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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Facebook Quietly Launches Ads API for ALL Developers

Some amazing things have been announced at Facebook's annual developer conference, F8, going on yesterday and today in San Francisco. From new apps for Facebook Messenger, to a platform for Internet of Things, to one of the most amazing explanations of the value of virtual reality I've ever seen, Facebook has by far made up for last year's F8, which I suggested was a bit uninteresting. But one thing went unannounced that I think bears merit, and I discovered it within their "Developers Garage" here at the conference as I was talking to people working for Facebook at the various booths. That was the launch of Facebook's advertising API to all developers, making the entire API public.

Up until "recently", as Facebook reps weren't able to give me a specific date that it went live, you used to have to apply to access Facebook's ads API through a very hard-to-find form on the Facebook Developers website. Now, in a very prominent location, Facebook has released a "Marketing APIs" section of their developers website, allowing any developer that needs it to access Insights data, custom audience creation and access, access to a business's pages and assets, along with the ability to create and access ads on behalf of a business. According to Facebook they released them recently but there is no blog post or official announcement about the release.

To get started with the Facebook Ads API, developers just need to create an app and under "Advanced" within the app settings, set an ad account ID to associate ads with. Then, developers have access to a slew of API calls they can use to retrieve an ad account's ads, create and modify custom audiences, and even create and target new ads to new audiences in very custom ways. I often use this for my clients to integrate and custom target ads to very specific users that are visiting certain parts of their websites or mobile apps.

Typically, while a developer may be able to code an app like this, they likely won't know how beneficial this feature can be to a business, which may be why Facebook did not make a big announcement about the feature. Knowing these things can be automated is something critical for marketing organizations to get to know and understand, and one reason I always suggest the more technical elements of marketing orgs visit conferences like F8. These tools Facebook just launched are extremely valuable and can be the key to, with a small update, allowing orgs to have that extra edge against their competitors.

So if you haven't tried it out yet hop on over to Facebook's Marketing APIs in their developer documentation and start learning what you can do. To me, this is one of the most valuable and most major announcements to come out of the Facebook F8 developer conference and it wasn't even announced from the stage. I'm kind of okay with being one of the "few" that knows about it though!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

No Known Solutions In Sight for Copyright Issues or Monetization for Facebook Video

At Facebook's now annual F8 developers conference, 2 issues seemed to be on the mind of developers and content creators in the audience of their "What's New With Facebook Video" session: copyright infringement and in-video monetization. But when asked about it, Facebook seemed mute.

Among the features launched at Facebook F8 this year was the ability, just like Youtube, to embed native video from Facebook on websites and other 3rd party products (see video below). This launch allows further distribution of video, and improves the capabilities of video shared on websites to be shared beyond previously available through solutions such as Youtube video.

While big news, Facebook still failed to address what was on the top of everyone's minds: how to address the rampant stealing of video on Youtube subsequently being shared on Facebook by those who don't own the video. When prompted by one questioner, Facebook responded saying they had not come up with a solution, and that such a solution would take a long time to come up with. "We're learning", Fidji Simo, Facebook's Product Management Director over video said, suggesting these types of products take time to develop.

I pressed further, specifically citing Google's Content Manager solution that allows copyright owners to upload their copyrighted content to Youtube in order to notify Youtube of the copyrighted material, so as others upload the same content it can be automatically flagged and removed. The response I got back was pretty much the same, citing the complexities and difficulties of such a solution. There seemed to be no plans, at least that they were willing to admit yet.

While I admit I don't understand the complexities of such a system (in developer speak, you would just create a "hash" of the video, and for every video uploaded match the content of those videos against the hashes of other copyrighted material in the Facebook database), it was comforting to know Facebook is at least understanding of the problem. It was completely clear to me they had heard these issues before, and were actively trying to figure out a solution surrounding the problem.

