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eModeration’s Social Media Round-Up #40

Welcome
to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams. For more social
media snippets, follow @emodkate – or for general twittery,
@KateVWilliams.

This week (a little later than usual, due to an unpleasant encounter
with The Lurgy): is Facebook sucking out our brains?; Google fumbles
‘evil’; and more Apple fun.

The social world is still blinking anxiously as it attempts to digest
the full import of Facebook‘s recent announcements at F8 (the
annual, erm, FaceFest, during which the ‘Book traditionally tells
mortals what to expect during the coming year.)

What it all boils down to is
this: Facebook, within an unspecified period of time, will be
transitioning from being an element
of the web – albeit one with a fair amount of heft and a considerable
social girth – to actually, like, being
the web.

I know. There is so very much
to think about there that we thought the subject deserved a blog post
of its own
– so if you wish to scare yourself silly reading about
the new, Matrix-like Facebook,read it here, for a digest of what, at times, has been
the rather indigestable coverage.

Talking of evil (and we might have been) – here is Google -
the original ‘do no evil’ guys – following up their phased
withdrawal from China
by posting
what it called a ‘refresher’ to its censorship policies. The global
searchmeisters are simultaneously launching what they call a Government
Requests Tool
, which will allow anyone to discover the extent to
which governments are using their legal systems to ask about their
citizens’ web activity
,
or to censor content legally
available elsewhere
(Britain, by the way, ranks
third
– only Brazil and the US were more active).

It’s all very admirable: it stakes out Google’s position on the human
rights ma
p, and goes some way to answering those critics who
accused it of inconsistency in singling out China, in a fit of
libertarian evangelism.

Rather awkwardly, however, the announcement was made in the same week
that a group of 10 nations wrote an
open letter
to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, expressing their serious
concerns about the company’s attitude to individuals’ rights to privacy
– most notably the “disappointing disregard for fundamental privacy
norms and laws” displayed during the rollout of Google Buzz.

Google Street View also came in for sustained criticism from
the privacy tsars
– and then came under further fire from Germany’s
Federal Commissioner for Data Protection, who professed himself ‘appalled
and horrified
’ to discover that the Street View car is scanning
private wireless networks and unique Mac (Media Access Control)
addresses
, as it wends its merry way through Germany’s bergs. The
commissioner calls this ‘unlawfully collected personal data’ and urges
Google to delete it immediately.

This evil thing? It’s tricky, darnit.

APPLE JUICE …

For a famously controlling and security-conscious company to
lose one next-gen prototype devi
ce may be considered a misfortune.
To lose two
– well, you can probably see where I’m going with
this.

Astonishingly, what appeared to be two iPod touch prototypes – fully camera’d-up, Touch-fans
popped up on eBay at the end of last week, and were spotted by
and eagle-eyed 9to5Mac just before the auction was taken down.

Could be a hoax, for sure, but the pre-existence of an Apple patent
for an iPod Touch with camera
– plus the fact that the latest Touch
3G was found to contain an
empty space for a camera
– would suggest that Apple
really IS that careless
.

Meanwhile, hapless Apple engineer Gray Powell, who lost the iPhone
prototype in a Bavarian-themed bar, has been contacted by those
wags at Lufthansa
: they wrote offering him a free business-class
round-trip to Munich for an authentic Bier Keller experience – an offer
which we sincerely hope he doesn’t have the unexpected leisure to pursue
any time soon. Gray’s father told CNET that his son was ‘devastated’
by his mistake; it’s profoundly to be hoped that the fact that the poor
guy’s name is now in the public domain will protect him from a
precipitous P45.

And what of Gizmodo, the site which paid
$5000 for the ‘lost’ iPhone HD, and garnered publicity at least twenty
times that value in return, in the form of an extra
3.6 million eyeballs
? Well, the New
York Times
says California authorities are weighing up whether or
not to slam a felony charge on Nick Denton, boss of Gizmodo’s parent
company Gawker Media – and it now emerges that on Friday, officers from
California’s Rapid
Enforcement Allied Computer Team
raided the house of Gizmodo editor
Jason Chen and sequestered computer equipment.

DailyFinance.com urges Apple to
launch a suit – according to them, the company has a super-tight civil
case that Gawker pilfered their trade secrets, inflicting
millions of dollars-worth of damage. And, with Apple’s Q2 figures revealing that
8.75 million iPhones were sold last quarter, it’s a fair bet they’ll be
taking that advice pretty seriously.

The whole sorry episode has had the unintended side-effect of shining a
very bright spotlight on Apple’s legendary secrecy, and the
ethics behind it. Apple thus far has kept an adamantine grip on its new
products, and vigorously pursued a strategy of strict control over
which members of the tech press are allowed advance access to them. And
– as Gizmodo say in
their own defence
– ‘it’s impossible to argue that “access
journalism” has anything but a deleterious effect on the objectivity of
journalists.’

Sounds like it really is all
over between Adobe and Apple
– in the tech equivalent of ‘collecting
their stuff’, Adobe have announced their intention to halt
development of their Flash-to-iPhone converter
, and are calling on
their community of app developers to concentrate entirely on Android
devices from now on.

Meanwhile, in the continuing saga of AppleStore’s rejection of ‘adult’
apps, CEO Steve Jobs has fired off another of the quickfire
emails he’s lately been so fond of sending to correspondents. “We do
believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone,”
he
told one
. “Folks who want porn can buy and [sic] Android phone.“

The AppStore’s decision-making process recently came under
scrutiny when it emerged that an app by a Pullitzer-Prize winning
cartoonist had been rejected
by the increasingly capricious tech
giant – on the very
questionable grounds that it contained “content that ridicules public
figures.” In another
of those emails
, Jobs was forced to acknowledge that the rejection
had been a mistake – the app was subsequently accepted.


Anonymous reviews seem consistently to be in the news – and the Guardian
reports on a rather astonishing
literary whodunit
within the notoriously back-stabby academic
community. Historian Dr Rachel Polonsky noticed that an
anonymous commenter on Amazon had slated her recent book
– and that
other leading academics had suffered similar attacks. One of the
pseudonyms of the spiteful critic – orlando-birkbeck – led (perhaps
inevitably) to the door of Prof Orlando Figes, 50, a historian at
Birkbeck College, who responded with legal threats to both his
colleagues and the media. In a surprise twist, the professor’s
barrister wife at first came tearfully forwards to claim responsibility;
thence to the final denouement, in which the Professor did the manly
thing and acknowledged that the poison-pen writer was, in fact,
himself.

Ach, what would we have done without that most
enjoyable YouTube memes of the last year – the
re-subtitling of the film ‘Downfall’, which depicts
Hitler’s desperate final hours, so that the Fuhrer appears to be having a
hissy-fit about any old tripe. Now, though, the film’s grumpy
producers are using YouTube’s Content ID system, which permits a
copyright owner to immediately
disable
any video that contains its copyrighted content, to remove
them all
! Interestingly, YouTube
is advising
that the parodists claim ‘fair use’, which would
immediately restore the videos and force the film’s producers to issue
an official DMCA takedown notice. With delightful predictability, some
wag has uploaded a Downfall parody
about the parody
controversy. So clever,
these postmodernists.

Twitterista’s
are constitutionally
disinclined
to trust the mainstream media, a fact confirmed last
week by the trending hashtag #nickcleggsfault, which predicted that a
panicked right-wing press would try to smear LibDem leader Nick Clegg,
following his surge in the polls. 
By midday on Wednesday it was the
second most-tweeted hashtag on Twitter, with ‘fake tan went wrong –
#nickcleggsfault’ and ‘dinosaurs extinct – #nickcleggsfault’ among the
sniggeriest – along with the inevitable ‘lost 4th-gen iPhone prototype -
#nickcleggsfault’.

And, in further weighty political news, ‘Poor’ George Osborne
or rather, the hair of the same – became a trending topic this week: his
new brilliantined and Bunteresque ‘Do was the subject of much mockery
during the Chancellors’
Debate
. The Shadow Chancellor’s decision to risk a ‘Lord Snooty’
was all the more puzzling since – as the
Guardian
pointed out – it ‘can only add to the vague but
unshakeable sense of a man who has just had his jacket buttoned up by
his nanny.’

A month or so ago, Marmite launched a rather smart
social media campaign which pitted the imaginary Marmitophile Love
party against the Marmite-loathing
Hate party
. The leader of the Hate party was oleaginous and a bit
thick – though I’m sure this had nothing to do with BNP leader Nick
Griffin’s conclusion that he was being parodied.
Aaanyways, in a
revenge which can reasonably be described as ‘spectacularly childish’, a
floating Marmite jar was superimposed upon the BNP’s recent party
political broadcast
, causing Unilever to initiate
injunction proceedings
in order to protect the integrity of their
brand.

The Round-up was rather purse-lipped about the freak-show frisson which
accompanied Susan
Boyle
’s sudden elevation – we felt that it reflected rather
poorly on our national culture. But it seems that a model has been
established, without which popular culture will grind to a halt. We
therefore present to you the dual viral delights of portly Lin Yu Chun
from Taiwan, who turns out to have a rather sweet voice, and who here
duets Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” with William
Shatner
.

See, this is the kind of grit
and vigour
which you’d expect from an alliance between doughty
Britain and perseverant Australia. Brit Sean Murtagh and Aussie Natalie
Mead were unable to get back to the UK in time for their own wedding –
but were not ones to let the small matter of a volcanic eruption disrupt
their nuptuals. They invited their fellow stranded passengers to join
them in celebrating their wedding at Dubai’s airport, while their
official guests, assembled in the UK, watched the romantic union via
Skype
. Tears? Good lord no – just a little ash in my eye, is all.

In related volcanic news: few would deny that here’s been a bit of
argy-bargy about the iPad’s usefulness, but no-one
has thus far suggested that ‘government of medium-sized Scandiwegian
country
’ should be amongst
its functionalities
. Nevertheless, Norwegian Prime Minister Jens
Stoltenberg, who was grounded last week by that pesky Icelandic
eruption, was reported by his press secretary to be “running the
Norwegian government from the United States via his new iPad
.”


Still unconvinced that the iPad is a Good Thing? Gah – the global
supply of kitten/toddler/iPad interaction videos is running dry! Will
this great-grandma-gets-an-iPad
video
do instead?

Apparently there are now 8.6 million robots in the world — or, as
IEEE.org
reports
, more than one automaton for every person in Austria. As a
contextualising device, I confess that leaves me none the wiser – you?

New documents filed in a suit against Pennsylvania’s Lower Merrion
School District allege that cameras embedded in school laptops
took ‘thousands’
of unauthorized images
of their pupils in their own homes. One
student says that his laptop took photos of him as he slept – and
according to court papers, one staff member described the images as a
window “into a little LMSD soap opera.”

More teens are texting, and they’re texting more often: new
research from Pew
reports that 54% of American teenagers send
daily texts, up from 38% 18 months before. 72% of them text regularly
overall.

Meanwhile, a new study reveals that younger users care very much
about online
privacy
;
quite as much as we Oldies. Overall, 88% of us have
withheld information from business due to privacy concerns, with a
comparable figure of 82% for young adults. 84% of them feel that
permission should be gained from the subjects of a video or photo,
before it’s posted online – only 2% lower than the overall figure. And –
most pertinently for Facebook and other companies who have recently
been trumpeting the ‘end of privacy’ – 40% of 18-24s believe execs
should face prison for their company’s illegal use of personal info –
exactly matching the figure for 35-to-44-year-olds.

Microsoft
have been accused of encouraging
sexting
with a promo video for its Kin phones – pitched as
social devices allowing easy sharing of content with friends – which
shows a teenage boy sending a photo of his bare torso to a female
friend. Critics say that the company is aiming the devices at 13-18
year olds
– and recent research found that one in four in this age
group have admitted sending explicit images to their friends.

The Telegraph reports that Microsoft is under further fire,
following accusations that a Chinese factory which makes Xbox
components is using
teenagers as slave labour
. They quote an investigation by the
US’s National Labour Committee, which found that the factory was paying
its young workers as little as 37p per hour for 15-hour shifts in
desperately crowded workshops. One space, measuring 105ft by 105ft,
contained nearly a thousand teenagers working in 86 degree heat -
the factory is alleged to have turned on the air-conditioning only when
foreign clients were visiting.

