Finally. Apple TV has pushed a software update that allows viewers to buy and watch TV shows straight from iTunes. Not only that, but Apple TV will let you watch shows purchased from other devices, too.

Until now, you could only rent TV shows, thanks to the Apple TV’s memory limitations. But the new iCloud infrastructure allowed Apple to get around the memory issue. Also in the new update: you can watch any Vimeo clip via Apple TV.

Does this mean Apple TV is no longer a “hobby,” as Steve Jobs has called it? Perhaps, although a bigger move would be bringing a TV version of the app store to Apple TV (rumored forever), building Apple TV’s into actual TV sets (rumored for months) and/or creating custom subscription viewing packages around TV content (probably hardest of all.) Stay tuned…

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Only the smallest stations in the smallest markets are completely ignoring social media, finds a new RTNDA-Hofstra survey that looked at how TV stations use social media. Over 92% of TV stations large and small are participating on Facebook and/or Twitter (more Facebook than Twitter, as we explain below). But more important, the study found stations are embracing social media on a new level.

“There appears to have been a shift in the last year from using social media primarily as a promotional tool to using it heavily — if not primarily — to have conversations with the audience,” explains Bob Papper, who oversaw the research. “Most news directors noted seeking comments, feedback or interaction. Some talked about livechat and crowdsourcing, but most of the comments dealt with conversations.”

That’s a big (and welcome) shift for local TV. The shift from self-promotion to engagement is happening much faster on the social media front than the slow transition to publishing news on the web over a decade ago. In fact, it just feels different than the battles of old, when newsrooms refused to scoop themselves online.

That said, most TV stations still have a long ways to go. I still see way too many tweets and Facebook status updates that promote a broadcast. And as the study found, there are still lots of stations not using Twitter: 35.8% of TV stations use Twitter constantly, 31.9% daily, 20.3% periodically and 11.9% not at all. In other words, 32.2% of TV stations aren’t using Twitter very often. And counter-intuitively, stations in the largest 10 markets use Twitter the least — 16.1% don’t use it at all.

To me, that’s a bit stunning, simply because of Twitter’s value as a newsgathering tool. (The question asked, “Is the newsroom actively involved with Twitter?”, which would include newsgathering, too.) Say what you may about Twitter’s traffic-driving potential (remember it drives more traffic than your referrals say it does), but there’s no doubt — especially in the top 10 markets — about the power of Twitter as a news discovery device.

Another interesting stat to come out of the study is how TV stations use Facebook pages: 24.9% of TV stations have a Facebook page for the station only, 32% have a Facebook page for the newsroom only, 37.4% have a Facebook page for both and 5.7% have neither. This is a function of how stations have branded themselves overall vs. their news efforts, who’s responsible/available for social media, and how the pages were set up to begin with.

Fascinating stuff. Here’s a link (.pdf) to the study results. What do you think? Any other surprises? Chime in on our (Facebook) comments below…

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Social media’s been a great tool for marketing, networking, and sharing information. This relatively new technology has truly revolutionized the way businesses, brands, and communities interact with one another. When used right, it starts engaging discussions. It informs people of the latest developments. It helps businesses compete in this global economy. When used incorrectly, it’s an incredibly inefficient use of resources, simply put.

See if you’re committing any of the digital “sins” from this list, and learn how to fix them!

1. Assault

Are you constantly sending out tweets? Is your Facebook wall covered with links, photos, and your latest Foursquare check-ins? Just as much as you dislike being bombed with status updates, your followers do, too. If you’ve found a great link, or have important news to share, prioritize. Pick which updates are most important to your networks, and then create a schedule in which to post them. Unless you’re a newswire or a “broadcaster” who has big social influence in the digital world, hold off on constantly sending posts. Your networks will be more apt to listen to what you have to say if you aren’t constantly doing the talking.

2. Neglect

While you can’t monopolize your networks’ newsfeeds, you can’t disappear from them, either. Remember the quiet kid in class? The few times she raised her hand, the teacher usually didn’t notice because it was such a rarity. That same principle applies. You don’t need to become a social butterfly and initiate every single discussion, but participating to some capacity is key. If people visit your page and notice that it’s bare or outdated, they’ll pass on by without looking back.

Take a page out of Assault’s book and try outlining a schedule of posts if you have trouble talking on the fly.

3. Obscurity

There are lots of cool things on the Internet. However, if you’re trying to build credibility as a marketing genius, posting an abundance of links to funny cat videos won’t help you (no matter how cute they are). People should be able to get a sense of what you’re an authority on when they visit your page, and read your posts. If you’re the CEO at a PR firm who has a love of music, include your interest somewhere in your bio. Share a link to a new song you like, or a concert you’re seeing from time to time, but don’t let that lead the conversation. Your main mission is to showcase how much experience and knowledge you have in your industry. Follow the classic 80/20 dieting rule: adhere to the plan 80% of the time, and indulge 20%.

4. Detachment

Remember how our last example involved a CEO highlighting an interest in music? That’s just one of the many ways you can incorporate a little of your personality into your messages. If you have a sarcastic streak, make your next tweet about SEO witty (if you find a way). It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen and let the web do most of the work, but people want to talk to other people, not robots on auto-pilot. No matter how informative or important your post is, remember to be approachable. More often than not, people are guided by the same principles they follow in real life for befriending someone online.

