It was 10:30 on a Tuesday night when I got a notification that someone had posted on our Facebook wall – and he wasn't happy. Rather than respond right away, we discussed our response among management and slept on it, which led to a mildly productive exchange (blacked out boxes are the complainer's name, red boxes are the name of an employee):
The member came into the club a few days later, and I asked if everything had been taken care of, noting that I was the person responding to him on Facebook. He noted that it had, and apologized for the way he reacted.
That was all well and good until he went to work out. When he came back up, he told me the real story: He had a really bad experience at a prior gym and didn't want to get roped into anything. He described that prior experience, and it was definitely not the way any gym should have treated him. He seemed happy.
The next day, here's what came up on our Facebook page:
I think with the initial Facebook follow-up and the phone calls and emails from the membership team, we were able to at least get him into the gym. It was the experience of seeing us face-to-face and talking to us that really clinched the deal, though.
Remember that your customers are people, not just complaints (or kudos). Invite them into your world, and you'll learn a lot from each other.
If you move your eyes to the right, you'll see a box labeled "Connect." It's under the search box, next to my mug over there. While you may not have a Delicious account, there's a reasonable chance you have a Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook account. Even all three. And possibly Foursquare, too.
I use those three social networking platforms very differently. Facebook is primarily social for me, although I do operate a Facebook page or 2 for businesses. I play Scrabble with my sister and other word games with my mom and some friends. I check in on birthdays. On rare occasions I'll check the status updates, but really, that is pretty rare. LinkedIn is purely business; even the stuff that feels social is business – I'm sharing professional information, and since I'm a sole proprietor, that business life sometimes spills over into the personal (and vice versa). Twitter is a mix of everything. I definitely don't over-share on Foursquare, and I only check in at clients, potential clients, and places I have a comment about. And I only share that on Twitter if I have something to say about it beyond, "I'm here."
Sometimes I find something worth sharing on multiple platforms, though I find that increasingly rare. More often than not, it's a photo shared on a Twitter platform that I send to Facebook as well so that I don't have to upload it twice.
If you're just on social networking sites to be there, that's cool. I have goals. Which is why if you're flooding my LinkedIn stream with the same stuff I just read on Twitter, totally overwhelming other connections who update what they're working on once or twice a week, I've pulled you out of my LinkedIn timeline. And really, a lot of us are on LinkedIn for the professional networking – we don't care if you're sharing ice cream with your kid. Save it for Facebook or Twitter.
I've been doing the same on Facebook lately, too.
This has a further consequence, as well: once I've pulled you out of my stream, you're out. It's not like I go back weekly to see if your practices have changed. If you point out to me that your practices have changed, I may go check, but if I've pulled you out of my stream and tomorrow you have an epiphany and decide to share good stuff on LinkedIn, sorry, I'm not going to know, and I'm not going to share it with my network.
How are you using these platforms, and how do you deal with people who use them differently from you?
I came across one of these notepads from the SUNY Oswego Metro Center (I snipped that image above; I figured you'd get the idea even if I didn't include all 20ish lines on the piece of paper). I love the Metro Center. It gives people the opportunity to take classes downtown. It opens its doors to groups like 40 Below. I even love these notepads: they're a good size, bigger than a shopping list, smaller than a journal. I even really like Amber Spain-Mosher, who handles the marketing for them.
But the Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn logos at the bottom caught my eye. Because in order to find them, we're supposed to search those sites. And that's fine – if you make yourself easy to find.
Facebook. Facebook has a really good search. In fact, as I was typing, it pre-filled the SUNY Oswego Metro Center page. Very good. The one problem is, take a look at the profile image they use – it's the statue in Clinton Square and The Post-Standard building, as taken from the front of the Atrium, which is the building that houses the Metro Center. There's no way to visually identify the Metro Center when you land on the Facebook page.
Twitter. Twitter has good content search. I ran two different searches and didn't find the SUNY Oswego Metro Center account. For the first search, I simply typed suny oswego metro center in the search box that runs in the right-hand column of a Twitter page. My only result was someone who checked into the Metro Center recently on Foursquare. Then I went to "Find People" and searched for suny oswego metro center (most people search lower case; so do I). I wound up with a list of 20 accounts, including CNN Weather and NASA's Stennis Center, but not SUNY Oswego Metro Center's account.
