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February 11 2014

Path 'a Bit Late to the Party' With iOS 7 App Launch

Path, the social network that limits users to just 150 friends, unveiled a new version of its app for iOS 7 on Monday, nearly five months after Apple announced the new operating system back in September

The new version of the app has all the perks that comes with an iOS 7 update, including a new swiping feature that allow users to jump back and forth between messages or settings and the home screen. Path also changed the settings to try and make it simpler for users to update their profiles, manage notifications, and share posts

The update for iOS 7 is long overdue, and most other social networks updated their iPhone apps months ago. Facebook and Twitter launched new versions of their app on the day that Apple announced the new operating system. LinkedIn and Instagram released their iOS 7 apps within a month, and Pinterest announced an iOS 7 iPad app in early December Read more...

More about Social Network, Path, Dave Morin, Social Media, and Apps Software

February 04 2014

13.6 Billion Chinese New Year Messages Sent in One Day

While everyone's talking about WeChat, it's easy to forget that Tencent makes another social network that's even more popular. It's called QQ. Today, Tencent revealed that QQ's users sent a total of 13.6 billion QQ chats on the instant messaging service during Chinese New Year's Eve, the busiest and most raucously celebrated day of the year.

At the high tide of the messaging flood there were 32.7 million QQ messages sent in one minute. That dwarfs the number of friendly missives fired on the same day on WeChat, which reached 10 million in one minute.

Tencent revealed its numbers today on Sina Weibo, and also produced a Chinese-language infographic containing more data. In addition to details about geography, it shows that 16 million users made a video call on QQ during Chinese New Year's Eve. Read more...

More about China, Social Network, Video Web Chat, Whatsapp, and Tech
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November 20 2013

Russia's Richest Man Wants to Be Your Email Provider

Mail.ru Group has practically conquered the Russian market. The Internet portal runs some of the most popular email, messaging and social networking services in the country. It also has a sizable stake in VKontakte, Russia's largest social network, and Qiwi, a digital-payments provider that went public earlier this year.

American Internet companies, beware: The Russians are coming. Today, Mail.ru plans to launch My.com, a suite of communication and entertainment applications designed for mobile devices. Users will get an @my.com email address (not to be confused with Apple's defunct Me.com) as well as free instant-messaging services and online games. Read more...

More about Email, Social Network, Internet, Russia, and Business

October 29 2013

Wonderloop Could Totally Change the Way You Meet New Friends

The Launchpad is a series that introduces Mashable readers to compelling startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Wonderloop

One-Liner Pitch: Wonderloop helps you find interesting people by interest or location.

Why It's Taking Off: It's the first social network with video profiles and thus allows you to make the same type of first impression you would make in real life. The interactions are also open-ended — you might find friends, business partners or customers.

As a social media consultant in Norway, Hanna Aase kept on the pulse of new technologies. But her location didn't allow her to access others with shared interests — a common practice for those living in places like New York City or London. Aase predicted social media would change that and decided to take action herself. Read more...

More about Mobile, Video, Startup, Social Network, and Lifestyle
Nextdoor, a Network to Connect Neighborhoods, Raises $60 Million

Nextdoor, the social network designed specifically for neighborhoods, announced a $60 million funding round on Tuesday

The financing comes from just two sources — venture capitalists John Doerr at Kleiner Perkins and Lee Fixel of Tiger Global Management, said Nextdoor CEO Nirav Tolia. The funding gives the company $90 million in the bank, he added. Nextdoor had already raised $40 million, spending only $10 million.

Sources familiar with the situation said Tuesday's financing values Nextdoor at more than $500 million, which is not as high as the $1 billion threshold eclipsed by other social sites like Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest Read more...

More about Social Network, Fundraising, Kleiner Perkins, John Doerr, and Startups

October 23 2013

What People Miss Out on When They’re Online

New research from Scott Wallsten, an economist at the Technology Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., attempts to show exactly what Americans are missing out on because they’re glued to their computer screens.


Wallsten limits his study to “online leisure,” or time spent online doing things like combing social networks, browsing for nonwork purposes, instant messaging, etc. (Online games — even though they can take up a lot of leisure time — are excluded because of the way the data Wallsten used are collected by the U.S. Census Bureau. Despite the data’s shortcomings, Wallsten finds that online leisure time still crowds out other activities.) Read more...

