Facebook Notify is a Big Deal for the Future of Search

Today, Facebook finally launched a long-awaited stand-alone iOS application called Notify.  Contrary to much of the hype, the application is not a newsreader, rather, it’s a push notification manager for your iPhone.

If you’ve read the blog, you know that I am actively contemplating what the future of search looks like. I think this development could actually be a big one in Facebook’s ongoing quest to become your favorite search engine.

facebook-notify

If you think about it, unlike traditional push notifications for status updates, every notification will now be coming through with a link. Some of those links may live on Facebook, but most will not.  We know that earlier this year, Facebook started indexing public links inside of its index, and recently started surfacing them to users in search results.

So, in my opinion, the discovery is this:  what better way to build an index of search listings and rank criteria than by having all the links pass through your Facebook proxy? Every time you click on a result, it’s like an automatic scoring mechanism for Facebook to be able to understand how many publishers are really living up to their subscribers’ expectations.

 

I think that this data presents some commercial opportunities for Facebook in terms of working with advertisers and publishers. It also provides them with a tremendous resource in overall search and discovery.

I suppose that there is little from preventing Apple from using the same strategy for enriching its Spotlight search engine, however, I don’t think it gets the add-on benefits that Facebook does in terms of advertisers.

Under the hood of Notify, you’ll find a manager where you can basically control the updates you receive from participating publishers. I would imagine that as they ramp more publishers up, we might see some changes in how many publish to the news feed, but perhaps not. That’s definitely one of these things that I think we will only know as it starts playing out.

You’ll be able to learn more about Notify including publishers at the Notify website.

Looking forward to see how this technology evolves. Please share your experience and thoughts in the comments.

 

Mobile Messaging: Platform, paradigm or both

Mobile messaging applications have become more than a paradigm for commercial success but a platform for new systems of innovation.

I can remember instant messaging as always being a core part of my internet experience. From the early chat rooms of Prodigy and Compuserve I learned to find connection and build friendships with remote strangers based on our affinity for comic books, Beatles albums and movies. As the web evolved, messaging was always still there in the background, as an important part of life, yet considered to be separate from the “web”. That reality has changed quickly.

 

messaging
Photo credit: Alone by Laura Finkel, https://www.flickr.com/photos/-followthemusic-/8128132886

 

Life in SLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile, that is)

In the 8 years of hyperspace that we’ve traveled since the smartphones hit the market its become increasingly more clear.  The traditional text message (SMS) fused with instant messaging technology to create a wave of social computing yet unheard of.  When you stop to think about the layers of functionality that have been introduced and integrated on the mobile platforms, it is really astounding:  photo, video, voice, live-streaming.

Applications that offer a personal experience using one or more of these capabilities are the new normal; they are the most popular and growing by the day.

 

internet-trends-mobile-applications
Slide 47 of KCPB Internet Trends 2015 by Mary Meeker

 

 

Further, some of these apps, including Whatsapp, Wechat, Slack and Voxer are bridging mediums and arguably becoming platforms for new types of innovation.  What’s the distinction of a platform, you might ask.

Platforms allow ecosystems to develop

If you work in a team environment, especially software, you’ve probably experienced Slack. Inspired by a 45 year-old technology but using 21st century tools, Slack provides a grass-roots platform for collaboration and informal communication within enterprises of all sizes.  But the thing that really has made it a smashing success is the ecosystem that surrounds it; there is a plug-in for just about developer tool on the market. These plug-ins allow developers to create their own best-of-breed project management system – something greater than any of the component parts.
The Slack ecosystem is pale in comparison to what’s happened in China with Wechat. This messaging based application leverages QRCodes and chat to provide a smartphone based platform of search, reviews, peer-to-peer payments and various other tools.  New businesses are spinning-up daily on the Wechat platform, and operating at a scale that gives Facebook’s mega-messaging applications, Messenger and Whatsapp, a run for their money.
Slide 53 of KCPB Internet Trends 2015 by Mary Meeker
Slide 53 of KCPB Internet Trends 2015 by Mary Meeker
These applications are not alone. It seems daily there are new entrants.  One of my personal favorites is Voxer, which provides ‘walkie-talkie’ style voice communication for groups and individuals (think Nextel phones in app form).  I became intrigued by this after watching my wife and her network marketing colleagues use it as an entire business platform for conference calls, offline training and 1:1 catch-ups with colleagues.  It breaks the mold that assumes messaging had to be typed on a keyboard.

The next frontier

I think that Benedict Evans had it right when he said we probably can’t predict where this will go.  I find some of the scenarios he describes regarding Facebook Messenger to be intriguing, especially when you think about technologies like Twilio and Intercom, which have revolutionized enterprise communication by providing a messaging and telephony backbone for web-applications.  Could they too be disrupted once Facebook wants to be the intermediary for web-apps, cars and couriers?  Time will tell.

Update, 30-Aug-2015:  

A couple of interesting stories in the news during the last week or two which should interest those following the messaging space:
  • Facebook released a new guide for businesses that wish to provide a ‘live chat’ capability to their audiences via their Facebook page. The catch is that FB gets to put up a ‘responsiveness rating’ for your page!  Read more…
  • Slack has followed in Facebook’s footsteps by creating an “add to Slack” button for website owners.  Read more…

Digital Business Goodies from 2014

OK. Buckle in.  I’ve been saving up a number of digital business resources to share and its coming down to the wire for 2014.  Here’s a collection of resources on digital strategy, social media, online engagement, tools, video and  industry trends.  

