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Why doesn’t Facebook optimise their signed out pages?

With all the talk about Google+ and its potential impact on Facebook, there is little disagreement amongst many industry observers that Facebook needs to up its game a bit.

But why wait for Google+ to put on the pressure?  Even basic things, like sign out pages offer huge opportunities for mobile, tablet and other product and service adoption. In-fact Twitter and Linkedin have been doing something similar, but independent from each other, for over a year now.

Namely, they’ve been using their ‘signed out’ pages as ways of driving one final message: mobile and tablets apps and integration. It might sound like a small thing, but when you consider how many tens of millions of users each social network has, and how many times per day, week and month sign out pages would be seen globally, the reason for not using it to push a message is drowned out. The ability to push one last message during the customer experience before they leave is invaluable. Not using it for a purpose, other than to directly sign back in – as Facebook uses it – seems like a lost opportunity.

Even at just 1 percent of Facebook’s approximately 500 million users, seeing the ‘logout’ page everyday that’d equal 35 million page views per week, or 140 million pageviews over a four week period. That’d mean Facebook’s logout page alone would receive more/rival traffic volumes than even the largest media websites.

Three screenshots of Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin’s pages a user goes to once signed out, are below.

Twitter – signed out page

Twitter.com sign out screen

Linkedin – signed out page

Linkedin sign out screen

Facebook – signed out page

Facebook sign out screen

UPDATE, as per a question: So just how many pages could Facebook’s ‘logout’ page be serving each day, week or month?

Back of the envelope guesstimate using fairly conservative numbers:
500 million users, minus 20% of completely non-active accounts = 400 million users.
30% of 400 million users use the site on any given day: 120 million users.
Of 120 million daily users:
@ 30% log out every day: 40 million pages served a day, 240 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 20% log out every day: 24 million pages served a day, 168 million ‘logout’ pages every week.
@ 10% log out every day: 12 million pages served a day, 84 million ‘logout’ pages every week.

It is indeed a pity they’re not using it more effectively.

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How Google will win everything (and why Facebook and Twitter still need it).

“One search engine to rule them all, one search engine to bind them”.

It doesn’t quite have the elegance of the original line from The Lord of The Rings, but it neatly encompasses the battleground that is based upon precious and profitable percentages of your time and your online usage habits, Dear Reader.

Google is still the dominant player in the Google>Twitter>Facebook tryst and try as they might to fight it, and claim independence, Google is the binding party to Twitter and Facebook’s success to date and for, possibly, some time to come.

Taking a look at compete.com you’ll see that not only is Google and gmail’s traffic so much higher than Twitter and Facebook, Google is also one of, if not, the major traffic referrer’s for both the social networks as shown in the graph below.

Google's dominance with gmail and Google buzz as seen compared to Twitter and Facebook

Google's dominance of Facebook and Twitter (click to see full size)

 

There’s no doubt that Facebook and Twitter have their own momentum but there are some key things worth noting about the information and the companies behind them.

First is that Google isn’t primarily a social media company. It’s primary purpose is as a search engine. It’s not relying on people wanting to connect, it relies on curiosity, learning and intrigue. Google search also compliments Twitter and Facebook users’ experience – if you want to know what’s so great about that band/article/topic you’re friends and contacts are tweeting and updating about, no problem, go Google it.

Second is that Twitter is the odd one out here. It’s neither a deep search engine with millions of informative articles and research nor is it about, necessarily, connecting to your friends. It’s primary purpose as the company founder Biz Stone said is to become the “pulse of the planet“. Many users start following celebrities, academics, companies and other people that they don’t know but like and respect. That’s great, but companies and people you’ve never met aren’t friends necessarily, thereby making Twitter potentially more dispensable if users start running short on time.

Third is that Facebook has some thinking to do. It’s not often you can say this about the world’s largest social network, especially when according to research they’re driving 44% of the social sharing on the web, but with Google Buzz’s launch it’s time for Facebook to clarify it’s intentions. With Buzz pumping out 9 million buzz’s in just a week or two of being launched and twitter only slowing down a little, it’s time for them to clearly communicate where Facebook is headed, to the users. At the moment Facebook is a very easy and familiar communication tool to keep in touch with friends across neighbourhoods and nations, as well as a great way for companies to do very well with addicting games like Farmville. But is it much more than that to the majority of users?

