Category Archives: Information

Did you miss a birthday this week?


all friends
Facebook’s birthday reminders are making it very easy for everyone who’s using that service not to miss a birthday and send wishes to our friends every day. Not to mention the thousands of apps that helps people create and schedule their greetings such as ours.

 

However, it still occasionally happens that we miss birthdays, even when the information is on Facebook. It happened to me too many times, and I always felt terrible about it.

This week was my birthday, and I’ve been on the other end of the “missed your birthday” problem.

Many of my friends send me their wishes – of course some of them did so using our Birthday Application. Special Kudos for you guys! – and of course It felt great to have so many amazing people around me thinking of me for my special day.

But some friends didn’t. They simply missed it. And for the ones who realized, I can tell they were really embarrassed (at least they faked it well :)), just as I’ve been several times when I missed the birthday of someone I really should have remembered.

turtle winning the race against a rabbit

The good news is that it’s not such a big issue when handled properly. With a nice “Happy Belated Birthday” card for example.

And now we got you covered: Happy Birthdays was updated so you can easily see the recent birthday celebrations, and send cute, funny belated birthday cards.

Here’s how it works:

1 –  Happy Birthdays will show you birthdays that happened for the past 7 days

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2 - Browse the list to check the recent birthday celebrations

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3 – Click on a friend on the list if you have missed a birthday and send a belated birthday card from our templates. As usual, you can also design your own.

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That’s it … diplomatic incident hopefully avoided :-)

Enjoy your birthdays!

Wishing Birthdays Like No Other

Back in the days, there would be that one amazing friend, that would take the time to go and pick a giant, amazing birthday card at the store.

Then he or she would give it to a dozen of mutual friends, to give back with amazing, loving notes for an amazing surprise for the birthday girl or boy.

Image credits: www.thelookingspoon.com

It still happen, but it’s less and less frequent. We’re all busy, we don’t all live in the same area, not even in the same country sometimes. It’s a major pain to do snail mail, and it’s not even really relevant anymore, because the birthday wishing tradition has moved to Facebook. Big time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to easily create a card for someone we care, and have all our friends or family, wherever they are in the world, to sign it?

We’re happy to announce that our app Happy Birthday is now reconnecting the modern ways of wishing happy birthday with that sweet, thoughtful tradition of secretly sharing a birthday card with mutual friends in order to collect their signatures.

Here’s how it works:

1 – Create your card
It’s pretty easy: just select a friend, pick a quote, an image, a video, or one of our custom templates.

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2 – Open and sign
Open your card and get started by adding your signature. Friends will do the exact same thing to sign. It’s as simple as clicking on a button.

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3 – Invite friends to sign

We find your friends in common and take care of setting the right privacy options so you can secretly share with a couple clicks. Friends can invite their own mutual friends, etc.

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4 – You’re done!

Once everyone has signed the card, you can simply send it. Or, if you’re too busy, you can schedule it, and we will post automatically for you.

We hope you’ll enjoy it, and don’t forget to join our community on Facebook.

How to create and send thoughtful holiday greetings (Part 2)

In Part 1, we’ve learned how to create a simple, thoughtful, personalized holiday greeting image for everyone, using our Happy Birthday app.

In Part 2, I’ll show how our Social Assistant app helps you to make a big impact with less effort by making it a lot easier to create individual greeting images for your important friends.

How it works

We said it in Part 1: one great way to create a thoughtful greeting message is to personalize it and, of course, make it look beautiful.

When it’s for a group of people, a greeting image can be personalized with content only related to you. But when it’s for a specific person, it’s of course best to personalize it with content related to both you and the person you’re sending your greetings to.

If you are looking to send a group card to all your friends at once, this tutorial is not for you, and you might be looking for Part 1. If you are a Photoshop pro, and it’s a piece of cake for you to create beautiful cards for several friends, or if you are using a specialized service to send customized cards to a list of contacts, this is not for you either.

But If you are looking for a simple way to send an individual greeting messages to a select list of important friends, you may be concerned about spending a lot of time and effort creating a personalized card for each and every friend on your list that you want to make a big impact on.

Rejoice! as you can do that easily this year using our Social Assistant application.

All it takes is only a few steps and a few clicks.

Step 1: Log In to Social Assistant 

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Log in to Symbyoz – Social Assistant and go to the “Friends” tab.

