Monday, November 25, 2013

Social Media Stocks Taking A Plunge

As reported by Brent Molina the social media stocks are taking a hit.

Following a hot start after the launch of its initial public offering, Twitter shares have dipped below $40 as stocks in social media companies are plunging in Monday trading.

Twitter is down nearly 5% to $39.05 in midday trading. Facebook shares have sunk 4%, while recommendations service Yelp has dropped 8%.

Monday's decline in social stocks arrives as the Nasdaq broke through the 4000 mark for the first time since September 2000. Companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Yelp trade on the Nasdaq, while Twitter trades on the New York Stock Exchange.

Despite Twitter's plunge, the company's stock still trades well above its IPO price of $26, briefly hitting the $50 mark on its first day of trading. However, shares have steadily declined since mid-November.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Google Plus Moving On Up

As a user of Google+ I can tell you that they are superior to Facebook. The features they have are just better and easy to use. As Vince Font reports this is why Google+ will keep increasing their user base. He writes in their never-ending quest to knock Facebook off its perch as the most used social media platform this side of the Kuiper belt, the peeps at Google recently unveiled a host of new Google+ features that make the search giant’s social offering a lot more attractive. In fact, if you aren’t already using Google+, you’ll want to check it out soon.

New in Hangouts

Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ll know that the Google+ Hangouts feature is catching fire as a free and easy method for people to communicate, both globally and locally. Numerous politicians (including the POTUS himself) have begun using Hangouts to hold online town hall meetings with their constituents, no doubt saving serious cash on airfare and conference halls. You can also initiate video conferences with up to 10 friends at a time from your computer or your mobile device. In their recent announcement, Google indicated the rolling out of a handful of interesting upgrades that might just get you off that Facebook bandwagon.
  • Google Plus LocationLocation Sharing – If you need to let a friend know where you are and aren’t into seeking out the nearest street sign and typing in the address – or if you just want to let everyone know where the party’s at – you can enable Location Sharing in Hangouts to broadcast your precise location. Your location can be set to approximate (using your Wi-Fi network) or precise (by turning on GPS). Just click the map pin icon in your current Hangout session to launch the Google Maps locator, then click “Share location”. Doing so attaches your location to whatever message you choose to send. Your recipient can then launch the map of your location on their end and plot a course straight to you.
  • Google Plus Hangout SMSSMS Support – Prior to the upgrade, sending an SMS to a Google+ pal required you to toggle between the app and your texting platform. This is no longer the case, as Google Hangouts for mobile now comes with full SMS functionality, which essentially lets you send and receive text messages (or pics or videos) from inside the Hangouts app without the requirement of being logged into Hangouts. This shouldn’t be considered a way to bypass your carrier’s text limit however, as texts still count toward your carrier’s rate – so watch that. SMS support for Hangouts works on all Android devices 4.0 or higher. The way it works is simple: the first time you enter the updated Hangout app, you’re greeted with a message asking you if you want to enable SMS support. Options are “yes” or “maybe later.” After you’ve selected “yes” your conversations are imported into the Hangouts app. From that point forward, unless you decide to disable the feature in your settings, you’ll begin to receive texts through your Hangouts app. You can also choose whether to use Hangouts or your factory SMS platform anytime you begin a new conversation.
  • Animated GIF Support – Because Google knows everyone’s grown tired of sharing boring, motionless images, the new and improved Hangouts will also feature the ability to send animated GIFs.
  • Full-Screen HD – There’s nothing quite like a poor quality video image to make you feel as if the person you’re chatting with is a million miles away, which is why one of the upgraded functionalities of Google+ Hangouts is full-screen, 720p HD. Webcam lighting is also automatically enhanced. Improved video quality is being rolled out across desktop and mobile devices.Google Plus Hangouts
  • Google Effects – In addition to lately released backgrounds that can be used to spice up video chat (these are labeled as still being in the experimental stage) comes the ability to entirely blur out the background in Hangouts, which could be an effective tool for professional video chat purposes. Other improvements to come include toggling between black and white video chat.

Better Organization for Photos and Videos

Sharing photos and videos is a big thing online, and why not? Until the world has decided it’s seen enough crazy cat photos and stupid human tricks, let the sharing continue. Google+ is making this even easier with the implementation of some fun functionalities and nifty organizational tools, many of which will be available for Android, iOS and desktop – still others which will only be available on devices running Android 4.3 or higher. 
  • Google Plus PhotosAutomatic Photo and Video Backup at Full Size – As a feature of the new and improved Google+ for mobile experience, you can set all photos and videos to automatically back up to your associated Google Drive folder as you take them. Additionally, you can select to back up all photos and videos currently on your mobile device. You can choose to back up your pics and videos at standard size or full size. When you go standard, there’s no limit to the number of either you can store online (as long as pics are 2048px or less and videos are 1080p or less and under 15 minutes long). If you store at full size, pics and videos will be put in your Google Drive storage and will count toward your storage limit there, where the first 15GB are free and you’ll have to pay for anything after. Other options let you choose to back up only when connected over WiFi, or WiFi and mobile connection, or not at all. The good news is that automatically backed up pics and vids do not get shared with anyone until you specify you want that to happen.
  • Auto Awesome – With a name like that, it’s got to promise some pretty cool features, and it does. Auto Awesome offers a suite of unique photo and video enhancements that include: Auto Awesome Action, which can combine a series of photos into one shot to simulate motion; Auto Awesome Eraser, which can literally erase background objects and people from a photo; and Auto Awesome Movie, which automatically stitches selected videos and still images together to create a mini-movie. Auto Awesome Movie includes controls that let you set background music and determine the length of the mini-movie. And of course, the final product is easily sharable via Google+.
  • Google Plus Photo EditingPhoto Editing Tools – Once you access your photo gallery on Drive, you can click on specific images and enhance or edit them. Once you open up a photo, all you have to do is click “Edit” to launch a series of tools that enable you to tune the image, crop and rotate, adjust brightness and saturation, and other controls normally associated with third party editing programs.
  • Intuitive Search – Not everyone has time to name their photos for future reference, or to page through their expansive online photo gallery in search of something they want to share. Now new with Google+ it’s simple to take a snapshot on your phone, save it to Drive, then find it later by keying in a search term. According to Google, it can now recognize over 1,000 different objects. This will purportedly make it easy to enter in search terms like “bike” or “mountain” to instantly access all photos of bikes or mountains in your Drive gallery. Searches can be limited to your own gallery or expanded to include the shared images of your friends in Circles.
  • Sharing Control – Improved sharing controls let you decide when an image gets shared and who gets to see it. Clicking the “share” button on a photo launches a comment box and lets you make photos public or choose certain individuals you want to be able to access the image in Google+.

New LinkedIn Showcase Page

Kurt Wagner discusses the new LinkedIn news feed. He writes: LinkedIn replaced its news aggregator LinkedIn Today last week in order to get the right content in front of the right users.

The company took that mantra a step further on Tuesday, unveiling Showcase Pages for companies that will, in theory, allow them to share content to a more focused and interested audience.

