10 Pro Tips for Writers Using Social Media

We recently covered 10 inspiring social networks for writers that can help you extend your influence and develop your content. But what about the mainstream networks? How do you successfully raise your profile and gain a following?

Six well-known authors and writers, who are experts in this type of personal branding, share their methods and suggestions on how to use social media to push yourself forward in the writing industry. Whether you’ve been using social media for a while or you’re just starting out, you might learn something new.

1. Sign Up for the Big Networks

It can be difficult to sift through all of the available social platforms and decide which ones to focus on; it helps if you think about what it is you want to achieve. If you’re looking to get your name as a writer out there, it makes sense to use the networks with the most users to boost your presence. That means Twitter and Facebook, for sure, but Tumblr and Google+ are also rising in popularity for writers.

Susan Orlean, New Yorker journalist and author of The Orchid Thief, looks at each platform as a different kind of party. “Twitter is a noisy cocktail party, with lots of chatting and quick interactions, a kind of casual free-for-all,” she says. “Facebook is a combination high school and college reunion and therapy group. Google+ I haven’t figured out yet.”

Twitter certainly seems to be the top go-to network for writers, and it’s incredibly useful. Meredith Hindley, historian and writer for various publications like The New York Times and Humanities, says, “It’s both social and a big RSS feed, which makes my information junkie heart happy.”

2. Interact and Engage — Enthusiastically

It’s easy to forget that part of successfully using social media is actually being social. While linking to things you like and adding commentary are part of the whole deal, it’s important to engage with followers in order to keep them. As a writer wanting to gain a following, you have to try to keep everyone interested in you.

John T. Edge, food writer, columnist for The New York Times and author of Truck Food, uses Twitter “like a madman” when he’s traveling. “I use it as a kind of diary to track things I saw, music I heard, food I ate.” Edge combines his genre with interesting tidbits that aren’t necessarily related to his writing. Your social media account doesn’t have to be all writing, all the time.

With Facebook, it’s all about pacing yourself. Allison Winn Scotch, author of the bestselling Time of My Life and the forthcoming The Song Remains the Same, says, “I think Facebook users get annoyed if you post too many status updates, so I’m careful to only post at most once a day, and more realistically, a few times a week.”

Make sure your personality shines through all platforms. Karen Palmer, author of the novels All Saints and Border Dogs, says that readers are drawn to a writer’s voice more than anything. “The most interesting folks are those with curious minds, oddball insights, passion and humor.”

Overall, it’s important to remember the golden rule. Tao Lin, author of Richard Yates and Eeeee Eee Eeee, makes sure to use social networks “without feeling like I’m doing things I wouldn’t want other people to do to me…or that I’m doing things that will alienate people who, based on experience, I like being friends with.”

3. Minimize Self-Promotion

Fight the urge to promote everything you write — your followers don’t need constant reminders that you’re a great writer.

Winn Scotch says, “What [readers] prefer is seeing who you really are and getting to know both your tone and your attitude. If they like what they read in that, they’ll often gravitate toward your books.” She also advises writers to think about what they like to see, and to avoid controversy. “I’m not a huge fan of reading divisive political statements in my feed, so I never do it myself.”

To minimize self-promotion, Edge suggests finding “a way to be honestly self-deprecating.” In the same vein, Lin posts things on Tumblr “that convey alienation, depression or loneliness in a non-’cry for help’ manner.” These methods might not work for you, but it shows that you should focus on specific topics to stop yourself from becoming your own worst advertiser.

4. Consider Privacy and Comfort Levels

You might be hesitant to join these global virtual communities in which your information and viewpoints are available to anyone, but it’s all about focusing on what you’re comfortable with in a public sphere.

