Tech pundits (and the rest of us) need to stop being dirty old men.

Several tech pundits, who I generally respect, have decided they need to put their spin on Snapchat, and their spin is largely wrong and obviously not influenced by talking with active users of the service.

After seeing and responding to tweets by @JoshuaTopolsky and @Jason today, I had got to point where I had to write on this issue.

Just like many of the mainstream tech journalists couldn’t understand, and still don’t understand the appeal of Pinterest, they now can’t wrap their minds around posting a picture that will be gone in 12 seconds. These writers will shoot down someone who doesn’t understand the intricacies of their own beat, but they are fine putting a one word label on SnapChat: sexting.

Everything doesn’t needs to be permanent

The holidays presented opportunities to talk to active Snapchat users, and while I wouldn’t expect them to  talk about their own unsavory use, they wouldn’t mind expressing gossip around Snapchat or anything else. And there wasn’t any. Many of their friends are using the service, and they are using it at a rate that is similar to sending texts. Snapchat lets them document their life with quick (2-3 seconds to share) photos, and they do it all the time.

Some journalists have done a good job explaining these motivations including actual talking to users.

A piece by J.J. Colao was one of the first to document the motivation for SnapChat use:

 Snapchat then, is an effort to bring that fun back into the digital world. Users can take the ugliest, silliest, most compromising photos they want, usually in the form of a “selfy” or a self-taken picture of oneself. After sending them to friends, those photos then disappear, forever, in 1-10 seconds. It’s private, instant and fleeting, more an extension of texting than a social network rival to Instagram. “The main reason that people use Snapchat is that the content is so much better,” Spiegel says. “It’s funny to see your friend when they just woke up in the morning.”

Jordan Crook wrote in TechCrunch about his sister’s use.

My sister was 14 when the iPhone came out, first got on Facebook at age 13. Unlike myself, her friends have had smartphones (and have been taking pictures with them) throughout their entire high school (and now college) career. And many of them are now documented neatly on her Timeline.

The pressure to maintain an appropriate, attractive presence on the Internet has weighed on me since college. It’s been with her for her entire life.

This is the difference between the people writing about Snapchat and the people using it.

My sister is one of the biggest Snapchat users I know, and the pictures she sends me of herself are awful. That’s not the usual for her. She’s 19, and will force our family to stand in 100-degree weather for hours to get the perfect shot of her smile.

The snaps she sends me could be called ugly — her on the porch, in the dark, with a goofy look on her face. If she was posting this on Facebook, or Instagram, or even sending it to me on MMS, it wouldn’t be the same picture. It wouldn’t be so ugly.

But there’s an intimacy that comes with Snapchat that makes those pictures safe, and much more enjoyable than seeing yet another perfect picture of my sister on Facebook. I see her as she really is.

Did we not learn from, “Who wants to read what you had for breakfast”?

Twitter makes no sense until it does. But even Twitter is not about creating long term content. Do you really think that many people are going back and reading your tweets from an hour ago? Or that even a popular tweet will be read in a couple days? Twitter continues to be about the moment, and Snapchat is an extension of that idea.

Get outside of your own head.

I get where the labeling pundits are coming from. I barely have time to tweet and having the time to create a full blog post seems like a luxury. But I am not a tween or teenager. If I am going to take the time to take a picture or  write something, I want the value of it for myself and others to last more than 12 seconds. But that doesn’t mean I am going to force my own lifestyle assumptions on the younger generation. They have time; they have technology.

The fact that Facebook’s Poke app is falling down the app charts almost as fast as it went up in nothing new. New generations want their own service. They want to differentiate. They sure as hell don’t want their new thing to be associated with Facebook. The early adopter and the adult Facebook crowd don’t have time for Snapchat, and I think the kids are more than fine with that.

A use case is not THE use case.

