Tech Tuesday: Facebook Announces ‘Graphic Searches’

It’s an Announcement, Bitches.
Facebook announcement days are always interesting ones – everyone crowds around their computer, headphones in their ears in a silent unison; seated in the most comfortable position possible to acknowledge what privacy settings are going to be thwarted today.  Only, this morning’s Facebook announcement wasn’t about privacy, timeline conversions or a new API – today’s announcement was much, much bigger than that.

Facebook Graphic Search
First and foremost, I want to give Google credit where it’s due – their search algorithms are beyond out of this world and I really wish I could crack them; they’re starting to roll out personalized searches (which I just signed up for) and Facebook’s new ‘Graphic Search’ feature definitely takes a page from their book.  But, unlike Google – they took the idea and ran a marathon with it: the GUI looks absolutely incredible and I want it now.Graphic Search

What this new search allows for is data dives into user content to search for answers to questions you haven’t even thought of yet, like:

  • How many of my girl friends in Hollywood own miniature dogs and love cupcakes?
  • Do any of my Hippie friends in Echo Park and Venice have a job and a car?

The crazy thing to me is that not only will you be able to search through your friends – you’ll be able to search the general Facebook public as well.

The Bottom Line
This doesn’t just make us more searchable for our friends, this simple feature will make it easier for Brands to perform deep data dives which help determine the value of each and every ad, as well as helping to boost site revenue via impeccable product placement.  With new ways to search our Timelines, I’m guessing this also means more security measures to prevent unwanted data mining.

Patience Doesn’t Have To Be a Virtue
If you’re like me, when you want something – you want it now: if you wanted it in five minutes, you would ask for it in five minutes – correct?  Anyhow, I digress.  But Facebook is rolling out it’s new Graphic Search to anyone who’s willing to be one of their Beta Test Bunnies, so if you’re down for the get down – enroll right here.

The Audiofiles: [Shameless Plug] Beatnet EDM Forums

One of the effects of living in Los Angeles, is that everyone, their mom and their step brother’s cousin’s dog has a side project that they’re feverishly working on.

Some people end up forfeiting nights out with their closest friends so they can turn their apartment into a deco-collage of crumbled paper, scribbled gibberish and lofty dreams; others end up with insomnia and a stomach ache – they eat, sleep and breathe these ideas and suddenly find their entire mind, body and spirit have been taken over by the ghost of what-couldbe.  Their passion is the difference between deference and pursuit; their perseverance is that thin line between fantasy and reality.

Passion, like happiness, is contagious.
The difference is that happiness can be passed from person to person on a completely subconscious level: I’m listening to a favorite song and drive into work, when I flash my badge a smile shows in tandem; the next person who enters the studio lot sees some pearly whites, no longer hidden by a stern look but framed by a smile and in parallel, one cracks on their face. And so on, and so forth, ad infinitum.  Passion, on the other hand, is that fine line between action and reaction.  Passion can’t exist without proactivity, nor would it exist without people to share it with.

Timing is Everything
The great thing about friends, especially as you enter adulthood (…I never said I was there yet; merely entering…) is you find symmetry in each others lives and ironically beautiful parallels between what moves us and what we want to accomplish.  A few months ago, I was approached by a friend about an idea they had; and I sat there, open minded and ready to listen. This idea they had, they literally wanted to hit the ground running; they claimed it was only a side project – but what my heart translated was: ‘It’s only my everything.’

She wanted a place where music lovers, creators and promoters could get together and share sets, techniques and knowledge; in a sense, a forum for any and everything related to electronic music and the eclectic culture that surrounds it.

Some people need to be careful what they wish for; we are not those people.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.”
Aldous Huxley, Music At Night: And Other Essays

Beatnet EDM isn’t just the fabulous brain child of one of my best friends: it’s also an amazing resource for anyone remotely addicted to those four to the floor beats, pounding baselines, dissonant drops.  Whether you’re a promoter looking for new acts, a DJ wondering what song they should open with or you just want to complain about how Americans are ruining dubstep – Beatnet is for you; so go ahead, check it out! Browse our blog, send us some tweets or subscribe and get in on the real chatter; who knows, you could even win a 3 Day Pass to EDC!

Monthly Subcription Boxes: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

A few weeks ago, I was on this major beauty buying binge; I swear there literally wasn’t a single item at Sephora that didn’t deserve a place in my boudoir.  Each time I opened a package from their website, it felt exactly like Christmas – especially with the plethora of free samples they give out (I swear, I could start a mini-perfume shop by now).  But then, I started seeing Instagram and Twitter posts from my friends, boasting about their holiday ‘Boxes.  My immediate thought was – “…boxes?! What am I missing out on?!” And as it turns out, a LOT!

