Google to allow Google+ emails

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Google recently made a couple changes to the ways Google+ users can contact each other. In a recent email sent from Google, they state “Ever wanted to email someone you know, but haven’t yet exchanged email addresses? Starting this week, when you’re composing a new email, Gmail will suggest your Google+ connections as recipients, even if you haven’t exchanged email addresses yet.”

Gmail to allow contacting people circled on Google+

Now, there are a couple points in the email that are a bit confusing. Though the email says it will suggest Google+ connections (as you can see in the bubble above), the function hasn’t started working for me. I tested a few letters of Google+ connections whom I’ve never emailed before just to see if it shows up, but it has not. Are you seeing the functionality yet?

There’s a troubling portion that I’m also not quite sure how to translate. See below.

Non-circled emails may head to your social tab in Gmail

As it stands right now, an email from a real person goes in my primary tab. Does the above mean that if a real person emails me, but isn’t in one of my Google+ circles, they will be relegated to the social tab? Will all first time emails from people go to the Social tab? I could see this making some people unhappy, especially if they don’t monitor their tabs consistently. The social tab, as described in the settings, is meant for “Messages from social networks, media-sharing sites, online dating services, gaming platforms, and other social websites.” Some people may not check it often, as it may simply be filled with updates from social networks. This could potentially get real emails lost in the pile.

You do have the option in your General Settings. There’s a new option that says Email via Google+ which allows you the options of Anyone on Google+, Circles, Extended Circles, No One. You can adjust according to your comfort level.

Have you seen the changes start happening yet in your inbox? Have you received an email from a Google+ contact you’ve never exchanged emails with before? Do you see high spam potential here?

Comment below and tell me what you think about it, or if you’ve seen any of the examples above.

Like this post? You might also enjoy this one!

Now go get your social on!

2014 Could be the year of Google+, and it might be rough

In late 2013, Google+ clenched the #2 spot for active users on social networks. The ghost town/Google employee jokes should finally start to subside. Now, I’ve been on Google+ since you had to get invited to it, but didn’t fully embrace it on the regular until last year. Jumping back in, I can honestly say that it felt like being a kid at a new school. There were established relationships, social mores, and groups of people that were either happy to help or eager to chastise.

bamboo wall with plants, 2014 The Year of Google+

Breaking through the social platform walls

With some of the recent changes Facebook has made to reach and Google’s increased leveraging of Google+ across all its properties, it’s a definite possibility that more brands will be making the shift to start checking out G+. It will not be an easy transition. So here are some things to remember for those starting out, and those already well established.

Be patient

We’re going to see people doing the link dropping thing. Anyone reading this that’s considering Google+, know that it’s not a ‘link drop and forget it’ platform. We’re going to see people spamming communities. Facebook and LinkedIn groups have taught people to do this by letting them get away with it. Future Google+ friends: don’t do this, or you’ll pick up a poor reputation quickly. Read community guidelines. Each one typically lays out the rules of being a member, clearly on the community’s page. It’s going to take time to undo this mindset for new Google+ users. We’re bound to see those damned notifications for things that are irrelevant to us, because Google doesn’t do a great job of explaining what that function really means. New users, only click the ‘Notify via email’ box when posting if those people have opted in to get notifications from you. Otherwise, you’re spamming them.

Be a guide

I have Dustin W. Stout’s “The Anatomy of a perfect Google+ post” on standby for anyone I introduce to Google+. I feel like it gives them a definitive look into how to compose interesting posts and treat the platform properly, as well as just honestly engage with others. I also often share Michael Bennett’s complete guide to Google+ once people get their bearings about them (it can be a bit overwhelming because it’s an awesomely exhaustive list of useful information). I also have a circle of Google+ rockstars that I share with people to get them going in the right direction. Using these and other resources to help others understand the massive differences in this platform from others will help people enrich the community, rather than simply annoy others.

Create and cultivate relationships with new users.

