Facebook roundup: marriage equality, Zuckerberg, Goodreads, Nasdaq, smartphone research and more

equalityFacebook users change profile picture show support for same sex marriage – As the U.S. Supreme Court met this week to address same-sex marriage, the Human Rights Campaign encouraged users to change their profile pictures to an image of a pink equal sign on a red background in support of marriage equality. Since then, the image and hundreds of variations of it have gone viral across the social network. Facebook’s data science team found that there was a 120 percent increase in profile photo changes on Tuesday after the HRC launched its campaign compared to the previous Tuesday. More stats are available in a note here.

governmentReport: Zuckerberg gets political - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly involved in forming a political advocacy organization with other Silicon Valley executives, including Joe Green, co-founder of NationBuilder and Causes, who was Zuckerberg’s roommate at Harvard. The group is expected to work to influence issues related to immigration, education reform and the economy. Zuckerberg has reportedly pledged as much as $20 million to support the Super PAC.

goodreads1Amazon buys Goodreads – Amazon this week announced its plans to acquire Goodreads, a social reading community and book recommendation platform that integrates with Facebook’s Open Graph. The service will continue to operate under the Goodreads name and its CEO Otis Chandler. Amazon reportedly paid $150 million for Goodreads, which has 16 million members.
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Obama, Bachmann, Huckabee and others in this week’s top PTAT gainers for Politicians

Barack Obama is this week’s top gainer in the People Talking About This metric among politician pages. With 3,586,328 engagements this week and growing, the Obama campaign found itself far ahead of the Romney campaign just in time for the election.

The top 10 political pages saw PTAT growth between 15,827 and 791,987 engagements. We compile this list with our PageData tool, which tracks page growth across Facebook.

# Name People Talking About Daily Growth Weekly Growth 
1    Barack Obama 3,586,328 +1,184,540 +791,987
2    Michele Bachmann 117,474 +9,690 +83,629
3    Sırrı Süreyya ÖNDER 103,356 +7,256 +44,618
4    Mike Huckabee 142,995 +10,702 +35,224
5    Gary Johnson 125,690 0 +27,979
6    Governor Jan Brewer 152,736 0 +27,069
7    AtaTürk Yolunda Ölürüm, S… 98,014 -10,752 +22,631
8    Governor Chris Christie 27,360 +1,215 +17,108
9    Scott Walker for Governor… 23,538 +1,354 +16,765
10    John Boehner 26,090 -823 +15,827

 

Just two weeks ago, Romney actually held a much larger PTAT than the reelected president. Though Romney’s PTAT still remains over 2 million, he saw a rapid drop when it mattered most. While Romney’s campaign seemed to lose momentum, Obama’s campaign found itself gaining with high engagements for many of its posts leading up to the election. The first picture the page posted after the election was called in Obama’s favor is reportedly the most liked picture on Facebook of all time.

Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann is No. 2 on the list of top gaining pages this week. The Tea Party supporter won her reelection for Minnesota 6th Congressional District, securing a fourth term. The most popular posts on her page were actually posts where she showed her support for the presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Though earning a decent amount of likes, the comments left by users are more polarizing with many Obama supporters vocalizing their opposition.

Visit PageData to see more about the top talked about pages among politicians, public figures as well as other categories.

Obama and Romney Facebook stores and donation apps tied for users, but Obama 2012 app beats ‘Commit to Mitt’

An AppData analysis of Facebook app usage shows Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s Facebook stores and donation apps have equal reach this month, but more people are using the Obama 2012 app than “Commit to Mitt” and similar apps on Romney’s page.

Both candidates have used Facebook extensively over the course of the campaign. Romney’s camp seemed more adept at running Facebook ads, as we’ve written about previously, but Obama’s team is now showing its strength in apps. The Obama 2012 app has taken advantage of the notifications beta to remind users to vote and contact friends in swing states. The app, which is accessible from Facebook and BarackObama.com, has 1.1 million monthly active users.

A similar app for Mitt Romney called Commit to Mitt has only 30,000 MAU. However, Romney’s page also features a Stand With Mitt app with 40,000 MAU and a Stand With Mitt Photo Upload app with 2,000 MAU. There may be some overlap in users of those three apps, but even if the totals were discrete, that’s still more than 1 million fewer monthly active users than Obama’s app has.

