Pownce closes – should I backup my social networks?

The crew behind the microblogging site Pownce today announced that they will close the service on Dec 15 and instead join Six Apart. Apparently they are planning to come up with something new and better next year. This raises a lot of questions, for example, what do you do with your content when the site you are using can be gone the next day? With the abundance of social media sites out there, it is inevitable that some will disappear in the near future.

Now, I never really used Pownce on a regular basis, so I don’t care about those messages that I posted. But had it been for example Twitter, I would definitely have to think through if I should do a backup of my messages and all my contacts. I can especially see great value in saving the friends that you are connected to if you wanted to transfer your network to some other place, even if you had to look up people manually.

Pownce have come up with one solution to this problem.

“We’ll be closing down the main Pownce website two weeks from today, December 15th. Since we’d like for you to have access to all your Pownce messages, we’ve added an export function. Visit pownce.com/settings/export/ to generate your export file. You can then import your posts to other blogging services such as Vox, TypePad, or WordPress.”

That is a great service, but I think it would be even more valuable if you could export information about your entire network. Fot most of the social networking services I use, the real value is not in the content but in the network.

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Social networkers motivated by social interaction

A new Swedish think tank called Forum Internet has published findings from research about business models, financing and motivations behind online communities. It is a bit unclear where these conclusions come from, but according to a presentation on its website, research shows that people are motivated by the following when they participate in social networks and online communities:

• To distance yourself from “everyday life”
• To display yourself
• To express yourself
• To explore others
• To be part of a group
• To build relations
• To join a category

I find some of these motivations to be quite vague and hard to understand. What does it mean to distance yourself from daily life? Is it just passing time or to be entertained? I would also like to argue that there are other motivational factors that are not as “social”, such as using technical features (sharing objects like photos or links) or getting access to information.

Either way, I think this research appear to support the view that “social interaction” is the main motivation why people use social networks.

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Motivations why people use social networks

“Fear drives managers to ban social media at work” writes Ragan.com. A poll of 424 professional communicators from around the globe showed that the number one reason to block social media sites was fear that these sites will impact productivity [negatively]. Security concerns ranked second and bandwidth concern ranked third among the reasons.

“Of those not allowed to use social media at work, 65 percent said their managers block access to sites like YouTube, Facebook and Flickr because they’re afraid employee productivity will suffer.”

– Most people are not going to abuse the privilege of using these sites, says Shel Holtz, one of my favourite podcasters.

I would like to agree with Shel, first because there are reasons to use social media that can have a positive impact on your job, and second because the line between work and spare time is becoming more and more blurry. As my Swedish readers will know, I have just conducted my own poll of 1,000 Swedish blog readers and I thought that this would be a good opportunity to give you a sneak preview of one of the survey questions.

When I asked 747 bloggers about the reasons why they are members of one or more social networks, the main reason was to “stay in touch with friends”. But several of the motivations are clearly work or career related:

* 61.6 said “as a way to stay in touch with former colleagues, classmates or suchlike”
* 54.1% said “to use as a common channel in which to communicate with friends/colleagues”
* 31.3% said “to network”
* 18.7% said “to connect with others in my profession”

Also, 43.0% said a reason was “to use technical features like sharing photos and such”, which could of course be both a private and work-related activity.

Blocking social media sites may not be an entirely good idea. There will always be people who abuse trust and would spend plenty of time on social media sites with non-work related activities, but I believe the benefits outweigh the risks in the long run.

Footnote: Stay tuned for the results of the BlogSweden 3/BloggSverige 3 survey.

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Social networks and the US election

Social networking sites may be playing an important political role in the 2008 US campaign for young people, according to a new study by Pew Internet.

“Fully two-thirds of Americans age 18-29 say they use social networking sites, and more than a quarter in this age group (27%) say that they have gotten information about candidates and the campaign from them – including 37% among those ages 18-24. Nearly one-in-ten of people under age 30 (8%) say that they have signed up as a “friend” of one of the candidates on a site. And the numbers are even higher for each of these activities among young registered voters.”

Full report here.

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Top 100 Social Media and Social Networking Blogs

VirtualHosting.com has put together a nice list of what they define as the Top 100 Social Media and Social Networking Blogs. Some very good ones are on it (congrats Neville, for example) and others I haven’t read, but will check out. And perhaps if I rename this blog “Social Media Culpa” I’d have a shot at being included next time (I guess having a unique blog name wasn’t a criteria…).


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Locking in articles about social networks is crazy

The Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet has been very successful in attracting visitors to its website. Aftonbladet.se is Sweden’s second largest website, second only to MSN.se. It was one of the first papers (although not the first) to take blogging seriously, both with their own blog service and the acquisition of the blog portal Bloggportalen.se. But when other major media sites like the New York Times are unlocking content that was previously subscription only, Aftonbladet.se has chosen the opposite direction.

“What changed, The Times said, was that many more readers started coming to the site from search engines and links on other sites instead of coming directly to NYTimes.com. These indirect readers, unable to get access to articles behind the pay wall and less likely to pay subscription fees than the more loyal direct users, were seen as opportunities for more page views and increased advertising revenue.

“What wasn’t anticipated was the explosion in how much of our traffic would be generated by Google, by Yahoo and some others,” Ms. Schiller said.”

Today, Anders Westgårdh writes a column on Aftonbladet.se in which he states that Facebook is a fad that will soon disappear. Quite obviously, this is the kind of article that readers would blog about, comment, post to social networks etc etc which will attract new readers. But the article is behind a pay wall so none of that will happen.

Sure, its just one article, but to me it indicates that Aftonbladet is determined not to follow the path of the New York Times and the others. Personally I am not convinced that it is the correct thing to do, but then again I don’t have access to Aftonbladet’s site statistics.

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