Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Visualizing Friendships

15 Dec


Visualizing Friendships: This is a reaffirmation of the impact Facebook has on connecting people, even across oceans and borders. Beautiful! Important to note China (and a few other places) are mostly absent from this map.


What’s Hot This Week in Social Media

09 Dec

What's Hot in Social Media

Welcome to this week’s edition of “What’s Hot in Social Media,” a series in which we revisit the week’s most popular stories concerning social networks.

We’re keeping our eye on five interesting developments this Thursday.

Hackers Take Down Visa, PayPal, MasterCard & More

A group of anonymous hackers took down a number of websites in the name of WikiLeaks for several hours Wednesday, including those of Visa, Mastercard, Swiss bank PostFinance, PayPal, Senator Joe Lieberman and former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, all of which had recently terminated service with or criticized the organization in some way. All sites appear to be up and running at this time, although we’ve received word that attacks against Amazon and PayPal are currently being carried out.

Twitter Accused of Censoring WikiLeaks

Following numerous accusations that Twitter has been purposely keeping WikiLeaks and related terms out of its Trending Topics list, a spokesperson for the microblogging service issued a more thorough explanation of how Trending Topics are determined. In essence: Twitter favors novelty over popularity.

Facebook Unveils New Profiles

Facebook unveiled new profile pages late Sunday, just hours before Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared on 60 Minutes.

Tumblr Struggles Under 24-Hour Outage

Popular blogging platform Tumblr returned to the web Tuesday after more than 24 hours offline during a planned maintenance gone awry. The exact reasons for the outage are unknown.

Disney Celebrates 100 Million Facebook Fans

The Walt Disney Company hit a major marketing milestone at around 8 p.m. PT Saturday night: 100 million Facebook Likes across its more than 200 official brand, property and character Pages.

Reviews: Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Wikileaks, pages

More About: disney, facebook, tumblr, twitter, wikileaks

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Facebook Pages Getting New Design and Checkins [SCREENSHOTS]

05 Dec

Facebook appears to be on the verge of launching a new design of its Fan Pages.

This change seems to include the site’s location-based Places checkin functionality, enabling “likers” of the page to check in to it.

Although Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is said to be giving a sneak peak at the new Profile Pages design on 60 Minutes tonight, it seems that more change is in store; you can already see the new Pages design in action on select pages, such as Ellen DeGeneres’s Fan Page. On Ellen’s page, you will notice a count for the number of checkins the Page has. According to Facebook spokesperson Meredith Chin, the Ellen Page is a merged page that includes the functionality for checkins available shortly after the feature launched a few months ago. Basically, your brand page will then take on the Places page designs, which appears to be the inspiration for the new profile pages that are to be released as well.

“As long as the address of the official page and the place page match, it should show you a prompt and ask you if you want to merge them,” Chin said.

You can see screenshots of the new design below.

Current Pages Design

The current Pages design, similar to Profile Pages, has the Page navigation tabs (Wall, Questions, Photos) at the top.

The New Pages With Checkins

The new Pages design includes checkins, profile information (which includes some basic information about the page and the Wall postings below it), a narrower left column and more.

New Tabs

The new Pages also feature the navigation tabs on the left-hand side.

Reviews: Facebook, pages

More About: facebook, facebook pages, Facebook Places, mark zuckerberg, social networking

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4 Misconceptions About Marketing in Social Games

27 Nov

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Social games, like FarmVille, Mafia Wars and MyTown, racked up a number of high-value brand partnerships during the past year, and the social gaming industry in general is seeing huge interest from investors and consumers.

The top 10 Facebook games, for example, all have more than 10 million monthly active users each, with FarmVille leading at 62 million monthly active users, followed by FrontierVille at nearly 37 million and Zynga Poker with nearly 33 million. Granted, these are small portions of Facebook’s total network of more than 500 million users. But with a budding industry like social gaming, these are still impressive numbers, especially given the growth that these games are experiencing — all of the top 10 games were launched after 2008, with the top three games being launched after mid-2009.

The U.S. population alone is also a good indicator of user adoption — one in five Americans over the age of six have played an online social game, according to a recent study.

Increased user activity has spurred attention from investors. From an acquisition point of view, we witnesed Disney’s $763.2 million acquisition of Playdom, Electronic Arts’s $400 million acquisition of Playfish, and Google’s acquisition of Slide. Regarding investment, the big winner this year is Zynga, having now raised a total of $366 million.

