A Finland and US based company has put together a social discovery search engine for social media. That may sound like a mouthful, but the result, Whosin, is pretty cool for following the topics you like. Whosin allows you to drill down and save social media searches on your interests to find the most relevant and interesting results on your favorite topics. The service launched just three weeks ago and is still in early beta, but the concept is polished and accomplishes its goals.
While most startups are focused on allowing users to share information as frictionless as possible, Neko.io is taking the opposite approach. The new service by Meontrust Inc. allows users to post on their friends' walls, blogs, and anywhere else in a scrambled web link. To be able to read the link, you need to be "friends" with the Neko.io user who originally posted the link, and have a Neko.io account of your own. Clicking on the link takes you to the Neko.io website where it unscrambles the link-- allowing you to communicate with your friends in a public forum, but still limit your privacy to a much smaller audience. In this sense, it's a much more "frictional" way of sharing, but allows you to still use the services where your friends are already present.
When you're looking for an event to go to, a product to buy, or a non-profit to support, do you pay attention to advertising or do you listen to what your friends recommend? Goodbuzz from Lithuania blurs the lines by paying people for referrals of products and events on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or by email. How it works is that advertisers post their advertisement to the Goodbuzz website and deposit a sum of money for people who like the advertisment and want to spread the message to friends and followers. At the end of the campaign, the tip is split between these sharers, relative to the leads they've generated.
There are tons of great ideas out there, but it's hard to find them if you don't ask. The Oulu, Finland based startup, Liilak, defines itself as a "social ideation service," and it seeks to let users build off on another's ideas, or answer sponsored idea questions submitted by businesses or organizations. The result is a stream of ideas and a much more beneficial way to spend your time than complaining about your waiter on Facebook.
Google announced last Friday that they will be shutting down Jaiku and Buzz, which comes with little surprise as the web giant focuses its attention on its new social network, Google+.
Jaiku, the Helsinki based mobile social service that allowed you to send short updates to your friends, was acquired by Google in 2007. But after gaining over 40 million users on Google+, Google has shifted away from Jaiku, which never gained much traction after its initial core of users.
If you've ever been to a conference you know how important the buzz around it is. You need to follow tweets to check what people around you are thinking or view check-ins to see who's actually attending. The same applies to a lot of events, be it concerts or sports events. The problem is, though, that there is a growing number of ways to interact with others around an event but no single platform that would combine all of that rich content. Gignal has an answer for that. Founded in Denmark by Natasha Friis Saxberg, the start-up offers a social media billboard for events that presents all social buzz around the happening in one place (check-ins, tweets, comments, pictures and videos).
Angry Birds: 1 Million Plush Toys And 1 Million T-Shirts Sold Each Month. The Game Isn't All They Have
Angry Birds is phenomenal. It's great, it's growing and it sounds pretty clichéd and something that is apparently obvious to almost everyone. The brand has amassed over 350 million downloads of its game on numerous devices ranging from the iPhone, Android to PCs and PlayStation 3 and that’s just the software side. What is also worth mentioning is how they have grown out of the gaming world on consoles to board games, Hollywood movie; RIO to stuffed toys. Calling it the Pac Man of our generation will by no means be wrong, though the comparison may not be totally justified.
The Angry Birds brand has made leaps outside the digital world, especially with their plush toys that they launched back last year. While that only garnered 2 million sales in the first quarter or so, the sales have rocketed to one million each month thereon. That’s not it, the plush toys are just half the story and the Angry Birds T-shirts are selling 1 million pieces a month as well.
Campalyst is a new start-up that developed analytics to measure real return-on-investment from social media campaigns, starting with Facebook. It is a truly Baltic company started in Riga with the team members from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. After less than four months of existence, Campalyst has shown an impressive growth: they went from building a prototype in 48 hours to winning StartupSauna to being among the finalists of Mini Seedcamp New York. We talked with two of the founders, Dalia Lasaite and Jevgenijs Kazanins, to learn the full story of Campalyst and find out how things are going for the company right now.
Perhaps the worst issue with everyday articles on news are quite dry, primarily for the fact that the content is written by one person. Although there are comments section available and the integration of social media buttons that enable sharing on Facebook or Twitter, you can’t really alter content in any way. You can mention the errors in a post, make a very valid point but then wait for the addition to be made if the writer sees the error and more importantly make the amendments within the article.
