Social Media Frontiers

Friday, November 21, 2014

Keeping It In The Family

Candy Crush is well known for its annoying notifications. At its peak, you could receive up to 10 or more notifications from desperate friends asking for a ticket to pass onto the next step. For those that hadn't yet discovered the joys of Candy Crush, it was a nightmare. Well, new research suggests that Social Network Games (SNG) such as Candy Crush, hosted by Facebook, could be strengthening family bonds.

source: eteknix.com

The research, conducted by Concordia University and published in Information, Communications and Society highlights SNG's potential to become a family affair. SNGs such as Candy Crush or Farmville function on a peer-to-peer basis. You can play on your own, but to have access to other levels or special objects, you have to request the help of other users. This is possible because these games are hosted through Facebook, and so you have a long list of people to choose from to pester with notifications.

These annoying notifications and requests plague our Facebook experience, but little did we realise that they could have positive repercussions. These SNGs actually give families a chance to connect in unexpected ways.

First of all, Facebook isn't just for young people anymore. Older people and older family members are more and more present on the social media network. And a part of that presence is on these games. This means that different family members that wouldn't necessarily interact in everyday life or have much in common are using SNGs to communicate with one-another. Co-author of the study, Kelly Boudreau, explains: "These multi-generational interactions prove social networks are tools that break down both communication and age barriers."

How hard a Candy Crush level was to pass is a very common topic of conversation among my family members. As well as blackmail to receive that elusive ticket.

Furthermore, these games are convenient and cheap, transcending geographical boundaries. If most of your family live in a different country or continent to you, it may be hard to find the time to communicate with each other. SNGs break that down and family members you wouldn't necessarily interact with are just a click away.

source: fastcompany.net

The most interesting thing about this study is the potential for game designers. Family games online is a rather unexplored subject. Game developers could use the idea of board games that usually bring families together and bring them to Facebook. This essentially creates an amazing new game than many families can enjoy.

Next time your annoying Uncle sends you another Candy Crush request, coupled with a Facebook message urging you to reply to his request, don't dismiss it so easily. Candy Crush could be an all-important tool in creating strong bonds with your family.

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

Candy Crush Could Be Strengthening Family Bonds

Not Just For Christmas?

Twitter have recently taken it upon themselves to roll out a bunch of shiny new features. Following this week’s news that the second largest social media network has hugely upgraded its search engine (it now contains around half a trillion entries, which is quite a lot), Twitter have now  announced that their oft-underutilised ‘buy button’, which debuted back in September, is about to undergo its very own seasonal sales push. Unfortunately for those of us who serve under the queen and have relatively healthy diets, it looks like the pressies will only be on offer to American Twitter users. If you are reading from the US, don’t think it’s a given that the service will necessarily come to you; when it was announced back in September, it was revealed that the service would only come to “a small percentage of US users.”

source: dailygenius.com


Assuming the offer is going to be available to all US users, anyone following the AMC Theaters Twitter account will be eligible to purchase a 30 dollar gift card (another pretty big clue the UK are going to get bugger all) directly through Twitter's magical button, and doing so will bring with it a whole host of mega awesome perks. If you're one of the 251,000 people who follow the cinema chain, you'll also receive a small thing of free popcorn for every $30 you spend from now on (which doesn’t sound like a lot, but you have to remember: cinema prices. That’s pretty much buy one get one free).

Although this offer is a long way away from being enough to encourage millions to hop on board with Twitter's attempts at e-commerce, it’s interesting in that it shows that Twitter haven’t given up on the whole money transfer thing. By actively pushing it and making new partnerships - especially so close to Christmas - they're showing that their buy button is still alive and well.

But could it be for life, or, like whoever wins this year’s X Factor (is Gareth Gates still in it?), will it just stick around for Christmas?

source: cargocollective.com


Amid reports that Twitter's stock is dropping, it’s no surprise to see them doing whatever they can to claw back a bit of cash in time for the holiday season. After all, the longer their userbase numbers just tread water (recent reports have suggested that their growth is now slower than Instagram’s, and only marginally higher than Facebook’s, where everyone already has an account anyway), the longer it will take for their share prices to earn the spike they're so desperate for. The more companies that hop on board with their buy button, then, the better.

If it all goes tweets up, maybe they should follow Facebook and Snapchat's lead and introduce a money sharing service, from which they can take a small cut. The French are already able to do it through Twitter (albeit unofficially), so why not take a look at their numbers and see if it’s worth investing in?


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

Twitter's ‘Buy Button’ Holiday Push

Get In Groups

Facebook has just announced a new standalone app: Facebook Groups. Yep, another Facebook app to join the fellow ranks on your phone. I’d only just gotten all my apps in a nice symmetrical order as well. This is going to cause me minutes of frustration. The app will take away everything to do with Groups based in the two current apps and move it all to its own space. 

facebook groups   
source: forbes.com

All the groups you’re a part of will pop up when you open the app. Facebook hopes that groups will receive a lot more love with their standalone app and notifications. It will also give popular users a greater platform to promote from. I can already see the next lycra clad bike ride in aid of that new farmers' market. Spandex for fresh syrup. I can’t help but shudder.

