Tag - facebook

Twitter: it's not about size, it's about reach

I saw this story on a Hollywood news site earlier today. It’s basically an article dissing Twitter for not being as big or effective a marketing vehicle as some have cracked it up to be:

Why was everyone in the movie business so excited about Twitter? Probably because of its potential, more than anything. The speed and the scale of word-of-mouth on Twitter seemed to manifest a terrifyingly powerful tool, one in which Hollywood was unprepared for.

The actual reality has been something less.

Surveying 1,500 moviegoers last September, research firm OTX found that as a source for word-of-mouth about films, Twitter actually lagged far behind rival social-streaming platforms such as Facebook and MySpace, as well as just basic interaction with family, friends and co-workers.

via The Twitter Effect Isn’t What Hollywood Thought | TheWrap.com.

But the article misses the point. Right now, and for all of its life to date, Twitter has not been the biggest social network, or social news network, or news sharing space … whatever you want to call it.

But Twitter has two things going for it:

  1. You saw it first here
    Twitter is where news breaks … it’s always on Twitter first, before it’s on any other social network, or most news sites.
  2. Reach is more than size
    How many people you reach is much more important than the simple size your network. If you’re connected with just 5 people, but each of them re-tweets your messages to 500 more … you have a lot of reach. Because of this viral nature that is fundamentally different than Facebook or MySpace … Twitter users have far more potential (and in many cases actual) reach.

The potentially confusing thing is that a large art of that reach is actually on Facebook, MySpace, and other social platforms … because many Twitter users will allow their updates to flow through the internet to all their other online accounts. I personally get far more comments on Facebook on my Twitter postings than I do on Twitter … so anyone who heard of something from me probably heard it “on Facebook,” even though it was originally posted on Twitter.

So while I’m not trying to be a Twitter apologist or fanboy … there are some significant factors to consider when estimating the value of interacting in the various forms of social media.

Facebook in heaven: death and social networking

What do you do about death and social networking? I saw this story today in the NY Times:

Courtney Purvin got a shock when she visited Facebook last month. The site was suggesting that she get back in touch with an old family friend who played piano at her wedding four years ago.

“It kind of freaked me out a bit,” she said. “It was like he was coming back from the dead.”

via As Older Users Join Facebook, Network Grapples With Death – NYTimes.com.

It made me think of Joel Zucker, a former boss. He and I had a great connection and enjoyed working together. He recommended me on LinkedIn, and I was so impressed with his recommendation I added it to my portfolio.

I’m connected with him on Facebook and LinkedIn. And, of course, LinkedIn doesn’t know he died of cancer in February. As far as his profile shows, Joel is still working at Pearson.

On Facebook, Joel’s wife and friends and children still post. Here’s a post from his son just this week:

i miss u i hope they have facebook in heven so u can read this and we can still chat

I’ve posted too, sometimes just a “thinking of you today.” To me it’s a comfort … and it seems to be for his family as well … that there’s still a place we can remember Joel together.

No One Hangs Around Anymore

Portals are getting worried because people aren’t staying in one place on the web anymore (unless that one place is Facebook).

According to Compete.com, AOL had 45.5 million unique visitors last month, down slightly from 47.9 million in May 2009 – and a serious drop-off from January, when it saw 55.8 million. Yahoo, at 134.1 million, was up slightly over May 2009, but MSN 65.6 million slid 12 percent versus the same month last year.

Page views, meaning the number of pages viewed by each individual user, have fallen significantly for each of the big three:  AOL -32 percent, Yahoo -28 percent and MSN -30 percent all posted steep declines in May.

But if you’re an AOL or Yahoo! executive, here’s the statistic that is most worrisome: Average time spent on portal websites is down 21.7 percent over the last year, with users spending on average six and a half minutes before scurrying off somewhere else.

“The big word in digital media for the last year has been engagement,” said Betsy Morgan, former chief executive at the Huffington Post, now a senior consultant. “No more drive-by traffic.”

via Portal Predicament: No One Hangs Around Anymore | TheWrap.com.

The problem with a 1990’s “stickiness” approach is that stickiness doesn’t make money. For example, YouTube is sticky. Google is teflon. Which makes more money? Facebook has the same issue – very sticky, much less revenue generation.

The reality is this: targeted online action (one example is a search) makes money. Stickiness is old hat … unless you’re an online game like Farmville.

