116 posts categorized "Facebook"

Facebook Says: Get Your Site Mobile-Friendly Or Your Ads Will Suffer

Fb mobile performance

If your web site isn't "mobile-friendly" yet, and you do any advertising on Facebook, well... you better make your site mobile-friendly very soon! Facebook said on Wednesday that websites will be penalized in Facebook's advertising network if they are NOT mobile-friendly. The Wall St. Journal covered this news as did a number of other sites.

I completely understand Facebook's logic here. As they say at the beginning:

Has this ever happened to you? You tap a link on your mobile device, only to have the website take so long to load, you leave before you even see it. You’re not the only one. As many as 40 percent of website visitors abandon a site at 3 seconds of delay.

People are spending more and more time on mobile—consuming content, interacting with businesses and making purchases. However, since it’s a relatively new channel, many businesses haven’t optimized their website for mobile yet and still have very slow loading times. This can lead to negative experiences for people, and problems for businesses such as site abandonment, missed business objectives and inaccurate measurement.

I agree. I abandon visiting sites on my mobile phone all the time because the sites take a long time to load.

Of course, for me, I'm following links from posts inside of Facebook, not ads, but the principal is the same.

If you haven't optimized your site for mobile yet, there are plenty of resources available. Here are a few:

Beyond Facebook ads, of course, Google announced way back in 2014 that they would be penalizing sites in search result ranking that were NOT mobile-friendly. This news this week is just another reason to get this done!

Have you made your sites mobile-friendly? If not, why not?


An audio commentary on this topic is also available:


Trying a New Rule - No Social Media Usage Until I Have Created Something New

Being a writer not being distractedI'm trying something new as part of my day:
No social network usage until I have created something online.

No Facebook. No Twitter. No Instagram... Ello... Google+... or anything else.

Nothing on any of those each day until I have done something such as:

The issue is that I've noticed lately that I've been doing more consuming of content versus creating content.

And as I looked at why, I've noticed that I've been spending a longer time inside of social networks. Before I start my work day I'll fire up Facebook... and 30 or 40 minutes later I emerge. Or on a break I'll scan Twitter or Instagram... and... again time goes by.

Which isn't to say that Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / etc. aren't useful... they definitely are.

But I find I am letting them distract me into consumption of news, updates, etc., instead of creating my own.

So my little experiment is NOT to check any of those until after I've created some content in some form.

Now, I've given myself permission to "cheat" a little in that I might schedule several posts to go out in advance... but the point is to be publishing more than I am doing now.

We'll see how this goes...


Image credit: A few years ago Donna Papacosta posted a photo of this button on her Facebook page. I liked it so much that I printed it out and taped it up on the cross-bar of my office window so that every time I look up from my computer I see that image! The photo is of that image between the blinds that I have covering the window on sunny days.


UPDATE #1 - So on the second day I already failed... I was just getting going and had my phone open checking something else... and bam... I fired up Facebook and started surfing through my Newsfeed. Almost an unconscious action at this point! Will take some re-training to break this habit.


An audio version of this post is now available:


Instagram Embraces The Algorithm - Switches From Showing Newest First

Instagram

Some big news in the social media world this morning was that Instagram is embracing the algorithm. Instead of seeing posts from Instagram accounts you follow in "reverse chronological order" (newest updates first) you now will see them in an order determined by Instagram. As the company wrote in a blog post today (my emphasis added):

You may be surprised to learn that people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds. As Instagram has grown, it’s become harder to keep up with all the photos and videos people share. This means you often don’t see the posts you might care about the most.

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.

Note that important part:

To improve your experience, your feed will soon be ordered to show the moments we believe you will care about the most.

Your feed will "show the moments WE believe".

Instagram decides.

You have no say in the matter.

Now, of course, Instagram's parent Facebook has been doing this for years now. Twitter, too, has recently embraced the algorithm saying in February that users would start seeing "the Tweets you’re most likely to care about" at the top of your timeline..

Algorithms are not necessarily bad.

I wrote about this topic over on Ello a month ago in a post "Sometimes Algorithms Help Us" [1].

The reality is that algorithms can help us sort through the deluge of content that is exploding on all the social services. As I wrote in that Ello post referencing first blogging and then Twitter:

The deluge of content became too hard for one person to handle

Algorithms can help us sort through the deluge and try to bring to the surface the most interesting and useful items.

The big question is - who is in control of the algorithm?

Is it ME, the user?

Or is it the service/platform?

And in that case how will they potentially manipulate the algorithm toward their own ends?

The problem is that there is a great potential for abuse on the part of the service/platform. As I noted in my recent post about Facebook Reactions, Facebook manipulated users newsfeeds back in 2012 as part of an experiment about moods.

Beyond that, I know many folks, myself included, who just assume that Facebook and now Twitter (and now Instagram) will use the algorithm to manipulate our feeds to show us more advertising and sponsored posts.

They have to, really, in order to pay their investors given that advertising is really their only revenue source.

And this is the problem - the algorithm is a "black box". We, the users, have no idea what is inside of it or how it works.

The corporation is entirely in control.

They are the gatekeeper of the content we see.

Ideally we would have some degree of transparency and control. We would at least know how the algorithm is affecting what we see. But we don't for most of these services.

In their blog post today, the folks at Instagram write:

We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months.

I hope they do listen - and I hope they do help us at least understand how the algorithm will shape what we see.

Perhaps they'll take some inspiration from Facebook that still provides (at least for the moment) the option to change to see the most recent updates:

Facebook news feed

Although I thought I saw somewhere some stat that only a very few people actually use that option.

Meanwhile, all we can do is embrace the algorithm ourselves... we have no control over the Instagram platform. That is entirely in the hands of the corporation (Facebook) behind it. If we are to continue using it, we are subject to their whims and desires.

Welcome to our brave new world where the corporations are the gatekeepers of what we see.

And, in truth, the algorithm just may help us find more interesting and relevant images within the deluge of Instagram photos.

What do you think? Will embracing the algorithm help make Instagram more interesting and useful? Or do you see this as a cynical attempt to merely get more advertising visible to us?

P.S. Many more stories about this change are appearing on Techmeme.


[1] Note to self: need to pull that post out of Ello's walls and publish it here on the open web.


Do Facebook Instant Articles Support The Open Web... or Facebook's Walled Garden?

Facebook instant articles

Will Facebook's impending opening up of its "Instant Articles" on April 12 to ALL publishers of content help the "open web"? Or will it just keep more people inside of Facebook's shiny walled garden?

As Facebook's launch announcement says in part:

We built Instant Articles to solve a specific problem—slow loading times on the mobile web created a problematic experience for people reading news on their phones. This is a problem that impacts publishers of all sizes, especially those with audiences where low connectivity is an issue.

...

Facebook’s goal is to connect people to the stories, posts, videos or photos that matter most to them. Opening up Instant Articles will allow any publisher to tell great stories, that load quickly, to people all over the world. With Instant Articles, they can do this while retaining control over the experience, their ads and their data.

It sounds great on many levels and blogging pioneer Dave Winer has written passionately about "How Instant Articles helps the open web" (also published on Medium). He went on to document his Instant Articles (IA) feed and to talk about how his blog posts now automagically stream out to Facebook Instant Articles along with other services: Oh the places this post will go!

The beautiful part about Instant Articles is that it is based on good old RSS feeds ... and so with a few additions to the markup of your RSS feed you could be ready to go technically to start publishing Instant Articles. (There are a number of other steps you need to do, though.) Even better, and a point Dave definitely makes, Facebook Instant Articles will update when you make changes to your original text - something that doesn't happen with services (such as Medium) where you can syndicate your articles after you write them... but they don't update.

As Dave notes in "How IA happened from my point of view" by quoting me (in my comment left on Medium), I think this a great step in allowing publishers to easily get their content into Facebook's Instant Articles. My quote said:

"I have expected that Facebook would be focused on keeping everyone inside their shiny walled garden and thought I understood that Instant Articles involved putting your content on FB’s servers… which I now understand it *does*, but via caching of an RSS feed. Which is VERY cool!"

In my previous quick reading about Instant Articles, I had understood that it involved publishers loading their content onto Facebook's servers - and so I thought that we who publish would be forced to load our content onto FB's servers separate from our own websites.

In other words, I thought we would need to publish twice.

This, to me, would NOT support the "open web" that exists outside the big walled gardens of content that we are seeing now evolving.

I thank Dave for helping me understand that Facebook very nicely chose to base IA on the consumption of RSS feeds. This allows us as publishers to create our content once and syndicate it out to Facebook Instant Articles.

This is good and very much in line with the IndieWeb thinking around "POSSE - Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere" that I very much believe in. I applaud Facebook for making it so easy for content publishers to make our content available as Instant Articles.

BUT...

Is the existence of Instant Articles good for the open web?

Right now, when I post a link in Facebook to an article on one of my sites:

when people follow that link they view the article on MY site.

On MY web server, running somewhere out on the distributed, de-centralized and "open" web.

(Which, yes, is increasingly getting centralized in terms of content hosting providers, but let's leave that for a separate article. The point is that I currently do have multiple choices for where I host that content.)

People can interact with my site, see my content there, potentially leave comments there on the site, etc.

My site, and the content on that site, is not dependent on Facebook.

The key point about viewing Instant Articles is:

Reading "Instant Articles" keeps you ENTIRELY within Facebook's walled garden.

You read the Instant Articles inside of your Facbook mobile app. You comment and interact with the article inside of Facebook's app.

All the interaction happens within Facebook's mobile app.

Yes, as a publisher I can get analytics about my content, including via other services such as Google Analytics.

And yes, all the Instant Articles content is pulled in from my website out on the "open web". But while that content is pulled in using "open protocols",

the content is cached (stored) on Facebook's servers and made available through Facebook's own networks.

Over time publishers might start to ask:

Why not simply publish everything DIRECTLY inside of Facebook?

With Instant Articles, Facebook is already serving out my content from their servers... why don't I simplify my workflow even more by just publishing all my content natively inside of Facebook?

And if I were Facebook that would be what I would ultimately want. Even more content exclusively inside MY walled garden that would keep people staying inside those shiny walls.

Yes, User Experience Matters

Having said all of this, I do understand WHY Facebook is doing this beyond the obvious desire to keep people in their walled garden:

The mobile user experience of reading/viewing content has a HUGE need for improvement!

Even with the push by Google and many others to make the web "mobile-friendly" there is still a huge amount of room for improvement.

We need to speed up the "mobile web" and to improve the user experience.

Facebook is trying to do this with Instant Articles. Google is trying to do this with "Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)", which I'll be soon writing an article about. Apple would like to do this with Apple News.

All of those efforts, though, do speed up the mobile web ... but only for users of specific apps / browsers / etc.. Each of the efforts creates a better mobile user experience, but within their own walled gardens.

And I do understand that from Facebook's point of view the mobile user experience isn't as seamless as it could be when people are in the Facebook app and then follow a link out to a completely different look-and-feel and a completely different user experience.

It can be jarring. And it may not work all that well.

Instant Articles will bring a significantly better user experience to users of the Facebook mobile apps.

As a user of those Facebook apps, I can see that being a good thing. Admittedly I sometimes do not follow links I see in my NewsFeed because I know from experience that the site linked to loads slowly and I don't have time at that moment to wait to view that article. I want to see it NOW.

But is the price of a better user experience worth the continued centralization of content within large walled gardens?

And will anyone really care... as long as they can read their article as fast as possible?

Will I Publish Through Facebook Instant Articles?

Of course!

I'm not stupid! The reality is that right now a huge amount of the audience I want to reach is within Facebook's shiny walled garden - and uses Facebook's NewsFeed as a primary way of getting much of their content. I am there myself and do get a large number of links that I visit on a daily basis through what I see in my Facebook NewsFeed.

