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The Bing-Facebook Alliance… Watch Out Google… NOT!

OK, so Bing and Facebook “just made search social”. Fastcompany.com asks the question, “will your online life ever be the same again” after the Facebook-Bing alliance? Uh, yeah! I don’t care how “social” Facebook and Bing become (as if Facebook could even BE anymore social), they are not taking down the search giant, world dominating Google. Yeah, I said it.

Here are six take aways regarding the Bing-Facebook alliance. After reading this post, Google more on the topic. By the way, when you get to the point where your brand represents the services you offer, i.e. we Xerox when we want to make a copy and we reach for a Kleenex to blow our nose, then you have made it baby. Seriously, go Google it if you don’t believe me… I mean search it :-)

Amplify’d from www.fastcompany.com

It’s not too audacious to say that the new Bing search features that Microsoft and Facebook unveiled today are going to upend the search business.

Until now, search algorithms have used machine learning and artificial intelligence to predict which of the billions of pages out on the Internet might be most salient to your search. Now, at least on Bing, they’re going to have access to something even more precious: the knowledge of who your friends are and what they like.

Among the features Bing is rolling out to users in the coming days is a module called “Liked Results” to its search results. Looking for information on that new Tom Cruise movie? On Google, your search engine would serve up the relevant pages it has calculated are the most popular. On Bing, as of now, it serves up the regular Google-style results and a module that shows you pages your friends have liked — including, for example, movie reviews. You no longer have to do the work of trolling through search results to figure out which of the pages might tell you whether the movie’s a hit or a bomb. Trust your friend Sara’s taste? Click on the page she Liked.

So what does this all mean? Here are a few takeaways:

1. Search just reached an inflection point. Google’s great innovation was to figure out how to deliver the most relevant search results, based on the assumption that a webpage that had a large number of other pages linking to it would be more interesting than one with fewer links. Google has built its search algorithms by continuing to troll large sets of data for other attributes that indicate relevance. Now, however, Bing can deliver results based on what your trusted sources of information—your friends and acquaintances—think. This is a giant leap forward. Among other things, it means that…

2. Companies have to focus on creating great customer experiences. Because when their customers go searching online—for a movie, a camera, a travel destination—their friends’ recommendations are going to be front and center. Launched a store that no one “Liked?” you’re not going to show up in the search results.

3. Search is going to look a lot different. Forget the list of blue links. As Qi Lu, the engineering lead for the new changes (and president of Microfsoft’s Online Services Group), said, once you introduce a social dimension to search results, you could actually start representing search results—visually—in new ways. He didn’t say what those might look like, but be prepared to see them soon, because…

4. We’re going to be seeing even more social elements introduced into Bing’s search results. And soon. Both Microsoft and Facebook said that today’s new features were just the beginning. It only took them two months to gin up the ones they released today. Which means more are going to be coming down the pike in the months to come. Which means…

5. Google may have to go back to the drawing board. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t say they were shutting the search giant out. In fact, he said that, ultimately, the company would like to work with all players in search. But for now, it appears he’s working solely with Microsoft.

6. You must master your Facebook privacy settings. Mindful of earlier criticism of Facebook’s handling of privacy issues, both Microsoft and Facebook went out of their way today to stress that users will retain control over what Facebook shares with Bing. The flip side is that users actually have to exercise the control that Bing and Facebook give them. Don’t want your friends’s friends to know you Liked Justin Beiber’s fan page? Better check those privacy settings now.

Read more at www.fastcompany.com

Apple iTunes 10 and Ping: Problems… and then some…

OK Steve Jobs, you can’t have this world-wide press event, open it to the public, get us all jazzed about the new Apple offerings then have the new apps crash on us, have your new music social networking site… well… not be very social… and then have new features cause more harm than good.

I’m ready, let the Apple bashing begin (I still have your back Jobs.. but let’s work out some of these issues in the testing phase before it’s rolled out to the world… I’m just saying…)

Amplify’d from reviews.cnet.com

With any program being updated, there will be a few quirks at first while the new features get used in various people’s setups and configurations. The same goes for iTunes 10, where people are finding a few oddities that seem to be feature changes or bugs that need to be ironed out.

iPhone 4 apps causing crashes
Some people have been experiencing crashes in iTunes 10 when connecting theiriPhone 4 devices and selecting applications to transfer. If this happens, try resetting the iPhone and also try removing iTunes’ preferences (called com.apple.iTunes.plist and stored in the /username/Library/Preferences/ folder). You can also try launching iTunes in Safe Mode by holding the Option-Command keys when launching iTunes.

