Tag Archives: Facebook

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp for a Whopping $19B

WhatsApp

Probably one of the most hostile takeovers of our time, Facebook has acquired its rival WhatsApp. In terms of value creation, this is the biggest on record.

Sequoia Capital reportedly invested only $8 million back in 2011 in WhatsApp and no additional funding was announced after that. This initial investment has thus turned out to be a huge payoff. Sources say that Sequoia has between 10-20 percent ownership of WhatsApp and if this turns out to be true, they will be looking at about $3.2 billion in cash and stock.

Why WhatsApp?

Facebook currently has over 1.25 billion users and the acquisition of this popular messaging app, which is on a path to connect 1 billion people,  will only mean more control over how the word is connected.  WhatsApp currently has over 450 million active users making it larger than Twitter and LinkedIn. WhatsApp is growing by 1 million new accounts per day. It has been able to penetrate a market that Facebook has not been able to in developing countries, places where mobile take up is expected to skyrocket in the coming years.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, “the growth rate they have today and the monetization that’s early but promising and in place, we see a clear trajectory ahead and are excited to work together on this.”

WhatsApp is a free service that does not have any ads. Users however are charged $0.99 after a year of use. This yearly subscription will likely remain while still leaving out advertisements based on an announcement by the founders, Jan and Koum, former Yahoo engineers.

Zuckerberg has compared WhatsApp acquisition to that of Instagram, which means that it will continue to operate independently.

What do you think? Is WhatsApp worth $19 billion?

Why Facebook Ads Need Quality Control Approval

facebookIt’s no secret that Facebook, the social media giant, hands out its users’ information to third parties. So long as an advertiser is willing to pay, the site will ensure only the most relevant viewers see their ads. Whether targeting specific audiences or opting for the sidebar approach, thousands of companies have gained business with their interest-based consumer outreach.

With Facebook’s newest newsfeed update, however, came the addition of centrally located ads. Now, users see posts directly within their newsfeed, right between their friends’ pictures and musings for the day. And while some are still less than thrilled about the post interruption, the website has done its best to insert only the most interesting of ads, depending on the user. Not only does this entice viewers to click, it allows for the highest success rates for future sales.

The problem? The ads have about a 50/50 shot at working correctly. Most of these errors are seen in mobile versions, in which multiple pages are offered, but don’t load. (Users are generally enticed with an article or slideshow of facts that falls within their specific age group and demographic.) Sometimes the user is stuck on an ad, sometimes arrows are ill placed and users click on banners rather than content itself, and sometimes the pages simply don’t load. Users are met with an ad – after being promised a slideshow of some kind – and left at a dead end.

Reflection of Brand

These errors were certainly acceptable at first, but now, months in, age is no longer an excuse. But who’s at fault? Facebook or the sponsors? Since it’s been seen across the board, it’s likely that the errors are on Facebook’s end – specifically their mobile site. So why aren’t the advertisers pushing for a working version? Or if they are, are they getting a discount in the process? Either way, constant errors reflect badly on both Facebook and the advertisers themselves. Not to mention users will soon quit clicking – if the article only has a 50% chance at working, why even take the risk?

But overall, it’s the consumer that’s really suffering. Not only are they using an inferior website (which may or may not allow them to read said articles), their newsfeed is still cluttered within the process.

Hopefully, Facebook engineers are working to find solutions to these ongoing errors. In the meantime, users can continue to take their chances, while advertisers will likely see a downfall in clicks.

Need to Contact Facebook? Good Luck

contact usWith the incredible growth Facebook has seen in past years, it’s understandable that a few people may need to get a hold of the company. Whether for legal reasons, personal interest, or just needing to get some information, the site is surprisingly hard to pin down. Of course, it’s hard to blame them – even Apple doesn’t have a 24/7 support system without fees. (Users are required to purchase support timelines, after shelling out for the pricy products.) And contacting each of their users with an issue would likely cost millions. But when you’re raking in the dough, at what point is it an investment to stay available?

Rather than offering phone lines or even a message system (yep, you can’t even send in a rogue text query), Facebook has created a list of very specific scenarios — more than 150. Much like following an “if your answer is this, follow this,” map, where each instance is met with a pre-determined outcome. This goes for legal teams, individuals, concerned citizens, and almost any other form of social media user.

Don’t fit into the site’s molds? Too bad – you can either lie, or send a random email, hoping the site will get back with you. Spoiler: their response is unlikely.

Making Their Own Rules

Because Facebook is such a mogul, it’s safe to say they can do what they want. If they don’t want to be contacts by their billion users, they don’t allow it to happen. Sure it might up their public image, but when you’ve got more followers than any other social media network, why spend the extra time and funds?

Just because it’s the status quo, however, doesn’t mean it’s winning them any points.

