Category Archives: Social Media and Social Search

Twitter Differences in Different Countries

If you’ve never used Twitter before, it can be a little intimidating when you’re first starting out. You’re faced with a message on the front page of the site telling you to “Follow your interests,” and promising “instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world.”

Then you sign up, and you’re faced with an empty text box with a question above it asking you “What’s Happening?” You have no friends added yet, you’re not following any industry experts or favorite celebrities, and there’s no news about what’s happening around the world. But you might see tweets in more languages than just English, according to a whitepaper presented last month.

Languages used in Tweets by people in the most active countries to use Twitter from a Yahoo Study.

The site does have ways to help you search for and find people to follow and interact with, and will recommend people to follow in a few places, but trying to figure out exactly what to say in that box that asks “what’s happening,” isn’t that easy. I remember spending more than a couple of days trying to figure that out myself.

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Are You Trusted by Google?

Are you a robot? A spammer? A sock puppet? A trusted author and content developer? A trusted agent in the eyes of Google? (More on trusted agents below.)

When you interact on a social network, or write a review online or update information to an internet mapping service, how much does the service you are using trust the content that you add, or the changes that you might make?

These aren’t rhetorical questions, but rather ones at the heart of approaches from services like Google Web search and Google Maps, which are focusing more and more upon social signals and social collaboration to provide the information that they do to the public.

If you’ve seen a +1 button within Google’s search results or on a site, and you’ve clicked upon it, or shared a page or post or site in Google Plus with others, you’ve engaged in endorsing the work of the author who created that site. How much weight does Google give that endorsement?

If you find an error on a Google Place page, such as an incorrect phone number or bad street address, and you take the time to try to correct that, what process might Google go through to decide if you’re telling the truth?

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Agent Rank, or Google Plus as an Identity Service or Digital Signature

What does it mean to call Google Plus an Identity Service? Might that have implications for how web pages might be ranked by Google? If we believe that Google might start incorporating authority signals into those rankings, it very well could.

At the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival on August 28th, 2011 at a Q&A with Eric Schmidt, Andy Carvin from NPR asked about Google’s insistence on the use of people’s real names, and received a prolonged response that pointed out the use of Google Plus as an identity service with the possible use of a ranking signal built into it.

But my general rule is people have a lot of free time and people on the Internet, there are people who do really really evil and wrong things on the Internet, and it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed them out. I’m not suggesting eliminating them, what I’m suggesting is if we knew their identity was accurate, we could rank them. Think of them like an identity rank.

The Return of Agent Rank and Portable Digital Signatures

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Facebook Patent Application Describes Receiving Data from Logged-Out Users to Target Ads

Is Facebook targeting conventional and social ads to the social network’s users and their connections, based upon visits to pages outside of Facebook that show Facebook widgets or use Facebook tracking pixels, while the Facebook users are logged out of Facebook?

On Sunday, Australian tech developer Nik Cubrilovic wrote a post titled, Logging Out of Facebook is Not Enough, which describes how cookies from Facebook are sent to Facebook everytime someone visits a page that contains a Facebook widget of some type, even after that person logs out of Facebook.

A Facebook engineer wrote the first comment to the post, explaining that the cookies in question are there for safety and security purposes, to provide customizations to users, and to help Facebook maintain and optimize their services. He notes that Facebook has no interest in tracking people, and, “We don’t have an ad network and we don’t sell people’s information.”

The Wall Street Journal picked up on the story yesterday, and did some exploring of their own, including contacting Facebook, who responded with a interesting statement.

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Google’s Asymmetric Social Network and Plus Authoring Patent

When you write a post at Google Plus, the social network allows you to link a web page and display an image from that page to the post, as well as defining who your post should be seen by. A patent filing published last week describes some of the processes behind adding those features, and provides us with screen shots of interfaces from an early version of Google Plus. It also shows off some of the thinking that might have led to the use of circles in defining the idea of an “asymmetric social network.”

The posting interface is shown in a number of screenshots in the patent filing:

Some interface images from the patent that are similar in many ways to Google Plus, and the ability to add links and images to posts and to decide between sending posts to subscribers or making them public.

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Facebook’s Real Time Social Network Search Patent

Will Facebook someday launch their own search engine that enables you to search the Web? That question surfaces every so often, without any real definitive answers. It’s possible that they might someday, especially since they’ve been hiring a number of people with job experience from some of the major search engines.

The last few times I recall seeing the possibility of a Facebook search engine raised was when a couple of different Facebook patents originally acquired from Friendster were granted, and each described an aspect of how a search engine might use connections on a social network to influence results seen on a search of the Web. (For example, see this post: Facebook Patents “Curated Search” To Attack Google.) A different question, and one that is just as interesting is how the search on Facebook itself works. A patent application published at the USTPO today gives us some ideas of how it may work.

A screenshot of Facebook search results on the term [cincinnati reds] on a search of posts by everyone.

I have to confess that I’ve rarely searched at Facebook, and I don’t think that I’ve ever searched using anything other than the search box at the tops of pages. There is a Facebook search interface, as seen in the image above, that allows you to choose between the following to search for:

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Don’t Let Social Media Marketers Turn You into a Newt

Sir Bedevere: What makes you think she’s a witch?
Peasant 3: Well, she turned me into a newt!
Sir Bedevere: A newt?
Peasant 3: [meekly after a long pause] … I got better.
Crowd: [shouts] Burn her anyway!

From the color-me-unsurprised department comes news from Time Magazine’s Techland that 92% of Newt Gingrich’s Twitter Followers Aren’t Real. I’m not making a statement with this post about the politician’s politics, or his character, or even an indictment of social media itself. Mainly because I think far too many people are guilty of the same thing – trying to use inflated social media stats to prove their social worth.

I discussed this with keynote marketing speaker David Dalka this morning, and he shared his thoughts in Twitter Gate – Buy More Twitter Followers Free Instantly – Business Marketing Strategy Implications?, digging into some of the business issues involved surrounding social media and pursuing followers on social networks:

It makes one wonder where all these non-real followers are coming from and more than a few CEOs are likely reading this article and asking the question, “Is all this investment in social media justified and an activity that will grow my business and improve the bottom line or are there wiser investments to be made?”

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Early Google Circles and the Google Social Site You Might Not Know About

I’ve been doing research on Google’s social Q&A sites codenamed Confucius which are in more than 68 countries and multiple languages, but little known in the US. What I’ve seen includes some tantalizing hints about Google Plus, a description of how content submitted to Google Plus might be ranked in Google Web search, and a possible advertising model for Google Plus that was detailed in a Best Paper nominee at the World Wide Web Conference in North Carolina last year.

I started looking at Confucius a week ago, when I published the post, How Google Might Rank User Generated Web Content in Google & and Other Social Networks. My post describes a ranking signal for user generated content in Web search results, derived from a social network user’s perceived authority on different subjects and the quality of their contributions in interactions on the network, These combined scores might be used as a ranking signal in web search results for the content that user creates. The patent filing was published at the World Intellectual Property Organization website rather than the US patent office website, and the authors of the patent were from Google China, including Edward Y. Chang, the head of Research at Google China, seen in the profile page below:

A social networking profile for Google Research China Head, Edward Y. Chang, showing contacts in a blue circle similar to the circles in Google Plus.

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