There’s something to be said about images, pins, and browsing behaviour in a social media world. Our minds our visual. We know that. Photos represented a huge chunk of Facebook’s attention platform. That is why they bought Instragram.
We’re saying less and less in the form of tweets and read less online compared to the long-form print media articles that won prizes for journalistic excellence. Not sure where this is all headed but more and more folks are talking about “restlessness” and for the need to “unplug”. Read this article.
- Pinterest drives more than window shopping (pcworld.com)
- The Story Behind Pinterest’s Soaring Popularity (sysomos.com)
- STUDY: Pinterest Tops Facebook In Shopping Engagement (allfacebook.com)
Findings concluded that:
- 20m minors used Facebook within year prior to the Consumer Reports study
- 7.5m minors were under 13
- 5.0m minors were 10 years or younger
- 1.0m children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other cyberbullying the year prior to the study
A June 2012 Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article also confirmed that Facebook was exploring options to provide access for kids with specific control mechanisms in place so that parents could manage their access.
I can see a million reasons why this may present many problems for Facebook and parents. In today’s world, parents must be extra vigilant and pro-active with their children. Technology has brought great opportunity to learn and communicate but has also brought the darker aspects of society within reach of a minor. As such, parental responsibility, I feel, is far more complex in today’s world than the one I grew up in.
Recently, I noticed a strange rise in #spam follower accounts within Instagram. Some of the profile accounts were tied to specific apps, developers and even porn properties. In all instances, the photos and hashtags used had no direct relation to whatever snapshot I had posted. Even worse, some of the profile accounts started to “follow me” in typical twitter-verse ideology that theorizes that if I follow a social media account, others will “discover” me under this account and by some twisted rule, inspire me to follow this spammy profile account. Duh. Only works with legitimate social accounts that actually “create value” in sharing and engagement. It’s not one-way.
Recently, Instagram’s experience has been coughing up “younger users” who either like a photo or follow. In my opinion, some of these recent “followers” were too young to be on the service — while their photos were “safe”, I took the liberty to block and flag the profile account for either potential abuse of terms of service (age?) or operating a spam account.
I don’t actually recall if Instagram ever asked for my age when I signed up with the iOS app but the recent follows raised some interesting issues. Facebook, it would seem, may have another problem on its hands with Instagram. Without any mechanisms in place to control usage (preventing minors in accessing the service), Facebook potentially faces the same challenges with Instagram after acquisition as it has already experienced with its broader platform. There is no doubt there are minors on the service as the other study has already discovered with Facebook.
But if we went deeper into the rabbit hole, Instagram may be even more challenging given its rapid distributive effects and the fact that photos can be distributed in real-time and more quickly. Instagram is popular because of photos that are extremely viral. Let’s assume most profile accounts are legitimate (it is apparent that some are spammy or grey hat accounts designed to raise awareness for a product or service).
What happens in the Instagram ecosystem if minors start to post photos of a questionable nature OR others start to distribute questionable photos? There is certainly a risk that stalkers could target these profile accounts or even engage minors who are using the service. Big problem. When you add in another layer called “spammer account”, you see that there is a darker side of risk here.
After some peripheral searches through Google, I didn’t find much on the subject of minors and Instagram beyond one, good article. Written by “Your Sphere: For Parents”, it tackles the topic about Instagram and Kids Safety (Click for Article) and outlines several precautionary steps that parents should take and be aware of when it comes to their children.
One thing most people still don’t know is that smartphone devices today enable GPS geo-location data tagging in photos, thereby allowing you to determine where the photo was taken on a map. Apple’s iPhoto, for example, imports photos from your iPhone and places them on a map to show where they were taken. A great many people don’t know about this.
To unsuspecting users, with geotagging on, all photos collect location data by way of EXIF data. (Click for Article). For parents, this should be a concern if they’ve purchased iOS or Android smartphones for their children because they could be taking photos and sharing them online with this data easily available.
Exact Steps to Turn Off Geotagging for iPhone’s Camera App?
Even though there are mechanisms in place within the Instagram app to report violations or concerns in a crowd-sourced fashion, I think it is going to be very important for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and many others to take a more aggressive stance on privacy and the protection of minors in the large-scale, highly-engaged ecosystems that they’ve helped create.
Only time will tell how all of this will unfold.
