Here are all of the posts tagged ‘Censorship’.

We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #61

by Karen Wee in News

China’s WeChat app gets flak for censoring messages globally
Tencent WeChat’s international foray may have just hit a stumbling block in what previously seemed to be a virtually unhindered path of expansion. Some users reported being unable to send messages containing sensitive terms even when doing so outside of China. A screenshot below shows an error notification stating that the message contained restricted words. These incidents raised privacy concerns that even international users are being subjected to the same censorship regulations and monitoring as Chinese users. Tencent has since apologized and clarified that the inability to send certain messages were due to a technical glitch which have been rectified.

Duke University recruits students using Sina Weibo
Last week, Brad Pitt’s Sina Weibo account created ripples of excitement amongst Chinese netizens. It seems Sina Weibo has been selected as the social media platform of choice amongst international celebrities, politicians and organizations seeking to reach out to Chinese speaking Internet users. Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering recently hosted a group chat on their Sina Weibo page to respond to queries from prospective students about its graduate program. Within an hour, the group chat fielded 80 questions from 150 participants. Graduates and current students on the program were also online to answer questions. Duke also has an active presence on Renren, China’s answer to Facebook, as part of what seems to be a rather aggressive social media strategy to reach out to the Chinese speaking market.

Sina Weibo rolls out partial English Language interface
Finally, Sina Weibo rolls out a partial English-language user interface on the web, long after they launched the English version of Weibo’s iPhone app in April 2011. Targeted at users in Southeast Asia, it seems many users encountered problems with using it and the English translation disappears as they navigate through the site.

The above screenshot shows the partial English interface on the web whilst the screenshot below shows the English interface on the iPhone app. There seems to be a vast disparity between the quality of the translation on both platforms. The dismal translation on the web interface could indicate that the product may not be ready for launch yet especially since Sina has not made any announcement of the new rollout.

Baidu teams up with Orange to reach out to North Africa & the Middle East
Chinese search engine Baidu launches El Browzer, an Android web browser to North Africa and the Middle East as part of its international expansion plans. Having tied up with mobile telco Orange for this latest venture, the app will be pre-installed or available for download on all Orange Android devices within Africa and the Middle East (AMEA). Available in Arabic, English and French, the launch of this app and the collaboration with Orange is significant as the telco has about 80 million customers in AMEA. It will be interesting to see what the year ahead holds as Baidu has identified Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Latin America as their chief target areas for expansion.

Social media harassment now more common in Japanese workplace
Japanese social media users seem to be experiencing a new form of stress and harassment in the workplace in the form of being pressured to accept friend requests from superiors or even being compelled to “Like” or “Comment” on their posts. It seems more people are turning to Japan Online Counseling Association for advice on how to deal with friend requests from co-workers and superiors on social networks such as Facebook. Employees reported feeling pressured to accept these friend requests to avoid tense relations at work. A survey conducted by Macromill, Inc last February of 500 Facebook users found that 42% were bothered by friend requests. Whilst it is likely that the intent of the supervisors is to get to know their juniors better, an expert has advised users in such situations to separate work from personal life.

Following the money trail in digital marketing
An article by Gartner has discussed how most brands intend to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2013, whilst going into further detail about the money trail and how companies can reallocate budgets from other areas, advising employing clearer measurements of success and tracking of the sources of funding. A breakdown is included of brands’ intentions for digital marketing.

Digital set to account for a fifth of advertising spend
Another study, this time by eMarketer, has also shown the extent to which brands intend to increase their digital spending. Worldwide digital spend, which has already passed the $100 billion landmark, is set to grow by 15.1% to $118.4 billion by the end of 2013. This growth will then remain in double figures as far as 2015, as shown by the graph below:

Organic Facebook impressions increase brand website visits by 76%
Ignite have conducted research into groups of people who view both organic and paid impressions on Facebook, compared with a control group who did not. They found that those who were shown organic exposure were 76% more likely to visit a brand website than those receiving no impressions, whilst paid exposure increased the same likelihood by 28%.

Fortune 500 and FTSE 250 companies catching up with social media
Fortune 500 companies are starting to warm to social media, a study by the Charlton College of Business has shown. These firms had traditionally lagged in the area and as late as 2011, 31% of Fortune 500 companies were without both a Facebook and Twitter page. This figure has dropped by 8% to 23% for the end of 2012. 62% also have their own YouTube account. In the UK, 40% of FTSE 250 companies have a corporate social media presence, representing an increase of almost three times, from 14% over the last year.

Regional Facebook fan breakdown shows up bought likes
Since Facebook have recently allowed users to view a breakdown of a brand’s fans by area, Socialbakers have produced research that highlights some curious data. Some brands have seemingly inexplicable high fan counts in certain countries, such as a fifth of Lufthansa fans coming from Indonesia & Pakistan, despite the airline serving neither of the countries. This information, whilst not conclusive, suggests likes may have been purchased. Also of interest from the study is an understanding that global fan counts do not always represent accurate marketing opportunities. For example, PlayStation outrank Xbox in terms of global fans, but Xbox triumph in all English-speaking countries.

More teens on Tumblr than Facebook
Research of 1,038 Internet users by Garry Tan shows the numbers of both 13-18 and 19-25 year olds on different social networks. Interestingly, the younger age group are more active in every single category, suggesting that thoughts about the potential demise of Facebook et al are premature. In fact, 55% of the former group were on Facebook, compared to 52% of the latter. Perhaps the study’s biggest finding is that Tumblr was used more by both age groups.

The social landscape is increasingly mobile
It is no secret that more and more people are using mobile devices to access social networking sites.  In fact, research by Nielsen has shown that the market is continuing to grow, with 46% of US social media users in 2012 accessing the sites via mobile, compared to 37% in 2011. Whilst computers remain the overwhelmingly popular choice, with 94%, this is a drop of 3% from the previous year.

