Facebook tests notifications prompting fans of celebrities to join chats

BX1VzbtCQAEDMh_Facebook occasionally tests different types of notifications. According to BuzzFeed, the site is prompting users to check out the Facebook Live sessions through the notification system. A reader noticed that she had a notification on Facebook, suggesting that she go check out a live question-and-answer session by soccer star David Beckham, whose page she likes.


Facebook tests more detailed notifications

Screen Shot 2013-09-04 at 11.24.18 AM

Facebook appears to be testing a new way to alert users that they have a notification, giving them more information. Some users are seeing a box right below the notification alert, showing who performed the action.

Facebook still has the more detailed notification in the bottom left portion of the screen, telling users exactly what happened, such as a response to a comment or a timeline post.

With this notification box, users can see which friends have engaged with their posts or timeline. This pops up if the user does not immediately check their notifications, prompting them to click on the icon.

Readers: Have you seen this?

Facebook turns off notifications users haven’t clicked in a while

Facebook has begun automatically turning off notifications for groups and close friends that users were not interacting with, a company spokesperson tells us.

When this happens, users will see a notice in their notifications window with the option to turn the notifications back on.

“This is part of our efforts to make sure that users are receiving the most meaningful notifications,” the spokesperson said.

Third-party apps using the notifications channel are not affected by this change, which began last month, but there are a number of other quality controls for app notifications. For example, developers cannot send notifications to users who have not visited an app in the last 28 days. Developers also need to maintain a minimum 17 percent click-to-impression ratio, otherwise their access to notifications may be temporarily blocked.

By being stricter about when users receive notifications, Facebook can help keep the channel effective. If users regularly receive notifications they aren’t interested in, they may become less likely to check their notifications in the future, which could hurt developers that use the channel to promote re-engagement with their apps.

Users can edit their notification settings, including the type of notifications they receive and how the notifications are delivered, here.

Thanks to Matt Navarra and Tyler Willis for the tip.

Facebook to give developers alerts about changes to platform and app status

Facebook today announced Developer Alerts, a way to notify developers about important changes to the platform and the status of their apps.

For example, Facebook will communicate breaking changes to developers through these alerts, which are delivered via email and Facebook notifications. Developers will get an alert 90 days before a change goes into effect and see reminders at 60 days, 30 days and the day of. If developers complete the necessary migration before the deadline, they will no longer receive alerts about it.

The change is part of Operation Developer Love, an ongoing effort to improve relations with developers through better communications, documentation and new features. Developers have been able to get weekly updates and view resources on the the developer blog. There have also been improvements to the app dashboard. With the new alerts, though, developers are more likely to see the information they need in a more timely manner without having to seek it out themselves.

It also seems Facebook is making an effort to give developers more warning when their apps are not compliant with platform policies, giving them time to respond before enforcement action is taken. For example, if an app does not include a privacy policy, the developer will see an alert reminding them to add one before the app is forced into sandbox mode. This could reduce the chances that developers will be caught off guard by Facebook’s actions and ensure better user experience by having compliant apps. When an issue is resolved, developers will receive a confirmation alert, which should be useful for apps that have more than one developer.

Facebook says it will also send alerts to notify developers when their Open Graph actions are approved, when the status of their App Center detail pages changes or other similar things occur. However, the company notes that most developers won’t receive alerts very often.

Developer Alerts will begin rolling out today and will be available for all apps over the next few weeks.

Facebook rolling out option for fans to receive notifications about page posts

Facebook is rolling out a new feature for users to opt in to receive notifications every time a page makes a post.

This seems to be a solution for fans who don’t want to miss any page posts that might not make it into their News Feed because of Facebook’s algorithms. For example, some users might want to be aware of all posts from a news publication, an artist they really like or a small business that doesn’t post very often. The feature is similar to the “close friends” option, which alerts users each time a new update or photo is shared by someone on the list.

Facebook confirmed to us in a statement, “We are currently rolling out the ability for people to receive notifications from specific pages, friends or public figures that they are connected to. This feature will help people keep up with the people and things that they care about most.”

With users and pages making so many posts and taking so many actions, Facebook uses an algorithm to sort News Feed rather than being a full stream like Twitter. Although the goal is to make the feed more relevant and engaging, this sometimes leads users to miss posts that they might have wanted to see. Some users have tried using Interest Lists to get a more complete feed from pages they care about. With notifications, however, users will be even more likely to see all the content from a page or person. Notifications are off by default and settings can be changed at any time.

