4-Minute Roundup: Google TV Disrupts; Facebook Passes Google

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by the Knight Digital Media Center, providing a spectrum of training for the 21st century journalist. Find out more at KDMC's website. It's also underwritten by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

Here's the latest 4MR audio report from MediaShift. In this week's edition, I look at Google TV, the new alliance between Google, Intel, Sony and Logitech to create a new TV or set-top box that will finally connect the TV with the Net in a simple way. Plus, Facebook last week surpassed Google in traffic for the U.S., according to Experian Hitwise, and Facebook referrals to news sites were more loyal visitors than referrals from Google News or the Google search engine. And I asked Just One Question to Time magazine TV critic James Poniewozik, getting his take on Google TV.

Check it out:

4mrbareaudio31910.mp3

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Listen to my entire interview with James Poniewozik:

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Google and Partners Seek TV Foothold at NY Times

Google TV Should Finally Push Apple TV Beyond A Hobby at TechCrunch

It's Official - Facebook Rules the Web at PC World

Facebook surpasses Google in weekly traffic at San Jose Mercury News

How Facebook overtook Google to be the top spot on the Internet at Fortune Brainstormtech

Facebook edges past Google for weekly traffic at SFGate's Tech Chronicles

Facebook Visitors Come Back Again and Again at Hitwise blog

If You Tell Them On Facebook, They Will Come...Again and Again at ReadWriteWeb

The Google giant begins to topple at Network World

Check out some of our write-in answers to last week's poll question about what people thought about geo-location services such as Foursquare:

survey answers foursquare.jpg

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think about your cable or satellite service:


Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

This episode of 4MR is brought to you by the Knight Digital Media Center, providing a spectrum of training for the 21st century journalist. Find out more at KDMC's website. It's also underwritten by GoDaddy, helping you set up your own website in a snap with domain name registration, web hosting and 24/7 support. Visit GoDaddy to learn more.

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BBC iPlayer About to Go Social

BBC sites are responsible for 40 percent of the visits to iPlayer, according to Hitwise.

The BBC will make viewing of its on-demand videos more social by adding Facebook, Twitter and Bebo integration into its widely popular iPlayer online video application, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The addition of more social sharing features has the potential to greatly increase usage and viewer engagement for the iPlayer, which continues to post record numbers month after month.

In an interview with the Telegraph, the BBC’s director of future media and technology, Erik Huggers, said that social sharing features would be built into the iPlayer 3.0 beta, which is set to launch soon. According to Huggers, partnerships with the various social networking sites have already been signed, but the Beeb has been waiting until the release of the newest version of its player before making the new features available to users.

The integration will allow users to easily share what they are watching or listening to with friends and contacts on the social networking site. But for the integration to work, they will have to first register an account and log into the BBC iPlayer before adding their Facebook, Twitter and Bebo information to that account. Once that information is stored, they will no longer have to log into the services separately to post updates to their account from the iPlayer.

We’ve long believed that media companies can benefit by adding more social features around online video viewing. As we’ve seen in the case of CNN’s integration with Facebook at the Obama inauguration, social networks can do a lot to drive interest in online video, particularly for live events.

While the iPlayer could see a boost from social sharing, the video catchup service is doing just fine on its own, posting record numbers (again!) for the month of February. The iPlayer site was visited by an average of 1.4 million people per day , with 3.5 million requests for TV and radio programs during the month. But the most telling stat might be the amount of time viewers spent on the site. iPlayer viewers spent more than an hour — 64 minutes — catching up on TV programs online.

Related content on NewTeeVee: Watching the iPlayer Around The World: BBC, Meet VPN

Related content from GigaOM Pro: Can Enterprise Privacy Survive Social Networking? (subscription required)

Foursquare’s Next Move: A Big Funding Round

Start-up-of-the-moment Foursquare has lots of buzz, a rapidly growing user base and a triumphant tour of South by Southwest under its belt. Next task: Raising a pile of money.

Sources tell me that the mobile social network, which lets you tell your friends where you are, is lining up a new round of financing to bolster the $1.35 million it raised last August. CEO Dennis Crowley declined to comment.

I don’t know how much the year-old company intends to raise or the valuation it’s looking for. But speculating about both is a fun pastime for venture capitalists, who agree on one thing: The company won’t have any problem attracting suitors.

“Everybody and their mother is humping their leg,” says a VC who readily admits to Foursquare infatuation. So many investors are besotted that the chatter can get feverish. Another VC passes along a rumor that an investor offered to buy into the company at a $100 million valuation.

