Archive for the ‘ Facebook ’ Category


Twitter faces growing pressure to attract new users and dramatically increase engagement on the platform. Can it ever rival the numbers and growth of Facebook?

Twitter’s honeymoon as a publicly traded company could be coming to an end. With growth stalling and timeline views on the decline for the first time ever, Twitter finds itself at a crossroads.

Twitter Suffers from Growing Pains
While its quest for more ad revenue continues unabated, the company faces even greater pressure to attract new users and dramatically increase engagement on the platform.

“Twitter has seen its sequential MAU growth rate decelerate sharply after hitting 50 million, raising concerns that its quirkier nature might cap its potential audience in the U.S. at a ceiling well below that of Facebook.”
– Seth Shafer, SNL Kagan

“We as a company aren’t going to be satisfied — I am not going to be satisfied — until we reach every connected person on the planet, period,” CEO Dick Costolo said at last week’s Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference.

The challenge ahead for Twitter coupled with Costolo’s grandiose goal puts the company in a predicament unlike any it has confronted before. It also fans the unfortunate, yet inevitable comparison to Facebook. While Twitter ended 2013 with an average monthly active user (MAU) base of 241 million, Facebook surpassed 1.23 billion. For every user that engages on Twitter, at least five are actively using Facebook.

“Twitter needs to do something to grow to the size of Facebook but the jury is still out if there’s a clear path for Twitter or any other company to do that, or if Facebook is a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly that was in the right place at the right time,” says Seth Shafer, associate analyst at SNL Kagan.

Costolo hasn’t helped matters by failing to meet previous internal estimates for growth either. Early last year the executive reportedly told employees that he expected to reach 400 million MAUs by the end of 2013. Failing to double its active user base last year, Twitter reported a 30 percent increase in its stead.

“Twitter’s overall MAU growth is still pretty healthy, but it’s all coming internationally where users monetize at a much lower rate. U.S. growth has slowed significantly at about 50 million MAUs,” says Shafer.

Facebook blew past 50 million U.S. MAUs without blinking and moreover, its sequential increases didn’t dip into the single digits until it surpassed about 120 million users in the U.S., according to SNL Kagan data.

“Twitter, however, has seen its own sequential MAU growth rate decelerate sharply after hitting 50 million MAUs, raising concerns that its quirkier nature and niche focus might cap its potential audience in the United States at a ceiling well below that of Facebook,” Shafer adds.

Twitter’s ‘Road Map’ for Growth
Nonetheless, Twitter’s lead executive says he is optimistic about rising user growth. While the company is being careful not to make specific promises or announcements about how it will improve on these points, Costolo has frequently referenced a road map of late that lays out a strategy for achieving better growth over the course of the year.

Pointing to field research and internal data on how users engage with the platform, he hints at a series of new features and design changes that are expected to drive new user growth. Twitter’s vault of data and newfound capability to experiment with multiple beta tests simultaneously has “informed a very specific road map for the kinds of capabilities we want to introduce to the product that we believe will drive user growth,” says Costolo.

He is quick to point out, however, that no single product feature or change to the platform will lead to a “quantum leap change in growth.” Instead it will be an accumulation of numerous tweaks throughout the year that give him confidence. “You’re going to be seeing a significant amount of experimentation of different ideas we have,” he says.

While dispelling concerns about lagging growth in the recently closed quarter, Costolo says there was no specific event or trend during the quarter that meaningfully impacts how the company thinks about user growth. Indeed, improvements made during the finals months of 2013, particularly in messaging and discovery, have already paid off. Favorites and retweets rose 35 percent from the previous quarter and direct messages jumped 25 percent over the same period, according to Twitter.

“I’m starting to see those interactions do what we hoped they would do,” he says. “It’s more about pushing the content forward and pushing back the scaffolding of Twitter.”

The company also hopes to attract new users by simplifying its on-boarding process and dramatically reducing the 11 steps a new account currently requires.

Under the Shadow of Facebook
Twitter has successfully maneuvered through its fair share of challenges before. Be it the fail whale sightings and power struggles of its early days or the feverish hunt for ad revenue of late, the company has found its way.

