Posted tagged ‘Erick Schonfeld’

HubSpot Report Reveals the Growth of Twitter

December 23, 2008

According to a recent report by HubSpot, the average Twitter user has 70 followers. Unfortunately, that number is skewed by users with thousands of followers. Three-quarters of Twitter users have 50 followers or fewer. The report also finds Twitter is a platform on the make, with 70 percent of its current users joining this year and 20 percent joining in the past 60 days.

Even this site has joined the “Twittersphere”. You can follow Kreuzer’s Korner here.

From TechCrunch:

How many followers do most people really have on Twitter? The average number of both followers and other members people on Twitter are following is about 70, according to the State of the Twittersphere, a new report by Web marketing startup HubSpot. But that average is skewed by elite Twitterers who have hundreds or thousands of followers. The vast majority of people on Twitter use it to keep in touch with a much smaller circle of friends and peers. For those with 50 or fewer followers (three quarters of all users), the average number of followers is 15.6 and the average number of people they are following is 18.4.

HubSpot’s State of the Twittersphere report is inspired by Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere, which tries to quantify trends across all the blogs it tracks. HubSpot gets its data from Twitter Grader, a site it operates that generates a grade for Twitter users based on factors such as how many followers they have, the reach of the people who are following them, and how often they post updates.

Twitter Grader is basically a vanity search site for Twitter, but it has managed to compile data on over 500,000 Twitter accounts, which is probably around 10 percent of the total. It is not clear how representative these users are, but it is a large sample and they certainly are not all power users. (Three percent had 0 followers, 9 percent didn’t follow anyone else, and 22 percent had five or fewer followers). Until Twitter releases its own State of the Twittersphere report, this is as good as the data gets.

Some other key stats from the report:

—70% of Twitter users joined in 2008
—20% of Twitter users have joined in the past 60 days
—The average user has been on Twitter 275 days

So it is pretty much all newbies, and mainstream adoption is just getting started.

—The most popular days of the week to Tweet are Wednesday and Thursday
—An estimated 5,000 to 10,000 new accounts are registered each day.
—Only 5 percent of all Twitter users have more than 250 followers.
—Only 0.8 percent have more than 1,000
—22 percent have five or fewer followers
—Another 24 percent (the largest group) have between 11 and 25 followers

Newspapers Slowly Embracing User Generated Content

December 20, 2008

A recent survey of the online feature of the top 100 newspaper Web sites found user-generated content and comments are on the rise, while social networking options remain nonexistent. More than half allowed some sort of user content on the site, most often photographs, up from 24 percent the year before. Three quarters allowed user comments on stories compared with 33 percent in 2007.

From TechCrunch:

Newspapers are still lurching their way around the Web, a new study finds, but at least they are making some progress. The Bivings Group released a study today that quantifies the Website features of the top 100 newspapers in the U.S. Among the findings: Nearly every newspaper site has reporter-written blogs and some form of video; features that elicit content from readers are on the rise; podcasts and mandatory registrations are down; social networking features are pretty much non-existent.

In terms of reader-submitted material, newspapers are more comfortable accepting images than words. More newspaper sites accept photos from readers (58 percent) than videos (18 percent) or articles (15 percent). Comments are less controversial, with 75 percent allowing reader comments on articles. One thing I found curious is that 57 percent of newspaper sites offer their editions in PDF form. Why? A PDF of a page, maybe, but nobody prints out the whole edition.

TechCrunch Hands PR Embargoes a Death Sentence

December 17, 2008

As a PR professional in the Silicon Valley, I found this post on TechCrunch very interesting and the discussion which follows in the comments section is well worth reading.

It seems that Michael Arrington and TechCrunch will no longer be accepting embargoes from PR firms. In this post, Arrington discusses the relationship between the media, bloggers and the PR industry and explains to his readers that PR firms are out of control and he plans to fight the chaos.

I’ve seen this from both sides. I’ve been the PR person pitching the story, but I’ve also been the blogger who has received the pitch. Lucky for me, on the blog side, I have never really broken news. I leave that up to the professional journalists and bloggers who do this for a living on a daily basis.

I’ve always thought that since this is a hobby of mine, I will just bring the news that’s out there to readers who may find it interesting at well. If I find it interesting, there must be someone else out there who would share in my interest, right?

You can find a bit of the post below but check out the site for the entire string of comments.

From TechCrunch:

Today we are taking a radical step towards fighting the chaos. From this point on we will break every embargo we agree to.

Tech companies are desperate for press and hammering their PR firms for coverage on blogs and major media sites. That in turn means that PR firms hammer us to get us to write about their clients. Gone are the days of polite pitches and actual relationship building. Today, PR firms email a story to us as many as 20 times, and call every TechCrunch writer on their cell phones repeatedly. If we say we won’t write a story (which is most of the time), things often turn nasty (check out Lois Whitman at HWH PR/New Media for a fine example).

