Categories
Business Technology

Just how bad is Facebook at programming?

Cute picture of my son today.  Huge smile as he looked through a Holy Crepe.  He had eaten out some of it and looked to the camera; cute as ever.  Gotta have this as my profile picture.  Facebook profile, upload picture, wait….wait….wait some more.  Finally it uploads.    Sometimes it doesn’t of course.  Go to Twitter.   Same objective.  But hey, it magically shows me a preview of the picture instantly.   And wow, I can even crop it to the part most relevant to a profile picture.   Must be rocket science.  The boffs at Facebook haven’t figured it out.   Some ultra secret patented method Twitter is using…  The picture even uploads faster at Twitter!  Must be they have more money for better servers…

Or Facebook is simply terrible at designing their infrastructure.  And no, it’s not about the scale of the exercise.   Facebook has always been a terrible platform.  Sure, we don’t get as many major hiccups anymore, but does anyone there even bother to test the user experience?   Tech journalists and social media pundits have a field day with every major overhaul.   Facebook cause pages are created demanding we change back.   Plug ins appear to make it “look like the good old Facebook”.   They never work.

Because Mark Zuckerberg is still carrying the mentality he had when he started.   He is more concerned with the people gaming his system than the experience of the rest of the users.

Here is a simple example.   Accepting friend requests.   You may never even consider this if you get 1 or 2 per day.  But anyone building up fake profiles and trying to amass a lot of Facebook ‘friends’ might have two or three hundred friend request to accept.  No, there is no “accept all” button.  Because Mark, knows some people will abuse it.   If you really are a popular person, just starting on Facebook and you have 250 friend requests, you have to click them one by one.   And of course the buttons aren’t at the same place.  No, that would be to easy to get an automated script monkey on to.   As you accept one friend request, it morphs into something else so you have to physically scroll to the next right position of  “Accept”.

There are dozens of examples like this.  Most people with just one genuine personal account, will not even notice them.  What they will notice and what we all experience daily is just a really really bad user interface.   They build little hoops for cheats but penalise everybody else while they are at it.    The fact that it has never been done in this scale and that it has to serve billions of very different customers is no excuse;  many of the niggles I have with Facebook are due to the fact that Zuckerberg is obsessed with people that are as sneaky thinking as him.  And he can’t think of clever algorithmic ways to get over it.   In a sense, Edgerank is this magic ingredient.   And all the recent changes are a move in the right direction.

Now let’s hope Edgerank gets good enough so that Zuckerberg relaxes the stupid interface hoops some more.  You can now accept hundreds of friend requests from the left button directly which is faster.  When I see an “accept all” button I will know Facebook has finally got a real and stable business model.

Categories
Communication

20 Social Media Statistics (which are completely imprecise and stupid)

Email going around with the following disinformation:  (In italics my responses.)

“These figures reveal the huge black hole that our time disappears into when we visit Facebook, Twitter or YouTube or other social media sites.

  1. One in every nine people on Earth is on Facebook ( This number is calculated by dividing the planets 6.94 billion people by Facebook’s 750 million users)   No they are not!   About 1 in 5 Facebook “people” is in fact a company or something else other than a real homo sapiens.
  2. People spend 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.    No they don’t!  Much like television, there is no way to measure when they are spending time on Facebook or watching television while the laptop has Facebook open in some browser window.
  3. Each Facebook user spends on average 15 hours and 33 minutes a month on the site.   No way of knowing!
  4. More than 250 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices.   And what a horrible user experience that is!   What exactly are they doing other than checking up in case ‘something happened’?
  5. More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook.   More than 2 million of those are completely automated through various other platforms which are also ‘integrated’ with loads of other services – it doesn’t mean anything.
  6. 30 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook each month.  And by category that would be…extremely interesting information as opposed to this!  How much is video, how many original posts, how much news, etc.
  7. 300,000 users helped translate Facebook into 70 languages. Yeah right.   It is the beginning of a new type of democracy I presume too…
  8. People on Facebook install 20 million “Apps” every day.  And then never use them again most of the time!
  9. 190 million average  Tweets per day occur on Twitter (May 2011)  Of which most are highly concentrated by region, profession and other demographics which make them a pretty unrepresentative bunch in most countries.
  10. Twitter is handling 1.6 billion queries per day.  And their servers overload on average how many times a day?
  11. Twitter is adding nearly 500,000 users a day.   Rubbish.  Many. Twitter users never actually interact with their Twitter account again.
  12. Google+ has more than 25 million users.  Google+ has as many users as Google wants.   They can just turn all Gmail users into G+ users without asking them, or force you to have G+ to access Google Maps or…many other typically Google “here’s something for “free” approach’…
I skipped the other 8 about YouTube which were fairly accurate (so boring!).   Is it just me or are we experiencing a wave of social media…media mania?
Categories
Business

Hello, pleased to meet you. Facebook can ruin your business.

