In light of their falling share prices, Facebook has turned to their mobile market in another attempt to boost advertising revenue.
The social networking site has rewritten its iOS app, converting it from HTML5 to the native Apple Objective-C code. The refined app will address the issues of the previous HTML5 version making it much ‘faster, more reliable, and easier to use’, according to Facebook’s Jonathan Dann. It is hoped this will lead iPhone and iPad users into staying on the site longer and thus, ‘increasing their exposure to adverts’.
The news follows a string of attempts by Facebook to increase their advertising revenue. Already, the site has begun to trial ‘sponsored stories’, a move which sees adverts connected to the users, and their friends’ ‘likes’, crop up on their news feed. In this case, businesses can increase the likelihood that their advert will be seen by paying a fee to the site. Earlier this month, Facebook also announced that ‘third-party app developers could start placing ads in users' mobile-device news feeds’. By clicking on one of these adverts, the user will be redirected to the particular app store to potentially purchase the app. Facebook gains revenue through this by charging a fee for each click.
Addressing their mobile audience is a smart move from Facebook as users increasingly turn to this platform. As well as the iOS rewrite, it is also hinted that ‘other mobile platforms are on the way’. This is both through the blog post and from reports that Facebook are aiming to recruit around 200 engineers to write for mobile by the end of the year. At present, the site is even running training sessions on writing code for iOS and Android.
The move has sparked the native-app debate and whether Facebook’s creation will see an increase in the number of these. Initially, Facebook bucked the current trend, creating an Objective-C code app, but this was later replaced by the HTML5 version. The reasons behind this were, in part, because of Apple’s software review system and because the HTML5 version ‘made it easier to make changes to the multiple platforms simultaneously’. This reasoning has been mirrored by numerous apps but recently, moves towards native apps have increase due to the advantages they afford. With Facebook actively stepping up their mobile app services, this is likely to see rivals and other app makers make similar changes. The US music service Pandora has reflected Facebook’s pioneering move, creating their own native Android app to add to their current HTML5 and iOS services.
Overall, the rewritten app from Facebook should be beneficial all round. Not only will the move potentially fulfil Facebook’s aim to increase their advertising revenue, but it may also see the further creation of native apps from other developers. Instead of merely opting for ease, these developers may now realise the real benefits from native apps and how they are appreciated by users.
Josh Bennett, Content Writer
Google are ensuring they keep up with the social media pack with their new personalised notification features.
Similar to the Facebook ‘hide’ feature, Google+ users can now decide which circles they receive notifications from. This is done through using the volume sliders in an attempt by Google to improve the ‘signal-to-noise ratio on the social network’. Along with this, a feature has been added enabling users to send emails out to certain circles when they update their account. This helps to further share one’s information, especially among more ‘select circles’.
Google Product Manager Austin Chang described the new ways Google+ users can share and discover information in a recent blog post. Chang makes it clear that the purpose of the features is threefold; to keep users updated with relevant content through the sliders, to enable the ability to mute other users and to make it easier to share information with select circles through the ‘Also send email’ box. The move has finally brought the network in line with the current Facebook model and Google+ users have largely accepted it, as well as positing certain other additions.
This marks another successive update from Google who look to be fulfilling some of the potential of their network. Whilst at this stage it seems to be mostly keeping up with Facebook, Google+ does have the potential to greatly expand. With Facebook keen to boost revenue at present, due to their plummeting share prices, Google could be quietly working on their network to give its users the features they require. This has already seen the custom URL’s be added and more are hopefully soon to follow.
Josh Bennett, Content Writer
It has been revealed that Tumblr is the latest platform to feel the wrath of Twitter, following the introduction of their API version 1.1.
Reports have detailed that Tumblr has been forced to cut Twitter from their friend-finding service, leaving users with only Gmail and Facebook to deal with. The news, which has been confirmed by both sites, indicates that Twitter is taking increasing steps to implement its ‘stricter API rules’. It has been noted that these rules have the potential to ‘negatively impact third-party app developers’, and quite clearly this is being demonstrated. The API 1.1 has already created quite a stir in the social media world and has displayed the ruthless nature of the micro-blogging site.
