Archive for the ‘Oli Watts’ Category.

New Facebook mobile changes for iOS

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Iphone screenshot of facebook appOur Park Bench and Scratching Post Facebook apps have gone from strength to strength since their launch earlier this year, with over 7,000 pet owners making their own pet profile.

One of the challenges faced when building Facebook apps in the past has been how to make them accessible to mobile users. Whilst Facebook offers quite a good mobile interface for Pages, using and discovering apps built within Facebook has proven a challenge.

Last week Facebook made some changes to how its platform works for mobile apps, and I wanted to highlight 3 of them which I think are particularly interesting:

A new mobile and web app

Similar to Twitter’s mobile app changes back in May, Facebook has narrowed the gap between their mobile web experience and native apps on iOS (Blackberry/Android presumably coming soon). The Facebook iPad and iPhone apps now perform almost exactly the same as their m.facebook.com experience.

Bookmarks

A familiar part of the Facebook web experience, bookmarks are added on the left hand side of your home page once you’ve authorised an app. Its a handy place to keep track of the apps you use most, along with your Pages, Groups and Events. The new Facebook app and mobile web app now features the same set of information in a pop out.

If you’re a brand who uses a Facebook app to engage with your audience, keeping your app at the forefront of their mind is really important. The bookmarks overlay means you can do this as easily on someone’s mobile as you can on the desktop.

Requests

An extension to the Facebook notification system, requests are a neat way to invite your friends to join an app you’re using. You can share that you’re using an app, or prompt them to take a turn in a game. Requests are a likely to become an important tool when looking to grow the audience for your app - the equivalant of ‘sharing’ a post or image from a page.

Zynga (originally of Farmville fame) are one of the first to take advantage of this, building the Words with Friends on the new mobile platform. If you’ve previously created an account through the (rather addictive) iPhone app and connected to Facebook you’ll be able to play the game on your mobile web browser, and indeed on the Facebook desktop. You’ll get all the notifications you’re used to when someone has taken a turn, and you can start a game on your desktop and continue on your mobile browser.

By making it easier for app developers to build mobile apps within Facebook, and providing some of the social channels we’ve become familiar with on the ‘full’ Facebook experience I think Facebook has started to open its mobile audience up to even more exciting opportunities.


Facebook Messenger app: Merging the lines between email and instant messaging

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I’ve been making use of Facebook‘s new Messenger app for the past few weeks, and it’s fair to say it’s made a big difference to the way I use Facebook as a whole. In fact, their new service seems to be blurring the lines between email and instant messaging.

The app is still unavailable within the UK iTunes Store, despite working absolutely fine. This is probably as a result of the negative press around Blackberry’s BBM service after the rioting across the UK. I managed to download the app thanks to a US iTunes account I have access to.

When using the full Facebook iPhone app, a notification of a new message would sometimes take hours to arrive. This would deter me from dropping a line to friends through Facebook as I wouldn’t be sure if the message would arrive or not.

Notifications from the Messenger app are now almost instant - blurring the line between an instant messenger and email and making Facebook’s Messages strategy from last last year even more real.

In perhaps a precursor to the changes announced this week to the way Facebook Places works, you can also append your location to a message, so friends can see where you are. I think this more subtle embedding of location alongside messages between friends will be much more useful than a check in.

It’s also really clear that the launch of this app is a strategic move by Facebook to run head-to-head to BBM (and the soon to launch) iMessage network. One of the weaknesses of both of these networks is that they’re closed. You can’t exchange messages between non-Blackberry owning friends, and you won’t be able to send an iMessage to a friend who doesn’t have an iOS device.

Facebook’s Messages strategy sees it looking to merge email and IM into a single location, open to anyone regardless of the mobile platform they use. The Messenger app is a really tangible example of this, and a great alternative to some of the standalone messaging services currently available.

4 tips for successful Facebook advertising

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Here’s a quick, simple guide to the 4 things we’ve found to be extremely effective when building a successful Facebook Advertising campaign:

1. Get access to Facebook’s ‘Power Editor’

This neat little tool is an extension for Google Chrome which allows you to manage ads and campaigns in bulk. You can quickly change the images, targeting and demographics for large numbers of adverts. It’s a tool which is currently in Beta, but accessible through Facebook’s advertising program.

