Why Twitter and Twine matter

Much digital ink has been spent trying to explain the likes of Twitter and Twine. Often, they are characterized as the poster children of the Web 2.0 techno trend. Pundits wonder if they represent a new, democratized broadcast platform. Others imagine that they serve as the next gen CRM tool. And skeptics believe these are just tech toys to be quickly dispensed with once the novelty is over.

As I read the plethora of opinions, I was left more and more unsatisfied largely because the answers ignored the “irrational exuberance” often surrounding media’s descriptions of these technologies. Either the media is very easily seduced when it comes to new technology (and that is not a hard argument to make) or they sensed these technologies represented an important trend taking shape beyond the current Web 2.0 craze.

I come down on the side of the latter opinion and believe these technologies do represent “something different”. Yet I could no more articulate the “something different” than anyone else until a recent conversation I had with some colleagues about Twine. I was explaining why I like Twine and how even the name appeals to me because it suggests interconnectivity where like-minded people form a “mini, trusted search circle” among themselves. When you participate in a Twine, you can get more trusted information about the subject of the Twine because it is strengthened, enhanced and expanded by real people. The “twine”, in effect, creates a “trusted search community” becoming more relevant and thus more trusted over time. The name says it all.

And Twitter matters for the same reason. You can follow people whose opinion you trust within a loosely bound and loosely trusted community. Or, you can share with your “followers” (a.k.a. your trusted community) what you think is useful, important, even trusted. Taken even further, I attribute Twitter’s popularity to the media friendly way reporters can get bite-sized updates from their “trusted sources” which is probably one reason why the Twitter scent carried so far and wide. But don’t let the hype around Twitter obscure the value of this technology – it is a means to receive or broadcast personal, relevant and yes, trusted information.

Now I think I can better put my finger on the “something different” I detect in these newer technologies and it revolves around how we use trust in this new web world. In today’s Web 2.0 world, we don’t expect much trust nor does it drive much how people use these social networking technologies. And if “trust” comes up at all, it is thought of as a risk mitigation requirement as in; “I need to be sure I can trust this person trying to friend me because I don’t want to get scammed.” But for this new web to materialize, trust will have to be transformed from the risk mitigation attribute to the key driver for how we optimize our personal, web experience. In essence, the next gen web hinges on the next gen kind of trust that is a proactive, positive part of the web experience.

When thought of in this light, then it becomes clear that the likes of Twitter, Twine and the many other forms of communities (from forums to bloggers to chat rooms) lies at the heart of how the next gen web will accomplish its charter. People today are creating all forms of communities as a way to proactively create different kinds of trust through relevancy made more potent via communal sharing. In the cases of Twitter and Twine, they provide a key, community-based “trusted information filter” to help sort through the deluge of relevant data, (after all, there are only so many “OMG, check this URL/ video out” emails we can sort through). Forums provide a different kind of trust by letting users share experiences and the sharp rise of bloggers’ influence in the social media celeb heap is proof of their power to create trusted communities.

As more and more people become more dependent on the Internet, the community creation groundswell is one indication of how people are imaginatively and proactively filling the “trust gaps” (a phrase I gratefully attribute to Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo) using their trusted communities. I broadly think of Twitter and Twine as variant versions of communities and this is why I assert it makes sense to think of all these emerging communities as smack in the middle of the next gen web rather than the Web 2.0 landscape. They represent people’s desire to create a personal, relevant web and that will, increasingly, be a function of how people are able to create trust in their ever widening web world.

That’s why Twitter, Twine and all forms of communities matter. They are the building blocks of the next gen web – the Trusted Web.

Welcome home.
Judy Shapiro

Go online? Then you’re an Early Adopter.

                             

I remember clearly the first time I heard the term “early adopter”. It was around 1990 and I was an account person working on AT&T at NWAyer, an advertising agency. The agency “research guy” named John Bowman explained that it referred to a group of consumers with the personality type willing to be first to try a new product. And, if these early adopters liked your product, you could count on them to help spread the word.

