Social Headlines This Week

Last week was as strange as ever in the world of social media - we saw the Pope join Twitter, Mark Zuckerberg make $3.5 billion and a petition created for the construction of a "Death Star" so what has this week brought? Here's our round up of the biggest stories in social media this week.

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Twitter Adds Photo Filters

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Ding, ding...seconds out! The battle between Twitter and Instagram got real this week when Twitter announced new photo filters in response to last Thursday's news that Instagram would no longer support Twitter picture sharing. The long-rumoured feature arrived Tuesday on Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android. In response Instagram updated its app on the same day with all new features and a new filter called Willow. Many people are joining in the argument and its only a matter of time before 'Team Twitter' and 'Team instagram' t-shirts hit the Internet. We fully expect to hear more in the war of words between the two social networks over the coming weeks.

Facebook Confirms Ads Coming To Instagram

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In another twist to the "Twitter v Instagram" debate, Vice President of Global Marketing Solutions at Facebook, Carolyn Everson said this week that they are set to "monetize" Instagram in the near future. So far, the photo-sharing app has been ad-free, but since Facebook acquired the company, speculation has mounted that the service's relatively uncluttered interface is the perfect platform for sponsored pictures and posts. "Eventually we'll figure out a way to monetize Instagram." said Everson when asked about Facebook's plans, "It continues to grow incredibly fast and we're still a very small team when you think about the amount of people they are reaching. There are many brands that use Instagram right now to try to get a feel for how to engage with their followers. We will definitely be figuring out a monetization strategy. When that will happen, I can't comment, but it's going to happen."

Pinterest Finds Wanted Criminals

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A Pennsylvania newspaper has started using Pinterest to post mug shots of people wanted by police officials and has seen a 57% increase in arrests as a result. The Mercury, based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania has posted over 80 pins of wanted criminals on charges ranging from fraud to murder. Pottstown Police Capt. F. Richard Drumheller said that calls came in to the helpline almost immediately. "We've actually seen a 57% increase in our warrant services, and we actually got more people based on our tips and our calls," Drumheller said. "For us it's like, 'Yes,' because it's very enjoyable in police work when the public helps you." 

Google+ Adds Communities

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Google this week launched Google+ communities, allowing its users to join groups based on specific topics such as food, football and video games. Vic Gundotra, Google's senior VP of engineering, spoke about the roll out in a blog post this week, saying that the move is part of the effort to bring more real-world interactions to the Internet. "From photography to astronomy (and everything in between), Google+ has always been a place to crowd around common interests and meet new people," Gundotra wrote. "What’s been missing, however, are more permanent homes for all the stuff you love: the wonderful, the weird, and yes, even the things that are waaay out there. With Google+ Communities there’s now a gathering place for your passions." You can join public groups or create your own and the social-networking platform has also added the option of launching hangout's within each group.

The Pope Sends His First Tweet

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We told you last week that Pope Benedict XVI had launched an official Twitter account and that he would start tweeting on the 12th December. Well, our Popefulness stuck to his word and sent out his first tweet at 2:28am. The tweet read "Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart." Within hours the wise words were retweeted over 11,000 times and led to the word 'Pope' trending on Twitter. Unfortunately our guess for first tweet "Whassup Tweeps!!?" didn't quite materialise.

Twitter Set To Reduce Tweets to Just 117 Characters!

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I can hear the collective groans now...if you're one of those people who think 140 characters isn’t enough...then get ready for just 117. In February, tweets that contain URLs will be reduced to 117 characters. Although that seems like an unreasonable drop, the change represents only a two-character drop per tweet from what you are currently able to send when a hyperlink is involved. But what does this mean? Well when you tweet any hyperlink that Twitter has to shorten, these links will take up more space, therefore reducing the content you can add to your message. The changes are set to take effect on February 20th 2013. 

Apple Starts Testing New TV Sets

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On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple is currently testing several TV set designs. China's Hon Hai (better known as Foxconn) and Japan's Sharp are reportedly working on the design of the new television with Apple. Unfortunately this doesn't mean we're likely to see an Apple TV set in the near future, with prototypes still far from hitting the market. "It isn't a formal project yet. It is still in the early stage of testing," said a source at the Hon Hai Precision Industry. With an Apple-branded TV set being one of the hottest rumours on the streets for many years, the latest report is the strongest indication yet that Apple is considering such a project - providing the reports are true, of course. 

Google Maps For iOS Is Back...Finally!!! 

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The Google Maps app appeared in the App Store late Wednesday evening, providing comfort and joy to unhappy Apple Maps users over the festive period. Rumors of the app's imminent arrival appeared Tuesday evening and within moments of the release it appears as if Apple's servers briefly crashed, with some users finding it difficult to download the app.
The app includes a few features formerly limited to the Android version of Google Maps, including guided turn-by-turn directions. 

Lidl's Underestimates "Dinner For The Poor" Offer And Now Faces €200,000 Bill

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European supermarket Lidl is facing a huge €200,000 bill after an offer of five Christmas dinners for the poor went viral. Lidl's Belgian marketing team offered €20 dinner-packs consisting of tomato soup, chicken vol-au-vents and chocolate to food banks when people tweeted with the hashtag #luxevooriedereen (Dutch for "luxury for everyone"). The supermarket had expected to send out around 1000 packs, however local newspapers picked up the campaign leading to well over 1,500 tweets within the first day of the offer - meaning Lidl had to provide 7,500 dinners. Lidl said "We've learnt quite a few lessons over the past 48 hours, to say the least.” The European supermarket has yet to decide if it will repeat the offer in 2013.

Death Star Petition Reaches 25,000 Signatures

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Last week we told you that if the creatively named "Death Star Petition" reached 25,000 signatures by 14th December then the Obama Administration, according to its own rules, would have to prepare an official response. Well guess what...it hit 25,000 yesterday, a full day ahead of its deadline. If created it would reportedly cost 13,000 times the world's gross domestic product (GDP), or £541,261 trillion, to supply the steel for such a structure. Though the Force is strong with this petition, the chances of the White House taking the idea seriously are very slim. No date has been set for the official response. 

And finally...Monkey In Sheepskin Coat At Ikea Becomes Social Media Hero Of The Week

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A coat wearing monkey who wandered around an Ikea store in Toronto has become a social media trend around the world. The monkey hit the headlines Tuesday afternoon after it was found wearing a fake sheepskin coat and nappy in the Ikea store in North York, Toronto. The 5 month old rhesus macaque called Darwin was spotted by customers who took pictures before security ensured its safety. Animal Services were called, before the owner came forward to explain that the monkey had escaped out of its crate and wandered into the store from their parked car. The owners have since surrendered custody of Darwin and he has been sent to a primate sanctuary. Within hours of the pictures surfacing online, two Twitter parody accounts were created -  @IKEAmonkey and @Ikea_Monkey

Let us know your favourite social stories of the week or if you'd like one of your own social stories to make our headlines then get in touch and we'll feature you next week!

Post written by Content & Community Manager Steven Owens

Paul Shepherd

I've worked in digital communications for around 15 years, and specialised in social media for the past three. Passionate about new technologies, media, and the impact it has on businesses bottom line, I try to bring that passion to every campaign for every brand we work with.