Internet.Org to Connect the Whole World

On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook, along with Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, and Samsung are launching a huge initiative called  The objective is pretty giant—they want to bring the internet to the 5 billion people not currently connected. The press release notes that

[t]oday, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world’s population — have access to the internet. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its development. lays out three ways they intend to do this. First, they want to make access affordable, especially by focusing on cheaper smartphones, which are cheaper than standard computers and can use the wireless infrastructure already available in much of the world. There is also a data engineering component: in the developed world (with the possible exception of the United States), bandwidth is fairly plentiful, so there’s not a lot of focus on making things as efficient as possible. Read More

Buffer: Management Software for Social Media

It’s 2013, and by now most of us know that a powerful social media presence is essential to building your brand on the internet. To make that responsibility a little easier, a number of social media management applications have emerged to coordinate your presence through time and across social media platforms.

One of the applications that seems to be picking up a lot of steam is Buffer, an application that started life managing twitter feeds but has expanded its focus to include Facebook, LinkedIn, and many other platforms and features.

The basic idea behind social media management software is that you’re able to make updates to your various social media accounts in a single convenient location. And best of all, you’re able to schedule your updates so you’re able to prepare your posts and tweets beforehand. Most applications also offer various analytics to determine your social media impact and help you to refine your strategies for maximum reach.

In this respect, Buffer behaves a lot like its competitors, which include HootSuite, perhaps the most popular of these applications, and others such as TweetDeck, and SocialFlow.

Buffer really distinguishes itself when it comes to ease of use. The scheduler is often singled out for approval: you’re able to set up default posting times so you don’t have to specify for each new post, which is the case for most other social media management software. This is especially useful as you can schedule your posts to correspond to peak usage time for each different networks, set it, and forget it.

Besides scheduling posts, generating and sharing content online is also a snap. Buffer provides you with browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari to make sharing content from the web a snap. Just find something you like, click on the Buffer button in your browser, and you’re all set to either share immediately or to put it in your buffer and share at your previously scheduled times. Read More

Facebook Home Coming to the HTC First on AT&T

htc first with facebook home on at&t
HTC First in light blue

Yesterday Mark Zuckerberg didn’t shock the world. Instead he announced the long-awaited “Facebook phone,” which, it turns out, is not a phone at all. Instead it’s an interface for specific Android phones that makes using Facebook a top priority. It’s built on top of Android, so it’s not an operating system, but it is a more thorough experience than an app, or even some of the other proprietary “skins” we’ve seen from manufacturers like HTC in the past.

So what does the Facebook Home experience feel like? Well basically, it puts Facebook front and center for your mobile experience. Both your homescreen and lockscreen will display updates from Facebook (the feature is called Coverfeed), so you don’t even have to really be using your phone to be interacting with your friends and family.

Once you’re actually using the phone there’s deep integration with Facebook chat – on the phone it has the name “Chatheads” – that lets you see a person’s face and tap to message. It’s an attempt to streamline how we message and replace SMS with Facebook’s own utility.

And of course there are notifications. Lots of them. But it’s different from the way we use our phone now, where an app will send push notifications when something happens. Instead, you’ll get alerts that friends have done something. It’s a people-centric design, which makes sense in that Facebook is best used as a connector of individuals.

Right now the HTC First, available exclusively from AT&T, is the only phone coming pre-loaded with Facebook Home. It’s available for $99 with a two year contract, and will come in red, white, black and pale blue. It comes with a 4.3″ screen, 5 megapixel camera and 1.6 megapixel rear camera.

Go to AT&T’s website for more info.

What do you think? Would you make Facebook your top mobile priority?

Are People Taking a Break from Facebook? (CNN VIDEO)

I appeared on CNN’s Reliable Sources this morning with Howard Kurtz to take a look at Facebook. It turns out the social network may be losing some of its shine.

Take a look at these stats from a recent Pew Internet survey:

– 61% of Facebook users have taken a break from the service at some point in the past
– 20% of adults have permanently left Facebook

Sarah Lacy, founder and editor-in-chief of and I discussed Facebook’s mobile app, why people need to take vacations from its service, and more.

Like this video? You should follow me on twitter here.

What Facebook’s New Social Graph Search May Mean for Small Businesses

facebook open graphMuch has already been made of Facebook’s big press conference yesterday where Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new Social Graph Search. But what is it, exactly?

In a lot of ways, Facebook Graph Search makes a lot of sense intuitively: enough that it’s almost a surprise that we haven’t had it before. Basically, it’s using the ties between us all and all the data Facebook has to spit back out search results. Given how much data Facebook has, it’s easy to imagine that Graph Search could be pretty powerful.

Facebook itself gave several examples of how this kind of search will work. One idea was using interests or likes of your friends to find compatible invitees for a movie night. But for a less personal (but more far-reaching) example, Facebook point out how a journalist might use the Social Graph. You can read their official post here for a thorough explanation, but the basic idea is that journalists will be able to use FB as a Rolodex. You could look up people by where they worked when, or if Facebook Places has them at the scene of a big event.

Read More

Facebook’s New Advertising Platforms: Exchange and Custom Audiences

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg with Matt Lauer
Mark Zuckerberg interview with Matt Lauer

This morning on the Today Show, Mark Zuckerburg told Matt Lauer some pretty big tech news: Facebook has reached one billion users. That’s about one in every seven people on the planet sharing updates, photos, and the meme du jour. Despite this, Facebook’s stock closed at $21.83 per share yesterday–about a 30% drop from its IPO price of $38.

Why hasn’t Facebook been able to convert its eyeballs into the sort of growth that investors want to see? Well, like so many internet businesses, it wasn’t really designed to make money. Facebook’s great promise is that they have so much data on their users (which, let’s remember, now number One Billion), they can offer highly customized advertising that advertisers will pay a premium for.

