Thursday, 26 April 2012

Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Spotify’s Online Radio, Nintendo’s First Annual Loss”


Mashable: Latest 29 News Updates - including “Today’s Top Stories: Spotify’s Online Radio, Nintendo’s First Annual Loss”

Today’s Top Stories: Spotify’s Online Radio, Nintendo’s First Annual Loss

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 05:05 AM PDT

Social Media News

Welcome to this morning’s edition of ‘First To Know,’ a series in which we keep you in the know on what’s happening in the digital world. Today, we’re looking at three particularly interesting stories.

Spotify Is Working on an Online Radio Service [REPORT]

Spotify is working on an online streaming radio service, similar to Pandora, Bloomberg reports. Citing people with knowledge of the company’s plans, Bloomberg says the new service would be supported by advertising, with an expected launch near the end of the 2012.

Nintendo Posts First Annual Loss

Nintendo posted the first annual loss — $459.54 million — in the history of the company. The company missed expectations on all its key products: it sold only 9.8 Wii consoles, 13.5 million 3DS handhelds and 5.1 million DS consoles. Nintendo hopes to turn things around with its upcoming Wii U console and a cheaper 3DS.

Andreessen Horowitz to Give Half of Their Earnings to Charity

Andreessen Horowitz’s six general partners — Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Jeff Jordan, Peter Levine, Jon O’Farrell and Scott Weiss — have made a pledge to donate at least half of their earnings to charity, Fortune reports. Taking a cue from the Buffett/Gates Giving Pledge, these VCs hope to inspire other entrepreneurs to donate to charity, too.

“We hope other venture capital firms are inspired by what we’re doing, and maybe do something similar,” said Ben Horowitz.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock

More About: andreessen horowitz, features, first to know series, mashable, Nintendo, spotify

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Ditto’s 3D Virtual Fitting Tech Makes It Possible to Try on Glasses Online

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 03:29 AM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Name: Ditto

Quick Pitch: Try on and purchase glasses online.

Genius Idea: 3D virtual fitting technology lets you determine whether a pair of glasses flatters your face before making a purchase.

Some things are easier to buy online than others. A refill of your favorite toothpaste is a no-brainer. A t-shirt from a brand you buy from frequently will probably fit you. Sunglasses? You might have an idea that square frames flatter your face better than round ones, but it’s largely going to be a crapshoot.

Ditto, a retail startup launching Thursday, has developed 3D virtual fitting technology designed to help you find glasses that suit your face. By recording a short video on your webcam, you can create a 3D version of yourself, or “Ditto,” that you can then use to try on different pairs of glasses with a scrollable, 180-degree view. You can even put together side-by-side snapshots of yourself in different glasses and connect to Facebook to get advice from your friends before making a purchase.

The imaging isn’t perfect, but it’s better than many of the other virtual fitting applications we’ve seen.

“Eyewear has the lowest online penetration of any retail category; just 2.9% of all eyewear is bought online,” Ditto cofounder and CEO Kate Endress says of her desire to enter the category. “People don’t want to buy eyewear online because the fit is too difficult. We’re solving that problem, letting people shop for glasses from designers they already love.”

The Mountainview, CA-based startup raised $3 million in a funding round led by August Capital in September.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

More About: Ditto, eyewear, retail

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Behold the Exynos 4 Quad, the Chip That Powers Samsung Galaxy S3

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 02:54 AM PDT


We still have no idea what Samsung’s next-generation Galaxy smartphone will look like, but we now know what processor will power it: Samsung Exynos 4 Quad.

It’s a 32nm, 1.4GHz quad-core beast with twice the processing capability of the older Exynos 4 Dual, while consuming 20 percent less power.

To achieve this level of efficiency, Samsung has implemented on-off switching as well as dynamic voltage and frequency scaling for each core, meaning the processor will consume exactly the amount of power it needs under any given workload.

The new processor also sports a full HD 30 fps video hardware codec engine which enables 1080p video recording and playback.

Samsung Exynos 4 Quad is “already in production” and it will first be used in the next Galaxy, scheduled to be announced in May. Samsung is also currently sampling it to other handset makers; since the processor has exactly the same form factor as its predecessor, we can expect to see it in many upcoming devices very soon.

More About: Exynos 4 Quad, samsung, Samsung Galaxy S III, trending

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Brydge Turns Your iPad Into a Laptop [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 02:00 AM PDT

A new iPad case is attempting to blur the lines between laptop and tablet. Called Brydge, the special case has a built-in keyboard that transforms your iPad into a more laptop-like device capable of performing many of the same functions you know and love from your traditional computer.

Made out of aerospace-grade aluminum, the case looks and feels like your iPad. Rather than look like your iPad shoved in a case, the two are designed to fit together in such a way that looks like they’re two parts of the same device.

