Tag Archives: Facebook

Why Rob Diana is right: Twitter gets the hype while Facebook will get the gold

Rob Diana just wrote “Sorry Twitter, Facebook is The Data Gold Mine.”

First, let’s go back to Ronn Owens. He’s a talk show host on KGO Radio. Actually, he’s the #1 rated talk show on the #1 station in San Francisco (if you exclude nationally-syndicated radio guys like Limbaugh). I was listening the day he discovered Twitter. He resisted at first (a guest told him he MUST be on Twitter, because it’s a good way to let his listeners know what’s coming up). The next day he announced that he had joined Twitter to his audience. I was follower #24 (he now has 558). I joined about 20 minutes after his announcement because I was driving. It was amazing to me that he had only gotten 24 followers in that time, which demonstrates the lack of engagement of a talk radio audience, but I’m getting off track.

What got him onto Twitter? (He’s talked about it several times since). Its publicness.

This is what is driving Twitter’s hype. See, for a celebrity like Owens, or a brand like CNN (which has several accounts on Twitter) the publicness of Twitter is like crack. Facebook might have more users, but it’s hard to be “public” on Facebook. Google’s spiders (the software that indexes web pages) can’t get into Facebook easily while those same spiders eat up Twitter.

The “publicness” of Twitter makes a TON of sense for someone like Ronn Owens who wants to reach a world-wide audience with very little work. Facebook makes less sense because it’s not only more work (there’s a lot more to do on Facebook than just write simple text messages from a cell phone) but it isn’t as public so it’s harder to get new followers.

But this is exactly why people tell me they use Facebook instead of Twitter. So, Facebook has the numbers (about 180 million for Facebook vs. about 10 million for Twitter). It is also why Rob Diana is right: people will put more intimate stuff, like having a baby, into Facebook rather than Twitter.

Only weirdos like me like sharing intimate stuff in a public forum and having conversations. Hint: for every weirdo like me, there are 1000 who are like my wife and only want to discuss that stuff with their “true friends.”

Which brings me back to Rob Diana’s point. It’s those intimate details that will bring advertising opportunities. “I’m having a baby shower in San Francisco at the Hyatt” is the type of thing normal people will share in Facebook with their friends but will never think of sharing in Twitter. Yet that’s the kind of information that a brand like the Hyatt needs to engage with you.

When I went to Las Vegas recently and said I was staying in the Luxor, someone got back to me at the Luxor on Twitter and said something like “let me know if I can help you, I can get you show tickets and make reservations for you.”

This kind of customer intimacy will be far more prevalent over on Facebook because WE are far more intimate there.

Rob is right, I wonder how Twitter is going to shift to get us to be more intimate with sharing the intimate details of our lives?

Oh, and I wonder how Facebook is going to keep us sharing the intimate details of our lives as it tries to add businesses to the social graph? The first time some business answers back a Facebooker like the Luxor did to me on Twitter they might get freaked out, so Facebook has to be careful here.

So, why would Facebook get any money from the Luxor? I can see a ton of ways. Can’t you?

Think of the Yellow Pages. Simple listings are free there (or were back when I advertised in the 1980s). But bigger ads that are more impressive cost thousands per month. Use that model on Facebook. Imagine a brand, like Luxor, just wants to say hi. That’s free. But how about post a link? That’ll be $4 please. And on and on.

Scoble responsible for destroying the utility of the social graph

The other day I was talking with someone who works at Facebook. She and I were having a fun conversation about number of followers and all that. At one point she emailed back that I was “destroying the utility of the social graph.”

How did I do that? By adding people who actually were not my “real” friends.

I asked her to define “real.”

Anyway, this morning, in the comments of my Facebook post I saw a comment from someone named “facebook user” that said “people may not be leaving, but i know plenty of folks who are trimming their friend lists down to true personal friends.”

Ahh, have you ever thought that this is behavior that Facebook wants you to do?

After all, how can they recommend the best sushi restaurant to you if you’ve added people you don’t even know?

Hint: the Facebook employee is right. I have destroyed the utility of the social graph — from her point of view. But I’m there to study patterns of early adopter behavior. For ME my social graph brings me stuff that no one else’s social graph brings.

