Category Archives: Social Media

Facebook Pages: No one is talking about you!

About 3 – 4 years back, Facebook Pages was a hot property. Till just some time back, every brand, every advertiser wanted as many “Likes” as possible. At peak of this trend, some brands even did press releases on reaching 1 Million Likes.

Here is some bad news for Social Media Agencies, Consultants and every concerned with Social Media, Facebook Pages as a product has reached end of its life cycle and is no more valuable for brands. Why do I say this?

Check the metrics for some of the most popular internet brands in India and also International brands.

As defined by Facebook, the ‘People talking about this’ includes – likes, comments, shares, answering a question, responding to a event and claiming a offer. The average ‘People Talking about This’ is drastically reduced to just about 2%.

Why is this happening –

  • Facebook has two current priorities – Improve (and retain) User Engagement & Grow Revenues.
  • In a attempt to retain user engagement, Facebook wants users to engage with each other (people to people) and not with applications or pages. 
  • To grow revenues, Facebook wants you to pay to reach its audience. If the natural viral factor is high, brands no longer have to pay Facebook.
  • More pointers on this in my earlier post, where I said Facebook is no longer a powerful distribution platform.

What this implies –

  • Most pages listed above are currently (probably) not advertising on FB. It effectively means that the natural engagement of a Facebook page is now at a average of 2%. 
  • If only 2% of your page audience is going to engage, the ‘viral factor’ that introduced new users to your page will be a minuscule number. 
  • If a brand has gathered Facebook Fans / Likes by doing advertisements for its pages, value of the money spent is $0 today.
  • In case you are running any advertisements to get Likes to your page, consider halting it.
  • The only way to reach your own audience (people who have liked you) is using advertising tools like ‘Boost Post’.

So why is it a dead product? If a Facebook page (as a product) that has over a million users connected to it, but generates only 2% engagement and possibly even less viral factor is as good as dead. As a transaction product (like ecommerce) the conversions from Facebook Page will be further down since your posts reach a smaller percentage of ‘your Facebook audience’.

Going forward if the audience that you are building through Facebook Page is never going to engage with your posts, it might be a better option for advertisers to consider simply running CPC advertisements to target the necessary demographic, take users to their website and engage them there (back to pre-social media days of Facebook).

If you are a start-up building products around Facebook Pages or anything that concerns with distribution through Facebook Pages or even through Facebook, take a hard look at the data / funnels.

Some exceptions above are Mashable, BuzzFeed and 9GAG. Why? Because they are in the content business (yes Mashable too, in my opinion its no more a social media site) and for the fact that they have exceptionally high engagement numbers is probably because they are the only ones doing content marketing right on Facebook!

For everyone else, no one really is talking about you on Facebook. Not unless you are paying for it!

15 Steps towards Building a Great Product!

Note: I recently gave a talk at The Startup Leadership Program and shared thoughts on Product Management and how to go about building great technology products. The deck I shared is embedded w/t the post.

This for all founders & product geeks (that includes me too) who want to build the next great product. Sharing all this for #StartupKarma (Heard this from Bowei – ‘Continue to give away and help other entrepreneurs with a hope that it comes back to you someday!’) 

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The Background:
As a startup founder, one gets bombarded with advice on pitching, raising investments, growth hacking, marketing and so on. It comes to us through one-on-one interactions, posts we read or multiple startup events and meetups. Unfortunately there is very little or no advice that actually helps you build your product.

Over months, I have studied product patterns in several successful products (like Facebook, Twitter, Quora and so on). This has made me believe that building great products is not just about picking random ideas and shooting in the dark, its a art and science both put together.

Here is a step by step guide for building a great product. I have taken Twitter in this case to demonstrate the examples, however you will be surprised to see the similarities with other products.

Note: Don’t proceed without understanding #0; and without finishing #1 & #2.


#0 | Think: Product does Marketing
The thumb rule for any great product is that you don’t need to market it; it requires zero marketing spends. Instead, it is the users who spread the word, acquire more users which leads to high growth. High virality and strong engagement are the two striking characteristics of a great product. 

So here is the step by step guide towards building the next great product!

</end 0>

#1 | Think: What product are you building?
Have clarity about the product you are building. Make your product statement!

Here are the rules:

  1. Define your product in < 10 words. This is not your pitch statement, its your “product statement”.
  2. Be grammatically correct, include name of your product in these 10 words.
  3. No references with other startups / products. This cannot be “AirBnB for Cars” or “Facebook for Companies”.

Share this product statement with others. Does it communicate ‘everything’ your startup is going to build? If it does not, work on this again!

</end 1>

#2 | Think: Vision
Most startups have beginnings over a random idea (usually this sounds like a billion dollar idea then). Once those ideas get built in 3-6 months, the founders are lost and clueless on what next!

Have a vision around this product you are building. You can run out of ideas, but you can’t run out of vision. Build a product roadmap around this vision. (I mentioned it last year too – point 5 )

Make a note of the vision for your startup / company. Check if the product statement you wrote in Step 1 is the right to achieve the vision you just stated.

Now lets start with building!

</end 2>

#3 | Think: Atomic Unit of Product
I picked this up from Fred Wilson’s post which got me thinking for days on my our own product and even inspired me to rethink on our product / vision.

What is the atomic unit of your product? Example; Atomic unit of Twitter is a ‘Tweet’. For Facebook it is a status update. For Instagram it is a photo. For Gmail it is a email. For YouTube  it is a video.

Simple rules about Atomic Unit of your product:

  1. It has to be owned by you.
  2. It should be only one. More than one atomic unit? Signs of trouble!
  3. Your product statement and vision should be centered around this atomic unit.

</end 3>

#4 | Think: Features

Were always confused on figuring out which features to build and which to let go? Answer is simple – build features only around the atomic unit of your product.

Example., Twitter’s core features – reply, retweet, favorite & follow (a user who tweets) are build around its core atomic unit – “tweet”.

Rules to remember:

  1.  List down all features you can think / build around the atomic unit of your product!
  2. Strip down all the features you have on your product that are not centered around this atomic unit.
</end 4>


#5 | Think: Engagement
Want your users / customers to engage with your product – ensure that features you have selected to build around the atomic unit lead drive engagement.

Example., In case of Twitter, the engagement is Retweets, Favorites and Conversations that one can have around the atomic unit ‘tweet’. Similarly for Facebook it is – Likes, Comments, Shares and so on.

Don’t getting fascinated by engagement features around popular products and force-fit them on your product. Example., force-fitting the favorites like functionality from Twitter on your product.

