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Global Report: Social marketing in the Middle East and North Africa

Friday, January 9th, 2015

With 1000heads offices located in places as far flung as Sydney, New York, London – and indeed Dubai – we’re lucky to be able to cultivate a globally rounded view of social media marketing. Today we hear from Yazeed Khalaf, one of our team working with clients in the Middle East and North Africa, who takes a brief look at how social and digital marketing has developed in the region.

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As with the rest of the world, the importance of social media in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has seen a steady rise to the point where it is a now a key factor in both people’s personal lives and the way businesses choose to engage with their audience. In 2014 however, it wasn’t just a growth in the social and digital marketing space that was notable, but a clear step change in how companies in the MENA region are approaching and investing in campaigns on social media representing a new level of maturity in the market.

To highlight this trend, I’ve outlined two examples of how companies and organisations in the MENA region positioned themselves using social and digital media to achieve improved results.



At the end of 2013, Dubai was successful in its bid to host #Expo 2020 AKA The World Expo, and a direct descendant of 1851′s Great Exhibition. In looking to both secure the bid and kickstart interest in the lengthy run-up to the Expo, the Dubai bid team saw real value in social and digital media. Dubai dominated social channels, compared to competing cities and at the time of the bid, its Facebook page had an impressive 854K fans while its Twitter followers exceeded 94K (and has many more of both now) and among the four candidate cities, Dubai amassed 45% of the total number of Twitter mentions related to the Expo.

With an increasing number of locations seeking to host global events, the power of social media will become more and more important in which candidates receive those events, how the events are perceived by the wider public and indeed the overall success of the event when they actually happen. Dubai’s Expo 2020 campaign is a great case study as such and shows a sophistication of thinking that is a credit to the region.



After Egypt suffered a disappointing 6-1 loss to Ghana in qualifications for the 2014 World Cup, tournament sponsor Coca-Cola had to rethink their strategy to reaching football fans in Egypt. Their solution? To embrace the negative side of this situation and turn it into something positive. In doing so they ended up with this comic ‘EPIC FAIL’ ad starring Egypt international Wael Gomaa.

The ad resulted in over 2.5 million views on Youtube, but it didn’t stop there. Twitter also played an important role in the World Cup campaign by engaging with users on a daily basis to extend the tone of the campaign throughout the tournament and offer Egyptians a chance to go to the World Cup, even if the players weren’t…

The confidence to activate integrated campaigns like this in social and digital media is another shift in the region that has fully matured over 2014 and something we’ve long worked towards, and are excited to be part of.


Inspiration: Google X, near wins and defining success

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

A disputed quote from Thomas Edison, but none the less, a brilliant attitude.

I have an inclination to like anything Google. I admire their innovation, designs, services, aspirations and above all their approach to failure. Fast Company recently published an article about Google X after one of their writers, Jon Gertner was granted exclusive access. Google X can been described as ‘everything unimaginable that Google do’ and is the starting place for innovative designs and concepts such as Google Glass and Project Loon, the Google WiFi balloon.

Googlers (plus dog) at the Mountain View campus. Image: Google

Gertner includes details of ground-breaking Google projects such as hover boards, space elevators, GooleGlass and more. This all makes for fascinating reading, but I was most intrigues by Gertner’s comments about how the company openly encourages failure; how it hopes to create an environment where ‘moonshots’ (ideas/concepts) trump real-world feasibility. There is no intention to fail, but it’s widely understood to be a means to success.

We all approach our projects/briefs/goals, whatever they may be, with similar constraints. We envisage what an ideal success would be, whilst being very aware of what failure will look like, often with no appreciation for any outcome in between. Of course we want to set the highest standards for ourselves, but according to  art historian and critic Sarah Lewis, there is something to be appreciated about the ‘near win’.

Lewis first embraced the idea of a ‘near win’ whilst working for the Museum of Modern Art. She was exhibiting work for an artist called Elizabeth Murray and was amazed to learn that the artist felt several pieces included in the exhibition were not good enough. She disliked one piece so strongly that she eventually threw it away, only for it to be rescued by an admiring neighbour. It was in that moment that Sarah Lewis, “realised that success is a moment, but what we’re always celebrating is creativity and mastery. We often want the moment of completion, but what really propels us is the unfinished…”

Not every success results in a masterpiece. Sometimes, we maybe don’t achieve what we believed to be our ideal goal, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we didn’t succeed in some form. The same can be said for failure. Without a clear idea of what failure is, and how we can quantify it, we sometimes forget to appreciate what we have learnt from the process. There may be elements that can be used in the future – successful failings, if you will.

It’s easy to be positively open to failure with the resources of a Google. But we can all analyse the results of our projects to better understand their outcomes, whether they are a success, a failure – or something in between.

Stay ahead: Creativ and How.Do

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Creativity is at the heart of what we do at 1000heads, and we are always on the look-out for cutting-edge initiatives to fuel our inspiration. This week, we took a close look at two innovative platforms set to become the new go-to places to share creative ideas.



Creativ.com is a new social network specially designed for the creative community. It’s not just another generic platform; it’s a place where you can share your portfolio, build your professional network, get inspired by other people’s work and create a custom made online presence for your business. On first impressions, it is very easy to navigate and visually enticing.

You sign in with your Facebook, Google or email account then start building your creative profile, as well as exploring other talented people’s work worldwide. You can browse video, photography, audio and written content and mark your appreciation with a comment or by hitting the heart-shaped ‘embrace’ button.

