Unsociable Media

It’s time to stop ranting and get back to work.

Yesterday, Facebook declared that it was “Facebook Friends Day”. Facebook has been part of our lives for thirteen years and its moody adolescence is showing.

Facebook Friends Day

Facebook used to be the home of grumpy cat and cute kid videos. But last year it became a vast wasteland of political punditry as its seems everybody had something to say about the US presidential election. My Facebook feed became an incessant deluge of rants and shared articles from my collection of Democratic, Republican and even Libertarian friends.

I was hoping that the madness would stop after the election. Or at least after inauguration day. Wishful thinking, no?

unsociable – un·so·cia·ble – \ˌən-ˈsō-shə-bəl\

adjective

having or showing a disinclination for social activity
or
not conducive to sociability

definition courtesy of Merriam-Webster dictionary

Dealing with annoying people on Facebook is simple. You can “unfollow” them while still being their “friend”. Convenient. But unfortunately the problem has spread to other social media venues like LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t have “friends” on those social media channels. I have professional business contacts. And people who I assumed were respected thought leaders in their field, not political pundits.

I’m perfectly capable of finding my own news, be it real or “fake news”, liberal or conservative news, or even clickbait masquerading as news. I don’t need to understand your political views nor do you need me to endorse them.

But I need your expertise.

Desperately.

And I miss it.

Have we reached the point of no return? We may never be able to “Make Facebook Fun Again”. But I hope that we can get back to business on LinkedIn and Twitter.

And soon.

It’s O.K. to Never Tweet

Dick Costolo gives us all permission to NOT tweet.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo

In a recent New York Times interview with technology writer Farhad Manjoo, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo made what was considered to be a controversial statement.

I meet people who say, “Oh, I don’t tweet.” I think there’s still a misconception that the reason they’d sign up is to tweet. When I meet them, I tell them, “No, you don’t have to.” [emphasis mine]

As somebody who is an active blogger, I like to stay active professionally on Twitter, LinkedIn and even Facebook. But I talk to many business intelligence professionals who either don’t have a Twitter account or have one but seldom use it. I usually hear objections to Twitter like “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have anything to say”. But read how Twitter’s own CEO describes Twitter. From the same interview, Dick Costolo says:

Everyone wants to know and stay up-to-date on what’s happening in their world and be connected and know what’s going on. That’s what Twitter provides. So I think that irrespective of whether you want to tweet, everyone can get value out of Twitter right away.

Twitter is like a 24-hour news channel where you get to pick the news. You don’t have to be a CNN anchor head, a revolutionary in Egypt, or a mommy blogger to appreciate the news ticker scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Think of how many times you’ve read a news ticker while watching TV at the airport, at the gym on a treadmill, or watching sports while munching wings at Buffalo Wild Wings. Twitter is currently the fastest way to get news about SAP analytics. Or any topic, for that matter.

Nearly Everybody is on Twitter

Your favorite analytics expert is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite musician is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite book author is probably on Twitter.

Your favorite restaurant is probably on Twitter.


Your favorite sports figure is probably on Twitter.

Even Ashton Kutcher and Kim Kardashian are on Twitter.

But back to analytics. Twitter is currently the fastest way to get news about SAP analytics. From news that a new support pack of SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.1 has dropped, a new must-read blog post has been published, or the date and location of a new conference has been announced, it’s all happening first on Twitter.

Getting the Most Out of Twitter, for non-Tweeters

Here are five additional suggestions, if you follow my first suggestion to sign up for Twitter.

Find a Twitter Client that Suits your Style

There are many apps for Twitter besides the official Twitter app. And most mobile apps and even desktop operating systems like Apple’s Mac OS X allow you to receive notifications from social media channels. So you can stay in-the-know wherever you are. Be sure to find a Twitter client (I prefer Hootsuite) that makes it easy to follow #hashtags, because you should…

Follow #Conversations, not People

It’s OK to follow people via their Twitter account. I currently follow 905 accounts. But the chatter can get a bit noisy. It’s more efficient to follow conversations via their #hashtags. Every day, I’m watching conversations about the SAP BI platform #BI4/#BI41, celebrity BI tools (#SAPLumira, #SAPDesignStudio, #SAPHANA), and conferences (#SABOUC, #BI2015, #HANA2015, #SAPPHIRENOW).