So many different websites, PR companies and socially savvy sites are  putting together these fun and fabulous ‘goodie‘ boxes that get sent out to subscribers either monthly and seasonally, both paid for and free. Oh, yeah – you read that right: free.  You can sign up for a monthly subscription that rolls over until you say ‘quit’, 3 month, 6 month and 12 month subscriptions.

My Influenster VoxBox!

Boxes on Boxes on Boxes.
And at this point there’s basically a subscription box for everything: Beauty, art, crafts, sport, food – you name it, there’s a box full of it.    There are monthly boxes for couples and there are boxes for your pets; boxes for  sustainability loving, EcoConscious souls, paranoid Survivalists, worldly Foodies , Bookworms, Geeks and  inner Glamazons.

Boxes on a Budget.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably perfected the art of ‘ballin’ on a budget‘: I have big dreams, expensive taste and a small bank account.  After finally budgeting myself this past Fall, I’ve started honing in on the ways to get the best bang for my buck, and enjoy it, too. One of my Twitter friends (don’t lie, you have them too) posted an awesome picture of like six or seven of her gift boxes the other week and my eyes literally bugged out of my head – that’s so much swag! A tinge of jealousy crossed my body and then I relaxed again, I’d find a way – I knew I would.  I did some research on the boxes she posted and found out a social PR site called Influenster: they focus on social and digital PR, but instead of using company specialists – they let the Trendsetters do the talking.  The website is built around user reviews, pictures, Q&A boards and chatter; simply put, it’s where social media junkies go to gush and reap the rewards.

I just got my first box from Influenster and have been slowly but surely trying out all the fun products.  In our holiday VoxBox, we were given products from companies like Goodie, NYC, Montagne Jeneusse, Sole Society, Natural Energy and KISS Nails.  Slowly but surely, I’ve been making my way through the plethora of products.  The inner child in me says “DO IT ALL NOW!”, but I’m trying to be an adult (keyword: trying) and savor this experience – and so far, so good!  Last night, I tried out the chocolate face masque from Montagne Jeunesse – it left my face feeling fabulous…and my sink looking a dingy brown.  Loved the result but if I had my way, I would have picked a different flavor.  This morning I dove head first into Quaker’s peach + almond oatmeal – since I actually detest oatmeal, I thought this experience would be over fairly quickly but to my surprise, I found it absolutely delicious; I might even go buy oatmeal for the first time in my life – fancy that one!  And to boot, I swooped in on a $25 off coupon for SoleSociety and found myself a pair of sparkly flats that I fell in lust with.  Needless to say, I’m anxiously waiting for the next one!

Quaker Real Medleys: Peach and Almond

Chocolate Face Masque

Tech Tuesday: Instagram Web Profile Preview

Instagram Web Profiles Coming Soon!

The camp over at Instagram Headquarters seems to have been hard at work as of late.  After their billion dollar acquisition over the Summer, I think most people with an eye on either company were expecting big changes on the Facebook mobile end of things.  Specifically, a better camera equipped with filters and a more streamlined uploading system.  What I didn’t expect – but adore – is the upcoming addition of accessible web profiles for Instagram pages.

I, for one, am a huge fan of this idea.  When I started using Instagram last April, the only frustrating thing about the mobile app was that there was no clean or simple way to view a users  picture trail.  For the last six months or so, I’ve been using a great website called Statigram.  At the most basic level it organizes your pictures in a simple fashion, adds categories to pictures and lets the user group their followings however they choose.  It’s also much easier to search for people and hashtags compared to the mobile Instagram application.

From the looks of it (see  below), the Instagram web profile is a marriage of Statigram and Facebook. The pictures are organized in precisely the same fashion with the images in chronological order; the newest image  first and then time increases as you wind left and down the page.  All other elements of the profile are almost replicated from Facebook: the header image is eerily similar to the cover photo we’re now used, the user photo is in the same exact place, and the tally of photos, following and followers takes the place of the types of elements in our Facebook profiles (Photos, Friends, etc…).

All in all, I’m a huge fan and can’t wait until my profile is rolled out to me! However, over time I’d think maintaining independent Facebook and Instagram profiles would become fairly redundant – especially when they look so damn similar.  It would only make sense that overtime, our Facebook  Timeline would incorporate our Instagram Web Profile, which would then render it obsolete.

Tech Tuesday: Do You Have Klout?

