When someone mentions being sociable on the web, most times you immediately think of things like Facebook, Twitter and maybe even Foursquared. What you don’t think of in that phrase, is Google. Or any iteration of a social site under their domain. Signs lately however, point to the possibility of that changing in the future.
Google made a bit of a mis-step in the public arena already, what with their bummbled release of Buzz, what with making everyones information public to their email list. But in following the trends, Google has been dumping cash into Zynga, the creators of Farmville etc, in the neighborhood of $100 million.
If the hype is to be believed, Big G is working on another step into the social arena, perhaps this time on the gaming front. Farmville, Mafiawars, etc have huge followings within Facebook. Farmville alone has upwards of 60 million players in their portfolio, and it’s climbing. When asked directly however, if Google is entering the same social space as Facebook, Google exec. Eric Schmidt said:
“..the world doesn’t need a copy of the same thing.”
There’s a lot of speculation about Google versus Facebook versus Google, and while they’re both the major players in their respective arenas, they’ve both fell short when trying to enter the others space. Facebooks internal search is clumsy, and works only with their own pages, and Googles social platform was dogged with security and privacy concerns. With the money being pumped into social gaming, and Google already owning Orkut, speculation would lead to the idea that Big G does have something up it’s sleeve. Just what that might be however, remains to be seen.
It was only a matter of time really. Previously the DoJ in the US was looking at the data Google had collected during it’s Street View runs, and was holding it’s cards close to it’s chest. Some of the individual states however, have taken their own road, led by Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal.
Blumenthal says 38 states and the District of Columbia will be participating in the investigation, with Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Texas on the executive committee. Other states joining the coalition include New York, Mississippi, Vermont, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Kansas, Montana and Rhode Island.
The whole mess kicked off when German privacy concerns launched a probe into the Google Street View collection practices. Discovering that the software was not only picking up open and unsecured wi-fi points, but was also collecting any data which was passing along the connection. Blumenthal main point of contention, is that the answers Google gives, only serves to present more questions than are answered. When the wi-fi software was found in the Street View program for example, it wasn’t known that there was tangible, usable data contained within it. Oops?
It’s being asked whether or not the specific persons involved with implementing the code snippet will be identified, and how is it that Google wasn’t aware what the code was fully capable of. It seems rather far fetched that it would have gone completely unnoticed.
On a lighter note..
Almost a Facebook Nation..
As the overseer of the “third largest country” in the world, it’s no surprise that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, denies signing over an 84% stake in the company for a mere $1000.
After having a brief commemoration of the site turning over the 500 million mark, Zuckerberg admitted that the privacy policies on the site were handled poorly.
“We’ve made mistakes for sure, I think they’re a lot better.”
When pressed as to why personal information isn’t automatically set to full private, the answer was basic, Facebook is set up in a way to enable people to share. Adding however, that ideally having certain information always private would be a step in the right direction.
Yahoo is up, Google is down, Bing is in the mix and on average Facebook isn’t trusted. At least, if you believe the numbers based on American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), which tracks general consumer satisfaction levels with websites. This was the first time social media was included in the survey.
What was found on average, was that social media platforms returned an average rating of 7/10, a fair step below portals and search engines and news and information sites.
The survey looked at Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and “all others.” Twitter wasn’t included apparently because so much of Twitter’s access comes from third party clients. As mentioned the category average was 70. Facebook scored a 64, while YouTube scored a 73. The generic “all others” received a 72 mysteriously.
In the laundry list of complaints about Facebook, privacy and security were prominent concerns. Also included in the mix, but not limited too were, advertising, the constant and unpredictable interface changes, spam, annoying applications with constant notifications, and functionality. Age was a variable in the equation, as it was found that older people rated Facebook lower, while the younger, more prevalent population of the website listed less concern. As of late however, the largest growing segment on Facebook is an older generation, so according to the numbers, Facebook may want to take a look at how the ship is being steered.
The ACSI numbers aren’t concrete in the sense that they can make, or break businesses, they have however proven to be a metric worth considering. The report in it’s entirety, is an all encompassing baseline which can possibly identify improvements which can be made for your consumers.