The hinge on the case holds your iPad in place, and gives you 180 degrees of positioning much like you have with a traditional laptop screen. When you’re done using your tablet, you can close the case to put your iPad to sleep and protect the screen while you travel.

Brydge connects to your iPad via Bluetooth, and special hot keys on the keyboard perform different functions on your iPad. The keyboard charges through a USB connection.

An optional feature for Brydge – and one that isn’t available on some comparable keyboard cases – is built-in stereo speakers. So, when you’re watching a movie or listening to tunes you can do so at a higher volume than you might be able to using just the iPad.

Brydge is currently trying to raise money for its first manufacturing run on Kickstarter. The company estimated it needs $90,000 for a first run of the case, and has 39 days to go before it reaches that goal.

What do you think about the iPad case? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

More About: Brydge, ipad, keyboard

Mesmerizing Visualization Maps Every Transportation Route on Earth [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:14 AM PDT

“Welcome to the Anthropocene,” a new video made for the Planet Under Pressure conference, maps every land and water transportation route on earth in an amazing three-minute journey through the last 250 years of human history.

The narrated version tells how the 1750s Industrial Revolution, which spread from England across the globe, does not compare to the Great Acceleration, which began in the 1950s. Globalization, marketing, tourism and migration to cities fueled the greatest series of changes the planet’s ever seen.

Humans now control three-quarters of land aside from the ice sheets. We move more rock than natural forces. We’re losing biodiversity. We’ve made a whole in the ozone layer. Sea level is rising.

“Humans have altered Earth’s natural cycles and entered the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch dominated by humanity,” the video says.

Both vidoes were created by Globaïa, a global education organization focused on environmental issues.

Though this new era may seem daunting, the video’s message is hopeful that humans can redirect the planet’s course of evolution.

More About: Earth, transportation, Video

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Maybelline Hires “Sh*t Fashion Girls Say” Star for Campaign Launch [VIDEO]

Posted: 26 Apr 2012 01:04 AM PDT

To build online buzz around the signing of a new brand spokesmodel, Maybelline New York released a video this week starring Patrick Pope, also known as P’Trique of viral-ish video “Sh*t Fashion Girls Say.”

“Sh*t Fashion Girls Say,” which riffs on people who work in the fashion industry, is one of a string of videos inspired by Kyle Humphrey’s and Graydon’s Sheppard’s “Sh*t Girls Say”. The original has racked up more than 16 million views since its release in December. “Sh*t Fashion Girls Say,” which was released in mid-January as interest in the meme peaked, has been viewed around 1.1 million times on YouTube to date.

Maybelline’s version features new spokesmodel Charlotte Free and more than a dozen individuals closely watched within (and almost entirely unknown outside of) the fashion industry. Among the better known: designer Betsey Johnson and Real Housewives of New York‘s Jill Zarin. Each are told by P’Trique, in turn, about Free’s big secret: that she is the new face of Maybelline.

The video — which, to be frank, plays on a rather dated meme and lacks the humor of its predecessors — hasn’t performed that well: at present, it’s been viewed less than 13,000 times on YouTube. (By comparison, a HP-sponsored video featuring fashion photographer and blogger Scott Schuman, a.k.a. The Sartorialist, garnered more than 100,000 views in its first three days.) But it seems to have at least made the rounds with fashion insiders and those who watch them — the hashtag attached to the video, #TopChicret, trended briefly on Twitter in the New York area after the video was posted on Fashionista, New York and The Daily Beast Tuesday.

More About: maybelline, patrick pope, sh*t girls say, TopChicret

The Avengers AR App Turns You Into a Superhero

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 09:36 PM PDT

Avengers Super hereo AR App Game Mode Main Menu 01

Click here to view this gallery.

The Avengers movie, which arrives in theaters on May 4, is going to be big. It has almost enough super heroes to field a baseball team and is already garnering stellar reviews.

Now the franchize-tastic film has one of the more innovative marketing tie-ins we've seen in a while: A free augmented reality iPhone and Android app that gets better the more you, well, shop. Marvel and Walmart partnered up on the Super Hero AR which is both a game and in-store experience. The game, which lets you act as any one of six super heroes and fight enemies overlaid on top of your real world, starts with just one super-hero ready to play: Hawkeye. To play as the other, somewhat more powerful (and cool) heroes like The Hulk and Iron Man, you need to visit your local Walmart and point your smart phone at the "target image" QR Code on one of the many Avengers placards around the store.

In another entertaining twist, you can stand shoulder-to-shoulder with your favorite Marvel/Avenger superhero—at least in in augmented reality. Placed throughout 3500 Walmart locations will be special hero placards. When you point your phone at one of them (as long as you already have the game installed) a life-size version of the hero will appear beside you — on screen, that is. You can take a photo, save it or instantly share it to your Facebook friends.