The social network has also recently tested a “subscribe” button on pages. This allows users to receive News Feed updates from a page without indicating that they “Like” it, but as far as we know does not generate notifications when the page makes a post.

Thanks to Moayed Mohammed for the tip and screenshot below. Notification image from AllFacebook.com.

Facebook adds more quality controls for app notifications, gives developers better tracking tools

Facebook today announced new quality control measures for canvas app notifications, seeking to maintain the effectiveness of the channel for developers without upsetting users.

Starting Nov. 9, developers will no longer be able to send notifications to users who have not visited an app in the last 28 days. Facebook says engagement drops sharply after this period and increases the risk of an app being flagged as spam. Developers will have to use notifications to promote re-engagement sooner after users access the app rather than relying on it as a way to bring back inactive users.

Also beginning on Nov. 9, developers who send a high volume of notifications will need to maintain a minimum 17 percent click-to-impression ratio. Apps that fall below this ratio may have access to notifications blocked temporarily. As we wrote about Thursday, Facebook says high quality developers are seeing notification clickthrough rates between 25 and 40 percent. Kixeye, for example, has seen 30 percent CTR on notifications it sends War Commander users when their base is attacked. The social network recommends testing new notifications with a small set of an app’s user base to remain below 50,000 sends per week and avoid the additional quality requirements.

Along with the restrictions announced today, Facebook is introducing a new feature to help developers track the performance of notifications. Developers can divide their notifications into groups and measure results separately.

Notifications are one of the channels that Facebook had restricted for social game developers in early 2010 because it generated too much spam. The company relaunched the notifications API in beta for canvas apps in August, this time with more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel. Today’s changes are a continuation of that.

Facebook re-opens notifications channel for developers to send users custom messages

Facebook has launched the new Notifications API beta giving developers a way to reengage users with custom messages through the native notifications channel. These notifications are different from app requests in that users do not need to allow further permissions to receive them.

Developers will find many positives to this feature as it makes it easier to reach their users. However, they must beware of the possibility of overflowing users’ notifications channel. Facebook previously allowed developers to send notifications to users, but it removed the feature in early 2010 as a way to reign in spammy apps. This time around, the social network has put in more safeguards to prevent developers from abusing the channel.

Users can accept or decline these notifications and are given the option to opt-out at any time. Facebook encourages developers to test and monitor how notifications are performing through the notifications dashboard in Insights. Developers will get information on how notifications are being received as well as turn-off rates. Exceedingly high turn-off rates may be classified as spam and will be disabled.

The company encourages developers to be mindful of the language in their notifications, suggesting that high-quality notifications receive higher click through rates than app requests. Low-quality app notifications are more likely to cause people to turn off notifications for that app all together.

Facebook creates new ‘follow’ action to allow users to get updates about other users’ app activity directly in News Feed

Facebook now offers developers an easy way to allow users to follow other users’ activity within Open Graph applications, even if those users are not friends.

With the new built-in “follow” action, users will be able to get updates about other users’ app activity within the Facebook News Feed, rather than needing to visit the app to find out about it. For example, a person might follow a journalist within a social news app to see what they are reading or follow a celebrity chef within a food review app. Having these stories within News Feed could lead more users to see this activity and then visit the app or share it with friends.

Some apps like Pinterest and Quora have already been using their own Open Graph “follow” actions to share this type of activity back to Facebook, but now Facebook has made “follow” built-in, just as it has done with “read,” “watch,” “listen” and “like.” Built-in verbs can include additional benefits. In the case of “follow,” developers will get additional distribution through News Feed, Ticker, Timeline and notifications.

The action of following someone will generate a story in Ticker and in the recent activity box on Timeline. Users will also get a Facebook notification when they follow someone. These features promote re-engagement and viral growth, though it’s odd that users who are followed don’t receive a notification that someone followed them. Likely to drive even more re-engagement is the feature that will put any user’s app activity in News Feed. Many users visit Facebook several times a day, but they don’t always visit other services as frequently. Now users won’t have to think to visit another app or site on their own. They will see prompts in News Feed that will take them there.

We saw evidence of Facebook testing a new “follow” action earlier this week, and wondered whether it might have been related to a deeper Twitter integration. Now it seems what we saw was likely related to today’s announcement. However, this might be further reason for Twitter to build an Open Graph app and take advantage of Facebook’s viral mechanics to engage users who aren’t as active as others.

Facebook says it will no longer approve custom follow actions. Apps that currently use a custom follow action must migrate to use the built-in follow in the next 90 days. Technical documentation about the built-in “follow” action is available here.