As for monetization, Facebook seemed unclear on whether in-stream video ads were the future for Facebook video. They said they were trying to reach out to other content publishers to work on business solutions for the video, but nothing had materialized yet. Not quite the information I was looking for, but it's comforting to know that they know the problems.

While I understand the complexities of video, copyright, and monetization, I am perplexed at the lack of communication on the problems surrounding these issues. It doesn't seem to me like Facebook is doing their best to reach out to the influencers and friends of mine I'm aware of in the Youtube community (all with millions of subscribers) that could be providing feedback around the platform. At a minimum, Facebook could be calming the waters a bit.

In the meantime, we'll continue to see videos like these produced, unless Facebook can either provide a solution or start better communications with Youtubers affected by these issues:



Facebook video is crushing YouTube.
Facebook video is crushing YouTube. Watch to find out how #stopfreebooting #stopfacebookfreebooting
Posted by Derral Eves on Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Friday, December 19, 2014

How to Find the Fans of Your Facebook Page

I had a client ask me the other day if they could identify their 10,000th fan for a giveaway. The truth is on Facebook, they don't make it easy to know who your fans are. In the Facebook API it limits you up to only a few hundred fans that you can retrieve (and that only works on occasion). You can use Graph Search and a combination of a couple Google Chrome extensions to download up to about 5,000 fans (I've never been able to get more). But to get the entire list hasn't been possible until I discovered this one cool hack, and it sorts it by most recent person who liked your page! Here's how you do it:

The secret is in a little-used feature that allows you to easily block fans, and find fans you have banned from any Facebook page you manage. To get your list of fans, do the following:


  1. Go in as an admin of your page to your Facebook's "Settings" tab at the top. This is where you can configure your page and modify how you want to administer your page.
  2. Select the "Banned Users" option on the left. This section allows you to configure who has been banned and who hasn't.
  3. In the drop-down that appears at the top, click on it and select "People who like this". This is the list of all people who have liked your page!
In the ensuing list, if you scroll through it all you will have a list of every single person who has ever liked your page, sorted by who liked it most recently! So if you want to discover who your 10,000th fan is, wait until shortly after you reach 10,000 fans, go to this page, and count down the number of fans over 10,000 it was when you looked at the page, and the fan you end up at will be your 10,000th fan!

Unfortunately, you can't use this trick to enable a Chrome extension like AnyAudience to download the list yet, so you'll have to scroll through all users to see the entire list. This does enable that possibility though, and I anticipate app developers (maybe I'll do it) will build out a Chrome extension that works with this so you can use your list to build lookalike audiences, or to analyze with Facebook ads.

However, this does provide, since it is a sorted list, a way to identify who your latest fans are, and do promotions around that. What other tricks have you seen allowing you to learn more about a Facebook Page's audience?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Entirely Contextual, Peer-to-Peer, Self-Aware Future of Technology

This article is part of the ‘Think Further’ series, sponsored by Alger Financial Management. For more ‘Think Further’ content and videos, click here.

As I talk to others in the tech industry, I'm often asked, what's next for technology? First there was the PC, then the web. Then came the dynamic web experiences and "web 2.0". Following that came social media, mobile, and the appearance of all your friends and family, as well as personal information into that web experience. So what's next? The future of technology is all about the end user. It has no servers. It has no "destinations" that the end-user has to go to or search for on some company's website. It's entirely contextual, peer-to-peer, knows the user, and follows the them wherever they go. But what about beyond that? Where will we be in 20 years, 50 years, or even 100 years?

Predicting 50 years into the future is not an easy task to consider. The truth is, the number of possibilities and directions, as well as the acceleration of knowledge and technologies that will exist as we evolve in that direction are beyond what we can even imagine. But, with our limited knowledge and the paths we can currently see, we can make an educated guess at the direction for technology, and what that may mean for society. As I attempt to do this, I'll focus on the paths I'm seeing now, and what it could mean for the future.

