Archive for January, 2008

Facebook Fatigue?

January 31, 2008

I’ve been suspecting that Facebook’s been seeing a decline in activity for sometime. Just about half a year ago, the ‘home’ section with updates from my friends would be flooded hourly. Now I can login after 8 hours, and find that almost nothing has changed.

Suspicions have been confirmed with this article from ReadWriteWeb (once again picked up by Readburner, have I convinced you of its usefulness yet?), which says

There are now 15,422 apps on the Facebook platform — how many of them are truly useful? Anecdotal evidence would suggest that the novelty has worn off and users are finally starting to demand more of the applications they install.

The article also has statistics about the number of Facebook app users at their peak, and now:

Peak Today
Funwall 5800 2500
Superwall 4800 1800
Top Friends 2900 2200
Likeness 821 181
Super poke 1500 500
Movies 814 500
Compare People 1000 471
iLike 941 372
Causes 469 110
Superlatives 320 110
  All figures in 1,000s

There have been criticisms of Facebook in recent weeks: Marketing Pilgrim discusses a partnership between Facebook and the Wall Street Journal signalling desperation from either/both parties, and Jaffe Juice #101 has a comment on how disappointing it is that Facebook is not engaging the new media enough moving forward.

Applications are seriously beginning to rub some people the wrong way, and Facebook isn’t exactly providing the innovation that people want,  but I don’t think that’s making people tired of Facebook, or making them want to jump aboard the next new platform when it occurs.

Personally I think even with most apps stripped away, the Facebook interface is still superior to Friendster (for sure), and at least for network externality reasons, more popular here than MySpace. There are statistics to prove that MySpace is still dominant, but given that it never really caught on in Singapore, it’s not that relevant.

It would be great to hear what people here think, and maybe get a general idea of how the social networking scene is like in Singapore, and then publish some thoughts on that. My guess on where it’s going is the more frivolous applications (Grow a plant, hatch an egg?) will slowly die off, and the real social applications like iLike and Feedheads will gain popularity, as users begin to realise that Facebook can and should act not just as a Friendster clone, but a place to share information and interests in one central space.

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Why Avenue Q Should Be Free, At Least Online

January 30, 2008

I was talking to Wanida online yesterday and telling her I really enjoyed Avenue Q, so she asked to borrow my soundtrack. I initially said no because she should watch it in person! She countered by saying that hearing the songs, will further increase her interest to catch the next time in New York. I realised that was pretty much the same for me: listening to Les Miserables on cd on an almost-daily basis when I was young made me really want to catch it when I first flew to New York to see how the scenes I imagined in my head played out on stage.

With that in mind, I went to the website to find a song or video clip to show her, but the only clips on the official site were 29 seconds long (featuring a cast who isn’t even performing anymore), and those on youtube are secretly filmed in the theatres.

So how in the world does someone in Singapore get an actual sample of what Avenue Q is about?

First of all, let’s establish that Avenue Q does a great job with traditional marketing. There are huge billboards in Times Square with really funny, provocative advertisements. That works fine if people are living in the United States and are exposed to it.

However, Avenue Q is never going to go to certain countries like Singapore and others because it’s controversial and we’re conservative. When Singaporeans (and perhaps most tourists) visit New York, the tendency is to catch the newest show (Is He Dead?), the hottest show (Wicked) or the sold-out-for-ten-years show (The Lion King). Given that there are easily 20-odd theatres with musicals at any one time, how does a show like Avenue Q get the average tourist to consider their show instead? (And hey, before you think Avenue Q isn’t any good, they won the Tony over Wicked).

My solution is to release full length audio and video clips for download and/or streaming. Before you get up from your seat and go “What? Those seats go for a hundred bucks!”, hear me out.

This will enable people to really sample what the show is like, get the show some exposure, and if they ever make a trip over to the United States, you can bet that in addition to Wicked and Lion King (which will probably be sold out anyway), they’ll have Avenue Q in mind as a possible Broadway musical to catch as well.

Why full length audio? Avenue Q has an advantage in that it has absolutely brilliant and attention-grabbing song titles. Imagine seeing a friend listening to “The Internet Is For Porn” or “It Sucks To Be Me” on MSN or Last.fm, that is definitely going to generate interest, which can translate to word of mouth and eventually, ticket sales.

This concept of distributing certain bits of a product for free isn’t new. I first read about it in October when Chris Anderson gave away a chapter of his book, Mitch Joel at Six Pixels of Separation has also explored How to make money by giving something away for free.