Brands are taking notice and acting quickly, implementing innovative ways to advertise in social games and capitalize on the rise of virtual gaming.

Carree Syrek, a partner in social media strategy at Mindshare, a global media and marketing services company, recently spoke at ad:tech on the common misconceptions that companies have about marketing in social games. Here’s are the four concerns she discussed.

1. My Audience Doesn’t Play Social Games

Brands often look at social gaming as something that only a niche group of gamers partake in, but multiple surveys show that social gaming actually appeals to a much broader audience than most would expect. One early 2010 survey found that the average social gamer was a 43-year-old female.

“One of the biggest things that I hear when I talk to brands is ’social gamers are moms. They’re middle-aged moms,’” said Syrek. “But actually, this is not the case. Each of the games or the worlds that you’re in have very specific audiences that you wouldn’t necessarily see unless you dug a little bit deeper.”

Syrek pointed to the disparity between FarmVille and Mafia Wars demographics as an example of diversity among social gamers, as presented in the 2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research Results.

  • FarmVille pulls an audience that is 62% female, 33% of its audience is between 18 and 34 years old, and the average income is between $60,000 and $100,000. The FarmVille audience is also 84% caucasian and 7% Hispanic.
  • Mafia Wars’s audience, on the other hand, is 51% female, with 28% of the audience between 18 and 34 years old, and the average income falling below $30,000. Seventy-one percent of Mafia Wars users are caucasian, while 17% are African American.

Syrek clarified that raw numbers don’t explain the full story, pointing to index numbers as a way to better understand an audience. Index numbers are used in marketing research and indicate the strength to which a certain demographic is represented on a site or service, generally with a weighted base number of 100 representing the average Internet user.

“There are different ways to segment for ethnicity if you’re going after specific markets,” she stated. “The numbers in parentheses [as pictured above] are index numbers. So, you can see that even though, say in Mafia Wars, the African American segment is only 17% of the people who play that, their index is 198. So, you’ve got a really receptive market there that you can tap into.”

“The point is that you can actually dig deep, and you can find the proper environment for your target demographic,” stated Syrek.

Before writing off social gamers as middle-aged moms or male teenagers, be sure to look at the types of games out there and learn about their audiences — you may find that your audience is present on a few niche social games.

2. Virtual Worlds Are Not for “Serious” Companies

“I think it’s important to note that there’s a place here for everyone. It’s not just about the Jolly Green Giant being in FarmVille… it doesn’t have to be that literal, and there are spots for everyone here to play,” said Syrek.

It is a misconception that advertising in social games is only territory for entertainment brands or brands that want to be seen as “fun.” On the contrary, many serious brands were discussed during Syrek’sad:tech session.

Linda Gangeri, manager of national advertising for Volvo Cars of North America, discussed Volvo’s recent campaign on MyTown, in which Volvo’s strategy was to “leverage location-based services to deliver Volvo-branded messaging and virtual goods to people checking in to competing dealerships.”

Upon launching the Volvo S60, the Volvo marketing team decided to test virtual goods as a way to build awareness for the new vehicle.

“It was a 30-day campaign from September 1 to September 30,” explained Gangeri. During the 30-day period, 5.3 million Volvo-branded checkins were reached, 1.3 million Volvo-branded virtual goods (including a steering wheel, a wheel, the Volvo iron mark and the S60 vehicle) were delivered, and 20,000 clicks to “See the S60 in Action” were logged, for a click-through rate (CTR) of 1.5%, which is much higher than the CTRs that the rest of the marketing industry is accustomed to.

“It gave us the opportunity to dig deeper, to immerse ourselves in an environment where people are having fun [and are] engaged, and then to take branded items, embed them and expose them to this huge audience of people,” said Gangeri, happy with the results of the campaign.

3. It’s Always About Capitalism

Within social gaming, the virtual goods market is the top revenue driver for social game creators — virtual goods makes up 90% of Zynga’s revenue, for example. Social gamers are willing to buy digital goods in order to improve their positions in the games. This is great for game creators, obviously, as they are technically selling nothing. Users buy fake shovels and tractors to tend to their fake fields. There’s a lot of money in that — the U.S. virtual goods market is predicted to pass $2 billion in 2011.

