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Forget Everything You Know About Social Media & Google



The Google kool-aid

google-profilesWe’ve been working on a series about Google’s new Social Search function and we’ve experimented with it and tried it on for size, and have noted in our research that there is an appalling lack of critical thinking by bloggers and even journalists who are doing nothing more than cheerleading for Google’s “innovation” or regurgitating information, press release style.

The way Google’s Social Search works is by putting social network search results on page one of a google user’s (someone who has set up their Google profile and indicated their social networks) search. I’d dive deeper into it, but just check out how Google explains their experiment:

Seriously, you are wasting your time…

There are two schools of thought- one that says social networking is a time waster and another that says social networking is the holy grail of doing business in this era. Google Social Search (and us for that matter) are of the school of thought that IMPROPER use of social media is a time waster, but PROPER use is key. With this new search function, we’re hoping that NOW everyone will listen to us as we beg Realtors to stop Twitterorgying with each other and actually talk about their market with actual locals in their market since now, they won’t show up for “Nebraska real estate” if all they’ve talked about is “getting wasted at that conference, dude!”

The era of friend collecting and system gaming are coming to an end as now suddenly, people who advocated for following @boobs6969 on Twitter since she’s known to automatically follow back (that hussy) because their social search results will be filled with @boobs6969’s responses that are nothing more than spam links instead of legitimate responses from their friends. You only wanted to know what your friends thought of buying an Ed Hardy shirt, not what @boobs6969 tweeted yesterday about Ed Hardy weight loss supplements.

The Holy Grail of Google

Google has long rewarded quality SEO by giving it exposure on page one, but Google has just validated the use of social media by giving social network connections space on page one. SEO still matters, because everyone still wants that holy “first result on Google” spot that costs an arm and a leg, but if consumer behavior continues to shift toward relying on personal connections, that first place ribbon may go to someone other than the big box brokers as people begin leaning on Googling their social network for answers.

Google has known for a long time that the web culture (which is now mainstream America) prefers knowing what their friends think over what a Google result thinks, we call it crowdsourcing, yet people have long relied on Google for answers but have shifted their consumer-centric questions to places like Twitter. Now, people can essentially Google their social networks. This changes everything because people don’t have to leave Google anymore to get the answers they need.

Some fears Realtors will have:

What can be scary about all of this is the prospect of buyers and sellers connecting organically as FakeBrandon tweets “I’m thinking of selling my house next year, I’m in South Austin, do y’all think I should wait?” and FakeJennifer who is friends with FakeBrandon searches Google three weeks later, sees FakeBrandon’s tweet in her Google Social Search, remembers how kick ass her friend FakeBrandon’s house is, (especially at last year’s Christmas party) and direct messages him before any Realtors even get involved and voila, a sale is done, despite your knowing and buying FakeJennifer (who is a lush) two years’ worth of drinks at happy hours.

You should also think about your competitors showing up in the search results and you might actually be losing sleep wondering if your competitor has made more meaningful connections with people in their social network, leading to their being top of mind and being the preferred result in a social search setting. Are you spending your time wisely on social networks or are you screwing around stroking your own ego and calling yourself a superstar while your competitor quietly focuses on the local market and does most of their social networking over direct message? Gaming the system won’t work now, because Google Social Search lends to an organic result stream.

Guess what, people- Google has popped the “social media is fun” bubble and has made this become the real world. Board rooms across America who have ignored Facebook will now hear that Google cares, they’ll get on board and it will be a much much noisier place to market. Best practices in social media will be solidified by the end of 2010 and you’ll have to focus on building genuine connections OVER being Homecoming queen. Are you ready?

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Elad Kehat

    November 4, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Very good post Lani. It’s the first one I read that drives home why Google social search is a very big deal. You raise some issues I haven’t thought about before.
    BTW, did you consider the fact that there were several social-search start-ups over the past couple of years, but they all failed to make an impact? I think it’s probably because they’re not Google – nobody changes their search provider just because of social search, but social search is still very significant – if it appears right there on the search engine you’re using anyway. What’s your take on this?

    Regarding buyers and sellers connecting organically – they already do so on Twitter and Facebook! Social media nevertheless provides a new opportunity for Realtors because a lot of that conversation is public so Realtors can find and connect with new leads. Tools like make that easy.

