Social Media News Brief

Facebook Error Shows How Connected to Social Networking We Have Become

Picture 2-18-2013For a short time on Thursday, February 7, Facebook reminded the Internet how connected it has become to social networking and, perhaps, how reliant we as a society have become on social networks such as Facebook. How did Facebook manage to do something so seemingly drastic? This all stems from a minor error that occurred with the Facebook Connect API (application programming interface).

The Facebook Connect API is used on many third-party (non-Facebook) websites to allow people to easily post news articles and other information from websites as links on their Facebook pages, or to easily ‘like’ or comment on these articles and related Facebook pages. Many social networks have connections to major websites like this; so many, in fact, that it has become pretty much commonplace for one to be easily able to post a link to a news article on Facebook or retweet it on Twitter at the simple click of a button.

Essentially, what happened on February 7 was that this API crashed, causing hundreds of websites such as CNN, NBC News, Hulu, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, Gawker, Pinterest, and many other popular websites that feature connectivity to Facebook also crashed alongside the API, causing visitors of those websites to be redirected to a Facebook error page. The error lasted for different amounts of time depending on the website, with NBC News reporting a twelve minute downtime, while Read Write Web reported an hour of downtime caused by Facebook Connect.

Reportedly, users on Twitter have referred to the incident as ‘Facebookmageddon,’ as the amount of websites affected by this problem ultimately affected millions of users on a very widespread scale. It is very interesting to see that something like this could happen and, considering how Twitter was recently hacked itself, where more than 250,000 users were compromised, it makes one wonder whether a skilled hacker abusing Facebook Connect could shut down hundreds of major websites all at once at some time in the near future. Regardless, it certainly is interesting to see how connected the Internet appears to be, simply through the usage of Facebook.

More Facebook Users on Cell Phones than Computers

It doesn’t seem likePicture 2-11-2013 it was that long ago when social networking websites like MySpace hit the scene and began to surge in increasing popularity; in 2006, MySpace was receiving more visits than Google in the United States, and in 2008, Facebook began to take over as the king of the social networks, surpassing MySpace in the amount of unique worldwide visitors. As these social networks have risen and fallen, one commonality between the majority of these networks has been connectivity with mobile phones.

As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the downfalls of MySpace’s relaunching as ‘Myspace’ was that there was no working mobile app released alongside it. Neglecting the many, many people who primarily use their cell phones to access their favorite social networking websites was a fatal mistake that will likely prevent Myspace from reaching the large audience that it’s hoping for. To prove this point further, one must simply look at Facebook trends regarding mobile users.

Currently, the Facebook mobile application is the most-used mobile app in the world, beating out other widespread mobile apps such as Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail. It’s also the mobile app that people use for the longest; according to recent information, 23% of the time people spend using mobile apps is used with Facebook. Comparatively, second place – Instagram – only uses 3% of that time. Needless to say, mobile apps are very important when it comes to social networking.

In fact, for the first time since the company’s launch, the number of active daily visitors that check Facebook using a mobile app on their cell phones (or tablets or other mobile devices) is higher than the number of people that check their Facebook accounts using a computer connected to the Internet. This is relevant for more reasons other than being displayed as an example of how cell phones and other mobile devices are changing the way we look at the Internet and the world. To Facebook (and presumably other social networks), this is especially relevant because of the potential revenue there is to be made.

Initially, in the months after Facebook’s stock went public in May 2012, the company had claimed that it wasn’t making ‘any meaningful revenue’ from its mobile apps. However, in August, Facebook updated its mobile apps to show ads to mobile users, as well as employing other advertisement methods to encourage users to ‘like’ certain pages for companies on Facebook. Since this change, mobile ad sales have accounted for 23% of Facebook’s advertising revenue, which equals about $306 million. With mobile revenue suddenly becoming very relevant, it should be interesting to see how Facebook and other social networks continue to capitalize on mobile apps in the future.

Tracking This Year’s Flu Season with Social Media

This year’s flu sPicture 2-4-2013eason in the United States – which we are currently in the middle of – is, frankly, a little bit more horrible than usual. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has confirmed that we have exceeded epidemic levels of influenza in the country, particularly regarding deaths, which one expert stated might eventually reach a death toll of up to 36,000 people. Between December 3, 2012 and January 12, 2013, there were 5,643 deaths from the flu and from pneumonia, according to the CDC.