Facebook Groups will also offer users a method to discover new groups you may be interested in. It’ll take into account what groups your friends are in or what seems similar to your current groups. Sounds a tad vague to me, but I won’t pass judgement yet.

Shirely Sun, a product manager at Facebook, commented, saying they wanted the app to be "really really simple," adding they "want it to be very familiar to the current Facebook experience."

It also won’t be compulsory to begin with. But let’s remember that the Messenger app launched long before it was made the only way to use Facebook chat while on the go.  I can still remember the uproar and negative reviews the messenger app received when it became a compulsory app.

One outraged review on the iTunes store had this to say: "There is nothing that I could add to my messages that would make it so special that it deserves its own app. Even if I were perfectly articulate, completely deep and thought and could muster words that your strongest vocabulary couldn’t even fathom. I could be messaging someone on Facebook with the secrets to ColdFusion, extra-terrestrial life, the origin of God, and who killed JFK, and it still wouldn't deserve its own app."

Steady on there, dude. If you know the secrets to all that stuff I’d say it warrants a whole lot more than just an app. Or you can just tell me, I’ll cash in the ideas for you.

facebook groups
source: venturebeat.com

To be fair, I was against the idea of breaking away the messenger app. But truth be told it turned out to be a brilliant and refined piece of kit. So I’m very happy to see that Facebook are breaking away more aspects of its home app. Especially if it’ll improve performance on the poor thing. 

I’m sure that people will still complain. We really do hate any change to our social media habits. But, let’s place a little faith in Facebook and Facebook Groups. The messenger one turned out to be great despite a hate-fueled launch.

It’s flashing up on my phone right now.

Very distracting. 



Tom has just graduated from University of East London in Creative and Professional Writing. He loves writing and is currently interning as content writer hoping to go further. His other loves include Arnold Schwarzenegger films and his dog. Follow him @TomAtSMF

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.


Facebook Unveils Dedicated Groups App

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Who Needs On-Site Ads? 

Everyone remembers Ello, the new social media network that was the anti-Facebook. It would be ad-free, and promised not to sell your personal data to advertisers. Ello went where no previous social media website had gone by vowing to never ever use ads and to never ever sell their user's data.

Facebook should really take a leaf out of their book.

source: the nextweb.com

However, it was unclear whether they would ever overtake the social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter, despite their alternative message. Well, Ello have yet again played with what it means to be a social media network.

They currently have no ad revenues, so Ello have turned to other means to get a bit of money. They have teamed up with Threadless, a T-Shirt design firm. Yes, you've heard right, Ello will be selling t-shirts. That's definitely something Facebook hasn't tried yet. At least not officially.

source: chargrilled.co.uk

The T-shirts are being sold on Threadless' website, and are all a play on Ello's logo, the smiley face. There are three designs available at the moment: two very simple black and white designs for $25 and one more elaborate design by Chuck Henderson for $35. According to the Threadless website, that's the direction Ello wants to go in: "Every 2 weeks, on the 1st and 15th, we'll release a new limited edition t-shirt designed by an artist/designer from the Ello community. Tees will be available on a limited basis for 2 weeks, while Ello logo tees will always be available."

Every two weeks, Ello fans will be delighted to discover a new t-shirt from a new designer. Ello will be asking them to interpret what Ello means to them. This departure from what traditional social media websites do makes sense. Paul Budnitz, Ello co-founder, goes over the reasons why they decided to go in this direction: "Ello is about freedom. Freedom from advertising, freedom to be what you want to be, and freedom to create. Working with brilliant artists like Chuck (Henderson) is a way we support Ello's creative community."

source: threadless.ello.com

Ello isn't foolish enough to think that t-shirts will be enough to finance their new social media website. Ello have other plans to make Ello sustainable and to make a bit more money. They are currently working on another version of Ello which would resemble an 'app store'. Users will be able to build their own Ello, however they want - for a price, of course.

One thing is sure, this isn't the last time you'll be hearing about Ello.

Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

Ello Is Using T-Shirt Sales To Make Money

Rest Of World Just As Bad, Probably Worse

A recent study by the Bully Zero Foundation in Australia found that out of 1,023 teens aged 11 to 17, 27.8% would be more upset over losing their smart phones and connection to social media than to discover they had any health problems. I suspect that living in a country where nearly every animal has evolved some form of method to murder has made these teens fearless in the face of adversity. Either that or they really do love their Tumblr accounts.

source: shaneoleary.me

Furthermore, 42.9% would be more concerned about issues with technology than the breakdown of a friendship or the loss of a pet. Sorry, Fido.

