Facebook Gifts Virtual Giftshop To Be Closed

Facebook has announced that the virtual giftshop that allowed users to gift virtual goodies to friends shall be closed shortly. In a message posted on the Facebook blog, Jared Morgenstern – a Facebook employee writes,

“Closing the Gift Shop may disappoint many of the people who have given millions of gifts, but we made the decision after careful thought about where we need to focus our product development efforts. We’ll be able to focus more on improving and enhancing products and features that people use every day, such as Photos, News Feed, Inbox, games, comments, the “Like” button and the Wall.”

It is not clear why the company would choose to do away with one of their very few revenue generating products.

While it is pretty much true that such features clutter the Facebook real estate, it is also a fact that the company makes money off selling virtual goods. Meanwhile I wonder if the company could be outsourcing this virtual goods functionality. I tried to look for any recent acquisitions/partnerships that could point in this direction.

Are you aware of any?

Facebook USA – Contradictory Reports On Growth And Usage

There have been two reports on Facebook in the past 24 hours that offer some very contradicting pictures of the growth of the popular social network in the North American region.

According to a report published by Lightspeed Research, Americans are getting increasingly obsessed with the social network with 34% of American women between the age of 18-35 accessing their profile first thing in the morning. 20% of users surveyed admitted to looking into their network during the night with another 26% admitting to have woken up in the middle of the night to read text messages.

However, this study is not endorsed by another study from reputed Facebook news blog, Inside Facebook. The website has reported that Facebook lost close to 250,000 regular American users between 18-44 years in just the month of June. However, analysts point out that the report could as well be a blip in measurements or a seasonal fluctuation that may correct itself moving forward.

Nevertheless, Facebook observers will be keenly pinning their focus on July measurements to see if any pattern emerges.

Facebook Social Context Ads – Is It Attractive Enough

Monetization has been a big problem for social networks. Earlier this week, Twitter announced @earlybird – a simple Twitter account that will bring deals from partner websites. It’s a simple concept that, with proper promotion and attractive deals, shall help the company make some significant amount of money.

Facebook social context adFacebook has had its fair share of problems too – despite the fact that the company now claims to be inching towards the $1 billion revenues mark. $1 billion sounds big. But not big enough for a network that is 500 million strong.

Among the various avenues that Facebook is seeking to make money from is the social context ad platform. These are the tiny blocks of ads that you might have seen on your Facebook page. They are socially contextual in the sense that they tell users about their friends who “like” the ad (or brand).

According to a recent post on the WSJ, the company is learned to be aggressively pitching this ad unit to companies like Ford Motors and PepsiCo to get them on to the bandwagon.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer thinks it’s a great idea to use the social context to promote brands. She says,

“Marketers have always known that the best way to sell something is to get your friends to sell it. That is what people do all day on Facebook. We enable effective word-of-mouth advertising at scale for the first time.”

While there is a lot of truth to it, the bigger question is if this is enough. As WSJ notes, Facebook users are to a major extent unaware that merely ‘liking’ an ad could get them to become brand ambassadors of the product and hence can potentially backfire. So as you can see, this can potentially backfire.

What Should Facebook Do?
While Sandberg’s argument is true, there is a need to build upon it. The social context ads do improve word-of-mouth marketing. But the more essential aspect to promoting a brand on a platform like Facebook is building conversations. ‘Likes’, comments, becoming a fan are all part of that conversation. So the answer lies in creating a platform where all of this can happen at one place.

I’m going to take up the example of Twitter’s @earlybird to propose something in this regard. Facebook needs to introduce a new tab on the user’s profile for ads. This section could list down all updates from the advertiser’s Facebook profile. These may be videos, links to press releases, media mentions,etc. But the user is not necessarily an existing fan of the brand and is merely a user from the targeted demographic.

Such a section could provide Facebook users an avenue to not just ‘like’, but also comment, discuss and share posts. As with all Facebook activities, these get shared to all of the users’ friends – Intuitive enough since most of the users’ comments and activities on their account are anyway shared with friends. Such a section can also build conversations and improve word-of-mouth marketing. The ROI for advertisers is huge, users benefit by conversing about ads and Facebook is not controversially deploying its users as brand ambassadors.

