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2012 - Brought to You By Facebook

Facebook's 2012 in Review 'app' is really fantastic: fun, easy, and surprisingly accurate. In one click, Facebook creates a mini-Timeline of your 2012 highlights... and it sums of the year with the 20 most socially active and visual moments. Again, it's a single click and a valuable, viral output. It brings Facebook's Timeline to life in a way that really hasn't happened since Timeline's original launch at F8. And when the year in review happens, it is both sharable to your own wall / friends - but it sparks users to create their own.

It's a reminder of the power of Facebook: identity. Conversation and the social graph are important - but Facebook's highest value is identity. It's what we have invested ourselves and it is what the web and app ecosystem has invested in such that it is our identity (and authentication, personalization, etc) to much of the world off-Facebook.

In a simple, visual way, 2012 in Review reminds us of this.

2012facebook-year-in-review

Election Day: With Some Help from Facebook, Google, Quora, etc

It's election day. Go vote.And Facebook, Google, Quora and others are here to help how best they can. Three screenshots from those three companies because they have put together really great, on-brand and on-experience products to assist: 1. Facebook's social vote campaign. As only Facebook can do, encouraging voting in a social way.

2. Google's Election hub which is outstanding. Polling info. YouTube streams. Candidates information. It is really outstanding. As only Google can do, a robust search and content hub across Google's properties and the web.

3. Quora's election themed digest - as only Quora can do, delivering great Q&A relevant to the election.

Twitter's Great "Some People You May Know" Email

I have written glowingly about Quora and Twitter's weekly digest emails. Well here is another good one from Twitter that is beautifully put together: "Ryan Spoon, we found some people you may know". I love how it shares the same format as the "What's happening on Twitter" digest - and I love how it's very visual, beautifully branded, and actionable: big follow buttons. E-commerce companies have long been reliant on email to drive all stages of the funnel: user acquisition, user activation and user activity. For non-transactional companies, I believe email can be equally vital and - in some cases - more compelling for consumers precisely because it is not commercial. The trick of course is to make it relevant, timely and appropriate (content + frequency).

Google+ Interactive Ad Layer

I have written before about Google / Google Plus and their interactive, actionable ad units (here is a great example from Google Offers and one for Google's emailable ads here). Below is an example of Google Plus being integrated into an otherwise standard ad unit. Natural evolution and integration here - it sits atop the add and creates a social layer that:

1. The brands welcome. There is action and benefit beyond the click-through.

2. Google loves. They drive usage of Google Plus and give advertiser another medium to extract & measure value.

Should Facebook Ads move off-Facebook.com - these interactions will be really key (point 2 here).

Introducing ESPN's SportsCenter Feed

I am very excited to announce a new, beta product from ESPN: The SportsCenter Feed. It is all of your sports news personalized, real-time, and presented in a feed format. On a daily basis, there are 1,000s of pieces of ESPN content - articles, scores,videos, podcasts, Facebook & Twitter posts, etc. The SC Feed is a new way to deliver and consume that. I know it's powerful because - even as someone inside of ESPN - the Feed has introduced me to great, unique content I otherwise would have missed. Please give it a spin at http://espn.com/scfeed and send your feedback. Much more is coming... but this is a great, exciting first step!

Coverage: - GigaOM: ESPN builds a Twitter-style firehose for sports news - PandoDaily: ESPN Launches Personalized SportsCenter Feed Web App, Proves It Just Gets Digital - AllThingsD: ESPN Takes a Design Page From Twitter’s Playbook

You can find a link to the feed on beneath the headlines module on the right side of the homepage:

And here is the SC Feed itself. It is designed to work responsively for mobile and tablet view as well. And don't forget to Add to Homescreen!