“I found social media hard to navigate at first, because I’m a private person,” Hindley says, but she soon found topics she felt comfortable discussing, such as books, history and her writing process. “Every so often, you should review your tweets to see what you’ve been talking about. Ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the image you’re projecting. If not, make some adjustments.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Lin is very open about his contact information with those who follow him on social networks, and he even gave out his phone number when someone asked for it in an HTMLGIANT comment thread. “I’ve never had problems — that I can remember — from people having my contact information,” he says. However, proceed with caution.

5. Find a Happy Medium

Stay away from extremes when it comes to expressing yourself. “Your tweets don’t always have to be sunshine and rainbows,” Hindley says, “but if you’re constantly complaining or being a drama queen, people aren’t going to want to follow you.”

This is something to keep in mind not only for potential fans, but also for potential agents or editors. You should own your voice, but be professional.

Of course, it always helps to be interesting. No one will want to follow you if you’re saying or posting things that everyone else is saying or posting. Edge says, “I focus, as best I can, on stories that don’t usually get told.”

6. Make Valuable Connections

Use social media’s endless networking possibilities to your advantage. “Have fun with it and engage with other authors you admire,” says Winn Scotch. “I follow a slew of writers whom I don’t know personally but whose observations on pop culture, for example, I find funny as hell. And you never know where that connection can lead.” She says that those connections are important not just for aspiring authors, but for seasoned authors as well.

That said, it’s important to be somewhat selective when choosing your followers. “I also find that following too many people can lead to chaos in my feed,” Winn Scotch adds, “so I don’t follow everyone.”

7. Keep Up Appearances

Make sure you never let your accounts fall by the wayside. “Don’t neglect your profile,” Hindley says. “Fill it out in such a way that it looks like you have a little gravitas.”

In addition to posting regularly, update your Facebook profile picture or cover photo (every six months is a good time reference), change up your Twitter background and even consider paying for a premium Tumblr theme to spice things up. Show your followers that you’re active and you want to be using social media.

8. Aspiring Writers vs. Seasoned Writers

You may be wondering if there are different ways up-and-coming writers should use social media as opposed to those whose work is already established.

“Social media is an extension of your voice,” says Orlean. “For aspiring writers, it’s a chance to practice miniaturization — how to say something interesting in a very concise way — which is, in itself, a good writing exercise. Seasoned writers might look at it as an ongoing book tour, or at least the Q&A part of the book tour.”

Lin, on the other hand, doesn’t think there’s a difference. “I feel like what I try to do myself has remained somewhat constant throughout my time having these [accounts].”

So it’s up to you how to present yourself, but you should be honest with followers about your work’s progress.

9. Don’t Obsess Over Number of Followers

It’s likely that you’ll become preoccupied with how many people you influence through social networks, but it’s important to let that go.

“Don’t obsess about your number of followers,” says Orlean. “Just be genuinely engaged, and people will listen.”

10. Don’t Force It

It’s alright to admit that social media isn’t for you. “If after experimenting for a while, you find you don’t really enjoy it, don’t do it,” Palmer advises. “It’s obvious to others when your heart isn’t in it. And should you come to find you like it a little too much, use social media as a reward for doing your real work — writing.”

by Matt Petronzio

Twitter Rolls Out Expanded Brand Pages for More Companies

Twitter has started rolling out its enhanced brand pages to more advertisers.

The social networking site — which announced in December that it would be introducing Facebook-style brand pages for companies to customize and highlight content — has extended the platform to National Public Radio, NBC News, Volkswagen, The Huffington Post, Al Jazeera, Anobii and others, the company told Mashable.

“Enhanced profile pages will continue to roll out to advertising partners, as well as other select partners, charities, media organizations and individuals,” Twitter said in a statement.

The latest brands are the first to get the design since it was made available to certain partners when it launched. Included among the first 21 brands invited to test out the new platform were HP, Intel, Coca Cola, Dell, Disney, JetBlue, Nike and Paramount Pictures.

Although brands with enhanced profile pages will have access to uploading banners and promoting tweets at the top of their Twitter timeline, it’s up to account owners to use and make the most of the functionality.

