Here are all of the posts tagged ‘Tuesday Tuneup’.
Alibaba invests $294M in China’s top online mapping company AutoNavi
Two weeks after taking an 18 percent stake in Sina Weibo, China’s biggest e-commerce company has announced another investment of $294 million in AutoNavi. This investment will take up 28 percent shares of the company. AutoNavi is China’s top online mapping company, beating search giant Baidu and even Google Maps in terms of mobile maps market share in China. As an industry leader, AutoNavi seems to be a perfect partner for Alibaba in seeking opportunities to explore and develop new location-based e-commerce services. It is also clear that this deal will give Alibaba access to a huge pool of consumer behavior data based on location. With Alibaba’s acquisition of the social music service Xiami last year and their more recent stake in Sina Weibo and AutoNavi, Alibaba has quickly become equipped with big social data and strategic alliances to explore a new kind of e-commerce service—one that will integrate three big things: social, mobile and location. It will be interesting to see what kind of revolutionized services Alibaba will bring out to the market in the future.
In Japan, politicians leverage Line to deepen ties with supporters
The importance of mobile messaging apps is growing. Many brands already know it and try to leverage the increasing impact of mobile messaging app to engage with their consumers. Politicians in Japan are no exception to this recent trend. According to Japan-based mobile messaging app Line, ten political parties in Japan have opened official accounts on the app. This was after the ban on the use of internet-based mediums for election campaigns (including social networks and blogs) was lifted. Line provides politicians an opportunity to engage with their supporters more directly and actively, by allowing users to opt-in to receive message from political parties, as well as leave feedback and comments on their accounts. Will this impact on the way politicians in Japan communicate with public?
IGAWorks joins KakaoTalk to increase game releases and app traffic
Korea-based mobile messaging app Kakaotalk has announced a partnership with IGAWorks, the local in-Game advertisement provider. The partnership will involve integrating IGAWorks’ adPOPcorn into Kakaotalk that will provide “in-game and in-app incentivized offers, as well as pop-up adverts that link through to social and mobile media channels.” This collaboration is intended to strengthen Kakaotalk’s video game offerings—features that have contributed to distinguishing Kakaotalk from other mobile chat apps. By allowing all game developers on Kakaotalk to access adPOPcorn, Kakaotalk is looking to create a new channel of income for video game developers and publishers. The goal is to encourage more game releases which will drive more user traffic to the app. This also reflects KakaoTalk’s desire to attract more brands as well, to tap into Kakaotalk as a mobile advertising platform.
QQ gets makeover to look like WeChat; new look upsets users
Tencent’s drastic revamp on QQ has led the chat service to resemble China’s most popular mobile chat app, WeChat. This makeover has brought out a large number of angry users. According to Techinasia, nearly 95% of people who left reviews on the newly updated QQ app have given it the lowest star rating. By contrast, the previous version of the app mostly received five-star feedback. The new look of QQ app, ungracefully called “second hand WeChat” by disgruntled users, has taken on less of a traditional IM user interface, and this is the root of most of the discontent. An indicator light that used to appear beside user contacts’ names allowing users to indicate the online or offline status of users has been taken out of the app, despite the fact that most of users found the function to be useful. In addition, the new style of chat window inspired by WeChat seems a waste of space for those who prefer QQ app as a “fast-paced conversation in one window.” Users have already expressed their stance against the new look of QQ, requiring Tencent to bring previous IM-like features back. We will wait to see how Tencent will react.
Japan’s Quan-inc partner with AIS to roll out sticker maker app “AIS myStickerShop”
Japan based mobile application maker Quan-inc has partnered with AIS, Thailand’s top mobile network operator. Quan-inc is well known for developing Lounge - a mobile messaging app with unique features of collaborative drawing and message decoration. The partnership is intended to release an app called “AIS myStickerShop”. The app allows users to create their own stickers for their mobile messaging apps. Currently, only Android users can enjoy the service. iOS users will have to wait a while for an iOS version to come out later this month. Quan Inc’s partnership with AIS could be indicative of a desire to expand their presence in Southeast Asia, as the deal with AIS may open up an opportunity to launch future apps for Singtel, Singapore’s top mobile network operator and a stakeholder in AIS.
Research by Socialbakers has revealed that 50% of the reach of a Facebook page’s posts occurs in the first half hour, and 80% in the first 3 hours. The below chart, based on a sample of 1,000 posts, displays the real-time minute-by-minute increase in reach.
Time spent on Google+ far behind Facebook
Google+ users spent an average of 6 minutes 47 seconds on the network during March, a far cry from the 6 hour 44 minute average on rival platform Facebook. Whilst this does represent growth from the 3.3 minutes spent in February 2012, in contrast to Facebook’s dip from 7 hours 9 minutes in March 2012, the rate at which G+ is catching up can be, by these figures at least, dismissed as negligible. Figures reported by Nielsen also revealed 20 million unique US users of the G+ Android and iPhone apps, a 238% increase from March 2012 and 28 million desktop users, up 63% in the same period. However, there is likely to be some crossover between the two groups. In fact, accusations have come in that Google+ is essentially a ‘desolate wasteland’, based on the activity of the top 100 global brands. According to research by Millward Brown, 40% of these posted to Google+ either infrequently or not at all, with 17 (including Nike and Pepsi) not having posted anything for over a week. McDonald’s, as shown below, have never had a single post.
How many Vines are shared
Research has been produced into how many branded Vines are shared to celebrate the app turning 100 days old. They discovered that branded Vines are shared 4x as often as branded online videos and, of the top 100 most shared, 4% of Vines were branded, compared to 1% of online videos. In total, 5 Vines are shared per second; more of these come during the weekend than the rest of the week combined. Time-wise, Vine frequency peaks from 10am-11am Eastern Time.
75% of top US retailers and restaurants are on Foursquare
Three quarters of the US top 100 retailers and top 100 restaurants are now on Foursquare, of which a full list can be found here. As for smaller businesses, over 1 million businesses have been claimed, but this includes some chain stores; only 17% have ever tried a promotion with the network. Larger businesses are seeing a positive effect from their campaigns; Bloomin’ Brands had 678 users redeem an offer for Outback stores in Richmond, VA, which gave a free appetiser for every second check in. Karen Soots, VP of media services at Bloomin’ Brands, praised the campaign’s effect, saying that if they were to do that nationwide at many restaurants over three weeks, it’s “millions of dollars in incremental revenue”.
Littlewoods collection to be sold in Facebook Newsfeed
Fashion retailer Littlewoods will be selling their latest collection within the Facebook Newsfeed. Using a system called SeeitShopit, which allows full collections to appear within a single post, it will enable fans to browse, share and purchase items from Myleene Klass’s new swimwear collection. They have since posted further ‘SeeitShopits’ about their summer collection, as shown below:
Target launch deals with Facebook
Retailer Target has produced a set of offers, which will automatically generate Facebook posts when claimed, unless the user turns this feature off. Starting with around 700 discount offers and expected to grow to 1,000, the campaign is set to be hosted on a Target website called ‘Cartwheel’. Users can claim a deal at any point, producing a unique barcode that tracks every offer they claim. This barcode is then scanned at checkout. Cartwheel works seamlessly with mobile, meaning that a discount can be claimed at any point in the process, even as you’re walking towards the checkout.
AA’s first class lounge open to those with high Klout scores
American Airlines have decided to open their ‘Admirals Club’ lounges free of charge to those with high Klout scores, regardless of whether they’re due to fly with AA. Anyone with a score of over 55 will qualify for a free one-day pass in any one of 40 airports and can take advantage of the benefits including free WiFi and beer. The campaign hopes that these people will then tweet or post to Facebook expressing their gratitude, though this is not a requirement of claiming the offer.
This week, in weird app news… introducing ‘TweetPee’, a nappy sensor plus Twitter alert that tells parents when their baby needs changing. The campaign from Brazil also allows parents to keep track of the number of Huggies they’ve used and even order online when they’re running low. The campaign is certainly a fun and innovative one – we wonder how many parents will be hooking their children’s nappies up to Twitter.
Coke zero’s #motherpiece campaign for forgetful children
Yesterday marked Mother’s Day in many countries across the world, the day of the year that celebrates children forgetting to get their mums anything. Coke Zero to the rescue! They targeted absent-minded children (particularly boys, for some reason) and asked them to tweet their best excuses with the hashtag #motherpieces, pushing the campaign through a set of promoted tweets. The best entries were then selected to send in a personal photo, with 10 classically-trained painters on hand to create a ‘motherpiece’ of the winner. If they sent in their home address, they’d also receive a framed copy. Mother’s Day salvaged.
Chinese Government wants WeChat to pay fees
Chat apps such as WeChat have been making such an impact on the usage of traditional telecommunications services that Chinese telcos have been asking for subsidies as compensation for lost revenue. According to a source at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, WeChat may have to pay fees in the future though the mechanics are still being looking into. WeChat risks losing users if the company chooses to share the costs with users. Industry watchers are of the opinion that Tencent may choose to absorb the fees and fund it using other revenue streams such as gaming, online-to-offline e-commerce and other value-added services.
