Mashable: Latest 20 News Updates - including “Blast Ice With User-Controlled Water Cannon in Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook Game”

Mashable: Latest 20 News Updates - including “Blast Ice With User-Controlled Water Cannon in Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook Game”

Blast Ice With User-Controlled Water Cannon in Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook Game

Posted: 02 May 2011 04:11 AM PDT

To promote the arrival of Mountain Dew’s new Coolatta beverage at Dunkin’ Donuts locations, the two brands have created a Facebook game that allows selected users to melt a cup of Coolatta from a block of ice using a computer-controlled water cannon.

From May 2 until May 29, those who complete the online entry form at will be entered for a chance to play the game. Selected participants (about 500-600 each day) will then be prompted via e-mail or SMS to pre-program three shots and tune in to a live video stream at the next day to see if their shots in action. The first person to unfreeze the cup each day wins a prize, such as a surfboard or mountain bike.

The brands were inspired similar campaigns from Saatchi & Saatchi LA and Real Art Design Group this past holiday season. The former set up a game of “Nog Pong” that allowed users to play a live game of virtual pong using a webcam and a computer-controlled robot against some of Saatchi & Saatchi LA’s employees, dressed in festive gear. The latter enabled participants to control a mammoth “Santa Claw” to pick up plastic-encased prizes from a bin using their mice.

The problem with both games is that they amassed huge queues. Would-be players often had to wait hours to play, and were not always online when their turn came up, leading to further delays and a boring livestream experience for observers. Thus Dunkin’ decided to ask users to pre-program their shots, Dave Tryder, Dunkin’ Donuts’s director of interactive and relationship marketing, says. Dunkin’ also decided to host the game on Facebook because Facebook’s younger core demographic aligns well with the company’s target consumer, he adds.

While logistically we think the campaign is an improvement on similar past promotions, we’re not terribly excited by the prospect of unfreezing a soft drink cup with a pre-programmed water gun. It’s less engaging if we’re not participating in real time, we find.

Do you agree? Will you give the game a go?

More About: dunkin donuts, facebook, MARKETING, mountain dew, pepsico

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Finally, You Can Kiss People Over the Internet [VIDEO]

Posted: 02 May 2011 02:13 AM PDT

Tactile communications: it may not sound too exciting, but it’s precisely the field of research that produced a device which lets users “transmit the feeling of a kiss” long-distance.

The Kajimoto Laboratory at the University of Electro-Communications has created a device which consists of a hardware receptacle which is placed into the mouth, and software that remembers the movements of your tongue and sends them to the other connected device, which moves accordingly.

Of course, there’s more to a kiss than just the movement of the tongue, and the folks from Kajimoto plan to recreate them all. “The elements of a kiss include the sense of taste, the manner of breathing, and the moistness of the tongue. If we can recreate all of those I think it will be a really powerful device,” they explain in a video showcasing the device prototype.

As for the usefulness of such a device, Kajimoto has a couple ideas about that, too: “If you have a popular entertainer use this device and record it, that could be hugely popular if you offer it to fans,” they conclude.

Check out the video of the device in action below.

[DigInfo via Engadget]

More About: device, internet, Kajimoto Laboratory, Kiss, tactile communications

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YouTube To Go Beyond Cat Videos By Training a New Class of Vloggers

Posted: 02 May 2011 01:04 AM PDT

YouTube has just announced which members will be inducted into YouTube NextUp and the YouTube Creator Institute, efforts by the video-sharing site to add even more polish to its content.

After a six-week search, YouTube has chosen 45 content creators to train up to be even more successful video bloggers, a move that will help build out the site’s store of non-cat-video-based entertainment.

The first of these programs is The YouTube Creator Institute, which is designed to help YouTubers mold themselves into more professional media-makers. The video-sharing site asked for non-partners (i.e. those who don’t make money from their content) to vie for a position at the Institute. Ten were selected for two programs, one at the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and one at Columbia College, Chicago.

Artist Lauren Nash was one of those winners. “I just wanted to make a channel that blogs about my art,” she says of the YouTube presence she launched in 2008.

“People say my videos really inspire them, that they inspire them to take a step into art,” she says. She hopes that her experience at the Institute will help her hone those skills, allowing her to better engage with her audience.

“We want to enable these folks to make a living and have their content be more than a parttime job,” says Tom Sly, head of strategic partner development & programs. “We want to have more folks making six figures off of YouTube and to bring more and better content onto the platform to satisfy users.”

The second program, YouTube NextUp, was created as a result of YouTube’s recent acquisition of Next New Networks, a web video production company. The 25 partners who enter that program will each get $35,000 to build their channels, and one-and-one training at a YouTube Creator Camp in New York.

Franchesca Ramsey, who started her channel in 2007, is one of those 25. She started on YouTube doing hair tutorials, and then added more comedic elements to her repertoire.

“First thing I want to spend money is equipment,” she says. “I’ve been using the same iMac since 2007. I want to upgrade my camera and editing software as well. I’m looking forward to investing in equipment and my content.”