For the most part we’ve dealt with the problem quietly over the last couple of years, other than the occasional lashing out on Twitter. Others, like Wired Magazine’s Editor In Chief Chris Anderson, have been more public with their frustration.

But now a new problem has emerged that we won’t ignore.

A portion of the stories we write are “embargoed” news items. They aren’t stories that we’ve dug up ourselves. Instead, PR firms have pre-briefed us on the news and have asked us to write, if we choose to, no earlier than a set time.

A lot of this news is good stuff that our readers want to know about. And we have the benefit of taking some time during the pre-briefing to think about the story, do research, and write it properly. When embargoes go right, we get to write a thoughtful story which benefits the company and our readers.

But there’s a problem. All this stress on the PR firms put on them by desperate clients means they send out the embargoed news to literally everyone who writes tech news stories. Any blog or major media site, no matter how small or new, gets the email. It didn’t used to be this way, but it’s becoming more and more of a problem. As the economy turns south, PR firms are under increasing pressure to perform and justify their monthly retainers which range from $10,000 to $30,000 or more. In short, they have to spam the tech world to get coverage, or lose their jobs.

One annoying thing for us is when an embargo is broken. That means that a news site goes early with the news despite the fact that they’ve promised not to. The benefits are clear – sites like Google News and TechMeme prioritize them first as having broken the story. Traffic and links flow in to whoever breaks an embargo first.

That means it’s a race to the bottom by new sites, who are increasingly stressed themselves with a competitive marketplace and decreasing advertising sales.

A year ago embargo breaks were rare, once-a-month things. Today, nearly every embargo is broken, sometimes by a few minutes, sometimes by half a day or more.

We can’t continue to operate under these rules.

Our New Policy

The reason this is becoming a larger problem is because there is no downside to breaking embargoes. The PR firm gets upset but they don’t stop working with the offending publication or writer. You get a slap on the wrist, and you break another embargo later that day.

There are a few (very few) exceptions. One is Waggener Edstrom, who handles PR for Microsoft. Their embargoes don’t break because they’d unleash hell on the offender. Another is Google. The few times they’ve had problems they’ve chosen the nuclear option and banned the offender for as much as a year. As you can imagine, Google and Microsoft embargoed news doesn’t break early.

We’ve never broken an embargo at TechCrunch. Not once. Today that ends. From now our new policy is to break every embargo. We’ll happily agree to whatever you ask of us, and then we’ll just do whatever we feel like right after that. We may break an embargo by one minute or three days. We’ll choose at random.

I’ll also be publishing a blacklist on TechCrunch listing every firm, company, publication and individual writer involved whenever an embargo is broken. Of course, given our new policy, I’ll be putting us at the top of that list.

OpenSocial Now Reaches 350 Million Users

August 21, 2008

MySpace, Facebook,  Hi5, each are using OpenSocial, a Google backed social networking application which allows developers to access core functions and information from social networking Web sites. At the present time, if you were to add up the various social networks that are now using OpenSocial, it reaches approximately 350 million users.

Erick Schonfeld takes a look at OpenSocial on TechCrunch:

Six months ago, OpenSocial was nothing but a list of promised partnerships. But the social network application platform backed by Google has made a lot of progress since then as those partners started to go live with their OpenSocial Apps. First there was MySpace and Orkut, then Hi5, and most recently Friendster. It will soon reach 500 million, as four more social networks and services prepare to launch by the end of of September.

Google’s Joe Kraus gave me an update today on OpenSocial’s progress. He wouldn’t say which partners would launch next, but by the size of that pink bar in the graph above, one of them is relatively large—about the same size as Orkut. (My guess is that it will be either Bebo or Six Apart). He also mentioned some partners, such as imeem, launched without ever contacting Google (thanks to Apache Shindig) and that at this point only 10 percent of the engineers hashing out the OpenSocial specifications are from Google.

So how many OpenSocial apps are actually being used? There are about 4,500 different apps so far, which have been installed more than 150 million times.

OpenSocial is a set of three common APIs, defined by Google with input from partners, that allow developers to access core functions and information at social networks: Profile Information (user data), Friends Information (social graph), and Activities (things that happen, News Feed type stuff). It will be interesting to see how the adoption rate of OpenSocial increases over the second half of 2008 as it has made incredible progress in the first half. Thoughts?

TechCrunch: Google Releases A New SDK For Android

August 19, 2008

The Google Android Developer’s blog has announced that they are releasing a beta SDK. The beta SDK that is being released today is the first step on the SDK’s road to compatibility with 1.0. Because it is a beta release, applications developed with it may not quite be compatible with devices running the final Android 1.0.

