Before the Covid-19 corona virus pandemic, I was in a flow. It was regular and comfortable. Now that we’re all stuck at home, I feel that there are more things going on and that I’m being more social than I was before.
Yes, we are home schooling our 7 year old son. That takes time and changes stuff up a bit. Yes, my wife is now on furlough from her job. That’s making things much more stressful. But on the whole, I’ve been busy — connecting, reaching out, communicating.
Is that possible? Seriously? Did it take a global deadly pandemic to make the world come together? More people are reaching out and doing Zoom and other video chats on a regular basis.
When I started out on Twitter back in 2007/8 I loved the local feel of the site and followed people I knew in real life or in the local area. As Twitter grew in popularity, it got cluttered for me. I began to get followers and followed quite a bit of people back. Now my HOME timeline is so cluttered I can’t use it. I’m “forced” to use lists to navigate Twitter and to be honest, it’s not enjoy able anymore.
Enter Mastodon a year ago. Mastodon was intriguing to me. I had been watching things like Identi.ca (now Status.Net) and GNU Social for years, but they never stuck for me. I love the idea of federation, but even with that you need a community. So a year goes by and the Philly-area crowd gets fed up with Twitter enough to venture to Mastodon. Alex Hillman, of Indy Hall co-working fame, spins up an instance and called it Jawns.Club. Now there’s a community, my community on this new-ish social network that isn’t controlled by corporations and messed up by trolls, yet.
Not Perfect By Any Stretch
Is Mastodon lacking in some respects. Absolutely. Here are just a few things:
Not enough choice in applications
The apps that are out there aren’t as full featured as I’d like
The code is still being actively developed and sometimes acts as such
But even with the issues, Mastodon is a great place to be. It will never be a “Twitter-killer,” at least not for a while, but it does fill a void.
Oh The Instances. Which One(s) should I choose?
So here’s another issue, each Instance or neighborhood on Mastodon has it’s own flavor, community, and culture. Different topics vary across the federation of servers running instances of Mastodon. How many can one person join? All if they really want to. But, how many can they participate in successfully. I have upwards of 5 accounts on different servers. Finally Jawns.Club hit the spot, because that’s where my community is. But I struggle, because am I missing out on other conversations elsewhere? So because of that, I decided to start my own instance WPSocial.Live for the WordPress community. Hit me up if you want to join.
Some apps let you quietly follow other instances PUBLIC streams, but I haven’t found one that I like, well that works. Also the desktop options are very limited.
So What’s A Person To Do?
Pick an instance, use it for a while, see if the community fits your needs. If not, you can export your followers and move to another instance. You can even leave a “forwarding address” of sorts telling people what instance or neighborhood your part of now. It’s pretty slick.
Mastodon, the social network, not the Heavy Metal Band, came on the social media scene just over 2 years ago. It was immediately embraced by those who felt Twitter had sold out to to corporate interests and wasn’t what it once was. It also seemed and still seems to not to be able to deal with its major troll issue.
Unlike the “birdsite,” as users of Mastodon call Twitter, Mastodon is completely open source and federated. This means that anyone can run their own “instance” or neighborhood on Mastodon and have it connect to the greater community. It’s really slick.
For example, there is Mastodon.Social that is run by developer(s) of Mastodon, but there are instances of the service for all types of communities.
I currently have more accounts on Mastodon than I remember, but the one that I use almost exclusively is Jawns.club, the Philadelphia (area) instance.
There are instances for techies, scholars, hipsters, witches, LGBTQ, etc. Mastodon is really democracizing the microblogging social networking arena.
Here is a great view explaining what exactly Mastodon is and why it rocks!
I recently joined an amazing startup here in Philadelphia called Contap, as their marketing lead.
Some Background On My Obsession With Networking
Since graduating college, I’ve always been into networking and meeting new people. This increased exponentially after I left the field of journalism and entered into the business world. Networking became, and still is, a crucial part of my business development activities.
I’ve always loved business cards, since I was young, I always designed my own business cards. In high school I studied the business card culture in Japan and that fascinated me even more with connecting and networking.
