Friday, September 23, 2011

The new Facebook: Coming soon...

I have always denied that I am a geek, but as I woke up at 4:30am to tune into a live stream of Mark Zuckerberg's keynote speech from the Facebook developers conference F8 (broadcast in Facebook of course) there could be no doubt that I am a nerd. There had been some fairly excited sounding journos saying that major changes were afoot, so I thought I should tune in as no doubt my friends (who think I work in IT) would ask me to explain it.

So what is happening?

Firstly, our profile pages are being redesigned into what Facebook described as "a new product called Timeline." It was interesting, and perhaps refreshingly honest, to hear them acknowledge that our social data is a product, not a service. This funny cartoon explains how people feel about this notion.

Anyhoo, on first glance, the timeline looks cool. It shows your latest month or so of activity in depth, but also shows all of your Facebook activity, ever since you joined, in a reverse chronological order. This may sound scary for some, but this information is all there already.

As you scroll down through your Facebook life, the timeline becomes more and more summarized, so that it only shows the major events in your life. Us users can control what we deem to be important stories, photos, videos etc from our life, as well as who can see the various bits of content.

Some things will be hidden (who wants a timeline showing every boring status they have ever written?) but they will still be available by clicking on a grey dot within the timeline. If we decide that a hidden update is actually important, we can highlight it with a couple of clicks.

Timeline looks nice, and will make it easier for people to "stalk" each other, as well as making it easier for us to control what facets of our life are stalkable, and by who. I am a fan of this as it gives us more control.

The second major change is more important - although it will probably make less noise amongst the users. Facebook have made changes to the permissions given to applications, and the way apps display this information on our newsfeed. The new Facebook layout launched yesterday introduced us to the ticker, a box up in the top right hand side of the browser that shows the less important updates from our friends - "Anthony likes offensive French hip hop" etc. This kind of update will no longer be displayed in the main news feed, but will still be there if any of my friends want to see it.

Facebook have now shown how they intend the ticker box to be used, and I have to say I think it is pretty cool. The ubiquitous "like" button will still be there, but with the new open graph integration, developers can now use any verb with any noun to explain how users interact with their application. Eg: "Anthony is listening to 3 Minutes by Explicit Samurai". What excites me about this is that if I see my friend Jonno (who has great taste in offensive hip hop) is listening to a track I do not know, I can click on the update and a player window will pop up allowing me to listen to that song within Facebook.

It is not just for music though. The ticker can tell me what my friends are reading, cooking, where they are running, what TV and movies they are watching etc etc. This will all be done via applications that my friends have granted permission to. By seeing the information in a very slimmed down version I will have the opportunity to add the application myself, and add my data or pay more attention to my subject expert friends. For example, if Jonno is listening to lots of cool music using the Spotify app, I will add it to my timeline and we will be able to share our music tastes. My mum won't be using the same application so I won't have to see what lame music she is listening to, but she may be using a recipe application that I am interested in, so I could add that and start swapping recipes with her.

It is a great way of sharing relevant content between interested parties without having to spam all of our friends every time we eat a meal mate or whatever.

What Facebook has done here is very clever. Make no mistake about it, we are Facebook's product, not their customer. The sale of our social data is what has driven Facebook's revenue thus far, by allowing companies to target specific advertising based on our demographical information as well as our interests and our connections. But the way they are moving now is to further enhance the notion that we, as individuals, are the most powerful salesforce amongst our friends.

The things that we are discovering and doing will be displayed to our friends in a way that Facebook hopes will drive more people to buy stuff.

I know many people will have a problem with this, and I understand that completely. But targeted ads based on content consumption (and creation) is nothing new. Google reads our Gmail so that they can show us ads that they think are relevant, and TV advertising is placed based upon the kind of people watching the show - think ads for sheep drench during the rugby.

