Here are some cool things we read about this past week
Google+ Launches Tools For Businesses
After a private beta test period, Google this week released a suite of business tools for Google+ users. The tools are available for free through the end of 2013, at which point users will need a paid subscription to Google Apps, for continued access. The new features include: Private Sharing: when you create a post you can now label it as “restricted,” limiting the visibility to those inside your organization; Administrative Controls: admins can set up company-wide sharing defaults for posts or Hangouts; Hangout & Calendar Integration: users can now attach Hangouts to Google Calendar events, enabling attendees to join a hangout directly from the Calendar or invite.
Economists Prove Link Between Online Reviews & Restaurant Bookings
UC Berkeley, Professors Michael Anderson and Jeremy Magruder, published in this month’s edition of the Economic Journal, the first attempt to gauge the relationship between online star ratings and customer purchasing decisions. The pair focused on the effects of positive online ratings on 300 San Francisco restaurants that were then collated to form a star system on Yelp.com. They found that a restaurant with a rating improved by just a half a star – on a scale of 1 to 5, was much more likely to be full at peak dining times. Indeed, an extra half-star rating caused a restaurants 7pm bookings to sell out from 30% to 49% of the evenings it was open for business. Significantly, the two economists found that the increase in trade happened without any change in prices or quality of food/service, confirming it was the reviews that brought in the new customers.
Reddit Reached 3.4 Billion Pageviews in August
The popular social news site announced this week that it had over 3.4 billion pageviews for the month of August. That’s roughly an 8.8% increase over the previous month, where the site topped 3.1 billion. Reddit also saw in increase in unique visitors. In July, the company reported 39.5 million uniques. For August that number climbed to 42.9 million – an 8.6% gain from the previous month. The surge in traffic is likely attributed to President Obama’s Ask Me Anything session on August 29, which single-handedly brought in 1.6 million uniques that Wednesday and 1.2 million the following Thursday.
YouTube Brings Movie Rentals to Connected TVs
This week, YouTube revealed that it would add paid movie rentals to its app across hardware partner TP Vision’s line of Philips-branded TV assets. According to reports, the companies will begin offering movie rentals in “select European countries” later this year, and “Philips Smart TV will be among the first TV platforms” to offer access to these rentals, indicating YouTube rentals will be coming to more Connected TVs soon. It is still unclear whether YouTube plans to enter the VOD market to compete directly with existing providers like VUDU or Amazon Instant Video.
Twitter Announces Tool to Embed Interactive Timeline of Tweets to Any Site
Twitter has announced a new tool that will allow users to embed not just single tweets, but an entire timeline of tweets on web pages. The tool will allow the embed of a single stream, not a collection of tweets, though it can be customized in a variety of ways. When you browse websites that have embedded a Twitter timeline, you can now interact with it in the same way you do on Twitter.com. Expand tweets to see photos, media, etc. Start a conversation from the Tweet box, follower users that you discover, and reply to, retweet, or favorite Tweets directly from the page. It is currently being used by ESPN, London Fashion Week and writer Margaret Atwood, as well as Twitter itself on its official blog. The embed code is a single line of HTML. You create the timeline from the Twitter widgets page (create new) , which allows you to choose the source for your timeline, favorited tweets, a list, or search/hashtag. You can customize the height of a widget, as well as its theme and whether it expands photographs.
Social Media Breaks Barriers in South Africa
Social networking in South Africa has crossed the age barrier and the urban/rural divide according to new research by World Wide Worx. According to the South African Social Media Landscape 2012 study, the fastest growing age group among Facebook users in South Africa is the over-60 set. From August 2011 to August 2012, the number of over 60’s on Facebook grew by 44% compared to less than 30% from those aged 30-60, less than 20% for 19-30 and less than 10% for teenagers. At the end of August, 5.33 million South Africans were using Facebook via the web, while 6.8 million access Facebook via mobile device. Twitter use has also grown in the region. There are currently 2.43 million Twitter users in South Africa, with 100,000 being added monthly. Additionally, both Facebook and Twitter have crossed the urban/rural divide. The proportion of urban adults using Facebook is less than double rural users – but rural users are now at the level that urban users were 18 months ago. Twitter’s urban penetration is a little more than double its rural penetration, but the rural population has also caught up to where the urban population was 18 months ago.
Instagram’s Had a Good Run in China, But Will the Facebook Buyout Change Things?
Despite Instagram’s lack of an office in China, the company has seen steady adoption in the world’s most populous nation. However, with the Facebook’s acquisition on the horizon, Instagram could be in danger of being blocked in the country. Because Facebook has been inaccessible in China for several years, mainland Instagram users have voiced their concerns that the service will be disrupted after Facebook takes over the reins. Instagram’s early success in China was independent of marketing efforts in the country. Last fall, Instagram downloads reached 100,000 per week in China. The app has become one of the most powerful social media tools in the country. It is one of the few applications that supports posting to both domestic Sina Weibo and overseas services like Twitter and Facebook. Circumvention of the so-called Great Firewall is required to authorize a Twitter or Facebook account, but, once linked, Instagram can post to those services without the need of a VPN. Though Facebook has refused to comment on plans for Instagram in China, the social networks’ shaky relationship with the country may soon signal the end of the popular platform.
Coca Cola is the First Brand to Pass 50 Million Facebook Fans
Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Rihanna have more than 50 million Facebook fans, as do services like YouTube and Facebook, but Coca-Cola is the first retail brand to hit this milestone. Disney, Converse and Starbucks, three of the other most popular retail brands, each have fewer than 40 million fans currently. To celebrate this major threshold, Coca-Cola launched a new Facebook application which encourages fans to submit ideas for inventions and causes that this online community of 50 million can turn its energy towards to improve the world. Coca-Cola will ultimately provide support for one of these ideas and unveil the finished result sometime this year.
Lincoln Trailer To Debut in Google+ Hangout With Steven Spielberg
The first trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln will debut in a Google+ Hangout on Thursday, September 13. This is the first time that a film trailer has launched in a Google+ Hangout. In addition to the trailer, Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt will partake in a live chat about the film. The hangout will broadcast live online and via the ABC SuperSign in Times Square. Fans can RSVP to the hangout via lincolnmoviehangout.com – but those that want to participate will need to submit a YouTube video with the hashtag #LincolnHangout explaining their interest in the film – as well as what questions they would like to ask Spielberg and Gordon-Levitt.