What is wrong with social networking and social media. (I mean Facebook)

[This article was originally posted on Linkedin here https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/whats-wrong-social-networking-uh-facebook-dan-gudema?trk=pulse_spock-articles.  The reason I repost on my personal blog is Linkedin does not get indexed on Google it turns out!]

I and many of us have resisted social networking.

I have had a dozen or so people look at me with a smirk of “why are you asking that”, when I ask if they are on Facebook.

That’s because most of us understand what Facebook is.

It’s a way to chitchat with friends and family! It ends there.  At least for me.

Yes, I hear the world is on Facebook.  I hear it all the time.  But they should know where there is a line to stop at on Facebook.  There is a limit.

I don’t see Facebook as a way to market much of anything to me personally. That does not mean you can’t use it to sell.  I am referring to Business to Business ads and connections. And I don’t see much of anything of interest to me, other than checking on my friend’s kids and their sports teams and who is still kicking out there.  I don’t look at ads there.  I don’t click on and learn about brands or products or services there.  I don’t do my networking there to meet new people.  I don’t go there to find people I have something in common to chat with them about.

That is not what Facebook is for!

And Snapchat and Instagram are to me just other forms of Facebook, for sharing mobile, faster and quicker.  They are even more popularity driven among your friends.  The day will come for many kids where none of these social networks will make sense and they will move on, because they know they can’t really talk about anything of substance and be taken seriously by their peers through these early social networks.

Almost all social networks are basically high school proms on steroids!

I know what you are thinking.  I see several tech groups on Facebook I am a member of and they think it is just fine to be there.  I don’t.  I think it just opens up a big can of worms running groups there, because you are not going to be able to separate your personal life from your business persona. I don’t have anything to hide, but if I did, I would not want it on Facebook.  That’s because you are vulnerable on Facebook to people posting pictures of you and if you have a secret they can release it there whether you want them to or even if they really understand they are doing it.   Yes, you can hide photos or fix things, but essentially you are at your friends’ and relatives’ mercy so be good to them or beware!

So if you friend me on Facebook, what goes through my mind is what third cousin of mine are you related to or were you one time in my fraternity Tau Epsilon Phi at the University of Maryland (have to give a plug here, because we are oh so happy with the basketball team this year), or maybe you were in my AZA chapter in high school.  Ok, that makes sense to me.

I don’t want people I don’t know seeing pictures of my kids and me jumping in the waves of the ocean (I am thinking about visiting the beach today so that is appropriate and today is nice and breezy out there).

I don’t want to be required to chat with you about business through your Facebook account because you only use that as your mechanism to communicate. (That’s apply to Mark L).

So, don’t friend me on Facebook unless you want to shout out about Maryland Basketball.  (They are on tonight at 6pm!) That’s reasonable.  It tells me that you just don’t know how to mix business with your personal life when you friend me there and you met me a business networking event.  You are a bit confused. And you are probably making a vulnerable personal mistake now by combining the two.  Protect your personal life!  And keep your Facebook safe.

 Ok, so why am I so excited about Seyopa.com

Seyopa is a website where you can join or create online communities about things you are passionate about. Unlike Facebook, you are not there to hook up with your high school sweetheart or see old prom pictures or pictures of your friend’s kids at the beach.  There is a world outside of Facebook, the internet and all the wifi connected devices we have laying around the house.  That is simply pursuing a non computer based activity, like going to museums and travel and the things we should be doing.  I had to mention that because I am finding so little time to pursue anything outside of trying to pay the bills (trying is an ok word for this at best), getting my kids through school and just trying to put out the garbage on the right morning.

Use Seyopa.com to chat with like-minded people about subjects you are passionate about!

Seyopa is a place you go to discuss what you really would like to be doing or chatting about, instead of our normal work or personal family activities.  It means talking about art, sports, food, travel, writing, life in general, politics, kids, parenting, diseases, photography or whatever else you want to discuss with people who are like-minded.  It is about finding people to have that connection with.  Because that is something I never got out of Facebook.  In fact, I think if I chatted on Facebook about the things I really want to pursue in life, I would have some friends and relatives basically say “OK. why are you telling me this? Where are the pictures of your cute kids?”  They would answer with, “Dan why don’t you just get a full-time job?”  So, not putting my friends and relatives into the non-caring bucket,  but they don’t care much about my passions or what I do for my career. And this is fine, because it does not matter to them or me.  It is not a subject we need to discuss.  We are already friends or related.  I don’t have to sell them on joining Amway. Thank god I don’t…

So, if you have read this post this far god help you.  You may have to go back to work right now, so I understand that.