Showcase Pages work like less-robust Company Pages, giving major corporations like Microsoft the ability to create pages for niche divisions or business units, such as Microsoft Office or Xbox. Showcase Pages will be followable, meaning Microsoft can share Xbox content with LinkedIn users who have shown interest in the product, rather than every user who simply follows Microsoft.

LinkedIn hopes that brands will start focusing their content to specific audiences. Companies can operate up to 10 Showcase Pages, but LinkedIn says it will work with larger companies that have the need (and manpower) to operate more.

Showcase Pages aren't Company Pages, and they don't have all the same features. For example, Showcase Pages won't have a tab for Careers or Products & Services, says a LinkedIn spokesperson.

Showcase Pages are also different from Groups on LinkedIn. (Xbox and Microsoft Office groups already exist.) The difference is that companies control the content of a Showcase Page, while an administrator controls the Group.

The other major difference is that companies can advertise on Showcase Pages.

Companies can purchase Follower Ads aimed at increasing the Showcase Page's total follower total, as well as Sponsored Updates that will put the page's posts and content in front of others who aren't following the page.

LinkedIn has about 3 million Company Pages on the site, but isn't saying how many Showcase Pages it expects to add. It seems likely that an abundance of new pages will increase the number of ads on the site, simply because there will now be more business units and brands looking to spread their news.

Showcase Pages weren't the only changes for LinkedIn on Tuesday. The company also announced Talent Updates, a feature that lets LinkedIn Recruiters post content to their company page directly from their recruiter dashboard. Previously, recruiters needed to log out of their recruiter dashboard, and log in as the page administrator to post. (Or ask the administrator to post on their behalf.)

This is a behind-the-scenes change that shouldn't impact users — they'll still see content the same way they always have on a company's page. It simply makes it easier for those operating LinkedIn pages to internally manage the content they choose to share.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Social Media Helps Tornado Victims Find Lost Property

When all you see in the news is despair and ruin seeing something good from the heart of people is a wonderful thing. Using the power of social media those folks lifted up some people in bad need of good news. Here is the story by Lauren Zumbach.

The tornado that leveled Beth and Dennis Doolan's home in Washington, Ill., scattered their belongings, the winds lifting valued possessions and trash alike and carrying them away.

Some time later, and about 80 miles from the devastation, a photograph dropped into a yard. It was a favorite photograph, taken on the Doolans' 40th anniversary.

But with the help of a Facebook page created after the tornado, they found it once more. A friend looking at the site saw the Doolans' photo and contacted their daughter.

It was the first successful match for the Facebook pages using social media to reunite tornado victims in Washington and Diamond with their storm-tossed possessions, but not the last."There were tears of joy when I told them," said their daughter, Lisa Hoffman.

Each page cataloged found items, some mundane — unopened mail, school work sheets, a church bulletin — and some potentially priceless, including the muddied, unclaimed bridal veil that drifted onto a roof in Streator.

Each post, marked with the city where the item was found, showed the storm's power. It carried a Washington resident's paycheck about 140 miles before dropping it in a Park Ridge garden and scattered Amanda Hicks' great-aunt and great-uncle's pictures, papers and bank statements among Joliet, Minooka and Downers Grove.

The pages showed how determined the finders were to help tornado victims get at least a few familiar items back.

"If there was a fire in my house, my pictures are the first thing I'd grab after getting my family out of the house," said Brenda Strange, who found the photo of the Doolans happily embracing among the insulation, newspapers and roofing debris that landed in her yard in Morris. "Forty years is really something, and even though this is small, hopefully it will give them a little hope."

Becky Siegel-Harty, of Seneca, created the Facebook group that Strange posted on, PHOTOS found from Nov 17, 2013 Illinois Storms/Tornadoes, on Sunday afternoon. She remembered seeing similar social media campaigns after the Joplin, Mo., tornado that killed 161 people in 2011.

"It's a small way to make a difference if you can't get down there to help," Siegel-Harty said. As of Monday afternoon, she said she knew of four matches made through her more than 750-member group, though she speculated that more had been arranged through private messages.

One of those success stories was a photo that her children found of a girl holding a present on Christmas morning. Later that evening, the owner found Siegel-Harty's post. The photo was from one of the now-scattered scrapbooks she'd made with her mom, the woman wrote on Facebook.

Siegel-Harty, who said her 16-year-old son died last year, knows how precious photos can be. "If I lost everything, one picture of him would be the world," she said.

Dan Davidson, who grew up in Morris but now lives in Dayton, Ohio, started another Facebook page called Found items from the Washington Illinois and Diamond Illinois Tornadoes.

It had more than 6,500 likes, dozens of posts and about 20 matches by Monday afternoon, Davidson said. The only images he wouldn't post were sensitive documents, such as medical records and bank statements, which he said should be turned over to police.

The Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, 909 Liberty St. in Morris, also volunteered to collect photos and documents and deliver them to a central Illinois location where Washington and Diamond residents could claim them, Siegel-Harty said.

Davidson said the submission that most affected him was an envelope found in Plainfield addressed to one of the men killed by the tornado, Steve Neubauer, of Washington.

But there were also baby pictures, wedding portraits and even a couple of pets. Bonnie Jones, owner of Beagle's Bay Animal Hospital in Metropolis, added a photo of a Labrador mix rescued Sunday evening in Brookport, with injuries that suggested it had been picked up and dropped by the tornado, Jones said.

The dog — in severe shock and suffering from a broken paw, bruised lung and neck wound when found — is doing well, Jones said, though its owner still hadn't been found. Another Facebook page, Illinois Tornado Animals Lost & Found, featured photos of a couple of dozen missing and unclaimed cats and dogs, as well as a handful of happy reunions.

Several people said they planned to keep searching for lost mementos. Sidney Perrier, of Crest Hill, said he saw some photos while walking his dog at Joliet's Rock Run Preserve. He never imagined they might have been deposited by the tornado until he found an index card with family names and dates of death going back to 1844, he said.

He Googled the most common surname, Kindrig, and found several people living in Roanoke, not far from where the tornado hit. Perrier, who posted his find on Facebook, said he hadn't yet been contacted by anyone who knew the family. In the meantime, he said he would go back to the trail to see if he could find any of the photos he passed by.

According to Chris Miller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, the 90-mile trek that amazed Perrier isn't unusual. Vertical winds within tornadoes can lift light debris high into the atmosphere where powerful jet streams, blowing more than 100 mph, can carry items hundreds of miles away, he said.

Mike Janulis marveled at the power of social media after posting a portrait of a dark-haired girl in a red sweater that landed in his front yard in Shorewood. He said a tornado destroyed his parents' home in Plainfield in 1990, when there were no such sites.

Janulis said he wanted to find the portrait's owner because he understood what the victims were going through.

"It seems like a long shot and it's just one photo, but at least it's something I can do," Janulis said.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Google, Microsoft ramp up fight against online child pornography

Major kudos to Microsoft and Google. Microsoft shared picture detection technology with Google in a crackdown on child pornography. Here is the full article by Steven Musil.

Web giants agree to modify search algorithms to exclude search terms associated with photos and videos containing sexual abuse of children.

