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17 posts from February 2011

Congrats to Terry Fallis on winning the Canada Reads Contest

TerryfallisWow! Many congrats to Canadian PR professional Terry Fallis for his political satire novel, "The Best Laid Plans", winning the "Canada Reads" contest for 2011! Now, no longer living in Canada (we were there 2000-2005), I honestly had no idea what "Canada Reads" was all about... but have subsequently learned that it is rather a Big Deal north of the border! And obviously a big enough deal for his publisher to order up 25,000 new copies of the book.

Well done, Terry... well done!

For those who may not remember, Terry started off podcasting out his book back in January 2007. He had decided to self-publish the book and finished the podcast of all the chapters in May 2007. His self-published book went on to win the prestigious Stephen Leacock Medal for humor. Along the way, Terry picked up a contract with publisher McLelland & Stewart to publish The Best Laid Plans and then his sequel, "The High Road" (which Terry also put out as a series of podcasts).

The key point to me, though, was that Terry got himself going using the new technologies that are enabled by the Internet and are seriously disrupting the traditional publishing industry. Now, of course, it helped that he has a long and deep PR/marketing background, so he was able to look at how to promote his own book. But that's the point... he could do it himself... without requiring the publishers and agents that have traditionally been the gatekeepers to getting "books" out there. (And yes, the traditional industry is how my books have gotten out there so far.)

Being a hard-core political junkie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading (and listening to) both books, even though the Canadian political system is obviously a wee bit different from ours here south of the border. I look forward to the next adventures!

Through it all, too, Terry is just one of the nicest people I know... a great guy all around... and I'm thrilled to pieces for him to have received such an honor! Here's a great video of him the day after the Canada Reads win:


Congrats again, Terry!

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How Facebook Now Removes Friends and Pages From Your NewsFeed - And How To Fix It

UPDATE, September 2012 - Sadly, the instructions in this post no longer work as Facebook changed yet again the way that you control what appears in your Newsfeed. The best resource right now may be a Facebook help page that explains the current settings.

Have you wondered why you haven't seen anything from certain friends on Facebook in a while? Have you thought perhaps some friends just aren't using Facebook any more? Maybe they are too busy? Have you been feeling like you've been seeing a lot of messages from a certain circle of people?

Guess what?

Facebook is filtering out many of your friends!

If you scroll down to the bottom of your NewsFeed and click the "Edit Options" button:


You will see the option "Show posts from":


With the option set by default to "Friends and pages you interact with most".

What this means is that if you don't "Like" or "Comment" on updates from a friend or a Page over a certain period of time... then updates from those friends and pages will STOP appearing in your NewsFeed.

The fix is, of course, to simply change the option to "All of your friends and pages".

To Be More Relevant?

I am guessing Facebook did this in order to help your NewsFeed "be the most relevant to you". After all, if you are interacting with certain friends and pages, it would make sense to show you their posts. But in my mind...

this is what the "Top News" link at the top of your NewsFeed should be for.


However, this default option removes people from your "Most Recent" NewsFeed as well as the "Top News".

Facebook is effectively disconnecting you from your friends, or, at least, the ones that don't write much or with whom you don't interact much.

The thing is that while I do interact with a certain subset of people, I enjoy reading updates from other people, particularly some who may not post updates all that often. I may not "Like" or "Comment" on them, but I enjoy reading them.

Screwing Page Owners Yet Again

Notice, too, that this is also for Facebook Pages. So if you are a company or organization that has invested time/energy/money in building out a Facebook Page... guess what? Many (most?) of the people who "Like" your Page are probably no longer seeing your updates! So it doesn't matter if you have 1,000 people who like your page, because maybe only the 20 that have either "Liked" or "Commented" on a recent item on your page will still be seeing updates from the Page appearing in their NewsFeed.

Nice going, Facebook.

The only good news for Facebook Page owners, I guess, is that you do have the ability to send out an "update" via a Facebook message to everyone who "Likes" your page. Of course, it shows up as an "update" type of message and may be ignored by many. But at least Facebook Page owners have a way to notify "Likers" that they may be missing any updates.

Facebook's Communication Black Hole

In typical Facebook style, I don't remember ever hearing about this change in settings. Was this perhaps a subtle change in the new profile layout that was forced upon all of us?

Did I miss some notification? I only learned of this setting when I saw a Facebook Note that was shared by a friend (Evan Leibovitch) who still does show up in my NewsFeed.

Why wouldn't Facebook default this the other way... and give me the option of enabling this filtering?

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A Quick First Look at the New Features for Facebook Pages

Woohoo! Facebook today finally provided some much-needed capabilities to "Facebook Pages" that many of us have been wishing for ever since Facebook first rolled out Pages. In the Note today about Facebook pages, the Facebook team talks about better communication, etc., but for page admins, the biggest thing is probably:

Yep... we finally get them!

For those not wanting to blindly upgrade to the new format (which, as I note below, all pages will move to by March 1, 2011, regardless of whether you want to or not), I upgraded one of my pages and took screenshots along the way. (The page is for my latest book... it gets the least traffic of any, so I upgraded it first.)

First I'll show you Facebook's "Tour" of what you will get, followed by the upgrade process itself, and then dive into the new settings a bit.

The Tour

You should be able to go to

and see a list of all the pages for which you are an admin and their upgrade status. There is a "Tour" button next to each page which will show you these next screens.

You now have photos on the top of your page, just like a user profile:

Facebookpages1 1

Navigation controls are over on the left side now:


The filters on your Wall are now simplified to two options:


As was hinted in the preview some of us briefly got back in December, there are notifications now for your pages:


And there's a new way to edit the settings for a Page:


The Upgrade Process

The actual process of upgrading is straightforward... you click the "Upgrade" button on a page that takes you to a list of your Pages and their current upgrade status:


You click the "Upgrade" button next to the page in question and you get this warning:


That's pretty much it... and then you have the new page!

