Rumors have swirled for over a year about Google's long-awaited social network, Google+, which is supposed to claw back some market share (in terms of time spent on the Internet) from Facebook, and which was finally unveiled yesterday. Now that Google+ is available to some journalists (not me) in a soft launch, many people are naturally wondering what differentiates it from Facebook, and Google itself is at pains to distinguish it; back in November 2010, Hugo Barra, Google's head of mobile product development said, "We're not working on a social network platform that's just going to be another social network …
News Corp. first revealed it was putting MySpace up for sale back in February of this year, after which the auction process seemed to sort of fizzle in the face of sheer investor indifference. Now the planned MySpace sale is moving forward again, according to rumors, with two companies considered front-runners for eventual ownership: Specific Media, which specializes in "addressable advertising," and Golden Gate Capital, which specializes in investing in bankrupt or distressed companies (MySpace definitely fits the bill).
The International Olympic Committee is looking to leverage social media drive engagement with the global sporting event, in part by encouraging competitors to "post, blog and tweet their experiences" during the upcoming summer Olympics in London, scheduled to take place July 16-August 15, 2012. The possibility of interacting with athletes, or at least hearing their thoughts first-hand, is an obvious attraction for spectator sports -- but the IOC is also at pains to protect the commercial interests of broadcast and merchandising partners.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you probably know that private equity and venture capital firms have been pouring cash into social networks like it was their job (and apparently, it is). Until recently, however, it was hard to get a handle on just how much money was being invested in social media startups. That's no longer the case, thanks to a research outfit called Social Media Influence, which just released the SMI Guide to Social Media Funding.
The stereotype of technology-averse elderly folks is gradually being demolished, or at least put in perspective, by new research showing a big increase in social media adoption in the geriatric set. One interesting finding from the U.K. (which is often, but not always, a good indicator for U.S. trends) shows that 22% of British grandparents belong to a social network.
While social media has demonstrated its utility in all kinds of unexpected areas, some of the most interesting applications have been discovered by criminals, who use social media to perpetrate elaborate frauds, identify vacation-going burglary subjects, and steal online identities. And it seems like resourceful outlaws are finding new, surprising applications for social media every day. Here's a good one: social media as a communications platform in armed standoffs. No, really: according to the Associated Press, Jason Valdez, 36, took to Facebook via his smart phone during a 16-hour-long armed standoff with SWAT teams at a motel in Ogden, Utah.
Hopefully most people now understand that anything they put in their social media profiles could wind up in front of a potential future employer through an online background check. What many people may not realize, however, is that everything they put on social media (which is publicly available under their privacy settings) can be archived by third parties for up to seven years, for the explicit purpose of background checks -- even if the individual has deleted the content in question from his or her own account.
Naysayers and Cassandras of all stripes (including myself) have been wringing our hands over an alleged bubble in social media company valuations over the last year. While much of this anxiety is based on simple gut feelings, there's reason to think that some private investors and venture capitalists have fallen prey to irrational exuberance. But judging by the first social media IPOs, that doesn't seem to be happening in the stock market (at least so far).
Thirty-four percent of rich folks use social media professionally, according to a survey of millionaires by Fidelity Investments (assuming that millionaires still count as "rich"), including 28% who say they use LinkedIn. This is a pretty substantial number, especially considering that the average age of rich respondents was 56. Adoption rates for other kinds of communications technology were even higher, with 85% of rich respondents saying they use -- or are willing to use -- email and text messaging for professional matters.
The social media ROI discussion is heating up with a spate of new research drawing connections between social media, brand perceptions, and purchase behavior. That includes a new study released earlier this week by Knowledge Networks and MediaPost's very own Center for Media Research, showing that the number of Americans who say their brand consumption choices are influenced by social media has increased substantially in the last year.