This Week in Social (Week of April 15)

People Flock to Social Media in Wake of Boston Attacks (Read more at The Boston Globe

The week started with a national tragedy as two bombs went off at the 117th Boston Marathon, killing three people and wounding more than 130. Social media fueled a lot of discussion. The story  first broke on Twitter with people sharing first-hand accounts as well as criticizing news organizations reporting without all the facts as the day went on.

There was a Vine of the first explosion that was re-shared thousands of times, showing how quick snippets of video are finding their way into everyday culture and communication. The Boston Police Department put social media to work by asking people to tweet @Boston_Police with tips and specifically video of the finish line where the first blast took place. Google also launched its Person Finder to help family and friends reconnect with cell phone coverage being too congested in the Boston area to make a phone call, and people not in the area went to Facebook to not only share their condolences and thoughts but also to recruit donations to the American Red Cross.

This event showed how social media was used to allow everyone to react to the event in near real-time in their own way.

This comes with positives and negatives. The positive being the way social tools were employed to bring people together, gather information, solicit donations and even find free housing for people needing to stay in Boston. The negative side is that everyone feels a need to respond almost immediately, including news organizations, which lead to misinformation. In addition, people flocked to social media channels and actually started identifying people incorrectly as suspects. This kind of vigilantism, which may have the best of intentions behind it, has the potential for serious ramifications for individuals incorrectly identified.

It’s the best and the worst of the Internet, but it seems that at the very least, most people are trying to help.

Twitter Working to Stream TV Content in Tweets (Read more at Variety)

Twitter has been working with major television networks, including Viacom and NBC Universal, to add high-quality video content and even video ads to Twitter. Sources close to the agreements say most of the content would be clips, not full-length episodes of TV shows or movies, but would also include ads. The revenue from ads would be shared with the networks

Twitter’s taking steps to build on its Social TV and media foundation that includes agreements with ESPN, the Weather Channel, Nielsen and the analytics platform Bluefin Labs, which Twitter acquired to help it track and gather insights on real-time conversations people are having about TV shows.

Twitter clearly sees real-time, visual, broadcast events as an opportunity to stand out and generate revenue, and given its past moves, more relationships with content creators makes sense. Twitter recently ran a partnership with the NCAA in which it shared highlight clips from the NCAA tournament along with ads from brands including AT&T. This could increase Twitter’s cache of content to position ads around.

This move is clearly in line with where Twitter’s been going for some time. However, it may not be where users want Twitter to go. Twitter’s strength is its simplicity, and building on that by trying to be a more media-focused platform may be too much for users.

Twitter Introduces Keyword Targeting (Read more at The Huffington Post)

Twitter’s adding to the options marketers have in targeting users. New to the list is real-time keyword targeting. Advertisers can monitor keywords in user tweets and tweets users have engaged with. They can then launch ads to those users and target by location, device and gender.

Twitter provides a couple examples. A travel brand targeting newlyweds discussing honeymoon plans or bakeries targeting people tweeting about being hungry for an afternoon snack.

This new targeting puts Twitter squarely in the world of targeting user intent, similar to what Google does with search ads. Twitter becomes more of a direct response vehicle, delivering a relevant ad when a user expresses interest in seeing that ad. The challenge for Twitter will be to not alienate users who may feel the ads are intrusive and even creepy.

Storify Adds New Business Features (Read more at TechCrunch)

Storify, the content aggregator service launched new features for business, aptly called Storify Business. Storify became known as a way for journalists to aggregate social media news updates into one place in a single story.

The new option, available for all users and brands alike, is the first time Storify has launched paid premium accounts for reporting and publishing. The update follows the March release of Storify’s VIP program, which offered organizations features including real-time updating, full customization and API access. The VIP program was available to large publishers and sites, while the new business program is for everyone but with simpler features like private stories only visible via a special and secure link, customizable story embeds to match branding and more support than a standard account.

Storify aims to broaden its focus beyond journalism to businesses reporting information for clients or businesses creating content and stories about products and services. This opens the door for brands, PR agencies and ad agencies, and private stories could be one way to share information with clients outside of the standard PowerPoint. It also allows brands to aggregate conversation about their brands and products as a complement to other social listening tools. With a price point of $59, Storify could prove to be an interesting experiment for brands wanting to share stories and aggregate content.

Twitter Music is Here (Read more at The Wall Street Journal)

The worst kept secret is finally out. This week Twitter launched Twitter Music, a new music-discovery service that capitalizes on Twitter’s large number of artists and music-related conversation. Twitter Music is a separate app for Twitter that’s only available for iPhone right now but will be available for Android at some point.

The app presents users with a Popular chart of the top 140 artists, a “hidden talent” section for emerging artists, suggested artists for you and a #NowPlaying section to display what people you follow are sharing. Users can sync the app with their Spotify or Rdio accounts to listen to full tracks or get 30-second previews of songs from iTunes. All of the music plays through a slick interface within the Twitter Music app.

Twitter Music is not a stand-alone music service. You can’t search for songs, and artists are mostly limited to a single song. The search feature is mostly for searching for artists.

Twitter Music capitalizes on what Twitter is good at. It takes the zeitgeist of what people are talking about, especially the people you’re connected to are talking about and brings that content to you. It allows users to discover new music based on who they’re connected to. Twitter Music complements a user’s music experience, but it is not a service that can stand on its own.

News Quick Hits

  • Bing has added the “Pin It” button to images in its image search results, allowing users to pin images directly from search without using a bookmarklet. The feature detects and links to the original, high-resolution source of an image, so users don’t necessarily have to worry about attribution. (Read more at TechCrunch)
  • YouTube updated its iOS app to allow for live event streaming. (Read more at The Verge)
  • One of Facebook Home’s biggest features, Chat Heads, has come to iOS devices. The update allows users to see bubbles on their screen of friends’ avatars who sent a message. Essentially, it’s a push notification customized based on who sent a message. Chat Heads can be moved around, deleted or tapped to open up a chat. Unlike with Facebook Home, Chat Heads only appear when using the Facebook app. Users can now also send stickers to each other, and the iPad has an updated News Feed layout with bigger photos that is more in-line with Facebook’s desktop version. (Read more at TechLand)
  • LinkedIn has updated its mobile apps, and the update will come with a small test of ads in user streams. The update is exponentially more visual with an emphasis on photos. The update also includes an emphasis on who is sharing versus the content itself in the news feed, larger and expandable profile photos, and improved navigation. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Yahoo released two new apps. The first is a Weather app, which features full-screen photos of cities near a users’ location in the current type of weather. The images are pulled from Flickr. The second app is for email, and it lays out email in a magazine-like interface allowing users to flip through emails, similar to Flipboard. (Read more at PCWorld)