Facebook roundup: Zuckerberg, Open Graph, lawsuit, CISPA and more

zuckZuckerberg tops list of highest rated CEOs - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the No. 1 highest rated CEO, according to employee reviews on the career community site Glassdoor. Employees are asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is leading the company?” Zuckerberg has a 99 percent approval rating. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who took the top spot last year, came in at No. 18 with 93 percent approval.

Zuckerberg supports immigration reform in letter to Obama - Zuckerberg was one of more than 100 executives of major tech companies and trade associations who signed a letter to the president and Congress this week calling for immigration reform to increase the number of highly skilled workers in the U.S. Specifically, the executives are asking for the quotas and categories for high-skilled nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to be more responsive to market needs and for spouses and children to not be included in those caps.

open graph globeUsers take 1B Open Graph actions daily – Facebook announced this week at SXSW that more than 400 billion Open Graph actions have been shared back to the social network since apps began integrating them in fall 2011. Of that, more than 110 million songs, albums and radio stations have been played 40 billion times via Facebook-integrated apps and 1.47 million books have been shared. The company says 1 billion Open Graph stories are shared daily.
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Facebook adds run, walk, rate, want to read and more actions to Open Graph

open graph globeFacebook today announced new ways for lifestyle apps to tap into Open Graph with verbs:  run, walk, bike, rate, quote, want to read and want to watch.

These will be known as “built-in” or “common” actions, making them similar to how read, watch and listen can be incorporated into third-party applications. Although developers have been able to create their own custom actions with Open Graph, built-in actions help Facebook better understand the relationship between objects so that it can properly organize them in News Feed, Timeline aggregations and eventually search.

For example, if three of a user’s friends rate the same movie, Facebook can group those actions into a single News Feed story. Those stories can also include elements like star ratings or a fitness app could show stats from a user’s workout. Facebook says these features have improved the clickthrough rates for developers who have been testing them, such as Rotten Tomatoes and MapMyFitness. Other apps that have already added these actions include Nike, Runkeeper, GoodReads, Hulu and more. new-book-action (more…)

Facebook tests new ‘rated’ action for books and other content in Open Graph apps

impactFacebook is testing new built-in Open Graph actions for lifestyle apps, including a “rated” action for books, movies and other content.

The new actions, which were pointed out to us by developer Tom Waddington, can be found in Facebook’s Open Graph action schemas for books and videos. There are new actions for “rate” and “quote,” along with “wants to read” and “wants to watch.” “Review” seems to be a new built-in object type, which can apply to reviews for books, movies, TV shows and episodes or other forms of content. There also seems to be a new way for users to share the percentage of a book they’ve completed. “Quote” is likely a way to share a particular passage.

Facebook tells us it has nothing to announce at this time, but it appears book app Goodreads is already testing some of these new Open Graph features. It has implemented the “rated” action and allowed users to share their star rating. According to Facebook’s Open Graph schemas, it seems developers could also enable users to share a number rating or a link to a review page instead of stars.

rate book
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Guest Post: Get Ahead of Competitors and Implement Strategies for Graph Search

team photo shoot, summer 2012This is a guest post by Sarah Reilly, VP of Sales at Blueye, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer.

Facebook recently held a hyped-up press event announcing their new product: Graph Search. In pure Facebook fashion, they made an emotionally charged video on how this product will revolutionize the way users search the Internet. It all led me to reflect – Facebook makes strides in product development that we might not immediately understand. But if marketers look back, they’ll often say, “oh, now I understand why Facebook launched that product.”

From a consumer standpoint, Graph Search tells a pretty compelling story. A key takeaway I noticed is that customers matter and loyalty is key. Why? Because customers will be talking about brands – and their sentiments will influence their friends’ purchasing behavior.

With that in mind, we’ve developed a few ways brands can get ahead of their competitors and leverage Graph Search.
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Facebook introduces new structured status updates to help users share what they’re feeling, watching, eating and more

news feedFacebook is testing a new option in the status update box that lets users share what they’re doing in a more visual and structured way.

When users go to create a post, Facebook asks “What are you doing?” and includes a drop down menu of options, such as “feeling,” “watching,” “eating” and more, according to TechCrunch. These feelings or actions are then appended to the status update, along with an emoticon or link to the page users mention. This feature, similar to what personal social network Path offers, is a clever approach to get users to share their activity in a way that can be later used for ad targeting or indexed in Graph Search.

composer-tc

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Facebook’s frictionless sharing mistake

It has been a year since Facebook opened the gates for developers to create Open Graph applications with custom verbs and a new way for users to share their app activity through Timeline, Ticker and News Feed.

open graph

Since then, thousands of apps have integrated Open Graph and many have experienced significant growth in users and engagement. But hundreds of thousands of other apps don’t incorporate Open Graph, either because developers don’t know what is possible with it or because they doubt its value. Open Graph is core to what Facebook is trying to accomplish with News Feed, Timeline, search and ads, but it is not growing as quickly or being perceived as valuable as it could have been if Facebook hadn’t made a critical misstep: using the word “frictionless.”

