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The Rebirth of Daily Deals

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The daily deal business has changed a lot over the past few years. While it’s true that consumers still want to save a few bucks (perhaps more than ever), they’ve largely abandoned the model of prepaying for deals that are valid for only a short time—not to mention the challenge of remembering to use them if they do shell out for them.

Unlike the daily deals of yore, today’s deals are rarely listed for just 24 hours; they tend to run for a week or so, or until an allotted amount are sold.

On the vendor side, the old business model was a bust. The cost to acquire customers proved greater than their lifetime value; further, the deals were typically not profitable for most vendors once they got their cut from the deal company. The small business community was hit up repeatedly by numerous companies guaranteeing to increase sales, but the daily deals never really lived up to the promise of delivering local repeat business.

While many deal companies died following Groupon and LivingSocial down a rabbit hole, there are still a multitude of them, looking to develop social commerce sales any way they can. @Groupon, which is valued at a very substantial $3.5 billion, seems to be catching a second wind under the watchful eye of Eric Lefkofsky and looks to be leveraging its massive global footprint while adding to its arsenal of offerings with @Woot-type physical products. @LivingSocial seems to be re-focused on travel and experiential offerings. @Yelp deals are more merchant-friendly in its self-service approach to letting vendors determine the nature of the deals and discounts they wish to offer. (This also costs Yelp next to nothing, as it does not need to maintain an active sales force, like most other deal sites.)

One of my favorite deal companies remains @BlackboardEats. Its service is clean and easy; you get an email offer (not daily) that allows you to download a passcode for a restaurant discount. The best part is that you do not pay anything until you actually use the passcode—a much less intrusive way to offer value to foodies.

There have been a lot of successful specialty deal sites, from high-end baby stuff at @Totsy to hyperniche sites like @BiteDownDeals, for dentists looking to get discounted equipment/supplies. While their customer bases may be smaller than those of other deal companies, these are targeted audiences of subscribers—as opposed to larger deal sites where customers who prefer not to see their inboxes fill up with useless offers can opt not to subscribe and come only when they want to see what’s available—more pull, less push.

There are also new deal aggregators. @ShopChippmunk is a new savings search engine for deals that allows you to search based on parameters including budget. This seems an improvement on traditional aggregator models like @Yipit, which focus less on customer experience and still require email registration just to view deals.

Meanwhile, many brands are running their own deals or offering discounts and coupons directly through their sites and social media communities. @CoupSmart is a smart social commerce solution that empowers established brands to run deals in a variety of ways directly through their Facebook pages, while allowing the brand to keep all of that valuable customer data, rather than the deal company owning it.

Stay tuned for my next blog when I will look at how predictive analytics and strategy simulations can help decipher big data.


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2013 Rock Hall Of Fame Ceremony Recap

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The 2013 @Rock_Hall induction ceremony was a star-studded event celebrating this year’s inductees, Albert King, Randy Newman, Lou Adler, Quincy Jones, Public Enemy, Donna Summer, Heart and crowd favorite Rush.  Artists become eligible for entry to the Hall 25 years after the release of their first album, typically only voted on by members however this year they actually allowed the public to cast its vote (http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/vote-for-the-2013-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-inductees-20121004).

As always, @PaulShaffer did a stellar job putting together an all-star house band. To open the night, @TomPetty, Jackson Browne @SongsofJBrowne and @John_Fogerty jammed the @RandyNewman hit “I love L.A.” And Don Henley gave a good intro to induct Newman, who was a cool curmudgeon about getting into the fraternity.

Lou Adler, owner of the famous Roxy Theatre @TheRoxy has had a long and influential career in music, producing such acts as Sam Cooke, the Mamas & the Papas and Carole King. He also produced the first Monterey Pop Festival, where artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Who got early US notoriety. Adler is an avid @Lakers fan, so his buddy Jack Nicholson was there to support the cause. @CheechandChong gave a proper stoner introduction, and @Carole­­King sang “So Far Away”—she’s still got it!

