Facebook insights lag for some pages

Insights for a number of pages haven’t updated in days — a bug that Facebook has marked as as high priority.

According to a bug report filed on the Facebook Developers site Sunday, some page owners are only seeing insights data up until Feb. 12. Typically, page insights are two days behind. Facebook responded to the report with, “We are looking into this.” The company has not made mention of the problem on its pagesmarketing or “known issues” pages, and it has neglected its page about insights since June 2011.

[Update 2/25/12 5:41 p.m. - Pages now display a note apologizing for the delays and informing page owners that Facebook is working to fix the issue.]

Jeff Widman, co-founder of Facebook analytics platform PageLever, first informed us of the issue after creating WhyIsFacebookInsightsNotWorking.com to raise awareness about the bug affecting many businesses. Our own InsideFacebook.com page insights are stuck at Feb. 18.

Bugs are common on the platform — there are 73 open bugs tagged “insights” right now — but as more companies come to rely on Facebook, the social network will need to work to make its platform more reliable. It’s also worth noting that bugs are sometimes an indication that the company is making changes to a product. With a marketing conference in New York City at the end of the month, Facebook could be preparing to offer new insights features.

Page owners can follow the progress of the latest insights bug fix here.

Facebook seeks to improve iOS app discovery

Facebook added additional settings to help native iOS applications get traffic from the mobile News Feed, search and other avenues, the company announced today in a blog post.

Developers can optimize distribution by allowing single sign-on and deep linking. Apps that enable Facebook SSO can get distribution from the Facebook iOS app in News Feed, Timeline, requests, bookmarks and search. That’s why Pinterest, for example, is discoverable through mobile search, but Yahoo’s web-based social reader is not.

In October 2011, Facebook introduced social app discovery for mobile devices. With the platform, iOS users can be taken directly to a native app after tapping on a story from Facebook. Users who have not downloaded the app are directed to the Apple App Store. With deep linking, users can be directed to specific pages within an iOS app rather than a landing page.

Facebook reminds developers that users can click on links from a number of contexts — native apps, web and mobile browsers — so the link iOS apps provide should work for these users, too.

For details on how to integrate Facebook with iOS applications, see the developer tutorial here.

This week’s headlines from across Inside Network

A roundup of all the news Inside Network brought you from Feb. 13 to Feb. 19.

Inside Mobile Apps

Tracking the convergence of mobile apps, social platforms and virtual goods.

Monday, Feb. 13

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Wednesday, Feb 15

Thursday, Feb 16

Friday, Feb 17

Saturday, Feb 18

Inside Social Games

Covering all the latest developments at the intersection of games and social platforms.

Monday, Feb. 13

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Wednesday, Feb 15

Thursday, Feb 16

Friday, Feb 17

Saturday, Feb 18

Inside Facebook

Tracking Facebook and the Facebook platform for developers and marketers.

Monday, Feb. 13

Tuesday, Feb. 14

Wednesday, Feb 15

Thursday, Feb 16

Friday, Feb 17

Saturday, Feb 18


More media sites integrate Open Graph as social readers grow

MSNBC.com, The Daily Show, The Huffington Post, MTV News and other media companies launched Open Graph integrations last week to enable site visitors to share their activity back on Facebook.

With the announcement of the new apps, Facebook revealed statistics about existing media partners who are seeing success with Timeline:

  • More than 25 million people have opted in to the Yahoo News Social Bar in the past three month.
  • Digg has increased page views by 35 percent since it launched its social reader.
  • Rockmelt has seen a 20 percent increase in traffic with users sharing articles through its social browser.
  • More than 5 million people have added The Guardian app since f8.

According to our own AppData tracking service, here is how the first batch of Open Graph news applications compare as far as daily active users and monthly active users:

Top Social News Apps

1.       Yahoo! 2,000,000 16,500,000
2.       Washington Post Social Reader 888,000 9,500,000
3.  The Guardian 230,000 3,600,000
4.       Rockmelt 140,000 270,000
5.   Digg 20,000 160,000
6.   WSJ Social 20,000 100,000
7.   The Daily 400 8,000
8.   USAToday+Me 200 5,000

Note that USAToday+Me launched Jan. 19 so it is further behind the others that became available as early as September 2011. Also note that Rockmelt is a web browser that integrates Facebook so its user numbers include activity from people who are using features besides the social news function.

Here are links to the latest news sites that allow automatic sharing to Timeline:

CBS Local: Los Angeles and New York
The Daily Show
Huffington Post
MTV News
Sporting News (launching in March)

Facebook Roundup: fellowship, Africa, shareholders, Windows Phone, more

Facebook announces 2012 fellows - Facebook announced 12 picks for its Fellowship Program this week. The company had about 300 applicants for the positions which include a year’s worth of tuition, a $30,000 stipend, $5,000 for travel and $2,500 for a computer.