Note, by the way, the text in that warning:

All pages on Facebook will appear in the new layout beginning March 1, 2011.

In other words, you can choose NOT to upgrade your pages right now, but you will have to by March 1, 2011, anyway.

Welcome again to Facebook, the land controlled by Facebook... you abide by their rules... or choose to leave.

The Settings

Of all those features, the new settings seem to be the biggest benefit for Page admins. When I clicked the "Edit Page" icon, I wound up on the "Manage Permissions" tab:


But where I got excited was the first "Your Settings" tab:

Settings2 1

Don't know if you can see that on the image, but the second line has a checkbox next to:

Send notifications to .... when people post or comment on your page.


This is something that we who have been Facebook Page admins have been requesting really since the pages first came out!

The "Featured" tab shows that if you do the new "Use Facebook as Page" feature, you can "Like" other pages and have them show up here... allowing you to then link in other similar pages:


I switched to that mode, liked the page of Syngress, the book's publisher, and went back into the settings (still using Facebook as the page). I then saw I also had the ability to feature owners of the page:


Predictably, the "Marketing" tab lets you see the ways you can promote your page:


The other tabs are similar to the existing settings that we have.

All in all, it looks like a great upgrade to the Facebook Pages features and functionality. I'll write up more as I work with the settings more.

If you've upgraded your Pages, what have you found that I have captured here?

P.S. Hat tip to my friend Bryan Person who alerted me (on Facebook, naturally) that these new capabilities were finally here!

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Facebook Moves Toward *Synchronous* (Real-time) Communications With Live Commenting

Have you been in Facebook lately and noticed how quickly comments appeared from other people on a status update? Did you almost feel like they were updating in "real-time"?

I had personally experienced on some highly-commented updates and now we know why... Facebook rolled out "Live Commenting" to all users over the past weeks.

The Facebook blog post goes into some of the gory details, which I personally find fascinating but I know others may not. It also has some fascinating stats:

every minute, we serve over 100 million pieces of content that may receive comments. In that same minute, users submit around 650,000 comments that need to get routed to the correct viewers.

From a user perspective, this continues the blending within Facebook of "asynchronous" communication, where you post something and wait for responses, with "synchronous" communication that is more real-time like Facebook Chat can be.

Status updates are becoming more like IM chats/conversations... and from Facebook's point-of-view, that's great because it undoubtedly means people will stay in Facebook even longer. If you comment and then see another comment come in, you'll stay to read... and potentially reply... and do it again...

It's all about the eyeballs... and keeping people there.

Well... and "enabling better communication" between Facebook users, of course.... which leads to people staying there.

Facebook continues to be evolving in fascinating directions... this is yet another step.

What do you think? Have you noticed this new change?

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AOL Buys Huffington Post - Mathew Ingram Curates The Zillions of Articles

Unless you have been offline today, you have to know by now that AOL bought Huffington Post for $315 million... there are literally thousands of articles being written (some are linked on Techmeme). Thankfully, Mathew Ingram over at GigaOm curated some of the best into a post describing reactions:
What the Web Is Saying About AOL’s HuffPo Purchase

Thanks, Mathew, because yes, there are simply way too many articles being written on this right now!

For my part, I was skeptical when AOL announced it was changing its course to be a "content company", but this action along with their purchasing of sites like TechCrunch and hiring many reporters certainly shows their determination to be a major player in creating online content. I still am admittedly skeptical, but I do have to give them credit for continuing to assemble a great team.

Meanwhile, if you did somehow miss the news today, do read Mathew's post as he puts the pieces together nicely.

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The Back Story Behind The Darth Vader Boy in the VW SuperBowl Commercial

Unless you were offline the past few days, it's been hard to miss mentions of the (admittedly cute) VW SuperBowl ad that features a young boy playing Darth Vader, complete with the ever-impressive Star Wars soundtrack. Certainly in my circles, it has been tweeted, facebooked, blogged, and shared in pretty much any other way...

MaxpageIt turns out that there is another great part to the story... by way of Luke Armour (on Facebook), I learned that the child actor, Max Page, was a patient at the Los Angeles Children's Hospital where he received a pacemaker at 4 months of age.

It's cool to see this story behind the story... and the L.A. Children's Hospital certainly gets kudos on a several points:

  • Just getting this story out there as a blog post for people to find and share;

  • Nicely mixing in pictures and video into their post;

  • Posting the photos up to Flickr as well as the blog post;

  • Imprinting/watermarking the images with their logo for all the people, like me, who will use those images in posts like this one.

Sure, it's a textbook case of riding on a wave of viral publicity to promote your organization (L.A. Children's Hospital) and cause (children who suffer from heart conditions)... but... DUH!... that's what the communications team for an organization should be doing!

Well done, L.A. Children's Hospital! Thanks for giving us a bit more of the story behind the story. (And kudos to Max Page, too, for his well done role in the ad.)

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New Version of WordPress App for iPhone and iPad has TONS of Fixes

For those of us with an iPhone or iPad, going into the "Updates" section of the AppStore is a bit like Christmas... you never know what gifts you are going to receive! What apps will have updates? What new features will be in them?

Today's round of updates didn't bring many new features for the WordPress app, but it sure did bring a veritable TON of fixes!


Kudos to the WordPress team for: 1) fixing so many things; and 2) being so VERY open about it. (Other app vendors might have just said "Many bug fixes" and left it at that.)

And if you haven't tried out the WordPress app for a bit, you should give it a try... I particularly like how well it works on the iPad.

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