Today’s Bing news is very interesting, not because the new functionality that Microsoft and Facebook announced is terribly powerful, but because it demonstrates how the next great evolution of search will occur. In brief, Bing announced two new ways it is introducing social data into its search results:
Enhancing results with Facebook Likes: If you search on Bing and your Facebook friends have "liked" something related to your search term, you will see those "likes" highlighted within your search results. The idea behind this functionality is that something your friend "likes" will be more interesting to you than other search results.
Facebook profile search: Bing reports that more than 4% of searches are for people. Of course, trying to find a particular Bob Smith can be a challenge, which is why Bing will utilize your Facebook network to help you find the Bob Smith that is most likely the one you seek.
Yesterday Facebook released new tools to help improve users’ control of Facebook sharing and data. The reaction to these new tools has been generally very positive (and, in my opinion, deservedly so). But there's been some interesting buzz among social media gurus, particularly about problems with the new Facebook Groups functionality. These gripes seem to be based less on a consideration of how the average consumer will use Groups than on a set of use cases and problems unique to social media professionals. In short, I worry social media specialists are making the classic mistake that trips up marketers time and again: You are not the target market!
I believe there are three reasons that social media professionals may end up judging new tools based on their biases and not upon the potential use and adoption by the average consumer. These reasons are:
Social media professionals are Creators and Conversationalists: Creators create the content that others consume in social venues, and Conversationalists post frequent status updates. Social media professionals are (not surprisingly) big Creators and Conversationalists, but the average consumer is not--fewer than one in four online adults in the US have Creator behaviors and fewer than one in three are Conversationalists.
Welcome to the new Facebook. No, I don't mean Facebook the social network, although today's changes do represent some exciting new capabilities for Facebook users. Instead, I mean Facebook the company. The organization that today announced new features seems a different Facebook than the one we’ve seen in the past. Today’s Facebook is one committed to transparency and user control and mindful of its increasingly vital and high-profile position within people's communications and lives.
By now you may have heard of (or seen) the new features Facebook announced at its press event this morning. Here is a brief summary:
Download Your Info: You can download a copy of everything you’ve ever posted to Facebook. Go to “Account: Account Settings” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page to access this new feature. As an extra security measure, you will be asked to authenticate yourself before downloading your data as a ZIP file. This file will contain your posts, pictures, list of friends, events, notes and more (see Figure 1).
Applications You Use: To date, once you allowed a third-party application to access your Facebook data, you had no ability to see what personal data was transferred and had few options to manage the application permissions. Facebook is now offering greater transparency and control over this data sharing. Go to “Account: Privacy” in the upper right hand corner of your Facebook page, then click “edit settings” to review the applications you have authorized. You can see the data each application has accessed; if you are unhappy with the amount of personal information provided, you may easily remove optional permissions for an application or deauthorize it completely from accessing your data (see Figure 2).
Obviously, as a regular blogger, I think social media are the cat's meow. However, when I use social media, I don't lapse into that blissed-out state that cats enjoy when they bust open a jar of catnip. Your experience may be different:
If you believe that Twitter is of net-benefit for the world, and only someone who hasn't used it much would say otherwise, then what's good for Twitter is good for the rest of us, too. Costolo's adventures with the last world-changing messaging system he [led] may have worked out better for himself than for the rest of us in the long run, but his work at Twitter so far has been key at building staying power for this new, more accessible way for people around the world to speak with each other.
That's the concluding paragraph from a ReadWriteWeb story about Twitter's new CEO. It's just the sort of gushy, overblown statement that plays well in the pocket universe of people with a vested interested in social media using social media to sign hosannas on the highest about social media. Outside the pocket universe, it's just the sort of hyperbolic prose that makes people who are on the fence about Twitter, who don't necessarily see it as good for the rest of us, nervous that anything sold that hard must not be as good as advertised. For people who still look at their email inbox with despair, Twitter may be one more channel of communication that they don't need.
Something amazing has happened to social media in the past couple of years: Overall adoption of social technologies has effectively reached saturation. We're now at the point where more than 80% of US online users engage with social media - and although there's been some hand-wringing over the fact social media adoption has plateaued at that level, let's keep things in perspective: 80% engage with social media! That's as many people as own a DVD player or use SMS.