From the blog:

First and most obviously, the new Home screen is included, along with a ton of UI changes for 1.0.

Some new applications are included: an Alarm Clock, Calculator, Camera, Music player, Picture viewer, and Messaging (for SMS/MMS conversations.)

Several new development tools were added, such as a graphical preview for XML layouts for users of Eclipse, and a tool for constructing 9-patch images.

Since we’ve got a new Home screen application now, we thought the now-obsolete version from the M5 early-look SDK might be helpful to developers, so its source is included as a sample.

A number of new APIs are fleshed out and improved, and others are now close to their final forms for 1.0.

Tons of bugs were fixed, of course. (If you had problems with the MediaPlayer, try it now!)

    Here Comes Android

    Here Comes Android

    TechCrunch‘s Erick Schonfeld has picked up the story and adds:

    This SDK is still not the 1.0 release. (It is version 0.9). There are still bugs and some features that had to be removed because of security reasons, such as support for GTalk and Bluetooth. (That won’t do). But those should return once the bugs are fixed, hopefully by the time the 1.0 version is available in September.

    This release has been long overdue, but now that it is out may begin to appease many of the mobile app developers out there who have been frustrated by the general lack of access to the latest SDK. But with T-Mobile’s Android phone only two or three months away, it doesn’t give them a lot of time to create jaw-dropping apps. The new SDK can be downloaded here. (And screen shots can be found at Hello Android).

    It appears that Android is getting closer and closer by the day. Let’s see what happens in the coming weeks before we get too excited. Thoughts?

    MySpace/Facebook: Who’s The Largest Social Network? Ask TechCrunch…

    August 12, 2008

    Aw. It looks like our little boy is growing up!

    Erick Schonfeld of TechCrunch has a great story today about Facebook and how fast the Web site is growing at an incredible rate worldwide. The growth numbers presented by Schonfeld in this posting are very impressive, given the sites existing size.

    From TechCrunch:

    According to figures compiled by comScore, Facebook’s visitor growth is up 153 percent on an annual basis. This compares to anemic 3 percent growth for MySpace. Other social networks showing strong global growth include Hi5 (100 percent) and Friendster (50 percent), despite each of those being less than half the size of Facebook. Orkut and Bebo fall in at 41 percent and 32 percent growth, respectively.

    Much of these huge growth numbers come from the fact that Facebook had hardly no presence in many of these regions until recently when it started its major push to translate the site to other languages. A year ago, it had only one million uniques a month in all of Latin America, three million in the Middle East and Africa, and four million in all of Asia Pacific. When you look at it that way, 10,555 percent growth isn’t as amazing as the raw numbers would suggest. And within these regions, it still has a lot of work to do. For instance, it is floundering in Japan.

    I was never a big Facebook fan until I was introduced to the Web site a few months ago by a friend who is a Facebook nut! MySpace and Facebook are clearly the two leaders in this fight but it will be interesting to see how the sites grow in the next year to two years. Facebook has recently updated their site and it has been getting mixed reviews from what I have heard and read.

    From the New York Times:

    Facebook rolled out a major redesign of its social networking site late Sunday that features a cleaner interface that links feed technology with user forums. Company officials said the updated site will give users more control and ownership over their profiles.

    But many who follow Facebook pointed out that there is more behind Facebook’s facelift than its stated aim to simplify and clean up the design of its user profiles. The new version, which is now in limited use, will be rolled out gradually to Facebook’s 80 million users in the “coming days,” Facebook said.

    The redesign, for example, integrates feed technology and the Facebook Wall, a forum for users and their friends to post comments, photos, video and content from third party applications. In addition, users will have the option of previewing third party applications before adding them to their profile or granting it access to their information.

    Sarah Perez, a blogger at Read Write Web, noted that the redesign coincides with the move into the job market by many of the users who flocked to Facebook when the site launched in 2004 as a closed network just for college students.

    “Cleaning up a Facebook profile as well as ditching a slew of time-wasting applications is almost like a coming-of-age ritual now,” Perez noted. “As the college kids move into the real world, the social network needs to reflect their changing needs in order to stay relevant while still appealing to the next generation of users.” She said Facebook is looking to convince the so-called Gen Y workforce “that their set of social media tools can be the new way to get things done. It helps when profiles aren’t filled with pointless, time-wasting apps that don’t just fill your screen but also spam you and your friends with their notifications.”

    I still prefer MySpace to Facebook. I believe that the personalization ability that you have on MySpace is great and I feel that there are more opportunity’s to express yourself on MySpace. Facebook has come a long way, but I don’t feel that they’re quite there yet. I also want it stated that I am not a  fan of the Facebook redesign. But, I am only one person in a global audience of millions. So, I propose this question. Who do you like best: MySpace, Facebook, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster or Orkut? Thoughts?