Album lists no longer resize
Album artwork resizing in list views is no longer possible. The only way to have resizable artwork is to use the sidebar’s album viewer window and then optionally click the artwork to open it in a dedicated window.

Removing “Ping”
Though social networking is a popular Internet development that companies are eager to take advantage of, it is not for all of us and many people prefer to avoid it. You have the option to ignore Ping in the sidebar, and you can also remove it by disabling the iTunes Store (provided you do not purchase items through the Store).

To do this, go to the iTunes preferences and in the “Parental” section select “Disable iTunes Store.”

AirPlay not working
A few people have reported the iTunes AirPlay feature is not working as it did in older versions of iTunes. For some their AirPort Express devices are selectable but no sound seems to be coming out of the unit.

If this happens, try setting the master volume in iTunes to its highest level, and do the same for your various wireless AirPort devices in iTunes. This can be done in the “Multiple Speakers” window (available from the “Window” menu). If your AirPort Express devices do not show up in iTunes, try unplugging them and shutting down your computer for a few minutes, then plug them in and start everything back up. Sometimes a quick reset like this is the easiest way to force-detect items and have them show up again.

“Nathan Volker” being followed in Ping
A few people have found the name “Nathan Volker” to be in their Ping profiles, and have wondered what is going on. Apparently this person created an account with the name “Steve Jobs” and then changed the name, resulting in some odd behavior. The account has been removed by Apple and should not affect anything. You should be able to stop following this account in Ping if you see it appear.

Read more at reviews.cnet.com

By 2014, nearly two-thirds of all U.S. Internet users will be regular visitors to social networks

It’s good to know my social networking addiction and the way I make a living will not be going away anytime soon (if at all). Social network usage will rise sharply in 2010, according to a report by eMarketer. The number of people visiting social networks on a monthly basis in the U.S. will reach 127 million, or about 57 percent of all domestic Internet users, by the end of 2010, a 16 percent increase over 2009. By 2014, two-thirds (65.8 percent) of U.S. Internet users will be regular visitors to social networks, the firm reported. This is looking REALLY good for the home team

Amplify’d from www.adweek.com

“Marketers on social networks are on the cusp of something trulyexciting: a critical mass of engaged consumers who are willing toparticipate, share and spread the word about the companies andbrands they love,” said Debra Aho Williamson, a senior analyst ateMarketer.

“But if there ever were a time to assure consumers that theirinformation is safe and secure, and to make sure that their brandinteractions on social networks are positive, that time is now,”she added.Read more at www.adweek.com

How Foursquare Is Changing The “Game”

I ran across the blog post quoted below when I was newly addicted to Foursquare.  I love how the author outlines the stages of Foursquare usage.  I am still somewhat addicted but I’m slipping from “Stage Three: Socialization” into “Stage Four: Greed”.  I WANT my badges, I’m fighting for my Mayorship of places I frequent and I DARE you to steal a Mayorship away from me.  Oh, and let me fess up right now, I worked for my Overshare badge and I am very proud of that.  But, what I find even more interesting than playing the game to earn points and unlock badges for discovering new things and interesting places, is how Foursquare is actually impacting behavior.

I know people who are going to multiple Starbucks locations just for the Barista Badge.  I know one person, peeved that her Mayorship was taken at a local D.C. restaurant, went to said location and checked in twice without ever leaving the establishment.  Her reasoning, she had been there for seven hours and felt she was due two check-ins.  Oh, then she went back because she forgot something and checked in again.  If she was there eating, drinking, socializing then how great for the restaurant.  Oh, by the way, she got her mayorship back.

As for me, I know I’m going to the gym more often (1) Because I’m getting ready for summer and need to get back in shape but also (2) I want my Foursquare Gym Rat Badge. So, it’s not just that we are checking in on Foursquare at places we were going to be anyway… the competition of the Foursquare game has caused us to modify our behavior and actually go places we may have not frequented otherwise.  This is fascinating to me and I’m sure totally unexpected by the Foursquare creators.

Oh, and finally, there is cheating.  Yes, people are cheating at Foursquare and I don’t understand this mentality at all.  Folks are checking in at places they are actually just passing by.  They have broken the code for how to earn badges and again, have modified their behavior because they are now going to these locations to earn a badge.  I’ll admit, if it weren’t for the fact you have to go to TEN different pizza places to get the Pizzaiolo Badge, I’d be eating a lot more pizza… which sort of defeats the purpose of going to they gym but that’s a whole other story.