Flash-forward to 2006, I had just joined Mobile Mini, so networking and connecting with business owners (construction and otherwise) became a crucial part of my business. This only increased when I opened up Goldstein Media in 2007, and then as an entrepreneur, I faced the reality of connecting with new people all the time. Over subsequent years, I’ve tried lots of different technologies (apps, binders,. gadgets, gizmos) to keep my contacts organized. I found a great app called FullContact, which I used to this day, to keep my contacts up-to-date across my email accounts.
But, something was missing. As much as I loved the business card, I wanted something that would utilize the power of my smart phone and integrate my social platforms, documents, etc,. Enter Contap.
When Seth Met Jason
I first discovered Jason Craparo, the CEO and founder, when I read an article in a local technology blog, where they were outlining the early version of Contap. I wrote a message in the comments and Jason and I met up for coffee. During this meeting, Jason shared with me the vision for what Contap was going to be in the future, I wanted in. This was more than a year ago. The team at Contap has been heads-down completely redesigning and rebuilding the application from scratch. Now we’re in July 2016, funding is coming in from all over the country. I’ve accepted the position of Marketing Lead (contract for now).
So What Exactly Is Contap?
“We’re a Philadelphia-based startup focused on revolutionizing the way people connect and share information,” Jason says. “We want our app to be the go-to app used at networking events across the world and facilitate every new connection that happens. Wherever connections are made (happy hour, conference, Meetup event), that’s where we want to be.”
Users load up their contact info, documents, CRM, social platforms, etc. and when they meet new people they can easily tap on whatever icons they’d like to share with their new Contap. All their Contaps are then stored in the app, and they can easily call, text, email, view social media, and documents right from the app. If you want to add a new Contap to your Salesforce.com, simply tap on the CRM button and they’re added. More CRM integrations and more cloud-based document storage options (Google Drive, Box, OneDrive, iCLoud) are on the roadmap as well as other social networks and functionality.
Think sharing Instagram, Twitter, cell phone with the happy hour crowd, but Linkedin, Resume, Website, and Business number at a networking event. Two different audiences, separate information.
On January 5th, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said something controversial. That Twitter is considering moving away from the 140 character limit, which has for so long defined the network:
Many pundits and Twitter users, myself included, are worried that this move will make Twitter something completely different from its current iteration and in-turn not as usable or appealing. I’m worried that this will make Twitter just another also-ran and is just a move to appease shareholders.
Having been on Twitter since 2007. I like how it’s short form and quick to read and catch up. If a user wants to read more all they have to do is click on a link and it takes them to the source site where the information resides.
Granted we don’t yet know what Dorsey’s plans are for the character increase and how it’ll effect the network. For all we know, it might make Twitter even more sticky, relevant, and fun to use. It could also KILL IT.
The gang has some interesting points. If it enables publishers to share their content easier, quicker and still show their advertisements and it doesn’t necessarily “reside” on Twitter, then maybe it’s not a bad thing. Later in the discussion, the idea that maybe the tweet expands beyond 140 characters if the user wants to read more (a good analytic marker to track) and then shows the article in an AJAX like window. This might be a neat feature.
Ultimately, we have to remember that we don’t “own” Twitter. Twitter is public, so we might own stock, but ultimately the users don’t have a say in what happens on the network. This is another great example of why owning your own space online (blog, Website, app) is so important.
What do you think about this rumored move to 10k characters on Twitter? Is it a good thing, bad thing, or are you waiting to see what it looks like? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Not wanting to put myself among the giants, I too am on Snapchat (phillycodehound) and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. It’s nice to be able to be real, share a piece of your life and know that it only, usually lasts for 24 hours.
The Selling Feature
The big selling feature of Snapchat is the Stories feature. It allows users to not only share individually with eachother, but to whomever follows them. This is where the power of the platform comes into play. On Snapchat people can share with their “audience” a piece of their lives – unedited and real.
Brands can capitalize on this experience as well and share exclusive content that people have to login to see on the platform.
