Around this time every year, basketball fans and office workers fill out their brackets for the NCAA Tournament — also known as March Madness. Some go chalk and just pick top seeds, some throw in some upsets, and some base their picks based on which mascot would win in a fight or which school has their favorite colors.
But how would a bracket based on Facebook data go? That’s what SocialCode, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer, wanted to find out. Facebook also utilized its users behavior to figure out who the social network is pulling for in the tournament.
So who will be crowned NCAA champions?
According to both SocialCode and Facebook, it’s the Duke Blue Devils. Both companies’ Facebook-data fueled brackets have coach Mike Krzyzewski’s team winning the national title.
SocialCode has Duke defeating Virginia in the end, while Facebook’s data thinks that the Blue Devils will face Florida in the title game.
Here’s SocialCode’s formula for determining winners:
Alumni Social Rank (# alumni basketball fans/#alumni) + Student Social Rank (# student basketball fans/#students) + Seed Ranking
Here’s how Facebook used its users’ data to determine its picks:
Tournament results are based on the total number of posts and comments containing words related to each school’s team that were made in the two weeks culminating with Selection Sunday. For the Social Bracket, the “winner,” of each game was selected for having accrued a higher total number of mentions in that time frame.
This is the third straight year that SocialCode has generated NCAA Tournament predictions in this fashion. In 2012, SocialCode’s data accurately predicted that Kentucky would win the championship and also predicted a major upset, as No. 15 Norfolk State defeated No. 2 Missouri.
Here’s a look at the SocialCode bracket (click to enlarge):
Top image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Recently a fascinating trend emerged. The rise of Pinterest and other interest-based social networks has suggested (or perhaps reminded us?) that there are in fact limitations to friends’ recommendations and, thus the Facebook Social Graph. All those ticker feeds about what terrible music your friends are listening to? Yeah, that.
Heavyweights like Max Levchin (Google/PayPal) and Bill Gurley (Benchmark Capital) have weighed in on this. Levchin has said: “Social graph signals have not been helpful in optimizing advertising that is related to search.” That is a powerful statement, and makes one wonder about Facebook’s future. For instance, I habitually ‘Like’ things not because I am interested in them but to sort of ‘reward‘ the person for posting something. It might be a dumb picture which is funny, but I don’t literally ‘Like’ it, I just think it’s funny and want my friend to know it. How many new baby pictures do you Like a month? You may not even actually like babies – you’re just being polite.
Now, colourDNA, (its a British startup so the spelling of colour is therefore British English), plans to capitalise on its deep technological approach to understanding what we really do like based on colour, and thus drawing on that interest graph to create value for the user, starting with an iPhone app. It’s a little smarter than it first sounds.
colourDNA is social discovery tool that makes it easy to find new things to enjoy. Core to this will be its iPhone app (which launches today, check back for link) which contains a proprietary algorithm for social discovery covering everything from books to bars.
Colour psychology suggests your preference for given colours reflect innate personality traits within an individual. ColourDNA uses your colour preferences to form part of its recommendation system.
The app itself has an elegant feel to it and contains a gamification element. The more you declare you like something, the more it rewards you with Leaderboard points and tailors content to your location.
The colourDNA app first asks you what your favourite colours are to gain insight into your personality and build a visual representation of your taste graph – your “colour DNA”.
The app is geo-location aware, a mobile extension of the colourDNA web experience (creating “Loves,” discovering from others, and viewing/sharing activity through feeds, but also has the features “Loving Now” and “Near Me”. Through these features you can check-in to places to help others discover and see what’s going on around you. Clicking Near Me brings up a map with other user’s markings. But “Loving Now” can also be a prompt to look beyond what is close to you on the map.
Ben Poynter, Co-founder and CEO of colourDNA says “We are all about discovery new things to enjoy in life based on your interests.. and a few other factors like your favourite colours. We think the interest graph should be about making it easy to discover new things that you’ll love through personalisation, much like Facebook has made it easier for you to re-connecting with your friends.