Let’s take a look at two new initiatives Facebook is rolling out to make good on this promise. First is Facebook Ad Exchange, which reconfigures their ad-sales model to something more like Google AdX, allowing for something known as re-targeting. Let’s say that I’m shopping for a comforter online (which I am), but I haven’t actually purchased anything yet. The store I was shopping at could purchase ads on Facebook encouraging me to purchase the very same comforter that I was looking at before. These ads are more valuable because they’re directed at people who probably want to buy something–and so they’re more likely to actually do just that.

The other initiative, Custom Audiences, allows businesses to find their previous customers using information the businesses already have. It’s kind of like Facebook friending someone after a good first date. Let’s say that I already purchased a comforter from the comforter store. The store has my email address and knows that 75% of people who buy a comforter will also buy pillow shams. Custom Audiences will allow the comforter store to target me with their pillow sham ads– and since I’ve already purchased something from that store, I’m way more likely to purchase something else from them. If this seems a little creepy, all the information given to Facebook is encrypted, so it’s not like some guy in the shipping department is looking at pictures from your last vacation.

These initiatives show Facebook doubling down on what sets it apart– a huge user base, and a lot of information on those users that make their ads more valuable than most. It’ll be interesting to see if this is the kind of revenue boost Zuckerburg and Co. (and investors) need. Have you seen any retargeted ads on Facebook? Would you consider using Custom Audiences? Let us know in the comments!


Keep Facebook messages from being labeled “Seen” with Crossrider’s Chat Undetected

Did you know that Facebook messages have “read receipts?” Basically every time you read a Facebook message, the sender on the other end can see exactly wheat time you read the message – down to the minute.

It may be nice to know that others have seen your messages, but it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re the recipient! After all, if someone knows you’ve seen their message but haven’t responded, they can easily misinterpret that as avoidance, when really you’re just busy or you know, forgot.

Read More

Should You Care About Your Klout Score?

klout logo
Klout: the only way to win is not to play.

Do you know about Klout? It’s a company that purports to measure your influence online, based on your activity on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, etc. Klout then assigns users a score from 1 – 100 – the higher the score, the more influential you are. Supposedly, anyway. And in theory it would make sense to want a higher Klout score, right? After all, influence means people listen to you, and that’s helpful for all kinds of things.

But does Klout actually measure influence? Well, it’s hard to say. A large part of your Klout score is based on how active you are on social networks, which is important, but certainly not indicative of the quality of your participation, or how knowledgeable (aka influential) you actually are. After all, lots of retweets may take time, but it doesn’t necessarily take a lot of expertise. Klout also says that the number of networks you have connected to the service also determines your influence, so presumably Klout believes that doing a lot of social networking in a lot of places is a synonym for how important you are. It’s hard to say, really, whether there’s any validity to the Klout algorithm, since it’s secret. They’ve announced plans to make it more transparent, but we’ll have to wait and see.

What we can see is some glaring anecdotal evidence is that something is just not right with Klout. The TechCrunch writer with the same score as founder and industry tital Mike Arrington. At one point Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, had a score in the low 70s. Spam bots have been known to have higher scores than humans. There’s something about real-world influence that’s obviously not being translated to their algorithm. And even a few days away from the social media machine will cause your score to drop – but certainly a vacation doesn’t mean you’ve lost any actual influence or knowledge in the real world. So really then what Klout measures is how good you are at socializing in a way that’s good for your Klout score. Read More

3 Technologies from Education You Can Use in Your Small Business

David Egger is Lead Marketing Manager for AT&T’s IRU (Individual Responsibility User) Mobility Programs. You can find more blog content from David and other experts on emerging technologies and mobile application on the AT&T Networking Exchange Blog. AT&T has sponsored the following blog post.


Educational institutions often lead the way in using new technologies, even developing much of it themselves in their own labs and computer science departments.  In this post, let’s take a look at a few technologies being used in education that can help drive more sales, more customer involvement, and more customer loyalty for your small business.

Social Media
The roots of truly large-scale social media lie in Facebook.  Most are aware that was once only for college students and started as a way for students to check out other students on campuses.  I’m actually quite proud that my account was started when it was still ‘’ and each campus had its own subdomain (

Whether using a business page on facebook or a business account on twitter to promote your new products or services and special offers, building a base of loyal customers on social media is essential to any consumer-focused small business.

To keep your following strong, include regular special offers exclusively for social media subscribers or occasional contests.  Not every post should be sales-y though.  I love how Coke Zero uses their facebook page to post random, funny Coke Zero musings such as “The mark of a true hero is indicated by his Coke Zero mustache.”  Keep your social media tone set to the same mood as your business’ brand.  Coke Zero is a fun, lifestyle brand, so they post jokes and funny pictures.  A law firm posting photos of pants-less nerf gun battles in the office isn’t going to get the same effect.  Think of your business’ brand as a person, and imagine the kinds of things that person would share on social media.  Read More

Ad-Free Social Network Exceeds its Fundraising Goal of a Half-Million Dollars

What if there were a social network that promised not to sell your personal data to advertisers? Would you join, even if you had to pay for it? That’s the premise of, a very bright idea from developer Dalton Caldwell, who felt that Facebook didn’t respect his contribution to their social ecosystem — or that of their users. logo

We all rely on the big platforms like Facebook and Twitter, either as small businesses reaching customers, or as developers looking to create the products that help businesses leverage those platforms. Generally, it’s a one-sided relationship, where the big platforms do what they think is best for them – and the rest of us struggle to keep up. was conceived as a way for those integral to the social process – the users and developers – to have some control over the process.

So, what is offering to set it apart from the other social networks? Read More