What Facebook are doing is placing more emphasis on what my circle of friends are doing, and by doing so they are helping me to discover new things I may be interested in. This is the price for the free service, and I for one do not mind paying.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to move from Facebook to Google +

Now that Google + is (reportedly) about to hit 10 million users, maybe you have decided that you want to leave Facebook and move over or, more likely, try using both while we see who wins out. But after 3 years of posting photos and making/stalking friends, you don't want to lose your entire online life & start again. This blog will detail a couple of the ways you can move your information over.
Friends are why we go on to social networks, so it is important to be able to bring them over. This is really easy and only takes 10 minutes or so.

First of all you need a Yahoo email account, just like when you were 16. Once you have your Yahoo account open, click on "Add contacts" and then on "tools" and in the drop down choose "import...". From here you can import the email addresses of all of your Facebook buddies. Easy.

Next step is to export them to GMail. After your Facebook contacts have been added to your Yahoo account, click on "tools" again, and select "export..." and choose the option to export as a Yahoo! CSV file. This will download all of the email addresses onto your desktop somewhere. Now go and open up Gmail, go into "Contacts" and click on "More Actions", then "import". Find the CSV file (it will be called Yahoo_ab.csv or something like that) and double click it.

All of your contacts will now be synced/merged with the data from Facebook, and all of the new contacts will be visible when you go into G+, so you can add them to your circles and send them invites. Boom!

Next is the photos. To get these en masse, open up your Facebook and head into Account Settings. In there you will see an option "Download Your Information." A few self explanatory clicks later and a huge download will be coming your way. This takes a while, so go make a cup of tea. I recommend Sencha. Once it has finished, you will have a folder that is called whatever your profile name is, and will look like this:

Inspiring stuff. Open up the Photos folder and you will see all of your albums are conveniently stored in their own folder. You will need to create new albums in G+ one by one, but the photos can be uploaded in groups. And as an added bonus, the titles you gave your photos in Facebook are all saved as the file name, so you will not lose that - but you will lose comments, likes & tags.

So now we have all of our friends and all of our photos moved over. I am still playing round with getting old posts across, and I am waiting for G+ to integrate with Google Calendar so that I can import my FB events, but for now it is easy to get the most important stuff moved over.

Have fun :)

*Note: Google + does have a direct "import contacts from Yahoo" button, however this was not working for me, hence the extra step to import them into gmail.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Google +: Facebook killer?

Hopefully. After 1 week of playing with it, I am impressed. The ease of keeping your profile secure from certain people, being able to easily see exactly what information is displayed to who, as well as "Hang outs" and a few other features are great.

Using the exclusive invite-only style of marketing that was the halmark of Gmail's launch has seen the social media geeks (like me) feeling more special than we should about using it during the "test phase", and has helped ensure that we all trumpet on about how cool the network is and how everyone should be on there. Indeed, the system has been broken 2 or 3 times since launch due to oversubscription causing problems for their servers. This has meant that even people with invites could not access the system unless they were quick. This bodes well for the future of the network.

A social network is only as good as it's members. The analogy of being the first and only person to own a fax machine rings true. One of my first posts stated that I would only move completely over from Facebook if at least 50% of my ex-girlfriends, or my crush also moved over to Google +. In short, everyone will need a reason to move over, but the reason will be the same for everyone; the people they want to engage with. The fact that the the uptake of the network has surpassed even Google's expectations perhaps points equally to Google's burnt fingers over their previous attempts (Buzz was a fizzer, Wave washed out) as well as the enthusiasm that people have to a genuine competitor to Facebook.

So, what is it like? A person I follow on Twitter described it as "Facebook without it's clothes on", and from a layout point of view it does look very similar, albeit a stripped out version. You can stalk my public profile here to see for yourself, or go sign up here - if the sign up is working.

The two main advantages from my point of view (wearing my consumer hat now) is that it is very easy to control what content is displayed to who, via the "Circles". I have 6 circles set up at the moment: Friends, followers, workmates, colleagues, family & ex-girlfriends. Every time I post any content (text, photos etc) I have to choose which circles can view it. There are also options to post content to everyone on the web (public - like twitter), or "extended circles" (friends of friends). This makes it incredibly easy to make sure my ex-girlfriends only ever see my highlights reel, while my workmates only ever see me sober. Although Facebook does have the option to split your friends into groups with different security settings, it is a bit of a pain in butt to do this, and generally only the social media geeks get it sorted.

