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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

If you've spent much time around Millenials or reading the tech press lately, you've probably heard of Snapchat, a popular app that lets you send photos that automatically delete from the recipient's phone after a matter of seconds.

Seeing Snapchat's popularity, social networking giant Facebook hastily tried to copy it, releasing an app called Poke -- which users found to be an exact clone of Snapchat. But after rising to No. 1 in the iTunes app store, Poke has since sunk to No. 70. Snapchat is No. 4 among free apps. Facebook's creation was, in Om Malik's words, an act of "wanton xeroxing."

In postmortems around the web, people are now speculating about whether Facebook's lack of originality and apparent willingness to "rip-off a hot startup" in its product development signal deeper problems at the company. -- Business Insider and GigaOM

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Small companies seeking funding from the capital markets could catch a break in 2013.

Private equity-backed companies are expected to dominate the IPO market in 2013, according to a December survey of 50 transaction attorneys published yesterday by KCSA Strategic Communications. Sixty-eight percent of those surveyed think that the number of private equity backed IPOs will be greater than in 2012, which saw the highest number of private equity-backed offerings since 2007.

This could be good news for small companies, who have increasingly turned to the private equity market for funding, amid ongoing softness in bank lending.


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Do you drink a cup of coffee at the same time every morning or sit in the same chair at meetings? While habits like these may be harmless, TW Walker, author of Superhero Success (Breakthrough Media Network, 2012) says other habits may be negatively affecting your business productivity and success.

"Habits form from repetition and frequency. The problem is that most people repetitively implement the wrong [habits] that are actually blocking their success," says Walker. Here are five bad business habits to drop now. 

Related: 6 Essential Time Savers for Overworked Young Entrepreneurs

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If you received an Android-powered smartphone or tablet this holiday season and are wondering which apps you should download, Google might have the answer you're looking for. The search giant has released its list of the best apps available in the Google Play app marketplace for 2012.

"Some launched in 2012 while others issued updates that achieved a great combination of utility, beauty and accessibility," Google Play merchandising manager Tavares Ford wrote when announcing the list.

Not surprisingly, a number of the apps can be useful for business owners. Here's a look at the stand-out apps for business, culled from Google's larger list:

The idea for Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom was born on a family vacation. Walt Disney was visiting Tivoli Gardens, one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks, when he realized he could create a bigger, better version in California. His method is not unusual: Great entrepreneurs find new business ideas by paying attention to opportunities in everyday life.

"The world around you is filled with ideas that can be useful," says Andy Boynton, co-author of The Idea Hunter (Jossey-Bass, 2011).

None of those ideas will come to you by thinking really hard in a vacuum. You have to get out in the world and practice behaviors that lead you to new ideas. "Innovation is not about how smart you are; it's about the hunt for ideas," Boynton says. "Behavior trumps IQ."

Related: 4 Ways to Organize New Ideas and Drive Innovation

By learning to think and act in ways that bring new opportunities to light, you can find a constant stream of business ideas in everyday life. Here are three tips to help you find inspiration in the world around you.

Mark Cuban is known for being outspoken and no-nonsense when it comes to business. This week, the billionaire tech entrepreneur, investor and owner of the Dallas Mavericks participated in a question and answer session on popular social news site reddit where he discussed all things business, basketball and, of course, Shark Tank.

When starting a business, Cuban said every entrepreneur needs to know that it's not so much about having a killer idea as it is about being completely prepared to take a product or service to market. "Everyone has ideas, most don't do the work required to get the job done," he wrote.

Another thing aspiring business owners need to keep in mind: Sales are the most important aspect of a small business, Cuban wrote. "No sales, no company."

It's nearly impossible to be on your Facebook page these days and not see images and photos with marketing messages in them. It's become a savvy way for brands to catch consumers' attention and promote their business. But as we enter the New Year, make sure you're familiar with Facebook's updated policy concerning text overlays on images and photos.

Starting on January 15, Facebook is restricting the amount of text you can use in your Page's cover photo and News Feed ads to no more than 20 percent of the image's area. This includes Page Post ads and sponsored stories, but only applies to those ads in the News Feed, not the marketplace ads in the right column. This 20 percent limit also includes any text within logos.

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When Phil Morabito needed advice on how to grow his Houston-based public relations firm, he did something a little unusual: he consulted the "bug guy."

"Bill Spitz owned the largest pest control company in the state of Texas before he sold it to Waste Management Inc.," says Morabito, CEO of Pierpont Communications. "I met him through the Silver Fox Advisors, a group of retired executives who offer mentorship. He was a real successful guy and I was a small business owner who needed guidance."

Morabito says at first he wasn’t sure the relationship would be a fit. "I thought, what is a guy who solves cockroach problems going to know about what I do?" he recalls "But it’s all about customer service -- no matter what industry you’re in – and I needed to do a better job of that."

