_archive for the ‘social networks’ category

Musicians’ websites–what’s the deal?

09/17/08 :: by magalish

I’ve noticed noticed an um…interesting trend lately in musicians’ websites - is it just me or are they starting to look more and more like myspace pages? To investigate, I went to the Billboard Hot 100 Chart to see what kind of websites the top artists had. And sure enough, 4 out of the top 10 definitely exhibited at least some of the traits I’ve noticed: a long scrolling page with an image in the background, and lots of type, images, videos, sounds, animation, links, and anything else you can imagine - all right there on the homepage for our viewing pleasure!

These sites all belong to artists in the Billboard’s top 10:
(I did also discover one top 10 artist site that I really enjoy and doesn’t follow the trend—props to Jason Mraz for being original and having a really cool site that looks absolutely nothing like a myspace page!)

I decided to research the phenomenon further, and noticed that the trend is mainly followed by pop, rap, and r&b artists—not so much by alternative or other generes. Take, for example, Lil Wayne, Pussycat Dolls, T-Pain, and Jay Z, and even my girl, Alicia Keys! Are you starting to see the similarities here?

One possible reason behind this trend is that many of them are incorporating the social networking aspect into their site. They’re allowing users to create profiles so that they can personalize their experiences on the sites—not a bad idea in itself. So I can understand where they’re getting the idea to mirror the popular social networking site, but they could definitely execute the concept differently. Come on - what happened to visual hierarchy and well-organized user interface? Not to mention a little originality! Some of these artists have great music - now they just need beautiful, user-friendly websites to match. Get in touch, people - fluidesign can help!

RPG for Life?

08/21/08 :: by pwang

While we’re on the topic of games, here’s an article that piqued my interest in the future of online gaming. I’ve never been a big fan of MMORPGs like World of Warcraft or Second Life, but if gaming could be made to actually benefit your real world self, besides powerful thumbs or trigger-happy clicking fingers, then maybe, just maybe, our lives will be that much more fun.

Facebook at Work

07/23/08 :: by pwang

Like anything with the web these days, news to one person may not be news to another. So my discovery of the new Facebook site may really be old news to the blogosphere. With the f8 convention sold out and happening as this post is written, Fb is really doing some really exciting things, proving itself to be still at least seemingly hip, young, and innovative, in light of its tussles with Google and business negotiations with entrepreneurs and large companies like Microsoft. What impresses me most is how the team interacts with the users.

Like an American driving in another country, on the opposite side of the road with the wheel on the right, users of the new site will have horrible first impressions of the flipped layout. Good thing the negativity is short-lived. In terms of looks, the new look is even more spartan than the original. The wrapper for the site fits snug with the browser window, and its contents are given more room to breathe. There is no more box constricting the site’s content. Before seeing what is possible with this new system, the old one felt fine. The excessive scrolling to the bottom in search of something interesting felt routine and even a little visceral, like going through a real yearbook. The new tabbed profile, coupled with the efficient and more than ever desktop-app-ish controls have made things easier for newbies and initially confusing for veterans. It’s mostly the few main pages with any real redesign. A lot of the content is outputted in the same way, and the pattern of a paginated list for most results pages remains in heavy use. A number of pages don’t even have updated widths for their content column yet, but all have ads on the right column. Given that Facebook is all PHP, maybe these are signs that future battles will be on scalability and flexibility. As a note, a lot of Google is done in Python, which is said to be more scalable. I’m not too worried for Fb, since the company probably has some of the best PHP programmers around. F8 will only increase the line of recruits.

It’s not an easy thing, doing away with something that has a bit of a venerated history, mostly though wide use. It goes to show innovation requires freedom, especially from the constriction of past success. Kudos to Facebook for the vision and the guts. When it appeared, the now worshipped old layout added buttons on the left and made the content container awkwardly boxy. That was probably only a year ago (a time I can still recall, despite having a profile for four years), when a friend shared how he thought Fb was going down the drain because of the then new look. Like when they launched the News Feed a while back, there will be frustration from every corner with the big revamp. Now the same main and mini-feeds are given even more of the limelight. The same with everything that gets more use, like the mini-twitter. All Fb did was ask its user base to develop the app for themselves through their feedback and listen. I think it’ll happen again. And that’s where all the fun is, watching the whole thing grow from just a small camp on the wild frontier of the interwebs. And me? I’m going to use the ‘new’ Facebook, since if I go back I’ll lose my user history with the new features. Also, if anyone from Facebook reads this, why doesn’t your site support pretty urls? It would make your big trove of content more accessible to your relatively non-address-bar-savvy users.


07/22/08 :: by brocksteady

If Newsmap is too abstract (or broad) for you, then check out Perspctv. The site focuses on visualizing how the “internet” can play a role in and shape a Presidential election. A simple, yet effective idea.

Today’s tidbit: Don’t friend me.

07/16/08 :: by hdunce

So the hot dog dude created a twitter profile for a hammer. And 12 minutes in, 217 followers.

What’s the value of a social network?

