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January 2013

This snarky Google Map is driving Social Change

Type in "Concentration Camp, North Korea" into Google Maps and look at what you get: brilliantly snarky political comedy.  

View Larger Map

But it gets better.  Look at the location descriptions below:

Definitely would recommend this place for anybody who wants to have the full North Korean experience. Food was excellent, public executions were a blast...

"I loved staying a the North Hamgyong at their localConcentration Camp! There was plenty of accomdations including free towels, back massage and all you ...

"Looking for some alone time? No worries all family are separated upon entry. Who knows what adventures await you in North Korea's leading deathcamp."

I freely admit that I was unaware that North Korea has concentration camps or death camps.  But I can't help but thank Google and the users who submitted these reviews for bringing a very real issue to the public limelight in a brilliant, human-centric and digitally fantastic manner.

The Great, Unknown Facebook Photos Hack That Delivers Engagement

The Best Unknown Facebook Image HackHere's one of the best kept secrets on Facebook - don't link to your content in your Facebook posts.  Yup, that's right.  Using big photos and images, when done correctly, will get you more attention, more on-screen real estate and more clicks.

Here's the trick to using images to boost clicks to your links:

  1. Upload an image to your Facebook Brand Page.  
    Make these images awesome.  Rich, engaging, alluring, eye-catching and relevant to the topic of the link you are sharing.  Horizontal images are better than vertical images.  
  2. Type your Facebook post text without the link.
    It's that simple, just post it to the wall.
  3. Add your link to the photo after your post is live. 
    Once the post is live, click on the image.  In this larger view, select edit the text next to the image and add the desired URL.  Be sure to insert the URL in the two to three sentences.  Feel free to use or the like to shorten long links.

You're done!

Here's what you've just accomplished:

  • When fans view your posts, they will now see large, rich images with snippets of text and a link. Facebook's link preview images are pathetically small and the preview text is rarely as valuable as great imagery.  Using this method, your images will appear as large, rich posts on your fan's walls as well as on your brand page.  By standing out from the crowd, your posts will generate additional engagement.
  • When people share your image, your message and link will accompany the image everywhere it goes.  This will increase your messaging potential, as well as your potential clicks.
  • EdgeRank and Facebook users both seem to prefer rich images over text.  I'm not sure if one is the cause of the other or it both are true... but either way, it works!
  • Your Facebook page will begin to look far more attractive.  
  • Your messages will sing with the power of a thousand words.

This isn't just a conspiracy theory.  Check out these screen grabs from Wibiya, The Verge and Read Write's respective Facebook pages. Beautiful, no?

Read Write's Facebook Page

Read Write Facebook


The Verge's Facebook Page
The Verge Facebook


Wibiya's Facebook Page (my employer)
Wibiya Facebook Page

Facebook Graph Search For Publishers and Marketers

33433013This is a snippet of a post written for the Wibiya blog.  Please click on through for the complete post. Thank you to all my colleagues who contributed.

This post is a summary with a few initial thoughts.  A complete Wibiya Hotsheet on this new platform for publishers and marketers can be found below this post.

What is Facebook Graph Search?
Facebook Graph Search is Facebook’s new search engine. At launch, Each user will see the results visible to them from across their social network, as well as content that has been shared publicly on Facebook.  Results will display based on the level of relevant engagement from the Facebook community for each result.

For example, if I were to search for The best Mexican Restaurant in Manhattan, Facebook Graph Search will show the restaurants with the most likes, check-ins and comments above restaurants with less engagement.

Why is Search important to Facebook?
Graph Search presents a win-win for Facebook in terms of revenue as well as value to the Facebook user community.

Revenue Value

From a revenue perspective, Facebook’s ads often promote native engagement (ex. likes, comments) on publisher/brand pages.  By making engagement a primary influencer on search ranking, Facebook adds additional value to these paid engagements.

User Value

From a user perspective, this product could position Facebook an incredible go-to source for information based on the endorsements and actions of their friends.  Additionally, a dedicated Graph Search mobile application could very well disrupt a number of industry leaders, particularly in the location space (ex. Yelp!).