Tencent’s president commits to keeping WeChat free for users
In response to complaints from netizens about the prospect of having to pay to use WeChat, Tencent’s president has committed to keeping the app free for users. Tencent is the maker of popular chat app, WeChat, which has experienced phenomenal growth on the back of its value-added free voice messaging and photo sharing features.
WeChat starts real-name verification for Open Platform users
Tencent has started a real-name verification exercise for users of its Open Platform service, which allows them to create special accounts to facilitate product promotions. Tencent has shut down accounts of users who are unable to provide their real identities in a move that brings relief to many companies. By keeping the userbase authentic, WeChat reduces the possibility of malicious usage of the platform to discredit other users.
China’s Social Media Landscape
CIC has released their latest infographic depicting the social media landscape in China. The diagram classifies Chinese social media platforms into four categories, based on maturity of the networks and functional usage. The definition of the four categories are as follows:
Functional Networks – Provide basic support for or have been integrated into other platforms.
Core Networks – Covers microblogs, Social Network Services (SNS), Instant Messenger (IM), Mobile Social, Bulletin Board Service (BBS) and e-Commerce.
Value-Added Networks – Add-on services for core networks and other platforms such as Social Commerce and Social Gaming.
Emerging/Niche Networks – Platforms serving niche groups or that function an a relatively independent level such as Photo Sharing and Social TV.
Softbank-funded Chinese startup to build Facebook-esque app for kids
Backed by funds from Japanese mobile phone giant Softbank, Chinese startup SmarTots is building a social networking app that allows children in China to share art projects online and on mobile devices. Parents and other relatives will be able to comment or express approval via the app, in Facebook-ish style. This development comes at an opportune time as smartphone growth is expected to more than double to 460 million by 2017. Education is big business in China as parents are willing to pay top dollar to give their children an edge in an increasingly competitive world. On the government spending front, education accounted for 4 percent of its GDP in 2012 while the government’s investment in education grew at an annual rate of 22 percent.
Google to buy WhatsApp?
The latest from the rumour mill is that Google is in talks to buy WhatsApp for US$1 billion. WhatsApp is the most popular mobile messaging app and is said to pose a real threat to companies like Facebook and Google. Having been downloaded over a 100 million times on Google Play, the app occupies top position in Apple’s App Store in various countries. If this deal goes through, it would put the deal size in the same tier as Facebook’s purchase of Instagram in 2012.
New mothers radically increase online usage
BabyCentre have produced research on the huge increase in internet usage amongst new mothers. This demographic group, who spends 35% more time online than the average person, up their internet usage by 45% and mobile by 28% after becoming a mother. Factors like feeling more guilty, rushed and stressed all contribute to the change in behaviour, which also sees 68% change in their purchase criteria for everything. Mobile becomes an increasingly important device for the time-poor group, of whom 59% refer to their smartphone as a “do-everything device”.
US teens go mobile first
A report from the Pew Research Centre has shown how mobile internet usage is becoming ever more popular amongst American teenagers aged 12-17. Of those, 47% now own smart phones, while 74% use mobile devices to access the internet at least occasionally. Perhaps most interestingly, many of these are using the device as their primary mode of internet access: 50% of teen smart phone users, or 25% of all teens, mostly access the internet via their phone rather than PCs.
Social while multitasking
A March 2013 survey of US internet users has displayed how popular social networks are while multitasking. The graph below shows the frequency of access during different activities, noticeably slightly higher for Facebook than Twitter. A gender divide is shown depending on activity: women were more likely to access social media while watching TV, travelling or shopping, whereas men did so more at work, on the toilet or when drunk.
Social media gets the SEC’s blessing
The Securities and Exchange Commission last week blessed the use of social media for sharing market-moving corporate news, provided companies have disclosed to shareholders the channels they intend to use. Previously, there had been concerns that sharing news on social networks would violate rules on selective disclosure around financially pertinent information. However, an investigation into Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix, ruled that his use of Twitter to announce 1 billion hours of views that month was acceptable, even after it resulted in an increase in share price. The ruling means that CEOs can now feel free to use Facebook or Twitter to broadcast news, even if it has potential to affect share price.
Mobile ad revenue at $4.11 billion for 2012
Mobile advertising revenue grew nearly five times to $4.11 billion from 2011 to 2012 and is expected to increase again by 77.3% to $7.29 billion in 2013. Google has historically earned the most from mobile display ads, but the entrance of Facebook and Twitter over the past year has seen the two networks earn hefty shares, with Facebook predicted to take the largest single share of mobile display this year at 29%. A 3-year forecast expects Facebook to remain ahead of Google for the next 2, before dipping behind again in 2015.
Facebook introduces Home
Last week saw a lot of speculation that Facebook were set to release a mobile phone. Ultimately, they announced “Facebook Home”, a piece of software for Android that, once installed, turns its host into an “always-on” Facebook device.
The system is much more visual than the current Facebook app, with the user’s home screen populated by photos and status updates, built around Zuckerberg’s vision of a “social phone” based on people and not apps. The system sees a number of benefits for the social network; not only can it look to further integrate with people’s lives, but the new, engaging format provides as way for mobile advertising beyond any other providers. Facebook have been quick to combat privacy fears, looking to make it clear that Home will not do anything that the current Facebook app doesn’t, particularly in relation to location services and other app data. You can read the full FAQ in their online Newsroom.
Facebook’s first TV ad
To launch ‘Home’, Facebook have splashed out on their first ever TV advert. It looks to depict the excitement ‘Home’ can bring to a boring business trip, as each swipe of the protagonist’s screen sees a new friend appear alongside him on the plane. Others might see the sunbathers imprisoned in overhead lockers and hipster disco in the aisle as a dystopian future vision of air travel. We’ll let you decide:
Facebook charging users to contact celebrities
Facebook has rolled out a set of charges for users to contact celebrities, ranging from 71p for lesser-known figures, including comedienne Miranda Hart, up to £10.68 for those with legions of fans, such as Olympic diver Tom Daley. This marks an expansion of paid messaging, which Facebook have previously experimented with when asking for payment in order to contact Mark Zuckerberg directly.
Twitter card updates
Twitter have announced a few updates for their “Twitter cards”, which can now display the likes of apps, products and photo galleries directly embedded in Tweets, as shown in the below screenshot. This displays an increased interest in immersive add-ons to Tweets, after the introduction of video-sharing app Vine earlier this year. Companies such as Amazon, Fandango, CNN and Soundcloud have already partnered with the system.
LinkedIn pushing ‘conversations’ by allowing ‘mentions’
Social platform LinkedIn is planning to increase levels of conversation within the network by allowing users to ‘mention’ one another, much like they can on Facebook. By starting to type a contact’s name, they will appear in a drop-down menu, from which you can select to ‘mention’ them; they will then receive a notification. The below slideshare includes more information on the changes.
Brand adverts on Instagram
Since their purchase of Instagram, Facebook have neglected to input paid advertising on the platform. In the meantime, a phenomenon has developed of celebrities and brands producing their own advertisements, from which Facebook gain no revenue (case in point, the below from pop artist Beyonce). It will be interesting to see if there follows an attempt to monetize such content.
We Are Social launch new adidas Energy Boost running shoes
We Are Social Italy ran a launch party to promote the new adidas Energy Boost running shoes. Beginning with an online content-production competition, Facebook users were asked to create a ‘card’ around the theme of ‘energy’ – 10 winners were then selected to join the exclusive BOOST™ launch party, attended by a number of celebrities. Further promotion came from outreach to key influencers, including footballers Riccardo Montolivo and Antonio Nocerino, rugby star Martin Castrogiovanni and basketballer Danilo Gallinari. The event saw a mammoth feat of vertical running by world champion Thomas Dold projected on to the side of the Grattacielo Pirelli, a Milanese skyscraper.
The American Heart Foundation’s ‘My Moves’ campaign
The AHA has produced a social campaign aimed at getting people to exercise more, asking fans to submit photos of their favourite activity via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Despite a lack of prize incentive, the activity has been successful so far, with thousands of photos submitted and the use of #MyMoves prevalent beyond the aforementioned networks.
Social Media Week kicks off in Singapore
Social Media Week Singapore is back from 18 to 22 February 2013. The global conference held biannually in various cities aims to connect social media enthusiasts, practitioners and C-level executives seeking to collaborate and share ideas in a swiftly evolving social media world. We tracked the buzz on the first day. 877 tweets were recorded by 300 users within an 8 hour period. This activity resulted in 2.4 million estimated impressions on Twitter. The key theme for the day was “Adding value as opposed to advertising your brand.” Covered by Damien Cummings during his keynote address, he explained that “Conversations, consistency and a true relatable voice are key when talking to your audience.”