Obviously the real objective here is merchandizing. Walmart stories will be carrying some 600 different movie tie-in products. When I asked a Marvel rep what he thought of the movie and this program, he said he attended the premiere and "[the movie] delivers on what we want to do and we want to sell a bunch of merchandize."

You will be able to find Marvel The Avengers paraphernalia at other retail outlets, but the app program is exclusive to Walmart. The stories will also feature a T-Mobile promotion where in-store reps demonstrate the app on some of their latest Android smartphones, including the new HTC One.

Walmart and Marvel are, of course, not alone in their use of augmented reality apps to drive and/or boost sales. In recent months, we've seen Starbucks use it in its coffee shops and Guinness let you use it to decorate your pint in holiday themes.

Marvel is no stranger to augmented reality, either. It launched Marvel AR last month, an app that lets readers scan print comics to access hidden extras.

As for this latest Marvel AR App, it's entertaining, though somewhat limited. The AR overlay is seamless — I shot arrows at yellow spaceships flying around my office. Still, you can finish the first level in a few minutes (as I did) and then have nothing else to do except play that level again, or, as Walmart and Marvel hope, run to your nearest Walmart to get more levels (there are six superhero levels and one final) and awesome pics of you and your favorite super hero. You can see mine in the gallery.

And if you can't get enough Avengers (perhaps you finished playing the game), Walmart and Marvel are also hosting something they're calling a Twitter Party for the fans. It starts on April 26th at 2PM ET and uses the hashtag #AvengersWMT.

You can download the app right now from iTunes and Google Play (search for “Super Hero AR”). Let us know in the comments what you think and if this app makes you more likely to see the movie and to buy all that Avengers merchandise at Walmart.

More About: Augmented Reality, Marvel, T-Mobile, WalMart

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LinkedIn Launches iPad App, Takes New Direction

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 08:59 PM PDT

The world’s largest professional social network just got a wider reach — and it wants to be in front of your face for more of the day.

LinkedIn launched its long-awaited iPad app late Wednesday, along with revamped versions of its iPhone and Android apps. Redesigned from the ground up, the tablet version looks nothing like the LinkedIn website; it’s more akin to a social news aggregator.

“This was a chance to go back to the drawing board,” says Mario Sundar, LinkedIn’s social media manager. “To design it for how people use the iPad: morning and night infotainment.”

The app’s main screen is a clean, simple interface with just three options: updates, profile and inbox. The latter two are self-explanatory, although it’s worth mentioning that the list of people who’ve looked at your profile — a voyeuristic option hidden deep on the website — is front and center here.

It’s “updates” where the app shines, and turns into a kind of socially-enhanced Flipboard. You see stories your friends have shared, beautifully laid out, alongside such nuggets of news as which of your friends have changed their jobs recently.(Download it in the app store here.)

The app also pulls in details of the day ahead from your Google Calendar or Exchange calendar. LinkedIn expects you’ll use it over breakfast, when you’re torn between work and news, as well as take it to meetings.

It’s been a long time coming — longer even than the much-delayed Facebook iPad app. LinkedIn has 150 million users, and the iPad is the fastest growing device on the network. More than 22% of LinkedIn traffic comes from mobile devices; a year ago, that figure was 8%.

What do you make of the LinkedIn iPad app? Will you use it? Let us know in the comments.

More About: Flipboard, ipad, linkedin

FanCru Is a Sports Social Network With a Twist

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 07:18 PM PDT

The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here.

Quick Pitch: A place for fans to connect with other supporters of the same teams, find the best places to watch games and get aggregated, team-specific tweets and articles.

Genius Idea: A back end platform for teams, businesses and brands to tap into that concentration of hardcore and cash-strapped sports fans.

With a seemingly ever-growing number of social-based services for sports fans, it can be hard for a startup to stand out. But Fancru co-founders John Wagner and Bill Diamond believe their app has what it takes to rise above the pack — thanks in large part to what outside businesses can do on top of the Fancru platform.

Fancru launched late last year, and has so far attracted about 10,000 users despite “zero marketing and zero PR,” Diamond says. Thursday morning, the company will begin a publicity push with the announcement of its most recently updated iOS app. An Android version is scheduled to arrived soon as well.

“It’s really cool to see how people are engaging because I feel like sports is just so social to begin with and apps overall have had a hard time allowing sports to embrace them,” Wagner says.

Fancru lets sports nuts connect with other fans of the same teams, find the best gathering places to watch games, check scores and other updates, and access filtered feeds of tweets and articles about relevant teams and sports.

The idea was actually born several years ago, when Wagner was a displaced fan of Auburn University living in the Bay Area and trying to find where to watch his favorite team with like-minded supporters. Both tech-industry veterans, Wagner and Diamond began seriously building Fancru in mid-2011.