Rules to remember:

  1. Drive engagement around the atomic unit of the product.
  2. Be innovate. Try multiple options to figure out the perfect fit around your product.
  3. Engagement should be measurable! (Example., 35 Retweets)
</end 5>

#6 | Think: Flexibility

Most startup founders I meet are not flexible. They don’t want to change their product and want users to follow a certain flow which they believe which is right. When asked why, most of the times the answer is “we don’t want to let user play around the product”.

Think twice. Your product should be flexible and your users ‘must play’ with your product. Your product should be flexible at its core – at its atomic unit! Example., Twitter lets you tweet text, a photo, video, post, location & in multiple languages. Others., Facebook lets your post a status that is a text, photo, video and so on. Same for Quora, Tumblr and the rest.

Rules to Remember:

  1. Give freedom to your user to play with your product.
  2. List down all formats in which a user can express the atomic unit of your product.

</end 6>

#7 | Think: Distribution

Key to success of any platform – distribution. Why does this come so late? – You need to build your product right before you even think distribution.

Most founders think distribution is ‘sharing on other platforms’. It is not! Before you even get to allow users to share & distribute to other platforms like Facebook or Twitter, get users to distribute on your own product.

Example., Retweet on Twitter, Share on Facebook, Upvote on Quora, etc are the best examples of on-site distribution.

Rules to Remember:

  1. Distribution should be centered around the ‘atomic unit’ of your product.
  2. If a user has not distributed anything on your product, very rarely would be distribute something outside of it.
  3. Don’t force-fit social in your product. Users will figure out way to share if they like something!
</end 7>

 

#8 | Think: Endorsements
Don’t we breath and live endorsements in our every day lives? Why do we forget to build that in the products we create. Great products use endorsements in every element – it brings out relevance & context to information.

Example., If you notice every element of Twitter has a endorsement if you are logged in. This includes – Retweeted by, Follow Suggestions, Profile Views and Search Results.

Rules to Remember:

  1. Endorsements work 100% of the time. Build them in your product.
  2. Anything that is not context is spam. (Said this earlier)
</end 8>
 

#9 | Think: User Psychology
Most entrepreneurs want users to love their product. Truth is, users don’t love your product. They love the content (or data) on it!

Example., We love to express ourselves on Twitter. Discover best answers on Quora. See moments shared by friends on Facebook.

So if you are building a product, remember to allow users to create their own content and discover relevant content. Don’t try to get users forcefully share something to Facebook or Twitter, it will not work.

Rules to Remember:

  1. Content should be expressed in the atomic unit of your product. Nothing else.
  2. Creation of content is much more valuable than sharing of content. 
  3. If a user has created some content on your product, has something he owns – he is engaged.
</end 9>

 

#10 | Think: Content Dynamics
Once you let users create content on your site, ensure you understand the content dynamics – most importantly that user’s need for that content to be seen! This is step 2 of user psychology – he needs activity around it that will keep him engaged through the features you have built around the atomic unit.

Example., If I tweet something on Twitter, who consumes that content? Not all of my 1000+ followers on Twitter, many of them may never notice it. But there are few followers who will retweet that and amplify the tweet.

You need to have features (again around the atomic unit of the product) that amplifies / distributes the content. And users who do these are your content curators! That is all one needs to know about content dynamics! 

Rules to Remember:

  1. Great content is created by just 1% of your users; That is amplified by 10% content curators – their actions make things go viral!
  2. When content from your product goes viral, in in true sense your product goes viral.
</end 10>
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#11 | Think: One Point of Discovery

Building product with above elements is important, and now crucial is to package that all in to a exemplary product design. The thumb rule here is simple – user should be able to do everything that has been mentioned here (till now) on one screen. 

Example., the logged in interface of Twitter, Facebook or Quora (though imo Quora still needs some improvements).  

Rules to Remember:

  1. Don’t build a product around design. Build design around the product.
  2. Minimize page views, clicks. User should be able to complete 75% tasks / actions of your product from the screen he is displayed where he logs in.
</end 11>

 

#12 | Think: Privacy
This point is intentionally left blank. That is all I have to say about privacy!

</end 12>

#13 | Think: MVP
Stop building minimum viable products, users won’t adopt them. Instead build more valuable products, I wrote a full post on this topic – the minimum viable product trap!

Still not convinced, here are some examples – 

  1. Bing is a good search engine (if you have not tried it lately, you should). Still we continue to user Google regularly and did not shift. Why? Because there is nothing more valuable it has compared to Google.
  2. Outlook, is now probably as fast as Gmail and with most (of the commonly used) features that users would expect. Yet Gmail continues to lead because Outlook provides nothing more valuable than Gmail.
  3. We did not move from Dropbox to Google Drive. Same., not more valuable.
  4. While in case of WhatsApp, we all moved not just from text messaging to WhatsApp, but also dumped Facebook Chat, GTalk and many other products. Why? – because it is more valuable!

Rules to Remember:

  1. Build something of value to users, that will drive adoption of your product.
  2. Build your product for real users, not for early adopters.
</end 13>

 

#14 | Think: Growth
If building the right product is the toughest thing to do for a startup, distributing it right is even more tougher. If your distribution plan includes advertising or spending $$$s – then you need to rethink your strategy. 

As a startup, you need to completely rely on any existing network to bootstrap your initial growth. Even the existing successful products have, some examples –

  1. Twitter: Live tweets at SXSWi conference displayed on large TV screens.
  2. Facebook: Opened initially in Harward, and more schools later.
  3. YouTube: Nike Advt went viral. Plus many users embedded YouTube videos on then popular MySpace.
  4. Gmail: It was a mail service from Google. Invitation Only. Anyone searching for email services on Google.com was shown advts for Gmail.
  5. Quora: Initially opened to Facebook Alumni network
  6. Zynga: Facebook Feeds.
  7. Dropbox: Invites by Email + Connect Facebook & Twitter accounts.

Rules to Remember:

  1. Bootstrap your growth on other existing successful & large networks.
  2. The networks could be online or offline. Focus on only one!
</end 14>

#15 | Think: Shipping Fast
Many entrepreneurs / founders keep delaying their public beta as they wait endlessly to build a perfect product. This can be very frustrating since the perfect product is always 2 or 3 more features away. Some of the common reasons I hear is – “What if early adopters don’t like the current version of product? what if they rant about it on Twitter?” 

Founders should also know that early adopters are very considerate – they know this is the first version of product that is being shipped. In my case, I rarely rant about early stage startups. To communicate something or to share feedback I shoot a email to the founders. In case I really like a product I spread the word for it. Yes, but I do rant if a startup has raised a Series A, in this case I assume you should have a product where silly mistakes are not acceptable 😛

Rules to Remember:

  1. Ship a Imperfect Product. Its OK!
  2. Collect feedback and ship changes fast. Ensure your write to your users and update them when feedback is implemented.
</end 15>

 

Concluding Notes:
Building products is not easy! Most of the time its shooting in the dark with no clear modelling that lets the product manager believe if a feature you are building will work or not. As startups, we are pressed on time and a wrong feature can cost us time & money.

It took me quite some time to study and understand these unique patterns in several successful products which includes Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Quora and others; finally had a chance to put that on a deck and now on this post. 

While this product management process has been personally very helpful for us at Wishberg; I plan to update this over time as I learn, understand and implement more. Would also want to hear your thoughts on this, please write to me on pj @ beingpractical.com on your learnings and inputs. 

Thank You!

 

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Telcos, please stop paying mobile bills for your employees!

We all have our stories about Telecom Operators or Mobile Service Providers. I prefer to tweet and receive a call than just calling on customer support and waiting on long hold times. There is so much outrage on Twitter / Facebook against Telcos. Love-hate relationship. At times I end up feeling that the job of Social Media teams of telecom operators maybe more difficult than… err.. Alaska Crab Fish Jobs.

Despite the amount of outrage / complains / feedback, we have wondered multiple times – why do they fail to understand their customer’s agony/pain? How can they just goof up at times on plain simple things?

The answer is ridiculously simple. Most decision makers / process managers / folks in management working at Telcos are given mobile connections which are either not-billed or payed by the company itself. So their employees never or very rarely do any interactions with their own customer service staff like their customers do.

Telcos, there is one phrase extremely popular in the tech startup ecosystem – “Eating your own dog food.” It simply means – use own products / services exactly how your customers do.

To cut the story short – “Telcos, please stop paying mobile bills for your employees. Let them do it for themselves. Treat them as your customers and just see how your processes become more efficient and customer satisfaction scores improve. Eat your own dog food. Please!”

Why Consumer Social Products should monetize at Scale

This post is written in context of – why consumer social products should never monetize without scale.

1. Because Users sign-up in context of Product –
Every social product is more about users and their connections / contacts together with a context (its product use-case). Users expect to interact with their contacts with this context.

For Zynga, the context is playing games; for Quora, the context is asking questions. At this stage – nothing is more important that making the context important. Focus on building the product.

 

2. Because Engagement is more Important –
Only value a social product should provide to users is engagement (both frequency and quality is important). Hence, the only metric that matters for any social products is engagement. That should be prime focus for any social product in its initial 24-36 months.

Over a period of time this engagement should evolve in to habit. Habits are tough to break. Facebooking, Tweeting, Checking-In are habits.

A QnA site like Quora with about 1 Mn ‘engaged’ users is more valuable that 50Mn+ users on Google+ who don’t talk to each other..

 

3. Because you need to Learn from Others’ Mistakes –
Learn from successes and failures of other products. All (successful) social products monetized at scale, till then they were just building the product and even continue to do so today.

Majority (if not all) of social products who tried to monetize early have hit the dead pool or pivoted.

Don’t want to name any specific failures, but look around – there are many social products that attempted to monetize in its early days.

 

4. Because your Users won’t like it –
You like it or not – large social products & platforms eventually monetize with advertising products but with its own product context. Facebook did with advts targeting by demographics; Twitter with promoted accounts, tweets & trends; Foursquare by local advertising deals for check-ins; with a exception of Zynga that sells virtual goods.

At early stage, users would expect a better product experience; not advts. If you plan to monetize with transactional services like eCommerce – think about it. Will users want another service that spams them through sms / email or advertisements? You don’t want to put off your users.

It is a tough decision with a simple answer – Focus on what users want; not what you want or what your investors want.

 

5. Because your Merchants or Business Owners won’t be happy with you –  

This is strange but true. Let me explain this with example – Imagine a hypothetical social product for shopping with 100,000 registered users. You sign-up with the top-20 eCommerce sites in India for monetization through affiliate model – you pat your back and give yourself a thumbs-up.

– Assume decent engagement levels @ 50% user base (50% of users login minimum 2 times a month).
– That is 12,500 users per week logins
– Take standard 1% ratio of conversion at merchant end
– Gives you 125 transactions per week; 500 per month
– That is about 25 transactions per merchant ~ approximately less than 1 transaction per day for eCommerce partner.

Consumers will not do eCommerce transactions every month. Next month, this picture might be more difficult.

4 of these 20 eCommerce services says, “Sorry! its not worth our efforts on integration and time spent. Please delist us.” Community is small, people change jobs fast and the word spreads quickly amongst the partners – “This product does not work!”

Now, the same scenario at scale;

– On a 1Mn user base: 8-10 transactions per day to every partner
– On a 10Mn user base: 80-100 transactions per day to every partner
– On a 100Mn user base: 800-1000 transactions per day to every partner. OMG!

Exercise extreme caution when you decide to monetize your social product. The timing is as important as how your monetization plan.

 

Also because Sean Parker said so –
From the movie – The Social Network. When Mark Zuckerberg, Sean Parker and Eduardo Saverin discussed on TheFacebook’s monetization in its early days –

Eduardo Saverin: Hey, you know what? Settle and argument for us. I say it’s time to start making money from TheFacebook, but Mark doesn’t want to advertise. Who’s right?
Sean Parker: Um…neither of you yet. TheFacebook is cool that’s what it’s got going for it.
Mark Zuckerberg: Yeah.
Eduardo Saverin: You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.
Mark Zuckerberg: Exactly.

Sean Parker: “You don’t even know what the thing is yet.”
Mark Zuckerberg: “I said that exactly.”
Sean Parker: “How big it can get, how far it can go. This is no time to take your chips down. A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool?”
Eduardo Saverin: “You?
“A billion dollars.”
 That shut everybody up.

This holds true for every social product. You don’t know really know how a product shapes up it its journey that starts from minimum viable product.

Note: Sean Parker has said that the movie The Social Network is work of fiction.

 

Google+ may be miles away from being a great Social Product!

A Product Manager’s view – Why Google+ may be miles away from being a great Social Product!

There are various reports on super adoption of Google+, earlier about 10 Mn users and today it reaching 50 Mn users.  The key question is – How many users are engaged there? Also echoed by The Lean Startup author Eric Ries while Facebook has 750Mn active and engaged users.

I am trying to tell myself that first signs of product usage and assumptions change over time. It happened with me for Groupon where the business model was innovative, but not scalable; for Quora post initial adoption; for Twitter (where I was a early adopter) but found no one else there and stayed away for 2-3 years before becoming active again.