But now with its first complete quarter as a public company in the rear view, the demands for growth from investors will only get louder with each passing quarter. Twitter will have to deliver some big numbers in 2014 to keep Wall Street happy, but Costolo’s comments also suggest that much of that success will depend on a clear differentiation between Twitter’s role in the world and that of Facebook.

“Twitter is this indispensable companion to life in the moment,” Costolo says. “If you think about it as a product, I think that misses the impact and the reach of what we really believe is a content, communications and data platform.”

By that distinction, the opportunities afforded to Twitter are “enormous,” says Costolo. “We believe we are the only platform where you get an understanding of wide reach in the moment while it’s happening.”

Tapping into big data and personalization could help, but it won’t move the needle far enough for Twitter to reach the scale of Facebook, says Shafer of SNL Kagan.

Emerging from under the shadow of Facebook will be a struggle for Twitter unless it makes dramatic changes to the service or goes on an acquisition binge aimed at cobbling something larger together, he adds. And even that would be a challenge because of course, “we already have a pretty big thing like that called Facebook,” Shafer says.


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The Rise of Social Media as a Career (Infographic)

Written by admin
October 11th, 2013

Few years ago, calling yourself a “social media manager” would likely have been met with a confused look and the assumption that you waste your time goofing off on Facebook. But over the last few years, careers in social media have exploded as companies realize the value of reaching their customers on the medium where they spend most of their time.

According to data from LinkedIn compiled by social marketing platform Offerpop, there has been a remarkable 1,357 percent increase in social media positions posted on LinkedIn since 2010.

For more on the rise of social media jobs, take a look at the infographic below:

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Facebook IPO: It’s coming, but when?

Written by nancy@freetrainingkey.com
November 19th, 2011

When will the market mint a new round of Facebook millionaires? The folks at Business Insider suggest an IPO filing may hit the wires soon, possibly in January.

The sourcing is attributed to someone described in the article as being “close to Facebook employees”–a description that narrows it down to Mr. Bacciagalupe and about 300 million other Americans. But let’s preempt the drama and stipulate the obvious: Facebook will go public when–as company management has repeated ad nauseum–the time is right.

But when? That’s the tricky part.

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Everyone knows that the clock is ticking. In January, when Facebook and Goldman Sachs struck a deal to raise $500 million, the social network shot off a press release noting that it “expected to pass 500 shareholders at some point in 2011, and therefore expects to start filing public financial reports no later than April 30, 2012.”

Facebook also has to cater to the needs of its most important constituency: company employees, who are watching bug-eyed as the implied value of their stock options continues to soar. Facebook was worth $15 billion in 2007; its value has since more than quintupled. That has left more than a few Zuckerbergians salivating at the prospect of the “liquidity event” which would catapult them into the ranks of the 1 percent.

Unfortunately for most of them, they only remain filthy rich in their dreams. What with the competition for top-ranked software engineers keener than ever, Facebook needs to be able to offer the same coin of the realm as its publicly-held rivals. The hang-up is that employees who joined before fall 2007 could only sell their stock on secondary markets if they quit the company. Facebook employees who joined after fall 2007 received restricted stock which they can cash in only after Facebook holds its IPO.

As for the timing of the Great Day, given how the world financial markets have a bad case of the blues with Europe’s banking system on the verge of a meltdown and the Einsteins in Congress charged with crafting a budget deal again proving their incompetence, this perhaps isn’t the best time for a Facebook IPO filing.

One day, though, it will be here.

Which Tech Giant Will Own the Future?

Written by nancy@freetrainingkey.com
November 4th, 2011

Of all of the companies, Apple has the most difficult path. This is because it recently lost the one person in the world who had the proper skills to run that company. This is because Steve Jobs redesigned Apple around his unique skill set. To continue at its current level, it can’t just be good — it has to be outstanding, and the firms that did this consistently last decade can be counted on one hand with four fingers left over.

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I ran into a new forward-looking video from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) last week that showcases a number of Microsoft technologies as they might be used a decade from now. Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) produced a video a few years ago, equally compelling, showcasing a future based on its technology; unfortunately, it hasn’t been able to demonstrate a single design win yet that indicates it is on that path. This got me thinking of a Philips (NYSE: PHG) video (unfortunately I don’t have a link) in the 1990s that basically predicted the iPhone — a device it never actually made.

