All posts in “Facebook”

Facebook redesigns Life Events feature with animated photos, videos and more

Facebook today announced a redesign of its “Life Events” feature, which allows people to share significant milestones in their life, like an engagement, graduation, a new job, a move to a new city, and more. The feature has existed since the launch of Timeline, but has to date offered a fairly nondescript type of post. Today, that’s changing, Facebook says. Now, users will be able to add animated photos or videos, photos from the people or Page you’ve tagged (like those of your partner or your new workplace), or you you can pick an image from Facebook’s own art collection, if you don’t have your own.

The photos and videos you post will also have subtle animations, like slowly zooming in, to give the post more attention. And you can still pick an icon to represent the life event, as before.

The idea behind the redesign is to give these sorts of posts a better way to stand out from other posts, the company explains

Of course, Facebook likely wants to increase the feature’s adoption, too, as it’s a straightforward way to collect profile data on an individual that they may not have otherwise filled out – like where they live, where they work, or their alma mater, for example.

Facebook will also now alert your friends directly when you’ve shared some life events, it says.

For certain types of life events – like changes in your current city, work, education, and relationship status – your friends may receive a notification to let them know about the news. This ensures they won’t miss the update if they were just casually scrolling their News Feed. And it’s a way to make sure the event gets seen by your broader network of Facebook friends – including those acquaintances whose updates don’t regularly show in your News Feed, as Facebook’s algorithms have determined you aren’t close.

In addition, when you react to a life event someone else posted with a like, wow, heart, etc., Facebook now shows all the other reactions from friends alongside your own.

Perhaps most importantly, is that Facebook is finally giving life events a place of importance on users’ profiles.

While the feature for years has been touted as a way to remember significant events, it’s actually been fairly difficult to relocate your older life event posts from years ago. With the update, however, life events will have their own dedicated section on user profiles. (You can opt to hide a life event here by tapping the “…” button then selecting “Hide from Timeline,” if you choose).

This will give people visiting your profile for the first time a way to get to know you, by way of the most important moments you’ve shared through this feature. That may not be something everyone is comfortable with, though, so you’ll want to check to see if there are any older life event posts you need to hide or delete.

The updated life events are rolling out worldwide on iOS, Android and desktop beginning today, and completing in the days ahead.

Facebook is still trying to find new places to put ads

It might seem like there’s already tons of ads on Facebook, but the company is still searching for new places to put more of them. 

The latest method that’s materializing is in search results, where Facebook is now experimenting with ads, the company confirmed. 

“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it,” Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani said in a statement. 

Though not the first time Facebook had dabbled in search ads, it’s a significant move for the company, which is facing declining revenue growth.

For now, the ads will be an extension of those in Facebook’s News Feed. They’ll only be available to a limited number of people in the automotive and retail industry, according to the company. Facebook’s early partners can opt in to the new ads via the same ad manager tools they use to promote ads in the News Feed.

The new ad format is the latest sign that Facebook is still eagerly searching for new places to put ads. The company has been warning investors for some time that ads in News Feed are pretty much at capacity and that they still haven’t figured out how to monetize Stories effectively. 

Combine that with slowing user growth, and the only option left open to the company is to tap into new places on Facebook, which are not currently being monetized. (Likewise, the company is also eyeing new places to put ads in Instagram.)

So search, which is featured prominently and used by just about everyone on the service, is certainly a promising place to start. 

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Instagram will offer special features to influencers with new ‘creator accounts’

Instagram is working on a new type of account for influencers.
Instagram is working on a new type of account for influencers.

Image: lili sams / mashable

Instagram is taking new steps to woo some of its highest profile users. 

The app is testing “creator accounts,” which would add new analytics and messaging features geared toward influencers and other power users of the photo-sharing app.

The update is currently being tested and will roll out more broadly next year, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  It will offer influencers an alternative to Instagram business profiles, which the company introduced in 2016, Instagram wrote in a statement.

“Increasingly, creators rely on Instagram to connect with followers and grow their personal brands, however the tools that are currently available to businesses today make it difficult for them to track their growth and engagement over time. We’re building the new Creator Account to help solve some of those challenges and make it easier for creators to grow their personal brands on Instagram,” the announcement reads.

The profiles will come with new ways to customize contact information on profiles, as well as tools for filtering messages.

Though many Instagram influencers rely on the service to make connections with potential sponsors and other business contacts, it can be challenging to do so with existing tools. Features like message filtering would make it much easier to separate important messages from the fan mail and spam that often clutters the inboxes of high-profile accounts.

THR reports that influencer accounts will also come with the option to get more advanced analytics, which would provide “weekly and daily data around how their follower count has changed.” Instagram currently provides some analytics to business accounts, but not in the detail that would be available to creator accounts. This is especially important, not just because it allows account holders to gauge the effect of their content more accurately, but because the lack of sophisticated analytics has indirectly made some accounts more vulnerable to being hacked. 

