State of Social and Internet 2017

A while back, my friend Jeremiah Owyang wrote his perception of the state of social to which I contributed. Decided I’ll add onto my blog as well.

Twitter: dumpster fire but central to US current events, news
Facebook: where The Olds who ‘don’t get’ other social networks congregate to get attention, Asia’s LinkedIn, and others have an account for the sole purpose of Messenger (messenger.com via web)
Messenger: communication utility (Skype / Hangouts replacement; the Westerner’s WeChat and Weibo — encrypted messaging and P2P payments? Yes please!)
LinkedIn: depot of shameless self promoters and what NOT to do cues for teens and millennials professionally networking. I.E., Stay away from descriptors such as, but not limited, to: ‘futurist’, ‘keynote speaker’, ‘innovator’, ‘change agent’, etc., etc.,
Snapchat: dancing Hot Dog and awesome filters to cross post onto IG
IG: branding tool for the non-olds (teens). Lifestyle diary for Millennials (food, beauty, fashion, etc.)
Google+: Huh? What’s that???
Telegram: status symbol to show you’re ‘in the know’ about cryptocurrencies.
Slack: quickly becoming the new email
WhatsApp: where European Android users are
LINE: only relevant to Thais and old Japanese people
Ding Talk: where Chinese who don’t trust Weibo or WeChat conduct business

Social networks aside, my phone is the place I do the most internetting and boy has my homescreen changed a lot. Take a look:

img_6567

The three apps on the bottom are apps most used: Twitter, brower, mail.
1. Apple’s mail app has been replaced by Outlook (yes, Microsoft Outlook) because Gmail loads the quickest plus the experience is much better. I can’t believe I’m saying this either but hey — it is what it is.
2. Safari has been replaced by Brave — which I wrote extensively about here.

Despite having 256gigs on my phone, I only have one page of apps. Mainly because I realized long ago I only use a handful on the daily. I also turn off the little red circles because they induce anxiety and helped me wean off my addiction. (Read about that journey here.)

Funny how things change!

Related: Snap Chat should be worried — check out this neat graph I found. 300M daily active users for Instagram stories! Amazing.

img_6562

Trump’s Recklessness and Potential Global Impact

Until someone as uninformed, angry, self-absorbed, and delusionally unaware of their own short-comings as Trump took seat as the leader of the free world, I am ashamed to admit I had no idea the power and impact of an American president.

He bullies and insults members of Congress, high-ranking and respectable government and military officials, scholars, businessmen, and world leaders. He rallies support by corralling the forgotten Americans with his “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, singling out ethnicities, religions, and socio-economic demographic groups resulting in the creation of angry hate mobs.

By preying on the weak, Trump has enabled the worst of the worst of the American people giving them platforms and a voice. He’s putting money in capitalist scumbags’ pockets who are profiting from the hate. The impact from their selfish purposes has caused more damage than anyone could’ve probably imagined. I don’t even know how long it will take the country to heal from the Nazis coming out of the woodworks into the public, hate rallies and speeches that are being held, to the American citizens openly making racist remarks and bigotry that is exercised, all justified under “MAGA”. He has put forth unfathomable policies, putting unqualified family members and extremist conservatives into positions of power and, well, I am probably preaching to the choir.

Meanwhile, over in other parts of the world, China and Russia are making power moves in regions the economy is rapidly growing. The rate the Middle Class is growing in, for example, ASEAN, is moving along as been predicted by the big financial institutions: MS, GS, JP Morgan, et al., and starting 2020, economic powers will begin shifting.

And here is Trump, touting MAGA, and the damage he is causing for America is not good, to say the least. I truly hope there are people in Trump’s inner circle advising in terms of long-term economic and geo-political implications since things are moving quickly on the ground in the high-growth Nations.

Another concerning thing is the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency. And no I am not talking about ICO (initial coin offering, which is the same as an IPO). I’m talking more about the core value of crypto and the reason why VCs and entrepreneurs are into an alternate form of currency aside from the current thing we call ‘money’. Crypto is a post on its own but once cryptocurrency is adopted to the masses, it is highly likely the dollar will start losing value.

So, essentially, the dollar will start losing power alongside American economic power (purchasing, market, bargaining, trade, class, etc.) and there is a chance America will no longer be a ‘super power’.

