Facebook Launches Home

Facebook announced a new mobile initiative, and it’s not the much rumored Facebook Phone. It’s a home screen app launcher interface for Android devices that makes Facebook a larger part of the phone experience with Facebook notifications, updates on news feed posts and messaging with Facebook friends front and center.

One of its first features is the Cover Feed, which is a News Feed stream that highlights what friends are sharing on Facebook from photos to status updates on the lock and home screen of your Android device. Users can flip through stories on the Cover Feed and double tap to like and even comment from the home screen. It makes your Facebook News Feed the most prominent form of information coming to you through your phone.

Then there are push notifications. Users can get updates from Facebook friends and apps.

There’s app launcher that opens when you swipe up on your Facebook profile. From the launcher users can access all of their apps and organize them by their favorites.

Perhaps the biggest feature is called Chat Heads. As a user is viewing a piece of content outside the Facebook experience, chat heads, which are avatars of their friends, appear above the app when a message is sent via SMS or Facebook Messages. Chat heads can show up anywhere, even outside of Facebook apps.

The first phone Home will be pre-loaded on is the HTC First, an AT&T exclusive 4.3 inch dual-core Android 4.1 Jelly Bean phone that supports LTE. Although, Home will be available on April 12 for download from Google Play and will work on the HTC One X, HTC One, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II.

This is only the beginning. Home will be updated monthly with new features and even a tablet version on the way. Mark Zuckerberg said no ads are on the platform at this time, but they could certainly be part of iSts future.

Home will only be available in the United States. While, it’s likely going to expand outside the U.S. The decision is interesting given Facebook is expanding, particularly in the mobile realm, outside the U.S. The prime market for home is likely elsewhere.

Home won’t be for everyone, but for users who want Facebook to be the star and the center of their mobile communication, Home offers a beautiful interface and integration. There is an audience for that.

The decision to launch essentially an app launcher seems much smarter than launching a single Facebook phone as was rumored. With Home, Facebook is able to become an extension of any modern Android experience as software, not hardware. With people accessing Facebook 10-12 times per day on their mobile phones, Facebook will continue to build its data treasure trove while keeping users locked into the Facebook universe.

Other social networks like Twitter, while still available, are given a backseat on phones with Home set-up. This goes for branded apps as well. Facebook is the center of the Home universe.

Another angle is that Home may appeal to Facebook’s most important, and most diminishing demographic, teens. With a constantly changing home page and the ability to be hyper-connected, Facebook is appealing to the always-on teen audience. Although, this is also the group most likely to experiment with multiple apps and stray away from Facebook where their parents are. In fact, many already have. Beyond teens, many users like having access to multiple apps at once and trust with Facebook is low.

From a marketing perspective, Facebook Home has access to a lot of data on a user’s phone. This could mean greater opportunities for ad targeting for marketers. However, that could mean privacy concerns for users, so Facebook’s going to have to tread lightly in this area just as Google already has with Android.

Read more about Facebook Home at CNET.

SEC Allows Corporate Disclosure on Social Media

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has given the all clear for companies to use social networks to disclose business information instead of press releases as long as investors have been notified which network will be used ahead of time.

This clarifies a regulation that said companies could only make disclosures about performance in a publically available format.

Social networks were called into question after Netflix CEO Reed Hastings stated that Netflix users were watching nearly one billion hours of video per month via Facebook.

The SEC ruled that social media works the same as websites when it comes to being a means of disseminating information to investors.

Even though Hastings acted before the ruling, the SEC will not pursue any punishment.

This move shows that SEC is moving with the times and understanding that social media channels are a pervasive means of communication between brands and customers as well as investors. Regulatory agencies like the SEC and FTC are making greater efforts to adapt to the new digital landscape. We saw another example a couple weeks ago with the FTC’s disclosure guidelines for social media. This gives businesses clearer direction on how to use these channels and how not to.

Read more about the SEC’s new ruling at Forbes.

Twitter Updates Cards

Twitter held an invite-only event this week to announce several updates to Twitter Cards, the technology that adds rich content inside a tweet, such as images.

The update allows for more information to be shared within a tweet with deep-linking. Deep-linking allows the more than 10,000 developers using Twitter Cards to embed a link for viewers to view content directly within the app if they have it installed. If a user doesn’t have the app linked to installed, the user will be prompted to download it.

In addition to deep-lining, Twitter also added three new types of Cards. App Cards show information about an app, such as its name, icon, price and rating, so users can link directly to an app store to download the app. Product Cards, which show an image and description, now have two customizable fields with things like price and rating information. Gallery Cards show collections of photographs.

The updates are being unrolled to Twitter’s mobile platforms across Android, iPhone and the mobile web simultaneously.

Twitter has strained relationships with developers recently with restrictions to its API, and this appears to be a bit of an olive branch. Twitter Cards allow a way for developers to use Twitter to share additional information directly through tweets, but it could also mean the beginning of the end for some Twitter clients without access to Twitter Cards as users may default to Twitter for a deeper experience.

This update means the simplistic 140 character limit is becoming less and less of a restriction as marketers can now share things like galleries and full product information within a single tweet. This has the potential to help marketers who want to share richer content through their tweets, such as photo albums and product information. But the biggest beneficiary from this may be Twitter, which can use richer tweets to encourage developers and marketers to promote their content on the Twitter platform more through Promoted Tweets.

Read more about Twitter Cards’ update at Marketing Land.

News Quick Hits

  • Twitter has relaunched and reorganized its Twitter for Business online resource where marketers working for small to large businesses can learn the basics of Twitter, how to build a community and how to use Twitter ads. (Read more at Twitter for Business)
  • Facebook is facing a copyright lawsuit related to Timeline after the website Timelines, Inc. accused Facebook of copyright infringement when it launched the Timeline feature. After a failed attempt to dispute the trademark as being too generic, a judge has pushed the case forward to a trial, which will begin April 22. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Only a few weeks after announcing a Google+ social sign-in option, Google announced that Google+ sign-in is launching across hundreds of major media outlets, including Fox, American Idol, NPR and more. Google+ partnered with sign-in providers Gigya and Janrain to increase the reach of the sign-in option. This gives Google+ more exposure and the ability to collect greater amounts of user data. (Read more at PCMAG.COM)
  • Zynga has launched its first foray into gambling with its UK gambling brands ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaCasino, which will feature 160 gambling games, including a Farmville slots game. (Read more at CNET)
  • Facebook has moved executive Emily White to the position of director of business operations for Instagram where she will work to expand partnerships, improve user operations and most likely help with monetization efforts. This could mean Facebook’s laying the groundwork for advertising on Instagram. (Read more at AllThingsD)
  • LinkedIn has added the ability to tag other people in posts by typing their name in updates or comments. From there an auto-populated list of connections and companies displays. This is part of LinkedIn’s refocus on being more of a social network and news source. (Read more at TechCrunch)

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