The social space online changes rapidly. Feedback stays on top of emerging media news so you don’t have to. Here are the must-read social media articles of the week for the week of October 16th.
The word “subscribe” is about to enter your daily vernacular with the addition of a new feature on Facebook that will allow users to better personalize their online experience.
Facebook has unveiled – in an attempt to curb the growth and keep up with features of Twitter, Google+ and others like it – a feature called “Subscribe,” which will allow Facebook users to, well, subscribe to the news of others. You’ll be able to begin hand-picking the content you want to view on your wall, thus fine-tuning the Facebook experience to your liking instead of having to see the somewhat random mess of updates from an array of people.
Subscribe is completely optional; if you don’t use it, Facebook will continue to run as it always does.
But for those who choose to use Subscribe, the benefits could be many. Like Twitter, instead of “friending” a celebrity or someone you’re really not friends with but are otherwise interested in, Subscribing will let you simply follow their updates (provided the person allows subscribers) without getting all their personal details. Subscribe means that popular or up-and-coming performers, writers, singers or comedians will see their stars shine a bit brighter. Self-proclaimed social media gurus will begin to measure their self-worth on the number of Subscribers they have. And you may find yourself with people you truly don’t know who are interested in what you have to share.
Subscribing may be the answer to keeping people on Facebook while tightening the experience to meet the demands of what people are looking for in today’s social networks: greater control, a more personalized experience, and a reason to stay at Facebook instead of another service: the people.
Facebook, unlike the rash of other services available, already has the critical mass. Yet if you take the pulse of savvy web users and even everyday Facebook users, you’ll hear stories of Facebook fatigue, the desire for more control over content, the need for privacy, or simply that they’ve done everything they can do on the site and are moving on. And while it is still growing, that growth is perhaps slowing (even dropping by 6 million users in May, Inside Facebook reports). It’s no death knell, but it could be telling.
For these reasons, we’re seeing more niche, focused communities pop up on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Path and other platforms. They are more private, and the people on them more difficult to find.
This “privitization” of social networks is a trend we’ve been watching closely. And Facebook is about to board this train in a big way.
Not all of this is new, revolutionary or mind-blowing. But Facebook Subscribe is a bit of a mind-blower when you apply what this is and does to the masses of the social network, the paradigms in play in digital media, and the ever-increasing complexity of the modern identity.
Does it mean everyone will use and understand Subscribing right out of the gate? No, but its very existence is a product of some other trends and thoughts. For months (which is how we count technology time) people have been organizing their lives into separate places: Twitter for public thoughts, Tumblr as an extension of that community or to share personal interests with others, photo-sharing apps like Path or Instagram to share slice-of-life pictures and video.
Up until now, Facebook wasn’t really adequate in separating content as well as simple privacy. But with Subscribing, now even the non-savvy can start stratifying in new ways. People will share more, and less. Lives will take new shapes to certain people. And therefore, so will identities.
The layers of social soil just got more interesting for your garden.
I gave a talk at a recent event where I defined two different types of communities based on content and relative freedom. These two communities were “Free” and “Specific.” Allow me to explain in more depth. Read More »
Tonight Facebook will debut an entirely new Facebook Profile during an interview on 60 Minutes (which explains why Facebook was weirdly encouraging all Facebook users to watch the show late in the week).
The update itself is a welcome overhaul of the look of the basic profile, drawing the viewer into a more image-related experience (such as your favorite authors rendered as their Page icons rather than words – thankfully you can edit the priority of the images shown now, not just a random sample of “Liked” elements as before).
It also brings a few new tricks – or at least tricks new to Facebook that might remind you of a few other social sites. One such feature: “Highlighting” your top connections. As they say themselves:
Relationships with close friends can be just as important as family. Now you can highlight family members and the other key people in your life, like your best friends or coworkers — all right on your profile.
Sounds an awful lot like MySpace’s Top 8, eh? I can imagine the arguments already as we shuffle our best friends, kids, spouses and drinking buddies in a furious drive to avoid conflicts…
This “highlighting” comes from a tweak to the Friends List feature, allowing you to share your Friend Lists more like Twitter Lists. This makes your curated personal lists to potentially become a way for you to find similar interests, people, etc. (The new Facebook List features are well profiled at the blog Stayi N’ Alive.) Of course, you can never share your Lists and there’s a bevy of privacy controls to go with the new options.
There are lost of other smaller changes. My particular favorite is the “Projects” you can add under your employers – drawing attention to what you’ve worked on and who with, giving an interesting kind of due and credit to a particular idea or execution.
