Tag Archives: Huffingtonpost

Facebook close to 400m users as growth accelerates

It was only two months ago that Facebook announced it had hit 350 million users and now it is about to hit 400 million. Couple that with yesterday’s report that it is now the fourth biggest traffic source for news sites then its significance to all of us appears to be growing by the day.

Back in June Facebook reached 250 million active users and by December Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg announced that the social networking site he founded had grown to 350m users globally (23 million) in the UK and that his target was 1bn.

That is a big number and it is announced on the site’s sixth birthday. In the space of 60 days give or take Facebook has attracted 50 million people – that’s 830,000 people a day — and its growth appears to be accelerating.

Here’s what Zuckerberg has to say: “Today we’re celebrating our sixth birthday, and this week there will be 400 million people on Facebook. Just one year ago we served less than half as many people, and thanks to you we’ve made great progress over the last year towards making the world more open and connected.”

News of the 400 million club comes as Facebook also announces changes to its design and navigation. There are improvements to search and the way pictures are uploaded and they’ve added a new games application dashboard to make it easier to find these things should you want them.

The focus there is clear. These games are massive money spinners (like Farmville) and traffic drivers, which is in part helping to fuel Facebook’s growth.

“We’re making it easier for you to find and interact with applications and discover new ones, with the new Applications and Games dashboards, accessible via the “Applications” and “Games” links on the home page. The dashboards will surface the applications you’ve interacted with most recently as well as your most recent application activity and your friends’ activity.”

There are already 3,000 comments on the post announcing changes to Facebook’s design. Plus another 2,500 plus saying they like it. That’s an engaged community. The post only went up five hours ago.

Facebook Connect also looks to have played a big part in this and that has barely got going. People have called Facebook Connect a game changer and we are going to see big things with that this year.

As more sites implement Facebook Connect it will doubtless persuade more users to Facebook because it so easily allows people to hop around the web with a single login.

What’s interesting about Facebook Connect and its success with sites like the Huffington Post for instance is that these are sites come with a huge cross section of audience in terms of age and demographics, which underscores Facebook’s success (and MySpace’s failure). Facebook has broad sustained appeal from your mother to your kids.

What’s also interesting is that the growth appears sustainable. It took it six months to get it the 100 million users it needed to growth from 250 million to 350 million, but only two months to add another 50 million. That raises the prospect of Facebook of hitting 500 million users by June.

What will that mean for news sites and the likes of Google News? It could be significant as more and more people choose Facebook as the platform not only where they network with friends, share pictures, play games, but also stay informed.

[Twitter]

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Huffington Post launches paid Tweets and comments

This could work well if done right. The Huffington Post is to offer advertisers the ability to post paid tweets and comments.

The aggregator, which made a splash with Facebook when it launched its social news service with Facebook Connect, could be onto something by allowing advertisers to join the conversation with sponsored tweets and comments.

Let’s face it investing in a targeted campaign like this could deliver more results than a banner ad. It is also very “social” and is already similar to what some brands are doing on Twitter when they respond to tweets on the basis of keyword searches.

This takes the process a step further, but it will come down to execution and relevancy. And getting it wrong will result in the kind of social media blowback that advertisers like Habitat and Skittles have witnessed first hand.

Ad Age quotes Greg Coleman, Huffington Post’s president and chief revenue officer as saying that marketers will receive guidance on the best ways to join the conversation. He says advertisers need to add value. If they do that and it is not done to death this could be not unhelpful.

If there is a thread going on the World Cup or tweets on the latest from South Africa a brand putting out stats or bits of news that are interesting and relevant is unlikely to attract the ire of users. Likewise in a review of a book or an interview with a writer it would not feel out of place to see a publisher’s comments appear.

“You cannot use the social engagement for the purposes of really hawking your products,” Coleman told Ad Age. “The advertiser is really put in a position where they need to add value to the conversation that’s taking place.”

It could raise questions about editorial independence, however; about how editorial might have to work closer with advertisers.

Coleman doesn’t put a price to any of these news ideas, but he says it should more than double revenue by next year and “expand it more than six times during the next three years”.

This all comes as the Huffington Post continues to expand adding books, sport and local versions of the site in Denver, Chicago and New York.

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Newsweek scores sexist own goal with Sarah Palin cover

Newsweek clearly wanted to make Sarah Palin look at bit of an idiot with its cover that some are calling sexist, but it looks to have had the reverse affect and is whipping up support for the Republican from Alaska who shoots stuff and is looking to run for president in 2012.

