What Facebook left out with Lists

Facebook recently revamped its Lists system, improving it tremendously. Most importantly, you can add a user to a list while on their profile, a simple feature that was missing for the longest time. The ability to drag users in the chat sidebar in lists was available at first, but was then removed for reasons unknown. Until the recent improvements, Lists on Facebook were broken at best. One of the best things Facebook did was proactively organize people under lists, just like they did when they first introduced them.


With new lists in place, Facebook has made it easier to target status updates/posts/links to certain groups of your social network. But one couldn’t possibly have a list created for each sub group of the network. Which is why on the fly  lists would work perfect. If I had a link/post that I imagine only a selective audience would appreciate – a joke that only  the guys in my network enjoy, or a video that is relevant to my friends from Dubai and India, but not England – I could merely select any of the elements of a profile, to create a list on the fly and have it sent to them.

For a brand page, Facebook already lets admins target a post to users from a particular country or speaking a particular language, why not roll out profile based targeting to both users and brands.


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Facebook just made your Social Media handbook obsolete

One of the best things about Facebook is that it never stops evolving into a better version of itself. I remember reading Mark Zuckerberg is extremely paranoid of being ‘out-innovated’ by a smaller shop and this is probably what keeps him on always improving and growing the product at such a frantic pace. The users may not necessarily like the changes at first, but after the initial backlash, everyone comes around to it. The end result is a changed and improved Facebook, for everyone.

Last night Facebook revealed a bunch of changes which fixes 4 of the 7 things I wanted Facebook to fix for businesses (1 was already fixed, leaving 2 more to be done). Apart from a redesign of pages – making them similar to user profiles – Facebook now allows admins to browse Facebook as a page. This means the admin may like, share or comment on other profiles and pages, as a page. It may go on and ‘Like’ other pages and have a news feed of it’s own. A page admin will also receive notifications of likes and comments when he logs in and may even choose to receive email notifications. The page may also have ‘Featured Owners’ which allows the page to showcase their admins and for users to reach them directly.

The last but in no way the least change comes in allowing iFrame tabs on pages and future plans for deprecating FBML and FBJS. This now means brands can feature their applications on the page itself and users will not have to leave the page thus making a lot of brand owners very happy. There’s also another bunch of changes coming on Photos, allowing higher resolutions, improved tagging and a new lightbox style viewer.

With all these announcements, Facebook has definitely set the scene for a dramatic shift in user experience. The first step for pages/brands will be to try and set this up and use it right. Social Media agencies will definitely cross-post, both across their own and others’ communities to build audiences. This may result in an increase in spam and bacn. There still will be legitimate uses for this, the first example comes to mind of a brand with multiple fan pages (based on on geography) or a brand with multiple sub brands. (Microsoft –> Xbox, Windows, Office etc); these are the pages that will definitely benefit from this improved integration.

By improving the experience for brands and pages, Facebook is increasing its attractiveness to business by reaffirming its commitment to them. Although there may a fair amount of changes required, both technical and strategic, these are only going to be better for the brand in the long run.

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The world’s favourite 800 pound gorilla is mobile enough

Facebook held a Mobile event yesterday where they had a bunch of announcements?:

  • Application updates for Android and iPhone, both now have access to Places and Groups
  • Single Sign On API which means you can log in to any application on your phone with 2 taps; no usernames, no passwords, no captchas.
  • Open access to places API – so far most applications could only read into the API, now all applications can write and search.
  • Deals platform – allowing business to have special deals/offers for users.
  • Oh and they also announced that there are 200 million users who use Facebook on Mobile. So there’s at least 25% of the Facebook population using Facebook mobile (I’m going by high estimates for total 600million users).

These were the announcements made by Facebook but there are heavy implications and strong insights that can be derived from these. Here’s what I make of it.

Facebook makes Foursquare irrelevant

Facebook, the world’s largest social network and platform was seen as lagging behind Geo Location earlier this year. Everyone’s favourite geo location darling was Foursquare who had a great idea. But that was it; all Foursquare had was a great idea. Foursquare has been unable to adapt and improve considerably since its launch. The idea of mayorships and points got stale quickly and the only thing that could have people sticking around is the idea of rewards. Unfortunately with slow approval times for businesses (some like Wild Peeta had it in a week, I had to wait 3-4 weeks) the service wasn’t quick enough and this definitely could have a thorn in its growth path. Some local businesses in the UAE did get specials onto Foursquare but that took a while too. This is a luxury Foursquare cannot afford since that is its main selling point. Even the newly international app SCVNGR (which I am super excited about) has challenges, treks and rewards going for which are a lot of fun, but faces stiff competition. Facebook however has the entire social element  going to keep its huge user base busy while they roll our Places worldwide. In the mean time Facebook went ahead and launched Deals which added real utility to the location element. Facebook wins, even if it is in a few weeks/months of from today and Foursquare starts to become irrelevant.