“I think Pinterest has done a great job as a beautiful and intuitively designed curation tool. We are less a curation tool, and much more a discovery tool… A key feature for us is that a user doesn’t need to know anyone to get an immediately rewarding experience from their unique actions. We push you personalised recommendations by unlocking how your interest graph overlaps with other users, so that you can discover great new things that you would struggle to elsewhere without having to spend a considerable amount of time endlessly browsing.”
colourDNA has also recently brought on board Guillermo Christen, a seasoned technical lead and algorithm specialist to head up the colourDNA tech team, formerly Head of Product Development – Content Discovery at Red Bee Media which acquired recommendations platform TV Genius where Guillermo was the Technical Lead / Software Development Manager.
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
“Think you know your friend’s style?,” asks a new Facebook app developed by department store Neiman Marcus in partnership with social shopping site ThisNext.com. Called Shoe Dish, the app is designed to test women’s knowledge of shoes they think their friends would wear and create a “Shoe Closet” to save their favorites. Oh, and it qualifies as f-commerce because, ultimately, Neiman Marcus wants women to purchase shoes they like from its e-commerce site.
How Shoe Dish Works
A randomly selected friend’s Facebook avatar appears alongside a certain shoe style headlined with the question, “Would friend’s name wear these shoes?” “Yes” or “No” buttons appear beneath the images along with an option to let her know of your choice, which posts a response your friend’s Wall.
If you like the shoe, you can click through to view it in more detail. You also have the option to either buy the shoe, “throw” the shoe at a friend you think would like it (I failed to get this function to work.), or add it to your “closet,” which is a wish list of sorts. Friends can view your closet and vice-versa.
In addition, you can see which shoes are trending, get editor’s picks, view randomly selected shoes, see a leaderboard of active users, and invite friends to play. Because this is a game, you accrue points based on your activity.
Lastly, on the product detail page (thanks to Facebook’s Open Graph) you can share a post to your Wall based on the following options:
Sharing is not limited to Facebook either. The product detail page provides options to share via Tumblr and Twitter, as well.
This use of game mechanics is not foreign to Facebook. Social games have been a staple of the network since before Zynga created Farmville. As such, Shoe Dish fits the fun, interactive environment Facebook users are accustomed to.
Whether that approach will translate in to product sales is still open to question. Considering the price of some of the shoes ($795 was a figure of one pair I saw), I’m wondering if Shoe Dish will appeal to all but the more well-heeled user.
Why have leading consumer brands started selling on Facebook?
The results of an 18-month study on the emerging trend of ‘f-commerce’ conducted by SCT editor Dr. Paul Marsden tells the tale. It provides a critical overview of f-commerce - selling with Facebook – specifically as it applies to consumer brands and identifies key risks and opportunities for using Facebook as a commerce channel.
It also advocates an alternative solution for brand pages on Facebook – fan-stores selling fan-first/fan-exclusive products for the purpose of promoting brand advocacy.
Five key brand-building benefits are identified and a blueprint for setting up a Facebook fan-store is outlined using an evidence-based 3-point “advocacy activation” formula. The report concludes by outlining emerging trends and new opportunities for consumer brands.
F-commerce started 2009 with 1-800-FLOWERS setting up the first fan-store. Others soon followed – musicians, film and TV shows, celebrities, retailers and brands. Initially, the focus was selling products with e-commerce apps for Facebook pages, but, since that time an evolution has occurred to include a full ecosystem of selling solutions that include the following:
There is a small, but growing body of evidence to support its viability. Example include:
Considering the reasons proffered by both antagonists and protagonists, it is too soon to tell how much of a role Facebook will play in e-commerce.
Brands should think beyond the use of f-commerce as a transactional medium to one focused on increasing customer lifetime value (CLV) , which the study defines as today’s value of the sum of all purchases that have and will be made by an average customer. It is in this arena that some of the greatest innovations are taking place.
F-Commerce can assist in building brand advocacy by helping brands get new products that are worth talking about into the hands
of the people most likely to recommend them – brand fans.
Example: Chanel selling new cosmetic products from its Facebook fan-store before they reach the brick-and-mortar store – giving brand fans exclusive ‘fan-first’ access and thus something to talk about to their friends.
Consumer brands can build advocacy with ‘fan-first’ marketing using Facebook fan-stores to get new product lines and fan merchandise into the hands of those most likely to recommend them – their Facebook fans.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” template. Instead, brands should listen to Facebook fans, experiment with techniques to drive advocacy, adapt to an outcome-driven solution, and continuously develop fan-stores to improve fan experience.