06/24/08 :: by moquito

Everyday, we get approached by a new party that wants to develop a social network. Mainly, this is driven by the (somewhat insane) valuations that have been placed on big names, such as Facebook’s recent $15B valuation (that’s B for Billion).

TechCrunch did an interesting analysis today (below) of social networks and their valuation. It clearly shows a huge discrepancy depending on how various social networks were valued. For example, Myspace, the #1 in the US and #2 worldwide (after Facebook passed them in May) is worth anywhere between $3B and $19B.

Social Network Comparison

So what does all this mean? It means that this industry is still very new and still trying to figure itself out. It also means that whatever the exact calculation, social networks that gain traction have a tremendous potential and value!

Whoa, your community manager is acting like an annoying sales person.

06/20/08 :: by hdunce

Let’s be blunt. Your community managers should be around to help, not act like annoying sales people at cheap retail stores. So, double check and make sure your community strategy does not contain any of the five don’ts below.

1. Don’t friend request your users.

When a person joins a new social network the last thing they want is to be bombarded with strangers friend requesting them, let alone your community manager hitting them up. Really, what is the point of that, so your users have “friends”? Not needed. I am sure your users can find their own friends if you provide an easy way to find friends (i.e. allowing them to find their facebook friends on your site, search for people with similar tastes or live in the same area, etc.).

2. Don’t bother us by saying something totally useless.

When your community manager says something like, “I really like that dress you just favorited”, it sounds like she/he is just kissing our ass and we categorize it as spam. Instead, monitor your user’s activity and exchange in a productive way for both you and your users. If a user has not been active, you can reach out to them and ask if there is anything they would change about the site to get them to use it more.

3. Don’t bombard us with your seed content.

It’s great to get seed content on your site, especially when you are teaching your users what good content looks like, but when there’s 5 people who are adding all the user generated content, your site looses value. Try doing a soft launch in some major cities and enlisting a diverse group of people to balance out the content.

4. Don’t sit back, act all pretty, and rely on your community to do the dirty work.

It’s great to give your community the ability to flag comments, profiles, photos, etc, but don’t rely on them to do all the work. Spam is probably one of the most annoying parts about social networks and it’s your responsibility to monitor and delete and solve the problem permanently.

5. Don’t ignore your most passionate users.

There is always going to be some users that absolutely “get it” and use your site the most. These people are most likely going to spread the word about your site and these are the people who will have great feedback. When they send you feedback, write them back right away thanking them and keep in touch with them.

In conclusion, please make sure your community managers are engaging with your users in a productive, caring, and honest way. And as mentioned previously here, make sure you are monitoring and responding to your community when they are not on your site as well.

Dear music industry and fans, i have another tip for you.

06/14/08 :: by hdunce

Blip, dubbed “twitter for music”, has been up for about a month or so and last week I finally had a chance to check it out. So, this is how it works.

Let’s say you are listening to a song and you want to share it, you go to blip, and if you integrated last.fm, you’ll see that song already listed in the “What are you listening to?” field. Then all you have to do is “blip” (post) it with a comment.

Like twitter, you can direct the post at someone, and because they allow twitter integration, you can direct it at someone on twitter as well, and your blip gets posted there too. On blip, all your music posts gets organized into an ongoing playlist. And like muxtape, the interface is awesome, as you can use you arrow controls to navigate through the list. And again, like Twitter, people follow your ongoing playlist (feed) and can see your new blips on their homepage where all of their follow’s blips live into a combined playlist.

Here’s a screenshot:

Now check out this music industry predication graph by Enders Analysis:

Via Heavy Bag Media

My prediction is that if people start using blip, you’ll see a higher “listen-to-buy ratio” because 1) as a user, you’re getting very qualified music recommendations without having to do any active work, as your friend’s blips automatically are added to your home page 2) blip makes it really easy to buy; each song has a “buy” link to amazon.

This is different than lastfm.com where you have to literally, consciously, decide on which friend’s music to review, go to that page, read through what they have been listening to lately (not songs they especially like), and possibly listen to it. With imeem.com you have to do the same, but it’s a little better because you can check out their playlists, which is obviously songs they like. And with ilike.com, it’s pretty annoying because if a friend does send you a song they like, in most cases the full song is not available to listen to, and you come to a dead end because we’re all too busy to go to another music service, try to find the full song, and then maybe or maybe not buy it.

So here’s my tip to the music industry, specifically to record labels. Go create an account now, and promote it a bit, and have fans follow your feed of all of your musician’s new music. Then come back and tell us what your “listen-to-buy” ratio is compared to all the other music social networks. :) Seriously, as mentioned in a previous post, I’d really like to see the music industry start making money again.

Follow me on blip here!
To read my last music industry tip, click here.

rollovers on my new fav social network

10/31/07 :: by hdunce

guess what everyone, if you haven’t heard, i have a new favorite social network. this is the first event site that i think is great, totally successful, and attracting the right kind of people. be sure to check out the thumbnail rollovers!! maybe we should go back and change the way LK’s rollover’s are revealed…


Empire of Sports

10/22/07 :: by Cédric

Empire of Sports is a virtual 3D universe still in beta version.
The presentation teaser looks very great: