Posts tagged ‘facebook’

Old Dog, New Tricks -- I Learn To Syndicate on Twitter

The other day I noted the impending death of Google Reader.   Having started to survey the alternatives, I feel much better about the transition.  But I did not fail to note a different implication -- that RSS has never really caught on as a syndication vehicle -- twitter and Facebook and I suppose Google circles are more popular.

Well, I am happy to to adopt technology where it makes sense.  I loath Facebook as a personal tool (seriously, is there a worse laid out web page on the planet?) but my customers love it so we have adopted it enthusiastically as a business tool, using Facebook pages to create a dialog with our customers.  Here is a good example of a great business Facebook page - people are doing our advertising for us.

In the same vein, I likely will never really be able to use Twitter like other pundits do, to fire off witty, biting remarks in 140 characters.  I have trouble keeping post titles under 140 characters.  But I am happy to use it as a syndication tool.

So, starting now (actually starting with the previous post), Coyote Blog posts will be tweeted out at twitter.com/coyoteblog and linked at facebook.com/coyoteblog.  If that is your preferred way of discovering web content over RSS or just surfing the site itself, go for it.  I am still working on Google, but that will come soon.  By the way, for other bloggers interested, I am using the free version of Netscripts: Social Networks Auto Poster plugin.

PS-  I am sure my friend Tom, who is driven to distraction by my typos and grammatical errors, would observe at this point that at least in 140 characters there is less room for me to make mistakes.

Wow, I Wonder Why Job Creation Isn't Occurring in California?

I wonder if its because companies have to beg for government permission, and then pay a hefty bribe, to get permission to hire more employees:

The city council in Menlo Park, Calif., is set to approve a deal that will let Facebook employ thousands more people at its headquarters there.

Mayor Kirsten Keith says officials are expected to green light the environmental impact report and the development agreement at a meeting Tuesday night. City staff has recommended the city approve the deal.

That means Facebook employees, currently numbering about 2,200 in Menlo Park, will soon be able to stretch out. If the deal is approved, Facebook will be able to employ about 6,600 workers in Menlo Park, up from its current limit of 3,600. That was the constraint on Sun Microsystems, which previously occupied the campus.

Facebook will pay Menlo Park an average of $850,000 a year over 10 years to compensate for the additional load on the city. It will also make a one-time payment of more than $1 million for capital improvements and set up community services such as high school internship and job training programs. Facebook is also creating a $500,000 local community fund that will dole out grants and charitable contributions to communities surrounding Facebook's campus.

Facebook is making the payments because Menlo Park can’t collect sales taxes from Facebook.

The last is a dodge - this is a protection racket, pure and simple.  Presumably Facebook pays property taxes on its corporate offices, as do its employees who live nearby.  Also, these new employees will all spend money in the local economy that will generate sales taxes.  Facebook presumably pays for water, sewer, trash and other utilities, and their employees are paying gas taxes as they drive that pay for the roads.  Facebook pays California income taxes, as do their employees.  What are these mystery costs that are not getting covered?  The community services bit is a hint that this is a stick-up, with Menlo Park demanding its cut of the recent IPO.

The truth is that cities and counties in California see business expansion plans the same way that Tony Soprano looks at the Museum of Science and Trucking -- as a way to maximize their skim.  I operate a campground in Ventura County that DOES pay sales taxes the County so far will not let me increase my live-in staff without making a big payment.  Even the remodeling of our store required 7 separate checks written to Ventura County agencies.

Update:  Minutes after I posted this, I see this at Reason about Ventura County's efforts to use zoning laws to shut down businesses.  Another Ventura story -- we tried to put a small trailer, really just a booth, in a large asphalt parking lot so my employee there could get out of the sun.  Putting a portable shed on a parking lot apparently required permits - lots of them.  At one point we were asked to get a soil sample, meaning they were asking us to cut through the paving and sample the dirt underneath.  Eventually we just gave up.

The Facebook Conundrum

Here is my business problem:

On the positive side for Facebook, it is the only platform we have tried, from static web pages to blogs to Google to whatever, where we really get a good real-time interaction going with our campground customers.  Its an easy platform for them to ask questions, provide feedback, and upload useful content about the campground (from pictures to reviews to videos).  Many of my older employees are flummoxed by even the simplest computer tasks (I have had folks it has taken days of effort to teach how to get into their corporate Gmail account) but it is relatively easy to learn how to add an update or answer a query on a Facebook page  (and by "page" I mean the corporate or business pages like this one here:  http://www.facebook.com/RockCreekCanyon, not one's individual page).

But here is the problem:  The Facebook staff changes FB's layout and user interface faster than a sugar-overloaded ADD 7-year-old gets tired of a new toy.  I swear they have no reason for some of the changes other than "we're kind of bored with the user interface staying the same more than 3 months and some junior guy coded this timeline thing so let's make him feel good and put it up".

The shifting user interface is a training nightmare for my non-computer savvy managers.  What used to be tabs across the top are now text links on the left.  The Page admin panel changes almost every time I log on.  And don't even get me started on the simply stupid dueling column format of the new pages, or the fact that useless information like number of people who liked the site in a given month take up enormous amounts of the timeline's real estate now.  Just look at the page I linked above.  For the first 2-3 scrolls, the right hand column is different data than the left column, but then suddenly it becomes an alternating home for data that at the top only showed up on the left.    I am told that I can now pin a status update to the top, which will be nice, but at the cost of losing the custom landing page we used to have.

And woe be to he who actually develops for the platform, because he may soon find out that it all became wasted effort at the next over-caffeinated random user interface change.  I just did a tiny, minor bit of coding (less than a few hours) that takes my page administrators' status updates and posts them as a news feed on our web site  (ie here for the FB page above).  I could do more interesting things but I have absolutely no confidence that, for example, the FB page RSS feed I used will still be supported tomorrow.

Request

This is a crass request but could two of you hit the facebook like button on the right side of my home page so I can get a better URL (it takes 25). Thanks.

Blogging from the road with my ipad2, which is perhaps the greatest piece of gear ever, especially now with my portable Bluetooth keyboard. And I don't really even like apple OS that much, but this is one awesome device. As a better kindle replacement alone it Is worth the price.

OK, I Joined Facebook

I had to wait until TJIC left, but I joined Facebook today mainly so I can better monitor my kid's page.  The deal was that he could have a Facebook account but only if he accepted my wife and I as friends and we had access to his pages.

Having gotten an account, I am having nearly as much trouble trying to figure out what I can usefully do with it as I had when I signed up for a Twitter account (dropped within a week) over  a year ago.  Anyone who has ideas of how it might be useful (given that I am not in a business that runs on contact or relationship management) is welcome to send me those ideas.  Also, all you Facebook cultists are welcome to send me "friend" invites.  The least I can do is humiliate my kids by dwarfing their friends lists.   The email on my account is the same as for this blog, which you can get by mousing over the contact button on the top bar of this site.