Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tired of Ebay and Amazon then try this it works!

Tired of Ebay and Amazon then try something else. I LOVE selling things and I know most of you love buying things. We are a perfect match.I started selling online about 3 years ago. I'm a medical contractor so my job involves traveling around the US at various hospitals working on 8-13 week contracts. I have been gone from home as little as 2 weeks to as much as 11 months. I never really know how long I'll be gone on an assignment. I got into selling while I was on the road. When you're on the road in a strange town it's sometimes hard to find things to do.

I always had my laptop with me so it was easy for me to connect with my friends far away. One day someone suggested that I try selling on E-Bay. I listed a few items and they sold so I had a few extra dollars in my pocket. Anyone who sells on E-Bay knows what I mean by a "few" extra dollars. By the time Ebay took out their 15% and Pay Pal took out a few more dollars, I didn't make very much but I still liked the idea of selling online. So it didn't take me long to leave Ebay. Next I tried but I didn't like the idea that they took 15-20% and also kept my money until the buyer was satisfied which left me to pay for everything upfront. After selling on Ebay I already knew that no buyer is ever satisfied. So you can guess how that ended up.

I then started looking around and found some really great sites that were "seller friendly" and "computer user" friendly. They have low fees and allow you to sell almost anything without limitations. The sites make it easy to list your item (with no listing fees) and the percent that they take is much lower than Ebay or Amazon. Also a couple of sites allow you to copy your items from one site to the other (even import your Ebay listings). They actually do all the work for you all you do is press the importer button. How great is that. You can link your account for free to Twitter and Facebook so you can tell all your friends about what your are selling. Over the last few years many of these websites offer loyalty incentives for you to shop on their site. You can collect Photons, Addoway Bucks or Reward Tokens. You can get these by interacting with other sellers on the sites. It's kind a like and interactive Ebay without all the drama. Many time the items that you list will show up on the first one or two pages of Google. People can go directly to your store without logging into the website which makes buying a lot faster and hassle free. Check out the site listed on this blog page and see if this is something you would like to do. There are many sites like these out there with more popping up every day. The best sites are the ones that connect to social networks because that's the place to sell right now.

Check out my Booth on at

Happy Blogging and Have a Great Day !!

Pinterest and 60 Others Demo Open Graph Sites + Apps That Auto-Publish To Facebook

Facebook’s Open Graph app launch event is underway here in San Francisco, where over 60 new Open Graph websites and apps are either demo-ing or launching remotely. The apps can publish user activity back to Timeline and Ticker, even from offsite. Launch partners include Pinterest, Ticketmaster, Gogobot, Rotten Tomatoes, and many others. Carl Sjogreen, Facebook project manager, also announced that Facebook will now begin approving apps from third-party developers who aren’t partners.
The Open Graph platform was first announced at f8 in September. There, music, news reader, and video apps debuted showing how users could share what they listened to, read, or watched. With today’s launch, a wider variety of activity will begin to appear on Tickers, Timelines, and the Facebook news feed. This includes what users have pinned, tickets they’ve bought, trips they’ve planned, and movies they’ve reviewed.

Facebook first tried to allow websites to publish back to the news feed years ago with the now infamous Beacon. Because users didn’t quite understand they would be sharing their ecommerce purchases and other activity back to Facebook, some complained their privacy was violated. Though these users had willfully opted in, but the messaging about what would be published wan’t quite overt enough. It was quickly scrapped.
To prevent a repeat, Facebook has created a much clearer opt in permission flow announced earlier today. It makes it easier to see what an app does, control who sees the content it publishes, and opt out of specific permissions such as news feed publishing.