The variety of media you can host and share on this platform offers a great scope of opportunities for brands. Whether it is sound, blog posts or photo albums, all content sits in one place and is easily accessible for users. Enabling different media streams to live on a same brand page gives a richer brand experience for followers to enjoy. This platform offers the possibility to fuse branded content as well as UGC, allowing a dialog between brands and their most loyal community of advocates.



Also designed for the creative-crowd, How.Do is a source of inspiration for craft and DIY enthusiasts. This new video platform lets you share “the beautiful things you make” in step-by-step video guides.

Short and sweet, these videos allow bloggers and brands to communicate with their fans on a more personal level. Rough, unedited videos such as the ones shared on How.Do are popular because they are genuine pieces of content with no, or very little, artificial effects and branding cover-ups.

The new breed of video-sharing platforms such as Vine and How.Do give the opportunity for brands to entertain, educate and inspire their fans. Educate with useful tutorials on how to use products in real-life situations, entertain with creative content and inspire with behind-the-scenes and exclusive content.

But a word of warning: Creativ, How.do and most creative platforms are not about brand-content, they are about brand-culture, culture brands share with their followers. In other words, to thrive on these emerging platforms, brands need to be creative, genuine and give a voice to the people behind the brand.

The week in social: Visual tweets, Instagram ads, and related pins

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Starbucks lets users purchase coffee with a tweet

Announced earlier this week, Starbucks now allows customers to purchase $5 gift cards for followers or connected users through Twitter. The program, currently in beta, allows customers to link their Starbucks account to Twitter, and then tweet to the user they want to send a gift card to along with a special handle that will track the user’s intent. Starbucks has also announced that the first 100,000 users to link their Starbucks and Twitter accounts will receive a free gift card. This new program comes as Starbucks is looking to increase its Twitter footprint and as social commerce is an increasing popular business option.

More information on Starbucks.com.


Twitter sued over planned private stock sale

Earlier this week, two financial firms filed suit against Twitter, citing that the micro-blogging social network attempted to sell private shares of its company in 2012 as a way of strengthening its financial position coming into the IPO that will take place later this year. The two firms, Precedo Capital Group, Inc., and Continental Advisors, are stating that Twitter has used the abandoned sale to bolster the said value of its company, to a valuation of $10 billion. Twitter’s IPO is planned to be valued at as much as $1.4 billion, which would bring the new total valuation of the company to $10.9 billion.

Read more on Bloomberg.


Google+ announces new Hangout updates

At a press conference earlier this week, Google announced a set of new features specific to Google Hangouts. These new updates are part of the rolling features that Google is constantly updating Google+ with, and have been long requested by frequent users. These updates include location sharing through Google Maps, animated GIF support, and the ability to integrate SMS messaging. Video calls will also now have HD support and a number of other options including visual filters. Additional planned features specific to Hangouts on Air include planning, promotion, and management capabilities, aimed at marketers.

More information on VentureBeat.


Social log-in increases exponentially while Facebook maintains majority

Social log-in, the process by which a user will provide their social networking site credentials and profiles to an online site, such as a retailer, to register, has increased year over year. According to data from Gigya, this trend has likely developed due to the user wanting a more convenient registering process, and also believing the the user experience of a site will improve as a result of providing profile information. Facebook holds the majority of social log-in registrations, but other players such as Yahoo and Google+ are begin to emerge and have increased their individual shares comparatively against previous years. Analyzing across different industries, Facebook has an even larger hold on those such as Hospitality and E-Commerce.

Read more on Gigya Blog.


Facebook updates Messenger app to function more like SMS

Earlier this week, Facebook announced changes to the way its messenger app works so that users can contact people who are not within their Facebook friends network. The recipient of the message has to have their phone number stored on the user’s address book, but this change overall marks a step towards Facebook integrating its application with all of a user’s contacts, and not limiting the Facebook experience to the platform itself. In order to activate the new feature, users will have to verify their phone number on Facebook, and it will also post that information on a user’s timeline (this can be set to be only visible to the user). After the phone number is uploaded, other users will be able to look up an individual by their phone number on the Messenger app.

More information on All Things D.


Facebook offers free data access in the Philippines

As of October 31st, Facebook is offering limited free access to their smartphone app to users in the Philippines. This is the first time specifically within Asian markets that Facebook has allowed access to its network. Users in the Philippines will be able to access Facebook through either a mobile browser or directly from the application for a three month trial period. In order to provide this service, Facebook has partnered with Globe Telecom, a top mobile provider in the region. Facebook has previously run similar programs, and is doing so again in order to solidify its footprint as internet and mobile usage is starting to increase in the Philippines.

Read more on All Facebook.


Pinterest releases related pins

As part of an update to users’ feeds released earlier this week, Pinterest is now showing users related pins, or pins that are relative to the things they are searching for, or that normally appear in their home feeds. Related pins will also be based on saved and liked pins. Pinterest will be at first rolling this feature out slowly and testing user response. This comes at a time when promoted pins have recently been announced as a method for Pinterest to generate revenue.

More information on Pinterest Blog.


Facebook testing cursor tracking technology

Facebook is testing technology that will allow it to track the movement patterns of its users cursors, according to its head of analytics, Ken Rudin. The data collected could be used for the purposes of product development all the way to advertising targeting. Facebook collects two types of data, demographic and behavioral, in total aimed at understanding a user’s profile, and then they things they do in real time within the Facebook network. Although there is no guarantee that this new method of data collection will roll out, this new initiative is part of Facebook’s larger overall strategy to continue to understand its audience further.

Read more on WSJ Blog.


