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What’s Hot in Social Media: April 2012

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It’s the end of April which can mean only one thing…our monthly round-up of what’s been causing a stir in the world of social media.

Movers and shakers

A couple of the giants of digital made some interesting moves in April, with Facebook buying Instagram for a sweet $1 billion and Google turning up the heat in the cloud wars with the launch of Google Drive.

April also saw blogging platform Tumblr release access to a real-time fire hose in collaboration with Gnip. Founded in 2007, Tumblr is particularly popular in the fashion and arts industries and now has about 46.2 million blogs. Access to the firehose – which is still currently exclusive to Gnip – will include all of Tumblr’s public data, which will mean access to analytics and brand monitoring opportunities.

Retail - trying on clothes virtually

Meanwhile, whilst we’re on the topic of fashion - John Lewis has been experimenting with virtual mirrors at its flagship store on Oxford street. Users can ‘try on’ outfits from a range of more than 500 garments without having to get changed. These can then be added to a virtual collection and shared via Twitter or Facebook.

Innovative Facebook marketing

Elsewhere on the internet, Volkswagen created a flipbook effect in a Facebook gallery for their Amarok. With over 200 photos to click through, this was a really innovative use of Facebook functionality - which only costs as much as the photos.

What have I missed? If you’ve seen anything hot this month, please do share it below!

What’s hot in social media: March 2012

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From SXSW to new apps on the scene, this month has seen another big month for social media. Let’s take a look at our what’s hot in social media round-up for March 2012…

Charity and social media

The beginning of March saw a host of charities using International Women’s Day on 8th as an opportunity to do something interesting in social. One of the most striking examples was Bollock’s to Poverty’s Facebook app which turns your timeline into that of an oppressed 1950’s housewife to highlight gender inequality issues.

Another charitable issue which came to light in March was the hotly debated Kony 2012 video from Invisible Children. If you’re one of the last people on earth not to watch it (over 86 million people have watched it on Youtube) the video is about raising public awareness of Joseph Kony, who is head of guerrilla group, the LRA in Uganda. Despite being a complex issue, this campaign has simply mushroomed in a way which other marketers could only dream of for their brands.

Social entertainment

On a lighter note, March saw the explosion of ‘Draw Something’, the app ‘du jour’. With a staggering 35 million downloads and a billion drawings a week, this Pictionary-style app has been making hundreds of thousands of pounds from in-app adverts per day. No surprise then, that social gaming powerhouse Zynga has just bought OMGPOP, the creators behind ‘Draw Something’ for a cool £113 million.

Meanwhile, social TV has been gaining traction in the UK with Social TV app Zeebox seeing a strong increase in user numbers following a TV advertising campaign, supported by BSkyB’s recent investment in the company.

Pinterest

This month the buzz around Pinterest has continued. British airline BMI has launched what could be Pinterest’s first lottery by encouraging fans to re-pin images from popular holiday destinations for the chance to win free flights. Pinterest itself has been suffering the common annoyances that come with popularity – clones and spammers. Take a look at this site for example – look familiar at all?

Finally, this month sees the launch of Facebook’s full screen photo viewer and the changeover for brands from pages to timeline is anticipated tomorrow. Are you ready?

Facebook announces full-screen photo viewer

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Today Facebook announced that they have made improvements to their photo viewer so that users will see the best photos possible.

Changes such as high-resolution photos and full screen viewing will means that high quality photos could be viewed up to 4 times bigger than previously.

Facebook photo viewer

In order to view photos full screen, users simply have to click on the arrows in the top right-hand corner of the photo to expand it to the maximum size, so photos which are large enough could fill the entire screen.

Facebook photos full screen

Obviously, this is big news for brands, who can now share really high quality images which could fill their fans’ screens, removing any other distractions. Brands with lots of visual content such as our client Park Bench are sure to enjoy these changes.

The changes also mean that Facebook will likely allow applications to upload larger images and potentially update the image presets offered by the Graph API.

Interestingly Facebook’s introduction of a full-screen photo viewer is also another indicator of its move away from side bar advertising. When images are viewed full-screen, they block out the adverts which usually appear on the right hand side.

This suggests that Facebook may be intending to take an approach more in line with Twitter’s sponsored stories.

Cinemagram: bringing animated GIFs to the masses?