I am a firm believer in the idea of Relationship Marketing (check out the awesome weekly Google Hangouts from Wade Harman that is all about this topic). Not only do I find this important for my own work, it’s important to teach that aspect to others. As an established user, you should create a communal bond with new people, and they’ll be a better Google+ user (and marketer) for it. New users should strive to make real connections, and will quickly learn how to properly use the platform and engage with others on Google+. Everyone wins, and social media is social again.

What other recommendations would you have for people getting started on Google+? If you’re a new user, what questions about the platform do you have? Leave your comments below.

Now go get your social on!

Google Maps is back on iOS, so spells the end of Apple Maps

For all of you who were holding off of updating your iPhones because you didn’t want to lose Google Maps, your time has come. An actual app for Google Maps is available in the Apple Store for your iPhones, just in time for holiday travel. Below is a detailed article on what makes Google Maps so good, and why we’ve missed it so:

What does this mean for Apple Maps? Is it a lost cause? Do you think Apple will still try to completely revamp the Apple Maps app to compete?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on Google Currents! Download the app in your app store or marketplace and click here to subscribe.

Found Tweet Friday


Found Tweet Friday!

September 7, 2012 (Salami Day and National Beer Lover’s Day – Prost!)

Welcome to the Redlight District of Twitter

I spend a good part of my day using Twitter to find potential customers for my clients. I use the Twitter search function and locate people talking about relevant things that could translate to needs my clients’ products or services could fulfill. During this digging through the nonsense, the marketing messages, the slang and abbreviated hashtags, I find some pretty ridiculous tweets. Many that make my jaw drop. It never ceases to amaze me how many people forget that their tweets are completely public while they treat their Twitter conversations as if they were private. Some of those are simply too offensive or gross (not to mention misogynistic and lewd) for me to bother posting, but below are a collection of this week’s gems that I just had to share. My occasional commentary will be the parenthetical portions. Enjoy!

****Warning: Some content may be inappropriate for young or easily offended readers****

Found tweets:

  • “Gingeritus” isn’t a disease. I hope you meant “Gingivitus” in which you should visit a dentist . (Good advice, for spelling and for dental hygiene…)
  • Time to poop and brush my teeth. why isn’t there a tooth brush emoji? (That’s the least of my questions…)
  • Have a legit idea of how to make my dream of Steven’s Hard Beer. How do you turn inventions into reality? #GetHardBeforeYouGoHard (Quite a slogan, Steve…)
  • Its ugly out anyways….ima jus go 2 da grocery store cop hella zoom zooms & wam wams & make it a cinema weekend (It’s he’s speaking a foreign language…)
  • Your face gave my cat cancer… (Wow, that cuts deep. Real deep.)
  • Lmao I forgot how acclimated I am to the shitty texas weather until I’m with someone not used to sweltering in satan’s ballsac (A rather accurate description of the weather at times here in Texas)
  • How come I have to pick up after my dog when I’m hiking, but I have to hike around horse poo? #itsenormous (You can’t argue that he has a valid point…)
  • I need to clean up my diet do badly because I want healthy daily poop #mymotivation (I mean, you have to find motivation somewhere. Why is there so much about poop this week?)
  • @snooki it’s not really a fam since ur not married. (So…that’s your definition of family, huh?)
  • my boyfriend named his new car after a Downton Abbey character so don’t you dare say he’s not a renaissance man. (Gents, guess that makes you a keeper.)
  • My brother was in a horrible car accident on his way to pick up lunch today. It’s really bad guys, I need your prayers. I’m SOOO hungry! (Twitter A.D.D. much?)
  • Imma need to learn Spanish. My skin colour and the size of my behind demand it in these parts. #merica
  • Just saw a movie trailer where Clint Eastwood kicks over a coffee table…maybe he thought it was Joe Biden. (Yeah, sorry Republicans, this made me literally laugh out loud. Like in the real sense, not the “lol” sense.)

There you are folks! Obviously, some weeks will be less interesting than others, but I hope you enjoy it. Also, if you ever see any great tweets worth pointing out, send them to me at robzaleski1@gmail.com and they might make the list!

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on Google Currents! Download the app in your app store or marketplace and click here to subscribe.

