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Twitter’s Vine app has rocky launch, survives anyhow

The newly launched Vine app was off to a rough start, and while it unveils a deep competition between Facebook and Twitter, it offers a hybrid between photo and video sharing that could be the long sought after social media sweet spot.

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Vine app: Twitter’s first standalone product

In October of last year, Twitter acquired Vine, a smartphone app that users can create videos with, which when edited, becomes a six second animated gif that loops and is embedded in a tweet, sticking with the brevity of the 140 character limit of Twitter.

The Vine app is Twitter’s first standalone product, much like Facebook has Facebook Messenger and Facebook Poke, and is a hybrid of photo sharing and video sharing, with an advantage over animated gifs – sound. This could be the sweet spot that bloggers and social media users have been looking for, because while it hits that space in between photo and video, it does auto-play, but the sound is automatically muted and can be turned on, which we believe to be the perfect approach.

Examples of the Vine app in the real world:

“They’re quirky,” says Vine Co-Founder Don Hofmann

Don Hofmann, Co-Founder and General Manager of Vine said on the company’s blog, “Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special. We’re also happy to share the news that Vine has been acquired by Twitter. Our companies share similar values and goals; like Twitter, we want to make it easier for people to come together to share and discover what’s happening in the world.”

“We also believe constraint inspires creativity, whether it’s through a 140-character Tweet or a six-second video,” Hoffman added. “Although we’ve joined Twitter, you don’t need a Twitter account to use Vine (but signing up is a little quicker if you do!). We are thrilled to be part of Twitter, and look forward to the opportunities we can pursue together in the future.”

Vine app: off to a bad start, what happened?

Vine officially launched on Thursday for iPhone and iPod Touch users, which instantly alienated half of their potential users, and although the company says they are quickly working on the Android app, critics say they launched prematurely having only one of the apps completed.

That’s technology these days though, and a common complaint. That’s not all that went down, though, as users began seeing posts in their name from the Vine app and it was uncovered that there was a tech glitch allowing users to sign into accounts that weren’t theirs. Instantly, many people got a bad taste in their mouth and said they would opt out, but the glitch has been repaired, and the company was proactive in their public relations push, and rather than blaming users, they simply said it was a problem, they’d fix it, and they did.

Additionally, one of the standard methods of connecting with other users within any new social network is the “find friends” feature which allows you to see which of your Twitter or Facebook friends are already on the network. But Facebook blocked the Vine app from that data, so only Twitter friends are searchable. Some openly mocked Facebook for not sharing their data, but the company has openly blocked competition, and it should be noted that Twitter has recently done the same by blocking Instagram (owned by Facebook), highlighting a growing chasm between the two competitors.

The Vine app will definitely lead to some embarrassment for users who have any temporary lapse in judgment, and we predict a few celebrities will have some shameful moments. We noticed that while a user can delete a tweet, or even a Vine video, the tweets with the Vine videos in them can be grabbed by Storify, which essentially memorializes the moment, as deleted content is not necessarily deleted by Storify.

Lastly, as with any internet site, tool, or app, the porn showed up, turning many users off, and while it is no surprise, it is of concern. Samantha Murphy at Mashable reports, “Videos saved via the Vine app with hashtags such as #porn, #sex and #penis revealed even more graphic videos, many of which had a warning that the following content contained sensitive content. Twitter and Vine have not yet responded to a request for comment.”

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Analysis: Vine app proves Web 2.0 movement was a farce

While the primary concerns have been resolved with the Vine app’s rocky launch, it is an interesting moment in social media history, highlighting not only the increasingly heated competition between Facebook and Twitter, but revealing that the Web 2.0 movement was a farce, a practical joke.

Five years ago, the mentality of the general web was that of mashups – everyone should openly collaborate, all services should share their data, and the world online should be completely transparent. The tech world acted like a hippie co-op with open doors, but they’ve grown up and realized that’s no way to do business – Coke doesn’t share their recipes with Pepsi. Now, and companies like Facebook which are publicly traded, are having to do business like big boys and protect their incomes, but boy, all of that “transparency” companies were talked into sure helped some companies to get big while others withered – therein lies the practical joke.

This moment in time, this butting of heads between Twitter and Facebook is one of the final nails in the Web 2.0 coffin, an ending of an era where startups sang kumbaya together, even while they competed against each other. The two biggest social networks (Facebook and Twitter) are now innovating as an ad play, not for the excitement of thrilling users and growing their legions of loyal fans, and they’re here to do business.

Will some criticize? Of course, these companies are making money on the backs of content generated by users, but that’s never been a secret, so maybe it’s time to focus on the next era which is a world filled with billions of disparate data points that businesses are trying to figure out how to piece together and make sense of as a means of making money.

Social Media

Twitter to start charging users? Here’s what you need to know

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social media is trending toward the subscription based model, especially as the pandemic pushes ad revenue down. What does this mean for Twitter users?

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Twitter and other social media apps open on a phone being held in a hand. Will they go to a paid option subscription model?

In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Twitter Inc. announced that it will be considering developing a subscription product, as well as other paid options. Here’s the scoop:

  • The ideas for paid Twitter that are being tossed around include tipping creators, the ability to pay users you follow for exclusive content, charging for use of the TweetDeck, features like “undo send”, and profile customization options and more.
  • While Twitter has thought about moving towards paid for years, the pandemic has pushed them to do it – plus activist investors want to see accelerated growth.
  • The majority of Twitter’s revenue comes from targeted ads, though Twitter’s ad market is significantly smaller than Facebook and other competitors.
  • The platform’s user base in the U.S. is its most valuable market, and that market is plateauing – essentially, Twitter can’t depend on new American users joining to make money anymore.
  • The company tried user “tips” in the past with its live video service Periscope (RIP), which has now become a popular business model for other companies – and which we will most likely see again with paid Twitter.
  • And yes, they will ALWAYS take a cut of any money being poured into the app, no matter who it’s intended for.

