Facebook Responds to Google+ Features, Unveils Smart Lists

  • Facebook has unveiled improvements to its “friends” lists with a new feature dubbed “Smart Lists” that automatically generates friend groups so that users no longer need to manage their own lists.
  • The improvement — which follows the lead of popular Google+ features — is currently based on categories that create lists based on workplace, school, family and city. “For example, if a user lists their college on their profile, Smart Lists will automatically find all their friends that did the same, and group them together for easier sharing of content between them,” reports CNET.
  • While the social networker has previously made list creation available, the company explains that users complained about “how time-consuming it is to organize lists for different parts of your life and keep them up to date.” These improvements should address this concern. Facebook also points out that users can still manually add or remove friends from their lists.
  • Additionally, a new “Close Friends and Acquaintances Lists” component has been added. The option allows users to categorize friends into either their “Close Friends” list or mere “Acquaintances.” The distinction will help funnel updates through the news feeds; users will see all updates from close friends and just important updates from acquaintances.

Nielsen Report Details the Rise of Social Media: Companies Take Note

  • Americans currently spend more than 22 percent of their online time engaged with some form of social media, indicates a new report from Nielsen.
  • According to the research company’s “State of the Media: The Social Media Report,” these networkers spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May of this year (following Facebook was Blogger, Tumblr, Twitter and LinkedIn).
  • With 70 percent of users now shopping online, social media has become a crucial tool for many companies, says Nielsen executive Radha Subramanyam. “Social media is becoming increasingly mainstream,” she notes, and as a result, “there’s a need for companies to engage even more strategically in the space” than they already do.
  • It is interesting to point out that in regards to the Facebook tracking, 62 percent of the visitors were females. Additionally, while more women than men were reported to watch video clips on blogs and social networks, men streamed more videos and spent more time actively watching them.

Facebook Doubles Revenue: The New Operating System for Online Ad Delivery?

  • Facebook’s revenues have doubled the first half of 2011 to $1.6 billion, putting the social network on course to possibly earn $4 billion this year.
  • “It’s simply too late for anyone, perhaps even Google, to create a social network that can compete with Facebook,” writes Robert Hof in a related story.
  • Reuters suggests this news underscores the social networker’s appeal to advertisers. “We really see Facebook as becoming like the operating system for delivering ads on the Internet,” said Dave Williams, CEO of Blinq Media.
  • Williams added that Facebook’s “like” feature, that now helps endorse products and companies, provides valuable data that other online services can’t match.
  • “Companies like Yahoo are relying on third party user behavioral data based on things like cookies. On Facebook that’s data that users have revealed about themselves,” he said.
  • “The price that companies pay for every consumer that clicks on a Facebook ad increased 62 percent between the fourth quarter of 2010 and the second quarter of 2011, according to Efficient Frontier, another firm that helps companies deliver ad campaigns on Facebook,” reports Reuters.

Delicious Founder Launches Jig to Target Precise Social Connections

  • Joshua Schachter, founder of social bookmarking tool Delicious, recently launched a new social media project. “Jig” is a network that Schachter describes as a hub or marketplace for social transactions.
  • “He said he feels that other social Web services focus too much attention on popular people and topics — rather than more precise, meaningful and useful connections between people,” reports The Wall Street Journal.
  • The site puts a practical spin on the social-Q-and-A model, with users posting specific problems and soliciting answers from their targeted social graph.
  • At Jig.com users simply complete the “I need” query in order to start the process. For example, I need a lawyer, I need to lose weight, I need a car rental in Mexico, etc. Once your query has been entered, you have the option of filling in fields for Location and Details.

Music Integration: Will Facebook Become an All-In-One Social Media Hub?

  • Facebook has informed media executives that it will begin allowing online music services such as Spotify and Rdio to publish user activity on Facebook pages and could allow music playback without leaving the site.
  • The announcement is part of Facebook’s efforts to become a social center for media including music, games and movies.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal: “CNBC reported Wednesday that Facebook was working to create a music platform. In response, Facebook said: ‘Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.'”
  • Facebook was reportedly encouraged to pursue the music plan following success with social games such as “FarmVille” by Zynga Inc. The social media site is also integrating movies through deals with the likes of Warner Bros.

Do NFL Fans Really Want to Read Tweets During Game Broadcasts?

  • The New York Giants claim to be the first NFL team to introduce live, realtime Twitter updates into broadcast TV coverage.
  • The team will display fans’ tweets during games via video boards and digital displays at Giants stadium, while fans watching at home will see realtime Twitter updates as part of the game’s graphics.
  • The Giants are collaborating with Mass Relevance, the firm that will aggregate and deliver the Twitter posts to the in-stadium displays, TV broadcasts and Giants.com website.
  • I saw this feature this week during NBC’s coverage of the Giants-Jets game. I found it to be an unnecessary distraction that occasionally obstructed my view and I didn’t read a single tweet that added value to my viewing experience. When I first submitted this story, I commented: “Based on my experience during last night’s game, this is my question: Who can I pay to make this go away?”
  • However, I understand why this may become popular. Perhaps the concept would be better served by delivering only to those fans actively seeking social interaction.

