I lost a good friend, I wonder who he was…

Everyone has heard the saying and seen the cartoon where you don’t know who your being social with on the Internet, it could be the family dog.

This has been true since the original threaded chats on the Internet started. People will change who they are in the physical world to explore a different life path on the Internet. There are some folks doing it to do harm to others, some are hiding from family/friends and others can do it quite by accident. The accidental misrepresentation is just someone who is posting without realizing how others are viewing their comments, reaching a different conclusion around who they are dealing with than reality.

The new social solutions available to share for fun or profit include a lot more possibilities than just text. People share their words, images, videos, links to other people’s words and so on… new options come out all the time. Someone has to make a pretty strong effort, or not post anything but text, to ‘be someone else’ online. On most the big name sharing systems, it is easy enough to check out tagging on an image to see if it really taken by the author or at least where they claim it to be. While not many socialites will take the time to do this extra step, the information is there to see if the image was true to the provider or one grabbed from somewhere else.

For the sharing crowd that is just having fun, the options bring many people from all corners of the world to exchange thoughts and experiences.

A common thread across all of the well known social sites is they allow people to follow or track your posts. There is a variety of ‘allowing’, ‘blocking’, and ‘limiting’ made available to provide some level of controls over who a person’s friends are online. If the step to hide this information isn’t turned on, other Internet users are able to see how many people are following or being followed by each member of the system.

These numbers can be very small and well managed to just what a user is able to view and respond to. All the way up to huge qualities of people who follow everyone. A post submitted into a crowd of those big number groups have a very low chance of being seen/read. It also results in people sharing the same link over and over again since it is impossible to watch all of the activity across thousands or even millions of viewers. The desire to have the following/viewing quantity being very high drives a different face users have on social sites. The normal is becoming the desire to post things that everyone will like.

Other than a couple specialized social networks, the quantity over quality game is played on all of the major services. I call it a ‘game’ since following more than a person can possibly view posts from is a way to get more followers in return. Some do it for their marketing ideas, others think of the followers as ‘friends’. Everyone would love to have friends everywhere around the world, but can any of those friends actually quote anything you said?

Many people feel that anything over a couple hundred of Social friends are too many to follow. A couple exceptions to this is following a lot of people that only post once a week… not very social are they? Then, there are folks like my niece that has over 500 friends, because she follows all the folks in her High School graduating class. You have to believe she chooses which posts she pays attention to, changing from day to day depending on what the happening event of the day is.

Enter, my ‘friend’. He has traveled the many places I have which he took pictures of and shared on Instagram. He commented on my pictures and responds when I comment on his. He even has a Laberdoodle with the same name as our Bichon. His name? No clue. As quickly as the friendship started, it ended. He decided he didn’t like the crowds that followed that where following so many other people. The comments that included a request to follow them. I don’t share the path he took or removing his images and account. Maybe he will return and look me up, would like to have my friend back, whoever he may be. Guess our families and dogs may never meet in person… why should I expect differently, it’s a virtual social world.

“We tried it, it didn’t work” – it could be you

In the 80’s, we would propose software solutions for companies to solve their issues. Many times we would hear them say that they tried the solution and it didn’t work. Rather than just move on, we would explore why it didn’t work. More often than not, we found that the full power of the solution or group of functions they needed where not explored.

Recently there has been a lot of press around large companies not getting out of social network marketing as they expected. Comparing the ROI to other media options for marketing, there is a feeling that they aren’t getting their money’s return. A coupon or special offer is pushed out and they aren’t showing up in their stores.

There are a few group buying or coupon sharing services that are hitting it big. These are working because people using the services are folks that already have their heads around using the services. What happens when a person not in that spot gets a coupon in an email for 10% off? They don’t know what to do with it… do they print the email? Do they search the email for a key phrase to use in the store? Do they have to click through to a site where they have to give personal information? If there is a coupon code to use, will they face possible embarrassment in the store when they ask for a discount they get wrong or there are particulars… again, should they print the email?