 

So once we were introduced to this concept, we agency folks wanted our clients to create cool advertising campaigns to attract these early adopters. But there was a hitch. Early adopters tended to be a very small group. While they probably will become your champions, their ability to evangelize on your behalf was sorely limited. These early adopters could not sustain a business because they could not carry the message broad enough or far enough. For a business to become profitable, the product had to “cross the chasm”, appeal to the masses. Maybe early adopters helped the process, but more often than not, sheer marketing muscle in the form of advertising, did the trick. And to “cross the chasm” could take many months, if not years, and money – lots of it.  

 

That was then. This is now.

 

Today, I believe EVERYONE is an early adopter. If any of you go online or visit a social network or shop online – you are now squarely in the camp of the early adopter.

 

Why?

 

Because the pace of technology change is so rapid, that it has compressed into months what previously took years between the early adoption stage and the category maturation cycle.  For instance, if you go online today, I bet you will try some new “online thing” within the next 30 days. This makes you an early adopter – whether you be 16 or 86. Early adopters share a frame of mind – not a demographic, so that makes them a huge market. See what I mean? 

 

And social networks accelerate the rate of technology adoption even faster and further with newer tools like user ratings, online video chats, expert reviews etc. But social networks are also powerful accelerants of what new technology we adopt. We all get tons of emails or tweets from friends entitled, “check this out” – the promise of early adopter evangelicalism delivered.

 

I hope now you accept that everyone (ok – almost everyone) is an early adopter, and so you can start playing with how your marketing programs need to live within that new paradigm. You can identify various early adopter segments and develop a social marketing program appropriate to them. Create proper ways for your adopter segments to interact with each and with you. Solicit their input on product development and ask their help when you need it.

 

Creating businesses around early adopters is fun because once hooked they tend to be passionate about you. And they tend to trust you. Early adopters – gotta love ‘em.

 

Judy Shapiro  

Postscript — It is worth noting that the “research guy”, John Bowman, is currently an Exec VP at Saatchi and remains a trusted colleague.

What’s the point?

                                 

I find myself in an usual business at a very unusual time.

 

After spending years working with technology leaders in telecommunications, software and security, I wanted to explore the expanding role of social networks in our everyday online worlds. So I went looking for opportunities in this new “cool” space. Not so easy given my decidedly lack of “coolness” (I haven’t seen “20 something” in a few decades). Yet nonetheless, in a sheer stroke of great luck and timing, I recently landed at Paltalk — the leader in social networking, about 4 months ago.

 

I settled in to learn about this space. I wanted to understand how can our networks provide us with the kind of verified information that our real world networks provide us all the time? How do we integrate the collective power of the Twitters and Facebooks and UTube’s into our everyday online activities? What’s the best way to stay transparent in our social networks, yet remain safe to prying digital eyes?

 

As all these new concepts were rolling around in my head in those first early weeks at Paltalk, the economic floor began to give way and everything changed. Day after day the bad news was rolling in – first the financial sector, then the business sector. The speed of the financial decline is breathtaking. And the awful ride is not over yet.

 

But business at Paltalk is good. In fact, just today, Jonathan Blum wrote an article entitled; A surprising winner in the downturn: consumer video conferencing, and Paltalk is the primary beneficiary of this trend. In fact, we seem to be the only highly profitable and financially healthy company in the social networking space.

 

Why you ask? I’ll share our secret – but be warned – it is a radical idea.

 

Our secret is that we spent 10 long hard years developing serious technology to deliver a well designed rich media, interactive real time communications platform. And then we did not just give it all away for free (though some of our best features like SuperIM are totally free). We reserved our highest quality video and audio technology for subscribers and subscriptions makes up the vast majority of our revenue. Unlike our competitors, we did not build a business model around ad revenue that, in hindsight, never materialized. Nope, we banked on people willing to pay for great quality. Gee – what a concept.

 

And now as I see an eerie déjà vu of tech bust of 2001 (only bigger), I wonder why we did we not learn our lesson? What’s the point of a just cool company like Twitter with no real business model beyond a vague allusion to some monetization strategy in the future.

 

The point is that “Cool” has no currency – I don’t care what the cool bloggers and reporters and VC’s think. Making money is cool today.

