Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Google vs. Facebook seems to be the many topic of discussion these days around the Interwebs. Some studies show Facebook clearly dominating Google in terms of quantities of visitors (other resources don’t show this). Despite a decade and a half of proving that traffic does not equal success, everyone thinks Google is being dethroned by Facebook like Google dethroned Yahoo years ago.

Google is even feeling the “social” pressure and has responded with a myriad of social failures like Buzz and Wave. Still, Google has the best search engine, best email system, best video sharing system, etc. Facebook… You have your best friends (unless they are like the other 60% of Americans who either aren’t on Facebook or don’t use Facebook).

Do your friends really provide you with the “search results” that would truly interest you? Are your friends a replacement for searching the Internet?

I’d venture to guess that most people’s friends do provide them with topics, resources, etc. that they will be interested in. However, I’d also suggest that most people have a limited spectrum of friends. By that, I mean that like-minded liberals will hangout with each other. Same with conservatives, religious folks, etc.

So, if your news goes social, are you really going to get the full news? Look at someone who only watches MSNBC. Or someone who only watches Fox News. They have a very skewed perspective. Now, Fox argues it’s “Fair and Balanced”. MSNBC argues that Fox News isn’t and admits to having a liberal bias but adhering to a higher calling (got my shovel ready). Besides “The Daily Show“, I can’t think of any news show that actually provides an objective perspective on current events.

Socially skewed news and search results can lead to Groupthink, which is extremely dangerous when it comes to politics as well as limiting when it comes to problem resolution and research. This becomes particularly dangerous when it comes to news and social issues as it essentially places blinders on those performing searches on the Internet. One becomes tunnel visioned in his or her pursuit of knowledge because their social network dictates their search results.

Groupthink and tunnel vision can lead to mediocre and even disappointing results or failure. When outside perspectives are not put in front of us or the resources are not available to find such outside resources, our development is stifled. We become limited to our social network. If our social network claims that something cannot be done. We won’t do it. If our social network claims that something is wrong. It becomes wrong. When our social network claims that something is right. It becomes right.

In other words, if all roads lead to Rome, that’s exactly where we’re going to end up.

Still those with a different social network will find other rights and wrongs and what can and cannot be done. This means that now more than ever, one must expand his or her’s social network exposure. Broadening one’s social network to include both liberals, conservatives, states rights advocates, and others who are outside our normal spectrum is more important than ever. Otherwise, you could ultimately end up in a virtual (social network) cave.

Seems like every month there is something released in the press talking about how social networking is taking over the world. It’s the greatest revolution since the dawn of the Internet. Of course, the Internet was supposed to be running everything by now, right? Stanley Kubrick had us on the moon, finding the Monolith… or SkyNet was taking over the world. Take your pick. Either way, we ended up with the iPod in 2001 instead of a second sun or a machine revolution.

So, we need something else to sink our sensationalist teeth into. Enter Zucker: The Man and his Social Network. Facebook is exploding in numbers. Everyone is on Facebook. We need to reorganize our entire lives because our grandma friend requested us and Tom from MySpace keeps friend requesting us because he wasn’t automatically added to our friend list! God forbid the boss friend requested you on Facebook either (although that was very unlikely given that people over 40 don’t use Facebook).

Of course, we have plenty of time for all this social networking because nobody has jobs! Comscore says email usage is down and social networking is up among teens. Besides those who hold a doctorate degree in mathematics, I can’t think of another demographic that has a higher level of unemployment than teenagers! This isn’t a dig at teenagers, it’s just an observation of fact. Teenagers don’t really have 9-5 jobs, and they certainly won’t get an office job if they know how to use Facebook but don’t know how to use a spreadsheet and attach it to an email.

Ultimately, the point I’m trying to make here is that there is an eerie correlation between the unemployment rate and the rise of social networking. I’m not saying that social networking causes unemployment. I’m saying that unemployment causes social networking. Traffic on Linked-in has shot up big time because people are trying to network with long lost friends from the pre-dotcom bubble to find jobs. Traffic on Facebook has shot up because there’s plenty of time to spend stalking your friends and hoping to find something to do with your abundance of free time because you haven’t had a job for 15 months.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard or read something about Facebook being the best place for a business to advertise. Those saying this a scam artists who sprinkle in a few “gee that makes sense” bits of information to make people think that Facebook has some magic formula for advertising. The keyword BS used to pitch Facebook as the Google killer is “demographics”.

