Videochat and Social Media: The Missing Link

June 22, 2010

  

It’s time to take videochat seriously. Videochat a prime example of futuristic technology that would’ve seemed unimaginable 30 years ago but is currently available. You can have a decent-quality video phonecall with someone thousands of miles away in realtime – why hasn’t this technology taken off? The key lies in social media.

Now that Apple is taking on videochat with “Facetime” on iPhone 4 we can expect some major steps forward in the technology and hopefully in the popularity of this area of communication. Virtually all computers nowadays are equipped with webcams, but people are generally only using these to record video rather than to make live calls. Usually people blame this on the lack of quality and consistency in leading videochat programs like Skype, but in reality the quality is there, it’s just not being used. The problem with current videochat programs can be understood more deeply if you look at them in comparison with videochat’s predecessor: instant messaging.

The online plain of videochat currently looks almost exactly the way instant messaging used to. Sites like stickam and tinychat provide public video chatrooms as well as the ability to create private rooms, similar to the old aol chatrooms. Skype can be equated to AIM, the instant messaging program used ubiquitously for the past 6 or 7 years – at least by middle and high school students. But instant messaging has moved on; now almost all instant messaging dialogues take place over facebook chat, a huge change considering the past popularity of AIM. Skype has the same problem AIM did, it requires you to seek out your friends through their service and create a buddy list which is unique to Skype. Facebook Chat stole instant messaging away from AIM simply because every friend you could ever want to chat with is at your fingertips; you don’t have to find out their special username – you’re already friends with them. Considering the natural trend of tech it seems logical to say that we can expect videochatting to become easier, more reliable, and following these, more popular. The moment it’s possible to create a lightweight decent-quality videochat program within Facebook – expect Skype to disappear.


Twitter – Getting Started

May 3, 2010

A friend of mine recently said to me, ‘I just don’t get Twitter.’ You may have heard or thought this yourself. It’s the fastest growing digital medium for News, Social Interaction, and developing new business relationships.

So to help my friend and others, here is a simple ‘Get Started Guide.’

1> Most important: follow a lot of other people. If you follow someone, they will most likely will follow you back. But who to follow? Use the Search box and put in topics that interest you like ‘Baseball,’ ‘Investing,’ etc. Then read the Tweets that come up. If somebody has made an interesting comment, click on their picture to read their profile. If you like, follow them. They will most likely follow you back.

2> Post interesting stuff yourself, because when the people you follow look up your profile, they’ll want to see that you have something interesting to say. Then they will be more likely to follow you.

3> Retweet things you find interesting. Retweets not only show up on your profile but also show up to all the Followers of the person you retweeted so some of their followers may follow you.(That’s a sentence you could never imagine writing 10 years ago!)

4> Read a Blog Post I did awhile back that you may find helpful.
https://outofchaosblog.wordpress.com/2009/03/20/pathfinder-newsletter-twitter-your-way-to-success/

5> Most of all interact, learn and have fun with it!


A Guide to Advertising on Facebook

January 14, 2010

Targeting

Facebook presents businesses with the opportunity to reach their target market throughout the entire marketing cycle. While a small percentage of users are ready to purchase while they’re browsing Facebook, a much larger percentage of users are going to make a purchase in the future rather than at the moment they see your ad.

Fortunately you have the opportunity to build an ongoing relationship with your customer and that’s what Facebook is most useful for. It’s a platform to build ongoing relationships and “remarket” to your customers, as Facebook says in some of their own marketing copy. Understanding that these users are not ready to purchase is key to success on Facebook.

Often times on Google, advertisers will create an ad which targets every person in a single country and then split test two ad versions against each other. On Facebook this model will do nothing but cost you money. Placing a generic ad that’s targeted at an entire country, without any additional targeting, will do nothing but get you a lot of clicks and waste a lot of money for the most part.