Just to let you know I am biased. I have been an advisor to Seyopa, so you know why I am giving them a plug!  But it is not just that I have to give Seyopa a plug. I actually sat with the founder and gave her my input and our team helped her with the direction of Seyopa.  And honestly Seyopa is needed and really is different.

So, please go to http://seyopa.com and register.  The site is not just a website with a simple idea, the founder is looking for feedback about how it should work and what should be the next direction.  The site is looking for thought leaders in each area.

And please forward or invite your friends to Seyopa.com who think like I do.  I think that is a majority of people out there!

By the way if you are introducing a startup and want to have me take a look at it and give you my input in a blog article like this one, let me know!  If you are in South Florida on December 8, 2015 at 6pm, we are running the next tech startup pitch event.  Here is a link :  (120 RSVPS so far and counting for this event) http://www.meetup.com/Boca-Raton-Tech-Start-ups-Meetup/

Please contact me if you want to work with me!

Thanks and have a great day.

Dan Gudema
dan@startuppop.com

#Periscope For Business Is It Real?

I have been an avid following of Periscope.  I think that it is rocking great compared with Facebook for business.  I understand brands using Facebook and other social media to improve their brands.  However, Periscope and to some extent Meerkat are seemingly for the first time a way to market services and products, live!

So I think that Periscope is real for business, and there are a dozen ways it can be used, such as:

  1. Sending out a scheduled Periscope session with existing users to demo a product or service.
  2. Getting random visitors to find you on Periscope and listen in and follow if you are compelling.
  3. Getting better indexing or links on Google for your business.
  4. Getting additional twitter generated links on Google.
  5. Just being able to find a live community of people that you don’t have to pay for.

Please check out StartupPOP.com and our new StartupPOP.com Blast service we have not go live with it yet.  Please come to StartupPOP.com and get on our email list!  Have a great day.

Using Periscope For #Startup #Pitch #Event Tonight In #BocaRaton

So we are gearing up to use Periscope tonight in combination with a tech start-up pitch event in Boca Raton at The Greenhouse.  The event will feature both entrepreneurs, about 10 in total or maybe 11 and a panel of investors. We have been doing this monthly for nearly a year in Boca Raton and have had over 70 companies pitch in our events.  We are expecting over 100 attendees at our event tonight.  Here is a link to join us if you are in the vicinity: Click Here To Learn More About Just The Event.

Start-Up Pitch Event Meets Periscope

What makes this event a little different is we are adding the power of Periscope to the event tonight.  So, if you are following me at @dgudema on either Periscope or Twitter you will see a tweet with a link that allows you to view our event.

What really makes this truly interesting is the companies giving their 3 minute pitches will have a chance to let people from all around the world hear about their product or service.  They are both looking for investors and pushing their new products and services.  In fact, I am going to interview a bunch of these start-ups prior to the event starting.  If you watch us on Periscope and want to contact any of these companies please contact us through the DSX Labs website.  Either call our number or use our form.

What you really need to know, and I am learning this myself as I go about doing this is, that your Periscope link for your live video should show up on Twitter when you are live with that address.  What I noticed is that by using my other twitter account at @dsxlabs, that I was not actually having the link show up.

So, from a Video Social Media perspective these things are true:

1. By creating a Periscope Video Stream you will automatically alert your Periscope followers.  These are people who have followed you on Periscope.  If they are following you, the video stream will show up at the top of their Periscope LIST.

2. By creating a Periscope Video Stream you will automatically (if set up correctly) send out a tweet to your twitter followers letting them know you are online.  This will generate a link that can be clicked to view the video stream.  That is why it is important to name your Periscope Stream carefully for users to know and search for what you are streaming!

