October 16, 2011

Dissecting Facebook's Latest Moves You may notice drastic and significant changes in the design, functionality and capabilities of individual and branded Facebook pages. These moves, made unilaterally without any advance notice, constitute the next stage in Facebook realizing its vision to eat the Internet and outsmart the competition. Facebook aims to be the most important online tool. The 5-year old 800-pound gorilla intends to do it their way by forcing everyone, all 700 million of us, to follow along. As they’ve learned before, there is an initial flurry of outrage followed by conformity, which later leads to increased use. With 50 percent of registered users visiting daily for an average of 14 minutes, they have sufficient engagement and scale to make this bet. The latest series of changes clearly signals that Facebook is about people sharing with their friends; not about brands. We can expect these changes to keep evolving without much input from consumers or brands. These new developments are different but not necessarily worse. Facebook is challenging brands to better align with Facebook’s outlook, underlying technology and gestalt. Specific developments are schizophrenic. They de-emphasize “likes” and fans and make it tougher for brands to gain inexpensive mass exposure or reach to fans’ newsfeeds. At the same time, these changes better segment consumers to offer brands more targeted paid access. From a macro perspective, the latest changes expand and refine the ways people can interact with each other on Facebook. 1. There is an increased emphasis on real-time interactions with the introduction of the Ticker, which also co-opts Twitter. 2. Larger space for pictures and video combined with changes in the underlying filters enhance the user experience and better prioritize the things users see in their newsfeed. Users have the option to rank and filter content, but for the most part Facebook will do it for you. 3. In the same vein, the new List feature, “borrowed” from Google+, enables users to segment, tag, share and sort what they see on their wall and who gets to see what; when they post, watch, read view or listen to content. These new functionalities pre-sort audiences by actions and keywords to accelerate targeted advertising sales. For some these new functions create a scary new Facebook where privacy is mostly in the less-than-reliable hands of Zuckerberg & Company who already tracks, stores and keeps your data even when you’ve logged off. The new functions will create massive amounts of personal and behavioral data, which eventually will be available to brands for dicing, slicing and selling. Here’s a quick rundown of the prominent new features and functions: NewsFeed/ “Recent Stories” The main part of the page, the wide center column, has been re-engineered, eliminating “Top Stories” and “Most Recent Posts” and re-titled. The idea seems to be to emphasize the content each person cares about. Facebook uses algorithms (EdgeRank and GraphRank) to monitor what and whom you like and then filter content so you see the stuff you like most first. These items are marked with a blue triangle in the upper left corner and are the first things presented when you log on. Users can adjust these, which helps the underlying algorithms get smarter about your preferences. Pictures and videos will appear bigger and “Share” buttons will be attached to each content element but posts will decay faster which means more recent content gets prominence. Ticker To separate out important items from mundane activities, Facebook created a real-time news ticker that appears in the upper right column of the page. The Ticker records things that your friends are doing in real time so mentions will whiz bye rather than persist on the page. Integrated media services like Spotify or the Guardian will be automatically shared on the Ticker, unless you opt-out. The idea seems to be get you you to read, listen or watch content on Facebook, rather than on other sites, so that your friends can see what you like and what you do. Brands will need to generate a constant stream of content that gets interaction in order to have a realistic impact on the Ticker. The competition will be intense. This means either more involving posts or more posts per day in order to get into and leverage the ticker function to your benefit. Timeline/Profile The profile page has been re-named and focused on getting people to create and curate their own stories in chronological order. The technology emphasizes crafting your story over time, calling out key events and people and posting pictures...
4 More Ways to Be a Good Manager Being an effective manager requires day-to-day attention to detail, the ability to anticipate and plan for dynamic situations and a bit of luck. You are your team’s pilot and navigator; plotting the course, arranging the schedules, tasking the players and making mid-course corrections to produce deliverables on-time and on-budget. To a large extent the classic “Kindergarten Rules” apply to being a frontline supervisor. Smile. Share. Play nice. Say please and thank you. Here are 4 other tips to make the job easier. Walk Around. Managing by walking around. Let your guys see you. Engage them. Let them know you want to be with them, see them and work together. Don’t hide in your cube or behind texts or e-mail. Tell them what you’re working on and thinking about so they feel connected to you both as a leader and as a person. Catch people doing things right. Don’t be stingy with praise. A kind word or a “thank you” go much farther than you can imagine. Talk with Your People. Nobody wants to work for a robot. People perform for people they like. Be likable. Talk to your people about things they care about; work stuff and personal stuff. Be real. Be candid. Be careful. Set limits. Share selected things about yourself. Be goofy if the situation is appropriate. Notice things like new shoes, cool earrings or a new haircut. Ask about family, pets, weekend plans. Show that you understand that each person has a life beyond work and that you’re interested in as much of that life as they are willing to share. Offer Context and Perspective. Everybody wants to know how he or she fits in and how their work product contributes to the overall objective. Tell them. Explain the sequence of events, the division of labor, the dependencies and contingencies, the internal politics and all the project management and timeline details. Trust your guys to keep secrets and to be discrete until they prove otherwise. Visualize those transit maps that read “You are here.” Provide that service for your team. When people understand where they fit and how their work adds up to the total whole, they are happier, more focused and more productive. Most people want to do good and meaningful work. Your job is to show them how their day-to-day routine or reality adds up and contributes to something more, better and bigger. You have the right to goad them on, offer suggestions or corrections and then to offer thanks and praise as projects come to a close. Help. You are the supervisor because you know what has to be done and how to do it. Share this knowledge and help anyone who needs help. Each individual has different skills and a different attitude. If someone is swamped re-direct some of the workload or jump in yourself. As you parse the work, you also encourage or discourage your players. Be a resource to them. Don’t stand on the sidelines or above the fray. You are a player-coach and if you can do it better, faster, easier or smarter; show your guys what you know or how to it.

Danny Flamberg

I am a veteran marketing consultant working with leading and emerging brands

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