Unmetric gets funding to help brands gauge their social media clout

This guy probably has social media clout. How many 'likes' will he get this November?

What would you get if social media ego measurement tool Klout had a baby with comScore, the Web traffic measurement firm? It would  probably be Unmetric, a new “social media benchmark” tool that helps brands measure their social media engagement.

If you’re a big brand-owner all those Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets by your customers and ‘fans’ are fine but what do they really mean in terms of engagement and customer sentiment? More importantly, how do they stack up against your rivals? These are some of the questions Unmetric hopes to help answer after raising $3.2 million in Series A financing led by Nexus Venture Partners.

Chicago-based Unmetric will debut its Unmetric Score, tailored for Fortune 500 companies, based on weighted data from at least 24 qualitative and quantitative metrics measuring online brand performance versus competitors. The Unmetric Score will be somewhat similar to the Klout Score but Lux Narayan, Unmetric’s Chief Executive, hopes its own score will have, er…more clout (sorry).

As far as marketers and advertisers are concerned these are still very much the early days of social media as they try to engage with their customers in more tw0-way conversations in a range of these fledgling platforms.  Even Narayan admits it’s too early to declare what the value of a “like” on Facebook really means in itself. But he believes a “like” for example offers a very important tool for brands in the new world.

Everything we know about tech we learned from Kraftwerk

At 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday there was no more coveted piece of New York City real estate than standing room in the Museum of Modern Art’s Marron Atrium. And so it shall be for the next seven nights as Kraftwerk, the German electronic outfit from the 1970s, plays to a scant crowd of about 450 lucky souls. That this quartet, which includes just one of its original members, can command a showcase like MoMA – and sell out in a drumbeat – provides a useful lesson into technology’s risk of obsolescence.

It would be easy to dismiss Kraftwerk as a relic from the dawn of the digital age and its ardent fans a weird cult in turtleneck sweaters and 3D glasses. But MoMA’s eight-night retrospective of the band helmed by Ralf Hutter provides surprising insight into why some innovations fade and others flourish. Ultimately, success in technology – as in art – is derived from the expression of big ideas, not simply a mastering of its circuitry. It is an example that businesses, too, can learn from.

Kraftwerk is best known for harnessing new gadgets, primarily synthesizers like the Minimoog, to create industrial rhythms and electronic drumbeats that broke new ground in pop music. Kraftwerk’s sounds have been copied, built upon and sampled by artists from Afrika Bambaataa to Pink Floyd to Jay-Z. Today’s auto-tuned pop stars owe a direct debt to the musical sequencing that Hutter and his former partner Florian Schneider pioneered at their Kling Klang Studios in Dusseldorf four decades ago.

Google+’s new look: Will it bring the visitors?

Photo courtesy Google

Is it time to visit Google+ again?

There’s been a lot of debate about how often people are actually using Google’s 10-month old social networking service. But if you happen to swing by in the coming days, you might notice that something is different: The Google+ Website is getting a major makeover.

The most noticeable change is the addition of a sleek “ribbon of applications” running down the left-hand side of the site that lets users to access the various realms of the social network such as photo albums, friends’ pages and personal profiles.

The ribbon is customizable, so you can essentially create your own interface to navigate Google+.

Who’s Facebook going to buy next? Put your money on Foursquare

Facebook Director of Marketing Mike Hoefflinger announces a new "Premium on Facebook" service in New York City

The news Facebook is buying mobile photo app start-up Instagram has sparked off speculation that social networking giant might go on a buying spree in the run-up, and after, its expected $100 billion initial public offering in a few weeks.

Irish betting house Paddy Power, in a fairly transparent PR stunt, has sent out the odds it’s offering punters who want to bet who would be next on Facebook’s list. In a sure sign that the list of names was rustled up overnight right after the news (a bit like today’s blog actually) the list starts off with more than a modicum of respectability with solid names like location-based check-in app company Foursquare at odds of  4 to 1  and note-taking service Evernote at 9 to 2. It follows with some other interesting names like Dropbox, Spotify and Pinterest all in single digit odds.

