March 27, 2014
I read “STUDY: Facebook’s Role In Pew Research Center’s ‘State Of The News Media 2014’/” The source is a research project from Pew Research Center. The sample, well, who knows? The finding fascinating, particularly to advertisers, news professionals, and old people like me sitting around the cast iron stove in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky.
Here it is:
30 percent of the sample get their [sic] news from Facebook.
The survey seems to have been completed in mid 2013, which may be important in the wake of Facebook’s interest in virtual reality.
The write up highlights six “Facebook-related findings.” I don’t want to spoil your fun by listing the listicle of the six factoids. I want to point out three of these insights:
- Three out of every 10 US adults get “some news while on Facebook.”
- The news is “shared by friends.”
- The demographics of the Facebook news consumers “were high earners and college educated.”
My thought is that social news is not something a traditional newspaper like my former employer the Courier Journal & Louisville Times considers a native habitat. The idea that social news is news is fascinating. With tools to generate disinformation, misinformation, and reformation, figuring out what’s accurate may be difficult for a Facebooker.
I assume that a Walter Cronkite of social media news will emerge. Advertisers are likely to sniff the edges of the Pew information and conclude, “Opportunity.” Experiencing Facebook as news is a facet of the service that has the potential to be disruptive. Which traditional network will run the Facebook news hour? Will Thomson Reuters and the BBC add a Facebook stream? Opportunities abound.
Stephen E Arnold, March 27, 2014
March 24, 2014
Facebook is a network for people to communicate and connect. Forbes.com’s article, “The Approaching Demise Of Organic Reach In Facebook” says that organic connections for brands. are dropping faster than page counts on Justin Bieber’s fan page. The information comes from Social@Oglivy study. Facebook’s response is that will go to zero in the future.
“The free ride for brands on Facebook is coming to an end, and Mark Zuckerberg’s network should now be moved into the ‘paid channel’ in the marketing budget. The end game here is that a message posted on a brand page will not be shown to anyone unless it gathers a notable number of likes from a user’s friends. If their friends like a post, if there is a visible adoption of the post by the community, only then the post has earned the right to be shown organically.”
Brands will have to fork over money to breathe life into a post and it means that they have will have to rethink their Facebook marketing strategies. Facebook is using basic economics to create a scarcity. Brands will have to pay more, but over time they will stop. It is all about the almighty dollar sign for Facebook. What happened to the people?
March 20, 2014
The article on Advertising Age titled Brands’ Organic Facebook Reach Has Crashed Since October: Study begins with a dire end-of-days of free reach on Facebook pronouncement. The data is from Social@Ogilvy, which discovered a decline from about 12% to just over 6% among 106 country-level brand pages. This drop is from October to February. The reason seems to be that users are getting too much content thrown at them, too much to possibly consume. The article explains,
“Increasingly Facebook is saying that you should assume a day will come when the organic reach is zero,” he said. In the short term, Mr. Manson expects to see the drop in organic reach to drive a bit more Facebook ad spending. In the longer term, he expects to see increased investment in social channels like Twitter, Facebook-owned Instagram and WeChat and for brands to effectively hedge their bets instead of being centrally focused on Facebook.”
Facebook, unsurprisingly, is putting money first, and assuming a position that looks more like a shrug than anything else. They have urged marketers to stop seeing organic reach as a bonus rather than part of what they are buying when they purchase ads on the social networking site. It remains to be seen whether marketers are buying this argument.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 20, 2014
March 18, 2014
A recent partner audit by Facebook prompted the removal of business intelligence firm Kontagent from the Facebook Mobile Measurement Program (MMP). A post at the Kontagent Kaleidoscope blog from the company’s CEO, “An Update on our Relationship with Facebook, How We Store Data,” addresses the issue head-on. Andy Yang admits his company made a mistake, but assures us that absolutely no data breaches resulted from the misstep. Furthermore, though the company is not currently part of the MMP, it is still working with Facebook in other areas.
Yang details what precipitated his company’s removal from the program. They did violate Facebook’s policy on how long they could store data, but note that the slip-up occurred as they were working to exceed Facebook’s requirements on privacy and security. Still, they say, the mistake was theirs, they are learning from it, and they hope to earn the chance to rejoin the program. See the post for more on their security measures and on what transpired with Facebook. Yang summarizes:
“In short, Kontagent created an encryption policy that we designed to completely protect user privacy while addressing Facebook’s policy in one elegant solution. In hindsight, while our intentions were good, we overthought the solution when a more basic approach would have better met Facebook’s requirements.