Define Your Market

In order to become an effective Facebook advertiser, you need to have effectively defined your market. This will help you to take advantage of the 11 targeting factors that Facebook currently provides. To help define your market, you can go through the market segmentation process. This involves defining the need your company satisfies and then more thoroughly defining who your customer is.

After exhaustively defining who your customer is, you’ll be more effective at defining the targeting factors to be used in Facebook advertisements.

Split Test Ads By Demographic

Let’s say that you’ve created an advertisement that’s targeted at CEOs of companies in the Northeast region of the United States. You can create two advertisements and compare which version of the ad results in a larger response. An example lesson learned would be that “CEOs in the Northeast region tend to respond better to ads with the word ‘influence’ over the word ‘power’”.

As you narrow your targeting, you can begin to adjust your advertisements even further. For example, as a second step you can now create separate ads for CEOs in the Boston area and CEOs in the New York metropolitan area.

Targeting Factors Outlined

Facebook provides 11 targeting factors for advertisers. Below is an outline of each of those factors:

  1. Location – Facebook enables advertisers to target by country, state/provice, city, and metropolitan areas. All advertisements are required to have a location selected. This should be pretty straight-forward as to which location you’d like to select.
  2. Age – Age is a standard demographic factor. Most marketers that have a well defined target-market will be able to select their age.
  3. Birthday – This is one of Facebook’s latest advertising targeting filters. It should be pretty obvious what types of ads should be presented to people whose birthday it is. Try wishing the user a happy birthday and offer them a gift for higher conversion rates.
  4. Sex – Gender is another typical targeting filter for Facebook.
  5. Keywords – Keywords will are based on a user’s profile information including Activities, Favorite Books, TV Shows, Movies, and more. What types of products do your customers like? Spend time on this field and you’ll be rewarded.
  6. Education – While you can target based on their level of education, this is most effective for targeting ads based on the schools that people went to. Want to announce a reunion for the University of Illinois class of 1996? This is a great way to promote it.
  7. Workplaces – This is another great targeting filter. Oftentimes you will know the companies that your target market works at. If you are looking to get new clients or looking to spread awareness within specific organizations, this filter can be priceless.
  8. Relationship – Want to target people that are about to get married? This is a great tool for that. If you are a bar or club, you most likely want to go after those people that are single. While this filter can be useful, you also need to keep in mind that selecting any of these settings will remove all users that haven’t selected a relationship status in their profile.
  9. Interested In – This factor is useful if a user’s sexual preferences are relevant to whatever you are advertising.
  10. Languages – If your ad is in English but the user speaks Chinese, it’s probably not a good idea to be displaying ads to them.
  11. Connections – The connections allow you to include and exclude users based on pages, events, and applications that the users have joined and you happen to be the administrator of. If you’ve created a Page and don’t want the ads to display to people who have already joined, this is a great way to avoid duplicate clicks.

If you aren’t taking advantage of the numerous targeting factors then you aren’t using Facebook advertising effectively. In order to have an increased conversion rate on your advertisements, increase the targeting in order to make the advertisement more relevant for the users. Relevance will get people to respond to your ad.

Why is this powerful?

  • The demographics are far more accurate than most data (age, sex, gender preference, relationship, etc.)
  • The deep data – being able to choose to market to employees of specific companies – should be an amazing tool for the right advertiser
  • The keyword associations that people have with their Facebook accounts are correlated quite highly with true interests
  • The “approximate reach” number gives you great insight into your target market size (even if you never place an ad)

Building Relationships

Facebook is about relationship marketing, not direct sales. That means it’s more important to build a relationship with a potential client or an existing customer than to close a sale right away.

Through Facebook advertising, users can become a fan or RSVP to an event directly from an ad. At that point, you have the opportunity to interact directly with that individual and build a relationship. If you had directed a user to your website, you would have been forced to have them enter a form or make a purchase right away. The odds of getting a user to fill out a form or make a purchase immediately is far less than getting them to become a fan of a Page or RSVPing to an event.