For all Fancru’s social capabilities, however, the co-founders believe the power of the app’s platform for other businesses is really what sets it apart.

“Our focus is with the consumer but, at the same time, we want to really give teams and brands the ability to reach these fans,” Wagner says.

Fancru’s back end allows others to create their own promotions and features within the app. For example, a team could offer deals on unsold stadium merchandise. A pub could track check-ins to, say, a televised college football game and offer free pints for every fan who once 20 people check in. Fancru already has ongoing promotional deals in place with about 20 bars in the greater New York City area, and has been discussing the possibility of partnerships with sports teams and leagues as well.

“It’s no more complicated than setting up a Facebook account,” Diamond says. “Any bar owner is capable of running these campaigns.”

Do you think Fancru has what it takes for longterm success? Let us know in the comments.

Series Supported by Microsoft BizSpark

Microsoft BizSpark
The Spark of Genius Series highlights a unique feature of startups and is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark, a startup program that gives you three-year access to the latest Microsoft development tools, as well as connecting you to a nationwide network of investors and incubators. There are no upfront costs, so if your business is privately owned, less than three years old, and generates less than U.S.$1 million in annual revenue, you can sign up today.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, adamkaz

More About: fancru, social networking, sports, Startups

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Microsoft Now Making Even More Money From Android

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 07:00 PM PDT


Microsoft just signed a deal with one of the biggest electronics makers in the world to license technologies related to Android and Chrome. The agreement is with Taiwan’s Pegatron, and with it, Microsoft now has patent-licensing deals with four out of the five top Taiwanese manufacturers, the company announced on Wednesday.

It may seem strange that Microsoft is licensing Android and Chrome patents when both of those products are managed by Google. But Microsoft holds many patents that relate directly to technologies used in the Android operating system and Chrome browser, and the company makes hundreds of millions of dollars every year from its licensing agreements with various manufacturers.

Pegatron is one of Taiwan’s major electronics manufacturers, assembling devices sold by many of today’s top tech companies — Apple, HTC, HP and others. It used to a subsidiary of Asus (also known as Asustek) but was spun off in 2010. Last year the company posted more than $20 billion in revenue, according to Businessweek.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Buys $550 Million in Patents From Microsoft

The patent deal with Microsoft covers any e-readers, tablets and smartphones that Pegatron builds that run either Android or Chrome. With the agreement, more than 70% of all Android devices used in the U.S. will be made under a license with Microsoft.

Neither Microsoft nor Pegatron is saying what the terms of the deal are exactly, but Microsoft did say it would now receive royalty payments from Pegatron.

Looked at in the context of the icy technology cold war between Microsoft and Google (which has produced ads like this one), the announcement is a chest-thumping move on Microsoft’s part. While Google doesn’t make any money from Android device sales (it uses the platform to sell ads), Microsoft is now making more than ever thanks it its intellectual property.

What do you think of the deal, and that Microsoft makes so much money from Android? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, stuartbur

More About: android, chrome, Google, microsoft, Pegatron

9 Things Businesses Need to Know About Web Security

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 06:43 PM PDT

Incapsula co-founder and CEO, Gur Shatz, is a security industry veteran with more than 14 years of product leadership and engineering experience. Before founding Incapsula, Shatz held several key positions at Imperva.

Recently, someone posted a list of 5,012 websites on a hacker forum that were vulnerable to a SQL injection — the most common method of extracting website data. A quick glance of this list showed that most of the businesses were small. They included health clubs, charities, and even a pet service. Why would hackers waste their time on small companies? For a few reasons.

The cybercrime industry has gone through a bit of an industrial revolution in recent years. Today, swathes of it are largely automated and hacking kits are easy enough to buy. This has improved the efficiency, scalability, and profitability of an average attack. It also allows anyone to be a cyber criminal and any company can be a target.

Small businesses are of particular interest to cyber criminals. At any given time there are more than 750,000 websites — the vast majority are SMBs — being hacked or appearing on various hacker lists. The surprising part? This number grew by more than 50% in just the last 18 months.

Since the cost is so low, the risk is so slim, and the scale has the potential to be so large, SMBs have become an easy target for attackers. This is why all small businesses should know why they're attacked, how they’re attacked, and the steps they can take to protect their property.

The Basic Facts of an Attack

  • It's About the ROI: Attackers tend to work together to increase the bottom line. Selecting a target is a business transaction. They want maximum gain with as little investment as possible.
  • It's Automated: Botnets, armies of unknowingly enlisted computers controlled by hackers, scan and probe thousands of websites every minute. They seek to exploit vulnerabilities and extract valuable data. Among the ways they do this is through brute force password attacks, spam, malware, and hurting a site’s search engine results.
  • It's Not Personal: Automated attacks do not target specific individuals. Rather, they target the masses, using general selection criteria. For example, a botnet that drives an SQL injection attack or a brute force password attack will not discriminate between a large or small organization.

