In early 2017, I wanted to be more anonymous on Facebook when replying to public posts or to comments friends made. I wasn’t feeling a lot of social media trust outside my own circle but couldn’t convince myself to reply to NOTHING. I treat Facebook as my personal world, almost a diary, so I don’t want biz associates or strangers just finding me there (even though I don’t post publicly).
So I changed my Facebook name to my first and middle name. I figured that would make me more anonymous. Someone in the SF area appears to have that as her full name, so hopefully I’m harder to find. I still had a female name, just not my real last name.
I found that strangers continued to treat me the same. When posting something liberal-leaning, the typical non-liberal response was that I was just a stupid person. I was overemotional (even when making a totally factual argument). I write too much! I just can’t focus! They used every insult in the book to try to distract from any decent point I might make.
I noticed that none of them ever wanted to take my ideas or arguments head on.
And one day I got a LinkedIn request.
A friend of a friend (a stranger to me) somehow put 2 and 2 together. He didn’t send a Facebook request. He sent a LinkedIn request… which connects what I thought was my more private, personal world with my more public, business world. Ugh.
So I changed my name again in October 2017.
I changed it to a name a human could possibly have but unlikely. 🙂 My first name is a common noun. My last name is a location. This isn’t my name but it would be like if my name were Trees Tucson. My profile photo is not of a human. So I should be really anonymous now, which is great for potential collisions with people who disagree politically.
But something I didn’t expect happened.
When I posted liberal-leaning commentary to public pages’ posts or to friend’s posts, I noticed two key things that were different from when my name on Facebook was Debbie:
1) Non-liberal-leaning people told me I was a Russian troll. This made me worried about what their fake news is telling them about Russian trolls. Most of what I read said that Russian trolls are NOT liberal-leaning. I have also learned that real Russian troll accounts tend to look like hot, young, female millennials with female names. I have a non-name and a non-human photo.
But to them, whatever my commentary, opinions, or points were were just fake news. They should be ignored. I’m a Russian troll!
2) Random people had way less empathy. For example, I posted to one public page post about having recently had an unexpected allergy attack. Every person who commented under mine said I was a liar and it couldn’t have happened. Never happened.
I wasn’t expecting to hear that the allergy attack I definitely had never happened. I wasn’t posting for sympathy. I was posting as a warning to others that something most of us thought harmless could initiate an allergy attack. But the people who commented went beyond not believing me to insults and declaring me non-real. I deleted my comment.
Bonus: a real life, long time friend told me my name looked so disgusting to him that when it comes up on the page, he wants to look away. Well that’s interesting! You KNOW it’s me. Yes, the name is weird. But I didn’t think anybody would have that huge a reaction to a common noun plus a town name. I told him I plan to keep the name.
So now what?
It’s an interesting thing for me to consider. I “dehumanized” myself by using a fake name and a non-human picture. I was then treated as not real. A liar. A fake.
Yes, I’m a human typing words into Facebook comments. I’m real! But when people saw the fake name, it was like they didn’t have to listen. They didn’t have to care.
When people agreed with me, the treatment was no different before or during my new name. They listened and cared. But when they didn’t agree, I wasn’t a person. I was fake news. It’s been interesting to watch and experience.
I plan to keep my ridiculous name because I’d rather be anonymous than cared about. I can go without the empathy of strangers. You can say I’m just bringing it on myself but I’m only noticing the change (mostly) from people who have different political opinions. Even strangers “on my side” haven’t changed how they respond to me.
How many times has a post like this ended up in your news feed?
And then let’s say you share it. If you’re like me or my Facebook friends, by default, your shares and posts are set to “Friends Only.” That means this teacher will never see that you shared it.
What if you share one that was someone else’s share? The teacher might not see that if she’s just looking at how many shares her original post received. What if you pressed like on your friend’s share of it? The teacher won’t see that either.
Those students are not going to get the right info or data about how far this post really went.
