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Facebook buying photo-share app Instagram for $1 billion

Instagram - 8

Instagram - 8 (Photo credit: BrentOzar)

Facebook is spending $1 billion to buy the photo-sharing company Instagram in the social network’s largest acquisition ever.

On the surface, that’s a huge sum for a tiny start-up that has a handful of employees and no way to make money.

But the lack of a business model rarely dampens excitement about hot tech upshots these days. As Facebook has shown, itself without ads or revenue in its early days, money goes where the users are.

Instagram lets people share photos they snap with their mobile devices. The app has filters that can make photos look as if they’ve been taken in the 1970s or on Polaroid cameras. Its users take photos of everything from their breakfast egg sandwiches to sunsets to the smiling faces of their girlfriends.

In a little more than a year, Instagram attracted a loyal and loving user base of more than 30 million people. Apple picked it as the iPhone App of the Year in 2011.

Instagram’s fans, brand recognition and its potential are difficult to put a price tag on. Yet Facebook has and can afford it. The company is preparing for an initial public offering of stock that could value it at as much as $100 billion in a few weeks. What’s $1 billion? A drop in the bucket, really.

“Facebook after this IPO is going to be in a position to be predatory. They can make sure no one steps in their way and buy anyone who gets in their way,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter, who follows social media.

Buying Instagram, he added, not only eliminates a rival but gives Facebook the technology “that is gaining crazy traction.”

Facebook is paying cash and stock for San Francisco-based Instagram and hiring its dozen or so employees. The deal is expected to close by the end of June.

It’s a windfall not just for Instagram’s employees, but the venture capital firms backing the company. Last week, Sequoia Capital led an investment round that valued Instagram at $500 million, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Going by the $1 billion price tag, Facebook is paying about $33 for each Instagram user. That’s a fraction of the $118 that Facebook investors will be paying per Facebook user if the company gets its expected $100 billion valuation after going public. By that math, Mr. Pachter said, $1 billon “doesn’t sound crazy.”

Getting Instagram is a big win for Facebook as it works to harness people’s growing obsession with their mobile devices and sharing every moment of their life. The company’s own mobile application is not as easy to use as Instagram, and sharing photos can be downright clunky. Facebook’s way, noted Mr. Pachter, has always been to buy technology if it’s better than what it can build on its own.

Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, said it plans to keep Instagram running independently. That’s a departure from its tendency to buy small start-ups and integrate the technology or shut them down altogether just so it can hire talented engineers and developers.

“This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Monday announcing the deal. “We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all.”

“We think the fact that Instagram is connected to other services beyond Facebook is an important part of the experience,” Mr. Zuckerberg said.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/internet/article3299305.ece

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Travel and hospitality sector ramps up social media marketing

Research by Mindshift Interactive says Club Mahindra, ITC, Taj Hotels, Oberoi Group and Pride Hotels are the top five companies actively involved in marketing on social media

The travel and hospitality industry is going social with a vengeance to engage and network with travellers. According to a study, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are the most popular and effective social media platforms for marketing within the tourism and hospitality industry.

The industry uses these networks to review brands, locations and read user experiences, whilst also responding actively to queries and comments.

According to a research conducted by Mindshift Interactive, the top five hospitality players in the Indian market that are actively involved in the social media space are Club Mahindra, ITC, Taj Hotels, Oberoi Group and Pride Hotels.

Club Mahindra with 51 per cent had the maximum number of conversations, followed by ITC with 21 per cent and Taj Hotels at 17 per cent. Oberoi Group (8 per cent) and Pride Hotels (3 per cent) ranked at the bottom with respect to its presence on Social Media.

The increased dependency on social media by travellers is growing faster than the travel industry itself. India’s travel category garnered the second largest share (42 per cent) of total Internet visitors in Asia, with 17.8 million average monthly unique visitors in the first quarter of 2011. With the digital media ecosystem in India evolving rapidly, the number of Internet users is expected to cross 546 million users by 2016, a report by KPMG said. Continued growth in internet penetration and mobile device access is expected to drive consumption and bring about a 360 degree approach for marketing.

“Brands today are spending almost 20 to 30 per cent of their marketing budgets on digital and these figures are expected to grow with years to come. Hotels present on the social media platforms are beginning to understand their consumer’s better,” said Mr Zafar Rais, CEO of MindShift Interactive.

With over 63,467 fans and an engagement ratio of 14 per cent, Club Mahindra leads the presence on Facebook. Club Mahindra leads the Twitter presence with 7,159 followers and effective engagement.