LinkedIn. You have to know how to search LinkedIn in order to be effective. It's actually fairly difficult. The search defaults to searching people, and it's an all-word search. When I searched for suny oswego metro center under people, I got six results – two were people who worked there (one as a graduate assistant), and the other four had gone to SUNY Oswego and had worked at places that included Metro Center in their name. Next, I tried to search under Companies, and received zero search results (they'd be combined under the SUNY Oswego umbrella).
There are a couple of ways to solve that. One is to list URLs. Unless 1,000 people like your page, that's unwieldy on Facebook (unless, of course, you were to buy MyBusinessNameOnFacebook.com and redirect it to your Facebook page), but then Facebook's search is actually good. My business cards don't list my Facebook URL, but they do list my company website, my blog, my Twitter and my LinkedIn.
Another way is to build a QR code (like the one on the left there). You can include a lot of information (about 1500 alphanumeric characters) in not very much space. As the smart phone market grows (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, Palm, etc.), just about anybody is going to be able to read one of these – all they need is to download a free app and have an auto-focus camera. Most applications will give you a button to just add the information to your address book.
What challenges do you face when trying to market your online presence in an offline environment?
Maybe my blood's up a bit because someone pushed hard for a meeting I didn't want to have and then canceled last minute, but I have to be honest, I'm really sick of getting Facebook invitations to events I'm obviously not coming to.
And by "obviously not coming to," I mean the event is 300 miles away, on short notice (a day or two), on a weekday, and is something you have invited me to half a dozen times in the past without me showing up.
In short, there's no reason for you to believe I have any interest in coming. Add to it that I've actually spent time in your presence only a few times in the past eight years, and every time it's because I'm close with your brother- and sister-in-law, and I have to wonder if I should consider cutting the cord.
No, seriously. I understand that I could just delete the event invitation from my email, but I wrote about this in June about a local social media conference: if you want to be a customer service-driven business, you may as well show some good customer service.
Because frankly, if you clutter up my inbox with stuff I didn't ask for and that I'm already not responding positively to, I'm not only unlikely to patronize your business, I'm unlikely to recommend it. And if I don't like the way you run your business, I'm unlikely to view you as one of my favorite people.
So here is how the etiquette on this works. Let's say you have over 500 Facebook friends and you have an event that's of a special interest. Don't blast all your friends. Reach out to the ones who are likely to come -- those who first are in your general location, and if you really want to target people, invite those who are already your customers or those who are likely to get something out of it.
If your event is a social gathering on a weekend, you might be able to stretch that radius to people who are within an overnight trip. This doesn't include your Facebook friends across the country or across an ocean.
If it's your wedding, well, that's different. If it's a funeral, same thing. But a specialized, very local workshop? Come on.
If you don't clutter people's inboxes, they're unlikely to clutter yours. And if you clutter other people's inboxes repeatedly, they may either reach out and ask you to stop, which, let's face it, is a conversation you don't want to have, if you're the defensive sort, or they may just unclutter themselves, cutting you off.
It's really just a matter of being polite. Get some online manners.
The good people at the annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference this year put together something of a "Bill of Rights" for users of social networking sites. I'm going to go ahead and call it a cute idea, because mostly the "rights" assume that the point of putting together a social networking site is to let users do whatever they want.
In case you've been living in a socialist economy since the advent of the Internet, the truth is that social networking sites exist to sell highly targeted advertising and provide companies with very specific information about users.
No, really – that's the truth.
I can get on board with some of the 14 ideas the conference put forth, but not all of them. Not even most of them. Here we go:
2. Clarity: Make sure that policies, terms of service, and settings are easy to find and understand.
When I first got started on Twitter, the Terms of Service was short and easy to understand. And it probably wouldn't have done them a lick of good if they had wound up in court for any reason. It's not like we're a litigious society or anything.
So now it looks like this. At least they have tips in there so you can understand it, unlike Facebook's (scroll to the bottom of that and look at how long the list of associated documents is!).
I have to be on the side of social media companies on this, though. If you don't like the terms, don't sign up. If you can't understand them, don't sign up. When you check that box, you're agreeing to those terms. If you don't understand your mortgage and you sign it anyway, you're still responsible for everything in it. Which is why you hire a real estate lawyer. If you really want to be part of Facebook's community but you don't understand the contract you're signing, hire a lawyer to explain it to you. Seriously.
3. Freedom of speech: Do not delete or modify my data without a clear policy and justification.
Let's be clear on this: The U.S. Constitution gives us freedom of speech. That means we can say whatever we want (with a few exceptions). As someone who used to deal with feedback from a large website with a social media component, your right to say whatever you want does not mean someone has to publish it. When the terms of service say, "We have a right to remove whatever we want, with or without cause or explanation," that's what it means. The network can just take something down because it wants to. Deal. You signed the contract, remember?
