Are Facebook’s “Open Graph/Like Button” the Reincarnation of Old “Beacon”?

Facebook "Like" Button, Levis

Facebook’s “Like” Button on Levi’s online store

Facebook rolled out universal “Like” button and “Open Graph” features yesterday, and is ambitiously partnering with sites all over the web to turn users’ personal interests and online activities into a newsfeed for the now-expanded Facebook ecosystem. While this behavior seems like déjà vu, recalling Facebook’s Beacon online tracking program which was launched 3 years ago and was forced to retreat due to the huge protests by its users, Facebook has grown since then from a start-up to the number one web traffic juggernaut on the web. Will this new launch result in another privacy backlash just like 3 years ago? Taking a look at what these new features have in common with Beacon, and what are some key differences from Beacon might give a hint to that question.

Both Like/Open Graph and Beacon adopt the opt-out setting, and the opt-out for Beacon was heavily criticized because it was not easy to access at that time. Overall, I personally do not like opt-out schemes, especially when it comes to sensitive issues like people’s privacy, Facebook should have learned from the recent privacy backslash towards Google’s Buzz and even their changes to privacy settings just a few months ago. Facebook might argue that people have to actually click the “like” button to personally “opt-in” to endorse it, but I still think Facebook could be much more discreet about handling users’ private information.

In Beacon, Facebook let advertisers place their ads alongside users’ purchasing activity online, calling it a “recommendation from a trusted friend”. With the “Open Graph” feature, Facebook lets partner websites pull users’ profile information and their friends’ “like” information, then these sites can personalize products and services on their site for the user according to what the user and his/her friends have previously “liked”, which is a different version of “recommendation from a trusted friend”. Besides that, the explicit number how many people in total “like” a webpage or product would also cast strong social proof effect to the user, even though these people are outside the user’s social circle, these “like”s still count as a word of mouth recommendation.

Now that the “Like” button itself and the data associated with can exist ubiquitously all over the web, this will further strengthen Facebook’s influence on the internet. A user’s identity and information are no longer confined to the closed Facebook ecosystem, but are now easily accessible across the web by numerous websites, and these sites no longer have to delete information they’ve gathered every 24 hours, a huge step forward from Facebook Connect. This means viral messages spreading through people’s newsfeeds in the Facebook ecosystem can be further amplified for greater organic publicity for companies.

Facebook’s new “Like” and “Open Graph” function are going to challenge many online services, from review sites like Yelp, to information-sharing sites like Twitter, and even search engines like Google, with their rich information system, at the same time, it will also open a vast array of opportunities for many third developers to develop new social platforms around it. If everything works out the way they would like, Facebook may completely rewrite the rules for social media.

Facebook to Enter China By the End of This Year?

facebook-china

What would Facebook look like in China?

I’ve heard rumors that Facebook is going to enter China by the end of this year, and well, considering I saw this news from sources like BusinessWeek, China Daily, and Bloomberg, I guess I can’t really call it a rumor anymore. But the suspicious part of this news is that all these authoritative media outlets claim the same news source: the popular Chinese online portal Sina.com. Yet Sina.com itself did not give out any detailed information about this either, and only credited an unidentified person as their source. And then if you add the unlikeliness of Facebook entering China at this time point, it totally sounds like a rumor right?

Take a look at China Daily’s report below, which is the most conflicting news I have read in a long time:

Title: Facebook Plans to Enter China

Body: Facebook spokesman Larry Yu said the Palo Alto social media king is “interested in China, just as we are many other countries, and while we are studying and learning about them all, we have no specific plans for China at this time.”

No specific plans? Facebook, are you coming or not? China Daily, could you stop fooling with my and thousands Chinese social network users’ hearts?

