Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger. Chills easily.

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What I would write about Vero

Colin Walker wrote his hot take on Vero and it is exactly what I would have written (only his post is far more eloquent than mine would have been). Go read the entire post but here are a few highlights.

As soon as I saw what Vero was all about – the idea it “makes sharing online more like real life” using selective audiences I was immediately taken back to the promises of Google+ and its circles.

This is an apt comparison. As he rightly points out, managing ones Circles on Google+ and deciding who to share what with is exhausting to the user. On paper it seems like an excellent approach. But on every social network that has this feature – Facebook included – it is rarely used. Who wants to move people from one list to another only to move them back again when your relationship with them shifts?

Although Vero promises an algorithm free feed and no ads (it will monetise using subscriptions and charges for selling via the platform) I’m not sure that jumping from the frying pan of one silo straight into the as yet unproven fire of another is what we really need right now.

I thought about this when I signed up. However, it doesn’t take much for a platform like Vero to support the open web and be less of a silo than Facebook or Twitter. An open API, data portability, and support for one’s own domain are the main features. I can’t presume that no other platforms will support the open web eventually. In fact, imagine if Twitter did this like Medium has? Then what would people think of Twitter?

I wish them well and hope they prove me wrong but, while I think the noise about Russian developers and the CEO being the son of a former Lebanese prime minister is stupid and tantamount to inciting racial hatred, I’m afraid I won’t be signing up.

I’m very glad he brought this up. When I saw the drivel on Twitter about these details about this platform I was saddened. Are we saying all Russian developers are bad? Or all Lebanese billionaires? I would always urge caution when signing up to brand-new platforms but to think we’d all call these people out simply based on where they were born is… well Colin already said what it is.

Eliza and I poked around with Vero as much as we could while the app crashed and timed out. It won’t stick. Not because of the scaling issues – most platforms have those. It won’t stick because it will be far too noisy for users right out of the gate.

When Instagram pivoted from a check-in app to a filtered photo app it exploded because it made photo editing and publishing one simple step. It did one thing well. Slowly it has added other features but this primary feature is still the foremost one today. Vero has photos, music, links, books etc. Once the hype settles down people just want to post photos. Instagram should be scared of whatever comes next. Obviously people (including me) do not like the current algorithmic feed. But Vero is no Instagram killer.

Socialocca presents a Social Media Workshop at the February 2018 NEPA Tech meet up

Ryan K. Hertel, Socialocca

This month’s NEPA Tech meet up was yet another smashing success. If you live in northeastern Pennsylvania and are interested in the intersections of business, technology, the arts, etc. (and you want to see our area thrive in all of these things) please consider attending an upcoming event.

Ryan K. Hertel of Socialocca, a small social media advertising and management agency, gave a presentation on the current social media landscape as well as some tactics his company uses for his clients. His presentation was energetic, informative, and I’m certain everyone that attended found some value in it.

Social media and digital advertising is still on the rise in our area but it also continues to be a hard sell. Many longtime small business owners are not entrenched in social media enough to see its impact on their businesses. They do not invest heavily enough, either in time or money, to see the incredible network effects that can happen if they did. Ryan’s company, as well as Condron Media, are constantly trying to prove the value of these activities with limited budgets in our area.

The pendulum is swinging though. More and more companies are sick of feeling left out, their competition is beginning to invest in social media, and they don’t want to be left behind.

I look forward to seeing where Ryan’s company is in 5 years.

Jack Baty on follower counts

Jack Baty:

Years ago on Twitter, I would use follower counts as an indicator of authority or perhaps as a way to gauge someone’s impact on a community or topic. With so many followers, he or she must have useful or interesting things to say, right? That probably wasn’t a great way to think about follower counts even then, but it worked as often as not.

I quit Twitter with thousands of followers. Many of which I’d say were bots. Accounts with millions of followers also have a huge percentage of bots following them. I restarted my account from scratch and now only have dozens. Follower count means nothing about the person behind it.

Reminds me of this 2014 post.

