Tag Archives: Social network

Chatter Together: When Salesforce Social Makes Sense… and When It Doesn’t

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Welcome to Powerpoint on PowerPointYour presentation is complete. Before you send it, you’d like someone else’s opinion.

If your colleagues are nearby, stick your head in their office and ask for feedback: “Hey, would you take a look at this? What do you think?”  Your physical presence ensures a response.

More likely, though, you’ll send the presentation to your colleagues in email. But who to include?

Email one person to ask for feedback and you’ll need to wait until they have time to respond. Email many people and you might encounter “someone else”-itis: where all recipients assume someone else will reply, but no one does. Even worse, you might start a “reply all” thread that clutters everyone’s inbox with non-urgent and non-actionable email.

So email might not be the best way to ask for feedback.

Instead, you post the presentation to your favorite social media site and ask your friends/followers/subscribers/readers for feedback.

But what’s the likelihood of a random follower reading and providing useful feedback on your presentation? If you’re Mark Benioff or Mary Meeker with thousands of followers, you’ll get feedback. More likely, you won’t have the same number of followers, so you won’t get feedback. And if the slides include confidential information, sharing online may be illegal.

So posting to social media might not be the best way to ask for feedback, either.

That’s where Chatter.com comes in. Chatter provides a private social network for organizations; everyone with an email address @yourcompany.com can login. And it’s free.

Chatter works well to share posts, files, or links across the company. And, when people respond, the comments are visible to others — and can be found later. Information stored in Chatter is available to the entire organization, not buried somewhere in a few people’s email archives. In fact, you can find any shared information quickly with Chatter’s search feature.

Chatter Post Status BoxChatter lets you expose more of your work to others. No longer do ideas need to remain shared only with your team. Instead, you can share what you know and tap the expertise of your colleagues — without clogging up their inbox. Even better, if your company already uses the Salesforce.com platform, you can add Chatter to your system. You can choose to have the most recent posts display after you login to Salesforce.

You can create Chatter groups that are private or a bit more public, as well. In both cases, the group owner or manager must specifically invite members to the group. Internal private groups can be useful for smaller team discussions within the organization. And “Customer” groups, as Chatter calls them, let you engage people outside the organization. These can be especially useful if you’re working with a team that crosses organizational boundaries. When posting, you can share information with everyone or to a specific group.

Some standard features you might be familiar with from Twitter also exist in Chatter. The @ sign before a person’s name (e.g., @robmay) in a post ensures they’ll be notified about your update. The # before a topic (e.g., #erp for “enterprise resource planning”) ensures that the post will be found in all future searches for that hashtag.

Chatter is not a replacement for email or public social media. It also isn’t a replacement for a standard help desk, blog or file storage system. As with many social tools, Chatter becomes a more viable tool as the number of employees and employee locations increases. Ten people in one location can easily stay up-to-date on company activities and status without any tools. Chatter helps companies with hundreds of employees to recapture a bit of this intimacy.

Finally, Chatter provides larger scale organizations a way to “route around” conventional hierarchies and communication channels. It lets people share what they know, ask for advice, or obtain direct feedback from anyone in the company. So the next time you want feedback on a report or presentation, share it with your private social network on Chatter.

Salesforce Social Contacts: Better than Caller ID for Your CRM Database

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Caller ID gives you the ability to see a name associated with a phone number. You know a little bit about the caller before answering: Is it your boss? Your significant other? Your mother? The information lets you prepare for the conversation.

But Caller ID gives you a name, not context. Imagine if you had Caller Travel Status: you’d know that your client just returned from a vacation to Hawaii. Or Caller Personal History, which informs you that the caller just went to a football game at the university where you studied. Or Caller Career Status, which displays a caller’s recent job promotion. These would make Caller ID seem so limited.

It turns out that social media streams do provide many of these insights. Facebook shows check-in locations, complete with posts and photos. Twitter gives us brief glimpses into daily activities and thoughts. Hashtags may indicate what conferences a person has attended or followed recently. LinkedIn reveals a person’s work and education history. Salesforce Social Contacts lets you links to all of these services for each your contacts.

Think of Salesforce Social Contacts as social Caller ID for contacts in your database. Once connected, a click shows you a contact’s social streams from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube or Klout. Salesforce Social Contacts links pulls this information into a single window with a clickable tab for each service.

Salesforce Social Contacts provides fast access to social streams for your Contacts

The social streams provide context before you make a call, send an email or attend a meeting. The Salesforce database provides information your organization maintains about the client. The social streams provide information the client provides about themselves. Tweets, posts and updates provide potentially valuable insights into a person’s life.