Another fantastic act was @GaryClarkJr and John Mayer performing “Born Under a Bad Sign.” @JohnMayer gave a great tribute to induct blues guitar legend Albert King, whose daughter and granddaughter accepted on his behalf.

@KellyRowland delivered a tribute fit for the late disco queen, Donna Summer (@TheDonnaSummer) along with a touching speech given by Summer’s husband.

All followed by an impressive performance by Jennifer Hudson @IAMJHUD, who rocked the crowd out to “Bad Girls” and “Save The Last Dance.”

@QuincyDJones, who is now 80 and has almost as many Grammy nominations, as he has years, 79 showed his age a bit but was still hip and quick witted when he shared his personal influences and discussed how music shaped his life. @Oprah introduced him, and @Usher killed with a great rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You.”

@SpikeLee and @HarryBelafonte presented the award to @PublicEnemyFTP. Harry looked great and seemly heckled Quincy for grabbing a pole for walking assistance as Harry himself walked with a cane. Flava Flav rambled for way too long, making little to no sense, while @MrChuckD waited patiently for his turn to share his thoughts. A great jam session of “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” brought the house down!

Heart @OfficialHeart was inducted by fellow Seattle rocker @ChrisCornell. They played “Barracuda” with Jerry Cantrell of @AliceinChains and Mike McCready from @PearlJam.

The main event was indeed the long overdue induction of Rush @RushTheBand, who received great intro praise from @FooFighters, Dave Grohl and Hawkins. The trio then played amazing versions of “Tom Sawyer” and “The Spirit of Radio”.

Dave Grohl, Tom Morello, John Fogerty, Gary Clark Jr., Heart, Chris Cornell, Rush, Chuck D and Public Enemy among others were all rockin the Clapton version of “Crossroads” to complete the night.

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It was a great night overall in L.A. Those of you who haven’t been to the actual @Rock_Hall in Cleveland should check it out – it’s worth it for the cool I.M. Pei-designed building alone. The ceremony event will air on @HBO May 18, 2013.


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+K – The Social Hot Commodity

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Thanks for the RT… Appreciate the mention! These reciprocal gestures and signs of gratitude are still well received but their ability to inspire online conversations is dwindling.

Recently, we began giving out Klout points also known as +K to influencers we either wanted to thank or acknowledge. The response has been overwhelming. Strong influencers who never before engaged with us are now sending 140 character thank you notes spilling over with affection. Even more so, the conversations have continued and meaningful relationships have formed.

Klout is an online tool that measures a persons’ or business’ social media influence through a point system of 1 to 100, 100 being the highest. +K is a hot commodity because it is just that… a tangible asset that bumps up the recipient’s Klout score and positively affects the giver’s influence level. So how does it work?

1.   Log into your Klout account. If you are not already on Klout, you can create an account here http://klout.com/home

2.  To give a +K, type in the Twitter handle of a person that influences you in the upper right and click on the user’s Klout profile

3.  Scroll down to their topics. Find the topic you think they are most influential about and next to that topic you’ll see the Give +K symbol. Click on it. (see image below)

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4.  Once you “Give +K”, a pop up window will appear for you to easily share the transaction on Twitter or Facebook. Klout automatically enters the recipient’s twitter handle in the prompted tweet so you can efficiently notify them of your appreciation and good will. (see image below)

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5.  Monitor your mentions and notifications for the forthcoming thank you messages, engage further and solidify the relationship.

6.  Users receive 10 +K’s to use everyday. This means each day you can give 1 +K to 10 different users or one user’s different topics. Giving +K heightens your chance of receiving +K’s from others. There is no limit to the amount of +K’s you can receive.

A little Klout goes a long way! These actions will serve you well by boosting your online engagement levels, adding value to your community and increasing your Klout score! It’s a win-win all around!

Feel like putting it to the test? You can try it out and show us a little Klout love by clicking here

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Social Media Trends 2013

As always, bets are being thrown down, speculations are pontificated, and everyone tries to get their guess in on what the social media trends will be for the new year.  2012 was a rocky rollercoaster with world-wide woes and economic, political, and social struggles abound.  So what does this translate to in 2013?  Here are some predictions.