Oscar Yildiz, chief executive of the foundation, had the following to say: "Some teenagers said their life would change dramatically should they lose their phone or friends on social media, including Instagram and Facebook, while others said they check their phone more than 80 times a day, even while at school." I’m so glad I didn't have a smart phone while I was at school. I would have failed those A-Levels just that bit more spectacularly.

This issue is obviously not limited just to Australia. A national survey in the US recently discovered that teens spend up to seven hours a day trawling through their social media accounts. It sounds like an awful lot, doesn't it? I would say it’s not that startling. Well, the issue of teens being more concerned about technology than their pets is. I think my dog would eat my phone if I was guilty of similar feelings.

Being plugged into the world is something that is becoming ever more important in our society. Teens aren't the only ones concerned about their social media presence, adults and companies are also liable to long social binges. Emily Bryce-Perkins a 29 year old publicist in London, commented that she’ll use a combination of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for upwards of six hours a day.

This is where we enter the shady realm of where responsibility lies. Is it really social media’s fault that it’s simply the best way to stay in contact with your school friends? Or is it more that teens aren't being told healthy amounts of time to spend in front of the screen? I can recall countless times that my parents would take away my Nintendo 64 controller so that I would do my homework (joke was on them, I always had a spare hidden).

source: cmswire.com

Heather Hawkins, principle at Essendon Keilor College, spoke about teaching students to limit their social media use at schools.  However, she felt the responsibility should lie with the community as a whole. I have to agree with Heather. I don’t feel that social media should be shunned for the time it seems to take up in our lives these days. Responsibility has to lie with those who consume it and it’s down to us to decide what we feel is a healthy dose of social media a day.

Now go and check your Facebook. It’s been a few minutes and your group chat has seven notifications.



Tom has just graduated from University of East London in Creative and Professional Writing. He loves writing and is currently interning as content writer hoping to go further. His other loves include Arnold Schwarzenegger films and his dog. Follow him @TomAtSMF

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

Australian Teens Addicted To Social Media

Half A Trillion Little Birds Told Me...

I've outlined a million times before how powerful a tool Twitter can be at gleaming the thoughts and opinions of the public on a large scale. Thanks to Twitter, every sporting event, television programme and public scandal can be discussed by hundreds of millions of people. And because of the hashtag, which pools these wandering voices with others' opinions on the same topic, it's possible to see what the world is currently saying about any event imaginable.

But Twitter's search bar has never been as powerful as the theoretical potential of the website itself, and it’s traditionally been difficult to track down any one tweet without being forced to use third party software. Furthermore, Twitter's always been at its most powerful when discovering what people think about current events; once a breaking news story has been and gone, it's been difficult to track what people were thinking about it as it happened.

twitter search algorithm
source: anchormedia.com

Thankfully, that side of things has just been improved exponentially. Twitter have announced an improvement to their search algorithm which means that, finally, every tweet that’s ever been created is discoverable through its built-in search bar. As well as giving us the ability to egotistically track the retweets of each and every one of the hundreds of pointless comments we've made over the last eight years, this means we can retroactively track public opinion ‘as-live’ on huge, months-long spanning events - in the blog post which outlined the change, Twitter named the Japan Earthquake and the Scottish independence vote as perfect examples.

While we've always been able to search comments, usernames and hashtags through Twitter, they used to only keep a detailed index of about the last week’s worth of tweets (in what they called the ‘real-time index’). Now, their search index has ballooned to around half a trillion documents. Despite this massive increase in scope, the tech-elves at Twitter Towers have ensured that the search bar keeps an average latency time of less than 100 milliseconds. Impressive, considering it's now over 100 times larger than before, and it’s gonna keep on a-growin’ by billions of new tweets each week.

twitter search algorithm
source: phandroid.com

At the moment, the updated search bar is pretty basic. Twitter plan to continue upgrading as time goes on, and more and more advanced features will become available over time. Still, you're able to set a few parameters, such as the dates you search between and whose posts you're combing through. In other words, you can choose to search a certain person’s tweets between December and January of last year, and you can choose to only search for tweets which contain the hashtag #christmas. This allows you to track people's changing opinions over time.

For those who understand coding and binary and scary words, Twitter have explained their new search bar in impossible amounts of detail over at their official blog post. If you speak fluent binary, check it out. If you don't, all you need to take away from this article is that Twitter is now even more powerful than it was before.


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

Contact us on Twitter, on Facebook, or leave your comments below. To find out about social media training or management why not take a look at our website for more info http://socialmediacambridge.co.uk/.

Use Twitter To Search Every Tweet Ever Made

Birth Control

Mili Hill, mother and founder of The Positive Birth Movement, a Facebook page full of pictures of happy mothers and slimy newborns, had one of her pictures taken down by Facebook because it violated "community standards" as well as banning the page for 24 hours. The same day Kim Kardashian's naked bottom 'broke the internet'.

positive birth facebook
source: darkgovernment.com

Facebook Removes Picture Of Natural Childbirth