The value of the Social Contacts stream information varies. Integrated LinkedIn information — beyond a contact’s name, job title and organization — requires an additional subscription. The Facebook data pulled focuses on the contact’s work history and your mutual friends. The Twitter stream includes basic profile data, along with recent Tweets. Klout, which provides a measure of social influence, is probably most useful as an indicator of a contact who is very active on public social networks.

Salesforce Social Contacts needs to be enabled by an administrator to function. It’s a simple checkbox that takes less than a minute to enable, found at Your Name | Setup | Customize | Social Accounts and Contacts | Settings. Choose to change the settings, and select the “enable social accounts and contacts” checkbox. You can selectively enable/disable access to any of the supported social network.

Each Salesforce contact needs to be manually connected to their account on each of the supported services. Social Contacts makes a guess at the correct account, but leaves the connection decision up to the user. Once the connection is made, it will be active for other users in the organization with permission to view the contact and social streams. (The connection information will be backed up, along with other contact data, if you’re using Backupify for Salesforce.)

Having quick access to social media info in your database is very much like getting Caller ID: once you have it, you never want to operate without it. Enable Salesforce Social Contacts and start connecting your contacts’ social media accounts. The social context will help your team stay in touch with what clients are telling the world — and that’s more valuable than Caller ID.

Diaspora doesn’t have what it takes to topple Facebook

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Diaspora will fail to kill Facebook.  In fact, I predict Diaspora will flat-out fail. I hope I’m wrong, but I won’t be.

For those that haven’t heard of it, Diaspora is the opensource alternative to Facebook. It will launch Sept. 15. The two major points of differentiation between Diaspora and Facebook are 1) Diaspora gives you more intuitive and effective control of your data privacy settings and 2) Diaspora is self-hosted, so you ultimately control all your own data.

According to the blogosphere, these two points are precisely what the public is crying for and the exact recipe necessary to finally break Facebook’s nefarious deathgrip on social networking. This, alas, is the social media/tech-blog echo chamber once again confusing its own desires with what the general public wants. This same crowd reacts with shock and indignation when Scott Pilgrim fails to out-earn The Expendables even though any objective observer would have predicted brain-dead ’80s-pastiche explosions would appeal to a wider audience than video game hipster surrealism. By the same token, what the hard core social media crowd wants out of a social networking service has very little in common with what the average user wants out of a social network.

First, there simply is no competing — at least in the short term — with Facebook’s 500 million users. As written previously, Facebook has become too big to fail. Everyone is on Facebook, so everyone wants to be on Facebook. Perhaps more accurately, Facebook is AOL 2.0 — a massive walled garden that makes the internet simpler and safer for the average user. Facebook may be doomed to AOL’s same fate once the walls of that garden become too closed in but, lest we forget, AOL is still around. Diaspora will fail to kill Facebook simply because Facebook can’t die, even after it has faded to zombie-like pointlessness.

Second, I’m not convinced the average user gives a damn about privacy. Facebook’s entire history has been one long string of privacy abuses, yet their membership grows every year. Even if the public really is more privacy-sensitive than their behavior suggests, Facebook has achieved the necessary critical mass that creates a dominant social network.  Again, everyone is on Facebook, so everyone wants to be on Facebook. Diaspora will face a huge uphill climb to replace that giant, central value proposition of Facebook.

Third, the opportunity to host my own social networking server is one that appeals only to the smallest fraction of the social networking marketplace. Not only does this present a technical challenge that average user wouldn’t dream of tackling, but it also effectively negates Diaspora’s “free” pricetag when I have to pay for hosting space. Making a product that’s more technically challenging and more expensive than Facebook is not a recipe for mainstream success. Diaspora claims they’ll offer a non-hosted version later in the product roadmap, but such promises are often made and seldom kept when it comes to opensource projects.

Thus, I predict Diaspora will both fail to kill Facebook and fail overall. Despite this, I’m glad Diaspora is here. First, the project will serve as a useful gauge of the true public demand for a privacy-centric social network (though that term itself seems an oxymoron). Second, the technical hurdles that Diapsora seeks to overcome — namely mass contact and data migration from Facebook, Twitter and Flickr — will help every startup and product seeking to unlock and decentralize social networking data (Backupify included).

Diaspora is an important step in the long process of wresting control of user social data away from Facebook and its ilk. But for the time being, Facebook is here to stay.

Hope you’ve got a backup plan.

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Facebook Places is eye-witness testimony waiting to happen

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We’ve written previously about the privacy problems in Facebook Places. We’ve also written about the often unsuspected expense of subpoenaed social media records, otherwise known as eDiscovery. Taken together, these two facts present a whole new compliance issue for businesses and individuals: Facebook is now an eye-witness to your whereabouts.

