According to a IPO filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission the revenue of Twitter has tripled from 2011 to 2012. And in 2013 broke the record again having posted 254 million dollars revenue in the first six months of the year compared to the 2012 year.[1]


Advertising is always improving everywhere especially on the Internet. Already as of 2013 85 percent of the site’s revenue came from advertising according to the same filing. Twitter charged the way posts are presented on the home feed to make the site more visual. Previously, media was presented as a link, so users had to click on a video or photo to view it. Now with the new way the media shoes up directly. These changes will increase advertising revenue greatly.[2]

So with twitter being such a good place to advertise, is it only for big successful companies?


With twitter you can advertise without spending a single cent! How?

Twitter is being used by small companies all over the world.

Everyone is doing it, the guy who runs the small DIY on the corner of your street is using it. It’s a fast way of getting the message out there to your customers, letting them instantly know your news whether it be a new product, special deal or upcoming event. Many companies tell their followers to retweet and follow to be in with a chance of a specific prize this allows their followers to see this and the chain keeps growing until you have thousands of people seeing your offers and following you.

The number one advantage of this is that it allows the small business to engage with its customers, Posting information about its product is its obvious use. But twitter also gives another channel for listening to and finding out about your customers, what they like or dislike about the company, how they feel about your brand, what suggestions they have for improvement, what their favorite products are and why etc..


How Private Are Your Photos On Instagram?


In my last blog on Instagram I introduced the problem the company had in December 2012, when they briefly introduced a new privacy policy, leading to a harsh backlash from user’s as they were not in favour of their picture’s being used by Instagram in advertising and gaining revenue.

This much discontent with the new terms, at the time, just shows how protective many users are of the personal photos they are uploading. Instagram is different to Facebook in this way. People, including myself, usually select their favourite and most personal photos to be displayed on their Instagram page rather than uploading a whole array of photos like they would on their Facebook account.

In December 2012 when Instagram first brought about changes to the privacy terms it stated on its blog,

“You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.” [1]

The language used confused user’s and media alike, but overall the feeling after reading these new terms was that the photos being uploaded were free to be sold to companies for advertising in order to benefit the app, without the user’s consent. People were not happy with this at all. Many complaints were made by the public and celebrities such as Pink and Emma Stone, who publically announcing their anger at the new terms. [2]

Instagram creators were quick to acknowledge this outpour of user complaints and co-founder Kevin Systrom soon took to the Instagram blog to address the issues saying,


A month later Instagram officially updated the privacy policies. The language was much clearer and simpler. It stated that Instagram was permitted to share the user’s information, from the likes of information from cookies to log files and usage data, with companies they were legally affiliated with. The advertising terms were changed to saying,

“This information [above] would allow third-party ad networks to, among other things, deliver targeted advertisements that they believe will be of most interest to you.” [3]

Users seemed much happier with the newly worded terms. It also stated that users were still able to control what other users saw from their page. They approve followers and make their photos private, only for the eyes of their accepted followers.

I don’t have many of the privacy settings set up on my account but lots of my friends do and I know it definitely gives them peace of mind to be fully aware of who is seeing the pictures they choose to upload. Everyone is different in this sense but I certainly think it is in Instagram’s best interest not to continue changing the privacy policies. Even if the company are in need some extra revenue, I believe further changes will discourage current and potential users from using the app if they feel the company is not respecting their privacy as much as they would like it to.

~ Finola Barry

[1] – http://www.webpronews.com/instagrams-new-privacy-policies-take-effect-on-saturday-2013-01

[2] – http://businessethicscases.blogspot.ie/2013/04/instagram-issue-of-user-privacy.html

[3] – http://instagram.com/about/legal/privacy/#section3

It’s not all fun and games

ImageSome Foursquare badges. [1]

In the early days of Foursquare before a critical mass of users had been established, there needed to be a motivation for a user to use their service. After all, the main reason the first incarnation failed was due to it not gaining this critical mass. The creators realised from their past failure that a new user would not easily take on their product if it wasn’t already being used by their friends. Their solution to this at the time was pioneering and the concept has now become known as gamification.

The term ‘Gamification’ was originally coined in 2002 by a British computer programmer called Nick Pelling. However it wasn’t until around 2010 that the word started to be used for a new concept which sought to implement game mechanics into web and mobile applications. [2] This sought to incorporate the social and reward aspects of games to help solve non-gaming related problems.