Facebook roundup: stock up to $33, creative execs join Facebook council, Payvment offers 1-click ad buying and more

Facebook stock up 10 percent - Facebook shares closed at $33.05 today, up 10 percent from last Friday. Despite some bad news regarding a legal settlement that will allow users to remove their names from Sponsored Stories, optimism is growing for Facebook’s potential future to create an ad network. The company also announced subscription billing and a move away from its virtual currency Credits toward a broader payments platform that allows developers to sell items in a user’s local currency, i.e., dollars or euros.

Facebook forms creative council – Facebook announce its inaugural Facebook Creative Council, which convened in Cannes this week. Similar to the the Client Council announced last year, the Creative Council will help Facebook identify priorities for agency creatives. Members include Jeff Benjamin (JWT), Colleen DeCourcy (Socialistic), David Droga (Droga5), Rob Feakins (Publicis), Toshiya Fukuda (777), James Hilton (AKQA), Linus Karlsson (McCann), Amir Kassaei (DDB), Nick Law (R/GA), Mike Lazerow (Buddy Media), Tor Myhren (Grey), Rob Reilly (CPB), Mark Tutssel (Leo Burnett) and Mark Waites (Mother).

AmEx and Facebook team up for small business contest – American Express OPEN and Facebook launched its second annual “Big Break for Small Business” contest. Five small business owners will receive house calls from American Express OPEN and Facebook marketing specialists who help transform a business’ social media efforts. Winners will also receive $25,000 in cash to go toward the social strategies they learn. Every small business that enters the contest will get $50 in free Facebook advertising credits. American Express Cardmembers and merchants who enter will receive $100 in advertising on the site.

Users get easier opt-out from notifications - Facebook introduced a new way for users to opt out of notifications from apps, groups, or other sources that send them. People have always been able to opt out on the Notifications Settings page, but now users can opt out directly from the notifications drop down menu.

Facebook adds comment editing - Users can now edit their own comments at any point after they’ve been posted. Previously, Facebook users only had about 12 seconds to edit their comments without removing them. Now comments that have been edited include an “edit history” that anyone can view. This means users can fix typos or clarify a point, but a full record of edits is available so users can’t deny what they wrote before editing it.

Payvment adds one-click Facebook ad buying – E-commerce platform Payvment announced a new one-click Facebook ad buying service this week to give merchants a way to turn promotional Facebook posts into ads and target users based on their shopping patterns.

New Louisiana law requires sex offenders to list status on social sites – Louisiana sex offenders must now state their criminal status on Facebook and other social networking sites. The law, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., requires sex offenders to list the crime for which they were convicted, the jurisdiction of conviction, a description of their physical characteristics and residential address.

Study: 24 percent of top websites integrate Facebook - According to a study by Pingdom, 24.3 percent of the top 10,000 websites in the world include Facebook integration on their homepages, this includes Facebook login and Facebook plugins such as the Like button. A total of 49.3 percent of the top 10,000 sites include basic links to Facebook.

GE launches HealthyShare Facebook app - GE launched a new Facebook Timeline-enabled app called HealthyShare, a tool for people to share their health goals, track their progress and use friends as sources of motivation toward achieving those goals. The app, which was timed ahead of the Olympic Games, was developed in partnership with Facebook.



Facebook gives Like button functionality to third-party mobile and web app buttons

Facebook announced today that developers will be able to add a new Open Graph-enabled Like action to their apps so that users can easily share content back on Facebook.

Mobile and web app developers can now build custom buttons that function similarly to Facebook’s traditional Like button. For example, Instagram and Foursquare use hearts in their mobile apps. Now instead of those actions being seen within the app only, they can be published to Facebook without any additional steps. Further, when a user Likes their friend’s photo or story using the new Like action, the friend will receive a Facebook notification about it. This feature could help increase discovery and engagement of apps that integrate Open Graph.

Previously, mobile apps couldn’t integrate the Like button. The change also gives developers flexibility in their app design now that they don’t have to use Facebook’s standard Like button to achieve the same viral results. The only difference between the the new Like action and Facebook’s original social plugin is that users will have to authorize an app in order for custom buttons to publish to a user’s Facebook account. Developers should make it clear when users’ activity within apps will be posted to Facebook and only publish “Like” stories when users take an explicit action to Like something. Facebook notes that a user giving a movie a five-star rating does not qualify as a Like. Instead the app should use the “rated” action.

More information about implementing Open Graph Like actions is available from Facebook’s developer site here.

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