This week's need-to-know social-media news.
Snapchat, the photo-sharing app that allows users to send self-destructing messages, has raised $13.5 in venture capital -- a funding round that reportedly values the company at $60 to $70 million, despite Snapchat's lack of revenue. Would-be founders should take notice: When it comes to getting funding in the current startup climate, a great concept and a large, devoted user base apparently matter more than a path to profitability.
Snapchat gained popularity first with teenagers, many of whom used it to send racy images to one another, and later with a wider user base. Nielsen statistics show that the app gained 3.4 million new users in December 2012, more than double its November gains. In a move widely seen as an attempt to kill off the young startup, Facebook released its own photo- and video-sharing app, Poke, in December. The move failed. Poke is now out of the Top 200 most popular apps in Apple's App Store, while Snapchat is sitting pretty at No. 17. -- The New York Times and CNET
What you can learn from the 20 brands with the most engaged Facebook fans.
Market research firm LoudDoor has released a study showing the 20 brands with the most engaged Facebook fans. Among them are St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Walt Disney and Facebook itself. What are the strategies that drive engagement on these pages and how can you borrow them for your own business? For starters: Use striking images, share inspirational stories and give fans a peek behind the closed doors of your brand. -- PRNewser
Twitter's announces changes for 'tweet importance.'
Twitter announced this week that it will soon be implementing changes that will allow developers to filter tweets by quality and importance. Tweets can be rated none, low, medium or high in the new API. These changes might point to new ways tweets are seen, and how Twitter makes its money. "What if the 'high' note was reserved for promoted or 'important according to Twitter' tweets?" asks TheNextWeb's Matthew Panzarino. -- TheNextWeb
Original YouTube content becoming a serious opportunity for brands, advertisers.
Content creators are using YouTube to launch original web series, and their audience is becoming something brands and advertisers shouldn't ignore. For instance, the FreddieW channel, created by competitive gamer Freddie Wong, has attracted 4.6 million subscribers. FreddieW recently raised more than $800,000 on Kickstarter to create the second season of its popular web series Video Game High School. It also signed a sponsorship deal with Dodge for the same series. -- Adweek
Twitter has lost its first pope.
The news broke this week that 85-year-old Pope Benedict XVI was resigning. He was the first pope to use social media as a way of reaching his flock, but on February 28 he'll be departing. Twitter users bid a pun-filled "See you later" to the man who headed the Holy See, with comments such as: "The Pope is hardly the first person to lose interest in their real job so soon after joining Twitter." No word yet on who will take over the position -- or, for that matter, the @Pontifex account, which has accumulated 1.5 million followers in two months. -- Los Angeles Times