Why Real Names in a Social Network are Good

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I posted this in a comment on this page and thought it would be good to talk about here
A little background. Circa 2006. Every high school kid longed to be different and express their differences. So they got a myspace. They chose strange names for their profile, they posted a million pictures filled with ironic and pithy sayings, they made their profiles their own. Pink text over a strobing background of nickleback? Why not, you are expressing yourself. When someone added you as a friend, it might take 20 minutes to figure out who they actually are.

Ugly Myspace Profile

Check out this mashable article that actually touts this as a good looking profile... Imagine what that bad ones must have looked like. 2007

Enter Facebook. Its clean, people use their real names, their profiles look the same, all the information is in the same place for everyone, and it works. It was a huge breath of fresh air for its users. People realized that they don’t want to be assaulted by everyone else’s confusing and frequently obnoxious forms of self expression. And they realized what they valued in a social network was not childish expression, but the socializing itself. And facebook allowed them to do that as efficiently as possible.

Facebook even almost lost that image for a while when apps became an issue, but due to massive public outcry they fixed it.

Now come back to the present. Facebook users still primarily use their real names. But lots of people don’t. Some use their middle names, others use a made up one. Often it is because they don’t want an employer to find them and don’t understand privacy settings. Sometimes it isn’t. But I can tell you that the consensus among many of the most active Facebook users is that it is extremely frustrating when people use fake names. It is a painful reminder of the way things used to be, when you would struggle to connect with somebody as a result of their overzealous self-expression.

I think google realizes all of these things. People don’t want their social network website to be about self-expression. They want it to be about socializing and sharing. Not that there is anything wrong with self-expression, but in this case people see it as getting in the way of what they are there to do.

The fact is that no matter how much you want to express yourself in an unusual way, people don’t want to be forced to constantly wade through everyone else’s self expression as a constant hindrance to actually socializing with them.

To summarize what I believe the sentiment of most social network users is:

You want to express yourself? Write a song, buy some clothes, paint a picture, do something. If I appreciate your brand of self expression, I will check it out. Don’t change the background of your social profile to a band I hate and don’t change your name so I can’t find you.


Facebook Questions: Wrong Answers?


UPDATE 11/10/2011: There is a new problem going around that is as follows: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 – 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 x 0 = ? This problem is a whole lot easier and less debatable, and so I am absolutely shocked that the vast majority of respondents are so horribly wrong. It actually makes me sad for humanity. Anyone who took 6th grade algebra knows the order of operations. Multiplication comes first. So the “1 x 0” portion goes first, making it of course 0. Then you add and subtract all the rest, resulting in 14. Basic. SUPER basic. So why exactly are people getting it so wrong? I have absolutely no idea. It is sad.

The answer is 14.

UPDATE: A crushing argument has finally arrived that is seemingly incontrovertible. It was brought up that wolfram would show that the answer is 9, when you plug in the equation. Which is true. It was argued that Wolfram is infallible. But is it really?

The arguer went on further to put the equation a different way. Instead of (1+2), let’s say it is x. So x=1+2. That would make the equation:


Let’s enter this into Wolfram and assume the answer is 1. We did it here.

What happened? X=3. Wait a second… But 1+2 = 3… Just like in the original equation… But that means… THE ANSWER REALLY IS 1???

Dun Dun Dun… It’s true. Wolfram gives conflicting answers, proving the fallibility of technology in solving ambiguous problems.  As far as I can tell, the program is not using parentheses correctly in the order of operations. They should be as highly ranked or more than variables, but they aren’t. Interestingly, when we do the exact same equation but with the x in parentheses (which should be the same), it gives the answer of 9 . Interesting stuff

The new Facebook feature in which users can post their own questions and have their friends answer has actually begun to pick up lately. Today, I came across a question which over half a MILLION people had answered. It was a math question. And as far as I can tell, most people got it wrong. Here is the question:


Now clearly there is something unusual about this question. It is in a format rarely seen, and with good reason. The order of operations in extremely ambiguous. Most people said the answer was 9. But is it? Lets read about the order of operations. Every operation is ranked, with the highest ranked operations going first, followed by the lower ranked operations. Most people remember “PEMDAS,” which stands for “”Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication and Division, and Addition and Subtraction””. That is the order in which operations must go.