Google+ begins offering custom URLs

As part of the updates announced by Google+ for Hangouts earlier this week, custom URLs will now be available for Google+ accounts that have been active for more than 30 days and have more than 10 followers. Google is said to be expanding availability throughout the remainder of the week. Google previously enabled this feature for brand and pages with a large amount of followers, individually notifying the users and managers of these pages, but largely halted it after an initial push.

More information on The Next Web.


Instagram shows first official ads

After several months of Instagram sharing its potential plans for advertising as well as an example promoted post from the photo sharing service itself, the first brand approved advertisement has appeared, an image of a watch from Michael Kors. The image is featured on the Michael Kors Instagram page but also appears to all users on their home feeds, whether or not they follow the brand. This is the start of an advertising plan that will bring revenue to the photo-sharing social app, and its parent company, Facebook.

Read more on Venture Beat.


Facebook increases per user revenue in all geographies

Earlier this week, Facebook reported its quarterly earnings, and they show an increase in revenue per user across geography where the social networking giant has an established presence. With an increase to 1.2 billion active monthly users, the number of monthly users who access Facebook via mobile has also jumped to over half a billion. The company recorded over $2 billion in profit overall, with the majority coming from the United States and Canada.

More information on Venture Beat.


Twitter update places photos directly in-feed

Twitter has released a new update that now shows photos directly within a home feed, without the need for a user to clink the link and open a separate window. The change is part of Twitter’s overall plan to make the platform more accessible, and for users to more easily be able to absorb content with fewer clicks. Other recent updates to the micro-blogging platform ahead of its IPO have included the new ability to geo-target tweets, and new products within the media and advertising spaces.

More information on Twitter Blog.

The week in social: Instagram ads, YouTube streaming music, and Pinterest Getty partnership

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Is Twitter #Music to shutdown?

Less than six months after a launch and heavy viral buzz, Twitter will most likely be closing its #Music mobile app for discovering new artists and songs. The company is currently changing its music department, and shuttering the app may be a part of the forward-going strategy. Although it had a strong showing when it first debuted in the App store, its ranking quickly slipped as users acquisition failed to stay consistent. According to analysts, Twitter’s music strategy has been unfocused over the course of the past year, and as the company moves towards its IPO, the micro-blogging service is looking to partner with other companies to bring in new capabilities for music related deals.

More information on All Things D.


Instagram launching for Windows Phone

Earlier this week, the CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, confirmed that Instagram will be arriving shortly on Windows Phone. Citing that the overarching goal is to bring the platform to everyone who wants to use it, the app will be available in the coming weeks. There are no details on the individual features that will be available at launch, but this will be the first time that an official Instagram client will be available on the new Windows mobile operating system.

Read more on The Verge.


YouTube potentially launching new streaming music service

To compete with the likes of streaming music services like Spotify, YouTube is said to be preparing to launch its own streaming music app that will feature video as its differentiator. The service will potentially include a free service as well as a paid premium component that will allow users to access a full library of music based on what is available from the Google All Access service. YouTube has not as of yet commented on the release of the product or the features that it will include, but it has said that it is hoping to release some form of product by the end of the year, and this is indicative based on the video social network amassing the necessary music licenses needed to offer a music subscription service.

More information on Billboard.


30% of US population gets news from Facebook

A survey released from the PEW research center has found that 47% of adults on Facebook in America, roughly 30% of the US population, gets news from the social networking giant. Further investigation shows that out of this percentage, only 22% of these users find Facebook to be an actually useful source for information. Only 4% of those who were surveyed say it is the main source of news information. Young adults in particular, who are across other news sources are less engaged, have the same increased levels of engagement in terms of news consumption on Facebook.

Read more on Journalism.org.


Vine announces Sessions and Time Travel

Announced earlier this week through its official blog, Vine has added new features – Sessions and Time Travel. Sessions allows users to save up to ten posts and come back and work on them any time before they get posted live to the feed. Time Travel allows users to replace any individual shot within a post before it is shared. The functionality is accessed by tapping on the edit button while previewing a post. The updates are currently live on the App Store and Google Play.

More information on Vine Blog.


Twitter becomes most popular social network for teens

According to new survey results that are taken on a biannual basis, Facebook no longer is the most popular social network among teenagers, a top honor that has been taken by Twitter, with 26% favoring the micro-blogging service. Due to current downward trends in engagement within Facebook for younger users and a growing number of newer social networks, engagement has spread across platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and others. Instagram, owned by Facebook, has also stood out as a favorite among the younger audience.

Read more on Statista.


Instagram begins showing in-stream sponsored photos

As part of Facebook’s strategy to increase mobile revenue, Instagram has started to roll out sponsored photos in-feed through partnerships with several key brands. The first ad that many users will see will be from Instagram itself, showing a photo with the sponsored tag, explaining how advertisements will work, and how users can provide feedback on them. Sponsored posts will not be limited to photos, as videos will begin to be fed to users as well. Instagram has also been careful to mention that all photos and videos that users upload are their own property, something they have been careful to continually mention after a negative PR fiasco where a change in the photo-sharing network’s terms of service would have made all photo submissions Instagram-owned.

More information on Instagram Blog.


Tumblr introduces upgrades to blog theme customization

As shown on the official Tumblr blog, users now have access to a variety of tweaks and customization options for their personal blogs. Chief among these updates is the ability to test out a new theme in real time, something that users have been asking for but has previously been unavailable. Additionally, users can now browse for themes users filters and search, and choose colors and fonts through a main Customize panel. Changes have also been made to the source code editor for programming savvy bloggers.