In response to the longtime, alarming proliferation of photos and videos containing child pornography on the Internet, Web search giants Google and Microsoft plan to introduce measures to block the content from their search results.

The modifications will prevent more than 100,000 search terms from generating results that link to images and videos associated with child sex abuse and instead trigger a warning that the associated content is illegal. The restrictions, which apply to English-speaking countries, will be expanded to more than 150 languages in the next six months, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt wrote in an article for the Daily Mail on Sunday.

"We've listened, and in the last three months put more than 200 people to work developing new, state-of-the-art technology to tackle the problem," Schmidt wrote. "We've fine-tuned Google search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results."

Once it's determined that content represents genuine abuse and not innocent bath time photos, the content is assigned a unique digital fingerprint that speeds the detection and deletion process when the images appear in Google's system, he wrote. "Microsoft deserves a lot of credit for developing and sharing its picture detection technology," Schmidt wrote.

Engineers at YouTube have also created new technology to identify child porn videos on the video-sharing site, and the company plans to make the technology available to other Internet companies and child protection agencies, Schmidt wrote.

The effort is the result of a call to arms this summer by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who praised the move as a "really significant step forward."

"Google and Microsoft have come a long way," Cameron told the Daily Mail. "A recent deterrence campaign from Google led to a 20 percent drop off in people trying to find illegal content, so we know this sort of action will make a difference."

The companies have long been focused on eradicating child pornography from the Internet. Google announced plans in June to build a database of child porn images that can be shared with other tech companies, law enforcement, and nonprofits around the world, allowing for greater collaboration toward content removal. In addition to joining the Technology Coalition, which looks at how technology can be used to end child exploitation, the search giant has also donated millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations that work for the cause.

Microsoft has also actively battled child pornography on the Web. The software giant helped develop the image-matching technology for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's PhotoDNA program. The technology is also used by other Internet companies,including Facebook.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Google Gets Record Number of User Data Requests From Governments

I just want my freedom back. Freedom to browse the internet or send an email without the NSA and others logging my every word. They are the biggest Malware of our time.

Mike Levine reports that this year has brought the biggest expansion yet of government efforts around the world to gather user data from Google, one of the globe's most-used search engines and online destinations, according to a new report from the company first obtained by ABC News.

While requests for user data grew everywhere in the past year, U.S. government attempts to access such data ballooned nearly three times faster than requests from overseas, the report showed.

Google is set to officially release the report later today.

"Americans still have no way of knowing whether the government is striking the right balance between privacy and security, or whether their privacy is being violated," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said during a Senate hearing Wednesday, speaking generally about the need for more transparency over government collection of data.

In the first six months of 2013, the U.S. government submitted 10,918 requests to Google for information about its users, up from 7,969 requests a year before, the report said. The numbers have more than doubled since 2009.

"This comes as usage of our services continues to grow, but also as more governments have made requests than ever before," Google's legal director, Richard Salgado, writes in the report.

In the first half of 2013, Google complied with 83 percent of the U.S. government requests it received.

The requests to Google came from law enforcement agencies and other entities with authority to investigate crime, such as courts and judges.

Indeed, the report indicates that 68 percent of requests this year came in the form of subpoenas, 28 percent were warrants or other court orders, and 1 percent were "emergency disclosure requests," when authorities believed someone's life was in jeopardy and time was of the essence.

Such requests are not tied to the controversial U.S. surveillance programs recently disclosed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Google -- followed by Yahoo, Microsoft and other companies -- has filed suit against the U.S. Justice Department, urging a federal judge to let it disclose some statistics about actions compelled under the controversial NSA data-mining programs.

"Google recognizes the very real threats that the U.S. and other countries face today and, of course, governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But the current lack of transparency about the nature of government surveillance in democratic countries undermines the freedom and the trust most citizens cherish," Salgado said Wednesday during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

Even when related to more standard law enforcement requests, U.S. law currently restricts Google from releasing anything beyond what's included in the company's report being released Wednesday.

At the Senate hearing he chaired, Franken said companies like Google are essentially under a government-imposed "gag order," adding that misconceptions and fears created by such "gag orders" are resulting in billions of dollars in losses to internet companies.

Insisting action is "urgently necessary," Franken has introduced a bill – The Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013 – which he said would allow internet and phone companies to tell users general information about the number of orders received for information and the number of users whose data was actually then turned over. The bill would also require NSA to disclose similar information about its activities, according to Franken.

"It's very important that the users of our services understand that we are stewards of their data, we hold it responsibly, we treat it with respect, and that there's not any sort of confusion around the rules where we may be compelled to disclose the data to the government," Salgado said Wednesday.

As for requests from governments outside the United States, in the first half of 2013, Google received 14,961 requests for user data from foreign governments, and complied with the vast majority of them. That's up from 12,969 a year ago.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Facebook Requiring Some Users To Change Password After Abobe Hack

Changing your password often should be common practice for everyone but in light of the recent adobe hack Chris Welch of The Verge reports that Facebook is taking steps to protect its own users in the aftermath of an Adobe hack that affected tens of millions of customer accounts. The company is asking anyone that used identical login credentials across both services to change their Facebook password immediately. To identify users that may be at risk, Facebook's engineers are combing through a publicly posted database that contains details on millions of Adobe accounts. If a match is discovered, Facebook displays a message that alerts users of a "security incident on another website unrelated to Facebook." "Facebook was not directly affected by the incident, but your Facebook account is at risk because you were using the same password in both places," the warning reads.

If you're among those affected, you'll be asked to answer a few questions for verification purposes, after which you can enter a new (and hopefully unique) password. As an added security precaution, Facebook notes that "no one can see you on Facebook until you finish" with the password reset process. "We actively look for situations where the accounts of people who use Facebook could be at risk — even if the threat is external to our service," a company spokesperson told Krebs on Security.

Adobe has confirmed that data on at least 38 million accounts was compromised in the breach, though security experts worry that the total figure may be much larger. Choosing the same password for multiple websites is never a wise choice, so if your Adobe login was used in more than one place, you should probably consider updating those passwords.

LinkedIn Integrates With Pulse In New Download

Scott Martin of The USA Today says LinkedIn is turning up its efforts as a media destination with the launch today of LinkedIn Pulse, which stitches the news aggregation app into the professional network.
LinkedIn Pulse gives the news reader a makeover that includes larger images. People also will have the ability to share, comment and like from stories and have that sync to the desktop version of the professional network.
"It's fully redesigned for integrating LinkedIn with Pulse. The whole app is much, much faster and more beautiful," says Ankit Gupta, co-founder of Pulse, which LinkedIn acquired for $90 million in April.
Merging Pulse with LinkedIn also means that Influencer blog posts and publisher content that people follow on the professional network will appear in Pulse. That will become activated once members use their LinkedIn login for the new LinkedIn Pulse app.
LinkedIn's selection of publishers on the desktop will also balloon to include what people are following on the Pulse news reader.
The LinkedIn Pulse app is now available on Apple's Apple Store and Google Play for download.
LinkedIn last month announced plans to relaunch Pulse, saying that it would become more tightly integrated with the network. As part of its changes, Pulse will now replace LinkedIn Today on the desktop.
"It was always our intention to bring these two technologies much closer together," says Ryan Roslansky, head of content products at LinkedIn.

