So Maybe Facebook isn’t Doomed

May 21, 2013 § Leave a comment

Let me take back what I have already previously stated; Facebook, I can tell you right now, isn’t doomed. They’re on the move.

Although I was personally bent to believe that Facebook was going down the path to destruction after the initial release of the IPO, a month later I have no other option but to correct myself. Why?

Within the last few weeks, Facebook has done more than change the layout of their search (again) and introduced the moderately questionable graph search- they’ve truly taken a step to salvage themselves from self-destruction; and it’s come in the form of mobile.

Although I can’t necessarily sing praises about the new setup of the site, changes which were inevitable and I believe slightly unnecessary, I do have to compliment their relatively new take on mobile.

I know I might get some flak for this, but I believe Facebook is actively changing their status from a platform from which a user one logs into other, more niche platforms into a more modernized iteration of what it has always been; a way to quickly and easily build and maintain friendships and relationships.

Although Facebook’s current mobile strategy is far from perfect (bubbles? Really?), it is apparent that Facebook is no longer in a state of stagnation, but on the move to define itself as a key facet of any relationship. Realizing how slow and outdated their app was, Facebook re-designed the mobile site to become a more user-friendly iteration of the full site- fragmenting site extensions into individual, more clean-cut apps. For your pages, try the app for page manager. Want to make your messages more accessible on-the-go? There’s the messenger for that.

But one has to wonder- is breaking up the app actually going to encourage more usage or just confusion? As I believe, both.

While Facebook is most clearly making an effort to polish their offerings on mobile, it is curious as to why it couldn’t be done in one single, all-inclusive and optimized app. Perhaps they know something we don’t. Or maybe they’re just right, and we all just need to catch up to their level. Regardless, I can’t say I am a fan of it.

Judge me if you’d like- but I actually do like the new messenger app; to an extent. While I do think the profile bubbles make access to the messaging app radically better, the execution of the app is, er, lacking. The bubbles truly have no spacial perception of your phone, and they will not hesitate to pop up on the side of the screen when you are trying to zoom in on fine details and block your way- until you have to forcibly drag them down the screen. I also take problem with the inherent size of these bubbles- on an iPhone, they will eat up your screen space without second thought.

Plus, for the love of God, they are bubbles- can I just have the option to pop them.

All on all, I have reason to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt- as long as they keep moving towards innovation, I see them continuing on as the omnipresent force that they are.

Now, about that Facebook phone…

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Freebieology- How Companies Will Win Your Wallet, Even if You Only Order Their Free Samples

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

If you had asked me a few months ago whether I thought that my past time of hunting for freebies was more beneficial for myself or the companies I was interacting with, I would have told you that it was ultimately better for me than them. “Sure- they have my address, but I am a student who is constantly moving around, so they’ll never actually be able to do anything with it within the next year” I would have argued, completely forgetting the psychology of the freebie. In other words, as I gave away my school address, sending the newsletters to my spam email account (the advertising black hole of no-return), I all but neglected the psychological impact that receiving just a small gift from a company for free can mean in the long term.

Samples are smarter than you think. First of all, free sampling is as old as the kraken, originating from the golden age of direct mail marketing. If a company had the resources, they could pick ad space from any printed publication (especially those written for children. I have a number of my parent’s old comic books with a few bonus ads scattered about them. These were probably considered a jackpot for companies at the time) and print up a mail-in slip for a free sample of well, just about anything that could be sampled. For the cost of postage, you too could have a sample of [insert 50’s brand name].

With the advent of the internet, the term “free” became associated with “most likely full of malware and will steal your money and children. Click now!” Companies bent on taking your money in newer, more technologically advanced ways had a field day. I recall a friend telling me about what happened when her father was exposed to the internet for the first time as a young man and saw an ad to enter to win $100. Most likely assuming that it was of the same truthfulness of print mail-ins he was aware of, he sent his information. Within the week, the company had emptied $200 out of his bank account and mailed him a check for $100.

Flashing forward through the scam buttons of the 90’s most of us who were alive then are all too familiar with (“Congrats! You are visitor #3453. Click here to claim your prize!” for the record, these were so prevalent in their time that they were even mentioned in pop culture- namely the show “Daria”), today legitimate companies have almost caught up to their scammy predecessors. Facebook and Google are now flooded with brands ever so eager to send a sample your way, today!

Lacking purchasing power or money in general, I decided to find out which companies were legitimate, hoping to save myself a few dollars and the emotional trauma omnipresent when going to buy necessities as a broke college student (seriously, even the clearance items are beyond my means sometimes). Setting up an RSS fees of trustworthy “free things and samples” sites, I got down to ordering as many samples as possible to build up a nice stockade of freebies.

I may have given these brands my temporary address and my spam email accounts, but I managed to neglect one thing; human psychology. See, there is a phenomena in psychology- the more you see something or someone, the more inclined you will be to buy something or get to know somebody. All of these little samples everywhere might have been taking up small spaces in my dorm room, but they took up massive spaces in my sense of preferred brands. Often, subconsciously.

For example,  a few months ago, I got a free pair of earrings from a site known for high quality products and bargain-bin prices. When they arrived, my first thought was- “oh, these are nice. Too bad the company wasted their money on me- I’ll never buy from them, anyways!’ Oh boy, was I wrong. Along came Christmas time, and this company got its initial investment back- eightfold. Earrings forgotten, when I thought about place to get inexpensive things, the place that gave me free earrings came to mind- lo and behold, they had the low prices that Amazon didn’t on the gifts I wanted to give. This is called having your brand planted in the mind of the consumer.

So hoarde as many freebies as you want- but remember, a company isn’t just getting your email, a space in your apartment, or your mailing address when you order a sample- they are buying a way into your constant, subconscious consideration.

it’s freaky, alright- but mutually beneficial, and I won’t be stopping my freebie hunts anytime soon! The lure of free is just too much to handle.

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