The creators of Foursquare were quick to understand the potential of the concept in helping launch their service. This new implementation of game mechanics allowed Foursquare’s early adopters to not depend on another user for intrinsic reinforcement. An idea that was not very intuitive for what was essentially a social media app. Despite this it would be the primary driver of Foursquare’s early success. This is witnessed by Foursquare achieving a phenomenal growth of 3,400% in 2010. [3] Foursquare had proved without any doubt that gamification can affect behaviour and can engage millions of new customers.

Foursquare gamification involves users competing for badges, mayorships and points. To earn a badge a user must check-in to a specific venue or complete certain tasks. The first badge a user gets is called the ‘newbie badge’ and is earned after their first check-in. It is unknown how many badges there is but it is assumed to be in the hundreds. For example, the ‘Hangover badge’ can be earned if the user checks into a venue categorised as a bar after 2am and then checks into a venue categorised as an office or college before 8am the same day. In 2010 an astronaut called Douglas Wheelock earned the ‘NASA explorer badge’ after doing a check-in on the International Space Station. [4]

If a user has managed to check-in to a venue more times than any other user in the last 60 days, then they are awarded mayorship of that venue. This is in condition that the user has uploaded a profile photo. If a business or venue has a foursquare page then the mayor will be displayed on their front page. Many businesses now provide rewards to users who achieve mayorship at their venue.

Foursquare users can earn points each time they do a check-in. Bonus points are awarded for different things such as introducing a new friend to Foursquare, posting a recommendation or checking in to a new place. Foursquare encourages users to compete against their friends for points and to check their position on the points leaderboard.

Recently co-founder Denis Crowley has expressed his disappointment about the perception that Foursquare is just about points and badges. For this reason they are intending to move the game aspects of Foursquare progressively more into the background while emphasising the apps primary functions. [5] In fact the creators of Foursquare have always been upfront about their reasons for using gamification. The function of the games was always to get new users interested, to keep them checking in and to ultimately provide more data for their recommendation engine. [6]

– Keith Walsh

[1] Posttuit. “Coleccionista de medallas”. Available at: http://www.posttuit.es/coleccionista-de-medallas (Accessed 06/03/2014)
[2] Gabe Zichermann. 2011. “Gamification by Design: Implementing Game Mechanics in Web and Mobile Apps”. 1
Edition. O’Reilly Media.
[3] Kuo, I. 2013. “Foursquare’s Removal of Gamification: Not a Mistake but a Mature Design Decision”.
Gamification Corp. Available at: http://www.gamification.co/2013/03/15/the-removal-of-foursquare-
gamification/ (Accessed: 06/03/2014)
[4] Kincaid, J. 2010. “Houston, We’ve Had A Check-In: NASA Astronaut Just Used Foursquare From Space”.
Techcrunch.com. Available at: http://techcrunch.com/2010/10/22/foursquare-space-astronaut/ (Accessed:
[5] Crowley, D. 2013. “The Future of Location”. SXSW. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rw-SGWieEo (Accessed: 06/03/2014)
[6] Foursquare. “Foursquare 101”. About Foursquare. Available at: http://aboutfoursquare.com/foursquare-101/ (Accessed: 06/03/2014)

What YouTube means to its users


YouTube’s motives since being acquired by Google have always been that of revenue form advertisements since its takeover. Originally the site was much less consumer based then what it is now but that’s not saying there haven’t been benefits with the site switching hands form your everyday computer geek to the international giant. The profit Google makes allows from investment and employment for YouTube with content creators getting their share of the advertisement revenue from their videos depending on how successful they become. The question always is though, do the big organizations really care for its customers? Well for the more prevalent users on the site you would have to say yes, but for the small guy that’s a little fuzzier.


Image 1: Some popular Youtubers, many who make a living form the site. [1]

Sure now the site has income to monitor uploads and users but could this be restricting original content or help protecting from copyright and privacy? Any small infringement can get a video banned but sometime this use of say a song or an image but that’s how law dictates things should happen so it’s hard to complain.

Mostly the users need to look out for themselves by not shooting themselves in the foot and revealing personal information they wouldn’t want getting out like a house address and maybe even their actual names.

