There’s A New Internet Sheriff In Town

I Think Facebook Just Seized Control Of The Internet: “

The opening keynote at Facebook’s f8 conference today in San Francisco was short and sweet. But don’t let that fool you. It contained some huge announcements pertaining to how the service will interact with the broader web going forward. The three big ones: social plugins, Open Graph, and Open Graph API, make Facebook’s intentions very clear: they want to be the fabric of the web.

Erick already outlined Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s perspective on this from his keynote, but perhaps more interesting was some of what Platform Lead Bret Taylor had to say. The most interesting thing Taylor said was that Facebook’s stance is that social connections are going to be just as important going forward as hyperlinks have been for the web. Obviously, as the largest social network, Facebook to some degree has to believe (or at least say) that. But today, and really over the past several months of huge growth, Facebook has given us all a reason to believe that may be the case.

And if that’s so, Google had better watch out. There may be a new sheriff in web town.

Right off the bat, Zuckerberg rattled off some impressive numbers. While we all know that Facebook has over 400 million users (and it appears to be approaching 500 million rapidly), he also said that the service is growing at a faster rate than ever before. That’s fairly insane. He also noted that while it took the service 5 years to get to 100 million users, it took only 3 years to reach the same total in terms of mobile users. And in the past year, they seen that number grow 3x. Perhaps most impressive of all is that in just one year, Facebook got 100 million people using Facebook Connect. And that’s why everything they announced today has a real shot at completely transforming the web. Because everything they’ve announced (and specifically, Open Graph) seems to be like Facebook Connect on steroids.

All of this may sound grandiose and a bit frightening, but that’s why it’s ingenious the way Facebook is using Taylor. As he explained on stage today, Taylor used to work on a “small social network called FriendFeed” (which, of course, Facebook acquired last year). While he’s now a key member of Facebook’s team leading this new strategy, he used some of his keynote today to talk about his experience working on a startup with Facebook Connect.

He noted that at FriendFeed they found that the key to getting users to stick around and keep them using the site was that they had to connect with five friends. Unfortunately, when you’re a startup with not very many users, that’s extremely hard to do (yes, even just five). So FriendFeed implemented all types of logins and email contact lookups to try and help users find friends. The key to FriendFeed’s growth was Facebook Connect, as users were four times more likely to become engaged users if they signed up through that service, he said. In fact, if FriendFeed has continued on as an independent service, “we would have removed all those other signup buttons,” Taylor said. Yes, that includes Twitter and Google.

And lest you think his experience with Connect was all peachy, Taylor went on to explain that FriendFeed was constantly frustrated with how difficult Facebook Connect was to implement into their site. This is something that many developers have echoed over the past year. But with the new social plugins announced today, that all changes, Taylor promised. “I didn’t think the platform needed to be this complex,” he said. And now, apparently, it isn’t.

So that’s Taylor selling Facebook’s Open Graph to thousands of startups out there. And many are likely to bite. There’s no denying that social graphs are the key to a service being sticky, and there is no better social graph than Facebook’s.

Companies will have to choose whether to fight against this, and attempt to launch their own graph, or get in line. “When we connect our graphs together, the web is gonna get a whole lot better,” Zuckerberg promised.

Facebook launched some of this social plugin and Open Graph integration with several (30) large partners today. Just clicking around the web earlier, I ran into the new “like” button on CNN. It’s excellent; much better than the current share buttons which are slow and clunky in comparison.

In my opinion, Facebook still has a ways to go towards improving its actual site if it’s really going to be the long-term center of the web. (As in, the place you go to rather than Google.com.) But its claws for pulling in outside content are now razor-sharp. It’s going to be very hard for anyone to escape.

Over the next several days and weeks, we’ll undoubtedly hear why that’s a bad thing. Maybe it is. But maybe, if Facebook plays its cards right, the web will be a bit better because it will be more connected. Of course, that’s a lot of power for a still-private company to have. Let’s hope they know what they’re doing, and aren’t evil.

[photos: flickr/ingridtaylar and flickr/alan vernon]


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Chris Cox Discusses Facebook’s Recipe For Success

Facebook VP Chris Cox On The Company’s Past, Future, And Recipe For Success: ”

Today to close out its f8 developer conference, Facebook VP of Product Chris Cox took the stage to talk about the evolution of Facebook over the last six years, and how the company’s core principles have largely remained the same.

During his presentation, Cox recounted Facebook’s early days, when the site’s profile photos were often of keg stands, and there weren’t Events, Facebook Chat, or even Photos (though you could see if your friends were logging in from a campus dorm — remember that?).

Cox detailed how the then-small group of around ten engineers would watch how users were abusing existing features — like creating a personal profile for a fraternity, or, later, a Group for an Event — and implemented new features accordingly. Through it all, he says Facebook’s recipe for success was the same:

  • The products were simple
  • They’re people-centric
  • The products were Hacks. In other words, the engineers took systems that weren’t built for what people were doing, observed what users were trying to do, and built the features from there.