Snapthread 1.5 Beta

Becky Hansmeyer:

I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: ask people to beta test my app! If you’re interested in being a part of my very first beta test, please either send an email to or DM me on Twitter (@bhansmeyer). All I need to know is what email address you’d like me to send a TestFlight invite to.

If I were still on iOS I’d want to test this app.

Repost: Nitin Khanna re: Instagram hashtags

👉 Nitin Khanna:

I am LOVING Instagram’s new hashtag follow feature! It makes perfect sense and makes my feed that much more interesting! Now if only other social networks understood this simple idea.

Threads now officially supported on Twitter

Sasank Reddy, on the Twitter blog:

Now, hundreds of thousands of threads are Tweeted every day! But this method of Tweeting, while effective and popular, can be tricky for some to create and it’s often tough to read or discover all the Tweets in a thread. That’s why we’re thrilled to share that we’re making it simpler to thread Tweets together, and to find threads, so it’s easier to express yourself on Twitter and stay informed.

I am not a fan of threads. They are ungainly, hard to follow, and a terrible reading experience.

That said, you cannot control how people will use a platform that you create. You can try to stop things you don’t like. You can attempt to ban a behavior. But that usually doesn’t work. Or you can make adjustments to make it a better experience. Like when Instagram introduced Stories to cut down on people making second accounts. Twitter has chosen to try to make threads on Twitter a little easier to do and hopefully a little easier to follow.

Before I pass judgement on how they’ve done this, I’ll let them iterate on these new features a few times to see if they can get it right. But, overall, I’m not a big fan of threads so even if they build an incredible UI for them I still do not believe I’d like them. But, again, (I can’t write this strongly enough) people are going to write threads on Twitter whether or not Twitter supports them.

As Manton Reece mentioned, I do not think threads are good for the web. But I don’t think they can be eradicated. I like how chooses to turn longer posts into “blog posts” (whatever that means these days) but that wouldn’t be right for Twitter. It is very right for

I wonder? If I didn’t have a blog – and also didn’t really know how to set one up or had no desire to do so – would I appreciate this feature? I’m thinking I would. Or, I would write longer posts on Facebook and link from Twitter to those posts. Shiver.

Follow Hashtags on Instagram


Today we’re introducing the ability to follow hashtags, giving you new ways to discover photos, videos and people on Instagram. Now it’s even easier to stay connected with the interests, hobbies, passions and communities you care about.

This is an excellent feature. I won’t even go into all the ways Twitter should have been first to things like this (seeing as the hashtag was invented there).

If you’re building a platform that supports hashtags you may want to consider doing something like this too.

What comes after Instagram?

Victoria Wright on Twitter:

Photo friends// are you regularly sharing your work somewhere other than on @instagram? I’m so over them deciding what I see and don’t see

The thread is interesting. Most photogs point to VSCO.

I think Instagram still has a long runway ahead of it. And I still think it is very, very good. However, if I had a single complaint it would be the algorithmic timeline.

If photographers begin to jettison Instagram than normals will follow 24-36 months later. I don’t see that happening with Instagram – at least not to a service like VSCO since that isn’t social enough. The masses need likes and comments (sorry But there is room for something to come along and upend Instagram and it will likely be a network that is simple*.

* This is how these things work. A new app or service is created. People flock to it because it is simple. Then it grows. It tries to address the needs of a much broader audience. Then people beg for even more features. Until the breaking point. And then it starts over again somewhere else.


Matt Navarra for The Next Web:

Instagram appears to be finally working on a native Regram button. It’s a feature many users have been waiting for for some time. Currently, users wanting to reshare content have to either save the image or video to their device and re-share it from their own account, or call upon one of several third party apps like Regram, a popular Android option.

I know some may think this would ruin Instagram but frankly I believe it could allow for things on the network to reach a much broader audience. I welcome the addition and I’m sure if Instagram ever puts this public they’ll do it as tastefully as possible. They’ve proven themselves to be able to do this with all other features so far.