Snapchat is used for sexting. So is SMS (where the term comes from), email, Twitter and Facebook. Jason Calicanus wrote a whole blog post about the dangers of Snapchat and sharing nude pictures. Yeah, it isn’t smart to share revealing pictures that can be captured permanently, but this behavior will happen with or without  Snapchat. There needs to be education around the topic. But when Calicanus claims the only use case for Snapchat is sexting, that is flat out wrong, and it clouds the water for any real discussion. The number of pictures being shared on SnapChat leads to every indication that this more of a fun, life blogging app.

I don’t have the time for frequent Snapchat use and likely never will, but I am not yet the old man who blindly yells from his porch, “KIDS THESE DAYS”. Nor am I the person who can only think of one use case (that happens to be sexual) and then put that motivations on millions of kids using this app.






Complete guide to the image sizes you need to create new social network accounts.

I saw this infographic at just the right time. I had been tasked by a client with putting together all the requirements for creating accounts on a variety of social networks. LunaMetrics put together a graphic that shows all the different images sizes you need to create accounts and post to a variety of social networks.

Included are:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • YouTube
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

Have a look:

Designed by Lunametrics

Thanks to Ben A. Smith for tweeting about this.

Creating a secret pinterst board.png

Pinterest finally adds private boards. They are calling them “Secret Boards”.

Ben Silbermann sent an email out to Pinterest users tonight announcing a new feature: Secret Boards.

The boards appear at the bottom of your Pinterest page and are only viewable to you or to people you invite to pin to them.

Pinterest is starting out by providing each user three Secret Boards. While this may limit their usefulness as a containers for all your bookmarks, this feature has been the most requested for years, and it is great to see it finally implemented.

The boards themselves look like normal boards, but do have a padlock icon on the top of the page so you can distiguish between these boards and public ones.

Here are some screen captures I took to show the Secret Boards in action.

Pinterest Create a Secret Board. You can create up to three boards.png

Your secret board space at the bottom of your profile page.

Creating a secret pinterst board.png

Creating a secret pinterst board

Your Pinterest board shows up when you go to pin something.

Secret Pinterest boards look the same as normal boards with the exception of the padlock icon.

Secret Pinterest boards look the same as normal boards with the exception of the padlock icon

I was beginning to question if Pinterest would ever add private boards, so I am pretty excited to see this development.

What do you think about the ability to finally have private boards?

Dark Social idea is wrong

Alexis Madrigal’s “Dark Social” premise is flawed.

Alexis Madrigal published a piece to day on how people find content on the web. While I agree with much of his piece including the contention that the web was social long before social media media (think IM, forums, email, etc), and that a large portion of visitors to sites cannot be tracked to the source, I believe he was led the wrong way by his “expert” Josh Schwartz of Chartbeat.

While Alexis acknowledges in this piece that mobile  apps could account for part of this unatributed traffic, he provides a footnote with comments from Schwartz:

Chartbeat datawiz Josh Schwartz said it was unlikely that the mobile referral data was throwing off our numbers here. “Only about four percent of total traffic is on mobile at all, so, at least as a percentage of total referrals, app referrals must be a tiny percentage,” Schwartz wrote to me in an email. “To put some more context there, only 0.3 percent of total traffic has the Facebook mobile site as a referrer and less than 0.1 percent has the Facebook mobile app.”

How is mobile defined here? If they are just looking at screen size I guess is it possible only 4% of The Atlantic’s viewers are on phones, although that seems very low (web in general 16%, news sites 7% reported nine months ago). There is no mention of tablets, iPad specifically. Which leads me too…

What is missing from the analysis is Mozilla Web Kit.

What type of apps could be sending content to The Atlantic? It isn’t much of a stretch to think that the referrer might be one of dozens of popular news reader/personalization apps (think Zite, Flipboard, etc). Those apps generally use their own browser to display pages, and those browsers are almost 100% using a web kit.

As I detailed in my article on underreporting of Pinterest traffic, the majority of apps use Mozilla Web Kit to provide a more integrated experience, and none of these app browser provide referring data. Once you include iPad in your numbers, I have to believe a significant portion of this untracked traffic is coming from apps, and it doesn’t just have to be news apps.

