All posts in “Social”

Taylor Swift’s new app, The Swift Life, is out now

In the midst of an reputational makeover, Taylor Swift is debuting a brand new app called The Swift Life.

The app is a dedicated social network for Swift’s fans, letting them communicate with each other as well as get exclusive pictures, video, news and more direct from T-Swift herself.

And they can communicate with Swift, too. Using an ‘extremely rare and valuable Taymoji’, according to Glu, people can effectively bump other users’ posts to alert Taylor that she should take a look at them.

Users will also get animated ‘Taymoji’ pictures and stickers, which they can access by liking and sharing other posts.

If you want to buy sticker packs or listen to music without liking people’s stuff, you can use the virtual currency within the app, picks. (As in, guitar picks.)

The game was developed by Glu Mobile, the game firm responsible for hit titles like Kim Kardashian: Hollywood and Restaurant Dash: Gordon Ramsay, as well as less successful games such as Nicki Minaj: Empire.

Plenty of Fish adds new conversation features to differentiate itself from Tinder


Match Group, which houses a large portfolio of dating app brands – including most notably, Tinder, Match, and OKCupid – is prepping a notable upgrade to one of its older brands: Plenty of Fish. The dating service, often dubbed ‘POF’ by its users, was founded in 2003 then sold to Match Group in 2015 for $575 million. But it has since remained fairly quiet, in terms of the state of its business, and has been slow to roll out upgrades even as Tinder soared.

That’s now changing, the company says. For starters, POF is gearing up to launch a collection of new features designed to bring its app into the more modern age of dating. The launch follows a significant revamp of the app’s user interface this summer, which will soon extend to the web.

This new group of features, which POF is calling “Conversation Powers,” includes the addition of voice messaging, video calling, and the ability to share photos in chats. In the near future, it will also include the ability to share GIFs in your conversations and add illustrations to photos, like doodles and stickers.

What’s interesting about the way these features are launching is that they’re not just switched on whenever you’ve matched with someone. Instead, POF will trigger your “Conversation Powers” after you’ve chatted with a match for a period of time.

These sorts of voice and messaging features are common today on social media and chat applications, but haven’t all made their way to the world of dating apps.

“When it comes to the conversation experience, dating apps haven’t traditionally focused on it. There’s a lot of attention and R&D on matching with someone and swiping and all that,” says CEO Hesam Hosseini, who joined the company from Match Group, post-acquisition. “But when it comes to actually being in a conversation, dating apps are several years behind social apps. Plenty of Fish is poised to lead the charge on that,” he adds.

Of course, some dating apps have added GIFs, emojis, photo sharing and other features, but even Match Group’s lead app, Tinder, doesn’t have a full lineup.

It’s interesting, then, that POF would get all these features first – especially because its demographic skews older. (POF users tend to be in the 30 to 40 age range, notes Hosseini.)

That being said, Hosseini believes features like this are becoming common.

“As platforms like Facebook adopt them, they’re going to become features you expect,” he says. “They’re on their way to becoming more mainstream.”

Beyond simply updating the functionality and user experience to stay current and on-trend, the new additions are also meant to offer POF users ways to better personalize their interactions and connect.

Some dating app users – particularly older ones – prefer voice over texting; they’re often asking to hop on a call with a match ahead of scheduling a meetup. But not everyone wants to share their phone number with a stranger, which is where the voice calling option comes in.

Instead of dialing a phone number, matches can call each other in the app. Or for a middle-of-the-road approach between texting and calls, they could use the voice messaging feature instead.

The bigger picture is that POF aims to differentiate itself from Tinder and others going forward by doubling down on conversations – something that’s already a key focus for the company.

The app is the second largest U.S. dating app in Match’s portfolio, the company claims, with 150 million registered users worldwide. It’s also the second largest in terms of monthly users, behind Tinder. (POF doesn’t share active users, however). And it claims to have the most conversations compared with other dating apps, with 2.5 million taking place on its platform daily.