3. By creating a Periscope Video Stream you will get NEW viewers from a geographic point of view. When people are surfing the Periscope map right now they will see you in the specific town/city you are located in and if they want to check it out, they can.  Some of these people may actually like you and follow you.  If they follow you, the next time you go online they get an alert on their Mobile device that you are streaming. Cool Beans.

So, that’s what is happening with Periscope tonight in Boca Raton tonight!

 

#Periscope & #Meerkat Take #Video To The Next Social Level

Social Media Goes Video

It has been a few months since Periscope and Meerkat became a bit of a sensation.  If you don’t know about these services already, know you do!  You simply download these apps from iTunes or Android Play store to either your iPhone/iPad or Android device.  You can either watch video streams on your phone from anywhere in the world or BROADCAST YOUR OWN STREAM. That is the part I find the most interesting.  You can promote anything you want, talk about anything or video tape anybody.  Not that this is something new, but having the ability to walk around and be freed from the tether or a PC or MacBook.  That is what makes this different. What both products are doing is making it so easy that you can simply watch a video of somebody in Iceland, Japan, Doha or Hawaii right now.

Who Is Policing This Thing

You would think that this means that there would be a ton of garbage or porn on these channels.  Of course, there are some time wasting things people video.  Yes, tons of junk, but a few interesting videos here and there. For instance, I have watched orchestras playing in outdoor theaters on Greek isles, to red carpet walks, to street chases in Dallas, Red Carpet walks, Santa Monica beach scenes, and anything you can think of. There is the potential for something very very bad.  I guess that happens on all forms of social media.  Video is going to be the worst offender.

However, it seems that there is a some self policing going on.   You can easily identify junk and it is your choice to leave or identify there is a problem on Periscope.  You hit a button and it stops there video.  I played around first with Periscope and for the last 2 weeks I have shown it to many of my techno-neophytes and they are pretty much amazed.  They should not be completely amazed at the fact that we are watching video.  We have had webcams for over 15 years.  I remember when the first serious cams were placed in the Serengeti so we could stay up at night and watch a few lions walk by.  I also remember the first webcams on Lincoln Road in Miami that you could not just watch, but move the camera around remotely.  What amazes them is the inside your brain way of seeing things that others are seeing in the world.

Group Video Discussions Are Next

What Periscope and Meerkat are introducing is much more private and voyeuristic than the old web cams.  These streaming videos have a life of their own, a social life. That’s because they turn into group discussions, exercises in personal learning, watching people and living through their own eyes.  The fact that the computer has been disconnected and you can stream using your phone has freed up the cam to go where it needs to go.

What’s The Difference Between Periscope and Meerkat?

Obviously Periscope has been acquired by Twitter so it has a more twitter-like integration. This means my twitter followers can easily see when I am broadcasting, it sends out a tweet automatically, so they jump on and watch.  They get an alert if they have twitter on.  I noticed a few of my friends and relatives out there watching and listening to me.  It seems this has given Periscope a major upper hand over Meerkat for now.  I read that Periscope was growing very fast.

Periscope has an easy to use map system that is so simplistic, you can quickly go over to Turkey or Brazil and find a local streaming video.  Just happens those two countries seem to love the whole Periscope thing.  Problem is they don’t all know english in their country so they spend half the time asking people to speak English! You can find a person playing samba at a night club, or people running through the streets.  In Mexico it seems that guys like to just drive around and stream.  What you want to avoid are 15 year chubby girls in their easy chair giving you a rundown of their day and their thoughts.  That seems to be happening more often that not.  So, not too interesting.  Today on Meerkat I listened to a diatribe by Gary Vaynerchuk, who I follow on Twitter.  That was interesting.  He allowed his daily management meeting to be recorded on Meerkat.  Pretty cool.  I recently streamed a Periscope Venture Capital event at Venture Hive in Miami, and the followers (mostly kids) called out that the event was extremely boring.  For them it is.

Now what I have noticed on Meerkat is that it dies periodically on my iPad Mini.  Maybe it’s me.  The technology is new, so you just don’t know what to expect. What is important is it is a trend and something bigger is coming soon.  Both companies are adding features as quickly as they can.

Broadcasting Yourself

If you have it in you to be the broadcaster go for it.  If you think you have something to say, go on Periscope and pontificate.  It’s ok.  Nobody cares.  Or maybe somebody does.  What you will notice if you use Periscope is you will have a few followers you know.  It was surprising at first, but they will jump on and say hi. There are a few people using it to promote their product, service or business, especially for people who are professional speakers.