A new virus has infected the PCs of thousands of Japanese users
who have illegally downloaded sexually-explicit hentai, according to
the BBC
. The malware takes a screenshot of the victim’s web history
and publishes it – before demanding a £10 fee to ‘settle your violation
of copyright law’ and remove the user’s surfing history.

The Conservative
Party
has weighed in on the current controversy surrounding Facebook’s
refusal to install a ‘panic button’
, which would connect young
users directly to the police if they felt at threat from paedophiles.
The party is threatening
to remove
their advertising
unless Facebook reconsiders – but
critics accuse the Tories of electioneering, pointing out that Facebook,
which is on-track
to make $1.1 Billion
in 2010, is unlikely to be overly-worried by
their threats.

Rolling Stone
magazine
has announced that it will be erecting a
Glasto-style paywall
around all content beyond its homepage.
The iconic muso-mag will tax readers $3.95 for a month’s pass, or
$29.99 for an annual subscription. Elsewhere, Reuters announced that it
too is eyeing a limit to Free, and perhaps plans
to charge
for “niche, high-value content”, according to Brand
Republic.

The Wall Street Journal has joined the New York Times in cuddling
up to Foursquare
: it’s now providing them with editorial
snippets and restaurant reviews, as well as three new badges, each of
which come with a specific New York Challenge.

It was perhaps inevitable that News Corp would throw its hat into
the social gaming ring, and last week it planted
its flag
with the acquisition of social game developer Irata
Labs
. It seems there are no plans to fold the company into
MySpace
– it will be grown as a standalone, to be put to work with
NewsCorp properties as required.

Meanwhile the L.A.Times reports that Hulu, the video-site
part-owned by NewsCorp, might be launching its subscription model
at $9.95
a month
. But at least one
commentator
has noted that the figure might not be quite the ticket
– being both too much for the average consumer to stomach for free TV,
and too little to make much of a dent in Hulu’s operating costs.

New research by moneysupermarket.com suggests that superfast
broadband will actively encourage
users to illegally download
copyrighted content
. Already,
nearly a fifth of internet users admit to doing so – and 35% will be
more inclined to, once superfast broadband is rolled out.

Yahoo
has splashed out on the Montenegran Me.me domain name for its
micro-blogging site Meme, calling the purchase “an essential
component of our online branding strategy
.” Commentators
predict
that a wider roll-out of the surprisingly underpublicized
Twitter rival is in the pipeline; Search
Engine Journal
further notes that Yahoo’s fortunes appear to have
turned. Citing improved ad spend and increased earnings in Q1 2010, the
journal wonders what else the company might have up its sleeve.

New
research
finds that a vast 6.8% of all the URLs accessed by
businesses belong to Facebook
, with 10% of businesses’ bandwidth
eaten up by YouTube
. “IT managers are right to be concerned about
the amount of social network use at work,” says Network Box’s Simon
Heron. Well, quite.

Meanwhile, Facebook is responsible for
nearly 50%
of global hits to websites from social media
, with Twitter
punching above its weight in generating nearly one in ten. StumbledUpon
sits in between, with just under 25%, according to StatCounter.

In the States, 145 million Internet users access social web
applications
, between them generating nearly 500
billion impressions
on each other. A new report by Forrester also
finds that a mahoosive 80% of those impressions are generated by 16% of
web users – and more than 60% of them come via Facebook.

And a new
report predicts
that nearly half of global mobile users will be
using their devices to pay for both digital and physical goods by 2014.

Finally, ad
budgets are on the rise
for the first time in ten consecutive
quarters, according to the latest Bellwether report.


Supermarket giant Asda, who recently signed up to Mumsnet’s
Let Girls Be Girls campaign, has consulted
Mumsnet users
about whether one of their products was against
the spirit of the campaign, which calls on retailers not to sell
products which prematurely sexualise children
.

As part of their
Live Positively
campaign, Coca-Cola is teaming up with the
charity Ocean Conservancy
to encourage their fans to ‘oceanize’
their Facebook profile image into a playful underwater photo.

And the brand has also kicked
off
its World Cup celebration campaign with an ad which
stars former Cameroon star Roger Milla, famous for celebrating a goal
during Italy’s ’90 World Cup with enthusiastic on-pitch dancing. The
ads direct users to the brand’s YouTube channel, where they’re urged to
upload their own celebratory videos.

Meanwhile, PepsiCo and Microsoft’s World Cup campaign
features Lionel Messi and Frank Lampard, and an interactive game
called Football
Hero
in which users can earn personalised video content, to be
distributed via their social media profiles.

Tesco
has launched its Race
For Life social networking site
– the brand’s first. It gives
those brave souls who are participating in Cancer Research UK’s annual
fund-raising run a dedicated space to share their experiences with their
fellow-runners.

Shreddies
is crowdsourcing their
latest campaign
– they need to find a new Knitting Nana to
be the face of their brand. Meanwhile, Unilever is asking the public to
create ads
for some of its best-known brands, including Lynx, Ben
& Jerry’s, Dove and Vaseline.

Finally, Scholastic,
publishers of Horrible
Histories
– the gruesome reading-matter of choice for
under-12s everywhere – are working with our social media agency partners
YoMego to build a
dedicated virtual world to support their range of titles, due to go live
in June 2011.

That’s
all folks!


 

eModeration’s Social Media Round Up #26

 

Welcome
to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams (@emodkate).

In this update: Do U Haiku?; Facebook in ‘News’ news; and Engadget’s off-switch.

And do remember to check back later in the week, when we’ll be casting
a perky eye over Facebook, Twitter, and the most social brands.

THE HEADLINES …

Hillary Clinton this week dispensed a blunt warning:
the West urgently needs to develop its virtual defences against cyber
terrorism. The US Secretary of State declared that tanks, bombers and
missiles were “no longer sufficient” to protect cyber and energy
networks – nor to neutralise ‘threats of terrorism and destructive
ideologies.’

A Tory government would apply market-based thinking
to deliver superfast broadband speeds of ‘up to 100 Mbps’, the Shadow
Chancellor George Osborne said this week. He’d let private investors
piggy-back BT’s ‘local loop monopoly’ to fund cabling upgrades – and
would happily extend the current 3.5% levy on the license fee if
private investment failed. But Labour critics crowed
that the move would be cheering news for both Rupert Murdoch’s Sky, and
The Carphone Warehouse – whose cofounder has donated £150,000 to Tory
Party coffers.

Ach, they grow so fast! You look away for five minutes and the next
thing you know, your little social network (bear with me) has grown
into a strapping news portal! Facebook this week celebrated its 6th (I know!) birthday by crossing the 400m user mark, updating its look
- and becoming a player in online news. Last week, 3.5% of visits to
sites in the news and media category came from Facebook – up from just
1% this time last year, and comfortably outranking Google News to claim
fourth place in the Big List of News Portals. (Intriguingly, Venturebeat here analyses the extent that Facebook could administer First Aid to newspapers.)

Elsewhere in the world of online news, a steely-jawed (bear with me again) Rupert Murdoch reiterated his attachment
to paywalls – and simultaneously delivered a sideswipe at The
Guardian’s Alan Rusbridger, who recently said that news-subscriptions
were akin to “sleepwalking to oblivion”. Murdoch’s response: a John
Wayne-esque “sounds like BS to me”.

Meanwhile, NewsCorp’s strategy is attracting renewed attention, after Star TV’s head honcho was bussed in
to oversee News International’s online sites. Commentators are
intrigued by the possibility that Mr Murdoch is contemplating an extra
50p a week on Sky subscriptions, to help pull off his putative paywall
plans – and they cite magazine rival Newsday’s recently-averted paywall disaster,
in which a laughable 35 initial subscribers to Newsday.com was
translated into a respectable 1.5m users by bundling online news in
with cable subscriptions.

Mega-tech site Engadget took action
this week, after a mass Trollathon broke out on their comments pages,
following their coverage of the iPad launch. After page upon page of
abusive posts – many of which accused the site of being Apple stooges –
Engadget’s weary editor Joshua Topolsky took action, and flicked the
‘comments’ switch to OFF. Whilst the strategy does not feature heavily
in the book of social media best practice, it’s hard not to admire his
grit (though we’d love you to come and have a word with us next time,
Josh…)

THE LOWDOWN …

Three elegiac cheers for Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who poignantly tweeted
his resignation haiku this week: “Financial crisis / Stalled too many
customers / CEO no more.” Here at the Round-up we feel that Haiku – a
form beloved of all rilly-deep (but also rilly time-poor) thinkers
everywhere – should certainly be more widely employed; join us in
agitating loudly for Twitter to formally adopt a five-seven-five
syllable rhyme-scheme for its outage notices.

She’s in and out like a fiddler’s elbow, that Lily Allen. The Sun reports that the headstrong songstress has at last returned to Twitter,
after an interruption of four whole months. “Hello, I’m back” was her
re-opening gambit – and she promises “exciting news” to come. Out of
chaos, comes order.

In confirmation that there’s nothing we Websters like more than a
snifter of salacious tittle-tattle with our morning tea, Forbes
magazine has crowned Perez Hilton King of the Web
- news which cannot but conjure visions of Michael Arrington (2nd),
Pete Cashmore (3rd), and those Twitter guys (4th) all doing brave
smiles, whilst furiously penning Op Eds deploring the rise of Sleb-Web
culture.

Facebook has rushed to nix the page belonging to notorious underworld boss
Colin Gunn, after he used the network to make not-even-thinly-veiled
threats against former associates. The gangster – who is currently
serving a 35-year sentence for conspiracy to murder – managed to
maintain a Facebook page despite rules which say prisoner’s access to
the internet must be strictly supervised.

And in Incontrovertible Proof that the coming general election will be
all about social media (well, maybe a bit about the Economy, and Tax,
and other stuff), Labour MP Derek Wyatt has launched an iPhone app
to let voters tell their local MP what they think. Currently, Mr Wyatt
is the only member using the service – and he’s stepping down at the
next election – but we’re quite sure more will be along presently.

IN OTHER NEWS …

In an admirably imaginative collaboration, Childline has partnered
with teen girls’ social net Stardoll to encourage young women to
express their emotions, through a range of online tools. The move
follows an earlier partnership during National Beat Bullying Week – a
contest which attracted 250,000 votes. Read more here on the eModeration Blog.

In a comprehensive rundown of the social media habits of teens and young adults, the Pew Research Centre reports that 62% of US teens
head online for news and current affairs – rising to a mammoth 77%
during a major event like an election; a massive 86% of social
networking teens post comments on friend’s pages; and teen blogging has
dropped from 28% to 14%. For the full monty, Pew’s research is here.

Meanwhile, another study finds a link between excessive internet use and depression – but doesn’t say which comes first. Researchers from Leeds University
found that small proportion of teenage web users could be classed as
‘addicts’ – and that this group were more likely to also suffer from
depressive illness.

Speculation mounts that Amazon is planning to upgrade
its e-reader Kindle with touch-screen tech, to go head to head with the
iPad. The company this week acquired New York start-up Toucho, which
has recently been working on an interpolated, pressure-based – and
cheap – touch-screen capability.

In other Amazon news, the e-tail giant was this week forced to back down
in its standoff with publisher Macmillan, and accede to the publisher’s
demands for a higher cover price for bestseller and hardback releases.
Macmillan’s titles – including the current Man Booker winner – were
briefly removed from Amazon’s virtual shelves as the two tussled over a
disputed price hike.

Skittles.com – whose social media makeover
gained much industry attention last year for its inclusion of a live
stream of Tweets on the brand, whether or not they were positive – has
stepped back from a strategy of absolute transparency. The new site
offers users a range of ‘offbeat’ shareable content including YouTube
videos and quirky photos – but the ‘chatter’ stream has now gone.