While most of the media tries to convince business people that they should all run to use social media asap, I beg to differ.   The step is simply too big, especially for market leaders.   You make a business page for your company, brand or product?   I will use it against you!   What you have effectively done is made a media channel with all your customers for anyone to use!

Sure you could lock down the wall, but then “that’s not very social media”.   You can monitor the wall 24/7/365 but  if you take an offensive post down you might get a consumer backlash for “censorship” and “that’s not very social media”.   Despite being an early proponent of social media in business I think you really need to define your targets and then look even more carefully at potential risks.   I am not the only person being hired to ruin companies and brands through social media.

It sort of gives a different ring to the term “viral”.   You know that kitch email chain letter you received?   Well, chances are it started from someone out to hit a competitor’s market share.   It is just much easier to knock off 5% of sales from a competitor than to get a 5% increase yourself.

So yes, you need to watch what is happening in social media.   As traditional media crumbles, these are exciting times for anybody in the business of communication.   And yes, you might find that many new tools are really cost effective.   But they have far reaching implications to your organization’s structure and inner workings.   Which don’t always make business sense.   I have tried to change companies through their communication and it doesn’t work easily, especially when top management doesn’t change first in a very public way.   It is like trying to change a company through it’s IT infrastructure.

As we all talk about leaving hierarchical structures behind and how media is becoming decentralised, it is useful to remind ourselves that most companies are still very hierarchical and centralised.   And for good reason.

Several articles on this topic are available on my Greek blog – and the Branding Intelligence blog (also here).

P.S. Some people have arrived at this post through extremely narrowly targeted Facebook ads; don’t worry, you are the only one that saw that provocative material  and as soon as I see you have clicked through I will take it down… ; )

Categories
Technology

How social networks are improving the whole software industry

Few people realize how important the Google Plus “Real names”policy really is.   Maybe it’s just me having spent so much energy taking advantage of Facebook’s completely chaotic structure over the past years.  Sure, it ran contrary to most Facebook official policies but any business person would be an idiot not too.  What?   You can see all the ‘friends’ of your competitors’ fan page. That is often their customer list.  Damn sure I will take them even it has to be done one by one manually from a user profile.   Facebook has plugged the holes over time but Google Plus in comparison feels like a straight jacket from it’s beginning.   No free lunches here.

So point No1:  1. How strict and honest a social network is.

And then today everyone is talking about the “new” Facebook, changing their profiles to “look slick”.   Looks like a waste of prime screen real estate to me.   Hello?  Most people are still on 768 pixel vertical resolution you know…that big picture takes almost all of it up!   And these new fangled timeline adjustments of course will fly over the head of most users who have started whining about the “great old interface” as usual…  Point 2. Simplicity

It sort of reminds me of the WordPress vs Tumblr debate.   Users get used to something simple and figure out how to work around it.   Hash tags and loads of third party developers built the ecosystem that works for million of users.   Then  Twitter added photos, then comes video and…before you know it we have another Facebook like experience on our hands.   And then we will need complex settings and choices explained to get it to do what we want it to.  How our privacy is controlled.   Who sees what.   Point No3 is Control.

As anyone who has worked in the software industry knows, there is no perfect interface.   Every user wants something different and it will depend on their experience, background and …well…their mood really!   Your energy levels at different points in the day even.   What Facebook and Google are getting better at is getting the interface to morph constantly using intelligence, a little user input and a whole lot of bravado.   It takes balls to change a user interface, especially when you are a market leader with everything to lose.   But Facebook is right to do it now while it is still a virtual monopoly.

As users switch from software to online applications and from computers to smartphones, a lot of the old “big boys” in software better pay attention…  HP, if you really want to get into software, don’t go chasing the SAP business model…

 

Categories
Business

Social media: turning useful employees into mindless gossip peddlers?

That does it.   Another major Greek corporation inviting all employess to a briefing on social media.   Not “legal issues concerning what you can and can’t write online about the company”.    Not “ten useful things you need to know about how best to integrate social media in your life.”   But “how and why you should spend more time doing marketing for the company doing social media instead of your normal job.”

No two ways around it.   We used to split people within a company to those that faced the customers and those that didn’t.   There are good reasons for this.   Not everyone is good at communication.   Corporate communication is more complicated than private chat.   You need to take into account many more factors and weight them with much more care.   Yet time and time again in the past year I see companies wanting to “enable” all their employees to speak on behalf of the company.   Marketing departments are shrinking and the extra work is going to …everyone!

So Mr Joe from engineering is sitting in a seminar about social media.  His personal facebook page and all 120 friends used to seeing his favourites on youtube, views on politics and photos from his holidays now get a …company press release?  “Hey everybody, my company has a new facebook page, please press ‘like’ immediately!”   This may sound stupid but how far away is it from what is actually happening?