Keep an eye on your vendors

You should definitely follow the Twitter accounts of software companies whose products you use everyday. Keep in mind that a large company like SAP will have multiple Twitter accounts, some of which will be more valuable than their main feed. For example, following @SAPAnalytics is probably more useful to a BI professional than following SAP. Follow the major database vendors that you use, like Oracle or Teradata. It’s a great way to learn that critical patches have been released. And it never hurts to keep an eye on the BI landscape by following Tableau, Qlik, or analysts like Gartner and Forrester.

Identify Yourself

You may not tweet often or ever, but take a few moments to write a short biography about yourself. And replace that silly egg picture with a selfie, ideally the same photo you use on other professional social media outlets like LinkedIn. I’m grateful that there’s not too many Dallas Marks’ in the world (but there is more than one- see here). But if lots of other Twitter users have a similar name to yours, the photo and biography will help others know that they’ve found the right “you”. Be sure to include your Twitter handle on your LinkedIn profile.

Consider Retweeting

Even if you never compose an original tweet, you should periodically re-tweet messages that you personally find useful. It’s not only helpful feedback to the original tweeter, but you may find yourself attracting your own following by other like-minded people on Twitter who don’t like to tweet. And that’s not a bad thing.

Do you love or hate Twitter? Has it made you a better business intelligence professional? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Platform

If you have something to say or sell and want to build a platform to promote it, this book will be a valuable resource to you.

Platform by Michael Hyatt is “a step-by-step” guide for anyone with something to say or sell. Like Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, Platform started life as a series of blog posts that became a book. According to the author,

Very simply, a platform is the thing you have to stand on to get heard. It’s your stage. But unlike a stage in the theater, today’s platform is not built of wood or concrete or perched on a grassy hill. Today’s platform is built of people. Contacts. Connections. Followers.

As the former CEO and chairman of Thomas Nelson publishing, Mr. Hyatt not only had a successful career helping book authors build their own platforms, he’s built a pretty successful one himself. With over 400,000 monthly visitors to his blog and over 200,000 followers on Twitter, he is actively using the advice he dispenses in his book.


What I found particularly helpful was Mr. Hyatt’s willingness to share his mistakes as well as his successes. As somebody who has been blogging since 2007, I’ve already learned several of the book’s lessons the hard way. But I’ve taken many best practices from the pages of Platform and will be adopting them over the next few months.

If you have something to say or sell and want to build a platform to promote it, this book will be a valuable resource to you.

Resources

Disclosure of Material Connection: I purchased this book with my own funds. It was not a free review copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Free Speech

What does this have to do with BI? Absolutely nothing. But bear with me.

Politics. Sex. Religion.

These are topics that are generally avoided in polite conversation. And in information technology blogs. But I needed to finish this blog post before Netflix goes out of business before Leo Apotheker runs another company into the ground before Feature Pack 3 goes GA before any more candidates drop out of the United States presidential race.

The following is not a partisan rant (I hope).  I’d like to talk about free speech.

From an original field of ten, there are currently four Republican presidential contenders seeking the nomination of their party.  But only two are getting serious media coverage – the ones who have raised the most cash.  We are told that the reason that Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney are getting all of the media coverage is that they’re tracking highest in the polls. But the primary reason that they have higher poll numbers than Rick Santorum or Ron Paul (yes, I know it’s not the only reason) is that they have the money to support all of the ridiculous negative advertising, expert campaign adviser salaries, and a “national organization”. And ironically, despite the fact that a person must have a huge pile of cash to run for president, Americans are currently obsessed with how the candidates earned their personal fortunes and if some creepy Darth Sidious billionaire is funding their campaigns.  Televised “debates” don’t cost the candidates any money, but unfortunately are a series of “gotcha” one-liners rather than a serious forum to compare and contrast positions on political issues.  The situation is not unique to 2012. Remember read my lips? Potatoe? Ma, ma, where’s my pa? You Betcha!