By far, I believe Instagram to be the best social media sharing app going.

Doug Lane on Microblogging tone

Doug Lane, on thinking a bit more before publishing on his own site than he would on Twitter or Facebook:

If I let moments of anger or frustration sit for a bit, one of two things will happen. Most likely, I’ll move on to something more meaningful without shoving valueless negativity in anyone else’s face. Or, if something negative is still on my mind after some time has passed, I still have the option to post about it. But it’s likely that whatever I post, even if it’s still negative in tone, will be more thoughtful and constructive than a vent in the moment would have been.

I’ve recently jumped back into the fray. This is something I’ve notice immediately. I’ll post absolute drivel on Twitter whereas I curate and sensor myself far more here on my blog. Though, some of you likely wish I did that a bit more.

It also reminds me of an opinion that I have about Snapchat. I’ve mentioned it in the past. I think that it is totally fine that you feel a bit more free on Twitter or on Snapchat to post things that you may otherwise think are worthy of the bin. Because they are made for that. I actually like having the separation.

Colin Walker “be careful what you wish for”

Colin Walker:

I spent years blogging about social media, trying to think about ways to drive mainstream adoption. When we reached the tipping point I had to ask “what now?” but still managed to find things to write about for a while.

But, for the last several years, I have become increasingly disenchanted with social networks, and the way they operate, leading to the deletion of my Google Plus account and shuttering of my Twitter profile.

This strikes very close to home. For years and years I beat the social media drum. In fact, I’ve personally installed Twitter on people’s phones and signed them up to the service. But then, when I deleted my Twitter account, people thought I was nuts.

Wanting any social network to “take off” falls squarely in the “be careful what you wish for” department. If “everyone” was using your favorite network – you may not like it anymore. That is the case with Twitter*.

* Twitter problems are myriad. But a big one is that their community is full of wolves.

Independent interviews Mike Krieger of Instagram

Adrian Weckler interviewed Mike Krieger, co-founder of Instagram, for out of Dublin. Regarding longer form video Krieger replies:

What we have right now is a minute. If we introduce longer video, we have to make it fit into the flow of Instagram in a way that makes sense. I think what might point the way is the people who use video today on Instagram. I meet these digital creators who are producing video for Instagram and they’ll often do a short cut for their Instagram feed or for Stories and point to a longer video. Often that lives on other platforms because you just can’t post them on Instagram. But the idea of a teaser plus the full piece of content, if you were interested in it, might be a future piece.

I don’t know exactly what would make sense for longer form video on Instagram but so far they’ve been making great choices. I think just being able to play videos full-screen would be enough for me. I think it’d be just fine to see longer form video on my timeline with, perhaps, the first 15 seconds as a preview or something. But I’m unsure.

Another takeaway from this interview is how Instagram has always talked about how it ripped off Snapchat. I really love the candor. They have always come right out and said that Snapchat was first. And then they back up why they’ve brought that medium to Instagram. The reason he gives is both obvious and apt; because people were already doing it by creating second accounts to share more regularly on. Now they don’t have to do that.


Speaking at the 2017 tecBRIDGE Entreprenuerial Institute

Photo credit: Mandy Pennington on Twitter.

On Friday I had the privilege to host two sessions at the 2017 tecBRIDGE Entrepreneurial Institute Conference at Marywood University. The event was very well attended (I’d say nearly  200 people, but I don’t know for sure). The speakers and panels were engaging, interesting, and the number of people that remained until the last minute of the event was evidence of that.

My session was titled Social Media Metrics that Matter. I didn’t choose the title but I enjoyed the topic. The audience was mainly students focusing on being future business owners and also local businesses and organizations in our area. I can tell from the feedback that the subject matter was welcome.

The way I laid out my outline was to bring everyone in the room up-to-speed with common metrics that can be tracked on social networks. We spoke about how each of those metrics impacts the business, the content, the page. Then, we used a few example businesses to determine which of the metrics each of them should track and why.