Joseph Jaffe also has a new initiative UNM2PNM (that’s Using New Marketing To Prove New Marketing) by giving away 150 copies of Join The Conversation, as long as the recipients give an honest review of the book. I’ve applied for a book, hopefully geographical restrictions allow for it to happen.

Finally, let me say that I’m providing a fairly simplistic view of Avenue Q’s distribution. I don’t know what the legal scene is like and if this is actually possible. But if it were, this would be something I’d do straightaway.

Are You An Email-Holic?

January 29, 2008

Tina Su is, very nicely summed up and characterised by

“I would be writing an article or in the middle of work, my mind would wander and my hands would automatically fire-up my email inbox. If my inbox was full, I’d spend the next hour answering emails or reading links from emails. But, even if I didn’t get any emails, I would start visiting another site I frequent, or I’d check my web stats. Thirty minutes or an hour would go by. I would realize how much time I’ve just wasted and I’d think to myself, “Ahhh! Crap! Shoot me! Okay, I better get back to what I was doing.”

I was reading that, and thinking “Hey that sounds like me!” I mean I literally spent two hours doing that just this morning. There are excellent “rehab” methods on her blog posts, I’d recommend anyone flooded with emails to check it out!

The amazing thing about Tina’s site, is that it went from 0 To 2000 Subscribers in just 3 months, and the amazing thing is she didn’t know anything about blogging when she started, but had three important reasons why it became that successful. Very inspirational for someone like me who’s just started a “serious” blog. I’d recommend everyone to check it out. Of course, Tina has just added one more happy subscriber to her list! (The 5th new addition to Google Reader today)

In other news, something I’m really excited about: Developments on Y: The Last Man. Y is a comic book series (or graphic novels) that chronicle the story of Yorick Brown after an epidemic wipes out all the males in the world. That description doesn’t do it justice, if you’re interested in it, leave a comment and I’ll try to lend you a copy or something.

Alerts On Readburner, Social Alternative To Google Reader

January 29, 2008

I woke to four comments today from Mike Reynolds from SquirrelNet and was curious how he stumbled upon the site. He forwarded me an email from a Google Alert on Readburner, which was a feature I hadn’t used before, but I’m definitely going to now. Yet another reason why Readburner is just awesome.

I’ve been up for about an hour, and I’ve already added three new additions to my Google Reader feeds, namely SquirrelNet, MediaShift (thanks to a Feedhead post by Prof. Netzley who shared a great post on How Google & Wiki have changed our lives) and Louisgray.com, referred to by Mike. No wonder it’s taking me longer and longer to check my feeds every day!

Anyway, on Louisgray, there’s an interesting article about AssetBar, which looks like a competitor to Google Reader, with a social element built in. Basically while you can share feeds in Google Reader, you don’t know what someone else might be thinking about it, other than the person liked it enough to share it. AssetBar changes that by allowing users to rate articles and comment on them as well. I haven’t had the time to try it yet, but hopefully I will soon and see if the whole commenting thing turns up anything interesting.

Twitter 101

January 29, 2008

I’m a relative newcomer to Twitter, but I’ve been looking for ways to use it better than just a Facebook status updater. Lo and behold, out comes a post on my Del.icio.us feed (actually I think it could’ve been my Readburner feed) on 17 Ways To Use Twitter.

Another article that got pushed to my feed is Newbie’s Guide To Twitter from Webware, which has guides to Facebook, Flickr and Google Reader too. Definitely a must-visit for newcomers to Web2.0 like myself

In other news, I’m really upset about the bandwidth limitation for Flickr. (100mb a month, and that’s not space, that’s bandwidth). I’m not annoyed enough to stop using it because I really like the sharing options, but I’m doing some research on other sites like Photobucket, Webshots, Picasa and maybe even Shutterfly. Let me know if you have opinions on these or any other photo-hosting sites.

Content Or Popularity? The Follow-Up.

January 27, 2008

Well now that we know what Mitch Joel would say about the content or popularity post, I’ve been thinking about it and I would say that there’s definitely a divide/separation/segregation between the content blogs, and what I like to call the Meepok Blogs, where people type “today I went to eat meepok” or whatever they had for breakfast. (For non-Singaporeans, meepok is a type of noodle available at most places).

So knowing that these different types of blogs exist, my next question would be: Where does the interaction, or possibility of interaction, exist between the two “genres” of blogs?

