Disappointing: Facebook Pages Manager for Android

If you happen to be both a social media nut and an Android user then, like me, you will have been probably been waiting with bated breath for Facebook to get a wriggle on and release a version of their Page Manager app that will work with your phone.  As with the majority of mobile applications, Apple came first, but for us Andriod users we’ve had to put up with the slightly clunky functions of the original mobile app for updating Facebook pages.

But then, after 8 months of waiting, I heard on the grape vine that Facebook had started a soft roll-out in Canada, Austraila, New Zealand, and then a few days later suddenly the Facebook Page Manager application was available for download on the Play Store.  As a social media professional updating Facebook pages is just part of my daily workload, so anything that is designed to make it easier gets me very excited…

But eight months between releasing the iOS and the Android versions seems, well, a little OTT.  Even if Facebook and Google don’t always see eye-to-eye, what with the popularity of Android devices, it seems daft on Facebook’s part to have spent so long leaving those users like me feeling so unloved.  I mean, it’s not as if the app was ever designed to do something overly complicated, so I have to wonder what the reason is behind all the dragging of heels.

So, was it it worth the wait?

Erm.

Lack of setting options

Well.  No.  I find it pretty useless actually.  The app allows page managers to update a Facebook page – great, but I could already do that on the native app – respond to comments – again, native app allows me to do this too – and receive notifications whenever a page is updated.  So this last point is great in theory, having a notification to your mobile phone of a social interaction on a brand’s page should mean that you can ensure proactive monitoring and swift response, but in reality it’s just plain annoying.  I have over 20 Facebook pages linked up to my Facebook account, so having that function on for a few minutes sent my phone into a strange seizure with updates coming left, right and centre.  It was chaos.

I checked the settings to see if I could tone down some of the notifications on a brand-by-brand basis, but to no avail.  All the application allows you to do is to turn on the pushed notifications or to turn them all off until 8am the following morning.  No permanent off setting, nor options to change the push notifications by brand, just a broad-brush approach.  That seems really naive on Facebook’s part.  As any Facebook page manager knows different pages have different requirements and I resent having to treat any page with a one-size-fits-all approach.

One-tap Insight data

One thing the app does do well is offer page managers both page and post-level Insights with one tap – which is handy if you’re away from a computer and want to do some simple reporting, or perhaps show a client quickly how a particular post is performing.  The app also makes it easier for page manager to delete or hide posts than with the native app – which again is useful if you’re out of the office and you have an urgent need to delete something.  However, in my experience it is only in exceptional circumstances that a post should be deleted… so whilst this function is useful I can’t see it as something that I would use on a regular basis.

Facebook Page Manager App

Insight data is available in a single tap

Photo upload

The one thing that I did like though was that I can now remotely upload images to the Page’s Wall through the Android App – you can either take a photo on the spot, search through photos already on your device or straight from an image search.  To do this, all you need to do is click the plus sign to the left of your reply, then select “image search.”  Very straight forward.

According to Google Play Store most users seem to love the Page Manager app, but all in all the app has left me a bit cold.  For something I was so looking forward to I’m a bit disappointed.  Sure, I can see it’ll have its uses, but It’s just the shame that, after 8 months of waiting, one of the first things I did after downloading the Facebook Page Manager Android App was log out.

What are your experiences of the Pages Manager app?

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Claire and the Giant Apple [Product Recall]

I remember the day I bought my iPod – it was the first day that I remember owning a piece of “hot technology.”  I’ve aways been a geek at heart, but I was never an early adopter.  Simply because I couldn’t afford to be.

So back in 2005, with my student loan burning a hole in my pocket, I decided I’d treat myself to the brand new iPod Nano.  I also remember having no idea how to work it.  It was new, selling out everywhere, and I simply had to treat myself.  Six years on a couple of the buttons didn’t work, the battery life was minimal, but I still used my first generation iPod Nano every single day…

 

But back in November an email landed in my inbox from Apple telling me that my faithful mp3 player could catch fire and therefore was subject to a global product recall…

I dutifully sent for the returns box, but I was torn.  It might sound silly to admit that I had an emotional attachment to a gadget – but I did!  My iPod had helped me select the tracks that featured in my wedding, it had helped friends celebrate graduation, and had provided an escape bubble when I went through some tough times, so simply slipping it into a pre-paid jiffy bag seemed somehow unceremonious.

I understand the need for the recall, however I feel that Apple could have handled it better.  I accept that my attachment to my iPod may not be normal, however I do know that I am not the only first generation iPod Nano owner who has been disappointed by Apple’s level of communication.  I sent my iPod back to Apple in November and since then, aside from the first email I received that directed me to the Apple website, all of my knowledge about the recall has come from whispers shared in blogs and forums.

At first I was worried that my package to Apple had got lost in the post or in Apple’s system (the instructions said that Apple had to receive the returned item within 10 days of me registering for the recall, but it had taken 9 days for me to receive the return envelope), then I was worried that I was looking on the wrong area of the website, maybe I had the wrong repair number.  I then worried that my replacement had been delivered to my office under my maiden name, and might have been returned by a colleague…  But as the weeks ticked past I gradually stopped worrying.  A quick Google search lead me to handfuls of forums where other Apple customers were in exactly the same information-lacking boat.

So the reason I’m writing this blog is for all those UK participants of the first generation iPod Nano recall who are still waiting in the dark: there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I received a package on Friday.

 

Over two months since I last heard from Apple I was finally sent a replacement iPod – and it seems that the whispers were true, for I haven’t received a refurbished like-for-like first gen 2gb iPod Nano, my long-awaited box contained a (I suspect refurbished)  sixth generation 8gb model.  So is it not only half the size of the one I sent them, but has four times the storage.  Not bad.

But whilst I’m happy that I’ve finally received a replacement (and I hate to think how much the recall is costing Apple), it really is disappointing that for such a huge organisation their communication has been so poor.  I didn’t even receive a dispatch notification when my replacement was sent, and my “repair” on the Apple website hasn’t been updated either…  Apple has always been about innovation, and as a brand has tapped deeply into the gadget-loving geek mindset, and yet they haven’t been utilising any communication control.  If they can’t get their internal communication processes in check then I have to wonder whether the global recall has been so expansive that any attempt at social media and forum monitoring would have been deemed too costly, hence the information blackout…

But what ever the reason, I am pleased to confirm that it seems that the cogs are still moving in the Nano replacement programme – even if it’s at a snail’s pace.

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Google+: Are we riding the wave?

Google+ is everywhere.

Everyone wanted to be on it.  We grovelled for invitations, longingly staring at our inboxes with the impatience of children on Christmas Eve.  We read article after article, preparing ourselves for the new tools, familiarising our tongues with new terms and limbering up our profile writing skills.

So now that Google+ has hit 10 million users are we actually using it?  Apparently not.  According to Experian Hitwise the average user spends only 5 minutes using the new social network.

But why?  Google+ seems to have everything you could want from a social network.  You can divide your connection into private communication circles (a bit like Facebook groups), you can follow people you have never met in real life (like Twitter), you can video chat (like on Skype – and now Facebook), and businesses have be promised special company pages (once again like Facebook).  It even seems to encroach a bit on Flickr’s territory with a smattering of photo sharing, and just last week Google announced its release of some Foursquare-like badges earned from searching.

From the outside Google+ and its related tie-ups seem to be the full package.  With so much technology and integration it’s been purpose built to link up your offline experiences with your online life.

But I suspect that this is actually the problem…  How are you actually meant to use Google+?  Is it a professional platform or a personal one?

Technically if you use circles correctly if can be both, but I suspect Google may be trying to spread itself too thinly.  It’s not that the tools aren’t up to scratch – in fact, aside from an early bug or two they seem pretty stable – instead it’s that users just aren’t sure exactly how to approach the network.

I’ve seen many people flock to the site, scramble around create a few Circles, post the “Wow, isn’t Google+ really cool” first update, and then go quiet, slipping into the shadows of the social network watching and waiting to see how other people use it.

Some people thought that Google Wave was going to be huge, until is crashed spectacularly onto the shores of the social web and vanished… The positive for Google+ is that is seems to have found a foothold with it’s integration, but it needs its users to actually use its functions for it to really succeed and make a lasting impression.  And for that, only time will tell…

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What’s to like about Google’s +1?

You’ve heard of ‘Check-ins,’ ‘Likes,’ and ‘Re-Tweets’ now Google wants us to embrace their new social recommendation tool the ‘+1.’