This kind of scale gives marketers the potential to generate reach through social media. Sure, it's a new and unfamiliar kind of reach for many marketers - rather than just shouting uniform messages at millions of people, they must engage directly with their audiences and then hope those audiences turn around and talk to and influence millions more users. But as we've proven, this new model of reach can also provide the same kind of massive scale that the old reach models did: Just a tiny handful of Mass Connectors will create 256 billion influence impressions in the US this year.
In many ways, The Social Network is as much about Facebook as Titanic is about the White Star Line. Certain aspects of the film’s fact-based but fictionalized plot may reflect badly on Facebook in a vague sort of way, but as with any great movie (and The Social Network is a great movie), the viewer is swept up in the human emotion of the story. In a world filled with real-life cautionary social media horror stories of people losing their jobs, their marriages or their lives, the tale of how a few geeks and freaks got caught up in an entrepreneurial frenzy, cheated each other, and destroyed their friendships is hardly an indictment of Facebook.
Not all advocates are created equal—someone who “likes” your brand or follows you on Twitter is not an advocate (yet). This is an important fact to realize before you plan and launch an advocacy program. Building a program can be costly, so you need to invest wisely in advocates who can create the biggest bang for the buck. While it’s nice to have anyone advocating on your behalf, you need to get the Mass Influencers doing so.
As introduced in the Forrester Peer Influence Pyramid, Mass Influencers are the minority of those in social media who create the majority of the influence posts and impressions about products and services. These are the people who combine influence, trust, relevance and scale to create powerful advocacy.
There are three ways to create mass-influencing advocates:
Promote them: Take people who have little influence on their own and make them Mass Influencers through involvement in your program. The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is a successful example of this approach.
Eric Schmidt has seen the future, and it's "autonomous search." That's a fancy term that means "discovery." But no matter what words you use, it still means the same thing: more empowered consumers and greater value in earned media.
Some people are creeped out by portions of what Schmidt said, but he has suggested an exciting future for empowering people to create greater influence and be armed with timely, relevant, and useful information. At TechCrunch Disrupt, Schmidt envisioned a future where people and technology come together to create "a serendipity engine . . . a new way of thinking about traditional text search where you don't even have to type."
As you look into the future, the distinction between “search” and “discovery” gets muddy. While it sounds like science fiction to suggest that technology can help search for things you don’t even yet know you want, the opportunities to improve human discovery are very real. Combining a person’s context—where they are, who they’re with—with their past opinions and actions and the opinions and actions of others can create tremendous value and relevance.
If you’ve ever talked to Forrester about social media, chances are you’ve heard of the Social Technographics® Ladder -- our tool for measuring how people use social technologies and for helping marketers (and product strategists and market researchers and others) understand how to engage with those people in the social Web.
Today we’ve released our new 2010 Social Technographics data worldwide (you can see the US data here), and you’ll notice that this year, for the first time since we introduced the ladder, we’ve added a new category of social engagement. The new category -- “Conversationalists” -- is designed to capture the short, rapid conversations that are now taking place on Twitter and through Facebook status updates. How many people are engaged in these behaviors? Almost one-third of European online adults participate in these rapid public conversations every week. In just over two years, this activity has come from nowhere to become one of the most popular social behaviors we track.
And this Conversationalist activity has come along at just the right time, too -- because more “traditional” forms of online contribution have levelled off. The percentage of online Europeans who post their own blogs, videos, photos, or other media -- what we call “Creators” -- hasn’t grown in either of the past two years. And the percentage who participate in message boards and forums or who post comments on blogs or other social sites -- what we call “Critics” -- has grown just one percentage point in Europe each of the past two years.
We're less than a week away from the release of The Social Network. What do you think the film's US box office will be? Are we looking at a $150-million blockbuster? A $100-million success? Or a $50-million disappointment? Post your predictions here or tweet them on Twitter to @augieray with the hashtag #SNBO (for Social Network Box Office), and you could earn not only bragging rights but also receive a free copy of Empowered, signed by best-selling author Josh Bernoff. You must post your prediction before 8 a.m. PDT on Friday, October 1, and we'll declare a winner on Monday, October 25.
It seems everyone in the world (or at least everyone in my world) is buzzing about The Social Network. In case you're living in a cave, The Social Network is the fictionalized story of the founding of Facebook, featuring real-life characters such as Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz, Sean Parker, and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss.