As per usual there’s been much ado about Apple’s newest products. This time it’s the iPad Mini. Our two cents? It’s a boon for responsive design. Having yet another size screen to design for is making customising for each screen the opposite of a cinch.

The most audacious bait & switch ever?

Facebook bait and switch

In an excellent post Dangerous Minds explains how insidious Facebook’s new strategy is of limiting the reach of Pages and ordinary users. Facebook is being purposely broken enabling them to sell ads. The cynical amongst us (that’s us) would say, hey – when did Facebook become a public listed company? There you go.

Incredibly Facebook charges a flat-rate of $200 in the US so that your posts can reach 100% of your fans. Why is that weird? That means that if you are already very big (say you have one million followers) – paying that amount might be more than worth it. If you’re small, you’re out of luck. Wasn’t the beauty of the interwebz that it was supposed to benefit the small talented guys?

And just in case you think you’d like to try your luck with Promoted Posts, read this excellent analysis on their efficacy by Econsultancy.

The Sims

There are 5.9 million active simcards in the world, and 3.2 billion people – or 46% of the world’s population have at least one active mobile (cellular) device, says a report by The Economist. India is the first country where mobile internet traffic is starting to overtake that from fixed lines. In Japan, the leading online retailer Rakuten, is making a quarter of its $5 billion a year revenue on mobile, and this rate is still growing at over 300%!

Facebook meanwhile has revealed it made $150 million from mobile ads this quarter. That’s 14% of its ad revenues, which is quite impressive considering it was making zero from mobile at the beginning of this year.

SEO advice in a nutshell – do extraordinary content

Danny O’Sullivan, SEO expert, outlined two years ago why he thought Google took account of who shared a link on Twitter in ranking pages in search engine results. Then a study in April this year found what seemed to be a direct correlation between the number of tweets of a url and ranking. Recently we reported on the discovery of Google’s Authorship patent, which many think will have a big role to play going forward. So where does that leave you, dear reader? We’d suggest as we did before – follow SEO best practice, make sure you use the correct markup (using WordPress as a CMS is a good start) – and more importantly start producing interesting, compelling and authoritative content that gets shared or linked to.

Brand journalism – the new buzzword?

Red Bull the stratospheric media company

The idea that Content Marketing or Brand journalism is the way forward in social media marketing is gaining wider acceptance. And news just in: Red Bull has gone from being a FMCG company using content to market and brand itself, to a content company. Their media wing broke even last year and is expected to make a profit this year. And for your delectation, here is a nice post on 5 tools that can help you transform your data into sexy infographics.

Another one bites the dust

News.me Discontinued

The personalised ‘best of Twitter’ app News.me has announced that it will be discontinued. This saw everyone immediately drumming up rumours that Twitter might have cut them off, as they’ve become known to do as of late. Adriaan Pelzer takes a deeper look at what happened and asks when it is safe to build on top of Twitter.

Em-bed with Twitter



If there should be any doubt of Twitter turning itself more and more into a destination site, the expanded tweets programme is a clear indicator of where they are heading. Twitter just announced additional development and with now more than 2000 new partners on the programme, Twitter hopes to “help you more easily find exactly what you’re looking for –– right here on Twitter.”
We take a look at some examples of these Tweets.

Creative of the Week – Raghava KK

Raghava KK is one of those artists that embrace technology to challenge the status quo. In his Wired12 talk he talks about how he is trying to make art participatory. Not through crowdsourcing or some ‘old school’ technique, but through EEG-technology. He calls it ‘brainwave art‘.

brainwave-art-raghavva-kk

If there is any doubt about Twitter turning itself more and more into a destination site, the expanded tweets programme is a clear indicator of where they are heading.

Twitter just announced additional development to the programme they started earlier this year with a number of selected news partners like New York Times, Der Spiegel and Wall Street Journal. Now with more than 2000 new partners on the programme, Twitter hopes to “help you more easily find exactly what you’re looking for –– right here on Twitter.”

When you click a tweet that contains a link to a partner site, the tweet expands and you’ll be able to see more of the linked content directly within your Twitter stream.

With the new partners, new types of interaction are made possible as well.

Online retailer Topfloor enables you to shop directly from their Twitter stream, letting you click the items in their embedded video that takes you right to the selected product.

Amazon now lets you preview link content, pricing, star ratings, top rated reviews, and click instream to buy the product.

And perhaps most interestingly, embedded Soundcloud songs can not only be listened to and liked in your Twitter stream, it can also be shared from the tweet stream using other social sharing tools Facebook Like or Google+, or email.

Raghava KK is one of those artists who embraces technology to challenge the status quo. Trained as an illustrator, he has developed an iPad children’s book that lets kids change the outcome of the story. But what stood out at his Wired12 talk was how he is trying to make art participatory. Not through crowdsourcing or some ‘old school’ technique, but through EEG-technology. He calls it ‘brainwave art‘.

brainwave-art-raghavva-kk

News.me Discontinued

This week the best of Twitter aggregator app News.me announced that the app will be discontinued. This saw everyone immediately drumming up rumours that Twitter might have cut them off, as they’ve become accustomed to do as of late.