In addition to having an increased conversion, you are also now able to reach out to individuals directly if you wish. For example if someone RSVPs to an event, but you don’t know who they are, you can send them a message welcoming them to the event and inquiring about more information. This form of relationship building is used to build lasting customers, not one time purchases, and it is core to Facebook marketing.

Measure initial conversions as fans, comments, and likes. Since most users will not make a purchase right away, you need to make sure that you are at least engaging them. Follow-up with your fans often and consistently.

Think Long-Term

In terms of sales, the payoff will be further down the line so be prepared to spend over weeks and months, don’t blow your budget in a day. Unless you are an affiliate marketer (who has distinctly different goals), you should be invested in the advertising for the long haul. A one-week campaign is not going to bring you riches, but a long-term investment in advertising can produce measurable results.

This means don’t spend beyond your means for one week and have no money left at the end. Instead, set reasonable budgets that you’ll be able to handle for longer periods of time.

Monitor Your Ad Performance And Adjust Accordingly

Put the daily spending budget into place at a low level while you see how much traffic and at what cost you will get it. Keep a close eye on your campaigns, especially the first week. (Weekends can vary drastically from week days.)

Facebook provides advertisers with a number of monitoring tools including their basic ad manager area as well as downloadable data about each campaign you are running. If you visit the ad reports area you can download three types of reports to determine how your campaigns and ads are performing: advertising performance, responder demographics, responder profiles.

The primary things to monitor are clicks, click through rates (CTR), actions, action rates, and CPC. Each of these variables will differ depending on what type of campaign that you’re running but in theory, the more targeted your ad, the higher click through rate you should have. Additionally, your click through rate will tend to go down over time as your entire target population views your ad and decides whether or not they want to respond.

Test Landing Pages Versus Facebook Pages

In traditional online advertising, users are directed to a landing page from which they are prompted to fill in information in a form. This information is then typically used to send marketing literature. On Facebook, you want to build relationships but if the relationships you are building aren’t generating any revenue, you may want to diversify your advertising strategy by including some landing pages.

Yes, building relationships are extremely valuable and despite those users never making a purchase, they can become effective brand advocates that ultimately drive new customers to your business. For smaller businesses, investing in brand advocates is often considered to be a costly proposition which is why investing in some direct sales is always useful.

The point of this law is that Facebook advertising combined with relationship marketing cannot be your only strategy. You need to generate sales and sometimes that means being direct and converting a customer.

Creating Your Ad

Conversion is primarily about two things: your ad copy and the landing page. If your advertisement doesn’t provide a call to action, there is a good chance that the user won’t respond. 

Be creative. You will most likely be spending dimes on the ads, and there’s almost nothing to lose if they don’t work. This is a perfect chance to take a risk, assuming you’re closely watching your ad performance.

Use great images. The wonderful thing Facebook ads open up is the ability to use images easily. For very low costs you can find images that you can purchase the rights to, and use on your ads.

Sources

http://www.seomoz.org/blog/facebook-advertising-an-opportunity-to-reach-powerful-users-at-very-low-cost

http://www.businessinsider.com/10-rules-for-advertising-on-facebook-2009-7


10 Internet Predictions for 2010

December 24, 2009

Taking a Look into the Future of the Web

1. Increased shift towards online sales. In 2000, when I asked the class I was teaching at FDU, how many of you have made an online purchase, only one person raised their hand. Now it’s the opposite. Expect double-digit gains in online Ecommerce again this year, while Brick & Mortar stores struggle to stay even.

2. Social Media starts making cents. That’s dollars and cents. Businesses and Brands of all sizes are catching on. This week we launched a ground-breaking Social Media site to connect Brands-to-Fans. Checkout Smile.ly and let us know what you think. The secret to making money online in 2010 will be getting your business connected to consumers through social media.

