Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Twitter Adds Team Who Created Privacy Tools for Activists

Twitter on Monday announced the acquisition of a two-person startup called Whisper Systems, whose technology protected people’s mobile-phone calls and text messages from being obtained by third parties such as governments.
The deal terms weren’t disclosed. The acquisition led to speculation about what Twitter, an online-messaging service, might do with Whisper Systems founders Moxie Marlinspike and Stuart Anderson–who are well-known in computer security circles–and the technology they built exclusively for devices running on Google’s Android software.
Whisper Systems created a suite of services for human-rights activists or other privacy-conscious individuals, which were used by activists during the recent “Arab spring” actions. In a blog post, Marlinspike and Anderson said the services they created will “live on” though they had to temporarily shut them down.
Twitter acknowledged in a statement that Marlinspike and Anderson will join the company, without providing details. “As part of our fast-growing engineering team, they will be bringing their technology and security expertise to Twitter’s products and services,” the company said.
One piece of software from Whisper Systems, called RedPhone, encrypts people’s voice communications, while another called TextSecure scrambles text messages. A third Whisper service let people download applications from the Android Market without sending private information to the application developers, who sometimes require it.
The Whisper Systems acquisition caused concern among some privacy-minded individuals who don’t see how the startup’s services mesh with Twitter’s core function—helping people send public “tweets” or messages of up to 140 characters. Christopher Soghoian, a well-known privacy activist who uses Whisper Systems software, said that “it makes sense that Twitter wants to beef up their mobile security team,” but he’s concerned the service is being shut down, even if the founders say it is temporary.
“If you’re concerned about internet freedom,” he said, the app suite “is the first thing you’d give to an activist.”
Twitter, of course, also lets people broadcast tweets to a restricted group of individuals as well as send private “direct messages” to other Twitter users, and it has fought to inform users that the U.S. government was trying to obtain personal information about them.
Like other Web companies such as Facebook and Google, Twitter has had problems in the area of privacy and security. In March the Federal Trade Commission finalized a settlement with Twitter to resolve charges that it “deceived consumers and put their privacy at risk by failing to safeguard their personal information.”
Specifically, the federal agency had alleged that the company claimed to protect users’ information yet “serious lapses in the company’s data security allowed hackers to obtain unauthorized administrative control of Twitter, including both access to non-public user information and tweets that consumers had designated as private, and the ability to send out phony tweets from any account.”
As part of the settlement, Twitter agreed to outside monitoring of its information-security program for 10 years.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

EU Set to Slap Facebook With Privacy Sanctions

The European Commission is preparing a Directive to prevent Facebook from sharing users’ information — such as their political beliefs and location — with advertisers unless users specifically allow it.
According to The Telegraph, the Directive — which will be part of an update to current data protection laws — is scheduled for early January release. Should Facebook fail to adjust its privacy settings in compliance with the new legislation, the social network could face prosecution and/or a heavy fine.
“I call on service providers – especially social media sites – to be more transparent about how they operate,” Viviane Reding, the vice president of European Commission, told The Telegraph. “Users must know what data is collected and further processed [and] for what purposes.”
Facebook, for its part, says that it shares data anonymously and in aggregate to advertisers, and that individuals’ personal details are not at risk. (UPDATE: In a followup email, a spokesperson for Facebook also noted that Facebook users agree to receive advertising when they sign up for the service. Facebook users cannot, however, opt of targeted advertising in the same way that users can opt out of Google’s targeted ads.)
This is not the first time Facebook has been scrutinized by the European Union. In June 2009, the EU laid out privacy guidelines for social networks, and in June of this year, EU regulators began investigating Facebook’s facial recognition system.
Earlier this month, Facebook released details about how it tracks its 800 million users across the web.

by at Mashable

Monday, 28 November 2011

Female Online Gamers Have More Sex [INFOGRAPHIC]

Gamers rejoice: female online gamers are more social, happy, sexually and physically active than their non-gaming counterparts, according to a Harris Interactive survey of 2,000 U.S. adults. Gaming is a stress reliever for most of these women (61%), while 16% game online to connect with others.
This GameHouse infographic, first published in VentureBeat, compares the characteristics of women who game online and those who don’t. The study found that 55% of online gamers are women and 45% are men, although the infographic only details findings about women.
Female online gamers are more social than their non-gaming counterparts. Forty-one percent socialize at least once each day in person compared to 31% of non-gamers. They’re also more active on social networks, with 88% of gamers socializing online at least once each day compared to 71% of non-gamers.
More than half of all gaming women (64%) are either married or live with a partner. Fifty-seven percent have sex and 38% have sex at least once a week. Non-gaming women are less sexually active, as 52% have sex and 34% have sex at least once a week.
Thirty-eight percent of female gamers, compared to 28% of non-gamers, have children under the age of 18. The most popular time of day for gaming is between 8 p.m. and 11:59 p.m., possibly after many moms have put their children to sleep.
Are you surprised by the positive behaviors, such as being more social and happy, associated with online gaming?
(Click the Infographic For Bigger View)