Over the years, it has often seemed like the companies in power have people inside who can accurately see the future but are often cursed by people running the business who can’t or won’t execute against that vision. They are able to see the future but in some terrible parody of the cursed Greek prophetess Cassandra, who could see but not change the future, they are unable to benefit from it.

I’ll look at four companies that are at various stages and consider their future chances: Microsoft appears to be in decline; Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is in transition; Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) appears to be the next Microsoft — in a bad way; and Facebook is the current heir-apparent.

I’ll close with my product of the week: a notebook from Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) that looks like it was carved out of a block of aluminum and blends practicality with design elegance.
Microsoft on the Cusp

This is now Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft, and in many ways the firm bears little resemblance to the user-focused company that Paul Allen and Bill Gates launched in the 1980s. It is financially successful but clearly struggling in a market defined by Apple gadgets and user focus — which is somewhat ironic, given Microsoft’s initial success was largely because it was more user-focused than IBM (NYSE: IBM). The video I started out with accurately showcases a possible future for the company, but its historic problem is that it is too unfocused as a company, and the result is too many efforts that are massively under-resourced.

For instance, with Mango, the latest iteration of the Windows Phone platform, Microsoft has a product that is actually competitive and arguably better than Android — yet it is still losing market share, largely because it is massively underfunding it. It is spending billions on Bing, but the lack of progress there indicates it is under-resourced as well.

The test is not how much you spend, but whether you are making progress — and this new Microsoft focuses too much on containing costs and not enough on funding at levels that ensure success. That, to a large extent, is why it fails.

Channeling Yoda for a moment, it tries but it needs to do — and the end result continues to fall short of expectations. If Microsoft could accurately assess the cost of success, it would likely choose different battles to fight rather than underfunding the battles it is fighting. Seems like a simple thing, but if it made this one change, it would be far better for it.
Google: Death by Envy and Advertising

In 2007, this video foretold a future in which Google wins. It predicts that Google buys Microsoft in 2015 and pretty much takes over the world by 2050. Is really is rather interesting to watch. I do think it accurately showcases Google’s potential, but I don’t think Google is on this path either.

As was revealed in Steve Jobs’ biography, Jobs himself, effectively speaking from the grave, argued that Google was becoming Microsoft — too unfocused and too willing to toss crap out to the market. In short, Google needed to focus and grow up.

Children tend to obsess over showing up their elders. Mature adults focus on goals tied to success — well we should, anyway. Steve Jobs accurately described Google’s childlike excessive focus on Microsoft as its biggest problem and the reason that it has become a poor parody of that company.

Recently it even got its own version of the old Microsoft consent decree (which ironically mirrored IBM’s decades before). As I was writing, this info graphic was released showcasing that Android, Google’s premier operating system, pretty much screws the people who use it.

This brings up a second clear problem for Google, and that is quality. By separating the revenue from the product (it funds everything indirectly through advertising), it does what any product company knows is death: It makes its developers a cost center. Cost centers are naturally starved for funding and generally underperform as a result. So, for Google to reach its potential, it needs to stop focusing on showing Microsoft up, find a way to adequately resource its efforts, and focus instead on what it wants to be when it grows up — or it will fail, as Netscape did, for being the perennial child.

I also doubt Google wants to be remembered as the company that stole from Steve Jobs while being mentored and while Jobs was dying of cancer.
Facebook: Nibbled to Death

Facebook is clearly its own company. It doesn’t seem to be focusing excessively on any predecessor, and it is shifting its revenue sources from pure advertising into things more closely connected to products, like gaming. Interestingly, the video that showcases Facebook is being created, and it is being crowdsourced. This approach also showcases both the promise and problem for Facebook in the future. The video isn’t done, and the teaser is a collection of disjointed views from observers on the company’s future — kind of the video equivalent of a group of monkeys trying to type Shakespeare.

Because Facebook’s long-term success is most tied to how people interact, the core skills needed are more closely tied to skills like ethnography than they are to the engineering skills that typically define companies like this and currently define Facebook. In fact, coverage of Mark Zuckerberg (the CEO and vision behind Facebook) suggests that he is about as far from a people expert as we are likely to get in this business.

Already we are seeing services like Tagged, a social service designed to create deeper relationships, and Nextdoor, a Facebook-like secure offering focused on neighborhoods nibbling around Facebook’s edges. Services like this showcase Facebook’s core weakness — the very real problem that humans currently can’t scale to the relationship numbers that Facebook provides, and general services like Facebook have trouble focusing on the needs of small demographics or distinct geographies.

