Facebook Features This Week
Facebook has been busy keeping social media management firms on their toes with all the recent changes and updates. Today we are going to talk about a couple of the most newsworthy stories and what they might mean for the future of Facebook as well as other social media sites.
Social Medicine Starting With Organ Donor Status
Without a doubt, the social media surprise of the week concerned Facebook’s foray into health and medicine with the news of an organ donor tool. Although considered a small step, the inclusion of organ donation information in a social media setting is revolutionary if for no other reason than the ability to inform and educate people about the need for organ donors. Not only does the use of reverse peer pressure have the ability to do some good for those in urgent need of life saving technology, but it opens the doors of discussion on what has often been viewed as a morbid or negative topic. Users that are not currently organ donors will be able to find information about signing up for the program while those that are already donors will be able to indicate such on their profiles.
Of course, organ donor status is among the very first health and wellness related items made possible via social sharing of information. Health and medical related information has long been one of the major designations of information from the earliest days of the Internet. Social sites, discussion forums and other online support groups have become mainstay’s of medical insight into disease, prevention and even genetic information leading many critics and advocates alike to wonder where the next wellness related tool will turn up.
Customizable Action Links
You are gonna love these! In another recent release, Facebook announced the addition of customizable action links that connect to postings coming from app’s. It’s a change sure to make small business owners and social media management firms squeal with delight! In the past, user actions like listening to music or checking into a location via FourSquare would only allow friends and family to “like” or “comment”…better than nothing but not exactly fully interactive. With the more recent change, it’s now possible to allow users to “save this place” creating a greater likelihood of truly interacting with a product or place in the future.
Getting Serious About Search
In other news, Facebook is starting to show signs of getting serious – very serious – about search! According to industry insiders, Facebook is hard at work creating a new framework for search which will focus on mobile and transform social media advertising albeit, by taking on Google and Amazon head-to-head. Google and Amazon have been leaders in their perspective markets; search and online retailers. However, like many early entrants, there are disadvantages which come from being first…namely, the requirement to work within an aging infrastructure while creating new formats. Facebook, being the new kid on the block, has no such burden. It is able to create a totally new infrastructure from scratch – using today’s most cutting edge technology. On the other hand, Google was built on the infrastructure of links and link prevalence; although the move has clearly been toward other more meaningful insights and measures, the transition has been slow and somewhat prolonged. Amazon has made use of social insights including customer reviews, user recommendations etc but hasn’t yet been able to tap into the potential of viral sharing. Facebook hopes to challenge both. It is “do-able”? Hmmm, maybe…probably. According to “Anonymous” in “The Pitch”, Facebook represents “a sea of change in online search and mobile advertising that will minimize Google within five years”. To accomplish this, Facebook will need to attract 1 million paying advertisers to its emerging mobile marketing platform. With total number of users expected to reach 1 Billion later this year, many believe this is only a matter of time. On the other hand, critics say that the actual ability to reach all users will be severely hampered by the same success which has brought the social media magnet such fame and fortune; too much advertising. To save the social media site from becoming nothing more than a series of spam, it will be necessary to filter – heavily filter – advertisements to those most likely to appreciate and respond. While this might make for a more meaningful user experience, it could limit the target market depending upon advertising options.
Whatever the long term outcome, the current trend is clear; social search is here to stay with big names like Microsoft betting on the long term viability. Microsoft is expected to engage in a stock swap and switch from the ill-fated BING search on exchange for a piece of the social search action. Zynga, a major contributor to Facebook’s technology, also has the potential to threaten Google’s long held supremacy in search technology while Instagram – Facebook’s newest acquisition – could take on the photo element. Even the analytics enjoyed by Amazon could be at risk thanks to Facebook’s strong investment into ad metrics and willingness of users to share intimate connections and other personal information. Unlike Amazon, which is viewed primarily as a retail site and therefore subject to greater security and scrutiny by the average shopper, most social media users view Facebook as a friendly place to chat and share information between friends and family. This perceptual change is at the heart of data analysis and the ability to target user interests in a more meaningful manner.