Report: Social TV Chatter Sees Dramatic Increase in 2012

The second annual Year End Stats Report from social media intelligence platform Trendrr indicates that 2012 saw a major surge in social interaction involving TV programs, with significantly increased chatter across Twitter, Facebook and various social apps. Growing interest in social TV chatter was also evidenced by the recent Nielsen announcement to create the Nielsen Twitter TV Rating. Continue reading Report: Social TV Chatter Sees Dramatic Increase in 2012

Facebook to Aim for TV Dollars by Delivering Video Ads to News Feed

According to sources briefed on the company’s plans, Facebook “is set to unveil a new video-ad product in the first half of next year in its largest attempt to date to attract big swaths of ad dollars from TV advertisers,” reports Ad Age. Those same sources said the company will “offer video advertisers the chance to target video ads to large numbers of Facebook users in their news feeds on both the desktop version of Facebook as well as on Facebook apps on mobile phones and tablets,” according to the article. Continue reading Facebook to Aim for TV Dollars by Delivering Video Ads to News Feed

Nearby Local Search from Facebook is Not Quite a Foursquare Killer

While Facebook’s upgraded Nearby local search feature may threaten Foursquare one day, the current Foursquare product still performs much better than Facebook’s, according to GigaOM. Facebook has a much larger reach (600 million mobile users compared to about 25 million for Foursquare), but offers an inferior search feature. The Facebook feature uses friends’ check-ins, recommendations, and likes to help users find local places, but because most Facebook users do not check in or interact with local businesses on the social network, the feature does not work optimally. This feature could be valuable if Facebook could convince more people to use check-ins and recommendations. Continue reading Nearby Local Search from Facebook is Not Quite a Foursquare Killer

Will Changes to Facebook Privacy Controls Make Users Feel Secure?

Facebook will offer improvements to its privacy settings by the end of the year to allow users to change and understand their privacy settings without going to a remote privacy settings page.

The social network will provide a dropdown box on “almost every page,” reports The Atlantic. Facebook will also include messages alongside posts to help people understand who can see the specific status update or picture.

Changes to the privacy settings are intended to help people understand who can see content, and to help users target and remove inappropriate or unwanted content.

The changes will not affect Facebook’s data sharing, and Facebook will continue to leverage user data to build targeted advertising.

While The Atlantic classifies the changes as mostly “cosmetic,” it still says they are important because simplifying privacy control could help Facebook gain user trust.

Ready to Earn, Facebook Rolls Out Gifts Social Commerce Product

After two months of testing, Facebook Gifts is rolling out publicly to U.S. users. TechCrunch predicts that Facebook could earn between $127.5 million and $1.02 billion per year with the social commerce product.

“It lets people choose a friend, often someone who’s birthday or wedding it is, and give them a real-life gift or gift card,” explains the post. “At first it only allowed a few users to access the beta, but then let the service grow organically so anyone who received a Gift gained the ability to give them. It dropped another couple tens of millions of users into Gifts in late November, and now is finally publicly available so anyone in the U.S. can give to other people stateside.”

Since the social network currently touts roughly 170 million U.S. users, the earnings potential is massive. TechCrunch maps out this potential based on number of users and an assumed average gift amount, and speculates that Gifts could account for 3 to 24 percent of the social network’s annual revenue.

“Basically, Gifts will complement Facebook’s advertising and gaming revenue but won’t replace them,” suggests the post. “If it made $510 million a year, that would be $3 per year in additional average revenue per user in the U.S. That would nearly double the U.S. ARPU from $3.40 to $6.40.”

Of course, if successful, these numbers could increase dramatically with an international release.

Firmware Update for Sony Bravia TVs adds Twitter, Facebook, YouTube HD

  • Sony announced it has updated firmware for its Bravia LCD TV sets, enabling viewers to get tweets, post on Facebook and watch hi-def videos via YouTube HD.
  • Bravias have also added compatibility with a version of the Remote Keyboard application, previously available only on Vaio PCs and Xperia smartphones.
  • “Finally, you can now get live Twitter updates along the bottom of your screen and even use a Shazam like feature called Track ID to determine the names of songs, or their artists, that are played during your shows or commercials,” reports Engadget.
  • The press release emphasizes keyboard compatibility: “You can already use your smartphone or Vaio keyboard to control your TV and surf the Web — and now you can use other laptops too. From typing a Web address to searching for information about the latest movies, it makes entering text on-screen even easier than using your TV remote.”
  • The free update is currently available for those with compatible Bravia TVs.