The candidates’ store and donate apps are tied for usage. The stores have 20,000 MAU each, and the donation apps each have 10,000 MAU.

Obama’s page has a email collection form with 4,000 MAU. There is no equivalent app on Romney’s page.

Romney has four other apps on his page that Obama doesn’t have. One is a pledge of support for American small businesses with 10,000 MAU. A petition app against Obama’s economic policies has 2,000 MAU, and a petition app against Obama’s heathcare policy has 1,000 MAU. Finally, there’s an app called “What’s Your Take” that asks users about issues, which has 900 monthly active users. Again, there may be overlap in users here, but even if there wasn’t, the totals are still less than the 1.1 million Obama has with his main app.

Facebook gets out the vote, this time with mobile prompts and a real-time map

Once again, Facebook is prompting users to share that they voted, though this year the social network has introduced a mobile component and a real-time map of voters.

Most voting-age Facebook users in the U.S. were met with a module atop their News Feed highlighting friends who have voted and including a button to share “I’m voting” or “I’m a voter.” This was available on mobile and desktop.

Some users were prompted with a notification rather than a News Feed module. Users could then say they voted or search for their polling place.

Facebook also created a map that updates in real-time showing where users are voting. The map lives on the new Facebook Stories website, along with a breakdown of age and gender of who is saying they’re voting.

Facebook has been active in promoting participation in U.S. national elections since 2008, when 5.4 million people clicked an “I voted” button. More than 12 million people did the same during the 2010 midterm election. That year Facebook introduced a polling place locator as well. A recent study found that 340,000 additional people showed up at the ballot box in the U.S. in 2010 because of a voting message in their feed.

Some users might not see the prompt to share that they voted today because they are part of a control group for a new study, but they can still view the real-time map or use a separate I’m Voting application created in partnership with CNN. Users can share who they’re voting for and thoughts on various issues. The Open Graph-enabled app displays users’ answers and pledges in Ticker, Timeline and News Feed.

Additionally, Facebook has provided CNN with metrics about the discussion of each presidential and vice presidential candidate on the social network. The companies also surveyed voting-age users around the time of the national conventions, presidential debates, election day and any other significant dates. This was similar to the partnership Facebook had with Politico during the Republican primaries. Facebook also previously worked with NBC News to implement research polls leading up to the primaries.

The social network co-sponsored the GOP presidential debate before the New Hampshire Republican primary with NBC’s “Meet The Press” and partnered with R/GA to produce a political polling app, 2012 Matters: What Matters Most. Through the app, users could indicate which issues were most important to them and have their answers appear on the Nasdaq digital billboard in Times Square.

Romney, Obama and others in this week’s top PTAT gainers for political pages

Mitt Romney is this week’s top gaining political page when it comes to the People Talking About This metric. With the upcoming presidential election, Romney and the Republican Party’s campaign team has displayed their social media prowess with an agressive social marketing effort. With 728,938 in weekly PTAT growth, Romney’s numbers easily dwarf those of President Obama with only 278,789 new engagements.

The top 10 political pages saw PTAT growth between 34,293 and 728,938 engagements. We compile this list with our PageData tool, which tracks page growth across Facebook.

# Name People Talking About Daily Growth Weekly Growth 
1    Mitt Romney 3,283,749 0 +728,938
2    Barack Obama 2,884,682 -49,735 +278,789
3    I HATE JULIA GILLARD 229,819 +28,081 +229,376
4    Veterans for Obama 153,504 +122,329 +126,476
5    ดร. ธีระชน มโนมัยพิบูลย์ 306,599 +19,358 +78,008
6    Eres mas Falso que las Pr… 81,589 +10,714 +77,357
7    African Americans for Obama 131,928 0 +67,144
8    Greg Abbott 55,328 0 +53,991
9    I Hate Nawaz Shareef (The… 84,084 -1,451 +39,039
10    Latinos for Obama 76,167 +1,334 +34,293

 

In last few weeks, Romney’s campaign has looked to social media as a solid way to amass supporters. We have actually covered how they are using it to their advantage especially in comparison with the incumbent president. Much of Romney’s posts receive well over 100,000 Likes, yet page Likes have not grown nearly as rapidly. As you can tell by the graph below, the page has drawn solid engagement through the week, which are usually the result of Promoted Posts and Page Post Ads. We’ve also seen the page running Sponsored Stories and Sponsored Results.