In short, Facebook’s future will likely be dependent on its ability to develop and apply leading expertise on human behavior and remain good enough for the majority of people looking for a social service. If it doesn’t, it isn’t Google it has to worry about — it is being nibbled to death by a ton of better-focused competing services, as barriers to entry remain very low in this segment.
Wrapping Up: Apple – The Next RIM or Reborn Again?

Of all of the companies, Apple has the most difficult path. This is because it recently lost the one person in the world who had the proper skills to run that company. This is because Steve Jobs redesigned Apple around his unique skill set. To continue at its current level, it can’t just be good — it has to be outstanding, and the firms that did this consistently last decade can be counted on one hand with four fingers left over.

Atari, Commodore, Netscape, Palm, Motorola and now Research in Motion (RIM) have all demonstrated that today’s champion can easily be tomorrow’s bozo. It doesn’t feel like Apple’s board or executive team has yet fully grasped that Apple can’t be sustained as it is without Jobs. It will have to change or find someone who can actually replace him.

Right now, this video showcases Apple’s future, and it desperately needs to change this outlook to something far more positive. In 1996, commenting on Apple, Steve Jobs appears in this video to have provided direction. But in the end, the company will have to maintain product passion at the top to continue to dominate — and right now, that is broken at Apple. Interestingly, this video by Corning may represent the best future for Apple, particularly if the new Apple TV rumor is true.

In the end, each of these companies must find in itself the vision, the focus, and the willingness to take the needed risks to define the future. Each could, but odds are that none of them will. Something to think about this week.
Product of the Week: Dell XPS 14z

Product of the Week

The XPS line has always been one of my favorites, and for most of this year, I carried the 17-inch older version of this product. The XPS 14z, initially released in China, represents the current state of the art in Windows 7 notebook computers. Pretty to look at and elegant in use, this laptop computer, at 14 inches, hits the proper balance between portability and usability in terms of size.

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Dell XPS 14z
Dell XPS 14z
(click image to enlarge)

Twelve inches is far more portable, but the screen and keyboard tradeoffs make them hard to use for heavy writers. Seventeen inches is an amazing desktop replacement, but portable it isn’t, and the weight and inability to use it in many planes — even in business class — makes it problematic.

While the 13.3-inch screen size is typically the better form factor, the unique LG Shuriken display this laptop uses is a 14-inch panel in a 13.3-inch mount, giving you the benefits of more screen size in a smaller laptop.

Dell went to a great deal of trouble to make sure this laptop balanced properly and unlike other premium laptops in its class (read MacBook Pros) it won’t try to iron your legs and dissipates heat properly.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, Dell is the only large PC company still run by its founder, and the XPS line is that company’s premier line. As a result, this is the product that is likely most closely designed for its founder.

Balance is important in any product, and whether you are buying from Apple or Dell, paying a little more for something you’ll depend upon is always worth the price — at least, it is to me. Since the XPS 14z is the quintessential Dell product and the most balanced Windows 7 consumer notebook I’ve yet seen, it is my product of the week.

5 Hidden dangers of Facebook

Written by admin
September 30th, 2011

Over the last few years, Facebook’s growth has been phenomenal. The world’s no. 1 social networking site also sometime back beat Google to become the most visited Web site in the US for an entire week at a stretch. However, the site has also lately being receiving lot of flak for its privacy policies.

 

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An expert in online privacy drew attention to the five dangers of sharing information on social networking site Facebook. Joan Goodchild, senior editor of CSO (Chief Security Officer) Online, said that marketing efforts by the company often results in a compromise on account holders’ privacy.

Goodchild noted five risks of using Facebook. They are:

1. According to Facebook policy last updated on April 2010, “When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. … The default privacy setting for certain types of information you post on Facebook is set to “everyone.” … Because it takes two to connect, your privacy settings only control who can see the connection on your profile page. If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.”

2. In March, private e-mail according to a Gawker report, private email addresses that many Facebook users wanted to keep hidden were revealed publicly on a multitude of Facebook profiles. The glitch was later resolved by Facebook.

