Social Design A Deﬁnition Eric Fisher Design Strategist facebook.com/ericfisherHey everyone, as Doug said, I’m Eric. I’ve been a designer at a number of places big andsmall and most recently for a while at Facebook.Great products and services depend on great experiences from their users. But it’s not aboutwhat they do or how they do it, but rather why. Why they do what they do, why they keepcoming back and why they tell their friends. And Social Design aims to explain the whybehind great experiences.
ks ” e rs of Boo “29 K ilometI’ll tell you a quick story. This is the Strand bookstore in NYC. It’s apparently very famous, butI had never heard of it. Really. And I’m from the New York area too. A few months ago I waswalking around with a friend and she pointed it out to me. She said I’d like it. So we go insideand apparently they’re famous for their large selection of books. 18 miles, to be exact. So aswe’re looking through the inventory, she pulls out this one book and says I should read it -it’s very me.Turns out, I had read other books by the same author and didn’t realize there was anotherbook by him that I should read. So I bought it!
Is there a cool museum opening somewhere? Whereʼs a good Italian restaurant? What movie should we see?That story in and of itself is not a big deal. But the point is this: with technology today, welive in a world where we can get answers to anything factual right away. I could have lookedup on my phone how to get this bookstore. I also could have searched for books by theauthor. But the value of social is when I don’t even know I’m looking for anything at all.Often times we’re faced with more subjective questions that really can’t be answered by acomputer, such as “where’s a good Italian restaurant?” or “what movie should I see?” or“where’s a great museum nearby?” And for these types of situations, we turn to a communityof people to help us out.
CommunityCommunities are very useful. In the wild, they’re an evolutionary defense mechanism against danger because alarger group is more powerful and formidable than an individual. And the individual can look to the group forsocial cues on what to do - Should we run? Should we eat? Should we leave?
FriendsWith people, it’s a bit more emotional. Our communities are deﬁned by the close people we surround ourselveswith - our friends and family. We know them, we like them, they know us and they like us. We share thoughts,feelings, experiences and we turn to our friends and family for love and support throughout our lives because wetrust them.
TrustAnd that’s the foundation of why social design works - because of this trust.
Relationship Types Lasting Parents Coworkers Spouse Neighbors Friends Doctor Formal Intimate Brands/Services Clubs Doorman Relationships Customer Service College Friends EphemeralNow, we have a lot of different kinds of relationships with people and things throughout our lives. Andif we were to plot these on a graph, whereby we’d have the strength of the relationship on the X axis -from formal to intimate - and the timeline of the relationship on the Y axis - from long and lastingrelationships to ephemeral and short-lived ones, we’d see this:Our friends and family would be in the top right quadrant, very lasting and very intimate.People like coworkers, neighbors, maybe your doctor would be more formal but still lasting.Then you’d have maybe college friends or friends from clubs in the intimate but short-lived space.And ﬁnally things like brands and services, maybe your doorman, in the formal and ephemeral space.
Relationship Types Strong Ties Trust Weak TiesBut the takeaway from this is how we have our strong ties in the upper right quadrant. That’swhere we hold the must trust. These people follow through our lives and what they can do ismake recommendations on other relationships we should have that they already trust, suchas what clothes to buy, what movies to see, which restaurant to visit, et cetera. And becausewe trust them, they essentially cast out these ﬁsh-hooks into other quadrants and we startbringing these other relationships into our trust area.
This place is awesomeSo when my close friend in New York tells me about a place I should visit, I trust her to know me well and heropinion. And when our experience matches that of the recommendation - when we actually enjoy ourselves - wenot only feel special and thankful for the experience, but we also feel prompted to tell our friends about it as well.Ever go on a trip and a friend gives you a recommendation for some restaurant? "I know its out of the way," they say, "but trust me, its amazing." And then you go and youre so glad youdid. You feel special and you like it.
And everyday, hundreds of millions of people are having these kinds of conversations onFacebook, along with thoughts, feelings, places they’ve visited, articles they’ve read, moviesthey’ve watched, and on and on.Social Design aims to harness this conversation, enhance it and build more of theseserendipitous and valuable social experiences for everyone.
Identity Conversation CommunityThe way I like to break it up, Social Design comes down to three very core components:Identity, Conversation and Community.
Community Conversation IdentityI like to show this in a concentric circle, with identity in the center, conversation in the middleand community on the outside. And the reason for this is because conversation really servesas the “glue” between identity and community. The identity says something to thecommunity, the community replies, the identity responds, et cetera and so you get this backand forth that is conversation.
Inside Out?Now, one product strategy idea would be to start from the center. That is, allow people todeﬁne an identity, let them talk about it and build a community over time. For a while, thiswas the most popular thing on the Internet. This is how Facebook started.When Facebook began in 2004, it simply allowed college students to create proﬁles ofthemselves and edit and add to them again and again. And, over time, these changes becamesomewhat of a conversation of their life events and people developed a very strongcommunity of friends and family to keep in touch with.
Outside InBut since this is already built and already being used by such a large audience, it makes moresense for social apps to reverse the strategy. Start from the outside in.
✓ Utilize the Existing Community ✓ Deﬁne a Conversation ✓ Add to IdentityThat is, utilize the existing community of trusted friends and family, deﬁne a newconversation and let people curate their identities further.
Start with the Conversation. Let people curate Identity.So again, start with the conversation and let people curate identity from it.