A more reasonable guess: New York-based Foursquare will wind up bringing in a West Coast-based VC, who will lead a round in the $10 million range that will value the company at something like $40 million. Foursquare’s first round valued the company at more than $6 million.

So what’s the appeal? Like plenty of other social media start-ups, Foursquare has minimal revenue. But it has a great story, which contains plenty of allusions to Twitter.

Like Twitter, Foursquare was founded by an entrepreneur who already built a start-up and sold it to Google (GOOG). And like Twitter, Foursquare launched at South by Southwest to some fanfare, and has seen its user base increase at breathtaking velocity.

When Crowley raised his first round of financing from O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Union Square Ventures in August, Foursquare had some 50,000 users. That total is now approaching 600,000, boosted by a burst of 100,000 sign-ups over the last 10 days.

And while Foursquare, like Twitter, doesn’t have real revenue to speak of, it does have a notion of how to get some. It is working on tie-ups with local merchants, who can reward users who “check in” at restaurants, bars, etc.–and by doing so, provide free advertising for those establishments.

Foursquare still doesn’t do anything for me, but the service is doing just fine without buy-in from a middle-aged dude who doesn’t go out at night. And because Foursquare is a fun, buzzy story to write about, it gets written about a lot.

The real question for Foursquare: How will the start-up keep Twitter and Facebook from rolling over it? Twitter added its location feature this month, and Facebook is reportedly adding its own in April.

Both these companies have plenty on their plate, so it’s possible they won’t spend much effort chasing Foursquare’s niche. Still, it’s hard to see room for three social networks that let you broadcast your whereabouts to your pals. But that’s not dissuading guys who can write big checks.

Second Porch Gets $1 Million For Its Vacation Home Facebook App

Vacation home

Second Porch, which lets users find and list available vacation homes via a Facebook app, has raised $1 million in a first round of funding. The company’s pitch: Because all of its vacation home listings are on Facebook, users are able to rent or trade with people they “know and trust” (ie their friends or friends of friends). Basic listings are free, while premium listings cost $99 a year. The biggest competitor in the online vacation home market is HomeAway, which has raised more than $410 million in funding, and has been buying up a string of smaller vacation rental sites.

And, indeed, Second Porch is careful to note in its announcement that it can “compliment” that site “by giving homeowners the controls to integrate their existing calendars and even link back to their listings (there).” The cash is coming from Oregon Angel Fund.


Are You Watching TV While You Read This?

More fuel for the “everybody’s watching TV and the Web at the same time” meme: Data from Nielsen showing that lots of people are watching TV and the Web at the same time, at least during big live events.

Nielsen says 13.3 percent of Americans who watched the Oscars also used the Web during this month’s telecast and that 14.5 percent of those watching last month’s Super Bowl did the same thing (see table below; click to enlarge).

These numbers are both up from last year, and the only surprise here is that they’re so low. But remember: Not everyone spends as much time on the Web as you do–a third of the country still doesn’t have broadband.

Nielsen says that online/offline viewers spent the majority of their Web time at Facebook, Google (GOOG) and Yahoo (YHOO), which isn’t surprising. It’s a little bit interesting that Twitter.com doesn’t crack Nielsen’s list of Top 10 domains for simultaneous viewing. But perhaps most people who Twitter during TV time are doing so from their phones.

Speaking of which, many thanks to all of you who have refrained from Twittering during and immediately after “Lost” this season–my stream has been nice and quiet so far. Or perhaps no one’s watching “Lost” anymore. I wouldn’t blame them; this season has been frustrating even by the show’s frustrating standards.

How Magazines Use Social Media to Boost Pass-Along, Build Voice

Magazines have always prided themselves on their longevity as a medium and their pass-along circulation -- the additional readers each copy gains when it's passed from hand to hand.

Today, social media are providing opportunities for readers to share content and experience their favorite magazines as part of their social activity online. As a result, this is the dawn of a new era of pass-along.

Building a Community of Readers

So far, Facebook and Twitter have both been tested as ways to market print subscriptions and publicize magazines' online content.

Seventeen magazine tried offering a special subscription deal to its over 64,000 Twitter followers. If readers paid up front, they could get a $5 year-long subscription to the magazine through a link in a tweet.

"We had 170 paid subscriptions in 24 hours, which is a great number," said Julie Hochheiser, the senior web editor for the Hearst Teen Network, which includes Seventeen's online content. "We definitely thought that was a success."

Tweets and Facebook posts also help promote the magazines' websites, though Hochheiser said that posts should offer more value than just a link.

"With a content brand, your business is mostly driving traffic to your site, but Twitter users don't necessarily want to be driven to your site," she says. "They want what they're finding in those 140 characters to be useful."