5. Inconsistency

As you read earlier, social media is great for getting conversations going. While you should be contributing, don’t simply pose a question to your network, and then disregard the responses you get. If someone makes a thoughtful point, respond to it. Re-post it and elaborate on it. Take the topic to a new level. Some of the most valuable information out there is found when people come together to express their points of view. One of the key things to remember is that social media is social; the more people talk about something, the more of an impact it has. The more you perpetuate the discussion and make intelligent contributions, the more respect you’ll command from your audience.

6. Disconnection

Engage in a variety of networks and services, and give people multiple ways to connect with you! You probably wouldn’t shop at a store that only had one type of shirt and one type of pants, right? You’d rather have a few racks of clothing to browse through to get a better sense of the store. This same idea is true for using social networking sites. The more types of services you use, the better represented you are online. You can use a site like to connect over music preferences, while using a bookmarking site like Digg to share your favorite news stories. Your credibility won’t become muddled as long as you remember the specific objective of each service, and post with a purpose.

7. Quantitativeness

It’s not all about the numbers. Sure, to a point you should keep your follower count (and Klout score) in mind, but it shouldn’t be the top source of motivation for your posts. Whether you’re in the PR industry or not, the real motivation for posting should be building relationships with new audiences, and maintaining relationships with old ones. Social media ROI is significant, but only if you weigh qualitative aspects more heavily. It’s easy to “Like” a Facebook page, and it’s just as easy to hide it from sight. You’re still quantifiable as a fan, but qualitatively you’re not actively engaged or listening. See the difference?

Social media is a lot like dating: you don’t want to appear disinterested, but you don’t want to come on too strong, either. If you make calculated moves at the right times, let your personality shine, and focus more on the conversation than the end-result, you’ll build a strong, healthy relationship with your networks.

Simon Dumenco

Simon Dumenco


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Why Dumenco and All Those Early Adopters Can Go Jump in a Circle

So Google+ obviously has some traction. Just a few weeks after its launch, Google CEO Larry Page revealed that the nascent social network already had 10 million users. But will it ultimately blow up enough — and matter enough — to become a problem for Facebook? Yeah, I think so. (Ad Age Managing Editor Ken Wheaton isn’t so sure.) Here’s why:

Google+ has circles, Facebook has friends. The idea of grouping people into circles is hardly new — just ask Dante — but it’s refreshing because I think it’s safe to say that we’re all pretty sick of the horrible things Facebook has done to the word “friend.” Friending people was a lame concept at Friendster in 2002, it got lamer at MySpace in 2003 (Tom Anderson: everyone’s friend!) and it got unbearably lame starting in 2004 thanks to Facebook. The suffocating hypergrowth of Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard-dorm project meant that friendship got converted into a form of conceptual Silly Putty. Which is why you’re likely Facebook chums with distant relatives, random acquaintances, old high-school classmates and other assorted nudniks who guilted you into accepting their f-f-f… — Damn it! Don’t make me say it again! — requests.

There is a banal, binary logic to Facebook’s way of viewing reality. Google+ is also, of course, a giant, soulless spreadsheet stored on endless racks of humming servers, but at least it very simply and elegantly allows us to do what comes naturally to us as humans: compartmentalize our lives.

In a recent DigitalNext post, Ian Shafer, the CEO of Deep Focus, described Google+ as a “real-time content-sharing and discovery engine” that offers “tight integration with Google’s own suite of content creation and consumption products and properties.” Google+, in other words, is a new window into a world most all of us already inhabit. Google’s new social network simply gives us a familiar — but more flexible — tool set to navigate that world … seamlessly.

Ezra Klein of the Washington Post recently wrote that Google+ offers “an opportunity to start over, to build your social network with years of Facebook experience in mind, rather than having to face the accretion of mistakes and miscalculations you made over almost a decade of trial-and-error with a new technology.” I agree! Klein also writes that “It’s not Facebook’s fault that ‘what it means’ to have a Facebook account has changed four or five times over the last few years, even as most of us have only had one profile over that period.” And here I disagree because of …

4. FACEBOOK RAGE. recently published a list of “The 19 Most Hated Companies in America” based on data from the American Consumer Satisfaction Index. Thanks to privacy concerns, Facebook is No. 10, putting it in such august company as Comcast and JPMorgan Chase. Now I’m not saying that Google+ doesn’t have its own privacy issues, but I do think there is a critical mass of consumer resentment toward Facebook’s general arrogance and its dodgy shape-shifting over the years in regard to its default sharing settings. We mostly haven’t done anything (until now) about our collective Facebook rage because, well, what were we going to do? Go back to MySpace?

Facebook reports that its average user has 130 “friends.” In reality, I think most Facebook users — including self-absorbed media, marketing and tech people who might pride themselves on high friend counts — maintain considerably smaller clusters of actually meaningful Facebook connections. We may technically have 130 (or 400 or 2,000) friends, but in practice we’re regularly sharing information with a truly engaged audience in the low dozens, if that.

It’s exhausting for us media/marketing/tech dorks to contemplate moving our many hundreds or thousands of “friends” away from Facebook — so we have a distorted view of the so-called social-media-portability problem. (As for populating Google+ with our content: See No. 2, above.)

But let’s not forget recent history: Millions of regular people moved from Friendster to MySpace and from MySpace to Facebook without breaking a sweat.

Simon Dumenco is the “Media Guy” media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.

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