How to Create and Embed Your Own Custom Timeline on Twitter

Kurt Wagner from shows you how you can create your own custom Timeline on Twitter.
Twitter is turning up the heat as expected after the recent IPO.

Twitter announced a new custom-timeline feature within TweetDeck on Tuesday, which means users will be able to collect tweets and organize them into specific groups or categories within the social-media dashboard.

TweetDeck will allow users to come up with creative groupings, including a collection of humorous tweets that users wish to share with friends at the end of each week, or a collection of tweets about an event or crisis that reporters can embed into a story as it unfolds.

However you choose to use the feature, which is rolling out over the next few days, you'll need to know how to build your custom timeline. Here's how it works:

Sign in to TweetDeck and look for the "+" icon on the left-hand side of the main home screen. Click on the "+" to add a new column. A new window will appear with many column options, but look at the very bottom of the list for "Custom Timeline;" click that one.

You can also access your custom timelines by clicking a small icon in the lower left-hand corner of the home screen, below the "+". When you hover over this icon, a "Custom Timelines" label appears.

Regardless of which "Custom Timeline" button you select, you'll be brought to a screen where you can choose to edit existing custom timelines, or create a new custom timeline by clicking on the "Create Custom Timeline" button in the upper left-hand corner; click that button.

The new, blank timeline should appear in your TweetDeck as its own column. You can easily name your timeline or add a description to it at this time. Unlike a 140-character tweet, the timeline description can be up to 160 characters long.

It's now time to populate your timeline. You can do this in a number of ways, the most simple of which is to drag a tweet from one of your other TweetDeck columns into your new custom timeline. Each tweet will have a small icon in the lower right-hand corner that looks like directional arrows crossing. You can use this to click and drag tweets into your custom timeline.

You can also add tweets by clicking on the "more" icon on a user's tweet within TweetDeck; this releases a drop-down menu where one of the options is "Add to custom timeline."

Once you have sufficiently filled your custom timeline, you can choose to share it with friends, or embed it into a blog or news post on another platform.

Click on the small tab to the right of your custom timeline's title. From the ensuing drop-down menu, click on "share." You can choose to embed the post, view it on or tweet about it. For our purposes, we are going to embed the post. Click "Embed timeline."

This will bring up a new window where you can make small changes to the timeline, such as changing the link color or background color for the tweets. Once you've set everything up the way you want it, click "Create Widget." A few lines of code will appear below all of the tweets in your custom timeline. Copy the code, and paste it into your blog post.

Here's what an embedded timeline looks like once it is in a post:

You can always add to your timeline from TweetDeck. You can also look at another user's custom timelines by clicking on their Twitter card within TweetDeck, and selecting the "Custom Timelines" button below their avatar picture.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Twitter Keeps Its IPO Shares Safely Locked Up

Matt Krantz of the USA Today wrote this article on Twitter.
When people send Twitter messages it's all rush, rush, rush. But when it comes to executives cashing out following the company's IPO, it's going to be slow, slow, slow.

Unlike in other recent initial public offerings such as Facebook, where some early investors sold shares right away and officers could start dumping in just three months after the deal, Twitter insiders will need to hold on for a longer period of time.

Some rank-and-file employees can sell 9.9 million shares starting Feb. 15, 2014, to cover income tax expenses from vesting shares. But that's just 1% of the company's shares outstanding. More important, executives, directors and owners of large chunks of Twitter stock have agreed to not sell their shares for at least 181 days after the IPO. That means these shares are locked up for sale until May 6, 2014, saving early investors from this avalanche of supply of stock. The 181-day lockup is a relief to investors, since the release of shares for sale can apply significant pressure on a fledgling stock.

Twitter "really tightened up the lockup," says Francis Gaskins of IPO Desktop Premium. "This is not going to be a problem in the market."

Twitter's decision to go with a 181-day lockup period of its shares post IPO is interesting because it's a:

• Return to past norms. A 181-day lockup on shares had been the norm for a long time with IPOs and is still the most commonly followed practice, says Jay Ritter of the University of Florida. But that standard was being chipped away by high-profile technology companies such as Google and Facebook, which allowed some investors to start selling sooner. Google, for instance, first started releasing shares to be sold by insiders in 15 days following the IPO, with more shares being available for sale at 90 days.

• Reaction to Facebook's troubled IPO. Facebook remains a blueprint for a IPO done incorrectly, ranging from everything from trading problems to the stock falling below its IPO price in the first week, Gaskins says. But another aspect Twitter likely wanted to avoid was the constant fear of stock pressure caused by a slate of unlocks. Facebook, for instance, freed up a massive 268 million shares just 91 days following its IPO.

• Reminder of Twitter's business challenges. Rather than worrying about lockups or situations that might affect trading, investors in Twitter are now going to be focused on the company's efforts to turn a profit, Gaskins says. Twitter is going to have to find ways to make a profit if it's going to justify its roughly $30 billion market value.

Holding selling at bay at least might make investors more patient with the company in its earliest days. "The idea of a lock up is to give confidence the insiders are not going to be dumping shares at the first opportunity," Ritter says.

Facebook Starting To Lose Teens. Where Are They Going?

This is not a surprise to me. Teens by their very nature are rebellious. Why would they want to log into a Facebook page that their Grandmother is on. They want the freedom of being able to say something without mom and dad being able to read it. This is a trend that will continue. As Parmy Olson from Forbes writes, Earlier this month Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Ebersam confirmed a worrying, but long-suspected trend for the world’s biggest social network: teenagers, perhaps the most important demographic for a modern-day communication tool, were becoming less active on the site.

“We did see a decrease in daily users, partly among younger teens,” Ebersam admitted, referring to usage numbers from the second to third quarters of 2013. Researchers at GlobalWebIndex, a market research group,recently confirmed this decline.

Having surveyed teenagers in 30 countries, they revealed that the number of teenagers claiming to be active on Facebook (ie. doing more than just “liking” a separate page on the web) had dropped to 56% in the third quarter of 2013, from 76% in the first.

The biggest decline in active usage (by 52%) was in the Netherlands; there was a 16% fall for American teens.

Where are they going instead? Not surprisingly, it’s mobile chat services like WeChat, and photo-sharing apps like Instagram and Snapchat.

What’s truly startling though, is how quickly global teenagers are taking up the services instead:

A global survey of teenagers shows an eye-popping jump in active users for the mobile

The latest research from GlobalWebIndex, out Tuesday and with the accompanying graphic above, shows that Chinese messaging platform WeChat has seen the most rapid growth in active users aged between 16 and 19 — by an incredible 1,021% — between the first and second quarters of this year.

The other big wins have been for video sharing app Vine, owned by Twitter, and the mobile app for photo-sharing app Flickr. Active teen users for Vine grew by 639% and for Flickr by 254%, according to research group’s estimates.

“There is a very clear story with the big winners being closed messaging and video-and-photo sharing apps,” said Tom Smith, CEO of GlobalWebIndex. “This is something that could be particularly harmful to Facebook because its core value lies in peer-to-peer community, messaging and photo sharing.”