Tencent’s WeChat tests ‘Custom Menu’ feature for brands
WeChat’s 300 million users (and counting!) may soon be able to execute transactions within the app. A recent report stated that the highly popular social messaging app is testing a new feature that allows brands to customize menus, offering consumers access to a suite of options allowing them to get in touch or transact with the organization. In the screenshot below, a beauty provider has customized the menu to offer users quick access to the official website. There is a button to call for appointments and a button to get details of the closest shops based on the user’s location. Though WeChat doesn’t have a mobile payments feature yet, its parent company Tencent has one called Tenpay. With more changes to brand accounts being rolled out for the rest of the year, industry watchers expect in-app purchases to be available soon with WeChat taking a cut of every transaction.
Brad Pitt banned on Sina Weibo too?
Slightly over a month since Brad Pitt joined Sina Weibo, it seems his account has been deactivated. Users trying to access his profile are shown the following error message instead.
Though it is unclear if the actor chose to remove his account on his own accord or he was dropped by Sina Weibo, it is widely speculated that the ban on him in China has extended to the virtual world. In case you’re wondering what the ban is about, Brad Pitt’s role in the 1997 movie “Seven Years in Tibet” has incensed the Chinese government to the extent that he has been barred from entry into the country.
LA Lakers Kobe Bryant joins Sina Weibo
Brad Pitt may be off Sina Weibo but another Western celebrity has joined the growing ranks of international stars on the network. LA Lakers’ star basketball player Kobe Bryant started his verified account on Valentine’s Day and amassed close to 200,000 fans within a day. Kobe hasn’t posted anything yet but his fans have been posting messages in English and Chinese with some enthusiastic fan groups offering to translate messages. Tech in Asia’s correspondent, C. Custer, opines that while Weibo is where cool stars are flocking to these days, the really cool ones can be found on WeChat. What’s your view?
Korean KakaoTalk launches digital publishing platform
Social messaging apps seem to be the way to go judging by how quickly they seem to be rolling out new features and accumulating users. 70 million user-strong KakaoTalk has launched Kakao Page, a media and content publishing platform for companies. Though it seems similar to WeChat’s customer-relation management function, Kakao Page seems to incorporate more features and is aimed at specific publishing and monetization. Only available in Korean at the moment, the app targets content creators and charges for the published material. This is widely viewed as competition to magazine subscriptions at Apple’s NewsStand or Google Play. This latest feature has strengthened the chat app’s offering, which also includes social gaming (currently only available in South Korea and Japan).
Good use of social media linked with brand perception and purchase intent
The J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Social Media Benchmark Study, released last week, has recorded a link between good use of social media and a number of factors affecting businesses’ bottom lines. The study of over 23,200 online customers found that of those who were considered ‘highly satisfied’, with satisfaction judged via a number of factors on a 1,000 point scale, 87% indicated that their social interaction with the company had strengthened purchase intent. Among those who were ‘less satisfied’, one in ten stated a negative impact on their likelihood to purchase from the company.
Consumers worldwide getting social with brands
The extent to which consumers interact socially with brands varies globally, according to research by Ipsos OTX and Ipsos Global @dvisor. In India, 40% of internet users agreed strongly that they were likely to check brand pages regularly, followed by 39% in Brazil and 35% in Indonesia. European figures can be seen in the graph below:
Social network popularity varies across different US demographics
The popularity of different social networks amongst US Internet users varies by demographic, according to research by the Pew Research Center. 26% of black users claimed to use Twitter, in comparison with 19% of Hispanic users and 14% white. A similar trend was apparent on Instagram, with each demographic displaying 23%, 18% and 11% respectively. The whitest social network is Pinterest, where the 18% of white users survey outweigh the Hispanic 10% and black 8%. Twitter is also shown to be more popular in urban areas, whilst Pinterest is most popular amongst those who earn between $50,000 and $74,999.
Mobile Twitter use in the UK
Twitter have released a set of figures about UK mobile usage of the network. The overall figures are impressive: 80% of Twitter users access the platform via a mobile, with 66% using it in front of the TV, 50% before bed and 1 in 3 during their commute. The network is truly social in an offline sense too, with a third of users accessing the platform whilst in social situations, such as interacting with friends. Finally, the news is good for brands; 67% of mobile users follow brands on Twitter, 45% are likely to recommend the brand to someone they know and 25% follow more than ten brands.
More women are using social around meal planning
US women are increasingly using social media as a tool for meal planning. Not only did nearly half admit to using their smartphone more while shopping, but particular social networks like Pinterest are providing sources of culinary inspiration: 30% reported using Pinterest at least once a week, with 75% of those stating that it provided aid with trying new dishes. In fact, Pinterest was one of the top five recipe sources amongst US mum Internet users, even more popular than finding ideas through friends.
Facebook looking to movies, TV, books and fitness as sharable content
Facebook’s VP of partnerships, Dan Rose, has been discussing what content he thinks will be big for sharing on the network in the upcoming year. He stated:
2013, we think, is going to be the year of movies, books and fitness.
It is fairly straightforward to see how this could work for film and fitness, with Facebookers already regularly sharing the films they watch on Netflix, or whenever they’ve completed a run with various sports apps. Apps like Goodreads have been mentioned as ways to share the books one has read, though it would perhaps be more prudent to look into automatic sharing with e-readers to promote the desired behaviours. Rose added that the platform is in talks with the likes of Dish Network and Comcast to create a social TV programming guide.
Facebook introduces ‘buy tickets’ button for events
Facebook have introduced a new feature for events: a button that reads “buy tickets”, linking to an off site location for users to complete a transaction. Whilst those planning an event were previously able to include a link for the same purpose, the new button adds emphasis, highlighting the option to those visiting the event page. It is worth noting that it is still necessary to leave the page in order to go through with the order, though. The new feature, currently available only to pages, will look as below:
Eventbrite have announced seamless integration with the feature, allowing users to take advantage of it simply by clicking ‘Publish to Facebook’ from within the Eventbrite page. They have also announced that, once the button is rolled out to all users, they will extend their service to mirror this.
Facebook push ‘Gifts’ feature on Valentine’s Day
For last-minute Valentine’s Day gifts, it’s hard to beat petrol station flowers. That stellar romantic advice aside, an alternative was offered this year by Facebook, who pushed their ‘Gifts’ feature by promoting limited edition $1 Valentine’s Day presents at the top of Newsfeed. Those who have listed themselves as ‘in a relationship’ received messages like the below, mentioning their partner by name and encouraging them to purchase a gift, whilst more generic messages were sent to others.
Facebook allowing you to promote friends’ posts
In a further attempt at monetisation, Facebook are allowing users with fewer than 5,000 friends or subscribers to promote and share their friends’ posts. The post will then appear in Newsfeeds, with a reference to who sponsored it. The platform are continuing to experiment with the cost of promotion, but InsideFacebook have identified $7 as a rough average.
Posterous to shut down on 30th April
Since being acquired by Twitter, blogging platform Posterous has decided to shut down for good, with staff set to concentrate on their partnership with the microblogging website. They have released details of how to download all of your posts, along with recommendations for the importer tools of WordPress and Squarespace in aid of those who wish to continue blogging.
Improved Twitter synchronisation from American Express
American Express have upgraded their save-by-tweet service, which allowed users to save deals by tweeting a certain hashtag, into a pay-by-tweet equivalent, which allows items to be purchased through exactly the same mechanism. Firstly, users sync their AmEx card to Twitter. Then, when they use one of the offer/product hashtags, they tweet it to claim whatever may be stored with it. All they then have to do is confirm the payment. The simple process is explained further in the below video.
Over 100,000 Vines posted to Twitter last weekend
Twitter users posted 113,897 Vines to the platform during the weekend of the 9th-10th February, an average of 3,324 per hour. These high figures, in part a result of a busy weekend that included New York Fashion Week, the Grammy Awards and a hurricane hitting the Northeastern US, display a swift initial uptake of the app. Whilst the figures might not quite match the 1.3 million photos uploaded to Instagram during Hurricane Sandy, they amount to a tenth of that number – certainly impressive for what is still a very new app. It will be interesting to see if Vine can continue to grow at the same rate; if so, it may well end up being a very valuable asset for Twitter.
The use of Vine at New York Fashion Week
A large amount of the Vine activity this week came through New York Fashion Week, with large institutions such as the Wall Street Journal making use of the video-sharing application. The newspaper curated content from a variety of social platforms, including Instagram and Twitter, into a page that included the videos. A similar piece of activity came from designer, Matthew Williamson, who used the app for sharing content live from the catwalk, enlisting the help of photographer Sean Cunningham to ensure a professional finish. The content, starting with the introduction below, can be found through the hashtag #MatthewMagnified or at the @MWWorld account.
— Matthew Williamson (@MWWorld) February 14, 2013
Grammy Awards encourage fast work from brands
Hot on the heels of the Superbowl, when Oreo were lauded for their quick work in producing a tweet about the blackout, the Grammy Awards have seen similar action from brands. This time, Oreo produced a cute picture of one of their biscuits in formal attire, but were outdone in the reaction stakes by the likes of Mastercard and Spotify:
— Priceless (@priceless) February 11, 2013
— Spotify (@Spotify) February 11, 2013
Heineken helping find reservations with #tweetforatable Heineken USA decided to help out Valentine’s Day stragglers by booking tables for them at “cool, man of the world” restaurants. By tweeting with the hashtag #tweetforatable, Twitter users are entered for the chance to win a reservation at a top restaurant. Even before Valentine’s Day, Heineken were claiming to have received 1,000 entries, with reservations still available on the day.