4. Empowerment: Support assistive technologies and universal accessibility.
This is just a smart move for networks. If you can make your network easy for people to use, they'll use it. That means that if someone with a disability can't use your site, she's not going to use it. If you want everybody to use your site, make it so everybody can use it.
That's not a users' rights thing, that's a smart business decision. If you run a dry cleaner and you have three steps leading up to your door and the dry cleaner next door has a ramp, who's going to get the business from anybody who can't walk steps?
5. Self-protection: Support privacy-enhancing technologies.
This runs entirely counter to why social networks exist. If you as a user need privacy, stay off of social networks.
6. Data minimization: Minimize the information I am required to provide and share with others.
Again, this is not why social networks exist. If you don't want to share information, don't share it. If you want to share it with some people but not others, don't accept those others' friend requests. It's not brain surgery.
7. Control: Let me control my data, and don't facilitate sharing it unless I agree first.
8. Predictability: Obtain my prior consent before significantly changing who can see my data.
This is essentially what I said above in #7. If you're going to change the rules significantly, give me an opportunity to decide whether I want to play by them before you force me into it.
9. Data portability: Make it easy for me to obtain a copy of my data.
Let's get this straight: Social networks are not your personal thumb drive. No joke. If you want a copy of your information, make a copy. If Flickr went away tomorrow, would you lose all your family photos? If the answer is yes, back them up yourself. Flickr should not have to play nice with your hard drive, or with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other business it isn't partnered with. Otherwise, what's the point of competition?
10. Protection: Treat my data as securely as your own confidential data unless I choose to share it, and notify me if it is compromised.
Emm, no. If you don't want to share something, don't share it. It's easy not to join a network: just don't sign up. See how easy that was?
11. Right to know: Show me how you are using my data and allow me to see who and what has access to it.
12. Right to self-define: Let me create more than one identity and use pseudonyms. Do not link them without my permission.
I disagree here, for the protection of the social networks, who are held responsible if they allow, say, a sex offender to contact a minor. The terms of service of most sites basically say, "You agree that the information you provide is truthful." If it's not, they have a good reason to refuse service to you as a customer.
13. Right to appeal: Allow me to appeal punitive actions.
This would be reasonable business sense, and many sites do allow users to appeal punitive actions. Twitter and LinkedIn do, for sure.
14. Right to withdraw: Allow me to delete my account, and remove my data.
You shouldn't join any social network that doesn't allow you to remove your data. Before iMeem was picked up by MySpace, it didn't let you delete your account, and they made that very clear in the terms of service and also on the help page, in case you didn't read the terms of service before you agreed to them. But they did let you delete the data. Same with Blue Goose News – while I couldn't delete my account there, I was able to delete my blog posts, my name, my email address and anything else that identified me. That was in their terms and I knew it when I signed up.
It all comes down to smart consumerism. If you don't like the way a business operates, don't patronize it.
If you're in the social/search industry, you've been inundated with Facebook privacy posts. Skip this one. It's really for the friends and family members who stop by and read here after they see that I've more or less cleared out my Facebook profile.
If you haven't seen the New York Times' graphical representation of Facebook's privacy settings, go take some time and look at it. It's pretty. And scary. Take this example. By default, if I'm Facebook friends with John, and John is listening to something on Pandora and he decides to log into Facebook from Pandora, I get an ad on my Facebook page that says, "John thinks you'd really like this station on Pandora." Because Pandora is allowed to get information from my profile when John signs in.
I've had a fairly strict close friends and family only policy as far as Facebook is concerned. And now I'm getting ridiculous numbers of friend requests. Even with a low friend count – I think I just passed 200, after clearing out about 150 last year – I'm getting 8 to 10 requests a week, mostly from people I don't know.
So I'm giving in. I spent three hours –three hours! – changing my privacy settings, and since I'm still not sure what I'm sharing, I more or less cleared out my profile. Unless an invitation is obviously spam, I'm just going to accept friend requests. And I'm simply not going to share anything personal there. Yes, I'll keep those word games going, and I'll share links if I find anything cool, but you're not going to learn much about me via Facebook.
Feel free to email me, follow me on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn, or even pick up the phone. But until Facebook convinces me it's serious about my privacy, it can't have my information.
