Category Archives: Social Networks

Batch Is a Very Nice Photo Sharing App

Batch ScreenshotI’ve tried out just about every iPhone photo sharing app, and many of them are quite good. I’ve mostly been attached to Instagram due to the ease of use, design, and the biggest user base means I have more people to follow and to share photos with.

One of the biggest problems with photo sharing apps so far is that they all tend to only allow you to share one photo at a time. While this keeps the quality of photos shared high, it creates some problems.

It’s a painful process if you want to share multiple photos from an event, as part of a theme, or just to get photos off your phone and put them in a place they can be shared without the painful process of downloading them to a computer and then uploading them somewhere.

Tonight Mike Arrington broke the news that the team at self-photo taking startup DailyBooth recently launched a photo sharing app called Batch for the iPhone.

I downloaded Batch and immediately loved it for the following reasons:

  • The design is beautiful. I love the handwritten instructions that overlay the screen in certain areas, and it walks you through how to use the application really well.
  • Uploading photos in a batch is great. The first time I got to touch multiple photos and have them uploaded at once I saw the value in the speed and simplicity of sharing the photos in a batch.
  • Automatic friend connection via Facebook makes it nice to not have to worry about building up my social graph. As friends join Batch, we’ll just get connected. Simple. This has some downsides in that you can’t customize who you follow or don’t follow yet, but I prefer it over having to start from scratch and manually choose everything and hope my friends find me.
  • You can see the future potential if batches from one event or location are grouped automatically and viewable together. It could nicely fulfill the promise of Color that never came to be.

If you have an iPhone and share photos, give Batch a try in the app store.

A Portable Social Contact Platform Is Needed

Invite Friends Contact PlatformAs the number of different social web services I use continues to grow, I find myself repeatedly having to choose who to friend or follow on them. These services generally follow a similar process of allowing me to see if my Facebook friends and people I follow on Twitter are using the service, and then I can check my email accounts for friends.

While this process is okay, it’s far from ideal. There are some issues with this such as:

  • The time it takes to manually select people every time on each service.
  • The fact that I often want a different social graph on a particular service. I may want to follow different people in a music application than in a sports application. However, there are some people who I like to connect with on any service no matter what it’s about.
  • The differences in how you friend or invite people between services can lead to mistakes or cause me to do things I didn’t mean to like posting an invite to someone’s Facebook wall when I didn’t intend it.
  • Some services make it so easy to friend others that I find myself following too many people which can lead to a negative experience in the application. Others have spoke of this problem, and I think I’m currently experiencing this on Quora. The quality of my feed has gone down as I’ve followed people that I don’t really know and can’t remember why I followed them in the first place.

Anytime something like connecting to others is occurring on every service it is an opportunity to improve and streamline that process.

It seems as if there is an opportunity for a company to create a portable social contact platform. This would basically be a place where I could store contacts that I connect with on various social services. I’d like to specify a core group that I want to automatically connect to regardless of the service. This also would make it easier on startups who have to build this following process themselves. If there was a nice plugin or API that allowed people to follow and invite others easily it would save time.

There’s also some new ideas such as Color which try and connect you to others implicitly based on your activity opposed to who you specify. This is a really cool approach, but I already have seen flaws in the model thus far with Color although it’s still really early in that area.

Some will probably say that Facebook or Twitter already serves as this central repository of contacts that they like to connect with on social services. This is partially true for me, but there are people I follow on Twitter who I’m not friends with on Facebook, and people on Facebook who aren’t on Twitter.

Another way to approach this would to use people’s mobile phone contact list as that core group of people. While this is likely to include people’s true tightest social circle, I know in my case that this circle would be too tight.

These issues are why I concluded that I don’t think this should be leveraging something that already exists like my Facebook social graph or my phone contact list. Those things were built for specific purposes, and none of those purposes were “these are the people I want to connect with on social web and mobile applications”.

Is anyone working on such a thing?

Rough Launch, But Color-full Future

Color App ScreeniPhone mobile application Color recently had one of the most talked about startup product launches in a long time.

A lot of that was due the fact that they raised $41M prelaunch, have a well-known team, and the mobile photo-sharing space is really hot.

The other reason it was so talked about was because, for a $41M application, the product itself was really ineffective as a first-time user experience. Tech blogger Robert Scoble famously ranted about it, and many others tweeted or blogged about how confused they were by the user interface and the lack of social interaction.

Blowing the first-time user experience is never good, and I also felt like my first usage of Color was not fun or interesting.

However, due to the hype I fortunately knew enough to know that Color was designed for group experiences, so I didn’t write it off immediately and decided to try and use it with others.

I started using Color at a restaurant with GuideMe lead developer Joe Garstka, and later we added a couple of other users at my house.

The pictures and videos we were taking were automatically popping up in our applications and creating group albums based on time and location without us having to create and specify anything. Less work from the user is always good.

There is amazing potential behind implicit social networks and the automatic grouping of people based on location for an application. Also, creating a history of photos and videos at a specific location holds a lot of potential, and made it more likely that I would take a picture to leave it for future people to see when they were near that spot.

I think the key thing though that may make Color work, is that I found myself telling other people to try it with me. For the application to work, I needed others to participate. This is one of the key growth engines for successful network applications, and Color has that going for it.