DLD 2012 – @Jack Dorsey: “Twitter Has A Business Model That Works”

Earlier this fine Sunday afternoon, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey took the stage at the DLD Conference, the annual pre-Davos meeting of minds held in Munich, Germany.
In an interview with not one but two journalists (Holger Schmidt from FOCUS Magazine and Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick), Dorsey talked a great deal about Twitter and a little bit about Square.
Dorsey didn’t reveal anything spectacular about either company, emphasizing once more how Twitter is not your traditional social network (here’s my counterpoint) and that its business model works, thanks very much for asking.
He also talked about how Square is looking to expand outside of the United States and why 2012 will be a pivotal year for Twitter in Germany.
Below are my notes – some of Dorsey’s responses are slightly paraphrased.
Let’s start by talking about the platform wars. How do you see the future role of twitter compared to Facebook, Google+ and other social networking services?
Twitter is different because we’ve always been about hosting public conversations, that are real-time to boot. There’s always been this perception that you need to tweet to use Twitter, but we see a huge number of people using it for the discovery of news, events, content and so on. Our focus on simplicity is another differentiating factor.
Some people say Google+ is more of an attack on Twitter than on Facebook. Do you look at it that way?
We have concerns about building and growing Twitter, not so much about competitors. We want to get Twitter into more markets, so more people use it. Google has a lot of evolutions to go through, with search slowly becoming replaced by apps, the rise of social and whatnot. But again, social for us is only one part of what people use Twitter for, and we see the service more as an information utility.
Twitter was obviously born from a blogging-centric mindset, but where we shine is real-time discovery, being able to open up Twitter and instantly see what’s going on in the world, or with your friends and family. When we recently redesigned the website, we focused a lot on the discovery part of the equation, making it very simple for people to get value out of Twitter without necessarily participating.
Twitter has just acquired Summify, a startup that built technology for filtering relevant news. Is this an important area for Twitter, helping people overcome information overload?
Our goal is delivering relevant content to people, instantly. This sounds simple but is in fact extremely complicated to pull off in real-time. We want to bring you closer to what’s happening in the world, and we have a lot of work to do – Summify will help us in that regard.
Should we expect more acquisitions?
We’re always looking for amazing teams, and we can get them by acquiring companies, then why not?
In the long run, is Twitter going to become a destination for information, or a distribution channel that brings traffic to other websites?
The beautiful thing about the service is that it is both. The most amazing thing about Twitter is that it reaches every single device on the planet, from the cheapest phone to the most advanced smartphone. We’re not just about distribution, but also about people sharing content on Twitter.
(Dorsey brings up the Hudson river plane crash incident as an example of content that was shared first on Twitter sparking an international conversation.)
Yes, ok, but have you made up your mind about whether you want to be a distribution channel or a destination site?
Well, it’s a blurry line, but in essence we think of every tweet as a destination on itself, while Twitter is also a mechanism for distribution of content.
There’s been a lot of coverage of the Internet’s reaction to SOPA and its subsequent delay. Do you think we’re entering a new world of democracy? Will this outpouring of reactions on social networks, effectively changing things, become more common?
Services like Twitter definitely make this more possible, based on immediate feedback, the fact that everyone can give their opinion right away. This way, you get free access to public thoughts, right from someone’s phone.
We see politicians use Twitter to consume real-time conversations. It’s mind-blowing. Question is what do we do with that information? I’m a believer that if you give people data and information, it will help them make better decisions.
Twitter in that sense can really help the world, allow us to have better conversations, get a better grasp of how people approach the world, their trials and tribulations.
It look a long time for Twitter to develop a business model, and it’s based on advertising. We can agree that Twitter is big in perception but comes up short when it comes to engagement and stickiness. Do you need the same level of engagement other social networks enjoy to make your business model work?
Twitter’s business model has been in development for quite some time, and it works. Advertisers use it and we see them coming back for more. The market has vetted, and confirmed that they want to keep using it. Twitter’s ‘Promoted’ products — including promoted tweets, accounts and trends — are currently seeing 3 to 5 percent engagement.
We’re always looking to increase engagement, but I also think about other things, like that fact that our technology can have a positive impact on the world and how businesses interact with their customers.
So what you’re saying is that even with the extremely minimal exposure of ads that you deliver, engagement can still prove sufficient enough to make for lots of revenues down the line?
Absolutely, it’s huge. Every signal that we’re getting from both users and advertising proves to us that people want more of it.
What’s more important to you as a business right now: make money or get more users? And you can’t answer both.
Both. It’s not really a fair question. We think of revenue as not a destination but as oxygen that feeds the model and vice versa. You can’t build a product without revenue, but you can’t focus on revenue without having a product either. Twitter is an organic system and product. Time and time again, you see companies whose revenue model makes their products better, just look at how Google AdSense improved search.
You’re unusual in many ways, but also because you have two fulltime jobs: you’re also the CEO of Square. Is Square coming to Europe soon, and what obstacles do you expect?
We would love to come to Europe and we’re going to work hard this year to get traction outside of the United States. The company has been around for two years, but the product has only been on the market for one year, and we’re seeing massive uptake. We have about a million merchants currently using Square, creating new jobs because of it.
We don’t want to limit ourselves to the US, and we’re looking at other markets right now. Germany, for example, is fascinating for both Square and Twitter. Many people don’t know this, but the first programmer we hired for Twitter, Florian Weber, was based in Hamburg, so we definitely have strong ties to Germany.
Interestingly, you just visited China. Twitter is not available there, but will Square soon be?
Square is definitely looking at China. People there use a lot of debet cards, there are lots of sole proprietors, but the tool that’s lacking is a way for them to handle payments. We’re looking all over Asia for opportunities.
In Germany, Twitter is struggling with low adoption rates. What do you plan to do about that?
We’re currently building a team here in Germany. We also plan to have lots of conversations with local entrepreneurs, engineers and press to develop the system so anyone can use it in Germany. This will certainly be a pivotal year for Twitter in Germany.