YouTube’s partner program now has 20,000 partners worldwide — but recently the site has been putting more and more money and effort into cultivating this talent. It launched its Partner Grants Program in July 2010, and recently there have been scads of rumors about the site’s efforts at legitimization — from the introduction of premium channels to make YouTube more viable for Internet-connected TVs, to celebrity-created content. It also recently announced that certain partners are now entitled to wider live streaming capabilities.

We’ve embedded a few vids from Nash and Ramsey below, and you can check out the rest of the winners at YouTube. What do you think of YouTube’s picks?

Franchesca Ramsey

Lauren Nash

Photo courtesy of Flickr, Evelyn Proimos

More About: Creators Program, Franchesca Ramsey, Lauren Nash, nextup, partners program, Tom Sly, training, youtube

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Possible Bin Laden Compound Shown Engulfed in Flames [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 May 2011 11:58 PM PDT

In this raw footage from Pakistan, a huge structure thought to be the compound of Osama bin Laden is shown engulfed in flames.

This clip comes from a local news broadcast via the Associated Press, which reports that the building shown is quite possibly where bin Laden was killed in a raid by U.S. operatives.

Bin Laden was finally brought to justice in Abbottabad, a town in northern Pakistan. While no official source has yet pinpointed the exact location of bin Laden’s hideout, we do have some images of the town and the surrounding area.

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More About: abbottabad, bin laden, compound, fire, osama bin laden, video

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One Twitter User Reports Live From Osama Bin Laden Raid

Posted: 01 May 2011 11:32 PM PDT

Without knowing what he was doing, Sohaib Athar, a.k.a. @ReallyVirtual, has more or less just live-tweeted the raid in which terrorist Osama bin Laden was killed Sunday.

The IT consultant resides in Abbottabad, the town where bin Laden was found and killed by a U.S. military operation.

Athar first posted about events surrounding the raid ten hours before the writing of this article, writing, “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” He didn’t realize that he’d been tweeting about a top-secret attempt to kill an internationally wanted terrorist until nine hours later.

Athar reported that one of the copters he’d heard had crashed, and that the aircraft were not Pakistani. We now know that four helicopters had been sent to raid bin Laden’s mansion in the town, and one was hit by enemy fire from the ground.

During the raid, Athar speculates that he was two or three kilometers away from the shooting that took place. Once news broke that bin Laden had been killed in Abbottabad, Athar tweeted, “Uh oh, now I’m the guy who liveblogged the Osama raid without knowing it.”

Athar further reported that traffic was shut down in some areas, and the army had cordoned off the helicopter crash site.

Yet he remains humble. “I am JUST a tweeter, awake at the time of the crash. Not many twitter users in Abbottabad, these guys are more into facebook. That’s all.”

An image of Abbottabad streets, posted by Athar to his Twitpic account to demonstrate how the area he was in had basically been shut down.

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More About: bin laden, osama bin laden, twitter

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Google Maps Shows Where Osama Bin Laden Died [PICS]

Posted: 01 May 2011 11:03 PM PDT

Google Maps has been updated with a pinpoint for “Osama bin Laden’s Compound” in northern Pakistan.

The terrorist, who was reported dead Sunday night, was killed during a carefully coordinated U.S. military operation. The plan to kill bin Laden was put into action at Abbottabad, a city about 75 miles north of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

While it’s unlikely the Maps pinpoint is the exact location where bin Laden was located, it does tell us a lot about where he was hiding out. Far from being the cave-ridden rural landscape many had imagined, he was in a beautiful, urban area and was reportedly living in a mansion at the time of the raid.

As elated crowds gather around the U.S. to celebrate, many Google Maps and Google Places users are posting “reviews” to the Place page to express their own elation. At the time of this writing, 233 reviews had been posted. The sentiments range from macabre satisfaction to bad puns to simply, “OSAMA IS DEAD! USA! USA!”

The town where bin Laden died is in the Orash Valley and is something of a center of tourism. Images of the area, some of which you can see below, show its educational institutions and beautiful scenery.

While bin Laden was captured with the support of Pakistani authorities, we don’t yet know what effects this operation and its result may have on U.S.-Pakistan relations.

Terrain Map of Abbottabad

Map of Surrounding Area

Abbottabad at Night

Abbottabad Mountains

Photo by a-hussain

Abbottabad View

Abbottabad Mountains

Photo by Sajjad Haider Janjua

Abbottabad Mountains

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Timeline: How News of Osama Bin Laden’s Death Unfolded on Twitter

Posted: 01 May 2011 10:09 PM PDT

At 11:35 p.m. ET Sunday, the White House’s Twitter feed posted a quote from President Barack Obama that confirmed Osama bin Laden’s death. But before Obama uttered those words, Twitter was abuzz with speculation and subsequent confirmation from officials and news outlets. Click through this gallery for a chronological look at how things transpired on Twitter.

White House

The White House tweeted this at 11:35 p.m. ET. shortly after President Barack Obama spoke the words during a live statement.

