Update 2: Facebook has responded to the privacy concerns with the dashboards: “To ensure that the dashboards meet user and developer expectations for a trustworthy experience, we’re giving developers the ability to hide their applications in the Friends’ Recent Activity, Friends’ Applications, and Friends’ Games sections of the dashboards. We’re also working on giving users the ability to control how their application activity is featured in the dashboards, and it will go live shortly after the dashboards launch to users. “
Update: According to Nick O’Neill at AllFacebook, there is a “slight privacy oversight” (which he also says is “not a minor bug”) that lets users view the latest apps that their friends have been using. He notes that Facebook will probably resolve the issue before full launch.
Original Article: Facebook will be launching the Games Dashboard and the Applications Dashboard in the coming weeks. The company says these will make it easier for users to interact with their apps, and will provide new communication channels from the home page.
“Once launched to users, the dashboards will serve as a personalized destination on Facebook for users to interact with their favorite applications, discover news ones and receive application updates related to recent activity,” a spokesperson for Facebook tells WebProNews. “For developers, the Applications and Games dashboards will provide new opportunities for communication with users, as well as discoverability of their applications.”
On the Facebook Developer Blog, Jordan M. Alperin outlines the following features:
- Recently used applications and games: The top section of the dashboards will prominently display applications that a user has recently interacted with, making it easy to reengage with the applications they use most often. This section will also include a link to a page where users can see all of the applications they have interacted with, whether or not they have been bookmarked.
- News items: Applications will have the ability to display news stories, giving you the ability to communicate with your users and alert them to news related to your application, such as, “It’s your turn in a game against Jared” or “The leaderboard was reset 6 hours ago, come play!” You’ll have the option to set global news items, which will be visible to all users, or personal news items, which target a specific user. The news component will appear as a text field next to each application in the dashboard.
- Mentioning Users: Using simple syntax, you can render users’ names and links to their profiles in news and activities.
- Your Friends’ Recent Activity: The dashboards will display some of the applications that a user’s friends are using along with information about relevant activities within the application. You’ll set these activity stories via the Dashboard API.
- Your Friends Play: Another way we’ll help users discover new applications is by showing them a number of their friends who frequently use applications, and the applications those friends use.
- Directory: The Directory section of the dashboard will show the applications that currently appear in the “Applications You May Like” section of the Application Directory. We will also link to the Application Directory in this section.
- Suggestions: On the right hand side we’ll have a Suggestions area where Facebook will highlight applications we think users might like, based on the applications they and their friends are using.
- Counters and home page placement: “Games” and “Applications” links will appear on users’ home pages and will link to the dashboards, once the new home page launches to users in the coming weeks. Bookmarked applications will also have prominence on the home page, and can be accompanied by Counters that you can set to let users know there are actions for them to take within your applications.
Here is what the Games Dashboard looks like:
Earlier this week, Facebook announced that users can receive notifications from apps in their email. Also, they will phase out updates from apps in the notifications channel on Facebook.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
It’s been a pretty big week for Facebook. Not only is there a lot of talk about Facebook’s potential for becoming the top news source on the web, but the company celebrated its sixth birthday, is passing the 400 million user mark, and began rolling out some new design changes. In addition, the company is said to be rewriting its messaging feature and preparing to launch a webmail product, but first things first.
The Birthday and 400 Million Users
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed it in a blog post last night. “Today we’re celebrating our sixth birthday, and this week there will be 400 million people on Facebook. Just one year ago we served less than half as many people, and thanks to you we’ve made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected.”
“Facebook began six years ago today as a product that my roommates and I built to help people around us connect easily, share information and understand one another better.” he added. “We hoped Facebook would improve people’s lives in important ways. So it’s rewarding to see that as Facebook has grown, people around the world are using the service to share information about events big and small and to stay connected to everyone they care about.”
Facebook hosted a celebration and announced some releases at the Facebook headquarters last night. This was followed by a hackathon where Facebook staff stayed up all night coding and building new ideas for products.
Do you like the direction Facebook’s gone in for the past six years? Let us know.