The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of July 2, 2012 (Did you know July is National Cell Phone Courtesy month? Also, the best month of the year!)

Social Gnome hoard image

  • Last week I had an article about Google+ coming to Flipboard, and this week it’s all about the New York Times. I’m very happy to see Flipboard getting the attention it deserves. It’s a really slick app with a great interface, and I was concerned about its well-being when I wrote my post about Google Currents and the threat it posed. This deal with the NY Times should really drive more traffic to Flipboard, and get those who potentially never used the app to check it out and fall in love with it, as many of us have. Flipboard is available for iOS devices, Kindle, and Android devices.
  • Gojee, an up and coming recipe sharing platform, looks to be getting funded up to attract some of the food-loving Pinterest crowd. Any Pinterest user will tell you that that their feed is full of boards from kitchen queens, culinary kings, expert foodies and wish lists of the less experienced (mine is simply titled Food I Want In My Face). Gojee is described as the “Twitter for food” and could potentially couple well with the multitude of recipe sharing buzz that Pinterest has created in the last year or so.
  • The plight of the small business owner is a constant struggle to stay relevant and visible in the shadow of the big guys. Although a strong online presence helps, sometimes it can feel like a hopeless battle, especially trying to keep up with all the changes that Google is doing. Here is a great article from Entrepreneur.com discussing some things to do to try to make yourself visible in Google’s eyes (and therefore everyone else’s).
  • In what will likely be a pretty important decision, a court judge ruled that Tweets are public (same as if they were shouted out in the street) and therefore should not be accompanied with any expectation of privacy. The court has ordered Twitter to turn over months worth of tweets by an Occupy Wall Street protester in order to prove that he was aware of the police orders that he was blatantly disregarding. Check out the whole article.
  • Finally, summertime is now in full swing. The fireworks really make it feel official (along with the sweltering heat, depending on where you are in the country or the world). Entrepreneur columnist Teri Evans provides some summer reading picks from multimillionaire entrepreneurs. There’s a few I’ve already heard of (and a couple standby classics), as well as a couple I might have to add to my list.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? How do YOU feel about the ruling on privacy of tweets on Twitter? Do you use Flipboard, and if not, will you use it to keep up on New York Times articles? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!

The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of June 20, 2012 (American Eagle Day, so do your country proud):

Social Gnome hoard image

  • For those of you who love those infographs, Social Times has put together some interesting demographic information on who is using the various social networks. Some of the data may come as no surprise if you follow this kind of data, but some of the data is still pretty staggering. I especially like the section that outlines how much a user is supposedly worth to the networks. I’ll take my check now, Mr. Zuckerberg.
  • As a blogger, I’m always looking for something to inspire me, something to keep me furiously clicking away at the keys and trying to get that next blog post out (and on time, to boot). Copyblogger provides some words of wisdom, as usual. This time, in an easily printable format that you can put right above your desk. No more excuses. Print it. Live it. Do it. Be a better writer. Just as easily said as done, right?
30 Best Content Curation Resources for Marketers and Business Pros

Clipped from: http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com (share this clip)

  • Speaking of blogging tips, if you’re having a tough time figuring out what exactly it is that you want to write about, here is a list of 30 Curation Sources from B2B Marketing Insider to help you get started. Some are big news reporting names you’re already familiar with, but there are a few gems in here that I was unfamiliar with, but am definitely checking out. The article provides links and links to Twitter profiles for all 30, so you can jump right in and follow these sources to keep your content fresh and interesting.
  • Anyone who works in social media, or works digitally with clients, will appreciate the humor in this Tumblr blog “What Should We Call Social Media.” If you haven’t checked it out yet, it is a must. Using animated GIFs, this blog expresses exactly what you and I are feeling when clients or their customers do things that drive us up a wall. It also approaches other great themes like “When Klout tells me it believes I’m influential in something I’ve literally NEVER talked about.” It’s a fantastic Tumblr, but be careful it doesn’t drain your day away. You’ve got clients to think about.

