Why Facebook wants to be your Social Operating System (SOS)

Last night at Facebook's Developer Conference F8, CEO Mark Zuckerberg laid out two fundamental changes to the Facebook Platform, which I think are set to change the social networking game all over again. During the 2 hour keynote, the young founder announced a complete overhaul of the Facebook Profile Page (see mine above) - which will roll out to users over the next few weeks, which features a new layout style called "TimeLine" - described by the developers as "the highlights of your life" - the new layout automatically displays top content from your Facebook profile, for the entire duration of your Facebook life. I.E. - I can now scroll through to the videos / photos / status updates, that Facebook thinks was most important to me right from Day 1 of my time on the network.

Although this feature is likely to get the most attention as it is the most fundamental shift for users on the platform for a number of years - what I think is the real story here is the updated tools for Facebook developers - and therefore media institutions, brands and companies - which is OpenGraph. A new addition for applications developers on the Facebook Platform, OpenGraph moves on from the oversimplified social action of the "Like" button, to giving a far more logical and dynamic taxonomy to social actions on Facebook.

Simply put this means that now I don't have to "Like" something to share on Facebook - an application can have permission to automatically share my actions within that app, in a way that makes sense dependant on the content I am consuming. This means Spotify can tell my friends I am "listening" to a "track", BBC iPlayer (when the app is developed for FB) can tell my friends what I am "watching", or YouVersion (the Bible App) can tell my friends which book, chapter or verse I am "reading".

This addition will certainly improve the online experience for users, however for those of us concerned with the recommendation economy - who want to ensure that our apps / tools / products / brands have prominence on the world largest social network - the possibilities of what can now be done here look endless.

Say I am Harley Davidson (Disclosure: they are a client) - I can now create an app that will track my best rides using my GPS on my iPhone. I can let Facebook know through OpenGraph when I am riding, where I am riding and how fast in real time. But now that app doesn't need to build in the functionality of knowing which is my FAVORITE Route, OpenGraph can work that out for me.

http://9.mshcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/globalgraph.jpg

Another key feature of OpenGraph is the ranking system called GraphRank which is built into the platform - which Zuckerberg claims will completely shift how application discovery works. GraphRank will now change the way a user discovers apps, by showing them updates in their Timeline from apps that are being used more frequently by their friends. Ergo - if my friend Rob, Jack and Ben all use Spotify on Facebook I am more likely to see updates from Spotify in my newsfeed - making me more likely to try Spotify.

All of these new announcements are exciting and truly progressive, and it's clear that the folks in Palo Alto haven't resting on their social laurels. However I think these new developments are merely signals of a wider plan at Facebook. It is a similar ambition that Google seem to have been pursuing for some time with the various projects associated to Android and Chrome:

The Social Operating System

These new "frictionless" experiences, extensive content and business partnerships and open technologies are not aiming to put Facebook at the heart of the web - they are trying to make Facebook INTO THE WEB. Facebook is endeavouring to become even more intimately attached to the social connections and preferences of users. Until now, your friends have been there, your personal content - your photos and videos have been there - but now the rest of the web can truly be there in real time with you. Why go anywhere else? If I have The Guardian, iPlayer, LoveFilm, Spotify and a whole host of other apps right there in Facebook - with all my friends aswell. It seems the new web may well be here. And it's chock full of recommendations. Welcome to the new operating system. It's a social one.

Bringing your social life to life: Intel Museum of Me

If you ever wondered what it would be like if your life was turned into a museum exhibition then stop right now, put the credit card away and cancel that space at the Haywood - Intel have sorted it. Their new Museum of Me App - using Facebook connect, will visualise your social life as documented by your activity on the social network - and present it in a video of people wandering the halls of your life exhibit.

To quote Mashable on this one;

It’s kind of a creepy. The museum setting does make it seem a bit like you’ve passed on. And having your Facebook “experiences” stand in for your real life is sobering because it’s so sterile, especially when applied to the museum motif. And to top off the creepiness: There’s that music. The experience might make you reconsider your Facebook activity. Do I want to be remembered mostly for once having Liked a Louis C.K. video?

I see what they are getting at here - there is a slightly distanced element to the whole thing - but personally I found the experience quite moving - seeing friends faces amassed in a beautiful collage, seeing old "Likes" and videos you have shared recompiled in a crisp installation felt less narcissistic to me - and more of a spiritual reflection.

Having now been on Facebook for nearly 6 years, and being part of a generation of people who have been cataloguing life through it's servers (as scary as that may be to some) gives a great opportunity to reflect on one's past - to such a level of detail that before the site's dominance would just not be possible. Friends, relationships, loves and losses - it's all there, and the ability to scroll through and reflect on our own personal histories is a very cathartic and I think healthy experience.

The Value of a Recommendation: Facebook Share 7x More Than A Tweet?

A new report from the group buying / daily deals platform  ChompOn released today reveals some interesting data about the different values of various social media recommendations. Key Stats:

  • Facebook 'Share' ($14) is worth the most.
  • It is almost twice that of a Facebook 'Like' ($8)
  • Tthree times more than a Tweet ($5)
  • Seven times that of a Twitter 'Follow' ($2).