Newsweek apparently wants to get this unelectable photogenic woman elected and, oh yeah, help promote her new book ‘Going Rogue’ along the way. The book was the reason for the cover in the first place, which Newsweek is covering in the shape of two essays including one by Christopher Hitchens (who has already warned the liberal left that it might not be “entirely wise to patronize her”). The book is certainly going to be a best seller as Palin “sets the record straight”.

The funny thing it is a legitimate cover shot…just it was part of a photo shoot that Palin did for Runners World (yes this woman loves to run). Newsweek used it without that magazine’s permission (naughty). But the funniest thing is listening to the paper thin explanation by Newsweek editor Jon Meacham. This is genius. I want to meet the man who talks like this. He should do stand-up.

“We chose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover, which is what we always try to do. We apply the same test to photographs of any public figure, male or female: does the image convey what we are saying? That is a gender-neutral standard.”

Did he say that with a straight face? Awesome. I mean come on. The most interesting image available? The Theme? Was the theme show some leg and show the most inappropriate image available to demonstrate that this woman can’t possible be fit for office? You’ve got them rolling in the aisles Jon.

There are plenty of people arguing that the shot is not sexist including Tina Brown and others who point out that we have previously seen Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama looking toned and shirtless. But to argue this is the same is churlish. Showing powerful men looking athletic is one thing. Yes they have sex appeal, but it does not detract from their ability to run the country. Quite the opposite. The Palin cover shoot is another matter entirely and is part of a long tradition of demeaning women by using revealing shots to undermine them.

Palin might not be fit for office, but she has a lot of support and it is growing with this latest publicity blitz and her appearance on Oprah. On Facebook she has a million plus fans where she writes: “The Runner’s World magazine one-page profile for which this photo was taken was all about health and fitness – a subject to which I am devoted and which is critically important to this nation. The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now. If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, gender, or colour of skin.”

There is the question why she was doing revealing shots like this in the first place (even for Runners World), but this question has fallen by the wayside as the blowback from this story does her more good than the harm than the “liberal” media mag intended.

Interestingly, I think there are certain parallels with Gordon Brown in the UK last week. Where the rightwing douche bags at the Sun bullied and belittled Brown. Only to have it blowback in their faces.

Newsweek is engaged in similar tactics, but as Taylor Marsh writes on the Huffington Post the difference is that Palin’s people don’t care.

“Oh, and by the way, for all you fact checking fanatics, the people behind Sarah don’t care, aren’t listening, don’t trust the criticism. Norah O’Donnell was in Michigan, another battleground state on Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue tour, to see first hand the evidence. Here’s a very rough transcript of part of what she said today on MSNBC: ‘This is a line that stretches all the way back… another 1,000 people to see Sarah… It’s 9:00 o’clock in the morning and she’s not here until 6:00 pm tonight…. [...] You know what it is? It’s a connection. … Palin says she’s treated unfairly, treated unfairly by the media, by Newsweek magazine …and the people in middle America feel treated.. unfairly’.”

Taylor adds that this is dangerous stuff. People will get outraged and almost inevitably that outrage will go somewhere.

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A Huffington Post for Europe

A Huffington Post style start-up news site is up and running in Germany with plans later for an English version apparently in the pipeline.

Techcrunch reports that German Web 2.0 figure Lukasz Gadowski, who was previously behind online t-shirt firm Spreadshirt.com, is one of those behind online publishing venture that is going to be a kind of Huffington Post in Europe.

It’s called The European. Yes, the same name used by Robert Maxwell for his newspaper way back when, which was later revised and died several times under Andrew Neil and the Telegraph Group’s Press Holdings. The last incarnation of that was when Neil relaunched The European as a website. It didn’t last long. That was, of course, way before blogging.

Techcrunch reports that the site has/will have more than 20 journalists and possible contributions from the likes of European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, German car producers association’s president Matthias Wissmann or bishop Margot Käßmann.

Chief editor Alexander Görlach, who holds 50% of the company alongside Gadowski, reveals traffic is rising (from first day numbers of “5,000 readers and 30,000 page impressions”) and that first month revenues are three times bigger than originally scheduled in the business plan.

The Huffington Post CEO Eric Hippeau recently said in an interview that it had ruled out European versions despite being approached: “It’s not an international strategy, almost every week some pretty big organization would like to partner with us,” Hippeau said.

The UK is its biggest market and it is surprising that no one has tried a Huffington Post here (and they have ruled it out themselves).

