Monthly Archives: May 2012

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week.

Facebook Acquires Social Gifting Startup Karma

Facebook has added another acquisition to the pile with the purchase of the year-old social gifting company Karma. The e-commerce startup creates a curated catalog of products that mobile app and Facebook users can send directly to their friends. You pick a gift from the app-based catalogue, add a card and send it via SMS, email or Facebook. The app allows users to gift anyone from anywhere without the sending having specific shipping information for the recipient. When the gift-getter receives notice of the gifting, he or she can make color or flavor choices, or even swap the gift for an alternative one or donate the gift to charity. The acquisition is significant in that it gives Facebook an interesting e-commerce revenue stream and further enhances its mobile footprint.

Facebook Tests New Timeline Design

Facebook is testing a series of cosmetic changes to the top of users’ Timelines.  The images (you can see them below) show a condensed version of Timeline, in which a user’s details (name, occupation, education, location) appear in reverse type on top of – rather than below – the cover photo.

New Version

Current (old) version

NASCAR Inks First-Ever Deal with Twitter

NASCAR has become the first sports league, or company for that matter, to ink a special arrangement with Twitter. The partnership, launching June 10 around Pocono 400, focuses on a digital program supporting live race broadcasts. During a race, when fans click on #NASCAR, search for #NASCAR on Twitter, or visit, they will reach a Twitter platform scrolling the most relevant tweets from NASCAR drivers, families, teams, commentators, celebrities and other racing fans and personalities. will be available for the Pocono race and then again on June 10 in conjunction with TNT’s first of six television broadcasts of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Twitter will use algorithms and editorial signals to select and feature the best tweets and photos from NASCAR insiders during race weekends. Twitter’s media team will curate the tweets.

China Now Has More Than 1 Billion Mobile Phone Users

The Chinese government has confirmed that the country now has more than 1 billion mobile phone users, after revealing that the first quarter of the year saw an additional 43 million devices added. While the bulk of those mobile devices are feature phones, China’s smartphone market has risen to become the world’s largest, based on both shipment volume and device activations.

Stats of the Week

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Every week we compile lots of interesting stats here at Fanscape. Here are some of our favorites from this week:

Interesting Stats about Social Media and Social Actions

  • There are now more than 1 billion users of social media worldwide, most on mobile. More.
  •  Millennials (93%) continue to use Facebook more than any other site, far exceeding Twitter (53%), Google+ (45%), LinkedIn (32%), Tumblr (31%), and Pinterest (26%). More.
  •  46% of total global consumers are willing to pay extra for products and services from companies that have implemented programs that give back to society. More.

Data About TV/Movie Viewers

  • 19% of viewers say they have been activated by social media to start watching a TV show.  (5% say always or frequently)
  • 10% start conversations because of the shows/movies they watch
  • 6% say they participate in social media while viewing a show.

Just For Fun

  • Lightning strikes about 6,000 times per minute on this planet!
  • A toothpick is the object most often choked on by Americans!
  • The yo-yo was originally a weapon used in the Philippine jungles.


Software Will Eat The World

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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Photo: Nigel Parry (from Wired)

Every few weeks I read an article that inspires me and it becomes the thing I talk about to everyone that will listen. On a recent plane ride I got caught up on my reading and found that latest inspirational article. It’s the cover story of the most recent Wired. Wired is doing a series of regular profiles of icons that have changed the world. The first one is an interview with Marc Andreesen, the man who co-invented the first web browser, pioneered cloud technology, and invested in companies like Facebook, Groupon, Twitter, and Zynga.

Read this article if you want to get a glimpse into where technology is headed. Below are some of my favorite quotes, but I highly recommend you read the entire article here:

Marc Andreessen: Technology is like water; it wants to find its level. So if you hook up your computer to a billion other computers, it just makes sense that a tremendous share of the resources you want to use—not only text or media but processing power too—will be located remotely. People tend to think of the web as a way to get information or perhaps as a place to carry out ecommerce. But really, the web is about accessing applications. Think of each website as an application, and every single click, every single interaction with that site, is an opportunity to be on the very latest version of that application. Once you start thinking in terms of networks, it just doesn’t make much sense to prefer local apps, with downloadable, installable code that needs to be constantly updated.

[Wired Editor-in-Chief] Anderson: Assuming you have enough bandwidth.

Andreessen: That’s the very big if in this equation. If you have infinite network bandwidth, if you have an infinitely fast network, then this is what the technology wants. But we’re not yet in a world of infinite speed, so that’s why we have mobile apps and PC and Mac software on laptops and phones. That’s why there are still Xbox games on discs. That’s why everything isn’t in the cloud. But eventually the technology wants it all to be up there.


Andreessen: The application model of the future is the web application model. The apps will live on the web. Mobile apps on platforms like iOS and Android are a temporary step along the way toward the full mobile web. Now, that temporary step may last for a very long time. Because the networks are still limited. But if you grant me the very big assumption that at some point we will have ubiquitous, high-speed wireless connectivity, then in time everything will end up back in the web model. Because the technology wants it to work that way.


Anderson: [Edited]  For every million that Craigslist made, it took a billion out of the newspaper industry. If you transform these big, inefficient industries in such a way that the value all accrues to a smaller software company, what’s the broad economic impact?

Andreessen: My bet is that the positive effects will far outweigh the negatives. Think about Borders, the bookstore chain. Amazon drove Borders out of business, and the vast majority of Borders employees are not qualified to work at Amazon. That’s an actual, full-on problem. But should Amazon have been prevented from doing that? In my view, no. Because it’s so much better to live in a world where that happened, it’s so much better to live in a world where Amazon is ascendant. I told you that my childhood bookstore was something you had to drive an hour to get to. But it was a Waldenbooks, and it was, like, 800 square feet, and it sold almost nothing that you would actually want to read. It’s such a better world where we have Amazon, where everything is universally available. They’re a force for human progress and culture and economics in a way that Borders never was.

Again, read the whole article here, and, if you get as inspired as I was, definitely check out this video of a fireside chat Marc did with Wired’s Chris Anderson at a recent Wired Business Conference.

Microsoft Launches

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Microsoft quietly launched (Pronounced “Social”) yesterday. Developed by Microsoft’s FUSE labs, it is focused on exploring the possibilities of social search. is a combination of social networking & search. At it’s heart is social connectivity with like minded people that is topically driven. It combines elements of Google+, Facebook & Pinterest with the underlying goal to further integrate social with search.

With you can share your searches & help others discover what they might be looking for by aggregating content into topical categories. Many social elements are taken from existing networks. Video Parties are similar to Google+ hangouts. The all too familiar activity stream drives relevant content directly to the user. also features visually driven topics similar to Pinterest, but the core differentiator is that the content is primarily driven off of a users search results. claims that it is an experiment in open search, meaning your searches on are viewable by other users and also available to third parties, assuming for relevance & targeted topical advertising. There is the possibility though that this experiment becomes the basis of Microsoft & Facebook’s social search strategy.

Google+ took the first major step in driving connectivity via social search, with the search giant owning 83% of organic search traffic, launching a socially enabled network that also extends via search via the “+1″ as well as Google+ direct connect shows how the future of social will become synonymous with search.

You cannot talk about social without referencing Facebook. Facebook’s platform is like a walled garden when it comes to relevant/topical searching outside of Facebook. The “Like” button has become ubiquitous throughout the web, but when it comes to amplifying and connecting via traditional search Facebook is lagging behind Google.

With their recent partnership with Microsoft’s Bing search engine, and built on Bing API’s, focuses heavily on discoverability associated with “open search”, this may be the next step in amplifying Facebook topical activity. features social sign on with both Facebook & Windows Live ID, which sets the stage for deeper integration into the social graph. One interesting observation when you authenticate via Facebook is that of the 180 data points that can be mined, only wants your basic info, e-mail & group data. The groups option really peaked my interest as to how they are going to use this data.

One of the interesting options buried in the settings is the ability to set your primary search provider to to publicly share your posts. is powered by Bing’s API’s but is branded

Similar to Pinterest’s Pin it option, also deploys a bookmarklet option, essentially providing a quick and easy option to share any web item directly into your stream.

One key difference from Pinterest is that allows users to create “Rich Posts” where users can combine interesting images and links on the web and assemble them automatically into a compelling visual montage.