Same happened with Google+ my first reaction was Facebook killer, then next was Twitter killer – and over a period of time with my Product Manager’s hat – I feel that it may be miles away from being a great Social Attempt!

 

1. What is Google+? No one cared to answer!

A standard product management and product marketing practice is to tell consumers what the product is. The world knows about Facebook, despite its 750Mn+ active users – every time you visit Facebook homepage it tells you what it is.

  • Facebook – Facebook helps you connect and share with the people in your life.
  • Twitter – Follow your interests. Instant updates from your friends, industry experts, favorite celebrities, and what’s happening around the world.
  • Flickr – Share your life in photos.
  • YouTube – Join the largest worldwide video-sharing community!
  • Foursquare – Check in. Find your Friends. Unlock your City.
  • Quora – A continually improving collection of questions and answers.

While for Google+ – No one cared to answer what product use-case it solves or what should users are expected to do on it.

 

2. How does a user access Google+ ?

Users access Facebook on www.facebook.com; Twitter on www.twitter.com; and so on – is it www.google+.com?

And to prove this point – look at Google+ suggestions on Search –

Accessibility is a big question mark for Google+. The correct way to access Google+ is plus.google.com – which a technology early adopter shall ‘probably’ remember – but even he or she will end up accessing (most of the time) Google+ from within GMail on the notification bar at the top.

This point is also related with next set of arguments – User Psychology & Naming & Identification Psychology. I feel these factors are extremely important to consider while building any consumer product.

 

3. User Psychology for Consumer Products

For any Internet or mobile product – consumers are quick to label it with its strongest product use-case – which is typically the recall product value of the user. Simply stated for a normal user –

  • “I visit GMail to check my emails!”
  • “I visit Google to search the web.”
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to.”

Now it is extremely difficult for any product to have a “and use-case” for a product –

  • “I visit GMail to check my emails and Social Networking.” – No!
  • “I visit Google to search the web and Social Networking.” – No!
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also searching the world wide web.” – No!

“And use-case” works for features that support any product’s core value. Features that would be to better manage emails (for Gmail), to better display search rankings (for Google Search), to show more types of friend’s activities (for Facebook) and so on.

Google is aiming to take on Facebook with a Social Networking product. But launched it like a feature on Google Homepage (Search) & Gmail (Notification Header). In current avatar, Google+ is a feature – and will gain traction as much as a feature can. It will not gain identity as a social-networking stand-alone product.

Also note the big failures of other “And use-cases” –

  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also Buy Local Deals.” – Deals was abandoned by Facebook
  • “I visit Facebook to view what my friends are up to and also to check-in in places” – Places as stand-alone attempt within Facebook failed, but as feature is gaining traction.
  • “I visit Gmail to check mails and Buzz up articles.” – Google Buzz… remember?

“And use-cases” work for B2B products, but have never worked for any consumer web product.

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4. Naming & Identification Psychology

Social Graphs & Social Networks are all about giving identity to users. Currently, Google+ itself needs an identity. Users think and will continue to think of Search when they think of Google, and it is virtually impossible for them to perceive Google as a Social Network.

How consumers relate with social activities – “Are you on FB?” “Can you tweet this?” “Let me share it on FB” and so on. The terminology “Google” or “Googled” is built over last 13 years – will be impossible to change from search to a social context.

For sake of Product identity or for its different product use-case, Google+ should have been outside of Google identity with its own identity (probably a www.plus.com if it was available). But the lure of exploring existing user-base is too difficult to give away – and if that logic was to succeed Yahoo! would have still been the largest internet company in this world. They tried to do everything under Yahoo! brand name (Yahoo! Search, Yahoo! Shopping, Yahoo! Finance, Yahoo! Hotjobs, Yahoo! This & Yahoo! That), but for consumers Yahoo! was and always remained a content play.

Even Google’s largely successful consumer products outside Search – Gmail & YouTube were successful because consumers saw it as an independent product identity outside the core of Google’s Search. While Google Video, Google Buzz, Google Answers – all failed. I am strong advocate of one-product = one-identity for consumer web businesses.

 

5. Social Graphs are occupied; No place for Google+ to fit in

I mentioned in my previous post Building Awesome Social Products – successful social products are reflection of people’s offline behavior in the real world. Similarly – successful social graphs are also reflection of people’s social relationships in real world. Social Products reflect activities, Social Graphs reflect relationships.

A typical user’s social relationships involve –

  • Close Relationships – Friends, Family, Friendly Colleagues (present and past) – more importantly people you know personally.
  • Professional Relationships – Colleagues, Business Relationships, Partners
  • Loose Relationships – People you know, but they probably don’t know you. Celebrities, known professionals, domain experts

Facebook covers Close Relationships, LinkedIn covers Professional Relationships, Twitter covers Loose Relationships. So if Google+ is trying to create a new Social Graph, it will be a struggle (big struggle) – simply cause there is no use-case for a new social graph. Social graphs are distinct; by nature, by user behavior and are established over a period of time.

Features don’t make a product success by itself and expect it to later evolve in to a Social Graph; Instead having a use-case for social graph is essential and the features should evolve.

6. It is important to know whom to kill – Facebook, Blogs, Twitter, or what -?

Google+ though it presently looks like a Facebook killer – it is not. None of my friends are using it the way they use Facebook, instead I see more updates from technology adopters in Silicon Valley – and the posts look like extended tweets (beyond the 140 characters). I follow these technology adopters on Twitter, and hence my own assumption that probably it is a Twitter-killer.

Google+ still does not have a clear proposition – and is trying to overlap between all three Social Graphs (Close Relationships, Professional Relationships & Loose Relationships) without taking a clear positioning against one of them.

I am personally not happy with the killer-suffix (no products killers have ever killed anyone – they are still trying to kill iPhone & iPad). But its also important to know who your competition or what your benchmark really is. Or you might just try running behind all, but never able to catch up with any one of them.

7. Developer APIs will not enable Social Graphs; Instead Gmail invite contacts are more powerful.

There has been lot of noise about speculated Google+ APIs for developers to build applications and its release dates or so on. Developer APIs will provide access to features – posting an Google+ update, ability to do +1 through applications, and so on – but this sounds (unfortunately once again) like Twitter APIs or FB app APIs that allow you to post status updates and share pictures and so on. Most importantly, Google+ will not be able to build a Facebook Connect equivalent.

Today Social Graphs when referred are mostly Facebook explored through Facebook Connect (unless you write some algorithms on top of them to bring context to your product). F-Connect allows applications & developers to enable Social Graphs (of friends); which clearly explains why 1000s of applications prefer to have Sign-up with Facebook buttons.