1. You won’t be able to pick which pants you’re going to wear without a little help from your friends…and strangers.

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, blogs, Yelp…social media is full of ways to comment, interact, and rate content from your friends, community, and even businesses and individuals.

So, it stands to reason that the same formula would be refined down to the juicy part of rating and commenting.  You probably also know about Thumb, the interactive site that sends an endless stream of user-contributed questions and pics, allowing the community to vote “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on everything from what you ate for breakfast to cars and life philosophies.  Here’s one of my entries asking if my unicorn tumblers are cool or tacky:

Don’t worry, I’ll still be using my magnificent and highly classy cups regardless of how the vote turned out.

This kind of interaction has already been utilized for brands to connect with their intended audiences and ask their opinions on products and services as demonstrated by Wayin.  Look for similar services to pop up with more specialized versions in the new year that help companies get feedback using even more interactive techniques.


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2.You’ll be able to make smarter choices about everything…even friends!

Planning every detail of your trips with ease has already been give the personal touch with services like AirBNB which connects people who want to rent out their rooms to travelers looking for a deal.  Online dating services (like OkCupid) let you make profiles and meet potential love interests based on your profile compatibility.  Now you can mix the two and choose your airline seatmate by seeing how compatible they are with you based on their social network profiles.  SeatID provides the service where you can make an educated guess as to who you’re about to sit next to for the next few hours up in the sky.   You can possibly make a friend, a love connection, business acquaintance, or even just find a quiet person who won’t disturb you as you sleep in your seat.   Look out for more companies like this that are creating better ways to plan your social circles, even in the real, non-cyber world, for more efficient networking and friend-making.

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3. Generosity will become more of a public, group activity.

We’re going to end on a high note because this category of social media is just one example of how online ingenuity can be used to bring people together in a positive way.  Most of us have already been directed to sites like KickstarterandIndiegogo  to contribute money to projects that vary from movies, apps and inventions, to business start-ups and even spiritual movements. Now, new app, CountMeIn, allows Facebook and Twitter users to find gifts out of their personal price range and invite friends and family to chip in money to help purchase the item.  This community driven mode of gift-giving is a great example of creative ways to get around lean economic times while still giving people the opportunity to be generous within the constraints of their own budgets.

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Similarly, the good vibes continue with Chipin which allows you to raise money for whatever you like, deposited directly into your pay pal.   Here’s a heartwarming fundraiser for a poor dog’s surgery:

ChipIn- Milo's Tumor Removal Surgery & Biopsy

Want to give to charity and shop at the same time?  Look for more emerging companies like the new SocialGoodNetwork, which is a hipper and more community minded network of charities and retailers that allows you to shop and have a percentage of your purchase go to the charity of your choosing from the long list provided.  These charities vary from local to overseas and cover a wide range of altruistic activities.

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Don’t be shy to weigh in on what you think will be the flow of the future!  And happy 2013!


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No more free advertising for facebook and Twitter.

Everywhere we turn, we hear how businesses are hurting. Ad budgets are shrinking, fast. People are worrying if they can make payroll and keep locations open, yet everybody has money to promote facebook and Twitter.

What gives?

Last I heard, facebook and Twitter were doing okay. They have billions of dollars. They are working to take over the world. And guess what? They don’t run ads. They know that social media works organically. They also are enjoying the fact that companies, large and small, promote them for nothing, giving their logos all kinds of real estate not only on their online properties, but on their traditional print and TV ads.

Sure, you want people to know you’re “with it…” “Visit us on facebook! Follow us on Twitter!” Sure, if you’re online you can include a link, but anywhere else, print, radio, TV, let’s take a breath and reconsider. While it’s nice to make things as easy as possible for the consumer, people who are really using social media will know to look for you there.

