Friday Wrap #14: A Facebook without ads; Twitter founders’ new tool; Instagram/Quora/Klout news2012-08-17
(c) Can Stock PhotoThe Friday Wrap is a collection of eye-catching items that surfaced in my feeds over the last week. A full blog post on each would have been nice, but time is short, so I summarize them here. You can see everything I collect for Friday Wrap consideration at my link blog.
Would you pay $50 per year for an add-free Facebook alternative?
App.net has opened its doors to anyone who would like an ad-free social networking experience and $50 to pay for it to reserve an account. While free, ad-supported access to everything from search to social has become the norml, Dalton Caldwell is looking to shake things up with his fee-for-service model. Caldwell, an entrepreneur who was behind PicPlz, an Instagram alternative with an Android app long before Instagram released its version (but still couldn’t avoid being crushed by Instagram), lamented in a blog post that Twitter opted to become another advertising platform instead of the ideal social media platform. He called it a “tragic mistake” that was proven “every time I get a K-Mart ad in my feed.” Caldwell followed that post with another announcing App.net, designed to be fee-based, and focused on users and third-party developers with no need to cater to those nasty advertisers.
“The consensus in Silicon valley is that App.net is doomed,” writes Will Oremus in Slate; “The thinking is that a social network has to connect users and developers with as many people as possible. Most of us use Facebook not because we necessarily love its design, but because all of our friends are on it. Why would we pay to join some ghost town?” Critics don’t even think App.net could come close to Twitter’s 200 million active users. Even his focus on power users is earning head shakes with assertions that the service is just too early. The site links to the news feed from the alpha, features an explanatory video from Caldwell, and more. Does it have a shot?
Meanwhile, Twitter’s founders launch a new blogging platform
We’ve got WordPress, Tumblr and Posterous. Blogger.com and TypePad. We have solid second-tier players like ExpressionEngine (the platform on which this blog is built). So when you hear that Twitter’s co-founders are launching a new service, the first thing that doesn’t leap into your mind is, “I bet they’re going to introduce a new blogging tool!” But that’s just what they’ve done. Medium is open for business, although registering is all most people can do so far; you’ll have to wait as they gradually activate accounts. The service comes from Obvious, the group Ev Williams and Biz Stone assembled to come up with new services. On his Medium account Williams wrote, “Lots of services have successfully lowered the bar for sharing information, but there’s been less progress toward raising the quality of what’s produced. While it’s great that you can be a one-person media company, it’d be even better if there were more ways you could work with others.” Posts to medium—which can include text, images and other media—are grouped into collections to which others can add (think of group boards on Pinterest). And eschewing the reverse chronological order approach of the blogging world, Medium promotes the highest-rated posts to the top (think Quora). Read more in the Liz Gannes article on All Things D.
Instagram launches business blog
Forty percent of the top 100 brands (that would be, let’s see, umm…40 brands) are using Instagram accounts to share images. Articles abound that cover tactics and techniques for using the mobile platform for photo sharing. Recognizing the surge in visual communication efforts by organizations, Instagram has launched a new blog, Instagram for Business. If you’re using Instagram in your company—or considering it—follow this blog. You’ll learn, for instance, that Instagram has introduced Photo Maps, displaying all of your geotagged Instagram photos on an interactive world map that users can explore. Based on what they’ve learned, the folks at Instagram also share best practices and point you to some of the best examples of brands on Instagram.
Quora boosts its social abilities
I jokingly asked not too long ago if anyone was still using Empire Avenue, which for about 45 minutes was a hot gamified influence-tracking service. Joking back at me, someone suggested, “Ask that question on Quora.” The suggestion: Quora was also a short-lived flash in the pan. Not so. While it may not be a check-every-day resource as it briefly was, it continues to attract users and build a remarkable collection of answers. Now the site has raised the social stakes with Quora Views. According to Quora, Views are “a way to discover what Quora is distributing to people you follow in their feeds and digest emails.” According to a report on Vintage Orange Juice, “Basically, it uses trending data from people you follow on Quora to give you a more ‘personalized’ view of topics and questions that might interest you.” Every Quora question now has its own Views page, which you get to from the sidebar. Displayed there you’ll find everyone who looked at the question, along with the reason they were notified of the question. For instance, it may reveal that one person visited because they got a friend notification while someone else looked at the question because Quora notified them that it was about a topic they were interested in. “Your social and topical connections will also start to generate a new piece of content in your Quora News Feed,” according to Mark Traphagen, writing for Vintage Orange Juice. And, once people have viewed your Quora content, a Views link will show up on your home page that links to your own Views page, which displays the number of views attracted to your questions and answers, along with who viewed them. Traphagen polishes off his report with advice on your to use this new functionality to build your online authority. For example, “Regularly check your personal Views list to watch for people who seem to be regularly attrac ted to your Quora activity. Consider following them, and/or interacting with their activities (answer their questions, upvote their answers).”
Another score revamp for Klout
The last time Klout rejiggered the math that results in your Klout score, people went ballistic. The fallout included people abandoing Klout. Klout has responded as you’d expect: They’ve changed the scores again. This time, the revised formula is meant to resolve issues about which people have remained critical. According to Brad Stone, writing in BusinessWeek, “The company is increasing the numbers of variables in its score, from 100 to 400, in an attempt to calculate a more accurate ranking. As part of that effort, offline stature will now matter more than it used to. Klout will begin examining LinkedIn profiles and lending weight to people’s job titles, as well as where they work. It will also give an extra bump to anyone who has a page on Wikipedia.” All this led my Klout score to jump from 73 to 77. On one level, I don’t care. On another, I note that Cathay Pacific gave free first-class lounge access to passengers with Klout score over 40. My score may not be an accurate representation of my influence, but I’ll be happy to take what companies are willing to give me by virtue of my score.
Note: Next week I’m working day-in and day-out in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and won’t be able to crank out a Friday Wrap. I’ll be back on August 31 with the next installment.