Among Google+’s many flaws? Marketing
If I was as good about writing here as I should be, I’d have an arsenal of posts on the flaws of Google+. Now, I actually kind of like Google+ and feel that it still has potential in spite of the fact that its foundation—Circles—is about as wrongheaded as a social media network’s foundation can be.
But one of the biggest flaws of Google+ that I keep coming back to (because I keep wondering if it could be true alternative to Facebook) is how they’ve marketed it, where marketing = how they suggest it could be used.
In a word, Google thinks you should approach G+ always thinking MORE. Add more people to your circles. Add entire circlesto your circles. Put huge images in your post so that you create an immersive experience on the mobile app.
This might work for Google (though it also sounds a little desperate), but one of the biggest causes of death of social media networks is when you’re following too many people and you can’t keep up anymore. Google is taking that common cause of death and marketing it as the way of life on Google+.
Katie: Are you still in touch with her?
Jason: No, I’m just friends with her on Facebook.”
my wife and brother-in-law, having a very telling conversation about Facebook.
It’s obvious that the fake Chick-fil-a-defending Facebook posts were not the work of PR
By now, you’ve seen the (non-)story going around about the conversation on Chick-fil-a’s Facebook page where a defender of Chick-fil-a was caught using a stock image photo as their profile picture, meaning that it was a good guess that it was a totally fake account.
What was a bad guess, though, is that the fake Facebook account was run by Chick-fil-a’s PR as a way of trying to spread lies. I’ve been truly amazed by how many people believe that this is the case when it’s obviously not.
If those responses from Abby Farle were from a PR firm, they’re absolute geniuses AND complete morons. Not that I would put it past a PR firm to be dumb enough to use a stock photo as a fake profile picture, but to do that and figure out that they should write the reply without capitalization, almost no punctuation, end the first comment with “John 3:16”, AND—the pièce de résistance—ending the second comment with “derr”. That’s a combination of cunning and carelessness that is nearly impossible.
Look, we’ve all seen fake PR responses before. If those responses really had come from PR, they may still have had the stock photo and name, but it would have looked something more like this:
You’re wrong, Chris. The toys were recalled weeks ago. Check your facts.
…and then would have just said variations on the same thing. Until they got busted for using a stock photo and being totally wrong, that is.
Look at the second comment by “Abby”. What PR firm would have tried to cut down this argument by trying to say “my friend was in one three weeks ago and there weren’t any toys”? The worst PR firm in the world, that’s who; one so bad that their answer to the question “what demographic would most project the status of a factual smackdown” would be “high school kids”.
I’m no defender of Chick-fil-a. I don’t even like their food much (though I am very pro-pickles-on-chicken-sandwiches). But it’s obvious that this fake account was the work of an individual, not-very-bright defender of Chick-fil-a and the company’s politics and not some slick PR professional trying to pull one over on us.
Why Facebook thought they could remove the email address that you’d chosen to display before and replace it with an email address that you’d likely never even considered using can only be the result of one of three kinds of thinking in the marketing meetings:
- panic (“We’ve GOT to make people use every feature NOW!”)
- extreme arrogance (“So what if they get mad? Where are they going to go, Google Plus?”)
- sheer stupidity (self explanatory)
What’s your vote? I’m going to go with #3.
Another nominee for the Great For Brands, Bad For Users award is this move by Facebook to have mobile apps (only mobile?) be able to link the Like action in their app to Like in Facebook, meaning clicking on a Like button that looks nothing like the Facebook app will put the story on your News Feed. Hope you like surprises!
I’ve always felt as though Facebook has been relatively good at resisting base impulses to give both users and brands exactly what they want just to build traffic (MySpace being the worst offender of this), but its these kinds of moves that betray a greed for more traffic at the expense of making user experience and privacy settings clear and understandable.
Facebook’s creepy news feed insertions are a privacy annoyance but a usability nightmare
I’ve been really annoyed lately at Facebook’s algorithm showing my comments on statuses and photos to friends of mine who aren’t friends with the original posters. I’m not entirely sure how to turn it off, but it seems that in the “Timeline and Tagging” section of the privacy settings, and change “Who can see what others post on your timeline?” to just be “Friends”. I also notice in the “Custom” section of that dropdown, there’s a checkbox for “Friends of those tagged” under “Make this visible to”. Which is all not just confusing, but unclear about what it actually does.
But we’ve had this conversation before, right? The problem with Facebook’s privacy is not even necessarily what they show, but that it’s never clear what they’re going to show to others and when. If I select the huge “Friends” button on the default privacy settings, I expect it’s only the people I’m friends with who are going to see it, not that it’s mostly friends who see it but sometimes other people might see it, depending on what it is and who’s tagged in it.
I actually don’t have much of a problem with a lot of my life being public. But I just want to know what’s going out and when and to who. I know that Facebook (and Google) thrive on people keeping public lives on the internet, but they need to do what Twitter does and keep it clear. Give us a good reason to share to more than just our friends, but don’t trick us into doing it.