Dan Pfeiffer

Dan Pfeiffer, communications director for the White House, tweeted this at 9:47 p.m. ET.

Keith Urbahn

Keith Urbahn, chief of staff for Office of Donald Rumsfeld, tweeted this at 10:24 p.m. ET.

Jill Jackson

Jill Jackson, a CBS News Capitol Hill producer, tweeted this at 10:32 p.m. ET.

Fox News

Fox News tweeted this at 10:41 p.m. ET.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama tweeted this at 10:43 p.m. ET.

New York Times

The New York Times tweeted this at 10:44 p.m. ET.

CNN Breaking News

CNN Breaking News tweeted this at 10:55 p.m. ET.

USA Today

USA Today tweeted this at 11:05 p.m. ET.

Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English tweeted this at 11:17 p.m. ET.

Washington Post

Washington Post tweeted this at 11:28 p.m. ET.

Washington Post

Washington Post tweeted this at 11:34 p.m. ET.

Barack Obama

President Barack Obama tweeted this at 11:44 p.m. ET.

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Crowds Celebrate Osama Bin Laden’s Death in NYC & Washington, DC [PICS]

Posted: 01 May 2011 10:01 PM PDT

Upon news of Osama bin Laden’s death, crowds have gathered at Ground Zero in New York City and in Times Square to celebrate. Photos of those celebrations have made their way onto Twitter and Facebook feeds.

We’ve collected some of them here for you.

Watch live streaming video from cbsnews at

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Foursquare Users Check in to Post-Osama Bin Laden World

Posted: 01 May 2011 09:28 PM PDT

After Sunday night’s announcement that Osama bin Laden is dead, Foursquare users have — in a ceremonial gesture — started checking in to a world in which the Al Qaeda founder no longer exists.

A quick search on Foursquare in New York for “Osama” reveals such checkin locations as “Osama bin gonathon” and “Osamapacolypse 2011.”

The gesture recalls, on a much larger scale, how users began checking in to a major New York City snow storm in 2010 with made-up venues such as Snowpocalypse 2010.

Are checkins of this nature occurring where you live? Are you checking in to them?

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More About: foursquare, osama bin laden

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Osama Bin Laden Is Dead Facebook Page Goes Viral

Posted: 01 May 2011 09:24 PM PDT

Within about two hours of reports first surfacing (and since confirmed by the President) that Osama Bin Laden had been killed, a Facebook Page titled "Osama Bin Laden is DEAD" has already accumulated more than 150,000 "likes."

The page appears to be adding thousands of likes by the minute with users also sharing hundreds of comments and links to stories about the news.

Interestingly, the page itself appears to have been setup well prior to tonight as a way to advocate the theory that Bin Laden had actually died long ago.

The page description reads in part: "Osama Bin Laden has not been found and will never be found because he died a long time ago. This may be news to you because it wasn’t in the news. His death is critical to the CIA because they want you to believe in this so called ‘War on terror’ which has made the world a more dangerous place. If Osama Bin Laden was alive, he would’ve been found – just like Saddam Hussein."

Nonetheless, the page is now serving as a real-time discussion board for the historic news.

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How Did You Hear About Osama Bin Laden’s Death? [POLL]

Posted: 01 May 2011 09:11 PM PDT

Osama Bin Laden has been killed. Late Sunday night, President Barack Obama explained to the world how a team of U.S. forces conducted a strategic strike that took out the Al Qaeda leader somewhere in Pakistan. The U.S. government is in possession of his body.

Tonight will be a moment that many people will remember for the rest of their lives. That’s why we’re asking about how you first learned of this historic news. Were you in front of your television set when an anchor broke the news? Were you browsing Twitter when the avalanche of tweets started to pour in? Or did a friend text you while you were somewhere else?

Let us know how you heard about the news. Vote in our poll and let us know in the comments.

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More About: al qaeda, barack obama, obama, osama bin laden, president obama, terrorism

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The World Responds to Osama Bin Laden’s Death

Posted: 01 May 2011 08:39 PM PDT

President Barack Obama announced live Sunday night that Osama bin Laden is dead. People around the world have taken to social media channels to share the news and their feelings about it.

A Facebook Page titled Osama bin Laden Is Dead was created shortly after the news broke. It already has 120,000 Likes and counting.

How have you turned to social media upon hearing the news?

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More About: barack obama, osama bin laden, politics

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President Obama Delivers Statement on Death of Osama Bin Laden [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 May 2011 07:46 PM PDT

Late Sunday evening, President Obama announced to the nation and the world that Osama Bin Laden had been killed and the United States was in possession of his body.

The announcement was livestreamed by The White House and on Facebook, following about 90 minutes of speculation and news reports about the Al Qaeda leader spreading wildly on the Web.

We’ve embedded video of the President’s remarks above. Below, links to our additional coverage of the historic news:

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Review: Pogoplug Software Creates a Personal Computing Cloud

Posted: 01 May 2011 04:46 PM PDT

Pogoplug started its life as hardware — plug a USB drive into it and access files from anywhere. Now, there’s a software version of Pogoplug, substituting your Windows, Mac or Linux machine for that hardware and letting you share pictures, music, videos and data with any of your devices or with anyone else. Let’s try it.

