Archive for the ‘Facebook’ Category

Limited “neweness” or lack of tact?

May 29, 2008

Thanks to Veronica, who mentioned this to me, i read the following debate (HE) about whether or not it would be appropriate to announce a funeral via FaceBook(FB). The primary argument is around whether or not it is tasteless or not to invite people to a funeral using “events” on FB. On its face it is a ridiculous question and my guts reaction was “hell no!”. But as it also go me thinking…

When somebody dies in Israel, the closest relatives and friends are usually receive a phone call, and more distant acquaintances and colleagues are getting the message through the grapevine or through institutional channels such as an organizational memo. Recently, i hear more people using SMS to announce the tragedy to wider publics. To a great extent, these practices are dictated by the Jewish tradition, which requires the body to be buried as soon as possible. In many cases this means that the funeral is taking place on the same day of the death or the following one, but rarely later than that.

One particularly interesting practice of announcing a funeral is using the media. Frequently people would publish an announcement in a newspaper about a death of a person, the time of the funeral, and the location of shiva. Another common practice is to place notification with the same information in public places, particularly in the area where the person lived.

These latter practices prompted me thinking about the FB case from a different angle. What is the principle difference between placing an ad in a newspaper and placing an announcement on FB? The popular claim is that alternative media and social networking platforms replace mainstream media outlets, particularly for the younger generation. If people consume political, economic, cultural, and other news through personalized feeds, why would it be wrong to announce a personal tragedy using the same medium? If we are to talk about the “new” media, why (or where) is this newness limited to the not serious stuff only? In a way, this may be even more humane compared to a newspaper ad, because you know that the message goes only to the people who cared to one degree or another about the passed away person.

What do you think?

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Facebook numbers drop?

February 24, 2008

Recently there is a buzz in the blogosphere about the drop in FB numbers. It looks like people got tired of constant stalking of their own friends or just moved on to other platforms. It may be just a seasonal fluctuation, but it also may be that the growing number of social networks websites crossed a point where people are not coping with managing so many instances of their social connections and are backing off. If that is the case, it looks like the next big service will be a system that will allow a single control panel for all the major social networking website. For example Eszter just blogged about FriendFeed which seems like a move in this direction. What do you think?

Correcting the mistakes of Beacon

December 7, 2007

It looks like Facebook (FB) is looking for ways of resolving the Beacon issue and this time they decided to use their users. Recently a call for participation in the survey appeared under a nice title “What do you think”?

FB survey

In fact FB doesn’t really care what you think, but it is interested in knowing more about your online shopping behavior. Here is what they got there:

  1. Have you bought anything online in the past three months?
  2. In total, how much have you spent online in the last three months?
  3. In total, how much do you intend to spend online in the next three months?
  4. Thinking about retailers you are loyal to, how important are each of the following in making you a loyal shopper to those retailers? (followed by 14 items that you can rate on a 5 point scale).
  5. Have you done any of these activities while shopping at an ONLINE store in the past three months? (that’s and interesting one, because i think it is clearly aimed at looking for ways of utilizing social network website for advertising). Here are the categories for answer:
    • Sat at the computer with friend(s)
    • Talked to a friend via cell phone
    • Sent a text message to a friend via cell phone/device
    • Received a text message via cell phone/device
    • IMed a friend
    • Emailed a message to a friend
    • Emailed a link to the store to a friend
    • Took a photo and emailed it to a friend
    • Emailed a product photo to a friend
    • Emailed a cool/funny app to a friend
    • Used a general search engine
    • Shared a link with a friend on Facebook
    • None of these
    • I did not shop in an online store in the past three months
  6. In the past three months, approximately how many of your purchases for each type of product were made ONLINE? (followed by 18 items that you can rate on a 5 point scale).
  7. In the NEXT three months, approximately how much money will you spend on each of the following types of products? (followed by 18 items + an open field; for each one you can choose a range of sums you are willing to spend).

Now, it is pretty clear that they are trying to think about new ways of implementing and marketing Beacon. I find it actually a clever and innovative way to start thinking about online marketing (not the use of survey, but the ideas behind this specific one). But there is still somewhat weird about it, especially if you take into account that they are now trying to repair the damaged relations with the users. If you (FB) are asking me to share my opinions in clear attempt to improve your business model (= make more money on me), don’t i deserve some compensation? The least you could do is showing me the results. Otherwise, why would I fill it out?

I view it as yet another expression of arrogance and greediness. On the one hand, FB hold their users as careless enough not to think why they are presented with this survey and just answer it because it is as cool to answer surveys as it is to send a virtual beer. On the other hand, the intention here is to actually feel the $15 billion evaluation with content, but why put money into it if we can just (ab)use our users? (at this point it becomes a cyclical argument :)

Or is there something else? Something that i am missing? Or a cultural gap that i am not managing to bridge?

Fun bubble 2.0 + some thoughts on FB

December 5, 2007

Thanks to Eszter for posting this:

On a different note, i keep on following the buzz about Facebook (FB) criticism due to deployment of Beacon platform.  For those who did not have a chance to follow, recently FB launched a platform that allows them to follow you to third-party websites (anybody said spyware?) and if you make a purchase there, news about it would go to your FB news feed (for your friends to see, follow your opinion leadership, and of course go and buy something from that company).  Of course they do not follow you to any website, but only to those who have an advertising agreement with FB, but nevertheless, this move raised a lot of antagonism and questions of privacy.  It also unleashed a wave of critique of FB and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg.

One of the things i noticed recently is people being surprised by FB non-responsiveness to the PR crisis it is going through.  The assumption is that to manage this wave of negativity, FB has to make substantive changes to the Beacon platform followed by a massive PR campaign.  Although i have my own critique of FB and more so questions about the nature of their business and its long-term sustainability, this later wave, particularly expectations for response, made me thinking.

I wonder if Zuckerberg’s strategy of ignoring the critique is actually the correct one.  I remember about over a year ago, FB introduced the news feed.  Back then it raised a lot of criticism from the privacy advocates and there was, not as strong, but still noticeable, negative buzz about FB.  I don’t remember the company investing as much in PR back then.  What it did was adding a couple of tweaks to make its users feel as if they were in charge of their privacy and in a matter of a couple of months the wave of negativity died and, as we can see today, people are happily using the feed.  In fact, can we imagine FB without the news feed these days?

Now, following the current criticism, FB also added some minor tweaks to the Beacon platform, and is now waiting for the wave of criticism to path.  The main threat to FB when its users would start massively leaving it.  Getting the users angry by exposing their Christmass surprises is indeed a step in that direction.  But in my (unsupported by any kind of evidence) opinion this is not enough.  Simply because most of FB users do not care or do not realize what is going on.  Talking to my friends, for example, i gain further support to an intuition that people don’t really view it as a big deal.  They continue logging into their FB account, poke each other, bite, send virtual gifts and drinks, etc.  and at the end of the day this is all FB needs.

So, from FB point of view,the business is as usual and all they need to do is wait until the critique in mass media and the blogosphere dies out.  After all how long can this be news/blog-worthy?  People will get bored and it will happen sooner than we can think.  Once the wave of negative publicity is no longer there, the advertisers will come back, and the next thing we know Beacon will be a recognized standard in the industry.  Doesn’t it sound as a logic scenario?

I still have a sense that the basic idea behind FB is bubblish (linking back to the video :), but maybe at the end of the day, FB is actually more strategic about how it is handling the current crisis than what it appears in the press and the blogosphere?