While most users may give up their grandma quicker than they would their Facebook account the question is now, ‘where is Facebook headed?’ And with a user license agreement that states Facebook is entitled to sell, use and distrbute anything you put on there at their discretion how much information will people be comfortable putting on there anyway?

Fourth, Google Buzz. A brilliant move by Google, the rumblings of those upset with the development will forget about it and move on or not use the service, but everyone new that signs up to gmail will have it upon starting and it won’t be a foreign intrusion to their usual email habits. Problem solved.

While much of the talk since it’s launch has been ‘Will Google Buzz threaten Twitter?’ perhaps the more pertinent question is ‘How will Google Buzz threaten Facebook?’

Google Buzz just isn’t so much taking aim Twitter as it is for Facebook. In a nut shell Google Buzz connects you with people you know, via a common and comfortable platform and lets you update, share and discuss anything from simple conversations to videos, images, retaurant reviews, articles and more. Sound familiar?

Further to this, people already trust Google and Gmail so it’s not such a leap-of-faith moment to get people using Google Buzz, you’re already connected to these people so there’s no ‘upload your address book and find people you know’ when you sign up like other social networks and, as a major bonus, it’s the same login as your email. So you don’t have to go to yet another site and remember yet another login.

So where to next? Well, with Google’s Android being an arguably better mobile platform than Apple’s locked down proprietary system, already being the biggest search engine and still growing, as well as having one of the largest free public email services on the planet and connecting it with a new social network with people you know it’s hard to see anyone chipping away at their dominance.

Google have more fingers in more pies and are a more diverse company than any of their competitors. Facebook and Twitter undoubtedly have their own strengths and will continue to develop their platforms. But the one thing that no company can do is provide the user with more time in a day, it’s just not possible, so the fight is on for your mind, your heart and your time Dear Reader.

So if you had to cut time from one of these which is it going to be? And if Facebook, Twitter and Apple get together we may just have a game on our hands.

An issue with social media: entitlement

Recently something happened through my personal twitter account involving a work issue that I’d like to share because it raises an issue with social media and the usage of it: entitlement.

As I’ve mentioned before I work for a few media companies – one of which is businessspectator.com.au – on the website like many media co’s we have blogs, Chris Joye’s property one in particular can get a bit contentious – as you’d expect in Australia.

One participant, I’ll call ‘Sally’, on Chris’s blog thread recently believed that at least one individual was signing in under two names and arguing the same side – effectively throwing the fairness out of the thread by creating a persona to agree with themselves.twitter-entitlement

Sally then did some digging through the About us section and found my twitter feed. Fine and dandy, no problems there.

Sally then alerted me to look into the situation. I did. But what happened next was completely new to me and unexpected. For the next few days Sally then asked me what happened as a result. I explained that I’d looked into the situation an the results of such efforts and any actions taken would remain within the company.

But Sally persisted – wanting to know if in fact she’d been right or wrong, and if Sally had been right, what specific actions had or would be taken.

It was a confronting situation. I didn’t want to dissuade Sally from being passionate about the website or the information, but at the same time this situation is no different to dozens of other work situations and as a general rule you simply don’t go around explaining in detail what happened, when, how etc to people outside the business – Commbank’s recent failings and subsequent explanations to media come to mind.

It’s not that I didn’t want to thank sally for raising the issue and feeling that she could bring it to me, (I did thank her directly) but I didn’t exactly know how to respond without looking like I was fobbing her off and being rude.

In the end though I had to be reasonably direct as being circuitous wasn’t getting the required result, it was only really then that Sally understood that I couldn’t discuss it. I guess I felt it could have been handled better, but I don’t know how.

