My Muslim Facebook Friends

muslimfbI admit that I am fairly wanton in my acceptance of Facebook friends.  Since it’s my primary mode of communication and sharing with my friends and followers, I’m happy to pretty much accept anyone who isn’t harassing me.  More hits on my blog, more attention to me, etc.

While the vast majority of strangers who friend request me are atheists, I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a lot of requests from strangers who are Muslims.  No other religious denomination, just Islam.  I didn’t think too much of it — they could be people who were curious about what I was saying or maybe were in the closet atheists in inhospitable areas or they were trying to convert me.  All of which were OK with me.  I did a little digging and discovered that these people have friended en masse a lot of other atheists that I am friends with.

The weird thing is that none of them really comment on my page or engage with anything I say.  I guess they just want their posts to show up in my News Feed, but I am pretty heavy with my “Don’t Show Me Posts” powers, so a lot of people disappear soon after friending me.  Yesterday I got a friend request from someone with over 100 friends in common with me and today she showed up in my News Feed:

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Uzma Rathore: I don’t want to come across as harsh but i request those of you who are Islamophobics to kindly remove yourselves from my friends list as being a practicing Muslim, i won’t allow anyone to disrespect my religion. I removed a particular individual from my friends list just now due to the same reason. Cheers.

What’s she doing going around friending all these atheists if she’s just going to tell us to unfriend her.  MAKES NO SENSE.

So, strangers, why are you friending me?

EDIT: Apparently asking why she friended so many atheists is islamophobic hate speech.  Fascinating.

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I have absolutely no idea how many atheistic Islamophobic mad hatters i have added to my friend’s list out of sheer ignorance since i don’t deem it necessary to confirm individual religious beliefs prior to sending out friend requests but i am getting negative vibes about this whole thing. I just removed two women from my friend’s list who were propagating religious hate speech on my wall notwithstanding my persistent requests to not disrespect my religion. I wonder how some people can be so unreasonably adamant !

Social Media Science

As a social scientist and nerd who works in the social media industry (yes, it is an industry), a recent story really caught my attention.  There’s been some claims that Google works better to follow/predict the flu than the CDC, but it turns out that Twitter is even better.

Facebook Rumors: Paying to reach fans

In my other life, I write for a social media news blog, and I recently wrote about the current rumor going around about pages/celebrities having to pay to reach their fans.  Unfortunately, my tiny blog post didn’t reach George Takei so I imagine the level of hysteria over this is just going to continue ratcheting up.  I’m sure you will all be surprised by this, but misinformation really gets under my skin.  Here’s the relevant information from Facebook itself:

Nothing has changed about how your posts are shared with the people who like your Page.

A lot of activity happens on Facebook and most people only see some of it in their news feeds. They may miss things when they’re not on Facebook, or they may have a lot of friends and Pages, which results in too much activity to show all of it in their news feed.

If you don’t promote your post, many of the people connected to your Page may still see it. However, by promoting a post, you’re increasing its potential reach so an even larger percentage of your Page audience and the friends of those interacting with your post will see it.

Nothing has changed, Facebook is just now offering the opportunity to advertize specific posts to the people most likely to be interested: casual fans who don’t interact with the page often and friends of fans.  If you have a problem with EdgeRank, the system that sorts your Newsfeed in Facebook, that’s a different issue entirely that impacts every post from every person, not just pages.

I have a new crush, and it’s a cobra!

Are you following @BronxZoosCobra?  If you’re unfamiliar with the story, the Bronx Zoo has lost a rather venomous snake*, an Egyptian Cobra, and in the ensuing New York panic, an incredibly clever person created a Twitter account in the name of the snake.  Despite the fact that @BronxZoosCobra is only following one person, their funny tweets have got them nearly 200,000 followers in under a week, myself included.

Despite the fact that there’s almost no chance that the snake has left the reptile house, New Yorkers’ fear of animals created the perfect opportunity to both ridicule and support New Yorkers and the snake has done just that with its posts.  Ranging from jokes about the original Ray’s Pizza (there are probably 60 places that claim to be the original Ray’s) to jokes about sneaking into chimneys and open apartment windows at night, @BronxZooCobra is the perfect mix of NYC insider and comedian.

What I particularly like about this is that it shows that being particularly clever and topical can get you a lot of attention, even though the market is already saturated.  This is good for businesses and self-promoters, if you’re witty and quick on the trigger you can still be really successful.  @BronxZooCobra has already promoted some local businesses, but just imagine how much self-promotion the person behind could do – social media has the power to create significant fame quite literally overnight.

*Although many media reports erroneously say it’s poisonous, it is not.  Poisonous means you can’t eat it, and you can eat cobras just fine, you just don’t want to get bit!

Have some tweets:

Indiana Jones, why'd it have to be Indiana Jones?

Getting my morning coffee at mud tuck. Don't even talk to me until I've had my morning coffee. Seriously don't. I'm venomous.