The Common Attack Types

  • SQL Injections: Data theft is most commonly administered through SQL injection. In the image above, Havij, an SQL injection tool that's basically a commercial-grade application with an easy-to-use interface, allows anyone (not just a trained hacker) to type in the URL they are looking to hack and execute a sophisticated attack. These hackers aren't just looking for financial data like credit cards. They also love to get administrative rights to websites. Several research reports suggest the use and deployment of SQL injections is a top chat topic on hacker forums. It is most definitely a lucrative approach. Consider the 2009 assault against Heartland Payment Systems, which resulted in $130 million dollars worth of lost records.

  • Business Logic Attacks: Recently, website hackers have begun to develop attacks that target vulnerabilities in the business logic, rather than in the code itself. Business logic attacks are often not looked upon as security risks but hold serious business implications for website owners because they generally remain undetected.

    The most common example of this is comment spam. This is where hackers insert automatically generated comments into a blog or online forum, directing people to bogus sites that promote bogus pharmaceuticals when it’s actually malware. The implications of such attacks can range from a degradation in your company's search engine rankings to being blacklisted and completely removed from search results.

  • Denial of Service Attacks: This type of attack is usually executed as part of a blackmail scheme that forces a website owner to pay a ransom to free the site from a traffic overflow. For instance, attackers will threaten to shut down online gambling sites for a price. Recently, hacktivist group Anonymous developed the low orbit ion cannon, LOIC, for DDoS. This commercial-looking application allows anyone to execute a DDoS attack on any target. The attacker easily floods a site until it goes down.

Tips on Prevention

  • Invest in a Firewall Service: A Firewall service, as opposed to Firewall software, is a cloud service that will protect your company's administrative access, and offer some threat detection and management. So even if you're not being attacked, it will notice small things like non-human traffic such as spam.
  • Schedule Regular Scannings: Regular scannings should not be confused with uptime monitoring. Uptime monitoring tools alert you when your site goes down due to a server or network outage. Scanning tools search for website vulnerabilities so that the owner can fix them before they are exploited by hackers. There are free products like Nikto, or paid services, such as McAfee Secure.
  • Consider Comment Spam Tools: Comment spam tools are tools that prevent bots from posting bogus comments to your site. They are very effective and help companies avoid the need for a human moderator. A good example is Akismet.

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, PashaIgnatov

    More About: contributor, features, Small Business, web security

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60 Minutes to a More Efficient Social Business Strategy

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 06:24 PM PDT

Josh S. Peters is the co-author of TwittFaced, and is the social media manager at The Search Agency. Follow him @JoshSPeters.

Every company should run a quick social media audit each quarter to make sure content is properly optimized and every aspect of their social presence aligns with their brand. The great news is that it shouldn’t take more than an hour to perform.

This 60-minute audit is different from a full social business audit. You’re not looking deeply at goals, competitors, engagement rates, campaign efficiency, or ROI. The purpose of this is to address the kind of company maintenance issues that often get pushed off into the distance and are then forgotten. Addressing these small issues should help you build a better, more effective, and well branded social media presence. Here’s what you should cover.

1. Refine Your Design

The design of your social media profiles is part of your branding. This is why you should make sure to customize your backgrounds, avatars, and profile images so that they reflect your brand.

When it comes to a profile image, use the same one on all social media platforms to promote consistency. Check out Apple Vacations social profiles for a good example of this. They have a great looking Apple taken from their company logo that has a nice modern feel and is consistent across all of their properties.

Also, when you create your main company image make sure to give it a descriptive label, such as YourCompanyName.png. Do not upload something generic like “small_cropped_profile_image_3456789.png.” The reason is simple: A descriptive label helps your SEO.

Finally, keep in mind that your page backgrounds on platforms like Twitter are a good place to advertise yourself. So, when possible, add links to all of your social profiles in the design.

2. Fill Out all Important Pages

The profile, bio, and about pages are very important from an SEO perspective because that is where search engines pull the meta description that shows up in search results. This is also, usually, the first thing people read when they want to learn more about a company.

Always fill these pages out completely, and make sure that they contain keywords that are relevant to your business. For example, if you’re in interior design, that should be one of the key phrases listed. This will make it easier for people to find you on traditional search engines as well as social search engines.

In addition, double check phone numbers, dates, pricing, and email addresses to make sure they are up-to-date and the same across your various pages. You should also link to your other social profiles from these pages.

3. Gauge Online Engagement

Looking at your engagement on social platforms is a quick way to gauge if you could be doing a better job of interacting with your audience. Make a list of any potential issues you see and set aside some time to figure out how best to address them.

Next, scan your profile walls for engagement opportunities. Did you miss anything worth addressing? If so, take some time to respond, whether it’s directly on the wall or via private message.