Which points to what I want in the future: multiple social graphs for different things.

See, I know that Dori Smith (she’s one of the two people who convinced me to start blogging) is a Javascript expert who works in Sonoma. So, I bet she’s also somewhat expert on wine. But, I doubt she’s expert on baby strollers or Half Moon Bay restaurants. So, I want to add her to my “wine” social network. Who would be #1 there? Gary Vaynerchuk, owner of winelibrary.tv, of course. He knows more about wine than anyone else I know.

I really hate the word “friend.” It has no meaning anymore. No one can define what a friend is. Believe me, I’ve asked dozens of people to define it for me. My wife is my most “true” friend, for instance but if you trust her with picking a great wine (she doesn’t drink much) or picking a great sushi restaurant (she hates the stuff) you’ll be very disappointed. You’d be better off asking @garyvee about the wine even though you’ve never met him and he probably wouldn’t be listed among your “true” friends.

This is one reason why I like Twitter and friendfeed. Friendfeed in particular lets me follow different people with different contexts. I can put @garyvee into a “wine” folder, for instance. But I can also put him into “social media innovators.” Twitter doesn’t let me do that, but Twitter also doesn’t try to force me to subscribe to only my “true” friends.

Anyway, in the past eight years I’ve met many thousands of people face-to-face. Just last week I sent off more than 1,000 business cards to Allen Stern’s new business, CloudContacts (and that’s only a small fraction of the ones I’ve collected since I’ve started blogging). His business is scanning them and will build me a new social graph that I’ll bring into friendfeed and other places to study. I can’t wait.

Regarding whether I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph: that’s up to me to decide, not you. Not Facebook. Not my commenter. I get great utility out of what I’m doing. I see patterns before most other people do and those patterns are getting more and more useful. A year ago I didn’t have the ability to search Tweets or friendfeed items. Today I have very rich search features so I can go through my like feed, for instance, and find every item that mentions Evernote.

Think that’s not important? Well, Feedly, a company that makes a small toolbar that sits at the bottom of Firefox, is using friendfeed’s search API to find people who’ve said stuff about the pages you’ve visited. This is a new kind of application that simply was not possible a year ago.

Yeah, I’ve destroyed the utility of the social graph, but on the other side is a whole new world that I’m discovering has great utility. You must destroy before you can build. Go have fun with your social graph and stop taking this friend thing too seriously. :-)

Why Facebook has never listened and why it definitely won’t start now

My former boss, Jim Fawcette, used to say that if you asked a group of Porsche owners what they wanted they’d tell you things like “smoother ride, more trunk space, more leg room, etc.” He’d then say “well, they just designed a Volvo.”

His words were meant to get us out of letting the customers run our business mode we often found ourselves falling into.

Today, over on Techmeme, I see that the latest uproar is over Facebook’s new design and how Mark Zuckerberg is telling people that he won’t listen to customers. Or something like that.

Before we get deeper into this, remember that Facebook has always pissed off its users. First, you’ve gotta realize that in Facebook’s life it will go through at least seven phases. We are moving from phase four to phase five right now. In each phase change people have gotten pissed off.

Here’s the phases of Facebook:

Phase 1. Harvard only.
Phase 2. Harvard+Colleges only.
Phase 3. Harvard+Colleges+Geeks only.
Phase 4. All those above+All People (in the social graph).
Phase 5. All those above+People and businesses in the social graph.
Phase 6. All those above+People, businesses, and well-known objects in the social graph.
Phase 7. All people, businesses, objects in the social graph.

Phase 5 is known as when Facebook is really going to find its business model. This is why Mark Zuckerberg is absolutely correct to say he can’t listen to people who wants Facebook to get stuck in Phase Four. It was a nice phase, yes, when Facebook only had people in the social graph, but those days are over.

Don’t get distracted by the current design that looks sort of like Twitter. Twitter showed that businesses can co-exist on the social graph along with people. Zuckerberg is smart. He saw that Twitter was going to make a crapload of money (that’s why he tried to buy Twitter) and instead of being depressed by being turned down by @ev he decided to phase shift Facebook.

Zuckerberg is a real leader because he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’s going to do what he thinks is best for his business. I wish Silicon Valley had more like him.