GE run #IWantToInvent campaign for Inventors’ Day
Inventors’ Day is designed to celebrate those who come up with the out-of-this-world ideas that have shaped the course of human history. To celebrate, GE gave Twitter users the opportunity to be an inventor for a day; of tweets that came in with the hashtag #IWantToInvent, the best were chosen and sketched by a professional illustrator. They hashtag was used 2,600 times and GE themselves received 1,400 interactions, including tweets from other brands like Trident, Tropicana and Ritz. An example of the images can be seen below, whilst GE have collected all the sketches into a Facebook album.
KLM produce personalised ‘Must See Map’ through social
Dutch airline KLM have created a campaign that collects tips and recommendations from your friends via social media to produce a personalised ‘Must See Map’, which you can use when visiting your destination. A nice example of how to combine social and print.
Skittles building a rainbow from sweets, streaming activity online
Confectionery brand Skittles are creating a rainbow online, to be made out of batches of sweets that will be added in innovative ways every ten minutes. The activity will be live streamed via a number of webcams, with the resultant video added to YouTube. In addition, 100,000 fans will be able to claim their own sweet within the rainbow, which they can personalise by adding a message.
Lipton targeting younger audience with Instagram competition
Tea brand Lipton have created a four-week Instagram competition, which encourages the submission of photos that celebrate a different one of Lipton’s core values each week, such as #LiptonBrightness. There will be weekly prizes up for grabs, as well as a grand prize of an all-expenses-paid safari for two in Kenya. The campaign is running across 11 countries, aimed at engaging 22-30 year olds, as opposed to Lipton’s current older demographic.
We Are Social produce Plus Size campaign for F&F
In conjunction with British Plus Size Fashion Weekend, We Are Social have created a campaign for F&F clothing with the tag line ‘Feel Fabulous with F&F’. The activity was introduced by inviting three bloggers to become reporters for BPSFW and providing them with an F&F outfit to wear during the event. These bloggers will then write posts about the experience, as well as selecting top fashion picks to be seen by F&F Facebook fans. This is to be supported by Twitter activity, in which the clothing brand will encourage users to tweet using the hasthag #FeelFabulous in order to receive a £25 voucher.
BMW bring child’s drawing to life
Lots of kids draw. Lots of kids love cars. Not many kids get their drawings turned into a state-of-the-art design by a car manufacturer. However, BMW have changed that for one lucky child, whose drawing was turned into a full prototype for a seriously futuristic looking car, complete with the four-year-old’s chosen specifications. They then posted the image to their Facebook page, with the following message:
Eli, we think you might be onto something. Our marketing department worked a little photoshop magic to bring your dream to life. We’ll be sure to pass this on to our product designers. Thanks for sharing your idea and for being a BMW fan.
Tesla Motors and NY Times clash via social media
A slightly less charming automotive story now, as Tesla Motors and the NY Times clashed via social media. The newspaper had reported problems with Tesla’s new Model S, which the car manufacturer then responded to in a long, frank blog post, full to the brim with irrevocable data in defence of their vehicle. Tesla then posted their blog to Facebook and Twitter, encouraging and engaging in discussion with a fairly neutral tone. Their founder, Elon Musk was more partisan, taking to Twitter to vehemently argue against the claims. As a result of all this, CNN got involved and found no problems with the car, which goes to show how a quick and full response to criticism can create a shift from negative to positive.
Makers Mark bows to Twitter pressure to not dilute bourbon
Bourbon manufacturer Makers Mark last week announced plans to reduce the alcohol content of their bourbon, in order to allow for a shortage caused by increased demand. However, they received such backlash on Twitter that they have been forced to backtrack, tweeting that they will retain the beverage’s original strength. This should act as a lesson in the power of Twitter for swaying the actions of brands, as shown by the graph below, depicting Twitter mentions of Makers Mark from the day before they announced the change:
Social media and US politics
Last week, President Obama’s ‘State of the Union’ address created a lot of excitement across social media, particularly in the realm of real-time Twitter advertising. First of all, a number of organisations purchased promoted tweets with the hashtag #SOTU in the time leading up to the event, with nonprofits including Chevron, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Bankrupting America, Heritage Foundation, the National Association of Manufacturers and Society for Human Resource Management looking to steer online conversation towards their interests. During the speech, the @BarackObama and @whitehouse accounts both live tweeted much of what the president said, including additional content where relevant or effective. The action on Twitter continued further after the event, with mockery of Republican Senator’s response to the speech, in which he hurriedly sipped at his water. However, his response managed to make a joke out of the issue and deflect criticism:
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) February 13, 2013
Poland Spring, too, released a humorous tweet about the incident. However, they did so a couple of days later, rather than in real-time and, as such, were largely criticised for a failure to understand social media. However, the fairness of this has been disputed, with arguments cited in their defence including ‘unrealistic expectations’ and the fact that this was not a crisis, so did not require immediate action. Despite all this, Twitter was not the only lively platform. In the following days, Obama hosted a Google+ hangout, called ‘Fireside Hangout’. For a feature that is sometimes derided, having such a high profile event displays that the potential that still remains.
HootSuite social media dashboard goes Korean
Social media dashboard HootSuite is now fully localized for Korean users. Though a Korean User Interface is not available on the mobile app yet, it’s in the works. Considering how often the Vancouver-based company has been rolling out updates to support Asian users, we reckon the months ahead will be interesting for users seeking a social media dashboard that supports a wide range of platforms in Asian languages. Just last week, we mentioned that HootSuite introduced new features for Sina Weibo and Renren, China’s version of Twitter and Facebook respectively. We’re waiting to see the new updates that the Hootsuite owl has under his wings.
Meet Zalo, Vietnam’s contender in the mobile messaging app battle
Mobile messaging apps have been making huge waves the past few months. Asian-born apps such as Line, WeChat and KakaoTalk have been making a play for the international market while battling for dominance within the region. Mobile messaging is much loved in Asia so it barely comes as surprise that Vietnam has jumped into fray with homegrown app Zalo. In a recent update, bugs in the app were patched, a VIP microblogging feature was added along with a Retina app icon. In spite of the newly added features, the app is still not on par with its stronger Asian competitors. Zalo in its current incarnation is not as slick or sophisticated as the other apps but it is learning from its competitors. Big changes could be underway as the app maker, VNG, has hired a large team to bring the app up to speed and to bring to life new features that will help reel in more users. Considering that it was only fully launched in November 2012 and has amassed over 500,000 users by late January, the app isn’t doing too badly in relation to VNG’s social media platform Zing Me’s 8 million users. In addition, due to VNG’s gaming background, industry observers expect gaming features to be rolled out on Zalo soon. 2013 could be the year of mobile messaging, do you think so too?
KakaoTalk releases K-pop emoticons for Indonesian users
Speaking of chat app and features, Korean-born KakaoTalk has released Korean pop star emoticons that have been localized for Indonesian users. Featuring animated text in English and Indonesian, the 5 sets of K-pop emoticons for acts such as Girls Generation, KARA, SHINee, Rainbow and Yoo Seung Ho are available as in-app purchases in the Android app. Costing IDR 3,300 (S$0.42) each, they’re currently not available within the iOS app although users can still receive and use them via the gifting feature. Till 8 February, Indonesian users stand a chance to get free K-pop emoticons by liking or following KakaoTalk’s social platforms and helping to spread the word.
KakaoTalk launches games on iOS in Japan
More on Korean KakaoTalk, in its latest move to challenge rivals like Line, the messenger app has unleashed its mobile gaming feature on iOS and Japan. The expansion of the app’s gaming service into Japan is supported by Yahoo Japan which owns half of Kakao Japan, the app’s local subsidiary. There are currently six third-party iOS game apps on KakaoTalk’s social gaming network: Tap Tap Blitz, Puzzle Zoo Zoo, Sushi Panic (shown in picture below), Zoo Zoo Bubble and Pocket Colony. The company hopes to offer 100 games by year end to its users.
Social becoming increasingly global
Earlier this week, we reported on GlobalWebIndex’s latest data, which displays a shift towards the use of global social platforms. This has meant an increase in user numbers for the ‘big three’ of Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, which have increased their active user counts by 33.4%, 27.7% and 40.1% respectively.
Facebook’s 2012 growth
Facebook has, in the last week, shared their latest ‘active user’ figures for the end of 2012. The network now counts 1.056 billion monthly active users, a 24.97% increase since the same time in 2011.
In terms of daily active users, the platform has now reached 618 million, up 34 million from the previous quarter. Interestingly, mobile daily active users surpassed their desktop counterparts for the first time, showing that those who access Facebook regularly are increasingly doing so via mobile.
