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The Republic of Facebook | The facebook economy [infographics]

Posted in facebook by meetusinghal on July 6, 2010

The Facebook Economy

There are 550,000 apps that are used on Facebook. Seventy percent of users engage with apps each month. There are one million app developers. Zynga, the top app developer, made $250 million in 2009. Of that amount, $80-$150 million is estimated to be profit, more net profit than Facebook itself made.

The most popular Facebook apps are:


Rock You!

Electric Arts





6 Waves





Facebook Pages

There are 1,500,000 active Facebook pages. The average value per fan is $136.38. Extrapolating on that, many celebrity pages would be worth enormous sums:

Michael Jackson, with 13.3 million fans, would have a page worth $1.8 billion. Family Guy has 9.5 million fans for a worth of $1.3 billion. Lady Gaga and Barack Obama each have 9.1 million fans, worth $1.2 billion each. Vin Diesel has nine million fans, worth $1.1 billion. Starbucks has 8.2 million fans, worth $1.1 billion. South Park has 6.2 million fans for a worth of $845 million.

Popular Facebook pages include:

Barack Obama

Lady Gaga

Michael Jackson

Family Guy

Vin Diesel

Megan Fox


Twilight Saga



There are 500,000,000 users of Facebook. Of those, 200 million users use it daily for an average of 55 minutes a day. If those users were all working for $5 an hour instead of going on Facebook, they would collectively earn $916,000,000 a day.


In Q1 2010, 176 billion display ads were posted on Facebook, 16 percent of the display ad market. Facebook says its advertisers have quadrupled since 2009.

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populous in the world after China and India. Today’s valuation of Facebook is $7.9-$11 billion.


Facebook Open Graph: A new take on semantic web – O’Reilly Radar

Posted in facebook by meetusinghal on May 25, 2010

Facebook Open Graph: A new take on semantic web

Facebook’s Open Graph is both an important step and one that still needs work.

by Alex Iskold | @alexiskoldcomments: 3

Facebook logoA few weeks ago, Facebook announced an Open Graph initiative — a move considered to be a turning point not just for the social networking giant, but for the web at large. The company’s new vision is no longer to just connect people. Facebook now wants to connect people around and across the web through concepts they are interested in.

This vision of the web isn’t really new. Its origins go back the the person who invented the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. This vision has been passionately shared and debated by the tech community over the last decade. What Facebook has announced as Open Graph has been envisioned by many as semantic web.

The web of people and things

At the heart of this vision is the idea that different web pages contain the same objects. Whether someone is reading about a book on Barnes and Noble, on O’Reilly or on a book review blog doesn’t matter. What matters is that the reader is interested in this particular book. And so it makes sense to connect her to friends and other readers who are interested in the same book — regardless of when and where they encountered it.

The same is true about many everyday entities that we find on the web — movies, albums, stars, restaurants, wine, musicians, events, articles, politicians, etc — the same entity is referenced in many different pages. Our brains draw the connections instantly and effortlessly, but computers can’t deduce that an “Avatar” review on is talking about the movie also described on a page on

The reason it is important for things to be linked is so that people can be connected around their interests and not around websites they visit. It does not matter to me where my friends are reading about “Avatar”, what matters is which of my friends liked the movie and what they had to say. Without interlinking objects across different sites, the global taste graph is too sparse and uninteresting. By re-imagining the web as the graph of things we are interested in, a new dimension, a new set of connections gets unlocked — everything and everyone connects in a whole new way.

A brief history of semantic markups

The problem of building the web of people and things boils down to describing what is on the page and linking it to other pages. In Tim Berners-Lee’s original vision, the entities and relationships between them would be described using RDF. This mathematical language was designed to capture the essence of objects and relationships in a precise way. While it’s true that RDF annotation would be the most complete, it also turns out to be quite complicated.

It is this complexity that the community has attempted to address over the years. A simpler approach called Microformats was developed by Tantek Celik, Chris Messina and others. Unlike RDF, Microformats rely on existing XHTML standards and leverage CSS classes to markup the content. Critically, Microformats don’t add any additional information to the page, but just annotate the data that is already on the page.

Microformats enjoyed support and wider adoption because of their relative simplicity and focus on marking up the existing content. But there are still issues. First, the number of supported entities is limited, the focus has been on marking organizations, people and events, and then reviews, but there is no way to markup, for example, a movie or a book or a song. Second, Microformats are somewhat cryptic and hard to read. There is cleverness involved in figuring out how to do the markup, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.

In 2005, inspired by Microformats, Ian Davis, now CTO of Talis, developed eRDF — a syntax within HTML for expressing a simplified version of RDF. His approach married the canonical concepts of RDF and the idea from Microformats that the data is already on the page. An iteration of Ian’s work, called RDFa, has been adopted as a W3C standard. All the signs point in the direction of RDFa being the solution of choice for describing entities inside HTML pages.

Until recently, despite the progress in the markups, adoption was hindered by the fact that publishers lacked the incentive to annotate the pages. What is the point if there are no applications that can take advantage of it? Luckily, in 2009 both Yahoo and Google put their muscle behind marking up pages.