AOL and Yahoo? Forget it.

How Facebook Games Harvest Big Bucks

Fascinating and (sometimes) annoying:

By utilizing the simplest action-reward gameplay mechanic — borrowed from a Chinese game, which was itself inspired by a Japanese RPG — Facebook’s farm games have quietly turned millions of people into constant gardeners (and consistent gamers).

Cheri Van Hoover, 56, tends a real 11-acre farm in Washington state, but she’s glued to her virtual fields, too. “What these games give me is a sense of control over my life,” she says. “It is a neat, orderly place that I can escape to, and where things unfold in a relatively predictable fashion, and I can work out all of my needs for domination and power and control in a safe environment.”

via Farm Wars: How Facebook Games Harvest Big Bucks | GameLife | Wired.com.

Facebook: portal or plumbing?

Interesting speech by social game maker Zynga’s CEO Mark Pincus today at Inside Social Apps.

An excerpt:

In his speech, Pincus envisioned a world that runs on an app economy, where it’s easy to access and use sophisticated software on any device or platform via Web services.

The current platform is booming and has grown tremendously. But it has a chance to become universal, so much so that apps could take over traditional websites as the way users interact with all software. To get there, Facebook faces a critical choice in the next 12 to 18 months, Pincus said.

Pincus added, “It would bother me if (something as innovative as the location-based Twitter game) Foursquare is not built on the Facebook platform. An analogy is Windows. If it had not been the home of Excel or the web browser, then it would not have grown” into Microsoft’s cash cow.

The other choice, he said, is to focus on being a social portal, with a business model supported by advertising.

“They have a more obvious business model around being a portal,” Pincus said. “I hope they find the business model around the plumbing.”

Essentially, he’s saying: you can be a portal and make money off advertising. Or, you can change the game and become part of the fabric of the WWW. One is simple, clear, and fairly obvious. The other is riskier, bigger, but with potentially much more reward. And … it’s much more world-changing.

The corollary that comes to my mind? Steve Jobs telling John Sculley: do you want to sell sugar water for a living, or do you want to change the world?

via Zynga’s Mark Pincus: Time for Facebook to choose | VentureBeat.

Facebook vs Google: opposite ends of the funnel

Good insight into both Facebook’s business model and especially their aspirations … how high they think they can go.

Over dinner at her favorite restaurant, a few blocks from her home in Atherton, California, her strategy for making money sounds simple. She takes my pen and notebook and starts drawing the classic marketing funnel, which starts broadly, with brand awareness, and grows progressively narrower, ending with point of sale. Google, she explains, does most of its business at the narrow end of the funnel, leading buyers straight to places where they can buy what they want. But Facebook, she says, operates at the wide-open end, creating positive brand affiliation and generating demand for products. Google makes money because it commands 50 percent of online advertising dollars spent on that final stage, the one that gets people to make a purchase. But that stage represents only 10 percent of all “ad spend”— here she writes “$690 billion,” then draws an arrow to her “online ad spend” column. Facebook can dominate the other 90 percent devoted to “demand generation” ($621 billion a year!). It’s not unreasonable, she thinks, that Facebook could wind up getting a substantial part of that, every year.

Of course, typically the narrow end of the funnel is easiest to measure, closest to cash, and higher value. Perhaps Facebook will help to change that.

via Vogue: What she saw at the revolution.

Nielsen: Facebook's Ads Work Pretty Well

From AdAge:

Facebook-home-page ads on average generated a 10% increase in ad recall, a 4% increase in brand awareness and a 2% increase in purchase intent among users who saw them compared with a control group with similar demographics or characteristics who didn't.

But the increase in recall jumped to 16% when ads included mentions of friends who were brand fans, and 30% when the ads coincided with a similar mention in users' news feeds. Brand awareness saw similar bumps: up 2% from just a home-page ad, 8% with a “social ad” bearing mentions of friends who were brand fans and up 13% when a home-page ad appeared along with a mention of friends who were brand fans in the users' news feeds.

via Nielsen: Facebook’s Ads Work Pretty Well – Advertising Age – Digital.

Facebook To Twitter: Back Off, We Own People’s Interests

From TechCrunch:

Whoever knows what your interests are right now and can package them up for advertisers has the chance to make a lot of money. Of course, Google does this right now every time you declare your interests in a search box and it offers up matching ads on the side of results. But Facebook and Twitter are trying to capitalize on the shift from search to sharing. Your interests are expressed by what you follow and react to “like,” “retweet,” etc., not only what you explicitly seek out through search.

via Facebook To Twitter: Back Off, We Own People’s Interests.