Facebook is one of the biggest online destinations people use globally. Facebook itself has been very careful not to let go of these people too easily. People are extremely engaged with the service and all new features they add, are built around this view. Video chat is no exception. We have been hearing reports of a possibility of Facebook video chat coming soon in partnership with Skype.
I know who to follow religiously when it comes to getting the latest news, a really nice video or an upcoming event on the web. But often it gets a bit monotonous as the same person usually ends up giving the same bit of news. Likewise, following all your friends’ recommendation (individually) is a near impossible task and thus we rely on services that help us filter the most happening stuff from the plethora of friends we all have on numerous social networks and forums. Utopic is one such service emerging in the startup scene to help you with finding the hottest topics among your circle of friends.
GigsWiz, the Finnish startup that launched last year as what we all would call a fan and artist friendly ticketing service has sailed across the European continent into the US. The startup offers bands tools to manage and collect requests from fans, also providing them with an extensive analytics on what friends want to hear and where.
Editorial note: This post is sponsored by the Finnish Software Entrepreneurs Association as part of their competition on ArcticStartup from last year. In the future, we won't publish sponsored posts, but only series of posts supported by companies.
People don't get Facebook. People don't get social media.
Social media is not - and should not be - just another news flow site. Social media is also not just a place to meet your friends and colleagues online. Then what really makes social media such a hot topic?
Swedish social game startup Planeto has released its new game Planeto Quiz into open beta available for all players late last week. Planeto calls the game "the world's first massively multiplayer online quiz", MMOQ. The idea of the game is to combine elements from quiz competitions and online multiplayer games, e.g. World of Warcraft, including role-playing elements like character building and player interaction - but all packaged for global mass-market audience.
Finland's biggest directory service Fonecta has made an undisclosed "strategic" investment into social yellow pages service Tupalo.com, run by an Austrian startup. Finland marks the beginning of the service's Scandinavian expansion. For Fonecta, this is a step into getting involved with social media technologies for directory services. Tupalo's service has now also been launched in Finnish.
Sweden has got its own social media monitoring tool, Silverbakk Briefing Room (we recently wrote about Icelandic Clara). Silverbakk measures influence, visibility and engagement in social media, probably the hottest topic at the moment besides real-time search and augmented reality. The company launched its product only three weeks ago promising an easy to use tool to start monitoring ones company, brand, event or competitors in just 60 seconds.
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Zokem is a mobile communications and lifecasting startup that enables users to automatically share their daily activities to their friends’ mobile phones, to the Internet and to social networking services, such as Facebook and MySpace.
Icelandic social music marketplace gogoyoko has expanded their open Beta to cover the whole of Scandinavia. The service now works in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Faroe Islands and Greenland. gogoyoko's tagline is bringing "Fair Play" back into the music business - through the service music fans can purchase music directly from the artists and labels. gogoyoko's service consists of a music store, a social network, and free streaming music player.
Twingly Channels is launching into private beta today, opening up to the wide public later this year. At the moment one has to apply for an invite by suggesting a channel topic.
Swedish Twingly have been building up the hype since early June when they first announced Project Shinobi, the working name for Twingly Channels we then got a sneak preview of for a month ago at the Sweden Social Web Camp. And they certainly are reaching for the stars, or as Martin Källström, CEO Twingly, puts it:
"Twingly Channels lets people cut out the noise of online search and the real-time web — to instantly see what news and content to spend time on. By following topics rather than bloggers or outlets, Twingly simplifies the challenge of RSS, social search, and the real-time web."
Mentory is a new global mentorship community from Denmark, targeted for match-making between mentors and protégés. In addition to matching people for the traditional one-on-one mentoring relationships, the web service allows for open "mass-mentoring" among the whole network. The key target users are businesspeople and entrepreneurs.
Despite of the downturn and bad overall economical situation in Iceland, the new social music service gogoyoko (see our previous intro) has secured 100 million Iceland Kronur (slightly more modest in euros: EUR 0,69M; USD 0,89M) in funding from Icelandic The New Venture Business Fund (90 %) and private investor Vilhjalmur Thorsteinsson (10 %).
