In social media land, there's a war waging over your photos. But like so much else in the Twinstabook sphere, what you share matters only in determining what those sites can sell.
For the past year, all the major social media services have taken part in a never-ending spree of makeovers aimed at enticing users to hand over their photos, from filters and camera apps, to photo-heavy profiles and bigger pictures. The explanation for the photo frenzy has centered around the simple fact that people like to look at pictures. So, as people share more of their snapshots, the platform becomes a stickier place.
But on an earnings call with analysts on Wednesday evening, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered a clearer view of what’s really fueling the fight for your photos: social media sites want you to share your photos so advertisers can share theirs.
As pop-ups and banner ads demonstrate all too well, online advertisers like eye-catching, colorful, motion-filled media that jumps out at audiences. That kind of rich media would be intrusive and annoying within the Facebook News Feed (or Twitter stream or Google+ feed) -- unless users were already used to seeing photos and video from friends in their feeds. The bigger and more numerous your friends' photos, the bigger and more numerous advertisers' images can appear.
As Zuckerberg explained:
One of our product design principles is, we want the organic content to be of the same basic type as paid content. Advertisers want really rich things like big pictures and video and we haven't provided those historically.
But one of the things we've provided in the last year -- you see the organic News Feed posts moving toward bigger pictures and rich media. The success of products like Instagram is that they work because they're so immersive on a small screen. When you have those form factors for content, that gives you the ability to offer those form factors for advertisements well. It allows us to offer more engaging experiences for advertisers as well.
In other words, users can expect to see more photos from the likes of Coca-Cola and Walmart appearing in their feeds, particularly on mobile platforms, so long as their friends keep sharing snaps of their babies, puppies and Halloween costumes.
Our fascination with photos makes sense. Photos can be digested quicker than either text or video, tend to stand out in a sea of letters and, given their size, are easily viewed on smartphone screens. “Thou shalt share photos” could well be the first commandment of social media. According to Buddy Media, a Facebook post with a photo will earn 39 percent more interaction than the average post, and tweets that link to images see twice as much engagement as those without pictures.
Facebook's mobile users don't seem to mind the ads much, according to Zuckerberg. The Facebook CEO stressed that the social network was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly mobile users adapted to ads in the feeds on their phones, and Facebook registered only a small drop in activity. User engagement, measured in terms of “likes” and comments, increased 50 percent, and saw only a 2 percent decrease following the rollout of ads in the mobile News Feed -- or “basically no engagement hit at all,” in the words of Zuck.
Zuckerberg’s comments make explicitly clear how users end up paying for the shiny new toys that social media sites provide them to “express themselves” and “share.” Every photo, Vine or video you post makes it easier for an advertiser to slip theirs in, too.
Despite the fact that the mega pop band 'NSYNC has long been disbanded, there are still a few relics of their glory days floating around, including these slightly creepy marionettes. Interested buyers can <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/nsync-marrionettes/3044566074-adel-ga/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">purchase</a> the lot of them for $20.
A Monkey King (On Zynga Poker)
On Zynga Poker, you can use your chips for more than just betting. The game's gift shop offers drinks, snacks, flags and smokes that you can purchase for yourself or for others. It even sells items just for entertainment, including a "Monkey King," a tiny monkey that moves and sits right by your Zynga profile picture as you play. You can either ask 15 different people to sponsor the item so you get it for free or buy it for yourself with Casino Gold, which can only be used to purchase premium items or buy back into weekly tournaments. This particular item will set you back <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/texas_holdem/?fb_source=dashboard_toplist&state=f45a27fdbaa56291612be6d9f1331bc4&code=AQAgiZ94BIfiWj4fd1dX97r0aToyLH7ydhonI5VAcDLW8fQzSjvv-ImJOKA6S0fw1f1XKNDNcM_g3y2u5b4vX4MHvJgwKLhpN0dIzJab7-RsOCB8FV5AQL45aqZ_5bwB4i9myq9K36SAI6l1Mn2JZld0qpbd9HHiIgu2haV8vteWDc6u9PHihqv7XqRbNjE-Ko4#_=_" target="_hplink">seven Casino Golds</a>, or about $1.40.
