October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Protect Before You Connect! Simple precautions to avoid an online personal privacy disaster.

The Internet is an amazing, fantastic, vibrant place. But there are also evil people out there who steal identities, hack credit card accounts, track personal information, violate privacy, insert malicious programs that can exploit your company or home network, destroy your hard drives and raid your social network.

Mark Weinstein, CEO and founder of www.Sgrouples.com, a privacy-centric social platform, advocates for the importance of taking the right precautions in these changing times to protect your personal data and systems from attack.

Weinstein, an expert in protecting personal privacy and information, offers up the most important ways to protect yourself:

1. Protect Your Wi-Fi Network

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) can track every action you make through your home’s Internet connection. This is typically used to track illegal activity, which is a good thing. The bad news is that most home wireless networks are easily cracked, meaning someone next door or in a car outside your house can use your network for illegal activity, leaving the blame on you. Even worse, it is possible for someone on your wireless network to access other devices connected to the network, which is a serious security breach.

For this reason, it’s important to learn to secure your own wireless network: open up your router settings page, create a unique password and network SSID name, enable network encryption, filter MAC addresses, reduce the range of your wireless signal, use a secure wireless network and monitor for unauthorised users.

2. Get Good Antivirus Software

The next step is to safeguard your computer against virus and malware attacks that can target your personal information and erase your saved data. Some more innocuous malware programs simply track your behaviour and bombard you with ads and pop-ups and slow down your computer.

Having a good antivirus program in place can save you a lot of headaches by catching threats early. To find the best fit for your home or business, do a search using the keywords “best paid antivirus software” and “best free antivirus software.

One final note: Even the best antivirus can’t save you 100 percent of the time. Viruses and malware come from the “shady neighbourhoods” of the Web — gambling, pop culture, pharmaceutical and adult sites in particular. Be aware of what you’re clicking on; don’t download or open something unless you know what you’re getting into. A little precaution goes a long way.

3. Protect Your Passwords

These days we have more passwords to remember than ever: Facebook, Twitter, online banking, eBay, not to mention multiple email accounts! Make sure your passwords are different for each account. At the very least, create alternative passwords for your critical accounts (i.e., your bank account and email). Keep your passwords offline on your hard drive, or, if you want to be even more secure, keep them on a physical notepad you keep near your desk.

Do a search on the following: “creating the best security passwords.” Know what makes a bad password (something easily discovered), get good at creating effective passwords, safeguard your passwords, change them frequently and create an emergency plan. What happens if you or your network administrator dies or is in an accident?

4. Stop Tracking Cookies

Like it or not, Facebook and other social media are now able to track and record your exact interests. It’s no coincidence. Facebook is tracking all your likes and hobbies, even the words you write, and then uses that data to target advertising to match those interests. It’s not that ads are necessarily a bad thing — it’s the way websites spy on your behaviour to deliver those ads that is troubling and disconcerting.

A simple, helpful solution is to use the  Mozilla Firefox web browser with Do Not Track enabled, which tells websites not to collect information about you. However, Do Not Track is simply a request for sites to not track you and has varying degrees of effectiveness. For even more control over who can access your information, Stanford researcher’s Do Not Track project page and the Ghostery plugin can both stop invisible ad networks from spying on you. Private / Secure Browsing is also a great tool for privatising your browsing through encryption like you do when accessing an online banking website.

5. Practise Safe Sharing

The best way to be absolutely sure that information you post online stays secure is to avoid posting it in the first place. It’s all too easy to accidentally share confidential information publicly or to put up too many personal details without realising who has access to that information.

But, to be realistic, many of us are not going to stop sharing online. That’s why, instead of abstinence, it is important to learn and practise safe sharing. One way to do that is to review the privacy settings on every social media site you participate in and adjust the setting to maximise your protection against unwanted intrusion.