If you’ve already added your list of important friends there, you’re good to go.

Otherwise, you’ll need to add friends. That’s done by simply clicking on the “Add a friend” button on the tool bar menu and following the next step.

Step 2: Add your important friends

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Click on “select” to select friends from your Facebook account.

If you want to add friends that are not connected to Facebook, or if you do not want link your Facebook account to Symbyoz, you can also simply type their name and an email address.

Note that you will not to be able to post the greeting on Facebook for friends that are not connected to a Facebook account.

When you are done selecting/typing the friend name and email address, simply click “Add”.

Step 3: Open the greeting card creation canvas

There is a “Catch-Up” button next to the line with your friend. Simply click on that button, then click on “Create greetings card”.

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Step 4: Tweak your personalized card collage

Tweak the collage the way you like it …

Same drill as in Part 1: you can change the background, move or rotate the text and the images, add the logo of your company, the pictures of your cat, your favorite quote … OR … you can save time, do absolutely nothing and go with the default arrangement we created for you.

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Step 5: Select your delivery Channel and Send

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Select the delivery channel and simply send your message.

Congratulation, you’re done, only 19 more friends to do … :)

Step 4: Rinse and repeat

Simply do it again for all your important friends in your list.

It may take more time than sending a collective message to a group in one single shot, but the reward of having every single of your important friends receiving a beautiful, personalized and specific greeting just for them is huge, and we’re making it a lot easier than it could have been … for free! :-)

Seize that opportunity to make a big impact in your loved ones lives.

Happy Holidays!

Time Binge – How To Get Some Back

The expression “time famine” was news to me.

I like it, but I think a more accurate term would be “time binge”, because it’s not that we lack time: It’s that we don’t use it right.

And as we thrive to get more time – because we know we’re not using it right – we still don’t use it right, effectively creating a crave loop cycle.

Yes, our usage of time has reached the “disorder” and “addiction” severity level. At the very least, it’s a binge.

But as studies shows, paradoxically, spending a few hours helping other people can relieve the sense of being under time pressure.

That’s right, by simply spending more time for others and not only for oneself, by doing something meaningful with each other, we actually feel less pressure to have more time as we used it right, and we can get back to a more peaceful rythm and lifestyle.

So, can our high paced, speed-loving and tech-addicted culture survive to the time binge?

If we’re ready to be genuinely more social: yes, we can.

Time for Social Media Break?

When Google’s Priority Inbox went out on GMail, I thought that was the most beautiful innovation of the decade.

Seriously. I’m still grateful for it, even though from time to time I go back to a level of important messages that’s just unmanageable.

A recent study by the University of California, Irvine, and co-written with United States Army researchers, found that people who do not look at e-mail on a regular basis at work are less stressed and more productive.

Although it won’t reduce the noise it can help to recharge. Overall, uncluttering my online inbox and/or taking a break is essential for my peace of mind.

A similar phenomenon is happening with Facebook and other social media lately. It’s not just ads – actually it’s not ads at all … we usually just ignore them – it’s too many things to cope with, too many posts, too many people to keep up with.

Social media used to be fun. It used to be a place where people connect with people to share ideas, activities and make things happen. Nowadays, it’s either a place where we feel the pressure to “like”, “tag”, “comment” and make sure that we don’t miss out on something important in our friends life, or a playground for marketers and advertisers, who I should say know that there’s a problem, and in some case are even trying to help.

60% of young adult said they wished there was a service available to help them manage their social media commitments.

One of the things we’re doing well at Symbyoz is to help people deal with the social networking clutter by aggregating the top social services, filtering the people who are the most important, and making it easier, faster, simpler to keep up with them.

Of course, that doesn’t replace the need for a real social media break.

From time to time, just get out there and eat, play & love.

Loneliness & Happiness: The Facebook Effect

Today, I stumbled upon an article titled Is Facebook Making Us Lonely in The Atlantic.

I’m not going to sugar coat it: it’s a very long article.

But it’s also a very good one. Scratch that. It’s an excellent one.

It hits hard and deep on the message we are trying to spread at Symbyoz. It has to be one of the most interesting and insightful article about the “Facebook effect” in our day to day lives I’ve read.

And yes, the comments are almost as good as the article.

If you have time, dig in, it’s totally worth it.