It has been shoved down our throats for decades that demographics produce better ad results. Television, radio, newspapers all pride themselves on their demographics, and there is tremendous value to demographics. Running a tampon ad in Men’s Health isn’t going to fair too well. Running an advertisement for a$100K Lexus in Double-wide Quarterly is probably not going to perform well either. So, the Internet scam artists use this concept to prey on unsuspecting victims at Internet marketing seminars to get people to buy into the hype of Facebook.

The reality is that search behavior is the best indicator of a person’s interest in a product or service NOT whether they are 50+, own a home, have 2.5 kids, or make more than $250K/year. Still, people buy into the hype around Facebook because it has beat out Google in visits finally. Still, Facebook advertisements are passive, not active. You have a lure someone into being interested in something you have to sell rather than them going out and search for you.

I’m going to take this one step further and just analyze my own advertisements that I see on Facebook vs. other websites, like moviefone.com (which has absolutely no demographic information about me other than my zip code). My Facebook ads are predominantly dating website ads. At the time of this blog, my Facebook relationship status is single. If I were to change that, I would receive more Mafia Wars ads instead of dating website ads. I’m not saying these ads are worthless. Online dating is bigger than porn now, so it makes sense that I’d see a myriad of dating website ads on my Facebook pages when I am listed as Single.

What ads do they display on moviefone.com for me? The Buffet of Buffet ads for Las Vegas! I was just in Vegas for a trade show. I visited several websites related to Vegas while searching for a hotel to stay at. Am I going back to Vegas right away? No. However, I remember the Buffet of Buffet advertisements in Vegas when I was there, and I sure will be tempted to get this deal next time I visit (probably in about 4 months). That’s good advertising!

Mashable posted a link to a Wall Street Journal article with the title “Facebook and Others Caught Sending User Data to Advertisers” (Mashable’s Title, not WSJ). Talk about a sensationalized headline!

The issue at hand here is what Web nerds know as the HTTP_REFERER, which is part of the HTTP headers that your web browser sends to every web server during every single request made to that web server. The HTTP_REFERER header has been around LONG before facebook was even an idea, long before myspace ever existed. It lets the current page request know the page the browser was on prior to the current page. This is valuable information for a lot of reasons, not just because websites want to know where their clicks are coming from (but that’s not what this blog article is about).

WSJ’s “investigative” report claims the following

“For most social networking sites, the data identified the profile being viewed but not necessarily the person who clicked on the ad or link. But Facebook went further than other sites, in some cases signaling which user name was clicking on the ad as well as the user name of the page being viewed.”

The problem with this statement is that is clearly make Facebook out to be some advertising hoodlum with no regard for the privacy of it’s users when that is hardly the case at all.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the 50 foot Facebook URLs like http://www.facebook.com/jaredude/#!?ref=logo/photo=1627836127y/pages/Dinosaurs/75183307096?ref=search&sid=704807817.2984144529..1&v=wall

Well, apparently I like dinosaurs, and I did a search for dinosaurs while I was visiting a friend’s wall. So, Internet advertisers now know that I like dinosaurs and they also know my profile! So, if they make up a profile and become my friend, they will then be able to harvest my “personal” Facebook information to find out that I don’t just like dinosaurs.

Now, I may be a dinosaur with my HTTP_REFERER knowledge, but links opened in a new window (which all Facebook ads do) NEVER contain an HTTP_REFERER. This would mean that this supposed gigantic privacy hOle is just that… a hole! It doesn’t even exist. WSJ could have just called me to get a verification on their “findings”, but they didn’t. Poor investigation WSJ!

Now, playing around with Facebook a bit, I notice that it opens a new window but has a URL from Facebook… OMG! Is this the smoking gun! Are we all doomed?!?!?!!! Here’s the URL that shows up from one of my ads on my profile: http://www.facebook.com/ajax/emu/f.php?eid=AAAAAwAgACAAAAFFvp4ppN6m9Pq4hq0i2rFlgwyY6y-1YtQsEyXKS3PawzDv9weX5sDBV2GHxRjLqLKiscV76VwF7-y68e-AIpUGgJrPMQNdirDzSkjauIPEw6xeyLnT754RNezJRytIA7fsxYSRNXqPq1C3xXMDkeJw3PJiUzC3rN2fTnM8dBPa4XRk5gBsKmMhqBFuUpD340JAefH8PNrxWfV9cdYm2m765XdPTV3oHCQsrRp5yOowx4UOzk61oiDUf5xZ12s2DjG5rGcxheCegMIE7b_aLsFlCt4kcUm4ISvz8FZGOe6YsRWA7kJ9_QhJI-wARu1fO0xuwWMZHTPyh_KV5reo5I6IIh0V-cqcYyg5DGGo05hCkoNgRUakUpuqV84tY_0QCPsSPMHEqb1w62HceiZlszdb7zeusIyzGv-liqZJBRYaakfLyxATXOgH42A8cKBK6iNkUV0V_Nbc-6_47IOAlikTrOSdMPwjJIkmhv3xA4DMT1B6m-y-Te3JEdUs5mOPL_3x_gq_yRE-KgD-lulSgSSdMNmqsu0u4h1pUuuvSkD4eg8.&c=2&f=0&ui=6002535060667-id_4bf5ffe573ac8267871a1&en=1&a=0

