Twitter Bots Abound

September 23, 2014

Quartz grabs our attention with its headline, “Twitter Admits That as Many as 23 Million of Its Active Users Are Automated.” These accounts, which automatically request updates and may or may not also auto-post, include “users” like third-party data-display apps. Reporter Zachary M. Seward writes:

“The new disclosure was an attempt to clarify an earlier statement (pdf) that 14% of MAUs access the service outside of the official website and mobile apps, by using Twitter’s API. Twitter’s update today specifies that the 14% figure ‘included certain users who accessed Twitter through owned and operated applications.’ Those are likely TweetDeck and Twitter for Mac, which are favored by power tweeters but, for technical reasons, aren’t counted in many of the company’s official statistics. The company said only 11% of MAUs accessed Twitter from applications that the company doesn’t own, like Tweetbot or Flipboard.

“To be clear, automated accounts aren’t necessarily spam accounts, which according to Twitter make up less than 5% of MAUs. Bots can be useful, even essential, accounts for many Twitter users. But once they’re set up, they don’t usually have any humans behind them, which matters greatly to advertisers who are interested in reaching potential customers.”

Seward maintains that Twitter should be concerned for its advertisers (itself included), who may feel they are pouring ad dollars down a black hole. I’m sure they can work out some equitable fee structure(s). We wonder, though, what the implications are for high-value content that attracts interested readers.

Cynthia Murrell, September 23, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Behind the Faster Place Search at Pinterest

July 23, 2014

One of the engineers over at Pinterest gets into the nitty-gritty of the site’s place search in, “Introducing a Faster Place Search” at the blog Making Pinterest. Last fall, the invitation-only image hoarding site launched Place Pins. Designed with aspiring travelers in mind, the tool allows users to link pictures to a map that indicates where they were taken. Since then, the Place Pins team has continued to tweak the software. Engineer Jon Parise writes:

“We launched Place Pins a little over six months ago, and in that time we’ve been gathering feedback from Pinners and making product updates along the way, such as adding thumbnails of the place image on maps and the ability to filter searches by Place Boards. The newest feature is a faster, smarter search for Web and iOS that makes it easier to add a Place Pin to the map. There are now more than one billion travel Pins on Pinterest, more than 300 unique countries and territories are represented in the system, and more than four million Place Boards have been created by Pinners. Here’s the story of how the Place Pins team built the latest search update.”

See the article for Parise’s breakdown of challenges and how the team addressed them. One example: Users familiar with a single search box weren’t fond of the original two-box configuration—one for subject and one for place. The seemingly simple fix, combining both terms into one box, required the algorithm to break the query into two parts and identify any geographic names that appear. For that adjustment, the engineers turned to open-source geocoder Twofishes for assistance.

The post concludes with a note that more improvements are on the way. The updated place search has been incorporated into the iOS app, with inclusion in the Android app on the way “soon.”

Cynthia Murrell, July 23, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Introverted Brin Happier Tinkering in Proverbial Garage

July 14, 2014

Well, maybe this was the problem. We learn that one of the creators of social media dud Google+, who also happens to be a Google co-founder, is actually not so social in Techeye.net’s, “Brin: I Am Too Weird for Google+.” The very brief write-up explains:

“Google co-founder Sergey Brin said that it was probably a silly move for him to have worked on the social networking arm Google+. Speaking at Recode’s Code Conference Brin said he’s ‘not a very social person’ and does not like people much. According to the Verge, Brin called himself ‘kind of a weirdo’ and said that he only used Google+ to post pictures of his kids to his family. He now thinks that any previous professional focus on the social network was misguided. ‘It was probably a mistake,’ he said, ‘for me to be working on anything tangentially related to social to begin with.’”

The shy exec now works in what the article calls the company’s “semi-secret skunkworks group,” Google X. The research department is working on such fun and social-free projects as glucose-measuring contact lenses, self-driving cars, and (of course) Google Glass.

Cynthia Murrell, July 14, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Social Silliness: Search, Collaboration, Fear

July 5, 2014

I am not able to recall which conference featured a speaker who said, “Social search is the future of search.” At this same event, social was the solution to cost control, competitive intelligence, and silos of information. I napped through the first day’s events, delivered a keynote on the second day, and disappeared as quickly as my fat, flat feet could carry me. That was in 2005 or 2006.

Between World Cup games, I read a classic IDG “real” news story with the fetching headline “Many Employees Won’t Mingle with Enterprise Social Software.” My immediate reaction was, “Is this reporter just figuring this out?”

The write up wends its way across four pages of page view goodness. Here are the diamond like insights that I noted. But you need to read the article yourself. You may have a different view because you are unaware of the value of tracking and processing each and every social network click, mouse movement, and dwell time, among dozens and dozens of useful user activities.

Wow, Real Value

Here’s the quote:

Implemented properly, ESN [employee social networks] can be beneficial, analysts say. “It’s great for breaking down geographical barriers and harnessing collective action,” said Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester Research analyst. “Their value can be astronomical.” The siren song of ESN is hard to resist. Spending on this type of software is expected to grow from US$4.77 billion this year to $8.14 billion in 2019, according to MarketsandMarkets.