Facebook announced some new changes to the design of its homepage. Users can find their newest notifications, requests, and messages in the top menu. When a user receives a notification, they will see a red bubble appear in the left-hand corner by the search bar. When the icon is clicked, a drop-down menu appears with the most recent notifications. The Home/Profile links are in the top-right corner with the Account menu, which includes privacy settings and the log out link.
The menu on the left-hand side of the screen has been completely reworked. “The left menu has been organized to make it easier for you to communicate with and discover content from your friends. You can now access your messages and other core features all in one place, to the left of your News Feed,” says Facebook’s Jing Chen. “With the Photos dashboard you can browse recent photos of your friends, and the Events dashboard lists your upcoming events along with events your friends are attending. The Friends dashboard will help you find friends, see which of your friends have recently updated their profiles and filter your News Feed by Friend Lists you may have already created.”
Chat has also been made more prominent with a list of online friends displayed on the left. The new apps and games dashboards, which have been discussed lately, can be accessed from the menu as well. The dashboards feature personalized updates from the apps, and they have launched with new privacy settings.
The changes are still rolling out, so it’s possible that you do not have them yet, but you will soon enough.
What do you think about Facebook’s design changes? Good Move or bad? Tell us what you think.
The Webmail Product
Michael Arrington is reporting that a “source with knowledge of the product” says Facebook is launching a webmail product. If MySpace can do it, surely Facebook can too. It’s being referred to right now as “Project Titan”, although the name will likely change.
Facebook’s messages as they stand right now, lend to email notifications. When you check your email, you find that someone has sent you a message on Facebook. If Facebook gets you using its own email service, it’s cutting out the middle man, and that means…you guessed it – more time spent on Facebook.
Would you use Facebook for email if they offered a full webmail product? Tell us why or why not.
Facebook As the Web’s Top News Source?
I’ve already written on this topic this week, but basically, the more time people spend on Facebook, the more convenient they may find it to simply get their news feeds there. If Facebook enters the email game, that’s only going to get people using Facebook that much more, and even open up yet another way for them to get their news on Facebook, through email newsletters and news alerts.
Do you see people increasingly getting their news on Facebook? Share you thoughts.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
I have a question for you. Where do you get the majority of your online news? Is it from a feed reader? Is it from Twitter? Is it from Google News? Yahoo News? Do you spend your time simply checking specific news publications? There is talk that Facebook could become the number one place online for people to get their news.
Here’s one for discussion. Facebook users can set up a news list, which will aggregate stories from different news sources who publish their stories to their Facebook pages. All a user has to do is be a fan of that page. Would this be any different than other news aggregators linking to stories? If a news source is willingly putting up a Facebook page with its stories, wouldn’t that be the exact opposite of the argument against aggregators using content? Facebook serves its own ads too. Both the Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press have Facebook pages (hopefully they don’t mind me linking to them).
Sure, these publications have control over just what content actually appears on these pages. It’s a bit different than Google or another news aggregator simply crawling the content, but how different is it really? The publications also have the power to block the aggregators. Is there a double standard?
Regardless of that debate, users are increasingly flocking to Facebook to get their news (news is also one of the most popular reasons for using Twitter by the way). The reason Facebook could be the biggest news source is that it has a massive user base – way bigger than Twitter’s, and for all intents and purposes, it operates the same way when it comes to news (albeit, with room for more text in each update).
According to research from competitive intelligence agency Experian Hiwise, 3.52% of upstream visits to News and Media websites came from Facebook last week (that’s compared to 1.39% from Google News.
“Facebook was the #4 source of visits to News and Media sites last week, after Google, Yahoo! and msn. News and Media is the #11 downstream industry after Facebook, receiving 3.69% of the social networking site’s traffic,” says Experian Hitwise’s Heather Hopkins. “To offer a comparison, 6% of downstream traffic from Facebook went to Shopping and Classifieds last week and 6% to Business and Finance and 15% went to Entertainment websites (YouTube in particular).”