Facebook's Inline Comment Alerts

Facebook's redesigned iPhone App (which is outstanding!) features in-line alerts for new content in the newsfeed. The treatment and interface are well done: simple, nonintrusive, yet obvious. Furthermore, it has become a familiar behavior (Twitter.com, Facebook.com and others). I had not noticed, however, that a similar treatment was provided for comments. When viewing a post, comment alerts appear in real-time via the below treatment. Again: it is a simple yet powerful visual. And because it

1) appears in real-time, and 2) is directly related to the piece of content you are reading

It drives users to read the comment, interact and spend more time. Small enhancement that is contextual and powerful:

Digg, Content Publishing, Content Consumption and Kate Middleton's Wedding Gown

Much has already been written about Digg - and two of the best pieces currently sit atop Techmeme. MG's "Requiem for a Digg" and Om's "In Memoriam: Even in losing, how Digg won." I encourage you to read both as Digg has been important - dare I say instrumental? - in how we think about aspects of tech, news, news feeds, gamification, community, algorithmic aggregation, etc. Digg can - and hopefully will - remain important. As MG wrote, "it’s hard to imagine a better steward than Betaworks to try to make that happen."

I wanted to also touch upon two themes related to Digg:

Most importantly, Digg is a fascinating paradox between aggregation and personalization. I have had blog posts hit the front page of Digg and received 75,000+ unique visits within the sixty-minutes (if my memory serves me correctly). That's a staggering amount of traffic and really, for non-major media sources, not available anywhere else. That amount of traffic and immediacy could only really occur from an aggregated, one-for-all feed (by the way, Digg's impact on the 'newsfeed' as we know it is very under appreciated). That one-for-all feed made:

- Digg such a valuable source of traffic - gave power users such power and authority - and made Digg's homepage a newspaper / Techmeme-like hub

The paradox of course is that consumers want personalization (Facebook's feed and the focus on Edgerank are an example of personalization effectively working) - but this weakens the power of the publishers and therefor the traffic generation to the top destinations. Tough to balance.

Secondly, there is a fascinating article on Slate about the imbalance of Wikipedia's power-users and what it means for content (creation, publishing, traffic): "How Kate Middleton's Wedding Gown Demonstrates Wikipedia's Woman Problem." I encourage you to also read that as it has timely parallels to Digg and its community.

Both themes are of course related: there is a difference between publishing and consuming. For those complaining that Kate Middleton's gown is not worthy of a Wikipedia entry, they don't have to read (or append) the entry. Some of that is personal choice and some of that can be affected by personalization.

Announcing PostRocket.

Last week we announced an investment in Spindle. Today, I am excited to an investment in another seed-stage, Dogpatch Labs, social media company: PostRocket. PostRocket optimizes Facebook content for brand and page owners. It's a problem those users know too well: 1,000s of fans - often $1,000s of dollars spent - and yet only a small percentage are reached. PostRocket looks at the content, fans, and engagement habits to help brand / page owners create better content, publish more effectively, and ultimately drive deeper engagement. It's also a problem this team knows well: they are smarter about Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm / logic than any non-Facebook employee I know.

It's a big, important idea because it's a big, important question for the majority of Facebook brands and advertisers. I have eaten my own dog food and tested PostRocket with the DogpatchLabs Facebook page. The early results are really outstanding: over a 2.5x improvement in fan engagement.

PostRocket is opening their doors soon. You can register for the beta here. And follow them on Facebook and Twitter. More on TechCrunch.

Twitter iOS Integration, Contacts

I love that Twitter is baked directly into iOS.... but could be so much more - and I've written about that from the launch (example here). My primary frustration is that the integration doesn't do enough with my contact list - which remains the most accurate, important social network. Furthermore, Twitter uses aliases - and I rarely remember people's Twitter usernames. This problem exists even within the Twitter app or popular readers like Tweetbot. Apple has a Twitter Contact tool - but it doesn't do enough: I should be able to connect with the user by name and not by username. After all, my contact list is the more natural convention and, of course, how I know these people.

In the below screenshot, I Tweeted a TechCrunch article by Anthony Ha - and the only reason the association worked is because his Twitter handle is his name!

Big opportunity for Apple to make Contacts more social and usable. And for Twitter to grow usage and cement user identity.