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February 20 2014

October 04 2013

Could Snapchat Become the Next Instagram?

Those disappearing Snapchats just got a little staying power

Snapchat announced Snapchat Stories Wednesday, a new feature that allows users to compile photos and videos taken through the app into a montage of sorts that will live on for 24 hours. Now when users take photos and videos, they can elect to include them in their Snapchat Story, which is viewable an unlimited number of times by any of their friends. (You can also make stories available to the public.)

After 24 hours, the images and videos in a user's story will disappear, making room for new content. "Your Story never ends and it’s always changing," the Snapchat Team wrote on the company's blog. "The end of your Story today is the beginning of your Story tomorrow." All photos and videos in the montage will include a list of people who have viewed it. Read more...

More about Sharing, Photos, Instagram, Tech, and Apps Software
Sponsored post

May 30 2013

Coke Social Can Splits Into Two for Easy Sharing

Summer's coming up, and if you go strutting around with an ice cold soda in your hands, everyone will be hoping you'll share it with them. Now some creative ad people have attempted to solve that problem with the Coke Social Can, a container that splits in two so you can share its contents.

Well, it doesn't actually split into two separate cans, but a specially designed cup twists off the top, allowing you to pour some of your soda into it, perhaps making a new friend at the same time. And just think, you can do all that without exchanging bodily fluids


More about Advertising, Marketing, Sharing, Business, and Videos

January 21 2012

GO App Lets You Anonymously Share Photos, Videos or Comments [PICS]

If you’ve ever wanted to post a photograph, video or brief comment without your real name or online moniker attached to the content, a fresh mobile app now gives you that option.

GO, which rolled out Friday for Android and in November for iPhone, allows you to capture, share and discover media and text snippets anonymously (see gallery below).

The slick-looking app tags your device’s location and a subject to your content and plops it on a map for other users to find within the app or at GO’s website. You don’t have to register for an account to use the service, although you are given the choice to add a username.

Users now “can hold the future of personal mobile broadcast in their hot little hands,” GO’s creative director Justin Dionisio told Mashable. They can also share GO content on Facebook and Twitter.

To discover what’s happening around the world, just click any location on the global map under the “GO” tab. A pop-up will list all of the items uploaded in that area, and then you can choose to view by subject or everything at once. You can also search for specific tags or learn what’s trending under the “FIND” tab.

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators with iPhones have used the geo-based app to coordinate protests. Additionally, GO let them avoid any unnecessary attention from police or media, Forbes reported in November.

Just in time for GO’s launch into the Android Market on Friday, the app’s creator — Hollr — has partnered with Verizon and Casio, which have included GO as part of their new marketing initiatives for the G’zOne Casio Commander smartphone in Aspen this year, Dionisio says.

GO App

GO, which rolled out Jan. 20 for Android and in November for iPhone, allows you to capture, share and discover media and text anonymously.

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: Android apps, location-based, mobile apps, sharing

January 02 2012

Top 25 Most-Shared Stories in December

Social media ended 2011 on a high note as Facebook rolled out Timeline to everyone and Twitter unveiled a new design, brand pages and embeddable tweets.

But what got your share-happy fingers clicking the most? A story about hilarious auto-corrected text messages from Damn You Auto Correct (see gallery below) tops December’s list of most-shared stories. In fact, that story was the most-shared and most-viewed Mashable story of the year.

Based on figures from Mashable Follow‘s M Share button, the following 25 stories got the most love, with all of them garnering about 550,000 combined shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon. To keep track of the most-shared stories at anytime, log into Mashable Follow and click on “Top Stories” next to the Mashable logo. You’ll have the option to view the top stories of the day, week, month or year.

SEE ALSO: Most-Shared Stories in November | October | September | August | July | June | May

Thanks for reading and sharing our content. We look forward to seeing which stories you share in 2012.

Intended word: "Monday," not "Man boobs."

Click here to view this gallery.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, flyparade

More About: damn-you-autocorrect, Facebook, mashable follow, sharing, Social Media, Twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

December 01 2011

Top 25 Most-Shared Stories in November

Top 25 Most Shared Stories in July

In a month that brought us “Nerd New Year” on 11/11/11, your share-happy fingers found interest in stories about the year’s worst passwords, Starbucks’s interactive holiday cups and Adobe’s decision to cease production of its Flash Player.

Making a late run up Mashable‘s Top 25 Most-Shared Stories list for November, “Here’s How People Look at Your Facebook Profile — Literally” just missed breaking into the top 10 after just one day online.

Infographics about female gamers’ sex habits, poop-covered cellphones, Facebook users, Google Search and online-reputation management round out November’s eclectic list. Also ranking high are several viral videos — some of which were published as part of our YouTube Video of the Day series — about crying children, Notorious B.I.G., jetpacks, futuristic desks and $2 waffle makers.

Based on figures from Mashable Follow‘s M Share button, the following 25 stories got the most love, with all of them garnering about 300,000 combined shares on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and StumbleUpon. To keep track of the most-shared stories at anytime, log into Mashable Follow and click on “Top Stories” next to the Mashable logo. You’ll have the option to view the top stories of the day, week, month or year.

SEE ALSO: Top 25 Most-Shared Stories in: October | September | August | July | June | May

Thanks for reading and sharing our content. We look forward to seeing which stories you share in December.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, flyparade

More About: mashable follow, sharing, Social Media

October 11 2011

Sharing on the Web: How, When, Where and Why We Do It [INFOGRAPHIC]

When are people most likely to share content on the web? How do they prefer to share it? What services are they sharing to most frequently? These are the burning questions of the age of social media. Bookmarking and sharing service AddThis just might have the answers.