Tumblr were quick to express their disappointment due to their “history of embracing the platform”. The statement continued to note how Tumblr were “one of Twitter’s first partners” and that they were “responsible for hundreds of millions of tweets”.
Other sites to have also fallen victim to Twitter’s new API rules include Instagram and LinkedIn, and reports have identified Flipboard as possibly being next in line. These platforms have followed suit in having their friend-finding services curtailed with the banning of Twitter from these. The purpose of all this seems to be to stop these sites from ‘piggybacking on Twitter's social graph’.
Whilst one can sympathise, to an extent, with the site’s aim, Twitter have gone about things in a rather brutal manner. Twitter can be justified in their goal to stop other social networks getting a ‘leg-up’ after the site has done it ‘the hard way’. However, many of the sites they are turning their back on have been key to their success. Would Twitter be in the position it is now were it not for some mutual support? Alex Masters has posited the idea that the sites affected could quite easily turn around and do the same thing to Twitter. If Twitter is to continue to close-off their site, this could perhaps see the removal of the site from such apps as Spotify, Foursquare and Instagram, eradicating the ability to easily tweet when using them.
The API 1.1 is sure to have further knock-on effects for third-party apps in the upcoming months. Counter measures may be taken by these platforms to limit, or cut, Twitter’s involvement in their apps. In addition to this, it will be interesting to see how the other major social networks react. It may spark Facebook into considering a similar move for example, or prove to be the success of Google+. With the latter, the site has no need to monetise ‘as it’s funded by advertising revenue from other services, so there’s no limit to how deeply it can penetrate the web’. Twitter certainly needs to put a positive spin on proceedings to ensure damage limitation and maintain good relations.
Josh Bennett, Content Writer
Twitter has witnessed increasing involvement during the American Presidential campaigns, highlighting the ever-growing importance of social media in politics - and this has been extended by news that Twitter is being integrated into the upcoming party conventions.
Both parties have already created their official convention pages and supporting hashtags - #GOP2012 and #DNC2012 for the Republicans and Democrats respectively. These will allow both the affiliated party and candidates to tweet their views and any relevant information, as well as allowing the voting public to get involved. During the conventions, journalists and media companies will also be tweeting all that is occurring, giving the outside a comprehensive view of inside the convention. This decision to incorporate Twitter has sparked great debate but there is certainly a lot of potential in involving the micro-blogging site.
Most plainly, utilising Twitter in this way has the capacity to document the real views of supporters and those involved. Dan Schnur, communications director for John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign, notes that this could mean that “everybody has their own song”, instead of traditionally all singing from the same hymnbook. This is sure to generate controversy and possibly get certain people in trouble, but will heighten the excitement surrounding these conventions. The convention organisers have realised the ‘volatility’ of the site and believe that embracing Twitter will increase involvement and possibly support. If voters are likely to feel more involved and there are increased levels of support, perhaps turnout is also set to rise.
Crucially, there is the chance that the successful usage of Twitter during these conventions could convert the important group of ‘swing voters’. If this were the case it could prove to be decisive in the final election outcome. Twitter corporate spokeswoman, Rachael Horwitz, has offered her insight in how Twitter can help candidates to immediately address any criticism or howler they may have had, meaning they can never be “off guard”. This could prove to be a blessing in this case, as rumours and errors are sure to erupt at the conventions. Quite simply, the use of Twitter during the conventions also allows the parties message to be spread to a wider audience. Those that may be disinterested in following the news or coverage of the conventions could quite easily become involved through Twitter, especially if everybody is talking about it.
For all the potential this promises, there have been many who remain sceptical of this move and have expressed their concerns. Tad Devine, a Democratic political strategist, believes Twitter has the possibility of being a “dangerous” force. Everyone at the conferences has the capacity to tweet rumours, negative views and any other material that may be left undocumented. Despite there being some regulations, it is impossible to monitor each individual’s usage and these guidelines are often fairly vague. It is almost certain that people will get in trouble over their Twitter usage during these conventions.