Hardly mappable to any personally identifiable information about me, except maybe my personal taste in women 😛

Update: Even TechCrunch has jumped on this story, yet added no real tech information on anything. Funny that they can publish an article a few weeks back talking about how the scrubbed their logs for the HTTP_REFERER and found how little traffic Google Buzz sent them but aren’t intelligent enough to point out that links opened in a new window pass no HTTP_REFERER.

The moment I heard about Facebook’s “like” feature, I shivered. The idea seemed brilliant to someone at Facebook, brilliant enough to push it through testing and into release (for a company like Facebook, that’s a pretty big deal). This new “like” concept was going to revolutionize Facebook usage on the Internet! It was going to show up everywhere! The Internet was going to become a big giant like-fest…

Folks at Facebook and Interweb “pundits” chimed in about how Facebook was doing this to help generate greater interest in brands. It was designed to lower the barrier to entry (so to speak) for a consumer to brands establishing themselves on Facebook. The idea was that it’s easier to “like” a brand than to be a “fan” of a brand. How cute, right?

Lowering the barrier to entry for a potential customer seems like a good idea, until you do the math. Let’s say my business is paying 40 cents per click on Facebook. If the barrier is at the “fan” level, I will presumably receive fewer clicks, but they will be from “fan” level (potential) customers. Fans are more valuable than likes (I’ll get to that in a second). If the barrier is at the “like” level, I will presumably receive more clicks than at the “fan” level, but they will be from “like” level (potential) customers. This means that I will be paying more money to Facebook for a less qualified potential customer.

BTW, the above is not conjecture. A lower qualified customer is not as valuable as a higher qualified customer. Now, let’s get into the difference between a “fan” and a “like”.

The problem with this is that businesses don’t want likes, we want fans. The Los Angeles Lakers (replace with any sports team) don’t sell season tickets every year because of their likes, it’s because of their FANS! Lakers merchandise does sell to likes, it sells to FANS!

But not every business is sports team… Of course not.

Now, let’s replace the Lakers with perhaps a watch company 🙂

People purchase watches that they like, right? I mean, you go to a store and see a nice watch and say, “I like that watch.” You don’t say, “I fan that watch.” So, obviously my theory is broken, right? Well, not really because you still haven’t purchased the watch. Liking something is window shopping. We all see a lot of stuff that we “like” in the windows but never buy. However, when we really find a watch that resonates with us, we become obsessed. We become a FAN! We figure out some way to convince our wife or girlfriend that we NEED that watch. Just like we need season tickets to the Lakers (good luck with the waiting list)!

Getting back to Facebook… They just devalued themselves. They are providing a less qualified potential customer and no business in their right mind will pay the same for a less qualified potential customer than what it was paying before for a presumably more qualified customer. That being said, time will tell whether the potentials are less qualified or not. My prediction is that the potentials will indeed be less qualified, and this will make Facebook less attractive to advertisers (like myself).

Yes, Facebook has every right to monitor and censor it’s content posted by users. It’s their network and their website. However, their recent choices to censor the links I post on my profile have brought about a new found love of blogging and tweeting. I could go on and on about how they have removed 5 posts of mine in the last 3 days, but I’ve already found a great blog about Facebook’s censorship idiocy.

Facebook’s censorship goes far beyond censoring links posted on a profile though.

Here’s a tip for Facebook’s search team. Return search results from my own posts that match what I’m searching for. I post quite a bit on Facebook (much to the dismay of my friends, I’m sure), so posts from earlier in the day or a day before don’t show up on my profile page. Yet, it would be nice to be able to find something I posted on there before. Yes, there are ways I can filter around things, but I like search. Search is my friend.

Where this becomes useful is that I’m not alone in posting things that I find interesting or useful. Often time, I want to reference those links or quotes and either didn’t bookmark or can’t remember exactly what the information was. If Facebook could become a reference point for people, it would make Facebook more useful than it is now and in some ways trump Google.