Even Facebook Messenger is seeing more active usage (an 86% increase), than Facebook itself, where teenage active users fell by 17% in the same period, according to the estimates. Instagram saw an 85% increase in active users and messaging tool WhatsApp saw an 81% growth. Tumblr also saw some growth in active users, but by a relatively-low 30%.

“There is a clear, definitive shift to mobile in general,” said Smith, “underlined by a large rise in Facebook’s mobile app, [up 69%], so the composition of Facebook is changing.”

The teen trend towards mobile chat apps should have less of an impact on Twitter, Smith added, because Twitter plays a greater role in accessing real-time news, interacting with TV or following celebrities. Even Google GOOG -0.07%+ seems to be better insulated than Facebook because it is associated with broader networks and content.

Despite the huge growth in active users of WeChat, most teens in the U.S. and WesternEurope still aren’t using it, though anecdotally, it is said to be popular among young people in Chinese communities. The real growth for the service is in China, where WeChat is based, and parts of South East Asia. The messaging app, which claims more than 250 million monthly active users, is owned by the Chinese Internet giant Tencent, which claims 800 million active users for its instant messing service for desktops. WeChat is the English-language version of the company’s original Chinese-language chat app, WeiShin.

“We launched different branding and different back-end servers in other locations,” said Tencent President Martin Lau while on stage at the GMIC mobile conference in San Francisco last month, adding that Tencent was customizing WeChat for local audiences in each country. Lau, who was previously one of the key bankers at Goldman Sachs that helped take Tencent public in 2004, said WeChat was targeting Italy, Mexico and Brazil as key areas for expansion, and that the U.S. was “a tough market.”

“But we do have an office here and a team who are trying to think about how we can do [things] differently in the U.S.,” he added.

How is WeChat capitalizing on its popularity with teenage users? One way is by setting up physical vending machines, selling soft drinks. It’s all part of a broader experiment by Tencent to set up a payment mechanism within WeChat. Tencent partner Ubox recently set up 300 WeChat vending machines in Beijing’s subway stations where WeChat users could get discounted drinks by paying with their chat app.

“Those are experiments at this point,” said Lau, “but over time as the mobile Internet ties in with people’s lives more closely there will be more opportunities.”

Still, Lau doesn’t see mobile messaging platforms like WeChat canabailizing social networks like Facebook in the same way social networks ate through instant messaging. Mobile messaging through platforms like WhatsApp or KakaoTalk involve communicating with a smaller group of people that end users typically already know in real life; they’re privy to their mobile numbers after all.

“They’re both social, but address two very different user cases,” he said. “They can actually coexist.”

Google Integration Of YouTube Comments On Google Plus Not Popular

This is a bad move by Google. To force the comments made on Youtube onto your Google+ page is ridiculous. It would appear I am not alone in this matter. Christopher Zara reports that the backlash against Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) is mounting over its decision to integrate YouTube comments with its Google+ social network.

Just days after a YouTube founder criticized the move, angry Reddit users descended on a Google products forum to express their dissatisfaction, saying they don’t want Google shoving its social network down their throats.

The Reddit incursion began Sunday after a Reddit user posted a direct link to the forum, encouraging fellow Redditors to post complaints about the forced integration. Within hours, the link moved up to Reddit’s front page, and hundreds of thousands of users had aired their grievances. As of Monday morning, the forum had more than 429,000 posts and counting. Chief among the complaints was the loss of anonymity that goes along with being forced to use a Google+ account to comment on YouTube videos.

“I have built up a small following on YouTube and I prefer to keep that persona as-is,” one user wrote. “I don’t want those followers peeking into my personal life. That’s the beauty of it, I COULD have a second identity.”

Other Redditors -- many others, in fact -- saw the integration as a thinly veiled attempt to stronghold Google+ holdouts into creating accounts, thereby relinquishing yet one more tier of privacy to the Silicon Valley behemoth. “Stop trying to ram your own data-mining crap down my throat,” one user posted.

The crux of the grievances stem from the perception that Google is desperate to make inroads in the social space, an effort to compete with the likes of Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) and LinkedIn Corp. (NYSE:LNKD). Similar complaints were lodged at Google in March after it killed off its Google Reader RSS service. Google has, on occasion, touted the growth of its social network -- last month it said the site is up to 540 million active users. But many tech journalists remain skeptical, pointing out that “active” users could mean someone simply watching a YouTube video or clicking the red indicator that appears on the top-right of their screen.

Google, which announced the YouTube-comment change in September, said in a blog post that it is simply trying to make YouTube comments more relevant and conversational.

“When it comes to the conversations happening on YouTube, recent does not necessarily mean relevant. So, comments will soon become conversations that matter to you. In the coming months, comments from people you care about will rise up where you can see them, while new tools will help video creators moderate conversations for welcome and unwelcome voices.”

The move comes at a time when more and more websites are debating the value of anonymous comments, saying they foster an uncivil atmosphere. In the case of YouTube, where 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute, Redditors say a little incivility is far more preferable than the alternative. “Why in the world would I want to use my full name on YouTube?” asked one. “Unless my name was literally John Doe I don't want some random potential murderers/rapists/Nazis able to track me down based on my YouTube content.”

Monday, November 11, 2013

Twitter And Facebook In Celebrity Spat

This is a nice article written by Brian Womack and Sarah Frier. They discuss the celebrity social media platforms and Facebook's up and coming new release to the stars. Kinda sounds like a new TV show doesn't it. Release to the Stars!

Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga are the most followed celebrities on Twitter Inc., yet the pop stars have even more “likes” on Facebook Inc. Now the world’s biggest social network is looking to capitalize.

As Twitter revels in its successful initial public offering, Facebook is pushing onto the microblog’s turf, preparing to roll out a tool that makes it easier for the rich and famous to chat with their followers, according to a person with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the feature hasn't been released.

Letting actors, athletes and politicians communicate in 140 characters via public question-and-answer sessions has helped Twitter’s popularity by removing the barrier between celebrity and fan. The stakes escalate now that Twitter has to appease investors while also competing more deeply with Facebook, which is helping its billion-plus users interact with their heroes.

“This is an area of strategic importance to us,” said Justin Osofsky, vice president of media partnerships and global operations at Menlo Park, California-based Facebook. “We’ve been building our partnerships team in Los Angeles and globally to better work with celebrities and media partners and simultaneously investing in products that better surface the conversation.”

Osofsky didn’t comment on specific products the company is developing. He said his team has grown to more than 10 people and continues to expand. Rachael Horwitz, a Twitter spokeswoman, declined to comment.
Growing Rivalry

This is fresh territory for the Web upstarts. Two years ago Facebook and San Francisco-based Twitter were venture-backed social-networking companies trying to prove there was big money to be made in online chats. Now they’re worth about a combined $140 billion and vying for leadership in the social-media advertising market, which is projected to surge to $11 billion in the U.S. in 2017 from $4.7 billion last year, according to researcher BIA/Kelsey.