If you don’t, let me summarize the main points for you, and make it easier to get to the bottom line.

We are more connected, yet lonelier than ever …

Facebook to Twitter have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic) and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill.

It’s indeed a staggering fact. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We are more connected than ever before, yet very few are really satisfied with the level of closeness they have with their friends. Our recent survey shows that most Americans have a mediocre perception of how well they keep in touch despite the fact that we are so well connected.

A 2010 AARP survey found that 35 percent of adults older than 45 were chronically lonely, as opposed to 20 percent of a similar group only a decade earlier. According to a major study by a leading scholar of the subject, roughly 20 percent of Americans—about 60 million people—are unhappy with their lives because of loneliness.

Our connections are growing broader but shallower

That one little phrase, Your real friends—so quaint, so charmingly mothering—perfectly encapsulates the anxieties that social media have produced: the fears that Facebook is interfering with our real friendships, distancing us from each other, making us lonelier; and that social networking might be spreading the very isolation it seemed designed to conquer.

Yep, you know something is not quite right when websites such as Google+ are starting to use phrases such as “Your real friends” as in “Where are your real friends all gone???”

Facebook is NOT to blame for our loneliness. Let’s recognize the real problem: our individualistic culture.

FACEBOOK ARRIVED IN THE MIDDLE of a dramatic increase in the quantity and intensity of human loneliness, a rise that initially made the site’s promise of greater connection seem deeply attractive.

The people who experience loneliness on Facebook are probably lonely away from Facebook, too. In fact, research also suggest that most Facebook users get more from it than they put in.

LONELINESS IS CERTAINLY not something that Facebook or Twitter or any of the lesser forms of social media is doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves.

WELL BEFORE FACEBOOK, digital technology was enabling our tendency for isolation, to an unprecedented degree.

The problem it seems sits more with the way we are using Facebook, and technology in general.

“Facebook can be terrific, if we use it properly,” Cacioppo continues. “It’s like a car. You can drive it to pick up your friends. Or you can drive alone.” But hasn’t the car increased loneliness? If cars created the suburbs, surely they also created isolation. “That’s because of how we use cars,” Cacioppo replies. “How we use these technologies can lead to more integration, rather than more isolation.”

Valuing happiness is not necessarily linked to greater happiness.

What does Facebook communicate, if not the impression of social bounty? Everybody else looks so happy on Facebook, with so many friends, that our own social networks feel emptier than ever in comparison. Doesn’t that make people feel lonely? “If people are reading about lives that are much better than theirs, two things can happen,” Burke tells me. “They can feel worse about themselves, or they can feel motivated.”

Facebook, of course, puts the pursuit of happiness front and center in our digital life. But under certain conditions, the more you try to be happy, the less happy you are.

Redefining our very concepts of identity and personal fulfillment (aka encouragin narcisism) is much more worrisome to me than the privacy concerns that have people up in arms about Facebook.

Personalized connections and meaningful interactions matters

Non-personalized use of Facebook—scanning your friends’ status updates and updating the world on your own activities via your wall, or what Burke calls “passive consumption” and “broadcasting”—correlates to feelings of disconnectedness.

 

Aha! … obvious preach to the Symbyoz choir. Posting a status update on a wall doesn’t make you a good friend any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.

It’s a lonely business, wandering the labyrinths of our friends’ and pseudo-friends’ projected identities, trying to figure out what part of ourselves we ought to project, who will listen, and what they will hear. According to Burke, passive consumption of Facebook also correlates to a marginal increase in depression.

And that sums it all well. I’m worried that Facebook, and social media in general, is becoming a mere “lonely” “business”, with fewer real people having meaningful connections or even paying attention, and more lurkers or marketers looking forward to broadcast their messages and promote their products.

I have nothing against marketing online on social media. I’m doing it myself. There’s nothing wrong with promoting an idea or a cool product. It’s actually awesome.

It would just be a shame that the tremendous value of the social connections created on Facebook and other places gets wasted for the very people who have been told that everything can happen thanks to the power of a solid social network.

How Americans Are Keeping In Touch

At Symbyoz we’re passionate about finding the smartest ways for people to keep in touch. Yes, we believe it’s that important.

A good way to do that is to listen and learn. We’re constantly listening and  learning to understand how people do keep in touch and nurture their social links, and we’re obsessing about finding ways to make it easier, better, smarter.