More about Online, Social Network, Internet, Internet Addiction, and Gadgets

September 16 2013

Revealed: Most Influential Emotions on Social Networks

One well-known feature of social networks is that similar people tend to attract each other: birds of a feather flock together.

So an interesting question is whether these similarities cause people to behave in the same way online — whether it might lead to flocking or herding behavior, for example.

Today, we get an interesting insight into this phenomena thanks to the work of Rui Fan and colleagues at Beihang University in China. They have compared the way that tweets labeled with specific emotions influence other people on the network.

And their conclusion is surprising. They say the results clearly show that anger is more influential than other emotions such as joy or sadness, a finding that could have significant implications for our understanding of the way information spreads through social networks. Read more...

More about Twitter, Social Network, Emotions, Weibo, and Social Media

September 12 2013

Academics Launch Fake Site to Get Inside China Censorship

Nine years after Mark Zuckerberg quit Harvard University to build Facebook, one of the university’s political science professors, Gary King, decided this year it was time to launch his own social media site. But King didn’t set up his Chinese social network to make money; instead, he wanted to get an insider’s view of Chinese censorship, which relies on Internet providers censoring their own sites in line with government guidelines. King won’t disclose his site’s URL, to protect people involved with his project.

Previous studies of Chinese censorship have mostly involved monitoring Chinese social sites to see which updates censors remove (see “Social Media Censorship Offers Clues to China’s Plans”). Some have relied on rare interviews with insiders willing to talk about their role in censorship. By contracting with a major Chinese provider of web software to help run his site, King could instead inspect the available censorship tools firsthand. He could also ask the company’s representatives whatever he wanted about how those tools should be used. “When we had questions, we just called customer service,” King says. Read more...

More about China, Social Network, Censorship, Social Media, and Government Censorship

August 14 2013

Sina Weibo Valued at $6 Billion

Sina Weibo may no longer be China's hottest social network, but the company has other things going for it right now. Today, the company announced $30 million in ad revenue during Q2 2013, representing more than 200% year-over-year growth

Additionally, added-value services jumped 186% year-over-year to $7.7 million. Even users are up — Weibo's daily active users jumped to 54 million in June, an 8.6% increase compared to March. Thanks in large part to Sina Weibo, Sina's quarterly profits were more than nine times the company's profits in the previous quarter.

It's hard to say just how much of this had to do with Alibaba’s cash infusion earlier this spring and the companies' joint efforts to boost Weibo's monetization with more targeted advertising Read more...

More about China, Social Network, Social Media, Money, and Valuation

August 07 2013

Facebook Rolls Out Graph Search to U.S. English Users

Facebook announced Wednesday morning that Graph Search has been formally rolled out to all Facebook users utilizing the network in U.S. English. Graph Search, a relatively new feature unveiled in January, was already in use by some users who chose to opt-in to the feature as beta testers, but will now be automatically available to the rest of the users on the site

Graph Search enables Facebook users to better curate content from the network or even search for nearby restaurants or music recommendations by their friends. When the feature was first announced, it was viewed by many as a step toward competition with Google in the 'search' category, although Graph Search sticks primarily to Facebook content. In the instance where a search can't successfully return what you're looking for from Facebook, the feature defaults automatically to a web search powered by Microsoft's Bing, not Google Read more...

More about Google, Facebook, Social Network, Social Media, and Microsoft Bing

September 04 2012

Private Social Site Rootsy Lets You Connect With Your Family Tree

Name: Rootsy

Quick Pitch: Share photos, invites and stories with family members only.

Genius Idea: Rootsy lets you connect to family members on a private social network to share things that might be too personal to post on Facebook.

Frustrated with existing social networks and over-sharing personal family moments, a group of seven entrepreneurs at tech incubator QLabs in New York City developed a site called Rootsy.

Rootsy is a new social networking site that limits your connections to family members. So baby photos, reunion announcements and other information you might not want to share on Facebook can only be seen by select family members.

"People have their Faceboo…
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More About: Rootsy, bizspark, social network

August 28 2012

Facebook-Syncing Dating Site Takes on Social Discovery

SNAP Interactive is re-launching its Facebook-synced dating site AreYouInterested.com as a social discovery website as of Tuesday.

AreYouInterested (both the site and the app) lets you sync your Facebook information to your profile and meet other people with similar interests -- no friending required.

"Several months ago we saw a much bigger opportunity to redesign our product," Clifford Lerner, CEO of SNAP Interactive, tells Mashable. "For us, what the redesign means is meeting people based on your interests."