“Facebook could be a major disruptor to the News and Media category,” she adds. “And with the Wall Street Journal already publishing content to Facebook, perhaps the social network can avoid the run-ins that Google has suffered recently with Rupert Murdoch.”
Lately Facebook has been encouraging users to set up news lists. They want to be your news source. “You can even create a ‘News’ list to filter news-oriented Pages into one view on your News Feed,” noted Facebook’s Malorie Lucich on the company blog. “Simply add relevant Pages to the list, just as you would with a friends list. The next time you sign on to Facebook, you can click the ‘News’ filter to see stories from all of the news outlets of which you’ve become a fan.”
“In addition to reading news on Facebook, you can share news with your friends on external sites with Facebook Connect,” says Lurich. “Outlets like The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, USA Today and countless blogs have become more social by adding Facebook Connect to their websites and iPhone applications. You can sign in with your Facebook login to see what articles your friends are reading and comment on articles with your authentic identity.”
Facebook has a huge advantage for being the go-to place for news. Everybody is already there, and they’re spending more and more time there checking their feeds, messing with apps, sharing their own updates, etc. If their news-news (Facebook refers to highlights from friend updates as the “news feed”) is right in their feed, they’re going to see articles frequently and get their news there almost inadvertently at times. Plus, if they set up an actual news list like Facebook wants them to, it’s only a click away, and suddenly the average user gets to enjoy the same kind of functionality that users of RSS feed readers have been enjoying for years (they never quite made it to the mainstream did they?).
Do you use Facebook to get news? Can you see it becoming the most widely used platform for online news?
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Friday, February 5, 2010
LinkedIn has opened up its platform to developers. It can be accessed at developer.linkedin.com.
“Over fifty million users entrust their professional identities and relationships with LinkedIn, helping build LinkedIn into the largest global professional network today,” says LinkedIn’ Adam Nash. “However, professionals around the world use a wide variety of applications and Web sites to get their work done, and they have spoken loud and clear that they want the ability to leverage their professional networks wherever they work.”
Now developers can integrate LinkedIn into their business applications. LinkedIn’s developer site has APIs and widgets.
“Over the past months, LinkedIn has supported integrations with some of the most prominent and critical software applications in the enterprise,” says Nash. “Partnerships with companies like IBM, Blackberry (Research in Motion), and most recently Microsoft, have given us time to invest in both functionality and scalability of the platform.”
Developers interested in using LinkedIn in their apps need only fill out a form at the site. The LinkedIn platform leverages the open OAuth standard, so integrations should be that much more simple.
On a related note, Twitter client TweetDeck is already utilzing the LinkedIn platform. They just announced that you can view or take action on your LinkedIn network updates from within the TweetDeck application.
It should be interesting to see the kinds of apps that start taking advantage of LinkedIn’s APIs. This could turn out to be a very significant event for increasing business networking, and even matching prospective job candidates with jobs.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Twitter is of course in the process of rolling out a new retweet feature. The feature adds a retweet button to each tweet on your timeline, much like the “reply” button that has always been there. However, one distinct difference between these two buttons is that where the reply button fills out your form with the proper information (”@username”), the retweet button sends the initial tweet to your followers’ timelines without giving you your own tweet.
Do you prefer the old way of retweeting or the new way? Share your thoughts here.
In other words, you don’t get to add anything to it, you’re just duplicating a tweet that came to you and sending it to your followers. You’re forwarding it.
There are things to like about the feature. For one it’s more convenient if you just want to pass on an interesting tweet. If you’re the one being retweeted, it puts you in the spotlight in other people’s streams rather than the person who retweeted you. It kind of feels like you’re getting more credit for your tweets, although if you are just tweeting a link to someone else’s blog post that might not necessarily come off as a positive. Twitter CEO Evan Williams put up an interesting blog post last week defending the feature before it even had much of a chance to get torn apart by users. He knew it would be controversial, and he even acknowledged that fact.
As happens when any heavily-used site makes changes, some people get upset about it. Lisa Barone at outSpoken Media made a list of “things that suck” about the new retweet feature, and she brings up a number of good points, but her biggest peeve seems to be that of the avatars of people she doesn’t know showing up in her stream.
