All posts in “Social”

Social media monitor Brandwatch acquires content marketing platform BuzzSumo

Brandwatch, a social media monitoring company, has acquired BuzzSumo, a content marketing and influencer identification platform, for an undisclosed sum. BuzzSumo never raised beyond seed stage and was in effect bootstrapped by its founders. The acquisition adds an important arrow into Brandwatch’s quiver, which raised a $33 million C-round war chest in 2015 for just such a move. Expect more from this company, which seems intent on creating a suite of powerful tools for online marketers.

To date, BuzzSumo has provided data-driven content discovery and performance analytics to nearly 3,400 customers and more than 300,000 users worldwide, including Expedia, BuzzFeed and Disney. Although Brandwatch CEO Giles Palmer says the two companies will be run in parallel, these in effect become Brandwatch clients now.

Palmer told TechCrunch that he had made an offer for the company a year ago, but Steve Rayson, director at BuzzSumo, who also lives in Brighton U.K., demurred.

“I had been tracking them for the last three years. Every six months Steve and I would catch up. And I tried to make an offer last year, but they weren’t interested,” he said.

Rayson told me he had considered raising a further funding round to scale up, but liked the synergy with Brandwatch, hence the deal. “This year we were looking at how we could grow the sales and marketing side. We decided to join forces with Giles. It was a mutual decision based on the caliber of the company.”

Brandwatch’s first acquisition was PeerIndex, in December 2014.

Twitter launches ‘Happening Now’ to showcase tweets about events, starting with sports

Twitter is today releasing a new feature called “Happening Now” aimed to make its service more accessible to newcomers by highlighting groups of tweets about a topic, beginning with sports, before expanding to other areas like entertainment and breaking news. If this sounds similar to Twitter’s existing Moments feature….well, it is.

Moments, too, offers a way to learn more about a given timely topic across a number of categories, like Sports, News and Entertainment.

But Twitter Moments are a curated selection of tweets that tell a story, while Happening Now will take users to a dedicated timeline of tweets related to the event at hand. Moments are also often more visual, featuring images and videos, which is why they’ve been likened to Twitter’s version of Snapchat or Instagram’s “Stories.”

In a demo of the new feature posted to the official @Twitter account, there are Happening Now events for MLB, NBA, and NFL games shown at the top of the Twitter timeline. You can swipe horizontally through these events, each depicted with a title (e.g. “NFL Giants vs. Buccaneers”) and an image.

When you tap into a game to see more, the current score appears at the top of a customized timeline containing real-time tweets about the event.

Twitter, of course, already offers ways to tune into live events via its network, including via its live video streams of an event, as well as by following an event’s hashtag – like #wwdc for Apple’s Developer conference, for instance.

Happening Now, though, builds on top of Twitter’s understanding of how to sort tweets associated with an event, like live video. The tweets will display algorithmically in these new custom Happening Now timelines.

What’s interesting about this new implementation is that it’s not entirely hashtag dependent, it seems.

In the brief demo Twitter shared, some tweets did reference hashtags related to the event at hand – the Giants vs. Bucs game – like #Giants, #GiantsFan, #Buccaneers, and #GoBucs. However, other tweets only referenced the match up in plain text, sometimes even vaguely. For instance, one tweet in the stream simply read: “Man oh man I am at the edge of my seat.”

This is not the first (nor likely the last) time Twitter will try to make its service more useful to newcomers who just want to follow topics, not people. Last year, it updated its homepage for logged-out users so they could dive into various categories like News, Sports, Music, Entertainment, and more; plus view Moments and other featured tweets.

It also revamped its Explore section earlier this year to help users find videos, trends, and Moments in a single tab.

Though Happening Now may appeal to newbies who don’t want to create customized lists, track hashtags, or figure out who to follow to follow relevant news on Twitter, it’s also likely to irk longtime Twitter users. Many today feel like their timelines are being invaded by ever more features they don’t need – whether that’s “While You Were Away” updates, or those that inform you of interesting links and trends Twitter thinks you’d like to know about.

With all these features and algorithmic suggestions, Twitter is losing a bit of its simplicity – ironically, in an effort to be “easier” to use.

Twitter says Happening Now is rolling out on iOS and Android starting today.