Cox also discussed the future outlook of Facebook and the web. He described how Facebook’s social recommendations could be used to suggest TV shows your friends had recently watched (and your DVR had recorded automatically for you). He also described how the future of news could be more social, with stories presented not just with the editorial of newspapers, but the commentary of your peers. Cox finished his talk with a call to developers, urging them to help turn the web from a place where anonymity reigns to one of real identities.

If you’d like to watch Cox’s talk for yourself, click here, then hit the ‘Keynote Recording’ tab on the right side of the widget, then click on ‘Closing Remarks’ (there doesn’t seem to be a way to embed it or post a direct link).

Information provided by CrunchBase

Why Facebook, Twitter & The Little Guy Should Be Scared: Google Wave

Have you ever tried getting in contact with Google customer service? I’ve thought about it, but have never actually tried. If you have been successful, please let me know how your experience was with them in the comments below this article. I simply never had the ambition to even try. Someone once likened their customer service to that of a visit to the doctors office where you have to wait 45 minutes to get in, the incompetence of the bureau of motor vehicles and the worst service you’ve ever received from a phone company…..times 500. Basically, if you are able to get through, they simply direct you to their back website where you may then email them–lucky you! Hold onto that luck because you’ll need it to get any worthwhile response…if any.

But I must say, what I’ve seen with their demonstration with Google Wave, I am impressed. You can view their demo of the wave here. But that’s what actually scares me. It scares the crap out of me actually. Why? Well, look at Google Search, Adwords, & Adsense. Can you say monopoly? That’s changing a bit with other ad networks popping up, but they’ve managed to Dominate paid search–all while having THE WORST customer service in the world. How do they do that??? Well, they obviously have a great product in high demand. That’s the scary part. It’s like a mean monster having the power to create water on a deserted Pacific island. If you make that big monster mad, well, forget it, you’re screwed. It’s like in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. In the land of paid internet search, Google is king…there is no other.

Ever heard of a Google slap? Did you see what Twitter did to all those marketers that added or deleted friends too quickly? Ever sent out a bunch of emails on Facebook asking a lot of people to be friends? They don’t like that sort of thing–it’s kind of spammy. Google already has enough power and control and this Wave thing will only consolidate power even further?

Think I’m joking? While Google likes to say it wants the Wave to be open, it only invited 100,000 people to test it. Want to get into the network? You have to be invited. How waspy is that? Some remember that that is how gmail was introduced and people were willing to pay money for it. Think you can buy your way in? Nope. People have already tried so Google is no longer allowing anymore user invites. So much for openness.

So I am giving Google credit for their Wave, even though I’ve never personally used it. Heck, it only took them 2 years to develop it. But at least Google is in the black making money which is more than Facebook and Twitter can say.

I just hope Yahoo or MSN come out with something similar to rival the colorful  jolly  G giant. If not, where are all the little guys to go when Google gives them the boot for spamming or inviting too many friends? I don’t care for spam as much as the next person. But when a small publisher that’s just new and starting out tries to get into Adwords and can’t because they don’t get 100k views per month…well, that’s just not very open to me. Call me silly.

So Google will deserve all the credit they get for this little Wave app–and they do deserve it. I just hope and pray that there are alternatives being developed because it just doesn’t seem fair when the new guy gets shut out just because he can’t generate traffic like some of the big dogs.

So what do you think? What impact do you think Google Wave will have on online marketing and other services like Twitter and Facebook? Leave your comments below…

Facebook Is The MVP Of Traffic

Facebook Is the Most Valuable Source of Traffic [Stats]: “

facebookBetween search engines and social media, there are a lot of different ways that people can get to your website. But which of these sources provides loyal users that come back to your site multiple times?

That’s the subject of a new study by ad network Chitika, who analyzed the browsing habits of 33 million unique users over the course of September.

According to their findings, Facebook provides the most loyal visitors, with 20% of those that originate from the social network in turn visiting the site they landed upon four or more times in a week. Among other social media sites, Digg traffic produced loyal users 16% of the time, while Twitter traffic was only good for 11% loyalty.

In the realm of search engines, Yahoo provides the most loyal visitors at 15%, followed by Google and Bing with around 12% each.

The finding that social sites provide stickier traffic isn’t surprising, but what implications do the loyalty rankings for Facebook, Digg, and Twitter have, if any? Perhaps that in the long-run, encouraging your visitors to share on Facebook might have the most value, even if it doesn’t provide the most short-term traffic.

That said, it’s easy enough to provide sharing options for a multitude of social media sites (case in point, this post!), so you can probably file this under the “nice to know” category of statistics and use your own analytics to gauge what is and isn’t working.


Reviews: Bing, Digg, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo!

Tags: bing, digg, facebook, Google, statistics, twitter, Yahoo

Employers Blocking Facebook, Twitter & Myspace

More Than Half of Employers Now Block Twitter, Facebook, MySpace: “

Can’t check Facebook or Twitter from the office? You’re not alone. In fact, you might be in the majority.

According to a new survey of 1,400 CIOs of companies with 100 or more employees, 54% now completely block employees from accessing social networking sites at work.

Only 10% of those surveyed let employees use social networks however they please, while the remainder all impose at least some restrictions on usage, like limiting it to business purposes only.