That’s all folks!

eModeration Social media Round Up #25

Ach.
Like a hyperventilating claustrophobe stuck in a lift, the iPad pretty
much sucked up all the social media air last week. So it is a somewhat
foreshortened second installment to our weekly roundup which we now
offer for your reading pleasure.

This week: Facebook’s IPO ‘No’; Google’s Chinese impersonator; and Twitter’s stuttering stats.

ON FACEBOOK …

Facebook is going for gold with a mega-test of the Facebook Credits
system on Farmville, the largest social game on the web. The system has
previously been tested on much smaller games, but the rollout to
Farmville shows that the ‘Book is getting serious about monetizing
virtual goods. The Business Insider suggests that the social network
will be charging developers a meaty 30% per transaction – leading some
commentators to speculate that revenues from payments could exceed those from advertising.

Recent fiddling with privacy controls, and the addition of the option
to answer comments directly via email, without even visiting the site,
are all heading in one direction: Facebook is shifting focus from its
traditional platform and homing in on its users’ streams, in an attempt
at future-proofing. According to VP of Engineering Mike Schroepfer, “it is entirely possible that there will be no Facebook.com in the future.”

Nevertheless, two major investors this week confirmed
that there was no IPO in Facebook’s tealeaves for 2010. Yuri Milner of
DST said: “we don’t have to return money to investors, so we have
unlimited patience.”

ON TWITTER …

What Twitter news there was this week was all about the stats – and it was a curate’s egg, to be sure. The bad news:
though they passed the 75m user mark in 2009, inactive accounts are
higher than ever. Only 17 % of users sent even a single tweet last
month – an all-time low, according to ClickZ. Twitter can take some
comfort, though, in the fact that active users are more engaged than ever:
they now average 300 followers apiece, up from 70 in July 2009, and can
boast 420 updates each, compared with just 120 six months earlier.

ON GOOGLE …

Google’s presence at the World Economic Forum in Davos only added to
the growing sense that Google now resembles a sovereign nation – and
one with considerable colonialist aspirations. The Guardian
carries an interview with its gnomic CEO Eric Schmidt here, in which he
hedges round both Google’s newspaper-menacing advances to
display-advertising – and the possibility of a coming rapprochement
with the Chinese authorities.

On which note – only weeks after their Chinese troubles first began, Google finds itself in competition with a home-grown counterfeit.
The punningly-titled Chinese search engine Goojje (the final syllable
plays on the Chinese word for ‘older sister’) appears to be snapping at
Google’s heels – though confusingly, the upstart has made a public plea
for the search giant to stay in China.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL …

Osoyou.com relaunches
this week: the fashion and shopping social network now offers new
functionality which refines searches by brand, style, colour and price,
and features a drag-and-drop shopping list.

Audi is mobilizing a squadron
of environment-protecting “Green Police” for their latest campaign,
which will include a dedicated YouTube channel and a Twitter page. Both
platforms will feature updates from a campaign road trip, in which
journos will motor from Audi headquarters in Virginia, to the Super
Bowl in Miami.

Burger King is running a 41-city social media tour
to find the best basketball players in each neighbourhood – as well as
those who are “game-changers” in their urban community. They’ll post
video clips to a dedicated website, where fans may vote for their
favourite, or submit their own entries.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer is launching a celeb-backed campaign, called “Too Many Women”, which will attempt to harness the power of social networks
to raise over £1million. The charity is searching for 201 ambassadors
who will each be tasked with raising £500 – and recruiting nine friends
to do the same. The numbers are intended to echo the one in nine women
who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Procter & Gamble is to put Facebook at the heart of its marketing strategy for 2010. The company has opened a dedicated Silicon Valley office
to work on marketing functionality with the site – but is lukewarm
towards Twitter, which it sees merely as a broadcasting tool.

SOCIAL STATS …

There was a huge hike in the number of Baby-Boomers
using social networks last year: while Millennials’ stats stayed pretty
consistent, social media adoption in the Boomer cohort jumped to 47% -
up 15% from 2008, compared with a barely visible 1% rise the previous
year.

Marketers are turning to social media at the expense of direct marketing:
51% of them are moving from a campaign-centric DM model to social
media, with 40% planning to cut their DM budget by more than 20% to
fund the move, according to Alterian.

Another Facebook mega-stat: unique mobile users leapt more than 600% in
2009. While Twitter’s stats saw an even bigger relative jump – a 2800%
increase in just one year – Facebook was the overall winner on numbers, and is now the most popular mobile social network.

Online, UK shoppers were Europe’s big spenders
last year – averaging a mammoth £1,102 per shopper, and accounting for
almost a third of all European sales, according to the Centre for
Retail Research.

UNDER THE GAVEL …

Google Street View has won a partial victory
in a case brought by a Pittsburgh couple, who alleged their privacy had
been violated by when the Street View vehicle entered their ungated
driveway and took shots of their pool and house. A judge disagreed,
ruling that “no person of ordinary sensibilities would be shamed,
humiliated, or have suffered mentally as a result” – but he did rule
that the two can pursue a trespass claim against the company.

The first shots were fired in the Nokia-Apple Patent War
last week, when the International Trade Commission began its
investigation of Nokia’s claims that Apple is treading on its patents
in pretty much each one of its products. The war, which recently saw
Apple launch a counter-suit, promises to be one of attrition.

A Facebook user has withdrawn a suit which alleged that the company
profited from Zynga’s so-called ‘scam ads’ – but she continues to push
a class-action
against the social-games developer itself. Some observers suggest that
both companies are likely to be protected by the federal Communications
Decency Act.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES …

If you’re still thinking that the iPad could be a game-changer for gamers, take a look at this, from Massively, which tells you why lack of multi-tasking, Flash support and webcam suggests it won’t.

Last week Linden Lab announced the Feb 17th launch of Linden Home
– its new offering for premium users of Second Life. The home hub,
which comes with a free plot of land and a monthly wad of Linden
dollars, is the company’s attempt at making Second Life less
intimidating to new users.

And lastly, if virtual world communities are Your Thing, you could do much worse than examine this list of useful online resources relating to the same, kindly provided by the chaps at Massively.

THINKING …

If you’re (whisper it) still struggling with your Facebook Fan Page, Social Media Examiner tells you why (350 million users; average daily session 25 minutes) and how. Just sayin’.

Venturebeat offers a succinct rationale for why the iPad will sell despite its aforementioned ‘missing’ functions, here.

And Michael Brito offers businesses this useful map to help them navigate the rough waters of real-time search – the latest challenge facing companies using the social web.

Last week we featured the story that Dunbar’s number – the theory that
the optimum number of people in any given network is 150 – was also
applicable to social media. This week, here’s Jacob Morgan to tell us why Dunbar’s Number is, in point of fact, irrelevant. Oh, do keep up!

That’s all folks!

eModeration’s Social Media Round-up #21

Welcome
to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in
the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams (@emodkate).  We
had so much to say after our holiday break that this steaming helping
of social networks and brands in social media is following hot on the
heels of last Friday’s industry appetizer #20 …


In this update: Facebook’s annus mirabilis; Twitter’s job vacancies; and the most social brands of last year.

ON FACEBOOK …

According to ComScore, Facebook was the beneficiary of 5.5% of US online time
in November – a pretty impressive figure, to be sure. It was also the
most-visited website on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, say Hitwise,
as users rushed to compare presents (or possibly avoid Scary Uncle
Pete).

No surprise, then, that Facebook’s ad figures have sprinted past
those of MySpace a full year before they’d been predicted to do so –
and look likely to reach $605 million globally this year. MySpace,
meanwhile, is said to be staring at a 21% cliff-drop in revenue,
according to eMarketer.

For a full and frank assessment of Facebook’s Annus Mirabilis (and more on predictions that Facebook could file for IPO in 2010, with revenues expected to rocket past $700 million) it’s well worth scooting over to Mashable, who offer in-depth analysis, here.

Elsewhere on Facebook:

The ‘Book now offers a cunning feature
to combat persistent strangers or spammers who try to friend you. If
you’ve rejected them in the past because you don’t know them, their
friend request flags it up.

And recent Facebook privacy changes have had users scrambling to catch
up – and if you’re a brand with a Fan Page, you should be scrambling
too. You’ll find a useful guide to taking charge of your page’s privacy
settings, quick-sticks, here.

ON TWITTER …

Along with ‘Did you keep the receipt?’, the question on everyone’s lips
at the end of 2009 was ‘When will Twitter become profitable?’ – and the
microblogging site was at last able to respond that they already were,
to the tune of £25 million. The leap into profit, however, was entirely
courtesy of its real-time search deals with Google and Microsoft – and
commentators are iffy about whether the deals will be enough to sustain
a revenue stream in 2010.

So the question remains a valid one – as does the increasingly beady focus on Twitter’s horizontal stats, which appear to have flat-lined. Worth bearing in mind, though, that it’s only the Stateside figures which have stagnated – Twitter’s global figures
are doing just fine, with the 60m international user figure just
announced, and growth looking healthy in both and Brazil and the UK
(which now accounts for a 8.9% of tweets – a pretty twit-tastic tweet to population ratio.)
Other reasons for Twitter’s apparent halt: figures don’t include those
using apps like Seismic or Tweetdeck – and the fact that Twitter is
generally considered to have not yet reached critical mass.

Upshot: if you think that you’ve got the answer to Twitter’s tricky
revenue issues, the chaps over there are eager to hear from you.
They’ve launched a recruitment drive specifically
to address revenue generation, and are looking to recruit four new
staff members “to work on cutting edge monetization projects”; and
other new positions will also include a revenue element.

Elsewhere on Twitter:

Twitter and LinkedIn have hooked up – users can now update their LinkedIn status via Twitter, and vice versa…

The old way of retweeting – which allowed Twitter users add commentary to their RTs – is preferred by a ratio of 2 to 1…

Finally, the Telegraph reports that Twitter has banned 370 ‘obvious’ passwords.
So if you are the type to have ‘password’ as your password, you will no
longer be allowed to do so – though you are of course still free to
respond to emails informing you that a considerable legacy awaits you,
if you will only forward your bank account details by return.

ON GOOGLE …

Google’s dominion over the world of search remains unchallenged,
with both Yahoo and Bing wavering last month, according to Nielsen (in
the latter’s case reversing an apparently temporary surge earlier in
the year).

But the biggest news for Google was the release of its much-anticipated Nexus One. The Guardian put the iPhone competitor through its paces
and concluded that, while it lacked the glamour of the iPhone (and its
multi-touch screen) the Nexus One’s power was certainly impressive. The
smartphone’s launch was, however, shadowed by reports of customer service and network issues, and sales remained limp – a mere week after its launch, Google had ominously moved to slash the price of the Nexus One upgrade.

Nevertheless, despite some launch wrinkles waiting to be ironed out
(the version which will be available in the UK, for example, will have
a multi-touch screen) Advertising Age suggested
that the Nexus represents the final piece in an overarching strategy
which will be a game-changer for Google – giving it “a hammer lock on
the whole integrated process of consumer mobility.”

ON YOUTUBE …

UN investigators believe they’ve cracked the mystery at the heart of a macabre YouTube hit,
in which a recently-assassinated anti-government lawyer blamed his
imminent death on the Guatemalan president. In a twist worthy of
Hollywood, it seems the man, who was depressed about personal issues,
actually arranged his own murder in order to frame the president.

A recent patent application by Google has set tongues waggling that
YouTube is about to dip a toe into online gaming. The patent details a
‘web-based system for generation of interactive games based on digital
videos’. Translated, this seems to describe a level of interactivity
that would allow users to change the outcome of the video being shown –
“a video game, if you will,” as TechRadar points out.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL …

The big news of the New Year was Pepsi’s decision to nix its SuperBowl budget and push $20 million into social media. Now Coca-Cola and Unilever have decided to move deeper
into social media by using social networks to ‘break’ campaigns, as
well as relying on their own campaign sites. For example, Coca-Cola has
unveiled a new Glaceau Vitaminwater
flavour called Connect – the result of a competition run on the brand’s
Facebook site, which gave fans the opportunity to design the new
flavour.