The organisation and unity of the parties at these conventions will also be in danger and under increased scrutiny with Twitter being involved. With everyone responding to the events, it will be difficult to continually stick to party lines and the media will surely pick up on any outright criticism. Whilst excitement and support surrounding the conventions is likely to increase is this going to have a positive effect on the election outcome. If the less-informed voters base their decision on some snapshots from the Twitter coverage this may lead to questionable results. Essentially, in this case, each positive has its own relevant counter argument.
Twitter outside of the conventions
Twitter has already played a significant role in the follow-up to the conventions. The creation of the ‘Twindex’ has meant that the candidates polling figures can be seen each day, in relation to their performance on the site. Although it has been argued to be not truly representative, it has been shown to generally follow the nationwide Gallup polls. The creation of the Twindex highlights an overall trend of greater usage of the site during the presidential campaigns.
The less positive side of Twitter has also been underlined with the controversy surrounding the alleged fake Twitter accounts, or ‘bots’, used to increase Mitt Romney’s following. Amassing over ‘100,000 new Twitter followers in just one weekend’ the suspicions surrounding this were almost confirmed. Analysis into the accounts also showed them to be ‘bots’, as many shared the same profile pictures and no activity. It is uncertain whether these followers were bought by the Romney campaign in a bid to catch up with the 18 million followers boasted by Obama, or by Romney supporters. Either way it shows that the site can become tainted.
Ultimately, social media can no longer be separated from politics and the Twitter coverage is sure to play a huge part in the imminent conventions. Whether it be positive or negative, this will provide some intriguing stories that may never have had the chance to surface.
Josh Bennett, Content Writer
One of the pioneering figures of social media, the little known Swedish Count, Erik Wachtmesiter, is back to launch his latest creation, Best of All Worlds.
The new site, which is expected to launch on the 27th August, will be highly exclusive and cater to the more elite levels of society. Naturally the site is invite-only at the moment, claiming around 25,000 members through the 5,000 invitations Wachtmeister initially issued. It is expected to continue in this vain as the network revolves around this exclusivity and seeks to unite the wealthy community pinpointed by Wachtmeister, providing a service that can really support their needs.
Speaking about the network, Wachtmesiter has claimed that Best of All Worlds will “deliver clever filters, cut through the mess and get information that’s relevant and we can trust”. The ‘About’ section of the site continues this view by stating the purpose of the site to be; to ‘discover people, common passions, and compelling information… in worlds of shared interests and friends’. Subsequently, Best of All Worlds will most certainly appeal to high-end marketers delivering such products as ‘yachts, watches, wine and liquor’.
Another potential selling point of the network is Wachtmeisters aim to allow users increased control over their data. In a move which appears to try and draw people away from LinkedIn and Facebook, Best of All Worlds offers the user ‘five modes to switch between’. These modes are entitled private, professional, family, social and party. After the user has picked their preferred mode, each one then provides its own set of photos, links, recommendations and suggestions. The idea is that this will enable like-minded people to connect in a ‘trusted environment’ and be able to discuss what really interests them. The categories of these discussions include ‘business, food and wine, health or a better world’, but this is expected to soon expand.
A Small World
Back in 2004 Erik Wachtmesiter launched his first social network A Small World. Sharing many similarities with his latest creation, A Small World is an ‘invitation-only website that catered to a wealthy crowd where users could meet other world travellers, make business connections and find services’. After selling a significant stake of the business in 2009 and quitting his post, it seems Wachtmeister is fully focused on Best of All Worlds now. It appears that the Count has picked and streamlined the most successful elements of A Small World and can utilise the near 800,000 user base to promote his new venture. Reports have viewed this as an attempt to ‘poach’ users and this was extended when the two sites shared their mobile app launch on the 27th July. According to Wachtmeister this was a “total coincidence”, but these events do suggest the Count should be careful In the future.
The potential competition between the two sites will be interesting to observe in the coming months and also whether Best of All Worlds can tempt the so-called ‘jet-setters and well-heeled away from Facebook Inc. and LinkedIn’. This should indicate whether the demand is actually present among these elite groups.
Josh Bennett, Content Writer