A more social web

Wondering what to buy your friends for Xmas? Wonder no more. Simply zip over to this Etsy page and see what they recommend you buy for your friends, based on their Facebook profiles. Besides being way cool, why is this significant? This week a study showed that more than 50% of web surfers arrive at websites, signed in to Facebook, but very few use the wealth of information that comes with this kind of web visitor like Etsy does. In related news Spotify's paid customers base are up by 500,000 since September, partly due to closer Facebook integration.

Oink is pigging out on users

Three weeks ago, Kevin Rose, the father of Digg, launched an app that allows people to tag objects that they like by location. This works well for products in stores, and especially took off in a big way for dishes in restaurants. In the three weeks since, the Oink iPhone app has amassed more than 100,000 downloads, and more than 100,000 objects have been tagged! So many services and apps launch every week, but few make it. Might this one be one of the few successes, like Instagram?

Google+ is starting to add up?

Much has been said about Google+ lately, a lot of it quite negative, especially after they launched brand pages. Things are starting to take shape, however. Apparently 61% of the world's top brands already have Google+ pages. This week, Klout announced their Google+ support. So, does this mean all the negative criticism is unfounded? That still remains to be seen, but maybe the ReadWriteWeb is right when they claim that Google+ was never meant to be a Facebook competitor? They do however succeed in capturing the social graph data they need.

Facebook introducing ads to the News Ticker

Love it or hate it (which probably depends on whether you're a brand or an individual), Facebook has confirmed that they are planning to push ads in the News Ticker soon. Can they manage to do that in an unobtrusive way like Twitter has done with Promoted Tweets?

Crossing the freaky line – when sharing is too easy

Is Facebook's new frictionless sharing ruining sharing? As is often the case, Robert Scoble this week managed to articulate both the potential and problems with Facebook's new feature, which turns things like listening to a Spotify song into a feed of content into your friends' news feeds. Some already say this will impact what songs we listen to and the argument is made that curation is best done explicitly. This post is good food for thought for the weekend.

Earn your keep

We don't like to navel gaze but the identity crisis in marketing is now impossible to ignore. Now that content marketing is all the rage, apparently every agency needs an earned media director says Ad Age. At media agencies, EMDs help clients better understand which social platforms will produce the most sharing for which campaigns, and how to strategically use paid media to increase the reach of earned media campaigns. At creative agencies, EMDs help direct the full creative process from concept to execution, ensuring that campaigns incorporate the right social triggers and content to generate maximum earned media.

Putting the public relations back into PR?

Talking about identity crisis: in the US the PR industries main body is looking to solicit opinion on "a modern definition for a new era in public relations", and they aim to do this via crowdsourcing. Cynics say PR stands for Press Release but attempts at a new definition in 2003 and 2007 only managed to come up with "Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other." The New York Times points out the quest was precipitated by a series of mishaps by the industry and the rise of new terms, like earned media, word of mouth marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and more.

Creative of the Week – Fol Chen

If you're a band, why bring out a static album if you can release the source and get it remixed by your fans? Actually, why get it remixed, if you can build a machine that lets your fans manipulate your music in real time? That's exactly what Fol Chen, an art pop band from LA, did. Together with weird instrument designers Metronome, they developed a wooden, pyramid-style sound toy called Tetrafol, which lets fans mess with some Fol Chen pieces through motion and speed. Hand-made, open-source and limited edition. What more does one want for Christmas?

Twitter has been promoted to "serious business"

A year ago everybody and his dog was musing on how Twitter was directionless, and wondering how on earth it was going to make money. Uhm, not us. Promoted Tweets is a rather obvious way. And now it seems the first results are in and it’s a huge success. Silicon Alley Insider is running articles on how Twitter is building a "huge business". And the web is awash with stories of how Promoted Trends have exceeded expectations. Twitter will keep on growing, it will be able to target far more on interests and in a timely way than Facebook.

iPad is King (of conversion)

In data taken from 81.9 million visits, and 1.57 million online sales, the iPad appears to have double the conversion rate of desktop, and almost double that of other mobile devices. Over and above this fact, it also has the highest average order value at £69.94, compared to £65 on desktop, with all mobiles below the £50 mark. And with sales of these devices rising, retailers will soon overlook iPad at their own peril.
ipad conversions

Setting up shop is the new Farmville

It's a fast changing playing field. Yesterday it was Farmville, but which apps are raking in the highest numbers of installs on Facebook today? It seems the top spot has shifted to Facebook Page creation tools. By quite a margin. So, it seems all of a sudden, building pages is the new Farmville. An indication perhaps that Facebook is becoming more grown up and that businesses and organisations are intent on setting up real world shops, instead of just playing business.