Anyway, all those who are saying the new design sucks should NOT be listened to. Yeah, I know a lot of people are going to get mad at me for saying that. After all, how can a blogger say to not listen to the masses? Easy: I’ve seen the advice the masses are giving and most of it isn’t very good for Facebook’s business interests.

When Zuckerberg announced these changes a couple of weeks ago I told him he was brilliant and that his moves this month would be remembered for decades. Decades.

Here’s why:

Let’s say you’re walking down University Ave. in Palo Alto, California in a couple of years (or, really, any street in the world) and you’re hungry.

You pull out your iPhone or Palm Pre or Android or Blackberry or Windows Mobile doohickey and click open the Facebook application. Then you type “sushi near me.”

It answers back “within walking distance are two sushi restaurants that more than 20 of your friends have liked.”

Wait a second. “Friends have liked?”

Sounds like friendfeed. But, because Facebook has the users (it is growing the size of Twitter every 15 days or so because Facebook has about 180 million users while Twitter only has about 10 million. Facebook, at this point, is growing 200,000 to 700,000 users per day. Twitter is growing by far fewer users per day (although its percentage growth is faster).

But don’t worry about the friendfeed copying. Zuckerberg is so close to a gold mine that his metal detectors must be going crazy. All he has to do is figure out how to keep those pesky users from leaving the service.

Oh, wait, they aren’t leaving! How do I know that?

Because my wife Maryam is totally addicted to Facebook. She hasn’t left. She hasn’t slowed down. She just told me she didn’t like the new design and made some noises that she was only going to use the iPhone version (not true in my observations). So, if Zuckerberg didn’t lose Maryam and her friends, he’s safe. He SHOULD NOT LISTEN to those who are saying the new design sucks. It will keep him from getting to the promised land where we mix businesses and people.

Here’s what really is hanging out there for Facebook if Zuckerberg doesn’t listen: billions. Maybe even trillions.

Look at what we just announced to the world:

Maryam has an announcement!

Yes, we’re having another baby. But look at what did NOT happen on Twitter: not a single diaper company contacted us yet. Not a single maternity clothing company. Not a single car company (yes, we’re going to buy a new one soon). Not a single camera company (already bought a new one for this occassion). Not a single insurance company (I need more). Not a single bank (I need to start saving for another college student). Not a single stroller company (need a new one that can hold two). Not a single vitamin company (Maryam is going through her prenatal vitamins at a good clip). Not a single shoe company (Maryam needs new shoes for pregnancy, and Milan is growing fast too).

That will NOT last.

Imagine we’re on Facebook in a year. Now all of a sudden I can search for all these things and see which items and companies have gotten the most “likes.” Now do you get why Facebook is copying friendfeed?

Zuckerberg is not listening to you because you don’t get how Facebook is going to make billions.

Zuckerberg is right. He shouldn’t start listening to his users now.

User data ownership on Facebook and why it doesn’t matter

Geesh, everyone got their panties in a bunch over the weekend due to Facebook’s new terms of service.

Truth is it doesn’t matter.

If you are uploading your content to, and participating online with, you are giving a HUGE amount of ownership to services that, well, you really don’t control.

They can go out of business. They can delete your account. They can make money off of your content. They probably all have wacky stuff in their terms of services.

This is true for Flickr. For YouTube. For Twitter. For Facebook. For all of them.

I’ve been yelling and screaming about how Facebook has been treating its customers for a year now. Facebook already showed how they treat you by the way they delete accounts: they have complete control and you have none.

Deal with it! Me? I dealt with it by putting all my photos into the public domain when I upload them to Flickr.

I dealt with it by having Fast Company own its own servers and content. It’s a real pain, too, takes me a lot longer to upload my videos to FastCompany.tv than it does to upload them to TubeMogul. But then we have control and we know when ads will be put on top of our content, etc.

So, relax, have fun, just realize you’re here to serve Facebook, not necessarily the other way around.

UPDATE: There’s an interesting conversation going on about this over on friendfeed, including links to a comparison of several TOS’s of several user generated content sites.

Facebook passes 175 million users

Is it just me or is Facebook’s growth speeding up?

Dave Morin, who runs Facebook’s application platform team, tonight announced on Twitter/friendfeed that Facebook had passed 175 million users.

