OPLIN 4Cast #324: Facebook and young adults

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

FB questionMany public libraries have active Facebook accounts, and many of them originally joined Facebook in an effort to connect with their younger library users. But nothing stays the same, especially not in social media, and it may be that Facebook will not be the best way to reach young adults in the near future. There is both anecdotal and statistical evidence of a growing shift away from Facebook among young adults. That doesn’t mean your library should abandon Facebook; it just means you should be aware that your audience is shifting.

  • Coming and going on Facebook (Pew Internet/Lee Rainie, Aaron Smith, Maeve Duggan)  “Young adults are the most likely forecasters of decreased engagement. Some 38% of Facebook users ages 18-29 expect to spend less time using the site in 2013, although a majority of users across age groups anticipate that their Facebook usage will remain largely stable in the year to come.”
  • The age of the brag is over: why Facebook might be losing teens (The Verge/Ellis Hamburger)  “When Facebook launched, it was cool to expose details about yourself, like what movies you like, what you’re doing right now, and who you’re in a relationship with. It was, dare I say, exhilarating — being able to share freely with the world without having to learn how to code or even how to apply a MySpace theme. At some point, adding these details, like hundreds of photos from a recent vacation and status updates about your new job amounted to bragging — force-feeding Facebook friends information they didn’t ask for. What was once cool was now uncool.”
  • Why teens are tiring of Facebook (CNET/Jennifer Van Grove)  “For tweens and teens, Instagram — and, more recently, SnapChat, an app for sending photos and videos that appear and then disappear — is the opposite of Facebook: simple, seemingly secret, and fun. Around schools, kids treat these apps like pot, enjoyed in low-lit corners, and all for the undeniable pleasure and temporary fulfillment of feeling cool. Facebook, meanwhile, with its Harvard dorm room roots, now finds itself scrambling to keep up with the tastes of the youngest trendsetters — even as it has its hooks in millions of them since it now owns Instagram.”
  • Teens say ‘later’ to Facebook, shift to photo chats (MSN Money/Michelle V. Rafter)  “Young fans have helped make Instagram and Snapchat the third- and fourth-most popular free photo apps for Apple iOS, and the Nos. 19 and 22 most popular free apps overall, according to mobile app researcher AppData. Kids who’ve grown up hearing their parents lectures on the dangers of posting inappropriate material online like the ephemeral nature of Snapchat, which many use to send ‘selfies,’ pictures of themselves posing, making faces or being silly.”

Business fact:
As mentioned above, Facebook may not be too concerned about losing teens from their site. The Facebook company paid $715 million last year to buy Instagram, one of the new, cool apps.

OPLIN 4Cast #284: Personal data: Making the trade

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

There are a lot of companies providing services on the Internet that have lately decided they need to make your “web experience” more personal. Yahoo! has just introduced Axis, Microsoft recently made their Bing search more social, Google has encouraged people to log in to their Google accounts before they use the Chrome browser to enhance their experience, and there’s speculation that Facebook will soon use the mountains of “like” and profile data it collects to offer people a more personalized web search. There’s little doubt that these new web tools offer a better, custom-fit Internet experience in return for giving the companies access to some personal data. But what’s in it for the companies? Are they improving your web experience just because they like you? Well, no. When your personal data is combined with other data, it’s possible to create a valuable commodity.

  • Facebook’s IPO and the Laws of Big Data (SmartData Collective/Gil Press)  “The value of personal data is zero. Personal data is not worth much if it’s kept personal and a sample of one is good for answering a very limited set of questions. Personal data gains value when it is shared, when it is combined with and compared to other data.”
  • Personal data needs clear trading rules (World Economic Forum Blog/John Rose and Carl Kalapesi)  “…personal data is a highly valuable asset, like oil or water. And like these assets, it needs to flow or move to create value. But unlike these and many other tangible assets, data is not consumed when used. Instead, its use increases its value because new data elements are accumulated, providing greater insights into individuals.”
  • The cost of losing a customer’s trust (GigaOM/Ki Mae Heussner)  “In this report – and a highly cited report on the topic last year – the World Economic Forum calls personal data ‘an emerging asset class.’ But to really extract its value, the organization argues, public and private institutions need to rethink how they do business so that consumers get more protection, rights and opportunities to hold organizations accountable when it comes to their data.”
  • A stock exchange for your personal data (Technology Review/Jessica Leber)  “On his [Bernardo Huberman, director of HP Lab’s Social Computing Research Group] proposed market, a person who highly values her privacy might chose an option to sell her shopping patterns for $10, but at a big risk of not finding a buyer. Alternately, she might sell the same data for a guaranteed payment of 50 cents. Or she might opt out and keep her privacy entirely. You won’t find any kind of opportunity like this today. But with Internet companies making billions of dollars selling our information, fresh ideas and business models that promise users control over their privacy are gaining momentum.”

