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How we Could be Changing the Habit of Facebook

Social Media HabitsLet’s roll back to 2004 when Facebook was first launched, back then it was designed as a social media tool for Colleges in the US. Once Facebook started to gather momentum it was only then that people started to realize its potential. Just think of the last website you visited, did it have a “like” button for Facebook? Of course it did they all do! Let’s not forget Microsoft tried this tactic to track people’s usage of websites, and their bid was rejected yet here we are in 2012 with Facebook being in my view enormously advanced in tracking what its members do, where they go and what they like. The integration with Facebook has just become the normal.

Now it sounds like I am building up to bring down a crushing blow here, but I am a Facebook member and I get the social media revolution, I would argue that a “Corporate Twitter” should replace email as it is aging and in my view is a very old school way of thinking. Firstly let’s think of the power that Facebook has, when they do “Big data Analytic” they can gain so much information about you and your behavior  Social media is about our end-user experience but it is as much about potential buyers from Facebook knowing about your behavior.

One of my favourite examples of this is “Nike” running app on most phones, you get the “Nike” app and trackers for your shoes and then you can compete with 1000’s of people around the world posting your times to the boards and also Facebook. Now I am a huge fan of this, this in my eyes is what Technology should allow me to do which is reach and be able to do things I never have before. Okay so lets consider the value of this data, to us this is fun and competitive but behind the scenes is big business, if your phone is tracking your position, distance and speed then it is easy to say that they will be able to figure out your route and all the details about it.

So lets imagine you are a running shop owner, you want to open a new shop in Manhattan NY, how valuable would the collated data above be to you? If they could tell you how many people ran past a plot of land you were interested in, how many people were running in NY, where they stopped etc. The answer is invaluable, that gives you market data you would have never obtained before!

Now that to me is pretty cool. So to give this its official name it is Big Data, which in my view is analyzing information to find patterns and behavioral characteristics, this is what large computing is good at! How do you think Amazon know what to suggest when the pop up that little ad saying “people who bought this also bought”? The market for this is huge at present and is only getting bigger and bigger as companies have to become smarter when tackling consumergeddon! We all have choice, we all have so many resources at our finger tips. Big Data is what is understanding our behaviour, big data for me was not clear when first talked about, now I see this being used everywhere especially in social media.

So my very long point is, we today are creating so much data from social networking, locations, applications, online gaming……the list goes on and on. The one current theme though is that this is mostly mobile data.

The mobile market has developed so much, I remember when I first got a phone with a Camera and to be honest I thought “Big deal” but I did not grasp what was in front of me. The problem wasn’t the camera on the phone rather the software underneath, the only way I could show people was to put it on my computer, MMS (too pricey) or show them on my phone. Then Facebook came along and changed this game completely. My Facebook news feed is literally full of people posting photos if they are out, sightseeing, parties, what they are eating and all manner of other things. I can certainly not recall having that much visual content available to me at all! The same can be said about Twitter.

So finally on to Instagram, I do not know what you have seen in the news but as Facebook now owns Instagram they have amended their terms of service to include this “”To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you”. Now alarm bells should be ringing, we all love and use Instagram, it’s an online photo collaboration tools with API tie in to Facebook and Twitter (although no more now). So imagine the content that is on there now! Huge amounts of value to be sold to someone somewhere.

So we have all took photos, edited them and shared them and now all our activities can be sold, this for one feels different to me, fair enough with things like “Nike” above etc I can understand the way that businesses will want and pay for that information. But what these new terms are doing is selling content that you have created. I must not be alone in thinking that this is not really what social media is all about, they could be personal photos etc.

So I threw this idea to my friend the other day “Could we see the next age of social media coming which is subscription based?”, now we both agreed that we are already there just look at LinkedIn. We also banded about the notion that “If Facebook was a subscriptions service would you pay”. Now for me this is a difficult one, as I started this blog I wrote about Facebook’s inception in 2004, imagine if I had turned around to you in 2004 and said “One Seventh of the world’s population will have a website page by 2012”. I don’t have to describe what you would think of me, yet here we sit with 1 Billion subscription users to Facebook and users that login several times a day and update\maintain their page.

Now imagine if that was taken away from you now, and this moved to a subscription. I would argue that people would pay for this as Facebook is now habit and we socialize through this medium. Or the other way of thinking is if Facebook remained free but sold all your images that you post, do you think they would retain members?

I think that we are at critical mass with this social media at the moment, I think we could soon see the horizon change. Companies such as have spawned are a paid social media experience with none of the advertising  so already social media has tipped over the edge in to a paid service.

What if I was to break the mold here and say imagine 8 years from now would we be saying “Remember that Facebook thing?!.

Just my thoughts….


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Digital Breakdown

Okay so lets start with this, how many times have you checked your smart phone in the last hour? Better yet lets develop it a little bit, how many times have you tweeted, emailed or been on Facebook?

You see what I am getting at, society is being driven by digital media and its all time consuming efforts. The term digital breakdown I think is a tad harsh here but the concept remains.

As I have mentioned before, I always seem to be interacting with some screen using an interface and generally I am trying to do this while doing multiple other tasks. So I hear you cry whats the problem with being connected, well I think being connected is great but constantly is becoming too much for me now. I have so many directions and applications that I literally dread looking at my phone sometimes as it is simply eating my time responding. If we put half the effort back in to our life that we spend maintaining that perfect Facebook wall we would be better off.

I wonder when we will see smartphone black out days? Can you imagine a no Facebook day? Would people survive, my point here is that social media and interfacing with digital devices now is habit. We have been opened up to this world of information at our finger tips on a huge array of devices and we are literally frightened of missing something.

One person has tried this who is Brad Feld who is an MD for a Foundry Group VC firm. He stayed away from his iPhone for 14 days and his comments are below:

“There’s some magic peace that comes over me when I’m not constantly looking at my iPhone. I really noticed it after two weeks of not doing it. After a few days of withdrawal, the calm appears. My brain is no longer jangly, the dopamine effect of “hey – another email, another tweet” goes away, and I actually am much faster at processing whatever I’ve got on a 27″ screen than on a little tiny thing that my v47 eyes are struggling to read.”

Now later on in his write up I think he stumbles across a point that people are missing, its not that we don’t want information its that we want it to be relevant and filtered. Peter Hinssen quoted “There is not too much information, simply a lack of an intelligent filter”. I agree with him, I love information yet I do wish that someone could effectively filter this information. As I highlighted in a recent post “Windows ” I believe they have taken the correct step forwards with this, but still for all its effectiveness it still doesn’t filter what is most important to me at that time.

One idea I am spinning around is that surely we are at the stage of where my iPhone can be intelligent? so why can it not look in to my recent posts, diary, schedules, and times and only give me what I need at that point, everything else can wait until I release them to read them. I find this a highly relevant concept, but an incredibly complex one. If you have ever seen the film “Minority Report” you may know what I mean, when Tom Cruise walks down the street and the advertisements pick up his eyes and propose a relevant advert.

Well that kind of data is already here and this is leveraging big data and analytic s  to intelligently suggest items to purchase based on buying patterns. Retail are trail blazing this as we become an ever increasing consumer price driven, comparing world. Anyway what I am saying is can we not get that intelligence in to our smart phones and create this filter.

Maybe someone has done this, but so far I have not discovered this and I will be surprised if I am the only one with this view.

That being said I am signing off and going to see how long I can keep the smartphone off for.