I tend to check Google Trends in the morning. It's one of the things I do in terms of a morning coffee ritual when I get to work. For those not familiar, it's a list of the things people are searching for on Google; typically it's updated every hour or so, but sometimes it goes on for a few hours before it updates. Whatever.
Frequently, it's people wanting to watch one of last night's TV episodes. There's usually something that's been featured either on The Today Show or Good Morning America. Sometimes there's sports scores. And sometimes it's people in a large enough market searching for school closings.
Being a pop-culture-ophobe (OK, not really, but I'm pretty dim when it comes to this stuff), I'd never heard of either of these people. Which means that I had to wade through the search results to figure out who they were, never mind if they were actually dead.
Bieber, it turns out, is a 15-year-old kid who is some sort of pop sensation or something. He appears to be living and breathing and making teenage girls cry with his sensitivity instead of in mourning. This, apparently was not the first time the Internet killed Justin Beiber (via WikiAnswers:
Casey Johnson is the great-great-granddaughter of one of the founders of the Johnson & Johnson Company (if you've ever read a label on anything in a bathroom, you've heard of them). She's also the daughter of Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets.
Casey Johnson is, in fact, dead. She died this week at the age of 30, and at this writing, we're not sure why.
So, what did we learn from this? That Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes was correct: Newspapers (and other traditional news outlets) are going to turn into truth filters.
While we'll get most of our news from places like Twitter or Facebook (not necessarily those places, but places like them), where we select who we get the news from so the news will be relevant to us, we'll still need places like The New York Times to tell us whether the news we got is actually true.
The lesson: If you're not sure, check with someone you trust. Don't freak out over something you heard from someone who heard from somewhere that something may or may not have happened, which means it absolutely did.
Just like in many aspects of your life, you need to actually use your brain to use the Internet effectively.
Or, why I didn't follow you back or accept your friend request.
Something social media networks can learn from libraries: browsing. When you're In the same way you might accidentally stumble across a good book while you were looking for another one entirely, you can stumble across interesting people serendipitously.
The great thing about social media is we all get to use it differently. Sure, various social networks have various target uses, and not every network is for everybody. And, as Buckminster Fuller alluded to, we can't be all things to everyone, and when we try, we end up being very little to pretty much nobody.
For those who are thinking of jumping into a new network – or for those who have jumped and aren't real comfortable – here is how I use various social networks. The way I use these networks may not be right for you, but at least I can put some ideas in your head.
Twitter. I use Twitter the most of any social network. While I don't tweet every time I get up for another cup of coffee, I definitely mix the personal and mundane with the professional and awesome. I've made good connections with great people, spoken to a couple of groups, made new (real-life) friends, found a massage therapist and more on Twitter.
It can be overwhelming, but so can a river. And I wouldn't avoid looking at a river just because it's big and fast moving. If I miss something on Twitter, I miss it. But by and large, I've been happy with Twitter. Here's how I set it up.
I use TweetDeck, which allows me to divide my Twitter stream into columns. On the left, I have the column that shows people responding to me – that way I catch them early, and can talk back. I have other columns for my inner circle of people I want to make sure I catch everything from (or as close as I can get), people who are local to me, people who tweet about social media, and people who tweet about journalism – and then one column with everybody.
As I find another group to break down into, I will create another column (at this rate, it looks like it will be cancer-related topics, since I'm starting to follow people who people might be good to know for the fundraising project I'm working on.
Facebook. I've become particular about who I friend on Facebook. If we're friends in real life (not associates, not co-workers), I will certainly accept a friend request. If it's possible that we could have a friendship or at least a friendly working relationship, I'll probably friend you, and if that doesn't develop, you'll probably fall off during some purge or other.
Facebook has been great for connecting with people from high school. Thanks anyway. If we weren't actually friends in high school, and your name kinda sounds vaguely familiar, why would I want to be your cyber-friend now? For some people, Facebook is about how many "friends" they can amass – I tend to keep it to people I don't mind sharing with, and who I'm interested in hearing from and about.
So don't be offended if you cold call me and I ignore your Facebook request. Get to know me in real life first.
LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn purely for professional connections. If we are currently colleagues, I absolutely will not connect with you on LinkedIn – you don't need to know what I'm doing on the job front, and I don't need to know what you're doing.
On the other hand, if we're in the same industry, I'll accept your LinkedIn connection in hopes that we may be able to someday have a mutually beneficial professional relationship. It's not a place for me to be social; it's truly a professional networking space for me.