Run a search for your company name on social media platforms, major search engines like Google and Bing, and on at least one service like NameChk. You essentially want to look for any red flags and imposters.

Then run a second search for your brand name and words like “love,” and “hate.” This will give you a sense of the kind of pages that come up were a customer or client to do the same kind of search. Also, it will help you see if there are any comments worth addressing. Make a note of any positive or negative issues you want to investigate at a later date. If possible, save those searches or subscribe to them via RSS so you don’t miss anything in the future.

After looking at the engagement on your profiles and mentions of your brand identify, take some time to jot down ideas for addressing them. For example, are there common themes that you could answer with a blog post or campaign?

4. Look Over Internal Accounts

This particular part of the audit could be tricky, depending on how your company is set up. The upside is that once you do this a few times, you will start to develop a process for addressing any issues that come out of the audit.

First off, ensure all login information for company accounts is current and in a secure location accessible to those who need it. It’s a good idea to use the same email address for all social accounts, but use something like or That way your social profiles aren’t tied to a single employee and you’ll always have access. I had a client whose marketing manager left on bad terms and no one could access the social accounts. They were all tied to the ex-manager’s personal Gmail account. It took two months to get access and change everything.

Also, review internal policies and guidelines for employee social media usage, and check public employee profiles for compliance. If an employee’s account is set to private, don’t worry about it unless you suspect issues. If it’s been a while since you’ve circulated your policy, send it out, along with a few reminders on how to remain compliant.

Next, review training materials. Double check privacy policies and instructions on how to post to platforms. The reason: you want to make sure that the next time you have a training class you aren’t using outdated information.

This audit outline is by no means complete, it’s a starting place. Each time you go through this process you’re going to discover things you do and don’t want to look at and end up evolving it into something that fits your needs. Just like everything you do in social media, make this your own.

More About: business plans, contributor, corporate social media, features, Social Media

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Mom Uses Facebook to Epically Put 13-Year-Old Daughter in Check [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 06:04 PM PDT

When Denise Abbott’s 13-year-old daughter Ava wouldn’t stop talking smack and stirring up drama on Facebook, the Ohio mother decided to employ a punishment to fit the crime.

Abbott replaced her daughter’s profile picture with a photo of the girl with a red X layered over her mouth. “I do not know how to keep my… I am not longer allowed on Facebook or my phone. Please ask why, my mom says I have to answer everyone that asks,” read a message accompanying the picture.

Abbot says the move was an appropriate punishment for the social media generation.

“When you put everything on Facebook, you have to realize there’s a consequence for all of your actions,” she told a local NBC affiliate.

It’s the second high-profile instance of “Facebook parenting” to arise over the past couple months. In February, a North Carolina father named Tommy Jordan posted a video to YouTube of himself shooting several rounds into his teenage daughter’s laptop after she wrote a disrespectful Facebook post about her parents. That video went viral in a major way, spawned numerous spoofs and gained Jordan a significant level of Internet notoriety.

SEE ALSO: Dad Shoots Daughter's Laptop Over Facebook Post [VIDEO] | Dad Addresses Viral Laptop Shooting After Daughter's Facebook Post

Many parents and commentators praised Jordan for taking a stand against a generation of spoiled and digitally immersed kids, while others condemned him for borderline child abuse. According to Abbott, however, methods like hers and Jordan’s aren’t just fluke anomalies.

“You have to adapt your parenting skills with the times,” she told NBC.

Do you think Denise Abbott used an effective and fair parenting method, or was her daughter’s punishment an over-the-top humiliation? Let us know in the comments.

Thumbnail image courtesy iStock Photo, youngvet

More About: Facebook, parenting

This Running Flip May Be the Coolest Play in Football History [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 05:41 PM PDT

It’s a play straight out of a video game, movie or dream: A college football running back catches a pass out of the backfield, sizes up an onrushing defender, front-flips over his head, then continues chugging on toward the endzone. In fact, it may just be the coolest play in football history.

The magic happened during a spring football scrimmage at Lincoln University in Missouri. A video of the play posted to YouTube has gone viral, amassing more than 250,000 views since appearing on Monday. The clip was also featured as SportsCenter’s top play of the day on Tuesday night.

In December, a pro football player for the Cincinnati Bengals named Jerome Simpson pulled off a similar play, front flipping over a defender to land in the endzone. Lincoln University's new YouTube star may have Simpson beat, though, for busting the move while hardly breaking stride.

Is this the coolest football player you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments.

More About: sports, viral videos, YouTube

Just Buy This Guy’s Pontiac Already [INFOGRAPHIC]

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 05:17 PM PDT

If you live in the Seattle area and are in the market for a new set of wheels, have we got a Craigslist deal for you. Sporting tires, doors, a steering wheel, seats, and wait for it…a radio, this 5-speed 95′ Pontiac Grand Am "eminates manliness from every loosely coupled piece of sheet metal."