Furthermore, a Google survey showed that 60% of US smartphone owners use their devices to access social networking sites daily, compared to 16% who never do so. This is in comparison to 54% and 17% for the same figures in 2011.

Facebook loses 600,000 UK users in December
The Guardian have reported Socialbakers research that Facebook lost 600,000 UK users in December, raising the question of whether it is reaching saturation point in the market. Whilst social networks expect to see a slump in activity over the festive period, it will be interesting to see if this larger-than-average dip is a result of a long term effect, or just a more severe version of the aforementioned Christmas slow down. In fact, Socialbakers responded to the Guardian to clarify that Facebook is operating at nearly full penetration in the UK and that the slump in figures may be as a result of Facebook’s measurement tools. They measure monthly active users, which means that if people are not active over the last month, they will not appear. We may well expect the figure to shoot up again in January.

A message to Mark Zuckerberg? That’ll be $100, please…
Facebook’s never-ending search for new revenue streams continues, with the social network now offering users the chance to message Mark Zuckerberg for $100. Normally, messages from those who are not his fans will be directed straight into his ‘Other’ folder; the charge ensures that they go straight to his inbox. The system is a version of Facebook’s interest in potentially charging for messaging, which we previously reported and it will be interesting to see if these trials are rolled out further. We would message Zuckerberg and ask, but the fee seems a bit steep…

Instagram loses half active users in one month?
The Wall have reported that Instagram lost half of its active users in the last month, as a result of changes to its terms of service. The figures, which come from App traffic monitoring firm AppStats, seem to suggest that Instagram went from 40 million to 17 million users, which does seem incredibly steep. It may be the case that the numbers end up rising again quite quickly.

How to engage amplifiers
Twitter have produced an article on amplifiers, the people most likely to retweet your content. Their first point is that amplifiers don’t fit into one neat demographic but, having said that, there are a number of ways to recognise them. Firstly, they are heavy Twitter users and more likely to use Twitter on a mobile phone than others, with 54% of them doing so. They also engage in a wide range of activities on the microblogging platform, as shown by the below graph:

They are also much more likely to follow brands on Twitter, with amplifiers more than twice as likely as the average Twitter user to follow over 20 brands. Finally, they are big fans of television, so recognising the important of dual screening should be important to anyone looking for retweets.

Who are LinkedIn’s 200 million members?
LinkedIn have reached 200 million members around the world. The most active country on the network is the USA, with 74 million members, followed by India with 18 million. The fastest growth is going on in Turkey, Colombia and Indonesia, whilst China, Brazil and Portugal are displaying the highest mobile growth. If LinkedIn were a country, it would have the 5th largest population in the world, larger than Brazil and equivalent to roughly France, the UK and Italy combined.

Google+ Pages can interact with users who haven’t circled them
Having launched pages for businesses in November 2011, Google+ are now allowing these brands to communicate with all users of the network, as opposed to simply those who have circled them. The move seems to be aimed at encouraging brands to join Google+ and should allow more strategic methods of fan base growth.

Western Interest in Sina Weibo increasing
Sina Weibo’s launch of the partial English language interface on the web is timely, as Western celebrities and brands are looking to get involved with Sina Weibo. Brad Pitt, who does not currently even have a Twitter account, is the latest celebrity to join a cohort that includes Justin Bieber and Radiohead, whilst brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever and Louis Vuitton are all on board. As We Are Social’s Jon Hoel told the Telegraph:

If you want to be big in China then you have to be on Sina Weibo. Every major western company knows that it is the place to be right now if they want to build their brands overseas.

The Premier League on Twitter
Twitter have released a list of the most popular English Premier League football clubs on Twitter. Their study takes into account a number of metrics, from number of followers to innovative uses of the network and involves fans and players as well as official club accounts, looking for an overall, rounded measure of success. Manchester City will be delighted to welcome a new addition to their trophy cabinet, whilst Stoke, Swansea and Wigan are currently in the drop zone as the three worst-performing clubs. This interactive map shows the breakdown of supporters of different clubs all over the country and can be sorted by club or rivalry. Below you can see how Arsenal and Tottenham fans are spread across the UK.

The Associated Press to feature sponsored Tweets
News source the Associated Press are set to promote Tweets on their feed, which has caused anger amongst some followers and other journalists. These are not official promoted tweets, rather just branded content that they will post on their feed from time to time, with Samsung announced as their first partner. The negative reaction comes as a result of people arguing that this will somehow compromise the neutrality of their reporting, whilst others have jumped to their defence to claim that it will make no difference, even praising the organisation for their openness and honesty.

Lenovo’s ‘Year of the Do’
Lenovo and We Are Social have together released a campaign called ‘Year of the Do’, based around the PC company’s ‘For Those Who Do’ slogan. The Facebook app, based on the insight that sharing your resolutions can help in keeping them, allows users to share their New Year’s resolutions, which can then be seen and interacted with by friends and users around the world. We Are Social’s US managing director Leila Thabet said:

[The campaign is] about inspiring people to do and achieve their best and tapping into that…it’s about facilitating the do.

Monopoly’s ‘Save your Token’
Monopoly are looking to refresh the game with a social campaign that sees users required to vote and save their favourite token using a Facebook app. One of the eight classic tokens (i.e. board pieces – car, thimble, boot, dog, battleship, hat, iron, wheelbarrow) is to be replaced by a new one (robot, diamond ring, cat, helicopter, guitar) based on the number of votes cast. Would you give the boot the boot? Or perhaps it’s time for the battleship to walk the plank? Maybe the thimble should… oh, you get the picture.