Leaked: Company Guidelines for How Cops Can Access Your Private Online Accounts

Guidelines for how police can acquire information from online accounts like Facebook, AOL, Blizzard and Microsoft, and the types of data stored and for how long were leaked this week by several sources.
CNET reports the law enforcement guidelines as being confidential but some sites are more transparent about what they keep and what police can access without a search warrant. Here‘s what CNET pulled together from each of the companies’ policies:

Blizzard: Logs of Internet Protocol addresses are kept “indefinitely,” according to the company behind World of Warcraft. Sent mail is not retained. Deleted mail messages are not retained.
Facebook: An earlier version of the company’s manual from 2008 said that “IP log data is generally retained for 90 days.” That statement is missing from the newly-released 2010 version, indicating that Facebook now may store data longer (a company spokesman did not respond to that question).
Microsoft/MSN: Hotmail IP logs are kept for 60 days. MSN TV’s Web site logs are kept for 13 days. No logs are kept for conversations taking place through MSN chat rooms and MSN instant messenger. The leaked document is from April 2005, though, and may be out of date.
AOL: IP logs for the AIM and ICQ messaging services are stored for up to 90 days. Customer logs are kept for 6 months. All AOL e-mail, including from portals such as,, and, is stored in its Northern Virginia data center.
As for who leaked the guidelines, CNET reports that AOL, Blizzard and Microsoft were released by Anonymous and Facebook by, which is refers to as a “Wikileaks-like effort”.

After the manuals were put out on the Internet, Facebook released its full manual for law enforcement, which CNET reports may or may not be coincidence. But in the past other sites have been less apt to have this information go public. According to CNET, last year John Young, who runs the document repository, posted the manual for Microsoft Windows, which the company then tried to have removed from his site through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This request was soon after withdrawn.
According to the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, email accounts, and other information, hosted third-party servers can be accessed if they are six months old or older without a search warrant. Some are calling for the law to be updated as the technology has evolved since its enactment in 1986. CNET reports that a subpoena usually releases general information from these sites, while a court order may be required for more in depth info.

by  at TheBlaze

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Infographic: Usage of Social Apps, iPhone vs. Android

Onavo released another infographic peering into the usage of social apps on mobile networks, comparing between iPhone and Android users. As expected, Google+ is an Android stronghold, as 35% of users use the app on their device. iPhone users on the other hand are no strangers to Google+ (8%), but prefer to spend their time on Facebook – 90% used the app within the 30-day period.
In terms of data usage, Facebook is big on each platform – accounting for 10% and 5% of all mobile data on iPhone and Android, accordingly.

also available on (high res version)

 Via: Onavo

Barack Obama Joins Google+

Debate is still raging about how many people are really using Google+ and whether it can ever overtake Facebook. But at least one prominent user was making active use of the site Wednesday: President Barack Obama.
Obama’s profile, which just gained a “verified account” tick mark, appears to have been launched first thing Wednesday morning. Naturally, it isn’t being run by the President himself, but by his reelection campaign — a fact that the profile’s posts makes no attempt to hide.
“Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page,” reads the first Presidential post. “We’re still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you’d like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign.”
One one hand, Obama’s arrival is an important stamp of approval for the nascent social network. Obama has been active on Twitter and Facebook since he was a U.S. Senator running for the highest office in the land; his social media savvy is often credited with boosting his first presidential campaign, helping to recruit an army of young campaign workers and small donors. The President held a Town Hall with Twitter in June, and another at Facebook in April.
On the other hand, the relative lack of fanfare surrounding Obama’s arrival may indicate just how far Google+ has to go. His first post was arguably the most historic thing to happen on Google+ this week; more than 12 hours later, it boasts just 110 shares. (For comparison, one of our more popular Facebook stories this week has been shared more than 3,000 times in a day.)
Since that first announcement, Obama’s campaign has posted twice more Wednesday — once to tout the President’s tax credits for unemployed veterans, and once to push a campaign contest where winners get to have dinner with Obama. It has posted nine scrapbook photos, and no videos.
We’re looking forward to the President’s first Google+ hangout, which may supplant the meeting of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Llama as the most historic hangout in Google+’s young life.

by at Mashable

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Social Engagement is the Way Forward for SEO

SEO is one of the most used—and most mysterious—words in the blogging world, but it is one of the best ways to gain free organic traffic for your blog.
Till now, the strategy for SEO has been to create a new post with good on-page SEO techniques, and do the promotion to create a great off-page SEO. This ends up generating a good rank for your post and brings traffic.

A change in tack

Have you noticed a shift in this strategy? Check out the below screenshot. I took this while I was searching for “Web world” on Google.

You can see that two articles from my site, Makewebworld, are featured on the first page of results for this very competitive term. Is it actually true?
Well, if you do the search you will not get the same result. My domain name contains the term “web world, nut other than that, I’m not optimizing my content for that term. So how would my site end up on the first page of Google results?
It happened because I was logged in my Google account while doing the search. I have shared these posts with my circles in Google+. So Google showed me results based on my user account, rather than general rank system.
Now take a look at the result below, which I saw when I logged out of my Google Account.
If I am not logged into my Google Account, I don’t see Makewebworld on the first page. It only shows when I am logged in.