While the money is certainly there, social gaming and the virtual goods market aren’t always about capitalism. In fact, Syrek mentioned four examples of social good on social gaming platforms:

  • Pet adoptions in YoVille raised $90,000 for SF/SPCA during the spring of 2009.
  • Teddy bear purchases in Mafia Wars raised more than $100,000 for Coalition for the Cure (Huntington’s Disease) in March 2010.
  • The Pandaren Monk pet in World of Warcraft generated $1.1 million in donations for the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
  • To date, Zynga players have raised more than $3 million in connection with social partnerships, the majority of which has been directed to the welfare of women and children in Haiti.

These cases illustrate that social games could be a good route for for-profit or non-profit businesses hoping to raise a little awareness for social good projects.

4. Social Games Are a Fad

Social networking dominates most people’s time spent online, but next in line is online gaming, Nielsen reported in August. Of course, social gaming only accounts for a portion of that sector, but still, the fact that social networking and online gaming dominate online activity is a nod to the growing importance of social gaming.

Syrek pointed to the 2010 PopCap Social Gaming Research Results to validate her argument that social gaming isn’t a fad. The study found that 24% of U.S. and UK Internet users play social games at least once a week, and that most social gamers play other genres of games, including casual and hardcore games.

In another portion of the session, Manny Anekal, director of brand advertising at Zynga, illustrated that users are spending a lot of time playing social games. FarmVille users average a whopping 68 minutes of FarmVille play per day and Mafia Wars users average 52 minutes per day on the game, according to April 2010 Cisco Security Intelligence Operation data, for example. It’s no secret that social games are engaging (and addictive), but who knew users were spending so much time tending to virtual farms and brawls?

While it is admittedly difficult to decide if social gaming is truly a fad or not, data points toward its continued and growing popularity.

What are your thoughts on marketing in social games? Let us know in the comments below.

Reviews: Facebook, Internet, Yoville, zynga poker

More About: Branded Virtual Goods, business, facebook, farmville, frontierville, social game, social games, social gaming, virtual goods, virtual world, Zynga, zynga poker

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Facebook Offers All Page Owners Deeper Analytics

23 Nov

Facebook is expanding analytics once reserved for Pages with more than ten thousand fans.

All Page admins will now be able to see impressions for each of their posts. They’ll also see the feedback rate, or what percentage of time fans “like” or interact with their posts.

Facebook is also making some changes to how monthly active users or MAUs are counted. Instead of users that actively “like” or comment on content, all unique users that see posts will get counted into a Page’s MAUs, which will drive overall numbers up.

Facebook originally introduced these feedback analytics in January to Pages with more than 10,000 fans; they help Page owners understand how much exposure their content is receiving. Impressions are how often a post is rendered in a news feed; it is not how many unique users have seen a post.


Could Facebook Become the Basis for Artificial Intelligence?

16 Nov

The CEO of Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian venture capital firm that invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Facebook, Zynga and Groupon, says that he is a supporter and investor in Facebook partly because he believes the social network could become the basis for artificial intelligence.

During a conversation between DST CEO Yuri Milner and Federated Media CEO John Battelle, the venture capitalist stated that Facebook is the type of company that will fundamentally change the way information is processed. In fact, he said that it could change information to such an extent that it could be the basis for artificial intelligence over time.

Milner says that this process could happen quickly; Facebook could be one of the platforms for artificial intelligence technology in the next 10 years.

We can see why Milner says Facebook and AI are destined to be linked. Facebook is the central nexus of social data and the social graph; it is the online personification of personalities, interests, friendships and more. Eventually we can see companies tapping into Facebook’s API to augment their AI efforts and use that data to link AIs to the rest of the world.

Ten years seems awfully close, though. Then again, as a major investor in Facebook, Milner’s in a unique position to judge the potential of the company.

Reviews: Facebook

More About: digital sky technologies, DST, facebook, venture capital, Zynga

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Facebook’s Gmail Killer, Project Titan, Is Coming On Monday

12 Nov

Back in February we wrote about Facebook’s secret Project Titan — a web-based email client that we hear is unofficially referred to internally as its “Gmail killer”. Now we’ve heard from sources that this is indeed what’s coming on Monday during Facebook’s special event, alongside personal email addresses for users.