These things aren’t going to happen tomorrow or next year and I hope we don’t see effects within Trump’s presidency (a decline that rapid is a sure indicator of a disastrous outcome).

An economist scholar once said to me: “Don’t worry Mona, the economy always works itself out.” but I can not help but be concerned for our future. 

I cannot vote (am not a U.S. citizen) but I hope those with voting rights in America, do. Because as much as we all complain about America, I do not know another country on the planet where democracy actually works and makes impact, quickly (just look at the mid-term elections). Another country where there are so many bright, enlightened, and experienced people are changing the way the world behaves and thinks. America is, one of the greatest countries in the world to live and I cannot see a world where American influence (usually for the good) is no longer a reality.

But most concerning, if you look closely at Trump’s business accomplishments, he’s capitalized through his name (licensing, trademarks, etc.) not wise business decisions. He is a brand marketer. Not a businessman. I do not trust him to grow America’s economy and I hope you don’t, either. So please. Vote!

Resurrection of TokyoFinds

BIG NEWS

I laid TokyoFinds to rest at the beginning of the year.

Thanks to Leah and Angie at Tumblr, IT HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE!!

REJOICE. Visit Finds here: tokyofinds.com

Sidenotes: as much space as I take up on the internet, TokyoFinds is the only place I post under a paid domain LOL
For those wondering what Finds is:

Instead of polluting my Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with all things Tokyo and Japan, I decided to deposit them here. Enjoy.

Big shout-out to Leah!!!!!!!’n Thank you, thank you thank you!

Why I Love the Internet

Warning: this post has nothing to do Japan, Asia, chat apps, or tech but an ode to the Internet.

There has been a stranger tweeting me with his photos.
Take a look:

Screenshot_5_22_14_2_57_PM

 

And one more for good measure:

Screenshot_5_22_14_2_58_PM

 

I totally get how people might be creeped out by him. I mean, he’s this old guy posing in front of a pile of dirty dishes. Heck, I can’t even tell if all his teeth are in place.

I think he should be celebrated.

This man, let’s call him John, is tweeting photos to random females from all over. I don’t know how he finds them, the women he are tweeting are really, that random (I checked his stream). He is using Twitter as a dating tool.

Looking at these photos of this man I am calling John, I assume he lives in South Carolina. Or far up north in Florida. Maybe Arkansas, or some state in the South in a town with a population of 500.

He lives in a trailer littered with beer cans and there are piles of ashtrays filled with charred cigarette butts — he smokes every cigarette until it reaches the filter. His kitchen counter has no space, covered with heaps of  Wonder Bread, Oscar Mayer bologna, Kraft Singles, and BBQ potato chip wrappers. He has a tv with rabbit ears that only has one channel: FOX.

He works as a dish washer at a truck stop and his apron is stained with maple syrup, ketchup, mustard, mayo. Every night after work, he stops by the bar along Highway 5 to drink a warm beer, served by the 50 year old bartender Barbara.

He owns a Samsung SCH-293874923861723 — a prepaid, throwaway Android with maybe a three hour battery life. 3G connection.

This man John, whose life I can only imagine, has found his way onto twitter. He created an account. Figured out a way to take photos. Then tweet the photos to random women all over the world. And I fucking love it. How can you not?

I love that the Internet gives everyone a voice. Even John from Timbuktunowhere. And this, is only one of the many reasons why I love the Internet and technology so so so much.

It’s really, the little things.
*if you need another reminder, I posted another one a while back here.

WeChat 101- Quit Comparing WeChat and WhatsApp

WhatsApp, Viber, Telegram and Snapchat are not like WeChat, LINE and KakaoTalk.

I’ve written about LINE and KakaoTalk but now it’s time to intro the last player – WeChat. WeChat is not – I repeat NOT anything like WhatsApp or Viber.

Aside from multi-media communication capabilities: photos, video, walkie-talkie and broadcast features, in August of 2013, WeChat completely overhauled their product with v5.1 to add a bunch of new features and functions.