 

That’s the point!

 

Judy Shapiro

What if?

            

As I explore the in’s and out’s of the business of social networking given my work at Paltalk, I have concurrently, unknowingly, also began an exploration on the meaning of nothing less than – everything.

 

Exploring the dynamics of social networking causes one to become philosophical about everything because social networks reflect every endeavor of the human spirit. Within a short span, I read three wonderful books, God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, The Courtier and the Heretic by Matthew Stewart and Dalai Lama’s work – the Universe in a Single Atom – the convergence of science and spirituality.

 

These books explore how great thinkers understood the essence of life and our relationship with the universe. Are we accidental cosmic tourists? Is the notion a personal God “improbable” as Mr. Dawkins suggests? Is God merely the combined “substance” (the term Spinoza used) of all there is?

 

Before I knew it, these two threads wound themselves around each other and begun to form a new shape in my mind. Social networks will become the filter of how we will see the world. It will shape what we think, what we believe. To understand our world, we will look to our social networks.

 

And that evokes some interesting what if’s.

 

What if…

* We could create the different kinds of social networks in our online world as we have in the real world

* We could manage our fabric of networks fluidly to be most useful

* We could authenticate different networks to be trusted for different things.  

* We could leverage the collective intelligence of authenticated networks to help us transform the generic web into a personal web

* We could use our social networks as our eyes and ears into the digital universe

 

Hmm – more reading to do J.

 

Judy (burning the midnight oil) Shapiro

What’s cool?

      

My insightful 13 year old recently noted that being cool is not really important once you leave high school. I was surprised at the maturity of the thought and he was right. The work world values smarts and hard work and results. And for those of us who remember when there was NO internet (I can hear the gasps now), business success was what counted — not being cool. And success meant a few simple things.

 

1.       Your product/ company made sales

2.       Your product/ company made profits

3.       The product/ company is well received in the marketplace

 

But then the Internet happened. And some of the most successful businesses out there were started and nurtured by kids for whom being “cool” was still relevant. And here’s the interesting part. Many of these companies, like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, became big because they gave us new ways to become cool and maintain our cool-dom. This gives cool a new level of influence that could, by sheer association, build a profitable business.

 

Cool has emerged as the new business requirement. Or has it?   

 

I don’t think so. Mark my words. Kinda like the tulip bust in Amsterdam in the 17th century – I believe that “cool” bubble will burst, especially in the social marketing world. What will ultimately count again, and soon, are the businesses that deliver. Not whether they are just cool.

 

Paltalk is a potent example of the new type of cool. We have spent 10 years building a really great audio and video chat software product. We have created a business model that is the envy of our rivals in that we are highly profitable. In fact, I wager that we may be the only one in this sector that is profitable.

 

But experts in the social marketing field sector believe that tech companies can be “made” almost exclusively if they can get the support of the some of newer “cool” bloggers who yield massive influence. Indeed, these veterans caution me, “They won’t talk to Paltalk, it’s not the cool new thing.”

 

It challenged me and on some level infuriated me. Why would these “cool” influencers not talk to the company who practically started the social networking segment and is making money at it? How much cooler does it get than that!  

 

So I decided to launch my un-cool campaign with these high tech influencers identified by Forbes (see below). It is striking that many of the “cool arbiters” are actually in the 35+ age demo’s. That gives me hope. They will “get” that while spotting the cool new trend is “cool”, nowadays making is as cool as it gets.

 

Catch the new cool wave. Wish me luck.

 

Judy Shapiro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS – FYI … see attached list from Forbes entitled, “Web celeb 25”.   

http://www.forbes.com/2009/01/29/web-celebrities-internet-technology-webceleb09_0129_land.html

 

 

The Web Celeb 25

1Perez Hilton

2Michael Arrington

3Kevin Rose

4Frank Warren

5Cory Doctorow

6Pete Cashmore

7Beppe Grillo

8Heather Armstrong

9Guy Kawasaki

10Jason Calacanis

11Robert Scoble

12Will Leitch

13Jeff Jarvis

14Wil Wheaton

15Nate Silver

16Om Malik

17Matt Drudge

18Owen Thomas

19Dave Winer

20Seth Godin

21Brian Lam

22Mark Frauenfelder

23Steve Rubel

24John C. Dvorak

25Leo Laporte

Trust Me!

