Playground Buzz – The Most Intriguing Social Media News of the Week

By Affinitive

As we bow out of 2011 and ring in the New Year, the office’s been abuzz with predictions and lots of lists of what we’d like to see more of from our favorite apps and platforms. When not streaming Spotify’s top streamed songs of 2011, puzzling over Michelle Bachmann’s conspiracy theory that Facebook and Google are in alliance with Obama,  or the New York Time’s rather bizarre email blast about home delivery subscriptions we never had, we’ve been linking each other to these stories. We’re logging off for the New Year with these in mind:

Is Timeline an Advertising front?
Facebook is a free platform for users. That much is set in stone and crystal clear. While the public roll out of Timeline took a long time coming, it seemed a natural step in Facebook’s evolution as a platform. A former CTO is now charging that the feature isn’t entirely benevolent and without strings, but a front for advertisers to cull consumer info:

“What most users don’t know is that the new features being introduced are all centered around increasing the value of Facebook to advertisers, to the point where Facebook representatives have been selling the idea that Timeline is actually about re-conceptualizing users around their consumer preferences, or as they put it, “brands are now an essential part of people’s identities.”

While Timeline does lay out posts in a rough chronological order, the writer charges that when it comes to what’s on display to a social circle, metrics including direct payments to Facebook influence ranking and placement, which is crucial to graph rank, a metric and non-published algorithm for placement that determines what appears on your profile (basically what lumped all those posts on your newsfeed about “Christmas” together).

With sponsored stories and call to actions submissions rolling out as well, it doesn’t seem to be a big secret that Facebook is tapping into user activity to recommend and push brands and advertisements. At the moment Facebook has not offered a comment.

Twitter Beats Out Facebook for Media Coverage
When it came to news coverage in 2011, Twitter ruled the roost with 50% of media attention with Facebook trailing closely behind at 45%. In a study released by HighBeam Research, Twitter consistently captured the most media coverage each month, with the exception of February and April, when Facebook took the lead due to the release of new page layouts and deals, respectively. Twitter’s constant media attention throughout 2011 is to be expected as various protests, uprisings, and social change conversation took place on, and was organized most notably by Twitter.

Fab on the Rise with 100,000 orders a Month
E-commerce site Fab has had a busy year. The platform originally started out as a gay social network startup, but switched gears to become a design-oriented shopping hub. Founder Jason Goldberg created a fabulous timeline to showcase just how quickly and rapidly the company’s grown throughout the year. Most impressive was how Fab’s order growth went from 20,000 in July to 100,000 in November, with orders continuing to grow throughout December due to the holiday. With a growing consumer base, it’s possible Fab might become “the Amazon of design.”

Facebook Officially Releases Desktop Messenger for Windows
Facebook has officially released a desktop messenger client for Windows that’ll allow users to access Facebook chat without having to log into Facebook. The client also includes tickers and notifications that ultimately goad one back onto Facebook. Although the client is not available for Macs at the moment, Instant Messaging platforms AIM and Live Messenger might have to step smart. You can download the messenger here.

Google Testing Adwords 
In an attempt to go beyond traditional text ads, it seems  Google is toying around with its Adwords offerings with Google Email Subscription Ads that’ll allow  companies to buy ads that automatically fill in a call to action (specifically, subscribe) slot with a user’s Gmail address already filled in. You can check out the screenshots of said experiment at the link.

40% of Facebook Users Use Mobile Apps 
According to data released by Enders Analysis , monthly active users of Facebook’s mobile apps recently passed the 300 million mark, which roughly equates to about 40% of Facebook’s 800 million active users. What remains unknown however, is how many Facebook users access the platform solely through their mobile devices.

Startup Trends of 2011
Startups can be such fickle things, but what started in 2011 could very well dominate the trend lists of 2012. We took a moment to take note of six notable startup trends and especially liked the last one. We’d like to hear what trends and predictions you’ve made note of, so leave them in the comments ! You can also read our own predictions for social platforms in 2012 !

Did we miss a bit o’buzz? Let us know and join in on the conversation here!