For this week’s Fun for Friday (including even more alliteration in the title than usual!), we are going to take a look at how Facebook (with the assistance of a Pixar artist and a certain Mr Charles Darwin) are planning to change the face of Facebook… quite literally!
For those of you new to the concept of emoticons (which by now is surely not many), they are small pictures used in text based messaging services intended to convey non-verbal communication (e.g. emotions or actions) through text based forms of communication.
Facebook have been experimenting with emoticons for quite a while now, allowing them to be tagged onto status updates and recently also introducing larger-than-life emoticons in the form of “stickers” in the new much talked about “Facebook Home” interface for Android/iOS.
But this time around, Facebook are really trying something new – and enlisting the help of some of the best professionals in the area.
Pixar artist Matt Jones has been lending a hand to Facebook in the development of these new icons.
About the project, Jones (a story illustrator at Pixar and former storyboard artist at the Wallace and Gromit Studios) said:
“Facebook was canny enough to realize that traditional emoticons are quite bland. At Pixar, we consider emotional states every day with every drawing we make. Our work is informed by the years of study we do, constantly studying people’s gestures and expressions in real life.”
Jones also mentioned that they had been experimenting with variation in colour, which seems interesting as the default yellow which seems to be the “norm” for these emoticons has always stuck me as a little odd. However, he mentioned that the typical Facebook blue colour looked a bit strange, so we will have to wait to find out what the final colour scheme Jones comes up with looks like.
The commission of an artist from a company such as Pixar seems a very logical decision – after all, Pixar are renowned for introducing emotion and personality to usually inanimate objects, so who better to inject a sense of real feeling into these sub-100 pixel images – but Facebook’s other ally in their path to emoticon perfection is a little more distant.
Jones’s inspiration stemmed from Darwin’s 1872 book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which documented the emotional expressions displayed by humans and the similarities they share with those of other animals. Whilst this may seem like a fairly simple task by modern standards, it is important to consider that this work had a significant impact on our understanding of human emotion, and paved the way for psychologists in understanding and communicating with sufferers of autism in the 1970’s.
It’s interesting to see the work of a great scientist of the past come together with the talent of a brilliant modern day animation artist to produce something that will become fairly integral in all of our daily social media lives. So far, Facebook has confirmed 16 icons from the collection by Jones, but with over 50 left in the set, we are likely to be seeing even more of him very soon! 🙂
Facebook’s new Graph Search tool could threaten Google’s search domination
This week, the hottest internet news seems to be the new addition to Facebook: Graph Search. Graph search is a new search tool that allows users to search for information based on how their friends (and other users) display information or have interacted with pages. For example, it will allow a user to search for “restaurants in Birmingham that my friends have liked”, or “people in my home town who enjoy fishing”.
Aside from the privacy implications (Graph Search is reported to be fairly invasive when it comes to personal data, and leaves no option to remove yourself from the service), the new addition to the social network could resurrect the Facebook “like” as a marketing metric, as businesses finally see a return on investment for the huge “likebase” they have collected.
This new search tool has the potential to revolutionise the way we trawl for information on the internet, and by extension of this, the way we market and promote online. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has emphasized that (at the moment at least) there is no intention to make money from Graph Search – but it should be noted that it is still in beta.
Graph Search invites comparison between Facebook and one of the other internet big boys – our good friend Google. After treading on the toes of Facebook with the inception of Google+, Google now risk a very bitter taste of their own medicine, as Facebook encroaches on their primary specialism: searching the internet. Whilst at this stage, Graph Search is only capable of searching Facebook’s own content, partnership with another big rival to Google, Bing, could stand to change all of this. We are already seeing ever-increasing proportions of time online being spent on Facebook, and if the possibility of searching the whole internet via Graph Search becomes a reality, then it could really hurt Google’s traffic, as more Facebook users discover they don’t ever need to leave the site.
Facebook and Bing seem to be operating on a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” policy, too – with Bing’s search results now being bolstered by recent Facebook updates (provided you link your account to Bing, of course). From Bing’s recent blog post:
“Starting today, five times more of your friends’ content on Facebook is searchable in the sidebar – including status updates, shared links, comments and photos from your friends. With the addition of status updates, shared links and comments to the sidebar, it’s now easier to see who knows and what they’ve shared related to your search. So when your friends aren’t around, Bing is the perfect stand-in.”
So, as far as inbound marketing is concerned, how should we approach Graph Search? I think currently the best course of action is simply to watch and wait. The idea is still in infancy, and regardless of statements issued by Facebook, once the platform is more established, paid advertising and other promotion strategies will begin to emerge.
Whilst Facebook Graph Search is not available to the public yet, you can read more about it, check out a video explaining how it works, and sign up for beta testing here.
Now that Facebook timeline is in full swing after becoming a default setting, some budding designers have started using the new layout to promote their brand in the most creative ways possible. A new trend has emerged for designing customised timeline images that really stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of the person stopping by at your profile.
Timeline has a lot of potential when it comes to promoting your brand, as you can use the large banner at the top to place a large image of a product – or customise a graphic with your contact details or company information.
Take for instance Jessica Barnard’s profile below. She has customised her personal profile to promote her brand and uses the banner to showcase her style of work. Very quickly, we learn that Jessica is a ‘web designer & self-professed technology addict’ with a sense of humour, who leans towards a vintage or retro style. She’s even had time to promote her Twitter and Pinterest pages.
A banner like Jessica’s can be put together fairly simply using Photoshop or Illustrator. All you need is a little imagination and a clear idea of what your brand is about. Or you can let eSterling do the hard work for you and talk to us about a customised Facebook timeline graphic.