When taking its first steps YouTube wasn’t used by as many people as it is now so maintaining control, equality and protection was easier. YouTube now has to make sure that its subscriber’s users agree to a privacy policy. For users who think that a video invades their privacy or other users simply looking out for one another, they can report the video bringing it to the sites staff’s attention which can be done anonymously as well. Then after a review the video either is found guilty or not guilty, if any wrong doing a notice is sent to edit or remove the video in 48 hours. This seems pretty fair to me but sometimes the damage can be done in 2 days to wreck a person’s reputation.

All in all YouTube may prioritize it users who bring in the big bucks but they try and keep it even and recognize the importance of all its users. This is probably why the site is so widely used among the Internets population. People recognize the efforts YouTube has made to be user friendly and respect the privacy and ambitions its subscribers have, rewarding those who achieve and allowing an even platform for other to become successful, although like everything this can be mainly down to luck.

The sites perception by most is pretty similar, “the ads annoy me, the comments are stupid, the app wont play music when I close it” and countless other possible thing. This is common to most websites though something always bothers people and not everyone can be pleased. Improvements on the mobile app seems and easy enough fix but in due time improvements will always be made, to criticism again.

For many others and myself I enjoy the ease of use and variable content the site has to offer. It would be hard to find people who complain about how they can always watch new music videos or subscribe to their favorite users to get new videos at a moments notice and catch a highlight from a match or watch a speech from something on TV yesterday. I think the subscribers, general users and myself all appreciate having YouTube for what is brings to the Internet.

– Aodh Maguire


  1. 14 KINDS OF PEOPLE ON YOUTUBE: LURKERS, FANS, INFLUENCERS & PROS, Zerf.com, accessed 5/3/1014, http://blog.zefr.com/2013/4-kinds-of-youtubers-lurkers-fans-influencers-pros/.

Still in the REDdit?


You would imagine with a 70 million per month readership that reddit would not be struggling to stay in the black without the amount of ad revenue they could be selling. You would imagine that advertisers would be eating up the chance to pay big money to advertise on reddit like they do with nearly ever other big publisher, but the reality is that as of mid 2013, reddits expenses still slightly outweigh their revenues.


There is a common misconception with reddit users and outsiders that reddit already is very profitable but the reality is that revenues are actually slightly short of expenses. But why do reddit not make as much selling advertising than other big corporations? Well the answer is simple, the people in charge of reddit don’t believe in selling invasive flashy ads (the most profitable) but rather very subtle banner ads, which are very unobtrusive. They value the user experience so highly and believe any other form of adverts would lead to a decline in user experience and drive users away. So to compensate the shortcomings of ad revenue, reddit requires other source for income and next comes the idea of reddit gold.


Since 2010, reddit traffic has been growing exponentially and as more users come, server costs increase rapidly. So to try and subsidise the running costs without hindering the user experience, reddit introduced a new subscription service, branded ‘reddit gold’. First introduced in July 2010, reddit users were offered the option of purchasing the reddit gold service for $3.99/month or $29.99/year. Although seemingly quite pricey, a handful of new features are given to enhance the user experience. These include the ability to display more comments on a page, add notifications to ones account and have access to a private subreddit r/lounge. The other great thing about reddit gold is that it can be gifted from user to user. So if I have read a great comment in r/engineering to help with an assignment or another user made makes a hilarious comment in r/firstworldanarchists I can myself gift them with a reddit gold subscription. The idea behind this form of monetizing is that the users are paying and in return getting a better reddit experience which keeps users happy while making the site better for everyone.


There is third source for revenue from reddit and that is known as the marketplace. It started in 2009 as redditgifts and was a platform for the worlds largest ‘Secret Santa.’ How it worked was similar to the traditional secret Santa where each participating user would be paired with another random user and everyone would send each other gifts. In 2012 there were over 50 000 participants! This community of gift sharing gave reddit the platform to start their own online store, selling as quoted by them ‘the most fun, geeky, unique, and otherwise awesome products in our marketplace.’  Reddit CEO Yishan Wong has an optimistic view of what the marketplace can become. ‘It’s still nascent, but gift exchanges are quite popular and (again in reddit fashion) we heavily curate the merchants who are allowed in the marketplace. We’ll see how it develops.

Snapchat- Is it Ethically sound?

All aspects of social media were created with good intensions snapchat is no exception. Sadly, however, abuse is possible. In theory snapchat fulfills a role by allowing sender to present a photo to a recipient that will disappear after a set number of seconds. In practice, however, a recipient could screen grab the photo. Which means that the photo will actually stay on his/her phone.  Defeating the primary concept behind Snapchat. Which begs the question, will snapchat survive?


