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.
Social media, it’s everywhere. Facebook, Myspace, Winnipeggers, all of them the most convenient way to keep up to date with your friends and community. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to use, but like anything, it’s a service which when you don’t understand it fully, can lead to some problems.
Going forward with the mindset of an average user, here’s a short little list of “Do Not’s“ when it comes to social media.
Your Password : This is a time where the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) rule has absolutely no bearing. A difficult to break password is most often your first line of defense in someone trying to access your account. Avoid often used words or phrases, and avoid known associates. Using a password with capitals, as well as numbers mixed in is highly recommended.
Your Birthday : Surprisingly, this information is found rather easily on social networks, choosing to completely hide, or only show your age is ideal. Your birthdate can reveal a lot more about you than you may initially think.
Privacy Controls : After setting up your profile, it’s a good idea to nosey around to get a feel for how much control you have over your accounts privacy. A lot of information is left open to the public by default, and often needs to be hidden. Your phone numbers, and email addresses aren’t neceissarily information you’d like to hand out to web crawlers I’m sure.
Your Kids : If you have kids, chances are you don’t want to have random strangers seeing who they are and their name. It’s a scary thought as a parent, but it could very well lead to protecting your child in a very direct way.
Status Updates : Posting on your status update that you’re going to be away from home on vacation for a couple of weeks is an open invitation to would be thieves. Check your privacy settings, and mail those individuals you’d like to make aware of that amazing family trip to Spain. It’s better than broadcasting it to 400+ million users and coming home to a ransacked house.
Parental Supervision : After all is said and done, most EULA (End User Licens Agreements) to social media sites usually have an age requirement to join their site. Unfortunately security is somewhat dependant on trust at this level, so it’s a simple check box to circumvent this measure. Younger users, while very Net friendly, are often not so savvy as to think of privacy, and security features. If your children use any of the bigger social media sites out there, you’d do well to go over their settings with them, to be sure that they have their information, and your families, secure.
Facebook, if you live in a cave then there’s a chance you might not have heard of it (a small chance however). If it were a physical community, it would be the worlds fourth largest country at more than 400 million active users, 50% of which are logging in on any given day.
Why is Facebook so popular? Why was it picked up by everyone, and yes in some cases their dog too! It doesn’t make you money, it doesn’t put food on your table, it doesn’t fulfill some of the very basic necessities to live. But, it does fulfill some basics of life. Two different points, both with different needs.
You need food. You need water, shelter, some form of clothing on your back to protect you from the elements. Facebook provides none of these for it’s 400 million users, and yet people flock to it in droves, daily, in the millions.
People are pack animals, you don’t need to look further than the idea of towns and cities to see that. We like to be connected, we like to feel like we’re part of something, we like to know that someone, somewhere, cares to know who we are. It’s added bonus of being able to be in communication with your long lost friends and family is just icing on the cake as far as communication goes. You can send out a letter telling everyone in your life about your new clogs, or your dogs operation, or the newest addition to your family. How many have gotten a friend request, from someone they haven’t spoken to in 10+ years, because they were a friend of a friend of a friend.
Some in the press touted Googles foray (Buzz) into social media a Facebook killer, when in fact Buzz is just the same as all the rest. One of the bigger differences being in this case, your friends list was initially automatically populated for you. Because of the sheer size of it’s client base, somewhere in the neighborhood of 146 million users, if I read correctly, Buzz experienced some very sharp growing pains at it’s indiscretions of privacy and the way it launched itself into the public spotlight.
There was a time when MySpace was the social media phenomenon, and then Facebook arrived and MySpace was left in the dust. Is there a Facebook killer in the weeds, just waiting for it’s chance? Maybe, but the idea that it will happen anytime soon is as probable as the dark horse coming that’s going to topple Googles search dominance.
It’s had it’s time in the sun, and with the merger on the horizon for Yahoo with Microsoft/Bing, ComScore has let some numbers show from the past year. And while the numbers are mildly surprising, they’re not shocking at all. Introducing the up and comer, the new kid on the block; Facebook.
Facebook is well on its way to taking Yahoo’s spot as the third largest Web property in the world. Last summer Facebook took the No. 4 spot globally, displacing AOL. In December, 2009, Facebook attracted 469 million unique visitors, up an incredible 31 million visitors from the month before.
For perspective, in a single month Facebook gained as many new visitors as Yahoo did all year.
For the year (2009), Facebook grew by nearly 250 million uniques. A repeat will be difficult in 2010, but even at half that pace, and Yahoo remaining stagnant, Facebook could overpass Yahoo within a year to become the third largest site in the world. Passing Microsoft (No. 2) or Google (No. 1) in unique visitors will take a little longer.
By other measures, Facebook is already larger than both Yahoo and Microsoft. Its pageviews grew 141 percent last year, nearly double Yahoo’s (down 2 percent) and Microsoft’s (up 54 percent). Google is still the largest pageview generator on the web. With Facebook growing monthly by such leaps and bounds, it is only a matter of time before it catches Googles numbers in pageviews though.