Google: how many enemies can you afford?

I was wondering this morning: how many enemies can Google afford?

Apple
There’s of course Apple, which Google poked with a stick when they brought out Android, their OS for mobile communication devices (or: smartphones). Apple is less concerned about Chromium and Google Apps (see below) … but any other operating systems and productivity apps are inherent competitors.

Microsoft
Microsoft is an enemy not only due to Android but also due to Chromium, another Google OS for not-quite-so-mobile devices (or: tablets). And, of course, Microsoft just loves Google for Google Apps, which threaten to someday replace Office.

Not least of all, Microsoft, which has been trying for a decade to win on the web, is fighting Google for mind and marketshare in search with Bing.

Facebook
Facebook is emerging as a major competitor for Google for two reasons: sheer scale in terms of audience and pageviews, which diverts users’ time and attention away from Google … and the fact that Facebook controls what Google sees of all that fascinating and mine-able and rich user action and interaction.

Facebook, of course, is really happy that Google’s Orkut is big in Brazil and India …

Twitter, FourSquare, etc.
The whole social world that is exploding in Facebook and on Twitter/FourSquare and many other similar sites watches in dismay as Google experiments with Buzz. It’s abundantly apparent that Orkut notwithstanding Google isn’t really getting social right now, but the giant with deep pockets cannot be ignored. Even its accidental footsteps kill many trees.

China
Hmmm … Google really knows how to pick ’em. As much as we may admire Google for its principled stance on freedom and censorship, fighting with the more-or-less totalitarian government of the most populous nation with the fastest-growing economy on earth is a bit sobering.

Old media, Magazines, Newspapers, Publishing, Rupert Murdoch, New York
As much as we may laugh at Rupert Murdoch’s understandings of links, traffic, and value … there’s no doubt that aggregation and search have sucked huge amounts of value out of traditional media. And they don’t like one little bit of it … and are searching furiously for ways to re-monetize their content. (Maybe the iPad will save them? Don’t hold your breath.)

. . .
. . .

Who else? From a certain perspective, almost EVERY company on the internet competes with Google, at least somewhat.

So the question becomes … at what point does Google’s insistence on poking their nose into everyone else’s business model – which they can only afford to do because of a de facto monopoly on search revenue – start to damage Google?

One would have to imagine sometime soon. You can only fight so many Lilliputians (and behemoths) at once.

The rise and fall of MySpace

It was also becoming clear that, unlike many other internet sensations, MySpace could earn its keep. Within 15 months of the acquisition, revenues had leapt from about $1m a month to $50m a month: half came from advertising sold by the new sales team that News Corp had installed, the rest from the Google deal. As advertisers rushed to target the site’s rapidly expanding audience, offices were opened in Japan, South Korea, China, while a free music service was launched at considerable expense.

But by the beginning of 2008, things began to sour. Facebook, a rival social network that was simpler and easier to use, was gaining momentum and starting to grow more quickly than MySpace. Murdoch confidently told the world that MySpace would make $1bn in advertising revenues in 2008 – but the company missed its target. Users began to desert the site, which had become cluttered with unappealing ads for teeth straightening and weight-loss products. News Corp executives could hardly hide their displeasure, and in April this year, DeWolfe left, closely followed by most of his senior management team.

via FT.com / Reportage – The rise and fall of MySpace.

Facebook: Officially makes you stupid

Alas and alack! What are we social media aficionados to do?

Apparently our passions are curbing our potential – heavy Facebook use translates into a grade level drop at the college level.

We knew that, though. After all, if you’re taking your attention away from your studies, or work, something is going to suffer.

Here’s the best part of the article:

If you use Facebook, you are probably driven by the inane status updates that spew out of your friends across your pages. The joy of a muffin, the pictures of a party where everyone got drunk and dressed up like a slutty leprechaun, and the obligatory question that hopes to solicit a comment because you want to make sure someone in your network is reading your pathetic attempts at making the minutiae of your existence seem interesting. It is the equivalent of Vogon poetry, odes to green putty found in one’s arm putty.

To understand the Vogon poetry bit, you’d have to read some Douglas Adams. But anyone can enjoy the “pathetic attempts at making the minutiae of your existence seem interesting.” Love it!