If your brand has something to say, people will listen. The problem is, having something to say is a lot harder than putting a facebook logo on an ad. Of course facebook and Twitter are powerful tools, but we don’t need to sell the category. People are really into this stuff. It has become the fabric of their lives. And they know when you are just pretending to be in the space and when you are really utilizing it. The challenge is understanding how to spend the time, energy and resources to do something meaningful on facebook and Twitter.


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Social Media & The World

Social media is affecting the world in big ways, both good and bad. Just a few years ago, news didn’t travel as quickly as it now does through Twitter, Facebook, news aggregators, etc. Positively, this means we have access to world news in a matter of seconds, and we no longer have to wait for the evening news to catch up on daily occurrences (see: social media’s role in Egypt’s 2011 Revolution). Negatively, especially for those in the public eye, this means that nothing goes unreported, even private pictures sent through a site like Twitter (see: Anthony Weiner). We take a look at some ways social media is affecting the way we look at religion, sports and politics:

Religion: The Catholic Church has joined Facebook and Twitter. In June, The Vatican announced the launch of a social media-integrated official news website, news.va, that will make heavy use of social networks. Pope Benedict XVI himself sent out the first papal tweet. News.va will function essentially as a Vatican and Catholic Church-related news aggregator, republishing stories from L’Osservatore Romano, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, the Fides news agency and from Vatican media relations. Livestreaming of Papal events will also be featured, along with links to homilies, statements, and speeches. Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese-language versions of the site will be launched over the next few months. Users will also be able to post links on Twitter and share stories on their Facebook walls.

Sports: The International Olympic Committee has issued rules for athletes using social media at the 2012 London Games. The athletes are encouraged to “post, blog and tweet their experiences,” but forbidden from using Twitter, Facebook or personal blogs for commercial or advertising purposes or to share videos filmed at Olympics venues. If the rules are broken, athletes are warned that it can withdraw accreditation, shut down online operations and start legal action for damages. These new social media rules come after some controversy at the 2010 Vancouver games, where US skier Julia Mancuso was asked to stop online merchandise sales after her silver medal-winning performances generated interest in her official website. Some of the other social media stipulations for London? Posts, blogs, etc. should be in first-person, should not contain vulgar or obscene words or images, and should not reveal confidential information. “Unlike in Vancouver, where the rules were adapted to fit changed circumstances, the rules in force in London have been properly codified,” the IOC said.

Politics: In mid-June, Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., resigned from Congress in the wake of a sexting scandal. The move, which abruptly put an end to Weiner’s on-the-rise political career, serves as a warning to politicians and lawmakers about dealing with the social media world. To recap:  Reports indicated that a college student had received a sexually suggestive photo from Weiner’s Twitter account. Weiner denied sending it, saying the account had been hacked, but as more texts and photos of the congressman surfaced, Weiner finally admitted that he’d sent the photo. The story picked up and more revelations surfaced, including messages to a 17-year-old Delaware girl. Ultimately, Weiner sought a leave of absence and said he’d seek treatment. While Weiner isn’t the first politician to deal with a sex scandal, the incident reverberates as politicians grapple with the new world of social media. It should serve as a “serious warning sign to politicians,” said Steven Schier, a professor of political science at Carleton College in Minnesota, that that they need to be careful. “They send out this stuff unfiltered, so the risk is increased considerably,” Schier said.

In what other ways is social media changing the world? Tell us in the comments!



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Social Media Tools

Social Media moves at a remarkably fast pace, meaning that just one month in social media time can lead to stunning new developments, including new tools that allow you to save both time and money. Let’s take a look at some of this month and last month’s newest tools:

Panabee:  This site is truly a one-stop shop; search for available web domains by desired address or via associated keywords, browse related terms, the Google definition, and more. A simple entry like “safety pin” in the search box immediately yielded suggestions for available domains (safetypinn.com and gosafetypin.com) since our first choice (safetypin.com) was already taken. Panabee also pulled up to-the-minute twitter feeds relating to safety pins, as well as the top Google searches related to the product. Consider us hooked.