Recently, we conducted a survey to find out how Americans keep in touch with their friends and family and important connections. Surveyed people had the option to pick several tools or services to keep in touch. We also asked how important it was to them, and how they rate themselves.

Long story short, the survey confirms that keeping in touch is a major driver for most people, that Email and Facebook are their tools of choice, and that they don’t feel particularly good nor particularly bad about how they manage to stay in touch.

 

 

So, women are mostly using Facebook, and men are mostly using their email.

SMS/Phone is only a solid 3rd. Who knew?

While very useful for connecting to find a job or spot a skilled profesional, LinkedIn is not the medium of choice for nurturing relationships.

Google+ still has a long way to go, but is already doing better than LinkedIn. Not bad for a youngster.

So, how important is it for Americans to keep in touch?

 

While a large majority of the population said that keeping in touch with friends, familly, and important connections is very important, women and young people seems to care more than middle age men.

What’s up with middle age men? If you have a clue, please share.

How do Americans rate themselves for keeping in touch?

There’s an interesting correlation between the income level and the self satisfaction with nurturing social links.

Overall, Americans feels mediocre/pretty average at keeping in touch with their friends, familly and important connections.

We are more connected to each other than ever before. It’s amazing that we still aren’t all feeling great about how well we keep in touch.

We are changing that with Symbyoz.

Finding the People who Matter

Everyone has a story. A reason why they are who they are, why they do what they do.

For most of us, that story is paved by people. Life is about the people we meet and the experiences we create with them.

It’s obviously very important to surround ourselves with the right people, those who we want to create great things with, those who can help us to achieve success and happiness.

But who are those people? And how do you find them?

Of course, the simple, short answer is: “it depends”.

I felt inspired this morning by this article from Viveka Von Rosen, and I decided to share what I think are good ways to identify and find people who can make a difference in our life.

Finding people who matter for your career

That one is obvious: use a professional social networking site. There are several free services such as Branchout or Viadeo, but LinkedIn is the biggest in terms of size, and probably the most advanced in terms of features.

Connect with people based on similar interests, skills or based on a company you admire and/or would like to work for someday.

Finding people who matter for important moments in your life

Friends are there when you want to share meaningful events in your life, when you need emotional support and relief, when you long for that invaluable sense of bonding.

Facebook is obviously the best place to reconnect with friends and familly. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s addictive, and everybody uses it.

So, reconnect with friends on Facebook. Pay attention to your privacy settings, but don’t be afraid to share, and don’t dismiss it too quickly as just a vain and shallow communication tool. Most Facebook users get more from it than they put in, study says.

Finding people who matter for activities and leisure

Long before Facebook was a sanctuary and a global institution, a “friend” was someone we use to share real life activities & hobbies with. It has changed a little since then …

Social discovery services like Meetup or most recently Highlight are great to meet new people and make new friends based on your interests. If your current friends don’t share your excitement about how fun it is to sing the latest Adele hit backwards while playing chess in a night club, you may find one or two others partners in crime with a social discovery service.

Twitter, and most noticeably Google+ (IMHO) are also excellent ways to meet people based on similar tastes. However the connection is mainly virtual. It means more potential, and a lot more interesting people to find, but it may mean less genuine relationships and less meaningful interactions.

Making the best out of the people you find

Let’s get to the beef right away: Finding and connecting with the right people is just a beginning.

You should give before you need to ask.

One of the biggest mistake people do when it comes to networking, is to try to get value from others before even figuring out how they can provide value themselves.

Don’t be this guy …

Connecting the dots …

Managing your social capital and the connections you create is not an easy feat. An average user has 150+ friends on Facebook, 60+ connections on LinkedIn and 120+ followers on Twitter. That’s a lot of people.

Preaching for my choir, Symbyoz can help bring some clarity and allow people to manage their social capital smartly, and easily.

First, it helps you to identify people who interact the most with you on the other social networking services. This is a great way to determine who is already listening and contributing to you, and will be more likely to keep doing so, and to focus on them. A smaller network of trust is much more manageable than a huge social network.

Second, it encourages people to keep in touch, to do more things together, and to support and help each other. This creates a place where providing value via meaningful social interactions is bound to happen more often.

Social networking will not be working for you if you don’t think long term.

Let’s go ahead and create things together.