This is a great talk by Mark Zuckerberg that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten any attention from the media or blogs. He’s so comfortable speaking here and he really opens up about his approach to Facebook. Well worth a watch.

Starts at 2:20.

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Zuck , posted with vodpod

I wish social media weren’t so cool.

There’s too much hype, too many buzzwords. It makes it seem like a gimmick, a fad, something that’s going to get played out.

Even now I roll my eyes at the endless Mashable posts about “engaging your fanbase” or commercials that end with “join the conversation.” It feels trite already, doesn’t it?

And that’s really not fair because what’s happening is meaningful and real. It’s a movement, a mindset, a rejection of tradition. I hate to see social media reduced to a checklist of websites and cliches.

So what’s the difference between how social media is often presented and how I see it?

The superficial view of social media is that it is:

  • A new channel for brand messages
  • A way to go viral
  • “Community Engagement”
  • A customer service outlet

To me, social media is:

  • An avenue for providing valuable information, entertainment or services
  • An opportunity to multiply impressions on shareworthy content
  • Connecting with many individuals in a true and compelling way
  • A shift toward brands being more responsible to consumers

I believe in what I do, and I look forward to the day social media stops being cool and just starts being the way things are.

The clever images accompanying this post come from Hugh MacLeod, who shares his inspiring thoughts on social media at and sells original work at

I like to keep my Facebook Wall tidy. I delete all those one-line stories about pages I like, photos I comment on, walls I write on, etc. I used to have to X each of these stories out one-by-one. Then I got the Better Facebook plugin, which let me delete them at all once. Now Facebook itself is offering the option to not only delete the all activity, but to prevent future stories of this type completely. As a user, I appreciate this.

As a brand marketer, not as much. Part of the rationale for certain types of posts is knowing that fan actions have visibility to the rest of those people’s networks. Beyond aiming to please fans, I want my posts to get likes and comments so that my page gets more organic impressions. If Facebook makes it easier for users to hide all this activity in advance, the network effect is reduced.

Though I wonder if Facebook is still showing this activity in my friends’ News Feeds, just not displaying it on my wall…

This morning Facebook asked me if I want to see ‘Recommended Pages’ more or less often. Last year Recommended Pages were shown all the time based on an algorithm of what you had in your profile and other people’s common interests. Some suggestions were amusing, others mildly offensive.

As always, there were plenty of negative Facebook pages and blog posts about the feature.

Since then Facebook has been testing several different types of content in that right sidebar, and I don’t see Recommended Pages as often. When I do, it’s either because several of my friends like that page or because an admin has used the ‘Suggest to Friends’ option.

However, the pages appearing in the first screenshot seem directly related to my browsing. I was looking at the page for Saint Rocke, a music venue in Hermosa Beach. This formula might produce more relevant suggestions than last year’s attempt.

Facebook can, of course, see data on how many clicks those ‘Recommended Pages’ generate and track what happens after that, but it’s interesting to see them also collecting qualitative data by asking people’s preferences.

Facebook has added a new feature called Questions, which allows users and pages to ask questions in a format that makes polls more social and creates opportunities for brand content to go viral. The tool also makes it easier to get recommendations from friends and has implications for the future of social commerce.

Facebook Questions are easy to answer like polls, but more compelling because people have the option to add their own responses for others to vote upon. When people answer questions, it shows up on their walls and in their friends’ News Feeds, leading more people to participate and so on.

Last year Facebook tested a different version of Questions that asked people to write full text responses to questions a la Q&A site Quora. But Facebook recognized its users were more interested in opinions than facts and that they preferred clicking to writing. The new Questions should have much higher adoption.

For users it’s an easy and organized way to get thoughts and recommendations from friends. For brands, it’s an additional way to engage with and learn about consumers. And since Facebook pages are tagged in the answer options, it’s a new way for people to find and connect with brands.

Now imagine the possibilities for Questions if/when Facebook releases the API. As with the the Like button and the new comments plugin, Questions will blur the lines between on-Facebook and off-Facebook. For instance, at the end of every news article or blog post, the writer could pose a thought-starting or opinion-polling question. When someone answers that question, it would generate a News Feed story, leading more people to discover the content.

More interesting to ponder: what if you were looking at a pair of Nikes online and had the option to answer, “What do you like best about these shoes?” Or maybe you’re at Niketown and the question pops up on your phone when you scan a pair of sneakers. When you check out, you could be served a question about your service that day. The whole time your answers are being shared with friends to whom your opinions and experiences matter.

Whether used this way or in its simplest form, Facebook Questions is undoubtedly part of the movement toward an economy where our decisions are more influenced by our social networks than traditional advertising. Keep an eye on this.

My friend Michael Marantz and I collaborated cross-country Thursday night to create this video about how and why Egypt forced its people offline. Now, more than 70,000 people have watched it on YouTube and Vimeo.

When news broke that Egypt had shut down all Internet access, we decided the best thing we could do was help educate people about the situation and encourage them to spread awareness. We wanted to take advantage of the access to information and communications that Egypt was stripped of but we still had.

Since I live in LA and Michael lives in New York, we used Google Docs and Skype to collaborate on the piece. We gathered our information exclusively from online sources, checking Twitter for updates through the night. After the video was uploaded to YouTube at 6 a.m., L.A. time, we shared it with our networks and submitted it to Reddit. Since then we’ve watched it spread across Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs and other social media.

The whole exercise has proven the power of the Internet, especially in the age of social media. Without it, the video could not have been made, let alone had the impact is has so far. Thank you to everyone who watched and shared it. The Internet is a great tool, but one that ultimately has power because of individuals.