To find out more for each particular social media site, you can also do a search on the following phrases:

  • Facebook privacy
  • Google+ privacy
  • Twitter privacy

6. Don’t Daisy Chain Your Social Media Accounts

One of the reasons hackers are able to wreak havoc on people so easily is that all their social profiles are connected to one another. This means that if one profile is compromised, the others are likely to be as well. While connecting to your accounts is easier if all you need to do is log in once to get access to all your social networks, it’s much less secure than if you have separate passwords for each one.

Determine how often you’re likely to use certain Web apps, and ask yourself if you really need to connect yet another third-party app to your Facebook page. If you don’t really need it, cut the link. Keep in mind, the more apps you have connected to your accounts, the more potential weak points there are in your security.

7. Set Up 2-factor Authentication

This amazing technological breakthrough requires both a password and a device to access your accounts. So even if someone does hack your vital account passwords, they still can’t access your critical personal or financial accounts without your phone or secure backup device. For more information, do a search on the phrase using 2-factor authentication.

About the author, Mark Weinstein

Mark Weinstein

Mark Weinstein is a leading privacy advocate and the creator and founder of SGROUPLES.COM, a private social network and technology that lets people form their own private secure group (called a “Sgrouple”), thus creating and managing private circles of friends, loved ones, co-workers or associations of any type. Sgrouples combines many powerful features, like private groups, personal cloud storage, and direct one-on-one messaging, into the ultimate social experience.

Sgrouples has been featured on Fox News as well as in INC, ZDNET, and many other media outlets.

Mark is an Advisory Board Member of the Future of Privacy Forum, as well as a Steering Committee Member of National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC).  Sgrouples has been honoured by the Online Trust Alliance for its dedication to user safety.

Mark is the online community and social network pioneer who founded SuperFamily.com and SuperFriends.com in 1998 — precursors to today’s social networks. Mark is also the author of the “Habitually Great” book series, endorsed by Stephen Covey. He is the recipient of two Indie Book Awards. A prominent expert in business management and leadership, his clients have included Wells Fargo, FedEx Kinko’s, Hyatt Regency and many more. A successful athlete, Mark was a silver medalist in the 2005 USOC State Games of America and has climbed Kala Pattar, an 18,500-foot Nepalese peak.

Mark received his B.A. from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his M.B.A. from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Direct Contact 1-800-457-8746


SMS' Can Relieve Stressed, Lonely People

SMS Text Messages Relieve Stressed, Lonely PeopleBERKELEY — Text messaging often gets a bad rap for contributing to illiteracy and high-risk behaviour such as reckless driving. But a social welfare professor at the University of California, Berkeley, has found an upside to texting, especially for people who feel stressed out, isolated and alone.

Text messages in cognitive behaviour therapy can make people feel less isolated

Adrian Aguilera, a clinical psychologist who treats many low-income Latinos for depression and other mental disorders, said his patients report feeling more connected and cared for when they receive text messages asking them to track their moods, reflect on positive interactions, and take their prescribed medications.

“When I was in a difficult situation and I received a message, I felt much better. I felt cared for and supported. My mood even improved,” reported one Spanish-speaking patient in Aguilera’s cognitive behavior therapy group at San Francisco General Hospital.

The project began in 2010 when Aguilera developed a customized “Short Message Service (SMS)” intervention program, with the help of UCSF psychologist Ricardo Munoz,  in which Aguilera’s patients were sent automated text messages prompting them to think and reply about their moods and responses to positive and negative daily interactions.

The psychologists published the results of the project last year in the journal, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice. Aguilera has since been awarded a $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We are harnessing a technology that people use in their everyday lives to improve mental health in low-income, under-served communities,” said Aguilera, whose passion for addressing mental health issues among the poor was sparked while growing up in a Mexican immigrant community in Chicago.

Recent statistics bear out Aguilera’s outreach strategy. The 2011 Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project survey found that African American and Latino mobile phone owners send and receive more text messages than do Caucasians.