Not a single item above creates a positive experience for a possible customer. It doesn’t work. It isn’t the fault of the system, it’s time to rethink the whole marketing scheme. This doesn’t mean companies should jump on board with the many folks marketing online how they can sell, their job is to sell a system. There isn’t a ‘system’ that works for everyone. Think about who uses the service being used, now about the current customers. Even though the current customers may be moving to using the social service, their frame of mind is in that social frame of mind… not a newspaper coupon clipping.

Along with rethinking marketing, what is a real ROI? Is money being best spent with big promotions instead of ongoing mentions across the social landscape? Some big names have large followings which can be paid to mention a product. That might build hits but doesn’t mean purchases unless the person was already in a position to buy.

There needs to be a reason for a mention in Social Networking circles. Forget the coupons unless it’s a “50% off everything”. Even ‘click here’ to go to our site for a discount will have very low counts of people willing to go since they know they are being ID’d to the site and followed around… causing them to get more junk mail.

A system that worked in the 80’s physical store days is now proving to be valuable in a electronic social world is relationships. Marketing across other company’s promotions. Your email list is very valuable, particular to other companies. Join forces to do mailings of your products, mentioning other company’s tie to yours. You have a golf club company, you can’t say ‘buy these chocolates too’. But, you have a card printing service, you can mention that including chocolates with their customer card to their co-workers is always a hit. There is no discount involved. The win is that the Chocolate company got a reach they didn’t have before… the Greeting Card company doesn’t give up their client email list but they have people reading since there is additional information from a marketing pitch from them.

Customer lists are literally a reason companies are being purchased these days. Take good care of your lists, organize them with keywords to what the person purchased, how they purchased, if they came in via marketing and if they continue to order.

For movies that I am a Producer for, I never push the movie it’s self. Posts across my circle of influence are about who has mentioned they are going to be at a sneak showing, what is going on in the line, what is going on after the movie showing, tie ins to items within the movie. These all build interest as people can relate to their own lives. There is no mention of coupons or hype about what the movie is about.

This will be very hard for most marketing groups to jump on board with since they are generally asked to show ROI on everything they do. New measurements are required to prove what worked. Rather than throwing away anything that is thought as a ‘didn’t work’ do a tweak to it instead. Drive down the overhead of pushing information out via social networks doesn’t mean firing the marketing group but it does mean that marketing have to be very dynamic rather than six months of presentations to get anything kicked off. Don’t be insulting with social network marketing, but don’t be afraid to try new ideas!

Augmented Reality – Construction, Inspection and Sales – Let’s get moving!

Sitting on the highway this morning, not moving, I passed the time between emails and watching a construction team move a lot of dirt. The hard hatted individuals consisted of one gent running a large shovel machine, two people standing on the hill looking down and two workers aligning survey equipment. Watching the process, I wondered why the shovel operator wasn’t looking through a heads up device that was telling him where to dig and how much was left to be completed.

Thinking back to watching a friend design houses, he had moved from building little foam and paper models to exporting a 3D computer model right from his plans. Let’s take that up to today, using what we have available to use with technology now:

Construction: Workers on a building or residence construction team could come in each day and receive their updates electronically. They have a checklist of work to be done and, looking through a single eye lens could see a overlay of what is there now compared to what they need to do. Exact locations of wall structures, outlets, wiring etc. All of this data is directly out of the design software used to create the building drawings with a human or software dividing up the timeline/progress to give to the team each morning.