Parents! Please MAKE time to talk to your children and be extra vigilant about their activities on the web and through smartphone devices.
A Harris Interactive Survey commissioned by ad platform player, MediaBrix, offers up some interesting findings that actually don’t really surprise me at all. We saw some of this in our own findings/research at my last mobile marketing startup. The online survey obtained results from 2,200 American adults.
SURVEY RESULTS FOUND THAT:
- 60% of smartphone owners prefer “immersive and integrated” ads in mobile apps
- 40% of smartphone owners prefer “standard banners”
THE SAME SURVEY FOUND SIMILARITIES WITH FACEBOOK USERS:
- 28% of Facebook users preferred standard banners
- 72% of Facebook users preferred immersive and integrated ad units
Immersive and integrated ad units include things like virtual rewards, currency, or interactive video ads displayed during “natural breaks” within the app (say, a game) vs. in a manner which interrupts flow of use. For flow of use, the survey found that only 38% of smartphone users preferred “pre-roll” video advertisements displayed before the game or app is used.
In fact, 62% of smartphone users preferred initiating video ads or viewing them during natural breaks.
FREE is the NEW ECONOMY
Only the whole, smartphone users believe in “free”. 61% of them preferred free mobile apps and 88% preferred keeping them free in return for relevant advertising displayed during natural breaks within the app or game.
Not surprisingly, only 12% surveyed had a preference for in-app purchases in the form of virtual goods and currency.
WHAT IT ALL MEANS
It means app users have become a finicky bunch if this and a few other surveys seems to suggest. Freemium is the new economics mixing a blend of try-before-buy with free-forever-apps supported by ads. For developers, the goal will be to find immersive and integrated ad platform solutions. I’ll be honest, I am blind and utterly bored with the standard banner ads I see in iOS apps today. Please, give me a paradigm shift!
However, interesting overlay ads which I have discovered within iPad newsstand apps for Bloomberg BusinessWeek and Wired have not only engaged me but also peaked curiosity and discovery than no traditional print ad can over. It truly works and I caught myself being “interrupted” from my digital reading to experiment, learn and find out more about the particular product advertised.
Toronto-based Pelmorex, a Canadian broadcaster for the Weather Network, has been on the forefront of delivering some unique ad units and engagement models on mobile that have simply worked very well. Such as their “Patio Finder” built-in as a feature/function within the iOS app to marry weather, bar locations with patios, and advertiser brands that sell their product at the specified establishment is a smart execution.
- In-app ads: How to get 20% engagement and 2000% higher click-through (venturebeat.com)
- Monetization Deficiencies in Facebook Apps and Mobile Apps, Says Survey (valuewalk.com)
- Survey Says Old School Ads Won’t Cut it on Facebook and Mobile (marketingpilgrim.com)
- Study: Facebook App Users Aren’t Anti-Advertising, But Banner Ads Won’t Cut It (allfacebook.com)
- How Facebook App Center is aiding iOS, Android app discovery (gigaom.com)
It looks like the folks at Pinterest.com shook their heads a little and decided it was time to open up invitations vs. getting an invite.
Let’s figure this one out. It’s a social clipboard of sorts. You pin cool things to a board. It has proven wildly popular with women. But here’s the catch. You’re creating a bunch of crowd-sourced content for a third-party platform. And they don’t have a revenue model. Or do they?
Hint. Hint. No surprise. Pinterest uses Skimlinks for social discovery. Don’t believe me? Then read it from the horse’s mouth: Skimlinks. Kind of fair, no? They have to pay the bills you know. Or they could charge you (yeah right) or …wait, a revolutionary new model. An advertising platform to target Pinterest users…. sigh.
So why the sudden change in Pinterest policy? Yes, we know they picked up a couple of Facebook execs recently. (Read here) Was the policy change the result of the new recruits? Possible since they picked up Facebook’s VP, online operations.
Or is there a darker reason? Well, you see. There’s another kid on the block. This one came right under my own radar and I do read a lot. This new kid is called Fancy.com. It kind of does similar things. You collect, you share, you discover and you “unlock deals”. Ah, so you can discover and share things and actually purchase something. That kind of makes sense.
Sounds a lot like Google’s Zero Moment of Truth:
“Consumer decision-making prior to the actual moment of in-store or online purchase — the so-called “Zero Moment of Truth” — has become increasingly relevant.”