The Peer-to-Peer Society

One of the biggest changes in technology that will occur over the next 50 years will be the advent of what I call "The Peer-to-Peer Society". There are technologies right now, which require no centrally owned server or business entity to ensure the success of the network occurs. Take Bitcoin, for example. Bitcoin relies on a technology called "The Blockchain", which relies on a massive, peer-to-peer network of personal computers all verifying who "owns" money. Now imagine if this concept were applied to other things, like file systems, DNS, or even privacy?

In the future your computer, or even phone or embedded chip in your body will store encrypted copies with links to other encrypted data of everything owned by everyone in the world. Only those people with "private keys" will have access to that data, but they will also be able to designate access to that data to other people. Take, for instance, your address. You could provide access to the Post Office a public key that contains your address. Only they would be able to access your address and know where to send your packages. Then, along the way, no one will ever know your address but the Post Office and yourself.

Another element of the Peer-to-Peer society will be the advent of peer-to-peer commerce. Because of technologies like above, more people will "rent" things and "use" things, rather than buy them or own them. We will move, as we are now, from the ownership of digital content and the ability to easily share the things we create on our own, as well as things others have created, to the ability to easily share physical products and things we both create on our own, as well as use from our friends. Brands will need to come up with new ways, just as they have with virtual content, to reach people with physical content. Some are calling this "the sharing economy" or "collaborative economy".

Taking this even further beyond, brands may not even be in the picture. In the future technology will enable people to do business with just other people, and we will all be a part of one large peer-to-peer ecosystem where everyone is sharing with each other, doing commerce with each other, and only the technology itself will serve as any form of organization of that commerce. Corporations will no longer have humans controlling them. Corporations will be autonomous and every "member" of those corporations will be their own CEO.

All your utilities will work this way as well. Everyone will run their own power - solar, wind, etc. all from their own yards and houses (which again, might even be rented from other members of these corporations), and will supply power to the rest of the autonomous power grid. Internet will be an entire mesh, with everyone containing wireless antennas that communicate with each other openly, no centralized ISP necessary. Water will be shared from house-to-house in various means. People will offer composting, recycling, and trash services from their own personal homesteads where they turn the garbage into useful items for generating more energy, plants, food, and products.

Sensory Data and Self-Awareness

We live in a world currently of mobile phones, tablets, and mobile technologies. Smart watches are emerging. Exercise tracking devices are starting to become mainstream, tracking your every move and storing other data alongside that. There is even a contest for a device that tracks health data so well, that it can identify diseases before you even know they exist. In the future, yours, and my life will be extended exponentially because sensory data will know before Doctors can even know there are statistical anomalies going on, in real time, with our bodies.

The future holds no destinations. The idea of "a world-wide web" where you have to go to a place by typing in a URL will be gone. The idea of "apps" you download and open on your phone will no longer exist. Instead, the devices you carry, if you even carry a device (you will likely have chips implanted in your body, connecting eyes, brain, even smell and taste all together), will tell you before you even need to look it up, what you want to know.

Walking by a restaurant? A notification pops up telling you your friend's there and they've got a really cool idea you should go talk to them about.

Or, maybe your blood-sugar's a little low. Another notification comes up to tell you a really good restaurant is nearby, or maybe it's not even a restaurant - it's someone's house who voluntarily sells yummy cake for any visitor willing to knock. (remember my autonomous, peer-to-peer corporation that I mentioned above?)

Everywhere you go, software running within one of these autonomous corporations will know exactly who you are. Identity theft will be impossible. It will know what you like, who your best friends are, who you interact with, and the things you need to best exist in the world.

Flying Cars?

What's an article about the future without a mention of flying cars? Well, I don't think flying cars are necessarily in the 50 year future, but I think faster transportation is. For one, cars won't be driven by people. In fact, those that run the mapping software will control the transportation system. You'll simply ask  (or it will detect automatically) to go somewhere, and an automatic driving car will show up at your door, no cost to you (except maybe a few prompts to go places nearby that you're probably interested in, that others may have paid for), and take you to your destination.

