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This article was published on April 1, 2012

This week in social media: Google’s comment platform, Pinterest’s revenue and more

This week in social media: Google’s comment platform, Pinterest’s revenue and more
Nancy Messieh
Story by

Nancy Messieh

Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Fol Lesotho-born and raised, Nancy Messieh, The Next Web's Middle East Editor, is an Egyptian writer and photographer based in Cairo, Egypt. Follow her on Twitter, her site or Google+ or get in touch at [email protected]

Curious about what kind money Pinterest might be making? We’ve seen more guestimations this week, alongside some proven statistics from a few other social networking platforms, including Pinterest and even the long-forgotten Digg.

The usual suspects, Facebook, Twitter, Google and China’s Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo also found themselves the talk of the town, for one reason or another. To find out why, read on.

Tumblr hits two milestones: 20 billion posts, 50 million blogs

At the beginning of the week, Blogging platform Tumblr hit a huge milestone, with over 20 billion posts shared by its users. The announcement, however, came a nonchalant two days later:

In the four days since the announcement was made, Tumblr has crossed yet another milestone, with over 50 million blogs to its name, and that hasn’t even warranted an announcement on Twitter, or anywhere else for that matter.

Another interesting stat that Tumblr provides is that over 56 million posts have been shared today alone.

In comparison to Tumblr, WordPress users are generating a fraction of that content, with  about 500,000 new posts a day. Tumblr has been doubling its output within four to six months at a time, and in January, the company announced that is serving 120 million people and 15 billion pageviews on a monthly basis.

We’re huge fans of Tumblr here at The Next Web, and our weekly series Tumblr Tuesday is a testament to our love for the blogging platform. If you haven’t been following the series, why not start with the latest post, taking a look at a Tumblr dedicated entirely to hovering art directors.

Social network crackdowns in China and the Middle East

Just yesterday the Chinese government was in the midst of yet another Internet crackdown, targeting specific features in China’s Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo.

Unlike on Twitter, users can comment on posts, but the feature has been temporarily banned from both sites, following public speculation of a possible political coup.

Anyone trying to leave a comment on either site is met with the following message:

“From March 31, 8:00 am to April 3, 8:00 am, weibo’s comment function will be temporarily suspended.”

As The Next Web’s Jon Russell wrote:

The comment feature is less influential than retweets (which have been left untouched) which suggests that the move is a threat, to show what authorities could do, rather than a move to restrict the spread of rumors per se.

Knocking out the option to retweet would massively impact the spread of news on Weibo but this approach gives Sina and Tencent a strong reminder that they must better ‘control’ their services, or face the consequences.

This is not the only example of governments firing warning shots in the direction of social networking sites. In Dubai, the Chief of Police has called for the need to prosecute anyone who criticizes the UAE on Twitter.

These are not the only parallels that can be drawn over social media use in the Middle East and China over the past week.

While in Kuwait, a Twitter user found himself placed under arrest for what were deemed blasphemous tweets, in China, six people were arrested and 16 sites shutdown, amidst accusations of spreading rumours of “military vehicles entering Beijing …”.

It’s not all bad news though, as journalists in Myanmar were able to use Facebook and Twitter as an integral part of their reporting today, during the historic parliamentary elections taking place in the country. The social networking sites gave them the means to bypass the muzzle that the government has in place on local media.

Google is launching a comment platform

Following rumours and speculations, sources confirmed to The Next Web that Google is launching its own commenting platform to rival Facebook.

At the time we wrote:

Tech-WD blogger Saud Al-Hawawi also reported yesterday that several new Google features that have yet to be announced were discussed at the Google event G-Saudi Arabia, including the new commenting platform.

The Google comment system, which will almost certainly rival that of Facebook, will have deep links to Google’s network of services and websites, indexing comments in Google Search, and most significantly, the system will be available for use on third party sites.

Facebook’s commenting platform, while popular, remains rather restrictive, and the possibility of another player in this space has been largely welcomed by users, with some even suggesting that Google should simply buy Disqus. But what most users agree on is this: If Google wants to really blow Facebook out of the water, it need only offer one extra feature – multiple sign-in options.

The final format that Google does choose to go with is simply something we will have to wait for.

Facebook reminds us that Digg still exists

It may be hard to believe but Facebook seems to be sending a little bit of good will, and traffic, in Digg’s direction. The burst in traffic on the site comes courtesy of Facebook’s Timeline and Open Graph initiatives.

The stats that Digg revealed include a 29% boost in unique visitors to, and of the people coming from Facebook to Digg, 27% are on a mobile device.

The Next Web’s Drew Olanaoff explained:

In a post titled “How Facebook Changed our Mobile Traffic“, Digg’s team discussed how mobile traffic to the site has risen since it launched its Timeline app in December.

Depending on which source you trust Digg’s traffic has been extremely flat, if not dropping, over the past year, which included a few leadership changes such as its founder Kevin Rose leaving the company entirely.

Armed with a source of new traffic, mobile visitors from Facebook, the company is aiming to make some changes to its mobile site and iOS app.

Consequently, in the coming week, Digg will be making some major changes to its iOS app as well as its cross-platform mobile interface – and we may just see the ailing site place more focus on its mobile experience from now on.

Not ready for Facebook Timeline on your page? The choice is no longer yours

As promised, Facebook has rolled out the Timeline for all Facebook page owners.  If you’re still trying to figure out what features are getting tossed with the new layout, be sure to check out our detailed post on how Timeline changes the tools available to brands marketing their products and services on Facebook.

As the Los Angeles Times points out, the changes pose some serious issues for Facebook page owners:

 Facebook’s requirement that all business profile pages convert to the Timeline format by the end of March means that companies, nonprofit groups and other organizations that use Facebook pages must explain those changes to their customers, and in some cases may face the brunt of user anger about them.

Several small businesses told the LA Times that, given the choice, they wouldn’t make the switch just yet.

Larger companies with dedicated social media teams have been able to make the change without any trouble at all, and for some, like the New York Times, Burberry and Manchester United, the Timeline has proven to be the ultimate tool in sharing their entire company history with their fans.

What kind of money does Pinterest make?

A topic of discussion this week and beyond has been Pinterest and its monetization, or the apparent lack of any way that the site makes money, aside from a brief stint with affiliate links.

With a survey revealing that 21% of Pinterest users have purchased items they found on the site, it’s clear that Pinterest has great potential as an e-commerce platform, despite the fact that others have beat it to the punch.

As Rags Srinivasan points out on GigaOm, previous estimates that Pinterest is making $45 million a year, are somewhat generous.

Using a very different set of calculations, and ones that are far more modest than we saw last month, Srinvasan comes to the following conclusions:

  1. Thirty-three percent chance Pinterest makes more than $10 million a year
  2. Twenty-five percent chance it makes more than $12 million a year
  3. One percent chance it makes more than $36 million a year
  4. Less than .25 percent chance it makes $45 million
  5. Considering all possible scenarios, the expected value of its revenue is just $9 million.

To find out how Srinivasan arrived at those figures, be sure to check out his detailed post.

Want to keep up with our weekly social media roundups? Check them out here.

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