Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Emile Zola famously stated back in 1901, “In my view, you cannot claim to have really seen something until you have photographed it.” Today, some make a similar joke: “it did not happen unless it is posted on Facebook.”

For those who use Facebook, whose friends are on the site and logging in many times a day, we have come to experience the world differently. We are increasingly aware of how our lives will look as a Facebook photo, status update or check-in. As I type this in a coffee shop, I can “check-in” on Foursquare, I can “tweet” a funny one-liner overheard from the table next to me and I can take an ‘interesting’ photo of the perfectly-formed foam on top of my cappuccino. It is easy; I can do all of this and more from my phone in a matter of minutes. And, most importantly, there will be an audience for all of this. Hundreds of the people I am closest with will view all of this and some will reply with comments and “likes.”

Simply, I have been trained to see the world in terms of what I can post to the Internet. I’ve learned to live and present a life that is “likeable.”

Many have rightly criticized Facebook over how the site turns the unquantifiable beauty of human experience into something that fits into a database , or how Facebook misuses that database to earn fantastic profits. These are valid critiques; however, my concern is that the ultimate power of social media is how it burrows into us, our minds, our consciousness, changing how we consciously experience the world even when logged off.

Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal wrote about how technology changes consciousness. For example, the invention of the railroad changed our perception of speed. He writes, “humans had to learn to look at the landscape, instead of trying to focus on the foreground.” The photograph Zola spoke of did the same. Invented some 150 years ago, photography caused a global sensation around the new possibility: to document ourselves and our world in new ways, in greater detail and in lasting permanence.

Today, social media has also provided a new, more social way to document ourselves, lives and world. Never before was it possible to record and displayto all of our friends a stream of photos, check-ins and status updates filled with our thoughts and opinions in such quantity and with such ease. The transformative power of social media surely is of similar magnitude and consequence as the invention of the photograph.

The photographer knows well that after taking many pictures one develops “the camera eye”: vision becomes like the viewfinder, always perceiving the world through the logic of the camera mechanism via framing, lighting, depth of field, focus, movement and so on. Even without the camera in hand the world becomes transformed into the status of the potential-photograph.

Today, we are in danger of developing a “Facebook Eye”: our brains always looking for moments where the ephemeral blur of lived experience might best be translated into a Facebook post; one that will draw the most comments and “likes.”

Facebook fixates the present as always a future past. By this I mean that social media users have become always aware of the present as something we can post online that will be consumed by others. Are we becoming so concerned about posting our lives on Facebook that we forget to live our lives in the here-and-now? Think of a time when you took a trip holding a camera in your hand and then think of when you did the same without the camera. The experience is slightly different. We have a different attachment to our present when we are not concerned with documenting.

Today, social media means we are always traveling with the camera in our hands (metaphorically and often literally); we always can document. When going to see live music I notice more and more people distracted from the performance in order to take photos and videos to post to Facebook and YouTube. When the breakfast I made the other week looked especially delicious, I posted a photo of it before even taking a bite. The Facebook Eye in action.

Susan Sontag once wrote that “everything exists to end in a photograph” and today we might say that more and more of what we do exists to end up on Facebook. The tail of Facebook documentation has come to wag the dog of lived experience.

A great read from Nathan Jurgenson at the Atlantic on how social media changes the way we perceive the world.

Today, Facebook launches a new ad unit called “Sponsored Stories” that turns Page updates, as well as Places checkins, Likes, and application activity by users into advertisements. Sponsored Stories will allow advertisers to augment viral buzz by giving greater distribution and visibility to posts that endorse their organization or business.

Sponsored Stories will initially be available through Facebook’s managed brand advertising services for display on the home page and profile, and in the coming weeks it will become part of the self-serve performance advertising tool for display across the site. Launch partners for the ad unit include Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Levi’s, and Anheuser-Busch, as well as social good organizations (RED) and UNICEF.

Facebook has been testing the ad unit for a few months and says it has resulted in brand lift and increased engagement, ad recall, and likeliness to be recommended to friends for the organizations that tried it.