It was a good exercise, even for me, and I hope those that attended each of my two sessions got something out of it. – A social network that costs money to post

Ryan X. Charles:

Most people told us it would never work, but we did it anyway: We started charging 10¢ to post content on our social network. Our users didn’t leave. In fact, they are posting more than ever, and the quality of content has improved. Our experiment seems to be working. People are willing to pay to post content.

Fascinating. I’ll be watching closely.

Nicotine and Heroin

Roger McNamee, very early investor in both Google and Facebook (and, though he’s profited, he regrets it):

The people at Facebook and Google believe that giving consumers more of what they want and like is worthy of praise, not criticism. What they fail to recognize is that their products are not making consumers happier or more successful. Like gambling, nicotine, alcohol or heroin, Facebook and Google — most importantly through its YouTube subsidiary — produce short-term happiness with serious negative consequences in the long term. Users fail to recognize the warning signs of addiction until it is too late. There are only 24 hours in a day, and technology companies are making a play for all them. The CEO of Netflix recently noted that his company’s primary competitor is sleep.


Snapchat is a party, LinkedIn is a business lunch

Colin Walker, like me, struggles with what should be syndicated to networks and what should be brought back into the blog context. He makes this specific point about replies:

Social replies like on Twitter or Facebook don’t, in my opinion, need to be owned – they belong in the context of the social network and that particular conversation.

I suggest reading his entire post so that you get a clearer picture of his struggle.

As you may know I’ve decided to leave social networking altogether and so I don’t have this struggle any more. However, one analogy came to mind when I was reading Colin’s post.

When Snapchat arrived on the scene many in the blogosphere thought it was crazy to have such an ephemeral medium sucking up so much oxygen. I didn’t see it that way. Perhaps I didn’t love Snapchat but I didn’t see it as bad simply because you couldn’t save what you posted there. It reminded me of going to a local pub. If you drop in at a pub for a pint and rattle off some diatribe about your favorite sports team to the other pub-goers – does that really need to be saved somewhere? If I’m having a random conversation about a movie I saw recently while sitting around a campfire with a friend, does that belong in the Internet Archive?

If we view each site on the web as a real physical place then we begin to realize that some places are museums, some libraries, others local pubs, and still others are rowdy nightclubs. Each have their place to make up the human existence but not all need to be saved or syndicated or shared.

I simply do not view Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and Snapchat and Instagram the same as I do my blog. So I do not believe that all of the content that I post here should end up there and vice versa. Some things deserve to disappear. And there is a certain beauty in that. The same way I enjoy a good local pub rant.

Colin’s struggle is real – it isn’t easy to choose what gets saved and what doesn’t. What should go to one network and not another. Especially in the moment it is very difficult to know. And, it is complex for a single person to maintain that connective technology to allow that to happen in the first place.

I don’t envy his position. I don’t know what I would do if I were him. But, for me, not being on any social media currently has made my decision very easy. What I share here stays here. Everything else you’ll never see. And I’m totally cool with that.

Twan van Elk on social media

Twan van Elk:

Everytime I open up my feed reader and read about people’s lives, thoughts, work, observations, what they ate, that beautiful flower they saw, I ask myself: why do I enjoy this so much more than any social media timeline I’ve ever been on?

Because blog posts feel more permanent than social media posts causing people to share wholesome, thoughtful pieces (generally speaking) to their personal blogs rather than spewing acid-filled buckets of hate.

Speaking to the Social Media Gurus class at Misericordia University

Me, doing my best Neil deGrasse Tyson. Photo credit: Richard Baldovin/Misericordia University.

In early April I had the privilege of speaking to the Social Media Gurus class (or COM 485) at Misericordia University. My friend Dan Kimbrough is the Assistant Professor of Communications in the Mass Communication and Design Department at the university and he invited me to speak to the class.

