Feed Your Social Media: Facebook Grows On Attention

I have been a huge advocate of feeds – they are an incredible attention grabber, able to keep users engaged and as a result drive up traffic on social media sites.

Take the Twitter phenomenon – and apply it to the real world analogy of being in a coffee shop having a conversation or penning an email when you overhear something – just the sound of a keyword or two can grab your attention away from your current activity.

Facebook cottoned onto this recently and as Eric Eldon over at VentureBeat points out, this has been hugely to their advantage.

Contextualizing Your Social Networks: Reid Hoffman

Michael Arrington, who is supposed to be taking a break from blogging, has a great Davos interview with LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman.

Key takeout:

MySpace is like a bar, Facebook is like the BBQ you have in your back yard with friends and family, play games, share pictures. Facebook is much better for sharing than MySpace. LinkedIn is the office, how you stay up to date, solve professional problems.

MySpace Taps The RIM: Record Breaking Blackberry App

Designed to help Blackberry users stay connected to the MySpace social network, a new app from the Fox Interactive company has been downloaded 400,000 times in its first week. This goes a long way towards dispelling the unhipster Blackberry myth.

A Facebook app, which launched in 2007, has been downloaded 2.5 million times.

How To Dominate The Newsfeed: Friendtag Photospamming

Photos give good newsfeed. No doubt about it.

But tagging them with friends who are not featured in the photo purely as a way to disseminate the photo and whatever you’re pushing through it – that’s spam, baby! Dont do it – you are violating the principles of social media in so many ways it’s just not funny.

Sam Lessin explains the how and gives his opinion:

…people have begun to upload a photo of something they wish to promote (perhaps a candidate or event) and then “tag” the photo with the names of as many influential friends as they can. The tagged photo then shows up in the news feeds of the friends of those influentials as if the photo was of them. After people click on it they find out that, in fact, it is a message in support of some cause.

To be clear, the key here is that the people that the cause promoter has “tagged” in the image are not actually in the image and have not actively lent their support to the message. Rather, the individual supporting the given cause is hijacking a friend’s name to broadcast a message to the friends of their friend. Follow?

This is a really terrific idea for someone looking to broadly push a message. If you tag 20 people into a given photo with something you are promoting you can easily reach thousands of people directly in their news feed with a big splashy image that appears highly relevant.

Sam – this idea sucks. I’m with Sarah Perez on this.

RockYou Raises More Funding To Climb Virtual Superwall

Eric Eldon at VentureBeat has a great piece on RockYou’s move into the Asia Pacific region courtesy of another round of funding from strategic investors in the region, namely Softbank and SK Telecom.

Why Asia Pac you might ask? The answer is – virtual goods.

Cracking the formula for monetizing social networks via virtual goods is the current holy grail. Where better than China to learn the ropes – bigger than web advertising, virtual goods are a $1.2bn business there already.

In addition, Softbank ploughed $400m into Xiaonei – a socnet similar to Facebook, but ahead of the curve: they recently introduced a virtual currency system. Teaming up with these players is a smart move.

UPDATE: Facebook has started to head down a similar track – they’ve moved to a micropayments system as of today.

Open Mobile Markets: How To Drive Impetus

Open mobile platforms and markets are all the rage.

Apple generated $30m in the first month with its iStore, and has attracted a plethora of app developers of all shapes and sizes – from Electronic Arts through to start ups like Palo Alto-based Tapulous.

The first Android-powered GPhone is about to hit the streets and this means the Android market will be open for business. RIM is working on something similar and Microsoft is creating a platform for selling apps on its Windows Mobile systems called SkyMarket.

But take a closer look at the Android Market and one thing is glaringly obvious – it’s relatively deserted. Sure it’s a chicken and egg thing, but what made Facebook’s F8 platform so successful in gaining immediate impetus was the critical mass element.

Currently, only a handful of apps are ready for Android – MySpace has a basic version of its soc network ready, imeem’s Internet radio service and a number of weather related apps are the pick of the bunch.

Where is everybody? EA’s Spore, which is the best mobile game I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing would be a great marquee.

So here’s the rub. The beauty of the iPhone Store was that you could generate revenue immediately. The Android Market is currently missing that key revenue enabler – a closed commerce system.

As the number of app markets proliferates and the total addressable market mushrooms I suspect we’ll see a number of meta solutions appear. In particular meta systems that can market, track and monetize apps across all the platforms as well as tools that allow developers to code once, and release cross platform.

In the meantime, app store owners need to focus on getting traffic in the door, app developers buzzed about their platform and a monetization mechanism in place.

Social Media: Are Families More Connected, Sharing More?

As an initial touchpoint for this post I want to point to a comment made recently by Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. Talking about Facebook’s redesign at the Future of Web Apps event in London, he noted that sharing amongst people is growing at an exponential rate:

One of the things that we have thought about at Facebook – we don’t have any conclusions on it yet – but an interesting historical analogy is Moore’s Law.” (The Law stated that the speed of processors would double every two years.) “And I wouldn’t be surprised, although there’s no definitive link yet, if something like that exists with the rate of sharing.

This is a key insight and one that is being backed up by a Pew Internet & American Life Project on Networked Families. The report explores how parents and spouses are arriving at a “new connectedness” through the use of key social media enablers.

Read Write Web has a useful summary of the report. Yes, there is always the need for cognizant balance between work and play, face time and screen time, but on the whole we are able to connect more with family and friends, colleagues and compadres. I want to explore this more in a piece I am writing, but it seems to me that we are on the cusp of attaining a whole new level of sharing and connectedness.

Pongr: Are Facebook Apps On The Nose? fbFund Finalists Announced

The Facebook blog has a post today titled, “Drumroll, please”, and goes on to announce the top 25 finalists in their fbFund Developer Competition. Running an eye through the list I’d suggest a clang of cymbals is more appropriate.

Many of the apps are merely derivations of apps that have long since fallen out of favor. And then there are the names – take Pongr as an example. Surely the guys behind this one could’ve thought of a more appropriate name for a mobile price checking app.

One of them does catch my eye though – GroupCard. Initially put into play at Stanford University, this app empowers users to rally their friends to sign the same printable online card to celebrate any occassion. Each friend can add a message, upload photos or audio, and even make a gift contribution.

That sounds like a really neat app.

Is Facebook Desperately Seeking Monetization?

Do we need a new business model for monetizing on the Internet?

Barry Diller, while being interviewed by the WSJ on the break up of IAC, pointed out that social-networking advertising is currently a big headache and methods are yet to be found to make it effective –

will that get figured out? I absolutely believe it will. What form will it take? Absolutely unknown.

It seems Facebook is still grappling with the right algorithm as well. The company’s COO and ex-Googler, Sheryl Sandberg stated at the American Magazine Conference in San Francisco yesterday –

“The monetization question on the web is a very big and open one.”

The holy grail, according to her, is “demand generation” and she’s calling for a new model and metrics.

John Furrier believes Sheryl needs to focus more on being a product leader and landing key business development deals – both things that MySpace has excelled at – rather than worrying now about monetizing.

I’m not quite with John yet. I believe that Facebook, and others in the industry, should be starting to think very seriously about what business model they follow.

We are definitely entering a phase when advertising growth slows. I’ve had this view corroborated by a number of very smart people on Sand Hill Road, including folks like Jeremy Liew at Lightspeed Venture Partners, and companies who totally rely on advertising for revenue are going to do it tougher for a while.