Now, aside from the silly name (“I plus-oned that website” sounds down-right daft), I have a few issues with Google’s answer to the Facebook ‘Like’ button.

Currently +1 requires you to have a public Google profile, (you can try out +1 by activating the service on Google’s search experiments page), so only once you’re up and running will you see a +1 button next to every search result.  Essentially, if you like a result, click +1 and you’re done.  All of your recommendations will show up under your public profile so you can share with everyone in your Google Social Circle (that’s your Google Talk buddies, your Gmail contacts and anyone else you’ve linked with your Google profile) what you think is worth looking at.

However, here the current version of Google +1 comes a bit unstuck…

How can you know you want to recommend a page without visiting it in the first place?  Once you’ve followed a Google listing, you’re directed away from Google (and subsequently away from the +1 tool).  This means that at the moment Google is relying on users remembering to backtrack and retrospectively recommend the page…

Apparently there are plans to eventually allow web developers to embed the +1 button on their own pages, but with no date for this set it seems like, for the moment at least, Google are working with a bit of a clunky system which isn’t going to make it very popular amongst early adopters.

Secondly, it’s simply not clear as to who is actually in your Google Social Circle… unlike Twitter, Facebook etc there is simple list of friends that you’re linked to – and, in a set-up similar to that of LinkedIn, you are linked to not just your direct contacts, but also the people who are linked to them… meaning that your Social Circle could be huge.  So you never really know who you’re recommending things to!

At the moment Google +1 simply has a long way to go before it rivals the Facebook “Like” button, currently it seems to be positioned in a no-mans land – projecting recommendations willy-nilly across the internet, but not fully embracing the impulsive “I like that!” sharing culture that seems to be shaping the way we engage with the internet.  Google +1 either needs to be streamlined, or to expand (I can’t decide which)… oh, and it also needs a new name.

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The Pencil is mightier than the Keyboard

Dear Blog,

I’m sorry for neglecting you.

I know I’ve moved house this month, haven’t had internet access, and my electricity supply hasn’t been the most stable (not to mention the leaky roof, exposed cabling, and dodgy plumbing…) but that’s no excuse for not keeping you up to date.

So, my new flat needs a bit of work...

The thing is, in the last three weeks I’ve had a bit of an eye-opener – and I’ve realised that the fault is very much mine.  Last week I sat surrounded by boxes, bags, damaged curtain rails and endless bottles of cleaning products, intent on writing something about my House Moving escapades when it hit me:  I can’t write blogs on paper.

I sat there chewing my pen and I was right back to the exam rooms of my student years feeling the same pressure to regurgitate knowledge in some structured manner.  And that is just not  blogging.  Blogging is passion.  Blogging should be relevant, yes, but it’s also about writing about what you want, expressing your opinions not because you have to, but because you want to.

Just this week Isabel Nisbet, the head of the qualifications watchdog, called for exams to move with the times and for them now to be set on computers… but whilst I can see why this would make things easier for marking and as much as I have discovered how tricky it is to blog on paper, I have to disagree that handwriting is ‘outdated’.

Just this week I sat in a New Media Age conference surrounded by other social media fans, fully expecting to be in the minority as I pulled out my paper and pen.  But glancing around the room, rather than the glow of ipads and laptops I saw the majority of my techy contemporaries making notes on paper.   If social media is as important as everyone thinks it is and there I was surrounded by social media advocates, and they were choosing to use “out of date” pen and paper I had to wonder whether Ms Nisbet’s suggestions are quite accurate.

The thing I’ve realised, is that no matter how much I love expressing my blogging self through a keyboard, with pencil you don’t have to worry about carrying it on Tube, or what happens if the battery power fails, or even how you’re going to be able make notes in the rain…

Granted, the internet is a very permanent place, but ultimately thoughts have to get there first.  I may spend each day at work glued to a keyboard, but my to-do list is always on paper – and there’s nothing quite like the satisfaction of physically scribbling through a completed task.

So Blog, I’d like to thank you for your patience this past month.  I’m finally back online, and my keyboard is ready for my unstructured thoughts.  But  just because I struggle to write blogs without keys under my fingers, I hope you understand that I won’t be retiring my pencils any time soon.

All my love,

Claire x

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