Streaming My Company’s Events!

What I am trying to figure out is how I take advantage of this technology by streaming our speed dating events from Pre-Dating.com.  For instance, I am planning on streaming our first Pre-Dating.com speed dating event on Periscope tonight at 7pm (EST).  I have to make sure the attendees are ok with this.  If they are not, I won’t do it.  We are just trying to find a way to take advantage of the technology and use it in cool new ways.

What I am looking for now is how to stream our videos back to our website, so people can watch the event.  I am going to figure this out, and will blog/tweet about this when I have it down to a science.  Till then, try out Periscope.  Works great on an iPad Mini (though I am only on the wifi version).  Periscope is easier to understand an move around in. Meerkat, it seems like you need to really study what is going on.

Good luck and check out our Speed Dating event being streamed tonight in Delray Beach, Florida on Periscope .

Keeping Your #Personal #SocialMedia Presence Separated

This blog entry is about your social media presence and how I believe you should deal with each part of your personal social media presence.  I am not exactly an expert at Social Media, but I would say that I pretty understand 95% of it.  So, in essence I know a little bit.

What Is Your Social Media Presence?

Your social media presence is simply the media outlets that you push your content through, like your Facebook page, your Twitter handle, your Linkedin Link, Your Instagram name, your Blog with tags and categories, and any other place where you publicize yourself and your content online.  I would go further and describe any social media site you have a presence on.  For instance I am running events on both Meetup and Eventbrite, so I would give them some thought to being part of your social media presence.  I am now big on Periscope and Meerkat, the new streaming social media peer to peer apps, that are part of your new social media.  There are also a bunch of new sites like Behance and Thumbtack.  They are for finding work, but they have your profile there, so they are contenders for social media.  There are others like Snapchat, Ello, Path and so on, and so on.

What Do I Mean By Separated?

Now that I have identified the media outlets that can be referred to as social media, you should make a decision about who you are online.  Who do you want to be?  And to whom do you want to be that person?  I personally think that Facebook has nothing to do with business or personal networking.  That’s just an opinion.  Therefore, if you meet me at a business networking event and then ask to Friend me on Facebook, I am basically going to ignore the request.  If you ask me to link to you on Linkedin, that makes sense to me.  If you are my cousin from Holland (shout out to Nico) and you want to share some photos of the family then friend me on Facebook, not on Linkedin. Twitter is similar.  I think its all business, but you have to decided what it is for you.  If you think that all social media is open to you for your personal life, I think that this a big mistake.

What Is Your Personal Persona?

I believe Facebook is more of a personal network thing.  I think that you don’t want people eventually to be able to find a photo of you drunk in college on your Facebook page.  That will have a long term impact on your being hired for work.  I think that people need to understand what each of these social media outlets are good for and how they are going to use them.  I am also seeing Instagram and Snapchat as being purely personal relationship based and not for business relationships.  You need to make sure you control your personal social media and decide once again who you are online.

What Is Your Business Persona?

I personally think that Linkedin is purely a business relationship social media.  It has been used for some personal use, but once again leave that to Facebook or Instagram.  I am not even a big user of Facebook , but I am advocating to use it solely for personal use. Twitter I use for business purposes.  I have seen it used for personal uses, and that is ok, maybe.  It depends.  If you ever wanted to change who you are, what you believe and keep a business profile, you need to make an early decision about what you tweet about.  If you want to keep a personal Twitter account separate from a business account, then set up a second twitter account. I have about 5 I use.

What Is Your Political Persona?

Finally there is the point of view social media from a political point of view.  This is one that I always felt would trip me up, so I have never tweeted my political opinion or written a blog entry on my business blog about politics.  Nor have I entered a political opinion on Linkedin.  I think that you could do this, but you have deal with the repercussions.  For instance, half the people you work with will never agree with your point of view.  If they can read your tweets about who you hate running for president, then you are really giving away your political point of view. I don’t even think using Facebook for this is a good thing.  Trust me, half of your family has another point of view.  Why piss them off as well?  So, how to deal with this is to create another personality on twitter and in my case political blogging.  I have a pseudo name I have been politically blogging under for 12 years.  I don’t do it often, but when I have an opinion I use my alias, not my name.  I don’t like it interfering the other parts of my social media world.  It is not necessary.