    • Benn Rosales

      November 4, 2009 at 9:17 am

      What makes this significant is that Google clears the clutter and populates to top of mind WHO in your sphere mentioned it and what they mentioned. This really rocks, it also brings about indirect referrals in cases where a person mentions a great agent, or possibly an agent to stay away from- very powerful stuff.

  2. Ken Brand

    November 4, 2009 at 8:30 am

    Hmmmm. It’s sorta like fire, you can use if to cook or you can fry yourself.

    Here’s how to turn it on: Log in to your google account and join the Social Search experiment at (you have to have a google profile setup first)

    I think about all the people who pooh-poohed FB, Twitter, etc. Turns out it will be bazooka, just make sure you don’t have it pointed at your head.

    Originally, I used Twitter and FB differently. For example, I would post things or comment on Twitter in ways I wouldn’t with FB. Now, it’s all going to be public, thankfully I didn’t do anything regrettable.

    This is great info Lani, thanks.

  3. Tim Wilson

    November 4, 2009 at 8:43 am


    Thank you so much for this information! It is the best (most informative) article/blog on Google and its social media searching that I have seen… lots to think about!

    I am not yet an avid user of twitter and facebook, but look to increase my use. Clients are surely using social media to pass referrals, etc. What I am trying to figure out is the balance of time between doing things IN REAL LIFE (face-to-face) that can cause me to be the SUBJECT (referral) of a tweet, versus actually spending hours every day being ON twitter (and tweeting myself onto everyone’s mind that way).

    For example, I am sure that both my doctor and truck mechanic are getting referrals on twitter passed between their satisfied clients — but neither of them is actually spending hours ON twitter, as far as I know (if any time at all). One is compassionate and well informed about his work, and the other is just plain good at fixing trucks.

    I have no problem sending referrals to either one of them, for those reasons– through whatever means someone talks to me about doctors and mechanics– including face-to-face conversations.

  4. Matt Thomson

    November 4, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’ll really look forward to the demise of “Twitterorgying.” One of the evils of Twitter I put up with is following top notch Realtors on Twitter, who seem to do 90% of just chatting back and forth to each other.
    Maybe now I’ll get to read more interesting content!

  5. Tony Sena

    November 4, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    “we beg Realtors to stop Twitterorgying with each other and actually talk about their market with actual locals in their market”

    This is one of the main reasons why Twitter is not a good tool for Realtors. Most Realtors don’t know how to use Twitter properly. You indicate “talk about their market with actual locals in their market” but most don’t know how to find locals and when they do how to get them to follow them.

  6. Ken Brand

    November 5, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Google has so many tools, it’s hard to keep up with your Gstuff. This will help.

    Google Gives You A Privacy Dashboard To Show Just How Much It Knows About you


    • Benn Rosales

      November 5, 2009 at 9:14 am

      I’ve had this dashboard for a very long time, it just has a new layout, so I can’t really jump on the it’s new bandwagon, but I will say it’s at least thoughtful. I think I tweeted out about a month ago that I have all these accts and it sucks I have to log into each individually, or need 14 tabs to work with google tools, I’m thinking this isn’t the news, but what might be the new news that you no longer need 14 active tabs- that would be exciting. So from my gmail window, I can see that I have a google voice mail, and two new waves and simply click a tab to change the page, rather than leave one system for another… I can only pray.

  7. HowardArnoff

    November 5, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Lani, as a long time blogger but relatively new to social networking, thank you for your most helpful guidance. Lots of interesting stuff to think about.

  8. Doug Francis

    November 5, 2009 at 9:09 am

    Thanks for helping me start to understand Google’s objectives with my Twitter account… which has, honestly, been a low priority for me because I could not grasp how this could be an effective tool. But don’t think for a minute that I haven’t been listening and observing what people have been doing (for example @GoodLifeTeam ) especially down there in Austin.

    Ken, thanks for the tip too.

    Lani, you always give me more homework!

  9. Keith Lutz

    November 6, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Although I do believe Social Media to be true and not a fad, I kind of feel like it is like a direct mail piece, where really they need to see me 13 times or more before it kicks in. Especially with thousands and thousands of followers. (I only have a handful, at this point). I also think my handle name is more important than my actual name in tweeterville. I mean “LovingCharlotte” vs “Keith Lutz”, shows passion and may someday invoke a conversation with someone who wants to move to Charlotte.

