of users, it is necessary to participate somehow on it. Most people tend never to look at fan pages once they’ve joined.  Can you remember the last time you went to check on a fan page?

Now lets keep our eye on the ball – using social media is about reaching eyeballs and creating brand awareness.  It is about engaging the brand’s user-base in a unique manner.

Now lets go back to how a Fan Page is built. The way a brand can invite people to join the group is to be friends with the person or to already be a member of a fan page. So typically the brand begins to build the fan page around the fan page owner’s friends, family and Facebook friends.  There are two options for the friends; support their friend by joining the fan page, or become annoyed from the constant nagging to join the fan page.  Currently there  is no blocking solution the same way one would block a Facebook application that is spamming their Facebook feed. The only solution to is ignore the endless fan page invitations and not answer the requests (and for me that is not an option).

Now from the point of view of the fan page creators, in order for the page to be “popular” it needs to have an ever increasing number of members which means that the creator is going to constantly invite their friends to join the page over and over again until it becomes viral.  Unfortunately turning something “viral” is not an easy feat nor is figuring out a creative way to engage current and potential fan page members.

Fan page creators like to point out how “easy” it is to access fans of their brand by using the fan pages. Gone are the days that the brand needs to sort through their entire friend list to reach out to the “appropriate” friends  when there is an update/ upcoming event/ etc. I guess those individuals never thought about using Facebook friend lists as a way to sort and manage their friends. Now everyone who is a member of a fan page is notified when there are updates  – regardless of the reason why you joined the group.

So the bottom line is that those that initially join are friends and family and those that dont join feel spammed.  Either way both group is spammed by the brand which in turn dilutes the brand image.

So think long and hard about creating a fan page and think even harder on how to offer  a different value proposition for its members to result in brand awareness.

Take a look at some of the interesting fan page screen shots here.

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