The celebrity battle is symptomatic of a bigger clash between the two companies, which are located about 30 miles apart (48 kilometers) in the country’s technology hub. Both are vying to connect advertisers with mobile users, bolster international revenue and hire Silicon Valley’s most coveted developers. Twitter spelled out the challenge in its IPO prospectus.

“We compete against many companies to attract and engage users, including companies which have greater financial resources and substantially larger user bases,” Twitter said.
Debut Rally

Twitter jumped more than 70 percent in its stock market debut on Nov. 7, after raising $2.09 billion in the biggest technology IPO since Facebook’s last year. The stock slipped 3.2 percent to $40.31 at 9:56 a.m. in New York today. Twitter is still a fraction the size of Facebook, with about one-fifth the market capitalization and number of users and one-twelfth the revenue.

Facebook is using that heft to lure celebrity attention. It’s improving products to woo musicians, sports stars and other popular personalities, encouraging them to interact with fans, according to Osofsky.

“They are competing on core functions that each service needs,” said Josh Goldman, a general partner at Norwest Venture Partners in Palo Alto, California. “That is sort of creating a battle between these two companies, even if the use case is different.”
Martha’s Session

Celebrities including Cher, Martha Stewart and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have already held question-and-answer sessions using available features. Stewart, with about 800,000 “likes” on Facebook, took to the site on Oct. 23 to answer questions ranging from what she thought was the best cake option for Halloween to her advice on puppy training. “Persevere and listen to the dog,” Stewart wrote.

The offering is another way to attract stars who, like actor Channing Tatum, use Facebook’s Instagram service to post pictures of their kids. Or like basketball player Kobe Bryant, who posted a video on Instagram of his injury rehabilitation prior to even joining Twitter’s Vine service.

In addition, Facebook showed the first official clip of the movie “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” earlier this month, and in August premiered the music video “Holy Grail” byJay-Z featuring Justin Timberlake.

Twitter still gets plenty of celebrity attention. That includes the first photos of Kanye Westand Kim Kardashian’s baby earlier this year. Last month, Kelly Clarkson used Twitter to show pictures from her wedding. And Bieber, who has 57.3 million “likes” on Facebook and 46.8 million Twitter followers, is a regular user of both sites to share videos, his whereabouts or whatever crosses his mind.
Competitive Threat

In its prospectus, the first competitor Twitter mentions is Facebook -- including Instagram -- and says the company has “been introducing features similar to those of Twitter.”

The same filing has a section explaining how the site works with a conversation featuring chef Mario Batali and musician Gavin Rossdale. It also showed a tweet from President Barack Obama, who posted after winning re-election in 2012.

“It’s still the default to just go to Twitter and gain a following there,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at researcher “But Facebook in a lot of ways can be just as powerful. Maybe you’ll see more celebrities starting to use that as Twitter gets a little crowded.”

In early October, Twitter said it will provide links that let pay-TV users record or view programs on Comcast Corp.’s cable service, as it tries to crack the television market. The goal is to have See It buttons on all pages on the Web, similar to Facebook’s Like button.
Using Both

Facebook is pursuing some of the same TV partners, sending weekly reports to networks that include data around user activity on the social network tied to top shows.

Nina Garcia, a judge on the reality show “Project Runway” and creative director for Marie Claire magazine, said she uses Twitter for more immediate gratification and Facebook for deeper communication.

“I use them for different purposes,” Garcia said in an interview. “I will post on Twitter and then I will go back -- and I will do all my favorite pictures on Facebook.”

As for her popularity, Garcia has over 1 million followers on Twitter, more than five times the size of her audience on Facebook.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Twitter Debuts Today

The much hyped and anticipated IPO is finally upon us. Twitter (TWTR) has listed its stock price at $26 dollars a share up from the price that was thought to be around $20 a share.

Now the question that everyone is asking is will this be another Facebook. I have an answer to that and more actually. I am going to predict what the Twitter stock will end at on the closing bell.

One moment while I get my secret weapon.
So, as I flip my penny in the air and call heads for up and tails for down I think about when I done this for Facebook last year. I nailed it last year with tails.

Tails again. Well, there you have folks, twitter will not do well today.

On a serious note, the volatility of the stock and the raising of their IPO price this week would suggest caution but I would predict a similar pace to Facebook only better.

So I am going with a slow first day but a great first year for Twitter. Wait one week and then buy strong wait 12 months and then sell. After you do this remember to send me some money.

Of course, I could be 100% wrong if so, blame the penny.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

YouTube Overtakes Facebook Among Teens

Todd Wasserman of reports that after months of speculation, Facebook last week acknowledged that there was some decrease in the number of "younger teens" using the social network on a daily basis. Now an annual survey of 4,014 young people provides more proof that teens may be looking elsewhere.
The Futures Company, a research consultancy, interviewed teens in July and found that 41.6% of those aged 12 to 15 said Facebook was their favorite website compared to 48% of teens overall. Last year, Facebook was the most popular site among 12- to 15-year-olds.
The most popular site among all teens now is YouTube, according to the report. Fifty percent of teens surveyed cited YouTube as their favorite site versus 45.2% for Facebook. (The company's report, the 2013 TRU Youth Monitor, has not yet been released, but Mashable got a sneak peek at the data.)
Others on the list include Amazon (27.8%), Google (25%), Twitter (19.5%), Yahoo (12.1%), eBay (10.7%) and Tumblr (12.3%). Note: The survey asked respondents to list their favorite five websites, so the figures don't add up to 100%.
Facebook is still the most popular website with twentysomethings at 55%, followed by Amazon (37.5%). The report shows modest growth for Twitter among the 12 to 29 group with 16.5% naming it as their favorite website vs. 14.1% last year. Facebook's overall numbers went from 57.6% to 51.7%.
"Our new findings do suggest some weakness for Facebook, but I need to preface everything we discuss here with the fact that Facebook remains the favorite website overall among our sample of 12- to 29-year-olds," says Rob Callender, director of youth insights at the Futures Co. "That said, Facebook achieves that distinction thanks to twenty-somethings."
Digging deeper, just 18.3% of teens aged 12 to 15 agreed with the statement "I'm addicted to Facebook," versus 30.5% of twentysomethings. "This suggests parental controls aren't the issue. Rather," says Callender, "it appears Facebook might not be creating as many new fanatics as it once did."
One caveat: Asking about "favorite websites" may skew the results in an age when mobile use is becoming the norm. However, Callender says that 4,000 is a more than adequate sample size to determine meaningful results.
If so, the data among 12- to 15-year-olds could be a troubling sign for Facebook. Slackening usage among younger teens isn't a good trend for the site. The company's admission of slowed growth in that age set led to a drop in the company's stock price after an otherwise stellar third quarter. As Callender notes, "This heightens the possibility that we may be looking at a changing of the guard."

Twitter The New LinkedIn?

John Koetsier reports fifteen new jobs are posted to Twitter every single minute, according to a new study by social recruiting company Gozaik, and that that number has grown by 32 percent in just the last six months.

That growth rate, Gozaik cofounder Joe Budzienski says, will make Twitter the “dominant channel” for talent recruitment.

And it’s not just tech.