The number of pages has increased to 50 million and apps to 10 million, in comparison with 42 million and 9 million in April, whilst there are now 350 million photos uploaded to Facebook every day. All this has contributed to a strong financial quarter for the network, with $1.59 billion in revenue up from $1.13 billion in Q4 2011. In terms of profit, however, the story is mixed: $64 million profit in Q4 2012 was a huge improvement on the $59 million loss in Q3, but down from $302 million at this point last year.
Marketers to spend more on social in 2013
The number of marketers either purchasing media or sponsored content in social is set to grow in 2013, with 64% of those surveyed by Nielsen claiming they intend to increase their social budget in the future. This is likely to start as a small increase (between 1 and 10%) but nevertheless displays a shifting attitude towards more robust use of social media as a marketing tool.
Facebook testing verbs for status updates
Facebook has begun trialling a new system that provides a more structured method for users to share what they’re doing, such as watching or reading. As well as posting a normal update, there would be an option when writing a post to select from a drop down menu of feelings, films, books etc. or choose to write your own.
The example below shows how this would work for someone watching the film ‘There Will Be Blood’.
Facebook introduces Gift Cards
Facebook last week released a universal gift card, an extension of their ‘Gifts’ system, through which you can purchase presents for a friend via the platform. The card, available from now in the US, will hold on it the relevant amount of money a user has to spend in various participating retailers, as shown by the example below:
The initiative does have issues. Firstly, it may have been more useful to provide one unified currency to spend across Facebook, instead of breaking it up by retailer; however, it is of greater benefit to those retailers that the revenue be locked into their stores. Also, there is as yet no integration with the likes of Apple’s Passbook.
Facebook increasing transparency of targeted ads
Facebook has decided to make it more transparent when ads have been targeted, choosing to display the blue ‘AdChoices’ icon to a user when an advert that has been targeted for them, subsequently allowing users to opt out. However, the changes do not display wholesale transparency. Firstly, this only applies to display ads served through the FBX ad exchange. Secondly, the icon appears only when someone scrolls over the grey x in the corner of the advert, which itself only appears when the advert itself is scrolled over.
Facebook set to grow headcount in 2013, looking at increasing revenue
Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that 2013 will see Facebook grow in staff numbers, looking at further development of money-making streams such as Graph Search and Gifts. The platform, which grew by 44% to 4,619 employees in 2012, will increase its headcount even further, in order to invest on research and development for products that can increase Facebook’s long-term revenue. The statement also acts as a warning to investors that Facebook intends to focus on long-term over short-term profits, as the rise in staff will increase the platform’s expenditure by 50%.
Facebook’s image-based commerce
A tech company called Stipple, which provides the ability to add certain functionalities to images, has now extended the service to the Facebook stream. This allows brands who use Stipple to display pricing information on images and looks towards an eventual move to provide real-time purchasing in users’ news feeds.
Foursquare’s improvements for businesses
Foursquare has enabled a number of improvements for businesses. Firstly, they have released an app that allows business managers to more easily share updates, specials and discover information about their customers. The app, for iPhone and Android, is aimed at local managers who can switch between a few locations; an entire chain must still be managed via desktop. Furthermore, businesses can now choose to have their Twitter handles shown any time someone shares a check-in on Twitter, facilitating organic cross-platform growth.
UK Foursquare users can sync their accounts with American Express Cards
This February, AmEx is providing exclusive discounts to UK users who sync their cards with their Foursquare accounts. Spending at certain retailers will result in cash back on users’ next bills, with the stores involved including Harrods, Shell, Gap, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.
The Super Bowl on Twitter
Last night marked the Super Bowl, probably the biggest fixture in American sport. Unsurprisingly, Twitter was on excellent form and the network has published some statistics on the evening’s activity. The highest peak (in tweets per minute) during the game came when a power cut stopped play, with an activity rate of 231,500 TPM. The end of the game produced 183,000, whilst one particularly impressive touchdown gathered 185,000. However, the true star of the night, at least on Twitter, was Beyonce, who generated 5.5 million tweets during her half-time performance. The conclusion of her show was subject to 268,000 tweets per minute.
Twitter wins over Facebook in Super Bowl TV ads
Famous as the Super Bowl is for sporting action and overeating, the TV adverts have also become a celebrated part of the event. Yesterday showed the extent to which television and social marketing has become integrated by the number of mentions different networks received across the 52 national adverts, with Twitter receiving 26 to Facebook’s paltry 4 and a no show for Google+, in comparison with 8 mentions each for Facebook and Twitter out of 59 adverts in 2012.
Marketers take advantage of Super Bowl blackout
As huge numbers of Twitter users took to the social network to talk about the Super Bowl, marketers were on hand to take advantage of the blackout that stopped play. Brands such as Bud Light and Speed Stick purchased promoted tweets so as to be seen in conversations around the power cut. Many other brands, such as Audi, Tide and Volkswagen all produced relevant content.
Sending some LEDs to the @mbusa Superdome right now…
— Audi (@Audi) February 4, 2013
— Tide (@tide) February 4, 2013
— Volkswagen USA (@VW) February 4, 2013
Calvin Klein used the opportunity to experiment with Vine, Twitter’s new video-sharing app.
— Calvin Klein (@CalvinKlein) February 4, 2013
The absolute winner has to be Oreo, who had an entire team on hand to sign off creative in real-time, producing the below Twitter update that was retweeted over 14,000 times. On Facebook, the same photo received over 19,000 likes and 6,500 shares:
Power out? No problem. twitter.com/Oreo/status/29…
— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Duracell also reacted well, producing the below for Facebook:
Taylor Swift set to help Diet Coke in social Diet Coke have announced a partnership with Taylor Swift across all their marketing channels, from TV to print and digital. Interestingly, the deal’s launch depicts a distinctly social aspect to the campaign, with the singer announcing it in a 45-second YouTube video. Moreover, she encouraged her 39 million Facebook fans to ‘like’ the Diet Coke page as a resource for exclusive information about her upcoming tour, suggesting that one key aspect to using the brand advocate is to grow the brand’s online communities. It is worth noting that Taylor Swift has a huge online presence, particularly on Twitter, where her 23.5 million followers puts her only a few million behind US president Barack Obama.
Expedia app helps fans organise their holiday photos Expedia has released a ‘Find Your Story’ app that allows fans to choose photos from across Instagram and Facebook to produce a video collage of their trip, which can then be shared on Facebook. The idea is a clever one, in that it taps into the insight that many of us take hundreds of holiday snaps and fail to organise them correctly. The below video shows how it works:
IBM launch on Tumblr
IBM has released a Tumblr called IBMblr, aimed at ‘celebrating innovation’. Whilst the brands that tend to find the most success on the platform are ones with a strong visual element, such as design or fashion companies, IBM have a wealth of content to draw upon, having filed the most US patents for 20 consecutive years. As such, IBMblr will feature images of products from the past, as well as ideas about the future of technology. Whilst this is a bold step for a B2B brand, it will be worth following whether or not they manage to locate an audience on the platform. O2 predict the future on Facebook As part of their promotion for their new ‘Pay & Go Go Go’ service, which rewards customers the longer they stay with the network, O2 have released a ‘Future Timeline’ campaign, which creates an idealised version of the upcoming year based on fans’ Facebook data. For example, you may end up on a date with a celebrity crush, or your favourite football team might end up winning the league. In addition to this, content hosted on O2′s ‘Future News’ YouTube channel will feature ex-Arsenal striker, Ian Wright, presenting sporting news that is yet to happen. Fired HMV employee posts from company’s Twitter account A lesson to all companies intending to mass-fire their employees: make sure they don’t have access to your Twitter account. Last week, tweets appeared on HMV’s own Twitter feed that detailed how 60 employees were being let go in what was referred to as a ‘mass execution’. The company then followed up, explaining what had happened via the same channel, tweeting:
One of our departing colleagues was understandably upset. We’re still here thou, thx for supporting hmv thro these challenging times
— hmv (@hmvtweets) January 31, 2013
Obviously, when your business is being liquidated, spelling goes out the window. The disgruntled employee has since been revealed as former intern Poppy Rose Cleere, who claimed her actions were based on a sense of injustice that those responsible for HMV’s downfall were safe, whilst those lower down the chain lost out the most. Apparently, she has since been inundated with job offers.
Tesco troll Arsenal on Transfer Deadline Day
Transfer deadline day can be a tough time for fans of English Premier League football club Arsenal (I speak from experience). One account, poking fun at manager Arsene Wenger’s love for a bargain, attempted to make light of the situation, tweeting about negotiations with the supermarket chain. Tesco picked up on this and responded, pointing out that the manager has not always proved financially astute:
@wengerknowsbest We ain’t budging on this.If you can pay €7million for Andre Santos, you can pay our prices!
— Tesco Customer Care (@UKTesco) January 31, 2013
This refers to Arsenal’s Brazilian left back, who has been largely criticised for lacklustre performances since arriving at the Emirates. Later that day, Arsenal purchased a replacement. Perhaps the Gunners have Tesco to thank.