Oberoi Hotels has over 10, 879 fans on Facebook with an engagement ratio of 3.5 per cent. ITC has over 15,402 fans with an engagement ratio of 2 per cent. Taj Hotels has integrated their campaigns such as “Mélange – Vote for Art” and “Marathon For A Cause” with social media. The Twitter presence of Taj Hotels is as @TajMahalMumbai with 2,444 followers.

Source: http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/marketing/article3013178.ece

IPL teams’ rivalry spills over Facebook, Twitter

Chennai Super Kings

Chennai Super Kings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rivalry between IPL teams is spilling over to the social media platform ahead of the season five of the T20 league as they intensify campaigns to drum up support of fans through sites like Facebook and Twitter.

With the social networking sites providing the opportunity to fans to interact with their star players, teams like Delhi DaredevilsMumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings are leaving no stone unturned to exploit the opportunity to add more supporters.

“Social media is one of the most important tools and an integral part of any team to reach out to the fans now. We have been stagnant for the past four years but this year we have really activated it,” Delhi Daredevils Head of Marketing and Commercial Hemant Dua told PTI.

He said from just about 30,000 fans on Facebook for the past four years, Delhi Daredevils has increased it to 2,30,000 in the last few months.

“We have been holding a lot of contests for the fans, like designing the mascot for the team, and it has helped,” Dua said, adding this year three fans will be selected through a contest to travel with the team to report on the team’s off-field activities.

Similarly, Chennai Super Kings has touched over seven lakh followers on its Facebook page over the past two months from just 40,000 earlier following intensified campaign to utilise the social media platform

“What we have done is assign different roles to different sites. For instance we are using Twitterfor news related to the team, while Facebook has been used as platform for interaction.

Also we are using different activities involving fans, including contests,” India Cements general Manager Marketing Chandrabhan said. India Cements own the Chennai Super Kings. Likewise, Mumbai Indians has also kicked off ‘Players Become Friends’ campaign designed to increase the interaction between the players and the fans in the digital space.

“This year our focus is completely on digital media. We will be having a new TV commercial and ground promotions for IPL 5 but the main thrust is to capitalise on the social platform to reach out to Mumbai Indians fans and make them feel as an integral part of the team,” a Mumbai Indian spokesperson said.

Mumbai Indians have nearly 2.5 million followers on Facebook fan page ‘MI Paltan’, he said, adding the aim of the campaign is to encourage them engaging with the players rather than being mere spectators.

The team is also using personalised video messages from Mumbai Indians players, includingSachin Tendulkar and Harbhajan Singh, as part of the ‘Players Become Friends’ social media campaign that will carried out on out-of-home and radio along with TV, he added.

While the teams are reluctant to share their spendings on the social media campaigns, Dua of Delhi Daredevils said:”Our spending on digital media has definitely increased, to almost double but it is all about spending judiciously and trying to make the right connect with the fans.”

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/tech/social-media/IPL-teams-rivalry-spills-over-Facebook-Twitter/articleshow/12327790.cms

A loyal following is a few clicks away

The key to generating loyalty and rising above the general noise seems to be all about creating an authentic voice

What is the best way to promote our blog on environmental conservation in Kenya? We are hoping to help build an eco-friendly generation, and wish to reach out to potential donors.

— Sam Dindi, Kenya

The rise of social media over the last few years and the speed at which companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google are signing up new members has forced businesses and charities to reassess many of their traditional marketing and PR efforts, and instead focus on building a substantial and loyal online following.

The key to generating loyalty and rising above the general noise seems to be all about creating an authentic voice. Over the last couple of years I have spent a lot of time with my digital media team, creating varied and interesting content for our pages and channels. I post blog entries and tweets almost daily, and I often upload photos from around the world.

Our channels have also helped me publicize many of our philanthropic efforts, such as wildlife conservation, drug decriminalization, encouraging entrepreneurship and battling climate change. This has helped to ensure that the public and politicians take note.

 

This in turn has helped us raise our brand’s profile online, which has translated into real benefits for our businesses. The more followers Virgin and myself have online, the more feedback and important information we can glean that will tell us whether we are getting things right or wrong. We can react quickly through our own channels, reaching a wide audience that includes our best clients and most fervent fans.