Lessons Learned

Don’t mix your personal, business and political personas!  Keep them separate and up to standards that make sense.  Mixing these social medias at will between personal and business are quite dangerous.  Next time you don’t get that job offer, it could be because of your highly voiced opinion.  There is tons of space for opinions on-line.  In order to have good relations with everybody in your life, you need to make sure you keep these worlds segmented and separated so you are not seen as the enemy.  In fact, if you do a great job of this, your friends or associates with differing opinions will come to respect you.  Keep it out of the office. At DSX Labs, our tech incubator over the past year we have a saying, when the republicans come in the door we are republicans and when the democrats come in the door we are democrats!

 

Built In: Our Decreasing Need To Remember Anything – Part 2

On March 15, 2012 I wrote this article/blog post “Marketing Trend: Our Decreasing Need To Remember Anything“.   This post is a follow up. You may want to read the original and then this post.  Of all the things I have written about in the past couple years, the decreasing need to have to remember most anything, because of the efficiencies of technology, has been one of those things that I not only think about, but live everyday.

In fact we all do.  When was the last time that you had to memorize a new phone number?  How many email addresses do you know by heart?  In fact do you find that you used to know them all by heart, but as time passes and technology changes we need to know less and less.  How many times have you emailed or Text/SMS somebody asking for their mailing address and then fumbled around in Gmail looking for that email so you can buy them a gift!  This trend and the ensuing impact on our lives is what I had touched on in my first article.  And the reason I was saying that I am living it everyday is my involvement with Connect Address.

Connect Address

Around the time I wrote this first article I had just started to work as a consultant with a small group in Boca Raton, Florida that was trying to find a business model for a start-up.  That start-up had already developed a Facebook store and a bunch of great technology.  Their issue at the time was they did not have a serious direction.  Their Facebook store really did not have a great brand, great products or even a reasonable profit margin.  It was a dead-end.  Over the next few months after meeting the owners, we changed the direction of that business from being an online retailer to being a technology company.  The trend or piece I observed within their technology, or the turning point, was when I recognized something different in their process that would be of great value to other players in the market.  They had put together a process to allow a buyer on Facebook to purchase, but that buyer did not have to know the shipping address of the recipient.  The process would send a message off to the receiver and ask for it, providing a form to enter the address where they would like the product shipped.

Seeds of Not Having To Know Anything

Well, the ability to order without knowing where the order would be shipped intrigued me.  A few months later I began writing my first blog post about what we can call “address-less” shipping.   And when we went to the first fortune 500 company to pitch this concept, their answer was Wow, that is different, and yes we want it.  So, within a few months there was a prototype app and Connect Address has been on their way since.  That app has been improving and changing over the past year, but the concept is pretty much the same.  You are buying a gift for somebody and you don’t know where they live, so you use this third party service to get it.  So where does the not having to know anything come into play. Well, if you are using this new, disruptive service, you will notice that you simply login to Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Gmail, Yahoo, etc, and get access to your names and email address.  Most of their technology requires you to click on a picture to choose who you are sending the gift.  End result, address-less shipping, without the pain of having to send an email off to your gift recipient, waiting for the address, keeping two browser windows open and then copy and pasting 7 times…

The History

When I wrote the original blog post, I realized that this is not just a one off event that turned into a product.  Address-less, Phone-less, and not having to know things is a product of the evolution of technology.  I was able to trace this decreasing need to know anything trend back to the original speed dial.  It was innovative at the time.  Store a phone number and then just click a button.  Many old phones used to have that little piece of paper you would stick in the phone that would say the name.  Then it got better and better until virtual phone systems appeared.  The cell phone network introduced both on board address books and voice activated address book look-up and dialing.  Then gmail (that is one I remember) introduced a bit of AI (Artificial Intelligence, which are often now just JQuery lookups), that figures out from the few letters you have typed in what the “email” possibilities are; basically what we are going to think of next…  Gmail figured out who to send email without the email address.  Once I get an email from you and send to you, next time I just type the name, not the email in and it goes to town popping in the email address.  So, cool stuff.  Life is better. Now, people don’t own address books anymore.  Now people don’t need to know your phone number.  Everything is becoming built-in.