Some companies are already making the most of their brand pages. In fact, launch partners HP and Intel hosted the first-ever live stream of a concert on Twitter with electronic music master Tiësto during the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in January.

“HP came to us with the idea and we couldn’t be more excited to hear how the company and Intel will be using their Twitter brand pages to reach out to the public and become destination sites,” said Rob Pietsch, Twitter’s director of West Coast sales. “It’s a first for us, and we expect in the future that more companies will integrate streaming video into their pages.”

Twitter’s expanded brand pages are expected to change the way fans interact with businesses on the site.

by Samantha Murphy

The IPO Won’t Change Facebook. Online Ads Will

Will an IPO change Facebook? The sudden influx of $5 billion (and more) will certainly give it lots of opportunity, though it’ll also mean Facebook will soon answer to shareholders. And those shareholders will demand that the company keep increasing the value of their investment.

In his letter within the IPO filing, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talks high-mindedly about his creation being a social experience first, and a company second. But in the same document, Facebook talks about the value its massive scale and knowledge of “demographic factors” can bring to advertisers and marketers, calling out vaguely uncomfortable examples, like Starbucks being able to pay to get users’ check-ins promoted in their friends’ news feeds.

There’s no question Facebook’s utility as an advertising tool is huge, and it’s only getting bigger. Facebook’s ad revenue was over $3 billion last year and has been growing at more than $1 billion every year since 2009. That’s what’s really driving the its evolution, and it would be true whether Facebook went public or not.

The Problem With Google Comparisons

We could look to Google‘s IPO for guidance in what will happen to Facebook. But when Google went public back in 2004, the online advertising market was just $9 billion — less than half of the roughly $32 billion it garnered in 2011, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau and eMarketer.

While digital advertising came of age over the past seven years, Google continued its pattern of innovation for years after its IPO. Google Labs cranked out project after project, many unveiled with great fanfare (remember Wave?) only to fall flat.

Then last year, under CEO Larry Page, Google started to get “serious.” The company cut an unprecedented number for projects, and launched a full-fledged effort to unite its many services into a more cohesive platform, connected to its new social network, Google+.

This has led to some clumsy attempts to capitalize on its products, the latest of which is “Search Plus Your World.” The change to its fundamental search tool — which now points users toward Google+ every chance it gets — has been widely criticized for worsening the search experience.

Online Advertising Gets Real

Twitter has gone through similar growing pains. When it introduced the Quick Bar (a.k.a. “Dickbar”) to its mobile app last year, it was so widely criticized that the company had to relent and remove it. The blatant attempt to steer users toward one of its ad-revenue streams, promoted trends, was ultimately not in Twitter’s best interests.

Even smaller digital players like Flipboard have begun integrating ad platforms to their tools. Everyone wants to monetize their apps, of course, but Flipboard to launched its advertising tool just one year after the app’s debut. Compared with that, Foursquare, which took more than two years to roll out brand pages, is really taking its time.

There’s a reason all these digital brands — big and small — are getting money crazy. The online advertising market has reached a tipping point, and virtually every digital brand is getting swept up in the change. According to eMarketer, spending on online advertising in the U.S. is due to surpass print for the first time this year — and it’s projected to double by 2016.

Meanwhile, major players like Google and Facebook are gobbling up much of that new revenue for themselves. And they both keep innovating, leveraging their networks and aggregated data to try and make themselves more valuable then other options as well as each other’s.

If you’re in this space and you’re not making noise with your ad platform now, you risk getting left behind. That’s certainly what happened to Yahoo, which has now challenged itself to re-establish itself as a leader in the game or die trying.

The Real Reason Behind Facebook’s IPO

Again, all of this would have been happening whether Facebook went public or not. What led Facebook to IPO, I believe, is a desire to steer where online advertising is going rather than vice-versa. As its revenue grows, it recognized a need to create its own Google- or Amazon-scale services with the back end to match. As big as Facebook is, you need IPO money for that.