Social engagement and SEO

Social Engagement is the new shift in SEO.
The search engines are moving toward a non-static ranking system, which will be based on a user and their groups. Google is trying to create a more personal and refined search in which a user has more chance of finding the required information (always a goal for Google).
I’m not saying that on-page SEO and off-page SEO techniques are useless, and only social is in. But the social element has started playing its part in SEO. Google has started mixing social recommendations and their ranked pages in the search results.
Social recommendations were there earlier, but they merely played a part in the rank system. Now it can take you to first page of Google for at least some users or groups.

Why social engagement is important

Why are the search engines making this social transformation? To understand the answers, we need to dig into some stats. If you are using Google Analytics for your blog, you can check the details under the Social tab.

The stats show that people who are socially engaged have much higher page visits and average times on your blog. They also have much lower bounce rates—in fact for Makewebworld I have bounce rates as low as zero.
Go check your stats and see if they’re similar. I expect they are. Google has started taking notice of these stats, since they say that these people like your blog and they want to interact with your blog.
Why wouldn’t their friends like your blog? Why wouldn’t they want to come back in future?
You can check how many social activities happen on your blog, and which content has attracted social activity, from your Google Analytics account.

How can you increase social engagement?

There are many way you can try to increase social engagement on your blog. Main aim is to have readers share your content across the social networks.

Install the Google+ button

If you have not done it yet, you should do it now. Google has already indicated that they are going to use Google+ button for many purposes, and that they’re moving to single account structure.
Google has started using Google+ recommendations in their search results, so if you don’t have the button installed on your blog, you are likely losing some traffic.
It is easy to install Google+ button: check the official page or look up some free plugins to do the job. I’d suggest you treat the Google+ button as a backlink for your blog, because it can rank your blog higher for some people or groups of searchers.
As an author, you should also look for and verify your Google profile. Darren was one of the first few people who verified his account and shared the importance of it on Google+. If you’re looking for a how-to guide, check the Google Webmaster page help.

Install Sharebar

This is another good way to get a few extra social engagements. A basic rule of thumb is that people take action when they’re invited to. Sharebar is a great way to show social buttons all the time.
I know that this is not used on, but do they need it? Each post on Problogger gets the required social attention. But if you’re not getting that kind of attention, do some split testing with Sharebar, or install it for a trial period on your blog.
Also, because it floats along the page movement it catches the attention. There are many plugins available like sharebar and you can use any of them.

Use Tweet Old Post and Twitter @Anywhere Plus

These plugins are good for Twitter activities. They really provide a nice and easy way to share your content.
Twitter @Anywhere plus enables the @Anywhere feature to allow readers to share your content easily on Twitter. This plugin utilizes includes easy tweet options for your readers.
Tweet Old Post is a plugin which will tweet your old posts randomly. It has options that allow you to avoid tweeting some content categories or posts, and it’s a really easy way to get some attention to your old content.
One other thing which I would like to point out here is your Twitter handle. Twitter provides a very nice and easy way to remind people to follow you if they tweet your content.
So if you use tweet buttons on your blog, you wanted to make sure that your Twitter handle is included in your tweets. If you have any issues, you can generate the Tweet button code here.

Utilize the Facebook Send button

Almost all blogs have Facebook Like buttons, but do you have Facebook Send button on your blog? Facebook Send is not similar to Facebook Like: Send has more visibility than Like on Facebook. I know that Google does not count Facebook shares in its ranking system, but Google does collect the data—you can see that in your analytics account.
They have started using the Google+ Shares and you never know when they will decide to start using the Facebook Shares. Shares have their own benefits in providing links and traffic to your blog, but they might have other benefits later on.
So what are you doing for Social Engagement on your blog? Let’s share and see how we can benefit from this shift.

by Sanjeev Mohindra of Makewebworld.
Sanjeev currently writes at Make Web World and offers his latest ebook “5 steps to WordPress Blog” for free, you can get the ebook by subscribing here or can connect with him at Google Plus.


Study: 56% of People Still Dig Daily Deals

Even though earlier this week Groupon's stock dropped 35% below its original IPO price, a new survey from LinkShare says that more than half of people would still go for daily deals. The online marketing solutions site surveyed 1,000 people and found that 56% of people would still buy from a brand they didn't recognize if the deal arrived at the right time. Forty-one percent of people said they had purchased something through a voucher or offer that they had never thought to buy previously.