Earlier in the week Facebooks own version of SEO – social engine optimization, to turn a phrase, lit up in the newsworld as their version of tackling Google. Seeing however, that the idea is powered somewhat, by users liking a page, it doesn’t seem to have any cards on the search giant. That doesn’t mean however, that the idea shouldn’t be ignored; social optimization is just as important to your business provided you have the Facebook and Twitter accounts.
The average internet user is already notorious for fast browsing and merely scanning content by nature. Add into the mix, the chaos of social media, and the attention span for the content in front of them drops again.
Creating compelling, relevant, and provoking content is a major key to success in gaining a high amount of links, votes, and traffic to your content. Not forgetting however, style and structure for your content, is a major factor to being successful in social media. We’ll go over just a few basic points in terms of social optimization, to help your pages receive the “Like” that you desire.
Try using shorter sentences – Writing your most relevant, compelling, attractive information in short, informational phrases can be the turning point in keeping a user from clicking that back button. Keeping your key phrases and termsin shorter, easier to digest sentences and paragraphs allows the searcher to quickly determine that you meet their requirements on the social web.
Table of Contents – If you’ve shortened your information as much as possible, and still have miles upon miles of text, construct a table of contents and with anchors within. This allows for quick navigation to interesting sections within, and provides that extra usability that can be very helpful.
Bullet points and Lists – Breaking your more complex portions into bullet points or lists allows for quick and simple reading. Breaking down your page down in such a fashion also lends to easy linking within the page and site.
Photos and images – Using amazing imagery within your pages helps to draw visitors to your page, while your written content is designed to keep it. “A picture is worth 1000 words” afterall. Just be sure your images, are relevant to the content.
Social media is here to stay, and it’s best to get used to the idea. Your pages and content need to be attractive, intelligent, and compelling with their first impression. Taking the time to be sure that your social optimization is up to par is well worth the time investment. Building a loyal visitor and fan base in the social media sector of the web, will ensure long term viability in the marketplace.
Social media, it’s everywhere. Facebook, Myspace, Winnipeggers, all of them the most convenient way to keep up to date with your friends and community. It can be an incredibly powerful tool to use, but like anything, it’s a service which when you don’t understand it fully, can lead to some problems.
Going forward with the mindset of an average user, here’s a short little list of “Do Not’s“ when it comes to social media.
Your Password : This is a time where the KISS (Keep It Simple Silly) rule has absolutely no bearing. A difficult to break password is most often your first line of defense in someone trying to access your account. Avoid often used words or phrases, and avoid known associates. Using a password with capitals, as well as numbers mixed in is highly recommended.
Your Birthday : Surprisingly, this information is found rather easily on social networks, choosing to completely hide, or only show your age is ideal. Your birthdate can reveal a lot more about you than you may initially think.
Privacy Controls : After setting up your profile, it’s a good idea to nosey around to get a feel for how much control you have over your accounts privacy. A lot of information is left open to the public by default, and often needs to be hidden. Your phone numbers, and email addresses aren’t neceissarily information you’d like to hand out to web crawlers I’m sure.
Your Kids : If you have kids, chances are you don’t want to have random strangers seeing who they are and their name. It’s a scary thought as a parent, but it could very well lead to protecting your child in a very direct way.
Status Updates : Posting on your status update that you’re going to be away from home on vacation for a couple of weeks is an open invitation to would be thieves. Check your privacy settings, and mail those individuals you’d like to make aware of that amazing family trip to Spain. It’s better than broadcasting it to 400+ million users and coming home to a ransacked house.
Parental Supervision : After all is said and done, most EULA (End User Licens Agreements) to social media sites usually have an age requirement to join their site. Unfortunately security is somewhat dependant on trust at this level, so it’s a simple check box to circumvent this measure. Younger users, while very Net friendly, are often not so savvy as to think of privacy, and security features. If your children use any of the bigger social media sites out there, you’d do well to go over their settings with them, to be sure that they have their information, and your families, secure.
Facebook, if you live in a cave then there’s a chance you might not have heard of it (a small chance however). If it were a physical community, it would be the worlds fourth largest country at more than 400 million active users, 50% of which are logging in on any given day.
