The holy grail of the private moment

Since half a year now or so I’m using Taptalk. This Dutch/German app grew out of DingDong app and is unleashing a bunch of new apps that are a kind of retake more or less literally. Instagram introduced an app named Bolt just yesterday and earlier this week Mirage was launched, made by the people behind Yo. Both had done a shameless copy of the interaction principle of tap-to-share ultra short interaction model.

One of the makers of Taptalk did react on this fact by stating that they don’t really care because of their steps advantage in thinking and roadmap they have. And I believe him, not specifically for that roadmap, but because there is an angle in the Taptalk app that Bolt and Mirage are missing because they just focus on the quick share. The crux of the new movement of apps, that are originated by Snapchat, is the private character. We go from moment sharing – the field Instagram has conquered – to private moment sharing. This requires a different approach to master.

With Taptalk there are clear and hidden elements that create an extra private feeling. The clear thing is the location sharing. By adding the location of the moment it becomes way more private in perception. It seems simple but is so important for the feel of it. Also the way that only the one that shares reveals it location, something that was different from DingDong. I think this works better.

And there are also more hidden ways the app is more private I think. It lies in the obscurity of things. In the awkwardness of the sudden sharing, the puzzling interaction. Something that becomes of course less the case for regular users, but remains an important feel. The fact that there is no history, that there is a weird indicator in the avatar pics. The app is constructed around obscurity. Obscurity in an engaging way. That is different from the irritation factor Slingshot is generating with it’s forced communication chain.

The attention for Taptalk by Instagram is logical. They have no stake in the private message domain that is becoming more and more important. Like Whatsapp is replacing the function of Facebook and Twitter because we are rather sharing in our known groups. Instagram has introduced the messaging function but probably sees not many use (speculative). Mother Facebook is separating the Messaging app, Instagram is now doing the same with Bolt. Breaking up apps to their different functions is a trend on its own.

Unless I think that Instagram did not really get the essence of this new private moment sharing, they have a chance in succeeding as they find a way to embed their unique value of manipulating reality (filtering) and adding that to the private moment. Apart from that we will see that the new tap-to-direct-share interaction paradigm will dominate apps from now on. And so will private communication.

The mobile framing of Facebook

Now we have had the IPO of Facebook we can expect a mature mobile client at last. That is my theory at least; Facebook have been waiting with the serious mobile client to boost the stocks value after IPO. The current apps are so bad, Facebook should be able to do so much better and should be able to dedicate teams to it, especially because it is so crucial for the success of Facebook.I think there are two important factors of Facebook mobile that will be addressed. A true mobile client, and a advertising model that is successful.

On the first aspect. We see that all old skool web companies are struggling with the mobile world. Google as most important example. They did however upgraded their latest version of + which is a step forward. They should however focus on a discover and search function in the mobile environment, close to their core.

But this post is not on Google. Back to Facebook. I expect they created a dedicated team that rebuild the facebook experience in the mobile context. They bought enough brains for that. And things as app stores are just some smoke curtains of the stuff we could expect. Integration of Glancee like ubiquitous social connection and discovery is more in line of the new mobile strategy.

That connects to the second part of their mobile leapfrogging strategy; solving the business model based on advertising. Putting ads in the app or even in the stream is too lame. And will alienate users. It should be smarter. More relevant. A model of sponsored localized and social relevant content is more likely. Capitalizing on the interest graph as RWW mentioned here. Combined with a new interaction model where notifications are key and predictive routings will lead. I think it could well be that all the profile knowledge Facebook has of the one user combined with the brands will lead to an app that provides you with knowledge on latent demand and tailored to your situational context that will fit one person needs.

Of course is the model a sponsored one. As brand you will be able to connect your offerings to profiles that are not only based on segmentation but also on context. Just like now, the building of more complete data profiles is the core activity of Facebook.
A smart notification system will be the main communication form. Permission disruptive notification; only the information you need, with a bit extra. Combined with the social radar function.

Facebook mobile will try to offer a second screen experience on your real-life activities, from watching shows online to shopping around.
The hardest part will be to create model that is not too disruptive, and even more important to create a model for brands to understand what happens and how they should leverage. Just like the current advertising in a non dialogue way is far from effective, it is in the mobile context very important to do it right.

And as we can expect from Facebook; the first iterations can be wrong and provoking. Being connected to the stock market will make them a bit more cautious. There lies some danger, because Facebook needs the mobile success badly.