Financial Analyst Weighs Pros and Cons of Zynga $7 Billion IPO

  • In an analysis of Zynga’s pricy IPO, Forbes contributor Peter Cohan advises investors to “avoid this stock.”
  • “Social media gaming sweat shop Zynga filed to sell 14.3 percent, or 100 million, of its shares, valuing the lot at $7 billion,” he writes. “Should you pay the price to get in on its IPO? No.”
  • Zynga does have some things working in its favor: 1) It operates in the highly profitable virtual goods market that is expected to more than double by 2014; 2) It has a competitive advantage with the largest player audience on Facebook and 383 percent annual growth rate from 2008 to 2010; and 3) It has the ability to sustain its leadership position. “In October, Zynga announced Project Z that would lessen Zynga’s dependence on Facebook users. If that and its effort to go mobile work, Zynga would be in a stronger long-term position,” suggest the article.
  • So why not invest? Zynga’s IPO valuation is too high relative to its competitors; its growth is slowing down; and, its net income shrank for the majority of 2011 leaving “razor thin” 3.7 percent net profit margins. “No amount of sweat-shopping will fix Zynga’s slowing growth,” reports Cohan.

Safe Internet Coalition Established in Europe Aimed at Protecting Children

  • Apple, Google, LG, Nintendo, Nokia, Samsung and Facebook are among 28 tech and media companies that are joining forces to “deliver a better Internet for our children,” reports TheNextWeb.
  • “The group was put together by the European Commission (EC) and the priority actions set out include making it easier to report harmful content, ensuring privacy settings are age-appropriate, and offering wider options for parental control,” according to TNW.
  • “This new coalition should provide both children and parents with transparent and consistent protection tools to make the most of the online world”, says Neelie Kroes, vice president of the EC. “The founding coalition members are already leaders in children’s safety online. Working together we will be setting the pace for the whole industry and have a great basis for fully empowering children online.”
  • The coalition has created a statement of purpose covering five key areas: create effective reporting with simple, robust tools; enable age-appropriate privacy settings; develop age-rating through widespread content classification; extend parental control; and effectively remove child abuse material through improved cooperation with law enforcement.

New Homepage: YouTube Goes Social with Focus on Google+ and Facebook

  • YouTube is redesigning its homepage and channel pages to incorporate “better personalized video discovery and viewing, with a notable emphasis on social features,” reports TechCrunch.
  • A new default Subscriptions feed on the homepage offers users content based on what videos they watch and which channels they subscribe to (the feed can also be filtered). Users can share videos using Google+ or by opting-in on Facebook, both located on the navigation bar.
  • Channel pages have four new templates that come with a Feed tab showing the channel owner’s activity (highlighting features such as commenting on a video and subscribing to a channel).
  • “These additions, which are more analogous to template options in Tumblr or MySpace rather than Facebook’s one-size-fits-all style, let producers promote their works in the most natural style for what they offer,” suggests the post.
  • The homepage and channel changes are the first significant updates, but TechCrunch adds that YouTube is “also introducing a site-wide design upgrade to all the elements — typography, iconography, etc. It’s separately adding new versions of its Xbox and Google TV applications, that feature magazine-style tile interfaces showing various channels. Finally, the company is touting the success of its advertising platform, saying that it’s seeing strong demand for its new cost-per-click style of video ads.”

Beta Release: Cinefy App Provides Video Editing and Effects for the iPhone

  • Chairseven and App Creation Network recently announced the beta availability of Cinefy, “a mobile video editing and effects platform for iPhone where users create and share videos mixed with high quality visual effects,” according to the press release. “Cinefy empowers users with no editing skills to quickly insert footage, add music and apply visually stunning effects with its intuitive and simple interface.”
  • The app offers branded effects packs which opens a marketing opportunity for TV and game studios to promote in an engaging way and possibly draw “massive viral exposure.”
  • Users can export their videos to their device’s camera roll in addition to Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo. Cinefy will eventually be available for iPads and Android devices.
  • To help create soundtracks, Friendly Music has teamed up to provide a catalog of songs, “offering 100 percent legal and all rights-cleared music for personal and custom online media creations.”

In Development: Would an HTC Facebook Phone Prove to be the Next Zune?