What do users do when they have an actual problem? It’s insulting to be given a list of scenarios to sift through, but what if you don’t meet any of them? Why is a catch-all statement a cover up for poor customer service? Perhaps this mindset stands because Facebook profiles are free of charge, but even free services won’t last if customers aren’t happy.

For the most part, Facebook users seem to be plenty happy with their options, but for the few who do need to reach the site, their abilities are few and far between. As the site continues to grow and add even more users to the mix, let’s hope they donate some funds to letting others contact them. After all, customer service is a small price to pay for keeping customers happy – they’re the glue that keeps the entire operation in motion.

Facebook Ads primed to replace Google Ads

facebook_vs_google_featuredFor years, Google has proven to be the giant in Internet marketing with returns paralleled to none. With statistics predicting a growth of up to 77.3 percent this year, you should be expecting Google to make a fortune out of the business that it has continually monopolized courtesy of its firm control over search traffic, YouTube and Google Adsense.

Statistics Show that a new Giant is on the Rise in the Market

Google’s dominance faces challenges from upcoming Facebook, which is taking the ad market by a storm courtesy of its convenient support for mobile devices. In 2012, Facebook claimed $390 million off the ad market. Even though this is a mere 9.5 percent of the total market and minimal compared to what Google earns, it is an improvement for Facebook that experts believe will hold with the values for this year expected to climb to 13.2 percent.

This apparently trivial market percentage covers for over 88 percent of Facebook’s revenue collection in the past 12 months.  Even though Facebook has shown its intent of being more than a social site by venturing into search engine service provision with its Facebook Graph, the ads constantly popping up on your Facebook for Android or iOS app are still the main revenue sources for Mark Zuckerberg and his team.

Is the Growth just for a Season or is it Here to Stay?

facebook-mobile-ads

As the number of smartphone owners grows by the day, the number of hours people spend in front of their computer screens decreases exponentially. The number of people accessing their social site pages and other Internet services through their mobile devices is on the rise making ads placed on such platforms more viable that those targeting PC users. Since Facebook strongly focuses on access while on the go, I believe that it has what it takes to capitalize on this new Internet use trend.

Though Google Ads might still command more clicks per unit time, the price revenue generated per ad on mobile is comparatively lower than what Facebook has on offer. Experts argue that Facebook has an upper hand in the move from fixed to mobile computing since it was born in the era and has had to work out its solutions from scratch, unlike Google which has had to modify its strategies.

Facebook-Mark-zuckerberg

Facebook’s ability to merge mobile and desktop ads (unlike Google that needs different designs for each platform) makes it easier for advertisers to deliver the same content to their audience without incurring extra cost. With Facebook ad efficiency this high, demand for advertising space is bound to go up, and so will the total revenue generated per fiscal year. In essence, Facebook has the winning formula it needs to make it big in desktop and mobile advertising!

Why is Facebook so inconsistent about removing inappropriate photos?

flagAny Facebook user has had the option – at one point or another – to report a friend’s photo. Whether or not it was inappropriate, hilarious, or even sentimental, the site brought our moral stands to question, and tested us between friendship and appropriate viewing material. Of course, the majority of those times, the pictures were nothing to balk at. They may have been a nice nature scene, or a group of girls giving their best “skinny arm,” but because it’s a photo, the report option was still present.

As for actual inappropriate photos, there are those who report them every day. They click the button, Facebook goes through the necessary channels, and the pic may or may not be taken offline. But what’s the criteria? Who decides what’s offensive and what isn’t? Because, as is, there doesn’t seem to be a sweeping standard. I’ve seen pictures of naked children get flagged (all of the necessary parts were still covered), as well as those with no actual cuss words or inappropriate subjects. But because they eluded to something we shouldn’t be talking about, apparently, the photos were deleted. In some cases, the poster is even banned for a certain amount of time, depending on the seriousness of their crime.

But why are pictures of scantily clad adults – often in suggestive poses – perfectly acceptable? (Then again, if the public began reporting those photos as well, maybe their deleting terms would make a little more sense.)

We don’t get it, Facebook.

Private vs. Public Social Media Accounts

On more private ventures, such as Snapchat, Draw Something, or Words With Friends, users receive little to no guidance by app creators. This anything goes mantra may provide for some private humor, but by the time users log into Facebook, Twitter, or other public platforms, those same rules no longer exist. Because others can see it, whether or not under privacy settings, the site becomes responsible for all content.

Within its fine print, Facebook states that there’s a copy made of each and every post; just because they remove it from the site, doesn’t mean it’s gone. Which brings even more questions into light, such as what the company is doing with all of these discarded pics – hopefully they’re saved for staff training and staff training only. But whatever the rules, it seems to be on a per-case basis, and one that holds no rhyme or reason.