Like Dave Winer already does, I'm working to see what I can do to make at least a few of my sites accessible via Instant Articles by the April 12 launch. (For instance, I see WordPress plugins for IA already emerging and FB themselves provides some guidance for content management systems.)

I'll do it because my end goal is to get my content seen by the people who I want to reach.

And right now, Facebook is the way that so many people consume content.

I have to go where the conversation is happening.

Do I worry, though, about the long-term effects this may have on the "open web"?

Absolutely.

And I think you should, too.

We Need An Open Internet

We need an "open web" ... and a far larger "open Internet" ... where we don't have to ask permission to communicate, connect, collaborate and create (what many of us call "permissionless innovation").

The centralization of content, both in terms of publishing of content and consumption of content, is a very worrisome trend.

Huge, centralized walled gardens such as Facebook today can make Instant Articles "open to everyone" ... but tomorrow they could start to play much more of the "gatekeeper" role, determining:

  • precisely "who" gets to publish content to the Facebook audience (which they are already doing in a way through the process of applying for Instant Article access);
  • whether that content gets to be seen by all Facebook users (which they are already doing with the NewsFeed algorithm and could do even more now that Facebook Reactions are out);
  • whether that content gets to be seen for free - or for a price (which they are already doing with the NewsFeed algorithm for displaying Pages content and letting you "boost" content).

Yes, I'll publish through Facebook Instant Articles (assuming my feeds get approved) because it will help Facebook users more easily view my content.

And I'm glad that Facebook chose to use RSS as the base to allow us to easily publish our content as Instant Articles without having to create a separate mechanism for publishing to Facebook.

I just worry that in then end this will only help keep more people inside of Facebook's shiny and pretty walled garden ... versus interacting with the many other sites and services that make up the larger open Internet.

What do you think?

Will you start publishing your content as Facebook Instant Articles? Do you think that we as content providers have much of a choice if we want to reach people on Facebook? What do you think this will do long-term?


An audio podcast about Facebook Instant Articles is also available:


UPDATE #1 - In a bit of synchronicity, Dave Winer published a new post - Who should support IA and how - at about the same time as I posted mine. He suggests that IA should be used as essentially the improved plumbing to make the mobile user experience better across different platforms and walled gardens. I don't disagree.. but I wonder how many of the other walled gardens (ex. Twitter, Medium) would actually support Facebook's protocol. (Sounds like a topic for another blog post...)


Questions I Have About Facebook Reactions

Facebookreactions

After using Facebook Reactions for two days now (after writing about it on Wednesday), I find myself overall pleased with the ability to do more than just "Like" a post. Sure, I would like more "reactions" (most notably the ability to leave a "WTF" reaction to most current political posts!) but I also understand the need of the designers to limit the choices. (This Wired article had some good insight into the design challenges.)

But now I find myself wondering:


1. Will this change DECREASE the number of text comments?

Previously because the only option was to "like" a post, if there was one that was sad (ex. death of a loved one or pet) I would often write something. Now there is the option to choose "Sad". Ditto for the other reactions.

2. Will this change INCREASE the number of interactions?

On the other hand, now you do have options when you don't want to "like" a post but just don't know what to say in words. Previously you might have NOT engaged with the post at all. Now you could choose a reaction as a way of interacting. As a friend wrote on Facebook:

now people who weren't going to take the time to write out a text comment anyway will be able to at least express something because they now have a choice other than just like or nothing.

3. Will Facebook share the Reactions data with Page administrators?

For Facebook Pages, when we go into the "Insights" area, will we be able to see the different "reactions" to a post? I suspect the answer is "yes", but on any of the Pages for which I am an administrator I haven't yet seen people using Reactions. (I imagine I'll be able to answer this myself in a little while as people use the reactions more.)

4. How well will the use of these reactions enable Facebook to target advertising?

Let's be clear, rolling out these reactions helps Facebook in a massive way with being able to better target you for advertising. If you previously "liked" a post about, oh, kale ... but in truth were only doing it because you liked that the person shared the post, Facebook might have interpreted that as support and showed you ads about kale.