AppMakr: This free ‘drag and drop’ tool allows you to create your own mobile apps on iPhone, Windows and Android. It might signal the full arrival of mass mobile media and allows you to see the thousands of apps that have already been created using the site, by people just like you!

IconSeeker:  This site solves the difficult problem of finding social media icons to suit your site. While Google Image search can leave you with hundreds of options as far as site icons, IconSeeker narrows the results down to only the best. Example: We searched “fire” on both IconSeeker and Google Images. The results speak for themselves: and

Facebook Vanity:  Check out the availability of Facebook URLs in a matter of seconds, and grab yours if its available- it makes for a professional addition to your business card to have your profile listed as facebook.com/john.smith, versus facebook.com/skjdwi13.

PeerIndex: Use it to get an initial feel of key conversation drivers in a particular field.

What social media tools do you use on a daily basis? Tell us some of your new favorites in the comments.


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Social Media Agencies

Since we’ve recently highlighted a few of our favorite social media case studies, this week we thought we’d bring attention to some top social media agencies and what they are doing. These are the agencies that are setting the bar high and implementing innovative social media marketing.

There are many types of social media companies; some are research focused, some feature a team of app developers, some are extending and developing upon tradition PR. The best social media agencies combine these skills and help companies extend their brands through training, long term strategy, and execution.

Mullen is a full-service modern advertising agency, with clients ranging from Fage Greek yogurt to the Department of Defense. National brands like Zappos, Olympus and Jet Blue have turned to Mullen for campaigns; last year, the social-media savvy JetBlue chose Mullen as its lead advertising and marketing agency.  The You Above All campaign  featured a full mix of media including online, social media, in-flight, print, and out-of-home components. For the social media portion of their campaign, the agency created a series of hidden camera scenarios called Ground Rules. The unscripted videos poke fun at other airlines’ service policies  by featuring real people in being deprived of things they’ve come to expect, such as legroom in a taxi and a full can of soda from a street vendor. The videos were primarily shown through a YouTube homepage takeover.

Ignite is a social media agency completely and exclusively focused on social media marketing. As opposed to PR and marketing firms that offer elements of social media marketing (like Mullen), Ignite’s team of tech, creative, account, and strategy professionals form a complete social media company, solely dedicated to the interactive and social media markets. Their work for Bing is one example of their success in the social media market.  Bing wanted a tab on their Facebook Page that would showcase the variety of what Bing Travel has to offer its fans. Ignite created a tab with a standardized background to tie all of the individual pieces together; each individual section engages the fan in a different aspect of Bing Travel. Fans can also share Bing Travel elements on other social networks, by retweeting Did You Know facts on Twitter, for example.

Crispin Porter & Bogusky, an advertising agency based out of Miami, is known mostly for viral marketing techniques. Their Subservient Chicken campaign for Burger King was created to promote the chain’s TenderCrisp chicken sandwich and the “Have it Your Way” campaign.  Crispin created the “The Subservient Chicken” web page, on which a “chicken” performs actions based on user input, showing pre-recorded footage and appearing like an interactive webcam. The site is meant to capitalize on the slogan: “Get chicken just the way you like it”.

Have you come across any social media agencies doing some truly innovative work? Let us know in the comments!


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Social Media in Unusual Places

This week, we take a look at a few more cool social media case studies and the success certain brands have seen from their efforts. While in the past, social media campaigns were best used by marketing giants like Coca-Cola and Burberry, today social media is present in many industries, including healthcare, real estate and even credit card companies. Here are a few of our favorites unexpected uses of social media:

Mall of America: Lisa Grimm, digital public relations specialist for the Mall of America in Minnesota, recently shared the success of one of the Mall’s most triumphant campaigns. Since the most difficult time to park at the mall is during Christmas week, the Mall of America team decided to take advantage of this increase in activity to boost their social media following. The team decided to actually auction off parking spaces in the front row of the mall’s lot, but only to their social media followers. By using the parking event’s hashtag on Twitter, followers were entered into the auction. The campaign was a success: The Mall’s Twitter following increased by 11% and the campaign was covered by Forbes, among other news outlets. This campaign is just one example of the far-reaching grasp of social media.