Facebook Places lets you check into a location, establishing whether or not you attended an event or ever visited a specific business or residence. Facebook Places also lets your friends tag you into a location. Thus, you need not even acknowledge that you were at a company party or corporate retreat — your colleagues can confirm your presence for you (whether you like it or not). And, just as your friends can tag you into Facebook photos you’d rather remained unpublished and anonymous, Facebook Places can “put you at the scene” as they say on television crime dramas, associating you with places and events you would just assume stay private.

It’s the latter issue that is the most troubling. Location-based services like Foursquare and Gowalla have allowed for the social media tracking of your physical presence for some time. But the user was always in control; you chose what was tracked and what was left unrecorded. Facebook Places gives your friends control of your location record, which both increases the amount of data available about you and decreases the level of control you have over that data.

The admissibility of Facebook Places data is yet to be determined and — as is often the case in civil litigation — will likely be up to the discretion of the presiding judge. Yet the power of Facebook Places to affect your legal standing in a lawsuit or criminal trial is only the beginning of the issues presented by Facebook’s new functionality.

Facebook Places now offer a whole new set of potential datapoints that you’ll have to turn over to your lawyers and copy to your opponent’s legal team. Facebook Places just ratcheted up the cost of eDiscovery and it did so by making Facebook data substantially more interesting to opposing parties.

Put simply: If Facebook Places always knows where you are, a cop or lawyer will eventually want that information, too. You’ll be expected to turn over that data at your own expense. Even if it isn’t relevant. Even if it’s inadmissible. The more scattered and disorganized that data, the more expensive eDiscovery compliance will become.

Hope you’ve got a backup plan.

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2 steps to disable Facebook Places (and the reasons why you need to)

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Yesterday afternoon, Facebook finally unveiled Places, the social network’s long-anticipated location-based feature set. At first blush, Facebook has given us the bridge between Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp and Booyah we’ve been waiting for but — as is often the case with Facebook — there are some none-too-subtle privacy consequences. The ACLU of Northern California has a few critical warnings to pass along before you put Facebook Places into play.

Here are the critical Facebook Places privacy takeaways:

  • Once you start using Places, all your friends can check you into locations
    If you activate Places, your location will only be displayed to people on your friends list. Unfortunately, it will be displayed to all the people on your firends list; there are no granular controls. Moreover, once you join Places, all your friends can check you into a location — just like they tag you in photos right now. Shopping for that surprise birthday gift? Better hope your best friend doesn’t tag you at your spouse’s favorite store.
  • Your friends can check you into Places even if you don’t use it
    There is no “don’t let my friends check me into places” option. You can only deny a specific check-in, so the buddy that tags you in every photo he uploads can now annoy you twice as often by tagging you into Places repeatedly, too. If you agree to let friends check you into Places, it’s a blanket permission. You can’t trust your spouse and not trust your gabby friend. It’s all or nothing.
  • “Here Now” data goes to everybody
    “Here Now” is a function that displays which of your friends is (or has recently been) at a Place you just checked into.  If you have any Facebook privacy setting anywhere set to share with everyone, your “Here Now” data will be broadcast to your entire friends list, so expect to be accosted at your favorite coffee shop.
  • Facebook Places share location data with other apps
    The whole point of Facebook Places is to allow advertisers to hit you with location-aware advertising and communications. Unless you explicitly opt out of the functionality, expect coupon targeting from the moment you start checking into Places.

That’s the bad news. Here’s how to make Facebook Places as private as possible (quoted from the ACLU’s DotRights resource page):

Adjusting Check-In Visibility, Turning “Friend Check-Ins” and “Here Now” Off

  1. Go to your privacy settings page and select “customize settings.”
  2. Select the Places settings.
  3. Enable Places? (You may need to enable the product before you can change your settings.)
  4. Adjust your settings:
    a. To adjust who can see your check-ins, use the pulldown next to “who can see my location.”
    b. To disallow friend check-ins, uncheck the “Allow friends to check-in” box.
    c. To disable Here Now, uncheck the “Here Now” box
  5. If you want, disable Places.

Preventing Your Friends’ Apps From Receiving Your Places Info

  1. Go to your privacy settings page and select “edit my settings” under the “Applications and Websites” title.
  2. Select “edit settings” next to “info available through my friends.”
  3. Uncheck the Places check-in box.

Facebook has the critical mass to make Places the dominant player in useful location-based services. Unfortunately, they also have a history of sketchy privacy practices. Hope you’ve got a backup plan.

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