All of these were when looking at the use of the social functions built into their own app and only from situations where it resulted in a direct sale from the recommendation. This kind of data is the next in a string of recent announcements from a variety of online business such as EventBrite an GoViral that have begun to try and put actual values to different types of social media recommendations.

chompon_social_action_value

Whilst the specific numbers certainly shouldn't be taken to be industry standards I think the general rules that they show are interesting. According to the ChompOn stats you could say that 1 Facebook "Share" was 7 times more valuable than a single tweet recommending the same offer. The EventBrite research from October last year supports that Facebook Shares are more valuable than tweets, generating an average of $2.52 from 11 referrals compared to  $0.43 being generated from as many tweets.

Research from the UK's biggest online donation site JustGiving also supports the proposition that Facebook Shares are highly valuable forms of recommendation, in a recent presentation by JustGiving's Jonathan Waddingham,  he showed that the average "Like" on Facebook resulted in £3.50 worth of donation (based on 6 Likes for every donation on Facebook with an average value of £21). Jonathan said "Facebook friends are usually closer to you than your Twitter followers. Ergo FB shares often bring more action as the connection is stronger."

So why do we value Facebook recommendations more than those on twitter? I think I agree with Mr Waddingham on this - predominantly are friends with people we have actually met and know on Facebook, where as twitter we have far more casual acquaintances, celebrities of people we find interesting. We value people, relationships and depth. Maybe the effect of a Like or a Share form a friend captures us because their influence over us is based on Robert B. Caildini's rule of "Liking" more than the "Social Proof" that we are often more reliant upon in twitter?

Using Facebook to get noticed: He Wants A Job

Screen shot 2011-01-27 at 13.40.26

Yesterday afternoon I pressed refresh on Facebook for the 14th time that particular hour and was greeted by a little advert that caught my eye. The ad block was from a young PR Pro in London, looking for a job, according to his advert at Ogilvy (my old employer).

The link from this ad took me to his online CV produced using Visual CV which further explained he was looking for a job at Ogilvy & Mather as he respected the agencies work and wished to move his career towards marketing and advertising in particular.

Out of interest I gave the bloke a ring (his phone number was on the CV - not necessarily something I would advocate for privacy reasons, but each to their own). He asked to remain anonymous as he was still currently employed at another London based PR agency - A risky strategy I pointed out to him as he may have little idea if any of his fellow colleagues had worked at Ogilvy (I seem to bump into someone on a daily basis that has) at some point or another - and therefore, due to the nature of Facebook's advertising system, see his ad.

With the exception of the slight issue of being caught touting for work by your current employer, I think his use of the platform was ingenious. Is this something we will see more of? I hope so.

Here at Lexis we have just launched our Grad Scheme, and this year we have changed the application process - asking grads to try their hand at getting the attention of our recruitment team - so if you think you've got what it takes check out the Lexis Website for more info.

A New Year's Thought: Let's Get Real

Benjamin Ellis' lunch time talk at Like Minds, Exeter 29/10/2010(Photo Credit: Harry Duns: http://www.flickr.com/photos/harryduns/)

2 things prompted this little thought, which in it's self has turned into a new years resolution for me that may be one of the hardest to keep out there.

It's not got anything to do with quitting something, or starting up something new, but actually is about doing something that we need to overcome in ourselves. Not just me, but all of us.

The two things that prompted this resolution are these:

1. This post from Bernie about being connected to people

2. This video from Tony Porter from the recent TEDWomen conference

Bernie speaks about a new kind of people who are emerging as business people in 2011 as people who;

"...don’t chase big names, they chase big problems, and they don’t have lots of rubbish badges on their web page or write ‘working in partnership with’ on everything they own. Instead they spend the time getting to know people and are honest about how they work..."

In Tony Porter's TED talk he talks about how Men need to get out of the "man box" which we so often hammer ourselves into, a place where we lose something of ourselves. He says we need to come to a place where's OK to be "whole".

These two thoughts got me to thinking about how we can spend 2011. How we can do extraordinary things. How we can be people who change our worlds and the world's of others. How we can do life just that little bit differently.

I am talking about being real. Working in the world of marketing where it's all about appearance and managing reputation, not just of our clients but our own, it can be pretty bloody difficult to stick to our guns about who we are. About what makes us tick, or angry or what causes us pain or joy or grief or unutterable happiness. Because, as we have gotten used to sharing so much of the minutiae of our lives with one another online we have become aware of our own filters. Aware of what we share about ourselves so as to only present the version of ourselves that we would have others see. We have become our own editors.

Now sure some of this is for the good. It stops us from lashing out when we are wronged, or posting that Facebook photo that we may very shortly regret or even being labelled with an Overshare Foursquare badge. But I think the problem is that when this consciousness of our own reputation begins to permeate all of our relationships it becomes intensely difficult for us to be real with one another.