These results run contrary to the idea that personalization is the key to gaining and retaining daily deals customers.
What if daily deals sites operated more like discovery engine StumbleUpon and less like increasingly personalized marketplaces? The study suggests that random offerings are actually one reason users stay on daily deal e-mail lists.
With stock shares sagging, however, leader of the pack Groupon still has a ways to go in firmly establishing the longevity - not the short, bubble-like burst - of the daily deals model.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Is Small Business Finding Good Results In Social Media? [Infographic]

We can discuss how successful companies are using social media but it will be better to hear it from them, specially when it comes to small business.
I’m always concerned about small business because there is a huge difference in what it takes to be successful. When brands run online campaigns they’re usually backed up by a juicy number of ad impressions or other kind of support. Just a few days ago a friend asked me how we were able to get 100k Likes on a Facebook page so fast, I responded “they have a huge TV campaign”. His face filled with disappointment…
Point is, small business goes out there to fight with a stick. Guerrilla style. Most small businesses have pretty depressing stories when it comes to finding any success online. They don’t have the budget, the resources or the knowledge.
There are 2 infographics in this post.
The first one has some basic information on how small business sees social media. It doesn’t surprise me that 83% responded that they use social media because it’s free or inexpensive, which it’s absolutely not true. What surprises me in a good way is that their usage is increasing over the last 6 months and that they are starting to take their brands seriously by monitoring, looking at sentiment and facing all kinds of mentions.

The second one I think is looking at a more realistic state. Here are some interesting points:
  • 88% believe social media will impact their business
  • but 67% will not increase their budgets
  • I expected this to be high but this number is impressive: 96% do not use any social media management
  • and of course having a structure in terms of organization is kind of obvious that is pretty much non existent
Let’s look at it…

Via SocialMouths Turns Unused Groupons Into Gifts

Looking for a last-minute holiday gift? How about that Groupon you never used? Daily deal vouchers wouldn’t actually make bad presents if there was a way to gift them that didn’t involve an email printout tucked into a card. That’s where, which turns deal vouchers into attractive gift certificates, can help.
The new startup was created by the London-based team behind the deal aggregation service, Alex Vander Hoeven, Bob Pluss and Chan Yin. During a 24-hour hackathon earlier this month, the group came up with the idea after having a discussion about whether or not daily deals were acceptable gifts. Says Vander Hoeven, “there are so many good deals out there that I’m sure people would love to give as gifts, but no one wants to get a standard voucher as a present.” aims to the solve the aesthetics problem by turning vouchers into pretty gift certificates. It currently works with vouchers from Groupon, Dealfind, Tippr or GiltCity, with more on the way. To use the site, you’re walked through a quick wizard where you input the pertinent info (the link to the deal, voucher number and your name) and choose a design. For now, there are only three holiday-themed designs to choose from, but Vander Hoeven says they’re preparing themes for other occasions, like birthdays, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Further down the road, user-generated designs will also be featured.
It’s a simple idea and a handy tool…at least until the big guys figure out that this is the kind of thing they should be offering deal-buying customers themselves. has $400,000 in angel funding from Andrew Bachman, Tim Skyes, and Jamie and David Dingman.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

How to Find and Add Facebook Apps to Your Facebook Page

Are you wondering how to add all those cool links below the avatar of your Facebook page? Those links appear when you install an application (or app) on your Facebook page.
If you want to spruce up your page, there’s an app for that.
For example, Facebook apps can automatically showcase your YouTube channel, but they can also do much more. so let's talk about what apps are, where you find them and how you install them on your page.

Defining Applications

When you first start your Facebook page, there will be some basic Facebook apps in the left sidebar. These Facebook apps include Photos, Videos, Links, Events and Notes. Any other app you install will be a third-party app, which means that someone other than Facebook made it.
So how do you get more apps than just the basic ones provided by Facebook?
First you find them and then you install them. Even though that might sound simple, both of those steps are not very straightforward. Finding apps on Facebook can be particularly challenging because the Facebook search feature is notoriously bad. Then steps used to install the app can vary.
Some apps can be installed from within Facebook, others are easier to install by starting on the app website first.
Sometimes it’s even difficult to tell an Application page from a regular Facebook fan page.
An Application page will still have a Like button, a wall and sometimes its own apps installed.
There are a few key ways to determine that it is actually an application. The page may have a Go to App button right next to the App button. Underneath the name of the app at the top, you will see the App classification. And then on the left sidebar you will see the Add to My Page link as you see in the figure below.

An indication of how well the app is established is the monthly active users. In the figure above, you see NetworkedBlogs has one million monthly active users, which can indicate that it is a useful and well-established app.
Facebook applications also include games such as CityVille and Mafia Wars and some of the other apps you may have seen such as Give a Hug or the Birthday Calendar.
Since applications are developed by third parties, not all of them work very well and not all of them are reputable. You may have had an issue on Facebook where you click on some post and all of a sudden you start posting strange things on other people’s walls without your permission, maybe telling them to “check out a new diet” or “see who is viewing your profile.”

