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By almost all metrics, Facebook is the top dog in the social networking market. Even though it's now 5 years old, it's still growing like a weed and there's no reason to believe that its growth is going to subside anytime soon.
But is the company increasingly troubled?
One of the great paradoxes of the internet is that the more information we have, the more myopic we get. This myopia is a dangerous thing. We have brilliant political thinkers and economists blogging every day, yet most people get their news from biased factoids. And from a strictly democratic economic standpoint, businesses need options. But as a business, we're in the middle of a myopia that borders on blindness.
The subject is of course, Twitter, Facebook, and Google. May the internet Gods continue to bless all three. Irrational exuberance surrounds all of them right now. But when they have to live up to those expectations of consistent triple-digit quarterly growth, and they have to face competition, and they have to struggle with advocacy groups that want to brand themselves at their expense, these three will change. Yet, they dominate press coverage and conference events and people speak of them as if they are immune to bad breaks or random events. They're not.
A growing number of charities and non-profits have gone social. From Facebook to Twitter, social media has an obvious appeal: the costs of getting involved are low, awareness can be generated virally and people naturally tend to use social media to engage around topics and causes that are important to them.
But what isn't so well understood is how social media can best be applied to the non-profit sector in meaningful ways.
Facebook recently rolled out a new design that, in the eyes of some, represents a fundamental shift for the world's largest social network.
The new design places an emphasis on showing Facebook users real-time updates of their friends' latest online activities. Some suggest this is Facebook's response to the growing popularity of Twitter.
Social media is becoming a tough game to call for research companies. Several recent reports present divergent looks at ad spending projections and the potential size of key players, all pointing to the possibility that spending in this area is more spontaneous than search, display, or even traditional media.
Take, for example, two reports issued today on ad spending projections. The first, from eMarketer, predicts $2.3 billion in worldwide on social network advertising in 2009. In 2013, spending will reach an estimated $3.5 billion. Those numbers are positive on the surface, but they represent a 50 percent reduction from eMarketer's last projection, delivered in December 2008. The company, which culled research from Deloitte and comScore for its projections, says the limiting factor is the worldwide economic crisis.
Facebook has over 175m users. MySpace has over 125m. Twitter's traffic has grown at over 1,000%.
All three services are considered to be extremely valuable and their popularity is where the value is at. With their users, they're worth hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. Without them, they're worth close to nothing.
How can Twitter make money? It's the one question everyone has been asking and the one question Twitter hasn't been in a rush to answer.
But as Twitter continues to experience massive growth during a painful recession, revenue is a subject that Twitter probably shouldn't put off for too long.
Facebook, which now has 190m users and continues its ascent as the world's largest social network, has rolled out a major update.
There are UI changes and new features alike and many are designed to put Facebook into the competition as talk of the 'real-time web' heats up.
We live in a maelstrom of activity and invention. A new world we are evolving every day; some days more than others. We sometimes, perhaps more often than we'd like to think, get caught up in the hype or in the detail of what we do. We get stuck on definitions and fads, guidelines and best practice, manifestos and policies.
We also forget about the simple beauty of the medium we work in. This is a personal reflection, indulgent perhaps. But I make no concessions: it sometimes good to take a step backwards and reflect on what we've got now and what's in front of us.
This social networking thing is gonna be big, man. Really big. Bigger than email.
A confirmation of the absolute "big bang" expansion theory of social networks came from Nielsen Online today. Its "Global Faces and Networked Places" report shows that by the end of 2008, 66.8 percent of internet users across the globe accessed “member communities” last year, compared to 65.1 percent for email.
There’s so much talk about social media that it is easy for people to become cynical, perhaps losing track of the fact that it can have a positive impact on your business.
So how can you determine whether a social media strategy is proving beneficial to your business? How do you know that it is working out for you? And is now really the best time to find out?
Rather than focusing on individual social media campaigns, I’d like to look at social media measurement from the perspective of a business that a) buys into social media, b) commits to it over a period of time, and as such c) has an integrated social media strategy. You people know who you are!