They keep differentiating themselves from the rest of the chat apps and this is why:

  • in-app payments
  • P2P (peer to peer) and O2O (offline-online) core strategy aside from games <– HUGE
  • multiple monetization streams

Payments

WeChat-2

WeChat Payments connects bank card to WeChat account so users can make payments in-app.
Users can make transactions happen through 1. payments to WeChat authorized partner retailers 2. P2P (peer to peer) or in plain English other WeChat users – example: users can send one person a specified amount, or send money to a group and divide the lump sum among a group of friends.  If I had a penny for every time I’ve had issues with group payments where one person pays too much, too little I’d have about four extra iPhones sitting around. Or think about that one person who never has cash, etc., etc. WeChat group payments is the perfect resolution for group events / activities.

O2O / P2P Commerce

WeChat also partnered with sites and services – whether through acquisitions or buying a stake in the company – doing flash sales or becoming the preferred payment partner. To date, DianPing – China’s answer to Yelp, with a Groupon type group buying feature DianPing also offers coupons and discounts and users can even order food for delivery – is one of the most notable.

The other is Didi Dache – China’s Uber – where users can order a taxi and make payments, all in-app. Since forming the partnership in Jan., WeChat reports

  • 21mm cab rides have been booked via WeChat
  • 700k daily bookings via WeChat
  • Didi Dache and WeChat also pay cab drivers bonuses when the drivers use their services vs a competitor

WeChat also aggressively positions themselves as the entry point for global brands who want to reach China’s youths. Most recently, Vivienne Tam and WeChat collaborated to bring NYFW (NY Fashion Week) to WeChat users.

They’ve also done campaigns with Mc Donald’s, Starbucks, Burberry, Pepsi and Maybelline – bottom line, they are making money becoming a payment solution and by advertising as well.

Another monetization channel through partnerships is content. WeChat and Chinese media outlets bring news and entertainment to users. However, instead of solely bringing content into the app like Flipboard or Facebook’s Paper, they have their media partners build proprietary micro-sites into WeChat with proprietary URLs ie: mp.weixin.qq/majorchinesenetwork and charge users subscription fees.

They’ve also ventured into streaming video, launching a standalone TV with CNTV (major Chinese tv network).

If you think that’s all, they are also China’s small business e/m-commerce solution (like Etsy or even Amazon).
Small business accounts are

  • free to create — fee is dependent on level of API customization and how much a business wants to integrate their products and services into WeChat
  • transactions are conducted inside WeChat — which leads to increased time spent inside app
  • bar-code scanner capabilities so people can scan a bar code in a store of something they see and shop for it online for example
  • built in loyalty cards and point card systems

Major brands and retailers to even a college student with a fruit stand can buy and sell on WeChat – that’s how simple it is.

WeChat states they have 300mm active users per month and YoY growth of 124% (note: these numbers are before the Red Envelope campaign that reportedly activated 20mm transactions within 9 days and announcement of all their partnerships).

WeChat is not fucking around.

I’m sure there are so many more features and functions, products and services I may be missing. This is information I gathered through English sources (FT, Economist, WSJ, Techcrunch, The Next Web, Tech in Asia and some random Chinese sites I ran through Google Translate) but even if I don’t know all the details, it’s pretty clear they are one step above the rest of the chat app herd.

One can argue their success is due to the uniqueness of the Chinese market and how the economy is intertwined by a select few and with the government, but strip away all that noise and look at WeChat as a product. They are still several steps ahead of the rest — even LINE, that I am a massive fan of.

2014 is going to be a year to closely watch Asia.

Tragic Incidents and Social Media

There was a 23 year old beaten and murdered outside of a California club. The news has been passing through my Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds all day. I’ve been meaning to Tweet or Facebook or something about the incident, but think it deserves more than a Facebook post or a 140 character tweet.

This is a tragic incident and my heart is absolutely broken at the notion of such a young girl meeting her death from such an every day activity as going out. This could’ve happened to anyone and it does. Just Google “beaten to death outside of club” if you’re into that sort of thing.

What’s really disappointing, is how people took the time to take photos and video to upload onto Instagram, Twitter and Facebook while this young girl was getting the living daylights beaten out of her. And then she ended up dying.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it’s up to the spectators to be superheros but I wonder what it was like before all this social media stuff.

I mean, if people have the time to take photos and video, shouldn’t they… well, call for help? There are club bouncers for a reason. Or at least call 9-1-1 before taking the photo and choosing a filter.

Think back to when we had our Nokia phones, BlackBerries and even Sidekicks and we saw someone getting beat up. Did we still stand around and watch? Did we pretend not to notice? When did we start thinking collectively as a society, that it’s ok to share with our networks vs. helping?