According to the New York Times, a Republican candidate needs 1,144 delegates to receive the nomination.  Currently, Newt Gingrich has 23, Mitt Romney has 21, Rick Santorum has 13, and Ron Paul has 2.  Nobody has more than 2% of the delegates needed! But we’re acting like the race is almost over because everyone doesn’t have the cash to keep going through the primary season.  So it’s come to this: Republican voters must choose between the candidate that cannot be trusted because he’s an undisciplined slob vs. the candidate that cannot be trusted because he never has a hair out of place? Despite the fact that all four candidates have a long way to go before getting 1,144 delegates, we’re already being told that we shouldn’t waste our vote on a candidate that isn’t in the Gartner Magic Quadrant.  Because they don’t have the stamina (which really means cash) to make it to the finish line. I live in Ohio, so Republicans in my state vote on March 6, Super Tuesday. But the race may already be decided by then, so what’s the point?

Ultimately, a Republican nominee will be chosen to run against President Obama, a Democrat. And then, media coverage will shift to which national party has raised the most cash.  Because they love a horse race. And because the party with the most cash will run the most goofy negative ads and win the election, right? Money, money, money.

So what does this have to do with business intelligence? Absolutely nothing. But it does have something to do with blogging, so bear with me.

Much mention was made in 2008 about Barack Obama’s pioneering use of social media in his campaign. But the great thing about social media is that anyone can blog. Anyone can tweet. Anyone can have a Facebook page. For free.  A person with zero cash and good typing skills can get their ideas in front of an audience.  Ideas, not stupid name calling and finger pointing.  Mommie bloggers. Sports fanatic bloggers. Foodie bloggers. And yes, nerdy bloggers like me. But why is social media unable to break the power of big media and big campaign donors?

I’m grateful that I live in a country with free speech, where anyone can share their thoughts on a blog. It is humbling and rewarding to be a simple guy from the midwestern United States whose words are read around the world.

But I wished I lived in a country where truly anyone could grow up to be president.

Thanks for reading. Now back to my SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 upgrade…

Is Google+ the Third Place of Social Networking?

Can Google+ be the “third place” of social networking? Or is it simply in third place?

Google+, a new social network from Google, has certainly had a lot of- pardon the expression- buzz. As a longtime Gmail user, I must admit feeling a bit offended about not being able to sign up right away for the service. Google’s practice of trickling out invites, thereby stirring up social networking envy, seems to be a good way of generating interest. Or at least keeping technology journalists employed.

I was relieved when one of my trendy friends- Eric Vallo- finally sent me an invitation to join the Google+ Elite. I hastily completed my profile, started arranging my Google friends into circles, and installed the Apple iPhone/iOS app. But I’m not sure that I’m a sold-out Google+ believer.

Starbucks has built a global network of over 17,000 locations in over 50 countries based on the concept of a “third place” to relax and unwind between home and work.

Howard [Schultz (Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer)] traveled to Italy and became captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience. He had a vision to bring the Italian coffeehouse tradition back to the United States. A place for conversation and a sense of community. A third place between work and home. [emphasis added]

From Our Heritage on the Starbucks web site.

I use Facebook as my personal social network and both LinkedIn and Twitter for my professional social network. And I’m not alone in this separation of social network “friends”. Can Google+ be the “third place” of social networking, between home (Facebook) and work (LinkedIn)?  Or is it simply in third place?  (See Jamie Oswald’s related SAP Community blog Why Google+’s rapid adoption doesn’t impress me).

Unlike most of the Facebook community that gets offended when the Facebook UI changes, I’m pretty happy with its abilities to keep me in touch with people. Since SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence is just a small portion of the technology world, I rely on Twitter as a news ticker app (and shameless self promotion tool for this blog). And LinkedIn? I appreciate that the fact that your resume is always “out there” may or may not indicate that you’re in the job market. LinkedIn is also helpful for keeping track of technical professionals who, on average, change jobs every 18-24 months. Honestly, I wish LinkedIn was more like Facebook than it currently is. And I still wonder what LinkedIn was thinking when they built the mobile app. But does any of this give Google+ an opportunity to unseat any of the current social networking leaders, similar to the way Facebook sucked the life out of MySpace?