Evian create cross platform campaign about ‘Living Young’ in January
To counteract the normal January blues, We Are Social have produced an integrated campaign for Evian that encourages fans to ‘Live Young’ in January. The activity is based around a social hub on Facebook that provides 31 different ways to enjoy yourself, ranging from a ‘Rock Paper Scissors’ game to a competition to win a trip to see the Northern Lights. In its first week alone, the campaign has boosted Evian’s fan count by 21,000.

UK ad regulator getting involved on Facebook & Twitter
Ad watchdog the ASA have banned a set of Tweets and Facebook posts from different brands. Firstly, they got rid of the below Keith Chegwin tweet for not stating it was an advertisement:

Then on Facebook, Antica Sambuca got in trouble for using “irresponsible” images in their updates. These included pictures of young people with multiple drinks, implications that people were set to drive and looked as though their subjects were intoxicated. This should come as no surprise, as since March 2011 it has been under the ASA’s jurisdiction to regulate social media and both examples clearly break the CAP Code. Brands would be best advised to follow the joint IAB and ISBA social media guidelines.

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We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #29

by Cai Yu Lam in News

Pakistan’s Twitter ban 
Pakistan blocked microblogging service Twitter on 20th May after “blasphemous drawings” were tweeted due to a competition calling for entries depicting the Prophet Mohammed, but has since been restored after a day long ban. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Senator Rehman Malik, explained that the block was initiated by the IT ministry without warning or consultation with Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani, who was not in favour of it. Even though it’s a good thing that the Twitter ban has since been revoked, it does highlight the struggle the country has with managing religious and culturally-sensitive content on social media, and the likelihood that this will occur again.

Bangkok is world’s top city on Facebook
According to SocialBakers, Bangkok, Thailand has surpassed Jakarta, Indonesia in terms of number of Facebook users to emerge as the social network’s top city, with more than 8.6 million users compared to Jakarta’s 7.4 million users. The penetration rate for Facebook users in Bangkok stands at 104.7% compared to Jakarta’s 34.1%, which could be due to the fact that Thai users are declaring their location as Bangkok even though they may in fact be living in another part of the country. Many Asian cities have also made the top 20 list of Facebook users by city, including Mumbai with 3.7 million users, Kuala Lumpur with 3.3 million, Bangalore with 2.9 million, and Singapore with 2.6 million Facebook users.

Interest vs. Social in Japan
Jeff Lippold from ClickZ.asia hypothesises that the “interest graph” has replaced the “social graph” entirely as the preferred medium for interaction amongst Japanese social network users because their social networking inclinations revolve around interest-based communities such as Cookpad, the world’s largest recipe sharing site and Pixiv, a social drawing site that allows people to share, rank and comment on user-submitted content such as drawings, animations and stories. As a result, “generalist” social networks such as Mixi have struggled to grow beyond their current user base of 23 million registered users. Yet, Twitter is apparently the top social media platform in Japan, while Facebook is gaining popularity at an increasing pace and set to overtake Mixi in terms of number of active users. What do you think?

Customer feedback ignored on Twitter and Facebook
A study by Satmetrix that surveyed 1,180 executives from around the world about their organisation’s social media practices has revealed that companies are doing poorly in liaising with customers, responding to feedback and managing complaints through social media. In fact, 39% do not even track their social media responses at all, while 55% ignore all customer feedback on Twitter and Facebook. B2B firms are particularly unresponsive, with 69% ignoring customer feedback on social media, and 51% having no tracking in place to begin with. Overall, 60% of the businesses surveyed did not have an integrated social media strategy, which indicates the pressing need for businesses to start incorporating social media as a part of their business processes, especially if they’re using it for customer relationship management (CRM). There’s no use in having a social media presence if your customers end up talking to a wall.

1 in 5 viewers start watching a show after hearing about it in social
According to a Horowitz Associates poll of US heads of TV households conducted in January, 19% began watching a show after reading about it on a social network or blog.

Microsoft launches social network
Microsoft has launched its own social network So.cl which is pronounced “social”. Instead of competing with the likes of Facebook or Twitter, So.cl lets users aggregate multimedia content through a built-in Bing search tool into a single post that they can then share with others. Obviously, it also provides users fairly standard social features such as sharing and re-sharing, and commenting on posts. More interestingly, its “video party” feature combines videos with a chat feature so that users can watch and discuss together. A topics-based social network from Microsoft’s FUSE research group that’s still “under development”, So.cl was originally designed to be an academic resource for students and is now open to everyone, and new users can log-in with either a Facebook or Windows Live account. To find out more about its features, here’s a brief guide to So.cl.

Facebook holds IPO, share price drops
Facebook held its IPO on Fridaywith the company listed on the NASDAQ. Despite the share price returning to the initial $38 price after the first day of trading, this was partly due to the banks underwriting the share price to stop it falling below $38. Regardless, 421.2 million shares were sold valuing the company at a whopping $104.2 billion, a price which has since fallen significantly in early trading today in New York.

General Motors suspends Facebook ad spending
General Motors, America’s biggest automaker and 3rd biggest advertiser, in an interestingly timed move announced last week that it will stop buying Facebook ads for the forseeable futureIndustry reaction has been mixed.

With Forrester also saying Facebook doesn’t pay enough attention to marketers, this can’t have helped Facebook’s first day of trading. Ironically, a source close to the GM had said their move was partly due to Facebook telling them to prioritise community management over ads. Something, it should be noted, that GM is still wisely planning to invest $30 million in.

Facebook redesign mobile apps
Facebook has updated its mobile apps so that images will now appear larger and at a higher quality in a bid to improve engagement.

Facebook also acquired Lightbox last week, once hailed the ‘Instagram of Android’ – perhaps in a bid to assure investors that Facebook will do what it takes to win in the mobile-centric future of social networking.