The survey, which was developed by Robert Half Technology, is consistent with other recent reports that show companies are quickly moving to block social media in the workplace. Of course, even when companies allow social media, it doesn’t always end well for employees. Another recent report indicated that 8% of companies in the US have fired staff over social media misuse.

It seems we’re still in the early days of employers trying to find a policy that works – perhaps being over restrictive in the interim – and employees learning from the mistakes of others.

What restrictions does your employer place on social media usage? Share your experience in the comments.

Tags: facebook, myspace, social media, twitter

Should High School Admins Be Sued For Forcing Cheerleader To Turnover Facebook Password?

Abuse of Power: High School Admins Coerce Cheerleader for Facebook Password: “

facebook logoEarlier in the year Tony La Russa got sue happy with Twitter, only later to drop the charges, and yesterday we learned that a woman was sued over a defamatory tweet (though there does seem to be some cause). It appears as if social media is making people uncomfortable enough to sue.

In a strange twist of social media lawsuits, a cheerleader at Mississippi’s Pearl High School may have had her first amendment rights (and then some) violated by her cheer coach. Along with her parents, she’s now suing the school district, its Superintendant, the school’s Principal, and her coaches for their involvement in coercing her to hand over her Facebook login credentials, and then exposing the sensitive information they found.

The suit claims that the 16 year-old cheerleader, Miranda Jackson, was forced to hand over her Facebook password to a coach during school hours on September 10, 2007, even though she had never used Facebook at school. Tommie Hill, a cheer teacher and sponsor, allegedly used that info to log in to Jackson’s account and, “disseminated the information within Jackson’s Facebook account to fellow Pearl High School teacher, dance and cheer sponsor Tiffany Durr, cheer trainer Corey Byrd, Principal Ray Morgigno, Superintendant John Ladner, and other unknown individuals.”

That offline spread of Jackson’s private Facebook information reportedly led to some pretty negative side effects with the girl being “punished and humiliated.” The lawsuit goes on to claim that Jackson was barred from cheer practices and participating in school sponsored events.

An NBC affiliate in Mississippi spoke to the girl regarding the incident, and she told them, “I want it all to get out. I don’t want anybody else to go through what I went through. I mean it is brutal, especially high school. It’s brutal.”

If the facts of the suit are true, it sounds like Jackson and her family certainly have a valid claim to suggest that the girl’s freedom of speech, right of free association, and right to privacy were knowingly violated. One of the counts in the lawsuit is also the intentional infliction of emotional distress, which seems to be pretty plausible given Jackson’s age.

We’re pretty disturbed that adults felt they were justified in not only requesting the password, and viewing the private contents of Jackson’s Facebook page — who is a minor — but taking actions to publicize private communications. From an outsider’s perspective, this just seems like an absurd abuse of power at the expense of a young and impressionable girl. We do hope, however, that now that this lawsuit has hit the web, that we won’t see other school officials repeat similar offenses.

If you want more facts on the case, you can view the full lawsuit embedded below:


Reviews: Facebook, Twitter

Tags: facebook, lawsuit, privacy

Facebook Considers Changing Ad Policy

Facebook Unlikely to Change Platform Ad Policies on User Data Any Time Soon: ”

Two months ago, Facebook tightened the rules on the types of advertising units Platform ad networks could display after user concerns about privacy and Facebook Platform ad networks spread. Since then, user complaints have died down.

However, some Platform ad networks have also seen decreases in their eCPMs lately – over 50% in some cases, according to one Platform ad network executive. Those ad networks that were most affected by the policy changes have expressed to us that their ability to innovate has been too constrained. But is Facebook likely to reverse the new policies any time soon?

Not according to the company. Facebook says allowing the types of advertisements which are now prohibited – those that display user data or a user’s friends in the ad – would lead to bigger long term problems for the sustainability of the Platform and the Platform economy.

“The direct feedback we received that led to the revised policies in July indicated that there was a strong risk users could lose trust in the platform because of the experience they were having with some third-party ad networks,” a Facebook spokesperson told us. “We continue to see developers build thriving businesses on Facebook Platform and will continue to focus on policies that position users, advertisers and developers for success.”

“We are always looking for ways to improve our policies but have no imminent plans to make ad policy adjustments,” Facebook added.

For now, Platform ad networks are still adjusting to the new rules and reoptimizing their algorithms for other ad units. Overall, the challenges in monetizing purely through more traditional advertising on the Facebook Platform are driving more and more developers to invest more heavily in optimizing for virtual currency monetization. The virtual goods economy has been broadly thriving on the Facebook Platform this year.

However, while Facebook says no policy changes are planned, the company says it’s still open for more feedback from Platform ad networks and developers about its advertising policies.

“We are actively reaching out to members of the community to understand how the policies are working,” Facebook tells us. “If there are ideas for changes that would continue to provide the basis for a great user experience while increasing opportunities for developers, we’d be eager to discuss them.”

We’ll keep tracking eCPM trends on the Platform for the developer community. If you have more data to share on what you’re seeing, we’d love to hear from you.