Ach. Like a hyperventilating claustrophobe stuck in a lift, the iPad pretty much sucked up all the social media air last week. So it is a somewhat foreshortened second installment to our weekly roundup which we now offer for your reading pleasure.
This week: Facebook’s IPO ‘No’; Google’s Chinese impersonator; and Twitter’s stuttering stats.
Facebook is going for gold with a mega-test of the Facebook Credits system on Farmville, the largest social game on the web. The system has previously been tested on much smaller games, but the rollout to Farmville shows that the ‘Book is getting serious about monetizing virtual goods. The Business Insider suggests that the social network will be charging developers a meaty 30% per transaction – leading some commentators to speculate that revenues from payments could exceed those from advertising.
Recent fiddling with privacy controls, and the addition of the option to answer comments directly via email, without even visiting the site, are all heading in one direction: Facebook is shifting focus from its traditional platform and homing in on its users’ streams, in an attempt at future-proofing. According to VP of Engineering Mike Schroepfer, “it is entirely possible that there will be no Facebook.com in the future.”
Nevertheless, two major investors this week confirmed that there was no IPO in Facebook’s tealeaves for 2010. Yuri Milner of DST said: “we don’t have to return money to investors, so we have unlimited patience.”
What Twitter news there was this week was all about the stats – and it was a curate’s egg, to be sure. The bad news: though they passed the 75m user mark in 2009, inactive accounts are higher than ever. Only 17 % of users sent even a single tweet last month – an all-time low, according to ClickZ. Twitter can take some comfort, though, in the fact that active users are more engaged than ever: they now average 300 followers apiece, up from 70 in July 2009, and can boast 420 updates each, compared with just 120 six months earlier.
Google’s presence at the World Economic Forum in Davos only added to the growing sense that Google now resembles a sovereign nation – and one with considerable colonialist aspirations. The Guardian carries an interview with its gnomic CEO Eric Schmidt here, in which he hedges round both Google’s newspaper-menacing advances to display-advertising – and the possibility of a coming rapprochement with the Chinese authorities.
On which note – only weeks after their Chinese troubles first began, Google finds itself in competition with a home-grown counterfeit. The punningly-titled Chinese search engine Goojje (the final syllable plays on the Chinese word for ‘older sister’) appears to be snapping at Google’s heels – though confusingly, the upstart has made a public plea for the search giant to stay in China.
Osoyou.com relaunches this week: the fashion and shopping social network now offers new functionality which refines searches by brand, style, colour and price, and features a drag-and-drop shopping list.
Audi is mobilizing a squadron of environment-protecting “Green Police” for their latest campaign, which will include a dedicated YouTube channel and a Twitter page. Both platforms will feature updates from a campaign road trip, in which journos will motor from Audi headquarters in Virginia, to the Super Bowl in Miami.
Burger King is running a 41-city social media tour to find the best basketball players in each neighbourhood – as well as those who are “game-changers” in their urban community. They’ll post video clips to a dedicated website, where fans may vote for their favourite, or submit their own entries.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer is launching a celeb-backed campaign, called “Too Many Women”, which will attempt to harness the power of social networks to raise over £1million. The charity is searching for 201 ambassadors who will each be tasked with raising £500 – and recruiting nine friends to do the same. The numbers are intended to echo the one in nine women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
Procter & Gamble is to put Facebook at the heart of its marketing strategy for 2010. The company has opened a dedicated Silicon Valley office to work on marketing functionality with the site – but is lukewarm towards Twitter, which it sees merely as a broadcasting tool.
There was a huge hike in the number of Baby-Boomers using social networks last year: while Millennials’ stats stayed pretty consistent, social media adoption in the Boomer cohort jumped to 47% – up 15% from 2008, compared with a barely visible 1% rise the previous year.
Marketers are turning to social media at the expense of direct marketing: 51% of them are moving from a campaign-centric DM model to social media, with 40% planning to cut their DM budget by more than 20% to fund the move, according to Alterian.
Another Facebook mega-stat: unique mobile users leapt more than 600% in 2009. While Twitter’s stats saw an even bigger relative jump – a 2800% increase in just one year – Facebook was the overall winner on numbers, and is now the most popular mobile social network.
Online, UK shoppers were Europe’s big spenders last year – averaging a mammoth £1,102 per shopper, and accounting for almost a third of all European sales, according to the Centre for Retail Research.
Google Street View has won a partial victory in a case brought by a Pittsburgh couple, who alleged their privacy had been violated by when the Street View vehicle entered their ungated driveway and took shots of their pool and house. A judge disagreed, ruling that “no person of ordinary sensibilities would be shamed, humiliated, or have suffered mentally as a result” – but he did rule that the two can pursue a trespass claim against the company.
The first shots were fired in the Nokia-Apple Patent War last week, when the International Trade Commission began its investigation of Nokia’s claims that Apple is treading on its patents in pretty much each one of its products. The war, which recently saw Apple launch a counter-suit, promises to be one of attrition.
A Facebook user has withdrawn a suit which alleged that the company profited from Zynga’s so-called ‘scam ads’ – but she continues to push a class-action against the social-games developer itself. Some observers suggest that both companies are likely to be protected by the federal Communications Decency Act.
If you’re still thinking that the iPad could be a game-changer for gamers, take a look at this, from Massively, which tells you why lack of multi-tasking, Flash support and webcam suggests it won’t.
Last week Linden Lab announced the Feb 17th launch of Linden Home – its new offering for premium users of Second Life. The home hub, which comes with a free plot of land and a monthly wad of Linden dollars, is the company’s attempt at making Second Life less intimidating to new users.
And lastly, if virtual world communities are Your Thing, you could do much worse than examine this list of useful online resources relating to the same, kindly provided by the chaps at Massively.
If you’re (whisper it) still struggling with your Facebook Fan Page, Social Media Examiner tells you why (350 million users; average daily session 25 minutes) and how. Just sayin’.
Venturebeat offers a succinct rationale for why the iPad will sell despite its aforementioned ‘missing’ functions, here.
And Michael Brito offers businesses this useful map to help them navigate the rough waters of real-time search – the latest challenge facing companies using the social web.
Last week we featured the story that Dunbar’s number – the theory that the optimum number of people in any given network is 150 – was also applicable to social media. This week, here’s Jacob Morgan to tell us why Dunbar’s Number is, in point of fact, irrelevant. Oh, do keep up!
That’s all folks!