Good lord – is it really Easter already?
Cadbury’s have launched www.cremeegg.co.uk, where fans are encouraged
to hunt down various Creme eggs to be found roaming the internet, on
sites including MSN, Yahoo and YouTube.

Lego has launched a campaign to celebrate what it calls those ‘click’ moments
– when the solution to a Lego build problem suddenly pings into a
user’s head. They’re offering an app which will ‘Lego-ize’ a photo -
available from a hub site called LegoClick.com, from which users can
also post descriptions of their own ‘lightbulb’ moments of creativity
to the Lego Facebook page.

Stateside social media star-brand Best Buy is launching in the UK
– and they’ve unveiled a British website and social media presence, to
prepare their passage. Content through both these channels will
eventually include videos, blogs and images from Best Buy’s bloggers –
plus details of the 8,000 jobs that the brand hopes to create in their
first five years in the UK.

Hoorah – a triumph for the mystery creators of the ‘bra colour’ Facebook meme,
which saw thousands of Facebookers updating their status according to
the colour of the bra they were wearing – successfully raising
awareness of breast cancer.

Domino’s latest ad campaign trumpets the astonishing turnaround
they’ve pulled off – by listening to their consumers. The daring
‘documentary’ – which features Domino’s staff taking on board many
negative comments about the brand, and working to improve their product
– was inspired in large part by monitoring consumer comments about the
brand on social media channels.

Evian’s taking Roller Babies – their 45m-views YouTube hit – to Facebook, where they are already effortlessly gliding towards 200,000 fans.

Following the 2007 return, due to customer demand, of the Wispa bar, Cadbury’s is putting social media at the heart
of its latest campaign. The brand is allowing fans to personalise its
Wispa webpage, suggest ideas for the content, and vote on how they
think the site should be developed.

Huggies wants proud parents to upload photos and video of their little darlings,
in a new campaign called ‘Everyday Discoveries’ – the ten winning
babies will star in a storybook illustrated by Disney artists.

Super-social brand Harley-Davidson called on fans to submit photos of
themselves and their bikes – and has now used 10,000 images to create a
giant mosaic of their logo.

Travelocity has launched another ‘Roaming Gnome’ campaign,
in which the touring elf encourages consumers to vote for one of three
of his trips on Travelocity’s social networking pages, as well as
upload photos of their own winter trips.

Trident has used authentic, unsponsored tweets from happy chewers of their ‘Trident Layers’ gum in their latest campaign – which they’re calling ‘The People Have Tweeted’.

Home decoration specialist Umbra will be giving a dollar to each of its Facebook fans who successfully refer a friend to the brand’s fan page. The campaign will run until the pot collectively reaches $1000.

Equator Estate Coffee, who make artisanal coffees and teas, are experimenting with turning their Facebook page into an online store: the public will be able to make purchases without leaving the site.

Guiness have teamed up with Google Earth to launch a social media campaign in which users can invite their friends to help to create a virtual version
of their part of the planet – until the entire globe is virtually
represented. The winner will get a year’s supply of the iconic stout.

Nivea want consumers to “have more love, hugs and kisses in 2010″ – and it’s asking them to upload a virtual hug or kiss
to build the Nivea XOXO Chain. The skincare brand will donate $1 to the
charity ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ for every each entry.

Visitors to NYC’s Times Square have been taking part in the latest campaign around Kodak’s huge digital display – an app that lets them upload their own photo to the mega-sign, and control when it appears.

Finally, to get you up and at ‘em for the new decade, take a look at Vitrue’s Social Media Index,
which tells you everything about which social brands generated the most
consumer buzz through social media over the last year (clue: iPhone
won.) And to top it off, here’s Netimperative’s list of the Top Ten online marketing campaigns
of the previous ten years. The winner, most fittingly for the social
decade, is the Mentos-Coke viral – despite the fact that neither brand
was involved in the making of the ads

SOCIAL STATS …

US internet users, who now number 80% of the adult population, spend 13 hours a week
online – up from eight hours in 2003. What’s more, half of them have
bought online in the last month, according to Harris Interactive.

Meanwhile, research by PostRelease and Synovate has revealed that one
in five Americans contribute to an online forum – and those that do are
more influential, both online and offline.
The 20% who are active forum members are considerably more likely to
recommend products, share links and advice, and help a friend make a
buying decision.

What’s more, 26% of UK consumers place online recommendations higher than those of friends and family in importance, according to Weber Shandwick – and

SheSpeaks reports that 80% of female Internet users
say they’ve fanned a product or brand on a social network in the last
year, and 72% had found out about a new product there. A full 50% had
made a purchase based on content they’d seen on a social network – a
considerable leap from 2008 figures.

Unsurprisingly then, a survey by Bazaarvoice and The CMO Club found that a hefty 62% of chief marketing officers planned to hike their social media budgets
next year. Industries polled including software, finance and insurance,
travel and hospitality, media and publishing, consumer goods and retail
– but over 50% of them were still uncertain about the precise ROI of
social media, and 63% were still ‘undecided’ about the extent to which data from social media sites helps them learn about their brand and its customers.

UK broadband speeds grew 22% in 2009, perhaps adding to a cheering 15.5% jump in the UK’s online spending figures, according to SpendingPulse. And eBay predicts that by 2020, 1 in 5 UK pounds will be spent online – with some categories like electrical goods and books overtaking off-line sales.

Across the pond, comScore reports that the figures for holiday e-tail were up 5% year-on-year, hitting an astonishing $27 billion in online sales – a humongous $30 million of which was spent on virtual gift-giving during November and December, per PlaySpan.

ON MOBILE …

Business users will be the target market for Google’s next Nexus smartphone – and the new version might even have an actual keyboard, according to Reuters.

Web analytics firm Compete report that nearly 2 in 5 smartphone users have used their devices to buy something
unrelated to their mobile. Books, DVDs and video games in the lead -
though a frustrated 8% who tried to buy via their handsets couldn’t get
the site to load.

They were most likely to be making their purchases using an iPhone 3G, which is currently the most popular single phone with US users according to Nielsen.

UNDER THE GAVEL …

Kodak has launched a US suit against Apple
and Research in Motion, the makers of the Blackberry. They claim that
the technology which both the iPhone and the Blackberry use to preview
pictures, in fact infringes Kodak patents.

And a US federal appellate court has confirmed an earlier decision that review site ConsumerAffairs.com was immune from liability
for posts by its users. The posts, which a New York car dealer claimed
had defamed him, included comments about prices and fees.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES …

Social gaming giant Zynga abandoned in-game ‘offers’ at the end of
2009, after a spate of accusations about scam ads signing players up
for goods and services which they had not agreed to. Now they’ve
announced that they’re bringing them back, albeit from a tightly controlled roster of eight advertisers.

Elsewhere, Korea has become the only country in which virtual currency is legally agreed to be equivalent to real-world cash – with sweeping implications for the online gaming industry, according to Massively.

THINKING …

Finally, if one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to spend a little
more time cogitating, why not dip into this smorgasbord of
food-for-thought?

360 Degree Digital Influence offer this comprehensive exploration of crisis management in social media;

Last Exit examine the pros and cons of Crowdsourcing – here’s what to look out for when using an online community to develop a brand, product or campaign;

And Brian Solis ponders
the story-so-far for Social Media, and looks at predictions that its
coalescence with plain old ‘media’ is coming sooner rather than later.

That’s all folks!

eModeration’s Social Media Update #19

Welcome to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing,
alarming or odd in the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams
(@emodkate).

In this update: Guns ‘n’ Snowballs; Microsoft’s faux pas ;
and Yule 2.0.

This super-size bumper edition is the last update for 2009 – and all of us at
eModeration wish you a very merry holiday. See you in
2010!

THE HEADLINES

A coalititon of privacy groups have filed
a complaint
with the Federal Trade Commission against Facebook’s new privacy
changes, which it alleges constitute ‘unfair and deceptive trade practices’.
While Facebook harumph that it’s all a lot of fuss and bother about nothing,
commentators mainly agree that the ‘Book’s midstream course-switch has been
poorly-explained at best; at worst, occlusive. The real question is, as Peter
Kafka points out, whether advertisers will start to mutter. He notes that
Facebook’s Beacon programme was only pulled once marketers started asking
awkward questions, and wonders whether history might repeat itself.

Over
in China, Microsoft found itself in a rather awkward spot when it emerged that
the resemblance their new platform Juku bore to start-up micro-blogging service
Plurk was so heavy as to be what you and I might call ‘the same’. Embarrassingly
for Microsoft, it was discovered that one of their Chinese developers had indeed
lifted
chunks of Plurk’s code
, and the service was suspended indefinitely. The
speed and directness with which they dealt with the crisis earned them mild
praise – but nevertheless Plurk is ominously said to be considering its
legal options
.

Twitter found itself under
attack
last week by the mysteriously-named Iranian Cyber Army, who it
appears hijacked the site via weak Twitter email security. The group managed to
redirect users to their own site – but Twitterers were left confused as to the
hackers’ message. In broken English, they appeared to harbour anti-American
feeling – but used the image of a green flag, associated with those who oppose
the current regime.

Meanwhile RockYou – the third most successful
Facebook app, with more than 55 million monthly active users – suffered a serious
hack attack
which exposed 32 million customer usernames and passwords to
identity theft. The breach is all the more serious because Rock You’s usernames
and passwords – which were apparently displayed in plain text – are by default
the same as the user’s email username and passwords. Worse still, RockYou
appears to have taken a full 10 days to let them know of the risk to their
online identities.

THE LOWDOWN

On Saturday, Washington DC’s Twitterers organized an
impromptu street-corner snowball fight – what could be more seasonal or more
jolly? Unfortunately, an undercover cop whose Hummer caught a couple of stray
snowballs was not yet fully immersed in the festive spirit, and rather pooped
the party by getting out of his vehicle and drawing his weapon on the dismayed
funsters – inspiring the instantly viral chant of ‘Don’t bring a gun to a
snowball fight!’

A 15-year-old boy, whose parents took away his Xbox
system as punishment for an unspecified misdemeanour, called
911
to check that they were within their rights to do so. Police officers
who arrived at his house confirmed that his parents are, in fact, the boss of
him.

In what will be the last ‘What Were They Thinking?’ of 2009, three
police officers have been disciplined after a group of inebriated young women
ran amok in their police station. The officers, presumably perfectly capable of
dealing with both fast-footed burglars and angry drunks, found themselves
unaccountably unable to control the young women, who took photos of themselves
in police uniforms posing in, ahem, a provocative manner – shots which later
turned up on Facebook.

A producer from Uruguay who uploaded his short
film – made for a total of £186 – onto YouTube has now been offered a £18.6m
contract to make a Hollywood film. Just three days after the upload, Fede
Alvarez’ inbox was bulging with enquiries from Hollywood; but if you are still
clutching to your secret heart the fantasy that it could happen to you, were you
only to launch your talent on the YouTube-viewing world – watch this, and let
the dream go.

Chris Brown has had what is rapidly becoming known (well,
in my head) as a Twissy Fit. You may or may not know that the singer recently
released a comeback album, part of his attempt to rebuild
his image
after his violent assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna. In a series
of increasingly bitter tweets, Brown claimed that retailers were blackballing
his album – causing widespread mockery in the entertainment press, and the
hurried deletion of the account in question.

Last week we had the murky
ethics of lawyers ‘friending’ judges – this week it’s jurors whose questionable
social media activities are in the dock. Jury-members in the mayor of
Baltimore’s trial for gift-card embezzlement made
contact with one another
on Facebook – and now the mayor’s lawyers are
examining whether this could constitute grounds for appeal.

If you wish
your kiddywinks to enjoy a Christmas which is both magical and modern, upgrade
your traditions to Yule 2.0 with Mashable’s
list
of ways to interact with Santa. There’s even an iPhone app in which the
Big Guy tells them that, unless they shape up in the behaviour department, they
can expect nowt but a lump of coal in their stocking.