I wonder how those social networks at the azure chip (lower tier) consulting firms are working. Well, no word on that. And the market size estimate? Just about any crazy number is okay. The notion of accurate market forecasts are essentially irrelevant in the world of a publishing company which puts its employees’ names on other people’s information.

Oh, Oh, Advisory Firms See Problems Ahead

Another quote from the article. (I wonder if I am reading an Onion parody.)

Gartner predicts that through 2015, 80 percent of social business efforts will not achieve their intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology, she [another expert] said. Charlene Li, an Altimeter Group analyst, shares a similar view. “It’s not a situation where if you build it, they will come. That’s not how it works at all,” she said. “Adoption definitely continues to be a problem.”

Yep, fear does that I assume.

Training to the Rescue

Here’s a roasted chestnut:

It’s also important to provide proper training to show employees how they can switch some — or many — email and IM interactions over to the ESN software, and be more productive and efficient. It’s also key for managers and top company executives to endorse the use of the ESN software and lead by example through their own participation. Experts also say it helps when the ESN software is integrated at a technology level with the other tools employees use on a daily basis to do their jobs, whether its their email and calendaring client, their CRM and ERP suites or their office productivity applications.

Yep, let’s train workers to use the company’s social network. No problemo.

GE Is So Well Managed

When I worked at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, I had the experience of meeting Neutron Jack. Well, the management slickness was not evident that day. I recall he threw papers at my boss who was trying to get Neutron Jack to pay an invoice. Let’s say the meeting was a bit like the 4th of July. Here’s the IDG take:

All that can be done in a way that works as intended. GE, which has made use of many of these best practices when rolling out ESN software in recent years, achieved success where other companies have stumbled. GE has a primary ESN suite that’s available to all 300,000 employees globally and that’s known internally as GE Colab, and it has other ESN tools in place for specific teams and departments.

That sounds a lot like GE public relations. Why interview any GE users? Why ask if the social network activity is part of the employee review process? Why ask about the intersection of info on the network and GE security? Too much hassle I suppose. Hey, a case is needed and GE is a gold mine of just so special business cases.

Ah, Deep Integration

I found this quote fascinating:

For Alan Lepofsky, a Constellation Research analyst, the meshing of ESNs with business processes is essential. “If an ESN is not integrated with tools like file-sharing, CRM, marketing automation, support tracking or project management, then it becomes just another tool, and that is where adoption issues begin,” he said via email. Organizations need to ensure that ESNs are woven deeply in to their core business processes in areas such as sales, marketing and engineering, according to Lepofsky.

I have a headache.

Net Net

I am not sure about every US company, but the one with which I am familiar are not particularly well organized. The notion that electronic systems can create a cohesive work force does not match my experience. What makes employees do stuff is the employee’s executive compensation plan tied to specific actions. What creates organization is informed management, experienced middle managers who know their jobs and the customers, and consistency.

Most companies today are looking for silver bullets. Search vendors promise customer relationship management miracles and business intelligence magic. Senior managers are desperate, often fearful, sometimes clueless, and looking for a bigger payday. One crazy software or technical trend follows on another. As companies struggle to make sales and control costs, problems like ignition switches to shaving funds from investors are characteristics of many businesses.

Let’s not confuse cost control and the shift to contract workers with technology that delivers management miracles.

More to the point, let’s have “real” news sources present information that is not blather, glittering generalities, and MBA baloney.

Does IDG need a Neutron Jack? Pat McGovern left quite a legacy. Is fear an under rated management technique?

Stephen E Arnold, July 5, 2014

Microsoft Deepens Yammer Assimilation

June 12, 2014

With its purchase of Yammer two years ago, Microsoft made a public statement that they were increasing social integration within its SharePoint platform. Now, two years into the process, integration has deepened through SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Read all about it in the CRN article, “Microsoft Deepens Yammer Integration With SharePoint Online, OneDrive For Business.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft, which bundled Yammer with Office 365 last November, has taken another big step toward integrating the social networking technology with SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Microsoft Tuesday unveiled a new feature called Document Conversations, which adds Yammer conversations to more than 30 different file types, including Office documents, images and videos.”

Stephen E. Arnold has covered SharePoint for many years on his information service, ArnoldIT.com. He found that many users wanted better social integration before the release of SharePoint 2013, so with the announcement of Yammer’s purchase, users were looking forward to seeing the social aspect of SharePoint move forward. Arnold provides good coverage on his SharePoint feed and SharePoint users and managers can look there for the latest news, tips, and tricks.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 12, 2014

Facebook Takes Out The People

March 24, 2014

Facebook is a network for people to communicate and connect. Forbes.com’s article, “The Approaching Demise Of Organic Reach In Facebook” says that organic connections for brands. are dropping faster than page counts on Justin Bieber’s fan page. The information comes from Social@Oglivy study. Facebook’s response is that will go to zero in the future.