When a user checks in to claimed Place, Likes a Page, or shares content to the news feed from an application that has paid for Sponsored Stories, that activity may appear as an advertisement to their friends. The ad is shown in special right sidebar module, and displays the user’s name and photo, any additional context or friends they’ve tagged, a picture of and link to the advertised Facebook Page or app, and the Likes and comments from the original post.

Similar to social context ads and Ads for Applications that Facebook launched this year, Sponsored Stories increases the relevance of advertisements to users by displaying a recommendation from one of their friends. Seeing that a friend has checked in at Starbucks is a much more compelling reason to visit than a standard advertisement telling a user to go get a coffee.

Jim Squires of Facebook Product Marketing says “all privacy settings are honored”, so the ads will only be visible to those who can see the original post they draw from. This means users will only see Sponsored Stories by their friends who haven’t restricted them from viewing their shared content. Advertisers can overlay any of Facebook’s standard demographic targeting parameters to further refine who sees a Sponsored Story.

Facebook plans to educate users about how Sponsored Stories respects their privacy through a blog post and explanation in the Help Center. However, there won’t be any link to this information within the ad unit. Some users may not want their content turned into ads, and since there’s no way to opt-out or turn off Sponsored Stories, some protest should be expected.

Page post Sponsored Stories are more straightforward. Pages can buy greater distribution for their latest news feed update, ensuring an audience for a particularly important link or announcement. Users who Like the Page will see the post in Sponsored Stories without having to Like it or take any other action.

Sponsored Stories co-opt a user’s actions, voice, and identity to create ads that resonate with their friends. While Twitter has diluted its content stream with promoted tweets in order to make money, Facebook may have found a significant new revenue stream without selling out the beloved news feed.

Interesting move from Facebook that will delight advertisers but users not so much. You can’t opt out of sponsored stories, unless you judiciously avoid clicking ‘Like’ on any brand pages/apps or activity … or you stop using Facebook altogether! (Oh the horror!) 

The ad will also include whatever text you use in your checkin, so expect some pranksters to mess around with that aspect. A suggestion from Twitter: “Just checked into the Starbucks around the corner and this mocha latte tastes like goat urine.”

Sponsored stories are currently available only to big-budget advertisers, but I hope this initiative is ported to self-serve ads soon. I definitely want to play around with this and see how it works.

Check out the official Facebook Marketing video for more info. (link in first line)

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I just added ‘Foosball’ to ‘Sports I Play’ on many of my friends’ profiles. Yes, you read that right.

You can now (depending on privacy settings) add interests to your friends profiles (similar to how you can check them in to Facebook Places). I was tempted to add ‘water ballet’ and ‘jazzercise’ to my friends’ profiles, but unfortunately you have to add the sport to your own profile and then only can you add it to others’ profile as a sport you play ‘with’ them. 

In trying to replicate this it appears it only currently applies to sports. But this is clearly now a trend by Facebook of opening up your profile and activity to input from your social graph. Your friends can now help define you or describe you in a big way. I can see people loving this, but more than likely most will hate the fact that it is ‘opt out’ and not ‘opt in’ by default.

P.S: If you want to try this out. Go to edit your new profile, add a sport, and Facebook will give you an option to add who you play the sport with.

Sport

John Pistole, the head of the Transportation Security Administration, announced yesterday that full body scanners at airports across the nation will be seamlessly integrated with Facebook next month, allowing travelers to save, tag, and share their near-naked security photos with friends, family, and co-workers through the popular social networking site. Immediately after being subjected to a scan, the traveler’s photo will be automatically uploaded to a public album on Facebook and tagged accordingly. According to Pistole, this cutting-edge integration will allow travelers to stay more connected than ever with their social networks, letting Facebook users know when their friends have made it through airport security and if they are smuggling weapons in their rectums in real time.

Foursquare integration is rumored to be rolled out in 2011.

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I’ve been noticing a lot of people in my newsfeed requesting an invite to the upcoming Facebook Messaging service through an application called ‘FMail Inviter’ today.

First off, all one needs to do to request an invite to the upcoming Facebook Messaging is to go to http://www.facebook.com/about/messages/

As for FMail Inviter, some smartass has coded an app, the first screen of which mimics the official layout at the above mentioned URL:

Fbmail1

After clicking on the first screen, we reach this window where a standard FB ‘permission’ box opens up.