3. Search engines will interface with social media. Through integration with new real-time capabilities, search engines will be able to include real-time data (i.e. twitter posts). Awareness of your web-activity will allow search engines to include previously private data from social network friends. Search engines may eventually incorporate their own social element, using data from other web users to hone search results. This combination of search engines and social networking will help to filter results, leading to more refined searching. It may also mean more relevant and effective search engine advertising, with ads that incorporate friends’ viewpoints or personal preferences.

4. Sites with subscription fees. There is an increasing flow of professional video content online – whole seasons of TV shows, entire sports events, etc. Thus far studios and networks are only making money off advertising. However, as most video media migrates to the web, other revenue streams are going to be pursued. Video streaming speed and reliability will have to increase greatly. But considering how quickly it has improved over the past year, it seems likely that online streaming will reach near television quality over the next year. Most likely, there will be some sort of combination of advertising with subscription services. This will also only increase the irrelevance of broadcast television. Advertisers are shifting more and more of their dollars to the Internet, where results are trackable and more targeted. Expect more interfacing of computers with TV screens, or increased sales of cinema displays specifically for computers. It will take a long time for TV to lose its position as the top video media outlet, but the change toward the Internet is gaining pace.

5. Increase in people trying to find and save money online. Unemployment is expected to continue to rise and consumer confidence is lower than it has ever been. In 2010, increasing amounts of people will turn to the web to find a new source of cashflow. Members-only discount groups like Hautelook.com, Ruelala.com, and Gilt.com can expect to see a rise in traffic. Auction sites like ebay.com,swoopo.combigdeal.com, and gobid.com will also garner more interest as the amount of people looking to cut spending rises.

6. Land-line phones will be completely obsolete. The transition of video media from television to the Internet along with the increase in speed and reliability of online video streaming will only be another nail in the coffin for land-line phones in the wake of VoIP and services like Skype. Land-lines are already almost completely unnecessary due to cell-phones, and with quick, reliable video streaming, we should be able to have video-calling, and certainly voice-calling next year over the internet which is almost completely live and stutter-free. At that point, land-lines would be a completely obsolete technology. In my ideal world, we would have ubiquitous WIFI, and either super-portable computers such as the netbooks which are rapidly growing in popularity or just internet-capable phones, on which one could run reliable VoIP. If this were the case, the only fee one would have to pay for communication would be for bandwidth.

7. Broadening of Internet audience and in addition, broadening of high-speed internet access. Internet usage will continue to rise as more ways to access the Internet become available to consumers. The main forces behind this trend are devices like Internet-enabled TV’s, MP3 players, smartphones, and gaming consoles. Teenagers and adolescents are already Internet-active with a variety of devices, and this activity is only on the rise. The real change, however, will take place in adults age 55+, many of whom have already shown interest in consumer electronics, and are just beginning to discover social networking and other online media outlets. Hopefully this increase in the Internet’s user-base will also mean a redefinition of the US’s broadband standards. Currently the US is not even in the top-ten of broadband providing countries when it comes to household penetration and quality of connection. The FCC has been tasked with creating a National Broadband Plan by February 17, 2010, so we should see some changes taking place around then.

8. Proliferation of social gaming. This year, social games completely took over Facebook. 17 out of 20 of the top apps were social games as of November 23rd. Next year might be the year we can expect social gaming to expand out from their social platforms onto the general Internet. Social games which are independent from Facebook would use the social aspects of Facebook (interaction with friends within the gamespace) without the limitations Facebook places on email, instant messaging, etc. in the interest of maintaining privacy. Console gaming has also seen the beginnings of major changes brought about by high-speed Internet. Videogames, which are traditionally sold on discs in stores or online, are seeing an increase of digital sales. Services like Xbox Live and Direct2Drive allow users to download a wide variety of mainstream video games directly to the hard drives of their console or PC. Eventually we could expect most or all games to move to downloadable formats as increased connection speeds make this a viable possibility. This is just another example of storage devices such as CDs becoming obsolete for the transfer of software as the ability to simply download larger and larger files increases.