In the past, I often made a splash for our businesses through eye-catching adventures and stunts. Now a timely comment on one of our online channels can trigger widespread debate, while an amusing video or fun competition will create visibility for our brand in many markets where we have little or no footprint. Every week I receive emails from readers in countries such as Brazil and Uganda, where we haven’t yet established businesses, asking that we set up in their country.

This year we are launching our Virgin Mobile business in Latin America through a series of partnerships with local firms. Our online presence and increasing following has helped raise awareness of the brand and build expectation before the launches.

So how can Sam and other budding entrepreneurs make an impact? For those trying to establish an online presence for a nonprofit or charitable organization, I have prepared some tips on how to kick-start your online presence.

1. Build a loyal following by creating interesting and accessible content. This is time-consuming, but is crucial for keeping your audiences engaged. This will ensure that your stakeholders will be listening when the time comes for you to deliver a message about your company or organization.

Sam must take care that the tone of his site is consistent with his target audience—in this case, the younger generation. If the focus of the blog is promoting conservation to young people in Kenya, then make sure that this is evident in every article. Try to talk about topics that will not only educate them but are relevant to their lives and can influence behaviour change.

2. Consider other sources of content. In some cases you may decide to approach bloggers and ask them to team up with you on certain subjects.

Once the tone and content of Sam’s blog has been focused to the target audience, it would be good for him to also look at getting a diverse range of other bloggers who can contribute and build up the following on that website.

3. Look for like-minded partner organizations to help you. There will likely be other nonprofits working on similar problems; reach out to them with your ideas on how to combine or augment each other’s efforts. Sam could reach out to companies and NGOs focused on either children or environmental issues.

4. Create a revenue stream to fund more development and promotion on your site. This can be as easy as contracting with services such as Google AdSense to put ads on your website in order to generate some income.

5. Target potential donors. Through social networking, Sam can draw people’s attention to his charitable cause—for this, the Internet has proved invaluable. However, when it comes to turning those supporters into donors, remember that there really is no substitute for human interaction. Sam needs to make sure that people have a way of interacting and donating on the website.

6. Once you have a sufficient number of followers and your initiative has grown into a success, it’s a good idea to start looking for sponsors—companies, larger organizations and even governments. Sam has a great idea—the goal of building an eco-friendly generation in Kenya has the key advantage of winning the attention of the much sought-after younger generation. Having many followers will be attractive to potential sponsors.

Sam, you have chosen a great niche! Many people in Kenya are working hard on conservation—even the UN Environment Program is based there. Just remember that you must pursue what interests you and you enjoy—if you do, your passion and commitment will show through in everything you do.

By NYT Syndicate

©2012/Richard Branson

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group and companies such as Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He maintains a blog. You can follow him on Twitter.

Source: http://www.livemint.com/2012/03/19205540/A-loyal-following-is-a-few-cli.html

Brands in social media: Intruders as friends

THE last advertising agency on Earth. That was the ominous title of a fairly popular video on YouTube some time last year. The film, about what the future of advertising might look like (produced by an ad agency, by the way) took potshots at the traditional ad agency folks who have ignored the powerful impact of social media on consumers and brands.

Understandably alarmist, it in a way represents one school of thought: that social media is completely going to change the way traditional advertising works and that the 30-second TV spot is dead. And then there is the other school of thought which believes that the impact of social media on brands is over-rated and is dismissive of it even. The truth lies somewhere in between. The most awarded integrated campaigns of recent years (Old Spice, Bing to name a couple) have had strong social media components built in. And most of these were created by big, traditional agencies. Marketers and agencies have come to accept social media as an integral part of consumer’s lives and believe that smart use of the medium can create impact.

While a majority of marketers seem to agree on its potential, there are several questions in their minds on the right approach, implementation, monitoring and the talent required to manage the whole process. Investments in this space are yet to see the big numbers (save for certain categories such as autos, airlines, finance and telecom). Internet advertising in India accounts for just 5% of the ad spends with TV still leading the pack. A recent industry report expects internet revenues to go up to Rs 1,478 crore in 2012, a growth rate of 50% on a relatively small base. The air of uncertainty or tentativeness about the medium also stems from lack of clarity on how exactly the medium can help brands.

An IBM ‘Global Chief Marketing Officer’ study done in the fourth quarter of 2011 suggests that most CMOs worldwide, and in India, are “underprepared to manage the impact of key changes in the marketing arena”. Data explosion topped the worldwide list of underpreparedness with 71% of CMOs indicating so. Some 68% of the international CMOs surveyed are not in a position to deal with the rapid developments in social media.