         

Nothing evokes more distrust than someone asking you to “Trust me”.

 

Yet that is what the Internet asks us to do every day! We must conduct confidential transactions online – yet we often have no way to verify the authenticity of the site. We want to share our lives with our trusted network of friends, yet we worry that in our transparency and our tweets to our colleagues, we risk our very identity to the bad guys. How do we balance our desire to go online with our need to know that we can trust sites, information and communications?

 

Can we ever hope that the Internet of today becomes the Trusted Internet of tomorrow?

 

These are questions we all confront as we conduct more of our lives online. Join two leading tech titans, visionary Melih Abdulhayoglu, CEO of Comodo and noted Internet commentator Henry Blodget as they discuss live on the Paltalk Network their ideas on the future of the Internet in a three part series entitled, “Are we the crash dummies of the new Internet age?”   

 

This live, interactive Internet event gives Melih and Henry a chance to share their thoughts with each and with the audience on a range of subjects organized in three parts. The first program, airing February 10 at 3 pm (EST), will cover, The Internet Today: Like Cars before Seatbelts. This talk will address the truth about where we are today and how the criminal elements may very well take over the Internet. The second program, scheduled for March 3 at 3 pm (EST) will focus on how much should we reveal about ourselves online. This show, entitled “Your Digital Identity – Establish it or lose it”  will discuss how do we continue to live online without risking ourselves. Lastly, the third program, entitled, Transforming the Web into Your Web, airing March 19 at 3 pm (EST) will challenge us to address how we navigate through an increasingly complex Internet while leveraging new powerful tools, such as our social networks, to carve out a personal web for each one of us. 

 

LIVE SHOW DATES & TIMES (Eastern Standard Time):

Tues 2/10, 3:00 PM

Tues 3/3 , 3:00 PM 

Thurs 3/19, (TBD) 

 

For more information about this groundbreaking series, please visit  http://TechNow.Paltalk.com.

Show link is: http://TechNow.Paltalk.com/CrashDummies

 

About Melih Abdulhayoglu
CEO and Chief Security Architect of Comodo

 

Melih Abdulhayoglu created Comodo in 1998 with a bold vision of making the Trusted Internet a reality for all. His innovations have challenged some of the largest corporations and his pioneering business model earned him Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2008 Award in the Information Technology Software Category for New Jersey.  

 

Melih has led the industry in new digital security technologies for large enterprises, computer manufacturers and governmental organizations worldwide. This success has resulted in Comodo Certificate Authority, becoming the 2nd largest CA worldwide and Comodo’s award winning desktop security solutions are now one of most popular in the market today.

 

To learn more about the Trusted Internet, please visit http://www.comodo.com/corporate/manifesto.html

 

 

About Henry Blodget

CEO of Silicon Alley Insider

 

Silicon Alley is an online business media company based in New York. Prior to founding SAI in  May, 2007, Henry was CEO of Cherry Hill Research, an Internet research and consulting firm.

 

From 1994-2001, Henry was an investment banker at Prudential Securities and an equity analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. and Merrill  Lynch. As a Managing Director at Merrill, he ran the firm’s global Internet research practice and was the top-ranked Internet analyst on Wall Street. Blodget’s first book, The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual: A Consumer’s Guide to Intelligent Investing, was published in January 2007.

 

I hope you can join me for the pivotal live event. Bring your webcams :)

Judy Shapiro

Ten things that will thrive BECAUSE of the recession

                                             

I read a recent an article in ComputerWorld entitled “Ten things that won’t survive the recession” by well respected reporter Mike Elgan (http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9124260&intsrc=hm_list.)  The article was depressing largely because it was so well written and his casualty list was well considered. It was not a pretty picture.  