I haven’t gotten this feature in Facebook yet, but I’m intrigued. Yes, it’s the same basic idea of turntable.fm, but like with so many other products that Facebook rips off and bakes into their product, it has the massive advantage of having all your friends right there, rather than having to convince people to sign on to a new service.
I loved turntable.fm, but found it to require a pretty good amount of time and attention to DJ (not really something you can do in the background while you work). The “Listen Along” function means that if a friend is just listening to a single album, you can listen along to that. None of having to find and queue up songs, which, granted, is a lot of fun, but only if you have the time for it.
Finally, this is an even bigger plus for Spotify and other services that are plugged into Facebook not only in that it’ll make people listen more, but there will likely be a lot more people like me who turn the sharing to Facebook back on. It’s not just annoying now: it’s actually fun.
Millions of us adore last.fm. Why aren’t Google, Amazon & Apple trying to copy it?
I’m one of the many people who love last.fm. I love getting a view of my listening habits over the course of years, and I love being able to see what my friends have liked and have been listening to lately. There are things about last.fm that I would like to see changed/added, but it’s a great site for music sharing.
And in the days when it was active, I found that the wall page on Lala to be extremely useful: seeing what friends of mine had listened to and liked.
Lala and last.fm
got so close to creating the perfect simple music sharing site. Why is it so hard for Google, Apple and Amazon—companies with more than enough resources to finish the job—to give us something great?
What people want from a social music site:
- To be able to share what their music statistics are (like last.fm)
- To be able to see what their friends are listening to and liking
What I’d love to see is a Facebook-wall type page that can either show only the songs that your friends have liked or show you a constantly updating stream of what your friends are currently listening to. I think that would be extremely addictive.
But the simple would be easy to implement. So why hasn’t anyone done it? Apple even bought Lala and would have easy access to people’s iTunes XML files and yet still failed mightily with Ping. Maybe Google has something up their sleeve for Google Music and Plus, but how tough would it be to, say, have your thumbs up tracks show up in Buzz? Or be able to put what you’re listening to now in Google Music on your profile page?
It’s too simple of an idea for it not to be done better already.
Tech boiled down: more time on YouTube, Facebook complete kill, and more
The week in a surface review:
Facebook looks like it’s testing a way to completely delete your account. Finally.
Google Music might be having a fire lit under it to get it out by year’s end. My prediction is that it’ll be nothing to get too excited about.
Safari got an update and now has extensions. Welcome to the party, Apple. Lifehacker gives a guide to a few of the extensions.
YouTube ups their maximum upload time to 15 minutes. Not that anyone watches anything longer than two minutes anyway.
Google adds real-time snow and rain to Google Earth. It’s just a start, but just imagine what this has the potential to be like.
What did I miss?
How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Facebook Changes
Like any TechCrunch-reading web nerd, my first reaction to the “Open Graph” Facebook changes was whiny and furious. How dare they slap my name on every site that’s desperate to tap into their user base? If I wanted my name on those sites, I would have signed up for them! And if I wanted to share my info from those sites with my Facebook friends, I would have individually signed in to each and every one of them, giving that site explicit permission to share with the same people I was sharing with on places like Facebook and then dealt with dozens of different settings arrangements!
Maybe you can see my thought path on this issue changing there. If not, it’s come to this: not only is the change not a big deal, but it’s what we’ve been looking for from the web for years.
Yes, I was surprised when I went to the Washington Post front page and was greeted with a list of the articles my Facebook friends had shared. Yeah, it was a little discomforting to go to Yelp and see my “friends activity”, some of which was from high school friends that I hadn’t seen in decades. But then it cleared up: these are all people that I’ve already approved as my friends. Why should I have to do it yet again? My name isn’t showing up to strangers; it’s showing up to my friends, who I had already consented to share with. At the least, it’s made the web even more convenient, but more than that, it’s expanded the sharing web so hugely that it’s difficult to even comprehend right now.
This is exactly the kind of thing that we’ve wanted from the web; what we’ve wanted companies to do for years: make a single identity and a single group of friends that are managed in one place and then spread throughout sites with multiple purposes. It’s what Open ID wanted to do. Yes, it’s a lot of power for one company, but this isn’t the government we’re talking about. At the absolute worst, it’s like a cult where you actually can leave at any time, with the only downside being some hassle from your friends.
I would not fault anyone for deleting their Facebook account and being done with the whole thing. The concern is understandable. But before you back away entirely, and before you get outraged about these Facebook changes, think of this: your name is likely all over search results on the web, and you have no control over it. Your visits are being tracked anonymously by dozens of web statistics software. Your financial information is a single password (and likely a crappy password) away from anyone who wants it. Like a germaphobe who obsesses over toilet seat covers, you have a LOT greater things to worry about than this.
If you’re up for arguing this, I’m all for it in the comments. And by the way, the comments are powered by Disqus, a service that’s been around for years, where a single login with have you logged into to thousands of sites around the web.