Success depends, not on processes, but on insight gained from fan interaction; making fans “smile” by exceeding expectations should be the number one goal.
Article courtesy of Social Commerce Today
A new report by Forrester Research and another by the World Federation of Advertisers and research firm Millward Brown proclaim that Facebook will not play a signficant role in the future of ecommerce. As evidence, the reports cite companies who have tried and failed to generate new sales through Facebook, explaining that “eBusiness professionals in retail collectively report little direct or indirect benefit from Facebook”.
The social network has presented a counter argument, though, sharing with us a list of internal andd external statistics indicating major increases in traffic, engagement and direct sales for retailers that have deeply integrated with Facebook. For instance, Ticketmaster reports that each share of one of its events to Facebook earns it $5.30 in direct sales.
We’ll get into some of Facebook’s stats below. But first, it is true that e-commerce on Facebook has been a long-heralded yet slow-to-materialize market segment. We remember some industry pundits proclaiming that 2009 would be the year of social shopping — it wasn’t.
However, starting last year, we’ve also seen a steady increase in the number of ecommerce storefronts on Facebook and social plugin integrations on third-party websites, as we detailed in our piece “The Year in Facebook-Powered Shopping“. We discussed how 86% of US retailers had created a Facebook Page by 2010, and that it was the year these brands began experimenting with directly monetizing their audiences. We’ve also heard anecdotal reports from ecommerce startups working on the platform suggesting more sales than before, despite it being natural for experiments by companies unfamiliar with a platform to fail.
Tools to facilitate sales and referrals on Facebook or through Facebook-integrated sites are rapidly proliferating. Page tab applications such as Payvment, 8thBridge, Beetailer, and Zibaba allow users to add items to a shopping cart and then checkout either directly from Facebook or on a merchant’s website, or even browse products from multiple stores at once in a shopping mall format. Meanwhile, major players including Amazon, eBay, and PayPal have begun integrating with Facebook to power recommendation engines and sharing of products.
It may take more time for users to grow accustomed to shopping through Facebook, but early signs indicate that the site’s ability to transmit product recommendations between friends and bring brands within a few clicks of a huge audience will make the site an important part of any ecommerce strategy.
Facebook’s stats today highlight the potential. As of January 2011, Facebook traffic to Amazon grew 328% year-over-year while Google referral traffic dropped 2% in the same period, indicating social’s increasing important relative to search, although Google is still the market leader. Visitors to clothing retailer American Eagle’s ecommerce site who were referred from Facebook spent 58% more than those referred from elsewhere, and children’s clothing retailer Tea Collection increased its daily revenue by ten times when it added the Like button to sale merchandise. Ticket seller Eventbrite said that each share to Facebook of one of its events generated $2.52 in ticket sales.
Its true that there’s little publicly-available absolute data about dollars earned through Facebook storefronts and integrations, but analysts should expect the shift in user spend away from brick-and-mortar and web 1.0 stores to take a few years, similar to the initial shift of spend to ecommerce. Users may have come to expect an asocial shopping experience on brand sites and web marketplaces, but that is changing — according to other reports. A 2009 Econsultancy study indicated 90% of online consumers trust recommendations from friends, while a late 2010 Marketing Pilgrim report showed that “one in three consumers recently followed-through with a purchasing recommendation made via social media.”
With friends readily available to provide purchase suggestions, easy ways to make or initiate these purchases from brand Pages, and users acclimating to a social shopping experience, we think we’re still at the early stages of social ecommerce, not at the end.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Facebook may be preparing to launch a new version of its Social Commenting plugin. Judging by the version currently implemented on Facebook’s own blog, it may surface high quality comments or help users identify trolls and spammers by assigning users an aggregated credibility score. Since this score travels with users wherever the plugin is integrated, it should encourage more civil, thoughtful commenting.
The aggregated credibility score is shown as a percentage and a total number of comments in the hovercard that appears when a user is moused over in the Social Commenting plugin. Through extensive testing, we’ve determined that the percentage is calculated using the formula (total Likes – total instances marked as unhelpful or spam) / total Likes. For instance, a commenter who has had their comments Liked seven times and been marked as unhelpful once would have the equation (7 – 1) /7, which equates to 85%. Scores are rounded down and are higher than the equation specifies when there are less than five Likes.