9. Increased utilization of crowdsourcing for various applications. What is crowdsourcing? Put simply, it’s when a company takes a project which would usually be handled by an employee or contractor and outsources it to the “Internet crowd” with an open call. Crowdsourcing represents a big step in the practical potential of the Internet. Wikipedia is probably the most mainstream example of crowdsourcing, where a huge source of information has been compiled, and its creation was really only possible because there were countless motivated contributors making it happen. Essentially, crowdsourcing is the first example of the collective brainpower of the masses of people connected through the Internet being utilized for practical purposes. As modes of communication and cooperation through the Internet only become more efficient; we can expect to see more companies realizing the potential of and taking advantage of crowdsourcing in more creative and interesting ways.
Some favorite Crowdsourcing Sites for you to checkout: Threadless, 99Designs, Namethis, YahooAnswers, MahaloAnswers, Kickstarter.

10. Further development of 3D technology and further penetration of 3d into traditional media. Avatar is being hailed as a huge step forward for 3D media. The truth is that Avatar is really just a milestone in the journey of 3D towards the mainstream. Movies have been playing around with 3D for years now, but mostly just as a gimmick. With Avatar, 3D is now an acceptable mainstream technology which we can expect to see more and more in media. Videogames have been working with different forms of human-interfacing, as we can see with the tremendous success of Nintendo’s Wii. 3D gaming is an old and in the past, generally unworkable concept. Perhaps with current or future technology, 3D gaming could be a reality. Judging by these developments, it doesn’t seem like an unreasonable assumption to say we could expect to see 3D on our computer screens by next year. If 3D becomes at all commonplace, expect to see it in online videos, simulations, and games. Basically all independent development happens on the web, so this is probably where we’d see the most creative innovation with 3D. If only we can get rid of the glasses! (maybe we can – check out this video)

Here’s a little online 3D doodling toy, the beginning of many?


“How do I make money from all this Social Media Stuff?” 5 ‘Simple’ Steps

November 12, 2009

The most common question I hear from clients is, “How do I make money from all this Social Media Stuff?” That is the $64 million dollar question and technology companies, advertising agencies, PR firms, and thousands of entrepreneurs are scrambling to answer it.

However, like anything new, 98% of it is either fluff or failure and 2% is of great value. So let’s forget the 98% and focus on the 2% that matters to you and me. First, let’s go to where the action is Twitter and Facebook. Between them are over 300 million members – many visiting and posting multiple times per day. They are interested in a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with your product or service, but some of them are interested at least some of the time. Now the trick is to find them, engage them and get them to come to you. This is where most efforts fail for lack of strategy and know-how.

So here are are 5 Things you and your business can do to make Social Media work for you:

Social Media Flowchart - Pathfinder Consulting

Create a Social Media Chain-Reaction

1> Get in the Game: either you, or someone you hire, needs to establish Facebook and Twitter Accounts; post stuff that people may find interesting both personal and professional – maybe even political. DO NOT blatantly promote or advertise your service.
2> Build your Audience: the more people that you invite and Friend or Follow you, the more responsive they will be and the greater the odds they will call on you for your product or service when they need it.
3> Triangulate for Results: cross-link all the activity, content, posts, status updates to each other and your web site. See the illustration on this page. If you do this effectively, you will create a chain-reaction or a cascade of visitors to your Blog and Web Site.
4> Make Sure your Web Site helps convert a high percentage of these new visitors to customers. Professional design, branding, credibility and message are key. Get help with this! Contact us or another talented firm. There is both art and science to making your web site sell for you.
5> Do it over again. All these media will keep evolving and changing. It is constant learning and testing. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t work, either change your approach or stop doing it. Just makes sense – doesn’t it?