Read more on Tumblr Blog.


eBay introduces Pinterest-esque features

In an effort to make their marketplace more manageable and social, eBay is introducing new features for both buyers and sellers that will allow to curate collections, follow users and interests, and establish a more robust profile. Another new feature is a curated Ebay Today page, that shows collections chosen by eBay’s chief content curator. Many of these new features are comparable to the way content is organized on Pinterest and Etsy. Richelle Parham, eBay’s chief marketing officer, has noted that mobile will be a key component for driving sales coming into the Holiday season, and in general with the introduction of the aforementioned features.

More information on AdAge.


Man who confesses to drunk driving death on YouTube gets prison time

Matthew Cordle, the 22 year old who posted a video on YouTube confessing the drunk driving accident he caused resulting in the death of a 61 year old man has been sentenced to 6 and a half years in prison. Cordle stated that he had been advised to lie in court, but instead decided to take full responsibility and even post his admission of guilt on YouTube. At the time of this posting the video has accrued over 2.5 million views.

Read more on The Verge.


YouTube and Google+ now offer Communication Manager profiles for pages

In an effort to allow brands and pages with multiple responsible community managers to share responsibility, Google now offers the ability to assign communication managers for pages, a restricted permission to work with content on a brand page, on Google+ and YouTube. Specific actions they will be able to take will include posting and replying to followers, moderate comments, and use the Communities and Events features.

More information on YouTube Creator Blog.


Pinterest to start helping users identify source of photos

A big challenge for many users of Pinterest has been trying to find out the original source of a photo that they like or pin. The photo-pinning social network has partnered with Getty Images in order to access the site’s metadata and correlate pictures that are shared on Pinterest to the photo if it exists on Getty. This method will allow a user to determine the author, date, location, and descriptive information about the photo. It is likely that these are the first of many more features that will be added at a later date.

Read more on The Verge.


Twitter sets share price for pending IPO

This week Twitter finally revealing what its asking price will be per share when it finally launched its IPO later this year. The micro-blogging service is planning to offer 70 million shares of stock with a price of between 17-20 dollars per share. An internal evaluation of the company’s worth earlier this year resulted in an estimated worth of $21 per share. If the company achieves the higher end of its asking price, it could infuse $1.4 billion into the company, creating a total company valuation of around $11 billion. Twitter made this news public by adding an addendum to its S-1 filing, initially issued on October 3rd.

More information on Inc..

The week in social: Twitter TV ratings, Playlister, and Android Pinterest Widgets

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Facebook simplifies advertising platform

Facebook has simplified its advertising and promoted unit purchasing processing by changing the interface on its Ads Manager and Power Editor. The new, more logical interface identifies what a campaign objective is first, and then suggests ad units that will work best for that particular ad campaign. The ad purchaser must then decide where the ad will appear. Other changes include an updated analytics dashboard, that will allow for better tracking of ad unit and campaign performance. Additionally, the update will allow users to run multiple unique photo ad units, up to 5, for a single campaign.

Read more on Adweek.


Twitter adoption increases internationally

The international community is adopting Twitter at a much greater pace than in the United States. Since 2010, Twitter has grown from 20 million to 169 million users, a 745% increase. Meanwhile, specifically within the US, it has only grown from 10 million to 49 million users, a growth of 390% over the same period of time. The disparity in growth began increasing starting in Q4 of 2010, as Twitter starting developing into a real-time source of news and information for critical global and current events.

More information on Statista.


Nielsen officially launches TV Twitter ratings

With the official announcement of Nielsen Twitter TV ratings, statistics will become available on the activity and impressions, or reach, around TV-related Twitter conversation. These statistics will measure not just those talking about particular programs, but those users who viewing or interacting with those tweets. Nielsen has stated that on average, for every TV related tweet, 50 additional users are viewing it. Regarding TV conversation on Twitter within the last two years, there has been exponential year over year increase, of approximately 24%.

Read more on Nielsen Press Room.


Twitter creates new log-in page to spur growth

In the wake of Twitter’s S-1 filing, the micro-blogging service has made a change to the format of its login page to be more user-friendly. The new login page is designed to entice new users to sign up, and also to inform them of the capabilities of Twitter on desktop and more importantly mobile. New user acquisition will be critical to Twitter’s forward-going strategy, as it looks to continue its growth and monetization through advertising services for business, hinging on increased engagement with the platform.

More information on All Things D.


Work4 creates Facebook recruiting tool

Work4, a social recruiting company, has created an add-on to the new Facebook graph search that allows users to reach potential candidates more easily. The Facebook recruiter dashboard is a tool that sits on top of Graph Search and is an advanced algorithm that lets users identify potential candidates for job postings based on their location, current employment, and other categories. While anyone can use the graph search to find people who are employed in similar positions to what they are recruiting for, this new tool will allow a deeper search to find candidates who match the profile without necessarily having matching keywords. Work4 management has stated that they hope the tool will become more ubiquitous for social job recruitment outside of the white-collar category, currently dominated by LinkedIn.

More information on Work4 Blog.


Facebook updates privacy settings

Facebook is completing its plan, which was announced last December, to eliminate the specific privacy setting, “Who can look up your Timeline by name?”. Facebook users still using this setting will receive reminders that this feature is being eliminated. All Facebook users will now be searchable using Facebook’s graph search. Users can still control what content is public or private by controlling their privacy settings, and specifically the activity log, which controls who sees individual things that are shared by a user.

Read more on Facebook Newsroom.


Twitter launches Android tablet optimized app

On Thursday, Twitter announced through its blog that it is launching an app optimized specifically for Android tablets. Although the micro-blogging service has long offered an Android application, this is the first time it has created one that is specific to the form factor, function, and resolutions of Android tablets. New features include landscape views with tweets, conversations, and suggested accounts. The new app is being rolled out to Samsung tablets first, and remaining Android tablets by the end of the year.