I'm a network therefor I am

tea party
The New Scientist reports on an interesting mapping of the Occupy Wall street versus the Tea Party Tweets and how they differ:

Those tweeting about the Tea Party emerge as a tight-knit "in crowd", following one another's tweets. By contrast, the network of people tweeting about Occupy consists of a looser series of clusters, in which the output of a few key people is being vigorously retweeted.

Does this difference elude to some fundamentals about nature of the social structures of the two movements and how they communicate? We think so.
Occupy Diverse

Payment war goes global and social

Facebook credits and the Google Wallet are both looming on the horizon. But an old player played a significant card this week. Visa launched its Paypal competitor, V.me – allowing users to make online Payments using a username and password. Not to be outdone, Paypal launched a new Facebook app that allows you to send money to friends.

Tumblr: the 38,000-posts-per-minute platform

Yeah, you've read right. Tumblr is currently clocking 38,000 posts per minute. That's one post for every 5 Tweets sent! Not only that, 58% of its users visit at least once a month. That is quite an impressive engagement! Mashable correctly notes that Tumblr is now bigger than WordPress.com – however, if you take self-hosted WordPress sites into account, Tumblr still has some way to go before it catches up.

Is I Like actually I Want?

A new global survey shows that for most brands the top reason for following or liking a brand, company or celebrity is to receive discounts and special offers. Def Leppard was right … love bites.

Foursquare Desktop finds a purpose

Since the dawn of location – which also happened to be the dawn of Foursquare – we've been puzzled by Foursquare's attitude towards their desktop site. It didn't do much, or show much. In fact, it didn't really have any specific purpose. Foursquare has changed that now. On your desktop view of Foursquare.com you can now see all your friends on a map, as well as places that it deems noteworthy, color coded by its noteworthiness. On top of that, you get a small location aware list of places you should go to right now. We like this. This shows purpose, and clear thinking.

Creative of the Week – Luke Jerram

Turning the ugly into something beautiful, that's what Luke Jerram does well. After a sound piece based on a sample of the Hiroshima explosion, he's now turned the devastating Japanese earthquake into a sculpture. The piece is called Tohuko Japanese Earthquake Sculpture and is a 3D-print of the seismogram that represents 9 minutes of the tremor. Hauntingly beautiful.
Earthquake sculpture

While Facebook tweaks details, Twitter pumps News

Apparently twice as many users get their news from Facebook than from Twitter. Wait a minute, doesn't Facebook have 4 times the amount of users Twitter has? This means, normalised to the amount of users each network has, Twitter is more successful as a news delivery medium by a long shot. This makes it all the more sad that Twitter is trying to emulate Facebook features that don't suit their user base at all. Activity Feed? Twitter, your users are not interested in who's following who. They're interested in content!

Hey! What is WordPress up to?

Wordpress.com now hosts more than 60 million blogs. That is 60 million users, but with a twist: 60 million blogs engage a far greater amount of users than that, and that doesn't include self-hosted installations? So, quietly, in the background, WordPress has started turning their huge network into a social network, by adding a range of social features. They're not alone, however. Adobe has announced that they will restructure to focus on digital media and marketing. So Adobe is saying they're doing it, but not doing it (yet), and WordPress is keeping quite, but doing it. Which do you prefer?

The Plus has a Minus

Finally Google Plus launched brand pages. Fashion and Social Media Trend setter Burberry were one of the first brands to set up shop. But it's missing key features: Robert Scoble explains what's missing. Also worth a look is Econsultancy's take on it.

Truth delivered right now is stranger than fiction

Emily Bell wrote recently, with reference to the power of Twitter, that stories are most interesting as they happen. This week: two more examples. Nick Cristoff live Tweets a raid on a Cambodian brothel, and an American delivers a Masterclass in Twitter storytelling: documenting an emotional breakup in a restaurant in a way that would make Tarantino proud.

Slacktivism can kill you

When Malcolm Gladwell dissed social media recently, by saying that it has no real power and does not entails any risks, we smirked. Tunisia and Egypt showed him up. This week he was tragically and shockingly proven wrong again. Mexican drug cartels decapitated yet another blogger, warning social media users not to speak out. Horrible. Warning, graphic picture.

Tweets with High Klout scores live longer

In a fascinating piece of research it has been shown that Tweets emanating from users with very high Klout scores are shared more. A lot more. Normal tweeps like you and me can expect our Tweets to hang around for 10 to 20 minutes. Celebrities' tweets stay fresh for up to 5 hours. No wonder there's a $10,000 per Tweet market.