Sina Weibo launches promoted feed ads
Still trying to find ways to monetize its popular Twitter-esque microblogging site, Sina Weibo has rolled out promoted feed advertisements to its 400 million users. Known as Weibo Tuiguang, the ads will appear in user feeds and be differentiated from user posts by a grey line and a notice indicating that it’s a sponsored post. Yet to be implemented on the mobile platform, the decision to roll out on the web platform first is an interesting deviation from the company’s declared intention to focus on its mobile platform as it seeks to monetize. In addition to promoted feed ads, the company is exploring a diverse range of options such as e-payments and fan headline advertising to start the revenue stream flowing. It better move quickly as its rival, Tencent’s killer chat app, WeChat is fast gaining ground having registered its 300 millionth user less than a week ago and drawing Weibo users’ attention away from the microblogging service.
WeChat’s new features to include song recognition & voice chatrooms
Speaking of WeChat, the app has unleashed a beta version 4.5 update that features multi-user voice chatrooms, Siri-like voice reminders and even a song database search feature along the lines of Shazam or SoundHound. The update will allow users to set verbal reminders for themselves and to search for an unknown piece of music by shaking the smartphone. The app will stream the song along with its lyrics but is expected to be made available only to Chinese users due to copyright issues. Word has it that the update will be made available to iPhone users first before Android users. It will be interesting to see how many users the group chatroom can host.
Japanese chat app, Line, reaches 100 million users
Fast becoming a worthy rival to WeChat, Line has just passed the 100 million users milestone. The photo below shows the user counter that was set up at Line HQ in anticipation of breaching the 100 million users mark. Though a much smaller player than 300 million strong WeChat, Line is ahead of Korean Kakao Talk’s 72 million users, in the battle for dominance in the Asian mobile messaging market. Industry watchers expect these Asian players to expand into English speaking markets this year. This would be interesting as they face off with old players such as WhatsApp and new entrants such as Facebook Messenger in the international arena.
Snoop Dogg pimps Line on Twitter
Line has tied up with popular US rapper, Snoop Dogg to help its expansion into the North American market. Boasting a range of Snoop Dogg virtual stickers that are available for free downloads, Line has been getting lots of attention through the rapper’s shout-outs on Twitter.
Line’s aggressive foray into overseas markets such as Southeast Asia and the US has been credited with helping it to hit the 100 million user mark. Interestingly, the app’s maker, NHN Japan revealed some months back that half of its then 70 million users were not from Japan. The app is expected to gain more traction in English speaking markets in 2013 while simultaneously looking to expand in China with a Chinese version, called ‘Lianwo‘.
China’s MiTalk to give WeChat a run for its money
China-born Android-based smartphone maker, Xiaomi, has struck a partnership with Taiwanese startup, Mface, to market it’s messaging app known as Miliao in Chinese (aka MiTalk in English) across Southeast Asia. The collaboration is expected to help MiTalk expand its reach to Indonesia, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan. MiTalk aims to register 5 million overseas users by year end. The chat app currently has 23 million registered users, a large proportion of which are presumably from mainland China. The company will be marketing its smartphones in Hong Kong and Taiwan soon and may expand into North America in the next few years.
Worldwide smartphone penetration on the up
An article by eMarketer has examined the growing smartphone market around the world. It predicts that by 2016, roughly 75% of certain markets including the US and UK, will own one of the devices. The mobile phone market is incredibly saturated, with 130% combined market penetration of smartphones and non-smartphones. As such, they argue that the coming years will see an increase in the former and a decrease in the latter, resulting in the following figures:
Facebook release Graph Search
Facebook have announced Graph Search, a new social search engine that will allow users to search for results based on what their friends like. For example, instead of just looking for a dentist, you can look for “dentists in my area that my friends like”, or even the likes of “singles in my area who like Star Wars”. We have produced a comprehensive post detailing everything you need to know about the feature here.
Facebook bring free voice calls to the US
As we’ve previously discussed, Facebook operated a trial in Canada for free voice calling over the Internet with its iOS Messenger app. Now, they’ve extended this to the US with the latest version of Messenger for iOS. Provided that both users have downloaded the app, they are able to call one another for free, either over WiFi or by using up some of their data allowance.
Instagram releases monthly active user data
After the speculation about Instagram losing users, which we mentioned in last week’s mashup, the network has decided to release data about its monthly active users for the first time. They have stated that, contrary to the rumour, they have actually seen 10% growth in the period from December to January and that the last count showed over 90 million people using Instagram monthly.
EyeEm overtakes Instagram in app downloads
Whilst this was going on, Instagram was actually overtaken by a rival photo-sharing app called EyeEm in terms of downloads, which was at one point the second most downloaded photo/video app behind YouTube. Instagram has since regained its position ahead of EyeEm, but this shows the potentially precarious position Instagram holds in the photo-sharing market.
Favouriting becoming more popular on Twitter
Over the past year, the option to ‘favourite’ a tweet has become much more popular, as the following graph shows:
This comes as a result of changes made to favouriting by Twitter in December 2011, placing the option in a much more noticeable position and making it easier to access favourited tweets. Interestingly, users are more likely to favourite an @-reply than a regular tweet, potentially showing how users are employing the function as a way of exhibiting a positive response, similar to a Facebook ‘like’.
Twitter and television
Twitter have released some intriguing statistics into the way in which people interact with television on the network. They claim that 60% of Twitter users access the site while watching TV and around 40% of prime time Twitter activity is about television. Using specific programmes as case studies, they showed how big TV events can attract an impressively high amount of online activity, such as an episode of Made In Chelsea that procured 215,220 tweets from 110,162 users, reaching a potential 124.2m users.
Twitter headers make it possible to fake verified accounts
The introduction of Twitter header images has led to an unwanted side effect for Twitter, as it is now possible for someone to fake a verified account. As you can see from the image below, it seems as though there is a verified account for a fictional creation, the children’s book character Percy Jackson. However, the blue tick that announces verification has simply been added to the background. Fortunately, there is still a way to tell the difference between verified and unverified accounts, as the word “verified” will appear when you hover the cursor over a true account.
New Myspace now publicly available
The new version of Myspace, which launched in July, is now open to the public after a period of invitation-only signups. The emphasis remains strongly on music and in particular discovering new usic, with an audio deck on each page and a variety of music-related trending stories. The main page also promotes investor Justin Timberlake’s new single. There is yet to be a formal announcement for the new launch.
Foursquare’s maps show the growth of the network
Foursquare have released a detailed map that shows the various places where people have checked in over the last three months.
As can be seen above, this shows various world hubs, but can also be used to show in more detail the areas where people like to check in within a city, such as a clear layout of the runways in Atlanta Airport. In an interview with TechCrunch, Foursquare’s data scientist, Blake Shaw discussed how having access to all this information is important for the future of the company. He stated how they are experiencing a stage of growth similar to Twitter in 2008, from a place to share information to a location for consumption of that information; that is, Foursquare intends to grow further towards being a tool for discovering new places.
Twitter tracking the Oscars
Twitter have released a tool for tracking the positive conversation around Oscar nominees in the six largest categories: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Director. They have produced a real time graph that displays positive sentiment around any of the nominees, measured as a percentage score against the average sentiment level of all tweets on the network. This is similar to a project pitting Romney against Obama during the US Presidential Election and is of interest for examining how particular events or news stories have an effect on public opinion.
Smoothie King helping with New Year’s Resolutions
It’s a sad fact that most New Year’s Resolutions don’t last a very long time. So drinks company Smoothie King have released a Facebook app called Lean Into Life, aimed at salvaging the spirit of New Year in mid-January, by encouraging users to take photographs of themselves whilst completing certain resolution-related challenges for the chance to win $100 gift cards, free smoothies or a bicycle. Fans are asked to take a photograph via Instagram and use the hasthags #SmoothieKing and #LeanIntoLife to take part in the contest.
Panera Bread Company promote ‘hidden menu’ via Social
Panera Bread Company last week sent out a tweet that announced their new ‘hidden menu’ and was met with a range of reactions from excitement to confusion. The idea is that the menu is not mentioned in store, but simply via social, meaning that in-the-know Twitter followers have to go in store and specifically request one of the protein-rich range. This exclusively-social promotion is an interesting idea and could be a very effective example for restaurant or FMCG brands.
Indy 500 campaign set to use people’s Instagram photos
An Indy 500 campaign is set to use Instagram images tagged with the hasthag #Indy500orBust. These will be placed on an interactive map, whilst users are also given the opportunity to win a VIP race experience by uploading photographs. After the controversy surrounding potential changes to Instagram’s terms of service, it will be interesting to see how many campaigns like this come about.
Bentley releasing cars with hashtag license plates
For the launch of three new models, Bentley showcased each with a license plate that displayed a hashtag of the car’s name.
The move is very similar to We Are Social’s campaign for Jaguar, where we emblazoned the model specific @sportbrake handle on the side of a prototype car. As such, it seems that we are seeing a growing trend in the automotive industry to attempt to support the launch of new vehicles with online conversation, specifically on Twitter.
