Here are some cool things we read about this past week:
Facebook Buys WhatsApp for $16 Billion
Facebook just spent $16 billion to acquire WhatsApp, spending $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook stock. WhatsApp is a text-messaging replacement app that lets you send messages to any of your contacts as long as you know their phone number. It is similar to BlackBerry Messenger and iMessage in that it lets users bypass their carriers SMS to avoid texting fees. WhatsApp is one of many similar services, but it’s the most popular with 450 million active users. Chinese competitor WeChat has 270 million active users and Japan’s Line recently surpassed 300 million users.
Facebook Expands Ad Targeting Options
Facebook unveiled deeper ad targeting options this week. The updates are specifically to the four main targeting categories, which include: Location (marketers can now build campaigns around any combination of geography allowing retailers to show ads to people who live near a brick and mortar location); Demographics (new choices include updates to relationship status, people who have gotten engaged, job title, etc.); Interests (now simplified to allow marketers to just select from one segment rather than multiple); and Behaviors (target by people’s offline and online activities and purchases).
LinkedIn Expands Publishing Platform
LinkedIn members will have the ability to post and distribute long-form content as the professional networking site extends its publishing platform to all users. Members will now be able to publish longer posts to their pages and share those posts with their connections and followers. Others outside a member’s network can start following them from their posts as well. The capability launched this week with 25,000 English-speaking users. It will eventually be rolled out to all users.
YouTube Rolls Out Desktop Redesign
YouTube is starting to roll out the latest redesign to its web interface, while also adding new features to enhance the video-streaming experience. The design is now a center-aligned look, which helps it fit more neatly on screens of all sizes. The desktop version is moving towards looking similar to YouTube’s mobile apps. Updates also include enhancing playlist elements, and allowing users to quickly flip between what’s recommended and popular in ‘what to watch’.
Global Social Media
Ustream Launches Non-Profit Program to Support Citizen Journalism in Ukraine
As demonstrations in Kiev turned into chaos this week, some of the most striking photos came from citizen journalists. Part of this is because Ukraine has cracked down on traditional media. The country’s opposition friendly Channel 5 has reportedly been shut down, making the Internet the only source for many Ukrainians. Because Ustream is frequently used by Citizen Journalists in both Kiev and elsewhere, the company decided to launch its own non-profit program dubbed “Ustream for Change.” With it, Ustream plans to provide free access to its ad-free enterprise streaming services to citizen journalists around the world. The company will also promote the live streams and provide technical support.
Pepsi Integrates Vines into Outdoor Ads
PepsiCo is including user-generated Vine videos in outdoor ads in what it claims to be a “media first.” Pepsi Max is encouraging fans to submit something “unbelievable” they’ve done on Vine using the hashtag #LiveForNow. Select fans will be featured on outdoor screens across the UK starting this month.
Burberry Creates a Custom Fashion Show For Fans Via Instant Messages
British luxury brand Burberry teamed up with WeChat, one of China’s most popular messaging platforms, for a series of branded creative collaborations throughout the year tied to their runway shows. The partnership lets fans customize their runway show experience by allowing them to unlock special WeChat only-audio content, access exclusive details about the inspiration behind the collections, and follow VIP guests during their experience at the show. The first output of the collaboration was the Burberry Autumn/Winter 2014 womenswear show on WeChat. Burberry followers were able to create personalized AW14 Runway Made to Order plaques through a single text. Fans were also able to follow guests at the show and received exclusive messages, videos and audio from show VIPs.