Friday, January 6, 2012

More on Social Networks and SecondScreen

I had one of  those moments when you wake up at 4am (jetlag) and start thinking about your recent blogs.  Was I too harsh?  Was I being unfair?  Was I biased?

I re-read my post from yesterday on this subject a noticed that I did a good job of saying how so many Second Screen apps out there were doing this wrong, but never gave any good examples of it being done right.  I also noticed that the largest buzz around SocialTV at the moment (Tweeting / commenting while watching a show) could easily be confused with this post, so I will seek to clarify that feature as well (Social vs. Discovery powered by your social network).

First, let's look at this being done well.  I looked thru my list of ratings over all the second screen apps I have reviewed so far and re-read a few of my posts.  I pulled up Fanhattan on both my iPhone and iPad (yes, I need to get an Android device).  I deleted the app from both devices and then reinstalled it.  Here is what I found:

1.  Upon opening the app, I could use the app with registering.  Helpful.

2.  Registration was EASY.  It asked me for my Facebook credentials.  It then started combing thru my Facebook likes of TV shows and films.  Yes, it reviewed all 149 of my friends profiles in about 3 minutes for each device, pulling the data of when they said the "liked" something on Facebook--a total of 33 of my friends (about 33%) have liked shows on their Facebook profile.  Note the progress at the top of the screen and the status on which friend the app is combing thru.

3.  Then I spent some time this morning combing thru Facebook on my web browser to see how my friends had liked these shows (not an easy task unless they had launched their timeline feature which consolidated media likes).  I found that NONE of my friends had liked the TV shows with the Fanhattan app.  Many of them had used Facebook natively (or the app they used did not leave its mark), and many of them had used other Second Screen apps ranging from GetGlue to IMDB--but these apps used Facebooks API when liking something so the data could be gleaned by Fanhattan without an issue.  This image is directly from Facebook via Chrome web browser on my Mac.

4.  Then I set out to see how Fanhattan was using the very precious information to which I gave them access. A great feature is their "Most Liked by Friends" view of trying to browse and Discover content.

 Another useful feature is their "Recently Liked by Friends" view.

Finally, they did a decent job within the show level detail UI as I was browsing to show me if my friends had liked the show.  I went and checked and the like shows "Like via Fanhattan" and the posts to my wall comments had the same signature--easy enough for other apps to glean this data in a similar way using the Facebook API.

So, what about Twitter you ask?  Here is where I think we need to keep the different feature segments straight in our mind (Social and Discovery).  While this blog and the previous blog are about harnessing your social networks (instead of attempting to create a walled social networks within an app), it is about using that network to assist in Discovery.  The current SocialTV craze is all about leveraging your social network to be, well, Social--typically in real-time during the live TV broadcast of the scripted TV show, reality show, or live event.  This helps to explain the Twitter integration with Fanhattan at the show level detail UI.  Keep in mind that other Twitterins follow you, they are not your friends.  So if they had a browse feature at the Discover level for Twitter, it would be more about people you follow, their comments, or the shows in general (most commented, etc) like some of the other apps have.

So, if you look back at my initial review of Fanhattan, you'll notice that I gave them high marks (medium to high) for Discovery and similar marks for Social.  Looking at this now, I would actually downgrade the Social piece, since in this blog Social describes the feature set around communicating with others and the high marks go to those with curated Twitter feeds, etc (think Zeebox,, Umami and TVplus).  I gave them high marks initially because I was very impressed with the app's ability to actually use the social information I gave them via Facebook and Twitter (still am).

So, a good example of integration of your existing social networks (for Discovery in this case) and a clarification of Discovery leveraging your social network integration and the feature of Social--communicating with others, often in real time via Twitter / Chats, polling, etc.

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