At f8 in September 2011, CEO Mark Zuckerberg repeatedly referred to “frictionless experiences” as one of the key components of Open Graph apps. He also talked about the potential for “real-time serendipity” and “finding patterns,” but most people honed in on “frictionless,” and even today auto-sharing is what most people associate with Open Graph. The term has led users, developers, marketers and the media to fundamentally misunderstand what Open Graph apps are and why they should be built and used.
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Facebook allows ‘flexible sentences’ for Open Graph activity

Facebook today announced new “flexible sentences” options for apps that publish to Facebook using custom Open Graph verbs.

Developers can now better control the sentence structure for stories that users share from their apps. Not only can they edit the tenses of their custom verbs, they can add additional text to provide more information about the activity. Although it adds another layer of complexity to Open Graph, this change allows developers create more compelling stories for their apps, which could lead users to share more and lead more of their friends to discover the app. See the Songkick example below, which now has added context to make it clearer what it means to “track” and artist:

To help developers prioritize which story formats to adjust, Facebook’s sentence configuration tool will now note which stories are shared and viewed most frequently. The percentage of impressions a story format receives will be listed to the right. By clicking “Edit” next to the percentage, developers can add free-form text or property expressions. Developers can also remove objects from the sentence. Facebook pointed out an example for a hiking app, which would not want to share the story “Horatio hiked a hike on Social Hiking.” Instead, it could remove the object and change the app attribution to say “Horatio hiked using Social Hiking.”

Flexible sentences are available to developers starting today, though they only apply to custom actions. Apps that use Facebook’s built-in verbs like read, watch or listen cannot be customized this way. Developers who modify their existing actions to change their tense or sentence format will need to resubmit their actions for approval.

A basic how-to for flexible sentences is available here.

Guardian takes Facebook integration to its own site, focuses on explicit sharing

The Guardian today announced that it will remove its social reader application from Facebook.com in favor of deeper Facebook integration on its own website that will give users more control over what they share.

Some are interpreting the news as a blow to Facebook and a way for the Guardian to take back control of its content after the social network made changes that limited the reach of news apps. However, based on plans laid out by the Guardian, the media outlet seems to be continuing to invest in the Facebook platform and is working to create a better user experience, not sidestep the social network. Facebook apps do not need to run on Facebook.com. The company allows developers to integrate social features across the web, on mobile and with any Internet-connected device.

The Guardian says starting Monday it will direct Facebook users who click on its links to guardian.co.uk rather than to apps.facebook.com/theguardian. The publisher will continue to use Facebook login on its website and has plans to add features that give users more ways to give feedback on articles, which will then be shared to Facebook if they desire. This is a move toward explicit sharing rather than the “frictionless sharing” associated with social reader applications.

Facebook and its partners discovered that users were not comfortable with having articles they read automatically shared with their friends. Users were often surprised and embarrassed to see their activity appear back on Facebook. The Guardian, like other developers, is now looking at ways for users to take lightweight actions that can be shared through Facebook’s Open Graph without them feeling as though their privacy has been violated. For example, the Guardian plans to introduce polls and other questions that users can answer and share if they’re logged in with Facebook.

“The key thing is that the user will be in control and if they’re not interested in sharing it will not impact on their experience of accessing our content on guardian.co.uk,” the company wrote on its blog.

These types of integrations allow users to share their feelings, which is ultimately more meaningful than saying a person “read an article.” It also makes sense for this activity to happen on the Guardian’s website rather than within a canvas app on Facebook.com, which isn’t optimized for mobile and has other limitations when it comes to design. The media outlet can also capitalize on its existing site traffic rather than working to drive users to a property on Facebook.

As we’ve written about previously, the misperception that Facebook apps are limited to those on Facebook.com contributes to skepticism about the company’s longterm potential. But the social network continues to benefit even if the Guardian takes its integration to its own site. Facebook is still collecting data that can be used for advertising and users are generating stories that will make News Feed more engaging for their friends. Over time, Facebook can implement additional ways to monetize third-party integrations, but first it needs to get developers and companies on board to try it. The Guardian’s continued experimentation with the platform — even if it’s off-site — should be seen as an endorsement of Facebook, not a rejection of it.

[Update 12/14/12 - The Washington Post also announced today that it would move its social reader application off Facebook to a standalone website that will support Facebook login, but also allow users to browse without logging in. The timing suggests the publishers were advised by Facebook to take this approach of moving their app off-Facebook and giving users more control over their experience.]

Facebook head of brand design calls out trends to watch in 2013

Facebook Head of Brand Design Paul Adams says mobile, small networks and aggregation of data are the three trends to watch in 2013.

Adams wrote about these trends on his blog, giving insight into what he’d like his team and other companies to think about when building on the Facebook platform.

Mobile

The first area Adams addresses is mobile — something a lot of people are talking about but perhaps aren’t fully understanding.