Conversation Involves Two ExperiencesConversation really has two experiences because it’s composed of a back and forth. They’redifferent but equally important. The ﬁrst is listening to what someone says, and the second isspeaking back.
ListeningSo let’s talk about the listening experience.
A listening experience is, for example, going to a restaurant you’ve never been to before andseeing on the menu all the dishes other people have tried and making decisions from theirrecommendations. You’re essentially using the actions and words of others to inform you.
“Just watch this clip. Other users liked this.”We already see this in many places online. On Hulu, for example - a popular site for viewingTV shows and movies - you can see ratings for each episode or clip. And these ratings helpyou determine which ones to watch, since you probably don’t want to watch the bad ones.They say “watch this one - others liked it.”But there’s a big problem: I don’t know these people. And they don’t know me. So how dothey know whether or not I’d like it? How can I trust them to give a good rating? I can’t.
“Read this article. YOUR FRIENDS and others liked it.” Social PluginsSo what we’ve done with Facebook, is remodel this paradigm but around your friends. Withour social plugins, which I’m sure you’ve seen, we’ve thrown the Like button everywherearound the web. And people click it when they like stuff. And through our activity plugins, wesurface what content is being liked. The difference is that in addition to showing you whatthe community at large thinks, we put your friends ﬁrst. And so the message is “your friendsliked this, you should check it out.”And because of this, you’re more likely to listen, because again it tracks back to that upperright quadrant of trust.
People Already Have Full Proﬁles. Use them to...And it’s not simply about the Like button. Users have proﬁles full of information aboutthemselves and what they like that they’re already sharing with their trusted friends. And youcan utilize this information to form a great experience.
Connect Users To FriendsConnect users to their friends when they sign up to your app. No one should be alone.
Recommend Content from Proﬁle DataUse proﬁle information to make recommendations on content right off the bat.
For example, Rotten Tomatoes - the popular movie reviews site - shows users movies thattheir friends like as well as movies they might like based on the movies they like in theirproﬁle.
Show Friend ActivityAlso show the activity of all the users’ friends to keep everyone informed. Spotify, forexample, shows a feed of all the songs that users are sharing and adding to their playlists.It’s a passive way for users to browse some of the latest and popular songs.
SharingThe other half of the conversation - and perhaps the most important part - is the speaking.The sharing. You have to get people to engage in the ﬁrst place.
So on Facebook, obviously there’s a lot of social data to read. But there’s also a lot of placesto interact. We have:- A composer at the top which lets you share anything from one place, right on thehomepage- You can also give feedback on individual posts- You can answer questions- You can write on walls- You can chat with friends- You can see notiﬁcations of conversations that might need your input
And when you do engage, it’s a very simple and fast interaction. You can easily likesomething or leave a comment. And because of the distribution of social activity, this informsothers to engage as well.
We see this happening elsewhere now. On Clicker, for example, you can rate, share and talk about TV shows.
On Spotify, you can make comments and share songs to all your friends and ones individually.
More Contributions ›› More Activity More Activity ›› More ContributionsAnd so what we ﬁnd is that the more contributions that are made to the system, the moreactivity exists to engage with.So obviously, the more activity there is to engage with, the more contributions can be madeto the system.
More Contributions ›› More Activity More Activity ›› More ContributionsAnd this creates a positive feedback loop that grows exponentially. And when you’ve got this,you’ve got it made :^)
Principles of a Great Social Experience ‣ Utilize Personal Info + Connections ‣ Show Social Context Spread Throughout ‣ Make it Easy to Share and Give FeedbackSo these are really the three basic principles of a great social experience:1. Utilize personal information and connections to build a personalized experience by default2. Show the social context and activity everywhere through the app3. Make it really easy to talk, share and give feedback
IdentityAnd at the end of the day, what does this all come down to? What is the motivation? TheWHY?It’s all about identity. People want to talk about stuff and learn about stuff that’s meaningfulto them.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Self Actualization Self Esteem Belonging/Acceptance Basic Safety PhysiologicalHopefully you’ve heard about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs - it’s a rather famous psychologytheory that helps explain motivation. Basically it says that after our physiological needs offood and water, and after our basic safety needs of essentially not getting killed, we have avery interesting duality.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Self Actualization Self Esteem Belonging/Acceptance Basic Safety PhysiologicalFor one, we want to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance within a trusted group. And foranother, we want to have our own sense of self and self esteem.But it stands to reason, given the diagram, that we base much of our own self esteem in howthe community sees us and how accepted we are. So in other words, the community helpsdrive our identity. And it’s only when we have that feeling of belonging that we can build ourself esteem and reach our full potential - and know ourselves the best we can.I must have downloaded hundreds of songs in the last couple years based onrecommendations from friends. And these are some of my favorite songs now. I can’timagine not having them in my life. The same goes for many other experiences. They’re all apart of me and who I am now.#
#1 Reason Why People Love Facebook: Users want to showcase their personalities.It turns out we’re right. We did research and found that the number one reason by people useand love Facebook is because they want to showcase their personalities. They want toshowcase what they like and what makes them happy and they want to learn about newthings from others so they can ﬁnd more things they like.
Identity Conversation CommunitySo again, social design comes down to these three core principles:Identity, Conversation and CommunityAnd when you face product design questions and decisions, always track the reasons back to these three ideas,because they will help you drive the process down the right path.It’s really very simple fundamentally, but it’s really quite powerful.Thank you.
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