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The RAAKonteur #53 – Will the Filter Bubble pop, London's burning & Facebook Messenger

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15 August 2011

London's burning

What a week in the land of the RAAKonteurs. And a week that shone a light on the best and the worst of social media. With Prime Minister David Cameron intimating in parliament that they will look into stopping the ability to communicate via social media during riots, the finger has mostly been pointed at BBM – Blackberry's Private Messaging service. Techcrunch has a great in-depth post on the role it played. 

Although Twitter's web traffic increased more than any other service, there is scant evidence of the Riots being organised on Twitter. However, there is quite a lot of evidence on Twitter of Blackberry's reputation taking a beating.

Besides all that, there are also the uplifting stories like #Riotcleanup, an initiative organised on Twitter to clean up and help businesses, in which we took part. And there are these initiatives to help a mugged Malaysian student, a Sri-Lankan shop keeper and a 89 year old barber.

As Zeynep Tufekci pointed out:  if Cameron believes that most people are anti-riots, then social media is his ally.

Facebook Messenger

Talking about messaging services: 6 months after they acquired Beluga, Facebook this week released a standalone messaging app for iPhone and Android.

Important because they'll be actively taking on Blackberry Messaging with a non-phone specific app. And two: because it's the first time Facebook are creating a standalone app for one of its services.


Will the Filter Bubble pop?

We've told you before that Facebook only shows a fraction of content to users in their newsfeed based on their EdgeRank Algorithm. This is of course very different from Twitter, which shows you every single Tweet.

Now, apparently under pressure from brands, unhappy with the low exposure they get via 'Likes', Facebook is rethinking their feed. And one such avenue would be to show users everything. This is handy because it will also solve the problem of Facebook lagging behind Twitter when it comes to real-time information.

One problem such a change might accentuate is that many users do not know that a 'Like' button is actually also a 'Follow' button. At present this is not a problem, because EdgeRank make a brand's content often disappear if you don't interact with it much. But will you still 'Like' a toothpaste if they constantly end up in your Newsfeed?

John Batelle on the other hand is arguing almost the exact opposite: that for Twitter to succeed they need to filter out noise and increase the signal. But if Twitter does start filtering the feed, it will lose some of its real-time responsiveness. Would Keith Urbahn's Osama Tweet have zapped around the world as fast? Unlikely.

Instead we'd argue that Batelle is using Twitter wrong: you have to curate your curators carefully, John. And services like Summify do a great job of presenting a signal after the facts.

Your news is similar to mine

And here's another important story about what Facebook decides to show you in your newsfeed. Facebook is experimenting with a new story format called Posted About. It groups together updates in your newsfeed based on the topic or Page they cover, thus defining trends amongst people/pages you follow.

It uses Natural Language Processing, so surely there'll be some mistakes. And even though there's potential there for brands to create relevant content, the question is: will people feel this automated filtered curation makes their Facebook experience better or worse?

Check into that MasterCard seat

We're still waiting to see a huge take-off in location check-ins, so it's interesting to see MasterCard experimenting with the format. As part of their overall campaign to offer customers unique experiences, their agency R/GA have put 20 seats from the old, destroyed Yankees stadium around New York City and made them available as Facebook Places. When people check-in (via a QR code), they enter a competition to win some VIP baseball tickets.


No No – there's no limit?

This Monday, as our city was hit by the awful London Riots, we made an unexpected discovery: Twitter limits the amount you can Tweet.

What's important in the marketers' tool box?

Focus released an interesting piece of research this week, identifying marketers' priorities & challenges. It was based on a limited amount of questionnaires, but there's a still a few key things to take-away:

  • Email is still the best performing channel. With Online Content & Social Media number 2 and 3.
  • 59% of companies have Social Media as number 1 investment priority.
  • 50% of companies are investing in Social Media monitoring technology.


Twitter Storm

That last statistic is part of a broader trend where everyone is gagging for smart, reliable data. Last week we talked about Pagelever as a new Facebook analytics tool. This week Twitter announced it is open-sourcing a new analytics software called Storm, based on BackType, which they acquired last month.

Creative Of The Week – Anatole de la Bastie

With a name like that you can't be an accountant; you have to do something creative. Under the moniker Anatroy he's created a series of witty posters called Twistory, where each poster features a fictitious Tweet, as if it was written all those years ago. From Jeanne D'Arc to Leonardo da Vinci to Neil Armstrong.


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