New Facebook Page Manager App
Managing Facebook Pages on a mobile has long been difficult, but this could all be about to change: Facebook is testing an app called Facebook Pages Manager which should make all of this far easier. Good news for marketers.

Key statistics of Twitter’s growth 
Twitter has more than 140 million active users, and 55% of users access Twitter on mobile, which is seeing a 40% growth quarter over quarter. Twitter users create over one billion Tweets every three days, and 60% of Twitter users tweet while 100% are listening. These figures sound great but given that active users are likely to be users who log-in to the microblogging service at least once a month, we fail to see how it has quantified “listening” as 100%. 79% of users also follow brands to get access to exclusive content. We also see brands engaging more in multi-channel promotions where 1 in 5 commercials contained a hashtag. For advertisers who are wondering whether to do so on Twitter, Promoted Tweets receive an average engagement rate of 1% to 3%.

Twitter re-launch recommendations
Moving forward, new Twitter users will now receive a number of auto-generated recommended followers from the Twitter ecosystem. According to Twitter:

These tailored suggestions are based on accounts followed by other Twitter users and visits to websites in the Twitter ecosystem. We receive visit information when sites have integrated Twitter buttons or widgets, similar to what many other web companies — including LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube — do when they’re integrated into websites.

Interestingly, viewers will also be able to view tweets from these users in an example timeline.

Twitter teams up with Nascar to enhance hashtags
Twitter has teamed up with Nascar so that consumers worldwide can create a “complementary live race experience”. The Twitter page will combine race-related tweets and photos giving behind-the-scenes exclusives for individual races. In effect, for one advertiser (Nascar), they’ve made a pretty radical change to the hashtag experience:

Up until now when users click on a hashtag, they are shown a page littered with tweets which have included that particular hashtag. But in Nascar’s case, Twitter will curate those tweets through an algorithm and by hand to give users a behind-the-scenes look at the race.

Twitter hits 10m UK users, 140 brands have used promoted products
For a company that has only had an office in the UK for one year, Twitter is going from strength to strength. It’s now reaching 10 million UK users of which 80% are active on mobile. 340 million tweets are sent per day and brands have bought into the product: 140 have used Promoted Products in the last year.

Tony Wang from Twitter UK gave Marketing Magazine an interesting Q&A about Twitter’s advertising approach going forward – it’s worth a read.

YouTube video views are falling
Since December, views on YouTube have fallen by 28% – but it’s an intended consequence of the Google-owned site’s shift from a video search engine filled with snack-size content to a full-fledged, couch-potato-optimized entertainment destination. At YouTube, the “view” is out and “engagement” is in – although time spent on the site hasn’t risen like execs will have hoped:

New Google+ study reveals minimal activity and weak user engagement
A new study has shown weak user engagement and minimal social activity on Google+, giving greater credence to the theory that it’s just a ghost town. Google has refused to give metrics for the Google+ active user base, probably because compared to other social networks it has far less activity. A study showed that within a sample size of 70,000 public posts, the average post receives less than one +1, less than one re-share and less than one reply. Another problem is that users don’t return to post again:

As the report sums up:

At the end of the day, Google+ simply does not show the same level of ravenous user adoption and engagement that we’ve seen in other social networks.

Quora raises $50M valuing the company at $400M 
Quora has raised $50 million from its co-founder Adam D’Angelo and other investors including Peter Thiel and Josh Hannah, both of whom are familiar with the online Q&A space, valuing the company at $400 million. It will be interesting to see what it invests in to try and grow the daily active user count again.

vKontakte loses important court case
vKontakte, Russia’s largest social network, lost an important court case last week which ruled that the site’s proprietary file-sharing system – and arguably its biggest selling point – is illegal and breaches copyright. Facebook has long struggled to even come close to over-taking vKontakte, but the fall-out from this court ruling may well help Facebook.

Ronaldo stars in Facebook challenge for documentary
Football star Cristiano Ronaldo took part in a live-streamed Facebook challenge last week called #RonaldoLive which tested his ‘sporting expertise’. The live-stream came from a testing facility in Madrid, in which Ronaldo had to receive, control and shoot a wave of footballs from chutes suspended above his head.

The first 100,000 people who connected to the #RonaldoLIVE Facebook app were automatically be entered into a competition to challenge Ronaldo, giving them the power to choose which goals he shot into.

Manchester City partner with Foursquare
English Premier League champions Manchester City have partnered with Foursquare, in the social network’s first official partnership with a football team. What the deal means is that City fans can now check in at the Etihad Stadium, City Square, City Stores and other official venues in return for special offers on merchandise and food and drink. They’ve also launched their own badge.

Foursquare launch two new badges
Foursquare have launched two new badges for two of the year’s biggest sporting events. Saturday night’s Champions League Final had a badge which users could obtain simply by checking in and using the words ‘UEFA Champions League’ and the Olympic Torch Relay also has a badge. To acquire the badge, users have to check-in to the nearest Olympic Torch Relay venue when the flame passes through their city.

Ikea turns to Pinterest to promote new range
Ikea are promoting their new Indian range of products partly through Pinterest. They’ve built a micro-site to draw awareness to the new range which includes an option to view a showcase of the range on Pinterest. As it’s a flat-pack campaign, you do actually have to build the pinboard for this one.

Intel launches employee curated digital magazine
Intel have launched a digital magazine which will allow many different staff members to chip in. Intel iQ is a social-publishing platform which resembles a digital magazine. A story gets to the iQ front page when a certain number of people recommend it, and as recommendations grow, so does the size of the story on the front page. Intel have said they expect the number of contributors to the site to grow to thousands, which will really be quite impressive.