Google+ has multiple circles (friends, acquaintances, doctors, techies – and you can delete and rename any other circle); relationships in these circle are mutually not dependent on each other – and hence cannot be explored even if Google+ comes out with a API to access them. Let me explain this below –

a. A user Larry might add another user Zuck in friends circle; Zuck may add Larry in My Gang circle. Hence social relationship between them is not mutual (as friends).
b. Further Larry might name his friends circle as Buddies; Zuck names his friends circles as Pals; Hence the social graph definition itself is flawed.


This is a huge flaw – Through APIs the developer’s applications cannot reach mutually accepted graph of both connections (mutual friends) or an validated status of their relationships (close friends, professional or loose). Hence at this stage it would be more preferred to use the Gmail Invite Contacts module – for simple reason that it is more powerful and treats all contacts at a same level (a social graph of email contacts / connections).

 

8. Not the best attempt at Social Networking

Google already knows so much about its users – whom do you chat (on GTalk), whom do you mail (on Gmail) or who are my most contacted people in real world (on Android). Google could have actually used a lot of this data, recommended people with circles (I still hate sorting people in circle all the time, but pre-cooked circles by associations would still have been so much better).

With Google holding so much data and wanting to go ahead with a strong social product; it is expecting users to do it again from scratch. Makes one feel that Google+ is a half-baked attempt.

Facebook users usually have about 150 to even 5000 friends. Usually added over years, and all added at a same level – ‘Friends’. However cool the task of adding people to circle is in execution – to add those many people again to circles is a pain. While most people that users see on Google+ are those who are discovered through the people you follow. Every time to add someone to a circle is little more effort than just adding as a friend (on Facebook) or just following the user (on Twitter).

Circle looks like Twitter lists – People get added on them once, later everyone forgets which user is put in what circle. And while the News feed (or stream) stays common for all – the Circles might as well be forgotten just like Twitter Lists.

The next point makes it more clear – why it is not the best attempt at Social Networking.

 

9. Real Capabilities of Social Graphs (or Networks) are absent –

Get this right – Friends (or Connections!) are the minimum one expects out of a Social Network. What stands out are the capabilities to engage those connections. Remember Orkut? – it had all connections; but Facebook just made the engagement so much better.

  • Ability to discover Friends or Connections in context –
    Google+ has done a simple job or fetching contact list from GMail and enabled it with the painful process (yes!) of adding to circles. But by enabling discovery of friends or connections who are active on Google+ – the suggestion engine for friends could have been so much better.
    .
    Example –
    1. I end of following lot of product enthusiasts & early adopters. There are mutual connections that could be added to my circles – which currently not recommended.
    2. My Gmail contacts list have endless email addresses of people I really don’t want to follow in circles or on any social network. So a smart recommendation based on whom I chat with, mutual friends, top contacts on Android and others need to be made discoverable.
    .
  • Stream or Newsfeed –
    The most important discovery tool on any Social Platform is Newsfeed. In its current stage – the Stream on Google+ is very Twitterish – a timeline of all people you follow.

    Facebook raised the standard with algorithms that help you discover feeds that is most relevant to every user, ranking every story contextually around a user. Newsfeed makes or breaks any Social Product and single most important activity & engagement enabler for any Social Product or Social Graph.
    .
  • Communication or Chat –
    The most cut-copy-paste feature of Google+ is chat – where user can chat with contacts he otherwise can also on Gmail or Gtalk. Quite honestly, this is the most ridiculous feature, with no context to people any user has put in his circles.
    .
    In context of chat (or video chat) – expecting users to do Hangouts with webcam is a big No. Hangouts are not conversation starters, but should be featured alongside as planned video conversations.
    .
  • Ability to drive Traffic –
    Remember Google Buzz? There was nothing wrong in the idea – attempting a Digg or Facebook Share or Tweet Share. Once a user Buzz’ed an article – it was critical to reach his Social Graph and drive viral traffic to that article. This story failed cause of poor dissemination of activity in user Social Graph. Google should learn lessons from Google Buzz chapter.
    .
    Social Networks like Facebook & Twitter are popular with publishers or businesses due to their ability to drive traffic to their own websites. While few publishers have added the +1 button to their webpages – still drives only an insignificant proportion of traffic to them; and lot of unclarity on how the dynamics of +1 button works for publishers and its benefits to them eventually.+1, Like, Share, Tweet this – are big distribution mechanisms for a Social Network. Should be given its required TLC.

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As mentioned earlier – the product use-case should be driven by features; and not the other way round. Google can always come back and say – we are working on this. But hey, if a product is coming from a product & technology resource-heavy company like Google – even user expectations also very high.

Even these are early days for Google+, web is dynamic and consumer interests change quickly and Google can still do lots of changes quickly and innovate, possibly even work on the above arguments if they agree with it.

This post is written over last several days with some last minute additions on stats before hitting the publish button. Meanwhile Facebook has launched a series of new features, which looks like they are (over)reacting to Google+. Facebook, you are miles ahead, don’t make mistakes, please.

 

Building Awesome Social Products

Number of Social Products are launched these days; everyday we come across a new one. While I am also busy building my own Social Product – sharing few of our learnings with other Entrepreneurs & Product Managers working on Social Products.

Social Graphs are all around us today – some like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter have extremely high adoption rate and have provisioned development frameworks for existing and new products to leverage social graphs behind them. Each of these social graphs are distinctive by type of connections and mindset its users have developed towards them.

Google+ has been left outside of this discussion – cause in my personal opinion it is yet to find itself a distinct social graph. In current position – Google+ overlaps with lot of existing and established Social Graphs. More notes on Google+ can be reserved for a different blog post.

 

Existing Social Graphs (everyone knows this):

  • Facebook – Social Networking for friends, (close) colleagues and family. These are users with whom you have interacted in real life.
  • Twitter – Loose social connections, people you know or are acquaintances with. Typically people who are celebrities, known professionals, subject or domain expertise are followed by others.
  • LinkedIn – Professional and Business contacts.
  • Email Contacts – Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, AOL, etc – all people or contacts whom you have/had private conversations over emails.

There are other Social Graphs like – YouTube, WordPress, Flickr.., those who are limited by its mindset or domain; also limited ways to leverage those social graphs.

 

Every Social Platform has Social Mindsets & Product Norms:

Social Platforms – no matter how big in user base, its users over a period of time have developed strong mindsets, product usage norms and social norms. They are usually not said or stated, but followed subconsciously by its users.