Finding Facebook Apps

If you know the name of the application you are looking for, finding the app can be easier. You can use the Facebook search bar or go to Using the search tool is better because you can filter by People, Pages, Groups, Apps and more as shown in the figure below.
 You can also find a Facebook app by taking a look at how something is posted within your news feed. Some apps will post into the news feed and you can find out more about the app by looking at the link underneath the post as shown by the HootSuite link in the following figure. If you click on the HootSuite link, you will be taken to the HootSuite app.
 If it’s an app that only resides on a page, you can sometimes find out what the app is by looking at the bottom of the page. Many apps have either a link to their external website or a direct link to the app within Facebook as shown in the next figure. Not all apps have this feature and some are custom apps created for a specific page only.
Another tool you can use to find Facebook apps is They don’t have every app listed but they do list a good cross-section of business apps.

Installing Facebook Apps

Once you have found a Facebook app, installing it can be challenging. Some apps install easier from their external website, and some are very easy to install from within Facebook. Many apps’ external websites will tell you exactly how to install it and make the installation process quite easy.
If you are installing the app from the Facebook App page, the steps will often be different if you click on the Add to My Page link on the left sidebar versus clicking on the blue Go to App button at the top of the page as shown in the NetworkedBlogs figure earlier. Usually you will eventually end up in the same place, but that Facebook “feature” makes writing directions on Facebook apps a challenge.
I usually prefer to click the Add to My Page link on the left sidebar. When you do, you will see a pop-up box where you can select the page where you want the app added.
Now you will navigate to the page where you added the app and find the app listed on your left sidebar.
After you click on the app, there may or may not be added steps to configure the app. Follow the steps as listed and you are all set with your fancy new app to dress up your page!
If you would like to move the app position on your left sidebar, click on the Edit link under your complete list of apps on your left sidebar and then you will be able to drag the app to the position you want. When you have the list organized the way you want, click Done and the new position will be saved.
So now you have the big picture on what Facebook apps are and how to find and install them.
What about you? What are your favorite Facebook apps?

by Andrea Vahl at SocialMediaExaminer

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Get More Out of Google, Tips en Tricks for Students Conducting Online Research

With technology advancing as quick as it does, we sometimes forget the simple things that brought us here. To educate the students of tomorrow, we’ve got to continually remember the basic, but crucial tips of one of the biggest tech giant in our day has to offer – so get more out of Google.
Brought to you by

Click on the Infographic below to view larger image

Who’s Tweeting About Black Friday (And What Are They Going To Buy)? [INFOGRAPHIC]

In 2010 the National Retail Federation reported that some 212 million people went shopping on Black Friday, spending an estimated (and heady) $45 billion.
Social media listening service Mashwork analyzed over 270,000 tweets between September 26 and November 17 to discover where Twitter users will be this Black Friday (November 25), and what they’ll be spending their hard-earned money on.
Key takeaways from the infographic:

  • Walmart (21%) and Best Buy (20%) are the retailers where the most Twitter users have said they will be shopping
  • 46% said they will be shopping for themselves
  • Computers and tablets (18%) and video games, music and DVDs (17%) are the most popular purchase choices. Click the infographic to see the bigger size)
(Click the infographic to see the bigger size)

    By Shea Bennett at AllTwitter

      Tuesday, 22 November 2011

      INFOGRAPHIC: Here's How To REALLY Use LinkedIn

      LinkedIn is the proverbial dark horse of social media: we all know it’s there, but few of us use it to its full potential.
      With just a little bit of effort you will see how the powerful social site can help you market yourself and your business far more than you imagined.
      With help from the LinkedIn guru himself, Lewis Howes, we have enrolled you in our basic LinkedIn boot camp training to give you the fundamental tools necessary to use the site for all your business and personal marketing needs. Click here to see the bigger infographic

      Spotify Says It's Headed in a "New Direction"

      Apple launched its newest music offering a week ago. Google went a few days later. Now Spotify says it has something up its sleeve, too: The streaming music service just sent out a mysterioso invitation to a Nov. 30 press event in New York.
      As has become standard issue for this sort of thing, the invite for the “global press conference” hints at big news and spells out zilch — just that the company has “some exciting news to share with you,” and that CEO Daniel Ek will be there, along with “a special guest or two.”
      I asked Spotify PR for more info, and they were equally oblique, passing along this reply via email: “At Spotify, we continually strive to innovate and deliver exciting new experiences for our users. In New York on November 30th, we are holding our first press conference to unveil the latest major development from Spotify — and a new direction for the company. The press event will be hosted by CEO and Founder Daniel Ek, along with special guests.”
      Alrighty. So it’s time to start guessing:
      There are a couple of obvious things that Spotify can add to its product lineup that I assume are in the works. In Europe, for instance, Spotify offers an MP3 store, so users can buy songs directly from the service instead of heading to iTunes or Amazon (and now, Google). But the U.S. version of the service doesn’t have one.
      I also assume we’ll see an iPad app for the service at some point, but perhaps one that functions more like a remote control/console than a full-fledged client.
      But neither one of those developments seems worthy of a press conference. And the company has generally avoided big launch events in general — when it rolled out in the U.S. this summer, for instance, it did so without ever putting Ek onstage. So, either the company has something truly big up its sleeve, or it is courting the risk of overpromising.