IN OTHER NEWS …

On Christmas Day, just after
lunch, Barnardo’s is launching their hugely innovative Teens’ Speech campaign online.
For the last 2 months, Barnardo’s has been encouraging teenagers to upload
videos in which they express their hopes – and fears – for the future. The
project – which eModeration has been delighted to be part of – involved an open
invitation
to this much-maligned group to speak out on the issues which are
important to them across multiple platforms including YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and the Barnardo’s
website
. The campaign also hopes to draw attention to the fact that what
matters to teens should also matter to the rest of us – and it promises to be
touching, insightful, and very honest.

Hot on the heels of last week’s
revelation that Facebook’s demographic is increasingly Gran-shaped, comes the
launch of a new service for granny-bloggers. The NanaBlogs helps Grans to
explore social media, and to start their own blogs. The launch coincides with
news that the older generation is embracing
texting
at last – 14% of those aged 45-plus are sending more than 30 text
messages every week.

Two regulatory changes this week: first the
Advertising Standards Authority’s remit was extended to include
digital marketing
– bringing brands’ websites under their control for the
first time.

Then the Press Complaints Commission’s reach
was extended
to cover online-only publications – until recently those which
had no offline presence were exempt.

An interesting week for online news
content: the Guardian launched
an iPhone app
, which for a one-off fee of £2.39 allows users to customise
Guardian content, making it much easier to view on a mobile device. And over the
pond, the Huffington Post is offering sponsored
tweets
to advertisers, which will feature in the live Twitter feed on its
site. It’s also offering ad placements within the comments section of its
articles.

Meanwhile, a huge GfK Group study has found that only 13% of
people in Europe and the USA would be prepared
to pay
for online content. Worse still, 42% of European and 21% of US
consumers didn’t even want their content to be supported by ads – which would
leave content-providers without any visible means of support
whatsoever.

ON FACEBOOK

Aside from the growing privacy brouhaha detailed above,
it’s been an uneventful week for the ‘Book.

They announced the
heartening results of its recent demographic study, which show that the
percentage of Black and Asian users are now approaching those found in the
general US population. But the social giant also faced criticism for pointedly
refusing to share the wider data-set with the public, which caused some
to wonder
whether other, less cheerful cultural trends were contained
within.

Facebook also launched a developer
consultant
programme, to help confuzzled brands decide who to work with when
building their Facebook presence. The initial roster of 14 companies include
Context Optional and Wildfire, who have worked with brands such as Red Bull,
Chase, MTV and Disney on social media launches.

ON TWITTER …

A light news week also for
Twitter: they launched
in German
, which joins Spanish, French and Italian as official
Twitter-supported languages.

And, in a possible step towards a full
commercial offer, Twitter began testing a new ‘Contributors’
feature
. It lets businesses have accounts which can be used by several
employees, each of whom would be identified by an individual by-line.

And
finally, Twitter announced their top trending topics of the year: the results,
which put Michael Jackson and Susan Boyle at number one and two respectively,
were entirely
predictable
– but like too much gin in Auntie Vera’s holiday egg-nog, were
no less enjoyable for that.

ON GOOGLE

Like Facebook, Google launched URL
shorteners
this week – and while Google’s is only available through its
Toolbar and Feedburner, there’s nothing to say things will stay that way. Which
must, as MediaPost points out, make uncomfortable reading for Bit.ly et al, as
they watch Google pull out all stops to keep the traffic flowing through to
search.

Elsewhere, ZDNet.com suggests that real-time search is not
necessarily going to be the money-spinner that Google might be anticipating.
They wonder if ‘real-time search moves too fast and is too unpredictable to monetize
In other words, you need a crystal ball to monetize a real-time stream of
information.’

But most Google gossip this week concerned rumours of an
imminent launch-date for their own-branded smartphone, based on the Android
platform. Unlike other phones, this will be sold directly to consumers, who will
themselves contract with a wireless network. Some
commentators
are urging those of you who initially snubbed the iPhone to
view this as a second chance to get in at the off. But others
warn
that, at $500, the Droid is a risky prospect in a market where “all
previous attempts to sell directly to the consumer in the U.S. have thus far
have been an abject failure.” Ho hum.

ON
YOUTUBE …

Following reports last month that YouTube was
contemplating iTunes-style rentals for their growing offer of long-form TV
content, Reuters reports that the video-sharing site is considering monthly
subscriptions
along a cable-tv provider model. Mashable posits that, one way
or another, we’re looking at some kind of paid-content model for YouTube, since
providers seem unwilling to settle for an entirely ad-supported
model.

Ah, here she is again – Susan Boyle is top
of the pops
on YouTube’s most popular vids of the year. Pass the egg nog,
Auntie!

BRANDS GET SOCIAL

Marshalls and T.J. Maxx have co-sponsored a festive
YouTube Caroling
Channel
. It’s a contest site where singers can pick one of four customized
songs to sing – including ‘Deck Yourself Out’ and “We Wish You a Better Way to
Christmas Shop” – in hopes of winning a $5,000 gift-card Grand
Prize.

Carl’s Junior has hired Kim Kardashian to front a new
multi-faceted digital campaign, the centrepiece of which is an augmented
reality lunch date
, in which fans can chat with the star over a virtual
Carl’s Jr. grilled chicken salad.

NBC is launching a fan-driven
campaign
to raise the social media profile of its show ‘Chuck’, which
revolves around a geek who must save the world after his brain becomes
accidentally encoded with government secrets. Fans who ‘share the greatness’
through Facebook and other SocNets have a chance at the Grand Prize of appearing
in a Chuck episode.

Samsung is offering 10 teams of bloggers the chance
to zip over to the Winter
Games
in Vancouver this February. The teams will face a selection of
challenges, like visiting multiple sites around the city, collecting fan stories
and covering the various events – all of which they’ll record on a Samsung
Mythic mobile phone.

SOCIAL STATS

The number of reviews consulted by online shoppers was
up by a mammoth
128%
this year, according to a massive survey of UK shoppers carried out on
November 30, the date which marks the unofficial start of the online Christmas
shopping season.

Meanwhile, social media recommendations from strangers
languish at seventh place as a means of discovering online video – verbal word of mouth (41%)
and search (32%) are the top two.

Prompt Communications report that
Facebook (96%) is now the most
popular communication tool
, followed by text (93%) and email (91%) – but
consumers use text (37%) more frequently, with Facebook and the phone at
28%.

YuMe reports that under-14s
have the highest click-through rate on pre-roll video ads, at 3.7%. Their
parents – people over 35 – have the next highest at 1.9%, followed by 18 to 24s
at 1.5%. More detailed stats on video ads can be found here.

A recent
study from SheSpeaks finds that the number of US women who have at least one
social networking profile has leapt
by nearly half
to 86% – up from 58% last year. The number logging in at
least once a day is now up to a cracking 72%, from 53% in 2008.

eMarketer says US online ad spend figures will show a 4.6% decrease over
last year – a
sharp revision
of the growth of 4.5% it initially predicted. The good news
is that they reckon that the cycle has bottom out – for online advertising at
least.

ON MOBILE

Smartphones are changing the social landscape, with over
450 million of us
accessing the mobile internet in 2009. IDC’s research also
predicts that this already huge number is set to double to 900 million by the
end of 2013.

And Scandinavian operator TeliaSonera is leading
the way
, by offering the world’s first ‘4G’ mobile broadband to users in
Norway and Sweden. They’ll now benefit from mobile download speeds an
astonishing 10 times faster than the rest of us 3G
slowcoaches.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES

Finally, here’s news that Sony is launching an MMO on
PlayStation Home. The game, called Sodium
One
, is sci-fi themed, and is free-to-play for the first five levels.
Thereafter, additional purchasable items will help you continue to
advance.

That’s all till 2010, folks! !

eModeration’s Social Media Round-up #16

 Welcome to eModeration’s round-up of all that is intriguing,
alarming or odd in the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams
(@emodkate).

In this update: Facebook’s 10-cent fans; Black Friday
brands; and The Twoddler.

Next update: Friday. See you
then!

ON FACEBOOK

At the same time that Mark Zuckerberg announced a
change to Facebook’s privacy
options
last week, he also let slip that that Facebook had tipped
350 million
on the user scale.

Crikey. In August 2008 – that’s a
mere 15 months ago – the ‘Book had 100 million users. That’s some rapid weight
gain, sister (and in fact means that Facebook ranks just behind China and India
in the ‘if-a-social-network-were-a-country’ game that I like to play with my
little darlings on cold winter’s evenings like these).

The ‘Inside
Facebook’ guys looked, well, inside Facebook this week, and in an
all-round-enlightening analysis revealed that content-sharing
has taken a massive leap
, from 1 billion items per week, to 2 billion in
September – and now 3.5 billion per week as of right now. But despite overall
growth, status updates appear to be slowing down – it’s not clear whether or not
this is due to Facebook’s recent redesign, or the cause of it.

The
changeover – which split the feed into ‘News’, a rundown of the ‘most
interesting’ stories of the day, and ‘Live’, which shows what’s going on at the
time the user is logged in – is still inspiring
disgruntlement
. The ‘CHANGE FACEBOOK BACK TO NORMAL!!’ Facebook Group is now
up to 1.2 million members.

They sound like quite a shouty lot, don’t
they? Bagsy not me to tell them that there are more Facebook homepage changes
on the way
. Seems as though search might be the focus in this redesign – Mashable’s
analysis
breaks explains all.

Unsurprisingly, Facebook is not short
of secret admirers – both Yahoo and Myspace have been trying to grab a little
reflected glory this week, with the former announcing major Facebook
integration
, and the latter appearing to head the same way – beginning with
allowing its users to use
Facebook Connect
to log in.

Ah, Synchronicity: hot on the heels of
the news that 77% of Facebook Fan Pages have fewer
than a 100 fans
, comes word from a company called Viralee. It’s the first to
come out of the shadows and publicly announce that it’s selling Facebook Fans
for 10
cents a pop
– and has sold over a million in the last week alone, as brands
rush to boost their stats.

Which will all be as chaff in the wind to this
lot: Yes it’s the cream of the crop, the tip of the top … The Big
Money Facebook 50
lists the brands who are currently getting the best out of
Facebook. The scores are a combo of fan numbers, page growth, fan engagement and
creativity.

Psst! If your brand isn’t quite there yet, you might like to
peruse these handy guides:

Inside Facebook: Top
9 Facebook Page Management Tools

Techipedia: How to Create the Perfect
Facebook Fan Page

and iMediaConnection’s Upcoming Facebook Changes: 7 Things Brands Need To
Know

ON TWITTER

Not a great beginning for the week: Twitter Lists (the
shiny new and much-touted feature for organizing your Twitter feed) were taken
out of action
last week, as Twitter scrambled to work out what, precisely,
was causing the site to crash. As VentureBeat succinctly put it: $155 million in
venture capital later, and the site still goes down?

Then, following the
announcement that Facebook had passed the 350m milestone, a UK Facebook exec pointed
out witheringly
that there are fewer active users on the whole of Twitter
than there are on Facebook app Farmville. Ouch.

Hmm. It’s true there’s no
denying that the
stats are sliding
for the microblogging site – new Nielsen data finds that
Twitter traffic dropped a galumphing 27.8% in October, and comScore reveals that
uniques are down by 8.1%.

But Twitter may not yet be quaking in their
birdy-boots: the figures don’t include those who’ve migrated to mobile-friendly
third party apps: 43% of total users, according
to Crowd Science
.

And of course Twitter can also console itself with
the fact that, according to The Global Language Monitor, it is the most
popular word
in the whole English language – is that even
possible?

Finally – and I’m unsure whether this is a great leap forward
towards a seamless human/tech interface, or an indication of just how close we
are to atomisation, alienation, and despair – allow me to introduce Twoddler, ‘The
Baby Toy That Twitters’
. 


ON GOOGLE

Earlier this week, Google appeared to cave in to News
Corp’s demands
that it stop providing access to paywalled websites. But
Rupert Murdoch appeared to have gone a step too far when he accused them of
content ‘theft’
across the board
. “It’s wrong to paint us as stealing content. We are like a
virtual newsagent,” a mildly-peeved director of Google UK Matt Brittin told a
Commons Select Committee.