And while the dating niche was a popular one (the app has more than 6 million monthly active users, according to AppData), Lerner said they wanted to expand to include…
Continue reading...

More About: AreYouInterested, social network

August 03 2012

5 Reasons to Join a Niche Online Community


While the rest of the business world hustles to develop outposts on Facebook and LinkedIn, a few savvy marketers are discovering that small is beautiful. That's because there are several online communities that cater to specific audiences better than social behemoths ever could.

The membership in highly-focused professional communities like Spiceworks and FohBoh.com attract B2B companies, which know that success is more about quality than quantity. Professionals with problems to solve seek out others with answers, and niche social networks are often the shortest route to a solution. So if you're wondering about other pluses, here are five reasons B2B professionals like going small.…
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More About: contributor, features, linkedin, niche social networks, social network

January 23 2012

Tumblr Hits 15 Billion Monthly Pageviews [AUDIO]

After an explosive 2011, Tumblr is rolling full steam into the new year with impressive numbers that highlight the microblogging platform’s continue growth: 15 billion monthly pageviews and 120 million monthly unique visitors.

Tumblr CEO David Karp revealed the statistics in Munich this week at the Digital Life Design conference, where he also discussed goals for 2012 regarding product development, revenue and staff size (see audio clip below).

Last time Tumblr unleashed figures was in September when monthly pageviews hovered around 13 billion, up from 2 billion at the beginning of 2011, reflecting a 218% year-over-year increase.

To put the stats into perspective, WordPress.com blogs attract roughly 316 million people internationally who view 2.5 billion pages each month, while Reddit’s almost 35 million monthly unique visitors check out 2 billion pages. Facebook reportedly surpassed 1 trillion monthly pageviews in in mid-2011.

When looking at U.S. stats alone, however, WordPress.com sites trumped Tumblr blogs on average each month in 2011: 20.4 million vs. 10.9 million pageviews.

Tumblr, which launched in 2007, wants to give a “much more deliberate international effort” in reaching the audience outside of the U.S. in 2012, Karp says in the SoundCloud clip below from The Next Web. To accomplish this, Karp says Tumblr will spend more time with the foreign press and pay more attention to local markets. Right now, about 40% to 45% of Tumblr’s users reside in the U.S.

Karp also says 2012 will be a “big year for revenue development products,” meaning several experimental initiatives from last year will soon become “full-blown products.” We’ve reached out to Tumblr’s press folks to elaborate on these products and will update this post accordingly once they respond.

SEE ALSO: Tumblr Numbers — The Rapid Rise of Social Blogging [INFOGRAPHIC]

Expanding Tumblr’s staff — which grew from 15 members to 70 last year — is another major goal for Karp.

Are you surprised by Tumblr’s continued growth? How do you effectively use Tumblr? Chime in below.

BONUS: 20 Tumblr Blogs About Food or Parents

1. Funny Food Face

Anjulie and Paul offer up some food-themed whimsy as they make a habit of playing with their food on a regular basis.

Click here to view this gallery.

1. My Parents Were Awesome

We're starting off with a nice one. The now-famous My Parents Were Awesome blog has become a Tumblr success story. Take a look back at pictures of people's folks looking impossibly young, chic and downright cool, and ask yourself, where did it all go wrong?

Click here to view this gallery.

More About: blogging, david-karp, social network, tumblr, WordPress

For more Social Media coverage:

9 Best Practices for Social Networking in the Workplace

Maria Ogneva is the head of community at Yammer, where she is in charge of social media, community programs, internal education and engagement. You can follow her on Twitter, her blog, and via Yammer’s Twitter account and company blog.

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably witnessed (or maybe even been a part of) office communication mishaps that have ranged from mildly embarrassing to career-ending. Early in my career, I witnessed a rogue email chain which spoke of a client in offensive terms. The email accidentally got forwarded to said client. Oops!

No matter how sophisticated our use of social media, we must always be aware of its breadth. It’s easy to feel anxiety over saying the wrong thing, but if you know how to use it well, social media in the office can and should benefit your career.

Therefore, adapt the golden rule to the digital era: Think before you post, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. To make sure you are putting your best digital foot forward, follow these easy steps.