      Via AllThingsD

      Monday, 21 November 2011

      Why Brands Need Friends – Not Fans – on Facebook

      Facebook offers brands access to its vast audience with no apparent cost of entry. Therefore, one would presume that brands would develop strategic and forward-thinking campaigns to maximize their reach. Not so.
      Instead, brands quickly entered a popularity contest for the most Likes. It seemed companies were simply content with growing audience numbers. Until lately, they’ve been comfortable measuring return on investment by the number of fans alone. Now they’re beginning to question the value of such a one-dimensional strategy.

      Starbucks, one of the most popular brands on Facebook, has startlingly low engagement numbers, despite its 26 million fans. A recent post from Starbucks mentioned the company’s popular red holiday cups. Yet, its engagement rate (the number of gestures on the post divided by the total number fans at the time of this writing) only calculated to 0.28% Likes and 0.02% comments.
      The challenge for brands is to evolve from simply being a company with a product to becoming a valuable source for interesting, entertaining and useful content. The real measurement of a brand’s Facebook success is relevance.
      Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm is the first step for measuring a brand’s relevance across its community. Following F8, people began to optimize social media performance against Edgerank’s key metrics, namely, by developing strategies to measure affinity, edge weighting and recency. Unfortunately, numbers don’t mean anything if the brand can’t reach into fans’ News Feeds and achieve basic levels of engagement.
      Brands would do best to approach the problem differently or, more specifically, to start acting like those hyper-connected Facebook friends we all have. These individuals not only broadcast their status updates, connect with apps like Spotify, and Like frequently; they also frequently engage friends in one-to-one discussions or curate social events, thereby building broader community circles.

      From Content to Collaboration

      To date, most brand activity has focused on building a brand’s audience base and then using a simple content strategy to engage fans via Likes and comments.
      Widening the focus to include a collaboration strategy would create a stronger communications infrastructure around a brand.
      The challenge for the brand is to identify and reach out to the most socially active, engaged and influential fans. By collaborating with these individuals and creating mutual value, companies will begin to see increased sharing and growth in their own community.
      Brands must learn how to mimic human sharing behaviors. Individuals strive to be the first to break news, to post photos proving “they were there,” to beat another friend in a social game, etc. Brands that mirror such activity will prove more relevant to fans. By acting like a friend first and foremost, brands will collect – and ultimately engage with – more people.

      Characteristics of “Friendly” Brands

      Creating an influencer affinity model is certainly nothing new to marketing. On Facebook, however, connecting with your influential community takes time and resources, but ultimately returns greater value. What are some ways brands can do this?
      1. Provide Ranking and Recognition
      Thirty-year psychology veteran and founder and owner of the User Experience Institute and, Susan Weinschenk applies psychology to understand how people think, work and relate. One of her posts discusses user addiction to Facebook status updates and News Feed posts. These behaviors are fueled by dopamine, which has been shown to cause seeking behavior. Dopamine causes us to desire and seek out, says Susan, which ultimately increases our goal-directed behavior.
      Knowing this, brands need to create Facebook content that encourages habit-forming behavior. Furthermore, companies need to rank user engagement and involvement, and recognize fans for their efforts as brand ambassadors.
      2. Grant Exclusive Access
      One of the best ways to engage fans is to provide them with exclusive access. Imagine what the ultimate fan experience would look like for your brand. Would you open your locker room or office to fans? Would they get the opportunity to be part of your next packaging design? By thinking like the fan, you’ll be leveraging a collaboration strategy rooted in exclusivity.
      Sephora has rewarded its most loyal customers on Facebook with exclusive, friends-only deals, early access to products and deluxe samples. Fashion brand Diane von Furstenberg offers its fans an exclusive wrap dress each month, proving that this time-old marketing tactic is just as effective today.
      3. Reward and Incentivize Sharing
      Loyalty programs are nothing new to brands and marketers, but brands need to understand that social word-of-mouth is just as important. Combine the two strategies by rewarding your brand’s most loyal ambassadors for sharing their positive experiences online.
      GoPro camera leverages this kind of fan interaction on its Facebook page. Its recent “I Love My GoPro” contest asked fans to submit a GoPro photograph that communicates “that epic moment, that photo that you showed all your friends, that photo you could only get using a GoPro camera.” Fans wrote captions for their photos and submitted them to the company over Facebook. Then GoPro fans voted for the top 50 entries to advance to the finalist round.
      GoPro understands that its contest was mutually beneficial: It got people talking about the brand (and sharing it with their friends), and also rewarded fans by publishing their photography and presenting a grand prize.
      By putting emphasis on the fans behind the brand, a company can start to humanize its interactions and drive people to connect online and offline. After all, who wants fake friends, in real life or on Facebook?


      by at Mashable


      Saturday, 19 November 2011

      The Rise Of Social Giving: Twitter Users Twice As Generous As Those From Facebook [INFOGRAPHIC]