Here’s How To Do This Right
Step 1: Write your message. Make sure you mention elementary age school kids, sexting, security, or safety. Could be middle school or high school. I saw one where the teacher had written that her school kids thought it was OK to post pictures of themselves in their bras and underwear.
Step 2: Come up with a probably-unique hashtag like #apr2015internetsafety. Ask people who share it to tag the picture with that hash tag. Side note: in case some freako uses that hashtag for NSFW stuff, teachers, make sure you are checking these things before showing them in class to students.
Step 3. Ask people who share it to make sure that their Facebook share is a PUBLIC post. The kids can only see public posts. They can’t see posts I made just to my Facebook friends. Shares have to be public.
Step 4: If the goal is really to see WHERE this post ends up geographically, ask people when sharing to post their location (generally) like city and state.
Step 5: If you want to teach kids how many people could see a post, have the people who share it also say how many Facebook friends and followers they have.
That means someone sharing it might create a public post that says, “San Francisco, CA. 300 friends, 60 followers. #apr2015internetsafety” The teacher can see how many likes and shares that got, and follow everything like a neural network.
Now you’re cooking with gas. Everything else just seems is a sharing black hole since the original teacher will have no real way to track it all down later. But if she can go to Facebook and look for her hashtag, then she can now collect some good/better data.
Facebook is starting to light up with friends and friends of friends saying I should find them on Ello or does anybody have an Ello invite.
I don’t see the big attraction here. I haven’t yet heard anything good about Ello. It sounds like there is a fantasy that it’ll be something someday.
It looks like so much of what we already have. Not innovating. What problem does it solve?
Let’s meet a random person the home page of Ello suggested…
Oh hai. Well, that kinda looks like twitter meets tumblr meets some sort of photo sharing.
People can comment on your stuff! And maybe you’ll get a reply. Plus we should know what day was 23 days ago. People sure like counting rather than being told concrete dates and times! (not)
And that font. Nothing says innovation, future, modern, and potentially disruptive like a fixed-width old fashioned typewriter Courier style typeface.
In the case of Ello, we have a fantasy that a VC-backed company will build a social network while being:
Free of charge.
Full of freedom.
Loaded with options.
Not selling our data.
Protecting our privacy.
Not reordering or filtering what we wanted to see. Algorithm-less.
A killer and fast mobile app for iOS and Android.
Good luck to us.
Here’s where you won’t find me online.
I don’t use Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, or Google Plus so I’m not following you there either. I uninstalled Foursquare months ago so I’m not following you there. Never installed Swarm. I didn’t accept your LinkedIn request unless I know you from business, and even then I might not have. I didn’t friend you on Yelp or Rhapsody. I didn’t friend you in my Fitbit when I was using it.
I’m not following your LiveJournal and I never used MySpace, Bebo, Orkut, or Friendster. We weren’t in a Google Wave together. I didn’t find you on Waze when I was using it. We’re not friends on Meetup. I don’t follow your Flickr, Picasa, or any photo sharing site. I didn’t subscribe to your YouTube or Vimeo channel. I’m not following you on SlideShare. I don’t visit your Ning, community, or online discussion forum.
I probably didn’t like the Facebook business/fan page you asked me to like. I also didn’t sign up for your email mailing list. I didn’t visit your about.me. I wasn’t added to your TripIt. I never used GroupMe. We’re not sharing files with Dropbox, Box, Evernote, or Google Drive. I don’t use Spotify. We don’t have a shared checklist on Wunderlist. I’m not reading your blog or Tumblr. I don’t Snapchat. And I haven’t seen your online dating profile. I’m not watching your Vines.
I will join The Next Big Social Media Site when it improves my communication with friends around the world, gives me something Facebook can’t, and everybody I care about is on it.
Some years ago, I thought email marketing was mostly dead. People were barely opening emails, even from lists they signed up to. They were even more rarely clicking on calls to action. I figured this was done.
I thought the “next thing” would be Facebook. People “like” your fan or business page there. You push messages out to them. And it’s perfect since you are messaging them in a place where they’re hanging out anyway.
