Live-tweeting Facebook’s ‘awesome’ event

It happened almost accidentally, I was waiting to watch Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook announcement on July 6, 2011 which he pitched as “awesome” and I had my Tweetdeck open. As a tech person, who often tweets about technology I decided to announce that 1) I was watching the event and 2) that he had begun.[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/JoshuaIAltman/status/88657182425485313"]As I was watching the event I noticed that Zuckerberg was drawing distinctions between his platform that those of his former competitor Myspace. I tweeted (with an unnoticed error):[blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/JoshuaIAltman/status/88658126928216066"]

Myspace declined for numerous reasons, including that its owners held tight control over the entire platform, and any applications that were used on the site were built by Myspace itself. From the beginning Facebook took a different approach by building a platform and then encouraging others to build applications for users. Zynga, a leading developer and creator of apps including Farmville builds on this platform and recently launched a bid for a one billion dollar IPO.

Probably the biggest, and most under reported, point from Zuckerberg’s speech was that Facebook plans to change the metric by which it measures consumers. Utilizing charts, graphs, and explanations involving logarithmic graphs indecipherable to most users Zuckerberg announced that quality of user was more important than quantity of user. After this shift in metric, I tweeted: [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/JoshuaIAltman/status/88658724268421120"]

At the time of Facebook’s announcement, weeks had passed since news outlets reported that Facebook lost U.S. users in May. In the social media world Myspace changed owners and Google+ launched. Consequentially, people had forgotten about the bad news for Facebook, and would not notice that the change in user measurement was intended to stave off future stories about the decline of the Social Media giant by focusing more on devoted users rather than the number of people with accounts.

Zuckerberg’s key product launch was the integration of video chat into the Facebook platform. Video chat is nothing new, Google chat incorporated video long ago, and many internet users already have Skype or other VoIP service, so Facebook’s big change is to not require users to need another login to use something they already have.  How Facebook plans to use video chat is more important than the product launch. [blackbirdpie url="https://twitter.com/#!/JoshuaIAltman/status/88661020742139905"]

Obama meets with technology leaders-Source: Cnet.com

Facebook will be using Microsoft’s recently acquired Skype VoIP service as the provider for video chat. Microsoft a leader in the personal computer industry has been in decline in recent years while Facebook and Apple have been thriving. A February dinner with technology leaders and President Obama saw Apple’s Steve Jobs and Facebook’s Zuckerberg seated next to the president while no Microsoft representative attended.

Eight tweets after beginning, “Zuckerberg off the stage at #facebook event” I closed my live tweeting even though the event continued with demonstrations, I would only cover Zuckerberg’s speech.

Around the Web

Live tweeting an event will result in missed information due to the nature of the media. After the announcement writers around the web began to analyze the announcement and the video chat product. Michael Arrington compared Facebook’s product to hangouts in Google+ which launched a week earlier. Although the two products are different they share enough similarities for a comparison to be a same-day story considering the launch of Google+ and the longstanding competition between Facebook and Google.

Mashable blogged after the event about the launch of video chat and included links to the whole event, the Facebook blog, and a “how-to” for video chat and an screen image of the product being used. Including these elements in live tweeting is not imposable (if they are available) but the search-time and linking time makes doing so prohibitive since I needed to be focused on the event and Twitter, and not searching for a “how-to.”

The next day (July 7) stories got more researched and more detailed. One report from Yahoo News tackled how “awesome” the Facebook video chat really is. One day out, reporters were able to differentiate between the two aspects of the product, the business and the practical. On the business side, the reporter noted that Facebook is entering telecom, but on the user side many people already have video chat and all this does is migrate it to a new platform. The report did not mention Microsoft’s question of Skype which I did during my tweeting.

One week from the event the story transformed from Facebook video chat, to incorporating the new product into the larger social media narrative. On July 13, HuffPost Tech looked at Facebook video chat in the context of Google+ more than Arrington did and look at the product more than Yahoo News; depth which is only available days after a story first breaks. Larry Magid compared the two services using a personal anecdote of Google+ where someone did not know they were on webcam and how that cannot happen on Facebook’s new service. Tweeting this kind of information would have taken too much time from the event and taken too many characters to properly convey. One week out, Facebook successfully changed the story from the loss of U.S. users to an “awesome” new product.

Reactions

Live tweeting an event was not eye opening, it was writing down what was said and adding some color to highlight why certain facts are important, such as Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype. The restricted nature of the platform, 140 characters and done, prevented me from being able to include more details in each tweet. Twitter’s immediacy prevented me from having the time to make each tweet consequential enough, since by the time it is written something better came along. The immediacy of the platform also resulted in too much time being spent watching Twitter, and less time being spent watching the event preventing me, an interested viewer from fully watching and understanding the event.

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