Take the example - in the pub with some business people. Maybe after the conference or event or even day at work has finished and you are sharing a drink and breaking bread. How often is there one or more people at the table who are still in presentation mode? Still doing the hard sell, or name dropping because they feel they have to? I think this may be becoming a social trend that will get gradually worse if we don't watch ourselves - and the result isn't just ugly, it's dangerous.

Let's commit to making 2011 the year where we get this right, living life out together but without the bullshit. Without the corporate speak. Without the hard sell. Let's make this the year where we get real.

Understanding Recommendation Markets - Part 1

In the past couple of weeks I have been exploring the concept of the Recommendation Economy here on the blog, and for those of you who have been following the conversation you will be well aware that everyone seems to have an opinion on this! (For the uninitiated check out the previous posts by clicking on the "Recommendation Economy" Tab above! Last week we explored the currency of the recommendation economy - the recommendation itself. This week we look at the second  element of the recommendation economy - recommendation markets.

What is a Recommendation Market?

A recommendation market is more difficult to define, as they take many forms, but like traditional economic markets they have similar hallmarks. Each market has it's own native traders, is effected by market forces (more on those next week) and has it's own exchange rate - all of which effect the value of a recommendation when it is traded in, out and between different recommendation markets.

We can examine recommendation markets through the lens of two categories:

Let's take each in turn. (Explanations below graphic!)

Network and Collective Recommendation Markets

Network Recommendation Markets:

Network recommendation markets are pretty easy to spot. You probably participate in them on a daily basis, they are our online workplaces, for some of us our homes, where we spend our time and also where we share our likes, dislikes, suggestions and recommendations.

In these markets recommendations can take many forms, from the humble (and entirely inadequate) "Like" to the most considered form of professional flattery and hob-nobbing - the Linkedin Recommendation. However the value of a recommendation, even for the same product, brand or service can change depending on which market you trade it in. - More on that in a moment.

Collective Recommendation Markets:

The c0llective recommendation market is a little harder to spot. Mainly because, unlike the networks market, it doesn't tend to live in just on place, under one URL or behind one login and password. Here we are thinking more of blogs, online new sites or podcasts, which on their own may not constitute a market as they tend to be more outlets of an individual (or editorial team) as opposed to a network of people linked by a predefined eco-system (such as Facebook or Linkedin).

However we know that no blogger exists in a vacuum (despite a few carrying on like they are) - and with many bloggers coming together to form club, groups and networks there is a growth in different Collective Markets growing... you may think of the likes of Gawker Media, British Mummy Bloggers, TechCrunch or Mashable here.

These collective markets, due to their respective mediums of communication arguably exchange richer value recommendations, as blog posts (at the least the well written ones), podcasts or online news sites often have more consideration taken over their content than the click happy tweeter or Facebook addict.

Part 2 - Next week... Trading in Recommendation Markets

Next week we will look at how the value of a recommendation changes when exchanged in a recommendation market, and begin to examine what market forces impact a recommendation market...

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Facebook, Meetup & Me

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Image by tierramwilson via Flickr

Tonight I am giving a little talk at my good mate @BernieJMitchell's London Meetup Organisers Group, (they are people who organise groups in London using the site - Meetup.com - does what it says on the tin really doesn't it?!)

The subject of the talk and the prezi below is looking at how you can use Facebook and Meetup together to get people more engaged in community groups.

Meetup and Facebook share a lot of similarities so it's great to see how you can integrate the two together. Meetup's themselves have been springing up recently around all sorts of subjects, from the #140conf meetup groups that me and Bernie and others (@LeeSmallwood and @JeffPulver) have been involved with for a year or so now, to groups around Mashable, Evernote and the Huffington post.

Some of the most interesting London groups include:

All well worth checking out... And now for the Prezi...

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Learning to be alone

When was the last time that you were alone? I mean truly alone. Not on the way to work, or in Starbucks before a meeting or even on the toilet. When were you last truly cut off, intentionally - seperate? We have never been so connected, so immersed, so attached as we find ourselves today. We sit in on the tube idly fiddling with iPhones and Blackberry's. I find myself constantly connected via twitter of facebook or foursquare to my extended network.

The truth is that it's very rare for us to be alone any more.  Which get's me wondering if that's ok or not? I think maybe not - which may seem odd coming from me. My job is getting people to talk more, to share, to connect. Even here, writing this now I have email open, tweetdeck, the TV on in the background and my iPhone in my pocket.

Introspection

I think by never truly being alone, we find ourselves missing out on something truly key to who we are - introspection. Seeing who God has made us to be, who we are becoming, or worse striving to become like. I think we fear that element of looking at ourselves in case we don't like what we see when we go there - but we must.

Jesus called us to 'be still and know that I am God' - That is pretty tricky to do with all these distractions, so I have a challenge for you - find some time this week to be alone. Take a look at where you have come from, where you are going and where you are - because it's in that place of alone-ness that we see how valuable our connectedness really is.

*Thanks to @flowerdust for her post "Do You Feel Lonely?" - which prompted this Lamentation*
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