Clipped from: redOrbit (share this clip)
  • Great news to all of you Flipboard lovers (like me!). Google+ announced this week that it would finally be opening up its API to allow your Google+ stream to be viewable from your Flipboard dashboard. It was already possible to view your Google+ stream on Google Currents, which was one pull for me, but I’ve been wildly awaiting this announcement. This hopefully means we’ll see many more availabilities opening up (like Hootsuite and maybe Buffer!). Google previous closed-off nature with their API was one thing hurting them in the battle against Facebook. This could be a pretty major turning point for Google+ usage and integration.
  • And finally, for all you music lovers out there, this FREE app is a must-have. Band of the Day is an app for iPad and iPhone that provides a new band or artist recommendation for every day of the year. You can even go back a handful of weeks to see what you may have missed. The app allows you to preview numerous (if not all) songs by the band or artist, reviews, bios, videos and links to purchase the songs as well. It does obviously require an internet or WiFi connection. The user interface is really slick and moves smoothly through all the various screens. There may be a few artists you’re already pretty familiar with, but unless you’re a major indie music aficionado, you’re likely to find tons of music you’ve never heard before. I highly recommend this app, especially on the iPad, to anyone who thirsts for more music in their life.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? Do you know of any other great music recommending apps out there? Do you use Flipboard, Google Currents, or some other dashboard for all your news gathering? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!

The Social Gnome’s Hoard – 4 New Reasons to Monitor Online Reviews

This week we’re discussing the recently increased importance of monitoring and maintaining your presence on review sites, particularly Yelp and Google Places (now called Google+ Local).

June 13, 2012:

Social Gnome hoard image

Yelp rating system

The slow, painful decline from red to yellow

  • Siri uses Yelp to search locally – When your potential customers hit that button on their iPhone and tell Siri asks what she can help them with, Siri then asks her friend Yelp for the highest rated results in that category in your geographic area. This is applicable whether you’re a restaurant, doctor, lawyer, plumber, auto repair shop, anything. You need to make sure you’re looking as clean as you can on Yelp, or Siri may not recommend you. Yes, you are now catering your hard work on your company’s image to a digital assistant. Get used to it and move forward, because this stuff is only getting more complicated.
Google+ Local Austin recommendation

I agree, Mandola’s is delicious.

  • Google loves Google+ – Google has integrated it’s search even more fully into its social network, last week unveiling Google+ Local. Companies’ reviews on Zagat and Google Places are now merged, using the Zagat scoring system, out of 30 points, and allowing rating of multiple facets of a business. Companies can no longer have an abandoned Google Places page. They will now have to create a Google+ business page, or spruce up their Google Places page now that it has ported over and become a Google+ business page. This gives you some great options, visually, but a more social search for customer equals a more complicated job for businesses.
Screenshot from Apple.com

Apple.com explains iOS6 features

  • Apple just rocked your world – The unveiling of new iOS6 features from Apple announced the dropping of Google Maps and the addition of Apple Maps. Once again, Apple is lending preference to Yelp to assist users in navigating the best spots in the very slick looking, and exceedingly functional, Apple maps. Local restaurants, take note that Apple in also utilizing Open Table to allow users to make reservations with Siri. Let the confusion begin.
Visual.Ly infographic on food critiquing

Visual.Ly shows you how much we’re all critics

  • Everybody’s a criticVisual.Ly makes a great infographic that culminates our innate needs to have our opinions heard. From quick shout outs, epic tales of a dinner gone wrong, or outright rude chastising of a business owner for not caring enough, we love to have our opinions heard. Although there are numerous platforms out there that cater to this desire to be heard, Yelp furthers the addiction even more by rewarding those who share their opinions the most (awarding them a coveted Elite status) and Google just made it super easy for Google+ users to share their experiences very, very publicly.
UPDATE As an addendum, Bing is also pushing the local search functionality. Guess what resource Bing will be utilizing for finding local businesses. Yelp. Bing has been making major strides in order to compete with Google and the social nature of Google+ Local. It seems Bing is bringing Yelp along with it.
The push to make the local experience completely interactive has grown so exponentially in the last couple of years, it’s difficult to imagine where we’ll be in a couple more. Social search has grown by leaps and bounds in a very short amount of time. One thing is clear, the phrase “Evolve or die” could not be written any clearer. Local business owners simply can not ignore the growing need to be involved in the social digital sphere. Word of mouth is still king, but that king sits on the throne made of Yelp and Google+ Local.