This isn’t a big surprise — the event invites Facebook sent out hinted strongly that the news would have something to do with its Inbox, sparking plenty of speculation that the event could be related to Titan. Our understanding is that this is more than just a UI refresh for Facebook’s existing messaging service with POP access tacked on. Rather, Facebook is building a full-fledged webmail client, and while it may only be in early stages come its launch Monday, there’s a huge amount of potential here.

Facebook has the world’s most popular photos product, the most popular events product, and soon will have a very popular local deals product as well.  It can tweak the design of its webmail client to display content from each of these in a seamless fashion (and don’t forget messages from games, or payments via Facebook Credits). And there’s also the social element: Facebook knows who your friends are and how closely you’re connected to them; it can probably do a pretty good job figuring out which personal emails you want to read most and prioritize them accordingly.

Oh, and assuming our sources prove accurate, this explains the timing of the Google/Facebook slap fight over contact information.

We’ll keep digging for more details and will have full coverage on Monday.

Image by Spencereholtaway


Sarah Palin's Facebook page hacked.

29 Oct
From the Daily Beast:

The vertical message that ran down the left side on Glenn Beck's Facebook page the night of October 14 read clear as that evening's sky: "K-E-E-P F-E-A-R A-L-I-V-E." It was a reference to Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive, a gathering organized in faux-competition with this weekend’s Rally to Restore Sanity, headlined by Jon Stewart.

Minutes after the first message appeared, the same letters, in the same order, began turning up on the fan pages of FOX News', Sarah Palin, and hilariously, Justin Bieber. Each letter was displayed in the space where a profile picture would normally be, next to a posted comment. As each Facebook user posted their comments in the right order, the message came to life.

Seeing the unauthorized messages pop up on their feeds, the page administrators began furiously scrubbing the pages. Palin's message lasted almost an hour. Beck's was gone in just one minute.

You know I am not usually a fan of sabotage or hacking people's webpages, but I have to admit THAT is pretty funny!  I think it is especially funny that the professionals working on Beck's page handled the problem in minutes, where as Palin's bunch of amateurs took the better part of an hour.


Does Apple want to buy Facebook?

19 Oct

Peter Kafka at All Things Digital thinks that Steve Jobs might want to buy Facebook. His reasoning is that Jobs, when asked what Apple plans to do with its now $51 billion in cash, said, "We firmly believe that one or more unique strategic opportunities will present itself to us, and we'll be in a position to take advantage of it." Kafka believes that one such "unique strategic" opportunity is called Facebook.

Jobs and Facebook founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg met for dinner the other day. Many presumed that they were discussing Facebook Connect and Ping integration, but what if it were something more, like Apple buying Facebook? Kafka thinks that Apple acquiring Facebook makes sense because Facebook doesn't compete with Apple in any significant way, and Facebook is something that Apple couldn't compete against even if it wanted to. Plus, Facebook is already competing with Google, "which has to make Jobs like it even more," Kafka argues.

What would Apple buying Facebook lead to? Every Facebook user would probably automatically have an iTunes Store account. FaceTime chat could be integrated into Facebook chat, potentially leading to increased sales of iOS devices. If Apple continues down the road of using not only phone numbers, but email addresses and eventually Facebook IDs as designated FaceTime "phone numbers," then 500 million users would already have a FaceTime ID to use when all telephony goes VoIP.

Apple has the cash to buy Facebook outright (Facebook is valued at around US $25-35 billion), but will they? Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg seem to share a lot of traits (not to mention both having had movies made about them), but could two of the most powerful people in tech -- with equally powerful egos -- work together?

Does Apple want to buy Facebook? originally appeared on TUAW on Tue, 19 Oct 2010 09:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Facebook, Twitter and The Two Branches of Social Media [OP-ED]

11 Oct

Two Directions Sign

The Social Analyst is a column by Mashable Co-Editor Ben Parr, where he digs into social media trends and how they are affecting companies in the space.

There’s no disputing that Facebook is the poster child for social networking. It is the platform for building social connections online and keeping up to date with what’s happening in your social circle. It is one of the two most important platforms in social media.

The other one is Twitter. However, if you try to describe Twitter as a “social network” to anyone who works at the company, they’ll quickly correct you. Internally and externally, Twitter describes itself as an “information network.”

