So all of the news lately is about 1 thing, maybe 2 if you want to be specific. Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has been in the news because of it’s crashes/outings/downtime (choose your own term), and Zuck because of the $100 million donation he’s made.
The Facebook crashes led to some hilarious Twitter posts, my favorite being “American business reports an astounding 480% increase in productivity”. And of course some news outlets and activists used the outage, and the outcry over it, to try and drive home the point that Facebook(ing) is addictive and a time goblin. It’s a strong term to say that Facebook is an addiction, because Facebook at it’s core, is really just a database of names. It’s the plugins that have made it a destination, homepage and yes, even a hobby for some people. What Zuckerberg did right, was making the format adaptable to virtually any idea out there, much the same as Jobs did with Apple and the iProducts.
The largest difference between Jobs and Zuckerberg, I can see is cost. It doesn’t cost you anything to be able to use any of the Facebook apps/plugins/games, where as to own an Apple product, you’re going to be spending a minimum of $100 in most cases. It really should have been no surprise then, when it was mentioned that Mark Zuckerberg, has a larger personal worth than Steve Jobs.
In a way, it’s almost like the story in Field of Dreams. If you build it, they will come. And they did.. in the millions.
Can you Facebook?
It may seem intuitive to be able to use Facebook and it’s services. Maybe the problem was a comprehension issue then. A 14 year old English girl learned the hard way to always double check before you submit an event on Facebook. With her upcoming 15th birthday party, she’d decided that Facebooking the event would be the surest way to invite all of her friends to attend, neglecting however to privatise the affair. Instead of only having those she wished to attend, there were 21,000 attendees confirmed for the (now) gala event. Alas, the girls parents decided that perhaps having that many people at their house wouldn’t work, and called off the party, and even so the local police are ready for any surprise events.
That the girl made a simple enough mistake in not privatising her party to her invitees only, it opened the door that Facebooks privacy settings are too difficult to administer. To think, that all she had to do was actually read the page she was using to post the event, and uncheck the box labelled: Anyone can view and RSVP (public event) Accountability it seems, is never a personal responsibility.
If acquisitions are feathers in a companies hat, Google has quite the chapeau just from 2010. THeir most recent purchase of Angstro, is another plume for them. Angstro is a type of “personal professional search engine”, but perhaps they say it best.
Angstro represents the ability to hone in on highly focused, relevant news across professional networks. Where search engines such as Google and other news aggregator services have immense infrastructures that return a huge array of random results, Ångströ analyses a wide breadth of information from multiple data sources to deliver very few, yet very intelligent results.
Now any search engine isn’t entirely random, there’s relative results for any query you pose. With the shift in the change of Google’s SERPs, and the Bing/Yahoo marriage finalized, perhaps the addition of Anstro it affords another avenue.
So at last count, the potential social side of Google would comprise of such services as Orkut, Buzz, Latitude, GMail, Maps, Contacts, Calendar, iGoogle, YouTube, Vevo, Google Talk, Google Reader, Picasa, Profile, Docs, (the now abandoned Wave) and as well, their upcoming music service and reported Zynga investment.
They’re not looking to re-invent the wheel ala Facebook style, but at a conference a little back, they did have a slide representing online social time breakdown. Fifty percent of the time spent online, was spent on Zynga games Farmville and MafiaWars. When it comes to the web, and Google, there are no coincidences.
Another one bites the dust? Google is rumored to picking up social media currency creator Jambool, makers of Social Gold. Social Gold is a secure payment method used in online games like Mafia Wars. Social Gold gives app developers the ability to build payments directly into their games and other applications.
It’s just another cog in the machine that Big G is speculated to be building, not to compete with Facebook however as we don’t need more of the same thing. Social websites retain interest and enjoy long term loyalty when interactivity can take a front seat to the experience. Just look to your nearest Facebook notices page for reference. Odds are, you have more than a few friends involved in Farmville, Mafia Wars and so on. Add in the ability to connect to your family and friends as you like, with interactivity that can possibly be shared, and you’ll have a good recipe for some long term memberships.