550socialmediavenn

Venn Diagram of Social Media

In this day and age, it’s become slightly tiresome to stay on top of all the Social Media Trends; there are just so many ways you can connect with people that websites can either become redundant, overwhelming or in the most severe cases – both.  Several of my friends coyly admitted that they’ve become discouraged to use social media because it’s just “too much” for them to want to handle (their words, not mine).  And to a point, I completely agree with them.  How you pick and choose your social networking sites is slightly analogous to picking where to sit at lunch during your first day at a new school; your environment, the information you choose to share and the connections you cultivate are all indicative of this choice.  Each Social Media site that I use has their eerie similarities, but also pronounced differences.

Everyone and their mom’s dog has a Facebook and at a very base level understands the purpose: sharing your life and ideas with a predetermined group of people and one rarely exceeds the 420 character limit of a status update.  With the new “Subscribe” option, one could make their Facebook relatively public – but I know very few non-Celebrities that have ascribed to this.

A website like Path is similar to Facebook with the types of things you can share – music, links, photos – but you’re limited to engaging a group of roughly 150 people. Why this number you ask?  Well, I’ll tell ya – it’s because of Dunbar’s Number, which basically states that the number of people one can maintain a social, stable relationships with is somewhere between 100 and 250, but scholars believe it’s at about 150.

And then there’s Twitter – you can elicit control over your audience by toggling whether you want your page public or private; at a basic level, hink of these two options as either the Facebook option or the Path option.  When public, anyone and everyone can read, and search for, your tweets – while private, your tweets are only seen by a select audience that you allow. Twitter is wonderful for being succinct and witty, but any and all responses are limited to 140 characters.

I love examples, so let’s throw a few out:

Let’s say you want to share a link to an important cause (the upcoming election, Superstorm Sandy, adorable kittens, etc)….

  • Do you have an opinion you’d like to share?  If so, something like Path, a blog like WordPress or Tumblr (or Blogspot…or Xanga…or, well, you get the picture) or Facebook is your best bet. If not, you could simply post your link to Twitter with the title of the article.
  • Do you have an audience that you’re trying to reach (or, avoid)?  If you want the biggest reach, I’d lean towards a public Twitter profile;  if you’re only interested in your pre-existing social circle, go for Facebook; and if you want your post to reach a niche crowd, go for Path.

Let’s say you’re out to eat at an amazeballs restaurant and want to share your meal with your friends…

  • Do you want to post a picture of it?  Then navigate towards Instagram – snap your shot and share away at your leisure.
  • Are you eating with long lost friends? Check the group into Foursquare or Facebook – hell, even post that picture you took with Instagram while you’re at it.
  • Did you have the best time ever and want to tell everyone how ridic the food and service were?  Log into Yelp and write a formal review of your swanky time

When you’re part of one or two sites – it’s fairly easy to understand the entirety of your audience:  if your Twitter account is private and you don’t allow subscribers on Facebook, you have an excellent idea of who your target audience is when you post.  But what if you’re playing a juggling act with social media accounts here there and everywhere?  That’s when you use Klout.  Klout takes someone from a Social Media Queen to the Social Media Queen Bee by aggregating data from a number of measured social networks

When I joined Klout a little over a year ago, I had no clue what I was getting myself into – and adding another social media site that was an aggregate of the others seemed more than redundant.  But, what I’ve discovered over time is that Klout is to Social Media what Google Analytics is to Webpages.  By factoring in multiple social networks, Klout’s goal is to discover how many other users are engaged with each and every post you make, regardless of the source.  Your Klout score is between 1 and 100 and takes into consideration two factors: the topics you’re considered influential on and your social network (the people that influence you as well as the people that you influence).

As of today, these are the Social Media Networks that Klout considers relevant (and as a sidenote, I believe because of it – these are also the most important social media sites to be involved with): Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, FourSquare, Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Blogspot, WordPress, Last FM and Flickr; however, they’re currently looking to integrate Quora, Yelp, Posterous, Livefyre, Disqus, Bit.ly and BranchOut.

Last, but most definitely not least, there are perks of being involved with Klout.  Those perks aren’t whimsical, idealistic badges (*cough*foursquare*cough*) – they’re actual, tangible, physical, hold them in your hand and covet them Perks and all because you are considered influential!  Below are some of the wonderful ways Klout has thanked me for being a social media maven and I’m beyond blessed to have the opportunity to both enjoy and share them.

Argo Premiere with treats, drinks and delectable snacks!

