Sunday, June 23, 2013

Birthdays used to be an Event - Now it's a Notification

People Wish You On Facebook

Millions of people clustered to Facebook in the past decade as it provided something they’d never experience before. Virtual was suddenly imprinted into our everyday lives and it was here to stay. For me, it all started back in 2007, and by the 2009. Most of my friends were on Facebook. This meant that I could stay in touch with my childhood and college friends without even picking up the phone or sending an email. As with everything else, birthdays were to be changed. I for myself have never remembered dates and numbers, I was terrible at that. Naturally, when I discovered that Facebook is showing me the birthdays of all of my friends and connections I was so thrilled. Finally there was a mindless reminder which would let me wish someone a happy birthday exactly on that day, not a week or two late.

Despite family members and relatives, I rarely get a happy birthday phone call. Only some of my best friends call me, whereas most of the people just wish me a happy birthday on Facebook. They simply write down few words and post them on my wall. This goes on from 12 AM and throughout the day. Earlier we celebrated birthdays with greeting cards and phone calls to make someone feel TRULY special! In fact, there have been occasions when a few Facebook "friends" who had wished me on my Facebook Wall had passed me by in real life and never even acknowledged when they came Face-to-Face!

Facebook both perfected and ruined the birthday. At first, it was the greatest convenience—never forgets a special day ever again! And then it stopped having any meaning. On Facebook, your birthday is automated and empty because nobody has to devote a single shred of mental energy to remembering or celebrating it. And it's not just you—everyone does it. Why? Because it's just so easy; it makes us feel like we're noble people. Facebook now not only automatically alerts you when it's a friend's birthday, but lets you click that alert to post directly on their wall. You don't even have to visit their profile to remember how you know them or what they look like. The next logical step is having Facebook just post "happy birthday, buddy!" on your behalf at 12:01 AM every year.

If we further break it down and try to find the cause of this pattern, is that the telephone call is dying? Or is it an exaggeration, of course. We will still make millions of telephone calls on both mobile and fixed lines every day. Depending on our line of work we might make dozens in a day. But increasingly we do have options other than a phone call and increasingly we're finding them way more convenient and attractive. Sometimes it's related to the nature of social media which has made our friendship networks much wider but shallower. There are people with whom I'll happily chat or exchange messages on Facebook but would never call on the phone.

For most people, logging into Facebook on your birthday means feeling like the most popular person in the world. Notifications flood your inbox, new wall posts appear with each page refresh and everyone seems to "like" anything you say. A recent study published in the journal "Social Psychological and Personality Science" found that adults have almost as much need for being popular on Facebook as teenagers do. And people who crave acceptance are more likely to share personal updates and post birthday greetings on friends' walls, said Emily Christofides, lead author of the study. Nonetheless there's another group of users who have little use for Facebook birthday celebrations. Some feel overwhelmed by the repetitive flood of "Happy Birthday!" wishes (do I have to answer every one?); while others say the greetings feel perfunctory. In the past many people that I knew were switching their birth date on Facebook as often as some people change their relationship status -- simply to avoid receiving the inevitable wave of birthday posts.

Spreading birthday wishes on the social-networking site has become an automatic impulse for many users. It fits into this bigger pattern within social media and blogging: 'I scratch your back, you scratch mine,’ "I wish you a happy birthday, and you're going to wish me a happy birthday. ... The more 'Happy birthday' wishes you have you on your wall, the more prestigious it looks. It’s not clear how many Facebook users actually count the number of birthday messages they get. But research has found a link between Facebook activity and feelings of popularity.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Putha, What kind of book is this “Facebook”?

Elders using Social Media to connect with the Youth

This chat might sound familiar if you've ever tried to explain the wonders of social media to your grandparents and elderly relatives. Social media and seniors never seem to merge very well, unlike their fresher counterparts whose wits seem to be bathed with Web browsers with multiple tabs open at all times. However, this long held belief that old people are technically out of touch is no longer becoming the case.
While social media may be unquestionably linked with young people, are elders starting to catch on to its latent benefits?

Seniors are becoming the fastest growing demographic to use social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype, according to Forbes. With over 39 million people aged 65 or older using these social media platforms, this age group has the most potential for growth in social media usage. According to an All Assisted Living Homes report in 2010, seniors actually make up 14.8 million users (11 percent) of Facebook, which represents a yearly growth of a whopping 1448 percent.

