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Posts tagged ‘change’

Let’s make Online Ads Better for Everyone

Has it occurred to anyone that the way ads are being presented online today is actually taking away from the ‘socialness’ of these networks?  Let’s explore this a little further.

woman vintage website chinese scream afraid

Calm down, everything will be just fine. Also, I didn’t know you knew Chinese.

If I am on a social network to interact, I’m there because I’m interested in the aspect of friendship, not in what brands I might like because of my friendships. I’m certainly not on this social network because I am interested in what my connection to them can get me.  I think most people with friends would agree with me on this point, but some networks must think otherwise because there are still a good amount of pushy ads out there.

At OurPangea, we want to have our cake and eat it too. User engagement and experience on-site should be the main focus overall, and we also need the ability as users to opt-in explicitly to see the ads we want to.  We think that any paid message on a social network should be a natural extension of the interests and unique perspectives already being shared without being intrusive.

We know we can find a way to make social network ads better for everyone.  Advertising can be a seamless contribution to the interactive melting pot of online communities. Is that really too much to ask?

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Facebook: The Great Aggregator

Social networking is old enough that the pervasive ‘one network to rule them all’ frame of mind isn’t reflective of the online world anymore.  We’ve written in previous posts about the increasing success and persistent presence of smaller niche networks.  Looking back on where the industry used to be, the success of these would have been hard to predict.  Just a few years ago, the social media world was saturated with social aggregating services (remember Iminta, Socialthing, and Plaxo Pulse?).  The prominence of these services seemed to hint that what made sense for the Internet and what users wanted was one service to bring everything together, to be able to manage everything from one site.  That still sounds pretty good, what happened to that?

Where the aggregator systems proved extremely efficient at bringing information together, they proved extremely inefficient at offering an engaging or unique experience. We began to realize that they were just unnecessary middlemen to using an actual social network. It may have sounded convenient to use one site instead of many, but the truth with the model behind these aggregators was the advantages of using one boring site never outweighed the hassle of engaging with multiple sites.  As a result the aggregator ‘movement’ became decreasingly relevant.

Facebook may rightly be credited for preventing the spread and long-term success of aggregators indirectly.  At the time Facebook provided its users with a very engaging and useful product.   Aggregators, regardless of how much content they pumped through, just couldn’t match the experience that Facebook had.    Facebook was on one side with one-of-a-kind engagement and aggregators were on the other with straight-up content sharing.  Engagement won out, hands down.

Today Facebook isn’t the only kid on the block with a shiny bike.  Other networks found their niches, their biggest fans, and now everyone has a nice bike. Today, it’s becoming perfectly acceptable and even desired to be active members in a number of smaller but purposeful and focused networks.  Each of these networks needs to engage its users, and this means that there are now hundreds of engaging social networks that all provide users with unique, effective experiences.  So today we have many other sites that are able to engage just as well as Facebook.

Furthermore, Facebook’s engaging experience has started to become diluted not only because of advertising, but also because of the Facebook API system, the Like button, and Facebook Connect.  An indirect consequence of these means more and more third party content is populating Facebook, as opposed to closer to 100% original content when they were battling the aggregators.

So what does this mean?  It could mean that Facebook is becoming the world’s largest aggregator.

facebook letters filter icon

“Now that I’m looking at it, you’re right. This rebranding experiment was probably not our best idea.”

To OurPangea, this means we can’t be complacent.  We like the idea of having one site that has the ability to fulfill our online social selves, but it has to be engaging.  We don’t want it to be conventional for our networks to start valuing pushing through third-party content over original user-generated content. We want a place to be engaged, a place where we all have value and where we can be ourselves.  OurPangea.com is a place where we can share the things we love.  And best of all it is a place where there are other people who will be there to share that passion with us.

Our cause is unity through collaboration and our mission is to make the world better.  It is also to make the Internet better.  Let’s be original.

The Shallow Social Network II of III

stranded white boah beach waterIn some ways, the random collection of ‘friends’ I see in social networks is nice. Despite the fact these may be people I only met once or never see anymore, it can be nice to connect with them by passively reading news stories about things they read on the wall street journal. I really feel like I am getting to know them.

In some ways, the random collection of ‘friends’ I see in social networks makes me numb. Thankfully, algorithms sort my friends for me.  Computers know me best.

It’s comforting to realize my social networks produce real, meaningful relationships with my friends for me. I didn’t realize I could get to know someone I met once at a party in 2006 by seeing what games they play or what articles they read. And of course, what you do does say something about you, but is that how you develop a relationship with someone? By reading about what apps they use? Is that the real them?

Social networks are specialized in helping me collect friends and helping me get to know them based on what apps they use. It makes sense and it is a great model of reality.

You know, there’s something about it. Something’s not quite right. When I was a kid I didn’t get to know someone based on what Pokémon cards they had, I got to know them by trading cards with them. And now that I’ve grown up and moved around the country I am no longer in touch with those old friends; and that’s ok, my situation has changed. But, regardless of relevance, my social network will store them there for me, still showing me what Pokémon cards they are collecting. Still missing the point of why I collected them in the first place.

Something is a little off with social networks and I’m going to fix it. OurPangea will learn from all the things social networks do wrong, and also the things they did right. You’ll get to know me for who I am, not just what I like.

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