It keeps going and going..
The StreetView saga that is. Germany, US, Italy, Spain and a few others are still investigating just how much data the camera cars have captured. While the EU has acquited the giant of any blatant wrong doing.
This Tuesday, as I’m sure you’ve seen mentioned in the news, South Korea Police raided Google offices and siezed harddrives and computers related to the StreetView cars.
“We can confirm that the police have visited Google Korea in conjunction with their investigation around data collection by Street View cars. We will cooperate with the investigation and answer any questions they have,” said Lois Kim, a Google spokeswoman.
Korea’s National Police Agency said that Google collected and stored the information illegally. NPA stated that the company collected data from “unspecified users” and their unsecured wi-fi networks for about six months while the vehicles snapped photos for StreetView. All the drama and hooplah aside, it doesn’t mean that anything will happen. Google will probably not even face any charges.
In light of all of the free publicity, Google announced that it plans on introducing StreetView for 20 of the largest German cities by the end of the year. German authorities insisted that peoples faces, and license plates be blurred out, and the public can request to have their homes removed from the StreetView website. According to the Associated Press, these features are purely unique to Germany. A move no doubt, to dispel any fears about privacy.
Google has said time and again, that the collection of data was accidental, but it was not illegal.
In the blog yesterday, I wrote of a CNN article in which the authors outed themselves, rather obviously in fact, about how trying to compare social websites, to search websites, just doesn’t work. It’s trying to compare two different businesses and business models. Recently, Facebook launched a new service of theirs called Facebook Questions, essentially allowing Facebookers to ask questions of each other, and garner answers and opinions.
Perhaps it’s irony, or karma which contributes to it’s, perhaps fatal, flaw. Facebook Questions, has no search function. 500 million Facebook users with the ability to ask and answer questions, but with no discernable way to search through those entries. It’s a basic function which should exist within this type of service, could you imagine Wikipedia without a way to search it?
When you first look at the Facebook Questions page, there is a simple box which states a simple enough question; “What do you want to know?” As accustumed as we are to the web, this would seem the logical place to begin a search query, as opposed to presenting a direct question. However, if you try to search in this way, you’ll receive an error box basically telling you your question needs to have 3 or more words. And when you finish your “query” you don’t end up with a list of possible answers to a question, you will in fact, end up creating one!
Facebook Questions fan page has a brief description stating : Facebook Questions is a new feature similar to Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers. But instead of being user friendly and searchable to find the answers to questions you may have, it falsely inflates the count of true asked questions by auto-creating new questions. Regardless if someone has already posed the same question. For example, asking “Do you prefer cats or dogs” and “Do you prefer dogs or cats” Would be 2 different questions within it’s “knowledge base”. In digging through the provided information on the new service, “you can’t search for keywords, only topics”. As you dig into their topics however, it’s still difficult to find an answer you desire, as you have to page through previously asked questions, one at a time.
To be able to compare to Yahoo answers, or LinkedIn Answers, Facebook Questions has a very long way to go. Their priority, despite being a beta service though, should be a user friendly search feature to it’s already asked questions. Touted as Googles main “competitor”, it needs to be noted, that without the basic function that Google provides, Facebook Questions will probably be dead in the water before it launches.
Google is cleared of snooping, meanwhile their search business is drying up and Google is home of the most malware.
Out of the three headlines that graced some of my reading today, only one had any lick of sense to it. The Information Commissioners Office of the UK, has essentially cleared the Goog of any wrong doing in the accidental acquisition of wi-fi data by Street View cars. From the ICO:
“The information we saw does not include meaningful personal details that could be linked to an identifiable person. On the basis of the samples we saw, we are satisfied so far that it is unlikely that Google will have captured significant amounts of personal data.”