Featured Image: nevodka / iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus

Twitterrific returns to Mac as a customizable Twitter client, but at twice the price of Tweetbot

After raising upwards of $100,000 via a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, the team at Iconfactory has brought back one of the more popular third-party Twitter clients, Twitterrific for Mac. Effectively abandoned years ago when Iconfactory shifted its focus to mobile, the Kickstarter was meant to establish demand for a Mac app ahead of devoting developer resources to building it.

Today, Twitterrific 5 for Mac has gone live, and includes a number of features like a dark mode, themes, support for multiple timelines and accounts, syncing with its iOS counterpart, customizable fonts and type sizes, and more.

The client has also been built with macOS integrations in mind, including support for Notification Center, Retina displays, built-in sharing, full screen mode, and other features.

Longtime Twitter users will remember there was once a time when the landscape was rife with third-party Twitter clients, including Twitterrific, Tweetbot, and many more. But shortly after Twitter snapped up Tweetie in 2010 to form the basis of its own mobile app, it overhauled its API Terms of Service in 2011, effectively telling developers to stop building their own third-party Twitter apps.

Twitter then picked up TweetDeck for $40 million to save it from being acquired by UberMedia. But the app hasn’t received as much attention in recent months, as Twitter is focused more on mobile and web than it is on desktop.

The Twitterrific Mac app was first released a decade ago, but stopped being updated in 2013 as the team followed the money to mobile.

There’s still a small, but devoted crowd interested in a Twitterrific Mac app, however, as the Kickstarter proved.

But at double the price of a rival third-party client for Mac, Tweetbot, Iconfactory has priced its software to appeal to a niche audience whose fondness for Twitterrific hadn’t faded over the years. (Its new app is $19.99 compared with just $9.99 for Tweetbot.)

That said, the app delivers a good handful of features Mac users will like, beyond standard items like support for multiple panes, and access to Twitter’s main features like mentions, DMs, favorites, retweets, quote tweets, trending topics, saved searches, lists, and more.

It also makes it easier to follow chained tweets and “tweet storms,” while adding in-demand features Twitter itself doesn’t have, like the ability to edit your tweets, for example. (To be clear, Twitter doesn’t allow for tweet editing natively, so Twitterrific’s implementation is a workaround – it deletes the tweet you need to correct with the new one you’ve edited. Still, it’s handy.)

Different types of tweets are color-coded in Twitterrific as well, allowing you to quickly differentiate regular tweets from replies, DMs and your own updates.  And the app is quite customizable, too, with support for things like light and dark themes, the ability to control font type and size, which windows you want to see, and what content you don’t.

For those with the Twitterrific iOS version, the app will sync your reading position between devices, plus your mutes and muffles, a lighter version of muting.

The app also promises an ad-free experience without other clutter like Twitter’s “While You Were Away” catch-ups or other people’s tweets in the timeline. (Twitter doesn’t currently serve ads through its API, so third-party apps like Twitterrific don’t show them. But that could change.)

Kickstarter backers received the new Twitterrific for Mac app at a discounted price, and in some cases, were able to beta test. The public release at $19.99 may be a tougher sell among other mainstream Mac users, however, given the competition from both Tweetbot and the free Tweetdeck app.

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Ex-TechCruncher Billy Gallagher announces book on Snapchat’s origin

“So much of it is stranger than fiction. It’s a great story, I knew that if I didn’t write the book, someone else would and I’d regret it” says Billy Gallagher, author of “How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story”. The book, which starts pre-sales today and debuts on February 13th, follows CEO Evan Spiegel from the Stanford dorms where Snap was invented, to rejecting Facebook’s acquisition offer in 2013, through Snap’s rocky IPO.

Gallagher is uniquely apt to pen the book. The former TechCrunch reporter was in the same Stanford fraternity as Spiegel [Disclosure: so was I]. He already knew many of the young CEO’s contemporaries and was privy to the backchannel gossip about how the idea for disappearing mesages came to Spiegel, and why co-founder Reggie Brown was pushed out of the company.

Now completing his Stanford Business School degree, Gallagher has both the life experience and the know-how to decode the most fascinating startup founding story of the decade. Even without much assistance from the company itself.

“I was given no official access” Gallagher tells me. “Snapchat’s PR helped me with fact checking . I had to rely on previous sources I had from TechCrunch. I was pounding the pavement, cold-calling and cold-emailing. ‘What files can you show me? What emails can you show me?’” Gallagher worked from over 200 interviews and 450 pages of source notes to compile the end result.