I sometimes have difficulty switching from one project to another.   Especially in the early stages of a job when I have to immerse myself in their world completely in order to discover that best path which they haven’t seen yet.   Like an actor’s studio method I have to become one with the marketing people, management and the customer.   But this is my job and I have developed ways to deal with it.   Your employees haven’t.

If your company has vision, strategy and everything else they keep going on about in these fashionable social media seminars then it wouldn’t need to train everyone in how to use them.    If we all understand the company’s vision, it permeates what we are and what we do.   It will wash through to what employees communicate about on facebook or twitter like it does when they chat to neighboors around the barbeque.   You don’t need to do something special.   Asking them to take on communication tasks carries the most serious risk of them losing focus of what you really hired them to do.   Your entire team can fall apart.   Publicly, on social media!

Categories
Communication

Measuring digital influence: the silly and the science

“The most influential people online” says the tagline for WebIt, an upcoming “Digital and IT event” (vague terms as nobody is sure anymore!)   The idea isn’t new; a similar scheme had played out with the Influence Project some time ago.   These sort of efforts are of course plagued with massive methodological problems.

Obviously anybody that starts first has a great advantage, particularly in countries where the online influencers are fewer and it just takes one mention to tell everyone.   Furthermore, social media professionals tend to check each other out all the time, so whichever one of these happens to get their link out first gets everyone else under “their” pyramid.

An added problem is the incentive.   Some people may consider a free flight to Bulgaria a bonus, others a punishment.   In any case many top influencers will not bother.   So we are back to square one, possibly with a few new ideas about who is around in each country, looking for more reliable ways to measure influence.   Of course, this is a job for professionals, like Qualia who monitor all media and even do sentiment analysis on it.   They have also started doing what is more interesting and easy to understand, which is to look at specific topics or incidents.  (Check them out in the “blog” section of their website.)

Influence is a complicated matter but taking the more specific approach is probably closer to the “true” nature of things.   Oh, and don’t forget to click here if you want to measure your influence the cheap and cheerful way… ; )

Categories
Communication Technology

Why Google wants to stop me blogging

If you are posting original content on Facebook or Twitter, you’re stupid.  No polite way to put it.   You’re an idiot.   Every day I see great thoughts, photos and other inspiring original content posted on Facebook and it makes me cringe.   It is like cooking an interesting organic and original meal and then giving it away to McDonald’s to sell for you.   It is also inexcusable because there are so many easy ways around it.

When blogging started it was just that.   Blogging.   Horrible aesthetics for web logs= very rough diary like things.   But now you have Tumblr and all sorts of prettier choices.   You can put your stuff in your website and then get it to automatically update Facebook, Twitter or almost anything else you want.   But you control the environment in which your content lives and breathes.   You organise it as you want it presented, not as Facebook deems best in its latest incarnation.

Yeah, even those witty one liners you are posting on Twitter.   Post them in your world and then think where you are distributing them.

There is however a larger picture on this issue.   And that is that even Google is keen to stop you blogging.   The demise of the blogger.com platform is intentional.   Because if you are controlling a “castle” of a blog with all your information and all it’s unique traffic, they can’t make money out of it as easily.   You might even start to want to sell banners yourself!  Facebook and Google+ or Twitter are in effect using you as slave journalists and content producers.   They make the interface and the media chanel, you provide the content.   Sure, loads of it is rubbish, but even rubbish provides really useful data about how you, and your friends, think.   What they like, what they shop, where they go.

Blogger isn’t one of Google’s failures.   It was useful when it started and now it is purposely being winded down.   They don’t completely cancel the service as it provides useful information.   And WordPress would simply be too powerful if left unchecked.    But now they want most of you to start working for them for free on Google+…

 

Categories
Business Communication

Personal Communications Advisor: better than golf

Yes, yet another acronym.   I am now officially a PE.C.A.   I coined the term because it is going to become a popular profession.   Not for me personally.   I only got involved and am developing the know how in order to assist corporate clients.   The problem is that the personal branding of their top brass is important.   Really important.   And they have no clue how to properly use their social media.

Top CEO easily accessible via Facebook?   Not a good idea.   His or her personal information available?   Most high flying execs have no idea just where and how the stuff they post online might be accessible.   So, most of them avoid it all together.   Also not a good idea for many.   (Depends what business you are in and what your overall company communications plan is.)

So, they need to be online, trendy and creating buzz but aren’t sure what exactly the latest Google, Facebook or LinkedIn policy change means.  In comes the PE.C.A.!   Setting targets, measuring results, checking what the reactions are.   Somebody has to be online to check that a storm isn’t brewing.   The CEO isn’t going to be signing in every five minutes…

For many up and coming entrepreneurs or other business people social media is a valuable way of getting up in life in terms of connections.   I was once advised to take up golf in order to meet “the right people”.   Unfortunately it is true that many a major business deal has taken place between swings.   (And – in my experience – this nonchalance often leads to catastrophic results.)  But by projecting the right message, the CEO can get the equivelant of golfing contacts online.

Take your best swing!