Another cool feature of Google + is "Hangouts". This is video chat for multiple people. It can also be used as a means of broadcasting events like conferences, concerts, your stupid dog singing along to Bernard Fanning...whatever, all with the added interactivity of being able to talk back & get involved. The coolness of this feature has already been countered by the addition of Skype video calling to the Facebook chat function, however the quick roll out of this shows how seriously Facebook is taking the Google + threat.

Although I have an iPhone, I have been told that the way Google + can be used with an Android powered phone is fantastic, particularly in regards to photo uploading. I can't wait to see how an iPhone app will work.

Currently Google + is only set up for regular consumers (not business), but they have worked with several companies (Ford, Mashable etc) to build a few test company profiles which will be rolled out in the next two weeks, and they have received several thousand applications from companies to be included in further testing. However in an earlier release google recommended that companies hold off until full support is offered in the "next few months". It will be interesting to see how these company pages can integrate the suite of other Google services, including AdWords, Adsense, maps, YouTube etc. But the scope from a marketing point of view is huge. When you consider the vast information available to marketers currently using Google, the mouth waters at what this platform will allow (marketers hat on now).

So, is it a Facebook killer? I hope so, as I am someone who values being able to control who sees what information about me. However, it will require a quick uptake from the cool kids to see a major shift from what is currently the largest social networking site in the world.

But the future looks promising. This blog post speculates that as of July 10, there were already over 6 million users on Google +. This kind of growth (if accurate) in just over a week is fantastic, but it will need to be sustained before we can start calling Google + a Facebook killer. Until then, I will keep my fingers crossed, keep posting about issues, and trying my hardest to break it during the test period.

Good luck Google!

Have you tried Google +? Would you move from Facebook?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Social media principles - free to a good home

This is a synopsis of the advice I give all of my clients during our initial meeting, and some of what I talk about when giving my painful lectures/presentations. It is the slow, patient, credible, organic way of maximizing your results from social media. I have found these principles to be pretty solid over the 4 years I have been involved in this industry, but please know this is more about the day-to-day running of your presences.

This is deliberately vague and will require patience to see results. It is not an (A + B) x C = Retirement/fire-the-ad-agency in 6 months kind of plan.

  • Social media is social. Think about what kind of social event your company would host. The same rules of engagement & conversation apply. My personal style of social event would be a bbq. I would let people swear a bit (ok, a lot), but not be (overly) offensive to other guests. I would occasionally talk about the fun things I had done lately at work, or interesting things in the industry. I would not hand out business cards or openly solicit new business. Think about what social event you would have with your clients/providers/friends etc. Dinner party? Golf day? High tea? Whatever suits your brand's personality. Think about what kind of conversations you would have at this event. Replicate this same style of engagement on your social media platforms.
  • Build a vocabulary of words to use more frequently in your social media/blog posts. Make these words representative of the way you want your company to be perceived. They will give your brand a controlled personality that will show you in a desired light, and help potential customers (and future employees) align themselves with your brand. This is my personal brand on Twitter as a tweet cloud. The bigger the word, the more frequently I use it:
  • Be consistent with the timing & content. If you use your twitter account to tell jokes, do not suddenly change to a marketing push and vice versa. And by timing I mean do not forget about twitter for 3 weeks then suddenly send 20 tweets in a day (or FB updates, or blog posts etc). A content plan can help with this. When I ran SM for the military I had 3-6 months of content planned in advance, but I was always flexible with that and would talk about other content as it became topical.
  • Social media is two way. Do not think about what message you want to shout, think about what conversation you want to have, and who you want to talk with. Social media, and in particular Twitter, should be viewed more as a customer service channel, NOT a marketing channel. If you publicly treat your audience well with these channels, they will do your marketing for you in a word of mouth way that is more powerful than any message you could push out yourself.
  • Facebook tabs can do anything these days. ANYTHING. Here is one I built that broadcasts live TV while also displaying a twitter feed of related comments and allowing people to discuss what is happening via Facebook comments: You can build a tab that does anything you want, and use these to give your audience a reason to stick around, and a reason to talk about you.
  • Use your Facebook insights page to learn about your main audience segments. Use other statistical information and sites like to identify the mass influencers within your audience and target ads (above the line, plus sm ad campaigns like FB ads or Twitter promotions) directly to this group to get the best bang for your buck.
Anyhoo, these are some pretty solid techniques which, if followed, will eventually help you to organically build a credible following/fanbase of engaged people, all of whom will run to the shops and buy whatever self-diagnosis DNA testing kit you are selling.