To further confirm this, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project reports that the 74-plus demographic is the growing faster than any other age group on social media. Add in the fact that baby boomers are starting to enter their golden years, and there’s nothing but tremendous upswing for social media and digital marketing. Millennials may use social media to create a foundation for their identity, interests and relationships in life, but seniors can use social media to reflect on their achievements and experiences, as well as reestablish relationships cultivated throughout their life. Young or old, people can use social media to build, maintain and assess their life at any point.

Social media outlets, like Facebook, can paint a portrait of one’s life at the click of a button. It can help aging adults organize and prioritize key interests and relationships based on their values and lifestyle. Over 40 percent of seniors use Facebook to reconnect with family and long lost friends, according to the All Assisted Living Homes report. Time is invaluable, and a platform such as Facebook can help elderly people spend their time with the people who matter most. Facebook organizes relationships, interests, pictures and events in order for aging adults to understand and appreciate how social networks have enriched their life.

You may be wondering who is the Oldest Person on Facebook? At age 105, Edythe Kirchmaier is Facebook's oldest registered user. Kirchmaier, who is also California's oldest licensed driver and the University of Chicago's oldest living former student, joined Facebook last month. Born into the age of telegraphs and rotary dial telephones, Kirchmaier said she embraces social media because it allows her to check in daily with friends and family. Kirchmaier herself already has more than 20,000 Facebook friends. While Kirchmaier is the oldest person on Facebook, she is hardly the only senior to embrace social media. The social site's demographics have grown steadily grayer over the past few years. Golden-agers are also signing onto Twitter in record numbers. In 2009, only 5 percent of Internet users in the 50 to 64 age bracket had used Twitter, or some other status-update service. It's now up to 11 percent. When speaking to many other seniors they said they use social media mainly to keep in touch with friends, children and grandchildren. And they enjoy just checking Facebook every day and seeing the pictures that have been added and reading some of the messages. It keeps me from getting lonely.

The potential that seniors hold in dominating online usage means more content will be catered to their needs and interests. Online marketing companies, which once focused on younger demographics, could begin targeting older age groups in advertisements. Seniors have sheer strength in numbers and their increasing competence of social media could make them a lucrative focus for marketers. However, the negative consequences of social media use for older adults have yet to be investigated such as access to harmful information and misuse of personal data being stolen by online pirates. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Did “Eminem” just send you a friend request on Facebook?

Facebook Page Verification

Will the real slim shady please stand-up?

Now you can know for sure, thanks to a new Facebook feature: Verified Pages. The Verified Pages are being rolled out to “just a small group of prominent public figures (celebrities, journalists, government officials, popular brands and businesses) with large audiences,” Facebook says, and will soon roll out to profiles as well. One of the most common issues plaguing social networks is that anyone can create an account and use whatever name they wish. I say that I'm a famous celebrity, grab their image from Google Images, and begin posting updates as that individual. Now, the more famous the celebrity, the less likely you might be to believe that I am that person, but for less famous people, it's easier than you might think. And for normal people, it's an issue of potential identify theft.

Companies, too, have been at risk. In fact it's common to recommend that a business owner stake their claim on their profile on every possible social network, and there are even services set up to help you do that, just to ensure that someone else, like a competitor or disgruntled employee, doesn't take your "name" first. That’s why networks like Twitter and Pinterest and Google+ have put verification measures in place to help protect people and businesses, and help users know that they're engaging the person or company that they think they are.

Facebook also hired Mashable vet Vadim Lavrusik back in 2011, who now spearheads efforts to get journalists to use Facebook as a key publication and sharing vector for content. A verification badge helps guarantee that celebrity pages are actually run by the person (or at least their communications team), but it also does a lot to help readers confirm the authenticity of reports purporting to come from journalistic sources.

Facebook Adds Profile and Pages Verification

Facebook has a new section in its help center that describes what a verified profile or page actually is. However, they've given no specifics as to how a particular account is going to be verified. Apparently, they're handling it all themselves. Major Brands and celebrities will simply wait and Facebook will automatically verify their Page or Profile for them. For smaller businesses and individuals, it's unclear when, if ever, their profiles will be verified. Facebook does state that if you find someone else using your name, you can report them as a Fake Account.
On other social networks like Google+, any business can verify their account by authenticating the URL for the business placed on the Google+ Page. It's a fairly painless process, so one wonders why Facebook didn't follow suit. Not only does this Verification favor Big Brands, it also seems to create far more work for Facebook than needed.