Of the 2,277 adult cell phone users surveyed by the Pew Foundation, the most active senders and receivers of text messages (at least 50 messages a day) were non-whites, earned incomes below $30,000 and did not graduate from high school.

Aguilera came up with the texting idea when he realized that many of his patients had difficulty applying the skills they learned in therapy to their daily lives, possibly because of the many stressors they routinely faced. They could not afford laptops, electronic tablets or smart phones, but most had a basic cellular phone and a prepaid monthly plan.

“The people I wanted to impact directly didn’t have as much access to computers and the Internet,” Aguilera said. “So I thought about using mobile phones to send text messages to remind them to practice the skills covered in therapy sessions.”

The feedback from patients offers new insight into the human need for regular contact or check-ins for mental health professionals, even if only through automated technology, Aguilera said.

While the text-messaging sessions are designed to last only a certain number of weeks, about 75 percent of the patients requested that they continue receiving the messages. When the program stopped for a week due to technical problems, some really noticed the difference.

“When it stopped, I missed it,” the patient reported. “My life is so crazy, I need a reminder to think about how I feel.”

Adrian Aguilera, a UC Berkeley social welfare professor and clinical psychologist


A Prayer for Peace Using Social Networking

Recently I received a very interesting press release about a new social networking website to promote peace. So I emailed the founder Hasitha Amarasena to request an email interview and give this a better context in a world flooded with Facebook.

1. What is your motivation to start this project?
In the knowing that having a thought is in itself a powerful influential act. From that thought came the idea to create a social network that displayed the world’s problems and giving the whole world an opportunity to contribute positive words or prayers to each world issue. I believe with the power of social media we can energetically connect together and solve the world’s problems. I have a genuine belief we will have world peace within our life time. To finally live in a love based world instead of a fear based world. Prayers for Peace will be the largest Peace movement in the world!

2. How does your social network increase peace, and decrease violence in the real world?

The site presents real-time news updates of worldwide implications and it also ensures that the news remains in the forefront of our thoughts until resolution. Now for the FIRST time you have the opportunity to post your positive expressions along with the news and see how your contribution affects our world. Throughout the centuries great minds have acknowledged the intensity of power resulting from collective positive energy and prayer. Have you ever wondered if prayers and positive thoughts really worked? Now
we have a chance to see the results.

3. How is your social network relevant in a world dominated by Facebook?

Facebook is a one of many social networks. Social networks existed prior to Facebook. Social networks demonstrated how we can easily communicate with people all over the world in seconds. Social networks revolutionized the way we communicate with each other. Here is a list of all the other social networks.

4. How does your social network relate to mobile phone users who don’t have access to a computer/laptop?

We are currently working on applications for the website to work on all mobile devices and are translating the site into different languages.

5. How does your social network relate to South Africa?
We will present real-time news of worldwide implications, which would include South Africa.

Groundbreaking Social Networking Site Has Launched

Social networking is fun! No matter where you and your friends are you can stay connected, share your pictures; exchange updates and always know what’s going on. Now, let’s take social networking to another level and add more features that allow YOU to be part of the solution to the world’s problems. But how?

For the FIRST time ever a social networking site for news, dedicated to Peace has launched. The site presents real-time news updates of worldwide implications and it also ensures that the news remains in the forefront of our thoughts until resolution. You no longer have to feel paralyzed by the news you read or see.

PrayersForPeace.net provides a platform that provides a CONNECTION between YOU and the world’s problems. Throughout the centuries great minds have acknowledged the intensity of power resulting from collective positive energy and prayer. Also, you have been taught that through positive thoughts and prayers, you could move mountains and miracles will occur. Now for the first time you have the opportunity through PrayersForPeace.net

Join PrayersForPeace.net to test these principles and theories and share your positive expressions along with the news and see the effects it has on our world. This social network motivates us to set aside our differences and embraces all cultures, religions, traditions and beliefs. It encourages you to create friendships with everyone in the world. There are no limits to the amount of friends you can have. We have a symbiotic relationship with everyone in the world. What we do to others, we do to ourselves. If you are alive at this moment, you can be part of the solution! We can be the Peace, we want in the world.