37signals understands content. 110%

37signals.com, the company who brought us Basecamp (a very cool project management tool), has hired a full-time filmmaker. No, they're not venturing into video production … well, not in the way you might think. Shaun Hildner, the Chicago-based filmmaker on their payroll, will constantly film the company's day to day operations. Clever!

Creative of the Week

This week's clever tinkerer is one that really tickles our fancy. Lumenoise, by Niklas Roy, is half old school electronic sound visualization, half analog synth, and half electron charmer. Yes, that makes three halves, we know. That's how great it is!

He Pokes, he scores!

Brand Republic reports that Manchester United is planning to launch a social network for its 350 million plus supporters worldwide. If only 50% of them sign up, it will rival the current size of LinkedIn. Not all businesses or organisations have what it takes to launch a social network. These networks are best nurtured in certain conditions, for example if your customers or fans feel some special bond, often some shared sense of identity. Sports and especially football clubs tick this box quite neatly. If they design this right, we predict the start of a trend.

Paying by Saying

That incredibly disruptive company founded by Jack Dorsey, Square, has just rebooted reality again. And this time you're bound to notice it. Enter Card Case – Square's latest product. How does it work? You enter a store (with your mobile phone in your pocket). You pick up what you want to buy, and say your name at the checkout point. That's it!

How on earth does it work?

Stores will have to integrate Card Case into their point of sale. Users add stores where they want to buy on their mobile phones. When they're within 100 meters of the store (measured by their mobiles), the system allows them to buy there. When they say their name, the cash register attendant enters it, and their photo pops up. The attendant verifies this. This is brilliant, because not only is it way more usable than credit cards, it is also more secure. Voila!

Weekend workers

A new study suggests that marketeers are often engaging when the moment is least opportune. Social Media, especially B2C is often best done out of work hours:

  • B2B marketers get 14% better engagement on Twitter during the week
  • B2C marketers get 32% more engagement on Facebook during the weekend

Moleskine apologizes

Last week we reported on how Moleskine angered the design community, who claimed the brand's efforts to crowdsource their new logo would generate hours of work at a fraction of the cost. Moleskine has responded by way of an apology on their blog. An apology that will go some way to mollify some designers – but not all. One comment on the incident makes a telling point:

I think where the dichotomy comes for most of us is that while yes, in the past you have stood for quality, consumer relationships and authenticity – creating a contest in which we (your consumers) spend hours of our time creating a logo for which we may or may not be paid that may or may not be used, all the while having the handicap of being unable to communicate with you directly about your specific needs … that's neither quality nor good for your consumer relationships, and it feels pretty inauthentic.

Science proves: Work Sucks

Sentiment Analysis on Twitter has had its ups and downs. Well, more like, a BIG up and then a BIG down. The reason for this is obvious: sentiment analysis cannot take into account more subtle uses of language, like irony or sarcasm, which abounds on Twitter. Despite the fact, a recent analysis by sociologists at Cornell University has revealed very interesting sentiment graphs. According to that, we use the most positive words around breakfast time. This tapers down to a low late afternoon, and then picks up from there until bed-time. Furthermore, we're supposedly more perky over weekends.

Peer Review goes Crowdsourced

If there's one place where one would expect open access to information, its in the realm of academic research and publishing. But until now what we've had is what George Monbiot describes as a form of rentier capitalism. Remember back in September, some scientists at CERN caused headlines by measuring neutrinos travelling faster than light? And then, less than a month later, some random guy pointed out the mistake on an online platform called arXiv? This could be the new future of online review. Instead of letting new discoveries be peer-reviewed for extended periods of time before publishing it, the scientific community is increasingly adopting an approach of "release early, release often". By letting peer review happen freely online, both the quality and speed goes up tremendously. Which is the effect of Crowdsourcing at is best.

Smart Phones are Exploding

No-one disagrees with the fact that mobile is the next big thing anymore. That argument has changed. The question is, how many of these mobile platforms can qualify as smart phones, thus unlocking all the potential that comes with it (apps, geolocation, cameras, movement sensors, etc)? Nielsen has the answer. At least for the US – 43% percent of mobile users below the age of 44, and 62% of those between 25 and 34 have the smarts in their pockets. There you go – now chew on that over the weekend …

Creative of the Week – Andy Baio

One thing that YouTube has enabled, is to give bedroom creatives the chance to mash-up existing videos into new remixes. One sub-genre of that phenomenon is the 'supercut': fast-paced edits that combine short clips, all around the same subject. Think: all the 'Dudes' from the Big Lebowski, cut together in one 2-minute video. Andy Baio is the supercut-nerd extraordinaire. Earlier this year, he worked with artist Michael Bell-Smith on a randomized supercut browser called SuperSupercut and now the Supercut.org URL has been developed into the be-all-and-end-all home of the supercut database.