Although President Obama is behind in PTAT for his central page, three other pages in the top 10 are related to his campaign. Something that also should be noted is that First Lady Michelle Obama actually has gained more PTAT than both presidential candidates, but is under the category Public Figures rather than politicians. It’s worth noting that all of the First Lady’s recent page posts are dedicated to her husband’s reelection campaign.

As for the president’s central page, it boasts over 31 million Likes, which makes it a much larger audience to Romney’s 10 million. The PTAT of the page has actually decreased the last few days so it will be interesting to see how they look to improve this with the election less than two weeks away.

Visit PageData to see more about the top talked about pages among politicians, public figures as well as other categories.

Facebook roundup: Blackberry update, patent suit, App Center, studies and more

New Facebook for Blackberry app available – RIM released a new version of Facebook for Blackberry this week, including improvement for event management, birthdays and navigation. The new app includes event information and RSVP functionality. Users can integrate birthdays into their phone’s calendar and receive reminders to write on friends’ walls. There are also updated icons on the navigation grid.

University of California sues Facebook and others for patent infringement - University of California patent licensee Eolas Technologies Inc and the Regents of the University of California filed lawsuits against Facebook, Wal-Mart and Disney on Wednesday over four interactive technology patents they believe the companies are infringing. Two of the patents cited in the lawsuits were declared invalid in February when they were used in a separate lawsuit against Amazon, Google Yahoo and others. Facebook claims the suit is without merit.

Facebook friends influence voter turnout, study finds – Facebook researchers and scientists at the University of California, San Diego found that people who saw messages on Facebook that their friends had voted were more likely to go to the polls than those who didn’t see a similar message. A study conducted they during the mid-term congressional election found that that 80 percent of those who voted were influenced to do so by someone they knew online.

Study suggests small websites benefit most from social sharing – Smaller news sites tend to see a greater percentage of their traffic come from sites like Facebook and Twitter, according to a study conducted by Northwestern professor Rich Gordon and Syndio Social CEO Zachary Johnson and paid for by The Chicago Community Trust. Small websites got more than half their referrals from social media, while the large sites got only about 19 percent from social.

Facebook promotes App Center above News Feed - Some Facebook users saw a large message about the new App Center above their News Feed this week. The social network launched App Center in June as a new means of game and app discovery. The App Center includes more visuals and an improved permissions authorization flow compared to the previous Apps and Games Dashboard. Facebook says 225 million users visit App Center each month, though that number is likely driven significantly by prompts and promotions like the one below.

Does Romney have a better Facebook strategy than Obama?

Republican candidate Mitt Romney is leading President Barack Obama in Facebook engagement and new Likes, in part because of a strong social ad campaign that takes advantage of the latest opportunities on Facebook.

Obama might have the most Facebook fans of any politician — approaching 28 million — but the average number of interactions per day on his page has not been much higher than on Romney’s page, which passed 5 million Likes this weekend. There are likely several factors at play here. Larger pages routinely have a lower percentage of engaged users compared to pages with fewer Likes. New fans are more likely to see page posts than people who have Liked the page for a while, so Obama might not be reaching much of his audience as Romney currently is.

But beyond these inherent disadvantages, the Democratic campaign doesn’t seem to be taking the right steps to maximize its impact on Facebook. It’s posting less frequently and seems to be running fewer social ads.

Romney’s team, on the other hand, is using all the newest Facebook marketing and advertising features. In addition to posting more than four times per day on average, they’re running Sponsored Results so that Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan show up in the results when users search for “Obama,” “Biden,” “Democrats,” “Republicans” and other political pages. This is something that only became available last week. The Republican campaign is also running page post ads and Sponsored Stories, including in the News Feed. All these ads drive users to Romney and Paul’s Facebook pages, leading to more new Likes and a higher People Talking About This count.