Fellows have specialties including mobile computing, computer networking and cloud computing, machine learning, storage systems, search, distributed systems, programming language technology, computer security, programming languages, computer security, distributed data storage and programming languages and computer security.

Mobile coverage in Africa could mean growth for Facebook – French mobile carrier Orange announced a new service for low-end mobile phones in Africa, meaning that about 70 million subscribers may now be able to access Facebook.

ISS criticizes Facebook’s shareholder rights – Institutional Shareholder Services analysts wrote this week that Facebook’s dual-class share structure may cause problems if the structure ever changes. Analysts wrote that this dual structure potentially divides owners into opposing groups, creating potential for future conflict.

Microsoft’s Windows phone Facebook app upgraded - A new version the Facebook app for Microsoft’s Windows Phone, was introduced this week and includes a new profile design, banner images, access to pages, groups, the ability to view Likes and more.

Australian film simultaneously released in theaters, Facebook - “Tomorrow, When the War Began” is an Australian film that is set to be released into U.S. theaters, Facebook and VOD at the same time, on Feb. 24. The film is being distributed by Milyoni’s Social Cinema technology. [Image via Facebook]

Paul Ceglia owes Facebook $76K – The man who claims to own part of Facebook, Paul Ceglia, owes the company a hefty sum of legal fees, according to U.S. Magistrate Judges Leslie Foschio. The judge ordered Ceglia to pay about $76,000 in legal fees to the company.

Vitrue’s SRM livestreams Coldplay across 240 pages – iHeartRadio used Vitrue’s SRM technology to livestream a Coldplay concert across 240 Clear Channel-affiliated pages last week.

Facebook tests ‘suggested guests’ for events

Some Facebook users now see a “suggested guests” module on events they plan to attend.

Suggested guests are listed on the right side of the event page along with an invite button. Facebook seems to serve suggestions based on interests relevant to the event and mutual friends attending. This test feature could increase awareness and attendees for public events.

For instance, an event page for a concert might suggest friends who listen to the artist on Spotify and could lead people to decide to go together. This is more likely to occur if users can see why a person is listed as a suggested guest. Currently the module displays friends without any context.

This is another of several recent improvements to the events product. About two months ago, the social network introduced “Suggested Events“ to give users recommendations about events based on Open Graph activity, pages they Like and events that friends are attending. In November 2011, Facebook updated the event page UI. We’ve also seen Facebook testing a “Make Plans” option above News Feed.

Facebook starts verifying popular accounts

Facebook will allow a small number of public figures to verify their accounts beginning today, a spokesperson from the company confirms.

Users with verified accounts will appear more often in “People To Subscribe To” recommendations on the site, but unlike on Twitter and Google+, there will be no visual indication that a profile is official. These users will also have the option to display their more well-known pseudonyms, if applicable. For example, Curtis Jackson could choose to go by his stage name 50 Cent across the site, instead of displaying it as an alternate name as he does now. (See image below.)

Facebook says users with a large number of subscribers will see a notification to verify their accounts. Not everyone who allows subscribers will see this option, and for now, users cannot request to be verified.

What this does

For Facebook, verifying accounts seems to be about improving its recommendations systems. Recommendation modules around the site have been key to the growth of the social network’s new subscribe feature. This will ensure that Facebook is presenting users with the real profiles of people they’re in which interested.

Serving quality recommendations and being flexible about names helps Facebook compete with Twitter as a platform for asymmetrical relationships. Public figures who are known by pseudonyms will appreciate the option to display that name more prominently. A verified user’s birth name will still be shown in the About section of Timeline.

What this doesn’t do

Currently, there isn’t a way for users to definitively tell whether an account is the official profile of someone to whom they want to subscribe. There are already plenty of fake celebrity profiles on the site, and as more public figures begin to use Facebook, the number of impostors will likely increase. The company will need to do something to distinguish its verified accounts or work harder to eliminate the fakes.

Facebook didn’t offer details on how verification might affect search. Subscriber numbers do not currently seem to influence how a user is ranked in search. This is frustrating for users and could lead some people to connect with fake pages.

Timeline coming soon for businesses

Facebook plans to convert business pages to the new Timeline format as early as the end of February when the company will host an invitation-only marketing conference in New York City, according to AdAge.

Marketers have been dreaming up ways to use Timeline for businesses since the new profile debuted at f8, but Timeline hasn’t been an option for brands because the social network requires companies use pages instead of profiles.

