Thursday, April 18, 2013

Being more social

There's been a lot going on with features recently introduced by some of the major social media sites. And I want to take a few moments to talk about how these features are built to encourage us to be more social.

Some of the most recent rundown of features, as you may know, are:

Facebook's Chatheads
What would be the purpose of these new featuresets other than to entice users to stay on the site longer? Of course, that's the purpose of any website (or storefront) improvements...get the user to stay on the site longer and come back more often (or get the shopper to browse more in the aisles). But the major features we've been seeing lately aren't just about spending more time on the websites or apps, but about using the services in new and different ways.
LinkedIn's new mobile app

Chatheads is meant to pull people into using messaging more like a IM app and not just the pseudo-email it has been typically been used as.

Twitter's new music suggestion
LinkedIn's new apps re-focus them and shift a lot of the intended use to researching people you might be meeting with (the website continues to stay more focused on news & article posts)

#Music is meant as a new resource connecting your twitter-verse with other services that you'd probably not connect otherwise.

So this isn't just about showing more updates from your contacts, it's about connecting with them in different ways...whether it's real-time updates & messages, quick lookups for their professional background, or about what type of music their listening to, these companies are finding new ways which they're hoping pull people back over and over and over. Just like we instinctively head to google to look up anything and everything, these companies are looking for their own sort of "just google it"

Facebook's "Suggested Page" layout has
improved to be clear and separated
Facebook's "Suggested App" started
showing up last fall, but its layout has
improved over time.
Now, let me also say that the features these companies have been focusing on are not just whiz bang new features like chatheads or #music discovery, the features also include incremental improvements to each of these sites & apps which make them easier to use or just plain more useful.

The facebook website and mobile apps look quite a bit different now than they did just six months ago and many of those differences are about making the app look better and I've definitely noticed the improvements...and yes, I'd call them improvements. I've provided just two examples from the Facebook iOS app, but Twitter has made lots of tweeks which make it easier to scroll through your tweetstream, click on links for other users or websites. Each of these seemingly small improvements make each service more friendly to use

I love to see all of this change in this space. While we may sometimes wonder what big new feature a site may release and we may sometimes be underwhelmed those big features, each of those big changes is a try and expanding and changing our usage on the site. Additionally, between those big feature announcements, there are so many little things done that over the course of just six months, those incremental changes amount to big things.

And I believe that is all designed to encourage us to use their services more often, for different reasons, and help us all be more social.

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