However take a look at all the info it is asking for!! WOAH!

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    If you clicked ‘Allow’, the application now has access to ALL your info on FB, can send you email, can post to your wall, can access your data when you are not logged in and can login to your pages!!!! 
    Uninstall this app if you have inadvertently added it and in general be careful of any app on FB that asks for too much information. As Facebook gets more and more mainstream, there will inevitably be an increase in the number of viruses/scams/phishing etc. It is up to the user to be alert and keep himself/herself safe from these attacks.

 

As FourSquare gets set to hit the 4 million user mark, I thought it would be pertinent to jot down a few of my thoughts on the service.

 

By the look of things, Foursquare seems to be surviving the Facebook Places onslaught pretty well. I believe there are three reasons for this:

1. Facebook hasn’t really done anything with Places after the initial announcement. Apart from checking into a venue, there is not much one can do.

2. The ability awarded to a user’s friends to check in him/her into a venue riled up many people and led to a wave of distrust in Facebook Places. 

3. Foursquare has been innovating and announcing partnerships at a blazing speed. Worth a particular mention is the ‘Blimp’ partnership for Conan O’Brien’s new talk show coming up on a US channel.

 

On a macro-level however, I feel that location services still haven’t figured out the ‘sweet spot’ yet. Right now the system is all about ‘check-ins’ and mayorships, but I expect that to change soon. When I started using Foursquare, I was super-active in checking in everywhere I went. But of late, my usage has drastically reduced due to the foll reasons: 

1. Check-in fatigue: After a while it gets painful to whip out your phone wherever you go, start the app, locate a good signal, hope the GPS works fine, find your venue and check in. 3 months ago, there was a huge battle between people in my office to be the ‘Mayor’ of the company. Now no one cares. There is an iPhone app available already on the App Store which allows auto-checkins. It’s a great idea, if you are OK with recharging your phone every 5 hours.

2. Lack of incentives: Unless businesses start jumping on the bandwagon, there is little incentive other than bragging rights for users to use them. (Of course, it can also help you find your friends if both of you are in the same vicinity but the probability is low, so am not considering it for now) 

GAP had done a 1 day 25% off promo for 4SQ checkins in the US which was a great success. (They did get this move right :)

3. Irrelevant updates: Over time, I have seen people checking into bus-stops, highways, traffic jams and even their own homes. Updates like these are just noise and a waste of my time. 

4. Gaming the system: Sitting in Chembur, I can check into a venue in Andheri and 10 mins later in South Mumbai. As Foursquare doesn’t seem to have any safeguards against cheating, the people with maximum spare time to play around with the application end up becoming the Mayors of venues anyways. 

5. Convergence: I don’t like having to open up a separate app purely for checking in. This is why I think Facebook Places is a huge threat as it offers your social graph as well as location services at hand in one application. IMO, over time, Foursquare will have to integrate deeper with Facebook in order to survive.

 

Every now and then you find a little gem online and this is one of those. The video comes courtesy of Greenpeace, in one of their many anti-Facebook moves. Their aim is to get Facebook to ‘unfriend coal’ and it’s a fantastically timed campaign, given the imminent release of The Social Network. This will hopefully raise huge awareness around the initiative and I look forward to what response we might get from Facebook out of this.

Australian broadcaster Foxtel, which is the official broadcaster in the country for the Commonwealth Games, has released an interesting promotion on Facebook called ‘Delhi Yourself’. 

Once you submit your profile picture to them, they will email you a hand-made illustration of the same within two days with a Delhi (read Indian) theme. The promotion seems to be picking up well with the special ‘Follow the Games’ page generating approx 5.5k ‘likes’ so far.

Here is what you gotta do to get yours:

1. Set your profile picture to the one you want illustrated. (Important because the mechanism doesn’t allow you to choose a picture)

2. Like the Foxtel Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/#!/FollowTheGames?ref=ts

3. Click on the ‘Delhi Yourself’ tab in the page to work the magic.

My picture is attached below. I kinda like it, though I don’t know why they had to raise my hairline further upwards. Those damned Aussies! :)

Know of any Indian companies who are getting on the CWG bandwagon in the online space? Let me know.

Delhi_urself