Obama’s campaign seems to have been only running traditional ads in the sidebar. This type of ad, which leads off-Facebook and does not have a Like button or social context, is known among social marketers as the worst performing unit on Facebook. Not only do these ads cost more and have lower average clickthrough rates than others on the social network, when users do notice and interact with them, there is no social amplification of this action. Users’ friends won’t see that they Liked the page or engaged with a post because there are no calls to action from the ad to do these things.

However, with Romney’s social ads, each paid action can result in additional exposure. For example, users might see that their friends claimed an offer or shared a photo. And each new page Like opens up more of an audience to target with Sponsored Stories, which only appear to friends of fans.

In 2008, many pointed to Obama’s use of digital and social platforms as a key factor of his success. But Facebook moves fast, and his team doesn’t seem to be as up to date as the Republicans are this time around. The campaign might be too reliant on organic activity, which as many marketers are discovering, isn’t necessarily enough to succeed on Facebook anymore. Obama’s team might also be weaker than Romney’s on Facebook because it is putting more effort toward other channels like Twitter and YouTube.

Follow the candidates’ Facebook progress using our Election Tracker and PageData tools.

Facebook roundup: shares close at $19.05, Instagram deal progresses, Oregon data center to be expanded and more

Facebook shares sink further – Facebook shares closed at $19.05 today, dropping more than 4 percent as the lock-out period ended and large investors were able to begin selling their shares. The number of shares available for trading increased 60 percent on Thursday, which led the stock to fall 6.3 percent that day. In all, Facebook’s value has been cut in half from its IPO price of $38. Over the next nine months, more shares will be freed up, which could push the price even lower.

Instagram deal could be closer to closing - Facebook is reportedly looking to push its acquisition of Instagram forward by using a California law that allows it to issue shares without approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission. The deal has been delayed because of SEC investigations that occur whenever companies make large acquisitions. The U.K.’s Office of Fair Trading approved the deal earlier this week. Until the deal goes through, the two companies must operate independently. Instagram, for example, launched a blog for businesses and added a new photo map feature this week.

Facebook looks to expand Oregon data center – Facebook filed an application with the city of Prineville, Ore., to construct a new data center near its existing facility opened there in April 2011. The proposed 62,000-square-foot building is nicknamed “Sub-Zero” and will house a new type of deep-storage device that powers off when it’s not in use. Currently a rack of Facebook servers use about 4.5 kilowatts. Facebook tells Wired that its goal is to have the new servers operate at around 1.5 kW.

Social games and App Center reach new milestones – Facebook shared that there are more than 235 million people playing games on Facebook.com each month, compared to 205 million during this time last year. The number of people playing games on Facebook has grown by 8.4 percent since the beginning of the year. In July, Facebook drove people to the App Store and Google Play more than 170 million times. More than 150 million people used the App Center in the past month. The new section of the site is driving 2.4 times more installs than the previous apps and games dashboard. Facebook also says users who install an app from the App Center are 35 percent more likely than the average user to return to the app the following day and 17 percent more likely to return within a week.

Facebook plans national convention presence - Facebook announced its plans to be involved in both the Republican and Democratic national conventions, including holding events about the social network and its marketing and app platform, giving conventioneers opportunities to share their experience and launching the “I’m Voting” app.

Facebook launches payer promotion API – Facebook released a new API this week to allow social game developers to see whether a person is eligible for a “payer promotion” and then serve them with a custom unit to highlight the offer. The payer promotion, which is subsidized by Facebook, gives certain users a discount on virtual currency. Now in addition to letting users know about these promotions through TrialPay offer walls and DealSpot, developers can create their own in-game units that may increase conversion and lead players to buy more currency.

Facebook and CNN team up for U.S. presidential election initiatives

Facebook has partnered with CNN to offer apps and insights related to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the social network announced today.

Facebook and CNN will launch an “I’m Voting” application for users to commit to vote and endorse particular candidates and issues. The Open Graph-enabled app will display users’ pledges to vote in Ticker, Timeline and News Feed, as well as in an interactive map. Facebook says the app, which will be available in English and Spanish, will serve as a “second screen” for CNN’s election coverage. CNN personalities will use the app to ask Facebook users questions throughout the election cycle and report on the results.