Fair Trade USA & Klout Perk:
Allegro Whole Coffee Beans
Alter Eco Mini Dark Noir (chocolate bar)
Choice Organic Teas Roobios
Coco Cafe Cafe Latte with Coconut Water and Espresso
Honest Tea Half and Half Organic Tea with Lemonade
Lärabar Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough food bar
Near East Quinoa Blend Rosemary and Olive Oil
Stash Roobios Tea

Klout Perk from Fit Frappe: Samples of each flavor and a huge container of my choosing. Plus, a jumprope!

[Tech Tuesday] Socially Savvy

Back in the day, way back in elementary school, my 4th grade class was given the amazing gift of AOL.  In 2012, I’m sure this doesn’t seem that awesome but back in 1994 this was the jam. At the time, they had one of their headquarters in Palo Alto, one of the cities in the Silicon Valley that I grew up in, and I was lucky enough to have a classmate with parents who worked there.  They waltzed into our class one day when we sat down for “computer lab”, which meant walking to the left side of the classroom and pairing up with a group of friends in front of a Mac II, and loaded the application onto our computers.  At the time, we used AOL to talk to participants in the Iditarod. We talked them up about their dogs, the history of the event and how goshdarn cold it must have been. At the end of the day, we got to take home a trial version, which found permanent places in all of our hearts.

As I grew up, so did the social aspects internet.

AOL introduced the “Chat Room” shortly after my parents signed up; I spent an exorbitant amount of time IMing old friends, making new ones,  manipulating my user profile and enjoying their integrated news and media feeds. AOL turned into AIM and my friends and I branched out into blogging on sites like Xanga, LiveJournal and DeadJournal.  MySpace and Facebook became public around the same time in 2003; only Facebook was still an elite social endeavor, rolling out first to Ivy League schools in 2003. In September of 2004, the beginning of my sophomore year of college, UCSB was added and I dove in head first. The social video sharing site, Youtube, emerged in 2005 and  Tumblr, one of the best microblogs around, made it’s first appearance in 2007.

Tumblr was, and in my opinion still is, the best of all social worlds – I could add Videos from Youtube, news articles from whatever source I chose, audio files, photographs and regular posts. I jumped on the Tumblr bandwagon immediately; I purged through my old posts, transferring some, removing others and ultimately deleting my other blogs.  In 2008,  I finally deleted MySpace and picked up one fabulous internet addiction after the other; first came Twitter, then the onslaught of Yelp, Instagram, Hypem, Foursquare, Spotify, Pinterest, etc, etc. Now, in 2012, Social media is more about promoting the individual – whether it’s a person, band or product – and less concerned with connecting individuals into a community.  On both Twitter and Facebook, brands have the ability to pay for – or promote– posts to larger audiences. But,it’s hard to argue with these tactics as a consumer, since these ventures are (relatively) free.

Over time, the number of nuanced networking sites have grown exponentially and older sites have gone on missions to rebrand themselves, with hopes of both gaining new demographics and restoring popularity amongst new and former users.  Unfortunately, we’ve reached a point where the supply and demand for social networking sites is skewed; when you go and “check in”, do you check in on Facebook? Or do you check in on Foursquare or Yelp and integrate it? As a heavy user, it’s a valid question. The market is more or less over-saturated with social media and it’s forced my generation to pick and choose our battles wisely.

Out of my group of friends, I’d say maybe 5% still use MySpace – and that’s a generous 5%; those that use it primarily go for the music and then don’t find a reason to stay.  But there’s a chance that this could all change!  MySpace has undergone extreme rebranding in attempts to reign users (back) in.  The only question is: with all of the social media ventures that have emerged in the time that MySpace was more or less out of the game, will users care enough to cultivate new interest? If I hadn’t deleted my page, I might be willing to go back – but the idea that I’d have to start from scratch is a major deterrent.

Over in the Tumblr camp, they’re preparing to roll out contact analytics to users come November.  Amongst the tracked metrics are – volume, overall engagement of a post, post performance and reblogging. Currently, it’s in beta – but if you want to get your tumbling little paws in on the action, head over to the Union Metrics website and sign yourself up!

This morning, I was trying to search for a few Twitter friends on Instagram and I was greeted by the following message – “Twitter no longer allows its users to access this information in Instagram via the Twitter API”. Say what?!  Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks because this change was implemented back in August.   The good news is that we’re still able to post our pictures to our Twitter account and applications like Foursquare still have API access, but it raises the question – was Instagram banned from the API because they were bought by, and integrated into, Facebook?  Today also marks the launch of the Twitter User Directory, which was added to the bottom of the home page, letting users and non-users alike earch the Twittersphere.