The biggest category of jobs that companies are recruiting on Twitter for is sales, at almost 25 percent, just edging out IT and other technology jobs. The other big category, surprisingly, is medical/dental, which accounts for almost 15 percent of all jobs posted on Twitter, Gozaik says, with jobs like anesthesiologist, orthodontist, and medical director.

Budzienski understands that might sound surprising to some:

“They are recruiting surgeons on Twitter and top-notch oncologists — many roles you don’t even see on LinkedIn,” he told me. “There are a lot of professionals on Twitter who blog and tweet about the medical field, so therefore you get lots of announcements coming out in the hopes that these individuals will see them.”

At existing growth rates, Twitter will reach two million job postings a month, Budzienski says. And he’s building an enterprise platform to help companies manage who they’re targeting in an otherwise fairly random and chaotic sea of 500 million tweets a day.


The top socially-recruited jobs on Twitter.

“We’re building a digital fingerprint on every Twitter user,” he says. “So employers can specify exactly what kind of person they’re looking for, and we reach out to those people in an entirely automated way.”

That kind of growth rate — and these kind of enterprise targeting tools — will help Twitter become a dominant job-search and recruiting platform, Budzienski believes. So much so that it could even challenge the grand old man of the careers space: LinkedIn.

“I think, recruiting-wise, there’s a new revolution that is accelerating: real-time hiring,” he says. “You can’t effectively get that on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is effective for someone who has the clout to have a very astute profile with lots of information, but’s also very difficult … and you get sold to a lot.”

Gozaik is launching out of private beta this week.

According to the company, here are the top 25 cities for job postings on Twitter:
New York
Los Angeles
Washington, DC
San Francisco
Austin, Texas
San Jose, Calif.
San Diego
Orlando, Fla.
Tampa, Fla.
Salt Lake City
Columbus, Ohio
Las Vegas
Fort Worth, Texas

Twitter Focusing Growth In India

Ingrid Lunden from reports that Twitter is focusing on India. Ingrid writes:
One of the persistent themes in pre-IPO Twitter’s S-1 filings is that the company has more users outside of the U.S., but when it comes to making money, that shifts drastically — an issue problematic enough that Twitter spells it out in the prospectus as a warning about its business. Today, however, the company launched a new India blog — a sign of how Twitter hopes to address that disparity in one market in particular — perhaps hoping that this huge market, where English is often the common denominator, could be an engine for Twitter’s international growth.

To be clear, Twitter is not opening its first official Twitter account or presence in the country. It’s actually been tweeting there since February 2010 (first tweet: “What’s up?” in Hindi), first as @twi and then@twitterindia.

But it’s been, at best, not a full-throttle effort, with only 700 tweets over the last 3 years and 9 months, almost all in English, and many simply spreading information about updates at the wider company. Not super local, and definitely not a power user.

The launch of the India blog, however, could be the company’s way of showing that it’s looking to ramp up its focus in the country with more localized attention.

As Rishi Jaitly, Twitter’s country director for India, notes, the new India blog is kicking off with a promotional campaign, #ThankYouSachin, tweeted to India’s cricket board, @BCCI, to get a signed picture of sporting legend Sachin Tendulkar as he enters retirement (that picture is illustrated here). In other words, initially Twitter India is using a tried and tested Twitter formula: the combination of sports, a recognized celebrity/icon, and hashtagging for a little viral buzz.

The upcoming elections in the country could prove to be a strong turning point, too, with Twitter focusing on closer relations with media organizations and political parties to leverage the platform.

It will be interesting to see whether this additional focus — presumably with more campaigns, and a redoubled effort to promote them — can translate into additional users, engagement, and advertising rupees.

Twitter’s S-1 paints a clear challenge ahead for the company. ”If we fail to expand effectively in international markets, our revenue and our business will be harmed,” Twitter notes in the S-1.

But as we have pointed out before, there are some definite positive signs for revenue growth internationally. The company’s international revenue was $53 million in 2012, but for the nine months ending September 30, 2013, that went up to $106.7 million, working out respectively to 17% and then growing to 25% of total revenue for those periods.

However, for now, there is little in the way of standout performers internationally for Twitter. “No individual country from the international markets contributed in excess of 10% of the total revenue for the years ended December 31, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and the nine months ended September 30, 2012,” Twitter writes. The UK was the first to make the cut in 2013, with $43 million of revenue, or 10% of the total, in the nine months that ended September 30, 2013.

Yes, the UK is an English language market and therefore perhaps more inclined as a result to follow U.S. patterns. But at the same time, it’s also a market where Twitter has directed a lot of effort in terms of staffing and focusing on localized content. This is something that Twitter has been building on, deploying several of its top people to run different aspects of its international businesses.

More specifically, Twitter’s UK growth is an instructive strategy when you think about India — one of the biggest countries in Asia, with a huge English-speaking population, and relatively free from competitive threats and politically motivated service blocks that Twitter faces in other markets like China.

Today, India doesn’t even get a call-out among fast-growing international markets for Twitter. “In the future we expect our user growth rate in certain international markets, such as Argentina, France, Japan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, to continue to be higher than our user growth rate in the United States,” the company writes.

Part of the reason is down to the fact that, like many other markets, India is shaping up to be mobile-first when it comes to data connectivity. But although India is ramping up fast in smartphone usage (see: iPhone sales) it’s still a country largely dominated by less-expensive feature phones, and that has impeded just how much Twitter can do there.

While India doesn't get a name-check for fast-growing markets, it does here: “In certain emerging markets, such as India, many users access our products and services through feature phones with limited functionality, rather than through smartphones, our website or desktop applications,” Twitter writes. “This limits our ability to deliver certain features to those users and may limit the ability of advertisers to deliver compelling advertisements to users in these markets which may result in reduced ad engagements which would adversely affect our business and operating results.”

Twitter makes clear that it will be spending more money in the future to change this. “We intend to invest in our international operations in order to expand our user base and advertiser base and increase user engagement and monetization internationally,” the company writes.

This is, perhaps, long overdue. As of September 30, 2013, Twitter already had more than three times the number of monthly active users outside of the U.S. — 179 million — than it has in the U.S., at 52.7 million. In contrast, revenues are the opposite: in the three months ended September 30, Twitter made $2.58 per user in the U.S., versus just $0.36 per user abroad. It’s a disparity that other social networks like Facebook have also found a challenge. Interestingly, we’ve heard that Twitter has been looking to establish a sales support back office in Hyderabad, following the route Facebook has taken.

Still, it looks like whatever Twitter may have planned for India for now may still be baby steps: Twitter specifically notes four countries where it will be hiring more sales and marketing people — Australia, Brazil, Ireland and the Netherlands. Not India. Whether Twitter looks to invest in another way — with acquisitions that can help it better tackle users on different devices, as Facebook did with acquisitions like Snaptu — remains to be seen.

Facebook And The Shopping Season

The fourth quarter is huge for retail brands, as the holiday shopping season is upon us. But how much influence will Facebook have? Justin Lafferty says more than you’d think, according to a report released Tuesday morning by Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer Adobe.

As 30 percent of consumers polled said they plan to increase their online shopping, 36 percent said that social media sites such as Facebook will play a role in purchasing decisions.

