SMUG Extension Class for LifeSource

Today I had the opportunity to do a presentation on social media for LifeSource, the non-profit organization that manages organ and tissue donation in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and parts of western Wisconsin.

I had been asked to do this because of a presentation I had done for the Minnesota Health Strategy and Communications Network. I told the LifeSource group I would provide a link here to my presentation; since it was substantially the same as the one I did in February, I’m just linking to that post.

I will be interested to see what LifeSource does in social media; for an organization that is so volunteer-intensive and deeply affects so many people in a positive way, these tools are a natural way to give a voice and a platform to people who are passionate about this life-saving work. Here’s the Facebook group, Donate Life Minnesota, they have formed. I suggested they should talk with Scott Meis from the Donate Life Illinois campaign, where they’ve had a lot of success using social media.

I’m also looking forward to connecting with LifeSource at the Transplant Games in Pittsburgh in July, where Mayo Clinic will have a booth as one of the sponsors. We will be having opportunities for participants in these Olympic-style events to share their stories via a Facebook group and in other ways.

Free File Sharing Site: Senduit

Today I ran across a simple, elegant free site that’s a great alternative to a complicated ftp site. If you need to share files that are too big to e-mail but less than 100 mb, Senduit is an excellent choice.

Almost all social software utilities like Facebook and YouTube are free, because as Chris Anderson says, there’s a huge psychological difference between $0.00 and $0.01. The price of admission for these sites is usually creating a username and password. Not a huge barrier, and there are benefits that accompany the accounts, but it still creates some hassle in getting started with a service.

Senduit is as effortless a file sharing utility as I can imagine. Check that: I think it’s as effortless as anyone could imagine. Here’s the user interface:

You just choose the file, pick how long you want it to be available, and hit the upload button:

After a few minutes, depending on your file size, you get a screen that looks something like this:

Then, if you send that URL to someone by e-mail, or insert it in a blog post as a clickable link like this:

They can click the link and the download starts automatically.

Note: This link should be working until about June 4, 2008. It’s video I took of some friends and former patients who were back in Rochester to visit last week. You can read their updates here. If you’re reading this post after that date, give Senduit a try with your own file.

At first I wondered how this could possibly be a money-making enterprise, especially given the Senduit privacy policy, which says:

File Privacy
The name, type, contents, and origin of your file are not saved, reviewed, or analyzed. The only monitoring that takes place are our automated tallies of file uploads and our automated cleaning of expired files.

Transfer and Storage Security

Although we take appropriate measures to ensure the privacy of our user’s data, it’s impossible for us to guarantee 100% security. For this reason, we suggest you do not use our service to share sensitive data. Once a file has been uploaded, it is your responsibility to share your file’s address in a secure manner.
File Expiration
All uploaded files are designated to expire at the point in time selected (anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 week). After a file has expired, it becomes inaccessible to the public and is permanently removed from our systems.

But then, when I downloaded my own file, I saw how they work in the advertising. It looks like this:

Unlike the annoying pop-up ads you see on newspaper web sites, this isn’t one you’d click to skip. And when you click the ad it opens in a new window, leaving your download happening in the background.

This seems like a great, user-friendly service, and the only real costs should be bandwidth. Files never stay on their servers for more than a week, so storage costs should be negligible. Like they say, you wouldn’t want to place highly sensitive files on their servers, but it appears that the odds of someone randomly finding your URL are something like 1 in 2,176,782,336.

Give Senduit a try and let me know what you think about it.

Why Every Business Should Use Facebook

As I previously mentioned, I had an opportunity a couple of weeks ago to distill my thoughts on the business benefits of Facebook for an article Julie Sartain was writing for Computerworld. It was a really useful exercise for me, and an opportunity to encapsulate what I’ve learned in the 10 months or so since I first wrote about Facebook Business Uses.

You can find many of these thoughts expressed, described and demonstrated in more detail in posts linked to SMUG’s Facebook Business page, in its Facebook category or in the formal Facebook curriculum, but I’m posting my full essay here.


From telephones on each salesperson’s desk to fax machines in every work unit to the hundreds of millions of workplace personal computers connected to the Internet, U.S. business leaders have invested incalculable billions of dollars over the last several decades to connect their employees with the outside world and with each other.

They’ve justified these investments because of increased productivity and greater organizational agility. In 1990, for example, being able to receive customer purchase orders by fax instead of via FedEx or local courier was a huge advance, well worth several hundred dollars for the device purchase and the monthly charges for the requisite extra phone line.

And if AT&T had offered its business customers a free fax machine and dedicated phone line, can you imagine anyone declining?

Social networking sites like Facebook are a much more profound communications phenomenon than the fax, and Facebook’s functionality far surpasses the transmission of black-and-white document images. Yet not only are many businesses failing to take advantage of the free communication services Facebook provides: some actively block their employees from accessing it from their workstations.

What’s wrong with this facsimile? Can you even conceive that business owners and managers would not only reject the mythical free fax offering, but would call security to have the AT&T representative escorted from the premises?

Many managers misperceive Facebook, and therefore fail to appreciate its benefits. I’ve listed some practical Facebook business uses below. While every category won’t apply to every business, if you can’t find some way to profitably leverage a free communications network that has more than 70 million active members, your main business problem is likely lack of creative thinking and vision.