But here’s the bigger piece of the puzzle. What happens if you also add a little more to this fancy stuff. Like rumours that Apple plans to buy Fancy.com.
Fancy.com describes itself as “part store, blog, magazine and wishlist”. Seems like a perfect addition when you consider something else from Apple. Apple’s Passbook (See TechCrunch) or its existing 1-click iTunes payment system or some combination. With 400 million active accounts with credit cards on file, seems like an amazing social network platform for discovery, share, interaction and e/m-commerce!
- Rumor: Apple looking at buying The Fancy (electronista.com)
- Social Commerce, Pinterest And The Future Of Fashion Retail (techcrunch.com)
- Pintics’ Founders Create ShopInterest, A “Shopify For Pinterest” (techcrunch.com)
- Pinterest Finally Ditches Invitations, Now Lets Anyone Sign Up (techcrunch.com)
- Take A Look At ‘The Fancy’ App Made By The Company Apple Is Interested In Buying (AAPL) (businessinsider.com)
- Apple in talks to acquire e-commerce social network The Fancy? (9to5mac.com)
- You’re Sending Out Fancy Invitations, I’m Pinning Things To An Imaginary Board (thoughtcatalog.com)
- Three Reasons Fancy Fits Millennials More Than Pinterest Does (mpdailyfix.com)
- Pinterest ditches invite-only approach, is now open for all to join (thenextweb.com)
- SellPin.com Launches First Pin-to-Pin Selling Platform for Pinterest Users (prweb.com)
It came with great shock. Today, I offer my condolences to the Ahmad family. Nussar Ahmad, the dashing young CEO of Addictive Mobility, a proud supporter of mobile, a key stakeholder in the mobile/tech community in Toronto, and an attendee and award winner at MobileMonday Toronto…has died.
I learned of his passing through my network today. That in itself came as a great shock as I had reached out to him by email last Thursday about some speaking opportunities for upcoming events. Sadly, his reply never came as he had passed away last Wednesday of natural causes.
This has been a tough few weeks for a lot of folks in my personal circle. It is so easy to get caught up in “work” and “small stuff” before you get winded from the powerful force of Bane body blow that winds you and sucks the very life out of you. That happened today. Nussar is…was way too young to go. So much vitality and vigour.
You’ll be missed buddy.
I befriended Nussar through our monthly MobileMonday Toronto association events. MobileMonday Toronto was co-founded by Jim Brown and myself in November 2005. We didn’t have a venue, a community, website or a plan. It took a bit of time to put things into place but we eventually did it. We started with a small audience at our first event in June 2006 with the topical theme around .Mobi. An explosive event, our first guest got bombarded over the value of .Mobi as rumours swirled about for an upcoming Apple Phone (yes, this was 2006 and twitter still too young for us to use as a communication platform - it launched March 31, 2006).
But we met Nussar at that first event.
Anyhow, years went by and Nussar continued to attend and support us with great ideas. He kept in touch and in the latter years, he was so excited about his Mobile Marketing Labs concept that he asked Jim and I to attend. Sadly, none of our schedules every synched because, if you can believe it, “we were all busy with things”. Amazing how one reflects on that after this news.
Nussar was a hungry guy. He was very pro-active in the community and had built a success story with Addictive Mobility for the Toronto tech community. In August 2011, he reached out to me for help to connect with great guys at Marketwire. Team Marketwire and (specifically) Jolon Craw worked tirelessly with me to bundle a great PR communications program for startups on tight budgets. Jolon Craw, my friend and ally at Marketwire, was only to happy to take care of Nussar’s needs and all companies that attended our chapter events.
But news of his passing did slip under our radar. I validated the early news through some close, reliable sources and then found a few tweets and had that news re-tweeted via @momotoronto and @abosika. Then another social network contact validated his passing on Facebook. I was planning to hold off writing this until there was official announcement from the company but opted to write this now.
The point about our community of friends and professionals - both mobile and tech - is that we’re all passionate. Our end game is real. We want to do great things. We deliver, deliver and over-deliver some more. But sometimes, in all the hoopla, weprofessionals forget to play outside that sandbox by pulling back, having a beer, reflecting and sharing stories because there is so much to do….something we all need to do outside of “events” and “seminars”.