This is certainly the worst flu season the country has seen since the swine flu outbreak of 2009. Initially, the CDC reported that flu activity was low early on in what normally would be considered flu season. This announcement, unfortunately, may have led to many people skipping out on their seasonal flu vaccinations; this in turn may have led to the disastrous flu season that has commenced since then.

In the world we live in today, where many of us are consumed by electronics, social networking, and the Internet as a whole, it is no surprise that people are finding ways to use the Internet and social networking to track and document this devastating flu season. One such instance is Google Flu Trends, a website launched by Google that allows visitors to view a map of the country (as well as other countries) and even check out how much flu activity there is on a state-by-state basis. These numbers are generated in real-time through Google searches related to the flu, based on the principle that there are more flu-related searches during flu season, alongside figures presented from the CDC.

In a similar vein, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have developed a way to track flu activity through those that are complaining about flu symptoms on Twitter; using special filters, it attempts to find posts with people discussing that they have the flu, rather than reactionary posts about the flu. Though these methods presented through Twitter and Google may not yet have the accuracy of the CDC reports, they do provide immediacy. The CDC releases weekly information regarding the flu, but the information is generally about two weeks old by the time they post their reports online.

Google Flu Trends and the Twitter filter are ways that social networking and the Internet can fill the gaps created by the long time that it typically takes for the CDC to post their statistics. There have been other projects recently that do similar things, such as ‘Sick Weather,’ a project that pulls from Facebook and Twitter to map certain contagious diseases. While there are obvious instances where certain important demographics are underrepresented, if not excluded (children and the elderly, in particular), these projects are all an interesting gateway to the future and how contagious diseases might be prevented or controlled using social networking technology in the future.

Vine: Twitter’s Entry into Video Social Networking

An odd trend iPicture 1-30-2013n recent years with social networks is to base new social networking ideas off of existing ones. For instance, when MySpace relaunched as Myspace, it was immediately compared to other social networks, referred to as LinkedIn for musicians with a layout resembling Pinterest. With the large amount of major social networks that are prevalent in this day and age, it’s tough not compare new services to the old ones, especially considering how often multiple social networks do the same thing (see Facebook and Google Plus or Facebook Poke and Snapchat, as have been discussed in previous blog posts).

The newest popular venture into social networking is Vine, which of course is already being referred to as ‘the Instagram of video’. The new social network was launched by Twitter last Thursday and it allows its users to post six-second video clips without sound that operate similarly to animated GIFs. The social network has simple connectivity to smartphones and the Vine mobile app operates quite easily; all one has to do is touch the screen to record and let go to stop.

This isn’t the first time that something has been pitched as ‘the Instagram of video,’ as networks such as Viddy, Color, Socialcam, and Cinegram – which was seeing a recent surge in popularity until Vine was launched – have tried to do the same thing. Yet tech critics are skeptical that Vine is going to become the same kind of social phenomenon that Instagram has become. For one, part of the appeal of Instagram is its ability to shift pictures into looking more interesting, as if a photo taken with a cameraphone was taken by someone with an actual camera and photography skills. Vine simply records video, removes the sound, and makes it easy to share.

The fact that Vine has Twitter behind it is going to be positive for it in the long run, but that’s only if Vine actually manages to catch on in the first place. One common problem with these video social networks – and a similar one that Snapchat and other networks have faced recently – is the posting of lewd and pornographic content. Because of the enormous amount of user-generated pornographic content that has already been posted on Vine, the mobile app was recently removed from the ‘Editor’s Choice’ section in the iPhone App Store.

Vine’s removal from the metaphorical front page of the iPhone does not bode well for it and neither does the fact that many offensive comments are already being posted in response to video posts on the service. Vine is already doing what it can to reduce pornographic content labeled with obvious hashtags, but posts about violence, urination, and other potentially offensive material are often harder to track down, and if they aren’t technically violating the terms of use, it’s hard to say what the moderators of Vine can even do about it. The ‘Instagram of video’? Maybe not so much.