Will that fundamentally be better for the user? We’ll have to wait and see, but there are two ways this could go. One the one hand, competition is fundamentally good, and the more players that can go toe-to-toe at the highest levels of online advertising, the better. On the other, the digital players are now so large and so influential that they risk losing sight of the very customers they’re fighting for.

This is the web in 2012, and the stakes only get bigger from here.

by Peter Pachal

Facebook Turns 8, And Together We’ve Grown

I’ve been on Facebook for 2,561 days, having joined during the first year of its existence and my first year of college.

As the world’s largest social network turns 8 years old today, millions of people will reflect on the impact Facebook has had on their lives, however big or small that impact may be.

My Facebook experience mirrors yours in many facets.

We’ve changed our relationship statuses, sometimes more than we can remember. We’ve flipped through our tagged photos, every once in awhile untagging the ones we now deem unfavorable. We’ve seen friends’ last names change, with their marriages followed by offspring. We’ve said goodbye to fellow Facebook users, our friends whose Walls — and now Timelines — have become digital memorials. We cried. We smiled. We tell our stories.

Just shy of its second birthday on Feb. 4, 2005, Facebook saw me register for an account on Jan. 30.

Back then, Facebook was only for college students. I was 18, living in a dorm at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. I didn’t own a computer or a laptop, and smartphones as we know them today didn’t exist, so I accessed Facebook on campus computers.

Facebook became a hobby, something I would check every so often and not every day like I do now. But as more faces jumped onto the service — first high school students, then anyone over 13, then my mom (Hi Mom, I hope you “Like” this story!) — I began to rely on it more. I replaced my physical scrapbooks, which I routinely updated in high school, with an online database of memories: 161 photo albums and 28 videos.

In 2006, a year after Pete Cashmore introduced the world to Mashable, Facebook unveiled Notes. I used them as my first crack at blogging. Since then, I’ve used Notes to showcase my celebrity look-a-likes in 2006, reveal some intimate thoughts about turning 21 and listening to Kelly Clarkson’s “Sober” in Milwaukee in 2007, as well as describe my encounter with a suicidal man while living in Phoenix in 2009.

Notes ignited content sharing on Facebook so much — and so early on — that media organizations began opening their eyes to the site’s potential to bring more readers to their stories. Being in journalism school, this piqued my interest immensely. Facebook capitalized on that revelation by launching a Share button just months after Notes came out. Early adopters of the feature such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated and The Onion continue to reap the benefits of social sharing and the significant referral traffic it attracts.

A year later in 2007, early signs of Facebook trumping MySpace as the go-to social network surfaced. I never really got into MySpace, but the chatter about this topic among friends who avidly used it became frequent and intense. Again, Facebook pounced on this opportunity to dethrone MySpace as social king with a redesign, which involved ditching its trademark “Facebook Guy” logo.

That same year, the first rumblings of a possible Facebook IPO made their way into headlines. CEO Mark Zuckerberg squashed the rumors, but on Feb. 1, 2012, Facebook filed for a $5 billion IPO. Zuckerberg in 2007 wanted to focus on development, and then along came a mobile version of Facebook, specifically for iPhone.

2008 was the year Facebook unleashed its Chat feature, expanded its global reach by adding more languages, and overtook MySpace based on monthly unique visitors. For me, Facebook Chat eventually pushed aside my other instant-messaging applications. A major redesign then merged our Walls and Mini-Feeds.

Facebook rolled out Usernames in 2009, allowing us to sign up for custom URLs (here’s mine). In 2010, a new Feature called Facebook Messages let me create an @Facebook.com email address. Facebook Messages integrated my email, IM and text messages into one inbox.

Just last year, my Facebook experience began to transform tremendously. First, Facebook Chat gave us voice-calling capabilities and Skype-powered video chat. Then, I enabled the new Subscribe feature, which allowed anybody to subscribe to my personal profile and see anything I share publicly. And most notably, some of our profiles evolved into Timelines (see the changes in the gallery below).