Q&A about the Future of Social Networking

Future of Social NetworkingUsing Microsoft’s recent acquisition of a $240 million stake in Facebook as the point of departure:

1. What does Microsoft’s stake in Facebook practically translate into for the company? And for the site’s users?

Facebook now has a partner who can fund further expansion and growth as the need arises. Microsoft gains a very strong foothold into the Social Networking industry, which it has been lacking for a long time. Most user activity is now taking place online and not on the PC Desktop so this was crucial for Microsoft. For Facebook users it does not mean much because its only an advertising relationship which has been confirmed and solidified by the investment from Microsoft. Most people, and especially Facebook users, have become very savy in avoiding online advertising.

2. Why the interest in social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace by internet giants like Microsoft and Google? What is the motivation behind buying/attempting to buy stakes in these sites? Is it straight access to a demographically-specific marketing database?

Yes, part of the reason is the detailed demographics available so advertising can be customised in a very specific way. The bigger reason is that next to search engines, social networking is where the majority of Internet users are starting there online journey. Google already owns Orkut, which is very popular social networking website in Asian countries like India. And that also explains why its not well known in South Africa.

3. One of the views I’ve come across suggests that the social networking space will tend to move towards a monopoly because people need to communicate with each other in the same “language”. Basically, if most of your friends are on Facebook, then it makes sense for you to join that as opposed to MySpace to communicate with them. Others argue that users of social networking sites are non-specific. If you have a Facebook profile, you probably have a MySpace profile and you use both. What do you make of the debate?

Social networking sites can either be specialised on generalised. The roots are always in a niche community. For example MySpace started out among independent music scene in San Fransisco to allow their fans to connect with the bands, sample music and get a full gig guide. So MySpace has and will continue to have a strong foothold in the music and entertainment industry. Most of my MySpace friends in South Africa have moved to Facebook. Facebook started among university students and has spread from there. MySpace is a behemoth with over 207 million registered profiles while Facebook only has about 45 million users. LinkedIn on the other hand is the #1 social networking website for business people with over 15 million users worldwide and almost 40,000 users in South Africa.

There is a trend towards websites that allow you to tap into all your social networking profiles from one place.

4. Do you think fears of a monopoly within the social networking space drive the market price?

Yes, there is a vicious competition between Microsoft, Google and Yahoo for control of the Web. They are the biggest online publishers by a far margin because they control 3 biggest search engines. Microsoft in particular is paranoid as more and more user activities takes place online and not on the Desktop.

5. Why has Facebook taken off in a way that MySpace never did? What are the key differences?

As I said before it’s a myth in South Africa that MySpace is not important. You may consider that MySpace has been around since August 2003 and Facebook launched in February 2004. And until late last year Facebook was limited to university students only. It does seem like MySpace’s growth is slowing down.

6. What is the future of social networking? A Datamonitor report estimates social networking sites will enlist 230 million active users by the end of the year, continue attracting new users until 2009 and then plateau in 2012. What do you make of this?

That Datamonitor report is wrong because MySpace is over 207 million and Facebook is over 45 million alone. That is excluding Orkut with about 67 million users and LinkedIn with over 15 million users. Even with some overlap of users the is at least 300 million active users worldwide. We currently have 1.1 billion Internet users and almost 3 billion cellphones users. My view is that by 2010 the grow in the Web will come from people using cellphones to access search engines and social networking websites. Most social networking sites already support access via a customised mobile interface.

7. The same report suggests social networking services revenues will reach $965 million this year and $2.4 billion by 2012. Is this income generated purely through targeted advertising on these sites?

