‘Organ Donor’ to be featured as ‘Life Event’ on Facebook

Facebook users will be able to add organ donor preferences to their profiles through ‘life event’, encouraging their friends to become organ donors as well.

Though this won’t be an official registration for donating organs, but a social pledge making everyone in your family and friends aware of your decision. One of the ways this could help the cause is that your family members can make more informed decisions about unregistered donors more confidently.  May be such public status updates will influence others too considering the impressive number of 901mn members in the network.

Cynics are out considering the timing of Facebook’s IPO which is scheduled for mid May 2012. Perhaps, this is a last attempt to infuse some more positive sentiment to the brand before it starts trading on the stock market. However, this is truly a commendable move by Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg who made this announcement during an interview with Good Morning America said that this idea came from an conversation with this girlfriend Priscilla Chan about the ways organ donations can change people’s lives. Priscilla is a medical student. In a statement along with Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, Zuckerberg wrote that,  “And we believe that by simply telling people that you’re an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.”

According to a press release by Facebook, “Today, more than 114,000 people in the United States, and millions more around the globe, are waiting for the heart, kidney or liver transplant that will save their lives. Many of those people – an average of 18 people per day – will die waiting, because there simply aren’t enough organ donors to meet the need. Medical experts believe that broader awareness about organ donation could go a long way toward solving this crisis. And we believe that by simply telling people that you’re an organ donor, the power of sharing and connection can play an important role.”

Some are raising questions about the effectiveness of this feature in driving awareness about organ donation. Though, according to one survey by Mashable nearly 60% of respondents think that ‘Organ Donor’ life event will help those in needs. It will be a while before you see this feature functional on your page.

Do you plan to donate your organs anytime soon?

Some part of this post by me was first published on ODigMa




Instagram goes the Facebook way

It’s been few hours since the news of Facebook buying Instagram, the much loved photo sharing app broke out. Instagram has around 27mn users on iOS and its android launch was also quite successful with a 1 million downloads within few hours of its launch.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook first came out with the news on his page.

“For years, we’ve focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.”

Sharing photos has been a popular activity on Facebook with people sharing photos of their family and friends. Instagram will continue to function independently and will not be integrated to Facebook as of now. However, its team will join Facebook, and you can expect more wonderful things to come from their complementing skills.

“We need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people.”

Speculation is ripe on what new features might be coming from this combination. According to Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram in a blog post:

“It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away…We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience…You’ll still have all the same people you follow and that follow you. You’ll still be able to share to other social networks. And you’ll still have all the other features that make the app so fun and unique.”

What do you expect from the combination of Facebook and Instagram? Tell us your thoughts.

This post by me was first published on the ODigMa blog

‘Sponsored Stories’ to show in Facebook news feed from 2012

Image representing Facebook as depicted in Cru...

Image via CrunchBase

Facebook is all set to allow ‘Sponsored Stories’ social advertisements in the ‘news feed’ from early 2012. This could prove to be a turning point for online advertising and dig into the pockets of current paid search and display advertising offered by Google Adwords and Adsense.

Sponsored Stories are Facebook’s ad units which turn a user’s page updates, likes, application activities and checkins into advertisement. Sponsored Stories were introduced for the first time in early 2011.

This is a drastic change for Facebook which hasn’t shown advertisements in the ‘News Feed’ since 2008. The ads will be displayed as ‘sponsored’ and would be limited to just one story per day. Users’ won’t be able to opt out of the sponsored stories which will be related to the pages they like and their friends’ activity. However, they can block certain ads depending on personal preference so that what they view in their news feed is not offensive or misleading. This would also act as feedback mechanism on the network to allow effective retargeting.

This would prove to be a major boost for advertisers, who are already using fans page activity and user generated content as sponsored social ads, which through this initiative would also appear in the organic feed of the user. So far, sponsored stories were displayed distinctly on the side bar of the organic feed of the user termed as news feed. The sponsored stories in the current format  command an impressive 46% click through rate and with an revamped format it is expected to be even higher.  According to various researches done on online behaviour, users spend most of their online time on Facebook and socialising with their friends, another reason for Facebook to offer advertisers more ways to utilise the platform.

Social ads increase the relevance of an advertisement by acting as a direct referral from a user’s fan base on the platform. These are considered to be unobtrusive unlike traditional advertisements and are more of an opt-in service transforming the activity on the platform as a source of advertisements.

Following similar trend of giving more priority to advertisers within the social news stream on social networks, Twitter had introduced ‘Promoted Tweets’ within users’ timeline early in the year. Experts believe there is always a risk of backlash as thriving social networks which prioritise a positive user experience have been averse to include advertisements within users’ social interactions. However, the subtlety with which Twitter and now Facebook aim to woe advertisers the risk is minimal.

The sponsored stories would be introduced on the mobile devices with some delay. Founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004, Facebook is world’s largest social network with 800mn overall members.

This story of mine was first published in Daily Post. You can access it here

Where do you think Google+ will be in 6 months? 1 year?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

My answers to questions from AnyAsq.com. Ask me anything here

One thing is very clear Google+ is here to stay. We can safely expect its membership to rise from 10mn to say 100mn or so in 6 months to 1 year time as the field trial ends and more members join.

This will probably be the record for the fastest organic growth achieved by any of the social networks ever.

Based on the engineering culture of Google, I believe they are going to improve considerably simply because Google has a very top notch team of experts headed by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz. and they have finally got things right.

What else will change?

1. There will be more Apps not just the fun stuff but apps which will solve problems of organizations and businesses i.e. more for community management and engagement.

2. People will discover many more uses of Google+ from work place to crisis response as in earthquakes etc.

3. Google+ will become default for any SEO based activity and aligning it with your community i.e. more +1’s on links shared in Google+ and higher ranking in Google search.

4. For lots more people and businesses using Gmail and Google products will be default as they will be placed around Google+, their social identity.

And what will be truly awesome is: A sequel to The social Network with Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin all in together. I bet some one has already started scripting it 😉

Google+ and a sequel to ‘The Social Network’

Who thought a week back that something called Google+ would have people falling head over heels for access to the latest social network to hit the planet. While few got in, and many wait at the doorsteps envying the guys inside, its not a surprise the amazing response Google+ got. One of the guy who got in and is the most followed member so far in there is founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg.

Google and Facebook have been pitted against each other for years. Google’s missed opportunities to enter the social domain has only helped Facebook to cruise ahead with a 750million members on board.

The Palo Alto based company with a crazy speculative valuation of $50billion has always led from the front dwarfing the competition. The early comparisons were with Myspace, which recently got sold for $35mn (Myspace was once valued at $1bn).  Though this is not the first attempt by Google to enter the social domain. Google has previously experimented with Google Buzz, which became notorious for its privacy mischief during its early days. But this time Google is playing its card just right or so it seems. Integrating social with search and bringing together rest of its apps around Google+ will pay dividends for it. This could possibly be the tectonic shift in the social media space if Google+ can continue the momentum.

Facebook may be big but its not invincible. One thing is sure its going to be a lot of time before this space stabilizes and show any kind of saturation.

PS: It would be awesome to watch the sequel of The Social Network with characters of Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page and Sergey Brin all in one.