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A significant week for social: medium, branch, pinterest and more

August 15, 2012

The news cycle within the world of new media is pretty rapid and it’s almost expected that we will hear some kind of announcements from the major players on a weekly basis.

However, this week might be more important than others, because when you take a step back and look at what each of the major channels announced- taken together, it could be fairly significant.

It shows that none of the major players are standing still and they are looking to enhance and broaden their offerings to appeal to both users and advertisers.

From a user perspective, for the players involved,  it’s about finding more of them and then keeping those they already have satisfied, interested and engaged across multiple channels.

Twitter’s incubator/start-up factory, The Obvious Corporation announced the roll out of two new channels/media; Medium and Branch.

Medium is a lightweight sub-blogging platform that allows users to contribute content to areas of interest and to become part of something bigger, without having to create their personal blog or account.

As Twitter founder Ev William explains:

“Medium is designed to allow people to choose the level of contribution they prefer. We know that most people, most of the time, will simply read and view content, which is fine. If they choose, they can click to indicate whether they think something is good, giving feedback to the creator and increasing the likelihood others will see it.

Posting on Medium (not yet open to everyone) is elegant and easy, and you can do so without the burden of becoming a blogger or worrying about developing an audience. All posts are organized into “collections,” which are defined by a theme and a template.”

Branch is an enhanced forum or a conversation board that allows users to “branch” out of a main conversation and create new ones and its vision is a big one; “turning internet monologues into dialogs”.

Branch from Branch on Vimeo.

Clearly Obvious have examined some of Twitter’s challenges and seen how Tumblr made it easy for users to upload their own content and believe there’s more opportunity out there, this is because there’s still a massive group of users whose voices are not getting heard because they are intimidated.

While Obvious was doing its stuff- YouTube was off looking for another set of users with an app for the PS3, which is part of its strategic push to get onto as many screens as possible.

As an article on YouTube in yesterday pointed out.

“YouTube is almost like a public utility — a gigantic hard drive in the sky into which 72 hours of video are uploaded every minute. Think of anything, and there’s a video of it. Famously, even. But YouTube is no longer a receptacle for one-offs. It’s become a platform for independent video producers. These armchair auteurs, tens of thousands of them, have built dedicated audiences who come and sit on the site watching episode after episode, rather than just leaving after one video view.”

YouTube is slowly and surely helping Google find its way to the living room via the various non-cable boxes and smart TV’s that now come with their own apps. YouTube is no longer about piano playing cat videos and with its premium channel partners, is very clearly in the content creation game.

It also has some significant advantages over the legacy players, despite its lack of content creation experience and some might argue, production values, those being a strong connections to the Millennial generation and a massive repository of content which with enhances to YouTube’s UI, has become easier to access and more personalized.

Not to be outdone, Pinterest made its app available for Android and iPad users, which has the potential to considerably grow its user base and dramatically increase engagement with an application that seems a perfect fit for the iPad.

Finally, as We Are Social’s Robin Grant points out in his Ad Age column,  Facebook is rolling out this month new targeting options for brands that go well beyond the basics of gender and age and allow discrete communication efforts to be created for specific segments.

As Grant notes, this change has big implications for brands.

“It transforms a brand’s fan page from a dumb broadcast tool into a hyper accurate and always up-to-date marketing database, allowing them to address different segments of their fan base with customized content.”

It’s unlikely that in 20 years time, tech historians will look back on this week as being highly significant, but it does illustrate just how fast this space and the players within it are moving and while many of these initiatives are embryonic right now, given time and a little luck, each has the potential to impact the shape of the social experience as we know it.

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