So according to that order, here is what happens:



The answer is one. Parentheses come first, even when they signify a multiplication. Purplemath.com, a popular online math information site,  illustrates this example on this page: http://www.purplemath.com/modules/orderops2.htm. They go through this problem and illustrate the correct method:

    • Simplify 16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(4 – 2)] + 1.

16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(4 – 2)] + 1 
= 16 ÷ 2[8 – 3(2)] + 1
= 16 ÷ 2[8 – 6] + 1
= 16 ÷ 2[2] + 1   
    = 16 ÷ 4 + 1 
= 4 + 1

The ironic thing is that many involved in the discussion are citing “PEMDAS” as the reason why the answer is 9.  One of the highest ranked answers cites this and proof that the answer is 9: http://www.quickmath.com/webMathematica3/quickmath/equations/solve/basic.jsp#v1=6%2F2(a%2B2)%3D9&v2=a

Of course what this girl fails to realize, is that 6/2 is a fraction, which is different than 6÷2. It is calculated differently because a fraction is its own number, not an operation.

Please feel free to share your thoughts about this problem. I don’t think there is any way to show that the answer is 9, but I challenge you to try, and please cite some source as to how that could possibly be correct. 

How Can My Blog Stand Out In A Sea of Identical Content?

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There must be millions of blog posts with generic content such as “How to Leverage Facebook to Help Your Business” or “10 Ways you Use Twitter to Build Your Brand” or other similar topics. They all seem to have identical content and all appear to have been written after reading “8 Steps to Writing a Great Blog Post.” I’m not saying my posts are always revolutionary or my strategies completely original. As an aspiring blogger and social media user, I am faced every day with the challenge of sharing my experiences and insight to others in new and creative ways. My advice here is not a description of the path you must take after having been there myself. It is more my own strategy stemming from the experiences I have had and the things I have learned from others before me.

Keep in mind while reading this that writing great website content is the #1 thing you can do. So don’t just ramble on for 400 words. Truly provide fantastic, quality content that is useful to your readers. The following tips are simply additions to that advice.

Become a leader, not just a follower. There is a lot of great info out there, and a lot of it will help you in your life and in your business. But not most of it.  Learn what you can from others, then collaborate with them and bring your own thoughts and ideas to the table. Don’t spend all day concentrating on the work of others. Think one step ahead of where everyone is at the moment. You can spit out the same thing in different words, but if everyone has heard it before, no one cares. Obviously you can’t just become a leader overnight, but if you have legitimately, consistently great ideas time and time again and you are active in your online community, people will recognize you for that.

Realize that posting a numbered list does not automatically make people read your content. There are a million strategies consisting of very simple things you can do in your blog that some of the great bloggers have done and found to increase their success. Do not use these unless you actually have something good to say. At best, they won’t help you at all. At worst, they will make your blog seem gimmicky and annoying. Focus on the content, ideas, and personality behind the posts rather than the gimmicky formatting and titles.

Get involved in your community of bloggers. When it comes time to sink or swim, the ones that make it out alive are those who have someone holding them up. Comment on a blog post that you think is great. Share further ideas about the topic. Make friends with the bloggers. Write your own blog post involving ideas from other bloggers, and give them credit for it. If what you are posting is worth reading, you will eventually get to the point where others in your community will be talking about it. And that is when you will really start to see success.

Facebook Users Do Not Censor Themselves

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You know how in ‘real life,’ people typically say things that are appropriate to the situation and actually think before they speak? Facebook is exactly the opposite of that. To quote the recent hit “The Social Network,”

“It didn’t stop you from writing it. As if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared.”

People post whatever is on their mind, whether it be offensive, in poor taste, or just stupid. It’s as if the veil of anonymity prevalent in the old internet has somehow carried through to the present, even though any veil, especially on a site like Facebook, is purely imaginary. Status updates frequently contain questions as to why the other half of the population (and political spectrum) is so unintelligent, though usually in far more colorful words. Flame wars generally ensue.

And we all have the friends who want to share EVERY hill and valley of the emotional roller coaster that is their life. While I appreciate their candor, sometimes I wish people would only say things they would say to each of their friends in person.

So what does this mean for marketers and businesses? It means that people will say whats on their mind, good or bad, and that they will be honest. It doesn’t so much create new opportunities so much as it provides further evidence of what we already knew: people are going to talk about things that they experience whether you are involved or not. This might be a great or awful experience with your brand. It’s your choice whether you participate in the conversation.

This observation also made me wonder… Which way is internet culture swinging? Towards self-censorship and professionalism, or towards complete free expression and possible recklessness? What are your thoughts?

How to Twitter

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Whether you are a business executive looking to extend his online presence, or just an average Joe looking to get in on Twitter, you might be looking for those basic first steps to get involved with twitter. This is a basic Tutorial for getting those very first steps down.

How to Twitter: This should only take a few minutes.

1. Go to http://twitter.com/

2. Click the big yellow “Sign Up” button.

Click the "Sign Up" button







3. Fill out all your information, including your desired screen name. Try to find something with your real name in it, and avoid usernames with lots of numbers like mike1245. Click “Create My Account”

4. Click The Twitter Logo to go to your Twitter homepage

Twitter Logo




5. Under “What’s Happening?” type in whatever you want. Then click Tweet.

6. Congratulations, you have tweeted! Feel free to use the “search” field next to the twitter logo to find people that might interest you. Go to their profile and click the “follow” button. From now on, whenever they tweet something just like you did, you will see their tweet at your twitter home page. I have more basic tutorials to come, so go to my twitter page and click “follow” to keep up to date. I will let you know when there is a new blog post!

Facebook Pages Update Allows for New Primary Administrator

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Until recently, many companies who got into the social media sphere early had a serious problem. I have heard it time and time again… They asked their secretary or an intern to set up all their accounts. The individual would then go to Facebook, log in to their personal account, then set up the new company page. It all seemed good and well at the time.

A year or more passes. Enter my company. The long-dormant page has been collecting dust for some time. Ever since that intern left or the secretary quit.

“We don’t remember the log-information,” they say. Of course you don’t. Why? Because the log-in information for your page is your former employee’s personal Facebook. When they left, they took your company page with them. If you were lucky, you at least got administrator privileges on another account. But that personal account was permanently attached to the page… This led to many problems for a lot of companies.

But as of this week, this problem is a thing of the past. As part of Facebook’s new “upgrades” for pages, you can now delete the original page creator as an administrator, and add new administrators with full privileges. This has certainly made my life a whole lot easier, and hopefully to anyone out there who has faced the same problem, it will make your life easier too.

Despite these improvements, here are a few best practices when creating your company Facebook page:

1. Create the page using a company profile that you will always have control of. Ideally it would be a real person to satisfy Facebook’s EULA, but a fake person with your company name is still better than an intern.

2. Save your login information, and keep it somewhere safe. Anyone within your company that will be using the company page should have access to this.

3. Add another administrator to the page just to be safe.

As always, anything dealing with Facebook could change at any moment, but for now, these simple rules should help you out considerably.

How to Use Facebook As Page and More

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Have you ever attempted to interact with users of your Facebook page and found yourself confused about whether you were interacting as your page or as your personal profile?

Facebook has recently revamped many features for Pages, and has effectively ended this confusion. One of the most useful, new features is “Use Facebook as Page”. This feature allows you to essentially “log in” AS your Facebook page.

Use Facebook As Page

Click On "Account" to open this menu

How to Use Facebook as Page

You should see the option to “Use Facebook as Page” under the drop down menu when you click the “Account” button on the top-right corner of the page.

Facebook will then prompt you to select the page you wish to use. If you have more than one page, pick the page which you wish to interact as.

You will then be logged in as your page.


Benefits of Using Facebook as Your Page

You will now receive notifications for interactions that happen on your page, just like you normally would on your personal page. Every time somebody “likes” your page or writes on your wall, you will be notified here. You can also post on other pages AS your page.

By default you will now get emailed for each notification. To disable this, go to your page, click “edit page” in the upper right, click “your settings” on the upper left, and then uncheck the box that says “send notifications to (youremail@youremail.com) when people post or comment on your page.”


There is a lot more to mess around with using this new feature. I recommend “taking the tour” of the feature when you use it for the first time. Facebook will prompt you to do this. It is short and to the point, and is a great way to learn your way around!

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