Or is our sharing, just a way to help us humans process such shocking events?

Either which way, something to think about as functioning humans in civilized societies. And especially, for our next generations.

Coverage on the incident are here and here.

Messaging Apps are Not Social Networks

There is a lot of emphasis on Facebook’s youth demographic decreasing and how messaging apps like Snapchat, LINE, WhatsApp and KakaoTalk are becoming the new Facebook and I can’t help but to think: wow, people don’t understand product and technical differences.

Facebook is a social networking platform. Messaging apps are tools for communication.

It’s not that people are leaving Facebook or Instagram for messaging apps, it’s that people are using messaging apps as tools to communicate differently.

There is room for both in the world. It’s just that people are choosing how to talk to those they want to talk to (messaging apps), rather than putting themselves out there for everyone and – literally – their mothers to see (Facebook).

So just like how most people don’t want to socialize with tens and hundreds of people every second of every day, many are choosing to socialize with people in different ways. And they are doing so with photos, videos, text and content.

Facebook and messaging apps are two different things.

12

Finally: Facebook ‘fesses up

Busted!

AdAge just told their readership Facebook states in a sales deck that:

We expect organic distrobution of an individual’s page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have meaningful experience on the site.

What that means in normal people talk is this: we are tweaking our algo so all you brands with your millions of dollars in marketing funds can no longer free-load. Pay up or your ‘introducing our deliciously fresh new toilet cleaner’ announcement will be buried in a mountain of “I hate my job, my life, my friends, I’m so fat I want to die” and “look at the bajillionth photo of my kid from an angle shifted 0.00099090809890834 pixels to the right” posts in the newsfeed.

Paying Facebook to make posts more visible isn’t a new practice, as I started seeing the shift back in 2011. I did a lot of digital work for major brands and entertainment properties that heavily relied on Facebook’s look at this post…again and again and again again every time someone comments or LIKEs effect. Hell, even regular people can pay to have their “my piece of shit boyfriend just cheated on me. I hope he dies.” Facebook update pinned to the top of our newsfeeds (I’ve seen it happen before haha).

I really don’t blame Facebook for finally cracking down and expecting mega brands with their super budgets to pay-up. The bummer lies with the small to mid-sized business looking to extend their reach. Or even startups that focus their entire traction strategies on social — namely Facebook.

Just like how we never saw another phenomenal success like Farmville on Facebook’s gaming platform (remember that?) I guess TOM’s success — the Japanese 500 portfolio company that reached 10M fans in less than a year — will never be repeated. Maybe they will go down in the Guinness Book of World Records or something.

I for one, welcome the change. It’ll be fun to see how the fluffy social media gurus-ninjas-futurists-[insert whatever else douche-y name here] will scramble to step their strategic games up.

May the best man or brand or strategist or agency win!
source: AdAge

The Internet Highlights Stupidity

It really bothers me when people share Buzzfeed articles like the collection of racist comments directed to the newly crowned Indian Miss America. I wonder when people are going to realize the people at Buzzfeed scour Twitter, searching for the worst of the worst.

Then everyone is outraged, re-sharing the collection of stupidity and calling out these idiots who think terrorists are from India.

As much as I want to say racism will ‘go away’, let’s be honest. There are and will always be ignorance in the world. We live on a planet where 7B people co-exists. There will always be people with closed minds — whether we like it or not.

So to the people who are bothered by these morons getting five seconds of Internet infamousness by RTing and sharing these articles all over your social networks… Surprise! You too, are contributing to the stupidity by encouraging publications like Buzzfeed to keep on putting together these kinds of garbage ‘stories’.

C’MON. Think!
The post in question is here.

How a Relationship Dies

Russell Clayton, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, who surveyed two hundred and five Facebook users about relationship conflicts related to Facebook. “Our study found that excessive Facebook users are more likely to connect or reconnect with other Facebook users, including previous partners, which may lead to emotional and physical cheating,” Clayton said, according toScienceDaily. He went on, “Facebook may be a threat to relationships that are not fully matured.”

via “How a relationship Dies” — The New Yorker

When trust and security  two of — if not the most — important factors in a lasting, healthy relationship, excessive Facbooking (basically creeping on people’s profiles and photos) can be detrimental. But we are so used to mindless stalking, it doesn’t really register.

