Monthly Archives: November 2011

Facebook Doesn’t Need a Facelift…Yet

Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,

I am writing you on behalf of the Social Media class at Wichita State. I’ve come up with some interesting ideas to improve your product that I think you should take a deep consideration of.

When asked how Facebook could change their product for the better over the next three years, the first thing I thought of was incorporating an email group membership and a similar system to Microsoft Outlook. Outlook allows users to email, set tasks, meetings, and calendar of events.

Facebook already incorporates an email feature and allows users to attach items. By doing this, Facebook is making smaller email accounts like Yahoo! and Hotmail irrelevant to younger users (most of which use the accounts for setting up memberships to other websites like slickdeals, reddit, ect.) and thus use these accounts essentially for spam. It’s my belief Facebook has a chance to market to users with the email application. There is a section on Facebook that allows user to select things they enjoy (a basic about you section). Why not create a new section that holds websites you’re a member of. You can only say you’re a member of this website if you use Facebook’s email to set it up. So let’s say you create an ESPN account to play fantasy football. You sign up for ESPN using a Facebook email account and your profile updates that you belong to ESPN. Instead of just “liking” a page you can have a section that has all your memberships on it. This allows Facebook to take slight control of email from Google.

So what of this Outlook? Outlook already syncs up to Facebook if you chose the option, why create your own? Facebook has a great chance to increase advertising effectiveness here.

Example 1: Suppose you’re at work and you want to schedule a lunch with 15 coworkers. With Outlook you just click on the calendar to create the event on a specific day, type in their email address, and send an invite to go to lunch. What Facebook could do is take Outlook’s calendar model and make one of their own. Users could go to the calendar section, invite other users (much like an event), and select a place (this works out especially well if the place has a Facebook page). The business could see how many people are attending so they could make reservations, and Facebook is used instead of Outlook.

Example 2: You have a crazy semester coming up. Classes and work all week, so you need to set a schedule. You make one in the new Facebook application and you’re able to keep track of your schedule on Facebook. You have the option of letting other select users see your schedule. Facebook could use the information you typed into the computer for advertisers. Suppose you wrote “Trip to Lawrence” on your calendar. Facebook could use that information and shops in Lawrence could display ads on your right column when the trip is near. This creates an even more dynamic approach to advertising and users will use your feature and not a competitor’s.

Facebook could make these simple changes and improve their product.

Now to be critical of Facebook

The new layout is very painful and new layouts come out way too often. I like how things have changed from the original layout, but the changes happened too fast. It’s too much for your users. Every time you make changes there is some idiot who thinks you’ll start charging for services. Then a collective group freaks out. A better communication system would help this. It would be nice if you could message all users on what changes will occur. You post on the news feed, but then there is public interpretation of what you posted. If any of the users message you back, you can have some poor intern categorize all the responses.

Though I’ve tended to agree with most of your changes, you need to make two things back to their original state. 1: Removing any tags of you in photos needs to be easier. Before the most recent update, removing tags was as simple as clicking “remove tag”. Now there is a lengthy process involved, you still are able to remove the tag, but it takes longer to do so. 2: Stop making the most commented story appear on the Facebook feed. By doing this, you make the popular stories even more popular and the less popular ones even less. It creates a sort of hierarchical status.

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#localnews

When it comes to looking at which local news outlet utilizes Twitter the best, I believe that the reporters are the ones to look at. They make up the content that people are interested in, and can publish almost immediately. They can answer follower’s questions or comments much easier than the overall organization can.

Because of this, I feel the Wichita Eagle utilizes Twitter to its advantage better than any other local news. Their reporters are active on the social networking mechanism, and this platform allows them greater access to sources and immediacy of information publication. I’ve heard stories of Ron Sylvester tweeting up to date happenings in court cases from the courtroom.

If you think about it, Twitter is greater served for newspaper staff. Their information never had any fancy video or cool motion graphic presentation. By eliminating this presentation aspect, you now are stuck with the content. Newspaper staff have been typing away for years, so the transition is much easier. They know how to structure their stories for content, not presentation. In a way, Twitter saved the newspapers by equaling the playing field.

The other local news outlets do a subpar job, in my mind, promoting their reporters. I follow Cornish, Klose, and Schwanke, from KWCH and they only post about some of the top headlines for the upcoming newscast. I understand that television news wants you to come to their medium and watch their programming so they get more ad revenue, but I’m a fickle consumer and I want my news on my time. The better alternative would be to tweet your followers to come to your website. They would get the story from you and feel informed. The alternative is to tell people what is coming up on a medium they don’t care about and watch as other stations pick up your viewers and the ad revenue.

While on the topic of improper uses of Twitter, KAKEnews does a decent job at trying to detract viewers from their Twitter site. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much red and false sense of urgency.  Broadcast news is often ridiculed for showing stories about how you and your family will die three times before the weather segment. KAKE does little to differentiate themselves with their page. It makes everything look like it’s so urgent.

We’ve learned much about interactivity this year. Kansasdotcom interacts with its viewers. Denise Neil is talking about 10/3/11 being national sandwich day. It’s not just a broadcast message. She wants to know who serves the best sandwiches in town. In other words, she’s asking her followers a question. KNSS could take a number from this. Look at their tweets. It’s a broadcast message with no interactivity at all. Maybe some more interaction would increase their viewership.

So where does KFDI fit in comparison to the Eagle? KFDI has a cool logo for their avatar space; the background is clean and well presented, unlike KAKE’s. The encourage interaction on the page. Posting 11/2/11 asking if anyone has done Christmas shopping yet. So if they’re on par with the Eagle, why do I not think they are good. Content, or the lack there of. Why would people want to go to KFDI’s twitter if they put anything up there? Viewers assume they won’t find anything on the story they are interested in. KFDI went a whole month posting only three tweets. In a content driven system like twitter, that is completely unacceptable.

KSN is a mix of KFDI and KNSS. KSN’s twitter page is not distracting and doesn’t appear as jarring as KAKE’s. They update their content often, but they don’t invoke interaction. They just broadcast a message about what is going on.

The Wichita Eagle uses Twitter better than any of the other local news organizations. They have a sufficient amount of content, nice background and avatar use on their page, and interact with their viewers. KAKE could take some lessons with their layout, KWCH anchors could do more than tell me what is coming up on the news block, KNSS could do more than broadcast a message out and avoid interaction, and KFDI needs to post more. None of the local news outlets are atrociously bad when it comes to Twitter efficiency, but many need small improvements. The Eagle reporters do a good job.

One thing I like about KSN’s webpage, is they encourage you to follow them on Twitter. The section is towards the bottom, and kind of hard to find, but no other news outlet specified space for this on their website. KSN is a little similar to KNSS in their lack of interaction, but at least they are devoting outside resources to bring people to their Twitter.

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