Downloading and installing the Pogoplug software is quick and simple. You can get the free version which lets you remotely access all the content on your computer, essentially turning your PC into your own personal cloud.

The $29 Pogoplug Premium version lets you do all that, plus it has the ability to stream media from your computer to your iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone, all three of which have free Pogoplug apps available. Or, you can access everything from any computer with a web browser by going to your account at

Once the Pogoplug server software is installed on your computer, it finds all your photos, music, and video, as well as data in your Desktop and Documents folder. After a few minutes, I loaded the free iPhone app and iPad app on those two devices, and suddenly I wasw streaming music, video and files with ease.

This could hardly get any easier. Movies played smoothly even over AT&T’s 3G network, and on the iPhone and iPad, they looked slightly grainy but watchable. In addition, it was easy to share files with anyone with an email address with a few taps on a touchscreen.

There are drawbacks. For one thing, only certain types of video files are recognized. For instance, .AVI and .MOV files play back quickly and look good, where the computer is converting them to the Pogoplug’s streaming file format. However, file formats such as the popular .MKV are not recognized as video. You can share them with whomever you like — however, they won’t stream.

Music streamed particularly well on the iPhone and iPad, sounding just as good as it did when played directly from the PC. However, you don’t get that same iPod interface you normally do on the iPhone, but a bare subset that’s Spartan yet functional.

Uh-oh. Perhaps the worst drawback I noticed was the instability of Pogoplug’s iPhone and iPad applications. About half the time, when I’d try to share a file or start playing video, the app would inexplicably shut down. That’s just not acceptable.

Verdict: Pogoplug is a great idea, and the fact that you don’t need to buy a $200 hardware device to use its convenient features makes it even more attractive. However, in my testing, the associated software doesn’t feel ready yet. Its instability marred its powerful capabilities, rendering Pogoplug almost unusable.

You might want to try the free version first, and see if it’s stable on your combination of devices. Wait before you spend your $29, and hopefully in the meantime Pogoplug will fix those bugs residing in its apps for iPhone and iPad.

First Screen

Pogoplug asks you to designate which folders will be available via remote access.

Software Tour

You can turn off remote access.

Desktop Access

You can control everything from your PC, Mac, or Linux machine.

Web Access

If you have web access, you have access to your files.

Mobile Devices

Unfortunately, the iPhone and iPad apps are pretty shaky thus far.

Great Way to Share Files

Hey, this is almost as good as Dropbox.

Premium Feature

here's what you pay your $29 for, but it doesn't work very well yet.

Pogoplug Hardware

Buy the Pogoplug hardware device, and you don't need to keep your computer running when you want to access your files remotely.

Drop-Down Menu

From the web, you can perform lots of file management functions, as well as share files or or publish photos to Facebook.

iPhone App

Here's the splash screen of the Pogoplug iPhone app.

iPhone App

Look at all you can do.

Video Directory

Those dates don't make it easy to find a video. One big file would have been ideal.

More About: cloud, pogoplug, review, sharing, software, streaming, trending

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HOW TO: Ask For an Online Recommendation

Posted: 01 May 2011 03:17 PM PDT

Whether it's for a job or our own freelance work, getting a recommendation from someone is valuable and can help you nab a gig. Recommendations show the world we know our stuff. They tell others more about us, maybe a quality or skill we are a bit shy to disclose about ourselves. And they explain what it’s like to work with you.

Many social media sites, such as LinkedIn or BranchOut, offer the ability for people to post recommendations or endorsements. These features, if used wisely, can be used to separate you and your talents from the crowd. But first you have to learn the strategy for asking for a recommendation.

Here are some tips for asking for a recommendation:

Plan a Recommendation Strategy

Charlie Judy, global director of human capital strategy and operations at Navigant Consulting, a company that provides financial, economics, and business consulting, says online recommendations can help your audience get some level of comfort for who you are as a person. "Having at least a few well-placed recommendations can help show that you're not completely fabricating your profile, that you actually are connected with people who are willing to put themselves out there for you, and that you've taken the time to develop your online presence is at least welcomed from most employers who use LinkedIn or BranchOut for sourcing," he says.

Tracy McCarthy, senior vice president of human resources at SilkRoad Technology, a software-as-a-service solutions provider that manages career cycles within companies, recommends having a clear strategy for why you want a recommendation in the first place. "If you can't articulate why, then why are you going through the motions? Once you have a clear picture in your mind, develop your short story around it. Then, go to people whom you respect, internally and externally, tell them and sell them on your story and ask for the recommendation."

Judy adds, "In a world of slight distinctions, anything that might give you an edge as a candidate really can't hurt. It's also a good way to point out something positive about you that may not be front and center on your resume or online profile."