Clearly, the market is a lot smaller and a lot of our newspapers have great blogging operations, but that said it feels like there is a gap there for an uber blog or two.

Unless after the demise of the likes of Shiny Media and other blogging operations there really is no money out there for what could be an expensive blogging operation to start-up.

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Game changer: Facebook Connect

More evidence if you needed it of how powerful Facebook Connect can be from HuffingtonPost.com, which has used it to help recently surpass WashingtonPost.com.

I was looking at it recently as part of our social media strategy and how we might use it and while HuffingtonPost.com is in a league of its own in terms of the vast traffic it generates what it does has important pointers, I think, for others.

While some have queried the of what the Huffington Post has achieved CEO Eric Hippeau in an interview on PaidContent yesterday makes a good case for why it is more than noteworthy.

“It wasn’t so much the Washington Post—by the way, it’s also the LA Times, it’s also the online edition of the Wall Street Journal. Of the big national newspapers, there’s only two our size that are still bigger than we are: USA Today, which is a very different audience, and the New York Times, which will always be a big brand and very well read and well respected. We’re not in a race with the newspapers. We’re not in a race with anything in particular. Our goal is to establish the brand that defines news and opinion on digital platforms.”

And how it did that is interesting, from a political and commentary blog to a pretty much all singing all dancing news site (let’s side step the issue of content scraping/oversharing for today), with sport, culture, books and business all being added not to mention its regional editions across the US (Chicago, New York and Denver).

All this is helping it according to comScore hit 6.8m uniques in September. That’s up a whopping 50% year on year.

How, in part at least, it has achieve that is through its much talked about Social News with Facebook Connect, which it only implemented in August (Huffington Post and Facebook Go “Social News,” With Connect on Steroids) and allows readers to create a personalised social networking-like news page on the Huffington Post as well as comment and share content easily with Facebook friends.

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Blogs are big business…just not here

With Shiny Media going into administration yesterday there is a timely piece in the FT today on blogs. Yes, they’re big business in the US (its like the FT just noticed), but here start-ups have struggled to replicate the success of the Huffington Post and Gawker. Is the UK simply too small?

We wrote about Shiny Media’s fall last night and Lisa Devaney has blogged about it here as well. A real shame to see it fail. Maybe its strategy wasn’t all there, it certainly had missteps along the way (like
its move into football that resulted in Who Ate All The Pies being put up for sale), but I think the people at Shiny produced some very good work and ultimately it appears to have been a small publisher hit by the recession.

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Social media and the Iranian election

On Wired.com, Andrew Exum is wondering all about Iran and the explosive use of social media to organise, agitate and protest in Iran. He’s wondering how real it all is? And if it is the technological enabled few rather than the digitally deprived masses.

Read more on Social media and the Iranian election…

DailyCaller.com to take on Huffington and Tina Brown

Don’t know much about former MSNBC and now Fox personality Tucker Carlson, but he launching a site called DailyCaller.com to take on the HuffingtonPost.com and Tina Brown’s Daily Beast.

Report earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal that says pundit Carlson will launch a “conservative-leaning news site that will aim to be an answer to the Huffington Post”.

“We’re sincerely trying to think through what comes next in journalism,” Carlson told the paper. “I think we can answer the basic question, which is: How do you keep reporting? How do you make reporting a viable business?”

As well as blog posts, Carlson is promising original reporting: “We don’t simply want to be parasites of other news sites. We want to be creators of news.”

The site will focus on coverage of President Barack Obama’s administration, I’m guessing from a conservative point of view.

But Carlson is no Bush supporting Republican. He has said in the past that he cares deeply about conservative ideas, but he does not care about the success or failure of any political party. And Conservative Republicans have accused Carlson of not being sufficiently conservative

As well as giving the likes of the Huffington Post and thedailybeast.com (for which he has written for and he’s a fan of) a run for their money (Carlson described it as a “general interest newspaper”) it will also try to outpace the conservative favourite Drudge Report.

There’s more on the website TV News Insider including this:

Daily Intel: So, all of the articles about your new project say that you’re competing with the Huffington Post. But isn’t what you are doing also competing with Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, which you sometimes write for?

Tucker: Even if I could, I’d never compete with Tina, both because I love her, and also because I’m not that stupid.

Daily Intel: Says: You love her? (Thinks: Does he mean in a Harold and Maude kind of way? Ew. Don’t ask that. You don’t want to know the answer.) Says: That’s kind of gross.

