Update Number (?): The New Face of Twitter

This weekend I received a free face lift for my phone’s appearance. Somewhere along the way, it uploaded the newest update for my Twitter app. What’s new? Based on my initial testing and exploring, not much at all has changed. So far as I know, nothing new was added as far as functionality. However, they did change the appearance of some of the icons and how my feed appears on my screen. The auto updates seem to come through all of the time, same goes with my Facebook app, and it makes me wonder why they feel the need to change so much?

On the one hand, I understand the basic needs to change: The interface needs to be up to date, improvements are made with functionality, or the technology changes. I get this. The world of apps changes even faster than most technology. But why is there the need for updating the smallest changes. Take my last two, for example. Twitter changed the face of the icons on the top of the app and added some blue, while Facebook swapped the side of my page where my posts appear and also added some blue.

The classroom tells me that these changes are super calculated. I’m sure both had large focus groups and found that even the smallest changes lead to better user satisfaction and ease of use. However, common sense is telling me they basically do nothing. Both apps just want to appear to provide something new to keep them appearing fresh and new. Maybe to combat declining “coolness,” see my previous post. Whatever the case, I am probably a safe bet for a returning user. It could be a black screen for all I care, but so long as I continue to think my tweets are making it out into the Twittershpere and my delusions of people caring what I have to think continue, I will keep on Tweetin’ on.

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Louisiana State University v. Twitter

They’ve killed people, ruined marriages, tried to start wars, and successfully started revolutions. Who are these ruthless criminals? Of course, the people of Twitter. Twitter has long been a place where vicious rumors spread like wild fire as “cable news correspondents” break the news to their 150 followers. This past weekend, college football fell victim to the felons of the Twittershpere.

The story broke when a broadcast journalism student from Western Kentucky shared 136 characters: “There are rumors that LSU head football coach Les Miles will step down on Monday after allegedly having an affair with a student. Hmm…” What happened after was wildfire. The students twitter followers increased from 250 to 30,000 almost instantly and Les Miles became a nationwide trending topic and was found guilty in the court of public opinion.

Luckily for Les and the LSU faithful, true journalism was hard at work trying to corroborate the story. And by the wee hours of the morning, after several cautionary cocktails, the news was confirmed as a rumor. It was a mistrial. This brings us back to a theme in social that is becoming all too familiar even to the recreational user. If you want the news first, Twitter is unmatched. If you want the news correct, well that’s a completely different ball game.

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Is Facebook no longer “cool?”

Facebook is the Mecca. What began as companies like myspace and Zanga experimenting with what social would became, Facebook is what social became. It became a multibillion user, all-encompassing social network site. While they perfected the game and are unmatched in the social realm, they are also the same sight that recently went public and constantly is in a fight between what users, compared to shareholders prefer.

Several recent articles I’ve ran across, which will go un cited because I don’t remember exactly where they came from and the theme seems universal, lead to one question: Is Facebook no longer cool? The company has experienced sharp decreases in share price and users continue to spend less and less time visiting their “favorite” social media site.

I think it boils down to simple fact that was alluded to in “The Social Network.” And that is that Facebook had several key factors that made it cool. It was exclusive, it was user friendly, privacy was not a large issue, it wasn’t monetized. None of these factors continue to exist and I belief ultimately lead to a simple conclusion that Facebook has passed its prime. Another large indicator of this trait is teenagers who are turning to other apps like Instagram and Snapchat in ever greater numbers. Possibly to hark back to a time when people had less friends, the setting was more exclusive, and privacy was not a concern. And I understand Facebook owns Instagram, and I further understand that it is a giant company and there is no reason to believe it will be impossible for them to bounce back. But look at your personal social activity and those around you. It becomes clear: Facebook just isn’t that cool anymore.

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Maker’s Mark: Attempted Brand Suicide

I was born and raised in the South and chose a big SEC football school for my college education. Go Dawgs! I am also the son, grandson, cousin, nephew, great grandson, great nephew, and more relations I care not to include of University of Kentucky graduates and current students. I’ve been to a few Kentucky distilleries to taste the local fare on a certain trail. So yes, I’ve been around my fair share of bourbon. Maybe this is why Maker’s Mark’s recent news that it would be diluting their bourbon from 45% to 42% to meet demand came as such a shock to me. Or maybe it was the ignorant choice of words used by their CEO following the event, or maybe I just jumped on the social media backlash bandwagon. Regardless, the news had me riled up. Thankfully the story ends with Maker’s doing the right thing consumers providing an excellent case study on how influential your consumers are on social media.

When new first broke, people took to the web to voice their humble opinions. Casual drinkers enraged by the fact they would now be getting less alcohol for their buck, marketers crying out brand suicide, and connoisseurs airing their grievances about changes that would affect the complexity and flavor notes of this storied bourbon. Everyone was pissed. In comes CEO for some defense. He goes on to say “they won’t be able to tell the difference,” referring to the minor change from diluted the bourbon.  Maybe so, but now you’ve insulted your entire consumer base as too stupid to tell you’ve been watering down their booze. Great job..