Marked down from close to $200k, the seller is asking a mere $700 for this "visual masterpiece" which has been owned exclusively by people with beards.

Interested? The car is already making quite the splash on Twitter, which means this is one deal that’s likely to not last long. And "Once this car is taken, every woman on the planet will pile into it and you’ll be SOL."

More About: craigslist, pontiac

Ex-NBA Star’s Awesomely Bad YouTube Rap Brings Out the Twitter Haters [VIDEO]

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 04:56 PM PDT

Former NBA star Steve Francis is “used to the finer things” and don’t you forget it. An awesomely bad YouTube rap video took Twitter by storm Wednesday, bringing Francis briefly back into the public consciousness. Predictably however, most of the Twitter commentary was derisive (see gallery below).

An “official” version of the video — called “Finer Things” — was uploaded to YouTube late Tuesday. Hip-hop and basketball fans’ tweets of bemusement and disbelief briefly made Francis’ name trend worldwide on the network Wednesday. Francis was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in 2000 and a three-time All-Star before flaming out.

Francis may have been unfortunate to release his music in the age of routine Twitter roastings, but he’s just the latest in a long line of NBA stars to put out awesomely bad rap songs. Jason Kidd released “What the Kidd Did” in 1994. Ron Artest released his King of Pop tribute “Michael Michael” in 2009. And Shaquille O’Neal has cut a number of albums, but perhaps most famously dissed Kobe Bryant in a 2008 nightclub freestyle, asking him to “tell me how my ass taste.”

What’s worse — hating the player or hating the game? Let us know in the comments.

1. @JeremyNicolls

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More About: sports, viral, YouTube

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Bitchin’ Kitchen: How a Web Chef Cooked Up a Hit TV Show

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 04:34 PM PDT

Name a chef who wears green eyeshadow, sequined purple sweaters and leather pants with a zip-out crotch. Chances are, you’re still searching. That is, unless you’ve tuned in with millions of other viewers to watch Cooking Channel’s Bitchin’ Kitchen, where celebrity chef Nadia G totters around on heels higher than some ears of corn.

Nadia G (Giosia) has been cooking in stilettos for about 10 years now, but not always on broadcast television. She launched a cooking show Bitchin’ Kitchen on the web in the early aughts, around the time she was also experimenting with a skit comedy web series. In 2010, Food Network Canada signed Nadia, and she became the first online lifestyle brand to successfully make the jump from Internet to prime time. After six months, the brand-new Cooking Channel snatched her up. The result? A “comedy cooking show” run by firecracker chef Nadia G.

The show assaults the senses, and many would argue, in a good way. The camera pans in on Nadia’s toned biceps and sparkling nail polish as she pulverizes a bowl of peeled tomatoes with her bare hands. When it zooms out, you’ll spot a pair of naked baby dolls poised treacherously over her kitchen sink. And don’t forget the colors — aside from red appliances and a pearlized pink backsplash, Nadia’s kitchen cabinets change color nearly every episode.

“Roses are red, violets are blue. When the cops come, say I was with you."

But many fans are more entranced by Nadia herself. The Canadian-born daughter of Italian immigrants punches out a voice that sounds more Manhattan than Montreal. She even has her own vocabulary — “Let’s Shkoff” in place of “Let’s eat” — and purposely mispronounces words like “turmeric” and “tortilla.” With her tough-girl exterior and crippling hand gestures, she croons punk-poetry to her viewers: “Roses are red, violets are blue. When the cops come, say I was with you."

Somehow we can’t quite picture The French Chef saying something like that. Nonetheless, Nadia tells Mashable she welcomes being dubbed “the Julia Child of the Net Generation.” “I think where that comes from is that she didn't take herself that seriously. And I think some of that kind of balls-to-the-wall attitude is where some of the similarity is drawn."

You won’t see many significant differences between Nadia’s earlier web series and her present-day cooking show. She’s had a firm grasp on her personal brand since the beginning, which meant retaining everything from web rights to cookbook concepts, from rock ‘n roll costume changes to unrefined cooking techniques. (“I don't hold my knife like a chef. I don't care to.”)

In the beginning, she tirelessly tested and prepared filming before officially launching her web series. "You don't just turn on a camera and do a cooking show,” says Nadia. “If you want to go somewhere with something, you've got to make it look like what it's supposed to look like five years from now."

To Nadia, that means investing in a microphone and audio equipment, as well as setting aside time to learn all the necessary software required to make a web series look professional. Although already a self-proclaimed "Photoshop ninja,” Nadia had to hunker down for 48 hours to teach herself InDesign.

She also advises, “Enslave boys. Make them fall in love with you and get them to pick up a camera."