Inspectors: When a building plans are submitted, the electronic version is distributed to the inspectors. Updates are also uploaded by the construction team so that the visiting Inspector can look through their eye piece or hold up the screen of their handheld to look ‘through’ it to see what was approved versus real. They would know which switch should activate which outlet, what was agreed to for step heights, location of vents and windows, etc…

Selling the dream: Need a bit of empty warehouse for this one. Load up a clients floor plan in their little carry unit hooked to their video glasses and let them loose to walk from room to room in their new location. The can walk through augmented reality walls and into a real wall or trip so some cautions should be used. Otherwise though, they can see if there is enough room to turn around in the kitchen or too far to go from the master bedroom to the kids room. For condos on upper floors, real view images could be put in so a person can see the view their dollars are buying and if they can see any of it from the other side of the dinning room. This is actually not a difficult bit of technology to do and is much better than even computer screen 3D walk through.

There are several ways augmented reality software knows what to show a person. Popular for games is a paper with a box or ID image which the app uses to build the 3D view around. For more advanced systems, location is assigned via global positioning for low precision due to several feet difference is acceptable. For a construction site, beacons would need to be used that have their altitude and location to each other set. Then, personal devices within the area would key off those to know what the user should see with pretty good precision. A house would need two beacons while larger construction like the highway dirt diggers might need three to six beacons to not get into underground gas and power lines.

Who’s in? Let’s get started!

Being all things to all people – Facebook wants more social photos

The trick to pulling this off is to not make a person step through all things to get to what they want. Your ‘super’ service isn’t for everyone, they may only want a small part so you need the ability to see that small part as it’s own world. Could this be where SecondLife went wrong?

The challenge is always to the big service that tries to get into an area a smaller ‘specialized’ company owns. Case in point is the news over the last couple days around Facebook about to release more specialized mobile apps to build their photos areas.

Facebook is known for it’s record quantity of photos being uploaded and shared through their network. Personally, I used to upload a lot of pictures to share with friends through Facebook. Till Instagram came along, which is more about the image than text. Friends on Facebook read the text updates and shared links, images being lower on the list of reasons friends look at feeds. Sometimes images are grouped on the Wall area while other times they stand alone.

I can upload images to Facebook with their current iPhone app. But, viewing them and viewing updates to the text for the images vary in success. There are several apps for the iPad that push they are great Facebook photo viewing apps.

If Facebook is in fact going to lean heavily on the photo sharing crowd to move all their sharing to their Facebook account, will they succeed without treating that as a standalone service? When you think about the Everything to Everyone services you have used in the past, was there areas that you liked. But, after having to drill in a few times found you went there less and less. Maybe your visiting frequency was slowed because others weren’t willing to drill in to see what you where saying or posting.

Even if Facebook gets it ‘right’, will there still be a need for the services that only do one part of Facebook’s big offering? For me, yes. The more specialized offerings have a world of friends all it’s own. Like the few popular photo sharing social networks gaining in popularity, there is little talk and more viewing. No one needs to be a ‘friend’ to share images they took around their local town. There is little personal information so there is less concerns about privacy. It’s a different view of sharing without all the concerns of people knowing what your viewing or buying. Unless of course, you share pictures of those things.

Is an opinion the final answer?

There are groups of people that you will come across in life that feel their opinions are fact. They will defend and state your questioning it isn’t the right path. The two that come to mind are ‘many’ teachers and most corporate learning instructors.

For teachers, there are a few that drive to get students to question decisions stated by others as facts. They want their students to think things through. Then, there are the others, a high school english teacher comes to mind.

In a class where we analyzed what stories meant, we all gave our interpretations. At the end, the teacher explained what the story actually meant. While the teacher’s proposed answer seemed like it could be one option, it didn’t set with a couple students that it had to be the only answer. Upon asking, I was informed that the teacher’s answer was based on the book’s teacher notes in the back. Of course… I just had to ask if the story writer was the one that wrote the teacher notes. Within a week, I found myself in another english class where the teacher was also a rebel.

The above came to mind recently when at a corporate retreat, the result of an exercise came to a different conclusion than the instructor stated it did at the end. When questioned, they stated that the result was as expected and moved forward. In this case, unlike the teacher, the instructor was hired to get a line of thinking across. To help guide us to a conclusion.