Dear @CharlieSheen, know what's better than tiger's blood? Cobra venom. #winning #snakeonthetown Also I'm 20 inches long. Just sayin'.

Holding very still in the snake exhibit at the Museum of Natural History. This is gonna be hilarious

The Empire State Building: “All the people look like little mice down there. Delicious little mice. #snakeonthetown

Want to clear up a misconception, I'm not poisonous as has been reported. I'm venomous. Super venomous, but not poisonous so don't worry.

Google +1 Button: Not Buzz

Google has apparently not learned its lesson when it comes to getting involved in social ventures, and is rolling out a new feature called the +1 button, which is essentially equivalent to Facebook’s “Like” button.  If you’ve got a Google profile, you can see what your friends with Google Profiles have +1ed and, unlike Facebook, you don’t send out notifications every time you +1 something.  In other words, you only see +1s when you get the site in a search result anyway, so it’s like a personal recommendation tailored to your search.

See +1s

 The other thing that is slightly different than the “like” button is that Google is integrating the results into their overall search engine algorithm.  Though they haven’t explained exactly how that will work, one assumes that sites with more +1s will end up higher in the search results than those that haven’t been +1ed.  We’ll see how long it takes for businesses to try to take advantage of that.

Social media has been a struggle for Google, especially since their debacle last year with Buzz.  Although they immediately addressed the privacy concerns and general uproar, Buzz failed to take off and it earned them a visit from the US Federal Trade Commission for being misleading in their tactics and not upfront about their services.

This +1 button seems to be a nice marriage of what Google already does well, searching, with the more social aspects of the web.  Hopefully they can avoid the criticisms they had with Buzz, since this will be strictly opt-in, and it seems like it could further personalize web search results, which is great.

Here's the video introduction from Google: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAyUNI3_V2c

Women and The Internet

It has long been a truism in the advertising world that men may make the money, but women control the purse strings, just watch any episode of Mad Men. All you have to do to see the truth of this is to look at those popular Old Spice Body Wash commercials, here’s a product aimed solely at men with commercials aimed primarily at women.  Even with this conventional wisdom, you might be surprised to know just how skewed the internet is to women users.

The majority of users on all social networking sites, especially Facebook and Twitter,are women, and women spend 30% more time using them than men.  55% of mobile social networkers are women.

Looking at Groupon stats, over 3/4ths of their users are women.  And that stat is similar across most online shopping and coupon services, from obvious sites like Etsy to more surprising ones like Chegg, a textbook rental service.  Social and casual gaming (think Farmville and Angry Birds) is also dominated by female users.  The numbers are staggering.  Not only are women the majority users, they are by far the most interactive and social.  Women maintain larger and more in-depth relationship circles on the web.

What does this mean for you and why am I throwing so many stats your way?  Well, for a start, it means that when you’re advertising online, you should be aware that women are going to be the most important and influential demographic to aim for.  Are you testing your products on women?  Are you taking into account what women respond to, what they’re looking for, and what turns them off?  Do you have women on your team?  So many tech companies are dominated by men, if you’re looking around you at a sea of male faces, you need to reach out to women, especially in your social marketing strategy.

More information, stats, and inspiration available here from the incredible Aileen Lee .

Sheryl Sandberg looking Badass

Gratuitous picture of Facebook's COO looking Badass

Busy!

Have you ever had one of those weeks where there was just too much going on?  That’s the sort of week I’ve been having.  It’s been good, great even, I’ve just had a lot on my plate.  I love the freelance writing I’m doing but, between working full-time and tutoring and trying to attend local freethought events, my weeks are already too full.  Then I got a special assignment from Social Axcess to cover NCAA Social Media for March Madness — so that required a lot of research, because I don’t know much about American sports, and I know even less about college sports.  This is because I resented being forced to go to prep rallies when I was in high school — I have a block when it comes to school sports.

Then I was learning a courier route at work, meaning I spent all day in a car driving, so I was working overtime and not in front of a computer. And I had a 1500 word piece due.  And I got laryngitis.  And it’s spring, so my allergies are in full bloom.  And someone wanted to consult with me about an editing project, which I just can’t take on right now, but it’s interesting.

Exciting news!  I’m going to the SCA Conference in Washington, DC right before my birthday.  Which reminds me that I need to put together some information on Social Media Strategy for them in the next day or two.  I hope I get the chance to see a little of DC, I went when I was in 8th grade and that was before I’d seen The West Wing and thought that there was something worth seeing in Washington.

And the world is apparently falling apart, but I haven’t really had time to absorb that.  CNN has just had one too many “Where is God in Japan” headlines for me to stomach trying to follow the daily news cycle.  And the Nicholl opened, and TAM registration opened.

So it’s Sunday and I still feel on edge, like I should be working, and there’s still plenty on my plate, but I’m taking a day off.  Of course, my brain is still going a million miles a minute — I don’t really drink, but maybe I just need a drink.