We all know that Facebook wants to be a search source, but honestly how much time is spent searching for people on the Internet (except by stalkers). I search for resources and research for resources on Google all the time. Most of the time I find a good resource, I post it on Facebook. By utilizing this information and giving me easier access to this information, Facebook search would become HIGHLY relevant for resource searching (which is really want the Internet is all about).

TechCrunch just posted an interesting article about Myspace’s “Hail Mary Strategy”. Ultimately, what Myspace is going to “discover” out of any strategy they have is that they cannot succeed with NewCorp. Yes, NewCorp pumps a ton of money into Myspace. Yes, Myspace would not have been able to spend as much as it did over the last several years if it wasn’t for NewCorp. However, that doesn’t mean that Myspace would have failed without NewsCorp.

I’m going to liken Newscorp’s purchase of Myspace to a bailout. Much like the bank and auto industry bailouts, it is a failure. Pump a bunch of money into a failed system and you get Saturn, GM, Chevrolet, Pontiac, AIG, and Myspace.

To be sure, Myspace had plenty of opportunity to join the rest of the Internet in the innovation that took place over the last several years since the purchase of Myspace by NewsCorp. The most notable failures I can think of by myspace:

  • Failure to popularize and authentication system like FB Connect
  • The continued used of Cold Fusion
  • Failure to go ugly (let’s face it, Facebook and Google have shown the world that ugly generates traffic. And by ugly, I mean a simple, clean interface that isn’t cluttered with banner ads)
  • Failure to implement AJAX everywhere
  • Too little too late with implementing integrations with out websites

I think the last item is the biggest failure and that the mentality inside Myspace stemmed from the culture of NewsCorp. If you look around at the Internet today, the Facebook share button is everywhere. It wasn’t like that not too long ago. Myspace could have integrated with Digg, Youtube, College Humor, and scores of other content aggregation websites. And that’s not all they could have done. They could have developed an elaborate “my space” that allowed users to integrate their information along with their favorite bands, friends, trends, twitter, etc.

What would have happened if Myspace had gone geo last year? Yes, that would have taken development time and a push to jump ship from Cold Fusion (honestly, who uses that anymore?)

Imagine going geo with a combination of calendar, photos, and social networking! Has anyone noticed the lack of a functional web calendaring system in all of the social networks?

Myspace’s focus was on “cool”, which is a huge failure on the Internet. The Internet is not cool. It’s geeky! It’s nerdy. Cool is so not cool anymore!!!

Watching Myspace over the last couple of years is like watching Dr. Evil when he first meets Scott. Myspace continues to try to be cool. Its latest “discover and be discovered” is an attempt at making Myspace cool to use “again and again”. It will only continue the path of Failspace.

How can Myspace be saved? Drop the Newscorp bailout, innovate, leverage the connections with the Entertainment industry, and go ugly.

Facebook is quickly becoming far more than just a social network. The ability to build applications that integrate with Facebook make it perhaps one of the most useful tools for a business. I talked about this with Dean on the Words Cause Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio.com this morning.

For example, my business is going to launch an integration with Facebook that will provide customers will FB notifications when there is an update to their order. Our customers will also have further interactions and special promotions available on Facebook that we cannot necessarily provide through our own system. I predict many other businesses going down this route with Facebook rather than Myspace (which is bloated) or Twitter (which is not private).

The other day, I felt like I was going crazy. I was bursting into uncontrollable laughter. I had received a message on Facebook that I was tagged in a photo. It was one of those collage photos, so I figured I check it out sometime later. Those things can be pretty entertaining. I eventually got around to checking it and discovered I had been tagged as “the asshole” in the picture.

Now, the person who tagged me as “the asshole” is the real reason I was laughing my ass off. This is the same woman who I had been dating off and on for five-and-a-half years when she told me that my friend Rich committed suicide because I’m such a lousy friend and then left me because she was so hurt by me. Mind you, she did this 10 days after Rich killed himself.

To be sure, I’m no innocent person. I happen to be a human being, and I’ve made some very big mistakes in my life. I’ve hurt quite a few people along the way, and I have no problems with people considering me an asshole. I have certainly been an asshole to many people, and anyone who has dealt with me in business will tell you that I have a brutal streak of shrewdness.

Still, I’m not sure that someone who I helped build her career and her personal life should be calling me an asshole. Of course, I’m sure she has long forgotten about how so much she has in her life right now has come from the support that I have given her over the years.

Now, the whipped cream and cherry on top came today. Her best friend decided to tag me as “the asshole” as well  on what would have been Rich’s 33rd birthday.

I feel for them both. That somehow they feel comfort in labeling me as an asshole while I am wandering through the grieving process  of having lost a close friend of nearly 20 years is beyond me. Is it too much to ask them to at least wait a couple months?