Wickes rolls out first social media campaign
Wickes, the DIY retailer, has made its first foray into social media with the launch of a Facebook app which allows fans to create a sharable digital portfolio of their DIY projects. It’s based on the idea that people are very happy when they complete a project. It seems a bit useless – papering over the cracks of a lack of a real social media strategy.

 

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We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #13

by Cai Yu Lam in News

Starbucks and Jiepang team up again for Valentine’s Day
Starbucks and Chinese location-based service Jiepang will play matchmaker this coming Valentine’s Day with Starbucks’ new social marketing campaign. All check-ins on Jiepang in some parts of China will earn users a blue or pink Valentine’s badge, which will entitle them to two free cups of Starbucks coffee with every purchase of a Starbucks reward card. 520 lucky users stand to win Nokia N9 phones, while those who fill out the matchmaking in-store postcards might win themselves a special Starbucks mug – or a date for Valentine’s Day.

Air China’s Facebook check-in campaign
Although Facebook is banned in China, that did not prevent Air China from promoting its services in Sweden using Facebook. It partnered up with a number of popular Asian restaurants in Sweden and encouraged guests to check-in on Facebook as they sat down to eat. Those with the highest number of check-ins (and calories, we assume) at the end of the week won a pair of free tickets to Asia. Although it may seem simple, this was a highly successful campaign, reaching over a million people.

Can the caged bird still tweet? Not in Thailand
Twitter has announced that it is now able to censoring tweets in certain countries, in order to comply with local laws. The announcement was met with some scepticism from commentators, not least because of the role Twitter played in many of the uprisings that took place last Spring, although Twitter have deflected some of the criticism by opting for full transparency when censoring tweets. In order to qualify for censorship, an ‘authorised entity’ would have to report the tweet or account, which would then be censored in that country, and in its place would be left a notice informing users that the tweet or account in question had been censored for legal reasons. The Thai government have been one of the first to welcome the decision.

The Indian Army bans use of social networks
The Indian Army is reported to be introducing a ban on social networking amongst its servicemen and women due to fears of crucial information being leaked. All 36,000 officers and 1.3 million other personnel of the Indian Army will have to immediately cease using and even delete their profiles from their various social networks. The alleged reason for this strict ban is due to the increasing number of photos of officers in uniform, with weapons or amongst their units that are posted to the Web, which has led to concerns that important information may risk being leaked on sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter and others, or that individuals may put themselves at risk, having disclosed their professional identities.

Emergency alerts on Google Maps
Google Maps will now add emergency alerts for natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, and blizzards to locations. Google’s Public Alerts will integrate warnings from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and the US Geological Survey (USGS) into Maps. Users can search for a type of alert near a location, which will bring up any warnings from the source, as well as a chart illustrating the likelihood, severity, and how soon the emergency might occur. Although limited to the US at the moment, the implications should Public Alerts roll out worldwide would be momentous. Considering that Google Maps has been integrated into Google+, users will be able to share emergency alerts from Maps with their social network, and the spread of information and updates about potential disasters through individual networks could reach a great number of people quicker.

In other Google Maps news, Google and online train ticketing website thetrainline.com have collaborated to make planning for train travel across Britain much easier. Information and timetables for train services in Britain have been launched on Google Maps at maps.google.co.uk, and more than 2,500 stations, 170,000 trips nationwide, 8,000 bus stops and over 250 tube stations have been added onto Maps. Users are also provided walking directions and some bus timetables for connections, and can directly click through to thetrainline.com to search for and book tickets for their journey. This will no doubt greatly benefit the throng of visitors flocking to London for the Olympics later this year, as tourists will be able to combine walking and transit directions on Google Maps for mobile to help them navigate about.

Only 1% of Facebook fans engage with brands
According to a study from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science, only a little more than 1% of fans of the biggest brands on Facebook are engaging with brands on their Facebook pages. Researchers for the institute looked at the ‘People Talking About This’ metric, which is a running count of likes, posts, comments, tags, shares and other activity, as a proportion of overall fan growth of the top 200 brands on Facebook. Across a six-week period, they discovered that the percentage of People Talking About This to overall fans was 1.3%. If page and post ‘Likes’ are taken out of the equation to narrow the scope of engagement, since it requires only a click and does not involve as much motivation to interact as compared to a comment, the percentage shrinks to 0.45%. What this illustrates is less than half a percent of people who publicly show that they ‘Like’ the brand are interested in interacting with or creating any kind of content around it. This shows again that the absolute number of Facebook fans is not the best metric brands should strive towards, but rather, engagement with their fans is what will most likely convert into loyal and paying customers.

Consumers respond better to shared content than paid advertising
General Electric teamed up with Buzzfeed to prove once and for all that shared content results in a better response from consumers than paid advertising placement. Digital advertising measurement firm, Vizu, exposed subjects to the ‘The GE Show’ video through both paid display ads and sharing from friends and found that, overall, those who watched the video via sharing “had a significantly bigger lift in positive attitudes toward GE – associating the brand with such things as creativity and innovation – than people exposed via paid placements.” Paul Marcum, director of global marketing and programming at GE, said that the study was a lesson on “the value of advocacy, and that absolutely will inform marketing decisions”.

Teens opting for Twitter as older generations ruin Facebook
Since the days of yore parents have been warning their kids about privacy and not sharing too much information online. And kids, characteristically, have not listened and have shared whatever they please with their friends and the friends of their friends. But now a funny thing has begun to happen. As parents begin to disregard their own advice and tentatively setup Facebook profiles of their own, the kids start to fear for their privacy, not from ‘pirates’ or fraudsters, but from their parents. As a result, a lot of teens are now migrating to Twitter in an effort to escape the prying eyes of the older generations. Of course, what is happening here is nothing new, as Alice Marwick, a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research points out, “They just want someplace they can express themselves and talk with their friends without everyone watching”.