The purpose of the funding was not disclosed, but in the company's newsletter it is stated that the firm has been growing steadily and just moved to a bigger office. gogoyoko is still looking for more people and prepares for increasing international marketing activities this year. gogoyoko has gotten advice and steering for the fundraising and product development process from Norwegian "New Media Innovation House” Ignitas that also has taken an equity stake in gogoyoko. Ignitas has been previously involved in selling Norway's #2 social network Biip.no to media enterprise Egmont/Nettavisen.
gogoyoko provides artists and other music right holders a social marketplace allowing them to sell music directly to consumers worldwide without middlemen. The service is currently running in closed beta, planned to be publicly opened in April. gogoyoko's service is promised to include interesting features like a custom music player embedable to any site through which the users can stream (ad-funded) tracks and albums for free. The player is also supposed to include a music store interface. On gogoyoko's portal, artists can create their personal sites, write news, blog entries, upload discography, pictures, videos, and enter gig information to gogoyoko's global map.
BarCamp Baltics 2009 will be held in Riga, Latvia, between 6th and 8th of February, 2009. That's the place to be if you're interested in Baltic and Russian ideas, views, and cooperation around mobile and web projects.
BarCamp is an international network of conferences organized around different themes, based on the idea that participants will generate the presentations and discussions for and in the events themselves. BarCamp Baltics brings together social networking and new media specialists, bloggers, podcasters, developers, designers, entrepreneurs, marketers, and mobile Internet professionals and enthusiasts.
The event will feature 5 to 6 simultaneous sessions, including presentations, workshops, messages and discussions, 30 minutes long each. Between 75 to 95 presentations in total will be held during a day. Participants can choose any sessions to attend and also the topics they want to present, and there will be presentations both in English and in Russian. Around 500 to 600 participants from the Baltic States and CIS, Central and Western Europe, and Americas are expected to be present.
BarCamp Baltics aims to to stimulate the development of new IT and media projects in Baltic states and CIS, and enhance networking and provide connections for international commercial and non-commercial joint projects. BarCamp Baltics 2008 gathered together more than 500 people from 23 countries, and was supported by the biggest media in Latvia.
Tori Innovations has come out of stealth mode and announced they have developed an internet-based social media service aimed to enhance firms' innovation processes. Tori Innovations aims to lower the costs of their customers by allowing the firms to enhance their internal communications and bring the end users' and stakeholders' opinions faster and more efficiently into the R&D processes.
With Tori Innovation's product it's possible to collect feedback and ideas from widely dispersed communities of users, stakeholders, and employees, information the collection of which is something not previously possible on a large scale. This is achieved by placing widgets on the sites to allow people to create ideas and post them to the firm. The ideas coming outside the firm can then be collected on the company's site, and then refined, reorganized, and processed for decision making.
Tori Innovation's technology is based on spinoff from research of VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Tori Innovations has a pilot project in the works with a high profile Finnish customer, which will be announced shortly. Then we hopefully get more details and can review the actual product as well.
Note: This is a guest blog post by Märt Ridala from Estonia.I interviewed Valentin Ivanov, the founder of Bizi, which is a new startup launched in Estonia last week. The service Bizi offers could be called "Estonian Twitter" with some minor modifications – possibility to add video and pictures. Valentin is an Estonian entrepreneur with international experience, having spent the last decade working in IT developing online applications for the mobile, gambling and entertainment industries in positions ranging from developer, technical manager to Chief Executive Ofﬁcer. Valentin is also Founder and CEO at Yaika.com, which enables anyone to start their own live TV or radio channel for free. Let's hear it from Valentin.
1. What is BIZI in a nutshell?
BIZI is a life-moments exchange network. Through BIZI, we aim to unite family members, friends and just other people together via letting them share their short news, feelings and emotions as short messages, small photos or 15 seconds long video records. All this can be done very easily over web, mobile and (very soon) over SMS as well! All this can be done free of charge and will stay free.
There are lots of ideas how to use BIZI for both personal and organizational purposes; either commercially, or non-commercially. Those, who will keep an eye on our press, blogs and other forums will find a lot about it very soon.
2. Why should a person use BIZI instead of Twitter?
The most important reason to use BIZI instead of any other foreign service is the opportunity to speak in your own language to others, who want to do exactly the same.
BIZI offers a bit more than just a Short Text Messages Exchange service – our features are a bit different and definitely more innovative than Twitter, Facebook.com or Orkut.com have. Thus, providing a list of features for real micro-blogging, BIZI lets users to enhance their text posts with 15 seconds long video-audio or just a voice record right from their webcam and microphone. Or, users can add a photo or any other illustration instead!