  • Microsoft lost trust from its hardware partners with the Zune MP3 player which ultimately caused the product to fail. The new Facebook phone could be equally disastrous by pinning HTC against its current software partners.
  • HTC has strong relationships with Google for Android OS and Microsoft for Windows Phone 7, relationships that could be jeopardized in moving forward with a Facebook phone.
  • “One of the key standout features for Windows Phone 7 is social networking and in particular, Facebook integration (Facebook and Microsoft are partnered),” reports Digital Trends. “Google, on the other hand, is at war with Facebook with Google+, and monetizes Android after-the-fact with services like Google+.”
  • “Right now Apple, Microsoft and others spend lots of time on Facebook, but they aren’t likely to continue if they view Facebook as a potential competitor,” suggests the post. “Facebook should be focused on building the best Facebook app for every major platform.”
  • In a related survey conducted by AllThingsD, results suggest an overwhelming number of readers had little to no desire for a Facebook phone (81 percent indicated no interest and 12 percent said they would consider it).

Will Mission Impossible Facebook Game Draw Fans?

  • After phasing out console games relating to the “Mission: Impossible” series, Paramount Pictures has created a social game on Facebook to promote the franchise.
  • The game, which introduces an entirely new storyline, awards players with real prizes and new content. Paramount is using the game to give out premiere tickets in addition to other promotional material.
  • The studio is working with Funtactix, a social game developer, on the project.
  • According to a related article from TheNextWeb, Paramount is also hoping to generate buzz by making it possible to rent all previous iterations of the franchise directly from the movie’s Facebook Fan Page. Each movie costs 30 Facebook credits ($2.99) to rent for 48 hours.
  • “Utilizing the sharing capabilities and Facebook ticker, which will alert your friends to the fact that you’re watching one of the movies, could help build excitement for an opening weekend that will destroy the last,” suggests TNW.
  • Miramax launched a similar Facebook rental model a few months ago. TNW wonders if Facebook rental services will take off in the face of customer comfort and loyalty to Netflix and other streaming services.

Facebook Phone: Social Networker Taps HTC to Manufacture Buffy

  • Facebook has selected Taiwanese phone manufacturer HTC to build a smartphone code-named “Buffy,” after the television vampire slayer.
  • Ironically, the device will run a customized OS from its main competitor, Google’s Android, and integrate a number of Facebook’s services, many of which will run as HTML5 apps.
  • “Facebook only recently chose HTC, after also considering at least one other potential hardware partner — Korea’s Samsung,” reports AllThingsD. “That means the products themselves are still a ways from hitting the market, potentially as long as 12 to 18 months.”
  • According to a Facebook spokesperson: “Our mobile strategy is simple: We think every mobile device is better if it is deeply social. We’re working across the entire mobile industry; with operators, hardware manufacturers, OS providers, and application developers to bring powerful social experiences to more people around the world.”
  • Although other companies have released phones with dedicated Facebook buttons, Buffy is expected to provide deeper integration, “bringing friends and social activities deep into the mobile interface.”

Facebook Stats: Average User Age on the Rise and Females Take the Lead

  • A 2011 study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project discovered some interesting statistics regarding current Facebook users.
  • The average age of the Facebook user rose to 38 in 2010 from 33 in 2008.
  • On an average day, 20 percent of users commented on another’s picture, 22 percent commented on another’s status, 15 percent updated their own status, 10 percent sent a private message and 26 percent selected “like” for another’s content.
  • The average user has 229 friends: 22 percent from high school, 9 percent from college, 10 percent from work, 8 percent are immediate family, and 7 percent are people they’ve never met (see infographic for further breakdown).
  • Daily engagement on Facebook by social networking users accounted for 52 percent compared to Twitter’s 36 percent, Myspace’s 7 percent and LinkedIn’s 6 percent. Another noteworthy figure: “Social media users are ‘disproportionately female,’ notes Pew, with women making up 56 percent of social networking sites, 52 percent of email users, and 55 percent of instant message users,” reports Huffington Post.
  • The complete 85-page Pew report is available online.

Video Chat Gets Software Update that Adds Skype-to-Facebook Calls

  • Skype has released new versions for Mac and Windows that features the ability to connect to social networker Facebook.
  • “After installing Skype 5.4 Beta for Mac or Skype 5.7 Beta for Windows, users can click the Facebook icon on the left side of the screen and authorize Skype to access Facebook data through the Facebook Connect button,” reports Digital Trends.
  • Facebook Connect includes text and video chat functionality. “When a call is placed through the Skype software, the user on Facebook can accept the call and a video chat window pops-up on the Facebook screen,” explains the post. “Ideally, this will eventually allow Facebook users to place calls to anyone running an active version of Skype rather than being logged into Facebook at the time.”
  • Microsoft, which recently acquired Skype for $8.5 billion, is expected to integrate the Windows Phone platform with Skype and possibly include Skype in its upcoming social network called “Soci.”
  • Soci is expected to include a video chatting “party” feature for friends.

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