Balance is the Key

Once you figure out why you're asking for recommendations, then figure out who you should ask. McCarthy recommends getting a good mix of people -– direct boss, peers, subordinates and customers or vendors — to provide a better sense of who you are as the whole person. McCarthy also offers some food for thought to managers who might be asked for employee recommendations. "Direct bosses are often difficult to obtain, as many companies frown on providing written recommendations (for fear of lawsuits), and I think we need to get over this practice. If you are going to write something, it is likely going to be positive, so what's the big deal as long as it is accurate?"

Judy agrees that getting recommendations from a variety of people is a good approach, and he adds one more thing to consider. "I also think it's a great idea to get a recommendation from an organization that you may have left under less than 'favorable terms.' If you're going to have to explain a departure from an organization on terms other than yours, it would be nice to demonstrate you had a positive impact on their environment nonetheless."

Volunteerism Demonstrates Skills

When you think about the skills you want to profile, don't dismiss the accomplishments you weren't paid for. Omowale Casselle, chief executive officer at mySenSay, Inc., a social recruiting community that helps undergraduate and graduate students find the right opportunity, recommends using your volunteer connections. "A fellow volunteer is often one of the best people to ask for a recommendation. As a volunteer, there are often unique resource constraints that are associated with achieving measurable results. If you have been able to achieve results within this environment, the lack of compensation shouldn't be a limiting factor in asking for a recommendation. This can be especially helpful for those who might be switching careers."

Meghan Biro, principal and founder of TalentCulture, LLC, which provides recruiting and strategy services along with workplace culture branding, agrees. "Volunteering shows you have genuine passion and are willing to work beyond 9 to 5 to support a worthy cause. This step can also bring additional perspective to your presentation for a new career opportunity."

Selecting the Person to Ask

When it comes time to asking for the recommendation itself, it boils down to your relationship with the person. It takes time to build the kind of trust and shared experience on which to base a recommendation. Biro offers some guidelines. "While every workplace relationship is different, I recommend giving it at least one year before asking for a recommendation. It's also useful to make a practice of asking for recommendations once a year — treat it as a task and choose your targets carefully. Think about what you want said about your accomplishments and skills, and who among your contacts is best positioned to provide you with a solid recommendation."

Judy shares another way to decide the best person to ask. "You ought to know them well enough that you could actually write the recommendation yourself, send it to them, and they would be comfortable posting it under their name. Accordingly, they should know you well enough that they would give a recommendation for you over the phone. After all, some recruiters may go as far as to request it."

After identifying the perfect person, be sure to ask for your recommendation in just the right way. McCarthy says, "I always find that picking up the phone or asking in person is far better than in email. I personally won't recommend anyone who asks for my recommendation over email. And if the person you are asking for a recommendation expects quid pro quo, he probably isn't the right person. It can really discount the recommendation if you are recommending the same people who recommend you –- it seems a bit disingenuous!"

Finding the Right Number

A common question about recommendations is how many is the right number. Is it possible to have too many recommendations? Yes, “especially if they're clustered around one job or employer, or repetitive in content,” says Biro. “Ideally, recommendations should highlight a different competency, so one or two per job is ideal."

Casselle reminds candidates to keep the reader in mind. "Just like, recruiters or hiring managers won't read through more than two pages of a resume, people may not read through the information if your number of recommendations becomes excessive."

Curate Your Recommendations

Not all recommendations
are created alike — a badly written recommendation can do more harm than good. Biro suggests being the "curator" of your own recommendations. "When you ask for one, politely ask for the opportunity to review before it's posted."

If you receive a recommendation that isn't exactly what you'd hope for, Casselle points out "one of the great features on LinkedIn is that you can choose to selectively hide recommendations. So, based on a position you are seeking you can optimize your profile recommendations to include only those aspects that most strongly support your target opportunity."

The recommendation you're asking for is not a trivial exercise for someone else — they're usually a sacrifice of time and energy. Be thankful and let your recommenders know that you appreciate their effort, says Casselle. “Always ask how you can repay the favor, not necessarily through a reciprocal recommendation, unless appropriate."

What advice can you offer when asking for a recommendation? Leave a note in the comments.

Social Media Job Listings

Every week we put out a list of social media and web job opportunities. While we post a huge range of job listings, we’ve selected some of the top social media job opportunities from the past two weeks to get you started. Happy hunting!

More Job Search Resources from Mashable:

- Top 5 Tips for Creating Impressive Video Resumes
- Are Cover Letters Still Relevant For Social Media and Tech Jobs?
- HOW TO: Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile’s New Skills Section
- Top 5 Online Communities for Starting Your Career
- HOW TO: Land a Business Development Job

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Why Location-Based Services Will be the Killer App of the 2012 Elections

Posted: 01 May 2011 02:14 PM PDT

The last presidential election was only three years ago, but that seems like a generation in the social media age.

Just think, back then Twitter was a novelty. Facebook was popular but spent the first half of the year being the second-biggest social network behind MySpace. U.S. smartphone penetration in the U.S. was just 20% by the close of 2008 vs. a projected 50% by the end of this year. The biggest political marketing innovator in 2008 was Barack Obama, who employed Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to great effect, and took Howard Dean’s online micro-donation idea to the next level.