ON YOUTUBE

In what sounds suspiciously like one of those nails in
trad TV’s coffin that people are always on about these days, rumours are flying
that YouTube might be about to offer streaming TV shows just one day after they
first air – and for an eminently
affordable $1.99.

Meanwhile, over in the UK, Five has inked a deal to
hand over more than 3,000
hours of programming
to YouTube, who will stream them on-demand and free of
charge. The deal includes Neighbours, Home And Away, The Hotel Inspector and The
Gadget Show – some of Five’s most popular content.

And the video-sharing
site is sharpening its offer to marketers, too – now advertisers can control
where their ads appear
, right down to choosing the individual video (useful
if you know your target audience is also passionate about, say, Susan Boyle
pre-makeover). If that’s a little too specific, keywords, demographics, and
interest-based categories are also available.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL …

The Alternative Queen’s
Speech: children’s charity Barnado’s is to broadcast a ‘Teens’
Speech’
on Christmas Day – exclusively on MySpace (disclosure: moderated by
eModeration). The user-generated stream features young people talking about the
issues which matter to them most. Barnardo’s will also encourage viewers to
lobby their MPs, asking for vulnerable children to be remembered in each party’s
election manifesto.

Goretex, the outdoorsy all-weather
brand
, launched a new online community this week, called
MyExperienceMore.com. The site offers hardy types a forum to communicate with
one another, sharing their outdoor experiences via photos, videos and message
boards.

Youth clothing brand Boy
Meets Girl
has teamed with virtual world Fashion Fantasy Game, offering
members a free, virtual Boy Meets Girl “Coco Hoodie” to wear. The offer
coincides with the mail-out of Bloomingdale’s holiday catalogue, which features
the real-life version for $78.

Last week Fox teamed up with MTV.com and
Facebook to bring a live webcast roundtable discussion of James
Cameron’s Avatar
– featuring the director and stars – with fans submitting
their own questions via the official Avatar Facebook Page.

Britvic’s
spring water brand Drench revealed its hamster
jazz viral
online, before its official TV launch on Saturday. The
hamster-dudes were apparently chosen after a nationwide search.

Sony
Ericsson has launched the next phase of its “Spark Something” space-hopper
campaign
– users ‘inflate’ real-life space hoppers via Twitter, and watch
the event unfold via a live video feed.

Ikea scored dix
points
with their Facebook photos of their new Malmo showroom – fans were
then encouraged to go into the photos and tag products with their own names, for
a chance at winning the item.

Clothing brand Esprit has launched an interactive
installation
in its flagship Regent Street store. A fairy godmother calls to
customers from a mirror, which takes a photograph of the customer and
superimposes it on a mannequin. Customers can then dress themselves in various
virtual outfits and send images to Facebook and to a mobile campaign
site.

Toys R Us whipped up Black
Friday Frenzy
by giving its Facebook fans a full preview of discounts, and
exclusive access to “Mystery Deals” – making it the fastest growing brand on the
social network.

And here’s Mashable’s look at how 5
other brands
approached Black Friday (the traditional kick-off for
holiday-season spending in the States) on Facebook – including Best Buy and
Sears.

ON MOBILE …

London
Mayor Boris Johnson wants mobile companies to come up with platforms to let
Olympic visitors to watch
3D video clips
of the Games on their handsets. The blonde bombshell also
wants micropayments via handsets – handy for paying for snacks and merchandise –
to be ready in time for the Olympics.

SOCIAL
STATS …

Mobile and the internet are now essentials
not extras
, as far as we Brits are concerned. We spend nearly 3 days online
per month, with another 7 hours spent on mobiles, and many of us would struggle
to organise life without them, according to moneysupermarket.com.

Women
like their networks to be truly social – Facebook,
Twitter, MySpace and Bebo have a user base that’s 50%+ female. Whereas men like
to save, organize and collect – networks like Reddit and Digg attract more male
users.

UNDER THE GAVEL

Facebook’s Beacon nightmare grinds to a bitter close:
there’s a settlement
on the table
to the class-action suit, which was brought by users outraged
at misuse of their personal data. But claimants will not be receiving personal
compensation – Facebook will instead use $9.5 million to establish a non-profit
organization to fund online privacy-related projects.

Talking of legal
minefields – here’s a very generous
white paper
from law firm Reed Smith which takes brands through the possible
pitfalls of using social networks – including those that might arise when
running competitions, providing customer services, and making use of
user-generated content.

A British man has been cautioned after he hacked
the login details for users of RuneScape, and then stole
their virtual characters
and goods. The crime is on the rise globally –
according to the Telegraph, a Chinese player of the online game Legends of Mir 3
was killed four years ago, after he sold a dragon sabre which didn’t belong to
him.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES

Moshi Monsters, the free-to-play online pet-monster game
has passed the golden 10 million registered player milestone, owners Mind
Candy announced
last week. CEO Michael Smith is thinking about intriguing
new formats – including a print-on-demand service which would turn kids’
monsters into plush toys or trading cards – which in turn would connect back
into the game.

And if that’s got you thinking, you’ll want to know more
about virtual worlds for Kids, Tweens and Teens. Luckily Kzero have just
produced this illuminating paper which breaks down three good reasons why branded worlds are set to be
major growth areas in 2010.

Taking as their starting point teen virtual
world IMVU’s $2m monthly sales, Kzero have also put some thought into the
subject of virtual goods. With
estimates putting Facebook’s virtual goods earnings at $40m, it’s worth a read.

Facebook, by the way, is currently weighing up how to monetize the vast
rivers of virtual currency sloshing
around third-party apps
. They already have their own official currency –
credits – but developers aren’t required to use them – yet.

50%
of US women
play online games – though they don’t self-identify as gamers –
and 41% of them have bought virtual currency, with most avoiding offers for
points. Keeping it in the family, nearly 60
million of their kids
are gamers – with kids as young as 2 included in the
stats. 12 to 14s rack up the most time online – an average of 10.6 hours weekly
– which drops off between 15 and 17, the point at which stiffer competition for
time and pocket-money kicks in.

FishVille continues its
piscine journey
to the top of the charts, with upwards of 20 million monthly
active users and weekly growth of 4.68 million. It’s now the 8th largest app on
Facebook – snapping at the heels of CrowdStar’s Happy Aquarium, which led the
way in fish-based entertainment.

And flushed with success, Zynga have launched
PetVille
(if a theme ain’t broke…). So just what is it with social gaming?
Here, PaidContent examine the reasons for the genre’s vertical
trajectory
over the last year – and for the relative success of startups
over established developers. They cite three key factors: development,
distribution and discovery.

That’s all
folks!

eModeration’s Social Media Round-up #14

Welcome to
eModeration’s weekly round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in the
world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams
(@emodkate).
This week: President Obama’s thumbs;
Twillionaires; and ‘intextication’.

Next week, eModeration is sending me
on a social-skills course (day one: eating with implements) – so the next
round-up will be on Friday the 4th December. See you then.

THE HEADLINES

President Obama has revealed that his absence from
Twitter is due to a lack of dexterity in the thumb
department
. He was asked by a group of Shanghai students if they should be
able to use Twitter freely – and the thumb quip launched a careful response
about freedom of speech: “I have a lot of critics in the United States who can
say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy
stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions
that I don’t want to hear.”

Stephen Fry this week claimed that Twitter
celebs like himself can now opt out of the ‘pact
with the devil’
which required them to open up their private lives to
journalists, in return for press coverage of their work. Now, he says,
Twillionaires like he and Britney can “reach their circulation just by typing
into my keyboard.” Grave news indeed for Sleb magazines, which are already
clinging on for dear life to the sinking ship of print.

Facebook came in
for widespread and heavy
criticism
this week, for failing to follow Bebo’s lead in including a
‘Report’ button developed by the Child Exploitation and On-line Protection
Centre. CEOP’s boss Jim Gamble urged the social networks to adopt the feature,
which allows young users to log bullying, hate speech and sexually explicit
content, and to contact trained advisers: “there is a responsibility, a duty of
care, to the young and the vulnerable”, he said.

The scam offers scandal
could spiral still further: a team
of Sacramento lawyers
is investigating complaints that unauthorized charges
were made without users’ knowledge – and are considering class actions against
Facebook, MySpace, Zynga, and Offerpal amongst others.

Yes, it’s that
time of the decade already: as we inch painfully towards 2010, the Academy of
Digital Arts and Sciences bestowed Webby
Awards
on the top 10 internet moments of the last 10 years. Amongst the
chosen: Facebook, Twitter, and the iPhone, along with the birth of Wikipedia and
the Iranian elections.

Channel 4’s landmark deal with YouTube went live
this week, unleashing around 5000 videos – 80% of which are full
lengths shows
– upon a grateful nation. Peep Show and Gordon Ramsay’s F Word
are among the goodies, which Channel 4 is hoping will lure in fresh
advertisers.

The Digital
Economy Bill
was amongst those trailed in The Queen’s Speech yesterday. The
bill proposes that those caught in the illegal-download act would first be sent
warning letters – but would lose their connections if they continued to break
the law. No mention, though, of the hotly-disputed Broadband Tax, which now
looks likely to be slotted into the Finance Bill, due in
2010.

THE LOWDOWN

Every now and again comes a piece of news to which the
only response is a brief contemplation of the expression “it takes all sorts to
make a world”, and here is just such a one: a French company has developed a set of bathroom scales
which will tweet your weight to your followers.

Teens are risking their
own lives, as well as others’, by texting
while driving
- and worse, the figures seem to show that they’re learning
from their parents. A new report claims that people are well aware of the
dangers of texting on the road – but their desire to stay connected to their
networks is stronger than their desire to stay connected to the
tarmac.

Which leads us neatly to the American Oxford Dictionary’s Word
of the Year
shortlist, which, in an example of terrifying cultural
serendipity, this year contains the word ‘intexticated’: the condition of being
distracted by texting while driving. Sadly it was pipped at the post by
‘unfriend’ – possibly more useful but not quite as clever.

UK Twitterers
are confirmed
lefties
– the Citizen Smiths of the Interweb. The news comes from a joint
poll by Prospect Magazine and YouGov, which found that the average Twitter user
is under-35 and London-based – and somewhat to the left of the Labour
Party.

Trying to sell your house? Facing a wall of indifference, despite
your original features and your central location? Could be that potential
vendors are put off by your slow
broadband connection
. ISPreview.co.uk’s survey reveals that 75% of people
won’t buy a house – even an adorable one – if the best broadband ISP speed it
could achieve was just 1Mbps.

IN OTHER NEWS

Yelps of excitement here, as Bing is launched
in the UK
– with enhanced visual search, Twitter integration and an “instant
answers” service for real-time news on football scores and suchlike. But should
Google be perspiring slightly and watching its back – or has it nothing to fear
from the young pretender? iCrossing reveals the Five
Things You Need To Know
about Bing.

Bebo, whose web TV slate includes
KateModern, Sofia’s Diary, and The Gap Year, has nixed
all new commissions
, following parent company AOL’s announcement that it
would slash 100 jobs globally.

Despite Rupert Murdoch’s admission last
week that his paywall plans were likely to be delayed, it’s been announced that
Times Online will start charging
for content
in the spring. James Harding, editor of The Times, said the site
would offer 24-hour passes, as well as subscriptions.

The European
Interactive Advertising Association – which includes stalwarts like AOL, the
BBC, and Condé Nast amongst its members – predicts that online advertising will
laugh
in the face
of the recession next year, with a projected 7.6% year-on-year
rise in Europe, and a further 15% increase predicted for 2011.

And if
further proof were needed that it is customers who are now directing the brand
message
, 360i reports that 77% of social media search results are generated
by individuals with no affiliation to the brand.

ON FACEBOOK …

It’s good news for Facebook
this week: it towers
above
the nearest competition in the British social network league, netting
half of all visits in UK last month. Twitter languishes a distant fourth, with a
contextually-microscopic 1.9% of UK visitors.

But wait! Whispers
of coming gloom
can be heard, as research by WPP Group’s Mindshare suggests
that the crucial older teen and twentysomething demographic might be drumming
its fingers and looking round for something new.