 

So in a defiant act of faith, let me offer my counter list … “Ten things that will thrive because of the recession”. (At least I’ll feel better trying to come up with such a list.)

 

1)     Direct marketing … but reinvented.

To me, the internet is one big direct marketing engine where prospects “self select” via their searches. When thought of this way, many of the principles that drive great DM will also drive great internet marketing.  Dust off those old “Direct Marketing 101” books – they’ll get the job done in this digital age.

 

2)     Good ol’ fashioned marketing common sense.

I hear many pitches from agencies and online properties that make no sense whatsoever on any normal metric. These are often made by companies trying to sell me on the “branding value” of an online buy.

 

Get real. Branding value in the online world is about effective as a one of those banners that flies behind planes. Limited.

 

Advertising in the online world is based on good old fashioned reach and frequency and has to roll up into a business metric. If the buy does not make financial sense – just walk away. Online marketing is not the place to make branding campaigns. If you don’t know why, see #1.

 

3)     Social marketing campaigns.

If you think great social or viral marketing campaigns just happen – think again.

 

Good viral marketing engages a well coordinated set of tools to create the effect you are looking for. It is not haphazard and it is not “luck”. It is a planned promotion that you can manage once you know the elements. Best of all, many of the elements are free if you know what to look for.

 

Here are some of the top components:

·        A viral video BUT …

Do not expect much to happen – no matter how interesting you think it is – unless you overtly build in the “kicker element”. Meaning, it must have an element that satisfies some specific emotional need to directly compel someone to send it along (think direct marketing call to action). It’s not about spending a lot of money either – it’s about getting to a concept that is built around its “virability”.

 

For example, a recent no cost success in viral videos was a web cam of six new born puppies hanging out in their basket. It was viral because it was so sweet to look at and people wanted to share it. It taps into our deeply ingrained satisfaction in looking at babies – or cute animal babies J. Here’s another example of a very successful video where the recipient looks like they were running for president.http://www.columbusalive.com/live/content/features/stories/2008/10/09/ca_l_net.html 

 

Do viral video – just do it right otherwise you will be disappointed. 

 

·        Customer feedback platform for a site. This is one of the most effective ways to leverage the power of social networking. You can even do this for free with a UserTrust, a feedback platform from Comodo, a leading Certification Authority.

 

·        Community chat.- you can get this for free too from Paltalk chat software. Just download the software and you can start a room for free where people can chat with each other.

 

·        Video streaming – You want to demonstrate your new product? Use a video streaming platform – also from Paltalk using their premium rooms.

 

·        Start a blog — You can share ideas and get honest feedback from your visitors. But beware, never say anything in a blog you wouldn’t want showing up on Page 1 of your local newspaper. ‘Nuf said.

 

4)     Comprehensible data run businesses.

I read a disturbing factoid that asserted most companies (80%) have lots of information and not a lot of comprehension. More simply, too much data of the wrong kind without the intelligence to allow someone to get what they need.

 

This issue has plagued CIO’s for at least a decade and the holy grail of delivering usable, configurable data is close. Why? Because the industry is moving away from rigid taxonomy driven databases where everyone “categorizes” everything the same way to a more fluid metadata structure which provides a new opportunity to get to the Promised Land.

  

5)     Explosion of Internet community groups and micro-businesses

The chat room of yesterday will reinvent itself as a vital part of the ecommerce sector. Rooms with video streaming capability can be secured so that they can handle transactions. This sector is the digital pushcart equivalent of the real world pushcart business of today, a low barrier to entry to eCommerce.

 

6)     Configurable, web based rich media communication services.

That pile of techno babble simply means that people will be to use video, audio and text in any combination interacting with as many people as they want when they communicate online. They will be able to choose whether they want a small media rich chat or a large multi person video streaming conference – just with a click of the button.

 

7)     Online authentication services.

We must become practical about how we bridge the trust gap that now exists between our ability to authenticate in the real world versus the online world. As we conduct more and more of our business online – this is not a nice to do – but must do. There are innovative companies like Comodo creating these type of centralized and distributed authentication services using new techniques in smarter surfing and authentication as an integrated business process.