Now you can choose "Angry" as a reaction to any article about kale, which Facebook could then use to NOT show you positive ads about kale, but perhaps instead ads for the "kale-haters" club or something like that.

(I should note that I can't recall ever actually clicking on an ad in Facebook, but maybe some day I will.)

5. Will Facebook use the Reactions information to tweak what is displayed in our NewsFeed?

For instance, if I use an Angry reaction for every political article about Donald Trump, will Facebook change my NewsFeed to show me fewer Trump articles? (But what if I like being angry?)

There seems like there could be a great possibility for manipulation of the NewsFeed and thus of people's emotions. (As Facebook did as a test back in 2012.)

6. Will Facebook provide information to the public about the use of Reactions?

Will Facebook ever provide some aggregate data about how people are using Reactions? For instance the number of posts with each reaction... or the percentages of usage of the different reactions?

Facebook obviously has the capacity to gather all this data on a truly massive scale. It would be great if at some point they could provide some views into what kind of usage they are seeing.


Obviously question #3 I may soon be able to answer myself, but the others are ones that I'll continue to wonder about.

What about you? What do you think about Facebook Reactions? What questions do you have?


An audio commentary on this topic is available:


Get Ready For A Whole New Facebook Experience As Reactions Launches Today

Oh, my! Get ready for a major change in your Facebook NewsFeed TODAY as Facebook makes "Reactions" available globally. Now when you are in a desktop web browser and you hover your cursor over the "Like" link, you get a pop-up menu where you can choose a reaction other than to simply "like" a post:

Facebook reactions

Alerted to this by a post from the ever-watchful Christopher Penn on Facebook, I confirmed that Reactions also works in Facebook mobile apps. On the iOS app if you just quickly tap the "Like" button you will "like" that post as you always have done. But if you hold down your tap just a moment longer, you will get a pop-up menu:

FB reactions mobile

After you have chosen one of these reactions, it will then appear at the bottom of the post in both an emoji form and in a text word visible to you:

FB reactions after

As with a standard "Like" you can just tap the word to remove the reaction. If you do the longer tap you can change your reaction.

Now, on my iPhone, I had to kill off the Facebook app and re-launch it in order for the reactions to appear but once I did that it worked fine.

The six "reactions" are:

  • Like
  • Love
  • Haha
  • Wow
  • Sad
  • Angry

I expect we'll initially see a lot of playing around with these reactions as people experiment with the reactions, but longer term I do see a value in this increased range of reactions. For instance, there are certainly news posts being passed around right now that I want to indicate that I'm glad someone shared... but I certainly don't "like" the content of the news post.

Similarly when a tragic event happens in someone's life and I may not have the words to say in a comment, it hasn't felt right to "like" their post - this now gives an option of "Sad". Having said that... I can think of some posts that I "dislike" but that are not "sad" and don't rise to the level of me being "angry". My option there may be to continue to simply do nothing.

Regardless, it will be interesting to see what this does to our NewsFeeds over the next few days and over the weeks ahead.

What do you think? Do you like having the new "reactions"? Will you use them? Or do you think they are unnecessary? Will you just stick with the plain old "Like"?

And what "reaction" will you give this blog post when you see it on Facebook? ;-)


UPDATE #1 - After a few hours of using Reactions, a couple of additional points.

1. Only for posts, not comments - the Reactions buttons appear only for the "Like" link for a post / status update / photo / etc. If you want to react to a comment you are still limited to "Like".

2. Notifications mention reactions - when you see pop-up notifications or look in your list of notifications, the new Reactions are displayed separately from the traditional Likes.

FB reactions notifications

One thing to keep in mind, too, is that beyond helping you express yourself more, the Reactions also help Facebook in more accurately tracking what you think about NewsFeed items and therefore allowing them to more carefully target advertising to you.


UPDATE #2 - A very large number of articles about Reactions up on Techmeme.

This article in Wired provides a good view into the design of the Reactions and the testing that wound up with the 6 reactions launched today.


Facebook Live Video Streams Limited to 30 Minutes For Regular Users

After experimenting with Facebook Live video last week, I encountered an interesting limit:
Regular users are LIMITED TO 30 MINUTES per live video stream.