I recommend you give at least a moment’s look at Main Street Hub. We handle your online reviews for you. We make sure your customers are heard, acknowledged, appeased and thanked. The time is now. Take your reviews by the horns and lead them in a direction that helps your business grow in this ever changing climate of fickle customers who have been handed megaphones to share their experiences. Tell Main Street Hub that Rob Z sent you. Thanks for reading.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!

Interview with Sociabell CEO Yoni Ram

Social search is garnering quite a bit of hype now that Google is further integrating Google+ into every aspect of the search engine, and with Microsoft and FUSE Labs gaining traction on their social + search experiment So.cl. In light of this, I decided to revisit Sociabell, the social search app for Facebook that allows you to search all networks and search engines directly from Facebook’s search bar. Sociabell’s CEO, Yoni Ram, was kind enough to spend some time answering some interview questions for me about Sociabell.

Sociabell social search app for Facebook

  • What inspired you to start Sociabell? 

During a surf trip in Costa Rica, I arrived at an Internet Café. As always, I opened my Facebook account to get updated and chat with my friends. I also had to search for a place to stay, and find some local restaurants, bars, surf spots, etc. I constantly moved back and forth between Facebook, Google, and other sites. It was time consuming. The clock on the Internet Café kept ticking, and I felt that there must be a better way for Facebook users to search the web. If Facebook is my “home base”, the website that is always open, and it already has a search box, why can’t I search Google, YouTube, and more directly from there?

In the development process we came up with our second main feature: Social Search – with one click you can share your search query from Facebook search box to the News Feed, and let your friends help you find what you’re searching for. It can be “a good restaurant”, “a boutique Hotel in NY”, or “an idea for a birthday gift”. We discovered that people are also using the Social Search to express their thoughts, feelings and opinions, for example: “Dan is searching for peace and love” or “Alice is searching for someone to stop Joseph Kony!”.

  • The integration we’re seeing from Google+ and Microsoft is a strong indication that social + search is gaining serious traction. What are you doing to maintain relevancy and differentiate Sociabell?

While Google and Microsoft start to offer different combinations of social and search, our goal is to provide a better search experience for Facebook users, specifically for those who see Facebook as their “home base”. In the future, when Facebook rolls out their new search, we will continue to develop Sociabell to offer Facebook users an enhanced search experience. Our unique position – being between the two giants Facebook and Google, lets us provide Facebook users with capabilities that Facebook is not likely to offer (e.g. searching Google and YouTube directly from Facebook’s search box). As one of our users wrote us: “Finally, one search box that does it all!”.

  • What plans do you have for improvements to functionality and design of Sociabell? What can we expect to see next?

As we see so far, we are really onto something. Our users love Sociabell and get pretty addicted to it. We receive very positive feedback, with many ideas and requests for new features. We are constantly exploring new ways to evolve our product, and our current focus is on allowing customization and personalization of the search panel.

It sounds like Sociabell has a respectable leader heading it in the right direction to handle the current trend in social media. I can’t wait to see the personalization options that Mr. Ram mentions. Facebook has been almost rapid-firing new features lately, so we’ll see where and when they finally land on a social search option to compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft. Perhaps Sociabell will receive a call from Facebook accountants offering to buy their already well-integrated app and save Facebook the development time.

If you haven’t already added Sociabell to your Facebook apps, it’s definitely worth it. It’s free, and they respect your privacy (a rare aspect in the social and search world these days). Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Mr. Yoni Ram for participating in this interview. Check out this video, highlighting Sociabell’s functionality. Now go get your social on!

