Tout is Like Twitter for Video: Is This the Next Chapter in Social Media?

  • Social startup Tout offers a Twitter-like microblogging service, but enables users to publish 15-second video clips instead of 140-character text fragments.
  • “In other words, now anyone can be famous for 15 seconds,” suggests San Jose Mercury News.
  • When asked how it’s different from the Facebook feature that lets users post video chats, CEO Michael Downing explained the “abbreviated and near-instant nature of ‘touts’ makes them like mini-conversations.”
  • Endorsements from high-profile users such as Shaquille O’Neal, Mitt Romney and ESPN are helping the service build momentum.
  • O’Neal is one of many celebrities who have taken to communicating via Twitter (he currently has more than 4 million followers). “But what I’ve been noticing about Twitter lately is that you don’t know who the person you’re talking to really is,” he said. “When you can see my picture, you know it’s me.” O’Neal is so impressed with Tout that he took an ownership stake.
  • Since launching in mid-April, the San Francisco-based startup has attracted 4 million unique visitors. “It took Twitter two years to hit 1 million visitors,” explains Downing. “We hit it in under 12 weeks.”

Facebook Deals Shutdown: Is There a Future for the Social Coupon Biz?

  • Facebook Deals, which offered coupons for local businesses in Facebook users’ main news feeds, officially shut down on Sunday.
  • While some assume the shutdown suggests a failure, sources say that Facebook cut the program because of limited engineering resources the company wanted to place elsewhere.
  • “Groupon and rival LivingSocial are no doubt pointing to Facebook’s withdrawal as evidence that the business is harder to replicate than people previously thought,” reports All Things D.
  • Groupon and BuyWithMe have introduced technology that attempts to track consumer loyalty following their first voucher purchase. Other companies in this space, including Google, are ramping up their coupon platforms, creating mobile solutions that “will recognize when people are close to a deal and allow them to redeem it immediately,” suggests the article.
  • “Last week, Microsoft launched Bing Deals, which is aggregating deals from other major providers to help users browse, find and purchase them in one place,” according to All Things D. “Ironically, that site is being powered by The Dealmap, which Google acquired in August.”

International 3D Initiative: U.S. and Korea Sign Pact, Pledge Cooperation

  • Members of the International 3D Society from South Korea and the U.S. announced they would work together to advance 3D technology through joint development, production, marketing and distribution.
  • The signing ceremony took place at DreamWorks Animation last week.
  • As part of the agreement Sony, Disney and DreamWorks Animation will cooperate with Korean companies such as Korea Telecom, EBS and Skylife in an international effort to boost 3D adoption.
  • “A second agreement was signed between the two I3DS chapters and the Korea Radio Promotion Association to encourage educational programs and exchanges,” reports Variety. “Dr. Doo Hwan Choi, chairman of Korea’s I3DS chapter and CTO of Korea Telecom, which co-sponsored the ceremony, said the society’s educational programs will provide the kinds of opportunities and program development required by the burgeoning business.”

Jonathan Card Remains Optimistic, Despite Shutdown by Starbucks

  • Starbucks shut down Jonathan Stark’s pay-it-forward social experiment by deactivating Stark’s community-giving Starbucks Card.
  • Reps from Starbucks were reportedly rooting for the experiment to be successful (despite the violation of the card’s terms of use), but the company felt it had no choice when it learned that funds were being misappropriated by a hacker, defeating the social adaptation of “take a penny, leave a penny” that Stark originally envisioned.
  • Hundreds of people had donated several thousand dollars prior to the project being shut down, suggesting the experiment was not a failure.
  • The Jonathan’s Card website remains optimistic: “We believe this is the start to a bigger more glowing picture. In the last 5 days or so, we’ve received hundreds of stories of people doing small things to brighten a stranger’s day: Paying for the next car at the drive through. Sharing a pick me up with someone who has had a rough time. Charging up a phone card and sharing it with strangers at the airport… So, tonight we lose our barcode. But of course, we never needed it in the first place.”

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