This announcement comes at a time where other social media platforms, such as TikTok and Clubhouse, are also moving towards paid options.

My hot take: Is it important – especially during a pandemic – to make sure that creators are receiving fair compensation for the content that we as users consume? Yes, 100%. Pay people for their work. And in the realm of social media, pictures, memes, and opinions are in fact work. Don’t get it twisted.

Does this shift also symbolize a deviation from the unpaid, egalitarian social media that we’ve all learned to use, consume, and love over the last decade? It sure does.

My irritation stems not from the fact that creators will probably see more return on their work in the future. Or on the principal of free social media for all. It stems from sheer greediness of the social media giants. Facebook, Twitter, and their counterparts are already filthy rich. Like, dumb rich. And guess what: Even though Twitter has been free so far, it’s creators and users alike that have been generating wealth for the company.

So why do they want even more now?

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Social Media

TikTok enters the e-commerce space, ready to compete with Zuckerberg?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Setting up social media for e-commerce isn’t an uncommon practice, but for TikTok this means the next step competing with Facebook and Instagram.

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Couple taking video with mobile phone, prepared for e-commerce.

Adding e-commerce offerings to social media platforms isn’t anything new. However, TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, is rolling out some new e-commerce features that will place the social video app in direct competition with Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Instagram.

According to a Financial Times report, TikTok’s new features will allow the platform to create and expand its e-commerce service in the U.S. The new features will allow TikTok’s popular users to monetize their content. These users will be able to promote and sell products by sharing product links in their content. In return, TikTok will profit from the sales by earning a commission.

Among the features included is “live-streamed” shopping. In this mobile phone shopping channel, users can purchase products by tapping on products during a user’s live demo. Also, TikTok plans on releasing a feature that will allow brands to display their product catalogs.

Currently, Facebook has expanded into the e-commerce space through its Facebook Marketplace. In May 2020, it launched Facebook Shops that allows businesses to turn their Facebook and Instagram stories into online stores.

But, Facebook hasn’t had too much luck in keeping up with the video platform in other areas. In 2018, the social media giant launched Lasso, its short-form video app. But the company’s TikTok clone didn’t last too long. Last year, Facebook said bye-bye to Lasso and shut it down.

Instagram is trying to compete with TikTok by launching Instagram Reels. This feature allows users to share short videos just like TikTok, but the future of Reels isn’t set in stone yet. By the looks of it, videos on Reels are mainly reposts of video content posted on TikTok.

There is no word on when the features will roll out to influencers on TikTok, but according to the Financial Times report, the social media app’s new features have already been viewed by some people.

TikTok has a large audience that continues to grow. By providing monetization tools in its platform, TikTok believes its new tools will put it ahead of Facebook in the e-commerce game, and help maintain that audience.

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Social Media

Your favorite Clubhouse creators can now ask for your financial support

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Clubhouse just secured new funding – what it means for creators and users of the latest quarantine-based social media darling.

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Woman talking on Clubhouse on her iPhone with a big smile.

Clubhouse – the live-voice chat app that has been taking the quarantined world by storm – has recently announced that it has raised new funding in a Series B round, led by Andreessen Horowitz, the venture capital firm in Silicon Valley.

The app confirms that new funding means compensation for creators; much like the influencers on TikTok and YouTube, now Clubhouse creators will be able to utilize features such as subscriptions, tipping, and ticket sales to monetize their content.

To encourage emerging Clubhouse creators and invite new voices, funding round will also support a promising “Creator Grant Program”.

On the surface, Clubhouse is undoubtedly cool. The invite-only, celebrity-filled niche chatrooms feel utopic for any opinionated individual – or anyone that just likes to listen. At its best, Clubhouse brings to mind collaborative campfire chats, heated lecture-hall debates or informative PD sessions. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m actually obsessed.

And now with its new round, the video chatroom app will not only appear cool but also act as a helpful steppingstone to popular and emerging creators alike. “Creators are the lifeblood of Clubhouse,” said Paul & Rohan, the app’s creators, “and we want to make sure that all of the amazing people who host conversations for others are getting recognized for their contributions.”

Helping creators get paid for their labor in 2021 is a cause that we should 100% get behind, especially if we’re consuming their content.

Over the next few months, Clubhouse will be prototyping their tipping, tickets and subscriptions – think a system akin to Patreon, but built directly into the app.

A feature unique to the app – tickets – will offer individuals and organizations the chance to hold formal discussions and events while charging an admission. Elite Clubhouse rooms? I wonder if I can get a Clubhouse press pass.

Additionally, Clubhouse has announced plans for Android development (the app has only been available to Apple users so far). They are also working on moderation policies after a recent controversial chat sparked uproar. To date, the app has been relying heavily on community moderation, the power of which I’ve witnessed countless times whilst in rooms.

So: Is the golden age of Clubhouse – only possible for a short period while everyone was stuck at home and before the app gained real mainstream traction – now over? Or will this new round of funding and subsequent development give the app a new beginning?

For now, I think it’s safe to say that the culture of Clubhouse will certainly be changing – what we don’t know is if the changes will make this cream-of-the-crop app even better, or if it’ll join the ranks of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook in being another big-time social media staple.

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