First Yahoo developed an elegant search application called Search Monkey. This app encouraged and enabled sites to take control over how Yahoo’s search engine presented the results. The solution was based on both markup on the page and a developer plugin, which gave the publishers control over presenting the results to the user. Later, Google announced rich snippets. This supported both Microformats and RDFa markup and enabled webmasters to control how their search results are presented.

Still missing from all this work was a simple common vocabulary for describing everyday things. In 2008-2009, with help from Peter Mika from Yahoo research, I developed a markup called abmeta. This extensible, RDFa-based markup provided a vocabulary for describing everyday entities like movies, albums, books, restaurants, wines, etc. Designed with simplicity in mind, abmeta supports declaring single and multiple entities on the page, using both meta headers and also using RDFa markup inside the page.

Facebook Open Graph protocol

The markup announced by Facebook can be thought of as a subset of abmeta because it supports the declaration of entities using meta tags. The great thing about this format is simplicity. It is literally readable in English.

The markup defines several essential attributes — type, title, URL, image and description. The protocol comes with a reasonably rich taxonomy of types, supporting entertainment, news, location, articles and general web pages. Facebook hopes that publishers will use the protocol to describe the entities on pages. When users press the LIKE button, Facebook will get not just a link, but a specific object of the specific type.

If all of this computes correctly, Facebook should be able to display a rich collection of entities on user profiles, and, should be able to show you friends who liked the same thing around the web, regardless of the site. So by publishing this protocol and asking websites to embrace it, Facebook clearly declares its foray into the web of people and things — aka, the semantic web.

Technical issues with Facebook’s protocol

As I’ve previously pointed out on my post on ReadWriteWeb, there are several issues with the markup that Facebook proposed.

1. There is no way to disambiguate things. This is quite a miss on Facebook’s part, which is already resulting in bogus data on user profiles. The ambiguity is because the protocol is lacking secondary attributes for some data types. For example, it is not possible to distinguish the movie from its remake. Typically, such disambiguation would be done by using either a director or a year property, but Facebook’s protocol does not define these attributes. This leads to duplicates and dirty data.

2. There is no way to define multiple objects on the page. This is another rather surprising limitation, since previous markups, like Microformats and abmeta, support this use case. Of course if Facebook only cares about getting people to LIKE pages so that they can do better ad targeting, then having multiple objects inside the page is not necessary. But Facebook claimed and marketed this offering as semantic web, so it is surprising that there is no way to declare multiple entities on a single page. Surely a comprehensive solution ought to do that.

3. Open protocol can’t be closed. Finally, Facebook has done this without collaborating with anyone. For something to be rightfully called an Open Graph Protocol, it should be developed in an open collaboration with the web. Surely, Google, Yahoo!, W3C and even small startups playing in the semantic web space would have good things to contribute here.

It sadly appears that getting the semantic web elements correct was not the highest priority for Facebook. Instead, the announcement seems to be a competitive move against Twitter, Google and others with the goal to lock-in publishers by giving them a simple way to recycle traffic.

Where to next?

Despite the drawbacks, there is no doubt that Facebook’s announcement is a net positive for the web at large. When one of the top companies takes a 180-degree turn and embraces a vision that’s been discussed for a decade, everyone stops and listens. The web of people and things is now both very important and a step closer. The questions are: What is the right way? And how do we get there?

For starters, it would be good to fill in some holes in Facebook Open Graph. Whether it is the right way overall or not, at least we need to make it complete. It is important to add support for secondary attributes necessary for disambiguation and also, important to add support for multiple entities inside the page (even if there is only one LIKE button on the whole page). Both of these are already addressed by Microformats and abmeta, so it should be easy to fix.

Beyond technical issues, Facebook should open up this protocol and make it owned by the community, instead of being driven by one company’s business agenda. A true roundtable with major web companies, publishers, and small startups would result in a correct, comprehensive and open protocol. We want to believe that Facebook will do the right thing and will collaborate with the rest the web on what has been an important work spanning years for many of us. The prospects are exciting, because we just made a giant leap. We just need to make sure we land in the right place.

facebook like box – enable your site visitors like your facebook page without leaving your website

Posted in facebook by meetusinghal on May 24, 2010

7 Scientific Ways to Promote Sharing on Facebook

Posted in facebook by meetusinghal on May 14, 2010

7 Scientific Ways to Promote Sharing on Facebook

  • May 10, 2010

Leonardo Da Vinci once wrote, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Kelly Johnson modernized that philosophy with an alternate twist, KISS, Keep it Simple, Stupid a.k.a. Keep it Short and Simple.

In a social economy where attention is a precious commodity, the ability to strip a social object down to its essence to capture attention has less to do with compacting character counts and more to do with the art and science of packaging and presenting content so that it is immediately compelling, simple to grasp and appreciate and in turn, share across social graphs.

For participants in the socialization of media, an ever-thinning attention span is forcing the rapid evolution of our ability to multitask – albeit at shallow depths.  Cognition is thereby stimulated by relevance, simplicity, and in social networks, the objects and content screened and shared by peers.