Timeline could be a significant improvement for pages, which users typically visit once to Like but they rarely return or spend much time on them. Giving brands more control over their presence on the social network is important for Facebook to maintain an advantage over Twitter and Google+. The change, however, could affect page tab apps, in which some companies have heavily invested over the past few years.

Page owners can look forward to a new design that allows for more branding with a cover photo and the option to resize posts. On the current pages, posts get easily lost, but with the Timeline algorithm, more important posts are surfaced when a user scrolls. Users can more easily find content that was shared weeks or even years ago. With an update to Facebook pages, businesses might also gain the ability to make posts to the past, as users now can with Timeline to share their history. A car company, for instance, might share photos of old models or a drink company might post vintage commercials.

A big question remains: what will happen to tab applications? Many pages — from top global brands to small local businesses — have invested in iFrame apps to welcome users to their pages or provide additional experiences. The company has frequently changed the size of tabs, forcing developers to redesign their apps, and it could do so again.

We also wonder whether Facebook’s mobile product will begin to support page apps, particularly if the company plans to bring Sponsored Story ads to mobile devices soon. Most advertisers will want a custom landing page if they are running a campaign, but perhaps a unique cover photo will satisfy that need.

The last time Facebook redesigned profile pages in December 2010, business pages got a matching update in February. “We hope to make pages more consistent with Timeline in the future, but we have nothing further to share at this time,” a Facebook spokesperson says.

Update 2/21/12 8:50 a.m. – Facebook itself seems eager for Timeline for pages. Here’s a version of Timeline the company made for its press site:

Open Graph launch partners see early success with Timeline apps

A number of sites and applications, including Pinterest, Foodspotting and Rockmelt, experienced significant increases in referral traffic and activity in the month since launching Timeline apps, according to a blog post by Facebook.

The latest metrics reveal that Open Graph integrations can help companies bring users to their own properties. In the past, developers and marketers often felt forced to build applications within Facebook tabs or canvas environments, sacrificing traffic to their existing sites. Facebook seems to be making a point of letting these stakeholders know that Open Graph is not about bringing the entire web onto Facebook, but integrating Facebook across the web and mobile and letting more companies reap the benefits.

According to the blog post, the number of Facebook users visiting virtual pinboard site Pinterest every day increased by more than 60 percent since they integrated with Timeline in January. Fashion photo app Pose has seen more than five times the amount of daily web sign-ups. Recipe site Foodily had a 4x increase in new users. Foodspotting, a food finding and sharing app, has seen three times the number of visits and activities shared.

Shopping site and mobile app Fab.com had a 50 percent increase in traffic from Facebook. Social web browser Rockmelt gained 20 percent more traffic and new users to the site since adding Open Graph functionality to its social reading app. Art discovery site Artfinder experienced a 60 percent increase in time spent on the site by new visitors from Facebook.

The social network says it has approved hundreds of Open Graph actions since opening up the platform last month. Lexus, Vogue Paris, Votizen, Identified, Boxee, MetaCafe and Shopkick are a few of the companies that most recently launched Timeline apps. See our overview of apps from Facebook’s launch partners here.

Facebook tweaks requirements for app activity featured in ads

Facebook has quietly changed the conditions that determine whether an app is eligible to be shown as a Sponsored Story, according to the Ads API documentation.

The change reduces the amount of time required for a user to engage with an app before displaying the activity as a Sponsored Story, but shortens the window during which the activity is considered relevant.

Previously, “app used” activity was eligible to be shown to a user’s friends as a Sponsored Story if a person used an app twice in the last 28 days or for longer than 10 minutes in one session within the last 28 days.

Now when someone uses an app for at least four minutes in the last 14 days, that activity can be shown to the person’s friends as a Sponsored Story like the one seen right. The story is also eligible to be featured if the user has used the app twice ever with one of those times occurring in the last 14 days.

The new threshold seems to strike a better balance for users and developers. Four minutes in a single session is more reasonable requirement than 10 minutes since many apps and games are meant to be used in short bursts.

Reducing the relevant date range to 14 days rather than 28 means Sponsored Stories will be more timely, though it might reduce the audience a developer can target. Previously a user could have stopped playing a game or using a seasonal app two weeks ago, but the activity could still be displayed in an ad unit. This is an improvement for users, however, the “twice ever with one of those times occurring the last 14 days” stipulation might not be. This change gives developers more people to target, but might not always be representative of a user’s true activity with an app.

We imagine Facebook will continue to vary the requirements for Sponsored Stories, especially as it tests new types of ads surrounding Open Graph app activity.

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