To see the new features and immediately update your own profile, visit: http://www.facebook.com/about/profile/
See the Facebook video on the changes here:
And to see the 60 Minutes Interview, see the two parts embedded here at Business Insider with some comentary on how Zuck came across.
Excerpt below from a feature on geolocation apps, popularity and more from Feedback, Inc’s Dean Browell (@dbrowell).
So who’s in your pocket these days – Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, Facebook Places, or other? Why one over the other?
So what’s the deal with Facebook Places? Plan to use it, screw it, or could you care less about those knuckleheads in Palo Alto.
It’s important to not get distracted by just the check-in aspect. Geo-location and even Facebook Places‘ role in it will be just as important for what it does for any of the 500 million + average users who never check in but nevertheless ends up impacted by the check-in data of others, such as choosing a restaurant or hospital based on who has been there or seeking the testimonial of a friend who they’ve seen has been there.
Who do you hope prevails in the geo wars?
For Foursquare and all the more geo-dedicated apps, there’s a long and storied history of innovating specialists having a place in the discerning consumer’s mind. Just ask Apple or the entire craft brewing industry.
If you were sitting in the captain’s chair over at Foursquare or Gowalla, what would you say to Zuck?
“You were supposed to just take Microsoft’s money.”
Some things are simply inevitable.
The sun will come up.
Charles Barkley will say something unintentionally hilarious.
Facebook will emulate what it doesn’t buy.
On the latter point, Wednesday evening Facebook debuted Places. The premise and execution of Facebook Places is remarkably similar to the first two sentences anyone may use to describe any number of check-in applications: It’s a way to share your actual location with others online; it also allows you to observe where others have checked in. Where many other applications seek to go from that starter definition, be it MyTown with games, Foursquare with tips, Gowalla with stickers, or ShopKick with deals, Facebook has simply stopped limply (but maybe effectively) at the first point of entry.
There’s a few other tricks to Facebook Places, and the following video, dripping with a sincerity that suggests they have suddenly figured out something others haven’t, demonstrates them:
Also inevitable is that Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal will be given a test run before most other humans. Unlike his usually predictably estatic review of Apple products (generally done in time for Steve Jobs to use an actual Mossberg quote as a part of his Keynote presentations), Walt was actually a bit matter-of-fact about Facebook Places. Not cold or harsh, just… well, “Meh” would probably be the most effusive meta-adjective I’d use.
This is because what may become the most short-term-advantageous thing about Places is what it does for others, including those other check-in services. The APIs that could come streaming out could hook into and help fuel the growth of any number of companies Facebook as threatened or tried to buy recently, several of whom (Gowalla, Foursquare and Yelp) actually appeared in some form on stage with Facebook for Places’ debut. And yes, businesses can claim their “Place” via a Page as we and others mused months ago.
And what about long-term? Well you can better believe Facebook didn’t debut this to merely dip a toe in. Cross-platform geo-location ads, sacks of data on visitations and total domination of the “place” space is clearly a mid-term goal. Actual quote from Zuckerberg: “…certainly you can imagine these things in the future.”
We have been recently musing on the concept of “place” (including, “How Location Could Change The Future of Pages” last March) insofar as the web toys with tying itself to real-world geographies and the inherent opportunity and fear laden in those watching this wrestling match happen. But one thing we’ve always said about Facebook — their nearest, truest competitor in a spiritual sense was never MySpace, but Windows. They want to be the start, constant and end of the web for many people — the entry point in. And for many, they are. So now marry location ontop of that and you can begin to see how powerful they could become for the general public. For and to the general public, I should say. Being in Facebook, as a valid location that people actually visit in real life as well as “Like” could become the equivalent of having your name and address in the phone book in the 80′s and being a store that’s in the Mall. You want to be “seen” there- and now you can, by friends who aren’t even nearby to see you.
This, of course, begs the privacy question. But if we rest for a moment and assume that this is about who you allow to see your location, we can hopefully still talk about “place” and Facebook’s role in it in a rational fashion. I could choose to not tell a single friend where I was on Facebook and still find it incredibly valuable to know that a restaurant I hear about in Richmond, VA called “Strange Matter” has been visited by several of my friends, I could reference it in a Status Update and get real recommendations of what to eat there and tips such as bringing your own quarters for the vintage arcade games. 3/4 of that scenario already happened pre-Places, but now I could potentially verify that it’s a cool place that several of my less chatty friends have also patronized recently. It becomes an early indicator for me in a single search, allowing me then to pursue more info through other means (Yelp reviews, call-outs for other recommendations on Twitter, etc.).