“I completely respect the audits that Facebook conducts to ensure their partners are properly compliant. We will address each of the issues noted in Facebook’s audit despite not being a member of the MMP.”
After its launch in 2007, Kontagent cut their data analysis teeth on SaaS analytics for key social game developers. Now, leading brands in a variety of fields depend upon their expertise. Based in San Francisco, Kontagent also maintains offices in Toronto, London, Seoul, and Tokyo.
Cynthia Murrell, March 18, 2014
March 16, 2014
The article titled This $US600,000 Facebook Ad Disaster Is A Warning Small Business Owners on Business Insider Australia tells the story of Kapur Brar, CEO of small business Fetopolis. Fetopolis is a compendium of online fashion magazines with a healthy online following. Until recently, Brar relied heavily on marketing through Facebook, spending $100,000 a day. The article explains why Brar has “fallen out of love with Facebook,”
“He discovered…that his Facebook fanbase was becoming polluted with thousands of fake likes from bogus accounts. He can no longer tell the difference between his real fans and the fake ones. Many appear fake because the users have so few friends, are based in developing countries, or have generic profile pictures. At one point, he had a budget of more than $US600,000 for Facebook ad campaigns, he tells us. Now he believes those ads were a waste of time.”
Strangely, this story isn’t really being told, in spite of Facebook having 25 million small businesses using Facebook for marketing at varying levels of sophistication.
Did the purchase of WhatsApp cause this interesting story to slip into oblivion? The article offers some defense of Facebook- the majority of customers are happy, the payment of Brar’s bill is disputed, and yet it is also true that Facebook does not allow for third party “click audits,” which is standard practice.
Chelsea Kerwin, March 16, 2014
February 6, 2014
The article titled Russian Search Engine Yandex Sets Facebook Firehose On Full Blast on redOrbit explains the deal struck by Yandex and Facebook to include Facebook public content from Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Private content will remain inaccessible, but Yandex believes that Facebook allowing access to public data will greatly enhance the volume of results.
The article states:
“Yandex will add up-to-date articles and videos, among other things that have had great resonance among Facebook users. In addition, the popularity of materials in the social network will be taken into consideration when ranking search results,” Yandex said.
The agreement is non-cash based, Reuters reports, and stands to benefit both parties. Yandex will improve the quality of its search results while Facebook will get more traffic. Both Yandex and Facebook make a significant portion of revenues from advertising.”
In the scene of Russian social networking, Facebook ranks fourth to such companies as Vkontakte, so while this deal will benefit Facebook’s visibility, Yandex will also show content from other networks. About a year ago, Facebook began protecting its data, which began the conversation leading to the deal. The two organizations worked together previously to build a social search app called Wonder.
Chelsea Kerwin, February 06, 2014
January 29, 2014
The article titled Facebook Data Scientists Prove Memes Mutate And Adapt Like DNA on TechCrunch investigates the lifespan of a type of memes he calls “adaptable.” The article explains that Facebook’s data scientists have been tracking memes just as a scientist might follow a genetic mutation. They use the example of the liberal meme “no one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick. If you agree, post this as your status for the rest of the day”. They supply a chart following all of the paths this one meme took.
The article explains:
“As I wrote in my Stanford Cybersociology Master’s program research paper, memes are more shareable if they’re easy to remix. When a meme has a clear template with substitutable variables, people recognize how to put their own spin on it. They’re then more likely to share their own modified creations, which drives awareness of the original. When I recognized this back in 2009, I based my research on Lolcats and Soulja Boy, but more recently The Harlem Shake meme proved me right.”
This explains the variants such as “no one should die because of zombies if they cannot afford a shotgun”, and “be without a beer because they cannot afford one,” and my personal favorite “be frozen in carbonite because… they couldn’t pay Jabba the Hut.” Each evolution is created due to a shift in audience. Studying the evolution of memes, the article posits, could make Facebook better able to provide and promote new content.
Chelsea Kerwin, January 29, 2014
January 21, 2014
A holiday leftover we’ve found at the Elasticsearch Blog has us contemplating the open-source search race for 2014. The site shares video from a recent event in which a Facebook representative discusses his company’s use of their product in, “Facebook & Elasticsearch: for Your Holiday Viewing Pleasure.” Is Elasticsearch surpassing Silicon Valley-based LucidWorks?