Perhaps it’s time for us to get a first life.

Nielsen ratings: top 20 social networks

Facebook continues to grow at a torrid rate. Reunion.com is growing almost as fast. Ning, Tagged, and Multiply are also all growing at over 100% annually.

However, Twitter is the runaway winner in unbelievable growth rates. While it’s growing from a smaller base, and therefore it’s easier to get a higher multiple, a growth rate of almost 1400% annually is just astounding.

twitter-februaryFree Legal Forms

Those are some scintillating numbers. Wow.

Busted by Facebook

This is a getting to be a more and more common story …

My wife just came back from her work, where a co-worker who was off “sick” was busted for actually spending the week in Cancun. Naturally, it was discovered because she was posting on Facebook the entire time. Now as a result of her duplicity, she’s out of a job.

Somehow people still seem to think that they can separate various facets of their lives. What we’re actually seeing, for good or ill, is that work/life/career/leisure and everything else is getting mixed up in one big bowl. And, courtesy of Google, data that is somewhere … quickly becomes data that is everywhere.

You would think by now people would start to have realized this …

Friendfeed, Twitter, Facebook: mashups and duplicate data

When things are mashable, they will be mashed. Unfortunately, that means that users sometimes have mashed potatoes instead of baked.

Which isn’t a problem, of course, if you like mashed. But sometimes – and this is an example – mashed leads to issues. Notice the multiple duplicate posts:

friendfeed-duplicates

I like Friendfeed, but mostly feed it on autopilot from Twitter and other services.. So, apparently, do others. When multiple services have the same information, and they’re all reporting it in … there’s a problem. I’ve seen the same problem on FaceBook … multiple feeds of the same event, leading to a low signal-to-noise ratio.

Social networks are going to need to be more careful about what they consume as feeds and inputs. Some kind of duplication filter would be an excellent idea. Obviously, the trick would be not getting any false positives and deleting important data.

The reality of the social media landscape today is that there are hundreds of networks, many interconnected in complex ways via APIs, RSS, and other protocols. While there will be some degree of consolidation in social networks, people are going to continue to join multiple networks in an attempt to be where the action is.

Networks like Friendfeed and Facebook, therefore, will have to find ways to filter the duplicates.

LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace in metaphor

He’s hardly an unbiased source, but I like how the new CEO of LinkedIn defines three of social networking’s heavyweights:

“LinkedIn is the office, Facebook is the barbecue in the backyard, and MySpace is the bar,” says Hoffman, referring to the three major social-networking sites battling it out for millions of consumers and billions of dollars in online ads.

Rings true with me.

LinkedIn is where I connect with business professionals, contacts, co-workers, and partners. Facebook is for friends, acquaintances, and old classmates. MySpace … I’m not sure if I remember my MySpace login information. (Perhaps that says something about me as a married 30-something with kids!)

By the way, if you’d like to connect with me on LinkedIn … please feel free!

New Facebook app, please

I would like someone to create a new Facebook app, based on the myriads of Likeness quizzes. But instead of likenesses based on fruits, movies, books, cars, friends, or anything else, it would be based on the degree to which you dislike likeness quizzes.

Bah. Humbug.

Flog blog update ping post

The entire purpose of this post is to publish a post while having set up WordPress (the software that runs this blog) to ping (notify) flog blog (the software application that updates Facebook with my new posts when I post them here) every time I publish a post.

. . .
. . .

Err, jargon often sucks, but I think we can all agree it can have a wonderful brevity to it.

. . .
. . .

Bleh, flog blog often sucks. It very rarely picks up my new posts, which is annoying. And it still has not picked up my ping, which was sent 15 minutes ago.

Hate facebook hate facebook hate facebook

I am so over Facebook.

Essentially, I’ve put my Facebook profile on autopilot using applications that suck in all my data from around the web. But I hardly ever go there myself.

Why?

Well, first of all, my employer blocks Facebook. While I certainly wouldn’t spend a long time there anyways during the work day, it’s annoying to get little email notifications during the day about something a friend did on Facebook, and then having to think about that later if I want to check it out.

Secondly, and much more importantly, while the application infrastructure of Facebook is amazing, it’s also fingernails-on-blackboard perky-happy-chirpy-people-on-Monday-mornings annoying.

Let me say that again: ANNOYING.