When doing a Facebook Live stream this morning, I suddenly found I started getting warning messages at the 25-minute mark. I captured a few of them:

Facebook live time countdown

Naturally I had to let it run down to be out of time... at which point my iPad screen got all blurry:

Facebooklive blurred screen

and stayed that way for a minute or so when it seems the app or Facebook Live service must have been post-processing the video, because the next thing I saw was a screen telling me that my video was posted to my timeline:

Facebooklive video finished

And that was that.

Now... in Facebook's Best Practices for Facebook Live, they say (my emphasis added):

7. Broadcast for longer periods of time to reach more fans The longer you broadcast, the more likely fans are to discover and share your video with their friends on Facebook. We recommend that you go live for at least 5 minutes and we've seen some public figures broadcast for over an hour.

Presumably this longer time is for "verified" accounts and Pages.

Searching in Facebook Help, I found this page where down under "How do I share a live video to my Timeline on Facebook?" has this (my emphasis added):

During your broadcast, you'll see the number of live viewers, the names of friends who are watching and a real-time stream of comments. Your broadcast can be no longer than 30 minutes. When you end your broadcast, it'll be saved on your Timeline like any other video.

Now, in all honesty, I don't know that the type of videos I could see personally streaming live with Facebook Live would be longer than 30 minutes. In our days of "snackable video", i.e. it's kind of like a quick snack of food, you're generally looking for really short videos of a couple of minutes.

I could see this for quick "person-on-the-street" interviews... quick updates during events, etc. For all of that, the 30-minute limit is fine.

BUT...

... for companies or organizations (or public figures) who might want to live stream a presentation, workshop, talk, etc.... those events might go much longer.

I would assume the path to longer video would be to get your page or account "verified" (and I may have to try this now :-) ).


First Look: Facebook Launches Live Video For All To Take On Twitter's Periscope

Hey Twitter... your Periscope is in for some serious trouble! On January 28, 2016, Facebook started expanding their "Live Video" to all iOS users in the USA - and it's definitely a strong offering! Naturally, I had to take Facebook Live Video out for a spin:

Experimenting with Facebook Live Video...

Posted by Dan York on Thursday, January 28, 2016

It was extremely easy to use. All I had to do was go into the iOS Facebook app, press the button to start writing a status update, and then tap on the new "Facebook Live Video" icon:

Facebook live video start

After that you get a screen where you can see somewhat of a view of what you are going to show in the camera - and the ability to switch between the front and back cameras:

Facebook live video go live

Hit the "Continue" button, enter in a quick text description... and then hit "Go Live" to begin. That's it!

During the time of the live video, you can move the camera around, switch between front and back cameras, zoom in, adjust white balance... and everything else you'd expect to be able to do.

You also get comments coming in from people that you see on the bottom half of your screen. As you saw if you watched the video above, I could then respond to those comments during the live video stream.

When it's all done and you hit the stop recording button, you then get some stats and nicely have the option to save the video to your camera roll:

Facebook live video done

All in all it was a very simple and easy to use experience.

UPDATE - 1 Feb 2016: It seems that Facebook Live video streams ARE LIMITED TO 30 MINUTES for regular users. I just hit that limit while doing a live stream. Given that the Facebook Best Practices document mentions public figures streaming for over an hour, I'm guessing that "verified" accounts and Pages must have a higher time limit. (I wrote another blog post with screen shots.)

Initial Thoughts About Using Facebook Live Video

Here were some of my initial thoughts about using Facebook Live Video:

1. VIDEOS ARE SQUARE - Facebook nicely gets away from the portrait/vertical vs landscape/horizontal debate by simply making the live video stream square. It doesn't matter which way you hold the camera... or indeed if you switch the position of the camera. It just works.

2. COMMENTS DURING THE LIVE STREAM APPEAR AS COMMENTS TO THE VIDEO IN FACEBOOK - The comments people post during your live stream are nicely captured as comments to the video inside of Facebook. They are all right there for you to see - and for anyone else to see later. I like this!