For your holiday reading pleasure and beyond…

Strategy
On Objectives and Goal Setting
Social Media Effectiveness
  • Great study on Twitter Engagement from the folks at Stone Temple Consulting.
    • A few known truths here cemented in by further evidence as well as some new learnings. You can even digest the study in multiple formats, including video and info graphic!
  • Track Maven’s Fortune 500 Instagram Report
    • Great report from the folks who deal with massive amounts of brand analytics from Instagram on a daily basis. Always great to get insight into how brands are becoming successful on this platform.
  • Track Maven’s Facebook Report 
    • Another very useful report from the folks at Track Maven. Some useful tips to make sense of the Las Vegas Marketing Fiesta that is Facebook.
Video
Nice Examples of Tools for Online Engagement
  • Great blogs about Infographics and Data Visualization  http://visualoop.com/blogs
    • Just when you get tired of infographics, someone curates a great site like this to show you how many crazy things you can do with them.
  • Interactive Tools – Customer Journey to Online Purchase by Google  https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/tools/customer-journey-to-online-purchase 
    • Topically this is interesting to me because its relevant to me as a marketer. Overall I’m just loving Think With Google’s use of interactive tools on the blog.
Online-to-Offline (020) and why we should care
If you’re already versed in what O2O is about, this may or may not be useful. For those who are not, this set of articles is really to inform about some in-market-tests taking place as we speak which are bound to change the nature of projects we work on for clients, particularly if they are in B2C industries that involve storefronts of any kind.
For many consumer oriented businesses, one of the most expensive challenges of the last 50 years has been bridging the effectiveness of advertising impressions to buying behavior.  People spend most of their disposable income locally, but retailers and other local service providers have often been blind to how online media influences their in-store traffic and behavior.  The big ad players, namely Facebook and Google have been racing to get their solutions for in-store conversion tracking into the market; as you can imagine, these solutions rely heavily on your smartphone and location based services.
Here are a few brief pieces that describe how these pilot programs will roll out:

Archetypes for location based services

mayor-of-playersIn many of our training and consulting engagements we gravitate towards the use of archetypes to depict common behaviors, both constructive and destructive.  Two that come to mind are:  Facilitation Patterns and Anti-Patterns (ThoughtWorks) and The Requirements Super Heroes and Villains (Organic).

This morning, I really enjoyed this collection from the Dachis Group as related to location based services, The Mayor of Players and Other Location Based Services Archetypes.

In the article, Brad Kenney identifies a number of behaviors exhibited by frequent users of location based services, such as Foursquare, Facebook and Yelp.  They include:

The “trend setter” … takes pride in being the first of social group to begin using a new service or feature.

The “time killer” … looks to alleviate boredom or fill time using mobile apps such as LBS.

The “social surfer” … sees who else has checked in to a specific place, enjoys voyeuristic exploration of other user profiles.

The “mayor of players” … enthusiastically engages in competitive behaviors such as “mayorship battles”.

The “scavenger hunter” … looks to create a collection of experiences, badges and/or other artifacts.

The “status seeker” … only checks in to the “right places” and is concerned with maintaining and enhancing personal brand.

The “knowledge miner” … searches for the most recent or relevant information from LBS services to improve customer experience by gaining the knowledge of regular patrons.

The “do-gooder” … is incented to participate by a perception that their activities are having a positive impact on others, the planet, etc.

The “social seeker” … announces location in order to facilitate real-world interaction with friends or enable serendipitous interaction and connection with friends or strangers.

The “trip planner” … facilitates social bonding or group cohesion by using LBS to plan group outings.

The “life logger” … obsessively tracks life lists, captures past activities/personal or experiential history for pleasure or for “quantified self” programs.

The “discount hunter” … actively searches for location-based coupons/deals to save money.

A final wild card archetype to consider in this LBS tarot deck is the “privacy activist”, who is so concerned about privacy issues that overly promoted check-ins, push notifications etc. may cause negative sentiment or hostile or aversive behaviors that then are relayed to their social network – which is the exact opposite of the intended effect of any social campaign.

How accurate do these archetypes seem to you? Does anyone in your social circles resemble one or more of them?

Go Mobile

Over the last several weeks I have been in the midst of a vortex of bright people looking at how to bring Agile practices to enterprise mobile application development.  It seems trivial at first, until you look under the covers and you find that a sensible person has no where to turn for vetted information in a space that is growing so quickly.

ThoughtWorks has built up a nice portfolio of enterprise mobile application work in recent years, but I think that we really have a great deal of value to add in the way of testing and releasing these apps on a large scale.

Today we kicked off our Go Mobile project, with a  paper focused on Agile Practices and iPhone Development.  Head on over to the ThoughtWorks site and give it a read.  I am happy to have played a part in facilitating such a cool piece of work; having seen some of the projects that our teams are doing up close, I am very excited about what’s coming next. Please stay tuned!