Facebook Success Stories

For all the bad press that Facebook gets in the main stream media I was happy to come across a positive story from the BBC last week in conjunction with the social networks 5th birthday.

With all the stories about gangs, bullying, adultery it is nice to come across a story which celebrates the true value of social media, connecting people.

The BBC has picked out 3 Facebook success stories which show the true power of social media and social networks for connecting people who cant be together or have lost touch.

Read the full article here

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Its started again.  No sooner has a new social media tool hit the headlines the rumours are out about acquisition, merger, and how the latest social phenomenon is going to destroy the competition in one way or another.

Im obviously talking about twitter, the latest social tool to be all the range in the digital world, and big news in the mainstream media as well.  I expect the purchase rumours, twitter needs it if it is going to stay ahead of the game and solve its infrastructure issues.  But it seems every second article I read now is about why twitter is going to replace Facebook, or why it is the tool to end the search engines dominance online, but I am not really buying it.

I use twitter, I am on Facebook, I use Google and pretty much any other online tool of any great use as well, and I can safely say, no one of those which I use has reduced the amount I use the others or replaced them in any way.  I use Google for my search activity (or live search if I get bored), I catch up with old and distant friends on Facebook, and us twitter for industry news and general commentary on life.  So why does everyone want to merge them, compare them, or pit them against each other in a social media/online battle?

Fresh Egg ponders whether twitter might take business away from Google, techcrunch taks about Facebook stealing twitters market (although suggesting it isn’t likely) and many other bloggers and social commentators debate why and who twitter is going to replace.  Can they all not co-exist on their own merits without the desire to imitate, acquire or destroy one another?  Or is it just a symptom of the evolving social world we live in where every new venture is set to be bought by one of the more established players?

Social Networking Site LinkedIn Cuts 10% staff

Despite receiving and additional £14.3 M in VC funding last month LinkedIn has announced is will be axing 36 roles, 10% of its workforce. A move which could be an indication the social networking site for business people has hit troubled times.

There’s always a quetions mark with social networking sites and social media solutions on the whole about how their revenues model is going to work, is it a straight CPM advertising model? do you charge for membership? Or do you use some sort of combination of the two? LinkedIn seem to have a good balance for me, with display advertising shown throughout the site (the attraction to advertisers being the ability to target business types) and then supplementary services such as a job board which charges for listing vacancies.  It may be that LinkedIn is just not growing as expected and so cutbacks are necessary to hit profit targets, or it could be something more severe.

The original dot com crash was caused by people investing large amounts in projects without a solid revenue model and there has been instances which are reminiscent of this recently surrounding social media (think Microsoft’s $240 M payment for 1.6% stake in facebook).  Given the current economic climate I cant see many investments of this size in the coming months and I would hazard a guess that a few people are regretting previous investments a little, but whether we are set for dot com crash 2.0 only time will tell.

Mobile Social Networking – is it the future?

If you read the digital press and Internet related news sites you will notice that the perceived future of social networking is mobile.  Both Myspace and Facebook have mobile sites which are essentially a stripped down version of the web interface.  But is this what constitutes the future of social media on the web?  Or is it something more?

At a recent seminar I attended on mobile marketing the general message portrayed by the speaker was don’t just regurgatate your website for mobile, think about people will want to use the mobile site for and provide that.  Facebook have done this to a certain degree by stripping back their main website and providing a simplified mobile interface where the most prominent feature is the profile update.  This is fine, but I cant help thinking that it doesn’t really play utilise the benefits of mobile  to make it something more.

Social networking plays into the hands of mobile phones and mobile Internet by its very nature.  Social networks are a communication tool, a tool used to connect with friends and like minded people, as are mobile phones.  But there is a huge difference to the PC based world wide web, and mobile web, and so the networks which are going to be successful need to be adapted to suit the world of mobile Internet.