The company also says it was seeing $80 million in revenue at the time of its acquisition, and has been growing that in the double-digits since.

GIFs and illustrations aren’t being rolled out until 2018, but messaging, calling and photo sharing features are arriving today on iOS and Android. They will be also be available on the mobile web and desktop later this year.

The launch of the new features follows a couple of other recent updates for POF, including last summer’s launch of a conversation-starting utility called Spark, which lets you comment on an individual part of a user’s profile (like Hinge). It also just integrated with Google Home.

Despite these changes, POF along with other older apps are still challenged in terms of overcoming users’ preconceptions. If people remember it as a dated app with an older crowd, they may never bother with it again, gravitating to newer apps like Tinder, Bumble, or Hinge, for example.

That said, many people understand that dating is a numbers game – meaning, the more places you play, the more people you meet, and the more shots you have at ditching the apps for good.

Featured Image: Philip Lee Harvey/Getty Images

Help your business grow with help from social media tool SMhack

Everyone's on social media — stand out from the rest.
Everyone’s on social media — stand out from the rest.

Image: pexels

Social media is a great way to reach potential customers and engage an audience. But it can also be insanely complicated. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, there are too many platforms and not enough time. But there’s a great social media engagement tool that can help you keep everything under control: SMhack

SMhack brings all your social media interactions to a single place so you can engage audiences, publish content, analyze results, and track your competitors like a pro. It has important functions like reply, retweet, and DM built in to help streamline your workflow and also lets you schedule posts for later so you don’t have to wake up in the middle of the night to post something crucial. SMhack is also great for collaboration because it lets you add and assign user roles to individual team members.

A lifetime subscription to SMhack Business normally costs $720, but you can get it for just $49.99, a savings of 93%. 

Twitter says Russians spent ~$1k on six Brexit-related ads


Twitter has disclosed that Russian-backed accounts spent $1,031.99 to buy six Brexit-related ads on its platform during last year’s European Union referendum vote.

The ads in question were purchased during the regulated period for political campaigning in the June 2016 EU Referendum — specifically from 15 April to 23 June 2016.

This nugget of intel into Kremlin political disinformation ops that were centered on the UK’s Brexit vote has been released as part of an ongoing internal investigation by Twitter into possible Russian Brexit meddling — initiated by a request for information from a UK parliamentary committee that’s investigating fake news.

The UK’s Electoral Commission, which oversees domestic election procedure and regulates campaign financing, has also written to social media companies asking them to investigate potential Russian Brexit meddling as part of an ongoing enquiry it’s running into whether the use of digital ads and bots on social media might have broken existing political campaigning rules.

Earlier today Facebook said it had identified three “immigration” ads bought by Russian backed accounts that ran ahead of the Brexit vote — which it says garnered 200 views.

However Facebook’s probe has so far only looked at paid content from Russian accounts. So it’s still not clear how much Brexit-related propaganda was being spread by Russian accounts on the platform given that content can also be freely shared with followers on Facebook.

In the US Kremlin agents were even revealed to have used Facebook’s Events tools to list and orchestrate real-world meet-ups. And in October, Facebook admitted as many as 126 million US Facebook users could have viewed Russian-backed content on its platform.

With Brexit, both Facebook and Twitter have yet to release this sort of ‘full reach’ analysis — so it’s still not possible to quantify the potential impact of Kremlin propaganda on the EU referendum vote.

A Twitter spokesman declined to answer additional questions we put to it, including asking for its analysis of the reach of the six ads — and whether or not it’s also investigating non-paid Russian-backed content (i.e. tweets and bots) around Brexit, not just paid ads.

An academic study last month suggested substantial activity on that front — tracking more than 150,000 Russian accounts that mentioned Brexit and some 45,000 tweets posted in the 48 hours around the vote.

Twitter’s spokesman also declined to share the Russian bought Brexit ads it has identified.

