Why are social networks so unreliable…

…and why do we put up with it?

Lately, it seems that many social networks have become more and more unreliable and unpredictable. Twitter seems to be “over capacity” at least a few times each day, and even when it is available it fails to load all the way much of the time and followers seem to disappear randomly from follower lists. Recently, Facebook seems to be unavailable almost as much as Twitter, and pages, fans and wall posts seem to be disappearing quite a bit, with no explanation as to why from Facebook.

What’s more, it’s not just social networks, either. It seems that everything in the cloud seems to be experiencing issues and problems more and more lately. How many times has Gmail been down in the last few months?

My question is, why do we continue to put up with it, and, even more, why do we still seem so shocked when these things happen? Why do many businesses and institutions seem to rely so much on these tools? What are your thoughts on the matter?

By the way, this is the first blog post I’ve composed entirely on my iPhone, so please excuse any oddities or errors. Thank you.

Add a Retweet Button to Any Page

A few weeks ago, I came across a really nice script that lets you add a retweet button to any page of your site. You can add it into your site template or add it to a single page. The script uses simple javascript DOM replacement rather than inserting an iFrame the way other retweet scripts do. On top of that, the button is not associated with any specific Web site, so it won’t inject any additional text into the default status message it sends to Twitter. This script is very flexible and brings with it quite a few nice features. Following is a quick rundown of some of the nicer features you’ll find. More information is available in the original post on John Resig’s blog.

Designing Online Social Networks: Social Group Theory

Online communities (facilitated by Web 2.0) have become very important over the past few years – not only to niche communities, but now to mainstream brands. Social networking is about human connection and links between people. The reasons why people join groups and social networks are typically that groups can:

  • Provide encouragement and support
  • Establish identity with others and fulfil the need to feel included
  • Provide the outlet for some people to establish their need for recognition, social status, control and/or leadership
  • Alternatively, provide the necessary control over aspects of lives for those who don’t want to be leaders (e.g. Weight Watchers)
  • Help establish friends, relationships and the opportunity to interact with others

Historically group membership has served an evolutionary survival function – put simply, there’s safety in numbers

There’s been much research into group psychology but not so much about how this applies to a marketer trying to monetise an online community or introduce one to their brand. Here are some interesting phenomena about groups designed to help a brand owner capitalise on networks and the social phenomena:

TweetDeck – Keep Track of Your Twitter Updates

tweetdeck_logoTweetDeck is a free application available for Linux, Mac and Windows (through the Adobe Air application) that allows you to keep track of Twitter in real time, without having to visit (and constantly reload) the Web site.

In addition, TweetDeck offers the ability to keep track of the latest status updates from your Facebook friends.

Lifestreams – In Case You Want Everyone to Know Everything

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Lifestreams (as I was until earlier today), they are basically aggregators for all of your online activity. As if Twitter wasn’t enough to let everyone know exactly what you’re doing at all hours of the day, lifestreams actually combine all of the information you post in all of your online personae, and put them out in a single feed.

FriendFeed is probably the most well-known service capable of doing this, but there are quite a few others. You can view a pretty big list of these services by checking out the Lifestream Blog.

My questions are:

  1. Are you using a service like this? If so, which one do you like best?
  2. What’s the point? Do we really want everyone knowing everything we do online? To a certain extent, isn’t that why we set up separate accounts in different places?

Why Are Most Groups So Inactive?

First, I have to admit that I only actively visit two social networking sites. However, I’ve noticed that all of the groups I’ve joined on either of those two sites never seem to have any activity. It seems that only once a month, if that, someone starts a new topic or responds to an existing topic.

I’m sure that it must just be the groups to which I belong, but it really is disheartening to post a query on which you’re looking for some input and end up getting diddly for responses.

Are you a member of any really active groups on the social networking sites you frequent? If so, are they specific niche groups, or are they something we might all be interested in? What are they?