The Uphill Battle Of Social Event Sharing: A Post-Mortem for Plancast

Plancast was the service conceived a few months later from that basic inclination. Its approach was to provide a really easy way for people to take whatever interesting plans they had in their calendars and share them openly with friends, with the rationale that greater social transparency for this particular type of personal information would facilitate serendipitous get-togethers and enable a greater awareness of relevant events. Personally, I figured that knowing more about the events my friends and peers were attending would lead to a more fulfilling social and professional life because I could join them or at least learn about how they spent their time around town.
Along the way my team built a minimum viable product, launched from obscurity here on TechCrunch, raised a seed round of funding from local venture capitalists and angel investors, and worked like mad to translate our initial success into long-term growth, engagement and monetization.
Alas, our efforts began to stall after several months post-launch, and we were never able to scale beyond a small early adopter community and into critical, mainstream usage. While the initial launch and traction proved extremely exciting, it misled us into believing there was a larger market ready to adopt our product. Over the subsequent year and a half, we struggled to refine the product’s purpose and bolster its central value proposition with better functionality and design, but we were ultimately unable to make it work (with user registration growth and engagement being our two main high-level metrics).
This post-mortem is an attempt to describe the fundamental flaws in our product model and, in particular, the difficulties presented by events as a content type. It’s my hope that other product designers can learn a thing or two from our experience, especially if they are designing services that rely on user-generated content. The challenges I describe here apply directly to events, but they can be used collectively as a case study to advance one’s thinking about other content types as well, since all types demand serious analysis along these lines should one seek to design a network that facilitates their exchange.
Questions are welcome by others who wish to learn more about the product and how we developed it, either by email (drop me a line) or in the comments below. There’s also a possibility that someone who reads this will be inspired to continue the work we’ve begun. And if you’re a user, I’d love to hear about what you do or don’t like about the service (and whether the following points resonate with you).

Sharing Frequency

Social networks (by my general definition and among which I count Plancast) are essentially systems for distributing content among people who care about each other, and the frequency at which its users can share that content on a particular network is critical to how much value it’ll provide them on an ongoing basis.
Unlike other, more frequent content types such as status updates and photos (which can be shared numerous times per day), plans are suitable for only occasional sharing. Most people simply don’t go to that many events, and of those they do attend, many are not anticipated with a high degree of certainty. As a result, users don’t tend to develop a strong daily or weekly habit of contributing content. And the content that does accrue through spontaneous submissions and aggregation from other services is too small to provide most users with a repeatedly compelling experience discovering events.
I run the service, and even I currently have only five upcoming plans listed on my profile, with a total of 500 plans shared over the last couple of years, in contrast to almost 2,800 tweets on Twitter over the same period of time. People often tell me “I like Plancast, but I never have any plans to share”. With social networks, this is sometimes a case of self-awareness (such as when people say they don’t know what to tweet), but often they’re simply telling the truth; many Plancast users don’t have any interesting plans on their calendars.