Spitz met with Morabito each Wednesday for five years, and Morabito says the relationship resulted in his company experiencing rapid growth and success. Today, Pierpont Communications is one of the largest PR firms in the Southwest.

"I strongly believe every entrepreneur needs a mentor, but it has to be the right fit," says Morabito. "Bill gave me great advice, I still call him today when I need help."

Are chia seeds on your grocery list? They could be next year. How's your privacy etiquette? Might be time to brush up.

The book is (almost) closed on 2012. Here is a list of the 100 things that could define your 2013, according to Ann Mack, the director of trendspotting at advertising agency powerhouse JWT.

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In this special feature of 'Ask Entrepreneur,' Facebook fan Cake Apps asks: What about buying high PR backlinks, will it hurt the SEO? How will Google know that I am paying?

This is an easy question to answer: Don't buy links. That is, don't buy links if you care about ranking well in Google in the long-term. They can seriously mess you up.

In very simple terms, links are like votes to Google. More links can help a site "win" the Google election for a particular search. Problem is, people mistakenly assume they can buy the election by buying votes. But the system is much more complicated than that.

Google allows some links to carry more weight than others, if they come from trusted sources. It also considers the words in likely near the links, to understand what a page being linked to might be about. Lots of people link to Amazon with the word "books" in the link, so Google effectively considers that a vote for Amazon to rank well for the word "books." Since few link to Amazon using the word "cars," you don't see it ranking for that.

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The holidays are typically slow at many companies. The lack of business can seem daunting to ambitious, always-on-the-go entrepreneurs. Colin Sprake, motivational business speaker and author of the upcoming book The Entrepreneur Success Recipe (Morgan James Publishing, 2013) says the best way to avoid anxiety during the holidays is to be prepared.

Related: An Introvert's Guide to Surviving the Holiday Season

"Many entrepreneurs don't plan for slower periods, this adds a huge amount of stress over the holiday season and often has the entrepreneur living a life of anxiety and fear rather than one of enjoyment with family and friends," says Sprake. He offers these six tips to make use of your holiday downtime.

1. Reflect on the year. "[The holidays are] a time of reflection on where your business is going," says Sprake. Review marketing, sales and profit strategies, reflect upon what worked and what didn't, what you can improve upon, which products and services were profitable and which were not so you can enter the new year prepared to tackle the problem areas of your business.

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In this special feature of 'Ask Entrepreneur,' Facebook fan Deah Curry, from Seattle, asks: What do hired companies really do that solopreneurs can't do for themselves, and how to ensure you aren't hiring a scam artist?

Plenty of people can do search engine optimization for themselves, and it's good for anyone to integrate some of the best practices into their ordinary workflow. Understanding the key terms people may use to find your site is the starting point of SEO but, arguably, it's also a starting point for having a successful business.

Still, there are times when you want to call in a professional, as you might with any type of need. For example, I can usually unclog a drain, so I don't need a plumber for that. But to fix a burst pipe or relocate a water heater? That's when hiring a plumber makes sense.

It's no different with SEO. If you have an SEO emergency, such as perhaps your traffic from Google suddenly plunges out-of-the-blue, you might lack the time and experience to quickly solve a problem, in the way a professional can.

This week's need-to-know social-media news.

Instagram's latest move was a bridge too far. The company announced this week that a new privacy policy and terms of service agreement would take effect on January 16. Buried in the documents was legalese allowing Instagram to sell your photos -- not to mention your own likeness -- to advertisers without notifying or paying you.

This move could have turned Instagram into the world's largest stock photo library, and a potential cash cow for its parent company, Facebook. Many users and major brands who were lulled into a false sense of security by Instagram's free service, clean interface and Twitter integration felt buyer's remorse -- or whatever you'd call the remorse of a free app user -- and canceled or suspended their accounts.

Before deleting your Instagram account in a fit of anger, try downloading your photos to your hard drive with Instaport and re-upload them elsewhere. Better yet, Instagram has seemingly bowed to user outrage and agreed to remove the offending passages from its terms of service to clarify that users own the rights to their own photos. -- CNET, Wired and SocialTimes

Matias Corea and Scott Belsky co-founded Behance.
image credit: Daniel Goodman

Behance, the New York City-based startup that developed a new platform for creative people and teams to share their work, has been acquired by Adobe. The San Jose, Calif.-based software giant is known for its suite of tools for creators, including Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator.

Though terms of the deal weren't officially disclosed, news reports pegged the sale price at about $150 million.

image credit: Shutterstock

A roundup of the best tips of the week from Entrepreneur.com.

Sometimes, when blazing your own trail as an entrepreneur, you have to throw out the rulebook. "All the rules are made by someone else who had an instinct five years or fifty years before you," says Mike Germano, co-founder of social media agency Carrot Creative.

The world changes rapidly, and making business decisions based on outmoded assumptions may mean being left behind. Instead, accept the risks that come with being independent, and if you fail, learn from it. "It'll just make you sharper," Germano says. More: 5 Ways to Learn to Trust Your Instincts

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