For me, checking Google+ is another item on my social network “to do” list. And after a couple of weeks of usage, it’s still at the bottom of my social network “to do” list. And this, ultimately, may be Google+’s dilemma. Regardless of how good or different it is from existing social networks, is it groundbreaking enough to get a large number of social networkers to stop using one or more of their existing social networks? As of today, the answer for me is “no”.

Excuse me while I go check my Twitter feed

Are you using Google+? Or experiencing social network fatigue?

Benjamin Joseph Marks

Please welcome Benjamin Joseph Marks, who entered the world at 11:23 PM on Friday, January 15, 2010.  He weighed 7 lbs. 5 oz. (3.327 kg) and 20 inches (51 cm).  He and his mom are doing well and came home to meet my two daughters today (Sunday).

My two daughters were born in 2001 and 2003 and many things have changed since then.  The largest change for this dad was how the Internet has enabled social networking.  This time, I was in the labor and delivery room equipped with an Apple iPhone and its Facebook app.  I assumed that my Blackberry-toting father-in-law in the waiting room would appreciate the updates.  But my wife and I have extended family all over the United States.   They would also be interested in updates and photos.  But what really surprised me was how many of our Facebook friends stayed glued to their computers on Friday night, refreshing my wife’s Facebook wall for the latest updates and photos.  We certainly wouldn’t have wanted dozens of people in the labor and delivery room, but through Facebook they were able to participate in a special event for our family.  The end result was that people in different time zones (and even different countries) were able to experience what was happening in near real-time.

Despite these technological advances, I was thrilled to be there personally.  As a traveling IT consultant, my greatest fear was that I would miss out on a once-in-a-lifetime moment.  But on Friday night, I watched my son emerge from the watery depths of the womb, cut his umbilical cord, and held him in my arms.  The folks at Apple are geniuses, but I don’t expect those capabilities as iPhone features any time soon.

Kind regards,
Dallas

The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web

The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web.

I’ve been blogging about SAP BusinessObjects and business intelligence for almost two years. Over time, I’ve started using other social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Delicious. And just this month, I became the proud owner of an Apple iPhone 3GS. So this week during a vacation, it made perfect sense for me to read Tamar Weinberg’s recently published The New Community Rules: Marketing on the Social Web – on my iPhone.

The book begins with “An Introduction to Social Media Marketing”, which is helpful when you’re an IT professional and not a marketing professional. Next, Tamar gives pointers for developing your social media goals. She proceeds to give detailed information chapter by chapter on using specific social sites using blogs like Blogger and WordPress, microblogs like Twitter, social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, informational networks like Wikipedia, and social bookmarking sites like Delicious, social news sites like Digg and reddit, and social media sites like YouTube and Flickr.

The New Community Rules reinforced why I’ve already started using the social web to build my “personal brand”, helped me set new goals, and exposed me to sites that I’ve never considered using before. What I most appreciated about the book were the case studies – real stories about real people and organizations using (and sometimes abusing) social media. In addition to building my personal brand, I will be using this information to help my employer engage clients via the social web over the next few months.

Because I read the book on an iPhone, reviewing the reading experience is just as important as the book itself. I’m definitely a geek, but still unwilling to pull the trigger on a Kindle purchase (see related article, SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4.0 for Kindle). While I’m still not sure that iPhone is the ideal platform for reading every book, it was certainly the perfect device for pool-side reading. Given the subject matter of The New Community Rules, Tamar has included extensive web links to additional resources – which is probably the coolest reason to read it on a web-enabled device like an iPhone.

Ten years ago, we were fixated on search engine optimization for search engines like Excite and Alta Vista (remember those?). We didn’t know we couldn’t live without sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. Only time will tell if we will still be using these specific social web sites ten years from now. But I’m sure organizations will continue to use the world wide web to find new ways to connect with customers. The New Community Rules is invaluable reading for individuals and organizations dipping their toes in the waters of the social web. It is available now from the iTunes App Store or in a more traditional format from book resellers like Amazon.com.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”