Consumption Frequency

People also don’t proactively seek out events to attend as you might suppose. I’ve gotten into the habit of thinking about people as divided into two camps: those who have lots of free time and those who don’t.
Those who do are often proactive about filling it, in part by seeking out interesting events to attend in advance. They are generally more inquisitive about social opportunities, and they will take concrete steps to discover new opportunities and evaluate them.
Those who don’t have much free time often desire to conserve it, so rather than seeking out or welcoming additional opportunities, they view them as mentally taxing impositions on a limited resource. For them, planning is a higher-risk endeavor, and usually they’d rather not plan anything at all, since if they’re busy, they likely have a preference to keep their free time just that – free.
It’s hard to generalize by saying most people are in one camp or the other, but suffice to say, there are many people in the latter. And for them, it’s hard to get them excited about a service that will give them more options on how to use their time.

Tendency to Procrastinate

Even putting this bifurcation aside, most people resist making advanced commitments before they absolutely need to make them. People fear missing out on worthwhile events but don’t actually like to take the deliberate initiative to avoid such missed chances, which requires planning.
This can be attributed primarily to people’s desire to keep their options open in case other conflicting opportunities emerge as the date and time of an event approaches. If they can afford to wait and see, they will. Therefore, their commitment will be secured and shared in advance only when they’re particularly confident they’ll attend an event, if they need to reserve a spot before it fills up, or if there’s some other similar prerogative.

Incentives to Share

Returning to the topic of sharing plans, it’s not only a matter of having interesting plans to share but being compelled to actually share them. And unfortunately, people don’t submit information to social networks because they love data set integrity or altruistically believe in giving as much as possible. They do it because the act of contribution selfishly results in something for them in return.
Most social networks feed primarily on vanity, in that they allow people to share and tailor online content that makes them look good. They can help people communicate to others that they’ve attended impressive schools, built amazing careers, attended cool parties, dated attractive people, thought deep thoughts, or reared cute kids. The top-level goal for most people is to convince others they are the individuals they want to be, whether that includes being happy, attractive, smart, fun or anything else.
This vanity compels folks to share content about themselves (or things they’ve encountered) most strongly when there’s an audience ready and able to generate validating feedback. When you post a clever photo on Instagram, you’re telling the world “I’m creative!” and sharing evidence to boot. Those who follow you validate that expression by liking the photo and commenting positively about it. The psychological rush of first posting the photo and then receiving positive feedback drives you to post more photos in the hope of subsequent highs.
Sharing plans, unfortunately, doesn’t present the same opportunity to show off and incur the same subsequent happy feelings. Some plans are suitable for widespread consumption and can make a person look good, such as attending an awesome concert or savvy conference. But, frustratingly, the vainest events are exclusive and not appropriate for sharing with others, especially in detail.
The feedback mechanisms aren’t nearly as potent either, since coming up with a worthy comment for an event is harder than commenting on a photo, and “liking” a plan is confusing when there’s also an option to join. The positive feedback of having friends join is itself unlikely since those friends have considerations to make before they can commit, and they’ll tend to defer that commitment for practical purposes, per above.
Additionally, if a user wants to show off the fact they’re at a cool event, there is little additional benefit to doing so before the event rather than simply tweeting or posting photos about it while at the event. An important exception is to be made for professionals who style themselves as influencers and want to be instrumental parts of how their peers discover events. This exception has indeed been responsible for much of our attendee-contributed event data among an early-adopter community of technology professionals.

Selectivity & Privacy Concerns

Vanity, of course, is not the only possible incentive for users to share their plans. There’s also utility to getting others to join you for an event you’ll be attending, but this turns out to be a weak incentive for broadcasting since most people prefer to be rather picky about who they solicit to join them for real-life encounters.
While event promoters have a financial interest in attracting attendees far and wide, the attendees themselves mainly turn to their closer circle of friends and reach out to them individually. You don’t see a lot of longer-tail plans in particular (such as nights out on the town and trips) because people are both wary of party crashers and usually uninterested in sourcing participants from a wide network.