Facebook wins by solving the Geo Networking fragmentation

By opening up access to the Read, Write and Search API to all applications, Facebook has essentially turned most Geo Networking applications into clients that use the Facebook Places service, assuming this is what they do and they would be stupid not to. You can now check in to Foursquare, tag your Facebook friends on it and your friend on Gowalla can see where you checked in. Of course Facebook wins and they do it by bringing the Geo Networking fragmentation at one locus point; Facebook Places.

Mobile! Social! Local!   Mobile! Social! Local!

These are three words Eric Tseng, Head of Mobile repeated a few times and for good reason too. Facebook has more than tripled its mobile userbase from around 65 million this time last year to about 200 million yesterday. If that won’t make you a believer in mobile than not much else will. Mobile by its very essence is local and the growing numbers point people want to be social, locally. Businesses that understand and adapt to this will succeed. Groupon is a business that gets it; they’re local by nature, social by strategy and now increasingly mobile thanks to Facebook.

My blog title of course talks about Facebook’s (and the entire industry’s) growing emphasis on Mobile but it also talks about how mobile (quick to move) Facebook has been at rolling out new products. The 2000 person company has been agile enough to adapt and evolve to just as well as it leads the industry and that has been a major factor for it’s success. This is why Twitter and Google are so far behind in location and why they should feel threatened.

A quote from The Social Network stuck by me which describes Facebook perfectly – “It’s never finished“. My last post talks about how I feel Facebook might have less conversation and more activity on the platform now, and maybe it might have had a negative connotation to it. But now I feel, and as the platform is growing, that might not be a bad thing. Social doesn’t necessarily mean just talking and conversing, it can mean doing things together and sharing the things we do ourselves. It’s about bringing our connections deeper into our lives and enhancing our social lives further.

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The evolution of Facebook from a Conversational to a ‘Social’ platform

The Social Network finally released in theaters in Dubai yesterday and Team Clique in association with anayou held a viewing of it for a few of our agency friends. Watching the journey of the growth of the Facebook reminded me of how I came to know of it. I was first told of it by a few friends who were studying in the USA and I remember being envious; it did sound cool.  I signed up to be notified when it became available to my university and I remember being extremely excited when it finally did open up to my network (Birmingham, UK). My facebook ID tells me I was user #6 to register on my network, my best friend was #9. It opened up to my university during the  examination period and it still took less than 2 weeks to hit critical mass. The excitement lasted for quite some time.

Of course Facebook has evolved a great deal since then. The biggest thing that excited us, and what the original idea was based upon – exclusivity, has since gone. I remembering being disappointed when it opened up to schools and later everyone but accepted it as part of the site’s growth. But it’s not just that; the way I, and many of friends too, use Facebook has changed considerably. We no longer write on walls all day or have a long list of unreturned pokes.My facebook inbox is contains updates from the groups I have joined, similarly my news feed contains as many posts from pages I have liked as it contain updates from games my friends are playing or quizzes they are taking. The photos stream often contains my friends tagged in images that are contests or in one of those ‘Tag your friend who is grumpy/happy/ etc’ images; in short, pictures that aren’t them.

While I still check Facebook multiple times a day, I just browse through rather than interact with my friends. This may be because I’m bored of it, or maybe because my friends are boring, or maybe because I may have outgrown the games/quizzes (I do take a few but not nearly as many as there are on my stream), or maybe, just maybe that the Facebook platform has evolved dramatically. It has evolved from something what was once a conversational platform into one that is merely social; when I say social, I mean involving in and sharing with our connections what we’re doing, but not engaging and interacting with them. Or maybe as I am – as with a lot of other things – simply nostalgic and yearn for the ‘good old days’

I’m curious to know your thoughts on this. Have your Facebook habits changed in the last few years?

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5 Important numbers from the Facebook Groups launch

Facebook announced a new feature to encourage more interactions between users in an environment of fewer people. The feature confusingly labeled Groups lets users have a shared space, group chat and group email address to allow for closer conversation and maybe even feature collaboration. Detailed coverage of the feature can be found at the usual sources.

There however numbers and statistics thrown about throughout the conference by various speakers, I’ve listed 5 of them which I think should be information worthy.

  • Only 5% of Facebook users make lists, most of them don’t make more than 1 list
  • 95% of Facebook users have a photo of them that they’ve let other users tag
  • Facebook is available to 98% of users in their native language!
  • Mark Zuckerberg expects the new Groups feature to cover 80% of Facebook users over time!
  • The new Groups is designed and optimized for small groups, ideally up to 250 members!
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