Have You Heard of Facebook’s New Competition? You May Soon

Diaspora, an upstart social networking site, had a goal of raising $10,000 online to help get the fledgling network going. You see, its founders — four programmers from New York University’s Courant Institute – were amongst those revolting against what many perceive to be unethical privacy violations by Facebook. (Read here). 

So raising $10,000 from strangers for an unproven product sounds a tad ambitious, you say? But what if we told you they have now raised nearly $140,000 and counting. Surprising? Oh yes. And is Diaspora ready to topple the social networking giant? Doubt it, but time will tell. But they are giving Facebook something to think about as far as its policies toward its users are concerned. But there’s a valuable lesson here: Your business is never bigger than your customers, so please treat them well and when enacting new policies, put yourself in their position.

An excerpt about Diaspora:

What is the project about?

We believe that privacy and connectedness do not have to be mutually exclusive. With Diaspora, we are reclaiming our data, securing our social connections, and making it easy to share on your own terms. We think we can replace today’s centralized social web with a more secure and convenient decentralized network. Diaspora will be easy to use, and it will be centered on you instead of a faceless hub.

Why are we building it?

This February, Eben Moglen, Columbia law professor and author of the latest GPL, gave a talk on Internet privacy. As more and more of our lives and identities become digitized, Moglen explains, the convenience of putting all of our information in the hands of companies on “the cloud” is training us to casually sacrifice our privacy and fragment our online identities.

But why is centralization so much more convenient, even in an age where relatively powerful computers are ubiquitous? Why is there no good alternative to centralized services that, as Moglen pointed out, comes with "spying for free?” Why do we keep our personal data in a thousand places? We have the technology, someone just needs to take the time to figure out how we can communicate smoothly and intuitively, without the hidden costs of “the cloud”. As good programmers, when we noticed that the application we need doesn’t exist, we set out to fill the hole in our digital lives.

Hat tip to @mitchmaxson of MediaSauce, an Indiana Chamber member.

Using Twitter & Facebook for Business

New media enthusiast/guru/blogger Brian Solis offers 21 tips from his book, Engage, for using Twitter and Facebook for business. As we all attempt to meander through the ever-changing world of social media, it’s easy to develop bad habits and/or practices that may not be most beneficial to your business. The entire post is interesting, but here are a few key tips to help you turn those hours at the computer into actual revenue:

Number 19. Research and Intelligence

The Social Web is a real-time collective and assembly of valuable information that mostly goes unnoticed. A few existing services are dedicated to applying a magnifying lens into the dialogue that leads to insight, direction, creativity, and inventiveness.

For example, celebrity.peoplebrowsr.com provides real-time insight into the most actively discussed celebrities on Twitter at any moment in time, while also revealing the sentiment that is most associated with each. If you notice at the top, you can also view the latest on Airlines industry or stock market sentiment and associated tweets.

StockTwits provides an open, community-powered idea and information service for investments. Users can listen to traders and investors, or contribute to the conversation. The service leverages Twitter as a content production platform and transforms tweets into financial related data structured by stock, user, and reputation.

Number 20. Fund Raising

This is a big opportunity and one that will yield amazing stories on how people are using Twitter and social media to raise money for charitable causes and capital for projects and companies. It’s the art of spurring contributions through information and education, not solicitation.

When it comes to social media for Social Good, we don’t have to look much further than anything Beth Kanter touches or spotlights. She’s one of the most influential people in using social media for raising awareness, support and money for causes. One of the projects that she remains dedicated to is helping orphans in Cambodia and, to date, it has raised over $200,000. She has also used Twitter, Widgets, and other social networks to help many other organizations and causes. In one live demonstration, which still leaves me in awe, she raised over $2,500 to send a young Cambodian woman to college while she was on stage at Gnomedex in Seattle.

Number 21. Words of Wisdom

As reiterated throughout these top tips, listening and responding is helpful and efficacious in luring new customers, empowering advocacy, and instilling loyalty.

Serving as a resource for your community or industry positions, proactively responding to online users who are posing questions, and assisting those who are seeking advice and guidance can garner trust, respect, and camaraderie for you and the causes you espouse.

There are measurable and also incalculable benefits to dedicating resources to lead individuals and organizations to resolution.

For example, @homedepot monitors dialogue related to the company, but also those individuals who are tackling home projects and seeking tips and instructions.

BestBuy’s @Twelpforce has authorized its entire staff of trained employees to seek out discussions related to consumer electronics, home theaters, gaming, music, appliances, and technology, and to answer questions, whether or not they’re directly tied to the BestBuy brand.