Though only 2 percent of holiday online shopping transactions are expected to come from social, retail brands will be ponying up on advertising during Q4, especially in a shortened season.

Tamara Gaffney, Principal Analyst at Adobe Digital Index, talked with Inside Facebook about the role that Facebook will play in this important quarter. She noted that cost-per-click will go up as more advertisers vie for News Feed space. Gaffney said last year, there was a 42 percent increase in CPC during the holidays. She described how even though only two percent of purchases will come directly from social on a last-click attribution basis, Facebook will have a profound impact on buying behavior.

However, advertisers will be challenged to figure out just how much influence a Facebook ad held in a purchasing decision, as traditional metrics will be a bit skewed:

We know from looking at all the advertising and how effective the advertising has become on social media that there will be a lot of retail advertising, but they’re going to have to measure that success in ways other than whether or not it was the last place you were before you made a buy. … What’s going to happen with cost per click is they will go up because as more advertisers buy, it’s like an auction with supply and demand. There’s more demand and so the rates will go up. As the rates go up, the return on investment, as a percentage, will likely go down.

Gaffney said that we could see an increase in Q4 Facebook advertising from movie companies, with several blockbuster hits coming out around the holidays. She also noted that retailers will get smarter about targeting their Facebook advertisements during the holidays, as they need to stand out among a more crowded News Feed:

They are in a very noisy environment this year with a shortened season, and so the amount of promotion and trying to pull a consumer over to their shop versus going over somewhere else is going to be much more of an impact this year than it was last year, when we had 6 more days.

Other major takeaways from Adobe’s study:
Cyber Monday this year is projected to be the biggest shopping day in history, pulling in $2.27 billion.
Thanksgiving will become a bigger shopping day, and could eclipse Black Friday in 5 years. Spending is projected to rise on that day 21 percent year-over-year.
More consumers will turn to online shopping, lured by cheaper prices and free shipping.
28 percent of consumers plan to rely more on mobile for holiday shopping this year.
Toys and hobbies will be the biggest shopping categories on Cyber Monday.

Facebook To Beef Up Efforts On Bullying

Facebook said it will beef up efforts to curb bullying on its site starting Wednesday as police, parents and educators sound greater alarm over the unmonitored and sometimes dangerous interactions among teenagers on social-media networks Cecilia Kang reports
The company will make it easier for teens to contact an adult on the site when they feel bullied, and it will release talking points and guides for teens, parents and educators to deal with harassment.
But the anti-bullying effort does not apply to Instagram, Facebook’s popular photo-sharing app, which has been embraced by many young people,even some under the minimum entry age of 13.
Privacy and child advocates have called for greater attention to safety on Instagram and have criticized Facebook for having separate guidelines for the two sites. Harsh comments, threats and embarrassing photos shared on Instagram have spurred a greater number of bullying incidents across the country, according to law enforcement officials and educators.
The company said the two businesses function differently. The new Bullying Prevention Hub has been developed specifically for Facebook, and Instagram has its own policies for youth privacy and safety, the Silicon Valley firm said.
“Rather than simply focus on awareness of this information, we’re putting it at people’s fingertips at the moment they need it most,” Facebook wrote in a blog announcing the effort.
A teen distressed by a comment, photo or video on Facebook can press a button to anonymously report the content as abusive. Facebook also will make it easy for the teen to connect to an adult within the youth’s network of friends when he or she is being bullied.
For teens, the company recommends: “It’s best to not approach the person who bullied you when you are upset. If you feel it is safe to talk to the person who bullied you, you might want to do so with a trusted friend or adult. Remember, bullying behavior is unacceptable and you have the right to stand up for yourself.”
Parents are given talking points such as: “I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I’m glad you told me. Can you tell me more about what happened and how you are feeling?”
The guides may seem basic, but can help foster trust between adults and youth, experts say. Teens often don’t report bullying to a parent because they are afraid the adult will overreact and exacerbate the problem, experts say.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Twitter Raises Price Range for Its IPO

Twitter is feeling less timid ahead of its imminent initial public offering according to David Gelles and Vindu Goel.
On Monday morning, the company said it had raised the price range for its I.P.O. to $23 to $25, signaling the company’s bullish outlook ahead of its trading debut on Thursday.
The new price range increases Twitter’s potential market value. At the high end of the range, Twitter could be valued at $13.9 billion, including options and restricted stock units.
The new range also increases the amount of money the company is likely to raise for itself. At the midpoint, the offering would raise about $1.7 billion for the company, giving it an infusion of capital to finance its growth. Twitter still intends to sell 70 million shares in its debut.
On Oct. 24, the company said it planned to sell 70 million shares at $17 to $20 each. That range was below what some analysts had expected, a sign that Twitter was proceeding cautiously and did not want to inflate expectations.
But coming ahead of pricing for the company’s stock, the higher price range suggests Twitter is emboldened after the conclusion of its road show. Thanks to the strong demand for its stock, Twitter is planning to close the order books for its I.P.O. on Tuesday at noon, a day earlier than scheduled, according to people familiar with the matter.
Twitter still plans to price on Wednesday and begin trading on Thursday.
The new price range also signals that Twitter is unconcerned it will make one of the same mistakes that hampered Facebook‘s I.P.O. last year, when the rival social media company priced its shares too aggressively, contributing to an initial fall in its share price.
The price increase comes after a round of bullish reports from Wall Street in the last few weeks. Brian Wieser, a senior research analyst at Pivotal Research who follows the advertising industry, recently set a target of $29 a share for Twitter, based on its long-term revenue potential.
“If you’ve got a social strategy, Twitter is one of the most effective ways to activate that,” he said in an interview on Sunday, before Twitter increased its price range. “What they’ve got is unique and not replicable in any sense.”
Richard Greenfield, an analyst with BTIG Research, who had advised clients very early Monday morning to buy Twitter at $17 to $20, quickly updated his analysis after Twitter raised the range.
“We would participate within the $23-$25 range, albeit, simple math would dictate that management should price at the bottom-end of the new range,” he wrote to clients. He said he still sees the stock reaching $30 over the next year.
Mr. Greenfield has high expectations for Twitter’s revenue growth, expecting the company to go up from $636 million this year to $1.1 billion in 2014 and $2.7 billion in 2016. “We expect a lot of growth ahead in advertising and Twitter ad products.”
He cautioned that Twitter must still do a better job of attracting and retaining new users.
“In our experience, very few people, whether tech savvy or not, truly know what to do with Twitter on an everyday basis,” Mr. Greenfield wrote. “But Twitter users who build out their interest graph are insanely addicted.”
In the amended S-1 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Twitter also disclosed that it was being accused of patent infringement by IBM.
IBM claims that Twitter infringes on three of its patents, including one related to online advertising, and has invited a settlement. Twitter said it believes it can defend against the claims.
Although Twitter is involved in several intellectual property lawsuits, it has largely avoided becoming ensnared in the patent wars rankling Silicon Valley. With a large cash pile from its I.P.O. coming soon, however, it may feel more pressure from competitors on the patent front, and be prompted to become more aggressive in bolstering its own patent portfolio.