Users and admins will be able to look at this credibility score and deduce whether a certain comment is from a reputable source. Trolls and spammers will accrue a low score or have a low number of total comments, indicating their comments aren’t worth replying to, and their links shouldn’t be clicked. High quality users will build a high score and large number of comments over time.
Websites often run into issues using their own commenting system or a third-party solution such as Disqus and Intense Debate because there are few deterrents to abusive behavior other than of a site-wide or widget-wide ban. Spammers, trolls, and those looking to dispense hate can easily create another account or move to another site without losing much.
But Facebook wields a much more powerful weapon: the ability to terminate a user’s account, severing all their friend connections. Most users will be too scared of such social ruin to abuse the Facebook Social Commenting plugin with their real account, whether professionally, as a joke, drunk, or in a fit of anger. Since the aggregated credibility score reduces the reach of using a fake account, users have to respectfully comment with their real profile to be part of the conversation.
Examples of the power of authenticated identity to promote serious discussion are already emerging. At the recent Online News Association meetup at Facebook headquarters, Andy Carvin, NPR’s Senior Strategist with their social media desk, said that the conversation on its Facebook Page is more civil than that occurring through the proprietary commenting system on its website.
With its simple cross-publishing feature; quick login for Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Yahoo! users via OpenID; aggregated credibility scoring; and the repercussions Facebook can levy against abusive commenters; any website that accepts comments should strongly consider implementing the new Facebook Social Commenting plugin when it’s released.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
Here’s a round-up:
Social does not just equal Facebook. Social is how people interact anywhere.
What I don’t like is when somebody says, “The only way you find social is (the way Facebook operates).” Did we miss the boat on exactly how they do it? Of course we did. Everybody did.
Q: Who’s your biggest single competitor?
A: Facebook — not today, but they could be. If they keep going, they will have the vault of information on everybody in the world, and that’s valuable.
Q: Valuable, to the point of being scary?
A: Yes, creepy. I don’t care to find an old boyfriend. One time, just to see if they got fat and bald, but then leave me alone. But I’m old.
Q: You’ve said that Apple exercises too much control over the ads on its devices, and you said that can’t last. Why?
A: If you want to run an ad on the iPad, it has to be approved by Apple. I don’t think it is for us to say this ad isn’t pretty enough and to go through this whole back-end process of approval. I don’t think in the long run that’s going to work.
Advertisers will have other options.
Q: These sound very intrusive to me. Sometimes I want to look at the screen and see what I want to see. I don’t want the dog.
A: You can click on any of these and say, “Don’t show me this.”
Q: You are making me do extra work.
A: Oh, excuse me, please. You are getting a lot of value. This is not like a free lunch here. We just opened a data center in Buffalo, and in its first phase it has 50,000 servers. That is not cheap. So the very fact that you get all this great information is part of the deal.
Q: Yahoo has great assets, but some people say they don’t know what the company does or where it is going.
A: That exists in New York City and about 30 miles outside Silicon Valley. The rest of the world seems to know.
Yahoo is the largest media company in the world. We are twice as large as the nearest competitor. We do it through innovative technology and bringing people information they need to manage their lives. We serve up — and these numbers I hope will astound you — 10 billion ads a day.
Q: If you get a Google Android phone, all the Google applications just work. You are drawn into their world. Does Yahoo need a device of its own?
A: It isn’t Google that gets to do that: It is what the carrier wants to do. By the way, there are many instances around the world where what comes up are Yahoo applications, not Google applications, even on an Android phone. The only one that actually controls that precisely is Apple.
Q: Would you have hired someone like you to be CEO?
A: Let me answer a question you didn’t ask. Am I the perfect person for the job at Yahoo? No. Am I good for the job? Yes.
(Thanks to Chris Rowley for pointing us to the USA Today article)
Article courtesy of TechCrunch
Facebook Pursues New Domain Name – Facebook filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization in order to obtain the name Facebook.me, currently registered to a man in the United Arab Emirates. Facebook has previously secured similar domains — .cn, .ir, .es, .com.au and .ie — and while .me is officially a Montenegro domain, it’s also used for personalization.
Facebook Engineers Talk Touch Interface – Facebook’s Engineering Team published a detailed note this week about touch screens. In light of the new Facebook integration in the iPhone/iPad operating system, might it be a sign that an official Facebook iPad app is on its way?
