Tag Archive for 'facebook'

Some thoughts on sharing content

We’ve got a widget that needs some global share functionality added to it, so I got in touch with the company (Gigya) who’s helping us to do that. I went to their blog, which had some interesting insights and a ‘social bar’ at the bottom of the browser page. This is similar to the couple of examples I had in the deck I sent round the other day and could include any other number of social ‘connections’, such as QQ, RenRen, Orkut etc. I’ve heard rumors that Facebook will be launching their own in weeks.

In a nutshell, this and various other announcements, such as Facebook’s Social Plugins, bring into focus the idea that websites can now apply the latest open social technologies – like Facebook Connect, OAuth with Twitter, those provided by Yahoo, LinkedIn and more – to their own sites to drive traffic and highlight other social platforms where clients have a presence.

Re-dressing the balance
Most companies have learned to meet their customers on social networks, creating Facebook fan pages and Twitter pages, or integrating basic sharing, but only a few have made their own sites social in a way that truly takes advantage of the opportunity. Making the corporate site experience seamlessly connect to users’ social networks is the way things are moving. According to industry analyst Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, “In the future, consumers will be challenged to differentiate between corporate sites and social networks” because “destinations won’t matter, social context will”.

Many prominent publishers and retailers are buying traffic only to send it away to a social network. The next generation of social technologies – like Facebook’s Open Graph – differ from their predecessors. Facebook launched the changes on Wednesday with over 75 partners and partners are applying those technologies to their own sites to enable site visitors to help drive friends to those sites.

The various different social tools that Facebook and others have enabled can be collectively described as Friendcasting – Tools such as the ‘like’ button and Twitter’s @Anywhere solution enable customers to broadcast their comments to their 150 friends (the average number of friends/followers that social network users have these days).

5 best practices
There are 5 best practices for applying this “next generation” sharing (Friendcasting):

1. Keep users on your site
2. Build sharing into the activity flow
3. Use one single system for registration and sharing
4. Offer simultaneous sharing options
5. Track sharing results

Many of our clients still don’t fully appreciate how impactful social can be – it’s not the old packaged good mentality now. Technically – it’s more that there are many agencies and people involved, so “Keep it simple stupid” is best. For many clients, making the functionality different or flashy instead of keeping it as clear and simple as it should be will be a great challenge.

The movement towards openness
Microsoft will be launching its new Windows Live platform soon and with it a raft of new social features, including the first version of Office in the Cloud. Microsoft will be placing Friendcasting at the very centre of their launch, in the same way as they have shown in their recent partnership with Facebook, http://docs.com.

These tools increase conversion on your own site because users can register in just a couple of clicks. Often, you’re not going to capture a full conversion upfront, but that doesn’t matter because you are getting permission to have a relationship.

The data that is provided varies by the platform and the visitor’s personal security settings, but Facebook now provides an email address if they have approved sharing it. Both demographic and psychographic data is often available. More will be offered as Google and Microsoft join in with their own social services for 3rd party websites.

More things to consider soon…

Online video – insight from the East

Alot of the time it’s really obvious that Asia is a totally different market to the one in the West.

QRCode adoption and mobile phone interaction are 2 of the most glaring differences between our habits and Asia’s – what you learn from people’s insight, like that of Jan Chipchase, is that despite our differences the mindset, no matter how subliminal, is in tune.

Which is what makes these insights in online video viewing habits in Asia so interesting

Obvious differences include Anonymity but there are many more similarities that I relate to and believe in:

Participation – this is on the rise as a larger percentage of the audience engages and overcomes a technological barrier. e.g. Karaoke, Wii, 1v100, Facebook, Twitter etc.

Long form quality content is most popular online/VOD programming – As if you didn’t know, Content is King

Social Advocacy holds greatest sway – What your friends, family and peers think and say matters more than anything else in getting eyeballs – advocates not eyeballs matter in the long tail. e.g. BBC David Attenborough documentary fares better than Battle at Kruger (eventually…)

Local brands dominate Asian online video landscape – This is so much more relevant based on yesterday’s news in the UK that our Independent TV company, ITV, reported enormous losses. When will local advertisiers start having much more sway over national advertising?

The difference between a widget and an application

The previous post got me thinking of another outcome due to the differing functionalities of the two platforms. The concept of what a widget is and what an application is becomes clearer:

  1. 2nd generation widgety microsites in widgety-sized living spaces
  2. engaging and useful applications which make use of your digital web of friends.

    This second type of application can be split into another couple of sub categories:

  1. Utility apps – Training regimes (Nike+) and or niche digital organisers, a bit like ‘calender’ on Steriods which benefit aspects of your real life.
  2. Games – Engaging multiplayer, multi-platform, geo-positioned, haptics-enabled bundles of fun to be shared with friends and family. Where you can put the age old disciplines of human competitiveness, cooperation and comparison to the test. And before you ask, yes, “Compare”, “Crush” and “Growing Gifts” are all games.