I was in a long distance relationship for a while and I agree, it’s really difficult, near impossible not to be jealous when the underlying trust isn’t built yet. A lot of his activity would pour into my feed and his LIKEs of photos of random girls and flirty comments he would leave started bothering me.  The worst, was when I started questioning myself for being bothered by his actions. So I unfriended him.

That said, although I’m well beyond my teenage years, I use the Internet and social networks like one. I constantly have several apps open, have several group chats, one-on-one texting sessions going while browsing Twitter and Instagram so I’m probably biased to the above opinion of this one Russell Clayton. Plus, I have experienced it first-hand.

Ah, social networks — or more like, no more long distance relationships for me. Either way, I learned something about myself and in the end, that’s all that matters.

Twitter and Facebook

I don’t know what happened but since I moved to Tokyo, I’m bored of Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t get me wrong, I still keep up with everyone’s lives but reacting with a comment, at reply, LIKE or favorite is no longer fun for me.

I only use Twitter now to get information (ex: latest news, find funny things, see what’s going on in the world outside of Japan / APAC, etc.) when before I used to give information as well. And Facebook? There are times I don’t log-on for days, when before I used to be glued to my newsfeed.

Perhaps I’m simply over social networks, especially since I started blogging on my own domains. (if you’re interested, I have a blog about my life in Tokyo here). I’m also blogging a lot more here, which I guess is a good thing?

Maybe I’m just weird — someone even told me on Facebook that I’m “backwards”, when I announced I started a Tokyo blog haha

Oh, Pinterest. What a bummer.

Update: four months later, content marketing is on its way to take off
As marketers fight to engage with users [and] readers in a noisy, competitive world, marketers have all become publishers,” — Jed Hartman, group publisher of Time Inc. news and business, with oversight for Fortune via “Fortune will sell original editorial content to advertisers for up to $1 million”, AdAge

Day two after reading this and I am still confused. With the brand equity Pinterest has, they certainly could have been more creative at their first attempt to get closer to brands.

Pinterest is a goldmine for brands and advertisers.

  • 80% are women, 50% have kids and likely to live in a Midwestern state (read: Walmart demo = cha-ching)
  • Pinterest users who shop online follow 9.3 retailers while FB users follow 6.9% retailers and Twitter users follow 8.5%
  • CTA pin sees an 80% increase in engagement
  • Referrals spend 70% more money, also spend 10% more

The astounding stats go on and on…but they chose Business Pages and widgets?

I mean. Really?

From a brand perspective, what is the value proposition of having another business page to maintain? Business pages aren’t billboards on the Internet. Internet users expect more and paying Pinterest to add to workflows with sentiment, reputation and click-throughs as the ROI is backwards. And don’t get me started on widgets. What is this, 2001? Moving forward, major brands are becoming publishers, media companies, moving away from traditional ad models.

Pinterest is rich with content. If products like Pulse, the joke of the tech circle Mashable is experimenting and even brands like Coke and Nike can figure out content strategy to drive revenue, I’d assume the very smart people at Pinterest should be able to, too. Oh, well.

What a huge bummer.
(Top image screen shot of AdAge article found here)

Postcard Project

Old fashioned handwritten letters never go out of style, and I don’t send mail as often as I would like. So I came up with the postcard project, where I choose ten Internet friends to send postcards to. Ten is my threshold to manage expectations — any more and it will feel like a chore, I think. I plan to make this a monthly tradition because it’s always nice to bring happiness to mailboxes, not just inboxes.

This month (April) is already cap’d, but if you would like a postcard, please email your snail mail addresses to monamail at gmail dot com. International are welcome as well. Happy Sunday, everyone!

Sidenote: why aren’t there more tasteful postcards? The fonts are atrocious and the photos, even more so. It took a while to find some decent postcards. I purchased them at Barnes and Noble in Union Square of all places and I looked everywhere from gift shops to local letterpress and stationary stores.

Dear Google Account Activity: I LOVE YOU

If you’ve ever wondered how many emails you’ve sent or received. How many Google searches you’ve done and even what you searched for, Google now gives users a high level overview.

I have no idea why I’m searching for autotune (nor do I remember the context) but it made me laugh out loud. It’s also pretty neat to see who I email the most. How I need to respond to emails more lol…and basically how I can improve with email management. Perhaps I should stop obsessing over maintaining inbox zero. I am so anal retentive about inbox zero, I’ve spent a lot of time customizing, labeling, filtering and still get 5k emails I barely respond to. Less than 1%, which means I need a new workflow. Crap.