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At FreshNetworks, we love sharing photos on Instagram and think that social photography is only going to grow in popularity over the next few years. But how about combining the great filters of Instagram with video to make arty, shareable animated GIFs? That’s the idea behind Cinemagram, a brand new iPhone app launched last month.

While animated GIFs are hardly new (you might even dare to call them “retro”) - the availability of smart phones means that any day-to-day moment can be captured, and of course there will be many who use the new platform in truly innovative ways.

Animated GIFs are big news on Tumblr and fashion-focused social networks, and can be made and shared in a matter of minutes with Cinemagram. You simply point and shoot a three second video, select the part you want to animate and then add an Instagram-esque filter.

How can brands use Cinemagram and animated GIFs?

With their quirky movements and retro feel, GIFs liven up any static webpage, and can make for extremely engaging visual content.

Brands could capitalise on the popularity of GIFs by creating branded versions for their own blogs. These could be highly shareable with the audiences they are working with on these platforms. Alternatively, thanks to the simplicity of GIF creation, there could be great opportunities for brands to showcase user-generated Cinemagrams of their products, their fans or more.

Interestingly, some of the top fashion blogs on Tumblr such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters hardly use GIFs at all – perhaps they are missing an opportunity here, especially considering the Burberry Google+ page has already taken advantage of animated GIFs for their page header.

What are the limitations (for now)?

Just like Instagram, Cinemagram is currently only available for iPhone users. Unfortunately, the functionality of Cinemagram isn’t quite up to scratch compared to Instagram. One of the main problems with the app is that you currently cannot upload existing content from your phone to use.  This could be a major problem from a brand perspective as it means that the footage you use is not edited or shot on a high quality camera. However, conversely, this could lead to some really interesting behind-the-scenes shots.

Another issue with Cinemagram is that it is lacking some of the social functionality that Instagram has introduced. For example, whilst you can instantly share your creation via your social channels, you cannot follow users within the app in the same way that you can on Instagram.

Cinemagram is certainly an attractive app and every time I’ve shown it to someone they have instantly downloaded it. However, it will be interesting to see whether it can challenge the might of Instagram – perhaps this could be a function that Instagram themselves roll out in their next update.

What’s hot in social media – February 2012 round up

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February was a busy month in social media: Pinterest rocketed in popularity so much that some are (wrongly) calling it “the next Facebook”, while Facebook itself announced the roll-out of Timeline for brand pages. Here’s a few other things that have caught our eye this month, which you may have missed:

Twitter sentiment analysis heats up

  • Datasift historic tweetsTwitter and UK based data technology company Datasift came to an agreement to release tweets going back two years. Until now, marketers have only been allowed to see tweets from up to 30 days ago. Datasift will be taking in about 250 million tweets every 24 hours and analysing them for sentiment, location and influence. The effect of this arrangement to access the Twitter archive has led to concerns about privacy, as well as conjecture that it could be a step towards being able to predict future events.
  • And speaking of predicting the future, HP and Organic took advantage of this month’s Oscars to play with some real time sentiment analysis. Similar to XFactorTracker from Professor Noreena Hertz, The Awards Meter used language analysis to monitor Twitter during the run up to the Oscars and ranked nominees according to popular or negative opinion on Twitter. At FreshNetworks we believe that you can’t necessarily take sentiment analysis at face value - automated tools need deeper analysis and understanding of the tool’s inherent biases to really dig in for insights.  However, simple tools like the Awards Meter do hint at how useful it can be to look at social media for viewing overall trends and, and are a great way to demonstrate the technology.

Social influencers are the new darlings of social media

  • PeerIndex, the social influence company has released a service targeted towards people who are ranked highly in specific subjects to offer them related discounts. Essentially a free sampling service, ‘PeerPerks’ aims to differentiate itself by ensuring that free samples only go to people who are really influencers in their product fields – with the aim being that if they then talk about the products in their social circles, the uptake will be much greater. As Ian Carrington, mobile sales director at Google UK said during Social Media Week, consumers are 300% more likely to buy something when it is recommended by a friend, so it will be interesting to see whether PeerPerks takes off.
  • Boo Facebook's most influential dogAnd as we’re involved with Park Bench, a community for dog owners, we like to keep a handle on the non-human influencers in social media too – and with almost 3.5 million fans, Boo is possibly the most famous dog on the planet. Interestingly, it looks like even he is now endorsing products in social media with the recent mention on his Facebook page of a new American Apparel hoodie. Will other brands be jumping on the Boo bandwagon?