The Importance of an Invitation

On the flip-side of this reluctance to share plans far and wide is the psychological need for people to get personally invited to events.
Plancast and other social event sharing applications are rooted in an idealistic notion that people would feel confident inviting themselves to their friends’ events if only they knew about them. But the informational need here is not only one of event details (such as what’s going to happen, when, where and with whom). People often also need to know through a personal invitation that at least one friend wants them to join.
When you have a service that helps spread personal event information but doesn’t concurrently satisfy that need, you have a situation where many people feel awkwardly aware of events to which they don’t feel welcome. As a result, the most engaging events on Plancast are those that are open in principle and don’t solicit attendees primarily through invitations, such as conferences and concerts, where the attendance of one’s friends and peers is a much less important consideration for their own.

Content Lifespan

Getting content into a social network is not enough to ensure its adequate value; there’s also an importance of preserving that content’s value over time, especially if it just trickles in.
Unfortunately, plans don’t have a long shelf life. Before an event transpires, a user’s plan for it provides social value by notifying others of the opportunity. But afterwards, its value to the network drops precipitously to virtually nothing. And since most users don’t have enough confidence to share most plans more than one or two weeks in advance, plans are typically rendered useless after that length of time.
Contrast this expiration tendency with more “evergreen” content types, such as profiles and photos. Other people can get value out of your Facebook profile for years after you set it up, and the photos you posted in college appear to have even increased in value. Nostalgia doesn’t even have to play a part; people’s hearts will melt upon viewing this puppy on Pinterest, Tumblr, and other visually-heavy content networks for a long time to come. But how much do you care that I attended a tech meetup in New York last October, even if you’re my friend?

Geographic Limitations

Geographic specificity is another inherent limitation to a plan’s value. Unlike virtually all other content types (with the exception of check-ins), plans provide most of their value to others when those users live or can travel near enough to join.
I may share plans for a ton of great events in San Francisco, but few to none of my friends who live outside of the Bay Area are going to care. In fact, they’ll find it annoying to witness something they’ll miss out on. Sure, they might appreciate simply knowing what I’m up to, but the value to that kind of surveillance is rather modest all by itself.
This is especially problematic when trying to expand the service into new locations. New users will have a hard time finding enough local friends who are either on the service and sharing their plans already, or those who are willing to join them on a new service upon invitation. People who encounter the service from non-urban locations have the hardest time, since there aren’t many events going on in their area in general, let alone posted to Plancast. Trying to view all events simply listed within their location or categories of interest yields little for them to enjoy.

Looking Forward

Despite all of these challenges, I still believe someone will eventually figure out how to make and market a viable service that fulfills our aims, namely to help people share and discover events more socially. There’s simply too much unearthed value to knowing about much of what our friends plan to do to leave information about it so restricted to personal calendars and individuals’ heads.
Another startup may come along that develops insight into an angle of attack we missed. Or, perhaps more likely, an established company with an existing event or calendaring product will progressively provide users with a greater ability to share their personal information contained within. On the calendaring side, Google is possibly the best-situated with Google Calendar and Google+, which together could make for a very seamless event sharing experience (one of the things we considered seriously for Plancast was deep personal calendar integration, but a sufficient platform for it simply wasn’t available). On the events side, companies like Eventbrite, Meetup and Facebook have services that are primarily compelling for event organizers but already contain useful data sets that could be leveraged to create their own social event discovery and sharing experiences for attendees.
Plancast managed to attract a niche audience of early adopters who found it to be among the most efficient ways to share and hear about events (thanks, users! you know who you are). Over 100,000 have registered and over 230,000 people visit each month, not to mention enjoy the event digests we send out by email each day. For that reason alone, and despite its growth challenges, we’re going to keep it up and running for as long as possible and are hopeful we’ll find it a home that can turn it into something bigger. It’s my expectation that one day mainstream society will take for granted the type of interpersonal sharing it currently enables for just this small community, and I look forward to seeing how technological advancements overcome the aforementioned challenges to get us there.