I have to go… I just remembered I haven’t checked in at work and I have a co-worker who thinks she is going to take my Mayorship from me… NOT gonna happen.

From Addiction to Apathy: The Five Stages of Foursquare Use

BY Dan MacsaiWed Mar 31, 2010

Foursquare

Foursquare, the smartphone app that gives you points and badges for “checking in” at clubs and convenience stores, is about to reach the one-million-user mark. That’s a big deal. But it’s also a reminder that, try as we might to cover its every move, most of you haven’t tried Foursquare yet. (Or you’re using its scrappy archrival, Gowalla.) Here’s what to expect when you do:

Foursquare curiosityStage One: Curiosity
So you’ve gotten 27 emails about this Foursquare thing, and stupid blogs won’t shut up about it, and its always clogging your Twitter feed, and ugh, fine. You’ll try it, okay?! “That one guy from Jersey Shore has an account,” you think, “so it can’t be that complex.” As you toy with the app, you realize you can get virtual status symbols for, well, living your life the same way you always have. Suddenly, buying sponges isn’t just shopping. It’s a quest! For points! And badges! Ditto that trip to the dry cleaners. “Hmm,” you think. “This is actually kind of fun…”

Foursquare addictionStage Two: Addiction
Once you grasp the basic premise–which usually takes about a day or two–it gets harder and harder to imagine a time when you didn’t have an incentive to run everyday errands. You start checking in everywhere: your apartment, your apartment building, your subway stop, your office, your favorite lunch spot, your dentist’s office, etc. “It’s not oversharing,” you tell yourself, “it’s the ethos of Foursquare.” Eventually, you stumble across a venue that’s not in the database, which you can add to receive bonus points. “Jackpot!” you squeal, fist-pumping your iPhone. Everyone arond you glares. They just don’t understand.

Foursquare socializationStage Three: Socialization
By this point, you’ve become “friends” with actual people on Foursquare, and you can keep tabs on their whereabouts. In all seriousness, this feature is pretty useful: You can use it to surprise friends/significant others (“Can’t believe I ran into you at this obscure nail salon!”), exploit roommates (“I know you’re at the grocery store. Don’t forget to replace those Pringles you stole.”), and even see which bars are buzzin’ on Google Maps. “This is way more fun than getting points and badges,” you think. And then you discover the Leaderboard.

Foursquare greedStage Four: Greed
Because Foursquare is meant to be a game, of sorts, there are winners (people who check in all over the place) and losers (people who don’t). And as soon as you figure this out–generally after a week of just-for-fun use–the novelty wears off, and the competition kicks in. You start guarding venues at which you’ve been anointed “mayor” (more check-ins than anyone else), just so you can brag about the title. You start frequenting off-the-beaten-path lunch spots, hoping to find a restaurant that hasn’t been added (+5 points). You start shopping at different convenience stores, just so you can reap rewards for charting new territory (+3 points). You start checking in as often as possible, hoping to earn those coveted Superstar and Overshare badges. And you may even start cheating, just so you can make outrageous claims like, “I’m the mayor of the North Pole.” The whole time, you’ve also got one eye on the Leaderboard, so you can prove, once and for all, that you are the busiest, most adventurous, most Fouresquare-savvy person in…well, your immediate vicinity.

Foursquare apathyStage Five: Apathy
And then, just as suddenly as your Foursquare obsession began, it grinds to a halt. You’ve checked in at all your usual haunts, explored some new ones, added some others, and scored at least one week atop the Leaderboard. But since the charts reset every week, and you don’t get as many points for re-visiting the same places, your moment of glory is fleeting. “Well,” you say, sighing, “at least I have my badges.” And that’s true. You get to keep those forever. But now that you’ve gotten the basics–Adventurer (10 check-ins), Explorer (25 check-ins), Superstar (50 check-ins)–and maybe a few oddballs, such as “I’m on a Boat!” (checking in on a boat) and Gym Rat (10 check-ins at the gym during one month), you kind of stop caring. What initially excited you about Foursquare–apart from being able to keep tabs on people you know, which you still may want to do–was getting “rewards” for living your everyday life. Once you have to start working for them (spending more money, traveling greater distances), you realize they’re not actually worth it.

That, or you start appreciating Foursquare for what it really is: a simple(r) way to stalk your friends.