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Social Media

Twitter branches out into voice chat – what could go wrong?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) We’re learning more about Twitter’s forthcoming audio chat rooms, but what is Twitter learning about moderation?



Twitter open on a smartphone on table next to a cup of warm brown tea.

Twitter wants you to talk more with more people. Like, actually form words. With your mouth.

In November 2020, the micro-blogging giant announced it’s testing its new Audio Spaces feature, which allows users to create audio-only chat rooms – making it what Wired calls a copycat of the new and buzzy Clubhouse app.

Twitter itself hasn’t released many details, but tech blogger/app-feature detective Jane Manchun Wong has been tweeting some of the deets.

How it works

Here’s what we know about the private beta version, according to Wong: Users create a chat room and can control who is admitted to the group, whether it’s the public, followers, or followees. Group size is currently limited to 10. Members can react with a set set of emojis: “100,” raised hand, fist, peace sign, and waving hand. Spaces conversations are not recorded, but they are transcribed for accessibility. It uses Periscope on the back end.

One thing that’s not clear: The actual name. Twitter’s announcements have been calling it Audio Spaces, but the product’s handle is @TwitterSpaces.

It’s Twitter! What could go wrong?

The big gorilla in the chat room is moderation – as in, how do you keep humans from being terrible on Twitter?

We can all be forgiven for skepticism when it comes to Twitter’s aim to keep Audio Spaces safe(ish). Twitter can be a toxic stew of personal insults and even threats. Interestingly, Twitter is starting its test by inviting users who are often targets: Women and people from marginalized groups. Great idea! Who better to help craft community guidelines?

Requiring platforms to shut down hate speech and violent threats is having a moment, and Clubhouse is already in the controversy mix. Even as invite-only, the app has had some high-profile failures to moderate with threats toward a New York Times reporter and a problem anti-semitic conversation. It seems likely Twitter is paying attention.

Also on the safe(ish) side: The space creator is all powerful and can mute or kick out bad actors. Spaces can also be reported. Then there’s the transcription, which sets Audio Spaces apart from similar apps. Chat transcription was aimed at accessibility but, TechCrunch suggests that might help keep things civil and appropriate if people know their words are being written down. Hmm. Maybe?

Also… Why?

It doesn’t appear that there was a groundswell of demand from users, but Audio Spaces at least is something different from the feature pile-on making the social media big dogs start to look the same, as in Twitter’s also-new Fleets, Instagram’s and Facebook’s Stories, Snapchat’s… Snapchat. (See also Instagram’s Reels, Snapchat’s Spotlight, TikTok’s… TikTok.)

Clubhouse does appear to be hugely popular in Silicon Valley – and it has the investment capital to show it – so maybe there’s something to this audio-only chat thing. But we’ve already seen pandemic-fueled Zoom-happy-hour-fatigue, as users have gotten frustrated with too many people talking at the same time. Video chat can give users at least a few more clues about who is talking and who might be about to talk. Audio-only chat seems like it could quickly devolve into a chaotic cacophony.

But, Twitter says, conversation will flow naturally, and it advises users to “be present.”

“Just like in real life, the magic is in the moment,” it says.

It’s beta testers will surely have a lot to say about “magic” and “moderation.”

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Social Media

New Pinterest code of conduct pushes for mindful posting

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media sites have struggled with harmful content, but Pinterest is using their new code of conduct to encourage better, not just reprimands.



Pinterest icon on phone with 2 notifications, indicating new code of conduct.

It appears that at least one social media site has made a decision on how to move forward with the basis of their platform. Pinterest has created a brand-new code of conduct for their users. Giving them a set of rules to follow which to some may be a little restricting, but I’m not mad about it. In a public statement, they told the world their message:

“We’re on a journey to build a globally inclusive platform where Pinners around the world can discover ideas that feel personalized, relevant, and reflective of who they are.”

