labs

Social Media & Politics, Kindle’s New Opt Out Feature, Social Radio, & MBTA CuriosiTy

 

Top Story:  The 2012 Social Media Election

This year’s presidential election marks the first social election and politicians and political parties are in need of Facebook likes and Twitter retweets in order to stay relevant and competitive in the 2012 election.

Four years ago, social media wasn’t widely used or thought about. On election day in 2008, there were 1.8 million tweets – compare that to the number of tweets being sent every six minutes today.  In 2008, Facebook was popular mostly among college students and now there are more than 110,000 political Facebook pages in the United States and 11,000 pages for politicians.

Candidates are also turning to Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest to spread their messages. Joe Green, president and co-founder of NationBuilder, said democracy in its most basic form is really about mobilizations of the masses, and that is what social media enables at the grassroots level.

President Obama (@BarackObama) and Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) are spending millions of dollars to advertise online, including placed media with Facebook and Twitter. Last week, Romney’s team became the first political campaign to purchase a “trending topic” on Twitter, ensuring that his message would pop up prominently in the social network’s stream.

 

What makes this social media craze more interesting than any other is the level of interest in social media reach and power. Facebook and Twitter are keeping tabs and measuring how well the presidential candidates are connecting with their audiences.

The Twitter Political Index is a daily measurement that evaluates the sentiment of Twitter users’ feelings about the candidates, Obama and Romney, relative to the more than 400 million tweets sent about all other topics each day. The social network has partnered with two polling firms and analytics company, Topsy, to validate data.

 

Facebook partnered with CNN and is tracking sentiment about the candidates through the volume of Facebook activity about the election.  Through the website www.cnn.com/fbinsights visitors can view trends based on region, gender, ages, and timeframe.

 

Are you following the election via social media? Do you think Twitter & Facebook will aid in campaigns, or does it have the power to destroy a candidate?

 

Under the Radar: Kindle Responds To Criticism, Offers $15 Opt Out On New Kindle Fire

 

On Friday Kindle announced that its new Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD would both have ads, and users would be unable to opt out. As soon as this news hit, many people took to social media and the Web to voice strong displeasure at this news. One of the biggest issues people had with Amazon’s decision was that the previous edition of the Fire did give users the ability to opt out.

After less than 48 hours of complaints, Amazon came back out and stated that they would be adding an opt out offering for all users, with a $15 price tag (which is $5 less than the current opt out deal Kindle offers on current models). Amazon announced it with this message to many publications:

“I wanted to let you know that with Kindle Fire HD there will be a special offers opt-out option for $15. We know from our Kindle reader line that customers love our special offers and very few people choose to opt out. We’re happy to offer customers the choice.”

While Amazon is confident in their advertising model, it is impressive to see its swift shift in policy over the ability for users to opt out, and a good sign for the Kindle product software in the future that Amazon is willing to listen.

One reason Amazon believes users will not mind the ads is that they are what they call “Special Offers and Sponsored Screensavers,” which in theory should be useful as a recommendation engine to Kindle owners.

 

 

Tool of the Week: Social Radio

 

 

Can Social Radio help you manage Twitter a little bit better? While the iPhone and Android apps have been around for a little while, the web-based version was just released, and I’ve been playing around with it to see if it can add value to my daily work life. Conclusion? Well, maybe a little bit.

To be certain, the web version of Social Radio is a lot less about the music and more about the monitoring it does. Yes, the service has various radio stations you can listen to, but all are a little bland and I’m not exactly sure where they’re getting this music. But you can easily turn off the music and let your own music play, whether from Spotify, Pandora, or iTunes. In the meantime, Social Radio will be constantly monitoring your Twitter stream alerting you to all new tweets coming your way.

I started off by monitoring my entire Twitter stream. But following 600-something people means that the parrot-like voice will simply be reciting tweet after tweet after tweet. The voice comes in both a male and female version and they seem to take turns reading your tweets. While at times I thought the voices sounded almost normal, they definitely have that robot-like quality and stumble on many Twitter handles that don’t make obvious pronunciation sense.

 

So, where did I find value in Social Radio? I manage multiple Twitter accounts and sometimes the biggest time-suck of my day is logging in and out of all the accounts or doing various searches to see what’s going on. I can set Social Radio to manage the hashtags I need to be monitoring and go about my business, listening to whatever Spotify music I choose. Every time a tweet containing the hashtag I’m monitoring comes in, I’ll get a small interruption to my music letting me know a new tweet is coming in. Without even taking my eye off my current desktop tab, I know what kind of action is taking place with the hashtag and can determine whether or not I need to sign in to the account to take action.

It looks like Social Radio is planning some more updates in the future, including the ability to monitor your Facebook stream. This will likely come in handy for the Facebook obsessed who know they shouldn’t be scrolling through their News Feed while driving. But it will also hopefully be able to alert us if something important is going on in one of the communities we manage. I’m also crossing my fingers that Social Radio will soon allow us to monitor multiple hashtags or Twitter searches as a time. Anything that allows me to manage my work day a little better is OK with me and I’ll definitely be using the web-based Social Radio in the future.

 

Around the Hub: MBTA Launches Campaign to Celebrate 115 Years 

 

Ever wonder why the subway system is based on colors?

You might find your answers on your next morning commute! In honor of 115 year history of Boston’s transit system (the oldest subway system in America!), the MBTA is inserting “fun facts” inside different trains and buses as part of their “CuriosiTy” inititative which offers travelers little-known information about the T. Facts are SHOCKINGLY impressive!

Here is a sample of the card that will be going up this week!

 

This initiative just adds to the MBTA’s growth and achievements as they just opened their new CharlieCard store in Downtown Crossing adjacent to the red and orange lines and introduced Charlie – the official mascot of the MBTA – to promote the T and thank commuters and visitors.

 

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