Obviously, 2012 will be a different landscape for several reasons, but the biggest is the ascendance of mobile and, in particular, location-based services. Up until now, such services have been a curiosity driven by early adopters who have no issues about broadcasting their whereabouts to the whole world. In a nation of 310 million people, this is still a niche market. The biggest of the services, Foursquare, has about 8 million users, which is respectable but not mass.

Part of the issue is a lack of purpose for the activity. Let’s face it, being mayor of your local Chinese food joint has limited appeal.

All that could change in the coming election. In this deeply polarized nation, a fair amount of people care about who wins in November 2012, which gives them a reason to make sure their like-minded friends hit the polls. Until now, the only way you could do that was to drive them there yourself.

Imagine, however, a grass roots organization that depended, in part, on committed volunteers who were charged with getting as many people in their Facebook and Twitter networks to commit to vote. Then, when Election Day rolls around, they can prove that they at least got those people to go to their local polling places. Finally, a scientific way to prove political marketing efficacy.

The infrastructure is already in place for such a plan. Thanks to a nonpartisan, get-out-the-vote effort in 2010, Foursquare made it possible to check in at any of the country’s polling places and then broadcast it. Of course, Foursquare's not the only game in town; Facebook Places lets you check in at the polls and tell all your Facebook friends about it.

That ability — to check in to a physical location and thus bridge the offline and online world — didn't really exist in 2008 and could be a game changer in the coming election. The major challenge for political marketing has always been getting voters to actually go to the polls. In the past, get-out-the-vote campaigns have consisted of a combination of door-to-door, telephone and snail mail reminders. For a portion of the population –- say those over 65 or so -– this will still have to be the case, but for younger voters, an email plus a pledge to vote -– to be verified with a location-based check-in, will do.

Some politicians are already seeing the potential of LBS. It’s unclear at this point whether Obama’s campaign will lean heavily on such services, but likely Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty’s campaign is already awarding points and badges to supporters a la Foursquare.

Will it work? Don’t underestimate the value of peer pressure. On November 6, 2012, everyone will know if you actually voted. Not doing so will effectively disqualify you from kvetching about either political party. At that point, being a voter may trump being a mayor.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Joe Shlabotnik

More About: 2012 election, Facebook Places, foursquare, location, Location-based services, politics, trending

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Apple to Roll Out New iMacs? [REPORT]

Posted: 01 May 2011 01:02 PM PDT

At last, Apple will refresh its line of iMac all-in-one computers, adding the latest Intel Core i5/i7 “Sandy Bridge” architecture and that new Thunderbolt port, according to reliable sources.

The multiple sources, which AppleInsider indicates have all been reliable in the past, say the new models will be rolled out on Tuesday, May 3, immediately after Apple announces them.

Apple is late with this iMac update. The first PCs with the new chips and associated architecture (that we tested here) rolled out in January, 2011, and Apple shipped its MacBooks using the new Sandy Bridge architecture shortly thereafter. However, Apple delayed upgrading the hardware in its line of iMacs, which haven’t been refreshed since July 27, 2010.

Even though the iMacs will be tardy to the new processor game, this time Apple got lucky by delaying its rollout of the new architecture for its all-in-one desktops. In late January, Intel announced a flaw in its new Sandy Bridge architecture, causing it to stop shipments of certain motherboards and recall and replace some of those already shipped.

Let us know in the comments if this upgrade to Sandy Bridge and Thunderbolt will make you more likely to buy an iMac.

Via AppleInsider

More About: apple, iMac, rumor, Sandy Bridge, Thunderbolt, trending

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How 3 Companies Took Content Marketing to the Next Level

Posted: 01 May 2011 12:03 PM PDT

content image

Shane Snow is a Mashable contributor and cofounder of, an "agile publishing" platform for brands and professional bloggers.

It goes by many names: branded content, custom publishing, content marketing. Cheap and ubiquitous web technology has become fuel for a rising trend of businesses becoming publishers and brands becoming media companies. Through content creation, brands can engage directly with an audience rather than relying on intermediary media channels. If you publish and spread great content, customers will come to you.

According to the Content Marketing Institute, an organization that provides research and education on content marketing, "93% of marketing professionals create, or plan to create content marketing as part of their overall programs in the next year." Money is being slurped away from print advertising (44% of marketers have decreased their print ad budgets over the last three years) and put in large part toward social media and custom publishing (70% have increased their social media.publishing budgets over the last 3 years), according to CMI.

Blogging, tweeting and posting not only generate brand awareness and buzz, they also build links, which are like gold to Google's ranking algorithm. In short, content marketing is the new SEO.

How should your business or brand think about its content marketing strategy? Take some tips from the following companies.


mint image

When personal finance startup Mint launched in 2006, it was quickly thrown into competition with web startups like Wesabe, and established juggernauts like Quicken. Three years later, the company is a market leader in online personal finance and sold to Intuit for $170 million.

