Facebook’s Secret Weapon Unveiled – Ann Handley!

As the excitement is building today about Facebook’s promise to (once again…) transform social networking with a slew of new and sparkly features, the Connection Agent has gone under the interface layer to discover the real secret lurking beneath the impending drama.

It’s Ann Handley.

Facebook has secretly acquired Marketing Profs figurehead and Content Rules co-author Ann Handley, and embedded her within the FB platform. It is the first time a human being has been coded into a social network, though there have been persistent rumors that Twitter’s middleware may contain DNA fragments from Peter Shankman.

Starting on Friday, the status update box on Facebook will now be the iconic question, WWAHD? (What Would Ann Handley Do?). Users are expected to consider carefully how Ann might update, and then type their status accordingly, leading to a uniformly higher-quality of on-line content.

Facebook will also incorporate a context-aware ANNvatar, which will pop up and give advice about what you are reading and writing, delivering critiques as to style, grammar, and re-purposable content. The ANNvatar will speak in Ann’s voice, pulling words and phrases from the Content Rules book, which will now be the official Facebook Help Menu. Users will be able to choose AH levels, from mild snark all the way up to to ultra-Boston-style-insulting.

It is rumored that there will be a C.C. Chapman FB upgrade in the future “for the guys” but this is not yet confirmed. There is also speculation that each FB status will be auto-converted into a QR-code for people who prefer to use a smartphone for each and every form of communication.

The new Ann Handley FB version will be Prodigy and MS-DOS compatible because, after all, that’s what Ann Handley would do.

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10 Can’t-Miss Predictions for 2011

I don’t usually do year-end prediction posts, but after reading so many enlightening missives from brilliant thinkers, I was hit by a sudden flash of inspiration – a massive and luminous outpouring of the blindingly obvious. So, here goes – my can’t miss social media marketing predictions for 2011.

  1. More people will search for stuff on-line in 2011. It’s been growing every year for quite a while now, and the big surprise is, that this behavior will continue to occur.
  2. Mobile is going to be big. Really big.
  3. E-commerce will explode onto the scene. As people discover that they can buy things on-line, they will do more of it. Books, music, toys, pet food – you name it. Disintermediation is the key word here. Big for 2011.
  4. Apple will introduce flashy new versions of its hardware and software products. And people will buy them. In fact, some people will wait in long lines to buy them – and others won’t.
  5. A lot of people will do a lot of stuff on Facebook, which will have more users in 2011 than it has now in 2010.
  6. Very important people will be profoundly embarrassed by revelations made about them via the Internet.
  7. Market valuations for software vendors will go up and down while fluctuating during the year.
  8. Companies will try to sell stuff using social media, and social media purists will be so upset about it, they’ll whine on Twitter and blogs.
  9. Everyone will hate SxSW’s method of choosing panels by popularity contest, but a million bloggers will beg for votes on Twitter anyway, while saying how much they despise doing so.
  10. People will discover that if you join smartphones with location apps with coupons you can cause a lot of people to make a lot of noise on-line about it, and generate stoopid company valuations.
  11. (Bonus) Content will rule. There may even be a book about it (hey – had to get a plug in there for CC and Ann!)

What about you? What are your profoundly insightful predictions for the exciting year ahead?

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See prior spoofs :>}

Facebook taken over by TSA

In what has been described as a “friendly, sort of” takeover, the social networking site Facebook has been merged into the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The announcement was made in Terminal C of Newark Airport. After reporters and their personal items were screened, they were allowed to line up 12-deep to hear the head of the TSA, John T. Pistol, announce that Mark Zuckerberg had arrived at an “understanding” after several hours of enhanced frisking and being run repeatedly through a high-intensity X-ray machine.

“It was obvious that our attempts to protect the American people were simply not enough. Senior citizens were sometimes boarding planes without being subject to public humiliation, and once a right-wing blogger named Benjamin Jefferson Washington actually boarded a flight in Milwaukee before he showed up on our ‘No Fly’ list.