AddThis is celebrating its fifth birthday with a deep dive into its data pool. The Clearspring service has analyzed five years’ worth of sharing data — and has summarized its findings in the infographic below.

What does the data tell us? Sharers apparently don’t suffer from the midweek blues, at least when it comes to passing along web content to friends and followers; we share the most on Wednesdays. And the most active time of day for sharing comes bright and early at 9:30 a.m. ET each day.

More intriguing is how the world prefers to share. AddThis data suggests the majority of us prefer to share by copying and pasting URLs from the address bar to emails, IMs and social sites. We do this 10 times more frequently than we share via buttons and other tools. How old-fashioned of us.

Keep in mind that this data only looks at sharing activities powered by AddThis — it’s not the complete sharing picture. Still, given that the service reaches 1.2 billion users each month, it’s likely to be indicative of wider trends.

More About: AddThis, sharing, Social Media

For more Social Media coverage:

July 12 2011

5 Ways to Encourage Customers to Share Your Content

Sanjay Dholakia is CEO of Crowd Factory, the leading provider of crowd-powered marketing applications that add a quantifiable social boost to every digital interaction.

Nearly every brand has realized that integrating social elements into most or all of its marketing programs is essential. Companies are also thinking about social media as an integrated element that spans all of its campaigns and channels – not as its own silo. But enabling people to share a campaign with friends is only half the battle; you’ve got to give them a compelling reason to socialize.

Here are five creative ways to motivate social sharing. We’ll provide insights as to how you can structure campaigns to encourage more people to share, alongside examples of brands that are getting it right.

1. Increase the Payoff When People Share More

With the advent of DIY group deals, you can create campaigns in which the more people share among themselves, the more they all save. The idea of collective benefit also plays to team dynamics: people will mobilize when lots of folks can get a benefit.

Oscar Mayer’s recent program for its new Oscar Mayer Selects hot dogs provides a good example. Oscar Mayer offers consumers a coupon to try the product, and encourages them to come back to share a “Taste-a-Monial” (essentially their personal review of Selects Hot Dogs) to get a second coupon. But this second coupon is progressive in nature: for every 5,000 people who share their Taste-a-Monial, the value of the coupon will increase by $0.50. The value continues to increase until the deal becomes a free pack of hot dogs, or until the promotion ends on August 15. At that point, everyone who shared a Taste-a-Monial will be rewarded their coupon.

Snoop Dogg made headlines recently for the progressive group deals he runs from his Facebook page’s “Shop Snoop Now” ecommerce tab. Each day, one product is featured for a special group deal – the more “Likes” the product gets, the lower the price for the product.

2. Give Them Something Exclusive

Giving people something unique or exclusive in return for sharing can be a powerful motivator — we all want to feel privy to something special.

For example, in a recent campaign to build awareness for recording artist Cady Groves, RCA offered fans a free song download for registering on the Cady Groves website. RCA also incentivized fans to share Cady’s music with their friends by offering a free merchandise pack to every fan who convinces five people to download the song.

Many brands are also rewarding fans by providing early access to content. For example, a big trend we’re seeing in the music industry is “share to reveal,” where fans get advance access to music videos or song tracks in return for sharing with friends.

3. Appeal to Their Altruism

People are inherently good. If you make it easy for them to help, they often will — and your brand will get a major boost along the way.

For example, Clarisonic recently ran a fundraising campaign for “Look Good, Feel Better,” a program that helps women battling cancer cope with treatment-related skin changes and hair loss. It contributed a $1 donation for each new “Like” on its Facebook page. The campaign made it fun and easy to share the program with friends by designing different “calls to action” that visitors could choose to share. As a result, Clarisonic generated over 30,000 new Likes on the page.

Of course, many fans will share simply because they love the cause and want to spread the word — so make sure you’ve at least added social elements to all your customer touch points.

4. Let Fans Help Create the Offer

Giving fans the ability to choose which version of a product should be offered, or to vote for the discounts or special offers they want to receive, helps ensure they’ll share it. For example, HarperCollins’ Bookperk website, which keeps readers up to date on new books and special deals, lets members select which books will be offered at a discount. Once members have chosen a book, they have the option to log into Facebook and share their selection with friends, therefore spreading the word about the discount.

5. Identify, Recognize and Reward Superfans

Humans are inherently social beings, and like to be recognized for their expertise and achievements. Recognition can be a powerful motivator for social activity.

In the Cady Groves example mentioned above, not only was the campaign successful in getting many fans to share with their friends, but furthermore, quite a few “superfans” took sharing to the next level. They generated their own tweets, direct messages and Facebook posts. Some individuals managed to recruit several hundred new fans to the Cady Groves website and Facebook page.

These superfans aren’t necessarily motivated by the incentive; they’re interested in promoting the artist, getting free merchandise for their friends and establishing their reputation as someone in the know. Smart marketers will look to identify and reward these superfans on an ongoing basis, and further provide them with ways to carry on their message.

Once you’ve identified your superfans, make them part of your marketing mix. Give them preferential or early access to new items, and reward them with recognition on your Facebook page, Twitter or your website.

Whatever your methods, find a way to incorporate a social element into every marketing campaign you run by finding compelling reasons for people to share. That’ll make every dollar you spend on marketing look like two.