The true reason, in their own words, behind News.me’s demise is not as sensational, but has far-reaching implications for everyone building apps on Twitter:

“We don’t want to invest time and energy into an application that competes with a platform on which it relies.”

What does it mean to compete with Twitter?

After enjoying a healthy first few years as an almost completely open platform, Twitter shifted boundaries about what “open” exactly means. In Twitter’s case, they themselves supplied a very generic platform, with the development community around them figuring out the use cases, and adding new functionality. Twitter just had to pick the lowest hanging fruit.

Then, when it became time to make money, Twitter decided to go the route that Google & Facebook took, by becoming an advertising medium. To do this, they have to control media – in this case tweets.

This puts potentially all developers utilising the Twitter API, who use it to pull tweets from twitter and display it to users to as wide as audience as possible to sell advertising, in competition with Twitter. In other words, if we were Storify, we’d be worried. If you are Radian6 we would not.

This is why News.me, a brilliant, flourishing app, decided to close shop.

Oi! Our Tweeting vending machine has won a number of awards the last two weeks. And RAAK’s becoming rather busy & as a result we’re slowly expanding. A bit scary but oh so exciting!

Trolling for attention

yolandi blackface

In a week when Reddit was embarrassed by the exposure in a brilliant piece of journalism of its biggest troll, creep and moderator ViolentAcrez, Die Antwoord showed why they are the most pop savvy & creative trolls on the net, when Twitter’s most popular user – Gaga – fell for their bait.

Feed shopping beats window shopping?

Facebook Pages has failed as online shops because users dont visit pages, they visit their feeds. Facebook and Twitter got new functionality this week that allows you to buy stuff directly in your feed. We take a closer look at shopping from the feed.

In-feed advertising works

Mobile Sponsored Stories

Twitter’s had it for a while. Now the results are trickling in for Facebook’s in feed sponsored stories. Not only is it doing better than display advertising, users are not annoyed by it (yet).

The Network makes the feed

A while ago Twitter and blogger co-founder Evan Williams posted on Branch why he regrets not building Blogger as a network, rather than stand alone blogs. The network trumps the stand alone sites. With recent data confirming that Pinterest – the network version of Tumblr – is over-taking the latter in size. But you might wonder whether the latter still has any use? Econsultancy provides 10 reasonable examples of brands using Tumblr successfully. But do bear in mind what you gain in terms of control over the interface is paid for in virality.

Klout in Passbook allows pulling rank in the real world?

Klout has released a Passbook card that allows you to show people how influential / self important you are. Will this card become the new members list? In case you missed it, Passbook is a new iOS6 feature, that allows you to carry digital copies of tickets and passes, in stead of hard copies. Eventbrite is also using it and saw 5% (20,000) of all their ticket sales converted to Passbook in the first week.

One net to rule them all

The average length of videos watched on YouTube has been rising year after year and now sits at 6.8 minutes. Not bad. Now, in a further attempt to surface quality content, YouTube has changed its algorithm for ranking videos in search results. Where it previously ranked according to the amount of clicks, it now will rank videos in accordance with the average amount of time watched. For one thing it will be the end of Rickrolling videos in search results. The forces are lining up for the coming assault on the TV screen.

So who is doing Instagram well?

Nastygal Instagram

With reports that Instagram is bigger than Twitter on mobile, attention is shifting to who is big on the platform. Business Insider made a top ten list, but pay no mind. It’s neither correct in absolute terms or correct in approach. McDonald’s do not have even 40,000 fans. And Nike only has 500,000. I say only, because an online shoe retailer, Solestruck (100,000), and an ex-Ebay vintage store, NastyGal (400,000), beats them hands down. Ever heard of them? My guess is no. That’s why it’s impressive. Do have a look though at this blog post of 4 brands using Instagram well. Oh and how’s this for a simple but great use of Instagram by a restaurant.

Mobile Sponsored Stories

As with Twitter, a new survey claims that Facebook’s in stream ads are working. Sponsored Stories are similar to Twitter’s Promoted Tweets, where you compose content much like a user normally would and then buy exposure in the Facebook feed.

Most importantly, 77% of users have not noticed mobile ads, indicating that it’s not annoying or overbearing (yet).

On Mobile these are the only ads Facebook displays to users and is therefor a core part of their strategy going forward. In September there was already some evidence that Sponsored Stories out-perform Facebook’s display ads.

The same study found that most users are not keen on Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature. What’s the difference? Sponsored stories are Facebook Page posts, ie done by or on behalf of a brand. Promoted Posts controversially allow normal users – in other words your friends – to buy more visibility for their own Facebook status updates.

If you’re perplexed as to why a user would want to do that, bear in mind that Facebook does not show your updates to all your friends. We explained the algorithm that governs that, called EdgeRank, here.