What does mean for brands? At this point is still a “research project” and is not designed to take the place of full-featured search & social networking tools, but this project could lead to the future of social + search integration as it pertains to Bing & Facebook. This also provides insight into the coming convergence of search + social.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

5 Types of Socially Enabled Email

Written by: Digitally Approved
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So much time is spent defining intricate social strategies across owned social channels. But there are certain branded elements that receive minimal attention that can significantly amplify these efforts.

One such item is how organizations incorporate social elements into their e-mail marketing campaigns. This is relevant as organizations that leverage both e-mail marketing & social channels tend to receive better results for their campaigns according to a report from Vertical Response. This strong correlation can be further amplified by fine tuning the social enablement of the actual messaging.

If you review branded e-mail marketing campaigns you will see inconsistency in how social sharing is enabled. The goal should not be to drive awareness that the channel exists, but to create frictionless sharability of the content and in some cases to also provide relevantly targeted messaging based on the users social graph data.

There are multiple buckets that brands across multiple verticals fall into when representing social connectivity via e-mail.

1) The Social Chicklet – Many brands follow the rule of just adding a socially enabled chicklets to the top or bottom navigation of communication. While paying homage to the brands owned channels, the actual engagement on this style of placement is lower than other methods.

Playstation as well as a majority of brands that reference social channels in this manner go with the approach of simply providing visibility into the fact that their channels exist. There is however a missed opportunity to share the message itself or specific content segments that are worthy of sharing.

2) The Social Call Out – The second level of integration takes the social chicklet & applies a direct call to action that is specific to the desired channel. This at the very least calls out to the user that a certain action needs to be taken that may drive additional value to the user.

In the example below, Fandango provides specific calls to action on what they would like for the user to do with the referenced social channels. FOLLOW us on Twitter, LIKE us on Facebook

Here are other examples from Eddie Bauer which leverages the facebook share call to action, Macys & Red Envelope.

3) Socially Enabled Content – Xbox deploys a strategy that not only calls attention to their specific channels but also the ability to directly share the content of the e-mail, they also take special care to socially enable each individual content block for maximum sharability.

4) Socially Centric Communication – Some brands have invested efforts to provide communication that directly highlights their social channels and how users can benefit from engaging directly with their channels. The benefit to this approach is that individuals consume different types of information across different channels. By highlighting the benefits that their social channels provide, they are potentially driving the user to action to associate with the brands owned social channels. It is also possible to track the organic growth associated with the call to action to test the impact of the campaign as some brands e-mail databases triple their current fans/followers, etc…

Below is an example from CORT that highlights an individual receiving value and drives a targeted message about a potential value exchange from engaging via their social channel.

Pizza Hut dedicated an e-mail message touting the value of becoming a member by leveraging their current network size, teasing with potential exclusives.

5) Socially Relevant – One of the bigger opportunities for brands is associated with the adoption of social sign on & leveraging open graph data to drive highly targeted recommendations and communication. In my recent post I wrote about the benefits of social sign on and open graph.

From an e-mail standpoint, the ability to pull in relevant open graph elements to further drive socially enabled gifting, such as birthday reminders and socially optimized wish lists come to forefront. These principles can then be applied to driving socially relevant and targeted messaging to drive a user to take action on behalf of either themselves or their closest friends.

Example of how Old Navy could further socially enable a post purchase e-mail

By taking the time to consider how to truly socially optimize e-mail marketing, a brand can truly capitalize on the permissive nature of their users to share their content vs. vaguely eluding to the fact that the brand has social channels.

On a final note, socially enabled sharing when it comes to retail shopping experiences are key across the prime millennial & gen x targets when it comes to point #3 below.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360

Stats of the Week

Written by: Digitally Approved
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Hi, I’m out of the office today so going to try my first time posting via my iPhone. Here goes with just a few nuggets this week…

Stats of the Week

· Moms report keeping an average of 13 apps on their phones, while two-thirds say that less than half their apps are for their kids. Source.

· Mobile accounts for 10% of Internet usage worldwide; double that of 2010. Source.

· 40% of teens video chat with their friends. Source.

Social Media’s Visual Evolution

Written by: Digitally Approved
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As social media continues to evolve, one reality is coming into focus: the experience is becoming much more visual. This shift in focus can be seen in the exponential growth of image-driven networks such as Instagram and Pinterest. These networks put the visual aspects front and center of the sharing.