Despite the ambiguous quality of this news itself, it got forwarded by many tech news sites in China, and also picked up by many foreign media outlets like the ones mentioned above. After Google’s exit from China, the attention around foreign technology companies’ business moves in China has been very high. Most Chinese tech media and blogs are not very positive about Facebook’s prospects in China, even if they find a way into the market. The current Chinese social network market has been very saturated by the Big Three: Tencent’s QQ , Renren, and Kaixin001. QQ is the most original one that sprang from their pervasive instant messaging service in China, while Renren was a copycat of Facebook at the outset, but has evolved since then and holds a tight grip on Chinese college and fresh graduate demographics. Kaixin001 started from work professionals, and caught fire from their popular embedded social games like Chinese Farmville. Almost overnight Kaixin001 made all Chinese white collar professionals grow corps and steal vegetables during their office hours. Even government policy has played a favorable hand in these local Chinese web companies’ growth, examining eBay’s loss to Chinese eCommerce site Taobao, Yahoo’s loss to Chinese web portal sites, and also Google’s famous loss to Chinese search engine Baidu, I have to say an understanding of the local market plays the most important role in these battles. So, if Facebook is really coming to China soon, they better learn a good lesson from these previous cases and be fully prepared to fight a hard battle.

Get Back Your Forgotten Myspace Password, Join The Real Time Music Hunt!

(The UI for this App is a slick piece of design: big buttons, simple elements, bright contrasting colors, and one single click leads people to what they want)

This is truly the first time Myspace gave me a pleasant surprise since I involuntarily signed up for a Myspace account months ago: the refreshing real-time music search app, “We Are Hunted Myspace Radio Station” just launched, not only on the Myspace website, but also on iPhone and Android at the same time. Trying it out, I have to say Myspace has finally done something right with their valuable music assets after such a long time. They have fused the two hottest things on the web right now: crowdsourcing (or more precisely, “hordesourcing” according to Wired) of millions of Myspace music lovers’ picks, and a real-time music feed, to rejuvenate its long neglected music gold mine. As a result, this app will likely help Myspace and its indie music groups open up to a larger public audience.


Here is more detailed information of how it works, according to Myspace:

  • We monitor what MySpace users are listening to via the MySpace Real Time Stream. Depending on the time of day, we hear 15 to 100 updates every second.
  • The most popular artist in the last 60 seconds plays next.
  • The service is tuned for music discovery service. The programming is biased to favor new and emerging music popular right now. We play only 60 second samples of each song with a voice intro so you know what is playing.
Listening to these 60 seconds tracks, when you catch something that is interesting to you, you can also easily drag it to “my favorite tracks” box on the right side of the app page. Also, one simple click on the album icon can lead you to the artist’s Myspace page to learn more about them.

After listening to it for a while tonight, I have to say it is really not bad. Besides these new, refreshing music tracks themselves (finally something other than the ubiquitous Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga songs playing for the millionth time from the car radio), I simply love the interesting mash-up of different genres of music. Listening to my familiar genres of music on Pandora is safe and delightful, but going out there and being a little adventurous with a crowd-sourced DJ on Myspace can open up a whole new world of music.

One additional bonus: this app is quite easy to use, as long as you can find your Myspace password after abandoning the site for so long (ha!), one minute is all you need to get started with this app. Try it out here.

Google’s Nearby Search Function Adds Strength to Its Online Review Service

Last Friday, Google released the “Search Nearby Me” function in its search options panel. This new search function helps people find relevant search results based on their real-time geographic location instead of solely searching based on key words. I vaguely remember at sometime point last week, when I was Googling something, a toolbar box popped up asking me if I wanted to disclose my location to Google. Sure, I clicked. Now when I try to use this new function to find Chinese restaurants, a bunch of restaurants near my default location (you can set custom locations too) pop up, along with local Chinese restaurant information from popular review sites like Yelp and 10Best.com.

What I found most handy from this function is that it also pulls in the combined information of local Chinese restaurants that have registered with Google’s Local Business Center, with their locations showing up in the Google Map. The scary part of this is that once you click into any of these restaurants, not only are their location, hours, price and other useful basic information displayed, but like an octopus, Google has also compiled a list of ratings and reviews of that restaurant from other review sites. And if you sign in with your Google account, you can write a review of it right away on the spot. So far I have seen reviews pulled from couple websites like 10best, Trip Advisor, Yahoo Local and Urbanspoon, but I have not seen any reviews directly pulled from Yelp. Does Yelp not allow Google to aggregate their reviews? What is the deal here?