3. COMMENTS DO NOT APPEAR DURING A REPLAY - My friend Tobias pointed out a down side with the comments... you don't see them in the video (as you do in Periscope) during the replay of the video. This means that comments that are made at a precise moment in the video no longer have the connection with the video. If someone is reacting to what you say by commenting "I totally agree", then I see it during the live stream and can react to that comment during the live stream. However, afterward there is now a comment to the video that says "I totally agree" ... that has lost all connection to its context.

4. LIVE VIDEOS APPEAR RIGHT IN YOUR FEED - When a live video stream is over, the video appears right in your regular Facebook feed... you don't have to do anything special, nor does anyone have to do anything special to find them. (In contrast to, say, YouTube where a live stream does go to your YouTube channel... but it's listed separately from your regular Uploads.)

5. YOU CAN SAVE THE VIDEO TO YOUR iPHONE CAMERA ROLL - When the live stream is over, you also have the option to save the video to your iPhone/iPad camera roll, so you can have a local copy that you can use in other ways.

6. FACEBOOK NOTIFIES PEOPLE YOU ARE LIVE - Similar to Periscope and Meerkat on Facebook, the people following you on Facebook get a notification in their NewsFeed that you are live. However, fans/followers can also subscribe separately to your live videos and get specific notifications whenever you go live.

Facebook live notifications

7. YOU CAN EMBED THE VIDEOS OUTSIDE OF FACEBOOK - If you use a web content management system (CMS) that supports OEmbed, such as WordPress, you can simply copy the URL of your Facebook video and paste it into your editor window... and WordPress will automagically embed the video for you. If you use a system that doesn't support OEmbed (such as TypePad, where this blog is still hosted), you can still get the embed code - you just have to work harder. When you display the video in Facebook in a web browser in the "theater" (lightbox) mode, you go to "Options" at the bottom of the window and choose "Embed Video". In some of the other views of the video there is an "Embed Video" link down below the video on the right side. Either way you wind up with the embed code you can post into your web site editor. One note: the live video needs to have a privacy setting of "Public" in order for the Embed Video link to appear.

8. YOU NEED TO REALIZE THE iPHONE HAS TWO MICROPHONES - If you listen to my first live video above, you can notice the drop in the audio level when I switch from the front-facing camera to the rear-facing camera. I honestly didn't realize the iPhone 5s had two different microphones. It makes total sense, but I just didn't realize it. The result was the difference in audio levels, something I'm now aware of and can compensate for.

9. LIVE VIDEOS ARE TREATED JUST LIKE ANY OTHER POSTS FOR PRIVACY SETTINGS - Just to build off of #4 above, a live video is just another post, so you can do things such as change the privacy from "Friends" to "Public" or vice versa.

10. LIVE VIDEOS ARE AVAILABLE TO FACEBOOK PAGES - If you have a Facebook Page, you can also stream live video. You have to have a "verified" Pages, but if you do, you can use Facebook Live.

After my initial test, I tried it out a bit more with zooming, adjusting white balance, etc., and was again quite impressed.

Are Periscope and Meerkat in Trouble?

In a word... YES.

First Meerkat and then Periscope made it drop-dead easy to stream live video and alert all your followers... but they're based on Twitter. As I noted recently, Facebook has an insanely huge number of users ... and so this brings that live video capability directly inside Facebook's shiny walled garden.

Keep in mind, of course, that this IS the end goal for Facebook - to keep you nice and happy sharing live video inside their pretty walled garden.

Just as Twitter wants you to use Periscope to stay inside their walls... and Google would like you to stream live video with YouTube to stay inside Google's walls. (As would Livestream.com and other sites offering live streaming.)

The game is to keep the eyeballs for the ads... and to keep growing the massive directories of ACTIVE users.

Regardless of motivation, Facebook Live Video is a strong new contender in the live streaming space. Right now it's only available on iOS in the United States but their announcement says it will be offered in more countries soon adn will coming to Android phones soon, too.