“Showing the unfamiliar avatar does not give me ‘more context’ for the tweet. It gives me less because I don’t know this individual,” she says. “If I were to see Rae’s avatar, I’d know to trust the content. I’d know it already passed the snuff test. When I see someone else’s avatar, I’m thrown off and confused. Will I get used to it? No, I’ll simply learn to ignore things from people I don’t know.”
She has a valid point in that seeing unfamiliar faces can be a bit off-putting, but aren’t the retweets still passing the “snuff test” since they are still being retweeted by people you follow? It’s not like these “strangers” are actually coming in and spamming us. It’s just a visually different way of presenting them. Whether or not we like that is one thing, but it’s a retweet from someone we’re following just as it was before in this regard. A great many Twitter users probably don’t even recognize half of the people they follow anyway.
That said, there are a number of other issues with the feature, as Barone points out. Some of the ones she touches on are:
- Can’t add own commentary (what if you don’t agree with what you’re retweeting?)
- Plays down user’s visibility in own network
- Changes the definition of retweeting (makes it more like a Facebook “like”)
The feature is still in limited beta testing, so regardless of what you feel about the feature, there is a possibility it will change. Even still, if you don’t like the feature, you don’t have to use it. You can still use the classic “RT” method just as you have always done. You just have a new option now. Depending on how many of the people you follow use the new feature, your Twitter experience can be affected more or less by it.
Are you getting the new retweet feature yet? What is your opinion? What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it. Tell WebProNews readers what you think about it.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
All of the search engines are rushing to incorporate more social media elements into their interfaces. Examples of this are evident in things like Google and Bing’s deals with Twitter and Facebook. You can see it in Yahoo’s new Twitter tab for news results. You can see it in Google’s Social Search lab. Really you can see it in everyday search results.
Do you consider a social presence an important element to your search campaign? Discuss here.
A lot of Internet users spend a great deal of their time socializing or using social media sites in one way or another, whether that is to connect with others or simply to obtain information. Information is a key component of social media that often takes a backseat to communication in discussion of social media tools.
The fact of the matter is that more and more people are getting more and more of their information from social sites. That could be in the form of following a news publication on Twitter, following company updates on a blog or a Facebook page, or something as simple as a friend sharing a link.
Given that people are getting more info from social media sites, of course search engines want a piece of that, because their whole reason for existence is naturally to help users find what they are looking for on the web.
So, it stands to reason that if you want people to find information that you are producing, it can help a great deal to publish information and participate in conversations on social media sites. Never mind that users of those particular sites will have access to it. The general public will as well by way of search, regardless of whether or not they are a part of any particular community.
In an interview with WebProNews, Vanessa Fox, who used to work for Google, talked about reasons that businesses should be thinking about social media with regards to search. It’s about visibility. If you are having discussions out there about relevant topics, they could appear in search results not only in real-time search, but further down the road as well.
In other words, if you have a conversation with a peer on Twitter about some topic related to your niche, there is a good chance the resulting tweets of that conversation could appear in search results for that topic on Google, even a year from now, if that tweet happens to be relevant enough. That’s just an example (note: it’s hard to say at this point, just how tweets will impact search once the Google-Twitter deal starts showing results).
There are a variety of ways in which a social campaign can contribute to your performance in search engines, regardless of what these recent deals might produce. Like Lee Odden of Top Rank Online Marketing recently discussed with WebProNews, you can optimize your social content.
The web went blog crazy a few years back. Marketers found out that blogs were great for achieving search engine visibility because of the content and links that can come from them. It’s not that different with social media now. The web has largely moved into a social media-heavy phase, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Search engines obviously know this and care about it.
As Fox says in her interview, it’s getting to the point where more businesses are starting to realize that they need to be involved with social media. However, surveys still frequently suggest that many are reluctant, and even if they do engage to some extent, they are still holding back, and not reaching the potential they could be.
You know search is important to marketing on the web. Really, it’s important to marketing, period. If you operate on the web or off, your customers are on still online, as Fox noted. Social media is growing increasingly important to search. And search is only one aspect of online marketing. There are many more benefits to social media than that.