Facebook Collections

This week there’s news that both Facebook and Twitter are getting functionality that allows people to buy directly (with one click) from the feed.

Facebook is rolling out Collections, allowing users not only to like stuff, but to collect, want, or buy products that brands share through images on the social network.

It sounds like besides Ecommerce, Facebook wants to get into Wishlist and Pinterest territory, but they are not not trying to muscle in on the payment process (yet), but sending users to the retailers’ ecommerce solution.

Twitter is getting its own functionality in the feed, but this time it’s being provided by a third party. Chirpify allows Twitter users to buy stuff by simply replying ‘buy’ to a Tweet. It’s easy to set up (we tried it) – simply link your Twitter and Paypal accounts to take payments and Bob’s your uncle.

Where can you switch on Facebook Collections? It’s not available to everyone yet and is currently being tested with a couple of retailers like Pottery Barn, Wayfair, Victoria’s Secret, Michael Kors, Neiman Marcus, Smith Optics and Fab.com.

In the past retailers tried to do ecommerce directly from Facebook, changing their Facebook Pages into a grid of products to be browsed and bought. That strategy failed, because most Facebook users don’t visit pages. They experience content through feeds.

Retailers have always been able to post links to their products before, so it will be interesting to see if one step fewer in the buying process increases sales from social networks.

yolandi blackfaceAs link-bait goes Die Antwoord’s Fatty Boom-Boom is probably the slickest ever produced. As trolling and attention seeking it is arguably the most elaborate and most effective ever.

If you missed it – In the video, Lady Gaga – wearing her meat dress – gets hi-jacked in Johannesburg, gives birth to a District 9 like prawn, and then gets eaten by a lion. To top it off, Yolandi wears blackface, in what must be a pre-meditated up yours to blog posts that wondered whether they were indeed blackface, and by extension, racist.

We have documented Die Antwoord’s early marketing genius, which revolved around a fantastic music and pop sensibility, catchy tunes and tapping into some of South Africa’s under-explored but fascinating identities. To be sure Die Antwoord’s music, even if you don’t like rap, rave or breakbeat, is masterfully composed and some of the best examples of those genres mixed together in colourful riot.

Since those romantic early days the group has continued to get noticed but the tactics have changed somewhat. Now their work is delivered with ever increasing bombastic attention seeking but superbly executed videos. The song and video Fok Julle Naaiers, for example, includes the homophobic and sexist outbursts of Mike Tyson, but of course set to a phat beat.

Die Antwoord could have chosen a more conventional route. Die Antwoord signed with Lady Gaga’s Interscope label. But Interscope wanted them to tone down their lyrics. Die Antwoord said no.

Lady Gaga asked them to open for her. Visually there’s a natural fit between Die Antwoord and Gaga. But her music is awful even by pop music’s current low standards. Die Antwoord said no.

That took some balls and self belief. To consistently produce stellar content is very difficult. There is nothing as old as yesterday’s viral hit. Die Antwoord could have stranded as a mid sized internet phenomena, famous on Boing Boing and 4Chan.

But we of little faith did not properly take into account Die Antwoord’s not-so-secret weapon – high energy trolling coupled with creativity, attention to detail and big TV production delivery.

Last night, Lady Gaga took the bait.

And many of her 30 million followers heard of Die Antwoord for the first time. Die Antwoord 1 – Lady Gaga 0.

But this question remains to be answered: Is it good to be known but not loved?

We’re super pleased that our ice tea machine BEV has won gold in ‘Best Use of Mobile Social Media’ at The Mobile Marketing Association’s Smarties Awards 2012.

BEV is the world’s first Tweet activated sampling machine which we developed in collaboration with Cow Africa.

Tweet for Tea

In another typical demonstration of how Twitter connects people in mysterious ways, the Dolphin Pub (around the corner from us) had a hilarious interaction with Douwe Egberts coffee this week, questioning the integrity of their founder’s name.

Facebook now has a billion active members, but are they locked in?

Facebook taking over

Facebook has achieved an important milestone, and it’s still expanding at a furious pace. We take a look at its ad revenue, its value as a company and whether it’s safe from competition.

Get on the visual social sharing band wagon

Visual Sharing

What can we learn from the fact that Instagram beats Twitter on mobile? Firstly, the user experience attached to visual sharing is easier, and secondly, visual sharing is an emerging trend that shouldn’t be ignored

Facebook tries to turn attention into a commodity

Facebook sponsored posts

Facebook is making it harder for organisations to reach their audience. And individuals can now pay to get noticed. But will it work?

Sentiment Analysis doesn’t get Steve Coogan, does it?

Sentiment Analysis will never get Steve Coogan

Fresh Networks published a brilliant piece of Sentiment Analysis they conducted on Twitter during an episode of Question Time. Their results portray Steve Coogan as being very unpopular – or does it?

App.net’s pricing is wrong

App.net's pricing model is wrong

App.net has just announced a price drop, after reaching, and exceeding their 10000 user goal with ease. Here’s why we think their pricing model is wrong.