More information on Twitter Blog.


Pinterest app to come preinstalled on Telefonica Android smartphones

With a newly designed widget, Pinterest will now come pre-installed on Android smartphones sold by mobile service provider O2, one of the most prevalent wireless companies in the UK and Latin America. The purpose of this to bring awareness of Pinterest to a larger group of mobile and smartphone users. Users will also be able to downloaded the widget directly from the Google Play store by O2 UK customers.

Read more on The Next Web.


Yahoo email redesign inspired by social

As part of Yahoo’s push to modernize its entire product suite, Yahoo email has been redesigned, taking aesthetic cues from Flickr and Tumblr. With a rollout that started this past Thursday, new features are including Flickr generated themes, a new screen for composing emails, and more, on what is the 16th birthday of the email service. One disadvantage that the new update brings is a cap on the previously unlimited storage for email, down to 1 terabyte. This is addressed by Yahoo’s claim that the storage amount could hold on average 6,000 years worth of email. Changes have also been made to the way conversations within email are interacted with, with threaded conversations being able to be expanded within the inbox for quick access.

Read more on The Verge.


Twitter updates app for Windows Phone

This past Tuesday, Twitter updated its official Windows phone app to include new features. Chief among these features, in what is the major release 3.0, include the choice between a light and dark theme, a major aesthetic shift. Also included are integration with live tile updates, allowing users to be notified when favorite accounts send out a tweet. Additionally, when a new users registers through the application, they will be offered suggestions of who to follow.

More information on The Next Web.


BBC launches Playlister service

The new digital music service from BBC, announced on Wednesday, launched the day after, and allows users to save tracks they hear on BBC radio and export them to a number of other music services, including Spotify, YouTube, or Deezer. As part of the overall launch, Spotify has also developed a companion app so that users can access the same features directly from the Spotify application on Windows or Mac, with a web feature coming soon. BBC plans to expand this service to include other music streaming services in the future, but has yet to detail those plans.

Read more on The Next Web.


Instagram gets updates to sound and data usage controls on mobile apps

In a simple tweet out to its users, Instagram announced updates to its mobile apps on Android and iOS this past Thursday. Included in the updates are the ability to straighten photos on the Android version of the app, a feature previously available on iOS. Where video is concerned, users can now mute sound or leave it always on, and videos can be toggled so that they only pre-load when a user has access to Wi-Fi.

More information on Mashable.


Klout adds more Bing integration

As part of its continuing partnership with Bing, Klout previously included Bing search engine results into a user’s Klout score, a broad measure of social influence. Now that integration has gone a level deeper through Bing search results in snapshots. The new snapshots functionality has been announced this past week, and will apparently users see their information on the side of Bing results, once they have claimed their Klout profile. The results will show a user’s LinkedIn profile, and links to other accounts that have been linked to Klout. Bing has confirmed that snapshot data should start showing up in search results immediately.

Read more on TechCrunch.

The week in social: GIFs on Facebook, Trendrr acquired, and Foursquare recommendations

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

Twitter announces new look for conversations on iOS and Android

Last week, Twitter announced a new change to how conversations will appear on its native apps on iOS and Android. The change also applies for the web interface and will likely roll out to other native interfaces. Now, instead of separating threaded tweets into the general timeline, conversations can be viewed together to add additional context to an individual tweet. This new feature will show up to three tweets in any given conversation, and users can still click on any of the conversation posts to view the entire set.

Read more on: The Next Web.

GIFs are back on Facebook

GIFs, the massively popular format for animated images all over the internet, are back on Facebook, albeit in a slightly ‘hacked’ fashion. Facebook does not support the native image format, however, a set of code created by Giphy, a GIF search engine, will allow users to upload a GIF and create a link that can be posted into Facebook or shared directly from Giphy’s website.

What is shared on Facebook is technically not a GIF however, as the code transforms the GIF into an infinitely looping video that has to be played to start. Although Facebook has commented that it does not currently have plans to support GIFs, it remains to be seem if this new workaround will pick up steam.

Read more on Gizmodo.

Top Twitter lawyer leaves company

Twitter’s top lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, announced he is leaving the company. Expressing his continued interest in the company and its stance on free speech, Macgillivray said that he wants to help while continuing to explore “new passions”.

One of the creations Macgillibvray is credited for is Twitter’s Innovator’s Patent Agreement, an agreement between developers and Twitter that patents will only be used defensively.

Read more on The Verge.

Google purchases WIMM Labs

Google has purchased WIMM Labs, a smart watch manufacturer, as announced this week and confirmed by Google spokespeople. WIMM shut down all public company information platforms and social media sites, thanking users and developers for their interest and noting they had entered into a confidential relationship. The acquisition, managed by Woodside Capital partners, has seen many of WIMM’s employees move to Google, working as part of the Android team.

It is speculated that the acquisition will fuel development of a smart watch by Google. In addition to creating an actual smart watch, WIMM Labs had opened a developer beta app store, as a way of enriching the user experience beyond a set of core apps that would be originally included.

Read more on gigaom.

Twitter buys Trendrr

This week, Twitter has bought social TV startup Trendrr. In Feb this year, Twitter acquired Bluefin Labs, making this Twitter’s second purchase of companies integrating social and TV. Trendrr grew out of Wiredset, a digital agency founded by two Sony execs in 2004.

“Curatorr, our Twitter certified product, will work with media companies, marketers, and display ecosystem partners to create compelling user experiences – continuing to pursue our initial charter of focusing on the real-time aspects of TV and media,” said Trendrr’s CEO Mark Ghuneim.