      A study on the average donations made by donors to pages on the JustGiving website has found that Twitter users are the most generous of all social media users, but account for just a fraction of traffic compared to Facebook, which has become a massively important source for fundraising online.
      JustGiving has revealed that the average donation of a user coming from Twitter is £30.26, which compares to £28.77 on YouTube, £25.21 on LnkedIn and just £18.33 on Facebook.
      Only Google+ users finished below Facebook, donating £17.77 on average.
      Facebook, however, accounts for an incredible 97 percent of all visits to JustGiving from social media sites, with Twitter making up just 1 percent of that tally.
      In September, visits from Facebook made up 27 percent of all traffic to JustGiving pages, which represented a year-on-year increase of some 130 percent, and the donation platform expects this to rise to 50 percent by 2015.
       “Third sector organizations should ignore social media at their peril,” said Elizabeth Kessick, head of insight at JustGiving. “This data shows that social giving is an increasingly important driver for donations. The good news is that it’s also a very cost-effective way for charities to canvass for support.”

      (Source: JustGiving. Top image credit: EugenP via Shutterstock.)

      Facebook’s Real-Time Ticker to Show Sponsored Stories

      Facebook will increase the distribution for Sponsored Stories by allowing them to run in the ticker across the site, ClickZ News has learned. Since the ticker — a lightweight newsfeed seen on the upper right-hand part of — was launched in August, the social context ads had been running only via the app ticker for Facebook games.
      In an email earlier today, Annie Ta, Facebook spokesperson, said, “Starting on Monday, we are continuing to slowly roll out Sponsored Stories in [the] ticker across Facebook. Sponsored Stories help people see more relevant marketing on Facebook and they can be twice as engaging as ads on Facebook.”
      The Palo Alto, CA-based digital giant launched Sponsored Stories during January, and the ad units have become an important focus of Facebook’s pitch to agencies, brands, and political marketers.

      Posted by at Mashable

      How to Setup a Google+ Page for your Business

      Your Google+ Page promises to be a powerful tool in your marketing, but for now, information on making it so seems to be all over the place, as well as changing daily. It’s easy to lose track of or miss opportunities, when setting up your Google+ Business Page if you don’t keep a few, core steps in mind. This post will help you make sure no steps are missed, as well as assisting you to set things up quickly and easily.

      Setting Up a Google+ Page for your Business

      Setting up a Page for your business is simple — but it has to integrate with your Google account, so if you are setting one up for a client, ensure that client understands you will be using her Google account log in information — not yours!
      What You Need to Have Ready:
      While in the signup process, you will need to enter at least two of these three criteria, depending on the Category you choose:
      • A valid phone number
      • Your location
      • Your profile photo or Logo graphic (preferably square, though Google+ allows you to not only drag and drop but drag and position)
      When you’re ready…
      1. Go to It will prompt you to log into your account, if you haven’t already done so. (If you have already logged into your account, you can simply select the “Create a Google+ page” beside your stream.)

      2. Select the category most appropriate to your business. Your choices are:
      Note you will only need your phone number for “Local Business or Place”)

      3. Select “Create”, and follow the prompts to add:
      • A powerful tagline of 10 words that best describes your business
      • Your profile photo or graphic
      Inserting a photo is even more easy than usual: Not only can you drag and drop your photo directly from your desktop, you can also select the area of the photo you wish to use, much as with re-sizing Facebook thumbnails:
       Your end result — however the shape of the original — has to be a perfect square…
      That’s all there is to creating your page! (Took you just a few minutes, right?)


      “But Wait… There’s More…”

      If you stop at simply having created your Page, however, you’ll be disappointed in the results. Even at this early Beta stage, there are a few vital tips and tricks that can significantly push your sites and Page up through Google search results. Number one you’ve already taken care of — you’ve created the +Page. Now you will need to amplify its power by installing a +1 Button on your site, so people can “vote” for you. This includes not just subscribers and followers, but members of the general public who happen to organically find your site — helped by your strong Google+ listings, of course.
      You see, Google+ Pages with real clout automatically open at the actual Page, if searchers are savvy enough to type “+YourName or Keyword” in the Google search box (Direct Connect)…

      You can tell at a glance if a search parameter auto-connect and open up an existing Google+ Page: The Page graphic and tagline will instantly appear in the drop-down Suggestions. If you hit “Enter” on seeing such a result, that Google+ Page opens up.
      The flaw? Not all existing Google+ Pages open up or even show up, even if they exist! However, you can weight your newly-created +Page to rise through the ranks and be eligible for Direct Connect by ensuring you employ a few simple strategies…

      Step One: Be Ready to Share!
      As you finish creating your page, you’ll be given the option to share it. Make sure you are prepared and ready to go.

      (Google really does make it easy for you to cover many of the bases!)