Disclosure: Cady Groves, Clarisonic and HarperCollins are clients of the author’s company.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Anne Helmond.

More About: business, Contests, ecommerce, facebook, incentives, sharing, social media, twitter

For more Business & Marketing coverage:

June 30 2011

AT&T Launches HTC Status: the Smartphone With a Facebook Button

AT&T and HTC have launched HTC Status, HTC’s smartphone with a distinguishing feature — a dedicated Facebook button.

The device was unveiled this February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and it launched in Europe under the name HTC ChaCha.

It falls in the low-range category of Android handsets, with a 2.6-inch touchscreen, a full QWERTY keyboard, an 800 MHz CPU and a 5-megapixel camera.

Its Facebook button makes it easy to share whatever you’re doing. The phone is aware of the app you’re using and your location, so sharing to Facebook is done with one click.

The device has been appropriately announced via its own Facebook Page, but the price and the exact release date for the Status are unknown.

More About: att, facebook, facebook button, htc, HTC Status, sharing, smartphone, social media, social networking

For more Mobile coverage:

May 20 2011

LinkedIn, Facebook Send & Tumblr: 3 New Ways To Share on Mashable

As part of our quest to make Mashable a more social experience, we’ve quietly rolled out some new sharing options over the past few weeks.

Our readers are connecting on a variety of platforms across the Web. Whether you create a profile for every site or like to stick to a couple of favorites, we want you to be able to share Mashable stories in whichever way works best for you.

Here’s a look at how we’ve integrated new sharing options for LinkedIn, Facebook and Tumblr.

LinkedIn From Follow’s M Share

As LinkedIn takes off as a way to share news, we’re excited to further integrate it into Mashable Follow, our social sharing and content curation platform. You’ve been able to add LinkedIn to your Follow profile from day one, but now you can also share a post to LinkedIn directly from the M Share button.

Earlier this year, LinkedIn relaunched its developer platform complete with an open set of APIs and an eye on usability for developers. Specifically, LinkedIn’s adoption of OAuth made it possible to do this integration. “We are able to authenticate users using our existing OAuth support framework,” says Chris Heald, Follow’s lead developer. “Once users are authenticated, we can use their authorization tokens to make calls to the LinkedIn API to easily conduct the shares.”

Adding third-party functions to a site can sometimes affect load times — so we’ve made several performance optimizations to ensure that these new sharing tools won’t slow you down.

Facebook Send

We’ve also integrated the new Facebook Send button into article pages across the site. It has a similar look and feel to the “Like” button, but functions more like email. The idea is to make sharing Mashable stories with a small group of friends easier.

The Send button appears next to the Like button, which is above the article and below the byline on Mashable story pages. Click on Send and a pop-up appears, allowing you to send that article to Facebook friends and Groups — or to any email address. You can then add a message and send the page to friends’ inboxes or post it to a Group wall.

Tumblr Button

You’ll also notice the new Tumblr share button as a sharing option on all Mashable stories. We can attest to how easy this is. As this post shows, we’ve been using the button ourselves to post to our Mashable HQ Tumblr.

Because Tumblr’s API doesn’t provide share data, this can’t be integrated into Follow, so you’ll have to be signed out of our service to use this function. However, we can hope that Tumblr will see how popular this is and make the same kind of revision to their platform that LinkedIn did.

What’s your favorite network to share Mashable articles on? Will you take advantage of our new sharing options? Let us know in the comments. Happy sharing!

More About: api, facebook send, follow, LinkedIn Developer PLatform, mashable follow, OAuth, sharing, tumblr, tumblr button

For more Social Media coverage:

May 01 2011

Review: Pogoplug Software Creates a Personal Computing Cloud

Pogoplug started its life as hardware. Plug a USB drive into it and it lets you access those files from anywhere. Now, Pogoplug is available in a software version, substituting your Windows, Mac or Linux machine for that hardware and letting you share pictures, music, videos and data with any of your devices or with anyone else. Let’s try it.

Downloading and installing the Pogoplug software is quick and simple. You can get the free version which lets you remotely access all the content on your computer, essentially turning your PC into your own personal cloud.

The $29 Pogoplug Premium version lets you do all that, plus it has the ability to stream media from your computer to your iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone, all three of which have free Pogoplug apps available. Or, you can access everything from any computer with a web browser by going to your account at Pogoplug.com.

Once the Pogoplug server software is installed on your computer, it finds all your photos, music, and video, as well as data in your Desktop and Documents folder. After a few minutes, I loaded the free iPhone app and iPad app on those two devices, and suddenly I wasw streaming music, video and files with ease.

This could hardly get any easier. Movies played smoothly even over AT&T’s 3G network, and on the iPhone and iPad, they looked slightly grainy but watchable. In addition, it was easy to share files with anyone with an email address with a few taps on a touchscreen.

There are drawbacks. For one thing, only certain types of video files are recognized. For instance, .AVI and .MOV files play back quickly and look good, where the computer is converting them to the Pogoplug’s streaming file format. However, file formats such as the popular .MKV are not recognized as video. You can share them with whomever you like — however, they won’t stream.

Music streamed particularly well on the iPhone and iPad, sounding just as good as it did when played directly from the PC. However, you don’t get that same iPod interface you normally do on the iPhone, but a bare subset that’s Spartan yet functional.