With this Google Nearby search function, the pace of local businesses building their presence online may only accelerate. Having a profile registered with Google’s Local Business Center will soon become a must for any business that wants to be searchable and survive the intertwining offline and online world.

The Google Nearby location-based search function shows how aggressively Google is in approaching the local business review sector pioneered by Yelp. Google has encroached upon the property of traditional media’s online content and news, then pulled in social media feeds (via Google’s recent incorporation of the social media feeds into its search results), and now they are reaching into the reputation-review systems that was mainly supported by online review sites. Right now, I think the biggest weapons that review sites like Yelp can use to fight back against Google are the communities inhabiting their sites, whose users passionately contribute their reviews there instead of on a broader Google review platform. Google’s services are almost too ubiquitous. Users with Google accounts hardly view themselves as valued members of a “Google community”, thus Google can hardly enjoy the stickiness brought by the social side of a community. But in the long run, with Google’s efforts to build a giant system that covers every aspect of people’s online activities, it is likely that Google may still win in these aspects of web services due to its overwhelming scale.

Jeremiah Owyang: Web Strategy: How To Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website


Web Strategist Jeremiah Owyang published the article Web Strategy: How To Evolve Your Irrelevant Corporate Website in his blog Web Strategy three years ago with great foresight. Today as the online community has proven to be the epicenter for online conversations and interactions, more and more web technologies and companies that provide these services, like KickApps, have emerged to help companies revolutionize their website to be more community-friendly and “relevant” to their customers.


POM Wonderful is one of the pioneers in transforming their company website from a static information center to a dynamic “pomegranate-lover” community. Another great examples is Dell’s IdeaStorm project: customer ideas to improve products prompted endless inspiration to Dell’s product development teams, which would in turn help them better meet the needs of their customers. After all, who else could be a better person to turn to for advice on better serving your customers than the consumers themselves. They congregate and speak up ardently about your products in these online communities. No matter if these opinions are positive or negative ones, they are all valuable ones for the company to listen to. This kind of listening was once done by small and expensive focus groups, but social tools and online communities have largely reduced the transaction costs and afforded companies many more channels to listen to invaluable opinions from much larger and passionate groups in a real-time setting.

Also, letting these conversations happen at “home” is better than letting it happen elsewhere, because by providing a place for consumers to voice their opinions on your own website, not only does that generate valuable customers insight for you, but also shows your real respect and care for your consumers.These actions invite them to truly be owner for your brand and build the brand with you.


Since social network sites started to take off in China 3 years ago, they have undergone exponential growth and their traction among Chinese netizens has subsequently made these sites the new battlegrounds for Chinese companies to connect with customers. Now, these companies are just one step away from bringing these users and conversations back to their company websites by incorporating social media functions on these sites. I have translated Jeremiah Owyang’s prescient article into Chinese, hopefully helping it reach more people that would find it of great value. Thank you Jeremiah Owyang.


网络营销策略:如何进化你不相关的企业网站

Jeremiah Owyang


传统的网络营销策略需要进化,此篇博文旨在激发下一代的网络营销策略

企业网站是什么?

它是他们用来让你在每一个广告后了解更多关于那个公司或企业的信息的,你知道的,任何公司.com。

但是我们已经厌倦了这种企业网站以及上面所有的积极正面的市场营销宣传语,一大堆刻画着看上去很机灵的男人们或者少数族裔的女人们围坐在电脑旁盛赞你的产品的照片,这种正面的公关宣传稿,这种快乐的消费者感言,这一大排的公司老总照片,这些你的企业捐助的救灾款项信息,这种一边倒的信息在你的企业网站上没有止境。

即使你企业网站的流量可能会增加,这也并不能显示你的企业网站是如何被消费者们使用的。网络分析师们并不会告诉你人们为什么会去你的网站,而且这个原因有可能并不符合你想要他们去你网站的初衷。

【企业网站是一系列夸大事实,人为品牌营销,以及偏向企业利益的不具备公信力的信息的收集。由此导致了,人们往往在网络上别的地方做出他们觉得更可信的决定】


为什么你的企业网站是不相关的呢?