2. Ad images are critical

Our experience has shown that ad images need to be refreshed frequently - often as much as once every 24 hours. The more relevant your image to your target market, the higher your click through rate will be. This is one of the reason why splitting up your ads to tighten targeting really helps.

3. Optimise for Likes, not clicks

When monitoring your ads, keep an eye on the rate of conversions to clicks.

Facebook tracks a conversion as someone who likes your page and installs your app or RSVP’s to your event within 24 hours of seeing your ad. Getting users to complete these actions is like gold dust when building your page audience. Think about how you could make it easier for people to do so.

4. Build a ‘pre-like’ page with a clear call to action

If you’re building a campaign to increase fan engagement on your page, don’t just direct people to your wall. Instead, build a bespoke tab page which has a clear call to action (liking the page, clicking a tab app or something else). Give your new audience something clear and simple to do when they first come to your page.

Changes to Twitter: bringing in the ‘news feed’

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Twitter is rolling out two new changes to its web app from today.

Until now, Twitter’s success has been in its simplicity. It shows you a timeline of simple text based updates from your friends, offering you the option to reply, share content or favourite for later. Twitter’s focus has been on how you interact and share the content you’ve subscribed to by following people, and other than seeing your friends tweets, retweets or mentions they are largely invisible to your Twitter experience.

Missing from this picture, however,  is one of the key elements of truly ‘social’ media: engaging with content based on what my friends have enjoyed or recommended. Facebook’s integration of the ‘Like’ button across its own products and the web in general is a great example of this. How much more likely are you to click on a piece of content or read a link if you see one of your friends has liked it?

Twitter’s response to this gap has been to roll out two new features:

1. The ‘@mentions’ tab
Previously this showed all the Tweets mentioning your username, but it will now show any users who have begun following you, any tweets of yours which have been favourited, and any lists which you have been added to.

2. ‘Activity’
This is a mirror image of the @Mentions tab, but for those people you follow. It surfaces the retweets by the people you follow, and will tell you when they follow someone new.
In a sense there’s nothing really new about either of these features - you’ve always been able to see the tweets your friends have favourited, for example. But what has been missing is a simple way to surface this content for users who either don’t know how to get to it or end up being so focused on what their friends are tweeting that their other interactions on Twitter fade into the background.

Take the recent  ‘@riotcleanup’ account, which was set up following the  london riots and civil disorder across the UK. In the 72+ hours the account has been active it’s gained nearly 90,000 followers - an impressive number, but a number I could see easily beaten once Twitter starts surfacing the new accounts your friends are following alongside mentions of that account itself.

It will be fascinating to see what the reaction will be like to these new updates.

40% of consumers use price comparison sites to buy household goods

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For the past few weeks I’ve been shopping for a new fridge (I’m moving house).

I was very much hoping for the convenience of reading over some online reviews and then making a purchase online. Instead, I found myself taking a trip to my nearest electrical retailer, with iPhone in hand, reading over product reviews on my phone while testing the products for real.

My online/offline shopping experience led me to think about how many other people approach shopping like this, and whether this kind of ‘dual experience’ shopping gives savvy high street retailers an advantage over others.

Experian and ResearchNow have just released a whitepaper based on survey of 2,000 UK Consumers.

In the survey, 10% of respondents reported that they use their mobile in-store to check the price of goods elsewhere before purchasing – a trend which Experian have dubbed “the Handset Haggler”.

Some other key trends from their whitepaper include:

  • 5% of respondents have actively sought feedback on a purchase in store from Twitter or Facebook
  • 4% of all those surveyed will make a purchase based on an offer sent to them based on location eg Facebook Places

This might sound like a very small proportion of consumers, but if you consider the deals that Facebook Places launched in the UK only three months ago, it’s easy to see that these numbers are likely to grow.

However, the killer statistic for me is that 40% of respondents said they make use of price comparison sites before purchasing electrical or white goods. When you consider this in the context of where consumers make their purchases, the potential for integrating offline and online shopping becomes apparent.

In 2008, 51% of online purchases came from purely online retailers. In 2011, this number has declined to 41%, with retailers who benefit from a bricks-and-mortar presence taking 59% of online purchases.

With high street retailers still struggling as the economy recovers it is reassuring to see that the physical shopping experience doesn’t have to be competitive with ordering online. The two can happily complement each other to better educate consumers , and improve the quality of their experience.