Uh-oh. Perhaps the worst drawback I noticed was the instability of Pogoplug’s iPhone and iPad applications. About half the time, when I’d try to share a file or start playing video, the app would inexplicably shut down. That’s just not acceptable.

Verdict: Pogoplug is a great idea, and the fact that you don’t need to buy a $200 hardware device to use its convenient features makes it even more attractive. However, in my testing, the associated software doesn’t feel ready yet. Its instability marred its powerful capabilities, rendering Pogoplug almost unusable.

You might want to try the free version first, and see if it’s stable on your combination of devices. Wait before you spend your $29, and hopefully in the meantime Pogoplug will fix those bugs residing in its apps for iPhone and iPad.

First Screen

Pogoplug asks you to designate which folders will be available via remote access.

Software Tour

You can turn off remote access.

Desktop Access

You can control everything from your PC, Mac, or Linux machine.

Web Access

If you have web access, you have access to your files.

Mobile Devices

Unfortunately, the iPhone and iPad apps are pretty shaky thus far.

Great Way to Share Files

Hey, this is almost as good as Dropbox.

Premium Feature

here's what you pay your $29 for, but it doesn't work very well yet.

Pogoplug Hardware

Buy the Pogoplug hardware device, and you don't need to keep your computer running when you want to access your files remotely.

Drop-Down Menu

From the web, you can perform lots of file management functions, as well as share files or or publish photos to Facebook.

More About: cloud, pogoplug, review, sharing, software, streaming

For more Tech & Gadgets coverage:

April 25 2011

Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy

David Spark is a veteran tech journalist reporting for the branding firm Liquid Agency. Read more on branding at Liquid Agency’s blog. Follow Spark on Twitter @dspark.

On Twitter, a well-known chef recommends a restaurant in your town. You trust the chef. You trust his advice. What’s more, he gave you a local recommendation. As a result, your esteem of the chef increases. You begin following him. You retweet his review. Others may as well. You may not remember the restaurant he recommended, but you do value the chef’s opinion, and it was just strengthened thanks to his latest review.

This phenomenon of brand value coming back to the recommender is a behavior we see time and again, according to James Buckhouse, head of corporate marketing for Twitter.

Every connection in the Twitter message chain — following, @replying and retweeting — is a reputation statement, explained Randy Farmer, co-author of Building Web Reputation Systems.

In the statement “Chef X recommends Restaurant Y,” the primary effect is the value of the chef recommending a restaurant. The transitive effect is the restaurant being recommended. “Sometimes we don’t get to the transitive effect,” Farmer said.

Are we consciously aware of it? Are we sharing just to boost our own brand?

Can You Build a Brand Just By Sharing Links?

AddToAny, a social media sharing tool, ran a study this year on the social and personal brand effects of just sharing links.

The study showed that for the average sharer, they won’t receive any significant recognition just sending out blind links, but “established influencers can sometimes ‘get away’ with blindly sharing headlines,” said AddToAny’s founder, Pat Diven II.

A blind share, according to Diven, is a link accompanied with a headline and no commentary. Since we can’t determine if they were blindly sent or not, we’ll refer to them as “plain” links. When established influencers share plain links, they receive on average a 400% higher clickthrough rate than a plain link from an average user. If that influencer provides thoughtful commentary, that clickthrough rate jumps to 500%, or a 20% increase from those links without commentary.

The most famous plain link tweeter is Guy Kawasaki. He and the others who manage his feed are unabashed about just tweeting links from his curated news service Alltop.

In general, it’s difficult to tell if a person sharing a plain link actually read the content. But, in some cases, Diven could see that a few established influencers spent little to no time consuming the content they were sharing.

That doesn’t mean the influencer would never consume the content, Diven said. They sometimes send out links and hope for responses.

“To those influencers, thoughtful responses to a thoughtless share are indicators that the content is worthy of further consumption,” Diven continued.

AddToAny’s data goes on to show that after receiving thoughtful responses, the influencers returned to the shared content and spent more time with it.

“People can increase their brand value solely through sharing,” said Joe Fernandez, CEO of Klout, an online influencer rating service focused predominantly on Twitter.

Twitalyzer, another influence measuring service has noticed the same effect with their Twitter-based “impact” scores. “What we’ve discovered is people may retweet content just to increase their own scores,” said Eric Peterson, the service’s CEO.

According to Twitalyzer’s data, the top 500 link sharers have a 21% higher “impact” score than a random sample of 500 users. Twitalyzer’s “impact” is a function of Twitter followers, retweets, @replies, and post frequency.

Plain link sharing, or as Diven calls it, “blind sharing,” doesn’t work in all cases.

“For those who lack influence, blind sharing is particularly ineffective — rarely producing engagement — much like shouting into a vacuum,” said Diven.

In the case of Kawasaki’s link-tweeting activity, he’s been dubbed a top “curator” by Klout with a score of 82. Klout defines a “curator” as someone who is a mega sharer. Curators add no particular editorial on the content they share, said Fernandez. They just share.

In AddToAny’s study, the clickthrough data shows that a plain link share from influencers is transferring some value to the sites they’re recommending. But is this always the case? It would make sense to assume that consumption of content would be a positive multiple of all the social sharing. What can we deduce when we have evidence of consumption of content being a fraction of the people who are sharing?

When Sharing Exceeds Consumption

In all my interviews, everyone admitted at some level to sharing content without actually consuming it. They would send out a consumption-free share for the following reasons:

  • They trust the source of the content.
  • They like the title of the content.
  • They want to help a friend promote something.