So after all this, our client asks, Who has time for all this?” The answer is that most business people are busy focusing on their own business and don’t have the time, expertise, or even the inclination to do all this. But it is worth it! If you are not doing it, you can bet your competitor is and grabbing all that business.

[Warning: shameless self-promotion!] That’s where we come in. Pathfinder not only designs and develops winning web sites, but will set up, manage and maintain your social media sites, blogs and Email and triangulate them for results. Maybe we can help you?


The Approach of Web 3.0 – What Is It? and What Can You Do?

July 28, 2009

In case you didn’t know that there were different design iterations of the internet, there are, and we’re approaching number 3. So what is Web 3.0? Well to understand the newest form of the Internet, you have to understand how it’s evolved over time. For the sake of simplicity, I’ll rely on how Tim Berners-Lee (creator of the web-browser) describes the Internet. Essentially, Web 1.0 was the read-only web in which content was created and produced by a small group of people. Web 2.0 (the current iteration) is the read-write web. With tools like blogs and social media, Web 2.0 gave us a huge influx of user-created content.

Web 3.0 is more like the read-write-execute web. This is known by a number of different names, such as semantic web, ubiquitous computing (sometimes called “everyware” – now that’s a good pun), or cloud computing. There are really 3 major points to Web 3.0:

User Created Software: In web 3.0 we have tools which make it simple for users to craft and execute their own software and programs.

Electronic Browsing: Web 3.0 also contains the notion of more organized content, perhaps through content-tagging. Put more simply, the web thus far has been designed for readability by people. With web 3.0, content is more easily automatically browsed by computers, making it easier for systems to function through the internet. This makes the web more like a database, and allows for non-browser applications. Leading us to our next point:

Integration with Devices and Hardware: The combination of numerous applications and algorithmic browsability by computer makes web 3.0 the first iteration of the internet that will become truly integrated with our everyday lives beyond the computer screen. We already see basic forms of this, such as video streamed from a computer to a tv, or the picture frames which display a slideshow from an online photo album. Now imagine this in more complex applications, such as a refrigerator which knows when you run out of a certain kind of food and sends an order to a online grocery delivery service. Or even just imagine being able to control everything that plugs into a wall in your house from a single screen. The possibilities are very nearly endless. With enough creativity, one can look at the various objects in any given room and think about how it could benefit from an internet connection.

Other Benefits

There a number of other benefits which should greatly increase the overall user experience with the web. For example, with all the Internet properly organized, the user is provided with a much more meaningful search. If your input is specific enough and what you’re searching for exists, you should be able to immediately find it. And because of the connectivity with hardware, you should be able to search through every existing electronic database. This has become known as “semantic search”. Besides search, there’s also the idea of being constantly “plugged in”. The internet could follow every step of your life. Imagine instead of just seeing ads on facebook based on which groups you’ve joined, seeing ads on tv based on what you just bought at the store. The applications for this technology are endless. To quote the Wall Street journal, “From using easy gestures to grab any piece of information from the Web to having powerful computers in the palm of your hand to being able to quickly dip into complex social networks to getting real-time information from across the globe as it happens, Web 3.0 is an era when computing could become as integrated and invisible as electricity and just as important.”

How Can I Be On The Forefront?

As a business-person it’s crucial to stay on top of every development in the ever-changing landscape of the internet. Web 3.0 is coming about bit-by-bit, we won’t all be downloading the big upgrade from our suddenly outdated web 2.0 anytime soon. So you have time to update your technology and strategy along with the development of the internet. Almost any business has a way they could integrate their hardware with the newest forms of the internet. For example, perhaps you could employ GPS-tagging, something applicable to location-based services such as anyone who ships packages. Bar-code enabled content would be another forward-thinking step. Essentially the goal of all this is to make you and your products more semantically searchable. Currently this is all might be speculative thinking, and the development comes through people acting on that speculation, by innovating and integrating. The best tip here is to be creative when it comes to applications of the Internet and in doing so, be on the cutting edge of the web.