Century 21 Real Estate: Century 21, a leader in real estate, recently revealed that QR codes will be available on Century 21 signs. These custom bar codes can be scanned on a smartphone and will direct you to specific information, such as a real estate listing.

American Express: American Express has been heavily targeting small business in the US for the past few months. One feature of their campaign is the American Express OPEN and Facebook collaboration called Big Break for Small Business.  The national contest was designed to help transform the way small businesses use Facebook, and of course, to publicize American Express as the leader for small business use. Business owners could enter to win an all-expense paid trip to Facebook headquarters for a two-day “boot camp” and a US $20,000 cash prize by submitting responses to a short questionnaire. Over 10,000 businesses entered to win their “big break,” and on July 5th the five finalists will be subject to a public vote. Read an interview with Rosa Alfonso of of the American Express Open program here.

The No Kids Hungry Pledge: Share our Strength, a non-profit organization, is working through their Facebook page to help end childhood hunger. On their custom welcome page, they ask you to take a pledge and help end childhood hunger by 2015. Once you sign up by providing your email and zip code, you receive an email asking you to help spread the word by way of social status updates (templated Facebook and Twitter posts) or via email. Note, they don’t ask for money or for you to volunteer your time. In doing so, Share our Strength is building their email database while gaining trust from their new fans.

Have you seen any cool uses of social media in the past few months? Share with us in the comments section!


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Weekly Highlights

Social Media moves quickly. While the time lag between communications produced by more traditional media, like newspapers and television, can be long, taking anywhere from days to weeks to months, social media is virtually instantaneous. In fact, social media users can dissect and comment on an event as it is taking place.

Social Media makes the news just as quickly as it reports on it. On a week-to-week basis, the industry can rapidly shift gears, with new developments, mergers and innovation that define it.

Here’s what’s new this week:

YouTube now offers live video: Welcome to YouTube Live, which integrates live streaming capabilities and discovery tools directly into the YouTube platform for the first time. Users can search for the most compelling live events happening on YouTube and add these events to their personalized calendars, and customized homepages will notify customers of upcoming live streams. As of April 8, YouTube started gradually rolling out the live streaming beta platform, which allowed certain YouTube partners with “accounts in good standing” to stream live content on YouTube.

Walmart ventures into social media: Walmart announced this week that it is buying Mountain View-based Kosmix, a social media technology provider that has built a platform that “enables users to filter and organize content in social networks, in order to connect people with information that matters to them, in realtime.” The platform powers TweetBeat, a social media filter for live events. Walmart expects Kosmix, whose founders and team will now operate as @WalmartLabs, to create technologies and businesses around social and mobile commerce that will support its multi-channel strategy. Interesting fact: Kosmix’ founders Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman also created crowdsourcing Internet marketplace Amazon Mechanical Turk.

A tech boom is on the way: Seattle-based real estate mapper Zillow has become the latest Internet company to put an IPO into the pipeline. (An initial public offering, or IPO, is when a company issues common stock or shares to the public for the first time.) Zillow filed a statement with the SEC that will let it sell more than $50 million of stock. The company follows in the footsteps of Demand Media, LinkedIn and Pandora, all of which filed for an IPO within the last year. Facebook and Groupon are also expected to join the public market soon. With insiders debating the proximity of the next tech bubble, these IPOs could signify that we should expect it soon.

Twitter in talks to buy TweetDeck: Twitter is in talks to purchase TweetDeck Inc. for $50 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. TweetDeck is a hot commodity, as earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that UberMedia was in talks to purchase TweetDeck for $30 million. As one of the most popular third-party Twitter clients, TweetDeck displays your Twitter news feed, direct messages, etc. along with your Facebook feeds — all on the same screen, updating in real time.

Got any interesting social media news to share with us from the past few days? Please let us know in the comments!


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