In the last scenario, one developer I spoke to admitted he got hundreds of friends to pre-agree he could retweet his content via their Twitter accounts. Whenever he publishes an article, he hits a button and hundreds of automated retweets are sent through his friends’ pre-approved accounts.

No one admitted to sharing just to build their own brand. It would be a rather brash statement to say so. Although there seems to be a fluid unconscious-to-conscious behavioral process that sharing someone else’s content will improve one’s brand.

None of this “sharing without consumption” behavior surprised me, but I thought these users were in the minority, and that it would never be pronounced enough to be noticeable. That was until I saw one of my own posted videos receive more shares than views. It was a low discrepancy, 52 shares and 48 views, and I didn’t see any bot-like behavior. Still, it was clear to me that sharers were more interested in being seen as someone sharing my video, entitled “How do you get everyone to watch your video,” rather than actually watching it.

My situation is not an anomaly. SocMetrics, an influencer identification service, was able to uncover 100 more similar cases of shares exceeding views. Similarly, most of these shares didn’t show any bot-like behavior, although there were a handful of standouts that did.

Here are five with the greatest discrepancy (more shares than views).

Shares / Likes
Straight 2 Work
Vulcha Smooth – GET OFF
Vulcha Smooth – Hustle Hard (Freestyle)
Marcus Baker Introduction and Gift

Shares and views measured as of March 31, 2011

Indeed, even this article, by virtue of the Mashable brand, will likely fall victim to shares without consumption. I’ve watched hundreds of shares appear within minutes of my previous Mashable posts — far less time than it takes to read the article.

But given Mashable’s stature, views will inevitably exceed shares. For others that don’t have Mashable’s strong brand, it’s possible your clever title may only benefit the person sharing, and not transfer to your content.

Is it too easy to share?

“We’ve created a situation where sharing of information is rapidly becoming devalued because it’s so easy to click the retweet button,” said Twitalyzer’s Peterson.

Farmer agrees and argues that we’ve made reviewing and sharing far too easy and frictionless. In the earliest states of any reputation system Farmer understands that developers want to make it as easy as possible for people to participate, share, rate, and review. You desperately need users. Any type of roadblock seems antithetical to building success.

“Long-term, the success of your reputation system will depend on quality, honest and unbiased opinions,” Farmer said, “Don’t ask your users to provide opinions on things they haven’t experienced.”

This seems rational, although many successful rating services allow you to review things you haven’t experienced. No one on Yelp is checking to see if you’ve actually patronized a restaurant. Anyone can leave a review on Amazon, and YouTube lets you “Like” a video without even hitting the play button. All of these low-barrier sharing and rating systems have succeeded grandly, although the quality of their reviews are highly debatable.

Increase Your Brand by Being More Critical of Other Brands

AddToAny’s research shows that adding commentary to a link increases personal brand, as measured by clickthroughs. What happens when that commentary is more selective and critical?

Holaba is a brand recommendation service based in China. People sign up for the service, create an account, rate and sometimes write reviews of brands. With 150,000 subscribers and 5,000 brands to rate and review, Holaba users develop their own personal brand by giving their opinions about other brands.

According to Holaba, the top 500 users, as determined by number of followers, are the most critical and selective about giving love/hate reviews in both quantity and severity, as compared to a randomly chosen group of 500 average users.

Top users write 139 more reviews than average users. On a scale from 1 to 10, the average users rate 56% of the brands a 9 or 10, while the top users only rate 19% of the brands a 9 or 10. In addition, the average user rates fewer brands negatively (only 16% rate 0 to 6) vs. the top users (30% rate 0 to 6).

“Only praise might give the potential followers the impression that this person is just like an ad,” said Jan Van der Bergh, Holaba’s founder. “Adding critical/negative notes seems to help to be considered as a trustworthy recommender.”

The Brand Rich Continue to Get Richer Off of Others

From all these results, one assumption that can be made is that if you already have a brand (e.g., you’re a well known chef) you can continue to build your brand solely by making recommendations. The ease of being able to share content with your entire audience affords you the luxury of sharing without consuming.

When we see evidence of limited time on site before sharing, or when sharing exceeds consumption, we can make a strong assumption that people have limited the only interaction with the content to be the act of sharing. This could be an unconscious or conscious attempt to build one’s own brand.

So what? Does it matter if someone shares without consuming? Your message is getting out there.

The danger of sharing without consuming is that those following the sharers can continue the cycle, with more people sharing without consuming. When this continues, the meat of the dialogue soon becomes the act of the share, rather than the conversation that can come from viewing and interpreting the recommendation.

Interested in more Social Media resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: klout, personal brand, sharing, social media, twitter

For more Social Media coverage:

March 30 2011

Flickr Changes Sharing Options, Cozies Up to Tumblr

Flickr has just introduced some interesting features for sharing your photos around the web. One of the most significant features is the addition of Tumblr to the roster of social sharing destinations.

Flickr says today’s changes should make it easier to get uploaded photos to all corners of the web — wherever those corners happen to be and even when you’re not a logged-in Flickr user.

“We’ve added Tumblr as a share destination and are retiring native support of some existing blogs,” Flickr’s Zack Sheppard wrote on the company blog. “You can always check out the App Garden for other ways to get your photos out there on the Internet!”

“Upload one, share everywhere” is the idea behind the new features. Sharing options will take a prominent new place on your photo pages, and you’ll be able to share groups of photos — including sets, collections and entire photo streams — to several social sites as well as sharing them via email.