Setting of the social layer

A lot is said on the possible future of Google+. It seems hard to add a lot to it. On the other hand, we can now see the dust come down a bit and see where it could heading. Possibly it will turn out to be rather different, but well, lets share some thoughts here, based on some deeper drivers that emerges.

Social is becoming a natural part of all services and products that are designed now and in the coming future. In that sense I agree on the views of Roger McNamee. The talk is highly quoted as “social is over”, but that is not the right sentiment. Social is not over, social is not a separate entity anymore, it has become part of everything. That is exactly what we see in the business context happening; social as mean to get in touch with your clients and build on trust and activation is now becoming running business.

We mature in our use of online relations. We see that people, youngsters up front, are becoming professional in the dividing our sharing habits to different levels of online relations. We understand that not everyone is attached the same and it to trust. The rise of private networks is a clear sign, as is the use of private functions in existing networks like groups of closed accounts in Twitter.

The way we communicate is also going to a new phase. We are more selective in sending out and receiving anonymous messages, and we have built a layered messaging habit with private chats in realtime, private messaging to people in our own network and publishing opinions to shape our personal brand.

These three elements are happening for some time now. The existing social platforms (Twitter and Facebook as most important ones) are continuous trying to redesign and introducing new functions to address this developments. And you see that Google+ is using its advantage to start from scratch building up this new social layer and revamping the existing services.

In that, Google could really leverage from the existing fundaments. The hardest part will be to keep focus on the essence of these elements in rolling out the new Google of the second decade, always the hardest part to migrate from existing products.
But the other platforms have even a harder job there of course. Facebook will try to catch up with an enhanced friend listing system. Twitter will bring more coherence in the lists and private accounts.

The coming year, or maybe better; half a year, the different platforms will stand next to each other and creating somewhat sharper profiles. Facebook will be (stay) the private friends network for the masses to share thoughts with friends and find nice stuff for your day to day life. The messaging center will be better organized and extended, maybe even with a simple calendar for instance, to fit all the needs for your private communications.
Twitter will remain and become even more the platform for the latest news, realtime sharing of events with impact, from incidents to big live events in real or on TV for instance. It will be more and more the platform for ad hoc and topic related communications and losing the day to day hangout function.
Google+ will become the serious and professional thoughts-sharing platform. What Twitter was the first years. But also integrating services like Quora. If you are looking for information and advice on stuff Google+ will be your source. It will take that role from Twitter, and it will also take a part of the hangout function dividing it with Facebook.

In the meanwhile the battlefield of the platforms is going on, on the deeper level. Who will be building the best functioning social layer. Facebook have an advantage with the Like and Connect system, but Google has its search-profiles and can grow easily in a social backbone too. If Twitter can team up with Apple it will be a serious competitor in that field too.

When the platforms are closing by creating their dominant profile platforms the challenge (still) will be for businesses to get in touch with the customers. Be part of the conversation is essential for a modern organization, and they have to be present on different platforms. The way the platforms will service that need in respect of the user, will define the shape of the social layer in the coming years.

Why Facebook messaging will be a gmail killer after all

Today Facebook announced a new messaging platform. I see a lot of cynic reviews. All this reviews are blinded by the idea that Facebook was to announce a Gmail killer. I think one aspect is overlooked; the changing messaging behaviour of new generations.

Of course seen by the bare functionalities the messaging platform does not offer new functionality above combinations of Gmail and Google Talk.
But what is really different is the context of messaging. Tnis new platforms sits in a social context, a place where you are communicating in realtime with friends, putting up to speed with the lifes of people you follow. There you need sometimes different levels of communication. Just like DM in Twitter is a strong communiciation channel.

I believe that a Facebook messaging platform can take an important role in our day-to-day communication with friends. It will be therefor more a competitor for DM, chat and ping, text/sms than it will be for gmail.
But if your are honest, do you know how hard it is to reach the millenial with email?

Update: I just watched this video of Facebook explaining the system. With somewhat more focus on the messaging make easy, but I still think the social realtime context is the strongest element.

Mobile as next step in connecting the world to Facebook

Coming Wednesday (November 3rd) Facebook will have an event on mobile. There are many speculations on the expected news, in that sense these events are becoming as hot as those of Apple, from new mobile apps to a Facebook phone. I’m not gonna predict, but I can think what would be interesting. As Facebook does all the time; it will look for a solution that connect the world to Facebook.