How important is social media to search? Share your thoughts.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
The “virtual fifth label” is now friends with MySpace. Merlin, an organization that represents independent music companies, is supposed to have signed a deal with the social network that should nicely complement MySpace’s existing partnerships with EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner.
Merlin’s association with indie artists and late arrival to the music scene (it launched in January of 2007) set it apart from the so-called Big Four. Just the same, Merlin’s a major force, with members in more than 25 countries, and names like Cat Power, Tom Waits, and The White Stripes linked with it.
So it’s quite noteworthy that, according to Andrew Orlowski, a Merlin spokesman stated, “After more than a year of negotiations, MySpace Music has finally offered Merlin a deal that is acceptable to its members, members who represent 10% of the global music market.”
What’s more, “The same eligibility and level of participation will be offered to all independent labels licensing content to MySpace Music.”
Of course, the details of the arrangement haven’t yet been made public, which leaves a lot of questions unanswered. But it looks like MySpace, which acquired Imeem just yesterday and launched MySpace Music Charts the day before, is really on a roll on the music front.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
Euro RSCG released some interesting findings from a study exploring the different ways Americans are using social media to “redefine their lives.” The study looked at 1,228 social media users in the United States.
“Word of mouth has always been the most powerful marketing tool; what social media has done is dramatically increase the scale, velocity and immediacy with which people can influence each other and create the biggest revolution to hit our industry since television,” said David Jones, global CEO of Euro RSCG. “One of the interesting findings of the study is that it’s the combination of online and offline experiences that creates the biggest impact.”
Other findings include:
- Even though 53.5% of respondents have met new people through electronic media, face-to-face interaction is still the “gold standard”
- Consumers are engaging more in multi-way exchanges of ideas and opinions among consumers and brands
- Consumers are not only move involved with family and friends, but they have increased involvement in political and humanitarian issues.
- 40% agree that social groupings online can be truly social, while only 14% disagree. According to Euro RSCG, figures varied little across age, gender, ethnic, or income groups.
“Online social networking has become part of our culture so quickly, it’s easy to forget just how new it is and how much it’s a work in progress. People are still experimenting with the different options and finding ways to make it part of their life,” said Marian Salzman, president of Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America. “Forget the images of sad antisocial types. Smart consumers are mixing and matching the tools that come available to meet their social needs. Electronic tools are making them even more socially active, just as the telephone did back in the day.”
Perhaps more interesting than the statistics provided by the firm, are the key takeaways it cites. This includes things like the fact that social media is an important consideration for any communications strategy, and the fact that it’s impossible to predict how bits of communication will spread across social media.
The firm also says that even though the web is world-wide, its emerging power is hyperlocal. This is because this is the space where online and offline most often meet. That is a key reason why businesses, particularly local businesses should not ignore social media.
Posted by R.W. Casandra Date: Monday, November 23, 2009
uSocial is a controversial advertising company that specializes in social media. For a fee, it promises to get stories on the front page of Digg, direct followers to a Twitter account, and/or find someone Facebook fans (among other things). But Facebook’s put at least a temporary stop to the sale of friends.
The BBC reported this afternoon, “Facebook sent Cease and Desist letters to USocial claiming that the way the marketing firm operates violates its rights by sending spam, using web tools to harvest pages, getting login names and by accessing accounts that did not belong to the marketing firm.”
As a result, “USocial defended itself against Facebook’s claims, saying that it did not spam users or use web tools to gather information about profiles. . . . However, in response to the legal letters, USocial said it would delete the login information it had collected and broadly stop offering to sell Facebook friends.”
This is an interesting development insofar as, three months ago, Twitter also tried to crack down on uSocial. Its back-channel methods apparently didn’t succeed, but now that Facebook’s established a precedent, we might see another attempt. Delicious, Digg, and Reddit could well join the fight, too.
Of course, the hubbub around such a scuffle would act as free advertising for uSocial and might spread the notion that these social media sites can be gamed, so it’s also possible that absolutely nothing will occur.