• This Twitch Thing Is Going to Be Big -- In Fact, It Already Is
    One thing that's both fascinating and confusing about the Internet is the ability of each of us to create an online world entirely built of our own interests and desires, to the exclusion of other worlds that are equally vibrant. So I won't blame you for not getting the ramifications of the (mostly) confirmed news that Google is buying live-stream gaming service Twitch, which it will then run out of the YouTube division. I am not a gamer -- unless you count boring games of Spider Solitaire -- but I live with someone who is: our 16-year-old son. If his ...
  • Let The Follower Beware: Facebook And Twitter Get Serious About Commerce
    Social trend of the week: clicking on "Buy" buttons. While it's tempting to just leave it at that, I suppose people who read this might like a little context. Fortunately there are actually boatloads of it, as both Facebook and Twitter made it clear this week they are getting much more aggressive about turning their social platforms into e-commerce portals. Let the follower beware?
  • Good Brand Tweets Are Not a Rising, Well, Tide
    It took nineteen months, but we finally have a tweet that comes close to living up to the real-time promise put on display at the 2013 Super Bowl by Oreo. Ladies and gentlemen, I present the Tide tweet.
  • Twitter Needs To Make Itself Make Sense
    As is so often the case with the Social Media Insider, the decision of what to write about this week was a toss-up. Should I focus on Facebook's mind-control experiments (insert still from "Clockwork Orange" here), or the continuing turmoil at Twitter? I've settled on the latter, because, let's face it: Even though Facebook's altering some users' newsfeeds to see how this affects emotions is downright creepy, was this step really so surprising? Or that Facebook did it with its usual lack of awareness of how people might perceive it? No. So -- rubbing my hands together (metaphorically speaking, because ...
  • Restoration Hardware's Catalog Mailing Jumps the Shark -- And So Much More
    In the annals of corporate credibility, few initiatives stretch reality quite so much as the Restoration Hardware "Source" books, which arrived here at the house last week. I'd heard about these massive catalogs being delivered all over town for a month or so, and when I got mine, I realized it was probably the reason the cement was missing between the bricks that make up our front steps. I wouldn't want to drop the thing on my foot; let's put it that way.
  • Yo! Here's What I'll Be Doing This Weekend
    It's pretty clear. What I should be doing this weekend -- hell, it shouldn't even take the whole weekend -- is thinking up a really silly social networking idea that will net me upwards of $1 million and a few headlines. Then, like the Flappy Bird guy, I'll pull the thing from the iOS and Apple app stores, and next thing you know, I'll be on the beach on Cape Cod, laughing at how I managed to pull one over on a bunch of gullible investors.
  • One Way You Know Your Sponsored Content's Being Laughed At
    And now, at last, the Social Media Insider will stop discussing retargeting and social data and finally offer some comic relief. You see, it's a Friday in summer (well, close enough), so I'm devoting this column to something fun and simultaneously super-important, called ClickHole. What is ClickHole, you ask? According to its list of FAQs, it "is the latest and greatest online social experience filled with the most clickable, irresistibly shareable content anywhere on the internet." ClickHole is a parody, published by The Onion, that makes fun of Buzzfeed in particular, but its kin like Upworthy too, as well as ...
  • Will Search + Social Yield Better Advertising Experience For All?
    As long-time readers of this column know, there are few things I detest more than retargeting. Though it's not quite up there with climate change denialists, my hatred of stalker ads is on a par with Bitcoin and reading about Maureen Dowd's close encounter with edible marijuana. That's still a relatively high bar. It's not a conceptual complaint, but an executional one. Make the mistake of going to a site of an advertiser that uses clumsy retargeting and you may find yourself doomed, for a month or two anyway.
  • Please, Oh, Please Be My Snapchat Friend: A Confession, And An Opportunity
    One of the hardest things about being a writer/consultant in digital with some -- ahem -- experience, is that when new social platforms emerge, you want to go play on them, but there's no one you know who wants to play on them too. It's strange. You read about these platforms, write about them and analyze them all day long, but ultimately, you begin to feel like someone who is in the cable TV industry who doesn't have cable. Only in social, it's much harder than calling up your local cable provider and signing on. You can join all of ...
  • Facebook Walks the Privacy Walk, And Walks It Back -- At the Same Time
    If you've got Facebook, who needs the NSA? That's the question I've been asking myself after reading yesterday about Facebook's new, um, eavesdropping service, which uses the sounds of music and TV shows around you to help you share what you're listening to or watching. Please note that in the very same week -- nay, on the very next day -- Facebook also said it was going to push all of its nearly 1.3 billion users to do a perhaps annual privacy check to make sure that everyone's privacy settings are really where they want them to be.
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