The revamp of their system includes 3 separate changes revolving around the rules of the platform. All of them are complete with examples and full sets of rules. The list is summed up as:

  • Pinterest Creator Code
  • Pinterest Comment Moderation Tools
  • Pinterest Creator Fund

For the Creator Code, Pinterest had this to say: “The Creator Code is a mandatory set of guidelines that lives within our product intended to educate and build community around making inclusive and compassionate content”. The rules are as follows:

  • Be Kind
  • Check my Facts
  • Be aware of triggers
  • Practice Inclusion
  • Do no harm

The list of rules provides some details on the pop-up as well, with notes like “make sure content doesn’t insult,” “make sure information is accurate,” etc. The main goal of this ‘agreement’, according to Pinterest, is not to reprimand offending people but to practice a proactive and empowering social environment. Other social websites have been shoe-horned into reprimanding instead of being proactive against abuse, and it has been met with mixed results. Facebook itself is getting a great deal of flack about their new algorithm that picks out individual words and bans people for progressively longer periods without any form of context.

Comment Moderation is a new set of tools that Pinterest is hoping will encourage a more positive experience between users and content creators. It’s just like putting the carrot before the donkey to get him to move the cart.

  • Positivity Reminders
  • Moderation Tools
  • Featured Comments
  • New Spam Prevention Signals

Sticking to the positivity considerations here seems to be the goal. They seem to be focusing on reminding people to be good and encouraging them to stay that way. Again, proactive, not reactive.

The social platform’s last change is to create a Pinterest Creator Fund. Their aim is to provide training, create strategy consulting, and financial support. Pinterest has also stated that they are going to be aiming these funds specifically at underrepresented communities. They even claim to be committing themselves to a quota of 50% of their Creators. While I find this commendable, it also comes off a little heavy handed. I would personally wait to see how they go about this. If they are ignoring good and decent Creators based purely on them being in a represented group, then I would find this a bad use of their time. However, if they are actively going out and looking for underrepresented Creators while still bringing in good Creators that are in represented groups, then I’m all for this.

Being the change you want to see in the world is something I personally feel we should all strive towards. Whether or not you produced positive change depends on your own goals… so on and so forth. In my own opinion, Pinterest and their new code of conduct is creating a better positive experience here and striving to remind people to be better than they were with each post. It’s a bold move and ultimately could be a spectacular outcome. Only time will tell how their creators and users will respond. Best of luck to them.

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Social Media

Facebook releases Hotline as yet another Clubhouse competitor

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As yet another app emerges to try and take some of Clubhouse’s success, Facebook Hotline adds a slightly more formal video chat component to the game.



Woman forming hands into heart shape at laptop hosting live video chat, similar to Facebook's new app Hotline

Facebook is at it again and launching its own version of another app. This time, the company has launched Hotline, which looks like a cross between Instagram Live and Clubhouse.

Facebook’s Hotline is the company’s attempt at competing with Clubhouse, the audio-based social media app, which was released on iOS in March 2020. Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Facebook had already begun working on building its own version of the app. Erik Hazzard, who joined Facebook in 2017 after the company acquired his tbh app, is leading the project.

The app was created by the New Product Experimentation (NPE) Team, Facebook’s experimental development division, and it’s already in beta testing online. To access it, you can use the web-based application through the platform’s website to join the waitlist and “Host a Show”. However, you will need to sign in using your Twitter account to do so.

Unlike Clubhouse, Hotline lets users also chat through video and not just audio alone. The product is more like a formal Q&A and recording platform. Its features allow people to live stream and hold Q&A sessions with their audiences similar to Instagram Live. And, audience members can ask questions by using text or audio.

Also, what makes Hotline a little more formal than Clubhouse is that it automatically records conversations. According to TechCrunch, hosts receive both a video and audio recording of the event. With a guaranteed recording feature, the Q&A sessions will stray away from the casual vibes of Clubhouse.

The first person to host a Q&A live stream on Hotline is real-estate investor Nick Huber, who is the type of “expert” Facebook is hoping to attract to its platform.

“With Hotline, we’re hoping to understand how interactive, live multimedia Q&As can help people learn from experts in areas like professional skills, just as it helps those experts build their businesses,” a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch. “New Product Experimentation has been testing multimedia products like CatchUp, Venue, Collab, and BARS, and we’re encouraged to see the formats continue to help people connect and build community,” the spokesperson added.

According to a Reuters article, the app doesn’t have any audience size limits, hosts can remove questions they don’t want to answer, and Facebook is moderating inappropriate content during its early days.

An app for mobile devices isn’t available yet, but if you want to check it out, you can visit Hotline’s website.

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