It was great to speak to these students and see what was on their minds, the challenges they were having, and what they did day-to-day to learn the ropes of marketing via social media. I was impressed with how attentive the class was. I’m just some guy coming in and spouting off about my experience with social media. But they seemed engaged and really wanting to learn. Many of them were putting into practice what they were learning through various class projects, non-profits, internships, etc. so I’m willing to bet that any practical tidbit they can pick up is valuable to them.

My view of the class.

Something I learned from this presentation was that the paths in social media marketing are just starting to be paved. Some methods and techniques have already come and gone but the true best practices still have yet to be worked out. Also, in our region here in Pennsylvania many businesses still have yet to see the value in social media marketing but they are seemingly being forced into it by their nearest competitors.

Thanks to Dan for the invite and to the class for being so welcoming.

Twan van Elk quits social media

Twan van Elk, in response to my recent post:

This week I am deactivating several social media accounts and focusing more on my blogging.

He followed through too. I loved this bit after only a few days away from social media:

That is also something that has changed: I now write for me. Sorry people, I hope you like what you read on my blog if you read my blog, but first and foremost I now write for myself. As a way to process information, or leave a reminder or just some tips or instructions that I know I will want to come back to. It is of value for you also? Great! I am glad I could be of service.

Exactly. Enjoy writing for you Twan. I do the same. And now I’m subscribed.

Observations on Mastodon

I’ve been fiddling with Mastodon (to the tune of over 500 toots). I’ve also been reading up on the history of the service a lot over the last few weeks. Here are some general observations that I’ve made along with a few helpful links.

  • Mastodon isn’t a single service. It is an open source app that runs on multiple “instances” but are optionally connected together. So an Admin can run an instance for his soccer team to track their weekly progress but, optionally, connect it to other soccer team instances or even all public instances. Instances can also be completely private. Imagine having Twitter for just your family. With Mastodon that is possible.
  • Think of Mastodon like email + microblog + Twitter. Just like you can have email addresses on multiple domains (like Gmail or work email)  you can, but are not required to, have multiple accounts across different instances of Mastodon. It is a good microblogging solution due to its slightly longer character count restrictions. And, it is like Twitter because most of the lessons that platform has learned have been absorbed into Mastodon such as mentions, hashtags, etc.
  • On Twitter my username is @cdevroe. On Mastodon my username is – So my username includes the instance I’m on. If I were on more instances (I’m not, currently) I’d have other usernames. This is similar to email. My personal email is and my work email is
  • Mastodon isn’t an overnight success. In fact, the seed was planted over 10 years ago. Mastodon is an app (built using Ruby on Rails for the geeks) that uses the OStatus protocols to create a federated, or shared, timeline across instances. In other words, users on one instance can see the posts of users on other instances via a shared timeline.
  • Mastodon’s success is not contingent on mass popularity. Those calling for it to “fail” don’t realize it has already won. The web community is so used to seeing platforms reach hundreds of millions of users and die as a result of running out of money or traction whereas Mastodon needs neither (relative to something like Snapchat or Twitter) to be considered a massive success. As it stands Mastodon has dozens of instances (if not hundreds) that are fully funded by their respective communities and over 200,000 people have signed up to them. (Though, the above link mentions 1.3M users. I think that count is wrong.) Only a few thousand will stick around but that is more than enough for it to continue long into the future. Also, private instances may well live on for a very, very long time.
  • It will never replace Twitter for most people that use Twitter. However, it could bring more people into using a Twitter-like experience than Twitter itself would have. Because instances can be spun up by anyone, a company could use Mastodon internally or a community (like a soccer team) could use it as well. It allows different instances to own their community. In this way it could also be used like Slack is being used by small communities.
  • Mastodon, like Twitter, has terms for the things within it. Toot instead of Tweet, etc. Qina Liu wrote a great piece on Medium describing all of them.
  • There are several very good mobile clients for both iOS and Android. And, I’ve seen both Mac apps and VR apps in the works.

I hope to keep playing with Mastodon for a while. I’ve already contributed to the instance I’m on, the apps I use, and the overall project itself to help make that happen. If you end up playing around with Mastodon I suggest you do the same.