  • Facebook –
    Product Norm: Users can share status, comments, updates, photos, videos with “known friends”
    Social Mindset: Informal, between friends, perceived closed group communication.
    Social Norm: Example – Do not keep on updating status at same pace at which they tweet.
    .
  • Twitter –
    Product Norm: Follow like minded people, domain experts, known professionals, celebs, etc
    Social Mindset: Open conversations & thoughts expected by followers.
    Social Norm: Example – Retweet what you agree on, etc
    .
  • LinkedIn –
    Product Norm: Strictly Professional & Business oriented. Make connection with people you have worked with or intend to.
    Social Mindset: Share professional or company updates; Industry news & views
    Social Norm: Example – Do not post jokes or Facebook-like status updates.

 

Social Mindsets and Product Norms are difficult to break:

Users follow social mindsets and product norms subconsciously, they learn to follow it over months or years of product usage. Over a period of time, they become so strong that such platforms itself are not able to foster adoption for new products & features they introduce. Some examples are –

  • Facebook attempted to take on Foursquare with Facebook Places – but did not make much headway. Interestingly – there might be an 100% overlap of Foursquare users with Facebook.
  • Twitter struggled with getting usability for Lists feature. Users have added people to lists – but not following them for tweets. Twitter acquiring TweetDeck might be another sign of product usage norm.
  • LinkedIn struggled with its product LinkedIn Answers – while Quora scaled.
  • Google launched Google+ through GMail, but now struggles to keep continued engagement and adoption of Google+.

Because the Social Mindsets and Product Norms are difficult to break, products that leverage Social Graphs outside them become successful. (Facebook abandoned deals, but maybe it should acquire Foursquare as it is more valuable than Groupon, & LinkedIn should acquire Quora)

 

Some Perfect Examples of Social Products:

  1. Zynga – Leveraged social graph of Facebook and introduced Social Games like CityVille, FarmVille and others as a Social Application.
  2. Foursquare – Leveraged social graphs of Facebook & Twitter to introduce a location based check-in product on Mobile.
  3. Quora – Leverage social graphs of Facebook & Twitter to introduce a Questions product as a destination website.

 

The 6 Basic Principles of Building Social Products:

  1. Social Graphs are already Established.
    Do not reinvent the wheel and try to build social graphs again from scratch on your product.
    .  
  2. Social Graphs get built over a period of time.
    a. Over years – Users have made friends on Facebook, added professional contacts on LinkedIn or followed people on Twitter
    b. It will take loads of time, effort and patience if you try to build them again.
    Google+ is attempting this – we can wait and watch if it succeeds.
    .  
  3. Don’t build Social Products for sharing content & driving additional traffic.
    a. Most social products are built with this intention – sharing content and hence driving more traffic
    b. Existing social graphs are powerful and already allow sharing of content to drive viral traffic.
  4. Build Social Products that add value to users.
    There are many tasks and products that can be built outside existing Social Platforms which can add value to end users. While existing social graphs are established, users have a Usage Mindset about them, this is biggest incentive to build innovative social products.
  5. Don’t arbitrage value through your product.
    There is immense value in integrating directly with social platforms like Facebook & Twitter, do not try to arbitrage this value through your product. Users (if it is a B2C product) or Merchants / Publishers (if it is a B2B product) will at some point of time realize this and abandon your product to integrate/use directly.
    .
  6. Don’t build – but leverage Social Graphs!
    Rome was not built in one day! And so are Social Graphs. Choose the one that fits most with your product use case and leverage it.

 

Building your Perfect Social Product:

Foursquare, Quora, Zynga did it, so can your product. Introducing established social graphs to new products. Key is understanding what you manage and what you don’t – Social Graphs are not owned by you, your product is – seamless integration with your product makes it scale up virally.

It helps you in –

  • Viral User Acquisition
  • Introducing your product to user’s existing social graphs
  • User activity on your product generates updates for Social Graphs, which acts like contextual marketing.

Identify what are the validation use-cases for your product, allow consumers to share the same with his Social Graphs. Few examples are – Foursquare checkins, Questioning & Answers on Quora, reaching a level completion milestone on Zynga while playing its games and others.
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Solving the Chicken and Egg problem:

Social Products have more than one first users. Every initial user who registers to your product has his own social graph, he is the first user of his social graph.

The Chicken & Egg problem here is – what do you show to such first users who do not have any friends or activities to look at. Ask hard questions and look around for examples of successful social products.

First User Questions (FUQs) –

  • Facebook’s first user question – “Whom do I add as a Friend? Who will see my wall-post?”
  • Twitter’s first user question – “Who will read my tweet? Whom should I follow?”
  • Quora’s first user question – “Who will answer my question? How can I quickly get a answer for my question?”
  • Foursquare’s first user question – “Where should I check-in? Why should I check-in?
  • Zynga’s first user question – “Whom should I play CityVille with? How will my City grow?”

Try to figure out how these platform solved the first user question. There are multiple ways to do it, but idea is doing this right. The biggest challenge for any social product is solving the First User Questions – the approach and execution here makes or breaks your Social Product.

 

Validation Cycle of Social Products:

Defining Validation Cycle for your Social Product and reducing the time to validate it is the key goal for Product Managers. Validation cycles are reduced when you are at scale – thats a easy task cause at scale most of the things you do is just optimize based on data/feedbacks.

Take example of Quora – product validation cycle means getting answers from people with best knowledge about it. Since Quora has scale & adoption today – you will see few questions getting answered within minutes or hours of submission, while few take days to see first answer. But in its initial days – the validation cycle was not so short.

More crucial moments are in the first 10,000 users scenario. Have patience, learn from initial user feedback and pain-points; validation will be slow and takes time in initial days of adoption. Also to due slow adoption cycle in early days – the early adopters of any social product, don’t necessary get the best experience.

Example – My twitter profile (twitter.com/beingpractical) was created in Sept 2007; I had the First User Question syndrome. Same was the case with my profile on Facebook, LinkedIn or Orkut (Orkut showed me – “Bad, bad server. No donuts for you” 1000s of time).

 

Should it be an Application on Facebook or Destination site:

“Why is this not a application on Facebook?” is also a question you will hear from Investors. While there are different answers for this question when it comes from Investors, but for a product decision make your judgment based on –

  1. Your product idea or concept or product use case should deliver real value. The value should not equate to addition of features on Facebook.
  2. There are Social Graphs outside of Facebook that you want to explore.
  3. Facebook would want people to interact with people; not with applications.
  4. Product or Business use case qualifies to be a destination site outside of Facebook – like a Quora or Foursquare.