1. Understand Company Policy, Best Practices and Culture

If your office hosts an internal social network or digital collaboration space, understand what types of interactions are considered valuable (helping a coworker, for example), vs. actions that would be frowned upon (posting pictures of LOLcats all day). And always stay away from violations of your company policy (like harassment). Make sure you understand not only the written policy, but also the company culture – each company has its own stated and unspoken rules of conduct.

Global consultancy firm Capgemini talks about its use of Yammer, my company’s social network. “Yammer is shared with colleagues in the company — not just your close colleagues — but potentially EVERYONE, from your manager all the way up to the CEO…Our company values are: Honesty, Freedom, Trust, Boldness, Team Spirit, Modesty, and FUN.”

2. Company Communities Evolve Best Practices and Policies

Policy and culture aren’t static — they grow and develop organically, through a community-wide effort. Kate Dobbertin, community manager of one global company’s Yammer network, notes, “I look to the community to foster an open, caring community together. It’s not something I can control alone — the entire community must set the standards for what is or isn’t acceptable.”

In global companies, the definitions of etiquette are tougher to pin down. Ed Krebs, IT architect for a major global company, shared, “By allowing the community to define, and continually redefine how to communicate, those global differences that were barriers now become points to reshape together. The community gently informs each other about the nuances of language and the alternate interpretation of slang. We needed no new policy, respect is a key ingredient in our corporate code of conduct.”

3. Mixing Personal and Professional

When communicating over your company’s digital channels, your focus should be on getting your work done and helping your colleagues get their work done. On the other hand, mixing a bit of your own “flavor” is always a good thing – humans want to connect with other humans. But remember that you can easily cross the line from approachable to overly personal to the point of discomfort. Ask yourself, “Could this make someone feel uncomfortable?”

4. Public vs. Private Spaces

Take a few minutes to understand the boundary between public and private spaces. Having a clear goal will help you select the right medium and audience. Are you sharing something brilliant that can help others in general, or starting a discussion that will specifically benefit your company? Is it a message that should be public, but benefits a niche audience? Post it to a group. If it’s an action you want just a few people to take, send a private message or an email. Remember the key difference: Emails and IMs are disruptive, while streams provide “ambient awareness.” Don’t be that guy who CCs 20 colleagues with something irrelevant.

5. Be Mindful in Private

A quick word of caution: Just because you post to a private space or send a note to someone’s inbox, doesn’t mean it won’t find its way into the hands of someone else later. If you trash someone in an email, there’s always a chance that this person may see it – whether accidentally or on purpose. It’s always best to protect your reputation by abstaining whenever possible.

6. The New York Times Test

Before writing anything to anyone — publicly or privately — ask yourself if you’d mind seeing it on the front page of the New York Times. That’s exactly what Erin Grotts, director of internal communications at Supervalu tells her colleagues. “We tell people not to post anything that would embarrass you or the company…Would you be comfortable if it ran on the front page of the New York Times?”

Cynthia Beldner, Yammer community manager at Everest University Online, encourages her colleagues to ask, “Would I say this to my company’s president and deputy general counsel in front of 1,000+ other employees?”

7. Become an Expert

If you want to be perceived as an expert, you need to contribute to the conversation. When someone asks a question that you can answer — go for it! Proactively share things that are interesting and ask thought-provoking questions. Remember, though, that quantity doesn’t mean quality.

Maximize your exposure by allowing others to find you. When posting to a public space, anyone can see your message, but there’s always a chance that the right people won’t. To maximize your visibility, post to the right groups and use the right taxonomy, such as hashtags, topics, and public @mentions.

8. Respect Privacy

Just because someone told you something in another channel, doesn’t give you the license to repost it automatically, unless it was posted in a public space like Twitter, which is indexable by Google. If you’d like to repost something, make sure that the original author has approved. Exercise the same caution when adding new participants to an existing email thread or a private group – make sure that existing participants feel comfortable that this new person will be able to see what’s already been written.

9. Remember the Golden Rule

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Treat your colleagues the way you’d want to be treated at work. Ask yourself, “Would I want to do a project with myself? What about grab lunch?” Don’t be the employee who publicly shames a co-worker to coerce him into action. Don’t go directly to someone’s boss instead of addressing that employee first. Never write something out of anger, spite or personal vendetta. Basically, don’t overstep your boundaries.

A great reminder from the folks at Capgemini: “In the same way that we moderate our conversations in the office, so we should apply similar moderation to our posts in Yammer…Be polite; try to be constructive; don’t be offensive.”