Note, too, that Facebook provides some tips/best practices for using Facebook Live that give some further insight into the product's capabilities.

I don't know that I'll be using Facebook Live Video all that often during my regular work weeks, but when I'm at events, conferences, etc., I could see this being a great way to add live streaming into the flow of content that I'm creating.

What do you think? Will you use Facebook Live? Or will you stick with Periscope, Meerkat, YouTube or some other streaming service?


P.S. Here is another example shot with the rear-facing camera on the iPhone 5s and experimenting with zooming and white balance:

Listening to the Apple Hill String Quartet at Brewbakers In Keene, NH

Posted by Dan York on Thursday, January 28, 2016

Facebook's Staggering 2015 Q4 Results - Amazing (and Concerning) Numbers!

Facebook quarterly results 2015Q4This week Facebook released amazing quarterly results for Q4 of 2015 that truly show what a HUGE hub of activity Facebook has become. Mark Zuckerberg posted this "Comunity Update" photo with these staggering numbers for monthly active users (MAU):
  • 1.59 Billion monthly Facebook users
  • 900 Million monthly WhatsApp users
  • 800 Million monthly Facebook Messenger users
  • 400 Million monthly Instagram users

Wow.

Consider that there are 7 billion people on the entire planet... 7.3 billion if we go with US gov't data... that's about 1/5th OF THE WORLD (21%) USING FACEBOOK each month!

And nearly 1 billion people using WhatsApp.

Amazing numbers!

Admittedly, I'm more than a bit concerned about all of this communication being centralized within one corporation. This gives a HUGE amount of power to one corporate entity to be the gatekeeper of content and communication. Already with the NewsFeed algorithms Facebook is controlling what we see and share. As these numbers grow, they continue to gain more and more control.

As I wrote about last year, Facebook's control of multiple "user directories" severely limits the ability for new entrants to enter the messaging and communication scene.

It's definitely concerning... but it's also amazing.

Congrats to all the people at Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram for hitting these incredible numbers! It will be curious to see what next quarter brings!

P.S. Those who want deeper details can dive into Facebook's 2015 Q4 Earning Report. LOTS more data...


FriendFeed Finally Fades... Farewell!

FriendfeedFarewell, FriendFeed! Goodbye! Ever since Facebook acquired Friendfeed back in 2009 we wondered what its fate would be... now we know. This past Monday, March 9. 2015, the FriendFeed team posted a simple note that said in part:
We wanted to let you know that FriendFeed will be shutting down soon. We've been maintaining the service since we joined Facebook five years ago, but the number of people using FriendFeed has been steadily declining and the community is now just a fraction of what it once was. Given this, we've decided that it's time to start winding things down.

Beginning today, we will no longer accept new signups. You will be able to view your posts, messages, and photos until April 9th. On April 9th, we'll be shutting down FriendFeed and it will no longer be available.

I saw some reminiscing on Hacker News and within FriendFeed itself... but I think we all knew this day was coming.

Before today I hadn't logged into the site for quite a long time. I only have recent content posted there due to the fact that TypePad is still set to post articles (such as this one) over to FriendFeed. But for most of us the conversations left the site... off to other venues and places. (But I've seen that there are still some very strong communities that have been thriving within FriendFeed to this day.)

FriendFeed was remarkable to me at the time for it's ability to aggregate feeds of all sorts of different services into one place. For quite some time http://friendfeed.com/danyork was the link I gave people to find "all of my writing in one place". Sometime after the Facebook acquisition I realized it may not be around and so I wound up building my own aggregation site - http://danyork.me/ - but it was FriendFeed that first brought that idea to me.

It was also a great place for group discussions. For quite some time it was the home of the For Immediate Release (FIR) podcast listener community and we would all discuss episodes and other topics there. That's all moved to the FIR Community on Google+ ... which hopefully will last a bit longer! :-)

The Wikipedia entry on FriendFeed has some good background. It was a great service back in its prime!

Farewell, FriendFeed!

P.S. If you'd like to export your data out of FriendFeed, there is a script available from Claudio Cicali on Github that may help.


An audio commentary is available: