Significant proportions of African-American (30%) and Hispanic (39%) adults say they are more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline, according to the results of a new study by Georgetown University's Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide. That compares to 24% of white American adults agreeing with the same statement.
I have no idea whether I'm at all representative of Gmail's user base, but if I am Google would be well-advised to just can the whole social media push it's been planning for over a year now. Because, as far as I'm concerned, all the new bells, whistles and widgets Google has added to the email service to make it more "social" are just annoying distractions, which I avoid as scrupulously as Google's targeted ads. The latest social spaghetti flung against the Gmail wall is a "people widget."
While big brands and national advertisers are embracing social media in highly visible (and not always competent) ways, the real evidence of its long-term utility is the high rate of adoption by small business owners, who are ramping up spending to reach potential customers in local markets, according to Webs, which offers a do-it-yourself service for Web site creation.
LinkedIn ventured forth into the public markets with great success earlier this month and now comes word that Zynga, the casual game juggernaut, is preparing to go public sometime in June. Going beyond the simple spectacle of tech geeks frolicking in frothy billions, it's worth noting one element that's mostly absent in the first round of IPOs: advertising.
The first rule of the social media business is to choose a weird, opaque name for your company, and Cambridge-based Crimson Hexagon -- which specializes in semantic analysis to help companies track online sentiment -- has certainly succeeded there. If I had to guess, the "crimson" is for Harvard (it was spun off by Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science in 2007) and the "hexagon" is a reference to "The Library of Babel" by Jorge Luis Borges... or a beehive. Or something else entirely.
The world is looking a little less crazy today with the news that Blippy, a social network which allowed you to share your credit card purchases with your friends and made no sense, has closed. Social media is full of all kinds of weird startups, but Blippy, which launched in December 2009, always struck me as a particular affront to reason. True, it wasn't supposed to share your credit card numbers, and you could choose which purchases to publicize, but why in God's name would you want to broadcast this information anyway?
Well, that's comforting. A month after Sony's PlayStation Network was brought low by a coordinated wave of hack attacks which compromised users' personal information, friendly hackers and security pros are warning that the network remains vulnerable to online malefactors. The response from Sony's boss (I'm paraphrasing): "Basically, yes."
After raising the low end of its stock price in the days before the IPO, "early indications and the investment community's keen interest in the offering had pointed to a successful IPO... the target price exceeded the high end of its pricing range..." Sound familiar? No, it's not a contemporary news report about LinkedIn: that's CNET reporting on the GeoCities IPO back in August 1998.
I'm always curious about the ways different groups use social media, including differing levels of adoption and engagement based on age, gender, ethnicity, and so on -- but I'm also aware that data purporting to show such differences should be taken with a grain of salt. In one recent example, a study says African-Americans are more likely to use Twitter than the population at large. This finding is interesting, but needs to be qualified by the sample population -- i.e., college students.
If all goes according to plan, on Thursday LinkedIn will become the first major social media company to stage an initial public offering. Currently the company is planning to sell 7.84 million shares at a price of $42-$45 per share, which would value the professional social network at about $4.1 billion -- up over 100% from a projected valuation of about $2 billion at the end of January, and 24% from $3.3 billion just a week ago.