Foursquare to push personal recommendations via mobile

Foursquare has introduced notifications that make suggestions without requiring users to open the app or even check-in to receive. The updated notifications are firstly being rolled out to a few thousand Android users, according to a Foursquare blog post, and it should be available for all Android and iOS users in the months to come.

The company commented of the update: “we’re going to ping you when you sit down at a new place where your friend left a tip, not when you’re on your daily walk to work. This isn’t for sharing, just for making sure you don’t miss great things.”

Read more on the Foursquare blog.

Twitter opens access to its Lead Generation Card

Twitter has opened up access to its Lead Generation Card to all advertisers and SMBs. With the Lead Generation Card, when a consumer reads a tweet with lead generation included, the card will offer a button or call-to-action where the offer can be redeemed. When clicked or tapped, it will pass the user’s basic contact information for the advertiser to follow up with.

The product has also been tweaked with a revised setup process and data collection. The Card now includes metrics, a new UI and is available in multiple languages.

Read more on the Twitter blog.

Microsoft in advanced talks with Foursquare about strategic partnership

According to Bloomberg, Foursquare is said to be in advanced discussions with Microsoft over a strategic investment. Foursquare was valued at $600 million in 2011. It delivered $2 million in sales last year and has been introduced more advertising products in the past few months to increase this revenue stream.

It’s rumoured that Microsoft plan to leverage Foursquare’s data into its own technology, specifically for its Surface and Windows Phone devices and integrate recommendations into its Bing search engine.
Facebook tests trending topics

Facebook is testing Twitter-like trending topics among a selection of users. A section module will appear at the top right of the News Feed displaying popular topics. Each topic is based off hashtags, first introduced on Facebook in June. A company spokesperson told WSJ, “Right now it’s only available to a small percentage of US users and it is still in the early stages of development.”

Read more on WSJ.

Twitter launches Android beta-testing program

Twitter has launched a beta testing program on Android via the Google Play app marketplace, calling it the Twitter for Android Experiment Program, which will allow users to register to test the latest, unreleased builds of Twitter on Android. According to Twitter, the program aims to help it “improve Twitter for Android and make it more accessible to people around the world, across a range of Android devices.” Interested parties need join the relevant Google Group, which then provides further details.

Read more on TechCrunch.

Twitter’s Amplify service now boasts over 30 partners and extends to Europe

Twitter has signed its first European partnership for its Amplify service for sponsored in-tweet video clips with French TV channel TF1. The partnership will bring sponsored videos from Dancing with the Stars to tweets this Autumn. Amplify currently has 30 partners, most of whom are in the US and includes ESPN, Verizon Wireless and The US Tennis Association.

Dizee Rascal’s new video borrows heavily from social

UK artist Dizzee Rascal’s video for the track I Don’t Need A Reason borrows much of its visual effects from looping apps like Vine, Cinemagram and Cinemagraph. One of Vimeo’s picks of the week, it’s the work of director Emile Sornin who took social media content as inspiration when producing. I Don’t Need a Reason is the fourth track to be featured from Dizzee Rascal’s upcoming album, The Filth, set for release on September 30th. See how many clever loops you can spot.

Twitterspirit wants to be Twitter’s version of Snapchat

Twitterspirit is a service that lets users set an expiration time for their tweets using hashtags (#1m or #6h or #2y for example). It’s positioning itself (complete with spectral references) as a Snapchat for the Twitter platform.

Although Twitter lets users delete tweets, Twitterspirit tries to give users more automated control over how long they would like their tweet to live, removing the need to manually cull time-sensitive updates.

Stay aHead: City Maps and Timehop

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

This week’s Stay aHead sniffs out an exciting new social mapping service and an app that promises to bring your past to life…


City Maps

Mobile mapping has come a long way over the past few years. With Google, Nokia and Apple fighting to become our navigational gurus, another company would have to offer something pretty special to lure us away from the big names that are automatically integrated onto our handsets.

But could City Maps be David to tech giants’ Goliath? The rapidly growing app aims to socially enhance our journey by adding social profiles and conversations to every location and business on its maps. The aim is to deliver an extra layer of opinion and information on top of your route, enabling users to read and write reviews, share and create locations on the move, without having to leave the app.

Currently City Maps has around 15 million companies in the US mapped out and, considering it is in the best interest of businesses and venues to enhance their online locations, we predict that it will scale very fast. Whether they’ll stay independent for long is another matter.

Check out the demo below.


In August, I often find myself sitting on the beach, staring out to sea and  musing on how quickly time flies and what was happening in my life this time last year. A scroll though my Facebook timeline gives some hints, but the true snapshot of my (obviously rich and exhilarating) life is hard to recreate.

Timehop aims to super-charge that stroll down memory lane. The app connects with your full stable of social networks, from Facebook to Flickr, Foursquare to Twitter and beyond, allowing you to get a much fuller picture of each day in your past through tweets, photos, videos, blogs and events. The social element encourages you to celebrate shared memories with your networks and even reconnect with neglected friends. So much, so standard integration; where Timehop really shines is in offering a hard drive sync option too, meaning you can incorporate your private videos and photos into your snapshot from the past.

Currently available on iOS, we think Timehop has real potential thanks to the way it harnesses our current obsession with building, curating and agonising over our digital identities.

“Users who try to the product fall in love with it”, says CEO Jonathan Wegener. “This helped us make the argument that people are working Timehop into their everyday lives. At first, people don’t understand why they would want this. But they get really addicted to it. They see it as a mirror of their own life, and a reflection of their past self.”

Go reflect…

The week in social: Yahoo nabs Qwiki, Vine’s rebuttal and Samsung’s album app

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Yahoo snaps up Qwiki

Following up its massive purchase of major microblogging platform Tumblr, Yahoo has acquired the much lesser-known web app Qwiki. The app, which was purchased for about $45 million, allows users to combine photos, video, and music into short shareable videos. Interestingly, Qwiki won TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference in 2010, when current Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer was on the panel of judges.


Apple gets some fashion sense

In a move that has some scratching their heads, Apple has poached their latest senior staff member from fashion house Yves Saint Laurent. The move isn’t actually that strange, as it turns out Paul Deneve, who was CEO at YSL until Apple came knocking, once held a position at Apple Europe in sales and marketing during the ’90s. But with his recent experience in the fashion world, might Deneve have been brought into the fold to develop a new line of garment-integrated Apple gadgets?


Touchcast redefines the web broadcast

A new startup that’s been getting some buzz in recent days, Touchcast is a video-production and broadcasting platform that integrates interactive elements. Web articles, YouTube videos, Twitter streams and more can be introduced into a live broadcast in realtime, allowing the audience to interact with pertinent web content without ever leaving the video interface.

David Eun livetweets crash landing

When a 777 en route from Korea crash landed at SFO International airport last weekend, many did what is quickly becoming the norm in breaking news scenarios and looked to social media for firsthand updates of the situation. It just so happened that one of the passengers on the troubled flight that day was David Eun, formerly of Google and AOL, and current Samsung exec. The social-savvy Eun took to his Twitter to dispatch some stunning photos and anecdotes direct from the scene of the crash.


Google Reader officially bites the dust

We hope you already said your goodbyes to Google Reader, because as of July, the beloved web content aggregator is no more. Most of us knew this day was coming, and Google provided a brief explanation citing decline in usage as the reason for the Reader’s demise, but this will provide little consolation for those who relied on it to consume content from all their favorite sites in one easy-to-read feed. One company that is definitely not in mourning, however, is Feedly, who is the clear frontrunner in the scramble to fill the void left by the once-popular Google feature.


Vine’s rebuttal to Instagram video

When Instagram introduced video functionality last month, many heard the announcement as the death knell for microvideo platform Vine. Sure enough, Vine’s usage metrics took a steep dive–but not to be outdone, Vine just released its biggest update thus far, adding features and making it clear they’re not going to give in to Instagram video without a fight. Added features include a redesigned camera interface, ‘re-vine’ functionality, and channels to watch Vines organized by theme.


Facebook begins rollout of ‘comment sorting’

Facebook quietly introduced another new feature this week–comment sorting. Only available to select users so far, the feature allows users to sort comments by activity, ordering comments based on the number of likes and replies they have received, rather than simply chronologically as has always been the default. The added functionality indicates a shift toward a more ‘democratic’ approach to comments like that used on many blogs, forums, and social sites like Reddit.


Instagram visualizations provide useful insights

Think you can tell a lot about somebody just by looking at their Instagram photos? Well according to a new series of studies, you may be right. The project, entitled Phototrails, creates visualizations of millions of Instagram photos, organized by upload time, location, color, and other defining characteristics, to reveal patterns within users from certain cities and cultural communities. For example, upon analyzing the Instagram photos from New Yorkers during Hurricane Sandy, the study pinpointed the moment at which the city’s power went out.


Jay-Z’s web-savvy album release

Ever the innovator, rapper Jay-Z decided to debut his new album Magna Carta…Holy Grail in unconventional fashion. In a deal with Samsung, the mobile giant purchased a million copies of the album to give out in advance of its release to users who downloaded their app for the occasion. Magna Carta…Holy Grail is set to go platinum before even hitting stores.


Revamped Graph Search coming to Facebook

Many of us are familiar with Facebook’s Graph Search—the tool, introduced earlier this year, that allows for advanced searches within the Facebook datascape. But when it first debuted, Facebook was still working out some of the kinks with the ‘social search engine’. Since then, developers have been testing and optimizing Graph Search, and this week the social network is set to release a much improved version of the application to a wide audience. While still a work in progress, the new version of the tool will allow users to search for people, recommendations, and activities based on complex criteria with improved algorithms.


Founders buy back Bebo

Sales and acquisitions in the tech world are often big news, but here’s one AOL might not want to see make headlines. Bebo, the social network which AOL purchased back in 2008 for an astronomical $850 million, has been sold back to its founders for less than 1% it’s original price. The founders have plans to overhaul the social network for a potential relaunch, but even they don’t sound too sure of its future.


Shazam plans to expand with new investment

Good news this week for music recognition app Shazam, as they have secured a new round of funding in the amount of $40 million. Along with the funding, Shazam will form a partnership with wireless services provider America Movil, likely in an effort to further integrate their app on mobile platforms. One big reason for the renewed funding was a report of over 100% growth in users over the past two years.


The week in social: Related hashtags, Google Plus and Snapkidz

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Google+ celebrates its second birthday

Google+ turned 2 last week and, as part of the celebrations, it has redesigned its social plugins for websites including Follow, +1 and share buttons. Badges for pages and profiles have also been updated. According to Google, the new look is designed to bring visual consistency following the recent redesign of Google+. Existing +1 and Share buttons will be updated automatically over the coming weeks whilst badges will be updated in 90 days. This is to allow for enough time for website owners to configure the new version for their sites.

You can see the new look below.

Facebook to review ads

Facebook announced last week that they are implementing a new review policy for their ads following on from a BBC report that stated Marks and Spencer and BSkyB had pulled their ad spend from the social network. The ads had appeared next to inappropriate content and it seems Facebook is taking steps to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

The review policy focuses on ads that run on the right hand side of Pages and Groups and is an expansion of the current approach. Facebook says that reviews will be conducted manually at first but there are plans to develop a more scalable, automated solution.

Read more at Techcrunch

Mozilla Firefox Opens Social API for developers

Mozilla announced last week that it is opening up the Firefox Social API for developers who can now create new ways for users to interact with their favorite web apps. With this release Firefox has added a share panel to join the persistant sidebar, notifications and toolbar.

Here’s the sidebar in action:

First social media wine

UK supermarket giant Tesco have turned to social media as part of a marketing campaign to create a new wine. The wine’s grape, name and design will all be sourced socially through the campaign’s Facebook page. The chain is working with a South African empowerment company called Enaleni Community to help a community that has ability to make grapes but not had the expertise to make wine thus far.

Read more on Techcrunch

Facebook launches related hash tags

Following on from the recent launch of hashtags on Facebook, the social network giant has now announced support for related hashtags. This means that users searching for a specific hashtag can now see results for other tags that are related to the search. Facebook analyzes which hashtags are most frequently posted together to determine which tags are related

Further to that announcement, Facebook have also rolled out the hashtag function to their mobile site. Users of the platform’s mobile app will still have to wait patiently for hashtag functionality.

Google+ sign ins working

According to a case study by Snapette, the Google+ sign in feature appears to be working. The company claims upto 44% of Google+ users are using the 3rd party authentification tool. This is a 4% rise over the 40% cited by Google earlier in the year.

Watch the case study video here

Instagram hacked

Instagram has prompted a large proportion of its userbase to reset their password after the photo/videosharing network was attacked by hackers. The hackers appeared to be working for a ‘miracle fruit diet’ company who were posting images of the healthy food and links to their website. The company has now said the situation is under control but have suggested some users change their passwords.

Twitter roll out translations

Twitter has partnered up with Bing to offer automatic language translations for Twitter.com. There has been no official announcement but Bing powered translations have been enabled for select users. The move follows on from Bing powered Twitter translations recently appearing in the Windows Phone app.

See an example of how it works below and read more at The Verge

Google+ introduces ‘follow’ button

Google+ has finally introduced a ‘follow’ button which is embeddable on your site. The plugin allows for visitors to follow you on Google+ without having to leave your website. Both Facebook and Twitter have had this functionality since 2011.

Foursquare first native tablet app on Windows

Foursquare chose Microsoft’s Build conference to show off their first native tablet app which has been built for Windows 8. Traditionally, Foursquare tablet apps have generally been scaled up versions of the mobile application but this marks a shift in strategy and aligns with Microsoft’s focus on small Windows tablets.

YouTube celebrates Pride Month

Last week YouTube launched their #ProudToLove Spotlight Channel to celebrate Pride Month through a collection of LGBT videos. YouTube has a history of supporting the LGBT community with it previously hosting the It Gets Better campaign

If you want to have your video showcased by YouTube be sure to use the #ProudToLove hashtag in your video.

The White House lands on Instagram

The social media team at the White House have just launched their official Instagram account. Obama’s team are no strangers to social media having already set up accounts of Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Pinterest and Tumblr.

You can follow the White House here

Twitter hints at updates

Last Wednesday, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo hinted at several new features that may be coming to the platform in the near future. First on the list of things to tackle is cyber bullying and trolling. Costolo discussed ongoing attempts and experiments to filter out the nonsense but has said the company is yet to find a scalable solution to the problem.

Cosotolo also spoke of a feature designed to enable you to follow live events more easily. The feature, currently coined DVR mode, would enable you to track and monitor events either as they happened or as a recap. The idea is that you would see a graphical representation of the conversation over time and could click back to see what was being said at any given moment. The feature is still in testing but aligns with the platform’s long term strategy around social TV.

Feedly to the rescue

With Google set to retire Google Reader very shortly, many of their users are looking to other solutions with companies such as Feedly profiting from the decision. Feedly has seen its user base jump from 4 million to 12 million since the announcement with developers creating over 200 apps that integrate with the service. What’s more, the service allows you to import your feeds from Google Reader in one click. So for those still wondering what will take the place of your beloved Google Reader, follow the crowd and head over to Feedly

Snapchat introduces Snapkidz

In an attempt to broaden its user base, Snapchat has now made the application available for users who are under the age of 13. Previously, people younger than 13 had been prevented from registering but Snapchat have just released a service aimed specifically at this demographic. The service, call Snapkidz, does not have the functionality of the full app. Currently, you cannot add friends or send and receives snaps – you can only save them on your device. The app is only available on iOS at this time.

Google+ updates photo sharing functionality

Google+ made significant strides last week to improve its photo sharing functionality. Users of the social network are now able to batch move photos from one album to another, download existing photos and upload new photos faster. This comes hot on the heels of new functionality added at I/O last month as Google continues to make up ground on other, well established, photosharing sites.

Below is an example of Google’s auto enhance feature announced last month.

Vine comes to Kindle Fire

Twitter announced last week that their 6 second video service, Vine, is now available on Amazon’s Kindle Fire. This represents a huge opportunity for growth for the video app as it is estimated that over a third of all Android tablets sold worldwide are Kindles. What’s more, they beat their recently announced rival, Instagram Video, to the punch with that service currently lacking a dedicated Kindle Fire app. This comes hot on the heels of claims that Vine usage had suffered significantly following the announcement of Instagram Video (since refuted). You can read more about usage comparisons between the two here