There's a fantastic good news story at the very end - I'm saving the best for last - so skim through the rest if you like, but don't miss that end note!
I try not to talk about apps on here, because I'm an iPhone devotee and I don't want to get into that debate. NOR do I want to become a repository for iPhone info, because that takes a lot of time to do and a lot of other people do it far better than I ever could. NOR do I want to leave people on other mobile OSs hanging, because how boring is it to read about Blackberry and Android when you're an iPhone gal? Okay, I actually don't find it all that boring, but some would, so I'm sure the same is true for the BB and Droid crowd. BUT, some apps are little secondary networks of their own and they fit into my niche so I'm going to stop ignoring them. And the last couple of weeks have had some interesting stories. So, bear with me here. I will do my best to spread the love to other mobile OSs, but so far, most of these networks are iOS:
- Instagram is the first such app that got in the news a fair bit, but let's start with an explanation from TechCrunch about why it's so popular. And, if you're a user, you might want to check out Mashable's list of apps that enhance Instagram (it's an older story, but still relevant). And then there are ways to use those photos in a more permanent way (gift idea alert!) from Lockergnome. I'm convinced that some of these businesses starting are going to kick the quality quotient up a notch on Instagram. It's going to be interesting to watch.
- Pinterest has been getting crazy attention this week - from me and others and I talked about Pinterest in-depth in my She Said / She Said post earlier this week. The same day Lara and I published, I realized that the talk hasn't stopped! One reader did point out on twitter that she questions the long-term value of the tool. I have had the same thought, but I think the same question can be asked of any bookmarking tool.
- Path is a mobile-only journal app and I decided to try it out. It just re-launched and it is gorgeous, super easy to use and not highly populated, so the value is a big question mark at this point. It's not invitation only, so if you want to check it out - download it (to your phone) and give it a spin. I'll let you know in a few weeks whether I think this is a platform that's going to take off. Frankly, competing with Facebook and Google+, I doubt it has teeth. As a secondary network, it might succeed, but it will still have a tough road to success. (This one's not just for iOS users. No BB, though - sorry.)
There was minor news this week about Facebook's announcement that FB status updates can now have 60,000 characters (But who wants to read long posts?) and now you can edit @ tags to have custom text - it's so clunky I can't see bothering with it. (See? Ho hum.) But the really big news is that Facebook reached a final settlement with the FTC on privacy charges. More details emerged after we found out last week they'd be submitting to 20 years of privacy audits. There's lots of commentary on this and what it means for Facebook and its users. Here's a list of stories if you want to read up:
Mashable asks whether Facebook is doing enough to protect your privacy. (I'd say yes and no - they've done some boneheaded things in the past - Beacon, for one example - but seemed to be learning with more recent updates. Opt-in is better and now that's got to be their default.) Proof that they learned (sort of) - Zuckerberg admits to making mistakes with privacy. Mind you, many think this settlement is a slap on the wrist. Others wonder if Facebook is ruined (hardly, I say). There's no doubt that it's given Facebook an easy pass, even if they're finally being forced to do what they should've been doing all along. This just proves once again that with a free network, your privacy is the currency. That cannot be emphasized enough.
Do you "like" the FTC's ruling? Because no matter where you are in the world, it will have an effect.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Facebook's seamless or frictionless sharing. Then I saw this and smiled. Time for a new plugin!
I'm not sure how the functionality is different, because I haven't yet tried it, but you can now do conference calls on Google+ hangouts. I wonder how this is going to take a bite out of Skype's business.
Google has bumped its video sharing service up a notch by adding analytics. I'm taking this as a sign that they'd like to be THE go-to video service and that video is just going to get bigger. But we already knew that. As if that wasn't enough, they've launched a re-design as well. It looks really nice and I'm so thankful for it. The old design was quite bad. But will this be a further threat to Facebook? (Oh, that had to be thrown in there, didn't it?) But there are wider implications as well.
Want to follow a brand or save something you see on the Web to Foursquare? Now you can! And it's a great move for the service and businesses alike.
Jay Baer wrote a piece this week that underlines the importance of doing social media right, making the case that businesses have lost the advantage. We're on an even playing field now. Individuals and businesses are using the same tools, so businesses that do social media well are going to shine like stars. The ones who don't could see the effect on their bottom line - or in their twitter feed with an urgent need for reputation management.
Along similar lines, Ilana Rabinowitz is sharing why a business cannot be social over at Social Media Explorer. She gives compelling reasons why it's the job of the employees (oh, yes, all of them - not just the social media guy) to put a human face on the organization. She's right and not nearly enough businesses get this.
I like reading Mitch Joel's take on Twitter every time he writes about it. He just isn't bothered by the numbers and he doesn't try to set rules for anyone - including himself.
I love blogging. I can't imagine quitting, but it happens. You see blogs lie fallow after a while because life just gets in the way. Or was there a true commitment to it in the first place? The best thing you can do before launching is to start blogging unpublished, as this guest-post on Problogger tells us. He's taking my own suggestion a step further and it's wise advice.
By far, the most brilliant news of the week. An update about Amit Gupta's need for a bone marrow transplant and how a social campaign may just save his life. Sure, this stuff happened before social media was around, but it isn't the same. And doesn't this just validate how much good we can do through these tools?
Are you interested in the The Media Mesh's BBC (that's Business Book Club for those who missed the original post)? Our first reading assignment is Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki and linking up on January 3rd in just one month. It's a quick read with lots of valuable information - join us! If you comment on this post that you want in I'll add you to my email list (no need to do so if you already asked to be added). First update is coming this week!