A Mini Horse
Out of all the things you could purchase through Facebook, a mini horse is probably one of the most awesome (and surprising). Radio Chapel Ranch, a non-profit organization in Texas, is apparently <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/sale/pet/horse/-/-/usa:tx:dallas/?rfb_domain=facebook-dallas.oodle.com" target="_hplink">selling</a> this mini palomino mare, named Kharrie, for $550.
One Marketplace user from Tulsa, Oklahoma, is selling massages for $50. According to <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/massages/2636995855-tulsa-ok/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">his description</a>, he has strong hands and is able to give "a deep relaxing massage" to both men and women in his Tulsa studio.
A Blue Baby Dragon (On CastleVille)
What's better than a normal dragon? A <em>blue baby</em> dragon, of course. You can purchase one of these cute suckers as a pet on <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/playcastleville/" target="_hplink">CastleVille</a>, a popular Zynga game <a href="http://blog.games.com/2011/11/21/castleville-zynga-fastest-growing-facebook-game/" target="_hplink">launched just last November</a>. These blue baby dragons, which have magic treasure hoards, are available <a href="http://blog.games.com/2012/05/15/castleville-baby-dragons/" target="_hplink">for 55 crowns</a>, or about $7, each -- but you'll have to build a Royal Kennel first.
A 'Faery' Wand
Just in case you're in need of one, magical tools such as this handcrafted quartz faery wand are also available for purchase through Facebook. This particular piece is being <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/magical-tools-by-the-witchs-garden/3042100658-hialeah-fl/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">sold</a> for $45.
A Life-Sized Stuffed Grizzly Bear
Who wouldn't want to drop <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/life-size-stuffed-grizzly-bear/3039098586-cincinnati-oh/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">$800</a> on this life-sized stuffed grizzly bear? According to <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/life-size-stuffed-grizzly-bear/3039098586-cincinnati-oh/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">its description</a>, this 6-foot tall stuffed animal used to be in the window display for a toy store, but now you can buy it for yourself.
Karmic Relationship Readings
If you're having some trouble in your relationship and find yourself in need of spiritual help, one California-based Marketplace user is <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/karmic-relationship-reading/3042025796-vallejo-ca/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">selling</a> karmic relationship readings. For just $5, you can figure out how your past and current karma is affecting your relationship today.
A Birdquake (On Angry Birds)
In the vastly popular Rovio game <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/angrybirds/?ref=ts" target="_hplink">Angry Birds</a>, which just hit Facebook <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/14/angry-birds-facebook_n_1276454.html" target="_hplink">in February</a>, birdquakes help destroy the evil pigs' defenses. You can purchase certain numbers of birdquakes for different prices, the largest of which is 1,000 for $20.
2009 GMC Sierra Door Handles
Just in case you lost the door handles on your 2009 GMC Sierra, this Marketplace user is <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/chrome-door-handles-off-of-a-2009-gmc-sierra-crewcab/3035576014-atmore-al/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">selling</a> his for $140.
Any budding tattoo artist thinking of setting up shop might be interested in purchasing this set of tattoo equipment, available for $300. Included are six machines, one frame, a variable power supply, a clip cord and floor switch, 21 bottles of ink and three tubes, <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/tattoo-equipment/3035865206-anderson-in/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">according to the listing</a>.
Fresh Alaska Seafood
Craving seafood...from Alaska? You can buy nine pounds worth of giant cold water lobster claws <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/fresh-alaska-seafood/3035477332-anchorage-ak/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">for $207</a> and have them shipped from Anchorage, Alaska, for <em>free</em>, <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/marketplace/view/fresh-alaska-seafood/3035477332-anchorage-ak/?rfb_domain=facebook.oodle.com" target="_hplink">according to the product's Marketplace listing</a>. Better yet, they'll arrive the very next day.
A Unicorn (On FishVille)
You'd think only fish would be sold on FishVille, but apparently one of the newest items you can purchase through the game is a unicorn. The unicorn seems to be nothing more than a tank decoration, but if you're interested in acquiring one, you can purchase a unicorn for <a href="https://apps.facebook.com/fishville/money.php?appRef=marketDialogGetCoins&force_s=1" target="_hplink">10 sand dollars, or $2</a>.
Are Credits Facebook’s Google AdSense
In part 2 of show 8 of HipMojo, Ash and CT look at the success of Facebook Credits.