Upload Videos From iPhone To Facebook Directly

Does this feature appeal to you? A feature that will iPhone users to upload videos captured on their iPhone directly to their Facebook account could soon be a reality. 9to5Mac has published a small bit of code from iOS 4 that points out the possibility of Facebook video uploading becoming available soon.
upload iphone videos to facebook

As you can see from the screengrab above, the feature is expected to allow users upload 480 x 480 resolution videos at 30 frames per second – That is going to make a lot of users happy though others will be complaining about the low resolution on offer.

But is it going to become available straight away on June 21? That’s unclear for the moment.

[via 9to5Mac]

Facebook SDK For Android Better Than iPhone SDK

Facebook for iPhone came first and until today continues to be one of the most downloaded apps on the App Store. However, Android is where Facebook is putting its money at. The company has now released its official Android SDK for developers and from the looks of it, it is far more superior than Facebook’s SDK for the iPhone platform.

The latest release will enable developers to connect their native Android applications to Facebook’s platform. Developers will be able to make use of Facebook’s Graph API, OAuth 2.0 and other features to incorporate into their native applications.

[via TechCrunch]

FIFA On Facebook Coming Soon

At a time when there are speculations over Zynga moving their cash cow Farmville outside Facebook to a dedicated site, Electronic Arts, one of the long-time heavyweights in the gaming industry are taking their first baby steps towards integrating their games to the social media space.

According to EA CEO Peter Moore, a Facebook version of FIFA Superstars shall be developed by PlayFish, the company behind popular Facebook apps like Pet Society and Crazy Planet. Moore has said that the game shall “provide more great opportunities to bring hundreds of millions of new fans to compete against their friends to win the FIFA World Cup through an engaging interactive football experience“.

The partnership between EA and PlayFish is expected to integrate the former’s sports gaming knowledge with the latter’s experience in the social media space. The announcement comes close on the heels of another announcement from EA that the company intends to charge gamers for accessing the online content of their sports titles. The prices are expected to be in the range of $10 for access to online goodies.

[via Pocket Lint]

Facebook Geolocation Feature Confirmed

Rumors have been doing the rounds is Facebook is onto something on the location front. TechCrunch has noted snippets of code from Facebook’s touchscreen version touch.facebook.com which point to a feature that can pull in information regarding the users’ latitude, longitude, altitude, heading and speed.

In a more implicit confirmation of the same, the company has communicated the following to TechCrunch

“There are currently no plans to add marketing partners to this product. We may consider working with marketers to enhance the experience in the future, but have no plans to do so at launch.

We wonder what this product is going to be.

[via TechCrunch]

Facebook Fan Pages Advertising On Google Adsense

I am not sure if this has existed for quite a while. However this is probably the first time I see a Facebook fan page advertising on Google Adsense. A complete block of Facebook fan page for Kissmetrics showing up where my Adsense blocks should have been

Facebook fan pages on adsense

Display and video ads are not exactly new. However, this ad had a distinctive Facebook feel to it. Look at the ad as it loads – so unlike regular Adsense ads.

Facebook adsense preloadHave you seen such ads before? Let us know in the comments.

Farmville On SMS Launching Soon? iPad And Android Apps Launching Too

Will you soon be able to hatch your mystery eggs on the go. There are speculations that Zynga, the company behind the popular Facebook game Farmville may be planning to expand their channels beyond Facebook. According to reports on JoyStiq, the company has recently purchased the domain names FarmvilleSMS.com, FarmvilleiPad.com and FarmvilleAndroid.com.

While it is not explicitly known whether these domain names were indeed purchased by Zynga, they are at least under the ownership of the same third party that also manages the Farmville.com domain name.

iPad and Android are logical extensions. SMS? Not so much. What do you think?

[via JoyStiq]

Setting Up eCommerce Store On Facebook Becomes Easy With Payvment

You may have heard of Payvment. It is a startup that develops application that will let retailers to set up an ecommerce store on Facebook. The company has now introduced several nifty features that can go a long way in the growth of etailing via Facebook.

TechCrunch reports a new Fan Incentive-pricing feature that allows Payvment customers to introduce special coupons to customers who wish to become Fans of the company’s fan page.

The application also gives a real world feel to the purchasing experience by letting users “carry” their goods as they surf through the several shopping sites built on Payvment.

If you are looking to learn more about the service, click here to read tutorials from the company.

[via TechCrunch]