Flickr. I barely use Flickr. I've turned to Twitpic, which integrates with Twitter.
What do you do if someone doesn't respond to you, doesn't accept your connection request, or doesn't follow you?
Nothing. I'm confident in what I'm putting out there. If someone has no interest in what I do, that's OK. Other people do.
The one rule I do have, though, is if you Direct Message me on Twitter (which you can only do if the party you're sending the message to is following you), you better be following me back, otherwise, I'm going to unfollow you. Don't try to reach me through a channel I'm not able to reach you through.
Yesterday, I did sort of an entrepreneur-focused piece on Chris Hughes' visit to Syracuse. I went into the office (I work for syracuse.com, so the "we" and "our" refers to what we do there) and wound up re-writing from more of a company perspective, and I think everything's still relevant, so I wanted to share it here. Some of it is repeated, some of it is new, all of it is reworded in a different voice. I think these messages are relevant to many businesses, even bricks-and-mortar shops getting into social media for the first time.
Chris Hughes, one of Facebook's 3 4 founders and one of the brains behind my.BarackObama.com, spoke in Syracuse last night, and he had some good take-away messages.
A little background on Chris and Facebook
Facebook was founded in 2004 by three Harvard sophomores. They wanted a way to share essentially what they were doing with their friends in a more passive way – they didn’t want to have to pick up the phone or email people or find them in the dining hall to see what they were doing that night or that weekend. So they wrote some code and they were able to set their statuses and in three weeks, 6,000 people on campus had started accounts.
They opened up the platform to a few more schools, and found lots of interest, so they opened it more and more and now they have 325 million active users. Active users.
They were college sophomores in 2004, so at 19, that makes them in their early teens when the dot-coms when bust – they didn’t experience it the way other entrepreneurs and investors who are venturing into online did, so they look at the business model a lot differently than someone even five or ten years older than they are.
A side note: "Unfriend" is the word of the year. Chris said he and his friends have primarily used the term "defriend." Also "unfriend" appears in literature during the 17th century, but seems to have faded from vernacular use around 1659.
Focus on your product
One of the most important things a business can do is focus on its product. What do you do? What are you good at? Why do people come to you? Once you have that figured out, you need to make sure that for everything that comes in front of you, ask, "How does this affect my product?"
Our product is current, local, relevant information – news, entertainment, sports, classifieds, etc. – so Chris's suggestion would be, for every partnership opportunity, for every chance to build a new page, figure out how it enhances our core product. If the answer is, "it probably doesn't," don't do it.
Build a little bit at a time
A lot of companies spend a lot of time – and money – building something huge. They bring in advisers and investors even before anybody knows what they do, and then when they launch, they hope people come. If they don't, the companies then turn around and spend a lot more time and money. On marketing.
Try it the other way. Build something small. If nobody comes or if it's not as good as you thought it was, you've lost a few weeks and a little money, and you can scrap it. If it catches on, great. Then build the next little piece, and eventually it will grow into something big and great. It may be entirely different from what you initially planned, but your customers will have bought in at every level along the way.
We're not starting companies here, but we do roll out a lot of projects, some big, some small, and sometimes, we build too much at once. This is a good lesson.
What's next online: Participatory Web, transparency, crowdsourcing and filters
We're entering a new era of participation, that's for sure, and Web users are only going to get more participatory. Before Facebook and Twitter, there were other ways to participate – blogging platforms, Flickr, Geocities – and that's going to continue. Heck, our forums have been around since the stone age in Internet terms.
We're going to see that grow, and tools like Facebook Connect and OpenID are going to help. Any schmo with a domain will be able to implement a couple of lines of code and have people post stuff in a community format and have the fact that they're posting to schmowithadomain.com appear on their Facebook pages.
And while we're going to get more participatory, things aren't going to get chaotic.
"Transparency is good," Chris said, but you have to be careful with what you're transparent about and who you're transparent to. That shouldn't be news to any of you, but it's not just about people being transparent, it's about companies being transparent. Let people know what's going on – to some extent, of course. Don't give away your secrets, but don't hide in a dark corner away from the world.
He also cited an example from his work on the Obama campaign. Some people were using the platform created for support to oppose the candidate on some issues, but rather than shut them down, Obama addressed them, saying he disagreed, and the campaign let them keep using the platform. They let the people know they were hearing the dissent, but didn’t just turn it off. [There might be a lesson there for our comments.]