Back to you, reader! How do you observe etiquette at work, while still retaining your uniqueness? What kinds of guidelines does your company have for work-related social networks?

Images courtesy of iStockphoto, drewhadley, Flickr, james_michael_hill, Darwin Bell

More About: Business, contributor, features, Social Media, social network, workplace, yammer

For more Business coverage:

January 20 2012

LuxeInACity Means Free Luxury — If You Can Score an Invite

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: LuxeInACity

Quick Pitch: LuxeInACity is a social luxury city guide.

Genius Idea: An exclusive invitation-only social network for members to interact with each other and their favorite luxe companies.

If you travel often, spend three times as much on luxury goods than the average person and — oh wait — earn a starting salary of $150,000 or more, you may just be invited to LuxeInACity, your online private concierge.

LuxeInACity is an exclusive invitation-only social luxury city guide that lets members interact with each other and top luxe companies. For its opulent members, the social guide features a wealth of luxury and travel-related information for 125 cities around the world and 50,000 luxury companies.

The site provides luxury information and sights to see for all of its featured locations, including Anguilla, Paris, Cayman Islands, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Sydney, and many more.

“We wanted to create a one-stop resource for luxury information,” Roxanne Gernier, founder of LuxeInACity, told Mashable. “Every day we add luxury news, videos, blogs, etc., just to inform our members on what is going on in the luxury world.”


LuxeInACity also provides information for its featured categories which includes arts & culture, automobile, jewelry, restaurants, nightlife, boating, service, fashion, wine & spirits and villas. If members are searching for car dealerships for example, they can click on the “automobiles” category to find dealerships in a specific city.

Along with the options to create a personalized profile and communicate with other members via private messages, LuxeInACity members also get free access to the following:

  • Luxe Events: International where to go and when to go calendar. Users can also post events and invite friends to attend.
  • Luxe Forums: Exclusive forum for members to discuss interesting topics.
  • Luxe News: Daily news from numerous international sources.
  • Luxe Videos: Entertaining videos from YouTube.
  • Luxe Blog: Engaging luxe blog written by the luxe team.
  • For $595 a year, LuxeInACity offers an enhanced profile on the site for luxury companies. The profile allows them to gain more visibility, upload unlimited pictures and videos and interact with members. Companies also get access to the private company area on the site, invitation rights to luxe social and get their company logo displayed in the Featured Company sections.

    LuxeInACity is self-funded, currently has 150 exclusive members and will publicly launch in late February.

    Image courtesy of LuxeInACity

    Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

    Microsoft BizSpark

    The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

    More About: bizspark, luxury, social, social network, travel, wealth

    For more Business coverage:

January 18 2012

Meet Friends of Your Friends and Expand Your Social Network With 3Degrees

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: 3Degrees

Quick Pitch: 3Degrees is web-based application that lets you meet your friends’ friends via Facebook.

Genius Idea: Leverages the power of your Facebook social network to help you find people, activities and events through friends you trust.

Whether you’re looking for a new friend, a date or a connection to a job at your ideal company, chances are you already know someone who can help connect you to that person.

To help you find that connector, Brian Scordato created 3Degrees, a web-based application that allows you to search for your friends’ friends via Facebook to find interesting and compatible people in your area. The site enables its users to harness the power of their Facebook friends to meet new people and expand their social networks.

“So much in our lives is based on our networks – whether it’s an introduction to a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, an influential employee at a company we’d like to work at, or simply a new friend with similar interests,” says Brian Scordato, founder of 3Degrees. “Our networks open doors to new relationships and opportunities.”

Users can sign into 3Degrees and view their extended network for free by logging in with their Facebook account. They can then search for people by location, interests, relationship status or keywords, and 3Degrees will generate a list of people within their extended network who match the criteria.

The results are limited to friends of Facebook friends and includes only profile information that is set to be public.


If you find a connection that matches your criteria, click “Get an Intro” to send a message to your mutual friend to ask if he or she thinks the two of you would be a good match. If it is a match, add the user to one of your “Buckets,” which lets you group and organize your connections.

“The majority of relationships, whether friendly, romantic, or professional, are forged through introductions by mutual friends,” Scordato says. “Often all it takes is the social proof of knowing the same person to jump start a conversation or relationship – the “You work with John? I went to college with John!’ moment is powerful!”

Privacy is not an issue on 3Degrees – only friends of friends can view your profile and if you want additional privacy, click the “referrals only” link to ensure that 2nd degree connections can only reach out to you through mutual friends.

Recently launched in December 2011, 3Degrees also has an activity page which lets users search for events posted by members within their extended network. To make taking online connections offline easier, the page lets you see who is attending, how you are connected to even lets you join the event.

The site also offers sponsored events, in which people with similar interests and networks are invited to participate in activities they enjoy with people they will get to know. Users can also post activities and invite their networks to participate.

Scordato plans to base 3Degrees’s business model off targeted advertising and Groupon-like specials with interest tags. Users with similar interests will find the specials in their feeds and 3Degrees will earn a certain percentage of each transaction once a deal is used.

3Degrees, which currently has 300 registered users and has raised $80,000 in funding, is not the first startup to incorporate friend-of-friend interaction with networking and job searching – Identified uses Facebook to provide users with real-time, interactive feedback on how companies evaluate their professional information online.

Image courtesy of iStock, alexsl

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: 3Degrees, bizspark, connections, Facebook, friends, networking, social network

For more Business coverage:

January 06 2012

New Social Network Connects Travelers with Destinations, Experts

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

TouristName: Touristlink

Quick Pitch: Touristlink is a social network for travelers.

Genius Idea: Social platform allows travelers to meet others, discover new destinations and connect with experts.

Many turn to friends and family for advice and recommendations when traveling to a new destination. But now you can find all the travel information you need through a new social network called Touristlink, which allows travelers to not only meet and connect with other travelers around the world but also get answers from experts.

Touristlink is a way to communicate with other travelers and travel experts,” Dr. David Urmann, CEO of Touristlink, told Mashable. “Right now, no other site gives users a means to communicate with them.”

By signing up for Touristlink through Facebook or on the site directly, members can create lists of their favorite destinations and share with friends, suggest new attractions for other travelers and post photos of cities they’ve traveled to in the past.

Touristlink also provides a list of the top attractions in any city based on member rankings and reviews to help users discover new attractions and hot spots.

To ensure all travel needs are met, Touristlink gives its users full access to its network of local tour guides, travel agencies, city tours, hotel owners and private rentals. If you need any help such as finding a luxury hotel situated on a beach, booking a day tour to Mount Everest or scheduling an airport pickup, just post your request and you’ll receive multiple offers from travel experts. Then, you can choose the deal that is best for you.

Touristlink screens each travel expert to confirm their identity before allowing them into the system. Each expert is ranked based on their cheapest rates, services and how active they are.

“The main difference between Touristlink and other travel sites is that we put users in touch with real people,” says Urmann. “Users can ask questions to guides and hotel owners, they can add them as friends and develop a relationship with them.”

The site is free to use, but it adds a 10% service fee when you book anything through the site. For example, if you book a car service to pick you up at the airport and it costs $50, Touristlink will add the small fee.

Touristlink is currently in public beta and has 1,500 registered members. The site will officially launch in May.

Image courtesy of iStock, Maica

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: bizspark, Facebook, social network, travel

For more Business coverage:

December 19 2011

Google+ Overhauls Photos, Stream Control and Notifications

Using Google+? Add Mashable to your circles. You’ll get the latest about new Google+ features and tips and tricks for using the platform as well as top social media and technology news.

Google has added several new features to Google+ and improved old ones, with some of the improvements being among the most popular requests from users, the company announced.

One of the new features is called the “Volume Control,” but it doesn’t have anything to do with sound volume. Instead, it is a slider that lets you fine-tune your streams and decide whether you want to see more or less items from a particular circle in your main stream.

Google+ Photos have been upgraded with a new lightbox that boasts improved navigation and photo-tagging. The new lightbox also puts more emphasis on the actual photos, with the navigation elements mostly being tucked out of the way.

Google+ Pages have been updated with a couple of new features. Brands using Pages can now delegate up to 50 named managers as administrators for a Page.

Furthermore, these managers will now be included in all the activity that takes place on a Page, making it easier for them to follow what’s going on. Check out a short introduction to these and other improvements to Pages in the video below.

Finally, Google has redesigned the notifications in its Google Bar, which appear as red icons on the right side of the Bar. Click on the little red box, and you’ll see snippets that make it easy to see what’s happening on your Google+ profile, including all the +1s and shares you’ve recently received.

More About: Google, social network, social networking

November 25 2011

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