When it comes to Facebook brand pages: Local is better than Global
Socialbakers have done a bit of social media sleuthing and determined, once and for all, that local pages consistently result in higher levels of engagement than global pages. Citing both Xbox and BMW as examples, they show that the top local pages result in far higher (10 times higher in Xbox’s case!) levels of engagement than a centralised global page. The benefits of ‘going local’ include content and conversation being more relevant, fans sharing a common language and fans having more in common.

Timeline and Open Graph are coming to brand pages
Social marketers are readying themselves for the changes that are to come to Facebook brand pages in 2012, most notably, the introduction of Timeline and Open Graph. Carolyn Everson, VP of global marketing solutions at Facebook:

There’s a lot of speculation [about Timeline]. The goal has always been to have your personal experience on Facebook not be so different than the brand or page experience. And right now, it is different. You have Timeline and you have a page-brand profile. So we are absolutely moving in the direction to sync those up. We believe that brands want to be able to curate how they’re represented in a more visually pleasing way, and we’re in the midst of trying to figure out how best to do that.

and on Open Graph:

We don’t want a mad rush to have every brand suddenly think that the next thing we have to do is an Open Graph implementation. Because then you put stuff out there that people don’t care about, and that they don’t really share, and they turn it off. We’re working brand by brand, and frankly, industry by industry.

Timeline supported by just one in ten Facebook users
When it comes to users rather than brands, a survey of 4,000 of them has found that just 8% of users endorse Facebook’s Timeline feature. The survey also found that 51% of those asked were worried by the changes and just 8% said they would get used to them. Of course time will tell whether the changes are accepted in the long run. It tends to be the case that redesigns of this sort are met with uproar at first, then quiet consternation and finally accepted as the status quo and the whole cycle repeats itself ad infinitum. Unless, of course, you happen to be Digg.

Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ feature proves a hit with journalists and page owners
Since November 2011, journalists have seen a 320% increase in Facebook subscribers. Twitter proved an early hit with journalists and they seem to be using Facebook’s ‘Subscribe’ feature in more or less the same way; keeping their readers informed and up to speed by sharing articles, photos, videos and asking questions of their subscribers. Facebook has also introduced the option for Facebook users to subscribe to page owners, opening up new communication channels between consumers, brand pages and the people that manage them.

Facebook beta new social plugin, ‘The Recommendation Bar’
Facebook have debuted a new social plugin that incorporates some of Facebook’s Open Graph features. Essentially, it boils down to a ‘Recommendation Bar’ that gives readers ‘Social Recommendations’ on similar content they are likely to enjoy or that their friends enjoyed, an ‘Omnipresent Like’ button to ensure that user’s ability to Like a page isn’t hampered by poor site design and the ability to switch on ‘Frictionless Sharing’.

Over 5 billion songs have been shared on Facebook since the f8 conference
Since September, over 5 billion songs have been shared as a result of Facebook’s ‘frictionless sharing’ feature, although the jury’s still out on whether or not frictionless sharing is a hit with users. Some critics say that it has reduced the sharing of content to a passive activity, others say it is intrusive. Even so, it is hard to argue with the numbers.

Twitter to roll out more of their fan-dangled brand pages to big spenders
The roll out of Twitter brand pages will continue from February 1st onwards, although only to brands that have already committed to spending at least $25,000 on its ad products. Twitter declined to comment on the ongoing roll out of the new brand pages or the advertising spend required to qualify for one, although they did say they are partnering with some individuals and charities for the roll out of its brand pages, one of which will be the American Red Cross.

Twitter analytics to be introduced in the coming months
Erica Anderson, Twitter’s manager for news and journalism, also announced that one of the new features that will be released in the coming months is an analytics service to help content creators track how their content is spreading across the Twitterverse.

Twitter to add right-to-left languages
Twitter have announced that hashtags and Tweets now work properly for users that write in Arabic, Farsi, Hebrew and Urdu, and it should be only a matter of months before the Twitter interface is available in those languages.

Facebook, Twitter and Myspace engineers fix Google’s social search results
“Don’t be Evil” was Google’s first unofficial motto. It referred to, among other things, objectivity and parity in the results it returned to users. But since the launch of Google’s social search features, a number of their competitors claim Google has been hoisted on its own petard, with Google’s new results seemingly favouring Google+ results over other networks, such as Twitter. As a result, a group of engineers fromFacebook, Twitter and Myspace have launched the “Don’t be Evil” bookmarklet, which let’s users view the new social search results without this bias. The results are quite impressive.

The G+ name saga continues
It seems like people have been whining about Google+’s policy on nicknames and pseudonyms since before the platform was even launched, and last week they offered a tiny, if impractical concession. You can now add a nickname to appear between your existing names ie. George “The Destroyer” Terry, or to have your name appear in another script, ie., to use their examnple, “सौरभ शर्मा (Saurabh Sharma)”. They also let you set up profiles under other ‘established’ identities, but the process to have these alternate identities verified seems a little impractical. Something tells me they haven’t quite hit the nail on the head with this one.

Just when O2 thought it couldn’t get any worse…
O2 got in a bit of hot water last week after it came to light that they had been sending copies of their customer’s numbers to every website that the user visited on their handset. As you’d expect, the Twitterverse flew totally off the handle and set upon the mobile service provider with all the rage it could muster. O2 fought valiantly, and seemed to be weathering the storm as best as could be expected – until they hit their daily tweet limit, which, if you didn’t know, is 250 direct messages and 1000 tweets/retweets/@messages. As more and more brands attempt to salvage their reputation from the jaws of ignominy in the midst of epic #fails through social media, this could become a serious issue, and one that Twitter might want to address.