Somewhere in between all of those changes, I sent virtual Gifts, I Poked some of you, I cringed at the ads that first appeared in 2006, I scoured the Marketplace for any gems, and I used the apps developed within the open-source Facebook Platform.

Now it’s election year 2012, and politicians more than ever are using Facebook and other tools to grab our attention and sway our votes. If social networks could run for office, I’d vote for Facebook because of all the things I just mentioned.

Together, we’ve grown. Happy birthday, Facebook. Good luck, Zuck and the gang. Thanks for enriching my life.

What are your fondest memories of using Facebook? When did you join the social network?

by Brian Anthony Hernandez

2012 Grammys Embrace Digital, Mobile and Social Media

The 54th Grammy Awards ceremony is only eight days away and the Recording Academy is kicking off the next phase of its digital and social campaign. Under the heading of “We Are Music” the Academy and its partners are harnessing the power of social, mobile and digital to make the award show more modern than ever.

The Recording Academy made the decision to invest in social and digital media several years ago (you can read Mashable’s past coverage of the 2010 and 2011 campaigns) and the organization and its awards show are now seeing the dividends. Big time. The latest trends in social TV and second screen experiences are in direct alignment with the road Grammy has been traveling for years.

We spoke with Evan Greene, Chief Marketing Officer of the Recording Academy, and he told us the strategy around the 2012 Grammys was to put mobile and digital at the forefront of the project. That means the campaign and the show itself were designed with the digital and mobile attributes in mind from its inception, not tacked on at the end. As someone who has been beating the drum of making social and digital a part of the creation process from beginning to end, this is great to see.

Grammy Live and the Second Screen

As in years past, the cornerstone of the digital Grammy experience is around Grammy Live. Grammy Live is a three-day webcast of special Grammy events, red carpets and parties, designed to bring fans behind the scenes and close to all the action.

Although CBS (Grammy’s broadcasting partner) doesn’t stream the awards themselves online, Grammy Live is available as a second screen experience during the event, giving additional insight and tidbits into what’s happening, views from the crowd and access to backstage areas.

As Peter Anton, executive producer of Grammy Live pointed out in our conversation, Grammy Live was actually the first major second screen experience designed around an award show — and this was before the iPad!

Of course, now that the iPad is here, it makes sense to extend the Grammy Live experience to other devices. In addition to viewing the experience at Grammy.com, users can also interact with the experience in the Grammy Live app for iOS [iTunes link].

This year, Greene told us, the Recording Academy worked hard to make the Grammy Live app a perfect extension of the website itself. CBS was also heavily involved this year, both in helping craft the app and in giving Grammy Live official on-air callouts and integration.

Not only does the Grammy Live app give users access to the photos, videos and articles available at Grammy.com, it also features Grammy trivia, the ability to guess who will win at the 54th Grammy Awards and the ability to listen to a streaming radio station of Grammy nominees. One of my favorite features of the app is that it also includes a database of past winners, as well as nominees for the 2012 awards. During the show on Feb. 12, those listings will be updated in real time.

The app also lets users browse tweets from various Grammy accounts and hashtags, and of course, access the full Grammy Awards experience before and during the show itself. The app is optimized for iPhone and iPad, and is one of the best apps we’ve seen for an awards show.

The Campaign: We Are Music

For the fifth consecutive year, the Recording Academy teamed up with TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles for the awards show campaign. The team created a robust campaign with print, outdoor, digital, mobile and television components centered around the theme of “We Are Music.”

The genesis of the campaign was formed around the emotions and social experiences that music brings out in us all. The agency TBWA\Chiat\Day wanted to capture the way music moves us as humans and wanted a way to help visualize that emotive experience.

