Social 101: Facebook changes and the currency controversy

Facebook has gotten pretty huge. And pretty complex. With every revision to the site, users push back and demand that the design go back or at least have the option of going back. If you're one of those feeling this way, let me point out a couple of things:

Creating the architecture for a site like Facebook isn't simple. There are massive numbers visiting the site daily. In February 2010 (a mere two years ago), TechCrunch published a story that 175 million Facebook users log in daily (this blog you're reading couldn't handle 1/10th that number in an entire year without crashing).

In January 2011, DigitalBuzz posted an infographic that 250 million log in daily. Facebook's newsroom was updated in December 2011 to say that there are now a whopping 483 million users logging in daily- that number nearly doubled in less than a year! Because Facebook regularly updates that page, I'm going to paste the numbers here for you:


We had 845 million monthly active users at the end of December 2011.
Approximately 80% of our monthly active users are outside the U.S. and Canada.
We had 483 million daily active users on average in December 2011.
We had more than 425 million monthly active users who used Facebook mobile products in December 2011.
Facebook is available in more than 70 languages.

Because of the complexity of the site - and it's offered up to users at no charge (more on that later) - it's not reasonable to run two versions simultaneously on a permanent basis. Not to mention that there would be roughly 7 versions running if everyone had their way. Even Microsoft, Apple and other software developers stop supporting old versions. That's the way software works. There's a development cycle that exists to keep everything efficient and up-to-date with current advances. Facebook is a network, but its foundation is a complex piece of Web-based software which is the key. Multiple versions don't work well on the Web.

Facebook is free to its users. This is an interesting argument, because it's not strictly true except in a monetary sense. Facebook built a platform that is ingenious because we like connecting with friends and family. The currency we use to pay for Facebook is our "privacy". Your data. My data. (Not to mention time.) The demographic information you put in on the back end. The status updates that mention various subjects. The comments we leave. The pages we like. Facebook is making money off of the information that you and I voluntarily enter on their site. That's why I put privacy in quotes. Users need to be educated on this so they know the impact of what they say when they log in. Want to know a secret?

Facebook isn't the only site you use that does this. Google does it. Bing does it. Twitter is trying to do it. Klout does it. That's just naming a few. This is why it's so important to view the Internet as a place where your every action and word is being recorded - because it is.

Business owners get value out of Facebook that is worth sharing data. Many - including myself - use the Facebook platform for business and the value is proven in the traffic I see to my sites from Facebook, which leads to revenue-generating opportunities. For those of us using Facebook for business, it's a no-brainer to be there. The return on our time investment and data sharing is worth it. I'm selective about what I say on my personal profile and what I populate in Facebook's back-end (phone numbers, address, etc.). I'm also not bothered that Facebook delivers ads to me based on what I say and pages I like. Why? Because it's all automated. I know there's not some room in Facebook's basement where a bunch of creepy people watch our profiles and send ads to my Facebook page when they see me say certain things. That isn't the way the Web works - at all.

(BTW, again, Facebook isn't the only or the first site doing this - millions of sites we visit every single day use data that deliver ads this way.)

It does bother some people when ads show up on Facebook that match a topic they've mentioned, so I'm going to talk about privacy as we go through the month and point out some of the issues that exist and how users can protect themselves from sharing more than they're comfortable with on Facebook.

Are you concerned about your privacy on Facebook or do you feel confident that your own usage boundaries will protect you?

Business Book Club: Were you enchanted?

When I saw the book that was randomly chosen for us to begin the Business Book Club, I truly wasn't sure what to expect. Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions has had good reviews from what I've seen and heard for the most part. The subject of influence, which is a huge part of the book, happens to be one I struggle with. I have never viewed myself as an influential person and I've often wondered if it's even possible to change that. It's always seemed so tied to personality when I look at others who I perceive to have influence. It didn't take long for me to realize that - based on Guy Kawasaki's ideas - I was both right and wrong.

What will you find in Enchantment?
A liberal sprinkling of nuggets of wisdom that pretty much anyone can benefit from reading. This book isn't just for those who are running a business. It's for those who are working for the guy who's running the business. It's for anyone who deals with people anywhere any time.

What can you get out of Enchantment?
If you're anything like me, you'll start to think about how you can make modifications to the way you work and deal with people - especially customers (or anyone who relies on you) - in a way that will leave them with that feeling of enchantment. You'll start to think more creatively about little (and big) things you can do that will create a memory that endures and an impression that stands the test of time and distance.

This may sound to you as if it's common sense wrapped in a book jacket. The sheer volume of examples, suggestions, ideas and resources cited gives credence to Enchantment being a must-read for anyone who needs a refresher on influence or a more thorough perspective.

We're living in an age where the relationship component of doing business is changing drastically. Everyday, more customers expect to get individual and timely attention from someone who is able to help them solve a problem. Social media channels have pushed businesses into a new field of marketing and is forcing them to think very differently about how they will reach new and retain existing customers. That alone is reason enough to want to know how to enchant them.

Concrete Ways to Increase Enchantment
The first half of the book is a bit more on the conceptual side, though there is still a lot of specific advice. In the second half of the book, Guy jumps into topics like using push and pull technologies (specifically, social media channels) to increase enchantment, how to be an enchanting boss/worker, and ends with a primer on resisting enchantment. I thought it was an odd note to end on, but the discussion of ethical enchantment is critical. Con artists enchant their victims. People who aren't looking to con others don't want to be perceived as such, so knowing the signs and behaviors to avoid makes sense.

Putting Enchantment Into Action
This was a great read for this time of year as I'm thinking about the goals I want to set for myself in 2012 and the focus I want to maintain. My thinking is shifting to a slightly different angle: How can I accomplish what I want to do and enchant others in the process? That's a question that will be my focus over the next few weeks. It isn't about changing what I want to do; it's about doing it in the best possible way.

One of the best messages in this book is that enchantment doesn't have to be about some huge national campaign or launch. To quote Guy, "'Epic' is not always necessary." (Chapter 5, How to Launch - "Tell a Story") Enchanting others in small ways continuously is more effective than making a big splash and then disappearing. With that in mind as I read the various examples of enchanting interactions and experiences, I found myself wanting to feel enchanted. What company enchants you? What person enchants you? What about them - what they do - makes you feel enchanted? These questions have been rattling in my mind for weeks now. As I finished the book, I became more aware of my experiences each day:

I'm enchanted by my family, by people on my commute, by workers at the grocery store at 7:30am, by my iPhone/iPad. (Yes, I firmly believe that inanimate objects can enchant. Isn't that the purpose behind their creation?) I've committed to be more mindful of these moments, savor them and maybe even take note if I can learn something from them.

Twitter Chat
After we finish each book, I'll be hosting a twitter chat. This month, we'll hold it on January 11, 8-9 using #MediaMeshBBC. I hope everyone will join me next week for more discussion and I'll announce our next book as well.

What did you think of this first BBC book? How did the book inspire you to action?