Social Media Goes Global

A study by Burson-Marsteller shows that many of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index have taken big steps toward using Social Media tools and in some cases have very strategic, integrated, Social Media strategies for their company.  Among the top popular Social Media platforms are three of my favorites and the three of biggest Social Media giants in the United States: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The highlights of the study are:

  • 65% have active accounts on Twitter
  • 54% have a Facebook fan page
  • 50% have a YouTube channel
  • 33% have corporate blogs
  • 20% (inclusive) use all four platforms

In addition, the study found:

some companies are getting more comfortable using social media as they are interacting and engaging more and not just broadcasting corporate messages. Companies using Twitter are following an average of 731 people each and 38 percent of companies are responding to people’s tweets (for example, Vodafone UK). Thirty-two percent have also “re-tweeted” or reposted user comments during the last week (like Verizon Careers).

To help companies navigate the social media landscape, Burson-Marsteller has developed an Evidence-Based Tool called the “Social Media Check-up” which looks at how a company’s social media presence is impacting their overall online health and reputation.

To access the complete analysis of these findings click here for the PDF report.

Google faces off with Facebook

Do I need to say it again, Google is all about world domination.  They have dominated the search engine business and while I’m not sure that the Google Wave has caught on they way they would have liked, their Android operating system and their foray into the Smartphone business with the Nexus One are making them a powerhouse not to be ignored.  Now Facebook looks like it’s getting some competition with Google’s newly launched Social Search now opening up in beta.
Opens Social Search to All: Cuts Facebook Off at the Pass
Written by Marshall Kirkpatrick / January 27, 2010

Give it a try and let us know what you think.

Last fall Google began experimenting with a new feature called Social Search, and we called it a big chess move against Facebook. Today Google Social Search is opening up in beta for all Google users. The experimental feature will surface search results from the social streams (bookmarks, blog posts, photos, etc.) of a user’s contacts on services like Gmail, Google Reader or Twitter.

Social Search still doesn’t have a super-prominent place in the Google Search results pages, but make no mistake: This is a very big step. What’s your portal to the Internet: Google’s algorithmic search of the Web at large, or your social circle of people on Facebook? That’s the battle for the future that Google and Facebook are waging now, and Google Social Search is a big move. Facebook search is nowhere near as good.

You may need to go to Google.com/experimental to turn on Social Search and you should try an image search once you have. It will be turned on by default for an increasing number of users over the next few days. The feature requires you to be logged in and discovers your friend connections through your Google Profile.Last week we wrote about how social networking is fast approaching the importance of online of search in terms of Web traffic. One vision of the future, though, has posited that social and search won’t remain separate forever.

Do you want to have your questions answered only via your friends and their online content? No, probably not. But do you want to have your questions answered without the input of your friends and their trusted content? You probably don’t want that either. Google Social Search is a nice combination of search and social. Facebook’s search is terribly weak in comparison. That’s where the real competition is, not between Google and Bing or Yahoo.

One interesting caveat, of course, is that most people have friend networks on Facebook, not in Gmail or Google Reader. Your Facebook Friends aren’t included in Google Social Search, as far as we can tell. Update: Limited information from Facebook may be included in Google Social Search if your friends have associated their Facebook profiles with Google Profiles. But after chasing the Google Social Search team around on the phone for 15 minutes and just getting a PR-answer about this, we’re left to conclude that the rivalry is as heated as we originally reported. Murali Viswanathan, Social Search product manager sent this by email: “If someone links to their Facebook account from their Google profile, Social Search may surface that user’s public profile page. These are the same public profile pages already available on a search of Google.com and other search engines today.”

MySpace losing members and money

myspaceMySpace, the former reigning King of Social Networking is in trouble.  Now being referred to as the digital “ghetto” by social analyst Danah Boyd the site is losing traffic and money and no longer expects to get all of the $900 million it once counted on from a Google search deal.  Whether it is the result of a modern-day “White flight” to Facebook as Boyd suggests, the former King of Social Networking can not deny that it is struggling and revenue is down.

Once the centerpiece of Rupert Murdoch’s digital strategy and owned by News Corp, one has to wonder what happened to MySpace.  Did they wait to long to fix the problem?  Is there now an opening for another social networking site for the youth who may feel uncomfortable moving over to Facebook?  I’ll admit, I haven’t visited my MySpace page in months.  Actually, I never spent a lot of time on my MySpace page.  I networked on my Howard University Ning site until almost all of us migrated over to Facebook.  Now, between Facebook, Twitter, the five Ning sites I’m a member of, the many bookmarking sites, LinkedIn and now Google Wave, I doubt I’ll ever go back to MySpace.  I guess I’m not alone.