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Social Media Weekly Buzz

Welcome to the second edition of Social Media Weekly Buzz.

This week, both Google and Facebook managed to steal the majority of the headlines. Gmail’s outage on Tuesday sparked widespread panic and led most people, ironically, to use Google search to investigate the incident. In addition, the oh-so familiar, yet quite stark, Google search landing page has finally been patented, five years after being submitted to the USPTO. Facebook tested out a new ad scheme with direct offer engagement ads, and is being accused of leading a Welsh citizen to murder their partner. Also, have you checked out Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on YouTube yet?

All this and more follows below:

Gmail Outage – At 12:30pm PST, a small fraction of Gmail’s servers were taken offline for routine maintenance. Unfortunately, Google underestimated the load recent changes placed on the request routers… The result? Gmail went down for 100 minutes, and online chaos quickly ensued.

Google’s Search Landing Page Now Patented – After 5 years of fierce debate with federal bureaucrats, Google has finally won the right to patent their unmistakable home page. Google now owns the concept of having a large search box in the middle of the page, on top of two big buttons, with several links scattered here and there. Does this spell trouble for sites which possess similar layouts, such as Yahoo search?

Facebook Tests Direct Response Ads – Craving a Chick-fil-A Chicken Biscuit? How about if it’s free? Soon you might be seeing more ad offers like this on Facebook if their testing of direct offer engagement ads goes well. Facebook has recently been exploring different advertising options as it gradually shifts away from its traditional sales funnel.

Facebook Regional Networks No More – Regional networks on Facebook are now officially gone. This move comes as Facebook attempts to expand beyond its college roots to a worldwide communication platform, not unlike Twitter. But is that really what users want?

Facebook Jealousy Blamed on Murder – A murder trial in South Wales has taken an interesting twist, with a UK prosecutor arguing that Facebook-related jealousy pre-empted the tragic event. Apparently the whole thing got started when Mrs. Jones started to “expand her social horizons” online. The last straw? When she changed her Facebook status to “single”.

Kremlin Launches YouTube Channel – Russian President Dmitri Medvedev launched his very own YouTube channel, located at www.youtube.com/kremlin. The main purpose of the channel will be to reach out to and connect with the youth of Russia. So far he has covered topics from good neighborhood ties between schoolchildren, to the outcome of the Second World War.

eBay Sells Skype – On Tuesday, eBay officially announced that it would be selling the VoIP and chat service Skype to a group of private investors for $2.75 billion. eBay will still retain a 35 percent equity stake in the service however, which they hope will increase in value under the new management. The decision to sell was provoked by a lack of synergy between Skype and eBay’s e-commerce and payments services.

The Gmail downtime serves as a reminder of how much of our lives are becoming dependent on the Internet. As more and more services become cloud-based in nature, it is imperative that network interruption be minimized at all costs. Fortunately the Gmail downtime occurred during the night, which helped save what could have been a large-scale interruption in productivity for the US. Twitter experienced a similar issue not too long ago, though that issue was more malicious in nature, and not just a big mistake.

Facebook continues to modify its services in order to improve both the experience of both consumers and advertisers. The direct offer engagement ads are a great source of lead generation for businesses, however it will be interesting to see how many people are willing to enter their address and other personal info for discounts and promotions. This is definitely a jump in the right direction for Facebook as it tries to shift away from its traditional sales funnel. The major step in this development is that companies will now receive instant results from the advertisements they publish on the service.

The Facebook alteration that might not be met with open arms is the decision to completely remove regional network categories. As Facebook attempts to take a more worldly approach to its communications platform, it has the potential of upsetting long time users of its service. For them, Facebook served as a tool to better connect with friends, not strangers. In addition, many users prefer Facebook over Twitter for the very fact that it isn’t… Twitter. Any step closer to the other service could be taken very negatively among its fan base.

The sale of Skype was definitely a smart move for eBay, whose e-commerce and online payments businesses really have nothing in common with the VoIP service. The real question is what prompted eBay to make the acquisition in the first place? Earlier in April StumbleUpon was also sold off to a group of investors after a failed attempt to synergize operations. Fortunately now the company can turn to focusing on its core eBay and PayPal businesses.

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