My Personal 2011 Infographic

We had a great idea back in September when we were creating the 5th Birthday Infographic for AddThis, and planning the year end infographic we release in December each year, that wouldn’t it be great if we could give our publishers their own infographic.  The design and development team of Jeff, Foo and Aaron did a great job of getting these graphics out to our publishers this week.  Now publishers who use AddThis can have a nice recap for their 2011 that they can post on their blogs  Here is mine:

AddThis Recaps the Year in Sharing

2011 was an incredible year for social sharing.  I spent the free time over the past 2 weeks processing incredible amounts of data (we process 70+ terabytes per week!), and Jeff did an awesome job turning my spreadsheets into a great infographic.  I am really excited to share with you the great nuggets we were able to find amongst the 11MM+ publishers and 1.2B+ users who share through AddThis.


Entrepreneurial Success Happens in Places Other than Silicon Valley

I was struck by an interview that Mark Zuckerberg gave at a Y Combinator event this weekend in which he said that if he were starting Facebook today he would have stayed in Boston.  Zuck talked about how Silicon Valley is “a little short-term focused” and that there’s “a culture in the Valley where people don’t commit to things.”  He brought up an example where in Seattle employees stay at the same company twice as long as the Valley.

Zuck makes some good points, though the stat he quotes from Jeff Bezos about Seattle workers is a misleading number.  Seattle has strong companies that treat their employees well with Amazon and Microsoft.  When companies like Google and Facebook opened up Seattle offices, they were able to recruit top talent from Microsoft and Amazon to those new offices as easily as they did in the Valley.

I do agree with the comments about the Valley being short-term focused.  The company I work for today, Clearspring, which is based in Washington, DC, is a perfect example Valley focus versus non-Valley focus.  Clearspring has had a couple of different acts in its life as a company.  If Clearspring were based in Silicon Valley, odds are the company would have been sold once we shut down our widget business.  Instead our investors remained patient and management focused on the long term, we actually MADE an acquisition, and now are the largest sharing platform on the Internet.

When Zuck talked about Boston it made me nostalgic for the days of AIM and AOL.  Before I started at AOL in 1999, we bought a company based in Boston called Booklink.  Booklink was a browser that eventually became the foundation for the way we would compose and display instant messages in AIM for many years.  The best part of that acquisition were the guys that came with the technology.  A few of them were the original authors of the Windows AIM client.

The point Zuckerberg makes, and the thing I am trying to reinforce is that talent and technology can succeed at any time and any place.  Silicon Valley may be the heart of consumer technologies but life does exist outside that bubble.  Whether Mark really meant what he said about not moving the Valley does not matter, companies like Foursquare, TripAdvisor and Clearspring we thrive no matter where we are.  Success comes down to ideas, people and execution, it does not matter where you are located, and I think that was Mark’s point and I know it is how I feel.

Using Social Media Trends to Help You Get A Job

On November 15th, I am going to be speaking at the University Club of DC on behalf of Syracuse University about how social media is changing the way we network and get jobs.  I participated on a panel back in April on a similar topic at American University’s Social Learning Summit.

About 3 years ago, companies started wising up to using social networks to promote their brand and connect with customers.  These channels opened up a new form of 2 way conversations, whether companies wanted that or not.  The exciting thing about this new way of interacting with customers was that it created entire new teams within companies usually led by someone with the title “Social Media Manager.”

Fast forward 18 months, and these same channels are no longer for B2C companies to connect with customers.  These social channels have given companies or brands the ability to reach customers with offerings, loyalty rewards, even the ability to view job postings.  On the other end of the conversation is you.

When you create a profile on a social network, you in effect are creating a brand.  My Facebook profile, my Tweets, this blog, it is a representation of me and my brand.  Your online brand can work for you or against you, and knowing how and when to use it can greatly improve your chances at making key connections and getting a job.

I can’t wait to share my insights on the tools we use and the trends we see in when it come time to getting a job and networking.  To register for the event click here.  If you can’t make it out to the event, you will be able to follow along on twitter via #SUDCSocialMedia.

5 Years of Sharing, millions of domains, billions of users, trillions of views

We celebrated a birthday this month, as AddThis turned 5 years old.  In 5 years we have seen over 1.7 trillion views of our tools, the fall of MySpace, and the rise of Facebook and Twitter.  AddThis goes way beyond simple sharing tools.  We process over 70 TBs of data a week so that our publishers can learn what impact their content is having on the social web.

As the director of product for AddThis for the last 10 months, it is amazing to see the evolution of such a simple set of tools become something so essential that over 10 million publishers worldwide use our product.  Every day is a fun challenge of building a product for over 1.2 billion users.

Five years in Internet time feels like an eternity, and the data we have can clearly show and predict trends happening across the web.  The infographic we released today shows some of those trends.  It will be fun to see what trends emerge over the next 5 years.

Best Feature of the New Facebook Timeline – See Who Un-Friended You

Last night I posted on how to switch your Facebook Profile over to the new Timeline view.  One of the best features of the new Facebook Timeline is the ability to see who unfriended you over the years.  At the beginning of each year on your timeline it will show how many friends you made.

So in 2009, I had 76 new connections on Facebook.  Now I can select that “+62” square and it will pop a new window that will show the entire list of 76 connections.