Remember again – Social Mindsets & Product Norms on Facebook are difficult to break. If your product requires to explore Social Graph and is outside the Social Norms of Facebook – it can be a destination!

 

The Key Questions to answer before getting started:

Have good answers to all of these questions before starting with build your Social Product –

  • The task your product is planning to solve – do people do it in real world socially?
    Social Products are reflections of user behavior in real world – People play games together, People want to hear answers from persons with best knowledge about it, and so on. If people don’t do such tasks in real world – they will not do it on a Social Product as well.
    .  
  • Is it a feature on Facebook or Twitter or any Social Platform?
    Feature products don’t last. Identify if your product can be a feature on Facebook or Twitter.
    .  
  • If B2C product – Is there a value to do this task outside of Facebook?
    Check and check again – Is your product idea meant to be a application or destination.
    .  
  • If B2B product – Is sharing and driving traffic to merchants / publishers the key aim?
    There is no harm if it is one of the propositions, but this should not be the key aim of your B2B product. Many social commerce products on top of Facebook project sharing & driving traffic as their core benefit. Marketers are smart, at some point of time they will self-integrate this on their Facebook pages.
    .

Always keep these things in Mind –

  1. People drive Social Platforms & Products. Not features!
    Features are how you want users to drive your product. But it is always people who drive it – make your features people-centric; not people feature-centric.
    .
  2. Engagement should be People to People
    People don’t login to Facebook everyday cause it is Facebook, it is cause there friends are there. Same will hold true for your Social Product.
  3. Don’t arbitrage on User Value
    Consumers & Businesses will eventually figure this out. So don’t do this in first place.
    .
  4. Don’t be Evil
    People love their Friends & Social Circle / Connections more than they love your product.
    Don’t mess with them. Don’t spam. Don’t be evil.

Happy Building your Social Product. Don’t forget to send me invites on pj(at)beingpractical.com.

 

Social Commerce is Simple

Social Commerce is Simple. Here is how you solve it in 24 hours!

The Context of this post: Have been hearing & participating in some awesome conversations lately about Social Commerce. Someone explained me this – Transactional eCommerce is Big. Social media is where all users are today, it is already very Big.

So, Social + eCommerce = Social Commerce = Very very big!

Hence there is lot of interest today in products and platforms that are trying to bridge the gap. Analysts are predicting that its the next big thing and stating it is reaching its inflection point.

Completely agree with all that. But Social Commerce is simple, here is how you solve it.

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Oooops, btw did I tell you that more than $50 Million has been invested till date to solve this Social Commerce problem that merchants can do it themselves in less than 24 hours!

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The following text is not included in above presentation.

Some key insights for players in Social Commerce:

Existing ecosystem of eCommerce and Social Media is sufficient for building a Social Commerce without intermediation of players who do not add any value.

It will be difficult for a:

  • Existing social player to exploit potential of social commerce by introducing a new ecommerce service
    (Facebook or Twitter trying to build a Amazon)
  • Existing ecommerce player to exploit potential of social commerce by introducing a new social service.
    (Amazon trying to build a Facebook or Twitter)

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Most current players who are trying to build solutions are concentrating on building their own ecosystem of users & products – which is not impossible but extremely challenging. Reason being – such players do not own the products or the users (users that have more tight social connections as on Facebook & Twitter)

Unless a third situation happens – someone builds a valuable middle layer that provides affinity to both – social & commerce. As an platform in this case you need to provide enough value to users (either users from Social Media or users from eCommerce).

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One such promising player is FourSquare. They add a new value of – “checking in” to its users that are socially connected. Their current efforts are concentrated on getting these Social Connections to checkin to venues – which is demonstrated by its 6Mn+ users.

For purpose of this presentation I have kept other Social Models out –

  • Foursquare: Because its reach is still 1% compared to Facebook’s 600 Million users.
  • Groupon: It is a commerce player, but not social player. Groupon is not user engagement – view Fred Wilson’s comments here: http://t.co/p78buu0

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Drop me a mail, Available for Coffee and endless Product Management Conversations on weekends :-)

Twitter Business Model – 8th Wonder of the World

Twitter – the microblogging platform that revolutionized social media. Tons of businesses today are revolved around the tweetoconomy (tweet economy) – right from developing applications, social media agencies, and so on.

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While it might be an billion dollar economy that revolves around twitter and social media today, unfortunately Twitter still is trying to evolve its own business model. My argument here is that although the Twitter ecosystem is valuable, its going to be very challenging to monetize it. Twitter may have some business model (as it now has – promoted tweets, trends and users) but it will not justify the investments made in Twitter and the valuation it has today.
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And discovering that business model which justifies the valuation & investment may be as good as finding the eighth wonder of the world. Here is why:
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Twitter ecosystem consists of three factors:

  • Users – who tweet
  • Tweets – the 140 character messages which users write
  • Applications – all applications that allow users to write these tweets

All other functions of twitter – search, trends, lists, etc are functions of these 3 factors.
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Twitter has 175 million users; 75% of all tweets are outside of Twitter website and about 40% of them from mobile devices. Growth of twitter was propelled by three factors:
– Acceptance by celebrities and big brand names, which lead their followers to come on-board twitter
– Twitter became a pet of mainstream television and offline news
– Widespread development of applications by developers across the world. The twitter API was easy to implement and build quick apps, many innovative applications where built by developers which would have taken twitter ages to come out with.
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As per twitter website, as of Sept 14 2010 – there are a whopping 95 million tweets a day. (Imagine the monetization Google will achieve with 95 million search queries!). However most tweets are irrelevant; according to a research report by Pear Analytics – 40% tweets are Pointless Blabber, 38% are conversational, 9% have pass-along value, 6% are self promotion, 4% are news while rest 4% are spam.
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Tweets get a very little attention span. A study did by Sysomos revealed that – 71% of all tweets generated get no reaction – 23% get replied  – 6% get re-tweeted.
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The life-span of a tweet is another big issue – and every tweet gets a fractional life-span before it gets lost on tweet streams. To put it simply, fractional tweets are seen, more fractional tweets are read and even more small fraction of them are responded.

