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Get your own live, updating Facebook Page cover photo

Facebook Pages are fairly limited in what administrators can do, but without having to manually upload pictures every 10 seconds, your company can get in on the live cover photo trend.

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zaraguza facebook

zaraguza facebook

Facebook Pages gone wild

Zaraguza Digital, a Slovakian digital firm, has claimed to have launched the first ever live, updating Facebook cover photo, allowing anyone to see updated webcam videos of their office. They play hangman with fans, and even leave messages for fans, encouraging people to simply refresh the page for a newly updated image.

“In Zaraguza Digital we experimented a bit. Namely with Facebook cover photo feature and a webcam. After a few tweaks, our regular Facebook cover became a real-time Facebook cover. Zaraguza live cover was launched on July 30th 2012.”

Setting the stage for a new trend

Although Zaraguza is one of the best uses around so far, it was not the first to have a live, updating cover photo. They are, however, at the forefront of what will likely become a new trend, giving them and others a way to be interactive in a static environment such as Facebook.

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If Zaraguza wasn’t first, who was? French startup, LiveCover! has been in beta for several months now, boasting users like television shows, concert halls, and even a city, mostly marking countdowns and teasers.

Here are a few live, updating Facebook Page cover photos to give you an idea of how the feature is being used. Simply refresh the Facebook Page for a new image:

  1. Zaraguza Digital
  2. Secret Story – reality show that looks to only update when the show is on
  3. Ville de Besancon – French city with a constantly updating clock as the cover photo
  4. Operation Hermes – has an hourly countdown clock as the updating image
  5. Assassin’s Creed – France

Now, how do you get in on the trend?

The LiveCover! startup appears to be the first company to formally offer this as a service, which at a cost of a few hundred dollars, will offer a brand a live, updating Facebook page cover photo based on triggers such as hitting a certain number of followers, or a live event going on, or by offering a countdown.

But if you’re the DIY type and want to jimmy rig your own, or you’re a small business on a budget, there are free ways to automate your Facebook Page cover photo to update live, based on a series of functions, for example, you can use IFTTT (“if this, then that”), a startup that acts as the duct tape of the internet (if you’re unfamiliar, get into the details here, it’s worth the two minutes it will take to read).

Through the ridiculously simple IFTTT tool, you can automate your efforts through a few clicks, called “recipes” (think adding a little bit of Instagram as an ingredient to a dash of Facebook Page, and you’ve got a recipe). For example, if you take a photo through Instagram, set your webcam up to upload pictures to Flickr every 30 seconds, then you can connect it to the Facebook Page album for Cover Photos.

Take some time dissecting IFTTT, as it offers options for actions connected to Dropbox, Posterous, Blogger, Flickr, RSS, email, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, and even WeMo Automation tools.

Ideas for creative uses

We would like to see some of the following uses of live cover photos:

  1. Developers/builders should set up a webcam that updates and shows progress at a work site
  2. Any company can follow Zaraguza’s lead and webcam the inside of their offices
  3. Events, conferences, happy hours, can use photos tagged on Twitter as their updated cover photo in real time
  4. Retailers can set up an Instagram photo booth for people to show off what they’ve just bought, and each photo updates the brand’s Facebook cover photo
  5. Any time a team member takes a photo from their phone and shares it on the company’s Flickr page, it can then instantly and without extra effort, become the brand’s cover photo on the Facebook Page
  6. Companies can use it as a teaser and make visual announcements, so for example, “we’ll announce our new VP on Tuesday at 9am, tune in here,” and not only visually introduce, but show that person’s reactions to comments, write notes to users in real time, etc.
The options really are endless, and we hope your brain is churning with unique ideas for your own brand!

Tip: remember, Facebook has extremely strict rules that are arbitrarily enforced and may result in the permanent and irreversible deletion of your Page, for example, you cannot have any calls to action, be the contact instructions, a “buy now,” or even a “share this,” so make sure you know the rules before investing too much time. Breakdown of rules can be found here.

The American Genius is news, insights, tools, and inspiration for business owners and professionals. AG condenses information on technology, business, social media, startups, economics and more, so you don’t have to.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. michaeltudorie

    September 17, 2012 at 12:05 am

    @RealtyNinja wonder if this a trend or a fad ? How skype feel about this? Tbd

    • RealtyNinja

      September 17, 2012 at 12:06 am

      @michaeltudorie Doubt it will catch on!

  2. website101

    September 19, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Depending on your industry and your customers, investing your time into a social media strategy will reward you with a big payoff – in time.

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Social Media

There’s a subreddit that is literally moving the stock market

(SOCIAL MEDIA) “You can’t change the world on Reddit all day.” Hm. Wanna bet? Some people do bet on whether a stock will rise or fall on Reddit.

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Stock market

I don’t gamble. RIP to Mister Kenny Rogers, but this whole folding, holding, walking, running business is bad for my heart.

So playing the stock market is out for me, but apparently, you don’t even need an accountant to place your bets? The good, if foul mouthed, people of r/WSB aren’t just proving that, their playing and paying outside the traditional trading room is actually moving markets!

The subreddit, full name r/wallstreetbets, is 900,000 users strong, and boasts members that have been involved for years. They show off their stock market wins, losses, jokes, and opinions with varying levels of insight on all contributions.