Built-Ins

So, just like your cabinets in your living room that are part of the walls, the information that connects us is built-in to the technology.  Soon the next couple generations will not even know what a phone number is.  Maybe they will just bump or square you and it will move from phone to phone, stored somewhere far off in a cloud server.

Google Glass And Beyond

I am not one of the 8,000 chosen to test Google Glass (Irreverently spelled, but obviously about eye glasses), but let’s just say it is the next step in this evolution.  With everything not having to be remembered, improving upon how you can easily access that information is the next step of this evolution.  Google Glass seem to work great and I saw a user who was very happy with them.  As far as Connect Address, they are still just getting started in a brave new world of helping you to not having to know one more thing, the shipping address of who you are buying a gift.  It’s Built In.

Search, The Internal Frontier

I’ve recently taken on a project which includes a complicated “Internal” site search.  This website not only needs to be found on the web, but members can run specific searches against specific elements on the website, click on subcategories and then create filters.  Sounds a bit like an eCommerce search, right?  Well, it’s not, but eCommerce is a good starting point.  This blog article is going to explore what I know about internal website search and places they have solved it well or not so well.

First off, there are two kinds of searches online as you should know by now.  You got your World Wide Web search now referred to as a Google search, and an internal website search.  It may not be so easy to figure out which kind you are doing these days, because an internal search quite often is using Google and/or the Google Appliance, a box Google sells you that manages a “Google like” private search engine for your website.

I first ran into a hybrid search, what I call “Directed Search” when I was hired for a consulting gig at The Limited, VictoriasSecret.com.  They had no search box at the time.  The year was 2005.  I mention that, because that shows how large, successful brands, can get stuck in the past.  They required the customers to click on the word search, then click on something like a bra. Then you would have to choose your size and finally choose a style and color.  It was like 9 clicks to checkout. Well that was unacceptable.  But it made sense from a technical standpoint.  A lot of things make sense from a technical point of view.  Having a system that holds people’s hands through a step by step search can make sense, but not with bras.  At VictoriasSecret.com, later that year after I had left, the search became a search box, and finally you could put the word “Pink” in that box and get some results and then make adjustments on the left for price, color, size, etc.  Point is, that not all searches are equal.

I have been studying two well used online internal search paradigms to solve my problem, Linkedin.com and Bankrate.com.  Both websites have a complicated, MIT level issue with data, and getting customers to the right answer, without taking up too much time and without losing them in “advanced” areas.  I think both sites live and die by helping the members find their way to a person/company or whatever int he case of Linkedin.com and to a mortgage company in the case of Bankrate.com.

Basic Versus Advanced

I think we can all agree that the best searches have a limited amount of functionality at first.  If you read my article on “2 Online Marketing Segments: Insecure Focused, Secure Unfocused“, you will see that you need to accommodate the less sophisticated, yet ready to go, user like myself first and foremost.  I admit I don’t read everything, and I would guess that 80% of the population is like me.  But for that 20%, there are extreme details they want to know, and they WILL use the advanced search. So, you got to keep everybody happy.  It is not easy for Linkedin.com for instance.  You will notice they have it easy to find people, but if you start peeling back the layers, the advanced search is there.

One Click Versus Many

One UI goal and conversion goal for all searches is to reduce the clicks.  This means if something can be done in one click that’s great and lets say no clicks, that’s even better.  Remember with JQuery you can have a no click solution, where people type things in, look at Answers.com and others, and have it change as you enter your search terms.  The way that Linkedin.com solves this is by having a little drop down for the search, which means you can choose what kind of search you are starting before you enter data, people, company, group, etc.  This is really innovative and useful.

Complications & Third Parties

So sometimes a search can not be as straight forward.  There could be third parties who have ad-space making it advantageous for search to take a little bit longer (a few clicks).  Bankrate.com is a great example of searches where, in order to search customers correctly, they have to know where you are looking to get a mortgage and what type  you are looking for to even start the search.  For instance I would be looking for a 30 Year Fixed in Boca Raton, Florida.  Then they can start the search… So for some searches it is more about getting the basics in place, and then start the filtering.