Time Out to launch social TV guide
Time Out will launch an interactive TV guide that will feature listings, links to more information about the shows, relevant Twitter and Facebook activity, ‘Watch now’ links to services such as 4OD, ITV Player and BBC iPlayer and the option to record listed programmes on their Sky+ or TiVo box.

FIFA Street to feature in-game social ‘Street Network’
EA have announced their plans to bring social to the FIFA Street series with new features that will allow users to create profiles, capture videos of their best tricks and goals. “The Street Network brings that real-world swagger into the game by enabling players to capture video of those moments and share them with everyone in their street network to see,” said producer, Sid Misra, “and providing friends with a way to compare each other throughout the game.”

Lego launch social media platform for fan
Called ReBrick, the Lego platform is essentially a content platform that allows fans to bookmark content elsewhere on the web and aggregate it on the site, creating a hub for all Lego-related user generated content on the web. A bookmark widget can be installed for easy bookmarking and links can be shared through social platforms. The cool thing about ReBrick is that rather than clearing out all of the existing fan-sites dedicated to Lego creations the world over, ReBrick works in tandem with them. The creators consulted fans throughout the development process and the site also provides links to other sites and forums online where fans can further indulge their love of Lego.

Kermit the Frog takes to Twitter to promote upcoming film
Disney made their way into the trending topics on Thursday when Kermit took over the @DisneyMoviesUK account and fielded questions from his fans as part of Disney’s marketing efforts around the premiere of the new Muppet movie. This isn’t the first time that a fictional character has cropped up on Twitter in order to promote the release of a new film or series, but come on, this is Kermit the Frog. Loads of people got in line to #AskKermit their question, including one Mr @StephenFry.

Orange launch film site based on the wisdom of crowds
Orange have launched an aggregator called Orange Film Pulse which collates opinions from different online sources – Facebook, Twitter, blogs, online review sites, etc – in one place. You can also tweet directly from the site. It will be worth watching whether the site achieves any pick-up, considering Orange’s wider involvement in film.

House of Fraser targets students
This time, some of We Are Social’s own work – House of Fraser is embarking on a major marketing push to target students – people who might not have considered the brand before. It has partnered with the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Extra Card, to launch a vouchering app on the House of Fraser Facebook page (concepted and built by us) . The app enables students who “like” the brand on Facebook to receive a 10% discount when shopping on its site. It is also offering “flash discounts” via the social network to students.

Manchester City launch City Fan Cam
During last Sunday’s match with Spurs, Man City captured a 360 degree ultra HD picture inside the Etihad Stadium, which after the match fans could access online – and then tag themselves before posting to Facebook or Twitter. This was impressive, if unoriginal. But what made it clever, was that they hid players like Balotelli and Nasri around the stadium with the fans, and challenged fans to find them. This meant the picture was interesting for more people than just those who were at the match. It also explains why Nasri went missing on the pitch.

Bayern Munich’s spectacular own goal
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich promised fans a new signing on Thursday – with the announcement via their Facebook Page. When Bayern revealed the signing ‘the new FCB star’ was actually just a marketing stunt designed to show how important fans are to the club. 5,000 angry comments later, Bayern were forced to apologise. Oh dear.

LA Fitness shamed by Twitter
LA Fitness faced their own crisis last week – after a Guardian story about them trying to extract £360 from a pregnant woman who’s husband had lost his job went viral. In the end LA Fitness agreed to waive the fees, but it’s fair to say this marketing blunder will cost them far more than £360. Oh dear.

Snickers investigated by the ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has launched an investigation into Snickers’ Twitter campaign where they recruited celebrities to post some very out-of-character tweets. The campaign is being investigated against two possible breaches of the Advertising Code: whether it should have been stated in the ‘teaser’ tweets that they were marketing communications; and whether the hashtag “#spon” in the final ‘reveal’ tweet made it clear enough that that tweets were sponsored.

Twitter users deported for joking about ‘destroying’ America
In a shocking but amusing story, two British tourists were deported from America before even getting out of the airport, after one tweeted that he planned to ‘destroy’ America. The police refused to believe that it was slang, and he didn’t actually plan to destroy either the nation, its people or its government. A story that seems funny now, but one that could become a common occurrence if the FBI’s plans to monitor social media come to fruition.

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We Are Social Asia Tuesday TuneUp #3

by Simon Kemp in News

Chinese location-based app Jiepang, partners with Starbucks
Jiepang users who visit one of the 200+ Starbucks outlets across Shanghai and Eastern China can now check in with near-field communication-enabled mobile devices. If 20,000 users check in by 17th December, each of those patrons will receive a free size upgrade on a drink during the following week.

 

Starbucks Taps China's Foursquare for Huge Holiday Check-in Campaign
 

With nearly 1.5 million users and over 300 brand partnerships in China since its launch in May 2010, Jiepang is a location-based app to watch.

Coca-Cola ‘gamifies’ vending machines in Japan
As part of its Happiness campaign, Coca-Cola is encouraging Japanese consumers to ‘check-in’ and interact with its 820,000 vending machines across Japan via QR codes affixed to the machines. As part of the ‘Happiness Quest’, users can create virtual identities for, and customise their favourite vending machines, as well as earn badges. Will the Japanese take to this quirky campaign?

Sina Weibo has over 2 million users in Hong Kong
More than one in four Hong Kong citizens now use Sina Weibo, prompting more than 1,000 brands in the city to set up enterprise accounts on the microblogging platform. Considering that Internet users in the SAR have access to international platforms like Facebook and Twitter (in contrast to their mainland counterparts), Sina Weibo’s growth of over 1 million users since March is doubly impressive.