Anyhow, both Jim Brown and I held Nussar in high regard. Hardworking and passionate, he was “always that nice guy” that everyone liked. We’ll miss you buddy. You always supported MobileMonday Toronto and you always thanked me for the great curation skills I brought to your Facebook newsfeed. :-)
MobileMonday Toronto, our non-profit association was launched to support the mobile ecosystem in GTA. From something that Jim/I started as a community of 30 people, we are proud that we built and partnered properly to grow this community to its current scale which includes a regular 250-400 attendees per month, a 7-8 monthly event calendar and six-figure sponsorship dollars that helped us cover costs to hold the events at the MaRS Discovery District.
The Award Winner
Through MobileMonday Toronto’s growth, Nussar won two awards from our chapter. These were community awards designed to uphold the spirit and recognition of stakeholders for a job well done. Nussar won the first award at our Demo Camp in December 2009 which I molded together using Fight Club mythology. To build the mythology, my good buddy Nick Van Vlymen, was assigned to the task. This was no easy matter. Upon discussing the initial concept, he simply rolled his eyes (as he usually does to my insidious creativity - LOL) and drew up some MoMoCamp soap bars.
The masterpieces don’t lie. :-)
Here are the samples:
We sprinkled “prints” of this mock advertising piece through social media and other channels to build momentum, curiosity and a teaser quality to the upcoming event. We also created digital media banners for websites to help our network promote the heck out of MobileMonday Toronto’s first MoMoCamp.
Like this sample:
DID IT WORK? Given the fact we were not at MaRS Discovery District at the time, our venue held a maximum of 100 folks and we had close to 200 people, a bar and a bartender (yes, me) plus 7 pitches.
Nussar was one of those hungry, passionate guys that wanted to present or pitch. He did and simply impressed everyone. So much that the crowd voted him as the winner. He won as a “Top Bruiser” at MobileMonday Toronto’s first MoMoCamp.
Our email to the community (sent via Yahoo! Groups…yep, old school) captured the following message:
This was 2007. Read our Marketwire Press Release.
In 2009, MobileMonday Toronto had its first Mobile Marketing Awards. And once again, one of the competitors was Nussar Ahmad from the Addictive Mobility team. He won again and received different plaque from our chapter. We have a winner!
Read our Marketwire Press Release for this event. The Vimeo Broadcast for this event can be found below:
Mobile Marketing Awards - MobileMonday Toronto from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo. Experience exciting new marketing campaigns as our expert panel of judges select the winners of the first annual MobileMonday Toronto Marketing Awards.
Nussar was a stand-up guy. He did a lot of great things at such a young age. His family should be very proud of him. He did great for Toronto, tech, media, agencies and mobile and he’ll be remembered for this.
Nussar, we’ll miss you buddy. Rest in Peace.
I tweet. You follow. You tweet. I follow. The world is happy.
Here are some things I’ve noticed with my own social interaction:
Social Media SIX months ago:
But I really like Twitter a lot now for the engagement and real-time curation of information by like-minded individuals.
There’s something more human about it compared to an RSS Reader workflow model.
- 5 Ways Marketers Can Use Quora (grasshopper.com)
- 26 Social Media Marketing Hidden Treasures You Never Knew Existed (hubspot.com)
FACEBOOK. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re in your face.
- They had a messy IPO
- They constantly change the user experience to the chagrin of many
- Their mobile strategy has been shockingly disappointing given the obvious that a huge chunk of their base only interfaces with the platform via mobile device
- They ad targeting algorithm is delivering strange target results
- As of this past week, multiple colleagues in my Facebook network experienced an UNEXPECTED rise in friends.
I want to first focus on the value and nature of connections before moving into the latest hiccup in social media network land.
The Power of Connections — The Philosophy
Just two weeks ago, I opted to tighten up my Facebook network (tidy up, so to speak) on the basis of connection (friend/family, current/past coworkers, industry colleague, long-tail contact, and passive/non-active based on their profile). The end result was that I found the “loose connection” around industry affiliation (mobile/tech/digital) did not generate useful engagement. In fact, this labourious review netted some surprising details:
- A great number of my “friends” were hardly engaging in their profiles (no activity)
- A shocking number had long since deleted their Facebook account but still apparently appeared as a “connection” (friend) through my profile on Facebook.