What opportunities does Graph Search open to publishers and marketers?

Firstly, it is important that publishers and marketers remember that Graph Search is an unreleased product.  We do not yet know how the public will respond or how large of an opportunity Graph Search Marketing will prove to be.  That said, the same tactics that will improve one’s Graph Search ranking will also boost the value of your social engagement, so any efforts or funds invested will not be wasted.

Facebook is placing incredibly prominent focus on engaging people.  Publishers and marketers must focus on both growing the number of likes for their page, as well as additional likes, comments, shares and engagement with their content.  Based on the product unveiled today, a single great meme could propel a publisher or marketer to a top search ranking. While we anticipate that Facebook will adjust their algorithms to account for blips of activity, publishers and marketers must focus all of their Facebook efforts on generating engagement.  Additionally, when a fan shares content, each additional like will add to the overall page engagement and improve the pages visibility.

In today’s demo, it was clear that searches for videos include videos shared by brand pages.  Publishers and marketers should carefully consider the exponential power of images and video, as each engagement will boost the brand page’s rank as well as improve the likelihood of the video appearing in search results.

Additionally, all publishers and marketers should consider the role that Facebook’s Places could play for their brand.  While many would consider a dentist a service, including a Places location on their Facebook page will increase organic Graph Search visibility.  Please see the technology opportunities question below for additional information.

Finally, publishers and marketers should consider the value of Facebook advertising to boost likes and engagement with their pages and with their contents.  This media will now serve a dual purpose – increasing engagement with their content as well as boosting Graph Search Visibility.

What are the technology opportunities for publishers and marketers?
Graph Search is a huge step forward in building personalization engines on top of Facebook data.  If and when Facebook makes a Graph Search API available, developers will be able to develop unparalleled personalization and active design tools for third party websites.

In the interim, be sure to include the appropriate social plugins on your website and list your location in Facebook Places.

What kind of data will Facebook Graph Search cover? 
At launch, Facebook Graph Search will cover four primary areas: people, photos, interests and places.


This covers searches such as “Friends of friends who went to Harvard and live in Istanbul”, which would display the results for all people who went to Harvard, live in Istanbul and are in your extended social network.

People search could be great for social networking, recruiting or dating.  For example, recruiters who are friends with the employees could discover potential candidates who are friends with current or past employees.  Adding criteria such as positions held, universities attended, current or previous employers could prove to be great tools for encouraging peer recruitment.  This same could method could easily be applied to dating (though likely skipping some of academic criteria – unless that’s your thing).  In this case, one could search for friends of friends who are single, live in their area, are a certain gender and have certain interests.

This platform becomes particularly interesting as Facebook is rumored to be testing a platform that allows users to pay for the ability to message someone outside of their network, opening the possibility to tap into LinkedIn-like revenues.


Searches for photos allow filtering by location or type of location (ex. natural parks).  This looks to be interesting for travel planning as well as image discovery.  By adding parameters such as “Photos from friends I’ve known since before 1990” or “Photos I’ve liked” people can gain better insight and inspiration from their own world.

Photo search includes all photos on Facebook that the user has rights to view, such as photos that friends have shared with them and photos shared with the public.  The search results are displayed in a similar manner as leading image search providers.


Interest searches allow people to discover information about the interests shared among their network.  For example, one could search for “Movies my friends like” to find new movies to stream on Netflix.  Additionally, searching “Videos my friends have liked” will show results for videos that can stream in Facebook.


Searching for places will show listings on the left, a map on the right and a number of filtering criteria including place type, liked by, places in a given location, and placed visited by (one’s friends) below the map.

In this context, likes for places become endorsements by one’s friends.  For example, if one searches for a dentist in their area, the dentist with the most likes will be listed first.  Additionally, if users were to add criteria such as “Restaurants liked by graduates of the Culinary Institute or fans of Top Chef”, Facebook could discover the restaurants most liked by foodies.  Or if one is traveling and wants to drink like a local, they can search “Bars liked by people in Dublin”.

Places search is a strong differentiator for Facebook that could grow to become a Yelp! Or FourSquare competitor.