Gigaom are dubious about the possibility of a social network existing purely on mobile alone quoting the example of Rabble who started as a mobile only social network and are now making strides by partnering with existing web based networks and enabling them to go mobile.

Information Week are a little more confident stating mobile social networks as an untapped market ripe for the picking.  they do however raise questions about the most appropriate monetisation model as standard advertising models don’t really suit.

So why should it work?  Here are some of the main arguments why mobile social networking should work:

Communication tools: as mentioned above, both elements are communication tools, so combined they should compliment each other.

Simplicity: the mobile web is tough to get right, but the simplicity of some key elements of social networking can bypass this if done correctly.  For example Facebook status updates are regularly done via mobile and twitter is also a big player in mobile social.

Growth in Mobile Internet:mobile Internet usage is growing as charges come down and handsets advance.  This makes the potential for those that can get it right even greater.

Reach of Mobile: I don’t know anyone who doesn’t own a mobile, that means everyone is a potential user!

And now for the converse; what are the barriers to it being the next big thing?:

Mobile Internet Usage: although growing, this still isn’t great.  For years now mobile Internet and more specifically mobile advertising has been the "next big thing" but but has never really materialised.

Handset Limitations: Linked to the need for simplicity, lets face it, viewing web pages on a handset just isn’t that good.  navigation is difficult and page load is slow, so anything that is going to take off, is going to have to be simple and compatible.

Revenue models:  Mobile advertising to date, doesn’t really work, so CPM based revenue models are out.  Subscription models could work, but you would need ot give people a pretty good reason to sign up.  Without the two obvious options it is going to take some out of the box thinking to monetise any network which does break down the initial barriers.

I’m sure there are more why’s and why not’s which I could come up with given more time.  Do I think mobile social networking is the next big thing…maybe.  I can see it working, but not in its current form, and as for it working as a stand alone network with no web presence, I’m even less sure about that.  Ill have to give it more thought before writing the business plan to take over the mobile social networking world ; )

Facebook: what does your profile picture say about you?

Cosmopolitan has commissioned a survey and asked social psychologist Dr Asi Sharabi to interpret a selection of Facebook profile pictures and tell us what common profile picture themes tell us about the person in question.  And here are the results:

POUTING: Presenting such a provocative, sensual symbol indicates someone who wishes to be acknowledged in a sexual way – seeking intimacy or a partner. It could also indicate being a very tactile person

WITH AN ANIMAL: A person who displays themselves as capable of caring and nurturing, indicating need of an outlet for these tendencies and a broody nature.

DANCING: To display yourself on display, so to speak, is the ultimate invitation to be watched. Those who show themselves dancing are likely to be strongly extrovert. Additionally, in Western Culture, dancing has strong connotations toward leisure and freedom, denoting a hedonistic, pleasure-seeking streak.

WITH A BOYFRIEND: A popular picture type with serial monogamists, and signifies searching for a deeper or more committed relationship.

WITH A GUY (NOT BOYFRIEND): As well as a simple flirtatious contact, a picture with a potentially ambiguous meaning shows a love of creating stories, and playing games with the social fabric. In short, one who thrives on gossip.

DOING AN ACTIVITY: This is someone who identifies with their abilities and experiences rather than emotions or relationships. It may also indicate an unwillingness to commit or settle down.

ON HOLIDAY: Those who identify themselves with a carefree holiday may have a tendency to over-stress in their everyday lives. This could also indicate escapist fantasies or a dreamer disposition.

LOOKING AWAY FROM CAMERA: An unwillingness to be caught and posed in the conventional way is indicative of someone headstrong and confident in their approach to life.

NIGHT OUT/FANCY DRESS: This image represents the social, extroverted aspects of a personality; denoting that they value confidence and attention highly.

Just one missing from the list for me, the one where the picture is taken from the best possible angle making the person look 200% more attractive/slim/muscular than they actually are in real life! God knows Ive seen a few of those knocking around Facebook!