 

8  ) Practical eCommerce driven ways for everybody to “go green”.

Today, if you want to contribute to help our planet’s environment, it’s difficult because there are so many disconcerted programs and projects and charities. On top of that, local community efforts seem well intended but often lacking in practical application.

 

In the next few years, consumers will get tired of waiting for government to act and will demand better ways to link environmental efficiency with an economical benefit. Companies that let people easily manage their eco-evolution will thrive. These companies will be a single resource that helps people contribute to reduce their own carbon footprint and will also offer guidance on ways to reduce costs using eco-friendly methods.

 

9)     Nanotechnology

This has been on my radar for about 4 years now and I still think it is one of those “step change” technologies. As resources become scarcer or more accurate sourcing for resources becomes more challenging, technologies that can scale up in terms of productivity while scale down in terms of resource consumption is a no brainer winner. Nanotechnology is one of those few technologies that meets both criteria.

 

10)  Digital and identity protection services.

We are living in the Wild West of digital landscapes in some ways because it’s often hard to know who to trust online and it’s even harder to deal with a problem once it emerges.

 

In response, a new set of coordinated services will emerge that covers a wide range of needs from secure backup services (there are great free ones today though like Comodo Backup), to identity protection and restoration services to PC management and protection against the relentless technological warfare being waged against ordinary PC civilians.

 

So there you have it – my predictions for winners that could only be possible in current conditions.

 

Now that I think about it – I’d love to have the longest “who will succeed in this recession list” on the planet. Send me who you think will succeed and have your friends send me their bets on future winners too, I’ll add them all.  

 

Maybe by sheer force of positive thinking we can help in ways that the economists could never guess. (This reminds me of the scene in Peter Pan when he asks the audience to clap for Tinker Bell to save her…)

 

Send me your digital clap. It’s worth a try.

 

Judy Shapiro

 

 

12/26 UPDATE:

Here are 3 additions to our 2009 Companies that will thrive because of the recession list. Keep ‘em coming…

  • Printers, books and printing … a resurgence of old fashioned direct mail – submitted by Ben
  • Trains transportation – submitted by Harvey and Lisa
  • Gardening and farming – submitted by Kay

 Spread the word and we’ll keep adding to the list. Judy Shapiro

 

 

 

_____________________________________________________________

Update: December 30, 2008

 

These winners were just in  

  • Cloud computing for ASP type application (thanks Ira)
  • Multi-player real time gaming
  • Wireless marketing (OK – I have heard this before – maybe this year if smart phones reach a critical mass)
  • Which leads us to Smart Phones

Keep ‘em coming :)

HAPPY 2009!

Judy Shapiro

 

 

 

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words – (or more if you want to stay sane in the current free fall.)

The past 10 days could be powerful evidence for the influencing strength of imagery in our cultural psyche. So many images depicting financial ruin fed on itself which caused people to panic which then caused the downward cycle.  These negative images were the fuel which the ignited the financial conflagration. Just too many images …  fed to us in no small part by the Internet.

 

And since the Internet was part of the problem, it seems right that the Internet can also be the source of the solution.

 

One way to stay sane and create a safe space for yourself amid this panorama is to reach out to each other. Build of small group of trusted comrades where you can discuss issues but within a context that will expose you to lots of voices. This in turn will provide perspective. And this gives you the confidence to act responsibly. Ideally these groups should have a visual component to them to balance the onslaught of the current visual bombardment. You can create a SuperIM video chat group for free. You can chat with up to 10 people in your circle “face to face” via this service (no other service allows so many people to chat together visually). This is a good case where a picture is really worth a thousand words since a friendly face can do a world of good. It’s great fun, distracting and highly entertaining. You can sign up at http://register.paltalk.com/reg/landing_pagc120.jsp

 

If you want broader communities, there are lots to choose from. One easy way to find a community you like is to check out community portals like PalTalk – arguably one of the largest portals that give you the opportunity to enter chat communities easily (video chat also available). This is a fun way to use the power of imagery to bolster your courage in today’s turbulent times.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words – so use them wisely.

Judy Shapiro

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,193 other followers