Showcasing a Real-Time Voice

On the smaller end of the magazine spectrum, Lapham's Quarterly, a magazine focusing on history and culture, is also active with social media. Web editor Michelle Legro said Lapham's began using Twitter and Facebook simultaneously in October 2009, and that their efforts have grown steadily since then, mainly to showcase the ongoing research and discussions of the magazine staff.

laphams facebook small.jpg

"It's allowed us to give a real-time voice to the magazine," Legro said. "We're both a historical and a quarterly magazine, so social media let us give a voice to things we find out every single day."

Lapham's tweets, written by Legro, are noticeable for their frequent use of dates from the past and their placement of contemporary events within historical context. "I can see what people are talking about on Twitter, find a historical source in the archives and post that, then people share it around," she said.

The response to Lapham's social media efforts has been positive: Twitter and Facebook are now two of the site's main traffic sources.

"We've found that Twitter acts like a stock and Facebook like a bond," Legro said. On Twitter, "when people really like something, they join in bursts. With Facebook, people join slowly and steadily, but continue to join all the time."

Magazine Advertisers Join In

Magazines are just now beginning to find ways to make partnerships with advertisers work via social media. Katie Tamony, editor-in-chief of Sunset magazine, described the magazine's Facebook page as a "little laboratory" for new marketing ideas.

"We have 11,500 fans, so we can come to them not just with content, but also with some marketing ideas," Tamony said. This small group of generally younger readers and fans posts about 500 "interactions" weekly to Sunset's fan page, and offers real-time feedback to questions and offers presented by the staff.

Matt Milner, vice president of social media and community for Hearst Magazines Digital Media, described the careful balance required to integrate advertisers into a magazine's social media efforts.

"Advertisers or partners can pay to join the conversation, but it's equally as important to show that we realize that there has to be value added to these communities," Milner said. "We give clear guidance to our advertisers: 'It's great you're joining the conversation, but you're not here to sell your product -- you're here to build your brand within our community'."

For example, Seventeen has used both sponsored tweets and sponsored Facebook posts to involve advertisers in its social media content.

"Our audience didn't really see the difference. As long as the content is interesting to them, they'll click on it," said Hochheiser, who works with Seventeen. "We make sure it's something useful to them and not just a blatant ad, but it has the sponsor language right there."

Enhancing Print Editions

Magazines' social media efforts have also paid off for their print products.

"We pose questions to our readership to feed into future stories," said Tamony from Sunset. Past queries included readers' favorite ways to use spinach and their favorite road trips in the West. "We give a sampling of the Facebook responses we've gotten, and it's fun for readers to see their names end up in print."

In another example, Tamony said a recent Facebook question about favorite weeknight meals revealed how often readers used chicken in their everyday cooking, and how much they wanted new ideas for those meals. Her staff can use this feedback to craft relevant stories in future issues. "So even if we don't use their comments, we're still using their ideas in the magazine," she said.

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The conversation with readers has benefited Hearst magazines as well. "Sometimes we just listen. What do they want from content? What do they want our web editors to be writing about?" said Milner. "We feel like there's a huge benefit to hearing that."

Magazines' use of social media also echoes and enhances the voice of the magazine itself. Legro is the social media "voice" of Lapham's, and she works to maintain a specific style in her tweets and posts.

"I try to be light and accessible, because often with history, it can be perceived as dry, but really it's extremely fun," Legro said. "My goal is to entertain. History can entertain in itself. It just takes an editor to find the right things."

For Sunset, using social media is like "having an event or a party going on all the time," said Tamony. "It feels that way because Sunset is all about enjoying life and pleasurable things, so you get this kind of happy buzz from it."

The lines distinguishing magazines' print and online content, their social media projects and their advertising will probably continue to blur.

"It might take 10 years until we figure out how to master this," said Milner. "Social media transcends departments -- it's beyond edit, beyond sales. It will inform more and more content decisions in a good way, but it's going to take a little while."

Susan Currie Sivek, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Mass Communication and Journalism Department at California State University, Fresno. Her research focuses on magazines and media communities. She also blogs at sivekmedia.com, and is the magazine correspondent for MediaShift.

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A Changing Of The Silicon Valley Guard?

Changing Of The Guard

Hitwise runs the numbers and notes that for the first time ever last week Facebook passed Google (NSDQ: GOOG) to become the most visited website in the U.S. It’s not as though Google has stopped growing; it’s just that Facebook is growing at a much faster clip. The caveats: It’s only one research organization, one metric (market share of all direct visits), and one week. But take a look at the trend.

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