The NHL’s Foursquare comeback
With the launch of a new NHL season, the league has released a Foursquare badge that can be unlocked by checking in at two games this season. Anyone who unlocks it is eligible for a 15% discount at the NHL online shop. Five separate teams have also released their own badge, which can be obtained by checking in at either a home or away game at any point in the season. Each of these qualifies fans for a separate benefit, including the change to win tickets or discounts at team stores.
Esurance Facebook campaign offers SXSW dream package
Online insurance company Esurance have released a campaign that offers fans the chance to win an all-access pass to SXSW, a $2000 hotel stay, iPad and the opportunity to create a set of videos that details the excitement behind the campaign. To win, fans must create content that displays why they are the right person to be behind the videos. The campaign taps into the technological nature of SXSW and produces a prize that is truly fit for the audience.
Volvic and We Are Social search for brand advocates on Facebook
We Are Social have produced a campaign for Volvic that asks fans to submit photographs that they feel best reflects the ‘Volcanicity’ brand. As an incentive, fans can win ‘once in a lifetime experiences’ around the theme of volcanoes, along with a camera to document them. The campaign is aimed at driving brand advocacy – Deola Laniyan, Account Director at We Are Social, said fans will:
become our community managers meaning the content that’s posted is much more likely to resonate with their peers and drive engagement.
English and Welsh High Court ruling on Facebook privacy
The England and Wales High Court has made a ruling on Facebook privacy, stating that pictures on Facebook cannot be published in a newspaper without permission, even if they are set to ‘public’. The ruling is of interest to all those on Facebook and could display a pro-user attitude to privacy by UK authorities.
Tesco’s horse play on Twitter
You’d think the last week couldn’t have got much worse for Tesco, what with their value-range beef burgers being found to contain horse meat. However, it looks as though it has, after accidentally tweeting what looked like a joke about horses. It goes to show the danger of scheduling tweets and making sure you keep a close eye on all social media channels, especially at sensitive times.
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.
Just how many Twitter users are there in China?
According to a recent study, there are only 18,164 active Twitter users in China. This is in sharp contrast to data released by GlobalWebIndex indicating 35.5 million monthly active users. The huge disparity prompted yet another study of the numbers. The latest study revealed a tiny userbase of about 8,000 active Twitter users in China out of a sample size of 43,784 people who tweeted in Chinese. The pie chart below depicts the global distribution of Chinese-language tweets according to timezone. Have you read other reports with similar figures?
China uses Weibo for quake warnings
Chengdu credits the use of Weibo for advanced warnings as being a contributing factor in reducing earthquake casualties during last week’s quake. The warning system is wired to send messages within five seconds of a shockwave being detected in an area covering 20,000 square kilometres. Emergency usage of Weibo is still in its infancy in Chengdu with less than 1,000 followers. However, with the combined population of one billion registered users on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, social media will increasingly be used as a means to provide people advanced warnings for earthquakes.
Brad Pitt’s the latest celebrity to join Sina Weibo
Hollywood star Brad Pitt is the latest celebrity to jump onto the Sina Weibo bandwagon to a warm reception from Weibo users. Within 2 hours of his first post with the cryptic message, “It is the truth. Yup, I’m coming…”, the actor’s status update received 8,000 comments, 20,000 reposts and acquired 73,000 fans for his verified account. Though Brad Pitt is not the first international movie star to join Weibo, this development is interesting because he’s supposed to be banned from entry into China due to his starring role in the 1997 movie ‘Seven Years in Tibet’. The coming days will reveal if the actor’s foray into the Chinese webosphere is part of a promotional effort for an upcoming movie or if he’s acting as a spokesperson for brands he represents.
Chinese flirting app, Momo, adds check-ins
In an effort to monetise the popular flirting app Momo, the next app update will include check-in features and user-generated listings of local points of interests in a move that challenges similar apps such as Jiepang and Sina Weibo’s ”Places”. The app will also include Instagram-esque photo filters with an intent to use the listings as a source of revenue. The new features will only be available for the Chinese version of the app at the moment as the management plans to keep the international version simple during the market penetration phase.
BitGifting allows friends to pool resources for a prepaid card gift
The days of gifts being tossed out or stuck in a storeroom because they didn’t fit the recipients’ tastes or needs may finally be over. The new BitGifting app allows users in India to send a prepaid card that can be redeemed at any outlet or payment gateway that accepts Visa cards. Users can login using their Facebook accounts or register for a free account onsite. They even have the option of pooling funds with friends for a combined gift. Gift card recipients can opt to receive a physical card or keep it virtual and activate it online after completing a form requesting for their details. The cards remain valid for 12 months after activation. Whilst the reviewer liked the clean interface and ease of use of the app, it is worthy to note that there are fees involved that were not explicitly communicated in the Terms & Conditions or FAQs. BitGifting charges the sender convenience fees while the recipient pays card issuance fees to the partner banks.
Facebook adds audio to Messenger App, tests voice over IP service
In an attempt to become a yet larger part of overall communications, Facebook have introduced voice messaging to their standalone Messenger App for iPhone and Android. Users will be able to send one another voice messages of up to one minute. More interesting is the news that a voice over IP service is being trialled in Canada, which would look to rival the likes of Skype and Voxer. Whilst these services currently have a powerful market share, the ubiquity of Facebook and subsequent convenience mean that this looks a powerful prospect.
Facebook announce changes to allow greater freedom for marketers
Facebook have announced a variety of changes this week, which will look to benefit marketers in a number of ways. Firstly, ‘flexible sentences’ have been enabled for Open Graph activity, allowing brands to alter the text that appears when someone uses their app.
This is set to be complimented by customisable headlines on adverts for pages, apps and events, which already existed for ads that led away from Facebook. This is set to look as follows:
Finally, Facebook are going to begin bundling together any API changes that will break existing code and will release them on a quarterly basis. Previously, Facebook announced these changes individually and gave developers 90 days to make any necessary changes to apps. However, this meant that changes could build up over time and end up with a new alteration needed every month. Now, all changes can be done at once, saving the time of those building for Facebook.
Forcing signups helps Google+ to 105 million unique monthly users
October 2012 figures from comScore have shown that Google+ attracted 105 million unique monthly users, up 60.9% from 65.3 million at the same time last year. This is in comparison with a 4.3% growth from 788.2 to 822.1 million for Facebook. Twitter claimed 182.9 million visitors and LinkedIn 161.9 million. However, the social network is still lagging in terms of mobile visits, with 7 million to Facebook’s 91.3 million. This rise comes during a period of forced signups from Google, with those wishing to use many of the company’s other features being forced to sign up to a Google+ account. For example, you cannot post a review on any Google service without a Google+ account. Perhaps surprisingly, this seems to have helped considerably with the growth of the social network.
Pinterest makes its first acquisition
Pinterest has this week made its first acquisition, a recipe site called Punchfork. The two year old site allows users to share images of food and accompanying recipes, as shown below:
Pinterest has long been used for sharing food and recipe related content and Punchfork’s interface is not a million miles away from the social network’s own. It seems that Pinterest is looking to go deeper into recipe sharing…
Brands marketing with temporary photo sharing apps
Brands have started using apps like Snapchat and Facebook Poke, which allow users to share a photo that auto-erases after a certain amount of time, as part of their marketing. New York Frozen Yoghurt chain 16 Handles, for example, have created a Snapchat campaign called ‘Snappy New Year’, asking customers to share an image of their purchase with the company’s Snapchat account in exchange for a free voucher.
Meanwhile, Delta Lingerie shared a video through Facebook poke. The video, which showed a model putting on the lingerie, was sent to the brand’s Facebook fans and automatically deleted after viewing. Going forward, it will be interesting to monitor how other brands attempt to market on emerging platforms like these.
Polaroid launches ‘Fotobars’, stores for printing your Instagram photos
Polaroid, once the king of instant photography, are attempting to venture into the digital age by creating stores where people can print their Instagram photos. The idea stems from the insight that, whilst many of us have hundreds of photos on our phones, few of these ever see the light of day. The company’s website says that it “offers a very easy, simple and cost-effective process to transform your favorite digital photos from your phone, computer or camera into extraordinary, cherished pieces of art”. It will be interesting to see whether people take to the idea, or if this is a desperate attempt at an appeal to a bygone age.
Hunter create Facebook campaign dependent on the weather
We’re happy announce our first campaign of the year – We Are Social has created a Facebook app giveaway, with daily prizes dependent on the ever changing British weather, for British-based Wellington boot company Hunter. Each day, fans will be asked to create and capture an image basd on the weather in order to win a prize, ranging from a pair of wellies in wet conditions to fleece socks in the snow. The campaign is based on the insight that one of the few good things about bad weather is getting to wear certain beloved winter clothes and it will be intriguing to see how fans engage with it through the coldest month of the year.