Korea’s Cyworld goes global (again)
Korean social network Cyworld will once again attempt to enter the international market, with the launch of Global Cyworld. This new international version of its service will include content in English, Chinese, German, Japanese and Spanish, in addition to Korean, and allow users around the world to connect with one another (a feature that was previously unavailable). Let’s see whether Cyworld will succeed this time around.

US guidelines on Facebook ‘Like-gating’
Facebook’s ad revenue is projected to hit $7 billion in 2012, but this figure might be hit by the recent guidelines put in place by the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division (NAD). Marketers need to be careful when requesting users ‘Like’ a page in order to receive some sort of reward in order to ensure they are not utilising “misleading or artificial means to inflate the number of Facebook ‘likes’.”

This move has come about after a case was made against eyewear supplier Coastal Contacts for deceptively offering free and discounted products to Facebook users who ‘liked’ the company’s page, and that the number of ‘likes’ presented to investors had been fraudulently obtained.

The NAD cannot itself enforce decisions, but it can refer cases to the Federal Trade Commission if a marketer does not comply with one of its decisions.

New European guidelines on paid for promotion in social media
Meanwhile, in the UK, the IAB and ISBA jointly released guidelines on the payment for editorial content to specifically promote a brand, product or service within social media, which have been developed in consultation with both the Office of Fair Trading and the ASA’s Committee for Advertising Practice.

Facebook gives up on China (for now)
It might have the most faces out of any country in the world, but China will still not have Facebook for a while yet. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Sandberg revealed how government policies were the main reason why expansion into China was not yet possible for Facebook; “it’s not really our choice. It’s the government’s choice, you know. We’re not available because they’ve chosen to make us not available.”

CheWen is Renren’s niche social network for car fanatics
China’s CheWen.com is a social network for car lovers, and has already amassed a user base of 4 million in the span of six months. It encompasses functions of a microblog in being able to ‘follow’ users and brands, has crowdsourcing elements similar to Quora, and also provides automotive news. In particular, the potential for advertisers to reach wealthy netizens is significant, even though the social network is mostly free of ads at the moment.

Read and Listen from the Ticker
Another Facebook baby birthed at f8, the Ticker has undergone a few changes recently. Now news articles and songs in the Ticker include buttons that allow users to begin reading or listening as soon as they click on them.

 

Facebook Ticker
 

Facebook also announced their decision to turn off automatic RSS feed syndication within Facebook Notes from 22 November.

Small, mid-sized music businesses have greatest Facebook reach
Social marketing platform Roost set out to understand how small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can use Facebook effectively, and determined that businesses operating in music, entertainment and luxury goods have the highest reach (number of fans). Interestingly enough, SMBs in the music industry have the third lowest activity level amongst 28 industries, even though they have the greatest social audience. On the flipside, SMBs in the medical industry have the lowest reach, but are generally the most active in their Facebook efforts.

LinkedIn announce Group Statistics and improve Events
Taking a leaf out of Facebook’s success with Insights, LinkedIn have launched statistics for Groups through an easy-to-use dashboard, focusing on three areas: demographics, growth, and activity.

In the past year there have been over a million RSVPs to hundreds of thousands of professional events on LinkedIn. LinkedIn are now taking Events a step further, making it easier to find the right events to attend and connect with others attending those events.

Budweiser’s Man of the Match to be picked by fans
It’s never been done before, as the decision of who will be the Budweiser Man of the Match has always been reserved for broadcast commentating teams. But now Budweiser are handing over responsibility to their fans, and for every FA cup game this season the Budweiser Man of the Match will be chosen by fans via the Budweiser UK Facebook page or through the free Budweiser Man of the Match app for smartphones. Knowing how football fans love a joke, this may lead to some interesting results…

When a bird leaves the nest, can it take the flock with it?
As a court picks over PhoneDog’s complaint that one of its former journalists, Noah Kravitz, failed to surrender the password and thus the fans to a Twitter account originally tied to the company name, it’s left everyone debating the rights to digital possessions. In an era where journalists are encouraged to brand themselves, this type of dispute is becoming more frequent. Is leaving a job becoming more like a social media divorce?

Lolcat

Buzzword alert! The proliferation of ‘social television’ 
From X Factor to Glee, TV programmes are utilising social networks to improve engagement with and among fans. Studies have discovered that up to 80% of television viewers now incorporate a ‘second screen’ into their viewing habits, and apps such as Zeebox – of which Channel 4 have become the first broadcaster to trial – are facilitating this new intersected experience. Media analysts believe that this development will continue to grow. Why? As our very own Robin Grant points out, stories are social:

We’ve moved on from a temporary aberration where, through the invention of the printing press all the way through to the invention of TV, communication became one-way for a few hundred years. That’s not the natural human state. Social media has brought us all back around the campfire and allowed us to talk to each other and to take part in the stories people are telling.

Branded hangouts on Google+
With brand pages recently enabled on Google +, it will be interesting to see how brands make use of the social network for marketing purposes. UK Opticians Specsavers are staking a claim to the first celebrity ‘hangout’ on the platform, with fashion bloggers invited to video chat with brand ambassador Gok Wan. The event will be integrated with other social sites – Specsavers’ YouTube channel will broadcast the event and Facebook will have corresponding live status updates.

Two-thirds of Brits support silencing social media during social unrest
A poll has revealed that two-thirds of UK adults believe that shutting down social networks such as Twitter and BlackBerry Messenger during times of social unrest would help prevent it spreading and worsening. Unsurprisingly, support for action against social networks was strongest among over-65s and weakest among 18 to 24-year-olds, who are the heaviest users of these services.

But as news editor of Index of Censorship, Padraig Reidy, argues:

It’s very worrying that people would believe shutting down social networks would be in any way desirable. The vast majority of social network use during the unrest was people spreading information and helping each other get home safely.

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