When you log in to your social profile do you feel like you’ve walked into a cosy friends house or a crowded market place. I logged in to my myspace account today after being in my facebook account to be met with the usual barrage of ads and I got to thinking. The abundance of adverts on show on the inside of a myspace account and the “get to know a celebrity” focus that they now have leaves me feeling like i’m in the middle of a busy town faced with too many sandwich boards between me and people that I know.
The user experience on myspace has been wrestled away from communicating with friends to finding your way through ads to get to your friends. From the screenshot below you can see that only a tiny portion on the left hand side is what I would call “mine”. The rest is made up of ads (displayed in green) trying to free me from my money. (I know this is the old layout but the new one is only marginally better)
This layout leaves me feeling like I’m a visitor in my own profile as very little of the screen above the fold is devoted to my use. This is a clanger of a mistake from myspace as I now instinctively keep my focus on the left side of the screen and avoid seeing their ads. I have never once clicked on any of these ads that I see daily and yet they keep on coming. Im not bothered about them being there. Im quite happy that all this advertising that I never click on or even look at allows me to keep using this site for free. From the point of view of the advertiser however it’s not an ideal situation.
Lets look at how facebook have fared with incorporating ads into the user experience. The ads are marked in green. As you can see there are only two of them and the one at the bottom of the page is actually a friend who has become a fan of a product.
So although there is a link to the profile page for that product the link has been invited in by a friend instead of the old way where an ad just barges in. Nobody asks for the ads on myspace so they become intrusive whereas the fan method means that the company gets invited to hang out with the rest of the posted items. Facebook understands that due to internet users general advert banner blindness and apathy towards adverts that a new strategy is needed. One where users choose which products they want to be associated with and updated by and where there is more focus towards providing what users are looking for as opposed to telling them what they want.
What about Bebo. They also score a high grade. On the image below you can see that there is only one ad visible above the fold. Their home page has some pretty big ads on it but thats to be expected. If like me you rarely spend any time on the home page and jump straight to logging in these ads are barely noticeable.
In social media it all comes down to following everyday social rules. Don’t walk up to people and try the hard sell when they are clearly not interested but instead just be available and findable when your services are being searched for. Facebook are taking it one further so that if your product or service is interesting or cool enough you’ll actually get recommended by other users. Attaching the trust factor of a friend recommendation is priceless.