Impact of Verification

Facebook has previously launched a verification program, back in February 2012, when it allowed people to verify their account with a valid ID. This was an extra step that allowed people to then use nicknames (handy for celebrities with aliases) and still appear highly in search results. But that program didn’t involve any kind of public badging, which this one does. It's still too early to tell how valuable verification is to businesses, but studies done in the past by companies like Verisign, particularly where eCommerce is concerned, have indicated that trust becomes an issue, and any means that a business can use to help establish trust will have a positive impact on sales. If verifying the authenticity of my Facebook Page will help engender trust in that Page and by extension my brand, that's definitely something I will want to implement.
If Facebook's policy changes and a means for verifying your own Page or Profile become available, I will certainly share it and the requisite steps here. Verified Facebook Pages and profiles will started rolling out last Wednesday. So if you peruse your favorite celebrity crushes you should be able to find the blue checkmark. And if you’re really big news, maybe you’ve already got one of your own.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Got More Than 150 Facebook Friends? You’re living a lie

Dunbar's Number 150 Friends on Facebook
Dunbar's Number 150 Friends on Facebook

In 1992, long before social media was heard of British anthropologist Robin Dunbar theorized that there is a cognitive limit to the amount of stable people you can be friends with. By stable, he meant individual interactions. The number that was coined was 150, meaning your brain can only handle that many friends. Dunbar has delved into the idea so deeply; the number 150 has been labeled "Dunbar's Number." And according to recent studies that matrix applies to our favorite social networks as well.

According to studies conducted (Global Statistics),
1. The average Facebook user has 130 friends.
2. The average Twitter user has 126 followers.
3. LinkedIn users average around 60 connections.

And according to a local study done by a social media agency( LOOPS Solutions );  40% of Women know less than half of their Friends on Facebook whist 30% of men know less than half of their friends on Facebook.

Personally, I think this number is high.  Just think a minute! During a month’s period how many friends do you really keep in contact with in real life? For me, the number could go down to as much as 30.On Facebook a regular man has around 130 friends and generally responds to the postings of only seven of those friends by leaving comments on the posting individual's photos, status messages or “wall”. An average woman is a touch more sociable, responding to ten. When it comes to two-way communication such as e-mails or chats, the average man interacts with only four people and the average woman with six. Dunbar claims if you break it down.. Girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together,”

Being in the business of social media I could undoubtedly say that we Sri Lankans are way above the global statistics and run up to about a 500 friends on average. Dunbar says there are some neurological mechanisms in place to aid us handle with the ever-growing volume of social acquaintances life seems to entail.  Individuals have the capability to facially identify about 1,500 people on average. Well if you look into the practical aspects of networking and link building you are not required to recall every single individual you've ever met in your head. Further, you really can’t.  Hence are you one of the many who regularly think “I've got too many friends on Facebook— I don't know who half these people are?”  Have you ever thought that social networks have permitted us to size massive networks of weak bonds?

So you may ask how we can go beyond this issue? Cause many of us Sri Lankans have a far greater number of friends than 150 on our Facebook profiles. Chris brogan the CEO of Human Business Networks says if you’re looking to connect with people, connect with those who are cultivating powerful networks of their own. Finding the right groups of 150 could help you greatly. That way, your 150 is amplified by those other people’s 150s. One social media expert, Jacob Morgan, has even argued that Dunbar's number is irrelevant: those weak ties can prove much more useful in networking, because they form bridges to worlds we do not walk within.  Strong ties, on the other hand, tend to be worlds we already know; a good friend often knows many of the same people and things we know.  They are not the best when it comes to searching for new jobs, ideas, experts, and knowledge.  Weak ties are also good because they take less time.  It's less time consuming to talk to someone once a month (weak tie) than twice a week (a strong tie).  People can keep up quite a few weak ties without them being a burden.

Practically if you look at it, having boundless amount of connections is considered a super power in this time of age. Let’s face it, living in an Asian culture where relationships are highly treasured the number of relatives, business contacts and other acquaintances are going to grow well over 150. The objective is to manage your relationships online and offline in a way that you can stay open and personable at all times. And As far as real friendship goes, well, I'm not sure that Facebook is the best indicator or evaluating stick for it. Because you might have had personal experience where countless Facebook friends you have added has just passed you by without even noting you.