“Now, with Facebook, we’ll be able to extend our protective arms well beyond the airport, and monitor virtually all Americans in real-time. Except young males from certain Middle Eastern countries, of course – that would be social profiling.”

Changes to the Facebook interfaced were already evident this week, with subtle wording changes (Edit my Profile is now Profile Me) and random pop-up interrogation boxes for those who upload any photos. Also, each Facebook user is required to undergo a hands-on patdown by a TSA employee before changing any user information on their profile. “Instead of a captcha, we’re going to use a gotcha. Way better!” said Pistol.

The most controversial change involved the threat of uploading naked pictures taken in TSA scanners to user profiles. “We’ll have all your full-body X-ray pictures stored and matched to your Facebook profile, and if any user does something wrong, we figure we’ll just randomly expose 1,000 others by changing their profile picture to the bare view for 24 hours. That way, we won’t be profiling any individual or group, while still maintaining a focus on the privates of the individual.”

Asked about the issue  of violations of privacy, Pistol stared blankly ahead for a few moments, then replied, “Why do you think we chose Facebook, anyway?”

Scanner image credit

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See prior spoofs :>}

Why I Won’t Stop Blogging

Steve Rubel announced last week that he was going to stop “blogging” in favor of “lifestreaming” (the sharing of more immediate snippets of micro-media), and this opened up some interesting discussion among bloggers, well-summarized here by Louis Gray (and I agree with Louis’ perspective).

Now I do admit that I am re-examining the tools for on-line sharing of networked communications, spurred in part by the expanded capabilities of the new iPhone, which will allow for simpler sharing of photos, video, and audio. I’m playing with Posterous as a way to have a one-stop media  distribution center (digital sharehouse?), and some of this definitely falls into the “lifestream” category.

But stop blogging? No way.

There is value in sharing a beautiful picture, or a quick audio, or an interesting link, or a snippet of thought. The conversation and easy banter on Twitter and Facebook is enriching, no doubt. But for development of thought, more detailed analysis of ideas, ongoing discussion of topics, and 360-degree expression of personal and/or business message – you simply cannot replace a blog.

We live in an increasingly fragmented world which encourages the development of shorter and shorter attention spans. I don’t see that as necessarily a good thing. Writing a blog, and reading a longer-form post by others, forces us to think, to develop a train of thought, to react to more detailed explanation and argumentation. I hope we never lose that. A life stream is one thing. A well-crafted blog, over time, becomes a thought-river.

UPDATE: Robert Scoble writes an interesting piece on the enduring value of a blog vs. the more ephemeral entries on micro-blogging sites. Plus, Chris Brogan on Strategic blogging. Both of these perspectives make it clear why blogging is not going away.

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Good-bye, Social Media – Hello, Networked Communications

So, today Steve Rubel announces that he is done “blogging”, and now is fully committed to a more full-faceted path called “lifestreaming.” His post is titled So Long, Blogging, Hello Lifestreaming!

What he’s doing is, in fact, not that radical – we’ve been moving rapidly in this direction for a while. Because the fact is – the real issue isn’t whether we “blog” or “micro-blog” or “Tweet” or “Facebook” or whatever. Those terms and brands are temporary labels we have for the early-on way we’re now using technology to…share. To express ourselves, and connect with others.

We’re evolving rapidly in ability to share, not just via long-form formats (books, blogs), but also quick thoughts, pictures, videos, music, and whatever else. Each of these things ended up with their own terms, and have been ranged roughly under the moniker “social media.”

I’d like to adapt Steve’s title to say good-bye to social media. The term, that is; which really isn’t adequate to describe what we’re doing. For some professionals, the term “social” is an immediate turnoff. And we’re sharing more than media – we’re communicating/connecting/collaborating in multi-faceted ways. There is a social element to it, of course, and media is part of this gig. But the term isn’t scalable.

So….hello, Networked Communications. That, in fact, in all facets, and no matter how it evolves, is what we’re doing, on both personal and professional levels. Whether it’s community-building, tweeting, sharing media, marketing, lifestreaming – it’s all networked communications (which, by the way, includes the off-line component of how we relate to one another).