On the flip side, it means early adopters without early adopter friends probably won’t use Color. People who are living in areas that are sparsely populated will also have a hard time getting that much value out of the application.

That might be okay though if Color can do various things to improve that first-time use while also letting the network effects happen.

There’s also a big opportunity here for Color, or other companies, to do the same type of creation of implicit location-based networks for other applications like gaming, chat, and more.

Color has a bright future, and enough cash in the bank to get over their initial rough launch.

Keeping Things Simple And How It Worked for LinkedIn

K.I.S.S I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what web applications I use and why, and of course how this relates to what I’m doing at work.

Keeping things simple is considered an overused idea these days in the web application world. I’d attribute some of this to the success 37Signals has had with their applications, blogs, ebooks, and seminars that push this philosophy.
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Yahoo! Kickstart Launches

One of the things that’s interesting adjusting to working for a much larger company now, is that the company launches products and services you had no idea were even in development. Such is the case tonight when I saw the news that Yahoo! Kickstart launched.
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Wow, the Facebook Valuation is Getting Crazy

Yes, like everyone else I think Facebook is a well-done and valuable internet property. They’ve executed really well, managed to steal the thunder from Myspace, and are the darling of Silicon Valley.

But until they prove they can monetize their audience in a very powerful manner, how is a $10-$15 billion valuation justified even in these bubbly times?
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Facebook and the Open Platform is the Right Way

Facebook announced today that they’re becoming an open platform for developers and third-party applications.

This is absolutely the right move, and is the prime example why I think Facebook ends up being bigger than Myspace in the long run.

Facebook May Regret Not Getting While The Getting Was Good

As a recent post by Robert Young at GigaOm brings up, was Facebook “Smart or Stupid” by not taking a buyout offer in 2006?

Traffic is up according to Alexa, so one might think they made the right move and are worth more today than they were in 2006. And what’s not to think that traffic won’t keep going up as there are more college students every year, and now that Facebook is open to non-college students they can stick around after graduating.

However, what good is that traffic if you can’t monetize it well? Robert Young’s piece reports that Facebook isn’t having a ton of luck in this area. If this is true, I see two things happening over 2007. First, they’ll prove that it’s hard to monetize their traffic extremely well, as has really been the case with social networking traffic thus far. And second, social networking won’t be as hot as it was in 2006 when it was really the new and exciting kid on the block. Once those two things happen, will those huge buyout offers still exist? Probably not.

Of course, there are a lot of companies and people working on monetizing social network traffic better, so it’s quite possible that strides are made there. And if Facebook continues to grow and dominate their space, then maybe. But the numbers being thrown around in 2006 were pretty high, so I think they may regret not taking one of those deals when it’s all said and done.

Myspace Is Dropping the Bomb on Affiliate Networks Accused of Spamming

Ironic that this is occurring while I’m at Affiliate Summit where many of these networks are doing business, but Jon from Wickedfire has talked to numerous sources who have confirmed this is occurring.

You can see his forum thread post about it here, but essentially Myspace is suing these networks for violating the CAN Spam Act for spamming people through the Myspace bulletin feature.

Jon points out that Myspace is seeking for two types of damages:

Myspace’s lawsuit against the networks are to ban them, and their owners from visiting the myspace.com site.

Myspace is seeking punitive damages from $20 million to $75 million PER network.

Apparently the total is over $500 million as 14-17 networks are targeted. He goes on to add:

The list of networks being sued reads like a shopping list, because they all, at some point or another drafted known Myspace spammers and phishers into their programs to promote their offers, even AFTER cease and desist letters were issued to them by Myspace.

What does this all mean? Apparently affiliate networks have been openly recruiting known spammers and phishers to promote their offers through spamming Myspace users. Many of you have probably been asked to be friends with “hot girl” profiles who then proceed to send you bulletins for all types of things. If Myspace sent them cease and desist letters and they continued to do this, you can’t blame Myspace for getting a bit upset here.

If Myspace is successful it will definitely put a major hurt on the networks being sued, potentially putting some of them out of business.

While it’s not known yet if the CAN Spam Act qualifies here, it will be interesting to see what sort of ruling occurs or if everyone settles out of court. Either way, Myspace is taking a big step here to say that spam is not okay regardless of whether it’s email or web bulletins on a social network.

Friendster Has a $0.04 CPM

It’s a bit of an estimate, but according to a recent post at Venturebeat, Friendster made $700,000 in revenue in December on 6 billion page views. This equates to making $0.12 per 1000 page views. I checked and they look to average about three ads per page, meaning they’re really making $0.04 per 1000 ad impressions, giving them an effective CPM of $0.04.

Is this good? I’m sure that low of a number shocks some people, probably bloggers and other niche publishers who get really high CPM numbers from targeted advertising, Google Adsense, or Yahoo Publisher Network.

Social networks are a different animal though, as contextual advertising doesn’t work as well when there isn’t a strong context to grab from a page. In the cases of most social networks, display banner-style advertising generates higher rates. But is $0.04 good?

I know the data of some other social networks, and I can say that this isn’t THAT shocking, but I definitely think there is room for improvement. I have some ideas on how I’d improve Friendster’s advertising revenue, but first I’d like to see if any of you out there have any suggestions. Speak up!