How will the public respond?
Facebook Graph Search will be sure to inspire a high degree of media hype, as well as the negatively hyped counter-coverage.  It is important to remember that this is a beta product and will evolve.  Graph Search holds an incredible amount of promise and will likely delight many while some will remain confused or frustrated while Facebook irons out the kinks.

While we have seen near constant complaints of late from many lawmakers and pundits that Facebook doesn’t “get” privacy, Facebook looks to be planning significant and ongoing privacy education for their users.  We do not believe that privacy will be a primary concern for this product.

Some users will likely be confused by Facebook’s lack of a search box and may not know how to access this product. We anticipate enough media hype and in-product messaging such that most users will grow to rely on Graph Search fairly quickly.

While the quality of the output of this product has yet to be seen, we believe that the filtering tools on the results page could confuse or overwhelm the novice users.  This however, is speculation that may prove unfounded when the final product is launched.

One area that is sure to delight the media and inspire many a conversation, are the discovery capabilities in Graph Search.  For example, searching for “Music liked by people who like Mitt Romney” and comparing it to “Music liked by people who like Obama” is sure to inspire some conversation.

 Special thanks to Alon, Dror, Sivan and Ran for all their great help in pulling this together.

13 Ways Facebook Can Bring The Magic Back In 2013

Tech-facebook-january-conference-inviteThis morning Ellis Hamburger on The Verge asked Can Facebook bring the magic back?  Below are 13 steps that can breath new inspiration to Facebook's ecosystem of users, developers and marketers while gaining investor trust.
  1. Smarter Filtering
    Google's Circles were a great idea, but took too much time to impliment.  Facebook lists can replicate this experience, but again, take a good deal of time to setup.  Facebook is already categorizing and analyzing my social relationships.  It's time Facebook used these insights to help me better filter my friends.
  2. Better Social Plug-ins
    Facebook's social plug-ins are beginning to feel dated. I want to see this space go far beyond a Like button, enabling publishers and site owners to truly elevate the user experience. I want to be surprised and excited at the opportunity in this space rather than bored with our status quo.
  3. An Open Social Graph X Prize
    Facebook collects fantastic data and somewhere in their data sites incredible opportunity. I want to see solutions for using this data to power off-Facebook experiences. I want to see a Facebook X Prize that rewards $10,000,000 to the most creative or usefull tools built on top of Facebook data.
  4. Content Search
    We have been talking about a Facebook search engine for years, but I don't think this search engine needs to be a direct competitor with Google or Bing.  I regularly remember seeing something on Facebook, but can't find it a week or a month later.  Facebook content search would ping my network and return all results that were ever visible to me on Facebook.
  5. Creative Commons Licensing
    Unfortunatley, we don't see about CC licensing anymore.  While I would love to see the great resurrection of Flickr as a source of CC licensed imagery, Facebook has an incredible opportunity to bundle CC licensing into a content search solution.  And I know a few hundred thousand bloggers who would welcome the complimentary content.
  6. User Revenue Opportunities
    A great ecosystem allows everyone to benefit.  I want to see Facebook develop opportunities that allow users to generate revenue for themselves.  This could be through creating highly engaging content (think YouTube Channels), it could be through attracting premium messages, or through another concept the world has not yet discovered.
  7. Paid Content 
    Facebook has incredible infrastructure and an increidble amount of the great content. I want to see content (audio, pictures, videos etc) thrive in a social marketplace where we can easily access, purchase and connect with the content creators.  
  8. Facebook Incubators
    Facebook applications haven't seen success of late. I would love to see Facebook invest in nurturing talent that will build magical experiences within and beyond Facebook. This too could be a great X-Prize concept.
  9. A Second Brand
    I would love to see Facebook launch a spin-off or two separate from Just as Facebook has released multiple single-function iOS apps that duplicate features found in the Facebook app, I would like to see Facebook launch a second brand that offers a rich, secondary experience tied into, but not living on
  10. User Advisory Congress
    We the users, are Facebook's power.  We elected Facebook by using their platform.  Facebook should create an advisory congress that is representative of their users. to vote and decide on key issues including privacy, transparency etc.  This will help Facebook as much as it helps their public.
  11. Education Innovation
    Educators are lost when it comes to Facebook.  After all, education is about shutting up and listening for hours at a time, not conversational engagement, right?  There is awesome potential for social good in advancing education, particularly in the third world.  I would love to see how Facebook could advance this sector - just because it could be great for humanity.
  12. Commerce Realization
    Storefronts in Facebook have not been a resounding success.  Delivering on direct-sales however, would have a significant financial upside for Facebook.  I would love to see Facebook partner with a variety of commerce innovators to unlock the promise of social commerce.
  13. Culture
    We used to talk about Facebook as the crazy, zany start-up taking over the world.  Now we talk about them as a social utility and as a stock price.  We all know about Google's corporate culture, as well as their crazy visions for the future (glasses, self-driving cars, space elevators etc.).  