Social traffic is underreported, but much of it comes from the big social networks.

To quote my previous piece:

Jim Gianoglio, Manager of Insight: Social & Mobile at LunaMetrics, told me that many app visits will show up this way. He indicated that Facebook has figured out a way to resolve this issue with their app, but that Twitter, while better tracking referrals with the link shortener, still sends traffic from their own apps  (as well as many third party apps) without clear referral attribution.

My own vist to Alexis’ piece would have fallen under this “Dark Social” traffic. I was using Hootsuite on my mobile phone when I saw a tweet with a link to the article. I clicked on it and read it using Hootsuite’s browser that use web kit. So this “Dark Social” traffic includes, at least in my case, traffic from mainstream social media.

The purpose of this piece was to clarify that there isn’t an unknown majority of people who forgo social networks to share links. Certainly some people email links or share them in chat, but to attribute around 50% of The Atlantic traffic to this group of people isn’t even close to the most likely scenario.


Facebook Pages Unlike

Facebook makes unannouced change that is significantly affecting the reach of your page.

The key change seems to be that Facebook is now making it so when fans share your post, their friends are much less likely to see it. Facebook is doing this to achieve a newsfeed ratio where paid posts are 20% and only 80% is organic.

As an example, you make a post on your page. It is is popular and gets shared by some of your fans. In the past that post would be seen frequently by the friends of the person who shared the post, but a new algorithm change means it takes significantly more shares before Facebook deems it relevant.

Greg Colon of Ogility blogged on September 25th that

Facebook announced last Thursday [my note: that would be Septbemer 20th] that it would alter the algorithm that decides what a user sees on their newsfeed. The crux of the change is centered strictly on organic brand page posts, in an effort to de-clutter the amount of posts served up to mobile and tablet users by brands.

After his post started to spread by social media this weekend, he clarified in the comments on his post that:

There was no PR or public announcement on behalf of Facebook of these changes. This information came from Social@Ogilvy and WPP’s relationship with Facebook on product updates. Thus, one reason you cannot find announcements on AllFacebook, etc. Curious to see if reach is down for many. The algorithm is updated periodically and as stated, may not affect all brand pages equally.

While Greg’s post did not explain where the loss of reach would come from, Jon Loomer did extensive research back on September 17th that may have identified at least part of where this loss of reach has and will come from. The first area that Facebook attacked is viral reach:

All along, we’ve been freaking out about Fans seeing our content. You know, EdgeRank is limiting it to only 16% and all. But it would appear that the new problem isn’t reaching our Fans (though that may be down slightly), but our Fans being able to reach their friends with our content.

Jon wrote an extensive piece that is worth reading in entriety; especially his graphic at the top of the post.

I have long been sceptical of Facebook because of how they manipulate who sees what posts from both brands and individuals. I prefer Twitter where once someone follows you, they will see your post if they access Twitter after you post it or in the period immediately after. I have recently highlighted a way to improve Facebook reach by including an image with each of my updates. But Facebook is moving the bar with this latest update.

Greg Colon wrote that:

The change may allow Facebook room to grow its organic/paid offering ratio, in which 80% of content in the newsfeed is organic and 20% is paid in the form of sponsored stories, a form of premium advertising within Facebook.

It is quite possible that if limiting the visibility of fan shares is not enough to get Facebook to this 80-20 ratio, that Facebook will limit the visibility of your page posts by just changing the Edgerank.

This change has had widespread implications. Mari Smith posted a discussion of this issue last night on Facebook and the majority of the 100+ comments are from Facebook page managers reporting the same decrease in reach.

The long term implication is clear. Facebook is becoming more of a “Pay For Play” social network. All those hours and money you spent working to connect with your audience via page Likes could be largely for naught. Facebook not only wants you to compete with all new baby announcements and friends weddings which is understandable, but now they want to take even more of the newsfeed back and give it those who are willing to pay to promote posts.