Ordinarily, this’d just be an interesting collection of folks talking stock, but some of their threads have been shown to have an effect on share prices!

Users don’t just share what and how they’ve traded, they also gamble on what stock prices will do, without actually purchasing or selling any. Options contracts allow users to cast lots for less cash, while retaining the power to show actual purchases as hotter or colder and literally moving the temperature dial on them by word of mouth (and possibly pure conjecture) alone.

So I could hop in, put a marginal amount of money down, and say ‘Stock in Pressure Valve Company X is going to go up since more people are buying bidets in the wake of the Corona-based toilet paper hoarders, and they’re a key component’, then pepper in some off-color jokes about personal hygiene and everyone’s moms to blend in, and potentially wait to collect!

Neat.

After all, not only are surges of humans looking at these bets, web algorithms and cookie crawlers are staring too. It’s chatrooms of the dotcom boom all over again, except more chaotic, more gif-laden, and more monitored by outside forces.

It’d be sinister if the vibe of the sub wasn’t ‘Take literally nothing seriously’. Try discussing ‘chicken tendies’ in a boardroom sometime and see what I mean…although the tide on that might be shifting as well.

The one forbidden thing here is actually using the forum for insider trading. Directly profiting from the rumors gets users exiled, and gets users interacting with them booted too.

Serious business actually DOES occur, who would have thought? I wouldn’t have. Which is why I don’t gamble.

It’s easy to write Reddit off as just an online echo chamber slash cesspool, but when it comes down to it, the American Psychos of the world are on the same internet as the basement-dwellers, and the gap in financial literacy between the two ends of the spectrum is pulling a reverse Pangea.

We need to start recognizing that.

I’m still staying away from 4Chan though.

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Social Media

Facebook messenger gets a major facelift for speed

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Facebook messenger has been around a loooooong time and has started to suffer from build bloat. So the new project lightspeed has redesigned it.

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If you’ve ever spent time in an old-school, family-built home, then you have an idea of what the inner workings of the Facebook Messenger app look like. It began with just a few rooms, but as the needs of the family grew, they kept adding on rooms wherever they fit until the layout no longer made sense and the home became a bloated maze.

Facebook Messenger has been suffering growing pains ever since it branched off into its own app in 2011. As the app became more popular developers worked to make it more engaging by adding new features like stickers, GIFS, and video calls.

At some point, they realized that the app had gotten away from them. The Facebook Messenger currently on your device has move 1.7 million lines of code. An app that big is slow and takes up a ton of valuable space on users devices, so the team knew it was time for a change. The project became internally as Project LightSpeed.

Facebook Messenger is a valuable app for connecting with friends, family, and business connections across the globe. You don’t even need to be Facebook friends with someone to message them making it an invaluable tool for long-distance teams or new business connections. In recent years, the app has begun to slow down making it vulnerable to competitors like WhatsApp.

The development team’s goal for the new app was to make it small, fast, and simple. In order to achieve this Facebook’s team of engineers has reduced the core code by 84%, taking the original 1.7 million lines of code down to 360,000. The new app will be about a quarter of the size of the current app.

A smaller app will load quicker and be more responsive, even if you’re using an older device or you’re in an area with lower connectivity. Current tests put the new app as being twice as fast as the current version, while keeping all the features that users have come to expect. Don’t worry, you will still be able to send your friends stickers, pictures, and obnoxious amounts of GIFs.

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Social Media

Facebook wants to hear from you. Literally. For innocent reasons

(SOCIAL MEDIA) As if Facebook didn’t already own everything that is you, they are asking to hear you say a specific phrase for their new voice services.

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Good news, Facebook is now offering to pay you to let strangers listen to you! Well, kind of.

Users connect to Viewpoints – a different app under the Facebook umbrella – which allows them to participate in market research. In this case, participants repeat the phrase “Hey Portal, call,” followed by the name of a Facebook friend, and submit the recording. The whole ordeal is about five minutes, tops.

By finishing this and other tasks, participants can expect to make a grand total of…$5. It’s not much, but at least that’s a fancy cup of coffee for work you can do while waiting for the ads to finish on your TV show.

So, why is Facebook shelling out $5 for people to make voice recordings? Surprisingly, it’s because AI is not nearly as smart as we sometimes assume – especially when it comes to voice commands. There’s a whole host of things that go into how we communicate, like posture, tone and even slang, which can make understanding vocal commands a much bigger ordeal.

In order to make improvements to the system, it often requires teams of humans putting in the leg-work. This means studying the disconnect between humans and machines, as well as creating solutions. Unfortunately, this human touch is also the excuse companies like Amazon use to justify listening in on your conversations. (Sure, users can ‘opt out’ but come on. That’s not exactly something Amazon advertises.)

As more people grow aware of the potential breach of privacy that tech like Alexa or Portal can bring, however, it’s put pressure on companies to scale back. Which is where Facebook’s new paid survey comes in. Unlike an anonymous employee listening in on a random Portal conversation, this way participants opt in, rather than out, of having their information shared.

The academic in me is slightly skeptical. There’s only so far a paid study like this can get, especially when it comes to the nuances of voice command. The conspiracy theorist in me is also skeptical, mostly because although Facebook promises they won’t sell your information or publicly share it, there’s still plenty of nefarious things to be done. That said, at the end of the day, at least Facebook isn’t just swiping information off your Portal…and you even get some pocket change in exchange.

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