I realise that content bloggers very rarely have Meepok posts, and similarly the other way round. In fact I remember reading an advertising blog that wasn’t half bad, until the author posted something that sounded a lot like a personal, whiny rant, which was just so jarring and inconsistent with the advertising of the blog.

So what do you think? Is it inevitable to have this divide between Meepok and non-Meepok blogs? Or is there some interaction, hidden or otherwise, where all these authors come together?

Update: From Mitch Joel:

“I think Journey finding a singer like this answers your question. There are enough people looking for all sorts of different stuff that it’s the niches that matter.

It’s a story like this that inspires someone like Christopher S. Penn and myself to be re-energized about this space.

It sounds like you’re trying to create a co-relation between this type of media and Mass Media – you can’t.

Some niches have bigger audiences – and some people play towards that bigger audience.”

Thanks, Mitch!

Alternatives To Digg & Del.icio.us (No, Technorati Isn’t One Of Them)

January 26, 2008

Google Operating System posted this earlier this week about yet another aggregator called Readburner, which simply tallies up what’s most shared on Google Reader, and publishes them on it’s website. I’ve already subscribed to the feed, and so far, I like what I’m getting.

If Digg and Del.icio.us are a little to complicated and/or daunting for you (as I must admit, Del.icio.us still is for me), then this will probably be perfect.

And no, you can probably skip Technorati entirely, because not only it is really chaotic to navigate, but according to Steve Rubel at Micro Persuasion, 99% of pings on Technorati are spam. Observing the amount of spam pingbacks I’ve been getting on this very tiny blog alone, I’m inclined to agree. This, coupled with the fact that Technorati’s layout needs some serious work, definitely would suggest that you give it a miss, at least for now. There are other, easier ways to get into the whole social media scene, for observer and participant alike.

Follow Up On Singapore’s Google Race

January 26, 2008

I’ve been blogging multiple times a day for the last few days and sometimes I wonder if it’s an overkill, but yet there’s so much in the blogosphere that I really feel I need to share.

One great conversation that has been picked up, is that of Singapore attempting to create the next Google which I posted about here. While I certainly don’t claim to have started this conversation, it’s been talked about in other sites like Geek SG and TIMMGuru posted a very Singaporean comment (and I mean that in a good way), about how this isn’t so much about the ends of creating a Google clone, but the process in which Singapore gets the publicity (mockingly so or not), which then serves the purpose of attracting talent.

What are your views on the issue? Comment here, over at GeekSG or TIMMGuru, it doesn’t really matter, but the web should hear the voices of others – particularly Singaporeans – on what they think on the issue.

Late Comr To Flickr

January 25, 2008

I just got onto Flickr and I’m still getting the hang of it. I can’t really decide if I want to just use Facebook, or use both Facebook and Flickr. (is there a good application for transferring photos back and forth? those I’ve tried just aren’t doing it for me.)

Comparison: Flickr Album and Facebook Album

The downside to Flickr at the moment, is that being a free blog on wordpress, I can’t get the Flickr Badge to appear on the sidebar. (So I’ll put it here)

edit: I couldn’t get it to appear here either, so the Flickr Badge is at my personal blog on the top right. Apologies for the back and forth.

So to everyone else: Which do you prefer? Facebook? Flickr? Something else like Picasa? Or a combination of some? Let me know.
Update: Flickr takes an aweful long time to upload (compared to Facebook). I think I’m going to have to fully explore what (if any) social benefits there are, before I think about using it again…. If you’re a Flickr user, please let me know what I’m missing out on!!

Content Or Popularity?

January 25, 2008

Propelled by the fact that Xiaxue actually was deemed important enough to be included in the National Library’s archival, I checked her blog to find that there are in the region of 16,000+ visits per day.

Admittedly, I initially thought that this was some inflated number or spam or something, but looking closer at her comments, they’re in the 300+ region for a post. Given that it’s widely accepted that content is written by 1-2% of the population (so 300 comments translates to roughly 15,000 readers), it’s probably a somewhat accurate figure.

So I’m really wondering what someone like Mitch Joel or Seth Godin’s take on this would be. I wonder if it’s a local phenomenon, or if this is seen elsewhere as well. (Tila Tequila points to it being the same case, at least in the US).

I kinda think the fact that someone who literally blogs randomness about her life gets 16,000 hits a day, is probably a little hard to swallow for those people trying to really do good for the community and make the world a better place.

From a marketing point of view, it’s amazing though. I could send Xiaxue a free product of mine, and instantly generate word of mouth among 16,000 other people.

Who knew when we were learning about “gatekeepers” of communities, they might one day refer to her.