Facebook Places doesn’t change the game as much as it does solidify it, make it whole and, likely, make it ubiquitous. What it does more than really innovate is fire a cannon in a battle previously fought by slingshots as it brings its half-a-billion active audience into the check-in game. But don’t be distracted by the battle to see whose or what type of check-in system wins. Instead, start to look ahead, with us, at what this will mean for the intersection of real and web location in the years ahead.
UPDATED August 19, 2010: Not that Facebook Places is available in #RVA just yet. #Fail #FacebookPlaces, #Fail.
One last note: Notice that Places logo? As TechCrunch points out: “It’s a 4. In a Square. Yeah.“
Do you have time to search the web everyday to find the newest social media tools? If the answer is no, then you have come to the right place. I have searched the World Wide Web for social media information all week, and stumbled upon a few favorites along the way. Here are my picks of the week:
The Official Tweet Button:
Third-party Twitter-sharing tools now have their own official competition. This week, Twitter launched an official tweet button, which lets you easily share links from the website you’re on directly with Twitter. Just as we’ve grown to expect with other tweet sharing services – when you click the tweet button, a pre-populated box including brief text and a shortened link, will appear. Something different: Once posted, Twitter may recommend accounts for you to follow based on the news story you shared (such as the site account and reporter of the article you shared.)
MySpace has completely redesigned their homepage – & surprise! It looks similar to Facebook. A sneak peak was given to some users this week, and will be available to all MySpace users on August 16th. Changes include a stream (aka newsfeed), friend recommendations, birthday reminders, & “My stuff” (events, photos, videos, etc.). Too little too late?
Minor Changes To FourSquare:
Small changes to Foursquare this week include:
- Superusers, mayors and venue owners can now see the location of recent checkins and enter an exact latitude and longitude to move a pin to it’s exact location.
- Tips now include an option to add a link directly from the venue page.
- Privacy wise, if you aren’t sharing your location, you can have the added comfort of making sure – the “Current Location” link now has a bar explaining that your location is not being shared.
Bye Bye Facebook Page Sidebars:
Changes are coming to Facebook Pages. If you are an admin of a Page, you may have even been prompted to review your Facebook Pages to make any edits before the new layout arrives. This new layout will not include sidebar boxes, and will have narrower tabs. The change is set to occur on August 23, 2010, with the goal of having cleaner, easier to navigate pages.
Bonus Reading: Can Google Get Social Networking Right?
My final pick is about an article I read this week called Can Google Get Social Networking Right? It is about Google’s innate want to create a social network and compete with the likes of Facebook. They want this in part because they want to remain the authority on online search, and social networks are collecting commercially valuable data that Google cannot access. But this article delves into the ‘can they do it’? They have successful social tools such as YouTube. They’ve had unsuccessful attempts such as Wave and Buzz. But, with the recent purchase of Slide, and their investment in Zynga, one can only wonder if they are attempting, and if they will succeed at creating a social network. Just something to think about.
10 Things You Need To Know About the New Facebook Privacy Changes: http://bit.ly/cVvLoP
Can you imagine a company that makes physical products being able to backpedal this fast and publicly? No? Me neither. Check out the ever-helpful AllFacebook.com for tips on those new privacy controls.
The Half-Life Of A YouTube Video Is 6 Days: http://bit.ly/dkJUYO
Or: why you need to get that video up FAST.
Why Facebook Community Pages Are No Big Deal For Brands…Eventually: http://bit.ly/cUEQNe
One of the single most perplexing things for brand managers right now is the sudden appearance of “Community Pages” – a weird cross between Wikipedia and a living Facebook Wall, these have cropped up for some but not all random subjects, brand names, employers and more. This article explains why over time they won’t be so confusing or important, but right now they’re causing consternation…
PA Becomes First State to Join Foursquare: http://bit.ly/c7IjKq
You know you want the, “PA Retail Polka” Badge :)
Why BP Isn’t Fretting Over Its Twitter Impostor: http://bit.ly/aEOmgv
While the comedic value is sometimes hit and miss, the fact it has been left alone is telling enough. Read why BP isn’t pulling the plug on a sarcastic rival PR horn.
We had an incredible time at the New England Society of Healthcare Communications this week in beautiful Stowe, VT. Feedback presented the keynote, moderated a panel on social media and New England hospitals, and gave a talk/discussion on generational differences. The NESHCo group is a great group of folks!
For those just joining us from that conference or others:
Feedback on Facebook (Facebook.com/FeedbackFB)
Where you’ll find our active links, commentary, great discussions, photos, video and more on a daily (heck, hourly) basis… just click “Like” and you’re in!
Have a safe holiday weekend everyone!