Privacy fact:
In March, 73% of poll respondents told the Pew Internet and American Life Project that they would “NOT BE OKAY” with a search engine keeping track of their searches and using that information to personalize their future search results.

OPLIN 4Cast #282: Social readers fail?

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Before you start worrying, we’re not talking about people who read together in “social” book clubs; today we’re talking about social reader apps on Facebook. These apps let you read news items and blog postings, as well as comment on them, without leaving Facebook. Some choose news items for you based on your Facebook information or on topics that are trending among your friends. Many also share what you’ve been reading with your friends. They’ve been around for about a year and have been most widely offered by newspapers, which use them to boost readership. But now some data suggests that their popularity is falling rapidly.

  • How to save social readers from extinction (Fortune/Alex Konrad)  “Like a twenty-first century version of the loud-mouthed newsy on the corner, readers from the likes of The Guardian and The Washington Post allow users to peruse articles while sharing their literary habits with friends and contacts on Facebook. That’s all well and good when you’re reading a sober, in-depth analysis of super-PAC financing, for instance. But broadcasting that diversionary gallery of Lindsay Lohan’s evolving locks? Not so much.”
  • Facebook social readers are all collapsing (BuzzFeed/John Herrman)  “My brain already associates those little blocks of auto-fed stories with second-class content. I mean, I know my friends didn’t really mean to show it to me. Why would I click? And god, why would I sign up for the thing that seems to have tricked its way into my timeline? It’s an app that broadcasts internet illiteracy for everyone to see.”
  • Privacy perils of social reading (KurzweilAI News)  “[Privacy law expert Neil] Richards notes that the work of the American Libraries Association and its Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) offers an attractive solution to the problem of reader records. ‘The OIF has argued passionately and correctly for the importance of solitary reading as well as the ethical need for those who enable reading – librarians, but also Internet companies – to protect the privacy and confidentiality of reading records,’ he says.”
  • Data shows social readers have mixed results, but aren’t ‘collapsing’ (Inside Facebook/Brittany Darwell)  “Many users have complained about social reader applications, mostly those that require users to authorize the app and share their activity in order to read any article. We recommend developers add clear controls for users to decide what to share, when and with whom. There also seems to be a lack of explanation of what users gain from enabling this type of sharing.”

Popularity fact:
The Washington Post social reader was one of the first available and once had 17 million monthly users, but now has less than 10 million.

OPLIN 4Cast #277: Timeline tips

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

The new Facebook Timeline format for Pages has been rolled out for everyone now, including “brand Pages” for companies and organizations, such as libraries. That means many libraries have been, or will be, spending time reworking the graphics and other features of their Facebook Pages. You might be wondering how your library users are viewing those changes, and a new eye-tracking study (pdf) by the market research company SimpleUsability provides some answers.

  • Eye-tracking: Consumers disorientated by new Timeline (BizReport/Helen Leggatt)  “SimpleUsability’s eye-tracking research found that consumers dismiss the cover image as advertising and, with little to distinguish pinned posts from other content, they are often missed. According to SimpleUsability, ‘no users realized the pinned post was intended to be highlighted’.”
  • Adapting to Facebook Timeline is a huge challenge for brands, here are some tips on where to focus (The Next Web/Nancy Messieh)  “If you haven’t already filled in your brand’s history into the Timeline, you should do it now. It certainly will take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. Simple Usability found that users gravitate towards the Timeline navigation on the right hand side of the page. Users are interested in finding out more about the brand, pre-dating its Facebook existence, which represents a chance to communicate with them.”
  • Eye movement study reveals six must-know things about Facebook brand Pages (ReadWriteWeb/Dave Copeland)  “Timeline’s biggest benefit for brands, according to the study, is the ability to tell a brand’s story. The Timeline design is particularly effective in accomplishing this online, but users also liked the ease of finding the ‘About’ button on brand pages. In many cases, users said it was easier to learn about a brand than it was on a corporate Web site.”
  • Report: How effective is Timeline for Pages? The eyes have it (All Facebook/David Cohen)  “Regular updates are more important than ever with the layout of timeline for pages. Simple Usability found that users consider themselves to be up-to-date on topics such as sports and music, and they expect Facebook pages to be the same way.”

Updates fact:
Another new study by Recommend.ly found that 82% of Facebook brand Pages are updated less than five times a month, while politicians update their Pages more than twice a day.