Google's answer to Facebook, 6 days on....

By far the biggest news over the last week was Google's launch of their answer to Facebook, Google+. Most of the team here at We Are Social have had access since Friday, and to be honest, we're bored of it already.

The experience of the Stream is very similar to Facebook, and what with the site being populated purely by early adopters such as ourselves, the Circle functionality is nice in theory but in practice pretty useless, as everyone currently sits in my 'social media guru’ circle of mistrust. The Sparks section of the service has failed so far to inspire and the multi-party video chat Hangouts seem bolted on, rather than an integral part of the site.

For us, the jury's out until we get some initial signs of the rate of public adoption, but today's news of the breakdown of relations between Google and Twitter doesn't bode well for people being able to import their friend relationships from other services (although tech literate users are already finding work-arounds, both for importing your Facebook friends and Facebook photos). And, as was almost inevitable, a couple of engineers at Facebook have put together a hack allowing you to have Circles on Facebook. Google will take heart that China at least is putting Google+ on a par with Facebook and Twitter, by blocking the service.

All Facebook makes the point that the new black Google toolbar may be a key success factor (as users logged into other Google services will see they have Google+ updates, pulling them back in), and Search Engine Land has news that Google are working on a way of Brands having a presence on the site. We will keep you posted...

One in ten people has shopped on social platforms
Social commerce has been growing steadily and that's backed up by the latest research which reveals that 11% of people have bought something through a social platform. The rest of the findings from the report indicate that this number will almost certainly grow - with 77% of people saying they'd like special deals they can redeem via Facebook, it seems that what brands need to focus on is creating a better user experience, so that more people will use social platforms to shop.

The report has pulled out lots of interesting statistics - with the future looking bright for social location-based services, as 55% of respondents said they would check-in for a discount or special deals.

Live-tweeting supports live-viewing
An interesting piece of research from eMarketer was released last week - which suggested that when key influencers live-tweet a show, this causes a large spike in the number of conversation around a TV programme on Twitter. It backs up the thinking that the future is very much in dual-screen social viewing - particularly as 43% of survey respondents had already engaged with TV shows online.

MySpace cuts employees, bought by Justin Timberlake
MySpace laid off 150 employees last week in preparation for sale - or around 40% of its staff. This follows the cutting of 50% of the workforce in January, and underlines just how much the once premier social network is struggling. News International finally cut its losses in MySpace, selling the company last week to Specific Media, with singer Justin Timberlake taking an ownership stake. It remains to be seen whether he can bring sexy back to the website. For those wanting more context, Businessweek carried an interesting feature on the fall of MySpace.

LinkedIn launches Groups API
LinkedIn has opened up its Groups API so that it can now be used on third-party websites, allowing easier connections and conversation.

200 million tweets per day
Twitter released an impressive stat last week - users are now tweeting 200 million tweets every day. This contrasts with 65 million tweets a year ago, a threefold increase.

Twitter drops following requirement for DMs on verified accounts
Twitter has amended its messaging policy for verified accounts, allowing brands and celebrities to receive messages without following users. It means that these 'power' users may have to adapt their settings, but equally, it will make it easier for power users to receive a direct message from those who they actually want to communicate with.

The Pope tweets!
The Vatican's immaculately conceived idea to reach younger audiences include getting the Pope to tweet - although this will clearly come at some investment, what with the protection needed to keep the account from hackers. This said, there's no word yet whether they'll be accepting donations by Papal.

Obama's live webcast - if he's still alive
Twitter announced an event dubbed Ask Obama for this week, where Obama will, via webcast, answer questions submitted by Twitter users. Whether he can actually do this depends on whether he's still alive - Fox News had its Twitter account hacked today and the account claimed (falsely) Obama had been killed.

Guidelines released for athletes during the 2012 Olympics
The IOC has released social media guidelines for athletes participating in the 2012 Olympics with the main takeaway point that athletes can post on social networking sites, provided their posts aren't commercially motivated. The full guidelines make for an interesting read.

Could 'battles' be the future of Foursquare?'
An interesting use of Foursquare - hackers have created World of Fourcraft in New York, where the different boroughs compete to take control of different areas by checking in in various areas. It's like a real-life version of Risk, and it shows how Foursquare could be used in the future.

Pepsi's summer Foursquare badge
Pepsi have launched a Foursquare badge to celebrate 'summer fun'. Users who follow Pepsi and check in at summertime places will earn the badge, which will lead to 'awesome prizes'. They're yet to reveal what they are, but this campaign sure has a bit of fizz to it.

Orange's 'pimp my pic'
Orange noticed that many Facebook users were just showing their head and shoulders in their profile picture - so they've drafted in a team of illustrators to draw the rest of their body, and are updating a gallery of the extended pictures they're making. Nice.

Civil servant sacked for mocking government minister online
A civil servant who went under the pseudonym 'Naked Civil Servant' online has been sacked from his job - after his government department pursued a seven month inquiry to out who was responsible for the tweets. It's good to see the Communities secretary respond to how online Communities behave.

Users may not control their social profiles
An interesting report suggests that users may not control their social profiles, as businesses use third-party software and can okay exactly what they post on social networks:

On Tuesday, compliance software vendor Actiance announced what it calls "LinkedIn static content pre-approval workflow capabilities" in its Socialite platform for social media management and compliance. Thanks to the platform's new LinkedIn features, "Socialite intercepts end-user edits of LinkedIn profiles and automatically re-routes the changes to a compliance officer for review. The reviewer is then able to identify the specific elements of a LinkedIn profile that were changed and can either accept or reject the edits as well as making comments".

I can't be the only one who finds this pretty worrying.