Mint owes much of its user adoption and brand success to its aggressively intelligent content strategy. Unlike the half-hearted, months-between-updates blogs that most businesses keep, Mint's blog "MintLife" was a core part of the company's operation.

Mint dedicated significant resources to its blog, including a full time editorial staff and a slew of freelance contributors. It invested time in social news sites like Reddit and Digg, and after months of seeing consistent, quality Mint content, readers in those communities began trusting Mint as high quality, reliable, and cool to share. Eventually, those users turned into Mint customers, even advocating Mint in their personal networks.

News and tips posts, link roundups, slideshows, videos, and infographics were all key components in Mint's content strategy, and they were held to a strict editorial standard. By establishing itself as a smart resource that was easy and accessible to the financially curious, Mint was able to leverage its content credibility to convert readers into buyers of its actual product.

Mint is consistently lauded as a pioneer in successful blog content marketing. Big takeaways for attaining Mint-like success include the following:

  • Dedicate resources to content (whether paying outsourced/contributed writers or in-house editors).
  • Enforce high quality editorial standards on all content types (writing, illustration, video).
  • Share content smartly through social channels.
  • Remember consistency and patience in building up an audience.

2. Hubspot

hubspot image

Makers of the marketing software platform Hubspot know the value of good content for inbound marketing. Hubspot cofounder Dharmesh Shah anecdotally told me that his customers who blog regularly average about six times more inbound leads than those who don't.

It makes sense that Hubspot itself does a lot of content marketing. They produce case studies, videos, podcasts, webinars, and ebooks for their audience, educating them about their industry. All of that education helps Hubspot customers use the platform more effectively, but it also scoops new users out of seemingly thin air with every piece of content it publishes to the blogosphere.

Hubspot has over 4,000 customers. Their primary customer acquisition method: inbound leads from content marketing.

Here's what the rest of us can take away from Hubspot's content marketing:

  • Produce content with the goal of being seen as a "thought leader" rather than simply for the sake of having large quantities of content.
  • Publish diverse types of content, and don't confine yourself to a single effort.
  • Don't just produce content about yourself; create content that's helpful to your audience.

Disclosure: Hubspot is a Mashable sponsor.

3. American Express

amex image

When did credit card companies start turning into media companies? It’s been happening for years, but American Express has done a bang-up job of turning its business and money expertise into actionable content for entrepreneurs — an influential subset of Amex's total user market — with

Open Forum offers tools for small businesses, many of which have tie-ins with Amex products, but the site is also dedicated to hosting insightful and engaging content about the many facets of running a business. Useful content is produced by publishers like Inc. Magazine (as well as Mashable), and hosted on, while other articles are created by in-house Open Forum writers. It's a hybrid advertising/guest blogging/in-house editorial operation, and it's fostering a community around the topic of running a business. All of the conversations and content in the community live under the American Express flag.

Lessons from Open Forum's content marketing include the following:

  • Get trusted contributors to publish guest content on your properties.
  • Develop a community of users around a topic (rather than around your brand), and let your brand be the host of the community.
  • Don't neglect original content authored by you. (You want to be the host and an expert).

Disclosure: OpenForum is a Mashable content partner.

Final Thought

Omnipresent publishing tools and Internet culture have made branded content more than a possibility for web businesses; they've made it a necessity. Whereas five years ago your business needed to have a website in order to exist, soon your company's survival may depend on your ability to be an effective publisher.

Aside from Mint, Hubspot, and American Express, many other companies have had great success in with content marketing. Whose branded content have you liked (or disliked)?

Interested in more Business resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, jgroup

More About: blog, blogging, business, case study, content, MARKETING, publishing, social media, startups, trending

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Top 10 Twitter Trends This Month [CHART]

Posted: 01 May 2011 10:52 AM PDT

Twitter Chart Image

It looks like a match made in heaven — the Royal Wedding and social media. The last such affair, back in 1981, was a TV-centric event, but this time around, spectators were also following along on their so-called second screens. The event broke live streaming records and as we see in the list below, dominated Twitter conversations not only for the week of the event, but for the whole month of April.

Otherwise, this month’s list is fairly boring: The Bieb is back. Sports are huge and so are boy bands and holidays (including 4/20.) Perhaps the only big surprise is the appearance by My Chemical Romance, whose fans seemed to have been on a mission to get the band in the top 10. In the end, though, they couldn’t beat a Royal Flush.

To see the full list, check out the chart below. Because this is a topical list, hashtag memes and games have been omitted from the chart. The aggregate is based on Twitter’s own trending algorithm, and does not necessarily reflect raw tweet volume.

You can check past Twitter trends in our Top Twitter Topics section.