Nothing to do with the rest of this post

Group Texting is so hot right now

SXSW is known as a geek battleground, where apps and ideas compete with one another for dominance.  Last year, several location based apps likeFourSquare and SCVNGR fought, and FourSquare came out the industry leader.  This year, the focus has been on Group Text applications.  The first big Group Text application was from GroupMe, and most of the other companies offer a very similar service.

Basically, these apps allow you to create private groups on your mobile phone, even on not terribly advanced ones, and then send texts to everyone in the group.  Sort of like yahoogroups for text messages.  You can also send pictures, videos and do conference calls and it has a location based check-in system, sort of like FourSquare.  And it’s free.  GroupMe is the undisputed king of this realm, doing over a million texts a day, at less than a year old, but there are other Group Text services as well.

Another star of the Group Texting world is Beluga, which was founded by some ex-Googlers and was bought by Facebook.  It offers basically the same service as GroupMe, but now that it’s owned by Facebook, it may be integrated into their site rather than a stand alone product.  And users hate having to transfer their social data network to network, meaning that the start ups are now fighting the giant of Facebook.

Kik is an app that just got $8 million in funding, and launched in October.  It’s an instant messaging app that has incorporated SMS just recently, meaning that like the other apps listed here, you can use it from a “dumb” phone or computer.  The difference is that unlike the group messaging, you can create groups, but you don’t have to send them all the message — you can use the service for individual messaging, partial group messaging, or entire group messaging, much more like email.  You can also join or leave conversations in progress.

There’s also Ask Around from ask.com (remember when it was Ask Jeeves?), which functions as sort of a local twitter/FourSquare feed – you see updates based on your location, or any location you give it.  So it’s group texting, where the group is people close by.

And there are others that offer services almost identical to GroupMeGroupFlier (which has public groups), Brightkite,Fast Society, Text Plus (which has advertising or a fee, and has 20,000 groups dedicated to Justin Bieber), Grouped{in} (which offers some integration with Facebook and Twitter), PingChatEZTexting (charges a fee),groupflierRabblyprotexting, WeTXT, and undoubtedly a dozen more.

Cross posted from Social Axcess.

Testing Postling

Do any of you use social media management tools?  I'd never even thought to look into them until the company I write for, Social Axcess, asked me to create some profiles of a couple SMSS sites.  Right now I'm looking at Postling.  I'm mostly looking at Postling because it's free, which is a huge draw for someone like me who isn't really selling a product so much as selling themselves.  I will say, it seems like the biggest benefit to using Postling isn't just that it links your accounts, though it does do that quite nicely, but also that you can easily keep up with all the accounts that you've created and let fall by the wayside.

For example, I have a LinkedIn account that I visit about once every six months.  I didn't even realize that you could update it almost exactly the same way you update Facebook.  If I decided to replace my normal perusal of FB with Postling, my Linked In account would suddenly have activity, which I think is a good thing.  I would also probably update my Twitter more often, because it's really easy to write something and then decide which places you want to post.  In other words, unlike the tools that can automatically link your FB and Twitter account, it's both simple and necessary to dictate where all something you write gets published.

Of course, the only reason I'm writing this right now is to test out the blog writing tool within Postling.  Next… I'm going to see if they've got an Android App.

Oh, the other cool thing is that I could write like 30 articles and have them post at different times.  Which you can do with other things too, but this is free and I'm looking at it!

The break up alert phenomenon

Broken heart or perfect opportunity?

Originally posted at Social Axcess

One of the most difficult things about the rapid expansion of social media is the explosion of data that it provides without any real simple solutions to accessing histories or things you’d particularly like to access. This void in the world of Facebook and Twitter has all but invited others to come in and try to take advantage, to offer services that one would think Facebook or Twitter would be providing for you. Because of the sheer volume of updates and information, it is difficult to track down some information that you’d like to have and no social media network seems to be trying to make it easier.

Enter apps like “Break Up Alert”, an app that is approaching a million users despite being only a few days old. All the app does is inform you on changes in your friends’ relationship statuses, something that would normally be in your News Feed but might get lost in the crush of status updates. And it let’s you personalize it –is there a hot girl you know who’s been dating some loser, well you can add them to a list that will focus on people you’re particularly interested in. Sort of a stalker-light sort of program –it takes the work out of stalking.

Now, this is bringing up all the privacy concerns that many people have brought forward about Facebook, but it’s just making access to available information slightly more straightforward. This ability to monitor particular behavior from particular users in Facebook is really useful, though. Unlike keyword searching in Twitter or scrubbing your feeds, this allows you to find something your interested in and be always updated every time something changes

I think we’ll probably be seeing a lot of personalized update systems like this for social networks to allow people to find and be alerted to things they’re interested in. Say you’re interested in movies, there could be an app that consolidates any time someone in your friend group recommends or pans a movie they’ve seen. Or use it the other way, if there’s content you hate, you could block it from your News Feed. Hate constant updates about church on Sunday? Block them. There are so many useful ways to play with data and feeds that I can only hope that people who are better at programming than I am get in on it soon – I’ve got more ideas, call me!