But after ruminating on it for a while now it seems as though it does come down to an issue of entitlement – I felt it was a straight down the line work issue, but Sally felt she was coming along for the ride with me to find out the answer. Sally felt entitled to know the outcome. And in a way she was entitled to know part of it, but – and perhaps this is the tipping point – I don’t know whether Sally is entitled to know the whole thing, or whether she should be.

As social media and social networking is so new, and is still developing, sometimes some interactions feel like going on a first date – it can be a bit awkward, conversation can falter, you can be under or over polite in certain situations because you don’t know how the person will react, and by the end of it you hope at the very least you’ll be able to look that person in the eye next time you meet them.

Should outside people, like Sally, who alert you to situations like this one be entitled to know the whole thing including the exact details of any action taken? Further to this when you know that individual has they’re own blog and they’re active in an on-line discussion on your company blog – does the risk of them using the information to prove their point in an on-line forum and potentially embarrass you (and the company) outweigh the benefits of being open and transparent with them in the first place?

Could social media in effect engineer it’s own undoing by being too open? Where is there a happy medium?

5 second films

I was excited but a little skeptical at first about 5secondfilms.com because I didn’t know what you could possibly say in just 5 seconds.

But after spending a bit of time on the site I have to say if you haven’t seen or heard of 5 second films yet, you’re missing out.

The site is, in a word, awesome. And it’s awesomeness lays with its very clever design – the lack of time to waffle on. The creator has to have their beginning, middle and end relayed to an audience fast, very fast.

5 second films

Films are, as the name suggests, limited to around 5 seconds in length and the majority are very entertaining.

Any comparison that 5 second films is to Youtube what twitter is to Facebook just isn’t right – 5secondfilms hasn’t just taken the concept of user generated video and dumped it on a site, they’re asking less from the viewer and more from the creator.

As a viewer you know you’re only commiting a few seconds of your day but as a creator you have to work much harder to get the point across quickly and effectively.

As far as I can see from the contributions so far, all entriely user generated – no giant slabs of copy and pasted video from the Daily Show here, and likewise you won’t see it being used as a medium for traditional marketing and advertising (yet). Although as a marketer you could say much more, many times over with multiple short videos than putting all yout eggs in one big epic viral attempt basket – so I definitely think this format has legs.

And one of the major benefits to the user is that they’re commiting much less time so they may be more willing to give the video a chance – if it sucks well at least it only chewed up 5 seconds of the viewers’ day instead of 90 seconds or more.

I’ve talked previously about the Schweppes viral campaign Signs, which I really like, but the viewer is commiting over 12 minutes of their time to watch it, and I wonder how many people thought about forwarding it but didn’t because they felt guilty asking their friends to set aside over 12 minutes.

I think a series of short videos that spanned the length of a campaign could be just as effective, if not more effective. The agency or company could change the message frequently and this is handy should a campaign not be tracking so well, and it also gives any viral campaign much more chances to capture someone as different aspects will invariably attract different audiences. In addition costs would be lower, it’s easier to test and the chance of a good 5 second viral getting forwarded should be higher.

I’m definitely putting this on my ‘next big thing’ list.

So how much can you say in 5 seconds? Well, as it turns out quite alot.

Check out some of the videos below and make sure you visit the 5 second films site.

Masters of the Viewniverse, here.

You need the twist-o-matic, here.

Coming of Age, here.

Rove and Dave Hughes – Shark jumping or just playing around?

According to mumbrella today,  Rove may have ‘Jumped the Shark’ by using twitter with his mate, Dave Hughes while getting makeup done pre-show.

Tim Burrows, editor of mumbrella.com.au asks the question “Could this be the moment that Twitter ate itself?” – Rove took a photo of Dave, Dave took a photo of Rove and they both then tweeted it. He then says “The celeb Twitter shark has officially been jumped.”

Yep, I get the point about shark jumping but is that what’s really happening here? – isn’t this just like any other brand playing with social media?

Were their actions for the benefit of other media to comment on more likely were they for the 48,000+ followers between Rove and Dave to enjoy and experience? – Isn’t conversation and communication the point of twitter? Isn’t that what Rove and Dave were doing?

It should be noted that neither Rove’s or Dave’s tweets said anything about ‘watch tonight’s show’ or ‘tune in to channel 10 tonight’ so I don’t know what’s so wrong about them doing this.

I can’t help but think that if this was Miranda Kerr and Megan Gale photographing each other in during a makeup session at Fashion Week the marketing and ad industry would probably collectively coo and fawn all over them (and the photos for the clicks) and consider this as ‘brave’ and embrace it as a new way for brands to play with twitter and social media.

I also think  Channel 10 should be given kudos on two points:

1. For supporting Rove as long as they have and regardless of a shifting demographic watching it,  it wouldn’t have run this long without the numbers behind it – even if they are falling now.

2.  For not instigating some stringent policy about their stars using social networks such as twitter.

Am I a massive, Rove fan? No I’m not. But I do know that Rove is better than a lot of other local content – does anyone really think we need another a season of ‘Australian Customs. We caught this guy trying to bring in an open bag of chips and a banana’?

And Rove, while more expensive to produce is much better than buying in cheap US or UK syndicated content like ‘World’s most *insert dramatic sounding words* you’ve ever seen!‘ Thankfully Channel 10 hasn’t and I think the domestic TV industry is all the richer for it – rather than us decrying the end of Aussie TV we should be championing programs like Rove.

Maybe it’s all just a mountain out of a molehill but all I can say is God help the next Australian comedians or celebrities that try to do something they consider fun on twitter/FB etc if this is the sort of reaction they get.

6 things that will happen with all social networking

Everytime a new technology or social network gets big these are six things I can absolutely promise you the media will breathlessly report like it’s absolutely ground breaking and it’s never been done before.

The public of course is then supposed to lap this stuff and sit in wonder at our own ingenuity/stupidity/marvelousness/cruelty at what has been done.

So here’s 6 things I can assure you will happen with the next big, well I’ll say social network, but you can apply it to virtually anything where humans interact:

6-little-things that media will do with social networking

1. Someone will get fired from their job or a potential job for saying or doing something stupid. Twitter examples include that Cisco employee who lost their job before they started or from a few years back that banking intern who said he was visiting a sick relative but actually dressed up as a fairy at a party and posted the pics on facebook.

2. A brand will do something with the medium. It’ll either go really well or will ‘destroy their reputation’. twitter = Skittles, or the recent Amazon malarky.

3. Some celebrity will get a whole bunch of people following or joining them, get hassled and then cry foul. Two words: Ruby Rose.

4. Someone will get dumped. It’ll be embarrassing and it’ll go viral.  oohh! a two’fer John Mayer might quit twitter after dumping Jennifer Aniston on it.

5. Quote an expert for no real reason. In a large amount of articles, particularly those where a company or a celebrity is involved a ‘human behavioural expert’ or ‘social networking expert’ will be interviewed and they’ll say one or a series of generic things: ‘it’s changing the way we live’, ‘this is a quite extraordinary phenomenon’, or ‘you know, when our parents were growing up they never had these things to worry about’ and they may then pull out the trump card of all seemingly insightful comments ‘the world is getting faster and we’ve all just got to try and keep up, but I’d say to anyone concerned: I’m my professional opinion you have to do what’s right for you’.

6. The 6pm television news – needing anything with footage to justify a 60 second report – will randomly stop people on the street and ask them what they think. Responses will vary from ‘um, I don’t know’ to ‘it wasn’t like this in my day’ or the classic a group of three school kids yelling incoherantly but happily into the camera while waving their hands.

(Isn’t there a lovely irony to interviewing people in the street about social networking when the news team could have asked the same question on the social network they’re talking about?)

So what am I saying here? I guess what I’m saying is just get over it.

Don’t sit there in some sort of trancelike wonder at all of this. Everytime this occurs there’s some sort of ‘oh I can’t believe this happened’ kind of faux bewilderment – it’s rubbish is what it is.

This isn’t new stuff, it’s the same stuff that happens again and again and again it just happens on different mediums.

Makes you wonder about humans a bit doesn’t it?

Ugh, Ok, enough. rant over.