      Step Two: Setting Up your Google +1 Button
      The number one key strategy lies in setting up a Google+1 button on all your websites; then publicizing the fact you have one and directing people with a call to action to “like” it. (Don’t detract from the value of Google +1 buttons, however, by using emotional coercion, or +1 buttons will soon sink to the level of Facebook’s value-less “Like” buttons.)
      Setting up your button and choosing the icon size is simple, and you don’t need step-by-step instructions. It consists of:
      1. Grabbing a snippet of JavaScript code. (Install this anywhere on your site.)
      2. Scrolling further down that page and customizing the HTML code generated.
      3. Insert the generated code in your web page at the spot you want your +1 button to appear

      What the +1 button actually does is:
      • Help people discover “relevant content” (including ads) — from personal recommendations
      • Display your own profile photo, when you “like” a +1 button on someone else’s Page, site or Circle. (You can choose to “hide” this, if you prefer.)
      • Allows others to recommend your own sites or Page
      • Allows others to see which of their own friends and connections has also personally endorsed your listings
      • Allows others to see how many +1 ratings you’ve received. (You can customize this not to show, if your business, website and/or Page is brand new.)
      • Increases your sites’ relevance and value in Google’s eyes, upping your SEO status and rank
      • Increase your visibility and prominence in search results
      Remember, however, that any page or site you add +1 to will be public — even if your Robots.txt file or WordPress blog settings are set for “nofollow”.
      Step Three: Enabling Google+ Circles — This area of Google+ already plays a big part in Google+ Page engagement and promises to grow in importance, so you might want to adjust your settings to automatically add Pages to your own Circles. Here’s how to do it…
      1. Click your profile picture in your Google+ menu bar, at the top of your page
      2. Select “Account Settings”
      3. Select “Google+”
      4. Scroll to the bottom and customize your “Google+ Pages” settings
       Here is where updating your page with fresh content really becomes part of a vital strategy.
      Step Four: Creating a Badge
      Creating a Google+ Badge for your site is not the same as creating a +1 button, so don’t confuse the two. You can simultaneously create your badge and your page; or you can copy-paste your page URL into the box provided:

      Continuing down the page, you will select the size of badge you prefer…
      8 Size How to Setup a Google+ Page for your Business
      Step Five: Google+ Direct Connect
      This is the ultimate goal you are aiming for, when it comes to boosting your Google+ and Google+ Page rankings. Google freely admits eligibility is “determined algorithmically”, based on:
      • Relevance
      • Popularity
      The most crucial defining factor is the number of links between your site and Google+ Page. If you have followed the previous steps, you are already well on your way to becoming eligible. All you need to do is:
      • Regularly interact with Google+, supplying relevant contact (Links, posts, keywords)
      • Pay diligent attention to ensuring your content is not only relevant, but original and valuable too
      • Educate your audience (especially those you network with) about Direct Connect and how it works. They’ll particularly need to know that the option to sign into Google+ so they can add your page to their Circles is only offered the first time they visit your Page — after that it has to be added manually, which reduces the chance they’ll do so
      Once Google perceives your value, you stand a much better chance of being admitted to the hallowed halls of Direct Connect.
      This brings us to our last step (until Google+ rolls out more features)…
      Step Six: Promote Your Page!
      Television long ago learned the secret to engaging viewers and netting high conversions: Namely, spelling out the obvious and telling viewers exactly what to do next.
      And just as TV ads also employ the principle of repetition, you must realize that promoting your +Page is an ongoing responsibility.
      Here’s how you can encourage your visitors and subscribers to spread the word:
      1. Share your posts — but remember, even if you share a post from your Google+ Page, those in your Circle will actually see it as coming from your Profile.) And keep your content as consistent as your daily involvement: Remember your main area of focus and use your best keywords, as naturally as possible.
      2. Link your Page and your website or blog. You may think you’ve already done this, if you’ve installed your Google+ Button on your site — but it’s actually a two-step process, to be effective: You also have to add your site to your Profile!
      Here’s how to do it, using a current browser such as Google Chrome…
      • In your browser, find your picture and select it (the top right corner)
      • Select “Profile”

      • In your Profile, select the “About” tab
      10 About How to Setup a Google+ Page for your Business
      • Select “Links” and then “Add a Custom Link”
      • Enter (a) a Title (b) your URL
      • Save
      (If you can’t see “Links”, selecting “Edit Profile” and placing your link in the “Introduction” will work just as well.)
      3. Link your Google+ Page to your AdWords campaigns — Do it by making sure you include your +1 button in your ads.
      4. Post Consistently — Regular updates and fresh content will add to your Google value. This will help build a firmer foundation for your +Page
      Along the way, as you grow more familiar with your Google+ Profile and Page, you’ll discover other ways you can help boost your +Page popularity: Enabling Google+ for Mobile (if you have the right type of phone, for example; as well as joining the Preview Platform so you can receive advance improvements ahead of the crowd.
      Become familiar with the refinements available through Google Support Plus. Be sure also to actively report bugs and provide feedback to Google+ (as well as never promoting your Page with the same dirty-pool, emotional blackmailing techniques that Facebook users quickly learned to employ).
      The more you engage and bring quality to your Google+ Page, the more directly you will be rewarded in Google SEO.
      It’s true that “you get out of it what you put in” — but fortunately with Google+ Pages, these six basic steps provide a solid foundation to help you easily and effectively get started.

      By at TheSocialMediaGuide