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Nasza klasa and facebook

Nasza Klasa was kind enough to invite me to their management presentation last week. Here are some comments.

Perhaps annoyingly to organizers, question on top of everyone’s mind was – not what is NK current performance – but rather how the site is going to compete with Facebook, which is gaining users and, even to higher extent, interest of the media.

Let’s face it, NK is beyond the stage of being media darling. It might not seem like a lot if every other week there is a story about a teacher fired for “inappropriate” profile picture, some impersonating someone else or some other trivia. But, what matters is that they talk about you, and not what they say.

Now, press is all about facebook and even twitter, recently, as politicians use it to create their teacup storms (funny enough, one of such recent events was apparently due to politician not knowing how to use twitter correctly, ie. the fellow thought he’s sending a private message).

Facebook, an elephant in the room

Not even once word Facebook was mentioned in management’s presentation.

Also, all numbers shown were devoid of any comparison to other sites.

Surely enough, first (heavily loaded) question was about NK falling behind FB.

NK says FB progress is overblown. It’s been “already a year” since it is available in Polish version, and it has gained “only 2 million users” (other sources say something about 3m). NK has ~ 14m active monthly users.

Well, 2m in one year doesn’t look like such a small amount.

For good or for bad, NK is not Facebook

Facebook:

  • High end market (educated, younger people)
  • Global player
  • Everything in one feed
  • Open API, anyone can use the platform

Nasza Klasa:

  • Mass market
  • Local player
  • Functionalities are presented separately
  • API will be restricted, NK blessing will be required

NK is evolving (slowly)

It’s been couple of years already since Nasza klasa moved away from its “classmates” roots to “communication platform”.

In fact, “Nasza klasa” brand will shift to simply “NK”.

In contrast to FB, which proved ready to pull carpet from under its users in terms of exposing them to new functionalities, NK is taking it slowly. It has an evolutionary approach – it waits and sees what works. As it claims, long term planning (and long term for NK is one year) is a poor fit for their business.

Products long available on FB will be rolled out on NK this year. Like Groups. API – but strictly controlled. Games. Targeted ad campaigns based on user’s profile info, like the high school he finished (this one is so obvious it actually seems strange it took so long).

Onet or myspace

Leapfrogging users with products ahead of the time can be disastrous. Netscape’s poor performance with aping digg is one example.

And NK users are not known to be open for change.

NK hints that it focuses on what really matters, the mass market, regardless of FB hype in the media. Just like onet, which is boring, but ubiquitous, and pumps money at a steady rate.

In fact, monetizing its wide audience seems to be main focus for NK at the moment.

An unpleasant alternative to onet would be myspace case, which was left in the dust by FB and is trying make a living in its music niche.

NK is being wise by learning on mistakes of newcomers before migrating novelties, gradually, to its conservative, but profitable user base. Or, it is educating its users in social media basics, who then, impatient, will leave it for better alternatives.

Other posts after the meeting:

Presentation from the meeting:

Learning from Twitter, Facebook

Lately I’m mostly busy with community functionality of Ogito and I’m trying to take advantage of some intuitions from Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve had Facebook account for some time, but was never an active user. Twitter I never used at all, even though I had some experience with blip, a Polish twitter look-alike. So I opened a twitter account to experience the original thing.

My initial goal was something very close to twitter – or how I imagined it should feel like before actually using it. Low barrier of entry, easy to use, one information stream carrying all the relevant user updates.

After playing with Twitter and reading reactions to Facebook latest redesign, which makes social network look quite similar to its much smaller competitor, my vision is evolving a bit.

In fact I wasn’t disappointed by how easy it was to start using twitter. The application is lighthearted and inviting, also because the community seems to radiate with enthusiasm of the early converts.

On the other hand, and maybe it’s my lack of experience with the app, the updates stream seems overwhelming, difficult to read continuously and unstructured. Figuring a conversation from exchanges of replies is one example when I’m quite lost (stream of given users shows replies he directed at someone, but not the other way round, so it’s hard to understand the context).

Facebook feed was supposedly better. It had intelligence to handle updates (status vs activity reports) differently. It lost this advantage after redesign and maybe this is why so many people hate it.

Given that we will have a lot of non-status related updates, Facebook (as of before redesign) might serve as a better inspiration.

Its latest redesign also suggests a number of points where caution should be applied (I’m basing it mostly on this summary in huffingtonpost): overuse of user thumbs, large fonts and trivial updates, lack of real time view.

Of course, many of the complaints (photos flooding the feed em masse etc.) will be resolved by subsequent fixes.