Why is Facebook so popular? Why was it picked up by everyone, and yes in some cases their dog too! It doesn’t make you money, it doesn’t put food on your table, it doesn’t fulfill some of the very basic necessities to live. But, it does fulfill some basics of life. Two different points, both with different needs.
You need food. You need water, shelter, some form of clothing on your back to protect you from the elements. Facebook provides none of these for it’s 400 million users, and yet people flock to it in droves, daily, in the millions.
People are pack animals, you don’t need to look further than the idea of towns and cities to see that. We like to be connected, we like to feel like we’re part of something, we like to know that someone, somewhere, cares to know who we are. It’s added bonus of being able to be in communication with your long lost friends and family is just icing on the cake as far as communication goes. You can send out a letter telling everyone in your life about your new clogs, or your dogs operation, or the newest addition to your family. How many have gotten a friend request, from someone they haven’t spoken to in 10+ years, because they were a friend of a friend of a friend.
Some in the press touted Googles foray (Buzz) into social media a Facebook killer, when in fact Buzz is just the same as all the rest. One of the bigger differences being in this case, your friends list was initially automatically populated for you. Because of the sheer size of it’s client base, somewhere in the neighborhood of 146 million users, if I read correctly, Buzz experienced some very sharp growing pains at it’s indiscretions of privacy and the way it launched itself into the public spotlight.
There was a time when MySpace was the social media phenomenon, and then Facebook arrived and MySpace was left in the dust. Is there a Facebook killer in the weeds, just waiting for it’s chance? Maybe, but the idea that it will happen anytime soon is as probable as the dark horse coming that’s going to topple Googles search dominance.
It’s had it’s time in the sun, and with the merger on the horizon for Yahoo with Microsoft/Bing, ComScore has let some numbers show from the past year. And while the numbers are mildly surprising, they’re not shocking at all. Introducing the up and comer, the new kid on the block; Facebook.
Facebook is well on its way to taking Yahoo’s spot as the third largest Web property in the world. Last summer Facebook took the No. 4 spot globally, displacing AOL. In December, 2009, Facebook attracted 469 million unique visitors, up an incredible 31 million visitors from the month before.
For perspective, in a single month Facebook gained as many new visitors as Yahoo did all year.
For the year (2009), Facebook grew by nearly 250 million uniques. A repeat will be difficult in 2010, but even at half that pace, and Yahoo remaining stagnant, Facebook could overpass Yahoo within a year to become the third largest site in the world. Passing Microsoft (No. 2) or Google (No. 1) in unique visitors will take a little longer.
By other measures, Facebook is already larger than both Yahoo and Microsoft. Its pageviews grew 141 percent last year, nearly double Yahoo’s (down 2 percent) and Microsoft’s (up 54 percent). Google is still the largest pageview generator on the web. With Facebook growing monthly by such leaps and bounds, it is only a matter of time before it catches Googles numbers in pageviews though.
You hear all the time about employees using social media websites while at work, well if you haven’t already blocked them, here’s a simple trick.
In Linux, you can type “sudo vi /etc/hosts” and add the following lines:
What these lines say is “Computer, when you try to use the domain name system (DNS) to resolve twitter.com to an IP address, hard-code the IP address to be 127.0.0.1.” Note that 127.0.0.1 is a special IP address that corresponds to your own computer. In essence, these entries make it impossible to browse to Twitter, Facebook, or Myspace. You might need to reboot your computer too for the settings to take effect.
Thanks to Matt for the tip.
The battle between Bing and Google has heated up with both sides agreeing to deals with micro-blogging site Twitter. In addition, Microsoft has reached a separate agreement with Facebook, while Google is launching its own, unique search tool for social networking sites.
User demand is behind decisions by Microsoft and Google to include social networking in search results. While both search sites update their index of web pages regularly, they still struggle to cope with very recent information such as current events. While both Google and Bing have dedicated searches of news websites, that doesn’t cover comments and reports by non-journalists, including those on hand during a major event — information which is available through social networks.
Twin Tie-Ups For Twitter
Twitter appears to have pulled off a smart marketing move by having deals with both search giants announced within hours of one another. Bing has already released a beta edition of its Twitter search which, unlike the facility on Twitter’s own site, includes a list of the web pages which receive the most links in Twitter posts. That’s a useful way of finding the latest talking points.