Facebook will announce this week that the social networking giant has reached 500 million members, a gigantic milestone projected for 2010 earlier in the year. As a way to celebrate the achievement, the company will launch “Facebook Stories,” a “visual memorial” to the ways that the site has changed people’s lives for the better. The figures come from Facebook marketing boss Randi Zuckerberg last week, who says while past announcements have just been about the numbers, this announcement will be “about the users.” Facebook Stories will sort user-submitted stories by location and theme. A few of the themes are “finding love” and “natural disasters,” and the stories will be capped at 420 characters, the same as a status update.
Social media such as Facebook and Twitter or blogging sites have become powerful tools that influence what people buy, online researcher Nielsen said Wednesday, urging business to embrace the trend. Nearly three in four people worldwide who use the Internet have visited a social networking or blog, spending an average of almost six hours a month on them, The Nielsen Company said in a report. Of the seven biggest brands online globally, three are social media networking sites – Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube – it said in its latest report on social media trends in the Asia Pacific region. According to Nielsen’s findings, online product reviews are the third most trusted source of information when consumers decide whether to purchase a product, coming after recommendations from friends and family. From China and India to Australia, online reviews are a major influence in buying electronics items, cosmetics, cars and food, among other things, it said.
Facebook April 19 introduced Community Pages that feature Wikipedia information and a new option to link their profile information to Facebook Pages they endorse. Users who want to add more connections to their profile, can click “Like,” which replaced the “Become a Fan” option. Facebook, which also offered new privacy features to let users limit which of their friends may see what info they decide to share, is counting on these new Pages options to help strengthen the connective social tissue among its 400 million-plus users.
Facebook April 19 offered a glimpse at its next designs on the social Web with Community Pages that feature Wikipedia information and a new option to let users connect to Facebook Pages they endorse from their profiles.
Soon, parts of users’ Facebook profiles will offer “connections” that link to Facebook Pages, those Web pages the social network offers to let groups promote themselves.
When users go to their Facebook profile on the Website, users will see a box that recommends Facebook Pages based on the interests and affiliations users previously added.
Users can connect to all these Pages by clicking “Link All to My Profile” or choose to connect to some of those Pages by going to “Choose Pages Individually” and checking or unchecking specific Pages.
When a user makes his choices, text submissions they previously had for the current city, hometown, education and work, and likes and interests sections of their profile will be replaced by links to these Pages.
Users who want to add more connections to their profile, can click “Like,” adding that connection in the related area of their profile’s Info section. “Like,” as eWEEK noted March 30 has replaced the “Become a Fan” option for Pages.
“As part of a larger effort to improve the user experience and promote consistency across the site, we’ve changed the language for Pages from “Fan” to “Like” to offer a light-weight and consistent way for users to connect with the people, things and topics they’re passionate about,” a Facebook spokesperson told Eweek April 19.
“This includes in the Fan boxes which Page owners are able to place on their sites. These will now be called “Like boxes” and will continue to show a selection of users who like a Page and give users the opportunity to like the corresponding Facebook Page from wherever they see these boxes.”
Meanwhile, Community Pages are a new type of Facebook Page dedicated to a topic that is owned by the community connected to it. For each Community Page, users will be able to learn more about a topic or an experience.
“Community Pages are still in beta, but our long-term goal is to make them the best collection of shared knowledge on a topic,” Li said. “We’re starting by showing Wikipedia information, but we’re also looking for people who are passionate about any of these topics to sign up to contribute to the Page. We’ll let you know when we’re ready for your help.”
InsideFacebook reported that Facebook is launching more than 6.5 million Community Pages, which will include a live stream of relevant Facebook information and public status updates from friends in addition to relevant information about the Page from Wikipedia.
Facebook, which also offered new privacy features to let users limit which of their friends may see what info they decide to share, is counting on these new Pages options to help strengthen the connective social tissue among its 400 million-plus users.
The social network announced its new Pages plans two days before its F8 developers’ conference, where the company is expected to unveil a universal like button to help Website publishers surface Facebook content their visitors can share with one another.
This effort, including a sharing toolbar, is geared to extend Facebook’s walled network deeper across the Web.
The United States said Thursday that the battle for human rights is increasingly being fought on the Internet as China, Iran and other states try to block access by political activists and others. In its 2009 report on human rights abuses worldwide, the State Department highlighted how the Internet has become a battleground for supporters and opponents of fundamental rights like freedom of expression and assembly. It was “a year in which more people gained greater access than ever before to more information about human rights through the Internet, cell phones, and other forms of connective technologies,” it said. “Yet at the same time it was a year in which governments spent more time, money, and attention finding regulatory and technical means to curtail freedom of expression on the Internet and the flow of critical information,” it added. Such governments also sought “to infringe on the personal privacy rights of those who used these rapidly evolving technologies,” it added. In Iran, after the contested presidential elections, authorities cracked down on new media such as Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. In China, the government “increased its efforts to monitor Internet use, control content, restrict information, block access to foreign and domestic Web sites, encourage self-censorship, and punish those who violated regulations. “The government employed thousands of persons at the national, provincial, and local levels to monitor electronic communications,” the report said.