The roads will be different as well. There are already prototypes of solar roadways that can be replaced by panels that inter-link together. Having powered roadways opens up a whole host of possibilities. For instance, what if magnetism were employed like bullet trains?

If there are no humans operating the cars, then the entire paradigm of driving changes. Roadways can now change to be much more like trains. Remove the friction from the wheels, and add lightning fast response times to the automated cars that all talk together, and you can be from one house to another all the way across town within just minutes. So perhaps flying cars are possible!

Space, the Capitalist's Frontier

You can't talk about the next 50 years without talking about the commercialization of space. As autonomous corporations take over, this is the entrepreneur's next playing field. This is where all the future resources will come from.

Not only will people begin to be able to travel to outerspace for leisure, but they'll also be able to stay there, and even live there. Wealthy, higher share owners of these autonomous corporations will fund the hotel chains and apartments in space. And this is just the beginning - it only starts in the earth's outer atmosphere. We'll venture further and further away from earth as we realize there is money to be made elsewhere in this universe.

There are already competitions to mine the moon, and asteroids, and other planets. There are practically unlimited resources in those places! As we do that, we'll begin to settle each place we venture to, and our society will no longer be just earth. This introduces entirely new paradigms we can barely even understand today!

The end of Manufacturing as we Know it

With the advent of 3D printing, all sorts of things are changing. Currently, entire manufacturing lines are being replaced by completely automated "printing processes". These machines that can print a device from the ground up out of varying materials will get smaller and smaller, and the number of people needed to produce the products will become less and less.

Factories will no longer be needed. People will just buy 3D printers for their homes, or for their businesses, and print the things they need, or the things they want to rent out to others. Even food will be printed! The entire problem of off-shore manufacturing here in America will be an entirely moot point.

It's hard to wrap our minds around the next 50 years. What I've suggested here may sound crazy. However, contemplating current technology trends and the possibilities already available to us, I really do not think we are far off. Our future here on this earth and even beyond is really bright! And I think, with technology, there's a good chance many of us adults living today will actually live longer than many preceding us to see it.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Google+ Isn't Dying. Facebook Isn't Dying. The News Feed is Dying.

Paul Adams, inventor of Google+ Circles, and an all-around smart guy, wrote a post I shared earlier today on Facebook about basically the death of "the destination". His post really resonated with me. I've long wondered, with the death of Google Authorship among other things being removed from Google+, if plus.google.com would stick around, instead being favored as just a layer across all Google products (Google+ therefore still definitely having a future). I've come to the conclusion of this: The idea of "a news feed" will be dead in the next 5 years. Facebook as you know it will be gone. Twitter as you know it will be gone. So will plus.google.com. Heck, arguably Google.com will be gone too.

Instead, the status update will still exist. Privacy will still exist. Your social graph will still exist. So will all the meta data about you - your phone location, likes, interests, and much, much more. But you won't have to "go somewhere" to see all this stuff or consume it. It will all just be delivered to you as you need it.

Imagine getting updates on your phone, or watch, or Google Glass equivalent saying "because you like Google, your friend just said, ..." Or, you go by a good restaurant and up pops a message saying, "So-and-so was just here and posted this picture". Or, "We know you love pictures of spiders. Terrie Gray (Louis Gray's Mom takes amazing macro photography) just posted some really awesome pictures of spiders you'll want to see."

This is the direction we're headed. We're actually almost already there with things like Google Now, Safari notifications, the lock screens on your phones, Facebook Home, and more. The truth is, the concept of "a news feed" or destination site like plus.google.com or facebook.com will soon no longer be necessary. This is why Google Inbox just launched. It's why my phone is getting smarter and smarter, and why Apple and Google are now launching watches. It's why Google launched Google Glass.