The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of June 7, 2012:

Social Gnome hoard image

Image courtesy of PushingSocial.com

  • Stanford at Pushing Social offers up some Essential Tools for the Savvy Blogger in a recent post. He even breaks it into three sections: Research, Writing, and Promotion. I’m happy to see that Buffer made his list for the Research and Curation portion. I’m a huge fan of Buffer (if you haven’t been using this amazing curation tool – which integrates seamlessly with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn for the web – then be sure to check it out here). I’m surprised to see that Evernote didn’t make his list for Planning, the tools that did are top notch.

Image clipped from Seaquence.org

  • You guys, this has got to be one of the coolest things I’ve found on Stumbleupon.com. Seaquence.org has put together this digital music maker of sorts and, as the site puts it, “Adopting a biological metaphor, you can create and combine musical lifeforms resulting in an organic, dynamic composition.” The interface is really easy to use and you can add multiple “organisms” to add depth and variation. You can also donate to the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts from their homepage. If you search for Seaquence on YouTube, you’ll even find some video clips that people have put together showing off their run at making biological music. It’s cool. Check it out. If you make any videos yourself, let me know and I’ll share them with my readers!

Klout.com

  • I’ll be honest, I use Klout because I love free stuff. Whereas so far I’ve gained early access to a couple up and coming social networks like Learni.st and LoveIt, I actually received my first physical Klout perk in the mail last week. I mean, it wasn’t a new car or a digital device to test drive, but I was still excited about free goodies in the mail. I got my Lipton Tea & Honey samples (Pineapple Mango) in a huge envelope. They gave me quite a few. The stuff is pretty good, but a lot sweeter than I typically go for. Also, 8oz of water is not enough. I filled an entire drinking glass and it was still flavorful. Not bad. It’s good on a hot Austin day, but too sweet to drink tons of it. (Disclaimer: I was given a free product or sample because I’m a Klout influencer. I am under no obligation to received the sample or talk about this company. I get no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.)

Photo by Marcus Kwan
(aperturismo on Flickr)

  • Facebook is throwing around the idea of dropping or removing the minimum age restriction for usage. Currently, the minimum age is 13, according to Facebook’s terms. Of course, some parents have helped their uber-social tween get Facebook accounts anyway, but there are some interesting ideas being tossed out there. One of the big concerns, according to the Washington Post, is the collection of data from and targeted advertising to children. Another idea being considered is having parents’ accounts have an administrator-like control over a child’s account. This, of course, could be a point of contention as a child turns into a teen, but could be a genius move for Facebook. Not only would it allow millions of kids to create accounts, but it would thereby force any parents of those kids to have an account, use it more often to monitor their child’s usage, and interact with Facebook more than they may have previously. We’ll see where the dart finally lands on this issue, but it will be interesting nonetheless.
Promote your blog with Social Media

Image from SocialMediaExaminer.com

  • Some of these tips from Social Media Examiner, if you’re even a slightly experienced blogger, may be common sense. However, this post offers up some really great tips and ideas for using the various outlets at your disposal for promoting your blog. In my case, I share a link to my blog posts on my Google+ profile all the time, but it never occurred to me to paste the entire text into the status update (since Google’s character limit is ridiculously huge0. Not only does this mean people can read your post without leaving Google+, it also is better for SEO!
  •  And finally, this music video by a band called Driver Friendly was shared with me by my friend and coworker Calli. She’s a great local music guru for me and she actually used to listen to these guys when they were first getting their start. I have to credit them for making a great music video, a tribute to Tom Hanks movies is a pretty unique theme. It was even Tweeted by Tom Hanks himself, which is amazing for a small band. Check out their nicely produced video and check them out on Spotify or iTunes if you like their music.

So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? Can you name all the Tom Hanks movies in the music video? Let me know with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

Follow this blog on your mobile device with Google Currents! Go to the app store and download Google Currents for your iPhone or Android and subscribe to Robzie Social HERE!