Tucker: And also true.

Read more on DailyCaller.com to take on Huffington and Tina Brown…

Draper and the collateral damage to the blogosphere

Not many tears will be shed over the departure of Derek Draper as editor of LabourList, but his exit leaves the Labour Party with a question that can not be easily answered.

The Today Programme this morning called the blogosphere “the Tories’ most potent weapon” and it is right, but in a identifying this it also underscored something about the nature of the blogosphere.

The best political blogs are not created by party apparatchiks, by political hacks like Derek Draper who has long had friends in high political places in the Labour Party, but by a collection of individuals outside of party structures and operations.

LabourList, Derek Draper’s effort was not always destined to fail, but it might very well do so. Death by association is not an uncommon affliction in political circles in the wake of the Smeargate scandal and the effort to create a blog called The Red Rag to spread malicious stories about Tory politicians.

Look to the United States and Huffington Post on the liberal left or the Drudge Report on the right. Neither of these are organs or creations of the Democrat and Republican parties respectively.

Closer to home, look at Guido Fawkes, the conduit if not the architect of Derek Draper’s downfall. He is a blogger of the right, Tory supporting, but sits well outside the party.

Tim Montgomerie’s ConservativeHome blog, which Derek Draper looked to when creating LabourList, was not a party creation and has a critical eye when it comes to the Tory Party.

Elsewhere on the left blogs like Harry’s Place, have Labour supporters among their ranks, but no more than that.

I am sure that is the reason these blogs have survived and grown.

Derek Draper was always too much the insider. He was not jut an insider, but the insider’s insider. A long time wheeler dealer who had been rubbing shoulders with Labour MPs and inner circles from his time as a student stalking NUS conferences.

With all of that access came much baggage and on both occasions it is this that has brought him down, both in this 2009 Smeargate scandal and in 1998 in the Lobbygate scandal where he was caught on tape boasting about how he could sell access to government ministers.

To be successful, scratch that, to be useful to a cause or party that you support it appears to me that it is obligatory to sit outside to be effective and have that necessary sense of perspective.

This does not mean you can not have links and associations with that party or cause. That’s all well and good, just don’t step into the inner circle.

With an election a year away this incident leaves Labour groping somewhat digitally in the dark lacking the “potent weapon” that the Tories have (I think stumbled upon). This is not a pretty situation to be in.

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When blogs grow up: HuffPo invests, but niggling questions remain

Big news at the Huffington Post with a $1.75m investment in investigative reporting signalling the continued expansion of blogs beyond linking and comment, but some are also wondering if this is at all connected to the thorny issue of content scraping and possible legal action?

Content scraping is where blogs take an excerpt, usually not toooo much, and link to the original post, but some blogs have recently been accused of whole sale content theft. That’s taking not just the odd paragraph, but the the whole article. The Huffington Post is one of those blogs in the firing line.

MinnPost.com for one thinks the $1.75m fund for investigative reporting is window dressing for a site that could be sued for “oversharing others’ work”.

Oversharing is such a polite way of putting it. You have to wonder how much investigative reporting these ten people will do when some are freelancers and their job description will include short breaking news stories as well as longer pieces?

The alternative weekly the Chicago Reader was one of several papers to recently complain about the Huffington Post’s practice of “oversharing”.

“The Huffington Post’s local ‘aggregation wing straight stole our entire Bon Iver Critic’s Choice–they didn’t ask permission (‘read the whole article’? that is the whole article, dumbass). Here’s a screen shot since we’re obviously about to ask them to take it down.”

Film critic Roger Ebert was also a little hacked off with the Huffington Post and vocalised his discontent beneath the offending article:

“I would like to point out that this article rips off my actual article about the incident at rogerebert.com, and by adding all those ‘he saids,’ destroys the rhythm and form of my prose. Nor does the article even have the decency to link to mine, perhaps because it would be embarrassing to see that HuffPost stole it from me. Nor does it even say where I ‘said’ these things, but implies I said them to HuffPost. Arriana, I love ya, but this practice is immoral, and HuffPost practices it shamelessly.”

Arriana Huffington said in the press release about the investigative fund that it would provide “work and a platform for seasoned journalists downsized by major media outlets”, which is all well and good, but Gawker wonders how much experience these people will have in a post headlined ‘Arianna Huffington Seeks Young Flunkies’ where it reprinted a job ad for a managing editor, which is looking for two years experience in online news and a degree.

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