Yes, most of the revenue is from advertising. Some websites like LinkedIn is generating 1/3rd of its revenue from paid members. Most of the rest do not have any paid subscription options – just yet. Google struck a deal in 2006 that guarantees MySpace $900 million over the next 3 years for exclusive search and online advertising rights. Remember Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp bought MySpace in 2005 for $580 million and everyone thought he was crazy.

8. Google’s own social networking site, Orkut, hasn’t gained as much popularity as MySpace or Facebook. Do you think Google’s launch of OpenSocial is aimed to popularise it so it can join the big social networking players?

OpenSocial is a application programming interface (API). What that means its an easy way for programmers to develop applications on social networking websites. Google wants to be the interface to all the social networking websites. Most users still do not know how to get directly to websites. What they typically do is Google words like “Facebook” or even “Yahoo” to find these websites. So Google will remain influential. They are appealing to the technorati, the early adopters, to built loyalty to Google, not necessarily to Orkut.


Download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook

This week I’m expanding my LinkedIn connections. This has become a weekly ritual to expand my network and reach. You’re welcome to connect with Ramon Thomas on  LinkedIn, the business social network.

Anyway, here’s the problem: Business social networking is something I believe is truly valuable. So download my LinkedIn Lessons ebook. You’re welcome to share it with anyone.

Learn how to use business networking with superior social influence by reading my CNBC Africa interview or listen to my interview on LinkToYourWorld podcast

LinkedIn Lessons Ebook

This ebook is an update and revision of How to Double Your Income in 6 Months Using LinkedIn written by Joe Bartling, now more than 2 years old. I have unsuccessfully tried to contact him to seek his permission to update this document. His own blog was last updated in 24 Feb 2007 so I am not sure if he’s still around.

Anyway I’ve always been naturally good with connecting with new people, building rapport quickly when meeting them. At the same time I’ve maintained friendships all the way from primary school to date. When I discovered Joe’s ebook I finally understand, scientifically, how to begin realising the potential of my network. Since then I’ve also become student of communication and influence. In my own business, NETucation, which I started in 2004, I help help people understand online opportunities using the psychology of technology.

LinkedIn is a service designed for one purpose: to help professionals find and connect
with one another more effectively. It’s not designed to be a portal, sell products on eBay,
or search the web for one of a billion innocuous web pages or bargains. I should say up front that I am not a principal, employee or otherwise connected to LinkedIn, Ltd., its investors, or its principals and founders including Reid Hoffman. I’m just another fan of the technology, and if I were to build one focused on business executives and professionals, it would be exactly what LinkedIn already is.


This ebook is only an introduction to social networking for business people. You can explore the following additional resources once you’ve mastered the strategies contained here:

Guy Kawasaki blog postings:

More excellent articles:


My CNBC Africa interview on Business Networking

MANDLAKAZI MPAHLWA host Kaleidoscope CNBC AfricaOn Wednesday I will be interviewed for the 2nd time on the Kaleidoscope show on CNBC Africa. The focus was on business networking and social networking. Here’s some of the what I covered in the interview with Mandlakazi Mpahlwa:

MM: How does a delegate begin to Network?

RT: Learn to ask questions. You do not have to have all the answers but if you can ask good questions you allow the other person to open up and tell you what’s most important to them. Once you know what’s important to them you can link what you have to offer to that. And that could be another person in your social network (not something you are selling). Building trust should be your #1 objective.

MM: When and where should one Network?

RT: You should network everywhere. Therefore you must always, always carry your business cards with you. And don’t wait for the other person to ask for it. After speaking to someone for a few minutes give them your card. Now when they give you there card DO NOT put it away immediately. In Japan its customary to accept a business cards using both hands and bow. And then you keep the card in your hand UNTIL the other person puts it away. By glancing at the card you can begin to remember the person’s name before putting it away. And also looking at the info on their card you can make fairly accurate guesses on the nature of their business. I have networked with people in book stores, coffee shops, conferences, parties, the plane, buses, you name it. There is not perfect place.