Like a school classroom though, corporate team building gatherings carry a level of pressure to go along. Not only is there fear of being blocked from advancement but there is also the desire to fit in and not rock the boat amongst your peers.

Other than saying to everyone to just risk the repercussions and standing up for what you believe. The answer to the team building meetings is management doing a better job at interviewing the people they choose to run the tasks. Taking the time to throw out a bunch of ‘what if’ questions. At the end of the day, the company wants the team building meeting to be successful so taking a little extra time up front will pay off through better results.

Beware the speakers that have a book to sell or a desire for follow up meetings. Remember the point your trying to drive to your team, not getting caught up in a quick sell from someone who can’t back up their message.

A greeting with acknowledgment and respect

You may quote me, “A handshake is a greeting with acknowledgement and respect”.

When I was VERY young, I was introduced to my Grandfather’s brothers and sisters that had come over from Italy for a visit. As they sat on the couch and chairs in his house, my said who they where and I politely said ‘Hi’.

The very next day, Grandpa showed up at my parents house, riding the bus from the other side of town which required three transfers. He calmly let me know that I had not been respectful to the people I was being introduced to by not shaking their hand. He spent the afternoon going over and over what was a proper handshake.

How did he have this knowledge? When he came to the states, he started a produce delivery company. He felt the reason he was successful was because he was honest and respectable. He purchased produce from suppliers and farms and delivered to companies all over town. Usually on a handshake agreement. From the handshake, he knew pretty quickly who wasn’t planning on paying him and who respected his services.

This bit of my past came up recently when I was reading Guy Kawasaki’s new book Enchantment. The book is a walk through being trustworthy and respectable, both for yourself and your brand. Some good lessons in the book worth getting the highlighter out so you can remember them later. One item of note was his mention of what makes George Clooney’s smile stand out. In short, it is real, not an act, as you can see the smile throughout his whole face not just a upturn of his lip corners.

Back to the handshake:

It is a ‘handshake’, not a finger shake. Both sexes can shake hands, there is no need to ever give someone your fingers as a handshake.

When being introduced to someone, step to them, reach out and take their hand firmly. Firmly does not equal squeeze, there are no extra points to breaking their hand. Tighten your forearm just a bit but don’t lock it or your elbow. Initially, start slowly up so both parties move together, we don’t want to twist their wrist. Two up/down is casual, three is a bit more formal.

Tuning the stepping forward a bit, do not enter their circle of comfort. The circle is real, don’t abuse their space. Depending on the nationality, you may wish to bow your upper body just a bit as you start the hand connection. Understand some people have a phobia about touching, be respectful, but you will know this before you reach out your hand from seeing if they back off from people. Germ concern is not a phobia, it’s a real concern for most people. That is not a reason to not shake hands though. I completely understand that hand t0 hand touching can pass germs. I have several good friends that are professional speakers where if they caught a cold they may not be able to perform their expected duties. They mention this fact and use a bit of hand sanitizer after shaking hands… but they still shake hands.

There was an attempt a few years ago to replace the handshake with a knuckle bump. No matter the press around it, that action is still the equivalent of giving a high five slap and does not represent a moment of acknowledgment or respect.

Personally, I had a hard time remembering a room of people’s names when moving quickly through a crowd. So, I use the handshake moment to use their name in my greeting.

A few additions to the handshake. To be more sincere with your greeting, you may reach out with your left hand and lightly grip their forearm or just above their elbow with your left hand. Politicians are abusing this as a way to pull a person closer so you may want to be aware of your crowd and analyze if it will be taken as honest or as being over the top.

Holding their shaking hand with your left hand to cup their hand between your two hands. This is more of a emotional connection type of handshake. While being completely acceptable in my ministry days, it generally causes people to pay more attention to the handshake than the greeting.

A handshake, like Clooney’s smile, is more than a connection of hands. Smile, look the person in the eye and show them the respect you would like others to give you. Take the time to acknowledge the person, you will be remembered for making the effort.