I wasn’t the only person thinking that. I remember national TV commercials for major brands, and the URL at the end of the commercial was their Facebook page. I think everybody thought this was where to drive people for repeat engagement and marketing.
Cut to Facebook deciding that fan and biz page “likers” won’t see everything that page posts in the news feed. Maybe 20% will see it. 80% won’t UNLESS you want to pay to “promote” your post. So you took all this time to get people to join you on the Facebook platform only for Facebook to severely change the game without warning.
TV commercials started ending with the company’s dot com rather than their Facebook page URL.
We’ve Watched Other Facebook Things Fail
Remember F-commerce? I said it would never take off. People said I was wrong and it just needed time. We’ve had time. It hasn’t taken off. Small companies haven’t made much headway. Headlines were made when big companies stopped trying to sell or run eCommerce shops inside of Facebook. So that was a non-starter.
Facebook ads. It’s how they make money. And I’ve never read anything where someone said Facebook ads worked amazingly for them. In fact, I’ve blogged a few times on my experience with Facebook ads. It’s a f***ing black box. Do you want to pay to reach X number of people? Yes. I pay. I reach 10% of that with no explanation as to why the ads aren’t being shown. No support. None. You’re a paying customer and there is nobody you can call or email.
So Now What?
Having a Facebook page is still part of a complete balanced breakfast, I mean social and marketing strategy. But it can’t be the centre or key place where you try to drive people.
Go back to building an email mailing list. People still get email all day. If you are a great company doing the right things with email, you can still engage a good percentage of these people. They will get your emails without Facebook getting in the way. And they get to be your customers on your mailing list.
See What Happened To Social Fixer
There’s a nice guy out there. He makes a browser plugin that changes a few ways that Facebook is laid out so that Facebook is easier to use. Better UI and better UX if you ask me. I’m a huge fan of what he’s done.
Facebook seemed to be quietly letting him exist until they didn’t. They didn’t let him post to FB or like anything for 12 hours. They shut down his Facebook page, removing over 300,000 fans he worked so hard to get. He’s been blogging about this strange battle, and I expect this to hit the Silicon Valley blogosphere any minute now.
I think the best point he makes is: how much of your business do you want base on or around a platform that does this to people.
The most interesting thing to me was that he was making Facebook BETTER. I’m MORE likely to spend time on Facebook because his browser plugin organises and reorganises things in a better way. Some people think Facebook is against him because he can block Facebook’s precious ads. Well, I have Ad Block Plus as a Chrome plug in for that. If Facebook wants to be mad that I’m not seeing ads, they can talk to Ad Block Plus and NOT Social Fixer.
300,000+ people thought he was making Facebook better, and it looks like Facebook wants to take him apart. They’re barking up the wrong tree, and I hope the blogosphere brings attention not only to what they’re doing but how bad their user interface and usability really is.
Dear Facebook. I still like you. I would happily pay a yearly fee for you to not show me ads. Then you can stop freaking out about ad blockers. I hear the average person is worth $11/year to you in revenue. I’ll pay you $20/year to not show me ads and leave cool people like Social Fixer alone. He’s doing good work, and he’s making me more likely to spend time on your site. Thank him.
I don’t even know where to start with this one. A company I’ve never heard of sends me an email. It starts with “first of all” and some sort of pleasantry about their deepest sympathies going out to the people affected by the Oklahoma tornadoes. Um OK, who are you?
And then it goes RIGHT into “thank you for the great responses.” To what? You’re spamming me. I have no idea what you do or who is responding to what.
And then right into “we have special packages for you.” They evidently claim to do something with social media. Well, they sure are showing their chops by spamming me and pretending to care about OK natural disaster victims!
And 10% of turnover (wha?) goes to charities I choose! I don’t know you. But I get to choose where you give 10% of some sort of pile of money? How?
And then into Free iPads. What?
I am not on enough drugs to make sense of this email. I figured you needed to see the whole thing. So here’s a screen shot and then a PDF (linked from the image below). This is what happens when you don’t walk the walk but do a lot of talking. I’m looking at you Social Media Tyme. Guess they didn’t want to pay for SocialMediaTime.com, which is for sale.