While developing, we were trying to cover all the needs and requests of our friends, colleagues and also those people, who live in our country and use Twitter, Friendsfeed.com and other similar services over the Internet. BIZI has been made in Estonia and for Estonia.
3. Is BIZI meant for Estonian market? Do you have plans regarding other markets?
As for now, BIZI has been made for Estonian market only. Regarding extending BIZI to other markets, may be one day…
4. What is your general opinion about making local copies of global social-networking services? Is it reasonable to make them? Why people prefer the local copies?
To be very honest, creating BIZI is quite an old idea, which was growing inside me for quite a few years. But as I expect nobody will believe me, I will try to answer your question as-is: my general opinion of bringing something extremely good to local countries in local language and tuned up to be mentally local as well is definitely excellent. How much reasonable is to create such projects is normally a business question to the one trying to that. My reason is a longing for something exciting, something that I can use personally in a home way, and the opportunity to share it with my friends and relatives – people I love and people I want to be part of my life. With all our projects - both BIZI, Yaika.com and the others we are heavily working on - we want to bring a grain of positive emotion to people, to make them happier, more friendly and open.
Now, answering why people prefer local copies, I would first like to ask you back – why do we always prefer everything to be “in my language”: a recipe in the medicine shop to be easily understandable, a movie to be either fully adopted or enhanced with subtitles? Why do we normally prefer everything to be “in my way”? Just because we always prefer to feel ourselves much more secure and comfortable, when we are fully after the situation.
5. How does BIZI plan to make money?
We expect BIZI to get profit form selling advertizing and receiving
sponsorships. Once in the future.
OtaSizzle is a new mobile social media test environment project founded in Otaniemi, Espoo (home of Helsinki University of Technology TKK). OtaSizzle will include an open experimentation environment for testing mobile social media services. The purpose is to create prototype mobile social media service platforms and study them with extensive field tests, coupled with quantitative measurements and qualitative analysis.
The aim is to build a living lab environment of thousands of users in Otaniemi, with extensions in greater Helsinki. The users will be able to try out and develop own new social media services. The Otasizzle environment is also open to different research institutes and firms that want to develop and test their services. The OtaSizzle consortium is coordinated by Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT. One target is also to create a "packaged" experimentation environment, "SizzleLab" concept, which can also be extended elsewhere.
The first service created is called Ossi, which is targeted to students of TKK. The students will get free mobile broadband service to connect and contact each other. The purpose is to study what kind of ways of keeping in contact the students will favor. (See also video (in Finnish) describing the new service.)
The OtaSizzle project is part of TKK's MIDE (Multidisciplinary Institute of Digitalisation and Energy) program, which purpose is bringing together the expertise of various fields of engineering to generate new thinking in all fields of technology. Apparently different corporations and associations fund MIDE with over 20M euros.
The reasoning behind the new initiative is that social media services on mobile phones have the potential to become as popular as text messages if designed and implemented correctly. Thus prolonged empirical tests with large user bases are necessary according to the researchers.
I certainly agree research's needed in the area, and it all sounds quite good (not least for the participating students who get the free mobile broadband). But I wonder if there's really a need for a new separate test environment? There are already quite a big bunch of real mobile social networks (e.g. mig33, Zyb and countless others), which could be researched as well. You may be able to get more quantitative data from the test environment easier, but how real will that be? Will users use the service actively so that you can draw generalizations out of it? Considering at least the first users will be entirely students of technology, I'd expect the results to be "slightly skewed" compared to the population as a whole. Also I'd imagine the students would rather like to use a service which their outside friends can log into as well (then again the joke goes the technology students aren't really in contact with the outside world...).
If the service platform enables the normal users do quick mockups and mashups using some simple tools, then there might be some really good value in there. I'd love to get some additional insight on this.
The mystery Espoo based startup RunToShop that we've covered a few times before has set for launch in September. The core of the company is also coming out in their newly designed website - social shopping through personal recommendations and reviews. RunToShop states themselves as the place to find stuff people really love.
These are of course guessese, but I have heard from a trusted source that RunToShop is not launching in Finland in September. One easy giveaway is the language - it's all in English and they speak English in ...? You guessed it.
The next WebAnalytics Wednesday in Finland will take place in Helsinki 27th of February. The place is Sanoma House and the topic of the evening Measuring Social Media. Steve Jackson from Satama will speak about Measuring success of social media. Whitevector's Tommi Lehtonen will continue on Measuring influential opinions on brands. See the invitation for details.