MM: What are the No-No’s when networking at a function / conference?

RT: The biggest mistake is trying to sell somebody on your products or services. People are coming together to meet and network to help them solve problems not to buy something. That always comes later. You have to listen, ask questions and once you have an understanding of their pains you can make suggestions. The key is taking time to build trust and find out what’s most important to the other person.

MM: What tools does one require to successfully network?

RT: You can use online tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or MyGenius to manage your growing network of business or social connections. It’s important to touch base with people within the 1st week after meeting them and then once every 90 days. In additional your email software like Mozilla Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook can help you keep track of birthdays and you can go as far as sending automated emails using a CRM system.

For me LinkedIn is the most powerful business networking website because:

  • it has very strict built in privacy management so you cannot spam people
  • it has very high quality members: many CEOs, Directors or Specialists
  • over 35,000 South African business people
  • A goldmine for research, competitive intelligence in the LinkedIn Answers

On the other hand Facebook floods your Inbox with more information than most people can handle, even though you can turn it off. Also many of my business connections are on Facebook, however, they use it to share more personal experiences like family photos, etc.

A Networking Example:

If I meet you at a function and you tell me you’re in the media and you have your own show, etc. I will tell you about some people I’ve met who I think will make good guests. So I’m not saying you should interview Me. I’m suggesting other people and other things in which I’ve have no vested interest. What I’m doing here is playing the connector role. I’m helping people connect the dots. I always play my own role, my own abilities down. I’m being humble.

You may be interested in my business social networking workshop.  You will learn how to become more interesting, improving your social intelligence, increasing the depth of your business relationships and most importantly substantially improving the results you get from business networking.


Podcast – Jeremy Maggs interview on SAFM

This was one of the best interviews I’ve done on the topic of Facebook and MXit ever. Also interviewed with me was Lynne Cawood, director of Childline Gauteng and Steven Ambrose, director of World Wide Worx Strategy.

The interview was for a almost an hour on the After 8 Debate, a segment of the morning show on SAFM, hosted by Jeremy Maggs.

Download the SAFM interview here (size 19MB, length 53 mins).


How is online social networking websites impacting children's ability to communicate

This morning I was interviewed by Jeremy Maggs on the After 8 Debate (SAFM). The question on this debate is: are online social networking tools, such as Facebook, MXit & MySpace retarding our children’s ability to communicate? Lynne Cawood, director of Childline Gauteng and Steven Ambrose, director of World Wide Worx Strategy was also on the panel discussion via telephone. I was in studio. I never miss out on opportunities to meet the presenters/hosts in person.

Lynne Cawood stressed the proliferation of sexual images in the media and society in general. This has led to first sexual encounters occurring at younger and younger ages. Forced sexual contact has happened to about 40% of children by ages of 17 to 18 years. My own view is that cellphones/MXit is accelerating the development of relationships between teenagers in an unhealthy manner. They never learn through face to face feedback the lessons, which will become valuable later in life. And more specifically they could experience relationship burn-out as they just have nothing left to say/offer when they do get together face to face.

Steven Ambrose said that nothing in society has changes but the technology is allowing you to do same things in new ways. World Wide Worx research shows that teenagers do not even think of cellphones as technology because it’s seen as just being part of their daily lives and more of a fashion accessory for some

My talks to parents/teachers/children now include information on Facebook. In just 4 months it’s gone from 20,000 to over 250,000 users in South Africa. The number is likely much higher because not everyone is linked with the South Afican network on Facebook.

Something we didn’t address in the interview which I feel very strongly about is the growing productivity challenges for companies with soaring use of the Internet / cellphones in the workplace. This could cost the economy over a R1 billion over the next 12 month in lost hours from employees goofing off during work time.