Everytime anyone does anything, Facebook feels like it needs to notify me. So-and-so is playing Scrabulous, someone else took a picture of a cup of coffee, someone else is super-poking me, and his dog is joining some stupid corporate fan club because they happen to like Tim Hortons coffee.

I love to know when someone has posted a new blog entry.

But I don’t need the minutiae of their every footstep on Facebook. There’s a massive annoyance factor in being sent some kind of message that actually isn’t a message. It’s not a real message … not a note, or email, or IM, or actual communication … but a piece of digital flotsam, tossed off randomly from some interaction with a Facebook application, sent easily and spammishly and automatably to tens or hundreds of “friends.”

timmysBut that’s not the worst part.

The worst part is that half the time, when you get this piece of digital flotsam, if you actually care to see the picture of the cup of coffee, you have to install the application that the “friend” used when adding it to Facebook. And then you have to sell your soul to the devil and allow the application to know the most intimate details of your online life.

Enough!

The social utility doesn’t have any.

Facebook ennui

Friends are great. Invites to events from friends are fine. Notifications that friends have updated photos or blogs are wonderful.

facebookBut, with apologies, since I turned 15 some time ago, I really don’t need invites to a million “likeness” quizzes based on movies I like or don’t like, personality tests based on chocolate flavors I prefer, fan clubs, “presents” that aren’t really presents and certainly can’t be unwrapped, and invites to be “best friends” with someone that I’m already “friends” with on Facebook.

Arrgghhh!

Are we not satisfied with robbing children of childishness by incessantly driving adult tastes in everything to younger and younger ages, so that we must now also perform the inverse and infantalize ourselves with giggly fluffy pink nothings and superpokes and other such nonsense?

Social networking is cool and wonderful. It’s helped me reconnect with friends I’ve lost track of years ago.

But that doesn’t mean I want to act like a pubescent Japanese schoolgirl.

PS:

Since I’m already up in high dudgeon, here’s one more thing that bugs me. I’m not going to add 50 Facebook apps to my account every day, giving them and their creators access to any and all information about me.

So there. Bah. Humbug.

Slightly less negative on Facebook

What with the insane euphoria of the web 2.0 crowd having found something slightly less web 1.0ish than MySpace in the social networking space and the insane euphoria of the VC crowd having found a new poster child for massively inflated valuations, I’ve been trying to maintain sort of a cool distance from Facebook.

(While, naturally, having a profile that I hardly touch.)

But this morning an old buddy from school sent me a message. By old buddy from school, I don’t mean university or even high school. I’m talking elementary school.

Wow. I hadn’t even remembered his last name, but I had remembered Jaimie.

Reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in maybe 20 years is pretty cool.

I hated MySpace; now I hate Facebook

So I got an account on Facebook a couple of weeks ago.

It’s protection – in the personal SEO era, you need to lock up accounts on popular services with your actual name. Amazingly enough, I’m John Koetsier on Facebook.

After being on the service for all of about 25 days, I’ve already formed some conclusions:

  1. Facebook is the anti-MySpace
  2. MySpace is gaudy and busy; Facebook is boring
  3. MySpace is full of ads; haven’t seen many on Facebook
  4. MySpace is web 1.0; Facebook is web 1.0 too. Only difference: it’s designers weren’t on LSD
    (I know, I know Facebook is doing all kinds of API deals, I know, I know, it’s a platform now … blah, blah, blah. I’m talking about the visual feel, the scent you get from using it. It’s all been done so, so, so many times, and it’s all very 1.0)

  5. MySpace was programmed by Hammy, the hyperactive squirrel in Over the Hedge, and few things work as advertised; Facebook actually works, which is good, but still does stupid stuff.

Case in point: check out this screenshot from the homepage of Facebook …
facebook.png

Facebook wants me to give it access to my online email so that it can check if any people that I sent messages to and from are also on Facebook … it’s an auto-friend feature.

Cool? Uncool.

I don’t have a Hotmail address. Or a Yahoo, MSN, AOL address. I don’t know too many self-respecting technically-proficient over-20 people do. (I have a Gmail account, but that’s mostly for subscriptions and possibly spammy stuff.)

So the feature is useless to me. But can I get rid of it? Can I edit it? Can I dismiss it? No, no, no.

So every visit to the boring uninspired homepage of Facebook is punctuated by the uselessness to me of the largest element on the page.

And that’s just annoying.