My startup, CheckInOn.Me, is part of a contest related to a pitch event. Like any hungry startup, I’m using Facebook and Twitter to try to get my friends to vote for us. Would you please vote for us? 🙂
I’m asking ever so nicely, but I found I wasn’t getting a lot of votes. I only keep about 200 Facebook friends (people I care about who I believe care about me), so it’s not like these are strangers. They know my startup is important to me and others. Why wasn’t I getting more votes? Why don’t I have 200 votes, one from each friend?
Two reasons. One was that you had to log in with Facebook to leave a vote. And I think you end up on a mailing list that you can easily take yourself off of. But some people don’t like logging in with Facebook or feeling like they are sharing that with an unknown company.
But I found something interesting. Each time I posted to Facebook asking people to please vote, I got maybe one or two votes. So I tried something different. I came up with small goals, and posted those. First I posted asking for “just a few votes” because that would really help. And I got 3 votes. I posted a few days later that I’d love to get 5 votes since that would move us into 7th place. I got 5 votes.
I wonder if people saw the competition, figured OH they’ll never beat the guy in first place, my vote won’t matter. But in this case, it does. The conference is evidently going to take the TEN companies who get the most votes, and let them pitch live. So I don’t need to come in first. First would be great, but seventh still gets me into the event and pitching.
I think when I created small, concrete goals like “I would love to get 5 votes,” it made people feel like hey, their vote really did help me and matter. When I asked people to just “please vote,” I got very little response. It’s been an interesting lesson in human behaviour. Small, concrete goals that make people feel like they are really helping.
Klout tries to measure how influential you are in the worlds of social media. They give you a score. Right about now, Lady Gaga has a near perfect score because she reaches so many people, and many of those people feel influenced by her. So if she tweets, “jump,” a million people will probably tweet back, “how high.”
But we didn’t need a Klout score to tell us that. Nor did we need one to know that Aunt Sally who joined Facebook last week will have a very low Klout score. This is all very obvious. So then when does a Klout score really matter?
To me, it matters in one case: when someone tells you he or she is a social media guru, expert, consultant, strategist, whatever. OK, show me how you use social media. Show me who is listening to YOU. Show me how you engage with them, and what results you get. And if your Klout score is inaccurate, show me the Klout score for an account or brand that you managed, and what results they had.
I’m saying this because I happened to notice that someone calling himself some sort of social media [insert overblown term here] had a Klout score of 11. That’s like down there near Aunt Sally. And you’re the expert?
My Klout score is (as I’m typing this) 57. It fluctuates a bit. I don’t push social media very hard. I keep my Facebook friends as a small group of about 200, an inner circle of trust. I’m not one of those people trying to add as many people as I can, whether I know them or not, or who treats the Facebook personal account as a business thing. I have a good LinkedIn network. I tweet a good amount, though Klout is looking at only one of my many Twitter accounts. 57 is not a bad score for what Klout is looking at.
But I also don’t care. Nobody I know is measuring me on my Klout score. It has the fun gamification side of “can I get my score higher,” but I don’t really try. The score doesn’t really matter. My score is 57! Do you care? Are you more likely to hire me? Do you want to follow me now?
I think Klout only matters when I want to see if a social media expert is what he or she claims to be. If you don’t have a good network, reach, and can show results with social media, then I’m going to form a certain opinion of you. I can do and have done social media work for companies. So if you are putting yourself out there as a social media expert, I’d at least expect you to have a Klout score close to or higher than mine.
There goes another of those ads… you can buy Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and website visitors. You can also buy people watching your YouTube videos, and following your channel. My favourite promise from one of these services: “Users are active, permanent and involved with hundreds of other users.” I’d love to get more detail on what “active” means. And as for “involved with hundreds of other users,” does that mean anything more than these accounts have been assigned to follow and friend other people buying this service?
