How to Look Good in Facebook Photos

Have you ever noticed that everyone looks good on Facebook? Is it just me, or do people on Facebook look better than the people on a typical dating site?

My theory is that people look better on Facebook because they’re actually who they say they are. If they’re pushing content under their own name they’ll work harder to make sure they look good. Compare that to dating sites where half the users are pretending to be someone other than themselves.

Along these lines, Geek Sugar has a post up on how to look good in online photos.

Tips include trying the over the shoulder look that many celebrities seem to prefer.

One other that I’d suggest trying is the high angle photo. As most people know, taking a photo where you’re looking down at the lens can be dreadful since it makes it look like you have 17 chins. Instead, lift your camera way above you for a shot to make those chins go away.

But be careful. If you get too good at this your friends won’t recognize you when the see you in the real world.

What Businesses Can Learn from Scrabulous

Scrabulous, as the New York Times reported this weekend, is spreading like wildfire within Facebook. People who were logging into their Facebook accounts once a week are suddenly keeping a tab open all day so they can check to see if their opponents have played their turn.

While this could be a productivity sucker for employees who become addicted to the game, I think there are some productivity lessons that can be learned from this as well.

The Power of Asynchronous Work

Improved speed. Imagine sitting in a large room with 12 of your friends who are each playing 12 games of Scrabble one on one with each other. If my calculations are correct, you’d need 66 Scrabble boards and spend half your time running around looking for tables where you could play your next move. It would end up taking a long long time for all 12 people to complete games against their 11 competitors. However, if each person can play their turns at a time that’s convenient for them, the total time committed to each game goes down significantly.

Improved quality. Quality improves because people can work on their puzzles at a time when they’re in the right mindset to take on the task. They pick a time when they’ll be able to focus on the task at hand without interruptions.

True Multitasking. Finish one task that’s part of a larger project, move onto the next. Return to the first.

However, I believe the reason this works so well within Scrabulous while less so in many work environments is the quality of the task definition. Every involved party is dealing with a clearly defined task, and in the vast majority of cases, a task they’re familiar with from previous projects.

In fact, the task is so well defined in Scrabulous that you never need to interact with your fellow project partners. You may know their name, but you don’t need to talk, know where each other live, how old you are, etc. You’re both their to work on a known task.

I think efficient businesses are most capable of achieving a Scrabulous level of efficiency where employees can login to work from anywhere at any time, immediately understand what needs to be accomplished, and get right to work.

Strange FaceBook Ad Targeting

Can anyone tell me what happened here:

Facebook Ad

I’m 33 years old and I’ve included that information in my FaceBook profile. So, why am I see seeing this ad?

Is this a case of an advertiser setting up their campaign incorrectly?

Is FaceBook’s advertising imprecise at fulfilling advertiser’s demographic targeting requests?

Is this advertiser intentionally advertising to 33 year olds about a really cool new network for the 35+ crowd?

Facebook Adding Friend Grouping and Permissions

I recently got back from a trip to Argentina and Uruguay which allowed me to update my WhereIveBeen map in Facebook. And drink some wine, eat some beef, and get some sun.

While I was gone, I see that Facebook has announced their plan to give members more control over how they group their friends. Once grouped, you can decide who gets to see what, who can leave wall comments, and other fun stuff.

Let’s face it: not all Facebook friends are created equal. Some are online versions of people you hang out with every week. Others are people with looser connections to your daily life. Or coworkers.

This is a very good thing because the lack of control was getting to the point of causing Facebook to eat itself alive. For many, Facebook starts out as a way to keep in touch with close friends. It’s all about having some fun leaving each other updates, sharing photos, music tastes, etc. But then you find yourself connected with people who aren’t in on every joke and don’t necessarily understand your sense of humor. What do you do then? Start censoring yourself a bit, which takes the fun out of Facebook.

But, if you can prioritize your “friends” (an highly abused term in social networking), you can use the Facebook network for fun and less-fun functions.

More on Target Rounders

I dug a bit more into Target Rounders (first post here) – Target Corp’s undercover Word of Mouth Marketing operation – and found a few nuggets:

Application Process

The application form at is EXTENSIVE. They ask college students for tons of personal information: name, address, date of birth, gender, URLs to their profiles on every social networking site (facebook, myspace, friendster, etc),

And questions to help determine how influential they may be: how many online friends they have, number of IM buddies, numbers stored in their mobile phones, how many people they invite to parties.

Then they find out what their applicants may be willing to do for Target:

If you were selected for the Target Rounders which of the following activities would you most like to participate in?

-Give out samples to friends and classmates
-Forward offers to friends with IM, email, messaging and social networking sites
-Product feedback and reviews
-Graphic design
-Research panels and surveys
-Talk to new people about Target
-Report to Target on the latest trends

Is the applicant an influencer? Here’s how they try to find out:

How would you describe yourself in your circle of friends?
-I decide what we’re going to do. Period.
-I’m usually the one that turns them on to cool new stuff.
-I usually keep more to myself
-I’m a team player and I’ll be up for whatever my friends want to do.

Here’s an example discussion from the Target Rounders Facebook group where a few Rounders discuss the best way to promote free mint samples they’ve been sent:


Privacy Policy

Their privacy policy states that they may “share” user data with other divisions of Target and companies outside of Target. Of course, it also looks like they copy/pasted the privacy policy from, so it’s not clear that any work was put into making it applicable to Target Rounders.

Related Word of Mouth Marketing Programs

The firm running the Target’s Rounders campaign is New York based marketing firm, Drillteam. They run similar campaigns for Virgin Mobile (Insiders), and the Microsoft Zune (Masters). Their motto is, “Collaborating with Young Adults to Build Brands.”