    Facebook has some brilliant people and a great internal culture, but we (their public) don't see this side of the company.  I want to look to Facebook as a wild world of innovation, a place where magic happens.  I want to look forward to reading news stories about Facebook.  I want them to act a little bit like kids again.

Nike's New Ad Boldly Goes... To McDonalds

Nike golfThis morning I caught Nike Golf's latest spot featuring Tiger Woods and Roy McIlroy trash talking and hitting unsinkable shots.  What a great way to use two icons and embrace the trick shot meme.  Brilliant creative, right? 

But to those of us who were alive in 1993, the concept looks a little familiar.  Check out the Michael Jordan, Larry Bird game of horse from a 1993 McDonalds commercial.  Am I reading too much into this?

6 Disruptions for 2013

Three months ago I began an extensive research project in the tech and media industries.  This presenation presents my summary findings. These are the 6 disruptive opportunities, the 6 trends that will define our progress in 2013.  


Nothing is so great a liberator as a clean slate.  You cannot change the tomorrow if you stick with yesterday's thinking.  While this document contains my prediction for 6 trends that will change the digital industry in 2013, please don't think of these disruptions as challenges in your path, but as opportunities to lead by rethinking everything you knew and took for granted. 

Special thanks to my entire team for their support, incredible design and insights.

5 Reasons Apple Would Be Wise To Buy Waze

Waze appleRumors are swirling about Apple buying Waze.  And this buy would make all the sense in the world.  Here's why:

  1. Waze is an awesome maps platform.  Apple needs a maps platform.  Waze has a solid, differentiated offering.  Apple Maps is a serious dent in the Apple brand reputation.  Waze is a strong, solid brand that would give Apple real credibility in this space.
  2. Waze thinks global.  Both Apple and Android leave the global and particularly the third-world user half-satisfied.  Their content offerings are not global.  Neither Siri nor Google Live offer a truly robust product to the global user.  Waze is fantastically global, offering great maps and even traffic data in the backroads rarely properly covered by mainstream services.
  3. Waze is huge on Android.  It's no secret that Google's superior iOS apps are making many Apple loyalists rethink Google.  Waze is an opportunity for Apple to do the unprecedented - to design for a third party platform.  
  4. Waze is social.  Apple has long struggled with social.  Waze is a value-driven social experience.  This mode of thinking and development could bring a great deal of value to the broader Apple organization.
  5. Waze is fun.  Apple products once had strong personalities.  They were bright colors and they stood apart.  With the few exceptions, Apple's products have become sleek, industrial suits.  They don't smile.  Gone are the days of "Do not chew."  Waze is chock full of fun.  Apple could use a little fun.

And who wouldn't LOVE to see Waze data baked into Siri?

No Soap Gangam - the social drive behind the hits

Do you know why you love Gangam Style?  Probably because everyone around you loves Gangam Style.  Even though 9 in 10 of us don't get the joke (Gangam Style is a spoof on Koreans living-above-their-means) we still love it - and love to hate it when it's overplayed.  

For most of us, Gangam Style is the Macarena - fun just because everyone else is enjoying it.

We enjoy herd mentality.  We enjoy being part of something, dancing together, living together, laughing and celebrating together.  Music binds us.  Even when we don't get it.

Get it?