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Facebook Launches Chinese Version of Website

After releasing the Spanish, French and German versions of their site earlier this year, Facebook is has now introduced Russian, simple Chinese and traditional Chinese language versions of their site as part of its goal to unite different people together on a common online social platform, regardless of their location or the language they speak.

Still lagging behind MySpace, the world’s leading social networking site, and with this move to expand its services specifically targeting China – the world’s largest online market, Facebook will be hoping to match, if not exceed the popularity of its closest rival. Recent studies reveal that Facebook is growing at a faster rate and has in the past 2 months surged ahead of MySpace in terms of unique visitors.

Although a launch in the Chinese language has been on the cards for a while, Facebook also picked the right moment to capitalize on the immense amount of positive publicity generated in China following Premier Wen Jiabao’s debut on Facebook. In May 2008, Facebook users voted Jiabao as the 10th most popular politician.

Users accessing Facebook from China are taken to zh-cn.facebook.com. Now debuting in China, Facebook has plenty of challenges ahead, not least among them being the competition from local networks and China’s leading instant messaging service, Tencent.

With this Chinese launch, it becomes easier for online advertisers and internet marketers looking to make their mark in the Chinese market, to get directly in touch with their target audience. Facebook offers regional-specific ads that can even target a particular demographic. Previously this scope was limited as advertisers could only cater to the English speaking users of Facebook in China; however the market is now thrown wide open with the introduction of not one, but two Chinese languages.

It is estimated that over two-thirds of Facebook users come from outside the US. Facebook is using this knowledge to tap the potential for growth beyond the shores of its home country. As the latest studies indicate, it is only a matter of time before Facebook overtakes MySpace as the world’s top social networking site and this Chinese launch should only speed up that process.

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June 23rd, 2008 by Tanuja

Will the Planned Facebook Redesign Help Application Developers?

Social networking site Facebook is in for a complete makeover. Come July, all user profiles will undergo a change. Currently, the page layout is such that each profile opens on a single page, often looking excessively messy and cramped due to the large number of applications added. The more the applications a user has added to his account, the more difficult it becomes to navigate and manage the page. Besides this, pages with many added applications take a longer time to load.

It was mainly to combat these two issues – a cluttered, unmanageable page and the slow loading time – that Facebook designers decided to completely revamp the profile page. The new profile page will be sub-divided into 4 tabs, one for ‘Feeds’ or recent activity of the user like uploads and wall posts, one for ‘Info’, i.e., basic, personal, education and work info, another tab for ‘Photos’ including tagged photos and uploaded albums and a fourth ‘Applications’ tab for external or third-party applications.

Facebook also plans on shifting the navigation for Applications to the top of the profile. A drop-down menu is also provided from which to select the application of choice. However this design is still under construction and might change by the time the site is re-launched.

Initially scheduled for an April launch, the new-look Facebook will now be launched in July, giving designers enough time to go through the feedback received from users as well as developers. “Launching in July gives us more time to make sure we release the best possible profile design to our users and developers” states Pete Bratach of Facebook in the company blog.

We can’t help wondering if these new changes will be wholly accepted by developers of external applications. Since  a separate tab entirely devoted to applications is being planned, this could perhaps hinder their use. Currently, applications added by users, are displayed on their profile pages itself, making them clearly visible to visitors. This visibility increases the chances for an application to be added to a friend’s profile. However, when the redesign takes place and applications are relegated to a separate tab, chances are that this tab may be entirely ignored. This may not go down too well with internet marketers that develop specific applications for Facebook users to help promote their products and services.

With this major change on the cards, Facebook will be hoping that the new design makes it a cleaner, user-friendly, easily navigable website.  However what’s left to be seen is whether the companies marketing themselves through this popular social networking site will continue to profit from it, even after the proposed revamp.

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June 23rd, 2008 by Tanuja