网络市场营销理念已经改变的,它不再只存在于两个网络领域

很多网络市场营销者都有这种印象,那就是网络营销之战只在谷歌(Google)搜索引擎以及 企业的网站里上演。但是在现实生活中,网络市场营销已经散布到许多别的对话产生的领 域:社交网站,评分网站,网络聊天室,甚至博客中。就这个话题,我撰写了一篇独立的博 文进行探讨:为什么网络市场营销不只发生在两个网络领域中。

决定在人们去到你的企业网站之前就已经做出

昨天,在和一个大学生吃午餐的时候,她告诉我她的同伴们通常通过消费者评分网站或他们的同伴来获取信息帮助他们做出产品购买决定。他们会使用网络聊天工具,Facebook(以及别的网络社交网站),但是很少直接打入企业官方网站的地址去搜寻信息。如果这个情况属实的话,那个我们可以推断这些潜在消费者的决定在他们在来企业官方网站获取关于产品的事实型的信息之前就已经做出了。

事实型的信息

从法律上来讲,企业需要发布关于产品的细节的信息,这是消费者们使用企业网站的一个重要的原因。但是在我随后和这个Y时代(通常指美国的80或90后,指成长伴随着新的通讯科技使用的一代人)的对话中,她告诉我她一般通过企业的网站去获取一些关于产品的功能或价格的核心的信息和数据,但是那通常发生在她在听取她同伴提供的产品反馈,并做出了决定之后。

未来,如何保持网站相关性:

网站被消费者们创建

这是扰乱现有的规则的,但是我预测未来最为相关的网站将会是由消费者们连同企业员工们一起创建网站。这种最有效的网站将会同时承载着来自于企业产品员工以及消费者的平衡的视角,即使消费者对于企业产品有一定的质疑。

未经过筛选的消费者感言将会出现

你将不再是在你网站上发表内容的唯一一人,消费者,潜在消费者,以及别的网络社区的成员们将会拥有直接的通道去你的网站上发表内容。当然,一些控制将会被施行来确保这些发布的信息都是真实的或者被审阅过的,但是很明显对于大众来说网络营销将不会是你的网站上唯一的声音。

内容将会同时包含关于你的产品的负面的以及正面的评价

这是个难以下咽的观点,但是你将如何建立最高程度的信任?答案是通过以开放的,真实的,以及透明的姿态去面对市场。通过调查我们知道,最高程度的信任通常被赋予那些“和我一样”的人,一个精明的市场营销者将会允许来自其同行,消费者,以及市场的内容出现在其企业网站上。这些内容不会总是关于一个产品的热赞,事实上它有可能会是一个直接的批评,这样做的原因?去采纳那些反馈意见,同时清楚明白地向公众展示你将会根据它们来提高你的产品或服务的质量。案例分析:戴尔用这个理念来策划的IdeaStrom。

你的网站将会成为一个社区资源

这意味着你将会把你的消费者放在第一位,我这不是开玩笑,而是说真的。这意味着你将提供不仅关于你自己,而且也关于你的竞争对手的分析,这也意味着你将会在你的企业网站上放上你的竞争对手的链接。听上去很疯狂?我在自己是一个网络社区的管理者的时候就曾经这样干过,我为我的消费者们创建了一个维基板块(wiki)去添加我的竞争者们的链接,这样做让我更具相关性。

【企业网站的未来将会是一个包含着观点和事实型信息的具有公信力的信息源头,它的作者将来自于企业和网络社区。结果呢?它将成为一个具有公信力的第一站社区资源,在那里信息的流动将推动企业创造更好的产品和服务】