Facebook will also provide CNN with metrics about the discussion of each presidential and vice presidential candidate on the social network. The companies will survey voting-age users around the time of the national conventions, presidential debates, election day and any other significant dates. This is likely similar to the partnership Facebook had with Politico during the Republican primaries. Facebook also previously worked with NBC News to implement research polls leading up to the primaries.

Facebook has been active in promoting participation in U.S. national elections since 2008. On election day, Facebook has let users search for their polling place and publish an “I voted” status. In April 2011, the company held a live townhall with President Barack Obama at its Palo Alto headquarters. Most recently, the social network co-sponsored the GOP presidential debate before the New Hampshire Republican primary with NBC’s “Meet The Press” and partnered with R/GA to produce a political polling app, 2012 Matters: What Matters Most. Through the app, users could indicate which issues were most important to them and have their answers appear on the Nasdaq digital billboard in Times Square.

Readers can follow how the candidates’ Facebook fan bases are growing and how many people are talking about their pages by using our Inside Facebook Election Tracker and PageData service.

 

What non-profits can take away from Facebook’s organ donation initiative and past activism efforts

Many non-profit organizations already use Facebook pages and apps to raise awareness and money for their causes, but yesterday’s organ donation initiative is another example of the social network’s willingness to work more directly with non-profits on broad social issues and the sort of impact that can result.

To promote organ donation, Facebook added a simple “life event” feature in the Timeline publisher. Users can indicate when they became an organ donor and publish that story for their friends to see. If users have not registered as an organ donor, they can click a link from that window and be taken to the Donate Life America page if they are in the U.S. or the NHS Organ Donation Campaign page if they are in the U.K. Donate Life California reported a 5,105 percent increase in online organ donor registrations a day after Facebook built in links for users to register and publicize their organ donor status on Timeline.

With the company’s mission being “to make the world more open and connected,” organizations with related goals should consider ways they might collaborate. World peace, voting, tolerance and environmental responsibility are some of the issues the social network has actively promoted in the past. Facebook seems to be most interested in the power of many lightweight interactions. Any initiative it gets involved with will likely be very simple and require little effort on the user’s behalf. Think a few clicks to make a statement or subtly alter someone’s behavior. The company is also likely to avoid any partnerships that would be too controversial. With more than 900 million users around the world, Facebook has to maintain its global appeal.

Take, for example, Facebook 2009 partnership with Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab. As part of the lab’s Peace Dot project, the social network created a page to provide “metrics of peace,” including how many friend connections are being made between Israelis and Palestinians or how many people in Serbia believe world peace is possible. This shows how Facebook can present existing data in interesting ways to tell a story. The company is also able to poll its users, which could be useful for many non-profits.

More recently, Facebook has taken several actions to discourage bullying and promote child safety, including creating a safety advisory board with Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, Childnet International, The Family Online Safety Institute and WiredSafety. The company also worked with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center in the U.K. to institute an opt-in “panic button” for users to report inappropriate behavior. These issues are are particularly important for Facebook to present itself as a safe place for children. There was also the January 2011 partnership with the Department of Justice to issue AMBER Alerts about missing children through Facebook pages, which showed how the site could be used to broadcast important messages. Organizations might want to consider other emergency notification or relief features that it could work with Facebook to develop.

The company has also been active in promoting participation in U.S. national elections since 2008. On election day, Facebook lets users search for their polling place and publish an “I voted” status. Again, this allowed users to take action and spread a message among their friends very easily. It offered a similar status-posting feature for users in Iran in 2009. These efforts were independent of any third-party organization, but Facebook has worked with news outlets for political polling and an ad agency to highlight the issues that matter to voters this year. The company would likely be interested to partner with a non-partisan organizations to find ways to increase awareness about political issues and encourage users to get involved in elections or local government, for example.

In addition to highlighting its own sustainable practices on its Green on Facebook page, the company created a social energy app in partnership with the National Resources Defense Council so users can compare their energy use to that of friends and other Americans. This is a good example of using data from a person’s friends and the wider Facebook community to help people understand an issue. There’s a draw for users to see how they rank in terms of energy use, and then once a user’s attention has been captured, the app can give them more information and resources to take action.

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