The service also now allows users to share non-public content and grouped photos to Facebook. Public photos can also be automatically shared to Facebook as soon as they’re uploaded.

And you can now share photos to Twitter and Facebook even when you’re signed out of Flickr.

Here are screenshots of the new sharing options:

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, wibs24

More About: flickr, photography, Photos, sharing, social media, tumblr

For more Social Media coverage:

February 18 2011

Why 3 Startups Are Betting That You’ll Want to Stream Your Browser History

At one point, e-mail was the best option for sharing something interesting online. Blog posts made it a bit easier, and 140-character Twitter messages have brought us into the age of near-effortless sharing.

Several startups are betting that there’s another (rather large) step to go before sharing content is as easy as it can be. Voyurl, Sitesimon, and Dscover.me have all launched platforms for automatically sharing your clickstream data, or browsing history, with friends.

The concept of automatic sharing feels counter-intuitive at a time when the U.S. Congress just introduced its first “Do Not Track” bill, but these startups are betting that shared clickstream data has an important role to play in the future of web browsing. We talked to each of them to get their perspective on how clickstream data could become the next sharing trend.

Dscover.Me: Put Recommendations in Context

Friends Paul Jones and Josh Payne started Dscover.Me while trying to stay in touch after college. Instead of sending each other interesting articles, they could just see what the other person was looking at and start their discussion there (Jones notes that this is also useful for long-distance relationships).

The site’s approach is different than that of Sitesimon and Voyurl in that it revolves around a white list of sites that a user shares, rather than a black list of sites that he does not want to share. A suggested white list that includes Wikipedia, YouTube, popular publications, retailers, and travel sites is provided. Users can see a stream of what their friends are looking at on white-listed friends and also see what the entire community is doing.

But that’s not entirely the point: “People enjoy seeing what are the popular articles in their community, but they don’t really care about seeing a stream of random people and what they’re checking out,” Jones says.

Eventually, Dscovr.Me will partner with web publishers to provide recommendations for users as they browse. For instance, if a user were on the New York Times website, he would be able to see which articles his friends looked at on that site with the highest priority given to the articles that the highest number of their friends looked at. The end goal is to help publishers keep people on their sites longer.

The next version will also take into account links being shared over the user’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, and it will filter out any sites that the user has already visited.

“I think as long as there’s a limitation and the company that asks to track your information can demonstrate value back to you and say ‘OK, we tracked all of this information, but now you have a much better experience.’ Then clickstream sharing can catch on,” Jones says.

Sitesimon: Prove You Saw it First

Sitesimon, founded by three recent NYU grads, attempts to generate recommendations not only from friends, but from people who share your browsing habits. In the process, the site adds a competitive component to web browsing.

The original version of Sitesimon allows users to either select a list of sites that they were willing to share (white list) or to instead share everything by default but select the sites they aren’t comfortable sharing (black list). The next version will scratch the white list.

“As you’re browsing, we don’t want to have people create a white list because a lot of what is fun about clickstream sharing is discovery through your friends,” co-founder Steven Gutentag says. “And if your friends end up on a random fun site and it’s not white listed it’s not going to show up and it’s a hassle to do it.”

Right now, the site operates on a friending system. You see what your friends are browsing and vice versa. Other user data comes in to play when assigning each user a “site score” that measures influence. Your score improves when you see a webpage earlier than other Sitesimon users and when other people on Sitesimon view pages through your clickstream. Much as there is a cachet associated with being the first to submit an interesting webpage on Digg, Sitesimon’s founders are betting that giving people credit for discovering cool stuff on the web will attract users.

But they also want to leverage non-friend data in order to give users personalized recommendations based on others with similar browsing patterns. Gutentag compares it to the way that StumbleUpon learns what users like and don’t like as they spend more time using the service.

“Our dream is that we can offer up better recommendations for what you should be looking at than you’ve ever had before without you having to do any work, such as [StumbleUpon's] thumbs up and thumbs down — without changing how you browse normally,” Gutentag says.

Voyurl: Use Natural Behavior to Power Recommendations

Working in the ad industry, Voyurl founder Adam Leibsohn occasionally hears stories about clickstream data collection methods that repulse him. Voyurl is a play on data collection that he feels good about.

“I wanted a place that was driven by data, but uses that data to provide value back to the consumer,” he says.

Voyurl’s current private beta site (which Mashable readers can check out any time in the next 36 hours by clicking here) gives users access to a feed of the community’s browsing data. They can follow other users to create a personalized feed or filter sites by categories that they’re interested in (Culture or Music, for instance). Any user can submit their data anonymously, and a “discover” feature gives recommendations based on their browsing habits and the browsing habits of their friends. People who are looking for great new sites can also browse top users, top URLs, top domains, and top categories.

Leibsohn considers sharing content this way to be more conducive to conversation. “When someone engages you about the content, they’ve already consumed it,” he says. “So the conversation skips ahead of ‘Look at this thing, consume this thing,’ and instead goes into discussing the merits of it one way or another and a substantial dialog actually comes out.”

Platforms like Twitter, Foursquare, and Facebook all take pains to collect data. The problem, Leibsohn says, is that these platforms only have access to their own users. Clickstream data paints a fuller picture of online activity.

Voyurl is planning to somehow use this data in its business model (they won’t be selling it), but the startup is being a bit stealthy for now. “We intend to use data to make other services that people use way better,” Leibsohn says.