Here’s a run down of some of my other favourite Facebook timeline graphics:
1. Robert Falken:
2. Neils Langeveld
3. Tiffany and Co.
This year we’re bringing you a little light relief on the eSterling blog with Fun for Friday. There are so many weird things on the internet; we thought we might as well share them with you all.
Today’s Fun for Friday is good clean fun – the Facebook shower curtain. If you’re someone who checks Twitter on the toilet, this social media bathroom accessory is just the thing you’ve been looking for. All you need to do is put your face in the transparent ‘profile picture’ window and set your status to ‘I’m in the shower. LOL’.
The social shower curtain is available to pre-order from website www.spinninghat.com.
We’re all familiar with the term ‘e-commerce’ when it comes to selling products online. Now f-commerce (the ‘f’ stands for Facebook) is becoming more and more popular with brands and consumers alike.
If you’re an online retailer, it is essential that you understand the impact that social media is having on e-commerce. Unique selling opportunities now exist on Facebook and other social media platforms. These networking sites allow you to engage with your customer base – and in the ideal scenario have them promote your products to their network of friends.
At the simplest level, this can be done by the addition of Facebook’s ‘Like’ button to your website, which acts as a simple content sharing device. When someone clicks on the ‘Like’ button on your site, this information is posted to that person’s Facebook wall and this will be viewable by their friends. As the average Facebook user has over 100 friends, this simple action could have a snowball effect as more and more users ‘Like’ your brand.
This communication is not just one-way. A page on your website can pull information from Facebook to show the names and profile pictures of people who have ‘Liked’ your product. This way you can find out more about the customers that are interested in you.
The opportunity now exists to take further steps forward to integrate e-commerce with your Facebook page. This means not just engaging your customer through your social presence, but also inviting them to buy products (in part or in whole) over the Facebook platform.
To achieve this, the look of your Facebook page can be tailored to look less like the profile page familiar to most users and more like a standard web page. This also allows you to integrate e-commerce elements, either by pulling product information onto your page using an API, displaying your shop through an ‘Iframe’ or even creating an App to perform the whole process through Facebook.
A number of online retailers have already rushed to take advantage of this new opportunity. Brands like Max Factor, Heinz, Thorntons and JD Sports have all made the transition from promoting their brand to selling goods through their Facebook pages.
The time internet users spent on Facebook in 2010 surpassed the time people used both Google and Yahoo. It is therefore essential to use social media platforms to find a bigger audience for your goods. Large brands such as Coca-Cola get more than 10% of their traffic from their Facebook page and this figure is only growing.
The Facebook platform is currently completely free and businesses can take advantage of this to set up a page with no hosting charges, fees or percentages paid. Call eSterling today to find out the ideal social media and e-commerce strategies we can offer you so that you can make the most out of f-commerce.
This week Facebook launched its latest updates which has drastically changed the layout of the news feed.
So far the update has received very mixed reviews. It seems that lots of people are finding their new feeds overloaded and complicated, while others like the news ‘ticker’ as it offers a real-time experience even when you’re not on the home page.
Whatever your views on the update, most people doubt it is coincidence that this latest Facebook update has come in the same week that Google+ opened its doors to the public. Some might even suggest that the Facebook bosses aren’t concerned with whether you like the update or not, as long as your status is about Facebook (and not inviting people to join you on Google+).
While there is no doubt that Facebook is still the number one social network in the world, Facebook must be starting to worry about their status as top dog. Now that Google has joined the social networking revolutions Facebook is facing competition from the biggest name on the internet. Google is a massive brand and the billions of people that use Google on a regular basis for other purposes will surely be tempted to try Google +.
As Richard’s post last week explained, the use of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ should be a major part of any company’s online strategy. Ask us how to upgrade your website so that it is social media friendly.
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook founder): “If I had to guess, social commerce is the next area to really blow up”
The race is now on to monetise the network of relationships between people by tapping into the influence they wield over their friends’ purchasing decisions. Companies are looking to build social interaction into e-commerce; from group-buying sites through to product-recommendation services.
Transaction is now becoming more entwined with word of mouth communication. Social networks are turning products into conversations. Retail was in the last decade transformed by e-commerce. In this decade social media will transform e-commerce.
People thinking of ways to spend their money are often looking at what their friends – people they trust – have bought. The idea is that pressing the checkout button isn’t the end of purchasing online – there is another stage where you share what you’ve purchased with friends. Which, in this day and age, means sharing on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
But what exactly is Social Commerce? It is e-commerce that involves social media, supporting customer input and interaction to assist in the online buying and selling of services and products. This includes adding features to your website such as ratings and reviews, social media integration and marketing through Facebook and Twitter, forums and communities, sharing and referral buttons, support for social shopping features and mobile based applications that link into your site.
Involving customers means increased engagement. Sites that have added social shopping features have reported sales increases of up to 50%.
Research has shown that just by adding customer driven ratings and reviews, traffic volume and order value can be boosted up to 25%. On-site customer reviews need to be distinct from external review sites, which have not shown as much impact. Believe it or not, negative reviews have little to no impact on sales.
Endorsements by friends show double the conversion rates but you need to influence the right people. The efficiencies and scale of the social internet can change retail or service businesses overnight.
How do you tap into this ?
You need a strategy for engaging your customers.
You need a strategy for targeting the right people.
You need a strategy for building trust in your company.
Talk to eSterling about building a social commerce presence. Either through social network marketing, integrating with Facebook, or even adding a distinct social presence into your site build.