Like Scrooge McDuck, the world's largest social network could fill a moneybin full of money and then swim in the money, if it wanted to, judging by financial documents obtained by Gawker.com. Not coincidentally, the documents -- leaked by a "well-placed mole" -- may help supercharge investor demand for a Facebook IPO, supposedly planned for sometime in the first half of 2012. As of September 2011, Facebook had assets of $5.6 billion and cash reserves of $3.5 billion, according to the documents obtained by Gawker; in accounting jargon that's a "cubic buttload" of money. Operating cash flow from January-September 2011 …
With most big brands and companies adopting social media as a marketing and customer relations platform, there's growing demand for enterprise social media management tools which give local social media managers sufficient flexibility to carry out their duties while at the same time ensuring an appropriate degree of centralized control. One of the companies responding to this demand is Expion, which was recently tapped by 360i for social media management, and which has also launched a pilot providing social media management tools to 100 H&R Block locations nationwide.
The advent of new Facebook analytics and programming tools, especially Insights and related APIs, is enabling marketers and technology providers to automate many aspects of social media marketing that were previously labor-intensive to the point of being prohibitive or just depressing. In one recent example, LA-based startup CitizenNet has launched an "Automatic Social Promote" service which integrates Facebook's Insights API and Ads API, allowing marketers to automatically identify and propagate their most engaging social content on Facebook.
Online video has gone through numerous social permutations, from YouTube to live one-on-one and group video chat -- touted as a key feature of Google+ with its video "hangouts." Now an Australia-based startup is bringing free, private, live online video broadcasts to the U.S. (along with other capabilities including recorded broadcasts, video chats, games, and instant messaging).
While the debate over social media's utility as a political organizing tool continues, repressive foreign governments are paying it the highest compliment by trying to shut it down. In the latest example, Russia's Federal Security Bureau asked Russia's largest social network, VKontakte, to block protesters and opposition groups from using the network, hoping to stifle protests that erupted after a disputed election that returned Vladimir Putin's party to power, with a reduced majority.
While there are plenty of skeptics who've questioned social media's capabilities as a tool for affecting social change -- Malcolm Gladwell, I'm looking at you -- the people who actually use social media seem to be convinced that it is a powerful transformational force. That includes young adults in India, according to the Times of India, which reports that a recent survey of 1,200 Indians ages 18-35 believe the social media "empowers them to bring change to the world we live in."
Coming to grips with the return-on-investment from social media marketing is a high priority for marketers, according to a survey of 362 marketing executives by Lenskold Group -- but that doesn't mean they're confident in their ability to do so. Overall 77% of marketers are using social media to promote their business, a proportion that holds true across businesses large and small, Lenskold found. Within this group, 55% (42% of the total sample) said they considered measurement of social media efforts to be a high priority. The most popular reason, cited by 65% of marketers who said it's a high …
After a number of incidents where flash mobs were convened to commit crimes, the city of Cleveland is preparing legislation to make it illegal to organize or take part in flash mobs that lead to illicit activity including theft, assault, and vandalism. The new law prescribes new legal penalties for any type of disorderly conduct by four or more people that is organized via social media. Everyone who receives a flash mob message and then participates in the illicit activity is liable to be charged, with potential charges including rioting and using a "criminal tool" -- which in this case …
There are any number of ways to game social media, but any strategy which fails to sincerely represent consumer sentiment will inevitably be self-defeating. Take, for example, the practice of forcing visitors to "like" your brand on Facebook before they are permitted to post comments or otherwise interact with your brand. This certainly drives up the number of "likes" you'll get -- but what if they're just "like"-ing your brand in order to tell you how much your brand totally sucks?
The federal government is much in the news nowadays, and the scrutiny now extends to its social media savvy, or lack thereof, courtesy of Expert Labs, which has created a Federal Social Media Index to track and rate 125 federal departments on their social media efforts using Twitter. In addition to a comprehensive interactive dashboard measuring each department's Twitter use, including key measures of engagement like the number of questions responded to, each week Expert Labs will crown the best agency use of social media -- and presumably call out the losers too.