The post introduces the video:
“So, without further ado, we bring you this video from the inaugural Elasticsearch Silicon Valley meetup, in which you’ll learn more about Facebook’s use of Elasticsearch, including:
- Facebook’s migration from Apache Solr to Elasticsearch
- The company’s use of Elasticsearch to power internal search for developer tool sets and libraries
- How Elasticsearch powers Facebook’s Community Help Site
- And much, much more on their use case.”
The video is over an hour long, and full of good technical information, if that’s your thing. But the first two minutes summarize why Facebook prefers Elasticsearch over the competition. (The company had previously tried using Google Enterprise Search and Apache Solr and found each lacking.) Below the video, the post links to a webinar on getting started with their product. Formed in 2012, Elasticsearch is based in Amsterdam with offices in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, and Switzerland. They are also hiring as of this writing; that’s usually a good sign.
We heard that OpenSearchServer, another open-source search vendor, snagged the Le Monde account from Sinequa. If true, there seems to be competition between open-source search vendors and non-open-source search systems as well as among open-source search vendors.
Contention and competition. The year 2014 will be fascinating.
Cynthia Murrell, January 21, 2014
November 26, 2013
Last month, Facebook admitted that users, particularly teens, are using the site less these days. The Guardian reports, “Teenagers Say Goodbye to Facebook and Hello to Messenger Apps.” (Messenger apps function much like text messaging, but without the extra charges on the phone bill.) Writer Parmy Olson blames the shift on the wider audience Facebook has successfully attracted over the years.
“Their gradual exodus to messaging apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat and KakaoTalk boils down to Facebook becoming a victim of its own success. The road to gaining nearly 1.2 billion monthly active users has seen the mums, dads, aunts and uncles of the generation who pioneered Facebook join it too, spamming their walls with inspirational quotes and images of cute animals, and (shock, horror) commenting on their kids’ photos. No surprise, then, that Facebook is no longer a place for uninhibited status updates about pub antics, but an obligatory communication tool that younger people maintain because everyone else does.”
I’m sure that is a factor, but the Reference Heap provides another perspective. It isn’t so much that Facebook’s user base has changed, but that changes to the site have made it less useful. At the same time that its algorithm presents us with pointless information, it often fails to deliver truly relevant missives from friends and family. In a note beginning “Dear Facebook, You Suck,” the angry pastebin writer charges:
“One of my best friend’s mother lost her battle with cancer the other day, my friend wrote a beautiful status update commemorating her mother, it got 297 likes and tons of comments before I noticed it… You know how I noticed it? My mother called me and told me about her mother dying and I went to her actual page to see for myself. But you know what I did notice? Becky hates Mondays. My 3rd cousin whom I haven’t seen since a family reunion 10 years ago started playing his umpteenth game on Facebook.”
I can relate. I know I have missed important news on Facebook in a similar fashion, and messages I really wanted folks to see got little traction. Is this a deliberate attempt to get us to pay Facebook the seven bucks (well, $6.99) to “promote” posts we actually want others to view? Perhaps I’m being too cynical.
Cynthia Murrell, November 26, 2013
October 14, 2013
Facebook has assembled a new team to build a “deep learning” approach for the site’s AI, MIT Technology Review reveals in, “Facebook Launches Advanced AI Effort to Find Meaning in your Posts.” The method promises to greatly speed data analysis by simulating our own neural networks.
Google and Microsoft have both recently made strides in this area. Google is using the approach to help its algorithm recognize objects in photos (beginning with cats, of course) and to improve its voice recognition services. Microsoft employed the technique to create its real-time English-to-Mandarin translation software. For its part, Facebook hopes deep learning will improve its news feed, which must pick up the pace to keep up with changing user habits. Both the compulsion to check our feeds with our mobile devices and ballooning friends lists require Facebook’s AI to better and more quickly decide what to show each user.
So, how is deep learning different from older AI models? Reporter Tom Simonite explains:
“Conventional forms of machine learning are slower because before data can be fed into learning software, experts must manually choose which features of it the software should pay attention to, and they must label the data to signify, for example, that certain images contain cars. Deep learning systems can learn with much less human intervention because they can figure out for themselves which features of the raw data are most significant. They can even work on data that hasn’t been labeled, as Google’s cat-recognizing software did. Systems able to do that typically use software that simulates networks of brain cells, known as neural nets, to process data. They require more powerful collections of computers to run.”
Facebook engineering manager Srinivas Narayanan, who is helping assemble the deep-learning team, says some of their more general research will be shared with the public. He also notes that the project will be informed by work Facebook has done on integrating hardware and software to process large data sets.
Cynthia Murrell, October 14, 2013