What exactly is the difference? And is there one?

People have used the terms “social media” and “social network” almost interchangeably over the years. It’s inaccurate to say that they’re the same thing, though. In fact, I argue that social networking is a branch of social media, and can itself be further broken down into two distinct branches — the social network and the information network.

It’s with this distinction that I attempt to explain the relationship between Facebook and Twitter, and why I believe they are not destined for a clash of the titans. Instead, they represent two different sides of the same coin.

The Difference Between Facebook and Twitter

It’s easy to see why most people think Facebook and Twitter are essentially the same. The core of their experiences focuses around profiles, relationships and a newsfeed. But if you dig a bit deeper, you realize that people use each platform for different purposes.

On Facebook, you’re supposed to connect with close friends. Becoming friends with someone means he or she gets to see your content, but you also get to see his or her content in return. On Twitter, that’s not the case: you choose what information you want to receive, and you have no obligation to follow anybody. Facebook emphasizes profiles and people, while Twitter emphasizes the actual content (in its case, tweets).

The result is that the stream of information is simply different on both services. You’re more likely to talk about personal issues, happy birthday wishes, gossip about a changed Facebook relationship status, and postings about parties on your Facebook News Feed. On Twitter, you’re more likely to find links and news, and you’re more likely to follow brands, news sources and other entities outside of your social graph. In fact, Twitter tells me that one out of every four tweets includes a link to some form of content.

There’s also interesting data from a team of Korean researchers suggesting that information sharing is fundamentally different on Twitter when compared to social networks. Their conclusion was that Twitter has “characteristics of news media” rather than characteristics of a social network.

In other words, Facebook and Twitter are different once you look past their social media roots. Now it’s time to define the difference between a social network and an information network.

Social Networks vs. Information Networks

This may seem obvious, but social networks are about your social networks. Specifically, the focus is on your friends, colleagues and personal connections. They are about sharing personal or professional experiences together. They are about keeping in touch with friends rather than discovering news or content. Facebook, LinkedIn, Bebo, MySpace, hi5 and Orkut clearly fall under the “social networking” branch of social media.

The concept of an information network is a more recent phenomenon. Information networks are about leveraging different networks to distribute and consume information. While they may utilize an array social media tools in order to find, curate or deliver content, they focus less on what’s happening in your social graph and more on information you want. Twitter may be the best example of an information network, but YouTube (video), Flickr (photos) and Digg (news) are information networks as well.

Pretty much every social media platform has aspects of both types of networks, but they tend to fall into one category or the other. I contend that Foursquare is a social network because it utilizes Facebook’s friend model instead of Twitter’s follow model, but you might have a different opinion.

In fact, that may be the biggest differentiating point between social networks and information networks. For the most part, content on Flickr, YouTube or Twitter is public, while content on MySpace, Facebook or Bebo is private. A big reason for that is that the former services utilize the follow or subscription model, while the latter ones utilize the friend model.


I consider this article to be the start, not the end, of an exploration of how we define social media and the services that comprise it. We tend to group Facebook, Twitter and an array of other web tools into one giant pile, when in fact they’re vastly different tools with vastly different applications and uses.

Facebook, with its mutual friend connections and college-exclusive beginnings, is better suited for keeping in touch with friends. For most people, it is indeed a network of your social graph, all in one place. Twitter, on the other hand, is all about the stream of information coming from people and organizations all across the world. That’s why there’s room for both: they simply provide different functions.

If we are to take social media further and further change the world with social technologies, we need to better understand how we use these technologies. The first step is understanding how we as a society currently utilize social networks and information networks in our daily lives. There are many intricacies that underlie social and information networks, most of which we don’t yet understand.

More Social Media Resources from Mashable:

- 5 Fun and Safe Social Networks for Children
- New Facebook Groups Designed to Change the Way You Use Facebook [VIDEO]
- “SNL” Spoofs Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg [VIDEO]
- HOW TO: Customize Your Background for the New Twitter
- Top 10 Twitter Tips for Bands, By Bands

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, ryasick

Reviews: Bebo, Digg, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Hi5, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Twitter, YouTube, iStockphoto

More About: Column, facebook, Information Network, Information Networking, social media, social network, social networking, The Social Analyst, twitter

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