The ICO will however, continue to monitor the other global investigations into the data collected by Street View cars by the other nations (France, Spain, Germany, Australia and 38 states in the US) filing suit.
Google Search Dieing?
In a CNNMoney Fortune article that made me wonder if it was ever actually read or double checked, Googles growth, and search business is apparently dieing and shriveling up. Facebook, according to the article, is Googles biggest and most fearsome competitor, and Apple is trouncing the giant in tech growth.
Even just the first sentence invokes a sense of “what the?” when in the space of a few words the authors admit Google is growing at rates all of Fortune 500 companies would envy, yet Google is losing it’s steam. Lumping Google in the leagues of Microsoft, IBM and Cisco isn’t something I would call a sign of their demise as the search leader.
And as for comparing Facebook to Google, and saying that Facebook is Googles largest competitor? It’s like comparing a Chrysler to a Porsche. They’re in completely different leagues, different industries, with different goals and objectives. Facebook is social, Google is search. And using an example of someone leveraging social media to their advantage, and using a phrase like “Try that with a keyword search” proves that they hadn’t the slightest clue as to what they were speaking about.
And in the obvious section of the web, Google is the Malware King of the web. It just seems to make sense to me, that the largest search provider on the globe, would obviously return the most results from spammers and black hatters and hackers grabbing websites.
You find varying numbers from around the web, but it’s for certaing that Google owns 65% + of all search online. Is it really a surprise then, that in a report from Barracuda Labs, that Google returns 69% malware on popular and trending topics? It was in the news a great many times, and it’s been discussed, written about and beaten to death that spammers and hijackers will do everything they can to ride the trends. Remember the relief websites for Haiti? At the peak of the push for global assistance, it would be a shock to find a full, clean page of search results. Hijacking websites on trending topics is how black hatters and spammers make their living, it stands to reason that going after the largest search provider is the strategy to follow.
When someone mentions being sociable on the web, most times you immediately think of things like Facebook, Twitter and maybe even Foursquared. What you don’t think of in that phrase, is Google. Or any iteration of a social site under their domain. Signs lately however, point to the possibility of that changing in the future.
Google made a bit of a mis-step in the public arena already, what with their bummbled release of Buzz, what with making everyones information public to their email list. But in following the trends, Google has been dumping cash into Zynga, the creators of Farmville etc, in the neighborhood of $100 million.
If the hype is to be believed, Big G is working on another step into the social arena, perhaps this time on the gaming front. Farmville, Mafiawars, etc have huge followings within Facebook. Farmville alone has upwards of 60 million players in their portfolio, and it’s climbing. When asked directly however, if Google is entering the same social space as Facebook, Google exec. Eric Schmidt said:
“..the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing.”
There’s a lot of speculation about Google versus Facebook versus Google, and while they’re both the major players in their respective arenas, they’ve both fell short when trying to enter the others space. Facebooks internal search is clumsy, and works only with their own pages, and Googles social platform was dogged with security and privacy concerns. With the money being pumped into social gaming, and Google already owning Orkut, speculation would lead to the idea that Big G does have something up it’s sleeve. Just what that might be however, remains to be seen.
It was only a matter of time really. Previously the DoJ in the US was looking at the data Google had collected during it’s Street View runs, and was holding it’s cards close to it’s chest. Some of the individual states however, have taken their own road, led by Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal says 38 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in the investigation, with Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas on the executive committee. Other states joining the coalition include New York, Mississippi, Vermont, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, Montana and Rhode Island.
The whole mess kicked off when German privacy concerns launched a probe into the Google Street View collection practices. Discovering that the software was not only picking up open and unsecured wi-fi points, but was also collecting any data which was passing along the connection. Blumenthal main point of contention, is that the answers Google gives, only serves to present more questions than are answered. When the wi-fi software was found in the Street View program for example, it wasn’t known that there was tangible, usable data contained within it. Oops?