See? I’m already learning and growing.

Anyway, this is incredible and the first feature I’ve been excited for in a long long loooong time. If you’re interested, the bigger image of my analytics (not including YouTube is below). You can read about the dashboard on Google’s blog here. And opt-in for the service here.

*Added: as always, the discussions happen on Twitter, Google+ and FB.

I Got a Kindle and I’m Eating My Words. Crap.

(image via Instagram)

Back in 2008 I told myself I wouldn’t invest in an eReader.
Fast forward three years and I am eating my words.

But I can’t help it. The Kindle was a gift.

…ok. Fine. That’s a lie.

I invested in a Nook during the summer and kept mum about my purchase because I have been so vocal about anti-eReaders for so long. But I hadn’t picked up a book in three-four years. My face is always in my iPhone, browsing the Internet, while people in the city would whip out their Kindles or Nooks, even if it was reading one or two pages. I would observe, feel a pang of jealousy and put my face back in my phone.

I tried carrying a book around but it just didn’t work. It wasn’t happening. I knew it was time to give into the eReader world.

So I researched. Read reviews. Compared book catalogs and chose the Nook over the Kindle, for one reason: aesthetics. The book selections between Barnes and Amazon were pretty much the same. The Nook was more elegant – smaller and sleeker – at that time. After only a day of ownership, I was sold. That ugly green-ish tint and all. (There’s a reason it’s that faded spinach green btw. It is really easy on the eyes.) And I must admit, I’ve read more books since August than in the past three years.

I was happy.

Then, the new generation of Kindles came out and the new Kindles looked fantastic. I’ve been pretty much obsessed with owning one since.

This year, Santa came early and someone I adore bought me a Kindle (thank you, btw!) I unwrapped the Kindle and holy smokes, what a difference. The overall quality is just, well, better compared to the Nook. From the look, feel to even the response time, the Kindle blows the Nook out of the water. The standard case with the built in light also trumps any of cases and/or lights available for the Nook.

As for the model, I chose the Touch. Only because color hurts my eyes.
I am in love with the Kindle and for those of you still on the fence: DO IT.
Convert. It will change. your. life.

And if you’ve told people you would never move over to the dark side, don’t worry. I won’t tell anyone. Plus, Kindles are small enough no one would notice you’re carrying one ;)

[EDIT]
There are helpful discussions happening on my Facebook here and Google+ here.
If you need reading recommendations, there are heaps of them here and here.

Thanks to all of my friends, acquaintances and even strangers chiming in. I love the Internet!

Food for Thought: Taking Social Media to the Next Level.

Recently, I vetted through hundreds of submissions for a ‘Social Media Intern’ role. The resumes all had impressive pedigrees. 98% from Columbia, NYU, even students from BU and neighboring states. They were mostly majors of fancy-buzz word disciplines with almost comedic descriptors. It felt as though I was reading a typical social media expert’s Twitter bio.

The applicants were relentless, following up within a day or two, asking when they could interview. I even had representatives from the respective career development centers contact me and offer recommendations.

Wow. I knew any role in social media was hot, but didn’t realize how hot.

Most of my interviews were 15 minutes max. I’d start with: “So what does your major mean?” or if their major wasn’t media related, “Why are you interested in this role?”

Their well-rehersed answers were synonymous to the typical rhetoric in our industry: “The medium to reach audiences is changing. Companies must utilize new media, such as Facebook and Twitter to join the conversation and create buzz.” – followed by an exhale of relief, relaxing of shoulders and a smile of accomplishment. That proud moment of achievement that they were able to recite the definition without stumbling was endearing. I’ve been there. We all have.

I’d smile an understanding smile. Then prod deeper: “Ok, now explain in plain English, what that really means to you.”

As I listened to hundreds of more carefully crafted, well researched answers, it was unfair to expect compelling thoughts, as we, the professionals in this field, have yet to define what social media really is.

Jeremiah Owyang’s recent piece: ‘How to Interview your Future Employer for the Corporate Social Strategist Position‘ is proof. A social media manager / strategist / [whatever lexicon] is still a role being shaped.