3. Recently, a Facebook event invitation was reportedly sent to some over 2,300 friends of Jim Breyer, Accel Partners venture capitalist who sits on Facebook’s board of directors, asking “Would you like a Facebook phone number?” However, the message was actually a scam and the users who entered their passwords in response to the message in turn sent the whole thing to their friends lists too.

“This was a phishing scam and Jim’s account appears to have been compromised,” read a statement from Facebook as provided to venture industry news site PEHub.

4. On May 6th, the popular social network patched a major security bug that allowed users to snoop on their friends’ private chats, and view their pending friend requests. The exploit forced Facebook to temporarily disable chat.

5. Earlier this week, 15 privacy and consumer protection organizations filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, alleging that the site manipulates privacy settings to make users’ personal information available for commercial use.

Facebook focuses on media sharing and adds timeline

Written by admin
September 25th, 2011

Facebook has outlined plans to encourage users to share more of the media they consume – including music and movies – with friends.

Its founder Mark Zuckerberg also unveiled a dramatic redesign to the website, replacing user profiles with an audio visual timeline of their life.

The updates were revealed at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference.

A wave of new features in recent weeks have been welcomed by some users and caused annoyance to many others.

Facebook’s latest changes point to a desire to keep users engaged through new features, in the midst of rapid innovation from social networking rivals.

 

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The site’s application platform has been redesigned to allow users to share what they are consuming on streaming music services such as Spotify, and the movie rental site Netflix.

Continue reading the main story
“Start Quote
[indent]
Knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common, is awesome”
Mark ZuckerbergFacebook founder[/indent]
News sites, including the Guardian and Independent newspapers, are also included in the initial roll out.

Depending on privacy settings, users will be able to see what friends are doing – for example, playing a song – then listen-in themselves.

Mr Zuckerberg said he wanted to create, what he called, “real time serendipity”.

“Being able to click on someone’s music is a great experience, but knowing you helped a friend discover something new and they liked your taste in music, and that you now have that in common is awesome,” he added.

Facebook said that users would only be able to do as much on the site as its media partners allowed in each country, so free music sharing through streaming apps would only work where that service was already available outside Facebook.

New look
Alongside the deeper integration of media content, the restyling of Facebook’s profile pages is also likely to prove a hot topic among users.

Rory Cellan-Jones examines how Facebook’s announcement affects the social networking war

The most radical departure so far from the site’s well known profile format will doubtless prove contentious with its sometimes conservative members.

Identities will now be defined through a densely packed vertical timeline of major life events, made up of photos, videos and other items. The level of detail diminishes the further down a reader scrolls.

Profile pages had previously been limited to basic information along with a stream of every single item posted by a user.

The latest offering is significantly different to those of Facebook’s biggest social networking rivals, Google+ and Twitter, and more closely resembles the once-popular site Myspace.

“Facebook is positioning itself as not just your social graph online, but your life online,” Forrester Research analyst Sean Corcoran told the Associated Press.

Officials, residents take to social networks to talk about how to deal with impending storm
Computerworld – As people up and down the East Coast of the United States prepare for Hurricane Irene, social networks are being used to get the word out about its path and how best to deal with it.

 

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Federal agencies, disaster relief organizations and state governments have taken to Facebook and Twitter to warn people about the track of the approaching storm. The organizations are also using social sites to announce evacuation plans and discuss how best to safely ride out the storm.

This should come as no surprise — earlier this week the American Red Cross reported that people are increasingly turning to social networks for information about approaching storms and other natural disasters.

The Red Cross report also noted that people are increasingly using sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to make pleas for assistance during a crisis, as well as to alert loved ones that they’re safe.

And as Hurricane Irene approaches the East Coast, the Red Cross has created a Facebook photo album of people are preparing for Hurricane Irene.

And Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell today used Facebook to warn residents to take “seriously the need to prepare for this significant storm and to ready their families, homes and communities for possible evacuation.” Similarly, Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker posted on Facebook a video of a press conference he held to talk about the storm.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie turned to Twitter to alert his constituents that he was planning a news conference on hurricane preparedness.

And the New York Times is using Twitter to show a list on Twitter of hurricane-related information and resources. The list includes links to weather forecasts, lists of evacuation centers and bus service changes and delays.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at Twitter@sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon’s RSS feed Gaudin RSS. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.