A supply demand doesn’t have to be a bad thing. I mean look your problem is essentially that too many people want to buy your product. Maybe if this happens again they will do the sensible thing and build up the scarcity issue that can help you increase your price as people will be willing to pay a premium, knowing they won’t be guaranteed their favorite bourbon in the future. Or they could repeat this same debacle. Who knows?

Luckily I am sitting here this morning happy that nothing will be changing to my family’s favorite bourbon. I don’t have to drive up to Loretto, Kentucky to steal the family barrel before it gets watered down. After a week of angry pushing back from our friends out in social media, Maker’s Mark came out, yesterday, with an apology and said they would no longer be diluting the bourbon to meet worldwide demand. This was a great first move but they still will have to fix the damage they’ve done to the brands iconic image and also work on what to do in the face of a bourbon shortage. I’m just glad I don’t have to start a personal boycott and can still have a glass without having to worry if I can tell the difference.

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Google’s Ad Mission: “Get people to use the Internet more.”

Recently, I read an article on Google’s powerhouse ad program. Google makes a large proportion from their revenue from online advertising and have long been the industry leader with this star product. However, Google Ads and other internet advertising have frequently been receiving increased criticism for their evasive nature towards the internet. The article centered on how their social network platform Google+ and everything they do as a company was focused on the simple idea to “Get people to use the Internet more.” Maybe their plan wasn’t so evil after all.

In their master plan Google is working on several projects to reduce the friction of entry onto the internet in order to increase the accessibility and time spent online. Much of the information they use to data mine key needs among customers is found through their growing database of data in Google+. While overall usage of the site is not increasing as one might think, the amount of secondary usage of the site by bloggers, programmers, apps, etc. are creating something along the lines of Google’s data collection. This is the key to some of their proposed ideas.

Chief among them is probably Google’s Fiber program that it has rolled out as a beta in the Kansas City area. This is a superfast, paid for internet provider that allows for speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s broadband. They offer a one-time and monthly payment plan, and are implementing an idea that would include digital TV. This along with newer phones, the upcoming Google Glass, and their experimental internet protocol are allowing Google to find new sources of revenue. These may be even larger than their current ad program. It seems that Google used their powerful ad program to create a line of products that serve customers’ needs better than ever before, and may lead to a decreased use of evasive ads in the future. They just want more of use to be able to use the internet more and in the easiest way possible. Maybe Google has had our best interest in mind all along, we just didn’t see it.

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Facebook Graph Search: Trouble for Early Adopters

Last post I got into the beginnings of a discussion on Facebook Graph Search. Today I want to go deeper into the subject and share what I believe will end up being a dagger in the backs of early adopters and drive many users from the site. 

As discussed before, everything a user has ever done on Facebook is fair game for graph search. This creates an interesting scenario for the early adopters and people who have been on Facebook for a number of years. Why? They are the guinea pigs. They are the ones who first joined the site before it was a must do, tested all the features as they were released, and liked everything in sight. The reality and purpose of Facebook has changed, but this is no concern for Graph Search. 

This can pose a problem for these early Facebook users. Using myself as an example, I have been using Facebook since 2006, nearly a third of my life and I was even a little late to the game. This was however, before it became a necessary worldwide craze. It was just the new Myspace. People posted and acted with reckless abandon. This isn’t because we were all anarchists, but because the rules of Facebook didn’t exist. It was a black slate. And along with Zuckerberg, we were trying to find out exactly what Facebook was.

Not only were the rules not established by who I am as a person wasn’t established. I don’t think I am alone in saying that the 16 year old self is much different than the 22 year old version of the same person. My beliefs about the world have grown and changed. But this is not of interest to Graph Search. Whatever I did, knowingly or not, as an immature 16 year old now ties to the slightly more mature 22 year old. I can’t speak to anything in particular, but I know there have to be things that if it works for the permanent ink of the internet, I would go back and change, delete, or never say.

I am part of the first generation to be held responsible for their digital self and helping set the course for what Facebook is today.

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Facebook Graph Search: Privacy Battle Ahead?

By now we have all heard of Facebook’s new search tool, Graph Search, however, not as many of us have actually had the opportunity to use it. Facebook builds it up as a game changer, their response to Google and it’s growing Google+ network. While they claim this is the next big thing, skeptics and apostles alike have expressed concerns over what good it actually does. 

One of the biggest concerns stems from its ability to search through everything people have posted to Facebook in their entire existence on the site. Yes everything. This has created some issues. An accidental click of the mouse 2 years ago, now can mean that you like Communism. When in reality you may have been so outraged by the thought of liking Communism that you threw your mouse against the wall and it magically clicked “like.” 

I understand that this a slightly ridiculous comparison, but it illustrates my point. Whatever you put to the site, Communist or not, no matter what your feelings are today, Graph Search can find it. Ultimately the search connects back to you. 

Facebook is known for its privacy concerns, as well as for have highly rated privacy settings. The gap lies in the fact that many people are unfamiliar with the constantly changing interface and do not know how to properly protect themselves. It is yet to be seen, whether or not people will be able to alter their privacy settings to protect themselves from the evasiveness of Graph Search. One thing is certain in my eyes, this will be a game changer in one way or another.

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