It's also why Google is removing features like Google Authorship from Google+. The fact is, SEO will no longer exist in the next 6-7 years, all in favor of contextual optimization. What does that mean for a marketer? It means instead of trying to optimize what your content says and how it appears when someone searches for it, you'll instead be trying to understand your exact audience for your content, what their location is, where they could be consuming it, and adapting different versions of your content for all sorts of different audiences. You'll also be building apps to take advantage of all the sensory data available from your audience and building contextual experiences around that.

I finally think I figured it out though. Google+ isn't going away. Neither is Facebook. It's the News Feed, and in some ways, search, that are going away in favor of contextual experiences that aren't destinations. The data and experience is still all there though - it just follows you, instead of you having to go towards it. Mark my words. This is our future.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Facebook Fraudster's New Strategy: Friend, Fraud, then Forget - How to Protect Yourself


A common Facebook social engineering or fraud tactic is to pick someone with friends you want to target, copy their Facebook profile entirely, and then start friending their friends one by one, until your new profile looks completely authentic. In the past, it was easy to get rid of these fraudsters by just reporting their account (click on the "..." in the upper-right of their profile, and then click "report"). But they've gotten smarter. Once the fraudsters realize you're onto them they now block you, and you can't access that account to report them any more - this is a flaw in Facebook's system that I think needs to be fixed.

The problem happened with a distant cousin of mine. I received a friend request from him, and I had forgotten I even friended him. I've also had it happen with a few friends of mine where I had just thought they unfriended me and were changing their minds. Out of habit, I accepted the friend request, and immediately the fraudster (go report him!) messaged me as my cousin. He started asking me about some sort of military retirement plan - my grandfather, who served in the military, has the same name as me so I thought my cousin was just mixing me up with him.

Before I knew it, I realized it wasn't the real cousin of mine. A quick look at the profile of the individual I was talking to confirmed such (there was only one update on their profile), and I called him out on it. Next thing I know, as I was just about to report it, the profile is gone - I thought it was a success and Facebook had discovered the impostor. I was wrong!

It turns out Facebook has a flaw where fraudsters like this can block you, removing your ability entirely to report them, and making it even harder for Facebook to identify these fraudulent accounts. He's now harassing other family members of mine, the ones that don't know how to report him. It's actually a pretty smart move for a social engineer. So how do you protect yourself?

There a couple things you can do first, to protect yourself, and second to report these individuals:


  1. Don't friend people you don't know in real life! If you want others to follow you, go to your "Friends" page (see instructions in step 2), and click on "Followers", then enable the follow button there. You can then use Facebook privacy on your posts to enable some posts as public for your followers and others just for your friends. The fraudster may not even be someone you know, and this is an easy tactic for social engineers to gradually get control of your profile, your Facebook Pages, or even your money. They just have to make you think they're your friend!
  2. Mark your friend list to only be visible by a specific Facebook list you've identified as "trusted". This is tricky, because it's not in the normal Facebook privacy settings. You can do this by going to your Facebook profile (click on your name in the upper-right), and then clicking on the "Friends" link to take you to your list of Facebook friends. In the upper-right of that, click on the little pencil/edit icon, and select "edit privacy". Now you'll be given the option to select who can see your list of friends - in this area you want to select either just your friends, or get even narrower with a list of "close friends" you trust even more. When you're in my friends list, you're protected. You should protect your friends too.
  3. If you've previously friended the individual friending you before, look back at their profile to see how many posts they have. Usually the impostors only have one or two posts. They may have the same friends though. Also, search for the friend, and you'll now see 2 profiles. Don't accept this individual's friend request! And that brings us to my final suggestion.
  4. Report the individual! Assuming they don't block you, you can do this very easily by going to their profile, clicking the "..." in the upper-right, and then select "Report". Select the appropriate categories and make sure you check the box to report to Facebook. The more of these Facebook receives, the faster the impostor will go away. Get all your friends to do this - it works!