Top Twitter Trends This Month: April

Royal Wedding
Prince William and Catherine Elizabeth “Kate” Middleton were married on April 29, 2011 at Westminster Abbey. Users also shared songs that should be played at their wedding and taking popular movie titles and placing a reference or a pun based on the Royal Couple.
Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber’s account reached 9 million followers so his fans RT’d “@justinbieber: WOOOHOOOO…BIEBER GONE WILD!!!!” Also ,this week, tens of thousands of Indonesians went to Sentul International Convention Center (SICC), where Bieber performed during his World Tour.
Real Madrid beat Barcelona, 1-0, to win the Copa del Rey tournament on April 20th. Sergio Ramos, the right defender of Real Madrid, dropped the Copa del Rey Cup from the top of the team bus during Real’s victory parade through the streets of Madrid & it was crushed. It was later replaced.
NBA Playoffs
Basketball fans are talking about Kobe Bryant dunking over Emeka Okafor, LeBron James ("LeBrick") and also a game the New York Knicks lost against Boston Celtics at the Madison Square Garden.
April Fool’s Day
April 1st was April Fool’s Day and people & websites played practical jokes.
Christians around the world observed Good Friday and celebrated Easter last weekend.
Jonas Brothers
Jonas Brothers fans are sharing symptoms of the “Obsessive Jonas Disorder.”
One Direction
This is trending because boy band One Direction fans are having a Twitter feud with the fans of boy band The Wanted. One Direction is a band that was formed by Simon Cowell on the UK TV series X Factor.
My Chemical Romance
Fans of the band My Chemical Romance worked overtime to get every band member to appear in Twitter’s Top 10 Trends. Earlier in the month, they celebrated the birthday of band member Gerard Way.
April 20th (4/20) is a counterculture holiday relating to the drug reference “420″ for consuming marijuana. .

Data aggregate courtesy of What the Trend.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, 123render

Interested in more Twitter resources? Check out Mashable Explore, a new way to discover information on your favorite Mashable topics.

More About: 4/20, Easter, royal wedding, Top Twitter Topics, trends, twitter, twitter trends

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Obama Ridicules Trump With a Smile [VIDEO]

Posted: 01 May 2011 09:54 AM PDT

At Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, president Obama had a ballroom full of press luminaries laughing at Donald Trump, while Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers made sure the roasting was spread around to many of the media outlets that were present.

Obama’s pointed satire of Trump included the graphic of a “Trump White House” you see here, created by the real White House specifically for the occasion.

Let’s start off with the highlight of the evening, which the president delivered with smiles — but we had the feeling the audience was not laughing with Donald Trump (who was present at the dinner), but at him (if you’re in a hurry, the best part is at 9:36):

Then was time for SNL‘s Seth Meyers to take the stage, offering his own brand of wide-ranging satire. If you’re in a rush, our favorite part is at the 5:12 mark, where Meyers takes choice shots at The New York Times and the Huffington Post:

UPDATE: Here’s a video package about the dinner from NBC’s Meet the Press, followed by a morning-after interview with SNL‘s Seth Meyers:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thanks for the tip, Gotcha Media!

More About: Donald Trump, humor, obama, seth meyers, trending, video, White House correspondents dinner, youtube

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HOW TO: Create a Group Tumblr Blog

Posted: 01 May 2011 08:27 AM PDT

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

Tumblr blogs are known for being easy to use and simple to set up. But the blogging platform lives up to its reputation only as far as standard accounts go.

Want to set up a company blog that contributors can post to from multiple accounts? Want to use a password-protected Tumblr internally? Get ready for some help-section browsing.

Because Tumblr wants everybody’s “primary blog” to represent them, it does not allow users to create group blogs or password-protected accounts. In order to do so, you’ll need to create an additional blog under your account and then invite other members to join it. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to get you started:

1. Create an Additional Blog


Next to the title of your blog in the right panel of the Tumblr dashboard, there’s an arrow that opens a drop down menu. In that menu there’s an option to create a new blog. Click it.

2. Name Your Blog & Set a Password


After you click the “create new blog” tab, you’ll be asked to enter a title and domain name for your new blog. You also have the option to protect the blog with a password. If you decide to do so, only people who enter the password will be able to view your new blog.

3. Invite Members


In the dashboard of your new blog, select “members” from the menu on the right panel. You can invite members to post on the blog via email or by copying and pasting an invite link. Invited members will be able to add content to the new blog, but they won’t be able to change settings unless you promote them to be blog admins.

Important Questions

  • Can I add other contributors to my primary blog? Unfortunately, there’s no way to simply add other users to a blog that you have already started as your primary blog. There’s also no way to change which blog is your primary blog or transfer that content to another blog. Which means that if you want co-bloggers, you’ll need to either share the login information for your primary blog or create an additional group blog from scratch, as outlined above. Keep in mind that you need a primary Tumblr before you can start a group one.
  • Can my group blog follow or like other Tumblr blogs? Only primary blogs can follow and like other blogs. Since group blogs can’t be primary blogs, they cannot follow or like other people’s content.
  • Can other people follow or like my group blog? Yes.
  • Can I password protect my primary blog? Only additional blogs can be password protected.
  • Is there another platform that makes it easier to create a group blog? Depending on your needs and who you ask, Posterous, WordPress and Blogger are all excellent alternative platforms for collaborative blogs.

    More About: blogger, group blog, multi-user blog, posterous, trending, tumblr, WordPress

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