It is my opinion that Snapchat is the answer, right now. When people talk about privacy with photos snapchat is the best option. The use of screen grabbing is a weak argument to slander snapchat because snapchat goes hand in hand with a basic human instinct, trust. When a sender chooses a recipient he or she has trusted that person not to abuse him or her by screen grabbing that photo. This separates the app from Facebook and twitter and other photo streaming applications.


The clever programmers behind snapchat have even installed a notification system, which allows the sender to be warned about a screen grab if it happens. Allowing the sender to stop any chance of the photo to be manipulated.


Facebook, whatapp and twitter are the most popularly used social applications and have been heavily slatted for inappropriate ‘sexting’ and cyber bullying. It can be easily done but hard to stop. Once an incriminating photo is put up it can be shared, copied, re-tweeted so quickly that it will always be on the worldwide web.  Snpachat is in my eyes the only app, which can provide an answer to cyber bullying at this time.



Cyber bullying is not as narrow-minded as someone calling somebody a name anymore. Now it has broadened out to ganging up on someone by manipulating a story or an image and plastering it on the Internet for the world to see. So much so that it has now ruined so many people’s lives and there is very little can be done to stop it because by simply changing the documents name it can be put back up again and again. We have seen examples of that even in this country. Of papers such as the daily mail or the sun printing explicit stories of conversations teenagers are having over the Internet. This is the basis for snapchats success. It focuses on the trust had between the sender and receiver and while that still exists snapchat will continue to succeed

Users are exposed to 1500 posts every day, Who decides what we see?

The progress of Facebook stems down to how much is Facebook actually worth? This is in fact a number that is very hard to quantify, thanks to the relative age of Facebook and the evolution of its product, what its worth today may be vastly different from tomorrow. 2 years ago in 2012 Facebook made no revenue from mobile advertising, yet in 2013 mobile advertising was launched and Facebook now accounts for 18.4% of global mobile advert spending.[1] Facebook’s revenue from ads reportedly went up an unprecedented 76% from previous years, accounting for a large part of the reported $523 million profits[2]. The question now is why is this happening, and will it be a problem for the user?

Facebook has gone mobile with Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerburg reporting a total of 757million users, ¾ of which access Facebook though a mobile device[3], thus changing the dynamic of Facebook and how the users are interacting. It is this change that is allowing Facebook to increase profits and exploit the user, though I belief the increased use of the news feed. The news feed shows a constant stream of statuses, posts, pictures and videos from friends and family (our ‘friends’). However, sponsored links and paid ads now slip into this feed seamlessly, integrating themselves with our interests meaning that the news feed no longer contains only posts from people I naturally will interact with. This however, is not the problem with Facebook, as annoying as these ads are, they do not vastly change the experience and often go unnoticed by any users; the problem with Facebook I feel is the nature by which these posts are sorted and the method through which Facebook is now sculpting our news feeds to maximize profits.

The problem with Facebook is in essence it is keeping things from you, i.e. we don’t see most of what our friends post or the pages we follow. When I post, it will only be seen by a small number of people, if they actively engage with it, like or comment, it will be spread to more of my friends. This means the news feed will slowly progress to only being full of things I like, or agree with.  A report by Veratisum shows that the most likely things to fill a newsfeed are weddings and babies, posts that people feel obliged to like or comment. Now it is not the fact there is a filtering process that is the problem, on average there are around 4,750,000,000 posts shared on Facebook everyday, and if you were to log in once per day, you could be exposed to around 1500 posts. The problem is Facebook is using the filtering to make money.[4]

In a recent 3 page document to marketers Facebook has taken a much more blunt stance on paying for reach, announcing that ‘We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site’. Organic reach is said to be declining due to the vast increases in the amount of content shared by users, and marketers are being told to pay, in order to ‘maximize delivery of their [your] message’.  Now I don’t want to sound naturally bias against Facebook and I must also explain that it appears Facebook is trying to be fair, as it wants to value markets and users equally, meaning that marketers don’t get priority in a given news feed, if they don’t deserve to be there. Facebooks current solution is to make marketers more social viable,  In the document marketers were told to re-think the purpose of their fan bases, where in previous years a large fan bases was a great way to distribute free content. Now a fan base is seen as a tool to increase effectiveness through ads with social content, a large fan bases in 2014 will make it cheaper to advertise your content, due to it having ‘social context’. Facebook is trying to keep the news feed user based.[5]