Mobile is important for Facebook and will be more important in locking in people to the service. The integration with voice can be interesting in an mobile environment, now they are partnering with Skype. So let’s say; you get a call icon with every post to directly call that one using the technology of Skype. Every account is automatically hooked up to Skype. You don’t need a Skype account (or telephone number anymore), your Facebook identity is your entrance to voice communication. In that sense Facebook will add 500 million accounts to Skype, with whom they joined forces.

I don’t think it is necessary for Facebook to offer their own phone. In contrary, good apps for all platforms where Skype is integrated will be enough to change the way we call today. The weakest point for using Skype as replacement for normal telephone use is the lack of installed base. Not all your friends are on Skype, and Skype is not active all the time. Roaming between mobile and facebook accounts with skype will change that perception.

I think it could be really exciting to see what Facebook will introduce. If it will be the backward integration of Skype it could be as game changing as the social graph tools to connect the world to Facebook.

Can we expect Google Groups?

This week a very interesting presentation by Paul Adams of Google was published on Slideshare called The Real Life Social Network. He nailed some trends in social media on real behavior. It was all over the blogosphere already. It reminds me of my presentation on virtual gated communities at Reboot 11 in 2008. One of the things I was thinking about back then was the way we would create groups with different levels of privacy. It will be very interesting if the presented visions of Adams are translated into a new social approach by Google, just like the rumor that was spread this week by former CTO of Google. Interesting to see how Google are trying to use another angle to confront facebook, with a differentiation in groups. Another thought I had is still valid: can we have interoperability in these groups between different providers?

Continue reading Can we expect Google Groups?

Location as the new black, also for Facebook

Location is hot again. And a lot of speculations are made on the position Facebook will take. Will Facebook be the One Ring of Location gives a good overview. I think there will be a smooth integration of location in your Facebook profile and new targeting options will be connected to it.

For me the concept of location in Facebook can have three elements:
Continue reading Location as the new black, also for Facebook

Come to me marketing

I think I did some post before on this topic here, but a new post triggered some quick thoughts; the shift to the so-called come-to-me-marketing is really happening.
We are profiling ourselves all the time if we are using advanced social tools like Facebook and Foursquare. Permission based will get a new dimension. We will use the new emerging context driven use of online media to obtain useful information when we want it. In our Facebook presentations we often use the example where we show that the number of people interested in books on Facebook according their profile (3 mln) is maybe much more interesting to target than the number of searches to kindle (3k/month).
the google mirror principle by 77agency
The same goes for the examples on location aware marketing made possible by the profiling analytics which is added. This will be the next big thing. For commercial messages, but also especially also for services.

2010 the year with new focus and service attitude

It is a tradition on my blog to give some predictions on the coming year. See these for 2009 and 2008 (both in Dutch). I will not look back in detail to see if the predictions came true, in the end it is more a residu of my thinking of that moment, than a serious hitting for the trends to come true. Broader trends are more interesting than one hot wonders, in my opinion, and I’m glad that the predictions of the last two year has started and/or are still developing. As I said last year: the short term developments are always slower, but looking back in a couple of years we will be surprised by the changes.

This said, I will share some thoughts for the coming year; I think this will be a year as a start of a new focus and service attitude.
Continue reading 2010 the year with new focus and service attitude

Ontstaat er een strijd om de community-connector?

Facebook kondigde op SXSW conferentie aan dat hun Facebook connect functionaliteit beschikbaar wordt voor iPhone-app ontwikkelaars. Daarmee is het makkelijker om je community vanuit Facebook te koppelen aan een app. In een andere lezing op de SXSW wordt de overlap tussen de tools beschreven. Je streams worden van de ene naar de andere dienst overgezet. Het begint er eindelijk op de te lijken dat we naar een situatie toegaan waar jezelf eigenaar van je relaties bent en die overal kan meenemen. Community portabiliteit zeg maar. Niet meer dan logisch: je bent onderdeel van een community; de sites zijn maar tools om deze community te versterken.

De stap van Facebook is daarmee een belangrijke. Je zal zien dat het ook voor andere aanbieders een belangrijke volgende stap gaat worden, waarbij Google met FriendConnect de belangrijkste tegenstrever is. Het is niet meer dan logisch dat Google een vergelijkbare stap zal doen binnen het Android-platform en daar hun FriendConnect seamless te integreren. En zo ontstaat een interessante strijd tussen twee online grootheden met een eigen oorsprong. Waarbij Facebook met de sociale focus een sterk uitgangspunt heeft.