No matter what kind of search you set up.  Trust me the Google Appliance is not for everybody and there are still about 15 companies out there which provide third party internal Saas search products like Omniture and Autonomy.  If you are an eCommerce company you can’t live without them.

 

 

How To Respond To New Ideas?

Recently I had to remind my long-term speed dating partner Vince (Pre-Dating.com), after covering a new concept that my team wants to try, that we are “old” guys and that we really may not know much of anything when it comes to deciding what is a good idea or bad idea.  Let me first preface the word “idea”.  When I refer to an “idea” in the Internet space we are mainly referring to a new business, a new website, a new mobile app, hardware, a new start-up company, or a new conceptual technology thingy that actually does something.  Actually the words he used were “But I know what I like”.  And those words to me don’t mean anything because what we like or think we like may only lead us to a big mistake.  Trust me, what we like will not exactly work for everybody, or even a small group of the mass market.

What WE Like May Not Mean Anything

To work with entrepreneurs with new ideas, you have to leave your ego at the door and be an open book.  So, when a few weeks earlier a young entrepreneur with a new concept wanted to sit with me and discuss his new Web & Mobile App, after hearing his pitch I  sat thinking to myself, “Wow, this is a dumb idea, this marketing plan won’t work, and this logo and business name does not work for me.”  So what did I do?  I sat there and just bit my tongue.  Just because I think it is bad or wrong, does not mean I am correct.  I may be right, but it may not matter.  The question is how to dish out the mentoring and get them to a point that you are helping and not being a jerk.

The Weekly Meetup & Mentoring

At least once a week an entrepreneur or a person I meet at Caffeine Spaces wants to sit with me and discuss their app.  It may be just a concept not yet on paper, or a full blown application especially if it is in the Dating space, Social Networking, Education Space or areas I have been exposed to.  I always take the meeting.  And I have to force myself to sit and listen.  This is not easy, because those who know me, know that I typically cut people off when they are talking and just start saying my own ideas.  I have to cut that out and buckle down to get the gist of what they are trying to get across.  Listening is really mentoring.  Giving some rational tactical advice on Next Steps is the answer.  Everybody is in a certain stage of development.  If they don’t have their one page Exec Summary or a Pitch Deck, that is where they need to go next, especially if they want to raise capital or just bring on partners or customers.

Small Steady Improvements

I also had to remind Vince that an idea is just an idea.  Conceptually any idea can be developed into a lasting entity or business, especially if the concept is tested.  Vince had this one business venture we talked about where he had failed to gain critical mass, and we discussed a little bit of why it failed.  He felt his “vision” had not been accepted by the market.  Basically it was a $400 bootcamp about how to start-up a company.  It was in fact a $20,000 value over 2 days, like getting an MBA shoved in your head.  He had lost a lot of time developing this concept creating the materials and felt people were not willing to pay for the whole shebang.  Well, the issue was simpler.  He did not have to spend 6 months on creating a monolith and start-up people don’t want to spend $400, they have a hard time parting with a $1.  So he should have tested the concept and broken it down into small pieces and gotten a web page up and running and just made small improvements finding his way towards success.  That is how you have to approach this business.

“Investing in the Internet is similar in a way to investing in a farm”

Read this great quote by Technology Pioneer Yossi Vardi.  Essentially you have to look at Internet related ventures like you do farming.  I have to remind all the people I meet with new ideas to think like this and to sell themselves this way.  90% of the results of our Internet ventures will take 3-5 years to show results.  And of that amount, many may fail, but many will start to come to their own if we continue to make those improvements and pivot and correct the mistakes we made at first.  It will always take time.  The start-ups that were overnight successes showed some progress, but event those are on a 3 to 10 year time frame till profitability and success.

South Florida Venture (Improbabilities)

There is a disconnect in South Florida between venture capital and new start-up ideas, that are not experienced in larger cities around the country with a great Start-up community.  And event he angel/venture guys around are not willing to wait.  They need to show results now, and always want results to be on the table.  Real dollars, real traffic and real databases are how we speak and work in South Florida, and that means there will never be a Tumblr, a Twitter or a Google produced out of South Florida.  You need the patience and the capital up front.  We are forced to make immediate decisions on how our businesses are built in order to bootstrap everything, and when you get some financing it is a dribble if you are lucky.  This is hopefully changing.  My answer to a lot of young guys are great idea, maybe you should move to New York or San Francisco.  Would love to change that, and things are changing, but not soon enough.