The New Myspace: A Flailing Attempt at Resuscitating a Dead Social Network

In the beginnings of 2011, the users that remained on MySpace generally were people who had forgotten to delete their accounts after switching to Facebook or indie bands trying to promote themselves to the few niche users that remained. 2011 was a harsh time for MySpace, to the point where it was generally believed that the website didn’t have much of a future. In fact, in February 2011 alone, MySpace lost a devastating ten million users, after losing fifty million users over the course of the previous year. It seemed that MySpace, as it once was known, was dead in the water.

Then, in June 2011, singer-songwriter turned actor Justin Timberlake purchased MySpace for $35 million, alongside a company called Specific Media Group. Since that time, Timberlake and other representatives of the company have repeatedly stated that MySpace would be going under major renovations to reestablish the dying social network as a superpower website like it was in its heyday. Now, a year and half after the purchase, MySpace has been transformed into Myspace (without the capital ‘S’) and has gone live.

The new Myspace appears to be appropriating a lot of ideas from other social networks into its revival, with a focus on the music aspect that was the primary remaining force on Myspace in its later years, hence Timberlake being the new face of the organization. The new Myspace is intended to operate like the music industry’s own version of LinkedIn, while integrating the celebrity-user personal interactions available to Twitter, as well as featuring streaming music like Spotify. Mix these features in with a layout similar to Pinterest and a few remnants here and there of the old MySpace and you have what one would imagine to be a new, interesting social network.

Unfortunately, the new Myspace is off to a rough start. For starters, and perhaps most importantly, there is no functional mobile application (or even mobile functionality at all) for the social network, which is something that has become pivotal for all social networks in recent years. Considering there are 604 million monthly active users that use the mobile Facebook app (as of September 2012), leaving out a mobile app is a bizarre and enormous first mistake for Myspace.

The ‘revamped’ social network suffers from other problems as well; a very large cover photo (1024×768 pixels) is required to complete the look of one’s profile, sharing links lacks the dynamic functions of Facebook and Google Plus, the layout often lacks intuition, and some are saying there is too much focus on the music of Justin Timberlake and his collaborators. With the enormous blunder of not releasing a mobile app at launch, the clock is certainly ticking for the new Myspace to be officially seen as a resounding failure; considering how much Myspace’s target audience embraces instant gratification, it isn’t likely that the company has much time before their social network is once again forgotten in lieu of other, better websites.

The Facebook Trinity: Newsfeed, Timeline, and Graph Search

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a press event today to unveil a new feature known as ‘Graph Search’ that, while currently in its beta stages, will soon be included alongside the Newsfeed and Timeline currently offered on the popular social networking website, which features over a billion users. The Graph Search will fill in the blanks leftover from the Newsfeed and Timeline, the two aspects of Facebook that are currently available. Each of these sections of the ‘Facebook trinity’ will feature a certain aspect of the connections available between Facebook users.

The Newsfeed is a collection of statuses and updates to Facebook user pages of all of one’s Facebook friends, so it essentially can tell Facebook users what’s currently going on in the lives of their Facebook friends. The Timeline is the feature that allows Facebook users to know a bit more personal information about one of their specific Facebook friends. Each Facebook user has a Timeline that displays all of their interactions with other Facebook users, the statuses and photos that they have posted, as well as plenty of other information.

And now comes the Graph Search, which should fill in the blanks between ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing?’. Though the Graph Search will still adhere to current privacy settings that are set up on Facebook profiles, it can be used as a search function to get broader information and find select individuals. For instance, Facebook users will be able to easily search for which of their friends (or friends of friends) speak Spanish, live in Dallas, went to University of Florida, or all of the above.

The intention of Graph Search is to further connect Facebook users. In Facebook’s earlier years, it was easier to find connections to other Facebook users, based on one’s favorite movies or what groups the Facebook users both belonged to. In recent years, this connectivity has been replaced as Facebook has been updated. As Zuckerberg has stated, the Graph Search feature is a call-back to Facebook’s roots of being used to make new connections.

Though the Graph Search is not a full-fledged Internet search engine, it can be used to easily search for things like “photos I’ve liked” or “friends of friends who are single in San Francisco” with instant results. Additionally, Facebook will be featuring Bing results in Facebook searches; while Facebook and Google do not have the same functions, it is unsurprising that the two act as competitors and that Facebook would affiliate itself with Bing, considering Google’s attempt to directly compete with Facebook with the mostly failed Google Plus service.