It’s being asked whether or not the specific persons involved with implementing the code snippet will be identified, and how is it that Google wasn’t aware what the code was fully capable of. It seems rather far fetched that it would have gone completely unnoticed.
On a lighter note..
Almost a Facebook Nation..
As the overseer of the “third largest country” in the world, it’s no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, denies signing over an 84% stake in the company for a mere $1000.
After having a brief commemoration of the site turning over the 500 million mark, Zuckerberg admitted that the privacy policies on the site were handled poorly.
“We’ve made mistakes for sure, I think they’re a lot better.”
When pressed as to why personal information isn’t automatically set to full private, the answer was basic, Facebook is set up in a way to enable people to share. Adding however, that ideally having certain information always private would be a step in the right direction.
Yahoo is up, Google is down, Bing is in the mix and on average Facebook isn’t trusted. At least, if you believe the numbers based on American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which tracks general consumer satisfaction levels with websites. This was the first time social media was included in the survey.
What was found on average, was that social media platforms returned an average rating of 7/10, a fair step below portals and search engines and news and information sites.
The survey looked at Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and “all others.” Twitter wasn’t included apparently because so much of Twitter’s access comes from third party clients. As mentioned the category average was 70. Facebook scored a 64, while YouTube scored a 73. The generic “all others” received a 72 mysteriously.
In the laundry list of complaints about Facebook, privacy and security were prominent concerns. Also included in the mix, but not limited too were, advertising, the constant and unpredictable interface changes, spam, annoying applications with constant notifications, and functionality. Age was a variable in the equation, as it was found that older people rated Facebook lower, while the younger, more prevalent population of the website listed less concern. As of late however, the largest growing segment on Facebook is an older generation, so according to the numbers, Facebook may want to take a look at how the ship is being steered.
The ACSI numbers aren’t concrete in the sense that they can make, or break businesses, they have however proven to be a metric worth considering. The report in it’s entirety, is an all encompassing baseline which can possibly identify improvements which can be made for your consumers.
Earlier in the week Facebooks own version of SEO – social engine optimization, to turn a phrase, lit up in the newsworld as their version of tackling Google. Seeing however, that the idea is powered somewhat, by users liking a page, it doesn’t seem to have any cards on the search giant. That doesn’t mean however, that the idea shouldn’t be ignored; social optimization is just as important to your business provided you have the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The average internet user is already notorious for fast browsing and merely scanning content by nature. Add into the mix, the chaos of social media, and the attention span for the content in front of them drops again.
Creating compelling, relevant, and provoking content is a major key to success in gaining a high amount of links, votes, and traffic to your content. Not forgetting however, style and structure for your content, is a major factor to being successful in social media. We’ll go over just a few basic points in terms of social optimization, to help your pages receive the “Like” that you desire.
Try using shorter sentences – Writing your most relevant, compelling, attractive information in short, informational phrases can be the turning point in keeping a user from clicking that back button. Keeping your key phrases and termsin shorter, easier to digest sentences and paragraphs allows the searcher to quickly determine that you meet their requirements on the social web.
Table of Contents – If you’ve shortened your information as much as possible, and still have miles upon miles of text, construct a table of contents and with anchors within. This allows for quick navigation to interesting sections within, and provides that extra usability that can be very helpful.
Bullet points and Lists – Breaking your more complex portions into bullet points or lists allows for quick and simple reading. Breaking down your page down in such a fashion also lends to easy linking within the page and site.
Photos and images – Using amazing imagery within your pages helps to draw visitors to your page, while your written content is designed to keep it. “A picture is worth 1000 words” afterall. Just be sure your images, are relevant to the content.
Social media is here to stay, and it’s best to get used to the idea. Your pages and content need to be attractive, intelligent, and compelling with their first impression. Taking the time to be sure that your social optimization is up to par is well worth the time investment. Building a loyal visitor and fan base in the social media sector of the web, will ensure long term viability in the marketplace.