Right now, there are a number of (unsanctioned) third-party tools that purport to provide the kinds of in-depth analytics Instagram doesn’t. But clever hackers have taken to spoofing many of these sites and tricking people into entering their account credentials in order to steal their account. So, by offering more in depth analytics of its own, Instagram will be able to provide an alternative to these sometimes shady services.

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Facebook relaunches search ads to offset slowing revenue

It’s an ad duoply battle. Facebook is starting to test search ads in its search bar and Marketplace, directly competing with Google’s AdWords. Facebook first tried Sponsored Results back in 2012 but eventually shut down the product in 2013. Now it’s going to let a small set of automotive, retail, and ecommerce industry advertisers show users ads in the US and Canada.

They’ll be repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text, and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites. Facebook declined to share screenshots as it says the exact design is still evolving. Facebook may expand search ads to more countries based on the test’s performance.

The reintroduction of search ads could open an important new revenue stream at a time when Facebook’s revenue growth is quickly decelerating as it runs out of News Feed ad space, the Stories format that advertisers are still adapting is poised to overtake feed sharing on social apps, and users shift their time elsewhere. In Q3 2018, revenue grew 33 percent year-over-year, but that’s far slower than the 49 percent YOY gain it had a year ago, and the 59 percent from Q3 2016. Opening up new ad inventory for search could reinvigorate the sagging revenue growth rate that, combined with Facebook’s privacy and security scandals, has put intense pressure on Facebook’s leaders Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg.

“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it” Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani to TechCrunch in a statement. The announcement of the search ads comes as Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai is under fire from Congress over data privacy, though the move could help Google look less like it has a monopoly in search. Facebook’s share of the $279.56 billion total worldwide digital ad market will grow to 19.5 percent this year, trailing #1 Google which has 31.5 percent.

Back in 2012, Facebook desperately sought extra revenue streams following its botched IPO. Sponsored Results let game companies, retailers, and more inject links to their Facebook apps, Pages, and posts as ads in the search typeahead results. Since advertisers could target searches for specific other Pages and apps, brands and game developers often tried to swoop in and steal traffic from their competitors. For example, dating app Match.com could target searches for competitor OkCupid and appear above its results. Facebook isn’t allowing advertisers to be quite as cutthroat with this test.

Facebook’s 2012 Sponsored Results ads let competitors swoop on each other’s traffic

Advertisers with access will be able to simply extend their existing Newss Feed ads to the new “Search” placement through the Facebook Ads Manager, similar to how they’d pick Facebook Audience Network or Instagram. No videos ads will be allowed. For now, advertisers won’t pick specific keywords to advertise agains, and instead may appear in search terms related to auto or retail topics. Ads will featured a “Sponsored” tag, and are subject to the same transparency controls around “Why Am I Seeing This?” Facebook plans to evaluate the benefits for users and advertisers in order to determine whether to roll out the ads to more countries and categories.

One major concern is that Facebook already collects as much information as possible about people and their behavior to target its ads. With the reintroduction of search ads, it’s even more incentivized to gather what we do online, what we buy offline, and who we are.

Facebook will have to balance the injection of the ads with remaining an easy way to search for friends, content, businesses and more. Search is far from the core of Facebook’s offering, where users typically browse the News Feed for serendipitous content discovery rather than go looking for something specific. The most common searches are likely for friends’ names which won’t be great ad candidates. But given how accustomed users are to search ads on Google, this new revenue stream could help Facebook boost its numbers without too much disruption to its service.

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg face off in Epic Rap Battles of History

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Oooohhhhhh, the Epic Rap Battles of History video guys are back after a two-year hiatus, and they’re coming for two of the most shade-able figures in the tech world: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg.

Epic Rap Battles is a video series that pits public figures against each other with fictional and non-fictional beefs. In 2016, their two rhyme spitters where none other than, you guessed it, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

This time around, the robotic Zuckerberg faces off against the pompous Musk. Each  brags about their achievements, and rags on the other for their personal and professional, erm, shortcomings.

“I’m making brilliant innovations in a race against the dark ages,” raps fake Musk. “You provide a place to discover your aunt’s kinda racist.”

“I’ll end your story like Snapchat —ghost!” the rapping Zuckerberg spits. “Elon you’re nothing/ but an attention seeking outcast/And your star is faded/like you on a podcast.”

Daanggg.

Musk and Zuckerberg are two CEOs who couldn’t be more diametrically opposed in their public personas. They did feud over a Facebook satellite Elon Musk happened to blow up, once. And Elon Musk took part in the #DeleteFacebook movement by removing some of his company’s Facebook pages. But the two billionaires mostly stay out of each other’s hair.