If patience is not your virtue, there is always the option of running a big flashy promotion. Just make sure you follow the rules....

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Put anything in a Facebook tab

Forgive me. I have not blogged in almost a year. I have had an internal debate about whether or not social media marketing was the new telemarketing.

Anyhoo, recently Facebook has changed what they will allow you to do in a Facebook tab. Previously you had to use Facebook Mark up Language (FBML) which although breakable, was a real P.o.S to work with. These days you can put anything you want into a tab. If you can dream it you can build it, and by and large it is not very hard. I mean I can do it, and I am hungover. Surely you could do it even better.

I thought I had better share some of the new possibilities. Not enough people have both the social media knowledge and the coding ability to implement cool stuff. This post will contain an example of what you can now do with your Facebook page, along with the code & step by step to get it working on your site. The code stuff may look crazy, but it is pretty simple. Your social media consultant/geek should be able to sort it out & change it round.

Anyone with even as limited coding knowledge as me (1 year learning) can build cool stuff into their pages.

Example: Recently I built a test tab for a TV station which allowed them to show their lunchtime news bulletin live on one of their Facebook tabs. It also displayed a live Twitter feed of hashtagged comments, and had a Facebook livestream function on the same tab - allowing people to gossip about whatever was on TV.

Interactive TV inside your Facebook tab anyone?

Here is the tab, with the NZ TV channel taken out & replaced with live CBS from a uStream feed. (note: I also set up and ran a test of this using a live uStream feed from my phone - you really can do anything with it)

And here is the entire code you need to build it:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "">
<html xmlns="">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8" />
<title>CBS test</title>


<table width="500" border="0" cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0">
<td width="360" valign="top"><center><object classid="clsid:d27cdb6e-ae6d-11cf-96b8-444553540000" width="360" height="246" id="utv800336"><param name="flashvars" value="autoplay=false&amp;brand=embed&amp;cid=522594&amp;v3=1"/><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="movie" value=""/><embed flashvars="autoplay=false&amp;brand=embed&amp;cid=522594&amp;v3=1" width="360" height="246" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" id="utv800336" name="utv_n_836313" src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" /></object><br /><br />
<div id="fb-root"></div><script src=";xfbml=1"></script><fb:live-stream event_app_id="104908912928390" width="360" height="300" xid="" always_post_to_friends="false"></fb:live-stream></td>
<td width="120"><script src=""></script>
new TWTR.Widget({
version: 2,
type: 'search',
search: '#CBS',
interval: 6000,
title: 'Tweets with #CBS',
subject: '',
width: 120,
height: 500,
theme: {
shell: {
background: '#8ec1da',
color: '#ffffff'
tweets: {
background: '#ffffff',
color: '#444444',
links: '#1985b5'
features: {
scrollbar: true,
loop: true,
live: true,
hashtags: true,
timestamp: true,
avatars: true,
toptweets: true,
behavior: 'default'
<td colspan="2"></td>


That is it! 55 lines of code and we are there. To plug it into your Facebook page, copy & paste it, save it as a .aspx Facebook iFrame support does not like .html much), and stick it up on your server somewhere.

Next we have to set up the app in Facebook, in 4 steps:

1) Go to and click on " + set up a new app". Give it a name & agree to the terms and conditions.