More Startup Resources from Mashable:

- How an Online Game Plans to Reward Kids for Playing Outside
- What We Need to Win the Entrepreneurial Race [OP-ED]
- 5 Startup Tips From the Father of Gmail and FriendFeed
- 6 Ways to Recruit Talent for Startups
- HOW TO: Land a Job at 9 Hot Startups

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, inkastudio

More About: browsing history, clickstream, dscover.me, privacy, sharing, sitesimon, startup, voyurl

For more Startups coverage:

January 18 2011

December 30 2010

Top 10 Shared Web Pages of 2010 [REPORT]

Sharing widget-maker AddThis released 2010’s top 10 most shared webpages on Thursday. The list was compiled from AddThis widgets installed on more than 7 million sites, and pages on it were shared between 192,400 and 428,761 times.

Six of the 10 most-shared web pages were prominently videos or photos, but only three news stories made the list. Jokeroo.com and nypost.com pages were the most prevalant sites, earning three and two spots respectively.

1. Texas Mayor Kills Teen Daughter, Kills Self (AOL News): In July, the mayor of Coppell, Texas, shot and killed her 19-year-old daughter before turning the gun on herself.

2. Paper Cuts – Rolls (Behance.com): Paper scenes set inside of paper rolls make excellent photographs.

3. Awe-Inspiring Scenes from Mother Nature (happied.com): A collection of breathtaking landscape photography.

4. Sniper Kills Qaeda from 1.5 Miles Away (nypost.com): A British sniper set a world sharpshooting record by taking out two Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan from more than a mile and a half away.

5. Super Heroes vs. the Westboro Baptist Church (Comics Alliance): Attendees of San Diego’s Comic-Con staged a humorous counter-protest in response to the annual protests of Westboro Baptist Church.

6. WereBox (Hooda Math): A strangely addicting puzzle game.

7. Brazillian Samba Baby (Jokeroo.com): Baby gets down.

8. Hilarious World Cup Dive (Jokeroo.com): Italian player Daniele De Rossi bites the dust during a World Cup game against France.

9. Day in Photos: June 18, 2010 (nypost.com): Nahanni Johnstone kisses her 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, both covered with oil during a Global Day of Action demonstration in Toronto.

10. Chinese Susan Boyle (Jokeroo.com): “I Will Always Love You” sounds like Whitney Houston, but definitely doesn’t look much like her.

Which of these pages would you share? Tell us in the comments below.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, flyparade

Reviews: AddThis, World Cup, iStockphoto, list

More About: AddThis, sharing, Top Stories, top web pages

For more Social Media coverage:

December 15 2010

November 16 2010

Bit.ly Introduces Bundles: Multi-Link Sharing with One URL

Link-sharing service Bit.ly has just launched a new tool for people who really, really love sharing links. Bit.ly Bundles allow you to package multiple long links in a single shortened URL.

This is a highly useful feature with an almost endless string of use cases. You can tweet a string of YouTube videos, email all your Thanksgiving recipes, post a collection of study materials to Facebook — all with just one short URL.

You can add multiple links to the Bit.ly entry field; just separate them with a space, then click “shorten” and “bundle” to quickly and simply create an all-in-one package of multiple links.

Every link you add will include a rich media preview and Bit.ly’s valuable metrics; your bundle can also be customized with a title and description.

We’ve actually seen other companies with this exact feature — in fact, just last week, we introduced our readers to BridgeURL, a service for packaging multiple links as a single URL. Sadly, this startup doesn’t have the market share and brand power of Bit.ly; we’ll see what happens to the company and product in the months to come.

In the meantime, however, give Bit.ly Bundles a shot and let us know what you think of this new feature in the comments.

More About: bit.ly, bundles, link sharing, sharing, social media, url

For more Social Media coverage:

October 22 2010

July 27 2010

HOW TO: Use Annotations to Promote Your Brand on YouTube

YouTube Annotations

Whether you’ve been posting videos for a while, or you’re just starting out, YouTube Annotations are another tool that you can use to help your videos stand out from the crowd. And even better, with a little creative planning, annotations can add a dimension of interactivity and entertainment to your videos that audiences will appreciate.

There are plenty of ways to use annotations, from adding a simple “Call To Action” that asks the audience to subscribe or do something after watching the video, to creating a series of videos that are linked via annotations into an interactive game. This isn’t to say that annotations aren’t without limitations. One of the most common gripes about annotations is that YouTube limits your ability to use them to link to external URLs. However, there are some really compelling ways to use them, which make them an important part of your YouTube tool box.

This post will help you master the art of annotations and will give you some examples of how some of the most popular YouTubers use them effectively. If you are familiar with them already, feel free to skip ahead to the second section below where we discuss creative integration of annotations into your videos.

Annotations 101

Now if you’re a YouTube newbie, you might be asking, what exactly are YouTube Annotations? The basic answer is that they’re interactive elements that can be added to your video after you upload it. There are four different types of annotations, but with all of them you are in control of when they appear on-screen and for how long they stay up.

The four types of annotations are:

  • The Speech Bubble is an on-screen graphic “pop-up” that you can use to put text in the mouths of people in your videos. You can choose from a limited color palate but you have full control of the annotation’s dimensions and location where it appears.
  • Notes are rectangular boxes with a turned-down corner. Like speech bubbles, you control the size and location, but can only choose from a few basic (read: ugly) color combinations. Links to other YouTube videos and channels are also clickable.
  • Spotlights, or Hot Spots are transparent but have a subtle border around their perimeter. They are used to highlight specific areas of a video and can include text. When the viewer rolls their mouse over the designated area, onscreen text will then appear. Additionally, if the Spotlight links to another YouTube channel or video, a small rectangle will appear in the upper corner.
  • Then there is what we like to call the “anti-annotation” — the Video Pause — where you can pause the video the viewer is watching for an amount of time that you predetermine. I caution you to be careful with this one because audiences will click away if you pause for an undue amount of time. However, when used in conjunction with other annotations, the video pause can be effective. It can also be used if you need to slow down the action of the video to let the audience catch up.

Reminder: Turn ON your YouTube Annotations before watching this video.

To do this, go to the small arrow at the bottom-right corner of the YouTube video player and scroll over to display the annotations and close caption symbols. Make sure that the icon that looks like a note with a turned-down corner is selected in red.

The Value of Annotations

If you’re interested in building a home base for your brand on YouTube, annotations can be used for a number of different functions.

Probably the most compelling reason to use them is the fact that they can link one video to another video, channel or search result. That means that if you’ve got a series of videos on YouTube, you can place annotations in one video that link to the next video in the series. If you have a long tutorial or how-to video, you can break that video into several parts and link the sections. And if you’re doing a product video, you can create one video that can be used to convey general information, and then use Spotlight Annotations to allow consumers to link to other videos that drill down into more specific product features.

Linking videos using Annotations has several advantages:

  • Breaking out a very long video into sections lets consumers skip to the parts that are most important to them, or focus on the areas that they need the most help with.
  • If the viewer is watching from a mobile device, iPad or has a slow connection, shorter videos mean faster load times.

One of the YouTubers who does a really great job using annotations in this way is the prince of Internet shock, Philip DeFranco, or “sxephil.” Phil releases his videos three times a week, and he includes Spotlight Annotations that link to the previous video and/or next video in the series. The annotations remind viewers that they might have missed something earlier in the week and provide instant links to take them directly there.

Going Interactive

If you’re looking to shake things up, you might want to consider using YouTube Annotations to create a “Choose your own Adventure”-style interactive video series.

Like the incredibly popular book series, Spotlight Annotations can be used in a main video to link to a number of alternate videos that differ depending on which Spotlight the audience chooses to click.

One of the best executions that I’ve seen of this tactic was created by YouTuber Cory Williams, a.k.a. Mr. Safety, a.k.a. SMPFilms. His video series called the INTERACTIVE Fortune Teller, is not only well produced and conceived, but it’s a phenomenal success with well over 2,160,000 views to date. In the video, the Fortune Teller asks the audience to click a portion of the crystal ball (designated by nine spotlight Annotations) and that action leads to one of nine possible “Fortunes.”

While using annotations in this way does take a fair bit of planning, and it does require you to produce multiple videos, audiences love to be engaged in this way and the ROI has the potential to be very high.

While the functions listed above are the most common ways that users employ the linking feature of annotations, they are by no means an exhaustive list. The linking function of annotations can also be used to accomplish the following functions:

  • Link to a Playlist: When users click the annotation, they will see a list of videos that you can compile related to a specific subject.
  • Subscribe: When users click, they will subscribe to a channel that you designate.
  • Compose Message: When users click the annotation, it will take them to a screen where they can compose a message to the user you designate via the YouTube messaging interface.
  • Group: When users click the annotation, they will be linked to a YouTube Group page that you designate (Groups are a somewhat neglected and obscure part of YouTube’s community).
  • Collaborative Annotations: When users click the link, they can place their own annotations on your video.
  • Video Response Upload: Will prompt users to upload a video response to the video that they are watching.

Nuts & Bolts: Step by Step Instructions

If this is your first time experimenting with YouTube Annotations, don’t worry, as they are easy to master, and this tutorial will take you through the process step by step.

First, you need to log into your YouTube account and go to “My Videos.”

Once you see the list of your uploaded videos, click the annotations button located underneath the video (between the “Edit” and “Captions” buttons.) After clicking this button you will be in the “Annotations Editor.”

Play the video or drag your playhead to the point where you want to add an annotation.

To add one, you can use the compact interface on top of the play button or the individual buttons located to the right of the video. You can also add an annotation by clicking directly on the video itself, which opens a dialog box.

Start typing your text into the annotation (Speech Bubble, Note or Spotlight) and a dialog box should appear below your annotation that allows you to toggle the type of annotation, add a link, change the color of the text/background, or trash the annotation entirely. Click away, and the annotation is set.

Now you can drag them and re-position them onscreen, and use the handles to adjust the dimensions.

To change the start and end time of an annotation, use the timeline browser located below the video, drag the yellow arrows denoting the in and out points of the annotation to the desired times, or manually enter the time-codes directly into the list. YouTube will automatically save your changes every 30 seconds, but the annotations do not become public until you click the “Publish” button.

More Web Video Resources from Mashable:

- 6 Tips For Experimenting with Web Video
- 4 Tips for Producing Quality Web Videos
- HOW TO: Add Captions To Your YouTube Videos
- HOW TO: Boost Your SEO with a YouTube Channel
- 10 YouTube Videos of People Doing Amazing Things

Reviews: Internet, YouTube

More About: annotations, how to, sharing, video, web video, youtube

For more Web Video coverage:

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