All this means that stake holders in brand strategy and brand building must boost their own digital and technological proficiency. This could include not just being aware of social media basics and trends but knowing which tools to use to suit the brand’s business objectives – be it buzz monitoring, blogs, consumer reviews and so on. A ‘one size fits all’ approach may not work at all – one needs to be clear about the objective of each medium. A Twitter handle may be used to address consumer issues, as a customer service channel by one brand. But another brand in another category may use it to provide information on deals or as pure entertainment. A blogger outreach or a brand blog may make sense for niche categories like high end IT tech or maybe travel, fashion and music. Among the various social media tools available, it appears that a Facebook fan page has fast become de rigueur for most brands, irrespective of a real need. This requirement has now replaced the earlier ‘viral video’.

Whatever be the social media tool, it is important to remember that brands are intruders in that space. Unless we provide content that gives a strong, real reason for consumers to engage with brands in that space, the engagement will be at a superficial level. There are far too many brands (especially on Facebook) which have begun to follow a cookie-cutter approach to conversations with consumers.

Another aspect is the impact on ad agencies, especially those in account management. When specialist media services were hived off, the account management folks slowly began to lose touch with media basics and trends. Now with the increasing use of specialist digital teams there is one more area of brand communication that these guys are likely to be kept out of.

Keeping a pulse on the consumer meant something different just 10 years ago. Thanks to the explosion of data and devices, it takes on a whole new meaning today.

The writer is vice-president, DraftFCB Ulka Bangalore. The views expressed here are personal.

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/brands-in-social-media-intruders-as-friends/923065/0

Less than 30% firms will block social networking sites by ’14: Study

Although various global corporate houses and Indian firms have placed checks to prevent employees from logging into social networking sites, the number of organisations effecting such restriction is rapidly declining, a recent study conducted by Gartner has found.

 

According to data from the global technology research firm, less than 30% of large organisations will block

employee access to social media sites by 2014 against

50% in 2010.

The number of organisations blocking access to all social media is dropping by around 10% a year, the data further suggested.

In addition to security threats, reduced productivity has often been held responsible for the introduction of restrictions on sites such as Facebook, and LinkedIn during work hours.

However, the increased use of personal devices has made it difficult for organisations to monitor social networking habits of employees. “Even in those organisations that block all access to social media, the blocks tend not to be complete,” said Andrew Walls, research vice-president at Gartner.

“Certain departments and processes, such as marketing, require access to external social media, and employees can circumvent blocks by using devices such as smartphones,” he added.

The Gartner report suggested that while there is an element of risk attached to freeing up social networking usage in office, there is an upside too.

Social media environments include mechanisms to collect, process, share and store a more complete range of identity data than do corporate ‘identity and access management‘ (IAM) systems.

The usage of these sites could enable a more comprehensive view of employees – one that extends beyond the bounds of organisations.

“For IAM managers, this is both a threat and an opportunity. Identity data and social media platforms can expose organisations and users to a wide variety of security threats, but organisations can also use this identity data to improve support for their own IAM practices and the ambitions of business stakeholders,” Gartner said in a statement.

Source: http://www.financialexpress.com/news/less-than-30-firms-will-block-social-networking-sites-by-14-study/920936/0

Govt should impose regulations on social media: Infosys Executive Co-Chairman Krish Gopalakrishnan

IT major Infosys Executive Co-Chairman Krish Gopalakrishnan today said government should impose regulations to check media players like Google, Yahoo and Facebook from hosting objectionable contents on their websites.

“The government should regulate social media websites from hosting objectionable contents. It is vital to establish jurisdiction over citizens’ data for security reasons,” he said at the Knowledge Summit organised by All India Management Association here.

Gopalakrishnan noted that this was a global problem and it was being dealt differently by different countries. “The European Union is trying to set up its own guidelines, while the US is doing it in its own style,” he said.

He said social media had become powerful in terms of opinion making and publishing positive and negative stories. “Sometimes, deliberately or by mistake, such stories could be twisted to create needless problems,” he added.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo India and Microsoft have been accused of hosting anti-religious or anti-social contents on their websites.

The controversy over monitoring social networking websites arose after Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal had asked them to ‘screen’ their contents.

A Delhi court had recently directed several social media players including Facebook India, Google India Pvt Ltd and Youtube to remove objectionable contents from their websites.

Source: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-03-07/news/31131986_1_social-media-anti-religious-or-anti-social-contents-websites