Breaking news on Instagram
To fans of UK Premier League football, it will come as no surprise to hear that Frank Lampard may not be at Chelsea next season. However, what is of interest is the way in which club captain John Terry alluded to the news on Instagram, posting an image of the two players holding the FA cup with the text: ”Devastated is an understatement. We should retire the number 8 shirt in honour of Lamps.” It is as yet unclear whether John Terry has ever won the FA cup, or was indeed present in any of the images on his Instagram account.
Sina Weibo upgrades real-name verification system
In its latest effort to keep it real at Sina Weibo, the company has upgraded its real-name verification system to support overseas users. Tech In Asia tested the system and found various loopholes. They were able to register a new user in the US as “Tech in Asia” with passport number “123456789″; the same passport number was used to verify an existing account for one of the reporters, who had cheekily named himself after a historical figure, “Zhuge Liang”. Sina reports that it has more than 520,000 verified users, a very small number relative to their userbase of more than 300 million. The system upgrade includes a feature allowing users to snitch on falsely-verified users, in an effort to stamp out fake accounts.
Tencent’s WeChat App may offer coupons and local deals
China-grown Tencent WeChat is unstoppable. The rumour mill has been buzzing about the possibility of the hybrid social networking cum messaging app offering discount coupons following the acquisition of TongCard by Tencent. TongCard is one of China’s top online-to-offline (O2O) companies offering promotions and coupons from more than 6,000 retailers to 5 million active daily users. The tie-up, which will expand the reach to WeChat’s 200 million users, is expected to bring exponential growth to Tencent’s O2O market share and help it to overtake rivals such as Baidu.
Chinese Pinterest clone Mogujie secures C funding
We mentioned in August that Mogujie, China’s most popular Pinterest clone, was looking to raise US$ 200 million in C funding. That has finally come to pass, although the company declined to reveal the exact investment amount except to state that they’re now effectively valued at US$200 million (S$244.89 million). Touted earlier this year as a successful driver of referral traffic, the social pinboard site was earning more than RMB100,000 (S$19,437.50) daily in ad referral revenue for clickthroughs to Taobao, China’s largest e-commerce site.
LinkedIn partners with India’s top business school
With the new partnership between IIM-A, a top Indian business school, and LinkedIn, recruitment has become easier for companies and the school’s graduating students. Students are required to sign up for a LinkedIn account to enjoy the service. The professional social networking site has registered 31,000 users at IIM-A out of a total of 17 million users in India so far and much remains to be seen if the same approach will be applied to other colleges within Asia.
Instagram rolls out web profiles
Within the next week or so, Instagram users can expect to see their new web profiles featuring a selection of recently shared photographs, profile picture and bio. This forms part of a development to supplement the mobile app with web functionality that will enable users to view, like, share and comment on each other’s photos online instead of using the app. Our profiles haven’t been updated yet but do let us know when your Instagram profile page is up.
Customers up to 30% more likely to buy when engaged on social
Customers who interacted with a brand on social media increased their purchases by up to 30%, according to a new study. It also found that there’s a direct correlation between how much a customer participated in the social conversation and how much more likely they were to buy.
Executives use social media themselves but keep it out of the office
New research from Stanford University has discovered that even though 90% of CEOs, senior executives and corporate directors claim to understand the effects of social media on their organizations, only 32% actually monitor and measure their social performance. The majority of these execs, who are from both public and private companies, said that they had personal LinkedIn and Facebook accounts, but just 59% of their companies use social media to interact with customers. Sadly, the figures drop off quickly when asked if they use social media to advertise (49%), research customers (35%) or research competitors (30%), and most executives seem unsure what to do in this space.
91% of UK PR agencies admit they can’t reliably monitor social media
Halloween might be over, but here’s a terrifying stat for you: 91% of PR agencies in the UK admit that they don’t have reliable social media monitoring service. If you fear you’re one of their clients, you know where to find us…
Facebook lets businesses swap check-ins for free Wifi
Facebook is trialling a new service that lets local businesses offer free Wifi to their customers after they’ve checked in on the social network. Customers will be directed to the business’ Facebook page to check in and can then browse elsewhere on the web for free. Page owners will be able to track how many ‘Likes’ their page gets from this test. As usual, there’s no word yet on whether this service will become a full-fledged offering to businesses outside of this small test group.
Facebook is like … weird ads
When Facebook hit 1 billion users, it released its first ad, which compared the site to lots of random objects, most memorably to chairs. But now Facebook has released a second ‘version’ of this, thankfully just an image this time, but it’s just as odd as the first. The social network posted a status update with an image of a pool, and the update says, “Swimming pools are filled with people. Some you know. Some you don’t. And every once in a while you see something that maybe you shouldn’t. That’s why swimming pools are a little like Facebook.” Dig through the resulting comments for a good laugh.
Twitter to add Instagram-like photo filters
Twitter is planning to add photo filters to its mobile apps to encourage users to give up Instagram. So far, it sounds like there are only two filters in the works at the moment, so you’ll soon be able to color your photos in 1960s Kodachrome or an 1890s sepia tone. Twitter has been in the market for a photo service similar to Instagram ever since Facebook snapped it up, and it seems like it didn’t find any suitable contenders and decided to build its own version instead.
Google makes Google+ Hangouts look pretty
Google has redesigned Google+ Hangouts and added a hide-able sidebar that makes apps easier to manage and colorful notifications. Although this is a good step toward a cleaner and easier-to-use format, are all of these minor changes too little too late for the fledgling social network?
Twitter reveals beautiful visualization of 2012 Election issues
Twitter has done some data crunching and has created an interactive map of the US that shows engagement rates with the presidential candidates’ tweets and which topics in this election resonate most in certain states. See which of Barack Obama’s or Mitt Romney’s tweets had the most interactions and where those interactions came from. Twitter is stacking up with the best of the pollsters by finding out what topics are most important to New Yorkers vs. North Dakotans from the sources themselves.
Walmart launches themed ’12 days of giving’ app
Walmart has created a Facebook app that gives back to local communities through a series of themed donations to selected nonprofits, including military assistance and disaster relief. Walmart’s Facebook fans can nominate a nonprofit of their choice with a 200-word description of its work, and a panel from Walmart will select 12 organizations to get a slice of the $1.5 million fund. The app is also filled with short quotes from the winners from last year’s similar app to show how much the donations meant.
Man City releases ‘sticker swap’ Facebook app
Fans of Manchester City’s Facebook page can become the players themselves by swapping their favorite footballer’s face with their own to create a ‘sticker’ to be shared on Facebook and Twitter. Choose one of six City players and let the app do all the photoshopping work.
‘X Factor’ judge wears a Twitter dress for 4G launch
Nicole Scherzinger, a judge from the UK’s version of ‘X Factor’, wore a Twitter-powered dress for the launch of EE’s 4G mobile service. The dress displayed tweets in real-time during the event that used the hashtag #tweetthedress. 140 characters is definitely limiting, but displaying them on a dress a few characters at a time is even more so.
Royal British Legion asks for social media silence on Remembrance Day
A British charity is asking social media users to take a break from the noise on November 11 for two minutes to remember the fallen on Remembrance Day. When you visit the Royal British Legion’s website, you can authorize the organization to send a message from your Facebook and Twitter accounts, which will automatically tweet from those accounts on Remembrance Sunday. This service is run by Thunderclap, which did a similar campaign for World Humanitarian Day in August.
Foursquare shows the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy
Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the US last week, and Foursquare showed a telling check-in map of Manhattan that demonstrated how quickly the area was abandoned. Central Park was nearly empty of all online activity, and a lack of check-ins certainly means that stores in the area are having trouble getting on their feet after the storm.
Twitter sees 20 million mentions of Sandy, proves itself as a ‘truth machine’
During the Frankenstorm, many turned to Twitter as their source for news, as The New York Times lifted its paywall, and Twitter made a special #Sandy landing page as a one-stop news destination. More than 20 million Sandy-related tweets were sent over the five days in the lead up and landfall of the storm. The term “Sandy” also peaked at 20% of all searches on Twitter. Mobile usage hit a high on October 29 when many in the New York area lost electricity. The storm also seems to have knocked the sass out of tweeting New Yorkers (temporarily), and people in the land of sarcasm giants Buzzfeed and Gawker had a big attitude shift when bad weather arrived. Twitter users dropped the usual snark and went into information mode, and the majority of trending topic were Sandy-related. Buzzfeed even publicly outed a user who was spreading false information during the storm, showing Twitter’s amazing ability to be a ‘truth machine.’
How did brands react to Hurricane Sandy?
Turning to how brands reacted, airlines were some of the biggest companies affected by Sandy, but it’s not an industry known for being very responsive in social. Socialbakers found that American Airlines was the most responsive airline on Twitter and answered 602 out of 711 tweets from its followers, with an average response time of 16 minutes. Lufthansa performed the best on Facebook, responding to almost 80% of comments. Most other brands didn’t post anything during the storm, which is probably for the best, as a few that did used it to promote online shopping or other salesy updates that were distasteful in the wake of the storm’s destruction. A few brands that did post wished their fans the best or told them where to find emergency information about their services.