He did provide the following “key points” from Twitter’s letter to Damian Collins MP, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which note an earlier decision by the company to ban ads from Russian media firms RT and Sputnik:

In response to the Commission’s request for information concerning Russian-funded campaign activity conducted during the regulated period for the June 2016 EU Referendum (15 April to 23 June 2016), Twitter reviewed referendum-related advertising on our platform during the relevant time period.

Among the accounts that we have previously identified as likely funded from Russian sources, we have thus far identified one account—@RT_com— which promoted referendum-related content during the regulated period. $1,031.99 was spent on six referendum-related ads during the regulated period.

With regard to future activity by Russian-funded accounts, on 26 October 2017, Twitter announced that it would no longer accept advertisements from RT and Sputnik and will donate the $1.9 million that RT had spent globally on advertising on Twitter to academic research into elections and civil engagement. That decision was based on a retrospective review that we initiated in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections and following the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik have attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government. Accordingly, @RT_com will not be eligible to use Twitter’s promoted products in the future.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch/Getty Images

Click-to-WhatsApp messaging buttons are now rolling out in Facebook ads


WhatsApp has always said that it has no plans to put ads into its own app, but this is not stopping Facebook, which now owns WhatsApp, from figuring out other ways of monetizing the hugely popular messaging service, which has around 1 billion daily users.

Today, Facebook is launching a new ad unit that will let businesses create a link between the two platforms: advertisers can now include a button on their ads so that people can call or message via WhatsApp with the click of a button.

We reported early sightings of the feature in test mode earlier this year.  Now, Facebook has confirmed to us that it’s rolling this out gradually, starting first with North and South America, Africa, Australia and most of Asia.

You might notice that Europe is not included in the list, and wonder if that might relate to news that Facebook last year had to pause efforts to share data between the two platforms when it was deemed to violate data protection laws.

From what we understand, the plan is to introduce Europe at a later date, but Facebook is going to first observe how the feature is used elsewhere, and is also still working through questions from outside the company about how WhatsApp and Facebook will work together.

(Those outside the company may well include consumers, but also regulators.)

The new feature getting announced today, more generally, follows on from some bigger developments for how WhatsApp is already being used by businesses.

Facebook tells us that more than 1 million Facebook Pages already include WhatsApp numbers in their posts each month, which implies that there is already a pipeline between the two companies being used by businesses more informally to connect with customers more directly.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard that in some developing markets, businesses are using their WhatsApp and Facebook pages as their primary points of contact for users, so this would make some sense to expand for Facebook, as the new White and Yellow Pages, respectively.

“Many people already use WhatsApp to communicate with small businesses. It’s a fast, convenient way to stay in touch,” said Pancham Gajjar, product marketing manager, Facebook, in a statement. “By adding a click-to-WhatsApp button to Facebook ads, businesses can now make it even easier for people to learn about their products, set up an appointment or use their service.”

The other trend to note here is that WhatsApp has been working on a way of creating more specific business accounts for some time now. Most recently, it’s posted some more information on its help pages about how business accounts will be verified, confirmed or unconfirmed — although it has yet to roll out any specific products or pricing tiers that speak to these three statuses.

The new button ad-unit is also similar to the click-to-Messenger ads that Facebook previously rolled out.

“That format was the first ad product to explicitly link activity on Facebook with activity on Messenger, and it was followed by other ad formats on Messenger itself,” said eMarketer principal analyst Debbie Williamson. “It seems that Facebook is following a similar strategy for WhatsApp, starting with click-to-WhatsApp ads on Facebook, and presumably eventually rolling out ads on WhatsApp itself.” (Which really would be a track back from WhatsApp’s mission statement.)

For now, Facebook does not have plans to add the WhatsApp button integration to regular consumer services, although you can see the potential for putting the links in, say, Pages where users want to offer a contact address, or in the Marketplace next to items that are being sold, or even in job listings.

“We recently started testing different ways for a Facebook Page to point people to their WhatsApp presence from the Page itself,” a spokesperson said, “but don’t have any more details to share on that right now.”

Updated with comment from eMarketer.