The last week has seen a new app take the world by storm. Pokemon Go is an Augmented Reality (AR) game, brought to us by the 20 year old Nintendo Franchise, that sees users walk through the real world, capturing virtual Pokemon.
Big news. Google launches Chromecast today in the UK. In case you're not familiar with the product, it is a dongle-like plug that slots into your TV's HDMI socket and turns a dumb television set into a Google Android powered online entertainment experience. The end result is a fusion of TV and tablet.
While it's a no-brainer for those who enjoy Netflix and iPlayer more than the old fashioned way of watching the googlebox, the real revolution here is bringing the app experience to the silver screen, in a way that has transformed the way brands can engage with consumers through phones and tablets. Think gaming, brand experiences and innovation that can be brought about through an app developer environment similar to the one we have on smart phones. Expect new apps tailored for TV to begin coming through thick and fast.
LinkedIn has announced hitting a major milestone this morning - the 15 million active user mark in the UK. The professionals' social network of choice announced it with a blog post containing an infographic that breaks down the site's UK user demographics. London is by far the biggest city, 10x bigger than any other, and as the above graph shows, the growth of LinkedIn has been steady, not stratospheric.
In comparison, Twitter's last UK user numbers update was also 15 million (as of Sep 2013) and Facebook 24 million (Aug 2013).
For more on LinkedIn's users, their full infographic is below, and more info is on their blog post.
The recently-launched Twitter Alerts service, which allows emergency services to send out urgent messages to Twitter users, has expanded rapidly in recent weeks as the UK has experienced the worst weather since the 1700s.
In times of crisis, it is important for emergency services to be able to deliver critical information to the public as quickly as possible.
And as the UK faces severe, repeated weather and flood warnings, we’ve been working with those services to ensure that Twitter is as useful as possible to those on the front line.
Today we are pleased to welcome 38 UK fire brigades to the Twitter Alerts programme, giving them more tools to help deliver critical information to the public in times of crisis.
Twitter alerts works by offering urgent comms from pre-registered emergency services:
Twitter users can sign up to receive Twitter Alerts from any participating account. When that account Tweets with an emergency message, users receive an SMS or push notification directly to their phone.
Twitter Alerts are also designed to capture users’ attention, with the orange bell standing out from other Tweets on followers’ Timelines and across twitter.com, as well as the Twitter mobile apps. They are also marked with the hashtag #alert.
Making use of push messages on Twitter users' phones we think is a major step from taking Twitter from social to crucial in terms of keeping users connected. We hope to see more uses of social media in this way for broadcast communications.
Twitter this morning announced that any account in the UK, Ireland and Canada can now take advantage of its new self-serve advertising set-up. Previously only available in the US, this new service allows you to buy your own ad space on Twitter, simplifying the process and making it more flexible and affordable to get your advertising started.
This is a big opportunity for brand engagement and reputation management. If you want more people to see your account, you can now more easily set up launch a promoted tweet, which drives clicks and views, or a promoted account, which drives followers.
If you ever need to respond to a crisis issue, it's important that the right tweet appears when people are on Twitter or searching for you. Promoted tweets are a great tool for reputation management in this way.
And if you are looking to reach your target audience and engage new users on Twitter, promoting your account literally puts a price on a new follower and is a worthwhile addition to your online marketing spend.
To get started just go to ads.twitter.com and their system will walk you through getting set up.
Twitter has today launched 10 new cities as options for trending topics in the UK. Joining the likes of London, Cardiff, Belfast, Edinburgh and so on are Plymouth, Stoke, Swansea, Hull and six others.
Trending right now in Birmingham, for example, is last night's #BBCQT, which is nowhere to be seen on the trending topics of nearby Stoke, which instead includes N Korea and #RIPUncleB.
Why are trending topics important? It's how a large proportion of Twitter users graze content. If something you created 'trends' then you get a huge spike of traffic and awareness. If you engage around trending topic areas regularly, you will reach an audience wider than your own follower base.
For brands, especially local businesses, make sure you are getting the most out of the insights that trending topics provide, as well as learning about how to tap into the Twitter zeitgeist in a more precise, locally driven way. The full run-down of new trending topics cities, as listed on the Twitter blog, are as follows:
Bournemouth: Follow Blur bass player Alex James (@TheAlexJames) and Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden (@Amanda_Holden), both of whom grew up in the area
Hull: TV presenter Sarah Beeny (@sarahbeeny) owns a wedding venue in the area, and follow Hull Truck Theatre (@HullTruck) for local theatre and entertainment news
Swansea: Keep up to date with Swansea City FC (@SwansOfficial) and follow player Michu (@MichuOviedo) for Premier League football action, and for a giggle follow Gavin & Stacey actress Joanna Page (@jopage_)
Preston: Follow Andrew Flintoff (@flintoff11) for cricket commentary and his daily antics - but if cricket isn’t your thing, try BBC Lancashire (@BBCLancashire) for BBC updates on the local area
Blackpool: Football fans can follow Blackpool FC (@BFC1887) and for updates on the most famous tower in the area follow The Blackpool Tower (@TheBplTower)
Plymouth: Olympic diving star Tom Daley (@TomDaley1994) is from the city, and you can follow Dartmoor Zoo (@DartmoorZoo) for regular animal snaps and all the latest zoo news
Derby: Follow local club Derby County (@dcfcofficial), keep up to date on community policing with Derbyshire Police (@DerbysPolice), and follow local professional golfer Melissa Reid (@melreidgolf)
Brace yourself. Buzzfeed, the "first true social news organisation" has arrived in the UK. Catering for the appetite we have for surfing the web and grazing social media for random factoids and entertainment, Buzzfeed is one of the hottest properties online.
Buzzfeed combines viral curation with editorial management of its content. The Guardian in its preview of the UK launch back in January sums up the importance of the emergence of this new kind of media succinctly:
"Is this the future of journalism? [...] Its mix of the serious and stupid poses a fresh challenge for traditional media companies as they battle for web users' time and attention. Its flexible approach to advertising – shunning the tired model of banner ads in favour of sponsored content – makes it a trailblazer in the rise of the social web."