This has been the week of re-design, from Twitter, to StumbleUpon to Facebook - even if Facebook's rollout is only in New Zealand so far. I did see some changes on my own profile, so I don't think it will be too long before we get the new Facebook Timeline too. So far, what I've seen of the new designs is fantastic - that includes all three tools.
- Twitter - Yes, Twitter finally got it right on the Web and they added Brand pages! I've actually used twitter.com to tweet multiple times in the last couple days and enjoyed it. The biggest upside to the new design is its simplicity, because even as an experience user, I found the old design frustrating to navigate. Here's a little tip sheet from Mashable for navigating the new Twitter. In addition to the redesign, Twitter has given us embeddable tweets, which bloggers will love. They've also made significant changes to my favorite (for desktop) Twitter client...and I'm a little scared to check it out.
- StumbleUpon - just wow. It doesn't feel so sterile and institutional when you go to their site. I still need to explore it a bit more, but I'm guessing they have a win already. Between the growth in the past year and the new design, I predict StumbleUpon will likely see a continued surge in memberships. I'm personally hoping their mobile apps speed up when they re-launch with the new look and feel, too.
- Facebook - well, their rollout started in New Zealand and since I already have the Timeline beta, I know what to expect and I like it a lot. I won't be surprised if more changes are added when they do the rollout worldwide.
In other Facebook news, we've seen changes to events, a countersuit against Timelines.com and they added a subscribe button that is going to compete directly with Twitter's follow button. Subscriptions are finally causing a bit of a stir as we all realize that the potential for spamming our friends is high (and happening). I used to keep my Facebook pretty personal, but that line between personal and professional is blurring more and more. Subscriptions aren't necessarily the answer, but Pages aren't perfect. This filter that Josh Constine suggests seems like a good compromise. The problem is that all of your friends are default subscribers. How does one solve that?
Despite wide claims to the contrary, it seems that the vast majority of Facebook users have no problem with the data they're sharing on the social network.
Foursquare now has 15 million users, which is good news since Facebook purchased Gowalla this week. I, however, must agree with Chris Pirillo that location services aren't really delivering value.
Google+ has added facial recognition and greater Gmail integration into its burgeoning social network. And - thankfully - the facial recognition feature is opt-in.
For those who like Klout (or who are at least willing to continue using it), they've launched a new feature this week that I think is pretty nice. Now you can add a topic if their system doesn't automatically pick it up.
Klout has remained a steady presence in my stream since the big algorithm change at the end of October, despite little news coming out about the tool. I've been actively avoiding the subject. This week a bunch of big names have been throwing around their views about Klout after Liz Strauss shared why she opted out. Jason Falls doesn't want to hear about people quitting anymore - I suspect from his strong words he feels it's a narcissistic move based on falling numbers. Christopher Penn encourages people to make the choice based on principle rather than numbers. Mark Shaeffer is seeing too many people criticizing Klout over privacy who don't pay nearly as much attention to the much bigger offenders - like Facebook. I think there are good points from all of them. I haven't seen the line crossed yet that really bothers me. Even opting in minors is something that can happen because of the data they have access to being incomplete. I don't care if people opt out, but if it's about the number, I agree with Jason - please don't tell me.
I had a conversation this week about whether to date blog posts. This is a new trend in blogging that is supposed to keep your content relevant for longer, increase shares and decrease bounce rates. That's all good in theory, but as Shel Holtz points out, some of that content is time-sensitive (like the Buzz and Brilliance posts I do weekly). I do like the happy medium of putting a date in the copy, but even some commentary that may be seemingly timeless can become outdated as tools and practices change.
SEO can strike fear into just about any novice and many veteran bloggers, but it's something we all need to learn if building an audience is a goal. Learning from others' mistakes can be a good starting point.
After reading this post earlier this week, I have once again started discontinuing the practice of automated posts to Facebook. Despite my desire to have posts go up as quickly as possible, I see the advantages of manually sharing with an engaging question or comment. I think the same applies to twitter, though to a lesser extent since I re-share over there manually.
What's the best way to learn how to use a tool well? By checking out what others are doing. Sometimes they're doing really poorly and you can learn from that. Others have developed best practices that stand out.
I love reading stories about how people use technology to do a better job and this one about Evernote use to be a better blogger is no exception. It's a great tool; try it out!
More reading opportunities are coming up - this one is free. I've heard nothing but good about Julien Smith's Flinch, release on Kindle as part of the Domino Project.
I passed this along on a couple of networks this week because it's fun. How many of these warning signs apply to you?