Social Media

Facebook Buys Shop-By-Picture Tech Company

Photo Credit: Tin Shingle

Photo Credit: Tin Shingle

Facebook just bought a shopping tech company, GrokStyle, that was a shopping tool created for the visual search space, and was used in Ikea’s mobile app. The way it worked was, a person could take a picture of a piece of furniture, and the technology would match it to similar pieces of furniture that the person could buy.

Deep dives by the media (social or print/digital brands) into shopping integration with online content continues. As StarOnline pointed out in their article, GrokStyle stated that they were shutting down as a company, but would continue on in team and technology. The statement did not include that the team would be at Facebook.

Screenshot of  GrokStyle’s announcement  of winding down the company as it’s known now.

Screenshot of GrokStyle’s announcement of winding down the company as it’s known now.

According to every article that published a story about this, they credited Facebook’s statement announcing this purchase including Bloomberg News, quoting Facebook’s spokesperson Vanessa Chan: "We are excited to welcome GrokStyle to Facebook. Their team and technology will contribute to our AI capabilities."

How Facebook Benefits By The Shopping-By-Picture Feature

Print media began adopting shopping into its print and digital pages, by way of picture scanning, like at Seventeen, and via good old fashioned affiliate links like with GQ, or that time in 2012 with Nordstrom sales. Facebook replaced Craig’s List with its group selling groups, where you could post a picture into a Buy/Sell group, and get immediate response as to if you had a buyer.

Then Facebook released Marketplace, where this buy/sell activity could begin happening instead. Simultaneously, visibility of anything posted at the then old Buy/Sell groups got slow. Instead, Facebook suggested ways to share the post (ie more work for me, and to keep me on the website), which is an attempt to increase activity on their website. I used to use the feature quite a lot. People in Buy/Sell groups moved to Marketplace, and is now is the place where people can have instant garage sales. Brands can also have a shop on Facebook and sell that way. Anyone can start Donation pages. Collections for birthdays, etc.

Facebook is trying to hook the next generation. The children. But the kids these days see Facebook as a Grandma and Parent Hangout, and don't want to hang with their parents. If Facebook can’t lock in teens and kids by way of whichever strategies they are attempting at the moment, Facebook is trying to lock it in with shopping. It must be hard to appeal to all of the people in all of the world all of the time. That’s a big customer base!

In Other News, Facebook Snuggles With Cryptocurrency…$$ To Buy The Stuff? Or Kill It…

Bloomberg also pointed out that Facebook acquired a blockchain technology company earlier this year. “The GrokStyle purchase marks the second reported acquisition by Facebook this year. Earlier this month, the company bought the team behind blockchain technology company Chainspace for an undisclosed sum. The company purchased at least four firms last year, including startups focused on messaging and AI.”

Interestingly, Facebook had blocked ads related to cryptocurrency, stating that the crypto marketplace is too high risk. This done in Facebook’s attempts to step away from being the vehicle people use to guide people down a bad - or wrong - path. In June of 2018, Facebook reportedly lifted that ban on cryptocurrency ads a little bit.

However, since that time (November 2018, actually), Tin Shingle wrote an article about cryptocurrency when we highlighted a blogger, Digiconomist, who covers cryptocurrency in depth. Facebook blocked our ability to Boost that article on their platform in November 2018.

Insert: Thinking Emoji…

Good 'Gram: How Blix Bike Is Using Instagram To Stay Fresh And New

GOOD 'GRAM

Tin Shingle Member Blix Bike has been killing it with their Instagram. Though they sell a handful of products - a variety of models of ebikes and accessories like a basket and touch-up paint - their Instagram feed is always fresh and new. One way they do it is to show customer photos of how customers are enjoying the bikes. See how these two bikes fit into this mini car!

Google + (Plus) Shuts Down...Why This Matters, And The Huge Implications For Everyone

google+ shuts down why this matters.PNG

Google+ is/was Google’s social network for people. Google+ launched in 2011, and wasn’t the first social network that Google tried to create to compete with Facebook. Led by Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz, the philosophy coming out from them back then about social media was: “we believe online sharing is broken,” as stated in this TechCruch article. This was back in 2011. Imagine what they think now. Super broken on many levels, from broken data security to human behavior. Both of these reasons contributing to the expedited and now immediate shutting down of Google+.

What Is Google+?

Google+ was a place where you could share articles, share photos, connect with people who were your friends or random people you’d never met. You could organize them by “Circles,” which was at first neat, but then became laborious as you kept organizing and micro-organizing your connections. You could chat with others, message, and just play like you would in a social network.

For SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, Google+ was great. Because it was a product of Google, the leaders of how SEO works, you had some faith that articles shared on Google+ would get higher treatment in search results. For instance, posting an article I wrote to Google+ would be part of my digital content strategy, because that post would show up in search results, thereby taking up space on Page 1 of Google search results to elbow out my competitors, especially if my actual article was already ranking highly. In fact, according to Google+ Support: “there's no way to make the content you share not searchable.” Hurray!

Google+ is much more than SEO, however. Google recognized that people like sharing documents, conversations and photos with each other, so they built a Google+ enterprise tool where companies can use it internally on private networks. The enterprise version of Google+ will continue to live.

What Happened? Why Is Google+ Shutting Down?

Two reasons: people just weren’t using it, and a data leak impacting 52.5 million people.

Despite myself knowing the high value of Google+, even I stopped using it years ago. Of all of the hundreds of articles I’ve ever written, I’d only shared/posted maybe 20 to my Google+ account. Google+ was just so clunky to use. Normal things to do, like sharing an article, or connecting with someone, was so hard to figure out how to do. The user experience of its ecosystem seemed discombobulated - disconnected - sliced and diced.

Developers at Google and these big social/data companies seem to spend most of their focus on creating new tools, and then creating more tools on top of those tools. They seem dedicate less time to studying and understanding how their users are actually using and interacting with their tools.

When Google first announced the shutting down Google+ (aka “sunsetting,” which is the sexy and friendly version of “shutting down”), they marked “poor usage” as a driving factor. They finally did a very deep dive in October 2018 into how their users used the tool, and found that most people actually didn’t.

But in that deep dive, Google also found a data leak. Impacting 52.5 million people. Eeps. That’s when Google announced that they were shutting down Google+, and would do it gradually, ending in August 2019.

However, they announced in December 2018 that they were speeding that up, and were starting everything now, and would end in April 2019, with some connections ending on March 7, 2019. 9to5Google laments the shutdown, and alerts people to different API failures that will begin happening if developers don’t update their tools to stop using Google+.

Is Google+ Widely Used In Places You Don’t See?

Creators at Google believe in sharing. That’s why the Google search engine was created in the first place. To share the world’s content. Google has also been known to respect its users and their privacy (I know - debatable as they have all of our data - but they’ve arguably been the most proactively protective about it). An “open source” market was born, which means that developers (i.e. people who code and make things work on the internet), could design things that would connect with Google+ and work with it. These are called APIs.

The ability for developers to connect into Google+ using an API to grab your data for some reason (like to log into something to make your life more convenient) was exposed. Google patched that, but got spooked, and have expedited the shutdown. There are probably more vulnerabilities, and for a tool that nobody is using, what’s the use in maintaining it. As they said here in their announcement.

What This Means For Buzz Building Business Owners

One less thing for you to do! You don’t need to share there, and you don’t need to know how it works anymore. Hurrah.

Why Google+ “Sunsetting” (aka Shutting Down) Is A Bummer

For the SEO reasons, and for the “let’s not depend on Facebook to share our information” reasons. If Google’s shutting down has a theme song, it would be Tiffany’s: “Could’ve Been.”

Why This Matters To People

Social media is run by Facebook and Twitter right now. It used to also be run by Instagram, but since those co-founders resigned in late 2018, implying too much meddling by Facebook, it’s down to Facebook and Twitter (Facebook owns Instagram). Oh right. Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitch, and a few others. But really, it’s just the first two.

The Facebook and Twitter founders approach life very differently. We have Jack Dorsey at the helm of Twitter, trying to keep it going and steering it in the turbulent sea of trolls and bad human behavior and data privacy. Jack gets very philosophical and thinks deeply about the social product and how it impacts people.

In the other corner, we have Mark Zuckerburg, who is nobody’s favorite, and maybe nobody’s friend despite his high friend count on Facebook, who is snarky and condescending when appearing before Congress and in any news interview, yet still remains relevant because people keep using Facebook.

There are other social networks, and each one will be tested by the trials that Google, Facebook and Twitter are currently enduring. People have asked: “Can’t someone just create a new social network so that we don’t need to use Facebook?” But can we wait for each of these new social networks that pop up to prove themselves and carve their belief system and actions to back that up?

Google was a big daddy that has flaws, but is a leader in (trying) to do right by its users. Google grew so big, working in so many different fields (healthcare, cars, phones), that they renamed to Alphabet (their website is abc.xyz - cute), and Google is a fraction of what they now offer to the world.

Google+ could have been a social network for people to turn to after Facebook burns down. But it just wasn’t designed visually very well, and there were no signs that that would have improved.

Could have been so beautiful…

Next Live Broadcast of TuneUp: SEO + Social

We’re in the middle of a “social migration,” as we’re calling it here at Tin Shingle. Behavior at social platforms like Facebook and Instagram are changing. Usage activity at Facebook is still high, but it’s an increasingly questionable place, both with data privacy, and being over-designed and over-stuffed with information, causing users to miss a message.

As reported by CNBC in March 2018: “Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg broke his silence Wednesday on the Cambridge Analytica data scandal that's plagued the social media giant in recent days and slashed stock value. ‘We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you,’ Zuckerberg said in a statement posted to his Facebook page.”

Instagram’s co-founders abruptly resigned from Facebook two weeks ago, just one week before Facebook announced another data breach. They had worked there for six years after the merger, which apparently is a long time in the world of acquisitions. Would Facebook ever pull the plug on their-self if they were too weighed down with data issues? It's a very unlikely scenario, but is implied by Mark's statement. Plus, Facebook has deleted websites they have purchased in the past (like that data storage website Drop.io that was pre-Dropbox and we stored lots of stuff there!).

So social is on shaky ground. We all want to connect, and we will, but what do you have in your own tool belt (hopefully) all of the time that you can control?

Your website.

And how are people finding it?

Googling stuff.

What are they going to find there?

Amazing content you’re going to put there, and lots of pictures.

What do people do after they Google things? They buy things and subscribe to newsletters. Your newsletters and your products and services.

That’s right. Good old fashioned SEO.

The three most important things you can be doing right now for your business is what we will be covering in this TuneUp - so go register for it right now:

  • Making your website pretty and alive

  • Sending newsletters to the people who subscribed and really do want to hear from you - frequently (they really do!!!)

  • Posting to Instagram (yeah, do it, we’ll be watching to see if and how the user experience at Instagram changes, but so far, keep posting)

Join Katie live at 3pm EST to hear refreshing SEO Tips, Newsletter Tips, and how to be treating your social.

Private Training Workshop In Motion

Conducted a Private Training Workshop for these ladies yesterday, who have varying degrees of comfort online and with social media. This session covered a lots of Technical. A next session can indulge in Strategy.

Are you in need of Strategy and clever ideas? You can go pro with Tin Shingle with our Private Training Sessions. Booking on Monday’s only right now. Save your spot! This session was hosted in person in our Beacon, NY office, but can be condicted remotely via video conferencing. We make it easy.  www.tinshingle.com/private-training

IMG_2791.JPG

First Response to Mark Zuckerberg's Testimoniy: Facebook's Problems Will Persist

Many thoughts are percolating after Mark Zuckerberg's historic first testimony yesterday before a House Committee. I'm preparing Tin Shingle's TuneUp on a Facebook Backup Plan for marketers and business owners, but below are my thoughts as first published to my own friends on Facebook, as I also prepare to scale way back on emotional moments I put into Facebook, and the photos of my family that I plan to remove:

Mark Zuckerberg’s Achilles Heel is that he thinks that data and the computing of that data can solve everything. He has a developer’s mind with a brain that works very much like a database, and that landscape is what he understands. When presented with the question today of if Facebook is a Tech company or a Publishing company, he picked Tech (I’m not even sure what “tech” means because all tech produces something outside of itself).

Facebook is a publishing company. People self-publish. There is no filter. No editor. Aside from a very few admins of groups, and still, selection is then up to their ethics and positions on censorship and filtering for good health.

Then, there are machine editors in the algorithms, and that circles back to data. Facebook is a publishing company. People publish to it largely uncensored. People become cannibals of their own minds by beating themselves up in their own minds, and beating each other up outwardly - but silently - semi-privately - on groups - or people’s pages or business pages. Facebook lets people become social cannibals, destroying each other. Even the good ones get inward and throw stones. Zuckerberg started Facebook as a place to rate people’s “hotness”. It started as a judgement zone. It remains so.

Businesses who are on to disseminate information are siphoned by Facebook and need to pay to play. But even those rules are skewed, and the people who want to see our businesses can’t when they want to. Unless they dig into Facebook settings to require that they see the information first. Same for friends and family.

I don’t see Facebook’s problems getting solved anytime soon because Zuckerberg is too database/computer driven, and not thoughtful enough. He has a responsibility as a publisher. He’s hands off, but he’s the enabler. Sheryl Sandberg is not empathetic enough to understand either. She learns with life experience, sadly, like the lesson she learned about bereavement leave when her husband passed. And Zuckerberg will too when his child gets addicted to Facebook or videos or to headlines the way all of us have. And then Zuckerberg will understand. But not until then. His choices, in the meantime, while well-meaning, are not ones I trust.

Don’t get me started on listening speakers. All I can tell you is - don’t let a talking speaker in your home. From any of them. Amazon. Facebook. Google. It’s an open listening device that can be tapped into, or more of your words sold for advertising and retargeting to market to you. Smart, machine-based marketing, but lazy marketing that trades on privacy currency.