If you want to brainstorm some possibilities together, please contact us info@outofchaos.com


Why Facebook is Beating (has Beaten?) Myspace

June 22, 2009

Let’s Compare

What you’re looking at are the compared numbers of unique visitors for Facebook and Myspace. That last couple points on the graph shows Facebook with 113,014,638 unique visitors, and Myspace with only 56,885,691. While Myspace has stayed pretty consistent around the 55 million mark, moving down only 5.61% in unique visitors over the past year, Facebook has been rocketing up, with a 253.74% increase in visitors. This puts it at more than double Myspace’s number of unique visitors last month. So there’s little argument here, Facebook is beating Myspace handily. What we’re here to discuss however, is why, and what lessons you can take from a website which started from nothing and overcame a social networking giant.

So what makes Facebook better than Myspace, what’s been attracting and converting all those users? I’ll break it down to the few factors which are key in the success of any website.

The Breakdown

Design

Facebook has two main things going for it here: Simplicity and Consistency. Every single page on the site has about the same layout with a very easy to look at, easy to navigate design. Every profile is well organized, especially with the new tabbing system they’ve employed, which keeps unattractive apps out of the way. Design was probably one of the biggest complaints I heard about Myspace when people began to convert from Myspace to Facebook. Every Myspace profile is different, but almost all of them have one thing in common, they’re an unattractive, confusing mess of colors and boxes. This is a case where Myspace has simply given its users too much freedom. Anyone who knows their way around html, or found some embed code on a website, can manipulate their Myspace profile. Let’s do a quick visual comparative analysis. Feel free to click on the images to see them in more detail.

 Sparkles Myspace ExampleDan Facebook Example copy

Each of these is a very typical profile page, the top being Myspace, the bottom Facebook. Notice that the Myspace page has a custom background, custom font color, and custom button texture among other things, all of which make it very difficult to read. Perhaps the most confusing feature of the Facebook page at first glance is the “news feed” in the center of the page. This is a constantly updating list of you and your friends’ activities. After one becomes acquainted with the news feed it’s quite easy to understand. Besides that, the Facebook page is very simple and visually pleasing. You may also notice that last names and private information are blacked out on the Facebook page, while the Myspace page is completely uncensored. This is because the Facebook page I used was set as private, and I could only access it because I’m friends with that person. In Facebook terms that means one of us requested the other as a friend, and the other accepted. Generally, all Facebook pages are private like this one, or limited, as in the user has set only certain parts of their profile as viewable. The Myspace page, on the other hand, is completely public and open, as most Myspace pages are. Which brings us to our next topic…

Ease of Use

As far as personal privacy goes, Facebook makes it extremely easy for users to hide information from certain people or to keep private information you don’t want to be public. So if you want close friends to be the only ones who can view your contact info, it only takes a moment. Myspace also has privacy settings, but they’re far less specific, and essentially boil down to setting your entire profile as viewable only by friends, or entirely public. When it comes to adding friends, Myspace actually has an easier process. What’s interesting is that this is not necessarily better. If you want to add a friend on Myspace, you’re pretty much one click away. The problem is that this has created a community in which individuals essentially compete for the most friends, with having friends be people you actually know not really a concern. This “friend-rush” on Myspace weakens the community as a whole. Users on Facebook, contrarily, usually are only friends with people they actually know from school, work, or family. This makes all the functions of Facebook infinitely more useful and viable. Myspace can never effectively have things like photo albums and events because those things are only effective when shared among people you want to share them with. Another factor which affects the simplicity of adding friends is the search function. Surprisingly, facebook actually has a more effective search tool than Myspace, even though Myspace’s search is backed by Google. The major difference is that Myspace’s search sifts through whole profiles, even if you’re just searching for someone’s name, while Facebook knows if you’re looking for someone you knew in college or a movie in someone’s interests. It also lets you segment your search into things like people, pages, groups, and applications. This superior search also makes it easier to navigate Facebook overall.