2) In the canvas URL box enter the address to the folder on your server where you hid the code - make sure you put the forward slash at the end of the folder address!!

3) In the Page URL box, enter the full address for the code you uploaded to your server:

4) Save it, go to "Application Profile Page" then click on "Add to my Page"

That is it. You are all done. Now if this makes no sense to you, don't worry. Give it to your geek and they will suss it out.

As bung/geeky as this code may look, it is three really simple bits of code that anyone can find on the internet, all glued together in a table 520 pixels wide (maximum width of a FB tab) and with 20 spare pixels for scroll bars to appear without breaking it. You can embed anything you want in your Facebook tab - YouTube, chat, google analytics, your office/factory/restaurant/bar's webcam, radio stream....anything you want.

Now if you will forgive me, I am going for a beer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My favourite SM campaign lately

Oh Philips, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The casette, the compact disc, the DVD, and now the wonderful Philips Cinema TV Parallel Lines campaign.

It has compelling content to launch with - 5 short films all made by Ridley Scott Associates. These films, from 5 different directors, all use the same dialogue, yet are all very different experiences. The are all very cool, especially the two I posted below.

It has fantastic prizes for people who enter their own short film - again using the same dialogue. This encourages people to create their own content. These prizes are open worldwide, so there is no moment when you realize you can't win because you dont live in the US. Blah.

It has a winner which will be decided (largely) by public vote, encouraging people to have their say. This will also ensure that those who enter will get all of their friends to go to the site, watch the ads, and vote.

It has subtlety. The short films are framed in a Philips TV, but this is the only branding visible, and you quickly stop noticing even this. But it does show you the back light function of the TV in question. This feature may sound like it is no big deal, but when viewed in this format it really shows off its own coolness.

It has an integrated Facebook page with additional content, including interviews, opinions, etc which further enhance the engagement of the desired audience. The page invites people to post questions they would like to ask the various directors, with the best ones answered the following week. This connects the audience with the celebrities, something all us normaltins aspire to.

Speaking of celebrities. It has Ridley Scott's stamp on it. Alien. Blade Runner. (cough) Thelma & Louise (cough). Nuff said.

This campaign is everything that a social media campaign should be (oh, except it is big budget, but hey - it's Ridley Scott!!!).

Well done Philips. Anthony likes this.

Here are two of the 5 launch films. I had real trouble choosing which ones were best though. I really like the one with the blind girl, and the one with the creepy voyeur. The CGI one is really cool too. I guess you will just have to go watch them all on the youtube channel.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

How much is your Facebook page worth? (part 2)

Yesterday I got lost in some math trying to explain my theory about how to value the PR of a Facebook page based on the initial number of fans, number of interactions, number of fans gained (or lost), and the number of wall posts you do during a given period.

It also takes into account 2 different personality types that can be found on the web – mass influencers & normal web users. After all, there are two kinds of people in the world – people who are stupid enough to think there are only two kinds of people, and those who know better.

If you are really keen, you can see the math & links to the research behind the theory here. Be careful though, it hurts my eyes looking at – and I wrote it.

It does not look at ROI in terms of sales, conversions, new customers etc. But tracking on your landing pages, ecommerce page etc should give you those figures.

Anyways, here for you to use, abuse, criticize and break is a little web thingy which you can plug your own numbers into and get a value for the PR generated by your Facebook page over a given time period.

The tool is designed to give you a value over a set period, the more frequently you use it, the more accurate it will be. Keep track of each ensuing week’s value and add them up to give you a value over a longer period of time.

This model will reflect the changes in the value of your Facebook page as you invoke more or less reaction, as you gain or lose followers etc. This makes it a bit more accurate than saying “We have X number of fans so our page is worth X x Y dollars per year.” Some weeks your page will be more effective (and worth more) than other weeks.

You can get all the info required from your Facebook insights page. If you have lost followers, enter a negative number into the box and see what happens.

Please note that this is using a CPM of NZ$6.95 as this is what Facebook charges for an ad on the home page. This is the default figure, but feel free to change it into other currencies or amounts.

What do you think?