“Stop thinking about devices,” he says and instead focus on the concept of mobile meaning “access to any information anywhere in the world.”

This shift has so many implications for people and industries, but the one Adams points to is commerce. He believes mobile will help bring value back to physical stores, combining the type of personal interaction that used to only happen in small local stores with the scale of big box retail and the convenience of e-commerce.

Adams doesn’t point to any examples, but consider the Apple Store, which is known for its innovative retail experience. The store doesn’t use traditional cash register stands. Instead, employees walk around freely, carrying iPod Touch devices and credit card scanners. This can be more efficient and personal since customers don’t have to wait in line and there isn’t a barrier between them and a salesperson. But even this is a bit more about the device than the idea of information anywhere, which Adams is talking about.

When Facebook is brought into the equation, it’s easy to see how social information can make experiences in any space more personal. Mobile apps could help consumers easily see their friends’ interests and preferences that are relevant to where they are. At the Apple Store? Here’s a breakdown of which Apple devices your friends own and who to ask if the iPhone 5 is worth the upgrade from the 4S.

Small networks

Adams notes that several start-ups are working on products and services for small groups, which he sees as a “huge growth area,” for connecting either groups of close friends or strangers with similar interests.

Facebook reinvented its groups product in 2010, after Adams, who worked at Google at the time, critiqued how the social network put users’ friends in one big bucket rather than supporting the distinct social circles that occur offline. Adams joined Facebook two months later.

This November, Facebook introduced a way for third-party apps to create and manage groups for users. The API was largely pitched as a way for game developers to help players connect around clans, alliances, guilds or other game communities, but non-game apps could ultimately find use in it as well. For instance, an app like Goodreads might want to allow users to form groups around their book clubs. Fitness apps like Endomondo might do the same for running clubs or teams training together. Fantasy sports apps would also seem to have a good use case.

Aggregation of data

Adams predicts, “We’ll see a shift away from individual tiny stories as the focus of what is being published and consumed and towards powerful aggregated experiences that tell a bigger picture.”

In the first year of Open Graph applications there have been a lot of one-off News Feed stories that tell what is happening now or what has just happened. Adams says to think beyond that and share richer stories about trends over time.

“Don’t think about what song I listened to, think about my favorite music this week, this year,” he says. “Don’t think about yesterday’s three-mile run, think about my marathon training.”

Open Graph apps include monthly and yearly summaries that developers can customize to tell these types of stories on a user’s Timeline. In addition to supporting Timeline summaries, Facebook generates aggregate News Feed stories based on trends it picks up on in Open Graph activity. A common example is “[a number] of your friends listened to [an artist] on Spotify.”

When developers create a more detailed map for their actions and objects, Facebook can return additional stories like “[a number] of your friends listened to songs from [a particular year] on Spotify.” What Adams is suggesting goes beyond an aggregation of similar activity among friends, but a way to express what many individual actions say about a person as a whole.

Read Adams’ post here.

Facebook mobile platform gains ground with 200K apps now connected

Facebook today announced that nearly 200,000 iPhone and Android apps connect with Facebook and 45 percent of the top grossing iOS apps integrate the social network’s SDK, shining light on how the company’s mobile strength goes beyond its own apps.

At our Inside Social Apps conference in New York this week, there was a lot of discussion about which platforms to build on. For many developers, it’s still a common question about whether to build for Facebook or for mobile. Although Facebook does offer a vertical platform where apps can be used within the Facebook.com canvas, what’s often not discussed is how Facebook can be integrated horizontally across any other platform.

“We hear a lot, ‘Should I build a Facebook app or an iOS app, an Android app?’” Facebook’s Director of Platform Partnerships David Fisch said Monday during a fireside chat with Inside Network Managing Editor AJ Glasser. “Facebook is complementary to all of these. Since we’ve started, we’ve talked about how it’s a social layer. It started with web and now moved to mobile. Because there are so many different devices and you want to connect people across them, by definition, Facebook has to be part of all of them.”

An iOS app can be a Facebook app. A mobile website can be a Facebook app. A console game can be a Facebook app. Your car, your shoes, your credit card or your toothbrush can be Facebook apps.

The misperception that Facebook apps are limited to those on Facebook.com contributes to skepticism about the company’s longterm potential, especially on mobile. The market hears that users and developers are turning to “mobile games” over “Facebook games” and starts to count Facebook out. The reality is that nine of the 10 top grossing iOS apps connect with Facebook. The majority of the top Open Graph applications — those using Facebook’s latest sharing features — are open web and mobile integrations. In fact, six of the top 10 apps with the most monthly active users connecting with Facebook aren’t canvas apps. They range from websites to mobile apps to desktop software.

Facebook has been talking about being a “social layer” since 2008, and yet it’s still largely regarded as a single channel for developers. What does Facebook have to do to prove its horizontal platform is worth talking about for every mobile app, website or web-connected device?
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