In Twitter, we learned that there is indeed an art to ReTweets and to increase the likelihood for tweets to spread, the words and times we choose dictate their lifespan and ultimately, fate. To examine social objects and how they affect sharing in Facebook, I once again reached out to my friend and social scientist, Dan Zarrella.

Zarrella studied Facebook data for quite some time and observed that simplicity, among other interesting linguistic and timed attributes, is the key to triggering word of mouth.

Readability’s Effects on Sharing in Facebook

With a view from the top, we can see that Facebook sharing is enhanced by simple language and thus modernizes the old adage KISS to now represent Keep it Simple and “Shareable.”

In his research, Zarrella examined article titles and matched the propensity for sharing with reading grade levels. The results were revealing to say the least. Essentially, the higher the share rates, the lower the reading grade level, with notable spikes resonating at fifth and ninth grades.

Numerical Value

For those looking to capitalize on propagating your content in Facebook, although the same could be true in other online mediums, consider the addition of digits to your titles.

Yes, there’s a reason why we as content consumers, are duped into reading and distributing social objects with numerical digits in the headline. For example, the title of this article is intentional “7 Scientific Ways to Promote Sharing on Facebook.“  Social science now shows that there’s a reason why articles with similar titles consistently perform well.

In Facebook, titles with digits (1-9) outperform text only titles. As much as I’d like to see more originality in and creativity in the school of compelling headline writing, the numbers add up to make a strong case for considering alternatives.

Carpe Diem

Similar to Twitter, there are days and times where we as content consumers transform into curators by sharing relevant content objects.

Whereas on Twitter, RT’s occur most often on Monday and Friday, Facebook users seem most likely to share on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s important to note here that while sharing is notably higher on the weekend, the volume of URLs introduced into Facebook are higher during weekdays, most notably Wednesdays and Fridays.  However, as Zarrella observed, stories published on the weekends tended to be shared on Facebook on average, more than those published during the week. This could be due in part to the fact that more than half of businesses in the U.S. block Facebook and other social networks in the workplace. But then again, if this were true, the science of retweets would also prove otherwise.

Personally, I’ve experimented with this over the last couple of years. Indeed, content introduced on Twitter, tends to spark greater reactions during the week, with Monday and Wednesday and Friday in particular. However, when I withhold the same object and introduce it to my social graph in Facebook on Saturday morning, responses are far more notable.

What Are Words For, When No One Listens Anymore

The act of sharing implies so much more than curation. When we “Like” or share content in Facebook, we are essentially endorsing it and as such, recommending it to friends and followers to act and react.

The words we intentionally or unintentionally surround the objects we share result in either relevance or irrelevance.

While current events play a role defining the most shareable content, truly, experiential words such as “why,” “most,” “world,” and “how” trigger the greatest volume of shares in aggregate. However, when viewing the activity of words in isolation of sharing events, “you” and “video” prove extremely noteworthy.

When words aren’t working for you, they’re working against you. As documented, certain words serve as inhibitors to sharing, closing the attention aperture before content has an opportunity to breathe. According to Zarrella’s research, the least shareable words include expressions I would not have otherwise guessed, including “review,” “poll,” and “social.” Among the least shareable words however, the following terms are introduced with greater frequency, however do not engender the desired outcome, “time,” “Twitter,” and “live.”

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Part-of-speech also lends to the shareability of social object. Much like Tweets or any other update in the “statusphere,” brevity serves as a framework for what we introduce into the stream.

Seems that we have proof that actions speak louder than words, or at the very least, verbs as action words appear to motivate sharing with important nouns following in second. As to be expected, there are a greater number of nouns introduced into updates, however, it is verbs that imply action and therefore the right verbs compel us to share. Adjectives and adverbs appear to be among the least shared parts-of-speech in Facebook as our attention spans are trained to look beyond promotion or hyperbole.

The Glass is Half Full

The effect of linguistic content and the tone of updates and objects introduced in Facebook say everything about you. At the same time, determine whether someone reads, ignores, and more importantly, shares what they encounter.

Negative updates are among the least shared objects with positive sentiment and words sitting on the opposite end, prove to be among the most shared. It’s interesting to note that a greater number of negative updates are introduced into NewsFeeds than those that are positive. I suppose it’s to be expected, but sex is at the very top of the list and also among the least often introduced into social feeds. I’m also pleasantly surprised and encouraged to see learning, media, work and constructive in the company of shareable linguistic performers.

There are times where the content we introduce into the activity feeds of those in our social graph is intended to inspire sharing across the graphs of friends and friends of friends. Consider the science and then craft the update to employ it to your benefit – and hopefully the benefit of others.

Antione de Saint Exupéry observed, “Perfection is reached not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

Please consider reading my new book, Engage!

Get Putting the Public Back in Public Relations and The Conversation Prism:

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Facebook To Announce Plans To Take Over The Internet With Facebook Pages

Posted in facebook by meetusinghal on March 10, 2010