Sony is catching up with
rivals Microsoft, which recently hooked Facebook and Twitter to their Xbox 360.
New software for the PlayStation means that gamers can now link their PS3s to
their Facebook accounts to share
game-play updates
with friends.

ON
TWITTER …

Despite the recent slowdown in Twitter’s growth,
it can still produce stats that make
us gasp
: according to Pingdom the average number of Tweets per hour is 1.1
million; the daily figure is 27.3 million; and at this rate, we’re looking at 10
billion tweets a year.

The typical Twitter user is male, and in his late
twenties/early thirties – and wants brands to listen
and respond
to his questions, finds new research from InSites. News which
sits uneasily against this
other study
, which finds, amongst other interesting tidbits, that 76% of
brands on Twitter are infrequent users – and only 9% use it as a
customer-service channel.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL

Marmite has formed a secret society – the Marmarati – to
develop an extra-strong version of the loveit/hateit yeast-based spread. Members
were chosen
because they expressed their love for the Unilever-owned brand
on social networking sites, and fans will be able to win a sneak-pretaste of the
new spread by uploading marmite-centric content.

Mydeco.com, which sells
homewares and furniture, has inked a deal with Sony’s PlayStation Home to sell
iconic pieces of virtual
furniture
– for example, the famous Marilyn ‘Lips’ sofa – on the
community-based network.

Maclaren, who produce children’s buggies,
recently offered a voluntary product-recall on one million of its pushchairs,
amid reports that children had lost fingers in their folding mechanisms. But it
found itself at the wrong end of a sharp
social-media stick
when UK customers discovered that only US customers were
included – and this week it was force to roll out the offer
worldwide.

For this year’s Los Angeles Design Challenge, Audi has tapped
its Facebook community of famously partisan fans to help design a fantasy Youthmobile for
release in the year 2030 – you can see some of the designs here.
http://www.facebook.com/audi

ON GOOGLE

The tech world was agog this week, as rumours
swirled
that Google’s eagerly-awaited new Chrome operating system might be
available for download as soon as next week, with Search Engine Journal
suggesting that the traction being gained by Windows 7 might be motivating a
hasty launch.

Eek. Californian developer Frank McCabe created a
programming language in 2004, and named
it Go.
He published a research paper about it in 2004. And a book in 2007.
All the more surprising, then, that Google has just called IT”s new language by
the same name. McCabe says he doesn’t have a trademark and can’t afford a
lawsuit, but is determined not to let the search giant steamroller his prior
claim.

Meanwhile, the Swiss data protection organization says its
complaints to Google about breaches of privacy in Street View have fallen
on deaf ears
. It alleges that the company has refused to fix insufficiently
blurred faces and numberplates, which could lead to individuals being identified
in ‘sensitive’ locations – outside hospitals, prisons and schools.

Google
means business with its latest policy on scam
and malware
advertisers who use Adwords – it’s imposing a blanket policy of
‘guilty till proven innocent’ on all suspect ads, and a lifetime ban on
confirmed scammers.

Social Search, Google’s snazzy new feature which
allows users to combine search with social data, has gone down – and according
to a baffled
Mashable
, will remain down till early next week. What, Mashable wonders,
could have happened to Social Search that could possibly take that long to
fix?

ON YOUTUBE

YouTube has launched a dedicated channel called YouTube
Direct, specifically for citizen journalists to bring their work to a larger
audience. The tool allows media companies to connect
directly with user-reporters
, and request and rebroadcast news
clips.

The video-sharing site is also testing a new approach to making
online ads relevant – allowing users to skip
the ones
that bore them – with the idea that they will then engage more
deeply with the ones that they do in fact watch.

ON MOBILE …

T-Mobile faces consumer wrath
again this week after it emerged that one of their workers had been selling
customers’ details
to a rival company – a major breach of data protection
regulation.

In the first mobile-Twitter deal, Orange have snagged an
agreement with Twitter to let users upload
photos by text
, via Snapshot – a custom picture platform developed by
Orange.

73% of marketing execs think mobile is the UK’s ‘most
likely to expand
’ medium, says the IAB, whose survey canvassed the opinions
of 100 senior agency reps.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES

Hi-yah! Kung
Fu Panda World
– in development for the last 2 years and targeted at kids of
8-12 – is to be launched in early 2010. The world will feature high levels of
parental control, and will offer both long-term and one-day
subscriptions.

Despite a spot of bother with its in-game ads – which some
have suggested are rather dastardly – social games company Zynga’s investors are
clearly chomping at the bit. The upwardly-mobile games enterprise, whose biggest
success is the Facebook mega-game Farmville – has just received a massive
injection of cash
: $15.1 million to be precise, bringing its total haul to
over $54 million.

Quick work: Gravity Bear, who declared as a social
games developer less than four weeks ago, has already unveiled Battle
Punks
, a Facebook app which it bills as a ‘3D social game. It’s due to
launch in open beta before 2010.

Subscription revenues for Disney’s Club
Penguin were up a cozy 4% last quarter, contributing to a overall increase
in revenue
for the company – despite an icy economy.


That’s all
folks!

eModeration’s Social Round-up #13

Welcome to eModeration’s twice-weekly round-up of all that is intriguing, alarming or odd in the world of social media, compiled by Kate Williams (@emodkate).

This week: News Corp and Google; Twitter’s wailing grumps; Britney’s encounter with the Dark Side; and why Stephen Fry is like a giant St Bernard.

Check back soon!

THE HEADLINES …

Rupert Murdoch plans to hide his content away so Google can’t see it. He told Sky News that he’ll prevent the search giant from indexing News Corp sites, to ensure that users pay up to view his news.

Many commentators pointed out inconsistencies in Murdoch’s interview, not least the vexed question of how readers would find the content if not through search engines – at least 25% of traffic comes via Google alone. All in all, the news was taken as the paid-content equivalent of Custer’s Last Stand.

But hold on, paid-content naysayers – is that the cavalry I hear? A new poll finds that ¾ of us would consider paying a 10p micropayment per article – with Jeremy Clarkson, Charlie Brooker and the redoubtable Richard Littlejohn being most likely to tempt us to splash the cash. So perhaps there’s life in the old paywall yet.

COI boss Mark Lund says that digital is the key to solving Britain’s social ills, by increasing trust and brokering a new relationship between citizen and government. “Digital is at the heart of behaviour change and to make the revolution we need.”

The social gaming ads controversy continued, with Facebook banning Zynga’s FishVille before it had barely had a chance to wiggle a gill, blaming ‘deceptive ads’ for the red card. Now Zynga has decided to nix all cost-per-action ads till further notice.

Parents are obsessed about the perils which face children outside the home – but are far less clued up when it comes to the dangers of the internet, according to Prof Tanya Byron, who investigated the possible dangers posed to children by videogames and websites for the government. “An integral part of development is risk taking. Children are taking risks online because we live in a risk-averse culture.”

Toyota is in a little hot water – having purloined some UGC photos for a crowd-sourced ad campaign, without asking the photographer his work first. The image, along with some others which the car company aggregated from Flickr, has now been removed – Digital Marketing offer advice for brands eager to avoid a crowd-sourcing headache here.

THE LOWDOWN …

A Stephen Fry recommendation is the digital equivalent of an enormous St Bernard jumping up to lick your face. Flattering, but leaves you floundering on the floor, scrabbling for your glasses and a tissue. Fry, who also revealed that he now considers himself to be a ‘content provider’, says that he has to warn websites that he’s going to recommend them, or they crash within seconds.

From the sublime (Mr Fry), to the ridiculous. Poor Britney Spears has had her Twitter updates hacked, and, for a while there, was posting as a Lucifer-lovin’ Satanist who longs for the new world order. Which isn’t true, of course – unless pop music really is the work of the devil, as my old headmistress was fond of saying.

The Telegraph raised an eyebrow at the £3175 per year which the taxpayer coughs up for Lord Mandelson’s three Twitter accounts. Between them, @bisgovuk, @digitalbritain, and @BIS_Science have 9,894 followers. About 30p a follower on my calculations – cheap at half the price.

Hurrah – a story which contains Facebook, the Law, and a Young Person – and yet doesn’t end in a jail term. A judge has accepted that the Facebook update which 19-year-old Rodney Bradford posted at 11:49a.m. on October 17 gave him an alibi for the mugging charge he faced.


The first of the Twitcoms
? The Twitter account of Justin Halpern, who passes on the world-weary, no-bull pronouncements of his 73-year-old dad (Example: “You look just like Stephen Hawking…Relax, I meant like a non-paralyzed version of him.”) has been snapped up by CBS, who will turn it into a comedy series [Advisory: red-blooded language].

IN OTHER NEWS …

Bing UK is not yet up to scratch, according to sources close to Microsoft. The site has been in beta for four months, but isn’t yet fully relevant to us Brits, who are quickly turning back to Google. Microsoft is now hiring natives to create UK-centric search categories.

But it’s not all bad news for Microsoft – seems Microsoft sites harness 15 percent of worldwide online time – swiftly followed by Google and Yahoo, with Facebook bringing up the rear.

Enterprises are grasping Twitter to their bosom – business use is up a tweet-tastic 250%, from just six months ago. Facebook is also benefitting, with workplace use ballooning by 192%, despite the 20% of companies who block social sites.

The IAB has said that online media companies need to significantly raise their game if they want brands to really get behind internet advertising – at the moment, ad formats and creative simply aren’t making the grade, according to AdAge.

Hmm. We seem to be rather conflicted at the moment when it comes to research. Lightspeed says that ‘only’ 33% of consumers trust social nets to help them make purchasing decisions, compared with 68% who trust search, product reviews and comparison sites.

While Performics is pleased to find that (a separately-surveyed) third of us think social media is a good place to find out more about brands – and touts the fact that 25% have clicked directly to an online retailer or e-commerce merchant as evidence that, contrary to conventional wisdom, hard marketing may not be a social media no-no.

LinkedIn and Twitter have partnered up – their users can now publish Tweets on LinkedIn, and vice versa. In a simile which really only works if you are a fan of high-calorie nut-based confectionary, Biz Stone said the deal was “like bringing peanut butter and chocolate together to make the perfect combination.”

ON FACEBOOK …

A quiet few days at Facebook Towers – though brands will be quietly pleased about the launch of ‘Friends of Connections’, which will allow them to personalize ads to target the friends of their fans.

The ‘Book also launched a new set of guidelines for brand promotions, which contained a few significant changes concerning where promotions and competitions can live. Brands pondering their next Facebook foray could consult Fresh Influence’s ‘Five Things You Should Know‘ – a handy breakdown for brands to flick through.

ON TWITTER …

Facebook must have been sniggering into their hands this week, as Twitter faced the same wails of disgruntlement that have been plaguing Facebook recently. The complaints concern the rollout of Twitter’s new Retweet feature, which makes it impossible for Retweeters to edit or add comments. Hubspot’s Dan Zarella warned that these will “completely eviscerate most of the value out of Retweets” – but Ev Williams insisted that the feature was here to stay, and was deliberately designed to be super-simple so that tweets can be clearly attributed and traced.

The horizontality of Twitter’s stats is causing some comment in the Socialsphere, with mashable’s Stan Schroeder pointing out the oddness of Twitter’s grinding halt, given its till-now explosive growth, and the media’s current obsession with its cultural importance. But, he expands, none of this will matter in the long run – Twitter is becoming ‘part of the net’s infrastructure. It doesn’t have to be popular, it merely needs to be there.’

ON GOOGLE …

Google’s world domination plans are going swimmingly – it now intends to pimp the web, having been working quietly on a replacement for the HTTP protocol, which will make the internet infinitely faster.

Time for some Caffeine then. Google announced the launch of their latest incarnation, telling the waiting world portentously that “we believe Caffeine is ready for a wider audience. Soon, we will activate Caffeine more widely, beginning with one data centre’. Rather brings to mind Donald Pleasance, stroking a white Persian and pressing big buttons, no?