The market’s reaction to the announcement of Graph Search has been fairly low-key, as Facebook’s shares fell 2%. However, some market critics are saying that Yelp, Inc., a company focused on online reviews and recommendations, may suffer from Facebook’s Graph Search feature, as users will be able to easily see restaurants and other services that their Facebook friends have ‘liked’. Thus, Yelp’s shares falling more than 6% was a predictable turn of events.

Top 5 Tools for Successful Twitter Marketing

If you’re having trouble deciding which is more important – the quantity of your Twitter following or the depth of your relationships with your followers – rest assured that both are of equal value.

Now that your mind is uncluttered and free of question, it’s best to concentrate on how you can enhance both aspects of your Twitter account to ensure the most oomph for your efforts.

Below you’ll find five indispensible resources to establish successful Twitter marketing, thanks to SocialMediaExaminer.com, which zoom in on the following key areas:

• Generating new followers
• Managing your newly established following surplus
• Transforming shallow relationships into deeper, more connected ones

 1. Blast Follow
A must-have Twitter application, Blast Follow is a remarkable resource for e-commerce entrepreneurs who could use a helping hand in accomplishing the necessary grunt work to locate others in their industry. With just a single click, users can generate a seemingly endless list of followers.

So, how can such a near impossible task become so simplified? Quite easily in fact. The concept is based on a societal norm – the law of reciprocity – which states that it’s in the nature of humans to desire reciprocation (whether a friend or stranger) of actions.

This concept takes on a ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’ appeal and, in this case, Twitter users seem to adhere to a loyalty to that says ‘you follow me; it’s only fair that I follow you.’

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5 Social Media Trends to Smile About

It’s nearly impossible to turn on the TV, tune in to the radio or surf the web these days without encountering the social media craze that continues to intertwine with all aspects of our daily lives.

The buzz question of a once reluctant, yet curious, populace is no longer ‘Why should I become active in social media?’ Instead, the hot-button issue of inquisition in recent days has become ‘How can social media benefit me?’

Therefore, we’ve comprised a list of five social media trends, thanks to Mashabale.com, that provide consumers with a variety of perks and rewards, in addition to the in-demand essence of social media itself.


1. Social Scanning
The development of the Smartphone has granted users instant access to a magnitude of informational and social resources online. Most recently, these newage applications have yielded the convenience of comparison shopping to Smartphone users through barcode scanning technology.

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Social Media Excellence: Learning from Five Outstanding Corporate Blogs

When it comes to starting up a business blog, most people find themselves overwhelmed from the get-go. There’s much more than posting to account for when strategizing for a striking blog, in fact, the key areas to consider are the theme, topics, audience, design, multimedia and promotion. Plus, if you haven’t already chosen a domain name for your blog, that’s a primary feature you’ll want to carefully develop to represent your brand most effectively.

Today, Mashabale.com published an article to showcase 15 fabulous business blogs; each represents a separate, valuable component of orchestrating a successful corporate blog to captivate the inquisitive nature of web surfers worldwide.

To keep things simple, however, we’ve selected the five most prominent must-haves for any business blog. This should to get you started sans the headache and hassle of sorting through an overwhelming to-do list. 

1. Squarespace: Choose a Suitable Blog Design

  
Business blogs often lack originality thanks to a corporate misconception that they need to be branded with overpowering images and text or visually underdeveloped and boring.

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Students Crave Social Media in Online Education

It’s not uncommon to think ‘geez, what’s next?’ when you consider the thousands of new social media applications that surface daily. As a society, our astonishment with the basic utility of networks like Facebook and Twitter has become feeble and impatient.

Today, excitement is fueled by stellar advancements in emerging technology such as the iPad, while the hype regarding simple applications like BreakkUp and Pandora is usually generated partially by the anticipation for something – anything – new.

Degree of public interest aside, the overarching commonality among all forms of social and emerging technologies is the simple fact that they connect users through an endless span of preferences, thoughts and searches. In fact, this newage trend is garnering public interest Webby-worthy technologies and the possible integration of these elite systems into the online platforms of crucial American industries – specifically education.

As the nation’s second largest enterprise (just behind healthcare), higher education – according to Mashable.com – is “experiencing a similar shift as it struggles to adapt traditional design and delivery models to the demands of modern audiences who are accustomed to digital interactivity.”

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