Time to Open a 2nd Flank in the Battle for Coolness?

Personally, I’d like to see Target start a sister program for Target Rounders called Target Sharpeners. Target Sharpeners would work to make sure the Target brand isn’t associated with uncool people.

First, stores would give plain bags rather than bags with Target logos to uncool Target shoppers (homeless, disabled, overweight, old people).

Second, they’d identify influential losers and steer them toward competitor’s stores by intersecting them in front of Target stores and offering them Wal-Mart gift certificates if they’d immediately leave the property.

There’s more than one way to build brands, ya know.

Target’s Undercover Facebook Operation

Target has a team of “cool kids” called Target Rounders who earn points for talking about how cool Target is to their friends on Facebook. The quote below comes from a letter sent from Target to Rounder Rosie Siman before she decided to go public about the program after she grew uncomfortable with their tactics:

Target Update

Your mission: try not to let on in the Facebook group that you are a Rounder. We love your enthusiasm for the Rounders, and I know it can be hard not to want to sing it from the mountaintops (and the shower, and on the bus…). However, we want to get other members of the Facebook group excited about Target, too! And we don’t want the Rounders program to steal the show from the real star here: Target and Target’s rockin’ Facebook group! So keep it like a secret!

I haven’t heard anything about this locally.

Be careful with aggressive Facebook marketing strategies. Does Target really need to run covert PR operations to get people to like them?

via Andy Sernovitz

Dealing with Over-Updating Facebook Friends

Marty Weintraub from aimClear Search Marketing Blog has become fed up with the mundane noticed some of his casual friends are pumping into Facebook, and he’s not going to take it anymore.

The challenge is, he still want to be their friends while avoiding the incessant documentation of every event in their daily lives.

How does he find the balance? By using the Feed Preferences tabs to throttle the types of updates you’ll receive in your news feed after logging in:

If hyperactive casual friends (you want to keep) are inadvertently Feed-bombing you, use Feed Preferences to specify up to 20 friends NOT to receive news feeds from at all. You will “only get stories regarding these people if nothing else is available.” There are also sliders which proportionally scale the level, across ALL friends, of incoming Story Types including Groups, Photos, Notes, Relationships, Friends, Wall Posts, Profiles, Status, and Posts.

This looks like a good tip. I’ve used the unfriend strategy in the past to avoid updates from heavy users, but this may be a better option.

Facebook's Use of Images for Email Addresses

Why does Facebook convert profile email addresses to images from text?

I noticed this while visiting a friend’s profile where I realized he, sadly, changed his email address when he changed ISPs (dude, seriously, stop using email addresses tied to your ISP).

I tried to grab his new address so I could update his contact information, but no, I couldn’t grab it because it was an image rather than text:

Facebook Email Image

Why do they do this? Who are they protecting? I only have access to the email addresses of my friends and others who’ve opted to allow public access to their profile information, so I don’t understand how this could be a spam prevention strategy.

Any theories?

Crunching My Facebook Friend Stats

I have been testing out the FriendCSV application mentioned on TechCrunch yesterday. FriendCSV allows you to download a .csv file with some – but not all – of your Facebook friend’s contact information.

One thing I found interesting was the comparison between Facebook UserIDs and birth dates. It looks like Facebook userIDs are handed out sequentially, so you can get a feel for when someone’s joined based on their userID.

My ID number is 500910058, so you can decide for yourself whether that gives me any Facebook cred.

To find your UserID number, click the Profile link and look for it in your browser’s address bar:

I plotted Facebook UserID’s against the birth dates of my Facebook friends and ended up with the following chart:

Facebook User ID Numbers by Birthdate

Birth years run from oldest on the left to youngest on the right.

The lower right quadrant makes up the early adopters. But in the case of Facebook, the early adopters were also the only people with access to the site: college students. In my friend’s case, this group is mostly made up of recent college graduates.

The lower left quadrant seemed strange until I spot checked it and found friends who were in grad school over the past few years.

I don’t have an explanation for the gap between Facebook UserId numbering 200-500 million. Any theories? Did Facebook arbitrarily bump up their UserID sequence at some point? It kind of looks like they may have reset it to 500,000,000 based on the line of friends at that level.

Moving to the top quadrants, the far right is pretty light, since basically anyone of college age had already joined Facebook.

Things seem fairly well dispersed among age ranges – in my case, from the 1940’s through the 1980’s – over the time Facebook has been open to everyone.

NY Times Facebook Application has Potential

Read/Write Web has a great writeup about the NY Times’ new Facebook application.

Josh Catone points out that it’s better than some other newspaper based applications in that it acts as a tool that drives people back to the newspaper’s site:

New York Times Launches Facebook App

The New York Times has taken a different tactic, however, and done a lot to nudge users toward their content. First, of course, by creating an app that seeks user engagement on a daily basis. Unlike the Post application, which you use once then wear as a badge on your profile, the NYT app encourages users to interact with it every day as fresh news quizzes arrive.

That’s a great point. In many ways, it reminds me of Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know? on Wisconsin Public Radio (and syndicated onto many other local public radio stations). That show quizzes callers about the news of the week on the top news and quirkiest news of the previous week.

If the NY Times is able to recreate that type of competition within Facebook, which then makes people reliant on the Times for quiz material, they should have a winner.

This isn’t something that’s going to reach iLike potential, but there are plenty of newshounds who could be attracted to this sort of thing, building closer loyalty to the Times and increasing daily page views (and ad impressions) from those users.