Here are five free Facebook business uses you should consider, plus a low-cost bonus:

Directory Listing: You can establish a free “fan” page for your business or organization in Facebook, complete with links to your Web site, photos, videos and contact information to key employees or salespeople. It’s like a supercharged multimedia white pages listing in a telephone directory. Here’s the Mayo Clinic Facebook fan page.

Word-of-Mouth Catalyst: When people become a “fan” of your organization, or when they write on your wall, it shows up on their Facebook profile and in their friends’ news feeds.

Collaboration Networks: Facebook allows you to form an unlimited number of free groups. They can be open to anyone, closed (you must invite or approve new members) or even secret (their existence doesn’t show up on your profile.) The latter two types could enable your employees to collaborate with each other and with external vendors or agencies, without providing them VPN access behind your corporate firewall.

Free Intranet: Speaking of corporate firewalls, if you run a small business, Facebook could be your intranet, through a secret or closed group. You can post important updates from leadership, invite discussion and even use Facebook Chat for instant messaging, without any expense or IT support. Each work team or unit within your company could have its own secret Facebook group for collaboration.

What about data security? Let’s face it: you probably have a hard enough time getting your employees to pay attention to your corporate priorities. Do you really think it’s likely your competitors will A) Find out that you have a secret Facebook group, B) Have the technical sophistication to engage in strategic espionage, and C) Effectively share the information from your secret group with their employees to put you at a significant competitive disadvantage?

Don’t use Facebook to store your bank account or credit card numbers or other information that could have serious legal ramifications if released, but understand this: most of your corporate information just isn’t all that interesting.

Focus Groups: Groups also let you invite current or potential customers or clients to interact with you and share feedback on your products and services. You can bring them together without travel expense or schedule coordination, and your group can be much larger than what can be managed behind the one-way mirror of a focus group.

The Non-Free Bonus: With 85 percent of college students having profiles, Facebook ads could be a great tool for employee recruitment. You can target pay-per-click ads to students at particular schools, with specific college majors and to undergrads or those who already have their degrees, with a link to a Facebook group or your recruiting site. The extra bonus is that by showing openness to social tools like Facebook that are part of how today’s students interact, you’re more likely to be perceived as a desirable place to work.

I’m not advocating diving into Facebook without first thinking exactly what you hope to accomplish, and whether Facebook is the right fit. But given its power (and the new privacy settings, demonstrated in Facebook 210, which enable separation of personal and professional networking), the burden of proof in the discussion should be on those who oppose its use.


What do you think? What other practical uses for Facebook have you found? I’d love to hear your stories. And if you disagree with anything I’ve said, I’d be glad to hear your reasons.

Unspeakable Sadness

Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my favorite musicians, and has been probably for the better part of two decades. I love his upbeat songs and how they display the infectious enthusiasm of his faith, and yet he also  writes poignant pieces that plumb the depths of human experience and the Christian life.

I also have admired not just how he writes and performs songs that capture deep truth, but how he lives his life. He’s a dedicated dad, which you’ll see on his YouTube channel, and whereas Lisa and I got our six children the old-fashioned way (and one at a time), Steven and Mary Beth filled out their half-dozen by adopting three girls from China, illustrating the redeeming love of God that crosses oceans (and more) to bring people into his family.

Last Wednesday their family was struck by tragedy, as their youngest daughter, Maria was killed in their driveway when she was hit by vehicle driven by an older son. Here’s a tribute to Maria, set to a song Steven wrote about the importance of cherishing each moment with children. In the best of circumstances they grow up before you realize it. And you can’t take any day with them for granted.


Here’s a Facebook group you can join to express condolences to and solidarity with the Chapman family.

One of the benefits of the large family Lisa and I have (with kids from 9 to 22, and one of them married), is that we still have some young ones when the older two have moved out of the house. We realize how quickly they grow, so we can cherish them as we should.

On this Memorial Day, which was rightly established to honor those who gave their lives for our freedom, I hope you will also remember the Chapman family, and that you will give your loved ones an extra hug.

Life is a Vapor.

Chancellor in Computerworld

A couple of weeks ago I got a request from Julie Sartain, who writes for Computerworld, to summarize what I’ve been saying about the business benefits of Facebook. I was delighted to contribute toward her article, which is available on-line today.

Here’s an excerpt:

But some companies just don’t get it. Aase compared these new opportunities for businesses to the adoption of early fax technology around 1990. Companies could suddenly receive customer purchase orders by fax instead of FedEx, a huge savings in time and dollars, and well worth the cost of the machine and the monthly charges for the additional phone lines.

If AT&T had offered all this for free, would anyone have declined? he asked. “Social networking sites like Facebook are a much more advanced communications phenomenon than the fax, but not only are many businesses failing to take advantage of these free communication services; some actively block employees from using social networks,” Aase said.

The full article is recommended reading for all SMUG students, and for anyone else looking for an overview of some of the practical business benefits of Facebook and MySpace. My Facebook friend Jeremiah Owyang also is quoted extensively…a lot more extensively than I am, but then he should since he’s a Forrester analyst.

If you’re new to Social Media University, Global, you can visit our Student Union in Facebook, or audit some classes that are part of the core curriculum. Here’s a Message from the Chancellor that gives you an overview and introduction to our educational philosophy, and you can read all of my posts related to Facebook here.