Facebook has raised the minimum age to join its social networking site from 13 to 14 according to information released Thursday by the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD). Up until now the minimum age to join Facebook was 13, in line with US legislation. Thursday’s decision brings Facebook in line with Spanish legislation, which dictates that information of the kind exchanged on Facebook cannot be shared by children under the age of 14 and is a response to a personal request from the AEPD’s director, Artemi Rallo. Spain is the only country where Facebook has increased its minimum age for people to join its social network. The AEPD has had a number of meetings with those in charge of the various social networking sites, and in last July’s meeting with the board of Facebook in Spain, Artemi Rallo asked for the minimum age to be raised and also asked for measures to be implemented to limit access to under-14s. The director of the AEPD has now convened another meeting with the directors of Facebook to discuss outstanding demands and in particular, privacy issues, which the network’s recent updates provoked amongst users.
In my ‘day job’ as one of the Director of a Social Media (ROI) consultancy firm called Media Focus UK Ltd I am always on the look out for fantastic thought leaders and columnists to follow and Gordon MacMillan at Brand Republic is one of those. He stays three paces ahead of others in thinking and can simply express what many feel needs to be said in readable and enjoyable terms.
In his latest posting (link below) he discusses the perennial problem of 3 out of every 4 marketeers or communication people not really understanding where social media fits as a part of their major promotional strategies and that they are ‘confused about the role.’ He cites someone who is not – Howard Schultz – the boss of Starbucks.
Schultz is asked in an interview which one channel will take precedence, here’s his answer:
“I think social media is a natural extension of our brand because we want to do things that are unexpected, and to speak to all sorts of people who are engaged with social media. It’s tough to measure but there is an incremental benefit to sales.”
MacMillan goes on “No one questions the value of PR or thinks too much about assigning ROI to it. It is clearly done well worth its weight in gold” and that there is one thing (the PR thing) that struck him, “Howard Schultz must think about ROI when he thinks about the 200% rise in profits at Starbucks in the last quarter.”
MacMillan continues “Schultz must think about ROI when he discusses how the coffee chain attracted 5.1 million Facebook fans and 768, 527 followers and how according to Nielsen the time spent by users on social networking sites has more than doubled since December 2007. Nielsen said last month that consumers spent more than five and half hours on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009.”
A Chinese proverb (I forget who said it now – perhaps Lao Tse) said something along the lines of “If you want people to follow you, walk behind them.” Meaning, I’d guess you can persuade people easier if you are one of them and are listening to what they think, feel and are responding to them and valuing them all. Isn’ t that what Starbucks are doing in this example?
MacMillan concludes “If you want to talk to these people you’d better be where they are. I’ll mention Dell again. You kind of have to and while the $6.5m it made via Twitter is a drop in the ocean it is part of a growing drop that many savvy firms are part of.”
Free downloads of real life examples on how social media is changing the way business works – taken from newspapers ’09
Google is trying to make users’ search results more social, adding new features to its search page and integrating relevant links from people you know and connect with online. As Maureen Heymans, Google’s technical lead for social search, writes on Google’s official blog, the company is planning to integrate “social circles” and “social content: “These links will take you to a new interface we’ve added where you can see the connections and content behind your social results. Clicking on “My social circle” shows your extended network of online contacts and how you’re connected. Clicking on “My social content” lists your public pages that might appear in other people’s social results. This new interface should give you a peek under the hood of how Social Search builds your social circle and connects you with web content from your friends and extended network.” There are two important points to this new feature, both of which are not necessarily about just seeing pictures from your friends in search results. First, Google is hoping to drive adoption of its Google Profile directory, which may end up being a staple of your identity online. Second, it’s a clear step in a new direction when it comes to adding more trust to the random results that typically show up on a search results page. As Google writes, “my friend’s blog is more relevant because I know and trust the author.”
The 350 million members of Facebook, the world’s biggest social-networking site, will be asked to review and update their privacy settings, as part of a drive to ensure people are sharing personal information only with approved contacts.
“Facebook is transforming the world’s ability to control its information online by empowering people to personalise the audience for each piece of content they share,” said Elliot Schrage, vice president of communications, public policy and marketing at Facebook. “We’ve always designed Facebook to enable people to control what information they share with whom – it’s the reason our service continues to attract such a broad and diverse group of users from around the world. We’re proud of the latest evolution we’re announcing today and we will continue to innovate to serve users’ changing needs.”
The social networking site said it was implementing the changes in response to requests “from both users and experts”. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, announced the company’s plans to refine the site’s privacy settings, and do away with geographic networks, last week.
Over the coming days, users logging on to the site will be presented with a “transition tool”, which will guide them through the process of reviewing and updating their privacy settings. New users will be encouraged to learn more about privacy once they complete the registration process and will have the opportunity to view a user guide that gives detailed information about privacy settings.
“One of our primary goals is to consistently improve Facebook and expand what our users can do through the site, and that includes providing them with new tools to help control their information,” said Chris Cox, vice president of product management. “The features we’re announcing today aren’t the end point, but are simply the latest step in our iterative process. Great suggestions helped us get here, and we look forward to the feedback that will help us develop the next innovation in privacy and user control.”
Facebook has been criticised in recent weeks for its failure to include a “panic button” on the site, which would allow users to instantly report abusive or inappropriate behaviour to the relevant authorities. Facebook said it did not believe this was the best solution to dealing with the problem of cyberbullying and internet grooming, and has sought alternative measures.
Under the new privacy scheme, the visibility of content created by minors – defined as those Facebook users aged 18 and under – will be limited to only those contacts labelled as “friends” or “friends of friends”, or within a user’s school or work networks, even if they set their profile so that it is visible to everyone on the site.