We’re going to burn through existing and new platforms over the coming years, and they’ll get more sophisticated in their abilities to let us network and communicate. Whether it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Posterous, blogs, Flickr (perhaps even my dream platform, Metamee) – the bits and pieces  don’t really matter, they’ll evolve and converge. Each of them is an Expression and/or Connection Engine, all enabling our brave new world of networked communications. Which is same world of networked communications we used to have, amped up on tech steroids.

We’ve always communicated. We’ve always had and built networks. Now we have quickly-evolving tools that will let us more effectively express ourselves and connect with others, for marketing, for fun, for socializing, for enterprise efficiency, for help…for whatever we do.

Good-bye, “social media.” You were a nice first love. You’re not going to die, you’re becoming bigger and better. But with upgraded capabilities come better titles. I’m moving on to Networked Communications. ‘Cause that’s what we do.

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Free eBook: Getting Started with Social Networking

Why I Follow…Craig DeLarge

Once again, we come to a Friday on Twitter, and once again, I abstain from making a de-contextualized (is that a word??) list of recommended followers in favor of simply putting the spotlight on one.

Today – fellow pharma social media guy Craig DeLarge (@cadelarge on Twitter).

Thus far, it is rare to find people within pharma companies who openly and transparently network on-line. In fact, I can count the ones I know on one hand. Craig is one of the first I met, and he has been networking quite generously for a long time.

His blog (WiseWorking) is full of interesting ruminations. He tweets as well, but he’s one of those folks whose on-line presence is strongest on Facebook. I kinda use Facebook. Craig knocks it out of the park.

But the best thing is meeting him. He’s a wonderful conversationalist, a smart guy, full of ideas, and very personable. He lives out loud on-line – sharing very openly – and he’s that way in real life too. I had dinner with Craig and another fellow this week and we could have gone on for hours. I’m better off knowing Craig, and I expect that you will be, too. [Oh...and yesterday was his birthday, Facebook tells me. A belated Happy Birthday as well!]

Prior FollowFriday posts

Let’s improve Follow Fridays!

Getting Started: Social Networking

It can be a little bit intimidating for many folks, getting started with social networking. What’s a blog? How can I use LinkedIn? Should I be on Facebook? Does Twitter matter? How do I start?

Cover_smEvery active networker had to just…start…at some point. Maybe we can make things a little easier.

Here is a free e-book(let) download for those looking to get involved (or more deeply involved) with social networking: Getting Started with Social Networking. A condensed slide show is also available here on Slideshare.

The e-booklet is only 15 pages, but it’s packed full of helpful links and advice. Briefly, the What and Why of social networking is covered, then in a very practical step-by-step fashion, the How. Plus, there is a bonus Appendix with worksheet to help you define your “personal brand” and refine your message.

There is also a special Appendix with resources for pharmaceutical professionals.

Many thanks to those bloggers who provide such valuable/linkable content, as well as those who helped with suggestions, reviews, and edits;  Chris Brogan, Angela Maiers, Kirsten Wright, David Armano (cover graphic), Robin Broitman, Ann Handley, Mike Sansone, Doug Meacham, Tom Clifford, Ross Teasley, Jonathan Richman, Marina Martin, the Mashable team, the Commoncraft team, Molly Infolode, Jennifer Berk, Byron Woodson, Liz Scherer, Dawn Foster, Dan Schawbel, Brian Solis, Guy Kawasaki, Nick O’Neill, the Butterscotch team, the eHow team, Alison Driscoll, Kirsti Scott, Dave Fleet, Darren Rowse, Paul Chaney, Gavin Heaton, Liz Strauss, Lisa Hoffmann, Beth Harte, Karen Swim, Mack Collier Shwen Gwee, John Mack, Deirdre Breakenridge, and Ellen Hoenig Carlson (hopefully I haven’t forgotten anyone!)

Feel free to share the link, or forward the .pdf file, freely to any who may benefit from it.

AND – if you want more (free e-book) starter guides, check out this one by the always-helpful Amber Naslund, and this broader view from Antony Mayfield.

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