There is a type of user we all want: someone genuinely interested in us. Someone who shares, retweets, loves our company, buys our service, and tells friends. Is that for rent, and is it the same when it is for rent? Who are these people who are going to be sent to fan my page? If I “order” 10,000 people, where do they come from, and are they being paid to do this? How much could they be paid?
One service I’m laughing at wants $675, and in return, you get:
100 YouTube subscribers
1,000 Facebook fans
1,000 Twitter followers
30,000 Website visitors
100,000 emails to their mailing list members, people who have opted in (but may not have expected to get a message from YOU)
This seems to make sense to me if you’re going for quantity. If you think someone is impressed by you having a zillion Facebook fan page followers, then go buy them. If you think you’re more likely to get more people “liking” your Facebook business page because it has 1200 followers instead of 200, then buy this. Of course, you’re deceiving people by making them think you’re more “popular” than you are. You may or may not care.
However, I would not buy this, and expect real engagement from these people. I wouldn’t expect them to be true influencers among their friends. I would expect them to be people getting $5/day to click on things, follow things, accept emails, and things like that. I’d be surprised if the Venn Diagramme Gods smiled on you, and served you up a load of people truly interested in your company, product, or service.
Conclusion: rent warm bodies if you think showing off (faked) numbers will impress anybody. If you want real engagement, then it’s about quality. I wonder if the money is better spent on Facebook ads, Google Adwords, and other targeted ways to connect with people who are really in your target audience.
Wasn’t it just last week I was saying nice things about the website design of TwentyFeet.com? Well, I just cancelled their service.
What I didn’t know until I checked my Twitter stream was that it was grabbing info about my account, and publicly tweeting it out.
I’m going to declare that very not cool. OK, I like TwentyFeet’s approach to the look of their site. I showed the site to friends, and zero of them could tell what the service was. I signed up, and I’m still not sure. It just seems to give you some stats on your followers, but nothing I hadn’t seen before. And then, they’re tweeting things out about how my Twitter account is doing?
So I tweeted asking them how to turn that off. They tweeted back about 9 hours later apologising, and sending me to a URL. The URL went to a part of their site answering the question of how to turn off this auto-posting. OK good. But it wasn’t an answer. It wasn’t “go uncheck the autopost box.” It was a video that was over 2 minutes long. I should watch a video about how to turn off something I never wanted on, something that should be an obvious, intuitive checkbox preference somewhere?
You know what was faster and easier? Going into settings, and removing all of my social media accounts from TwentyFeet. Took seconds. Was easy and obvious to find. Completely intuitive! Easily marked links to “Delete this account” next to each Twitter and Facebook account. When I tweeted them this fact, this is what they wrote back, “Deactivation actually is one click. We use 2 minute video to explain how activation went.” Oh jeez. Hands up, who wants to watch a 2-minute video about why a preference you didn’t want set, and can undo in one click, was originally set? That’s going to be very few people, I would think. They then tweeted me again that they rewrote their help file to make it way easier to change this setting. I’d also suggest that it NOT default to on since I think most people would want their Twitter stats private rather than broadcasted.
TwentyFeet made it easier to completely remove my accounts and essentially cancel my service, but not easy to turn off an autopost. UX Fail. When it’s easier to cancel service than to change one simple preference, guess which behaviour you might inspire?
For years, when you posted a comment to Facebook, you then hit the button to submit that comment. Facebook started taking that away recently, first in private messages. They even had to add a “what the heck does that icon mean” checkbox asking if you want enter to submit the comment or if enter should be a carriage return. People aren’t used to a website asking them what they want the enter key to do. Not intuitive. Ugh.
It’s reached a new low with this:
The UI kiss of death: instructions. This is supposed to be a clue to the website owner that something isn’t intuitive, natural, obvious, or clear. Once you’re adding instructions all over the place, you’re doing something wrong. And in a case like this, this is just a shame. The idea that Facebook needed to tell people to hit enter to post their comment tells all of us that people didn’t know what to do when their button got taken away.
And why take it away? How did that improve the user’s experience? Does it improve the user’s experience if 500 million people needed a tooltip-style hint on what to do?
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