Three in a row: ‘Hunger Games’ leads box office

Movie sensation “The Hunger Games” survived fresh competition from the “Titanic” and the gross-out “American Pie” gang to notch its third domestic box office win over the weekend.

“Hunger Games” took in $33.5 million at U.S. and Canadian theaters from Friday through Sunday and lifted its domestic sales through three weekends to $302.8 million, according to studio estimates released on Sunday.

The Easter weekend receipts for “Hunger Games” topped “American Reunion,” a sequel to one of film’s biggest comedy franchises, and a 3D remake of “Titanic” timed for the anniversary of the ship’s sinking. It was the third straight box office win for “Hunger Games.”

More room at box office table for ‘Hunger Games’

“Hunger Games” mania looks ready to fire up movie box offices again. The post-apocalyptic survival drama will beat all competitors for the third weekend in a row – if it can hold off the mighty “Titanic” and the gang from “American Pie.”

Many school kids will be at home on Friday ahead of the Easter holiday, and Hollywood hopes many of them will go out to the movies.

One tough competitor, “Hunger Games,” will likely grab another $30 million from Friday through Sunday and retain its domestic box-office title, said Paul Dergarabedian, box office analyst at The movie from Lions Gate Entertainment has pulled in more than $262 million since storming into theaters on March 23.

A looking glass into the post-smartphone era

Permit me to not act my age.

I was all grown up already when the Internet became a big deal, scarcely two decades ago. I was like a kid in a candy store. Still, I’ve only had a couple of heart-stopping moments in those 20 years in which everything has changed.

My heart skipped a beat (along with probably only thousands of others) when I downloaded Mosaic, the first Web browser, on the first day it was released. It consistently froze up. But that small, terribly flawed piece of software was really a time portal, showing me the future, and I could barely breathe.

Two years ago I got my hands on the first iPad on the first day it went on sale. My unboxing was unceremonious because I had to rush and show it off during a couple of TV interviews. But when I got home late on that Saturday in April and finally had a chance to put it through its paces, it took my breath away. I was a kid again: full of wonder and utterly immune to negativity.

Google spokesman to head Twitter PR

Twitter, the microblogging service that provided a messaging platform for an estimated 500 million users,  is getting a new communications chief of its own.

Former Google spokesman Gabriel Stricker is moving to Twitter to lead its communications team, he announced Wednesday via his first-ever tweet on @gabrielstricker.

Stricker, who dealt with media matters related to Google’s search products, follows a path previously tread by Karen Wickre and Carolyn Penner, two ex-Googlers who are now employed on the Twitter communications staff.

Way to make waves: Apple analyst puts $1,001 out there

Publicity stunt or deeply held conviction? Brian White, the once oft-quoted technology stock commentator who moved to Topeka Capital from  Ticonderoga, is stoking fiery debate with his declaration of a $1,001 target price for Apple’s stock.

White, a mainstay on financial media outlets, justifies that four-digit sum by calling attention to Apple’s penetration into new markets (with the oft-rumored and apparently imminent Apple TV), its expanding footprint in China, and its unstoppable brand power, among other things.

One can only wait and see. Many observers years ago voiced derision at $500 to $600 targets. Then, in 2011, Apple stock nearly doubled. Today, the median price target on its shares stands at just a whisker below $700, Thomson Reuters data shows.

from Paul Smalera:

The recession killed journalism – and saved it

Over the last few years, thanks to the global economic crisis – encapsulating everything from the 2008 housing crash to today’s ongoing euro zone sovereign-debt debacle – much ink has been spilled about the reshaping of the world’s economy, especially about the domestic job market.

Actually, scratch part of that last sentence, because less ink has been spilled, at least according to the results of a recent report by LinkedIn. The media business has been in overdrive, especially during this 2012 election season, but it’s now pushing pixels, not paper.

According to the data studied by LinkedIn, the professional social network, the newspaper industry experienced a 28.4 percent shrink rate between 2007 and 2011. The death of newspapers is not exactly a new phenomenon, so I’ll spare you yet another detailed recap of the print and economic climate that led to this broadsheet apocalypse.