The Official Twitter iPhone App:
Last month, Twitter acquired Tweetie, and this week, they launched The Official Twitter iPhone App. The iPhone app, (called “Twitter” but essentially Tweetie 3.0), is now available, and it’s free. It allows users who aren’t on Twitter to easily browse content and sign up, and makes it easier for users to search and Retweet.
Pakistan Bans YouTube & Facebook:
In world social media news, Pakistan banned Facebook and YouTube. On Wednesday, Pakistan banned the use of Facebook due to an offensive group gaining popularity called “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!” On Thursday, Pakistan also banned YouTube, due to growing sacrilegious content.
On Thursday, Google unveiled Google TV. Google is partnering with Sony and Logitech for Google TV. Google does not want to replace your TV, but work alongside it. They want you to be able to search the web for content and be able to watch it on your TV. YouTube has also announced a customizable version of their site, called YouTube Leanback, which you will be able to access of Google TV.
Google Wave Updates:
Google has also updated Google Wave and released it to the public. This announcement came about on Google’s I/O Conference. The public version of Wave is said to be “much faster and much more stable than when we began the preview, and we have worked hard to make Wave easier to use.”
Facebook & Privacy:
Facebook has been taking a lot of heat for their lowered privacy settings lately, and today, another issue has unfolded. The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook, MySpace, and several other social networking sites have been sending data to advertisers despite promises that they don’t share information without consent. After The Wall Street Journal contacted them, Facebook and MySpace moved to make changes.
We’ve returned from ROFLcon II (April 30 & May 1, 2010) and are eager to share all we learned with anyone who will listen…
Huge ideas abound and it was an incredibly helpful (and dare we say important) conference to witness. It was only the second time in two years they’d even held this exploration of internet culture, memes, academia and society at MIT. Anna (first-timer) and I (returning for round two) soaked up every minute of the packed two days. There’s so much to share, but we wanted to be sure to get some key themes in writing first:
- The entire conference started out with Ethan Zuckerman’s (The Berkman Center for Internet and Society) brilliant “From Weird to Wide” primer on important philosophical questions about culture, the internet and memes. This included not only a bright debut of Kenyan’s first meme explosion, but also an important discussion of a significant point: Be an anthropologist, not a bouncer. In other words, embrace rather than exclude. It would set the tone for some interesting underpinnings for the rest of the conference
- Apparently the rest of The Internet agrees that YouTube comments are the most ridiculous in the universe
- Another giant point writ large: Know your history. There were many great moments in a variety of panels that included memes and networks old and new, but the overall one can’t be hyped enough: know where we’ve been. For example, the open community of Usenet, with its challenges, imperfections, sub-communities, stalwart user trust and very existence pre-AOL set the stage for one of the toughest but singularly important lessons of the entire conference…
- “AOL” and “Training Wheels.” The Tweets heard round the world. As the very last panel at ROFLcon II tried to wrap its arms around the topic of “Mainstreaming the Web,” Ben Huh and Moot (from LOLcats and 4chan fame, respectively) deftly created a distinct separation between the open sub-communities that operate online (some anonymously) and those that allow for a mainstream audience to operate in a larger but closed system. With over 950 attendees, ROFLcon included employees from ominous internet giants such as Google and Mozilla, but as this panel pointed out, not a soul from Facebook (or none that would admit it). This lead to the single most Re-Tweeted line from the conference, uttered by Ben:
“Facebook has become like AOL, it’s like training wheels for the internet. It’s a safe place, except for your privacy.”
And thus what was once considered a fringe medium was correctly pegged as having moved into a mainstream culture controlled by a single corporation. We’ve been here before. With 400 million users, with meaningful proportions of diverse generations, races and cultures, Facebook is not unlike the closed system of AOL. This doesn’t make it right or wrong, but it does make it everywhere and closed – and drastically different from much of the sub-cultures brewing away contently in the rest of the web.
For Feedback one overriding point was clear: the social web hardly, barely begins and ends at the doors of Facebook and Twitter. Certainly a critical mass at those two giants means we must implement there to reach a large population of consumer. But even more importantly we must dive deep, see fewer obstacles and research even smarter and harder beyond these barriers into the sub-cultures that exist in the interest, cultural and geographic communities. There are enough self-proclaimed social media gods to take care of staring at Facebook and Twitter only. But it’s not unlike marveling only at a capital city and not noticing the swarms of people outside, down the roads, in other states, in other countries… The future of the net and community is not only also out there, it may indeed only be out there. Think I’m just being overly dramatic? Ask AOL.
More to come on some of our favorite moments by myself and Anna (@alucas9). We certainly had fun too and some photos are up on our Facebook Page right now. In the meantime be sure to check out her interview with Christian Lander of “Stuff White People Like” fame.