Shazam for TV Offers Fans Access to Exclusive Media Content

  • Shazam, an application that recognizes audio content, tags and shares it on social networking sites, has raised $32 million in an effort to expand integration with TV.
  • The company is currently working with Syfy, Bravo, Oxygen and Spike TV to allow viewers to tag and unlock content.
  • Shazam recently helped promote Lil Wayne’s new music video, which is currently at 4 million views.
  • During the MTV Video Music Awards, Bing ran ads that Shazam could recognize and brought users exclusive content related to the show.
  • It is also said to do the same for ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” promos, allowing viewers to access new content such as music videos and exclusive scenes as the season progresses.
  • The app is already a big driver of iTunes downloads. Shazam PR manager Rica Squires said that there are “over 4 million tags each and every day that result in 300,000 song downloads across iTunes and other vendors.”

Pew Research Indicates Half of America Now Using Social Networks

  • Half of all adults in the United States said they use a social networking site, which is up from a mere 5 percent from six years ago when Pew Research Center conducted a similar survey.
  • Not surprising, 83 percent of younger people (from the 18-29 age bracket) indicate they use social networking sites, compared with 51 percent of those in the 50-64 bracket. The report lists women ages 18 to 29 as “the power users.”
  • Asked for one word to describe their social networking experience, the most common response was “good.”
  • However, one in five respondents sounded less upbeat: they used words like “boring,” “time-consuming” and “overrated” to describe their experience.

Social Media: MTV Video Music Awards Scores Highest-Ever Audience

  • Despite having no host on Sunday, MTV’s 2011 Video Music Awards ramped up audience engagement through social media.
  • MTV delivered pictures and videos to their audience in realtime through their second screen application and social media channels.
  • Fans could track what celebrities were tweeting about, and who was tweeting the most. The application also showed which celebrities and content generated the most buzz. (Celebrities who did not tweet during the event could have missed out in a big way.)
  • The awards program scored its highest-ever ratings, pulling in 12.4 million viewers. “Not only was this year’s show the most-watched in the history of the Video Music Awards’ 27-year history,” reports Rolling Stone, “but it was also the highest-rated telecast in the 30-year history of the network.”

Joint Realtime Group Chat for Twitter May Have Legs

  • TechCrunch reports that a new startup named Joint is aiming to address the concerns of Twitter users who are “badly in need of a better way to facilitate realtime, private, and longer-form conversations.”
  • Twitter’s general philosophy so far has been to keep its UI simple and rely on third party developers to add features.
  • That’s where Joint comes in with its solution that “essentially turns any Twitter hashtag into an IRC-like chat room, which is integrated with a realtime hashtag stream,” indicates TechCrunch.
  • This enables different social interactions, including a front-and-center realtime group chat feature. “Joint could become a very useful resource for people looking to easily congregate and discuss ongoing situations like hurricanes, protests, or events, live, from any location,” suggests the post.
  • TechCrunch adds: “Joint and its team isn’t affiliated with Twitter in any way, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the social network comes knocking at their door at some point down the road.”

Identifying Effective Tools for Analyzing Social Media

Seth Grimes of InformationWeek reports there is a growing demand to analyze social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, but he has yet to see “satisfying criteria” for assessing existing analysis tools. This article outlines what Grimes considers to be six fundamental missing pieces in analysis tools that could prove effective in measuring social media.

Grimes breaks his approach down into six basic categories: Metadata, Resolution, Integration, Alignment, Interface, and Walk the Talk. The following are excerpts from his rationale.

1. Metadata: “Let’s not look at messages in isolation, as so many tools do. SMA tool makers: Help us understand message diffusion and discourse (threaded conversations) with an analytic that incorporates demographics.”

2. Resolution: “Content analysis is the real challenge, getting at the entities (names of people, companies, places, products, etc.), facts, opinions, and signals. For this, you need sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) and sentiment analysis with the ability to resolve parts of speech and, especially for source materials longer than tweets, to spot co-references including anaphora.”

3. Integration: “To integrate, or link records across sources, you need to capture or discern identity. I think the information is more available than most people would suppose, with significant digital sleuthing involved in discerning it.”

4. Alignment: “I’m looking for analysis tools that measure and predict social’s ability to drive business transactions — money-making outcomes — as well as how business news will play out on social platforms.”

5. Interface: “BI tools will typically let you nest variables in an axis to create a pivot table with several dimensions. You often have a choice of measures — sums, counts, percentages, calculated values — and the ability to navigate up and down dimensional hierarchies (such as year-quarter-month-week-day) with automatic value aggregation. I rarely see these capabilities in SMA tools.”

6. Walk the Talk: “I look for clue-ful SMA suppliers. If a company doesn’t know how to use social media effectively, or if it won’t make an effort, do you really want to trust it with your business? The question isn’t moot; anyone who spends time on social platforms can tell strong from weak social engagement and has seen instances of both.”

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