Those friends who have the Add Friend button next to their names are people who either I un-friended or un-friended me.  While we are not quite at profile stalking, we are one step closer to see who is NOT stalking you.

An obvious correlation is to see how many people who have un-friended you the further back in time you go.  Check it out.

Step by Step Guide to Enable New Facebook Timeline Right Now

The biggest feature that will impact all Facebook users is the new Timeline which is a view of your life on and off Facebook based on the things you have shared.  I have not been excited about a new Facebook feature in a while, but I have to admit after using Timeline for an entire evening, it was amazing to go back and see what I was doing, what I was working on and what I was experiencing 5 years ago.

The new profile is laid out beautifully and does a good job conveying the most important things that happened in my life.  Facebook announced only developers could try the new Timeline feature, but it is easy for anyone to turn on the feature.  Here is how:

  1. Log into Facebook
  2. Search for developer and choose the first application.  Alternatively you can enter the URL  Grant permission to the application: 
  3. Create an app, give it a name and namespace, don’t worry you won’t actually share it with anyone, you just need to have an app to get the profile.
  4. Choose OpenGraph on the left navigation menu, and create a test action for your application.
  5. Wait a minute or two and then go to your Facebook home page and an invite to try out the new profile timeline will appear at the top of the screen.
Click the invite and enjoy all the memories of your Facebook life.

Importing Facebook Friends into Google+ and Instagram too

Importing Facebook Friends into Google+ and Instagram too.

When I first started using Google+ two nights ago it was a little bit of a ghost town.  With the exception of my friends who work at Google and a few members of the Silicon Valley elite, I could not find anyone else to friend.  Last night Google turned on invites which turned the ghost town into a little bit more engaging community.  The challenge is to find people you are already friends with on other social networks and add them to your Google+ circle.  Thank goodness for Yahoo (I can’t believe I just said that).

Over a year ago, Yahoo enabled importing contacts from Facebook into Yahoo Mail, and with Google+ you can import your Yahoo contacts and find your friends on Google+.  The steps to enable this are to log into Yahoo Mail, assuming you have an account.

* Import Your facebook friends via Yahoo:

* Then connect your Yahoo account to Google+ here:

To get your Instagram photos imported:

I could not believe how Google+ invites were flying around last night it was insane.  Google has turned them off for now.

Gizmodo’s Obit for AIM

Gizmodo did a nostalgia post about how AIM was the first Facebook before there was even MySpace.  We used to say that all the time when I was at AOL, that we beat Twitter and MySpace/Facebook to the punch with a lot of the features users of those service love today.

It definitely brought a smile to my face to see Gizmodo praise AIM 5.x.  My favorite AIM version I worked on was AIM 5.5 on Windows, back when I still used a Windows machine.  That particular client really was close to perfect, and achieved perfection thanks to James Dennis’ DeadAIM addon that removed the Ad and added a few other key features.  CNet calls it plain, but by then we had built a nice Expression engine and had audio and video chat.

What made AIM so important back then was the away message which were as irrelevant as a lot of Tweets are today, like “In the Shower” or “I am watching Survivor.”  We used to watch our users in usability tests view each of their friends Away Messages.  It even drove us to create a simple web page where you could view all of your buddies current Away Messages and their profiles.

Ah, profiles, 1024  characters (HTML markup included) of personalized goodness.  This was MySpace years before Tom became everyone’s friend.  Profiles were so important, that when we launched the ill fated AIM Triton without profiles, I added an AIM plugin to put them back. (Props to Justin for keeping his old Running Man blog alive on Blogspot after AOL Journals was shut down.)

So while Gizmodo declares AIM dead, I think they missed the AIM Desktop death by a few years.  AIM is making a big push on being a web destination and they still have a respected mobile experience.  Hopefully AIM 5.5 can rest in peace, as the real-time communication platform moves on to what’s next.


You know what’s cool? It’s not 100K registered users.

For years, startups were measured by how many registered users they had.  The company’s valuation was directly tied to this number, and in some cases this key stat was used to calculate a purchase price.  It was amazing that acquirers or VCs did not pay attention to the active users, and startups were pretty coy in trying to hide the active number unless it was a good number.

In today’s world, getting registered users is so easy thanks to things like oAuth and Facebook Connect, that having a registered user count is almost pointless.  The friction to register is so small, that any site can launch today and have a 100K users tomorrow.  Yet, I still see press releases touting registered users in combination with the recent round of funding.

The press still talks about Skype’s registered users (over 600M) but ignored their active user number for years (25M concurrent, ~200M 30 day active).  You know what, I can say that AIM has over 1B registered users, but I am not sure that number indicates how successful the product is.

I am always intrigued by two metrics when I talk with startups.  First, of course, is active users over a 30 day period, if the startup will tell me.  The second number, depending upon the product, is how many users are contributing data to the site.  The first number will of course cut through the BS of registered users and get to the heart of how many users are really using your product.  The second number flushes out how many users are just passive consumers versus how many actually participate in the site.  So at the start you may have a company say they have 100K registered users, but their actives are 30K, and 3000 contribute.

To borrow a fake line from a fake movie and to make it my own, “100K registered users isn’t cool.  You know what’s cool? 100K active users.”