Some might think the temporary nature of Snapchat is a disadvantage. I believe this is what sets it apart and makes it interesting.
There is a big downside though. The learning curve. I’m still figuring out all the features. It is the perfect example of mystery-meat navigation. It’s not, at least to me, intuitive.
There are may positives to Snapchat. Here are some of them:
While in the app, the users are captive and their attention is yours… for 10 or so seconds.
It’s a younger audience, so if you’re trying to reach that demographic, this is a great place.
It’s quick and can be unpolished and real.
Did I mention it’s quick? That is a great thing. You can give quick snips of tips and what not and not have to be sucked into a script.
SHORT FORM CONTENT!
It’s a great way for your clients, friends, fans to follow you or your brand and feel special.
You can export your clips and repurpose them on other platforms.
These are just some of the great things about Snapchat.
What Are You Waiting For?
So concluding a post is often the hardest part. But this one is going to be easy and fun. I have a homework assignment for all of you. Go download Snapchat from whatever app store you use. Follow me (phillycodehound) and follow some of the people I mentioned at the beginning and start snapping.
As always, I want to hear from you. If you have questions about Snapchat or want ideas on what you can use it for, send me a message. We’ll chat.
Blogging can at times be a tedious task. It can be a real bear when ideas for topics don’t come easily.
Yet even with the clear obstacles, there is a power to blogging, which no other Social Media platform can’t provide.
You own and control your content.
You own the discussion.
You control the conversion funnel.
You control the look and feel.
The Search Engines give you the ranking not the 3rd party platform.
These are just some of the powers of blogging.
When you blog, you create a brand for yourself. You show people who you are and what you’re about.
On the Web, people often forget that Social Media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and even blogging platforms like Medium.com are not controlled by the users, instead the control lies with the platform. They are rented properties.
Granted the aforementioned sites have great built in audiences, but they are still rented, not owned or controlled by the end-users. The value rests and ends with the network.
There are some solutions that increase the power of blogging. They include using 3rd party sites and their built in audience.
Blog on your site.
Repost on Medium, LinkedIn and/or Facebook Notes.
Always provide a link at the top back to to the original source (your blog).
Have a call to action at the bottom of all cross-posted pieces, so that people can find value in connecting with you further and even going back to your site.
What does the power of blogging mean to you? How do you use your blog to benefit you? Post your thoughts in the comments below.
Recently I’ve found myself using the various chat functions on social media quite a bit. Google+ Hangouts is a key for keeping in touch with contractors and family alike. Facebook Messenger, which I originally thought was a waste of time, has become a great communication tool. Skype, though not exactly a social media platform, is indispensable for keeping up with clients and contractors alike. I also use Skype to help run my podcast network, PhillyTech.org.
With the use of these chatting platforms, I’ve noticed a couple sites that would benefit from such a feature:
LinkedIn – Hands down, if LinkedIn had a chat function alongside its email functionality, it would be even more valuable. Allowing communication between contacts within your personal network could only benefit this social media platform and its millions of users.
Facebook – Messenger on mobile devices is great, but you’re forced to use the main Facebook interface to message on a desktop. You can always download chat clients like Pidgin and Trillian, but they are missing valuable features that a Facebook created version would provide. Because Facebook also owns WhatsApp, integrating a desktop app using similar technology should be a simple task.
I left Twitter off this list because their Direct Messages feature is similar to chatting via text message and the company is currently making progress towards making this feature easier to use.
All in all, a chat function adds great value to social media. Not having this feature in your product can, and probably will, hurt it in the long run.
What do you think? Should LinkedIn and other non-chat enabled sites build out chat functionality? Post your thoughts in the comments.
____________________________ Seth Goldstein is the Creative Director of Goldstein Media LLC, a Philadelphia area Internet marketing agency, which focuses on social media, Web design, email marketing, search engine optimization. He is also the founder of the PhillyTech.org Netcast Network, a podcast network focused on the Philadelphia area technology and startup scene. You can follow him online on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.