Need To Build A Social Network, Read On

Over the past year I have been working on the first serious social networking site, with heavy Facebook and Linkedin integration, and I have found the following to be true.  When you first start out looking to build out a website with social networking functionality you come across the following solution “methods”:

1. Free/Opensource “Downloadable” Social Networking Solutions
These are things like BuddyPress (WordPress), Drupal Based, Joomla Based Solutions, and Others.
Pros: Sometimes easy to deploy, designs easy to find on ThemeForest.net.
At first glance this seems like a perfect solution.  4 or 5 standard functions like friending people, messaging, groups and chat.  Well, it’s a perfect solution for small outfits that want a social network to be added on to something like a store or a group that has all the needs for social-like functionality.
Cons: Biggest con of them all is niche functionality.  If your social networking-like site (I use “like” because this is a qualifier) is anything other than a social networking site these solutions are not really what you want.  Trust me, all the developers in the world that do development will tell you they can take BuddyPress and add on all kinds of functions, make groups do this or that, but in the end, the amount of customization involved is going to be higher than the original cost of something I am going to mention later.  Another big con is the overhead.  You wanted a social network, but you got  a big pile of code, and with this overhead and complexity.  So, this is a good solution for your book club group or groupies of a band, but if anything needs to be different, like you don’t want the ability for people to friend and groups are kind of different, than stop now!

2. Hosted Social Networking Solution
Ning and others
Pros: Sounds great, right!  You use Ning and they generate a site for you. Speed to market is the biggest pro and learning curve is lower because you don’t need to learn WordPress for BuddyPress so you are not having to take a class!
Cons: Well, the biggest con is you don’t control your data.  You may be able to get a download, but who knows where it is and what they are going to do with it.  You have to read the terms carefully.  But even more so, like the con in the downloadable opensource solutions, you lose control of your app.  If you want to do something or anything outside the norm, you are going to be limited to their functionality. So great for these little social networking sites, but not for prime-time or something serious.

3. Customized Solution In-sourced Social Networking Solutions
Having a customized solution built by a local programmer or programming team is plausible, but it is financially practical.
Pros: Control over the project.  Able to meet with the guy in charge. Get it general close to what you want.
Cons: Cost.  You are going to get burned financially.  A good social networking implementation should cost, in the US about $35,000, and that is for a basic implementation of friends, connections, groups, specialized forms, contacts, and any facebook like or Linkedin like functions.  It could end up over $100,000 if you choose the most expensive team or use a web agency.  That is what it costs to build a site with this kind of functionality, using a typical american development firm!

4. Customized Solution Outsourced Social Networking Solution Without Team or Specialized Experience
You meet some guy on oDesk who says he can do it at $15 an hour.
Pros: Cheap
Cons: If it is a sophisticated implementation, this is going to be a disaster.  Let’s just start with communications.  Even the best outsourced firm will get things wrong.  That’s because english is often not their primary language.  And they most likely will be truthful, but you will find that most of these implementation, especially one man team ones. turn out to be 10 times more costly than you thought and all the functions will be completely wrong!  In fact, I have seen 3 in the past year that were disasters!

5. Customized Social Networking Solution Outsourced With Specialized Experience In Building Social Networks!
Contact us about building a customized solution!
Pros: If you are serious and there is a serious budget or opportunity to build your social network the way you want it, then do it right and control the project.  This is not cheap, but it is cost effective.  In the end, it is cheaper.  This particular team I work with are experts at social networking functionality, so that is the key to working with them.  Just choosing a random solution provider, based on price, is pretty much a mistake.
Cons: I am sure there are some, because there are few in this situation.  One con that comes with all outsourcing-like projects is that the communications must be continual and work correctly.  That is why the team I work with has a specific process for managing the web development from design through html, to a final website or app.

Ok, now that we have gone over all the options for building a social network, please consider building one with the team I have used.  Just fill out the form below and start the process of working with us:

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