In the end, my new Plugin for WordPress, Socialize Me! turned out to be more of a success than I’d either imagined or planned for. In truth, this really is just the start of things…
The success of Socialize Me!
The feedback and suggestions Kate & I received has been generous, overwhelming and just pretty damned amazing!
We’re still sifting through the web traffic data and the various good reviews that have sprung up around the web.
The breadth & depth of the impact and the encouraging community spirit that seemed to rise up around us has been the most encouraging aspect of the whole campaign.
And to think that at one point I had little faith in my idea, as I was convinced it was so stupidly / ridiculously obvious, someone must have done something about it before me!
If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to add them to the Blah, Blah! Technology ‘blog Page on Facebook.
Pay a visit to the Socialize Me! page to download the Plugin for WordPress and installation instructions.
Socialize Me! Closing the Social Loop
In simple terms, Socialize Me! is about closing what I call the Social Loop:
- Content Production — you write your articles and publish them.
- Content Promotion — you begin the process of disseminating your content.
- Social Media, Social Networking and Search Engines — your content is now in the various channels.
- You — those that visit your article now see that you’re also on those same websites.
Prior to Socialize Me! the ways in which you’d keep your Social Loop from collapsing into a dead end were pretty limited. You might have a list on your ‘blog of the different Social Media websites and Social Networking portals you were on, but they’re mostly ignored.
Now, with the Socialize Me! Plugin for WordPress, it’s possible to reach out to your visitors on a one-to-once basis.
Profiles, Privacy and Popular People
Despite the overall success and very positive feedback from so many people, some questions were raised which need to addressed.
Some people seem to think a Plugin like Socialize Me! is a bad idea, of which three main concerns emerged:
- Socialize Me! is an invasion of peoples’ privacy.
- Socialize Me! is “spammy”.
- Allowing “random” people to add you as a friend isn’t appropriate.
OK, let’s address these concerns.
When someone moves around the web, they leave a passive series of what might be loosely interpreted as digital “footprints”. By using a programming language like PHP, I can see what websites a visitor to my ‘blog has just been on.
One person was concerned at me knowing their profile details on one of the major Social Media websites. Of course, I know nothing and cannot know anything about their profile.
All my Plugin does is look to what is called the “referrer” address, which is essentially the address of the last website the visitor was on.
It then matches part of that web address against those that the user of my Plugin has entered details for.
If for example someone was to visit my ‘blog from: fakeusername.stumbleupon.com I can be sure that the owner of that profile added one of my articles to their Favorites.
What I cannot know is whether it was the owner of that profile or just someone simply passing through.
Additionally, Socialize Me! does not save the part of the referrer web address that details the profile.
So in our previous example of: fakeusername.stumbleupon.com, the “fakeusername” part is ignored and only the: “.stumbleupon.com” is processed.
It’s worth pointing out that even if my Plugin did in some way store the whole web address, it still would not constitute an infringement of anyone’s privacy. After all, the very server your website resides on is constantly logging such information.
One comment in particular referred to the Socialize Me! Plugin as being “spammy”, which is incorrect.
If you go and look up the definition of Spam, you see something like this: “the use of mailing lists to blanket Usenet groups or private e-mail boxes with indiscrimination, unsolicited messages of a promotional nature.”
Which has nothing to do with the purpose or utility of the Socialize Me! Plugin.
Even if we work from the assumption that Socialize Me! is in some way invasive by way of being in your face, a visitor either clicks the Socialize Me! link or they don’t — it’s an elective process, not a pop-up or pop-under.
Because I chose to release Socialize Me! as Open Source, I have absolutely no control over how people choose to use Socialize Me! on their ‘blog.
If someone chooses to adapt Socialize Me! to produce a pop-up or pop-under window, then I really wouldn’t be happy about that at all. But there’s nothing I can do to stop them.
If someone doesn’t like the idea of “random” people adding them as a friend, well, there’s a really easy solution to that — don’t install the Socialize Me! Plugin.
It’s that simple.
Socialize Me! isn’t about flinging people at you, random or otherwise. The people who’re visiting your articles are people who’re probably very much into the same themes and topics as you are.
So in many respects, these people are pre-qualified and not nearly as random as you might think!
Socialize Me! offers you a genuine opportunity to connect with like-minded people from anywhere your content is to be found.
You’re helping keep the dialogue you created alive.
WordPress Plugins — more to come
Now that I’ve gotten my head around writing WordPress Plugins, there are certainly more ideas that I can see making their way into a WordPress installation near you!
I enjoy writing stuff in PHP. It’s what I do for a living and I really, really love my job and my business.
What makes all the effort even more worthwhile is the buzz I get knowing I helped hundreds of people around the world make connections in ways that were previously either awkward to do or just not possible.
While talking and writing about Social Media & Social Networking is good, being a part of the very mechanics of the Social Graph of hundreds of people is something else.
And I really think that’s what I’ve managed to do with my Socialize Me! Plugin for WordPress.
A big thanks to…
First of all, I really must thank Kate for her tireless efforts in keeping the wheel turning, ensuring Socialize Me! got the exposure it did.
A big thanks to Jeff Quipp, the CEO of Search Engine People. Quite unbeknownst to me at the time, he threw his considerable weight behind my Socialize Me! Plugin on a number of websites.
David Bradley of Sciencetext who helped in giving the initial push the Plugin needed. David also suggested offering people the option to choose whether to use their name or an alias for the widget text link — currently part of the update I’m working on.
I must also give a mention to Miquel Lopez, too. Miquel originally submitted my article to Digg. And to Tal Siach of the WalYou technology & gadgets ‘blog, who then kept the momentum going thereafter.
A thanks to Brian Wallace of NowSourcing for suggesting a couple of websites that have since also found their way into the update to Socialize Me! which currently in testing on my ‘blog.
An extra thanks to all those of you that wrote about Socialize Me! on their ‘blogs — you guys know who you are!
And finally, a very special thanks to those among you who downloaded and installed my Socialize Me! Plugin…