We Are Social's Tuesday Tweakup #2


Six Five degrees of Twitter
Sysomos have released some fascinating research from crawling Twitter’s social graph – much like the theory that most people in the world are kept apart by just six degrees of separation, their research shows that just under 98% of the 5.2 billion friendships on Twitter are 6 degrees apart or fewer. Perhaps more surprising is how high the numbers are in certain ranges – there are lots of five- and four-degree relationships than expected. Further details in the research dig out more clues – it only takes an average of 3 steps for a person to find someone else following you. It begins to paint a picture of Twitter as a series of well-interconnected social clusters, perhaps explaining how easy it is for something to get retweeted far and wide.

Author caught reviewing own book
The author and academic Orlando Figes last week confessed to positively reviewing his own books on Amazon, while badmouthing those of his rivals; Figes has since apologised for what he calls ‘foolish errors’. Fake reviews of products by the people selling them are not only unethical but illegal, but it is interesting to see something which is normally the provenance of black-hat so-called social media professionals entering the ivory towers of academia. And it raises more interesting issues of trust in review sites – Figes chose the easy to guess username of “orlando-birkbeck”, but more devious fakers and sockpuppeteers are bound to have been more cunning.

LinkedIn follows Facebook, Facebook follows microsites…
As LinkedIn announce you can now follow companies on the network, you could perhaps accuse it of looking more and more like Facebook. But then perhaps Facebook is starting to look more like corporate microsites now – in this excellent post critiquing the design and layout of corporate Facebook pages, Shiv Singh points out many companies are shutting walls, using the default tabs, getting into banner campaign mindsets and ignoring the social graph. Perhaps this uniformity is an undesired side-effect of mass adoption.

The lesson from history has been that as platforms mature and stop innovating, users might start looking for more interesting and social alternatives on the edge rather than on the platform; the most interesting Facebook developments will start happening off-site – perhaps one reason why Open Graph came about was to outsource that innovation to others. While Facebook will probably not succeed in “owning the entire Internet”, maybe it doesn’t need to own it if it can ride the back of this external innovation. The “Like” button has already been implemented by over 50,000 sites and the opening up of this data has led to some interesting proposals on the future of web advertising. Hooking personal likes and preferences in with real-time updates and location data offer a lot of opportunities to marketers – something even the New York Times has picked up in this excellent layperson’s guide.

Spotify goes social
Spotify announced a major upgrade last week, itself an example of Facebook innovation happening off-site, as it uses Facebook Connect to find friends. It has been so popular that the initial demand for downloads crashed the server, and now Spotify are having to ration the upgrade software. But not before much of the We Are Social office managed to get the upgrade, so some of us have started playing a little music-discovery game. If you send me a song to my Spotify inbox, I send you back the last one I received, no matter how random or unrelated it is. If you fancy a game, feel free to send me a song and you’ll get one back.

Twitter announces embeddable Tweets
It’s traditionally been difficult to quote individual Tweets – although you can of course just quote the 140 characters within blog post text, they lose their impact. Alternatively, you could make a screengrab of it and display that in the post – but that’s always been a bit of a faff. So for those frustrated by this limitation, the new Embeddable Tweet functionality can’t have come soon enough. The embedded Tweets will look something like this and should be here by the end of the day today according to the Twitter Media team.