“The free ride for brands on Facebook is coming to an end, and Mark Zuckerberg’s network should now be moved into the ‘paid channel’ in the marketing budget. The end game here is that a message posted on a brand page will not be shown to anyone unless it gathers a notable number of likes from a user’s friends. If their friends like a post, if there is a visible adoption of the post by the community, only then the post has earned the right to be shown organically.”

Brands will have to fork over money to breathe life into a post and it means that they have will have to rethink their Facebook marketing strategies. Facebook is using basic economics to create a scarcity. Brands will have to pay more, but over time they will stop. It is all about the almighty dollar sign for Facebook. What happened to the people?

Whitney Grace, March 24, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Big Changes in Store for SharePoint 2013

March 14, 2014

Microsoft is rolling out some big changes for Office 365. Most users won’t be surprised, as it is in response to frequent user requests, but social aspects will be front and center. Read more in the ZDNet article, “Microsoft to Integrate New Social, Machine Learning Technologies into Office 365.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft is about to make some big changes as to how Office 365 looks and works. At the company’s SharePoint 2014 conference . . . executives will preview some of these coming changes — specifically ones involving social and machine-learning technologies that Microsoft is baking into its cloud suite of Office apps. Once these technologies begin rolling out later this year, the lines between Exchange, SharePoint and Yammer will be blurred, and social collaboration will become more of a centerpiece of the more tightly-integrated suite.”

The conference concluded last week and the headlines are starting to roll out with announcements of what users can expect from Service Pack 1. Stephen E. Arnold has been following the news closely, and continues to report on SharePoint through his Web site, ArnoldIT.com. As a longtime leader in search, Arnold has seen SharePoint evolve and grow, but customization and training tend to be the two consistent components that make SharePoint work for an organization.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 14, 2014

Social SharePoint Tips from SharePoint Conference 2014

March 10, 2014

The Internet is full of the latest news, announcements, and tips from SharePoint Conference 2014, #SPC14. It seems that Microsoft has decided to lead with all things social, focusing on their integration with Yammer and other social features to improve collaboration. Read more in the CMS Wire article, “Socializing SharePoint #SPC14.”

The article says:

“Since Microsoft acquired Yammer in 2012, it has marched forward with the message of ‘Yammer First.’ The company has encouraged businesses to lead with Yammer whenever possible and promised new integrations that will transform the ways users work together. In two keynotes at the SharePoint Conference yesterday, Microsoft revealed some of the new ways it is integrating Yammer into existing Microsoft tools.”

And the article goes on to describe their takeaways from the sessions. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search, and he follows SharePoint, in and out of the conference season. His Web site, ArnoldIT.com, highlights the pros and cons of various search systems. He recognizes that SharePoint is the biggest and broadest, but when it comes to enterprise infrastructure, it is necessary to customize SharePoint in order to reap benefits in user experience.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 10, 2014

Hashtag Help for SharePoint 2013

February 26, 2014

The latest integration of Yammer and other social aspects into SharePoint 2013 has gotten a lot of attention. However, users are still murky on how to integrate the features in a way that improves productivity. Read some good tips in Network World article, “Hashtag Helper: 7 Tips to get More Value from Hashtags in SharePoint 2013.”

The article says:

“The organizations I’m currently working with are seeing some tremendous value leveraging the social capabilities of SharePoint and Yammer . . . However, explaining and getting value from the use of hashtags has been a little more complicated because they don’t work as expected in some scenarios and the concept of a hashtag is just not universally understood by all of our users. With that in mind, here are a few tips for a recipe I’m calling ‘Hashtag Helper’ based on the practical lessons we’ve learned.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search and keeps a close eye on SharePoint on his Web site, ArnoldIT.com. His research finds that while users are interested in social integration, many are lost when it comes to how to integrate these features. For that reason, many will find this article timely.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 26, 2014

LinkedIn Friend Request Option Stinks

December 24, 2013

We are about to make a heretical observation based on Kirill Zubovsky’s blog post entitled, “How LinkedIn Screwed Up Our Friendship.” According to the article, Zubovsky uses LinkedIn like any professional seeking to maintain and forge business relationships. Recently he noticed that he was being sent a bunch of blind friend requests from people have never met before. Any sort of message identifying the user did not accompany the requests and he chalked it up to the user being lazy. Then he realized why he wasn’t receiving messages to accompany friend requests:

“I fell into the trap when I tried to invite Ethan Anderson to connect. I was just browsing through a page, which suggests people I may know, and I realized that indeed, I met Ethan at a 500Startups event a couple of months ago. I’ve been a fan ever since he did RedBeacon, and I find him to be quite a smart dude, so connecting on LinkedIn to keep him on a closer radar seemed like a natural step.”

He hit a connect button and viola! A friend request was sent without allowing Zubovsky to personalize it. He puts it that LinkedIn messed up his friendship with this potential business contact. We agree with him that LinkedIn should improve this “connect” option. No one likes getting requests from strangers and business relationships rely on an introduction to take root.

Whitney Grace, December 24, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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