Don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, she says. Her first video was 13 minutes long — when she tested it on friends, she saw the red light go on in their eyes.

After trial and error, Nadia finally streamlined her concept, both in the business and in her kitchen. What mattered most was having solid, basic technique plus great inspiration. “You know, we don't have any decorative sprigs of rosemary; we're not placing little matchstick radishes onto an hors d’oeuvre…The food's gotta taste good. The concept's gotta taste good,” she says.

One of the most underrated stepping stones to fame is awards, says Nadia. And they don’t even need to be big ones. "Make mountains out of molehills…Don't go for the Webbys; go for smaller awards that are still significant. So what if only you are at the awards ceremony?"

In 2010 Nadia won Digital Media Woman of the Year at the Canadian New Media Awards, and won Most Addictive Reality Star at 2012′s NewNowNext Awards, among many other awards and nominations before transitioning her show to television.

“Sometimes I have an allergic reaction to the word 'viral.' It could be a squirrel farting and it would go viral. But can you reproduce that squirrel farting? Probably not."

But before TV, Nadia had to ensure that her web content got in front of the right people, both in the biz and out. However, she didn’t pander to today’s viral-obsessed culture. Her marketing approach was more about slow and steady growth by building an audience and earning their trust over time. "Sometimes I have an allergic reaction to the word 'viral.' It could be a squirrel farting and it would go viral. But can you reproduce that squirrel farting? Probably not…So, would I say that Bitchin’ Kitchen went viral? No, because it's overnight success after 10 years."

Another contributor to her success has to do with her mainstream appeal, an outcome even Nadia G couldn’t predict. The Bitchin’ Kitchen team initially anticipated a TV audience of 25-35-year olds, but soon welcomed demographics from children to middle-aged viewers.

She admits that some parents are hesitant to let their kids watch the somewhat suggestive Bitchin’ Kitchen. But others welcome a female role model who’s smart, funny and retains her self-esteem. “Compared to a lot of other role models out there which are just acting the fool, particularly in reality television,” she says. “Or role models that are creating an unrealistic persona that no one can ever attain: the happy housewife with a mop in one hand and a cellphone in the other.

“Even the older generation is really sick of the pastel, polite hostess. They're pretty much done with it, too."

On the other hand, how was Nadia able to reach such a wide audience with a persona that seems so complex? After all, with her thick accent, punk attitude, glam style, retro taste and Italian-Canadian roots, Nadia wears a lot of hats. One would think a show involving all these personalities would seem a little schizophrenic.

“That's who I am, and I think that's why it works,” says Nadia. “Often with television, particularly with lifestyle entertainment, they really try and box you in…But this is like, yes, people are complex. You can be smart and still look hot. You can be a punk rocker yet have a refined vocabulary. It's all about this mashup that makes us who we are and I think that's a beautiful thing."

Have you caught Bitchin’ Kitchen fever? What do you think about Nadia G’s YouTube-to-television trajectory? Have we only seen the beginning of web series success? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

More About: features, Food, Startups, TV, web series, YouTube

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Stunning Drawings Put Daniel Radcliffe, Actors in Non-Cartoon Scenes [PICS]

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 04:15 PM PDT

Dan Radcliffe

One New York City artist has transformed celebrity actors into cartoon characters in a method that resembles scenes from 1988 comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In the movie, an animated female lead lives in a non-illustrated world. Randeep Katari's drawings apply that treatment to the cast of the 2013 indie flick Kill Your Darlings, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen and more.

Courtesy of Randeep Katari

Click here to view this gallery.

One New York City artist has transformed celebrity actors into cartoon characters in a method that resembles scenes from 1988 comedy Who Framed Roger Rabbit.

In the movie, an animated female lead lives in a non-illustrated world. Randeep Katari‘s drawings apply that treatment to the cast of the 2013 indie flick Kill Your Darlings, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Elizabeth Olsen and more (see gallery above).

Katari worked with the movie’s production company, Fully Branded Media, to create the celebrity-inspired cartoon characters. A producer approached Katari for the project after seeing his highly-touted Draw NYC Tumblr blog. The producer invited Katari to tour the Kill Your Darlings set and see the actors.

SEE ALSO: Meme-Inspired Movie Posters Now for Sale [PICS]

“I also researched to get a feel for the actors’ personalities,” Katari, a story board artist for animation company Blue Sky Studios, told Mashable.

Kill Your Darlings revolves around literary greats Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, who are brought together in the 1940s following a murder.

More About: art, celebrities, Drawings, Entertainment, Movies, tumblr

Twitter, Times Square Billboard Call for an End to Malaria

Posted: 25 Apr 2012 03:55 PM PDT

In honor of World Malaria Day, April 25, advocates for the end of the disease are campaigning on the social web with the hashtag

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