Category Archives: industry

The Paris Hilton Litmus Test

Does the shift of keyword count at this year’s Supernova Conference from relevant industry leaders to celebrities such as Paris Hilton indicate the Web is going mainstream. Paul Kedrosky thinks so.

While it may be true that the frontiers of mainstream media on the Web are just now being explored, gossip and celebrity mishaps have long been a driver of traffic to seemingly irrelevant sites.

BusinessWeek’s August 14, 2006 cover story Valley Boy discusses the rise of the (then) new wave of development on the Internet. The accompanying podcast mentions that social news aggregator digg received it’s first big break when the soon-to-be-freed-Hilton-heir had her sidekick hacked. Long story short, the digg post was listed high in Google search results which seemed to bring digg traffic to the tipping point.

Also, ever taken a look at Google’s Zeitgeist Archive? To say the people haven’t wanted mainstream media on the net since 2001 would be an apparent mistake.

Is this news because entrepreneurs are now realizing an untapped opportunity, the money is just now starting to flow from equity funds, or big media is just now realizing that they are going to have to change their business model?

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Fickle Facebook Friends

Paul Kedrosky has noted Facebook user’s fickle adoption of the new third-party applications. Like any user-centric platform users can easily add or remove an application. This does lead to a high level of tire-kicking as Paul mentioned. What developers can expect then is an audience that approaches adoption with a try-before-I-buy mentality. In other words, the Facebook crowd is a savvy user base, fearless but harsh.

Therefore, when developers are planning for and designing their F8 strategy, it is important to remember what the platform was originally designed to do. Just read the home screen, “Facebook is a social utility that connects you with the people around you” (emphasis theirs). Facebook has done an amazing job with this charge. They have created a site that organizes friendships into a consumable product but most importantly they have allowed users the ability to express and extend their personality online. This is what keeps socialites glued to Facebook day in and day out.

A successful Facebook application will help to extend the user’s online presence. Whether it means providing a service that allows friends to add updates to a user’s profile (therefore reinforcing and augmenting the friendship) or increasing the opportunity for a user to express their individuality, applications that stick will understand and harness the behavior pattern of Facebook users.

All of the widely used applications do this. Applications with lasting adoption include the deeply-integrated feature-rich iLike, to the less serious Graffiti and SuperPoke, each complementing the user’s expectations of the network.

To win on Facebook, understand the network as a social facilitator, the user as an individual, and friends as reinforcers. Use these ideas in the way demonstrated by thriving in-house applications (e.g. photos, wall, and groups) and create real value within the network for a lasting business opportunity.

Getting back to the original point, users are quickly being bombarded with new applications, many of them adaptations of websites pigeonholed to the F8 Platform. What we see is these applications failing to gain widespread usage. Users rapidly evaluate a new application and determine it’s worth compared to canonical Facebook products.

Does your application help a person tell something about them self? Does your application help friends be friends? Don’t just dump content on their profile and think it will stay. In fact you shouldn’t want static content, encourage interactivity! Design for the platform, create a viral strategy, and keep your application in the user’s profiles.