Facebook drains attention and a mental bandwidth

Facebook social networkingThis Wednesday morning I will be interviewed on eTV Morning Edition at 6h30am likely just after the news bulletin about the impact of social networking website Facebook on business. The views I am going to express is something that needs to be taken very seriously by companies, especially small business. You see small businesses and entrepreneurs often do not have the tools like larger corporates to block access in the same way. In fact in many cases they may not even realise how much time is being wasted on Facebook or sending/forwarding and reading joke emails. This must be the curse of the knowledge worker i.e. that you can pretend to work whenever you are clicking around on your PC.

There has been several articles and comments in the South African blogosphere about the impact of Facebook. Vinny Lingham highlights how stupid outright blocking of Facebook is and Mike Stopforth gives 5 reasons why you should let your employees use it. Both refer to this News24 article about South African companies blocking Facebook.

As an Internet evangelist I will always support more Internet access. So I agree fundamentally with Vinny that companies should address it on a individual basis. So I would recommend companies write Facebook and social networking access into the Internet Usage policy. Once they have informed employees that their access is being monitored the next step should be compulsory online netiquette training to increase workplace productivity and reduce technology stress.

You see there is a problem with multitasking as reported by CNN back in 2001. And if your block the access outright people will find a way around it. Secondly you won’t be able to monitor or track their activities. Remember nobody is teaching employees basic online etiquette these days. Way back in the early days of the Web there were many people who supervised things on their own accord like your friendly neighbourhood online bodyguard. Today companies are making a lot of assumptions about people’s online behaviour, their levels of self-discipline and their ability to take the initiative in improving their productivity. So for a better understanding of the Attention Age go here.


The Impact of Social Networking on the Value of Information

Last week I was invited to present a lecture at the University of Johannesburg by the Department of Information & Knowledge Management where I am an alumni as well as currently registered for my Masters degree in Information Science. Contact Andrea Ferreira if you would to be added to their list for similar seminars held every couple of months.

The key points were as follows:

  • Information pollution is devaluing faster then ever before – So learn how to avoid or stop information pollution and information overload.
  • The numbers: Worldwide Internet users over 1.1 billion, worldwide cellphone users: over 2.5 billion, IM users approximately 580 million users, Social networking users approximately over 300 million
  • MySpace and Facebook are both huge social networks for teenagers and increasingly people over 35. MySpace is particularly strong in the entertainment industry and Facebook has loyal support from the university/college campuses while experiencing explosive growth in South Africa.
  • LinkedIn is the most useful social networking tool for professionals with over 12 million registered users worldwide and over 25,000 in South Africa. It’s changing the way recruitment is done as well as background checks on new employees. You may be interested in the excellent ebook: How to double your income in six months using LinkedIn.
  • The concept of Six Degrees of Separation and the Small World theory is the basis for the success of online social networks.
  • Google has been a key driver in the emergence of the long tail in marketing and onlie retail. Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace for $580 million in 2005 and people thought he was crazy and not long afterwards signed an exclusive deal with Google guaranteeing at least $900 million over 3 years. Facebook users generate about $6 in advertising revenue while MySpace users only generate about $2. And based on Youtube‘s value it’s 124 million unique monthly visitors are worth about $13.
  • According to Rich Shefren, the information age is dead and we now live in the attention age. People with elements of ADD have an advantage because they can focus for short periods and maintain productivity levels while switching between tasks. Ordinary people’s potential efficiency is reduced each time they change tasks by 20% to 40% depending on the complexity of the tasks at hand. The abundance of choice impacts decision making because most people are NOT trained how to evaluate source of information. And therefore there exists a Paradox of Choice.

Some recommended resources of where you can start research and narrow your focus on more valuable information are: Squidoo, ChangeThis, Google Answers and to a lesser extent Yahoo! Answers. And if you still have not make some time to read the entire Cluetrain Manifesto, published in full on the website. As a side note if you are interested in the rise of Blogging read the quarterly report by Technorati: The State of the Live Web.

You can view the presentation or download it from Slideshare.net here: