I’m The Mayor of Your House – #crime

At the end of the year, I read Michael Fertik’s great post, 2010: The Year of Atomic Branding on my friend Jennifer Leggio’s blog. I file this under ‘scary – interesting’ and I thought that was the end of it.

A couple of weeks later, I’m in the city for the weekend with my family. We had just trudged through the rain and were sitting in the bar of the St. Francis. The kids having hot chocolate, me having a martini and I checked in on Foursquare. The act of checking in on Foursquare when I’m with my family delights my kids because they like to know the Mayor of places. The act of checking in on Foursquare pisses my wife off to no end and has been the cause of many a shopping spree.

This time, she simply said “So now everyone that follows you knows that we aren’t at home and we are over an hour away. How many people follow you and how much do you trust them not to rob us?’ I wish she would have stopped there, but of course, she follows that up with “How often do you check in, telling the world that you aren’t home, but maybe me and the kids are?”

Flashback to Michael Fertik’s article, the potential threat of oversharing on social networks.

Of course this got me thinking about how safe location based social networks are. How vulnerable are we?

I’ve heard interesting stories about people & stalkers and being dumped or being fired because of FourSquare. I haven’t heard about people being robbed. Yet.

A week or so later, I did a simple check to see how vulnerable we really are. I did a quick search for people in San Francisco sharing their status on Twitter and checked in on FourSquare or Gowalla. It’s a simple query using Twitter’s advanced search capability.

What I found amazed me. People checked in all over the place. FourSquare was living up to it’s reputation. However, an easy cross check from Twitter – where people tend to put their full name and where they live, with WhitePages.com let me easily figure out where people lived. I don’t mean just the city, but also their exact address and even a nice little Google Map with directions to get there.

Of course, not everyone is easy to find on WhitePages.com, but my quick little informal experiment yielded about a 25% hit rate. I got freaked out. No more FourSquare for me. In the old days, burglars would prowl around neighborhoods looking for empty houses.  Today, they simply need to search for affluent neighborhoods and look for people who have checked in at places more than a few hours away.  The movie theater for example.

I took it one step further.  Here is a feed for people who have checked in or are posting “I’m at” the key phrase for both Gowalla and FourSquare.  When people say where they are, they also say where they aren’t (home, for example).

Glad I have an alarm system. How long until someone really malicious does a nice little Twitter / WhitePages mash-up?

Photo by Johnny Grim.



Thank Your Supporting Cast

I’ve heard a story that, after he is done filming, Clint Eastwood has a thank you party for his supporting cast & crew at his private club, Tehama, in Carmel Valley. What an awesome thing to do for people that, aside from a split second credit at the end of the film, probably don’t get much credit for the work that they do.I’ve always thought that this was a really cool thing to do.By most accounts, especially in a down economy, I’ve had a pretty good year and have had the opportunity to do some really fun things. I celebrated my 10-year wedding anniversary with Holly, watched my kids evolve into little people, closed some big deals, got a bunch of case studies, consulted / advised two companies, taught a class, sat on two panels, did a couple of guest blog posts and learned a ton from all of the people that I met with throughout the course of the year.Success is not an individual sport.  There are a lot of people that have helped me out. For that, I’m very grateful and I’d like to recognize them.  Think of this as a Follow Friday, Subscribe Saturday or what you want to call it.  These people rock.

  • My amazing wife and family – beyond them, this list is in no particular order
  • The awesome people at Socialtext for all of their help – Kris, Eugene, Ross, Michael, Alan, Shawn Devlin, Chris Lynch, Michael Kieran, Adina Levin, Phyllis Ball and the entire development staff here at Socialtext. You guys have built an amazing product that is really fun to sell.  Thank you.
  • All of my customers that actually bought stuff from me.  You have no idea how much it means to me that you see me as someone you trust enough to do business with.  Thank you, thank you, thank you. A million times over, thank you.
  • Eric Grafstrom, Jim Weil, Mukund Mohan, Peter Marquez & Greg Brown for being good friends that I can bounce crazy ass ideas off of and being willing to tell me if they are crazy or not. I am always so impressed by you guys and learn so much in our conversations.
  • Terri Griffith for letting me teach her class at Santa Clara University – I can’t wait to do it again this winter!
  • Too many friends to name – I’m insanely lucky in that department
  • Jennifer Leggio, Dat To and Fernando Labistida for having me guest blog on their sites. PLUG – I love doing this if you need a sales guest blogger, hit me up.
  • Sameer Patel, Oliver Marks & Gerhard Gschwandtner for letting me sit on panels at their respective trade shows. I love that you guys invite me to these and I learn so much when I do these events.
  • Bloggers and writers like Jim Keenan, Doyle Slayton, Jill KonrathPaul Castain – I learn so much from you guys every time you post.
  • You – I’m shocked sometimes when people read this blog.  Thank you for doing so.

As the clock turns over to Thanksgiving day here on the west coast, I’m reminded how lucky I am, but how many people have helped me to be in this position. I know I’ve missed people on this list, but thank you very, very much to each and everyone of you.Image by me.


My Guest ZDNet Post – Don’t Forget, Your Users are People Too

I got really lucky today and was able to write a guest post for Jennifer Leggio at ZDNet.  I’m really honored that Jennifer chose me for this.  Here is the post.Don’t Forget, Your Users are People TooI regularly have an interesting conversation with our CEO, Eugene Lee, about who uses our platform and what are they doing with it.  Here, I’ll give you a test in 2 questions.Question One: When implementing a new system, any new system, for your community, how do you refer to the end users?  What if you are implementing social media for your company? Who is going to use the system? Users? Employees?What about people (maybe the title of the post gave that one away)?Far too often, I meet with people that that simply think of the end users as users.  Sometimes with a capital ‘U’, but always users.  Heck, even the lawyers are in on it with EULA.  Simple lesson: users use word processing systems. Users use spreadsheets and complex, dated, home-grown systems that helps allocate customer service resources. Employees take up space and use electricity. Employees are a number.People, on the other hand, have names. People share ideas and information.  People form communities. People, are the backbone of your organization and their ideas, especially in a crumbling economy, are the ones that will make or break your company. People, not employees and certainly not users.There are many important components to a successful enterprise social media strategy, tools, goals, design, roll out strategy and many others, but few are as important as who is going to use the system and what they are going to use it for. Who is going to use the system, as described above, are the people who form communities of photographers and a network of REST Ninjas. They are the people who are developing your new ad campaign and the people who are driving revenue and the people who play Ultimate on Wednesday afternoons.  People save the day.Question Two: What are they going to use the system for?If you said collaboration, that is a serious FAIL.  Of course you are going to use social media to collaborate.  That is like buying a fax machine for faxing or a word processor to process words.  But what are you going to collaborate on?  Please, don’t say documents and spreadsheets.Listen, you don’t go to the doctor because you are sick. Sickness is the by-product of something deeper, something more concise. You go to the doctor because you have a headache or a stomach ache or numbness in your left arm.  If you just show up at your doctor and say your sick, but can’t describe any symptoms, you’ll be given a sugar tab and sent on your way. If you have a more specific problem, you can diagnose it with a very specific solution.Your enterprise social media strategy needs a similar level of specificity in order for it to succeed.  It is great to ‘want to collaborate’, but for an implementation to really succeed and in order to get the highest level of adoption, what ails you has to be very clearly defined.  Case in point, I spoke with a firm last week whose collaboration strategy on weekly sales reports was for the VP of Sales to send an emailed report to her 30 reps.  Each rep had a specific window in which they had to fill out the report and mail it back to her.  At the end of the week, she would compile the report and roll it up to her CEO.  The process took each rep about an hour to do and was more complex than what could be completed in a traditional SFA. The VP of Sales was spending a measurable part of her week on this report.Not only was this a very well defined problem, it was a problem that had serious revenue implications.  Not investing in social media to fix this is akin to not taking your medicine that the doctor prescribes to you for high blood pressure.Baseline Magazine just named Enterprise Social Networking as one of the top IT trends for 2009.  If you’ve made it this far, enterprise social media is undoubtedly on your radar.  As you develop your strategy, early identification of the people who will be using this system and a laser defined purpose will ultimately ensure the highest level of adoption.