The most successful of these will create an experience which offers both usefulness and enjoyment. Nike+ is sure to fare well, but who says there won’t be other Nike applications in the future? How difficult would it be to imagine an entire suite of specialist applications all created by Nike and sitting on your desktop…

As Nokia demonstrated at the Games Developers Conference this week, along with rumours of a partnership between Apple and games company Gameloft, we shouldn’t think that the internet is the only place, or the best suited, to socially interact.

facebook vs. opensocial

Shuzak’s presentation is very interesting.

One slide particularly got me thinking about some of Facebook’s recent moves. In the last couple of weeks Facebook has begun to put the kosh on invites in order to create more thoughful and considered applications and drive the spammers away.

I thought OpenSocial’s achilles heel was this lack of ‘virality’. It’s possible to create generic applications, but OpenSocial cannot take advantage of Facebook’s social graph. It is however scalable. And that’s the irony, because if you build something on Facebook that works through the social graph, it will be impossible (at the moment) to get it working across OpenSocial – All those viral invitations useless…

By pushing back so heavily on the invites, Facebook is helping developers not to think about how to game viral goodness out of the platform, but instead how to build really engaging applications. It also let’s any particularly successful applications that work on OpenSocial to benefit from additional engagement with the social graph rather than being spammed with it.

Despite Facebook’s very clean and well documented platform, the numbers still matter, and although the experience and audience will be more engaging and valuable on Facebook, it’s dwarfed by the 250+ million accessible users available on OpenSocial. I’d hate to be an OpenSocial developer right now though…it looks painful!

Undoubtedly there’ll be experiences created for both platforms, but I doubt very much whether there’ll be one killer branded application that’ll work just as well on either…unless it’s a mobile one…who could forget Tetris :)

Your facebook profile page is your social desktop

Every once in a while I clean up my desktop. I remove all the crap that’s been saved to it, copied in haste and not filed away properly, and delete it all.

In another move that strengthens the concept of your facebook profile page being your social desktop, they have just launched a “Profile Clean-up Tool”.

The Profile Clean-Up Tool will recommend to users that they keep their Friends, Mini Feed, Wall, Basic, Personal Infomration and the top 12 application boxes. Any other applications which are currently installed but not used as much as those top 12 will be placed into a “Show Extended Profile” box.

The profile box is a major point of both existing user re-engagement and new user acquisition – A surprising number of applications are downloaded after seeing them on friends’ profile pages as opposed to invites and the Application browser – Any move by facebook to ‘hide’ application boxes from profile pages is bound to negatively impact application use and growth. That being said, the average facebook user has 13 applications installed, so this change should hide at most only 7.5% of a person’s profile box.

Ultimately, I think this is a good move which protects the user experience – some profile pages were taking as much as 30 secs or more to load. Add to this the knowledge facebook have of seeing user’s ‘spring-clean’ their profile pages every 3-4 months and it makes sense.

Interpreting feedback – users and metrics

Daniel Burka is the Creative Director of Digg and the Co-creator of Pownce. Digg’s been going about 3yrs and has a user base of 2million, whilst Pownce has been going about 4 months and has just over 100,000 users.

Neither Digg nor Pownce got where they are without taking onboard feedback, interpreting that feedback and folding it back into iterative releases of the product on a continual basis.

This kind of development process involving constant iterative improvements is exactly what Facebook applications need in order to spread and gain in popularity.

The Standford students that developed the SendHotness application on Facebook created one of the most popular and successful applications in the class. Currently, it has attained over 6 million installs and averages about 125k daily users. Pretty mind blowing for an application that is about 7 weeks old.

Their secret: They spent at least 80% of their time on metrics. Create the viral loop, measure it, test it, change it, tweak it…Repeat until your brain goes numb…Simple assets such as images really made a difference in influencing people and getting more people to download and use the application.

“…it was all about the persuasive nature of our changes”

One interesting insight they mentioned in an interview was the dramatic improvments in sent invitations when they chose to do away with a large invitation window with thumbnail images of freinds and instead have a minimized invitation window with no images; psychologically, the feeling from a user’s perspective when seeing the large invitation window was “oh no, not another invitation screen – I hate sending invitations [skip]…”

Facebook – a persuasive technology

B.J.Fogg is a professor at Stanford University specialising in Captology, the study of persuasive technology. He used his learning in the field of Captology for a course that was run at Stanford for Facebook application developers recently.

Over the course of 8 weeks he and his associates taught how captology could be used to create successful Facebook applications. The premise for creating and teaching the course was based on the hypothesis that Facebook is, at its heart, a persuasive technology utility platform.

Facebook’s foundations are based on your real off-line friends and families. The ones you trust, the ones who recommend products and services to you when you’re at dinner or whilst having a drink after work and the one’s whose views are based on their own experiences and opinions, which you trust.

Collectively the Stanford facebook applications numbers were as follows:
Over 16 million installs in 10 weeks.
~ 925,000 Daily Engaged Users

The Facebook Application Install Stats were as follows:
* 5 apps had 1 Million + installs
* 10 apps had 100K+ installs
* 20 apps had 5K+ installs

The Facebook Engagement Stats were as follows:
* 6 apps had 100K daily users
* 10 apps had 10K daily users
* 20 apps had 500+ daily users

Total Valuation per Adonomics numbers = ~10 Million Dollars

These numbers are incredible considering that each team comprised of 3-5 people…

There’s seems to be alot that can be learnt by applying Captology to Facebook applications.