Can’t Keep Up? Which New Social Networks to Consider or Ignore (Part 1)

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve begun dabbling in other social networks, just to see what kind of things are popping up now that Facebook had its less-than-stellar IPO. Although obviously Facebook will be hanging around for quite a while, there are definitely some others outside the top 5 (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest) that may be worth noting. A couple I’ve been invited to as Klout perks (and I’m a sucker for free stuff and exclusive access) and a couple are already establishing themselves well. Let’s take a look.

Image courtesy of So.cl

So.cl (pronounced “social”) is an experiment in social search from Microsoft and FUSE Labs. It has the appearance of a social network (most closely resembling Google+) but is more of a piggy-back network. So.cl gives up some functionality that other big social networks have, touting in its FAQs that it is an experiment on the fusion of social and search. In their words So.cl “Let’s you use search to express and share ideas though beautiful story collages.” Here’s the setup.

  • You have a feed that you can filter by Everyone, People I Follow, My Interests (which you pick upon setup), Conversations (between you and other So.cl users) and your own posts. You have the option to like posts (using the “:)” emoticon button), “riff” on a post (add your own visual reaction via an image that you search for), comment or share. So far, clicking the like button doesn’t seem to undo the function, so be careful that you’re sure you like a post.
  • So.cl has a function called “video parties” that I initially expected to be similar to Google+ Hangouts. Turns out, you can join one and add videos for others to watch (typically revolving around a theme). It ends up becoming almost a crowdsourced MTV (y’know, since MTV doesn’t actually show music videos anymore). This function is pretty cool. You could start a party of 80’s hair metal and get a group of people who love big hair rock to all add videos. Anyone can join (there doesn’t seem to be a private setting, so you may have to watch for eventual trolls to ruin the fun). You can even keep the videos playing in the rightmost column of your page while you continue to work away, creating background music for you while still allowing you to view the video without being stuck in a chat room-like setting.
  • You search (using Bing) for terms and post updates all in the same box. This is not by accident. Your searches are completely public (unless you click the button to the right of your search term box, thus locking it). The reason for this is that your searches are meant to become visual representations on your post so others can see. So.cl display search results from the network, from people you follow, and from general internet results, much like Sociabell does for Facebook. You can also opt to make So.cl your default search in your browser so that you can “benefit” from So.cl (as the site claims). People, please be careful with this. I already called out a guy who searched for popular adult film star Alexis Texas, and his search (along with numerous pictures of her abundant derrière) showed up as a headline on the top of my feed, and likely many others’ as well. He promptly deleted the search term post from his profile after I commented. Embarrassing.
  • The posting mechanism is very similar to Google+ in that you add links separately from your post text, and you have the option to go back and edit your post after it goes live. Just like in Google+, there is an arrow button to the right of your post that allows you options to edit, delete, acquire embed code and translate.
  • Directly from the homepage, there is an Applet button that you can drag to your browser’s bookmarks bar, which will allow you to post to your So.cl profile from any website you find interesting. Also, similar to other networks, you can @tag people you follow in posts and comments.
  •  In the FAQs, So.cl makes it abundantly clear that all activity is meant to be VERY PUBLIC. There is no illusion of privacy associated with So.cl and you should proceed as such. Whereas this may not be the place to record your deepest, darkest meditations, I can see brands taking full advantage of this soon. So.cl could be to Bing what Google+ is to Google. I have yet to find any info on whether you’re more likely to show up in search results from Bing.com, but So.cl users that are searching for things relative to your business may find you as a resource to answer their questions within the social network.

The social network seems to be very popular with users outside of the U.S. Keep this in mind if you use it, as the time frames when it is going to be most active may be slightly skewed to your own. I think So.cl has potential to garner many more users, as it is already off to a strong start, and seems almost poised in direct opposition with Google+ (you use your Facebook or Windows Live login to set up your account). I’ve talked to some users who have found interesting uses for the network. One guy named Rodrigo Viana actually managed to get help on his homework! He used the network to crowd source tutoring. How’s that for a positive use of social networking? Although it is specifically mentioned that So.cl is not meant to replace other social networks, I have a feeling that there should be a parenthetical addition adding (yet) to that clause.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I discuss another interesting network to look at, and one not to even bother with.

Now go get your social on!

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