The life-span depends on factors like
– number of followers you have
– % of followers online at that time
– rate of tweeting of people followed by your followers at that time for them to notice your tweet
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Twitter’s Business Model

Few months back – according to internal documents leaked and published on Techcrunch, Twiiter was expected to reach an revenue of $140 million for 2010. The documents were leaked in 3rd quarter of 2009 – post which Twitter launched its 3 business offerings – Promoted Tweets, Promoted Trends and Promoted Accounts.
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Was Twitter referring to these 3 offerings to generate an revenue of $140 Million. In that case assuming 33% contribution towards revenue generated for each of them, they have to generate $46 Mn per year – at rate of $125,000 per day.
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Thats very expensive! Should twitter be charging $125,000 per day for these offerings? The answer to this question may surprising be Yes!
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Reports mentioned on sites like Clickz, Mashable, Wall Street Journal, The Next Web, Read Write Web – and many others have indicated that costing of promoted tweets is upwards of $100,000 per day!
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Such high costs are not justified as the business model is still not proven. Advertisers paying for these should be aware that these features are mostly available on twitter.com, while 75% activity on twitter happens outside of Twitter through applications and mobile devices. While there is no or very little context and relevance in which these promoted tweets, trends or accounts are served.
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Twitter’s ecosystem cannot be monetized!
Twitter’s ecosystem may be valuable, but cannot be monetized! Here is why was we summarize each of its component.
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Tweets:

  • Most tweets are blabbers, pointless
  • Most tweets do not have any intent like search keywords, and even if they have any intent – it will be momentary.
  • Most tweets are meant for others (for followers). Finding intents specific to self may be difficult task.
  • An user’s tweet can be completely different than his previous one – hence establishing relevance or context and validating seriousness of that context is not possible.
  • If Twitter is able to build an killer-product that deciphers user’s intent and in real time shows and advertise to the user, the only relevant format in which advertisement can be displayed to user is by tweeting a reply. This will lead to tweet-spam and users will protest!
  • Is the advertisement will include a link (of say ecommerce website) – chances of users to complete a transaction may be very less. Visitors from Twitter are known to have highest bounce-rates with a huge majority of users not exploring beyond 1-2 pages.
    .

Trends:

  • Trends are collective tweets of a large set of users. Most of the times trending topics are consequences of large offline news events and big announcements made by brands, companies and individuals (celebrities)
  • Its understood by commonsense that a promoted tweet may not cause same impact amongst users as a natural trend. The viral factor in a natural trending topic will be 1000X of promoted trends.
  • If twitter continues with promoted trends – at a costing of $100,000 per day – this model is not scalable and will not appeal to small segment of advertisers
  • Its not even possible for Twitter to monetize natural trending topics as they are usually related to subjects or topics that cannot be monetized. Twitter cannot predict a trending topic; and for an current trending topic which has potential to be monetized, it might be difficult for them to get find an advertiser before the topic stops trending.

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Users:

  • Most followed Twitter users are celebrities or big brands that have pulled more users to Twitter. Twitter will not have been at this scale without such users.
  • Twitter will continue to offer featured users and verified accounts for free, they may not be a business model here.
  • Promoted Accounts is being offered without much reference to user’s behavior or interest. Hence there may be little value to businesses for ‘promoted accounts’ to gather users to whom their tweets may not be relevant.

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Applications:

  • Twitter has indicated it will not allow applications to monetize tweets
  • Twitter cannot charge application developers. With 75% tweets coming from applications, Twitter is more dependent on them.
  • If Twitter starts monetizing individual tweets, they will also need to credit the applications that completed the monetization action.
  • While there are few benefits associated with applications like Quora to integrate with Twitter; stand-alone twitter applications will also need to have a way to monetize. If they are not able to monetize and generate revenue by themselves or through Twitter – they may start loosing interest in building or maintaining applications for Twitter..

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Twitter’s Speculated New Business Models:
Business model speculation and criticism is not new for Twitter. There were reports that Twitter may be be coming up with an eCommerce or News related business model. Here is my take of them:
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eCommerce:

  • There are few tweets shared between users about product recommendations, purchases and reviews. Tweets work in an open environment and Twitter may not be able to add more value to such conversations that are already happening.
    Example., if Dell continues to generate millions of dollars revenue through Twitter, there is not much Twitter can do to get a share if that.
  • In event if Twitter is forcing upon some business model related to eCommerce on to large brands on-board, there are multiple small accounts that will continue to converse as always. A business model that cannot be expanded to cover all its users equally will not last for long time.
  • Twitter itself is not an eCommerce seller like Amazon and can never be one. Neither can it act as an affiliate

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News:

  • Twitter is used by meaning leading publications and individual users to break stories. Once the story is pushed to twitter – its responded by followers, a huge story ends up becoming a trend and initiating conversations.
  • The process of publishing a twitter, spreading to follows, building conversations over it happens in a very short span of time. Twitter by itself is not a news service, any attempt to be in this domain will mean competition from well known and well followed media organizations. For a user – he is still very happy with the existing news publishers on Twitter.

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Concluding Remarks:
Twitter has always remained in the spotlight and seems like raising more capital is not a problem for them. For the fact that VCs have invested over $360 Million, Twitter is surely bound to give their investors a good exit and their quest of finding an business model will be going on for some time.
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Right now, its not clear if Twitter is or is not under great pressure to show an convincing business model, but some point they will have to. Twitter team is no doubt struggling to find a revenue model that fits its ecosystem – an ecosystem which has value for its users but is extremely difficult to monetize for the company that owns it.
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While Twitter is not ready to accept proven online business models like search and display, Twitter’s discovery for its revenue stream will be as good as finding the eighth wonder of this world!

Marketers Wishlist for Facebook Pages

Lazy Sunday – Started checking on how the multiple Facebook Pages I have created have performed over time – was surprised at the level of analytics provided by Facebook to page administrators – it is just about OK!

This is not surprising. Facebook was always centric towards more user engagement with his/her contacts – more features and capabilities for users to interact, share and discover content. While in between this – Facebook created Pages (earlier Fan pages) about 2 years ago. Marketers were quick to understand and grab on to creating Pages, and promoting user to be a Fan (or ‘like’ the Page) – now to an extend that value of a brand is getting judged by the amount of users who like the Fan page.

(Still stuck with old terminology – For further notes, Facebook Pages will be referred as Facebook Fan Pages and its users as Fans)

Facebook today is rumored to be touching revenues of 2 Billion USD, to my judgement a significant portion of that revenue is contributed by brands & marketers promoting its Fan pages to users. That means – huge revenues are generated for Facebook without moving traffic out of Facebook (smart move..huh!).

Facebook did two version of Insights for Fan Pages – the newer version with simplified graphs of old information with few minor updates. However, when it comes to level of engagement that a Fan Page can offer and level of Analytics that can be made available about the Fan Pages and interactions happening on them, Facebook still has a long way to go. The pace of innovation and development on Facebook Pages is far less compared to attention (and revenues) received by it from digital marketers.

Based on my experience with managing Facebook Pages, here is a marketer’s wishlist for Facebook – Features, Interactivity and Analytics that should be introduced.