Differences between MySpace and Facebook

I read over the weekend a piece in The Observer (on page 3) to do with Facebook. It talked about the ‘friendliest’ person on Facebook in the UK. I was slightly taken aback by the term that has been coined to refer to Facebook users who have 1000’s of friends: ‘Facebook Whales’.

People with large numbers of friends on Facebook are seen as lonely, sad individuals. Compare that to MySpace and the perception that friends = popularity…It struck me how different these 2 Social Networks are, made all the more distant by this illustration:


Some thoughts on Facebook apps for brands

recently_pop There’s been some great discussion and insight recently into Facebook applications and how to create successful ones. The Stanford class’s reach of a combined 16+million Facebook application downloads in 10 weeks is testamount to what can be achieved with alot of hard work and determination and a surprisingly small development team.

What has become clear from their success and insights is the emphasis on metrics to substantiate what persuades people to download and use a Facebook application and how you can use metrics to keep track of your ‘persuasiveness’ – It’s interesting how the professors of the Stanford Facebook course describe Facebook as a “Mass Interpersonal Communication” tool.

There is a science to creating a successful Facebook application: Constant testing, measurement, metrics and application iterations are key.

18 Insights for brands engaging in Facebook (and now Bebo) with an application.

1. Set metrics and objectives upfront. Based on the metrics establish why people are engaging or not engaging and tweak your application to improve these rates. Based on the objectives, decide whether your application has been a success.

2. Is your app viral? Generally, the more complex the app is, the less viral it is. The simpliest ones spread the quickest. The more complex the app the more time they spend on the app’s canvas pages.

3. Go in light on the branding: A Facebook application can be “sponsored” by a brand and still attain marketing goals. Don’t beat people over the head with branding.

4. Build applications that “Look and Feel” like facebook. People engage with familiarity of design. Don’t have graphics with colors that overpower or clash with the facebook frame if possible. Don’t use rounded tabs for navigation. 95% of facebook applications use the same style of navigational tabs. Do the same.

5. Plan on A/B split testing & measurement for ongoing tweaks of your application.
The key metrics are Keep Rate, Drop Rate, Install Rate, Uninstall Rate. Others include the amount of time people spend interacting with your application’s Canvas Pages.

6. Metrics are critical. Many application teams set up custom metrics beyond standard Google Analytics in order to measure very specific details of an application. You need A/B split testing on things such as page layout, images, text, user flow etc. You can get enough statistical info within 12hrs to measure the effectiveness of different iterations of your applications.

7. Change 1 thing at a time for iterations and measurement towards desired metrics.

8. Pay very close attention to any trend or change in behavior; Un-install rate increasing for example. This can point you in the direction of a problem, either slow responsiveness (a scaling issue) or something being broken (a development issue).

9. Wording is very critical for influencing behavior. Change and measure. Part of the “Mass InterPersonal Communication” concept.

10. Pay close attention to the experience flow of how you pull people through your application and force desired behaviors to occur.

11. Consider “levels” or “rewards” as an incentive for participation. This means unlocking specific features of the app when a person takes desired behaviors.

12. Invites are critical. Do it right. Most facebook applications do not do it in the most effective manner.
A note on this is that Facebook has bundled invitation (which appear on the right hand of your profile page) together, giving only the most recent invite a prominent place on your profile.

13. Look at how you can easily expose behaviors through the viral carrier mechanisms available (mini-feed, news-feed, notifications, email, participatory sharing, etc.) without the user not having to think about sharing information.

14. Try not to shoe-horn a current app that’s successful on to Facebook. Try to make something totally unique to Facebook. Use the ‘Social Graph’ that is at the heart of Facebook to facilitate new and unique connections between people and their friends on Facebook. Give it a Facebook ‘twist’.

15. 2 attributes that make a successful widget are Attention and Interaction, also known as Engagement and Viral Growth. Pay attention to both.

16. Plan for continual evolution. Facebook’s Platform is in constant change with new updates, features and restrictions added almost on a weekly basis. Developers aren’t notified of the changes by Facebook unitl they occur and you need to be able to react. Application creators need to adapt to those changes and challenges.

Have a plan in place for revisions and additional feature sets. The application will evolve on a continual basis mainly due to people’s feedback. You need to incorporate this feedback and build it into future versions. It shows that you’re listening and creates affinity between your application and the people who use it.

17. Plan for scaling. Budget accordingly. It’s best not to build an app in the expectation that it will be very popular but instead have a plan in place for scaling the application over the short to mid-term. Applications can spread virally incredibly quickly and you need to be able to react to that. Consider using databases that can scale according to use (Amazon’s S3 is a good example)

18. Competitve landscape.
Look at you’re Facebook competition. Keep up to date with the changes they’re implementing and react accordingly.

These points are based primarily on learnings from the Standford Facebook class and on Facebook application development insight from Rodney Rumford and Jeremiah Owyang.

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