TBWA\Chiat\Day always likes to push the technical boundaries in the digital aspects of its campaigns, and this year was no different. The centerpiece is a microsite that lives at Wearemusic.grammy.com. This site was developed using cutting-edge web technologies (in this case, Flash 11 Stage 3D) to create robust real-time 3D visualizations that are modified based on what music is playing in the background.

Users can select their own mix of songs (powered using Rdio‘s library API) and add in their own photographs to create their own unique visualizations. Users can then share these visualizations with others using Facebook or Twitter. The effect is insanely cool and I encourage you all to visit the site and see it for yourself.

Creating a robust and cutting-edge desktop experience was important, but the agency also wanted to have a powerful mobile component. Enter the We Are Music iPhone app [iTunes link]. This app helps bring the visualized experience to mobile devices.

In the mobile app, a user’s own music library is used to power the visualizations. Users can also provide their own photos or take one within the app. The app then creates customized experiences based on the music, and also uses the camera flash on the iPhone 4 and 4S to create special pulsing experiences (you can shut this off if you don’t like it). Up to 15 users on the same WiFi or Bluetooth network can even share their experiences with one another.

It’s a super cool app and again, it’s cutting edge. The technology team relied on some of the newest features in iOS 5 to take advantage of these tools. What I like about this app — as with the Music Mapper from the 53rd Grammy Awards, is that the app and microsite can still be enticing and fun even outside the context of the awards show.

The TV spots TBWA/Chiat/Day crafted around the campaign have already made the rounds on YouTube. The Grammy artists profiled in this campaign include Adele, Foo Fighters and Bon Iver. All the spots have style, but the ad with Skrillex is notable because they outfitted the artist in a motion-capture suit to get the liquid movement effect.

Staying Social

Of course, no modern digital campaign strategy would be complete without a big focus on social media. For the 54th Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy is putting Grammy everywhere and engaging with the community of music fans across social platforms.

by Christina Warren

How Social Media Could Improve Public Safety

When it comes to public safety, forward-thinking government agencies are beginning to look at social media as a support tool for improved situational awareness.

The very nature of social media’s open communication and crowdsourced information provides a powerful tool for public safety agencies. Take, for instance, the Twitter user who unknowingly tweeted in real-time about the Osama Bin Laden raid, or the Florida deputy who used Facebook to negotiate a standoff, or the kidnapper who found time to update his Facebook friends.

A 911 center supervisor recently talked to me about the role social media played during a mall shooting. While police units established a perimeter around the mall and assessed the situation, they tried to sift through conflicting reports on the shooter. A 911 dispatcher jumped on Twitter and Flickr, and was actually able to obtain photos of the shooter, posted by witnesses inside the mall. Imagine the value that information provided to the incident commander and tactical operators on the scene.

Is Emergency Response Via Social Media Feasible?

To understand the spectrum of social media applicability and the challenges it poses to public safety, it’s helpful to think how the public safety context is different than traditional social media usage. First, public safety is event or incident-driven, whether for prevention, reaction or investigation. Second, public safety is really a unique form of customer service in which the expectation of service is very high, everyone expects to receive the same level of service, regardless of his frequency of use or willingness to pay for it, and the cost of failure can be astronomical.

Think of it this way: You may feel comfortable posting to a brand’s Facebook Page and not receiving a response for a few hours or maybe even a day or two. However, if your local emergency center planned to monitor calls for help via Twitter and Facebook, it would face major concerns. Therein lies the challenge for public safety — how do you effectively use a powerful set of tools for gleaning real-time information, without incurring huge cost and liability, not to mention, set unrealistic expectations for the public?

Where is Social Media Emergency Response Applicable?

When public safety agencies take to social media, they must remember two factors.

  The direction of the communication (i.e. the agency pushes outbound information to citizens, the agency draws on inbound information from citizens, or mutual, two-way communication).

   The timing of the communication with respect to an incident.