No doubt, a hunger for visual content exist online. Facebook’s enhancements for brand pages as well as the network’s explosive stats on photo sharing best reflect this observation.

  • According to its updated SEC filing, Facebook’s photo activity grew faster than the rest of the site: on average more than 300 million photos were uploaded to Facebook every day in Q1 2012, up from 250 million photos in Q4 2011.
  • Facebook photos receive 3.2 billion “likes” and comments per day.

And with the progression to Timeline complete, Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram on April 9 was the next step in the network’s visual evolution.

As the innovations outlined above remind us, the rise of visual social networks are forcing brands to think and act more visually. So a picture is no longer worth a thousand words — perhaps it’s worth a billion “Likes”?

[This post borrowed from The Marketing Arm’s ShareBlog.  Thanks Audra!]

Good Infographic that summarizes why photos are exploding in social media…







Visual Storytelling

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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(image credit: artist Koen Demuynck)

We love stories. When we were kids we insisted that our parents read us one more story every night before we went to bed. Or better yet, make one up! Look at the television shows we watch now. Shows like Game of Thrones and Mad Men are essentially mini movies that we get to watch every week. The quality. The stories. What about reality shows? American Idol, Deadliest Catch, Restaurant Impossible, The Bachelor. These are weekly stories that have villains, plots, resolutions. We’re so hungry for these fantastic stories and we are lucky that they just keep coming.

And we’re starting to watch these stories in new ways. Look at the KONY video.  Nearly 90 Million people have watched a 30 minute movie on YouTube. I repeat, a 30 minute movie! Not an 80 second video about a cat or talking babies, an important documentary.

Meanwhile our phones are quickly becoming both a primary tool for viewing movies, television, and Internet-based videos as well as a significant source of creation. That iOS or Android piece of technology you carry around in your pocket has the ability to take photos with the same high resolution quality that were previously only attributed to devices made by the likes of Nikon or Canon.  Remember when you carried a phone, a camera, and a video camera to your kid’s birthday party? Like most other parents, I only carry one now, my iPhone.

As we take these lusciously vivid new photos at a mammoth pace, inventions like Pinterest and Instagram are helping us share them with the world.  Each photo tells a story of where we are, where we’ve been, or where we hope to go.  And each time a friend comments on or re-pins our photos, the story takes on new meaning for that person.  Then there is the complete personification of visual storytelling, the new Facebook timeline.  Photos are now so rich and large and the timeline enables us to tell the chronological story of our brand or our lives.

Many brands are taking advantage of the new Facebook timeline, but one brand stands out head and shoulders above the rest.  That brand is Red Bull.  The company whose energy drink sold over four and half billion cans last year and boasts 60% market share over a thousand competitors doesn’t do a ton of traditional advertising.  Sure, you’ve seen the ads about Red Bull giving you wings, but for the most part, we don’t see a ton of commercials or billboards. What we do see is that colorful logo plastered on every crazy extreme athlete with a death wish.   Red Bull epitomizes a brand entrenched in visual storytelling.

When Facebook timeline went live, Red Bull jumped in head first.  From the lead graphic to the individual photos on their profile, every image tells a compelling story.  Some subtle, some overt.

To get you to discover all the fascinating images and the history of Red Bull, they even put together a scavenger hunt that asked you to navigate through all the rich content on their Facebook page.

And Red Bull does so much more than just great photos.  They are also highly focused on video and film.  Each of their events and all of their sponsored athletes are documented by some of the best action filmmakers on the planet.  Check out their YouTube channel and you’ll find nearly 2,000 videos with hundreds of thousands of subscribers and a quarter of a billion views.

And finally, look at Red Bull’s website.

The site is dedicated to sports, culture, events, music, film, games, and if you look really hard, you might find a link to their product.

Red Bull breaks the rules.  It is lifestyle, story, visuals, and culture first… product last.  And it works.

Red Bull has taken a serious stance on visual storytelling.  And yes, it can work for everyone.  We’re visual people.  We love great images and great stories, and we’re more apt to buy from those who can show us what they are about.  Visual Storytelling is a trend and it will only get bigger and better as technology makes it easier and easier to tell our stories.