成果

消费者将会把你的企业网站作为他们获取信息的第一站,网站信任度也会提高,通过这个实时的反馈,你将会制造更好的产品和服务,最为重要的是,你(的企业网站)将会成为一个帮助你更快的满足你的消费者所需的社区资源。

展望

我们将会看到消费者们开始帮助企业去书写他们的企业电子报,企业网站的RSS信息源里加入了行业博客,消费者们通过媒体(音像和影像)来对他们想要得到提高的产品的功能和特性进行评分,排名以及投票。产品员工将在一个实时环境里与消费者直接合作,同时消费者们也将互相支持。

The Third Place In Online Communities

As Oldenburg described in his book The Great, Good Place other than our home and work place, a “third place” where people can meet others and relax, for example the local coffee shop or local bookstore, is much needed and essential in human social relationships. There, people can escape from the many responsibilities of their daily lives and dive in to a casual environment to enjoy social ties with other people, and maybe even seize the chance to be a different person for a while. This literature, which was published ten years ago, has many implications for today’s computer-centric communities, as these online communities are indeed serving the need of a “third place” for people, and provide a public place for people to meet and interact.

Among all the online “third places” like forums or Wikipedia, I am most interested in the third place in social networks. At the center of popular social network sites like Facebook or Chinese social network Qzone are people’s personal profile pages, where people manage their contacts and post personal updates. They interact with their friends mostly through wall posting and messages; this personal profile page serves as the “home” function in these SNSs and people occasionally go to their friends’ “homes” to visit and say hi. Besides the profile page, there is also a Home page, which is constantly fed with news and updates from people’s friends, and it functions more like an information center.

The real third place for people on these SNSs to socialize and meet people outside of their current social circle actually lies elsewhere: they are the online game spaces and public pages created either by commercial groups or other institutions. After more and more people settle into their homes in these SNSs, these public third places that serve as the “cafes and bars” start to appear and take off. When people are gathering in poker rooms of Chinese SNS Q-zones’ online game space to play poker with each other, or when people are pouring their love or hate of a product onto a brand’s Facebook page, they interact with each other outside their “home” and outside their usual social circle. In these third places their social need for more casual ties with others is satisfied. People are also willing to pay these third places for the services they provide, for example, paying for virtual plant seeds in a Farmville game is essentially the same as paying for a bottle of beer to start a conversation in a bar, right? This might explain the rosy business prospects of virtual goods in the SNS world, because in these third places people are willing to pay for the social capital they gain. Building good third places on social networks for people to hang out and interact with each other is just as essential as building good third places in the real world to sustain people’s needs for a community.

What Makes Ning Different From Facebook and Twitter

Today we will have Charles Porch from the rising social network platform Ning.com coming to our class to share with us his insights about the social media world and also about the unique aspects about Ning. I have heard of Ning and registered an account there couple of months ago. My recent exploration at Ning showed me how convenient and easy to build a social network site on it, and also these very interesting niche networks there that attract circles of people sharing the same interest and passion. To my surprise, it supports Chinese language, so I created a social network for my Chinese friends back home, and I also started another social network site on it called Happy Chinese New Year, for Chinese people living in L.A. to share their experience living oversea, and celebrate the Chinese New Year that is coming along next weekend.

While Ning exhibits its strong point by providing people a intimate social network experience, many people like me might also be curious what the difference between Ning and other popular social network platforms like Facebook and Myspace is. According to a recent interview of the Ning’s CEO Gina Bianchini from Tech Crunch, Gina does not view Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as their competitors, instead, she thinks that these social network platforms have developed their own edges and are dominant in their own areas. Compared to the experience provided by Facebook and other social platforms, the features of Ning deliver a more in-depth and immersive experience with the brands and things centered in Ning’s networks; thus Ning can integrate the service of other social platforms like the Twitter as the distribution channels, and at the other end, Ning would be the destination of the interest and passion where people settle and engage with the each other in a deeper level.