Monday, 21 March 2011

Talking from the grave using Facebook, Twitter and Blogs

For those of you who are not aware, much of the stuff you read on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and the such like, are posted well in advance. There are numerous free tools and services that allow you to schedule your Facebook status or a tweet or a blog entry. In fact, in many cases you can schedule tens if not hundreds of posts in advance.

Cleary this has a significant advantage for businesses and the types of communications where sequenced messaging is an important factor. Also the ability to schedule specific times helps when you want posts to have the most impact in other time zones.

However, what happens when someone becomes incapacitated, sick or 'God forbid' dies having scheduled a number of future messages? (And of course no one will have a user password to cancel anything!) So like a voice from the grave or any echo from the past the posts will continue. At best possibly a little disconcerting, but really quite upsetting for family, friends and colleagues.

If Agatha Christie was still around I am sure she would have already spotted a great mystery based on scheduled messaging!

Examples of services that allow you to complete such scheduling include
Twuffer www.twuffer.com
TwitterLive www.twitterlive.net
TwitterFeed www.twitterfeed.com
Hootsuite www.hootsuite.com
Social Tomorrow www.socialtomorrow.com

Friday, 11 March 2011

How many friends have you really got?

We are spending a lot of time looking at future developments in Social Networking. A very live and interesting topic continues to be "Numbers of friends". With regard to Facebook, there seems to be a wide range of statistics, but the most reliable we have found suggests that the average friend number is 150. That said there are an lot of Facebook accounts with zero or very few friends, while apparently the American comedian Steve Hofstetter has over 100,000! The phenomenon of 'collecting friends' seems to be receding and it appears to be that Social Networking users are becoming (at least a little) more selective about who they 'friend'.

There is a 5/15/50 theory about friendship. It says that we have 5 friends that we would trust with our lives, 15 that we would be willing to have dinner with once a week and 50 who we would be happy to see on a reasonably regular basis. The suggestion is that future social networks (www.path.com already being an example) will actually limit the number of friends you can have!

What will be really interesting is how having a greatly reduced number of friends will effect how we use social networking. There is an argument that says having such a small group of selected friends will lead to even more banal exchanges, as people avoid saying anything that might be seen to favour one friend over another?

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Minimal Viable Product vs. User Experience

Or put another way - when to start?

The challenge is a big one, but relatively simple to understand. You have a great idea for a web site or application, but you don't have it fully developed. It has moved on from just being an idea, but it is not yet in the finished state you would ideally like. Not all the functionality is there or perhaps it just feels a bit clunky. Maybe you could produce a list as long as your arm of things you would like to see added or changed! But (in your mind's eye) will the site ever be perfect?

The other side of the coin is what if the site is so poor it puts users off? What if users hear about the site, try it once and then don't come back and of equal importance, don't tell their friends about it?

So here's the 'rub'. If you don't launch you won't know if the basic idea is appealing to your target audience and therefore if it warrants further investment of your time and money. But if you do launch and nobody likes the site, would they have liked it had it been further developed? Have you gone too early and created a lot of poor 'first impressions'?

You may have guessed, it is a problem I have wrestled with on a number of occasions and I am not saying I have the definitive answer. That said, what has worked for me is to ask other people what they think as soon as it is feasible to do so. Once a few people say to you that they like it (even if they do have some reservations) get the site launched, because your early adopters/users will tell you what needs to be changed and without their input you are unlikely to ever get it right!