The most engagement on Facebook (minus some token veterans of mobile/tech that I consider close friends) really rested on the shoulders of my closest friends. This isn’t surprising really. However, the real connectors or rainmakers of tech (I consider myself one) do engage the most and as a result, I have a healthy bunch of social friends that I’d consider rainmakers/connectors, thereby driving social engagement.
The LinkedIn Effect — Painful
Of late though, there has been a rise in something I called the “LinkedIn Effect” where unknown individuals from distant locations are trying to connect with me on Facebook because I know one individual. Sorry, but no cigar. That doesn’t qualify for “friend status”. Oddly, some confuse FB as a networking tool which I have never considered it to be. But the far-off friend requests keep coming from one individual’s social network. Not cool.
ON LinkedIn, these connection requests have become a terrible problem as they fall into three camps:
- Unrelated industry professional, 2nd or 3rd generation connection
- Spam account (appears new, has no meat to profile, no photo)
- 3rd generation connection request, unrelated industry professional
Sadly, they all come with the compelling, “Hi Alex, I’d like to connect you to my professional network” response. I end up ignoring these requests. For a while, the intensity of these requests was quite high before things eventually died down. LinkedIn really was built on the premise of trust-based connections. People knowing people to drive business development opportunities. It’s no surprise that some of my colleagues have experienced the drastic post-add scenario where this unknown connection then asked to be introduced to one of your connections.
Do you really think this is really going to work? :-)
At one point, as co-founder of MobileMonday Toronto, Jim and I were getting many requests to connect with folks in the Toronto mobile industry via LinkedIn. So we did. As a non-profit in 2005, we didn’t have a robust community platform. There wasn’t a twitter platform that year (and when it arrived in 2006, it didn’t have user scale) and we used Yahoo! Groups mailing lists to drive communications. Also, LinkedIn’s Groups was very restricted and not easy to use or manage until they re-launched the module. So, in the absence of business cards (since we were too busy running the events vs networking! :-)), a LinkedIn connection made sense to use the email functionality.
The goal was really to source talent and stakeholders easily for event-related networking, collaboration and business development. Did these connections work out — that is, the ones we knew little about? Nope. Missing in all of this “connection” business is the personal connection. Obvious. Certainly, some folks could be in the industry but for us to be in a position to refer them or drive opportunities, our comfort levels certainly go up when we know the individual. In most cases, we had to pre-screen the individual with a call or meeting to get a feel for individual, the idea or business before any action was done. Time-consuming and defeats the real purpose of LinkedIn.
The Challenge of Large Ecosystems Like Facebook or LinkedIn
As these large platform ecosystems evolve, problems begin to arise. The recent hack with LinkedIn passwords only exacerbated the mistrust factor and shaky relationship individuals have with their digital/social presence and privacy on these services.
This week, I reported on Facebook if anyone in my network had noticed a surprising rise in “friends” on their profile. After bringing my down from 750+ to 390, I noticed mid-week that I had 413 friends. Odd. I never accepted requests and never received them. Then I saw another colleague in my network report the same experience and then another and then when I repeated the incident in another status update, two other friends reported having 500 new friends and some as a high as 1000.
Herein lies the problem. There hasn’t been any media talk around this…ANYWHERE. I did a Google search and the only thing that came up with the question (image above) was posted by another user a week ago which has gone unanswered by Facebook or the community. Definitely, unfortunate that no response has been provided by THE social network.
In our digital age, we’re dealing with more complexity (not simplicity) with profiles, profile management, password management, and interaction touch-points (connections). The fact that so many users in my closer Facebook network experienced the same problem only indicates that the problem is much wider and needs investigation and resolution. I don’t like the idea of have close to 23 unexpected friends connected to me? How do you feel when you hold a house party and your friends bring friends of friends to the party?
Facebook. Your focus on growth and constant product development is starting to show some serious cracks. You haven’t had a good month or two and you’ve probably included something into the code-base that you don’t want there. Or it’s simply a business rule that needs a change.
Well, it seems someone else is reporting about this. Specifically, Josh Wolford at WebProNews. Apparently, Facebook is including Deactivated Facebook Accounts in our friend count totals. Something which I theorized above (to my surprise) and which is now validated by this article and Facebook.