But the hardest part was adjusting from the rapid-fire publishing style of TechCrunch to the long feedback cycle of publishing with St. Martin’s Press. “You find something out, you get really excited, you find a second source, and then you post about it” Gallagher says of blogging. But with the book, he’s had to watch scoops he first sniffed out get exposed later by the blogs.

Gallagher wouldn’t share hints about any of the scoops he has left for the book’s launch in February, but says what he thinks readers will enjoy is “Some of the early days of the company and even stuff at Future Freshman [which pivoted into Snap]. There’s meat left on the bone there.” Plus there’s all the details of the rejected Facebook acquisition. While The New York Times’ Evelyn Rusli dilligently reported on Spiegel turning down Facebook’s $3 billion-plus bid in 2013, Gallagher’s book will reveal the inside movements that characterize the failed deal.

As for his concluding perspective of Spiegel forged through the writing process, “You have to be impressed with anyone who can take an idea that was arguably not that great of an idea at its start, turn it into something very smart and simple, and build it into what Snapchat is today” Gallagher explains. “I admire the guts to turn down Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook at such a young age, and then back it up by taking the company public.”

Yet don’t expect some cheery, one-sided profile of the product genius. “Evan has some weaknesses. For founder-CEOs that are the company, it can be really hard when what’s getting you from zero to 1, and trusting your gut, isn’t what gets the company from 1 to 100.”

And in regards to Facebook’s strategy of copying Snapchat that’s making it so hard for the younger company, Gallagher gave these forboding words. “it’s a little disheartening to see how Facebook just looks at companies and says, ‘you’re Houseparty. You’re doing this really cool innovative chat app. We’re going to either buy you or crush you, and crush you by copying you with all the advantages of our scale’” he says glumly. “It’s hard to do anything in the social space without getting crushed by Facebook. What happens in five to ten years if this cycle continues?”

“How To Turn Down A Billion Dollars: The Snapchat Story” is now available for pre-sale from Amazon via St. Martin’s Press

Snapchat’s new Context Cards use Snaps for spontaneous discovery

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Snapchat is introducing a new feature that will transform the experience of using the apps at a fundamental level. They’re called ‘Context Cards,’ and they’re new ways to find out more info about any Snap shared by users, providing access to things like restaurant reviews, reservations, Uber and Lyft ride hailing, contact information and ore.

This is where Snapchat has a chance to turn its every day user engagement into a real world discovery and marketing platform that could potentially rival Yelp in terms of serendipitous discovery, and driving marketing value for restaurants, venues and destinations starting from a place of true interest, rather than approaching it from the perspective of providing a resource only to people already seeking that kind of info.

The new Context Cards work similar to how Snapchat’s marketing tools work for existing paid campaigns now, which can do things like offer up links to stories for publishers when users swipe up in their stories. You’ll see the same “More” link at the bottom of stories you’re watching, but when you swipe up, they’ll have info automatically populated from Snap’s partners on Context Cards, which include TripAdvsor, Foursquare, Michelin, Goop, OpenTable, Uber, Lyft and more.

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This isn’t going to appear in every Snap, however, lest you were worried that Snapchat was turning every single post on its platform into a marketing tool. Instead, it’ll include those that have been tagged with the company’s venue-specific Geofilters, or with any Snap that’s been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and that appears in Snap Map or Search.

Context Cards appear in a feed-like waterfall, with the first providing basic info including the name and category, as well as ratings sourced from partners including TripAdvisor and Foursquare. Other cards include more detailed user reviews, directions, operating hours, phone numbers, ride hailing options, reservations and additional Snaps from the same area submitted by other Snapchat users.

Snapchat’s Context Cards are bound to be a big deal for the company and the platform – they’re a new way for Snap to drum up business, for one, and they’re also just starting out, with plenty of potential to grow in future. Snap has positioned itself as a ‘camera company’ in the past, and this turns its camera into a visual-first contextual marketing platform.

It’s almost like Google’s contextual search-based advertising but for the visual world. How successful it will be, however, will rely a lot of Snap’s ability to grow its platform and deepen this product without distracting too much from the appeal of its core product to users.