3 Bones to Pick, 3 Social Networks

3 social media bones to pick

There are a few complaints I just have been dying to put out there on the interweb recently. I decided to stop putting it off and air my grievances in the hopes that someone finds them, who will either (a) fix what’s wrong with the user experiences of these social networks, or (b) realize I’m the missing piece of their UX or social media team and hire me on the spot. Or, more likely, (c) I’ll get a huge weight off my shoulders by “blogging it out”.

Picasa (or Google Photos, or Google+)

I was one of the first people to join Google+, before it was open to the public. Remember they wanted it to be all “exclusive” and you needed an invite? I actually signed up for a mailing list, to be notified when Google+ was in beta testing. I tried it out, I created some circles, I posted things for about a week before I realized not that many people were using the damn thing. A few weeks later, everyone else did join – and then the cycle repeated itself. Fine, I’m over it.

Until . . . I wanted to view a friend’s photo album recently, and it was literally as convenient as taking the LSAT. The friend is actually a 70-year old author for whom I’m building a web presence. He tried sharing with me a photo album with Picasa. When I clicked on the link in his email, it told me the link did not exist. I had him set up a Google+ account, but still I was unable to view the album. The two of us went back and forth for about a week, until somehow he was able to share the damn album with me. It was shocking how complicated the process was, considering Google+ is supposedly all about sharing and engaging with one’s social circles. It was a mind-bogglingly difficult experience to view this guy’s one simple album.

Facebook’s iPhone App

Facebook Mobile TimelineWe all know that it’s slow. Fine. But I only found out yesterday that you can’t even access Timeline from it. Does this make any sense? You cannot convert the user experience on one platform (desktop) and not the other. I was tagged in a friend’s picture, and went to approve the tag but was told the app could not access Timeline. I will, however, give Facebook credit for recently adding the ability to unfriend someone, on mobile. I unfriend people every so often when I’m feeling sassy, and not being able to do this on the go was really inconvenient. I can’t predict when some random person I met on a teen tour 10 years ago is suddenly uploading pictures of their wedding – and I want to be able to unfriend this person immediately. Even if I’m on the bus. Thankfully, this is now relatively simple to do on the mobile app. But the Timeline thing – come on.

Instagram’s Social Options

instagram Social OptionsThis is really also a Facebook complaint. Ever since they bought Instagram, you can no longer search for someone on Instagram by their Instagram username. You have to be Facebook friends before you can be connected on Instagram. Which I get – it’s in Facebook’s interest I guess to get even more users. But part of what I love about Instagram is how not intimate it is; it’s supposed to be all about the pictures, not the people behind them. I actually met a girl at a bar who I clicked with, and we tried becoming Instagram friends then and there – only to discover that since we’re not Facebook friends, we can’t. And it feels a lot stranger to quickly “friend” someone you meet when you’re out, as opposed to just following them on something like Instagram or even Twitter. I left the bar that night without having a new Instagram follower/followee, because I didn’t feel comfortable asking this girl to be Facebook friends right away.

Adding someone on Instagram should be much more casual; I see you taking a photo of something interesting, I want to follow you. Not get updates on your sister’s wedding photos or a link to the article you read in the Washington Post this morning.

Phew. I said my peace. Now hopefully some good will come of it, and these weird little kinks will either be worked out or I’ll realize that I’m the dumb one all along. The sad thing is I don’t feel like either of these outcomes is likely.


BOOK REVIEW: Googled by Ken Auletta

Ken Auletta’s book “Googled” is about the birth and development of the company through 2010, when the book was published. It discusses how founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin came up with the idea of indexing the web. How Google expanded into such diverse industries as technology, advertising (AdWords and AdSense), media (YouTube), publishing (Google Books), news (Google News), and others.

My job as an SEO content writer is to cater to the whims of Google – making it so my client’s websites perform as well as possible in Google Search. As a Search Engine Marketer at a web start-up, “Googled” is a useful read.

If the internet makes information available, Google seeks to make information accessible. Connecting people to the information they need is Google’s goal. They accomplish this by gathering data about consumers as they search online. The process is refined constantly – an estimated 400 tweaks are made to Google’s algorithm each year. The intentions seem good, and the company is associated with concepts like efficiency, productivity, clarity, usability and simplicity.

Google was a pioneer practitioner of the freemium business model (offering a basic product for free and building a user base before monetizing). Google’s goal is actually to send users away from its site, and toward the information they seek.

Questions raised:

  • Is Google’s corporate culture so prosperous because the stock value is so high? Or the other way around?
  • Where is the boundary between usability and invasion of privacy?
  • Has Eric Shmidt really never taken advantage of the free massages at Googleplex?
  • “Will Google become ‘a source of content, a platform, a destination that seeks to keep people in a walled Google garden?'”

Best Snippets & Quotes:

“I’m a well-trained introvert…Being with people drains me of energy” – Marc Andreessen, Co-Author of Mosaic & Co-Founder of Netscape

“Content is how the consumer chooses to spend time.” – Herbert Allen III

“YouTube succeeded in democratizing information.” – Auletta

“Is Google’s customer the advertiser or the user?” – Auletta

“People with the right information make better decisions for themselves. People presented with the right commercial opportunities will buy things suited for them.” – Sergey Brin

  • Emotional equity = trust by consumers that companies care not only about profits but also about them – Jim Stengel

“Why would you go to work at a place where your contribution is not seen as central to the success of the organization?” – Peter Thiel, CEO of PayPal

  • The emotional power of a commercial is weakened by the informational power of the Web. – Auletta

“Instead of a company asking what’s going to change over the next 5-10 years – you should ask what isn’t going to change?” – Jeff Bezos

“If you don’t listen to your customers, someone else will” – Sam Walton

“You know you’ve won when the government stops you.” – Ted Turner

“Insecurity tends to breed fear, and at worst, paranoid. Neither emotion produces clarity.” – Auletta

New things/people/concepts to explore:

  • Irwin Gotlieb
  • “Faustian”
  • the semantic web
  • Talgam (conductor)
  • Google employees are given the opportunity to spend 20% of their time at work on “passion projects”. Marissa Meyer claims over half of Google’s products are results of the 20% time.

Further reading:

  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar” – Eric Steven Raymond, 1997, Linux developer
  • Bill Gates’ “creative capitalism” speech – 2007, Harvard graduation ; 2008 – World Economic Forum, Davos
  • The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr
  • The Design of Everyday Things, Donald Norman
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman
  • DLD – Digital, Life, Design Conference in Munich

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