So what is a job in social media? Is it garnering an audience on respective social platforms? Content curation? Measuring growth i.e. results? Is it creating viral campaigns? Outreach? Ability to write headlines with high CTRs? Keeping up with the new hot services? Being deemed an ‘early adopter’? Familiarity of available tools? Does that showcase what social is truly capable of?

Should it be…more?

I’ve defined what social means to me by taking my experience and applying it –which I will soon share.

Have you?
Just something to think about.

I Told You So: Groupon Edition #dailydeals

When I first Tweeted this in January, I received a lot of backlash as Groupon -along with the other daily deal sites- are tech’s darlings. Or shall I say were, as today Groupon announced their IPO filing. When the public read Groupon’s S-1 the Silicon Valley tech crowd seemed the most astonished by -GASP- Groupon actually losing money despite their profits.

At first glance, the YOY numbers are pretty impressive:

  • 1Q 2011 Revenue: $644.7 million
  • 2010 revenue: $713.4 million
  • 2009 revenue: $30.47 million

And I’m not going to pretend a net loss of $146.5M wasn’t a tad surprising. And even more shocking is how Groupon hasn’t turned a net profit in any of its first three years of operations, including a net loss of $389.6 million in 2010.

But still. One doesn’t have to be an economist to see right through their faulty model. If you know how the Internet works, a scientific calculator is far from necessary to know: their customer acquisition budget is sky freakin’ high. How else did Groupon gain so much traction in such a short time? Google fairies?

What’s more baffling, is, even with these near comedic metrics, Groupon is still valuated at an astronomical figure. The founders and investors are walking away super wealthy. And I still stand by what I Tweeted back in January: Groupon’s legacy will be an economic dissertation or a B-school case study.

Though the real winner? Google.
For 1. not spending $6B because Groupon turned down the acquisition offer and 2. all the $ Groupon will continue spending on AdWords.

Either which way, I’m just glad the daily deal craze will finally slow down. I’m so sick of hearing how amazing Groupon et al. are, because frankly? They are not. Daily deals are (were?) a hot trend.  I’m ready for some innovation.  A product with such mind-blowing technology it will stun me stupid.

It’s days like these, I wish I was an engineer.

P.S. If anyone has any inkling on how much Groupon spends a month on Adwords, do share. I tried Googling with no luck. Even Quora didn’t have an answer.

Step Aside, Flickr. Instagram is Replacing You.

Poor Flickr.

For years, photographers and amateur photographers had only one hub: Flickr. I also used to be addicted to Flickr and made many great friends on there. It’s a huge bummer they became stagnant and really hard to use. I don’t even remember the last time I logged in…  And I noticed more and more of my friends using Facebook as their main outlet for photographs.

Enter Instagram.

Now I didn’t understand Instagram either, until I actually created an account and started using it. And the more I use it, the more it’s clear, Instagram is the next social platform for photographers. There are already ridiculous amounts of insanely talented photographers on there. I can’t wait to see the community keep growing.

So what makes Instagram so great? Well:

  • discoverability with solid filtering. The noise to signal ratio is on. point.  From the popular page to following your immediate friend’s photos, to even seeing activities from your friends (what they liked, what they commented on, etc.) Reminds me of the FriendFeed friend of friend feature, but it’s filtered, so you can choose to look any time you want to and doesn’t clog your feed. (News -> Following)
  • community: interaction is pretty much like Flickr, where people can talk to each other without reservations. Plus, you can use handles, which is rare for newer sites these days. Part of the reason so many Asians are on there, to protect their identities.
  • shareability is seamless — such a smart implementation, perhaps the best out there.
  • MOBILE — it’s in all CAPs because that’s how important mobility will become. I’m excited to see how Instragram will keep iterating its product. And when the Android app comes out? I think the adoption will snowball, trickling down to the mass.

Hopefully, the Instagram team is working on an archiving system with option to store photos at higher resolutions. But I still stand by my statement from a few weeks back: “Finally get Instagram. It’s like Flickr (community and discovery), Myspace-Livejournal (hot girls posting self portraits) but way better.”

If you’d like to connect on Instagram, my user ID is ‘monagram’

Bonus: Check out these two photos from me and Christine. We were at the same place, sitting next to the other, drinking the same thing but the photo, well, take a look.  It was so neat when it popped up in our feeds — we both said WOW at the same time.