    If the individual has blocked you, it's not as easy (and something Facebook really needs a better solution for if you ask me). It took me about 5 clicks to finally find the form using Google Search (and good luck finding it directly on Facebook). Just go to this link, fill out the form, and they'll be reported: https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/274459462613911
Unfortunately, there are many of these fraudsters that get away with what they're doing, constantly harassing individuals and their friends because they don't know how to get rid of them. Many older individuals end up just removing their Facebook accounts. Some go to the extent of removing all their Facebook account and opening a new one, erasing years of history with the individual.

Facebook really needs better solutions around this, but for now I hope this article can help you. Oh, and if you get a chance, go report this fraudulent profile for my cousin!: https://www.facebook.com/bill.stay.1

Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Protect Your Online Social Media Presence Using Facebook Business Manager

Facebook's recently released Business Manager is a God-send for any social media manager or strategist or even security department desiring to manage multiple Facebook Page admins among dozens (to even hundreds or thousands) of Facebook Pages and Ad accounts. With just a few clicks you can know exactly who has access to your Facebook Pages and Ad accounts, and remove that access within just a click. As an agency, this is a dream come true! But there's one element of security marketers and businesses need to be aware of, and it could compromise their entire Business Manager access if they're not careful.

The problem I'm referring to is social engineering. The fact is it's pretty easy to duplicate or copy another person's Facebook account. I saw it happen just today - a fraudster finds the friend of someone influential, copies the account of that friend, and starts friending the same people the original person was friends with. If they can make it far enough, the account can look pretty authentic! And if you're onto them they'll just block you so you can't report them (more on that later).

So what happens when a Facebook Page admin, or Business Manager admin is the target? The fraudster just needs to send a request from Facebook Business Manager to one of the owners of the Facebook Page as someone that looks like a legit admin of that account, and if that admin is not paying attention, before they know it, they've been removed from the Page, and the new owner is posting on their behalf with basically whatever they want. It could be a Social Media manager's nightmare!

So how do you protect yourself? Here are a couple tips:


  • Email or call the person sending you a request. This is probably the easiest way to protect yourself. Don't trust their Facebook account, as it could be hacked. However, sending them a separate email or even better a phone call or walking over to their desk, ensures that you're messaging them at a guaranteed communication channel. If they respond and say it was them, you're good to approve the request!

    Also, don't trust an email from someone that says they sent you a request - it's easy to spoof the "from" line of an email. Always make sure you directly email them (not in a reply), and ask them if you must use email.
  • Turn the management of your Facebook Page and Ad Account access over to your security team. Marketing teams may hate me for this one, but it truly is the safest means. Your security team is trained to watch for stuff like this (and if they aren't, have them contact me and I can get them trained!). A good security team will both watch out for your security, ensure only those that need access to your accounts have access to them, and also empower you as a marketing team to get as much done as you need to get done. A good security team will never be a hinderance, but also protect your online presence as a company.
  • Only give the requesting party the access they truly need to your page or ad account. This is important. It's so easy to just give "admin" access to just anyone, which means that individual can completely remove other admins making it a nightmare to recover your Facebook Page. Some times if it's an agency, and you don't have the experience to manage your page, admin access is appropriate. But make sure your agency (such as Fit Marketing, the company I work for - your security is something we have experience with, and are good at) understands how to keep your account safe, and make sure you email them to know it's them sending the request. Beyond that, ONLY give access to people what they need! Hopefully your agency is following this as well (many agencies don't, so be careful).
  • Develop a contingency plan. Most companies don't have one of these. A contingency plan can help your organization prepare in the event someone does compromise your Business Manager access. It can also ensure employees are educated and following best practices to make your company as secure as possible. Companies such as Fit Marketing and myself can help you develop a solid contingency plan for your business.
Facebook Business Manager is an incredible tool - I'll be posting more about it on the Fit Marketing blog shortly. It can actually make your organization safer if used right. However, if business owners and marketers aren't careful, your social media presence could easily, and quickly be compromised. Hopefully these tips can help secure your social media presence using the tool.
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