Congrats. I told a few people at Davos that Facebook would be THE story of the year in Silicon Valley. Twitter is trying to make it interesting, but Facebook really is far far ahead.

Zuckerberg: Facebook’s “intense” year

Mark Zuckerberg's Tie

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, in a tie? Oh my.

If you know Mark you know he’s a pretty casual dresser. Usually seen in T-shirt, jeans, and sandals.

But not here at the World Economic Forum where we walked around downtown Davos last night for a while before heading into the Time Magazine’s reception. Last year we did a similar walk where I got to know him better.

This year people at the party noted his tie and he explained that he was wearing it to denote that this was Facebook’s “intense” year.

Last year when we walked around Davos they had about 50 million users. Today? More than 150 million with about 450,000 new users joining every day.

This is Facebook’s make or break year. It is the year that will set them up to be one of Silicon Valley’s most respected brands along with HP, Intel, Google or, well, it could be the year that the wheels come off of the train and everything goes wrong.

The tie is his way of telling his team and the world that this is Facebook’s most intense year.

We talked about a few other things too, here’s a selection.

**I gave him heck for kicking off people from Facebook who didn’t deserve the “death penalty,” as I put it. He said that they are always looking at how to protect its system from spammers and bad actors. “We’d rather put up with a few false positives,” he told me. He did like my idea of a less punitive “jail” for first-time offenders, though, so that the team can turn off certain features instead of just killing the account altogether. He also said that his system looks for “outlying” behavior. He said if you behave like an average user you should never trigger the algorithms that will get you kicked off. Of course, that irks me a bit because my usage of social media sites is totally outlier behavior. But, I can see his point. One thing that’s nice about Facebook is that I see very little spam or other nasty behavior.
**Facebook is, he told me, studying “sentiment” behavior. It hasn’t yet used that research in its public service yet, but is looking to figure out if people are having a good day or bad day. He said that already his teams are able to sense when nasty news, like stock prices are headed down, is underway. He also told me that the sentiment engine notices a lot of “going out” kinds of messages on Friday afternoon and then notices a lot of “hungover” messages on Saturday morning. He’s not sure where that research will lead. We talked about how sentiment analysis might lead to a new kind of news display in Facebook. Knowing whether a story is positive or negative would let Facebook pick a good selection of both kinds of news, or maybe even let you choose whether you want to see only “happy” news.
**At the Time Magazine party tons of people came up to him to tell him their Facebook stories. He deals with them graciously and talks to them about features in Facebook they might try. He noted with one such fan that lots of people haven’t played with the privacy settings, which give you control over who can see your photos, for instance. I think that’s really why Facebook is so popular. I know my wife really loves Facebook but hasn’t taken to Twitter or friendfeed. I sense that her ability to control which friends see her stuff is one reason why she’s so enthusiastic about Facebook. The second in command at Time, Michael Elliot said he would be so cool with his kids if they new he was hanging out with Zuckerberg.
**He asked me what I was most excited about. We talked about friendfeed. It’s clear to me that he’s watching friendfeed and learning from it about what works and doesn’t work. We talked about how it let me “sift” through tons of news and noise and pick things out for my friends to read. He’s very interested in that trend and, indeed, took a lot of shots when he added a newsfeed to Facebook. Now, he notes, that is a key feature of Facebook and even the haters have gotten used to it.
**He attended Vladimir Putin’s talk and thought Putin’s talk was interesting. “He is running Russia like the CEO of a big oil company,” Zuckerberg told me. As we talked it was clear that Zuckerberg analyzes how other people run things and is looking for positive things to do with his own company and is looking for what turns him off. He studied Psychology at Harvard and I see that training come out when discussing world events with him. You can also see his understanding of how people work all through Facebook.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder Facebook, and Jet Li, famous martial arts star**He, along with Tony Blair, will be running the coat check at tonight’s Women’s Dinner. He was trying to rope Jet Li, famous martial arts star, into doing it too.

Anyway, I like the new intensity, but I did note that he was still wearing jeans and had his top button undone. Casual intensity. Sounds like Facebook is growing up, doesn’t it?

I have other photos from Davos up on my Flickr account
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