Media

I mentioned earlier that features like photo albums will never work as effectively on Myspace as they do on Facebook. This is because of the extremely refined social aspect of Facebook’s photo service. When someone posts a picture on Facebook, they tag the faces of friends who are in the picture. The friends who were tagged are notified in an email from facebook, and the picture is added to that persons profile. If one could represent this visually, it would be an extremely complex web with connections between people who have taken pictures and the people who are in them, and between the different people in the pictures. Facebook actually lets you search as such, letting you search for pictures with certain people or within another persons albums. Not to mention that with Facebook’s apps, users can now add Flikr and other photosharing site streams to the applications tab of their profiles. Myspace’s photo service has the benefit of being supported by photobucket, which was recently bought by Fox. Facebook clearly wins in this category.

Community

Community is the backbone of any social networking site. I brought up earlier how Myspace users’ obsession with “friending” has weakened the community overall, while Facebook’s is strong because it is based on real, personal connections. Facebook recognizes and bolsters this superiority with the news feed. Essentially whenever you get on Facebook, you’re presented with everything that’s new with your friends. If they’ve posted any pictures or videos, edited any information about themselves, joined any groups, you know about it. This keeps the community strong by keeping users interested in one another, constantly viewing various friends’ profile pages. Myspace has no such service, and therefore very little reason for users’ to view anyone’s profile but their own.

Usefulness

There are quite a few reasons Facebook is more useful than Myspace. With Facebook, it’s extremely easy to connect with old friends or classmates because the whole system is organized by “networks.” This could be your school, your office, or the area in which you live. This, combined with Facebook’s effective search function, makes it relatively easy to find anyone you happen to be looking for. While you can find people on Myspace, there’s much less emphasis on the “connection” aspect. Friending someone on Myspace is more like an acknowledgment of existence. This is probably because Facebook is a much more effective communication tool. People are much more likely to check a wall post on Facebook than on Myspace. This is mostly because people who have Facebook accounts are generally more actively checking their Facebook, some more than their email. However, for everyone else, Facebook sends you an email when you get a wall post or a private message. Because of the aforementioned network system, Facebook is a very effective tool within any sort of group. You can stay in touch with what your coworkers are doing in your office network, or stay up to date on the upcoming events within your school network. Someone’s who’s going to college next September might join that college’s network or even the specific group for incoming freshman of that college to get to know their future classmates. Essentially, Facebook as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, because each part is a gear in a well oiled and extremely effective machine. Once you get to know the different features and really start to take advantage of them, it becomes an invaluable tool.

Lessons to be Learned

  1. Stay Simple and Consistent: Maintain a consistent and easy-to-look at, easy-to-use feel throughout your website. No one should have to spend more than a few seconds looking for certain buttons on any page on your site. Pages shouldn’t change in layout from one to another. After a user has gotten to know one page, they should be capable of clicking around without pause without any necessary learning curve. Another great example of this is the extremely popular site Craigslist, or even Google.
  2. Recognize Your Strengths, and Make Them Even Stronger: Facebook recognized the strong basic connectedness of it’s community, and integrated even more services to help them connect and stay connected. If certain aspects of your website or online service are drawing more users, recognize that popularity, find out what’s making it popular, and bolster or multiply that feature.
  3. The Features of Your Website Should Be Well Integrated, and Should Build Upon One Another: One of the reasons Facebook is such a good service and is so easy to use is because each of its features is integrated with the other features. The search tool, network system, picture and video applications, group’s, pages, developer applications, and news feed all work together to build any individual user’s facebook experience. This system is similar to Apple’s, as I mentioned in an earlier post. The idea is to create a personal universe, where once the user uses one part of the service, they can only benefit by using other parts. With Facebook, like any good website, company, or service, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts

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