For example, a local police department sends an emergency notification through Twitter, alerting citizens to poor road conditions due to inclement weather. In this case, emergency notifications through social media are outbound. Conversely, decision support relies on inbound input from citizens. Public safety agencies monitor information streams, selectively engage users if the situation dictates, and then develop a course of action.

Emergency 911 centers (or their international equivalents) are typically designed as the communication hub — or customer service center, if you will — for two-way citizen emergency communications. Therefore, they’re also a natural fit for social media engagement.

However, with limited exceptions, these centers do not typically welcome technology beyond caller ID and some basic location information. Efforts like “Next Generation 9-1-1” plan to equip centers so that they may receive a wide array of media-rich content. In the meantime, individuals post photos and videos of unfolding events to social media platforms. Many of these individuals will never even contact 911 directly, assuming that other witnesses have already done (or will do) so.

Would Public Safety Face Any Challenges?

It is becoming increasingly important for emergency responders and other officials to rapidly access and make sense of relevant social media to provide a better picture of the incident and surrounding area (i.e. situational awareness). However, emergency responders are unavailable to mine these social media sites, and often, the 911 center will be too overburdened with incoming calls to do so either.

Several larger agencies have established dedicated units (often within police departments) to provide real-time intelligence. Real-time crime centers operate in several major U.S. cities — notably, New York City and Houston, TX. These centers have access to powerful data aggregation and decision support tools. The New York City Police Department has created a social media unit within its intelligence division.

Traditionally, the data used by these crime centers was more static in nature and limited to the various databases maintained by the city, such as the police department’s records management system, the municipal court information system, permits, etc. This is not the case with social media. Officials can glean valuable intelligence from social media posts across dozens of online platforms. Additionally, this data can emerge from many a dynamic scenario. Consider the foreign tourist who posts a photo of a suspicious package in Times Square, or the concertgoer who shares a video of a crowd fleeing a shooter.

In addition to valuable intelligence-rich posts, people share thousands of well-wishes or anecdotes that, while thoughtful, provide no useful information to public safety officials and obscure the posts that could enhance emergency responders’ situational awareness (see the most recent shootings at Virginia Tech). The amount and velocity of social media traffic and “background noise” is so extensive that it is nearly impossible for intelligence analysts or emergency managers (let alone a busy 91-1 center) to consistently provide real-time information to first responders.

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s (DARPA) Social Media in Strategic Communication project seeks to apply analytics and advanced data solutions to social media in the same way it has improved video analytics and other operational intelligence.

As social media continues to exponentially grow, so will the sheer volume and type of content. Public safety will be forced to develop solutions that better automate today’s mostly manual response efforts. Hopefully, information sharing between the public and public safety agencies will improve and, ultimately, lead to safer communities.

by Todd Piett

Facebook Is Bringing Ads to Mobile Apps [REPORT]

Users of Facebook‘s apps — for Android, iPad and iPhone — may begin seeing ads as soon as early March, as the company looks to gain an addition revenue source before it goes public.

Sources close to the matter say Facebook has already discussed proposals with advertising agencies, according to the Financial Times. Facebook began running sponsored stories in December 2011. Featured stories will appear in the mobile news feed — similar to Twitter’s promoted tweets — mixed in with posts from your friends.

In Facebook’s paperwork for its Initial Public Offering, filed Feb. 1, the company pointed to mobile as a potential revenue source — and warned that the lack of mobile revenue was one of the things that could harm it. Nearly half of Facebook’s 845 million users access the site via mobile device.

One source told FT Facebook would incentivize advertisers to link within Facebook, rather than directing users off-site.

Facebook will hold an event for marketers in New York Feb. 29, so we can expect announcements of new ways they can use the social network. Facebook is yet to unveil Timeline brand pages, although that move is anticipated in coming weeks as Facebook rolls out Timeline for all users.

Will ads on Facebook mobile deter you from using the service? Is a smartphone screen too small for promoted stories? Let us know what you think in the comments.

by Zoe Fox