Crowds tend to be right, eventually. Facebook is available in over 70 languages, and has never hired a professional translator. They asked users to have at it, and users who knew both English and the other language voted for the best ones, and eventually those wound up "winning."
Chris didn't mention this, but earlier this year someone did a study and found that Encyclopedia Britannica Online and Wikipedia have roughly the same error rate. He also didn't mention James Surowiecki's book The Wisdom of Crowds – essentially, if you get 50 people together and have them all guess the weight of a particular cow, some are going to be way high, some are going to be way low, but if you average all the guesses, 19 times out of 20 you wind up within a couple of pounds.
Filtering of information is one of the things we're starting to see, and that's going to get deeper. Your friends and the people you're interested in professionally are filtering information for you – you're going to increasingly get your news from social networks. This is going to increase the relevancy of information you get, but it's going to decrease the diversity of the information you get.
The mainstream media model is going to change, but it's still going to act as a truth filter. If you want to find out if Kanye West is indeed dead (the Internet definitely killed him a few weeks ago), you're going to check in with The New York Times, or some other trusted news outlet.
Some commentary on filtering
I think this last bit on filtering is important for us. We are a truth and information filter, and if we also put on some personality, we're going to become not only that truth filter, but also a friendly, relevant filter for people as well. Our staffs – whether we're out in the community evangelizing the product or not – are the face and personality of the company, and if we all bring a little something to what people see, they're going to like us.
You might not recognize Chris Hughes' name (of course, you might). Even if not, you've heard of his work. In 2004, he was a sophomore at Harvard when, with a couple of three classmates, he launched a campus-wide social network called, um, Facebook.
Yes, that Facebook. The one I don't even have to link to, because you know where to find it.
That makes him kind of a rock star in the new media world.
He spoke at Onondaga Community College Tuesday night as part of the Famous Entrepreneurs Series, bringing some insights into entrepreneurship, businesses in general and the future of the Internet.
None of the Facebook founders thought of themselves as entrepreneurs. Which shouldn't be surprising, since they were 19-year-old college students. Hughes said they were young, curious, and wanted to do something important.
Entrepreneurs, he said, want to make an impact. It doesn't matter whether that's for a big profit, a little profit, or a non-profit. It's a way of thinking.
Facebook succeeded, Hughes said, because of trust and privacy. It's a useful product, and they were able to build it out by crowdsourcing. [I'll handle crowdsourcing in another post in the near future, but let's just say that Facebook is in over 70 languages and a professional translator has never been on the payroll.]
So, apart from the crowdsourcing, what makes a successful business?
Focus on the product What do you do? What is your focus? If you have an idea for a new feature, how does it affect your core product? If you react to some customers and not others, how does that affect your product.
When on the Obama campaign, Hughes said a group of people – and people were the product for the grassroots campaign – used the campaign tools to put down some of the then-candidates' policies. The campaign decided to let it ride, to let people know they were being heard, they weren't going to be shut down, and that Obama just didn't agree with them.
We know how that campaign turned out.
Don't worry about the formalities There are rules to building a business, and then there are "rules." The "rules," Hughes said, say start with a board of directors, get investors on board, and build something big and wonderful and hope people show up. If they don't, start marketing the hell out of it.
On the other side of the coin, if you start small and see if your idea works, you haven't lost a whole lot if it flops. Build a little, let it succeed; build a little more, let it succeed. Build it out, then get your board of advisers and investors together, before you get too big for your britches (my phrase, not his).
Analyze everything Break everything down to its smallest bits and analyze the heck out of it. Get numbers, find out who, what, where – measure whatever you can and use it to your advantage.
Hire smartly Make sure the person you bring on board is passionate about the business and the product as you are, and that they're a good match for your team.
Think long term Hughes said Facebook has turned down eight- and nine-figure offers for the company, and they haven't sold because they felt they've only scratched the surface of what they're doing or where they're going.
What else? Persistence and luck also play a big role.
What's Next Online
Going forward, what's the Internet going to be like? Hughes said we're entering a new era of participation – but not one of chaos.
» People will be their friends' filters, which means that (a) the content will be more relevant, but (b) the content will be less diverse. This doesn't mean that the truth filters will be missing – Hughes doesn't see the New York Times shutting down, but he sees it changing.
» "Transparency," Hughes said, "is good." But – and you should already know this if you're on Facebook or Twitter or any other sharing service – you need to be smart about what you're transparent about and who you're transparent to.
Lots to think about here. Would love to hear your thoughts if you went last night. You can also see what other people have to say by checking out the #fescny hashtag.