Posted: February 25th, 2010
Previously, I’ve written about the implications of Facebook’s closed networks for Google. Google’s web crawler can’t access Facebook Profile’s that are private (which is most of them). That means that tools like Google Search and Buzz can’t index these pages and can’t display their content in results. This wouldn’t matter too much if Facebook were small but it now has 400 million users and is still growing quickly. That’s hundreds of millions of profile pages that Google can’t access and many more status updates each year that Buzz can’t display.
Facebook realize that they must become more open. In the latest series of changes to Facebook, you’ll notice that the ‘Logout’ function is no longer prominent in the top right hand corner of the page. It’s now hidden within the account menu. My guess is that this change was made in the hope that users stay logged in to Facebook. The result being that when you browse the web, your Facebook account comes with you. When you’re browsing a third party site that makes use of Facebook Connect (and soon Open Graph), the site administrator knows who you are. You’re also able to share content back to Facebook streams very easily.
Facebook must carefully balance their transition to openness for two reasons. Firstly, there’s an uproar among users every time Facebook meddles with their privacy settings so they have to be careful to protect users. Secondly, and more importantly, as Facebook becomes more open, they let go of a little more of their competitive advantage over Google. Openness allows Google to crawl the site and display contents in the search results. Facebook Fan Pages (maintained by organizations rather than individuals) are inherently open to the public rather than protected behind secure networks. Google can display these pages in search results and they typically rank quite highly due to Facebook’s heavy vollume of traffic. Google Buzz can display status updates from these pages. Mashable wrote an article explaining this well.
This fine dance between openness and privacy is going to be fascinating to witness.
Posted: February 22nd, 2010
Great web sites and applications pop up all the time. Here’s a pick of some of our recent favorites. Some of these may be directly applicable to your business. All of them will give you ideas that you can apply to what you do online:
This is a terrific monitoring tool for Twitter campaigns. The advantage over others like Tweet Deck is the analytic capacity it provides. It’s still in Beta but we’re already using it for our clients.
Square up is genius. Take credit card payments from your mobile phone. You could see this type of technology coming a long time ago. Cash is slowly becoming more and more obsolete. There are two main barriers to this working. The first is that the security of the service needs to be accepted by the end user. This will happen over time. The second is that the price point needs to be right (ie a transaction cost that is cheaper than Paypal). This will be great for both businesses and individuals. It would be great for mobile service providers or retaurants. I could envisage situations where I’ll use it to take payments from my friends, especially when we go on holiday together.
The Sixty One
Users rate the coolest new artists and new music. The application uses your previous music request and ratings to populate your next songs It ties in all the big sites; Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. The better the songs that you rate well score in future, the better your reputation becomes. This concept of creating a status will work well for ratings sites and sets them apart from Facebook. Four Square have been successfully implementing this technique in the restaurant and bar scene. We are doing it in the travel industry with Life Points. Can you create or sponsor something similar in your industry?
Posted: February 16th, 2010
There’s some Australians with a boxing kangaroo on the streets of Vancouver for the Olympics. Maybe they don’t want the boxing kangaroo flag to be taken down?
Maybe there’s just so many Life Points in British Columbia that you can’t keep the Boxing Kangaroo away!
Visit www.getlifepoints.com to win one of 6 trips to British Columbia Canada!
Posted: February 12th, 2010
I just signed up for Google’s new Buzz:
Welcome to Buzz
Buzz is a new way to share updates, photos, videos and more, and start conversations about the things you find interesting. You’re already set up to follow the people you email and chat with the most.
You’re automatically following 14 people. View and edit
You’ll see the buzz they post.
13 people are already following you. View and follow back
They’ll see the buzz you post.
Your Google Reader shared items, Picasa Web public albums, and Google Chat status messages will automatically appear as posts in Buzz. To edit your connected sites or change privacy settings, view connected sites.
I see a few problems here already. I’m only following 14 people here but I have 700+ Facebook friends and I’m very selective. I don’t use Picasa. I put photos on Facebook when I want to share them, I can tag people who are in them to send automatic emails and the same thing happens for me.
The biggest problem is this, Google Buzz cannot aggregate my friends’ Facebook Status updates because peoples Facebook networks are usually private.
Posted: February 9th, 2010
Yesterday I wrote about some of the ways that Facebook could and are making headway into Google’s territory. One of the things I mentioned was Facebook having recently hired Paul Buchheit, the creator of Gmail.
It looks like there could be some truth to the rumours going around about Facebook preparing to launch Project Titan, dubbed as the gmail killer.
Facebook now has 375 million active monthly users. People spend an average of 30 minutes a day on Facebook. Users are on the whole, very comfortable with the Facebook inbox.
Gmail has some pretty nifty features. It’s extremely intuitive, has a killer search function and it has great spam filters.
Both have built in text chat. Gmail has video and voice chat.
All of my friends are on Facebook. Facebook’s network system helps me to find friends through my friends. Gmail doesn’t help me find my mutual friends emails. This alone should see Facebook get the upper hand over time.
Transition takes time but Facebook’s system of networks, combined with their use of peoples’ real names will put them in a very strong position.
Watch this space.
Posted: February 4th, 2010
Word-of-mouth marketing comes alive in social media. Through our app development program, we’re helping clients to incentivize Facebook users to become product champions. There are many ways you can do this on your own through your Fan Page, your employees’ personal pages, through Facebook advertising or through groups. Think strategically about your efforts and carefully choose the metrics to gauge your success. Some strategies are easy but most need persistent effort, which requires significant of time and resources.
Fan Pages don’t engage people on their own. Anyone can set up a Fan page in a matter of minutes. You have to empower your product champions, every individual within your organization and your customers who had an amazing experience. If your people aren’t telling their Facebook and Twitter friends about your products, you’re missing a huge opportunity. You just need to give them a reason. The easy strategies for this aren’t always successful, otherwise all of your competitors would already be doing them. Give them something they want, something that they want to share. Then you can cost effectively leverage Facebook’s viral channels.
There are a number of routes you can go in the application space:
1. Custom build stand-alone applications: This is great for big branding players or smaller organizations with a terrific idea. A good example is Quiksilver’s surfing game.
2. Custom build apps for your fan page: a great approach if you want to engage your existing fan base to spread the word. Create engaging quizes about your product. Give users something they really want. Get creative and allow your people to share their passion.
3. Pay to brand existing applications: This is great for exposure and necessary for running competitions under Facebook’s new restrictions. Tourism British Columbia are currently branding our application; getlifepoints.com.
4. Buy existing, proven applications: a good option that minimizes risk if you have a lot of money lying around that you don’t know what to spend on. Trip Advisor spent a few million to buy Cities I’ve Visited.
There are many options. Try to forget about shiny object syndrome. Think about your organization’s social media goals, then achieve those by providing something that your clients really want.