The search giant also launched a big upgrade to Latitude, adding location history and location-based alerts. The latter will let you know, via email or sms, when you’re near friends and connections. And took another step towards social with the introduction of a Twitteresque ‘Following’ feature to Google Wave. The follows can be temporarily removed from your inbox at the click of a button, to avoid social exhaustion.

BRANDS GET SOCIAL …

Alfa Romeo is using Twitter to promote its MiTo model to a youthful, more urban audience. Users are challenged to spot one of 1300 MiTo-shaped stencils around major UK cities, and post a photo of it with the hashtag #MiToStencil when they do.

Burberry has used Facebook to launch a new site – called Artofthetrench.com – which encourages fans to submit images and comments on the brand’s iconic outerwear.

Tesco is bringing x-factor-style thrills to the nation with the launch of ‘performance pods’ outside some stores, where users can record an audition video to be entered into a competition run by talent search site 1Click2Frame.

Nikon is leveraging Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter presence to launch its Nikon Film Festival, a UGC contest which offers $100,000 for the best video. The festival, whose theme is ‘a day through your lens’, kicks off with Ashton’s own entry, in which he records a day he spent in Africa with wife Demi.

ASOS has relaunched its fashion-forward community, having consulted members on how to improve its features. Users will now get RSS feeds, emails to notify them when fellow members reply to their posts, and a spanky new look.

Disney follows other Hollywood studios in using Facebook and Twitter to drip-feed advance promotion for upcoming films, this week releasing two new posters for Tim Burton’s March-slated 3-D extravaganza Alice In Wonderland’.


UNDER THE GAVEL …

The government has had to climb down from its April announcement of a new law to prevent more than 30,000 registered sex offenders from accessing social sites like Facebook, after it was ruled likely to restrict the right to privacy. The Home Office is seeking leave to appeal the Court of Appeal ruling.

Privacy campaigners are still determined to pursue Blockbuster for its participation in Facebook’s Beacon programme – they’re urging the court to reject an argument from the video chain that its ToS requires mandatory arbitration in any class action.

SOCIAL STATS …

Almost 65% of consumers surveyed by Razorfish made first bought a brand because of a digital experience – via website, microsite, mobile coupon or email.

And there’ll be tumbleweed blowin’ down Oxford Street this December, if these figures are anything to go by: a new study finds that 93% of us plan to buy our gifts online this year, with a quarter buying more online than last year. What’s more, 17% of us are looking to social sites like Facebook for gift-buying, with 60% of that number looking for offers and discounts, and another 52% checking the wish-lists of friends and family.

A full 23% of the women surveyed by Q Interactive and Social Media World Forum visit social games like Farmville and Causes several times a day – and more than half have used virtual currency. Plus, they’re not averse to watching ads to get it – many more details here on MediaPost.

Looks like the younger women are, the more brand-social they are. Gen Y women make double the mentions of brands and products of their Gen X compadres, and are significantly more influenced by blogs, according to a study by PopSugar and Radar Research.

ON MOBILE …

Last week Verizon sold an astonishing 100,000 Droids in a week. This week, Apple effortlessly trumps them with a jaw-dropping 30,000 iPhones sold by Orange in 1 day. Remember folks, that’s 30,000 of a smartphone which has already been freely available for a full 2 years.

News which neatly supports Nielsen’s prediction that the majority of mobiles will be smartphones by 2011 – just a couple of years away.

VIRTUAL AND GAMES …

Massive and comScore have worked out a way to get detailed insight into how in-game ads work for gamers, building a picture of engagement for the first time.

Games developer Playfish has been caught by Electronic Arts, for a reported $400m. The purchase means that EA is now Facebook-forward, as well as leading the way in console, PC and mobile gaming.

Microsoft is pulling the plug on up to 1 million Xbox Live players who have illicitly modified their consoles to play pirated or other-region games.Twitter and Facebook Come to Xbox Live November 17 SAVE The rest of the ToS-obeying Xbox Live community will be enjoying a Twitter and Facebook dashboard from November 17th.

Habbo-creator Sulake have announced the launch of Bobba Bar, a series of virtual social venues for mobile users. Over-17s can make friends with and date other guests via an avatar which can be customized to a total of 1 billion combinations.

THINKING …

If you’ve got any downtime over the next days, the following might get your brain-cells whizzing:

iMedia Connection looks further into ad networks and online reputation-protection for brands – and finds it not as straightforward as you’d think.

In case the worst-case scenario should arise, here are some steps to take in order to make your company’s crisis-plan ‘social-media compliant’.

Finally, if you are suffering from social media shellshock, you will appreciate this guide to reducing the noise, whilst remaining connected.


 

That’s all folks!

Interaction in Advertising – New White Paper from eModeration

 We’ve just published our latest white paper, Interaction in Advertising,
which is summarised below. The paper examines how advertising is
evolving from a one-way communicative process (the advertiser telling
the consumer what they should be thinking), to a more collaborative,
engaging format where brand and consumer communicate with an open
dialogue.

The paper discusses examples of campaigns that are
putting interaction in advertising into practice and highlights the
risks and benefits of the developing trend.

Included in the paper:

From ‘interactive’ to ‘interaction’

- Brands
are switching from paid display advertising to promoting themselves
through branded online communities, virtual worlds/games and social
media
- Advertising campaigns are evolving into an interaction
between brand and consumer, rather than the traditional one-sided
communication.

Opening the dialogue

- Engagement
is all about basic human behaviour. People don’t want to be talked at.
They want to interact, share opinions, be heard.- Advertisers
are naturally gravitating to where their audience can be found, in
communities and social networks. But the way that they engage has to
change. It’s not enough to buy buttons on Facebook: research by Uvizz
has shown how poorly people respond to this. They don’t want to
interact with advertisers on social networks, but with friends.

 
Engaging, not interrupting
 
- Online
display advertising can be viewed as an ‘interruption method’ –
stopping the user from doing something that s/he wants to do.
- Brands
are starting to move towards engagement to deliver their messages:
asking users to get involved in activity that they can enjoy, whilst at
the same time helping to get the word out about the brand, and
contributing to the campaign.
 
- Brands need a launch plan which will create a base of fans/early adopters as the basis of their community.
- To create interaction within the community a brand has to participate, listen to feedback and adapt to it if necessary.
- Brands need to consider what will happen with the community they have helped to create, once their campaign is over.
 
Who’s doing it, and how?

Five ways to engage consumers in ad campaigns:

  1. Engage with people individually.
    By showing the individual what the company can do for them, the brand
    is taking the ‘background noise’ out of the campaign and highlighting
    its relevancy. Making people more likely to listen and participate.
    Such as the campaign by Vitaminwater, where passersby were addressed directly from giant screens “Hey you in the pink top yeah you taking my photo, say cheeese!”
  2. Provide incentives for participation
    (for example the extremely successful campaign by fast food brand Chick
    Fil-A, which offered the first 250,00o participants a free chicken
    sandwich in reward for uploading photos of their faces – which then
    take part in a grandstand ‘chicken wave’.)
  3. Involve the consumer in the creative process by asking them to hep you create an ad or develop a product – such Tourism Queensland’s “Best Job in the World” campaign.
  4. Create a community that is the campaign. Pet owners came together to form the Cesar’s ‘I promise’ community.
  5. Develop a community around an existing campaign.
    Brands that have developed an entertaining traditional television
    advert are starting to capitalise on the popularity of their creation
    by bringing its fans together with the creation of online communities –
    here, we need look no further than comparethemeerkat.com.
Brand reputation
 
- By
opening up the brand and the campaign to input from the audience,
brands are effectively handing over control of content and messages to
users.
- This is correctly seen as a risky strategy. But the
rewards are huge, and the risks largely mitigated by effective
moderation and response.
- If brands are going to create online
communities, they have a duty of care to the participants to protect
them from harmful or malicious content by means of moderation.
 

Moderated, not censored

 
- Whilst
interactive advertising does give brands insight into what the consumer
really thinks about their product, the brand needs to respond to the
feedback, and do so in the right way. Brands should not try to
manipulate responses.
 
How should you approach interaction with consumers through advertising?

Advertisers should consider:

 

- What they are trying to achieve
- Who they are targeting
- How they will encourage people to participate
- If they have the right level/kind of incentives
- What success looks like to them
- Whether they are able to respond quickly
- If they are willing to listen to both positive and negative feedback
- Their approach to the moderation of user-generated content

In Summary

Advertising
is a no longer about the brand trying to make the consumer hear their
message; it’s about engaging the consumer in debate, finding out their
opinions and responding to them.
Whilst this is something that some
brands may find difficult, feeling it leaves their brand vulnerable to
attack, the rewards in the form of engagement and loyalty can be huge.
Engaging consumers has a positive financial impact. according to the Engagementdb Report, which states:

“…
this landmark study has found that the most valuable brands in the
world are experiencing a direct correlation between top financial
performance and deep social media engagement. The relationship is
apparent and significant: socially engaged companies are in fact more
financially successful.”

The Interaction in Advertising
white paper can be downloaded for free from the eModeration website. Do
leave comments below to let us know what you think of it.

It’s time to forget behavioural targeting of ads

Behavioural targeting has been heralded as the light at the end of the tunnel for the likes of Facebook and YouTube who still need to prove their commercial viability.
 
But as that promise unravels, it provides a timely reminder that the principles of off-line marketing do not necessarily apply online. The new world of social media dictates a completely different approach – people use to the power of community to rebel against  sneaky advertising and overt sales messages – so it might be time to forget behavioural targeting and move on.
 
Behavioural targeting offers a system to reach web users according to who they are and what they’re looking for. If advertisers could target consumers based on content and demographics, it was assumed that click rates and engagement should suddenly soar. Website owners could charge a premium. The accountants can sit back down.
 
But, as Facebook, Google, Phorm and others have been pouring money in to behavioural targeting there has been a growing concern amongst many sections of both government, NGOs and industry groups about how these systems work.
 
This has been brought to a head recently in the UK by Phorm’s secret trial with BT.

Phorm is a system which runs within an ISP’s networks and monitors every user’s behaviour. Based on these browsing habits, it alters what ads users receive.
 
There are major issues with this. Firstly, the trial itself was connected in secret and BT users who were ‘guinea-pigging’ the system without being informed at any point that they were being monitored. This is certainly illegal, at least according to the European Union, which is currently looking at taking legal action against the UK government, possibly Phorm and BT too.
 
Any trial run under these circumstances should start ringing alarm bells. Amazon, amongst others, has asked to be permanently removed from the Phorm system and it is widely expected other major online advertisers will start to follow suit.
 
There is however a bigger problem, especially from an EU perspective. European law on data privacy is amongst the most stringent in the world and all members have to have laws that match the EU directives.
 
If not already killed off by the Phorm trial, the 2002 European Privacy Acts will almost certainly be the end of behavioural targeting before it starts.
 
Unlike traditional forms of media, the web is an active experience, where a user actively chooses where to go and what to read or watch. In this environment ads are more naturally seen as an annoyance getting in the way.

Things have gone so far that browser Firefox has an ad blocker available as a free download which removes all adverts across every website.
 
Even adopting the opt-in route used in email marketing is not going to work in the long run.

Why, as a web user, would anyone choose to give advertisers all of their details for nothing?

And why would I choose to have my browsing experience interrupted by advertising at all?

I can already get all the content I want from millions of sources at zero cost.

Ultimately, passive, lazy advertising does not work in the social media space – indeed, it can do more harm than good and no amount of behavioural targeting will make the difference in a world that is shaped and reshaped by the consumer on an almost daily basis.

If advertisers want to engage with online audiences then they need to get creative. Far from being a no-go zone, social spaces offer the lure of huge traffic and plenty of opportunity to get involved, but brands need to regard them not as traditional websites. The people who inhabit them regard these spaces as places to express themselves and connect with people.

If brands want to join in with the engagement then they must be sympathetic to the nature of social spaces. Any activity must be able to provide a benefit to the community, not simply attempt to sell them something.

Successful social media strategies add value, presenting brands as facilitators, enhancing the experience for the end user. Rather than jump onto someone else’s network, more and more brands are choosing to create their own community spaces – and some are even being brave enough to take their logos off!