To stay on the safe side and avoid being banned, it’s best to stay overly cautions. You never know what Facebook may find offensive.

Facebook adds hashtags to compete with other social networks

hashtagA few weeks ago, Facebook announced that it was working on a way to integrated hashtags into its platform. Already a successful feature on Twitter and Instagram, the change would bring Zuckerberg and crew into the world of random and unnecessary links. Sure, some are helpful and even relevant, but when scouring Twitter, the majority of hashtags consist of a string of words that may or may not be spelled correctly. This is the world that Facebook wishes to join.

Once implemented, Facebook’s hashtags would link similar conversations, just as its counterparts do – or so their announcement said. However, unlike Twitter, Facebook has always been a somewhat private website; how will privacy locked-account owners react to these hashtags? Or will theirs even work? Will open accounts’ entire conversations be linked? There are still several questions in the way of logistics. But in theory, many are wondering if this is a necessary, or even a smart move.

Pros and Cons

Since the blowup of social media, Facebook has reigned as king. They have the most users, the most recognizable features (likes and tags, etc), and they even allow other accounts to post through their newsfeeds. Have a Twitter account? Link it to Facebook for maximum exposure! And so on. But now that Facebook is adapting others’ tactics, it’s hard to say whether they’re still on top, especially when the move doesn’t exactly fit into their platform.

Now, to conform, the site is spending thousands of hours and dollars on development, while raising questions along the way. And all to adapt to a trend someone else made popular.

As for the hashtag itself, only the future can know if it’s here to stay. It could easily die out just as quickly as it came to power, or forever change the way the public used the pound key.

It’s likely that Facebook sees this change as a move in popularity. “Everyone else has it,” they say. “Now we have to have it too.” Sure there will be less confusion as to exactly what the hashtag is, does, or when it can be used – though some will inevitably still use it emails, videos, or when speaking. But for the social media population not obsessed with hashtagging every other word, we’re questioning your motives, Facebook. I don’t see the value in stealing others’ mediocre ideas.

The Facebook phone: Is it real this time?

HTC logoWe’re all still recovering from the recent Facebook changes – the pictures are larger, and now there’s a treat of video ads (sigh). But now having altered the site’s design, as well as the method from which it gathers News Feed info, Facebook is holding onto one more bombshell to throw at its users: there  still might a Facebook Phone in the works.

To be put into production by HTC, this hypothetical phone would be made almost exclusively to integrate best with Facebook’s site (new features and all), and to host a direct-to-Facebook button. Rumoredly named “the Myst,” this new phone is set to have many standard HTC features (large touchscreen, sleek, and user-friendly) with the Facebook additions being a happy bonus to smartphone users. It’s also a great excuse to roll out a new design, misspell a word, and sell altered versions of what millions already own.

The Phone Who Cried Wolf

But before Facebook fanatics get too excited about the forthcoming (and perhaps not real) phone, let’s look into HTC’s track record; their history with announcements isn’t exactly spot-free. After all, this isn’t the first time they’ve talked about releasing a Facebook phone. Who else remembers the ChaCha? Or the Status? Both floated around in 2011 and early 2012, but neither came to be anything more than blogs and tech lovers’ murmurs.

Further fueling the fire is the fact that neither Facebook nor HTC will comment on the speculation of such a phone. Both released almost verbatim comments stating that they “don’t comment on rumors.” This is the same tactic they pulled with the previous mentions.

Sure both parties could have nothing to do with the potential Facebook phone – this time or back in 2011. But they could also be trying to raise hype and/or get a feel for customer interest in such a phone. With this consistent of a trend, it’s hard to say either way. What the instances are pulling off flawlessly, though, is questioning our faith in HTC’s product announcements and ability to respond to growing trends.

However, with the extreme popularity of Facebook, smartphones, and the increased ability to access the internet, it’s safe to say any combination of the three will be well sold. Now all that’s needed is the actual phones – or at least the promise that they’ll exist – for users to update and “like” their way through any mobile situation.

Facebook or Fakebook – It Doesn’t Matter

It was recently revealed that Facebook doesn’t have as many users as the official figures would suggest. Within the 955 million monthly active users the social networking site boasts are millions of bogus accounts, made up of duplicates, misclassifications, and undesirables.

The thing is that although this “news” made it on to technology websites around the world, no one could have been surprised by the figures, and even less could have cared about them. Because it doesn’t really matter in the big scheme of things.

Bogus Facebook Accounts

As Craig Lloyd previously noted, Facebook IS fast approaching 1 billion users, with 955 active on a monthly basis. This is up from the 901 million recorded in April, showing that despite a slowing in the rate of growth, Facebook is still expanding. We know the size of Facebook’s userbase thanks to the company’s quarterly filing (via Indystar) with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. With Facebook now being a public company we’ll be able to track its growth and other statistics more easily than was previously possible.

Facebook is also now required by law to include in the filing any factor that could impinge on its future success. The idea being that shareholders need to be able to make more of an informed decision whether to hold on to or sell their shares in the company. Hence the revealing of an estimated 83 million bogus Facebook accounts.

The 83 million is made up of: 45.84 million (4.8 percent) duplicates where one person has set up two or more personal accounts; 22.92 million (2.4 percent) miscategorized where a person has created an account for a pet, child, or organization rather than a page; 14.33 million (1.5 percent) undesirables dedicated to spamming or other improper use.

Everybody Knew – Nobody Cares

I guess the news here is that Facebook itself is fessing up about the number of bogus accounts it has, but the manner in which the mainstream tech press lapped this up you’d think it was a shocking revelation. It isn’t at all.

Everyone with even the slightest notion about how Facebook works knew its numbers were off, and that there is a sizable proportion of bogus accounts. Hell, I am myself responsible for one of them, having created a Facebook account for my cat. What can I say, I was bored and lonely.

And really, who cares? Shareholders, of course, but then seeing as (at the time of writing) they’ve seen the value of their Facebook stock fall by 50 percent I’d say they have bigger concerns over Facebook’s future than the existence of some bogus accounts.

To sum up, a significant percentage of Facebook is actually Fakebook, but it really doesn’t matter.

Google+ Will Succeed By Integrating Everything

Google+ has been with us for a year now, having been launched at the end of June 2011. Over the past 12 months it hasn’t exactly set the world alight. It’s nice enough, especially after the recent redesign, and some of its core features and functionality are better than those of the competition. But its biggest claim to fame so far is the influence it has had on its nemesis, the big bad, ubiquitous Facebook.

These two social networks are locked in a battle of wills. Since Google+ launched, Facebook has nudged ever closer to boasting a user base of 1 billion people, and has finally gone public with its IPO. That didn’t go too well, but it still achieved its aim of becoming a public company worth tens of billions of dollars.

Facebook > Google+

Right now, Facebook bests Google+ in almost every department. The number of users, engagement levels, apps, games, photos shared, etc. Google is playing a severe game of catchup in the social networking arena, one that it’s not going to win easily and without pushing hard and fast into enemy territory.

But there is one way in which Google+ could succeed. It’s a strategy that would at the very least start eating into Facebook’s huge lead built up over the past eight years. It’s all about integration.

Integrate, Integrate, Integrate!

Google offers so many services that it’s often easy to forget how many of those services most of us use on a regular basis. From Search to Maps, from News to Docs, from Gmail to YouTube, Google has its tentacles spread far and wide across the web. Some of these services have already been integrated with Google+ to a degree, but that integration could be tighter across the board.

I firmly believe that if Google does head down this route of aggressively and progressively integrating all of its other services into Google+, people will turn away from Facebook. It already feels as though people are looking for an alternative. Facebook is now too mainstream and too old in the tooth for the zeitgeist-seeking, internet-savvy youngsters, but Google+ has yet to tempt them away in any great number.

Google+ > Facebook

After all of the other various free Google services are integrated into and inextricably linked with Google+, it will be a viable and valid alternative to Facebook — one which offers users the chance to choose the social network on which they can check their email and collaborate on Google Docs together all from one central locale.

At that point in time Google would hold all the cards, and Facebook could be left facing an exodus of users fleeing for fresher social networking pastures.

Facebook Approaches 1 Billion Users

Facebook recently disclosed that they have 901 million users.

Nine. Hundred. And. One. Million.

They dropped this little statistic in their amended S-1 filing earlier this week, along with other small statistics such as that Facebook users post 3.2 billion comments per day and upload 300 million photos per day as well. They also lay claim that 125 billion friendships have been formed so far on Facebook and 526 million of the 901 million users (over half) were described as daily active users in March. If that doesn’t get your pot stirring, note that 488 million users used Facebook on their smartphone and/or tablet during March as well.

Gregory Lyons, a senior analyst at iCrossing, predicted that Facebook would hit one billion users by August. Now that they have reached 900 million, one billion seems like a plausible number to hit by summer’s end. However, based on the most recent trends, I believe it might not be until October when we see Facebook hit one billion users.

In February, Facebook said they had 845 million users when they filed their IPO paperwork. They now have just over 900 million. So in almost three months time, the social network gained over 50 million users. Based on this, it will take Facebook roughly six months to gain 100 million users and hit the one billion mark, which would be around October of this year.

To give you an idea on just how massive Facebook is and to clarify their stance as the largest social network, Twitter (the 2nd-largest social network) currently has over 560 million users, but as of March, they say that only 140 million of those users are regularly active, compared to Facebook’s 526 million regularly active users.

You can read Facebook’s amended S-1 filing in its entirety here, but be warned: it’s really long.