Sobees Offers iPad Facebook App – Sobees has created a native Facebook app for the iPad allowing users to view status updates, wall posts, pictures, videos, links, photo albums, manage events and birthdays in a calendar view, in addition to updating your own status, Like things and comment. Sobees also offers clients for Twitter and Windows, and is offering this iPad app free for the first month.
European Regulators Criticize Facebook – European data protection officials wrote a letter advising the European Commission stating that Facebook’s December privacy changes were “unacceptable.” They suggested Facebook should have default settings ensuring tighter control over who sees user profiles and what information could be accessed by search engines.
Facebook Exec Answers Privacy Qs – Facebook’s Vice President for Public Policy Elliott Schrage answered questions from 300 users in The New York Times this week. There was some mea culpa, “It’s clear that despite our efforts, we are not doing a good enough job communicating the changes that we’re making” and some finger wagging, “Facebook users receive notices about our new products and whenever we propose a change to any policies…we have notified users.” But essentially Schrage just reiterated that the company simultaneously cares about user privacy and its own reasons for innovation (such as making the Open Graph as functional as possible).
SMASH Summit Slideshow Explains New Ads – SMASH Summit published an interesting slideshow explaining the new Open Graph, how it affects web sites/Facebook marketing and how companies can implement the changes quickly.
Facebook Hacker Identified – Facebook identified the hacker Kirllos who tried to sell the login information to 1.5 million Facebook accounts for $25-$45 dollars per 1,000 accounts, depending on the number of friends users had. It appears Kirllos sold about 700,000 accounts, and probably didn’t have 1.5 million, but Facebook and law enforcement have determined the Russia-based hacker’s identity.
Kirllos was identified through IP addresses, online accounts and other information probably through phishing attacks or with malicious code on users’ computers. Facebook said the users have had their passwords changed and were notified by the company.
Luxury Watches on Facebook – Maurice Lacoix, in partnership with eYeka, has launched one of the first big Facebook campaigns in the luxury watch industry. One characteristic of the Facebook campaign allows users to pose questions to watch a video where CEO Martin Bachmann asks users to post questions he will personally answer on the Page via another video. The process of this CEO Dialog is set to repeat several times, according to eYeka, in order to “enhance personal contact and strengthen relations” with luxury brand customers on Facebook.
fidipidi Offers Snail Mail on Facebook – Next week fidipidi launches with a service that allows Facebook users to create customized greeting cards with their Facebook accounts. The features allow users to pull friends’ photos for the greeting card or create their own, which fidipidi will then send via snail mail. The first 15,000 people to sign up can use a code to send their first card for free.
Article courtesy of Inside Facebook
PowerReviews, the customer ratings and reviews technology provider, has just published findings from Part 1 its 2010 social shopping survey conducted with the e-tailing group of 1,000 US consumers (50% male/50% female each spending $250 annually on shopping online 4+ times per year) (fieldwork conducted March 2010).
Focusing as you would expect on the power of customer reviews and rating – as opposed to other forms of social shopping such as group-buy, live shopping events, social plugins (ShopTogether, Facebook Social Plugins) for e-commerce sites or social media stores, the study can be downloaded from PowerReviews site. But here’s a top line summary of the findings.
63% of shoppers consistently read reviews prior to making a purchase decision
64% vs. 50% in 2007 spend 10 minutes + reading reviews while 33% spend a 1⁄2 hour or more
39% vs. 22% suggest that they read 8+ reviews to gain sufficient confidence to judge the product
57% of shoppers trust customer reviews as a research source along with other corroborating information
Trust in reviews is degraded when not enough reviews are present or doubt arises that reviews are authentic (39%) as well as if limited negative reviews are present (38%)
50% of overall shopping (in a store, on the web, catalog) involves researching products online
72% of consumers rate customer ratings and reviews on retail sites very/extremely important when it comes to selecting and purchasing a product:
71% rated user-generated customer reviews as the community/social media tool having the highest impact on buying behavior
Factors that degrade trust in reviews include insufficient selection (50%) doubts that they are written by “real customers” (39%) and a lack of negative reviews (38%)
Even with so much more available, little change is foreseen in shopping behavior relative to online source of user-generated content for researching and shopping online
Article courtesy of Social Commerce Today