Here are some cool things we read about this past week:
The Internet Thinks Facebook is Creepy
Internet users have reacted angrily to news that Facebook researchers manipulated content some users were shown in their News Feeds in an attempt to gauge their emotional response. For one week in 2012, Facebook changed the content mix in the News Feeds of 690,000 users. Some people were shown a higher number of positive posts, while others were shown more negative posts. The results of the experiment (conducted by Cornell, UCSF, and Facebook) were published this month and found that users that were shown more negative content were slightly more likely to produce negative posts. Users in the positive group responded with more upbeat posts. Success! Facebook was able to manipulate the emotional state of its users. Facebook’s TOS gives it permission to conduct this kind of research, but many users have reacted in anger at the news, calling it a “dangerous social experiment.” Facebook responded to the controversy in a blog post here.
Twitter “Buy Now” Button Appears For First Time
A new “Buy Now” button appeared on multiple tweets this week, all of which included products that link back to the shopping site Fancy. While the buttons appear in both the Timeline and expanded-tweet view, nothing happens when you actually click the button (yet). It is likely the button appeared as an experiment. In other Twitter news, the company just acquired TapCommerce for $100mm. TapCommerce is a mobile advertising platform that specializes in retargeting and re-engagement through smartphones.
Twitter Testing New Ways to Add Commentary to Tweets
Twitter is experimenting with new features, including one that lets users add extra commentary to retweets. Previously, if someone wanted to add their own commentary to a retweet, they could click “Quote Tweet” to do so. This limited user comments by forcing both the original tweet and the added material to fit within the 140-character limit. Another feature some users noticed last week placed images above the tweet instead of below it. Both changes appear to be only via mobile and are not yet available to all users.
Facebook to Buy LiveRail – the Third Biggest Video Ad Seller
Months after rolling out the first video-specific ad products on the social network, Facebook has agreed to acquire LiveRail, one of the biggest video ad sellers. LiveRail automates the sale of video ads for publishers including MLB, ABC Family, and Dailymotion. Rather than negotiate deals over the phone or in person, these publishers can upload their video inventory to LiveRail, which solicits buyers via real-time auctions. The acquisition puts Facebook in the same league with Google and AOL atop the digital ad food chain.
Global Social Media
Facebook’s New Type of Ad in India Lets Users Place a “Missed Call” for More Information
To appeal to advertisers who want to target customers in emerging markets like Brazil, Indonesia, India, Turkey, and South Africa, Facebook has had to come up with ad products that are better suited to the needs of users and advertisers in such countries. One of these experiments is taking place in India. Facebook is testing an ad product build around the “missed call” behavior in the country, which arose because of the high cost of voice calls. People dial a number and hang up before the call goes through as a way to save call time. It is used as a signal to the recipient that they are currently outside and/or a request for a return call. Now, when a person in India sees an ad on Facebook, they can place a “missed call” by clicking the ad from their mobile device. In the return call, the user then gets access to content such as music, cricket scores, or messages from celebrities, as well as a brand message from the advertiser — all without any airtime or data costs.
IKEA Creates a Website Inside the Instagram App
To promote this year’s new PS 2014 collection, IKEA’s Russian division produced a campaign that approaches Instagram in an entirely new way. With the collection’s mission statement of “Always on the move,” IKEA hacked the social platform to create a website out of the Instagram grid. The @Ikea_ps_2014 Instagram account serves as the website’s “home page,” with each post representing a product category – like Benches or Tables. When you tap an individual category picture, hidden tags reveal a link to each product within that category. Every one of the 34 items in the collection received their own Instagram accounts – like @ps_laptop_station and @ps_side_table. Within each product’s Instagram account lies videos of the items being used, product information, and snapshots from different angles.