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Google+ Begins Rolling Out Vanity URLs (Mashable)
Google+ is introducing vanity URLs, allowing users to further customize their profile pages, the company announced Monday. The vanity URLs are short, easy-to-remember Web addresses that link directly to a member’s profile or page on Google+, according to a blog post by employee Saurabh Sharma. TechCrunch Google has already enabled this feature for a number of big brands and celebrities like Toyota, Delta Airlines and Britney Spears, but don’t get too excited yet. It’s not clear when Google plans to roll out custom URLs to all of its users. CNET This is likely welcome news for most Google+ users since memorizing long strings of numbers isn’t exactly easy. For example, CNET’s Google+ URL is https://plus.google.com/105198124856956810263/posts. But wouldn’t https://plus.google.com/+CNET be much more manageable? VentureBeat It’s worth noting that the move comes over three years after Facebook announced custom usernames for its users. So Google is a bit behind the curve. Wired Google product manager Matthew Leske has announced that Google+ will “make concerts more awesome” by adding high-quality audio, or “Studio Mode,” to its video broadcasting system “Google+ Hangouts On Air.” Studio Mode allows concert organizers to flip a switch and have audio optimized for music. Read more

How IBMers Use Social Media to Get Things Done — 4 Examples

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Consensus is that companies with social cultures are more successful engaging and marketing using social media. IBM has been “walking the social media walk” for four decades, a formidable task for a company that currently has a globally dispersed team of 400,000.

The scope of IBMs internal social media impact is staggering: citing 17,000 individual blogs, a million daily page views of internal wikis, 25,000 tweeters and 300,000 LinkedIn profiles doesn’t do justice to the scale of the brand’s social footprint.

Does it work? I asked four IBMers to tell us how social media helps them do their jobs. You’re bound to find ideas in their stories to help you in yours.

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Yale and IBM Prepare MBA Students for Social Media

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The Yale School of Management Center for Customer Insights and IBM are collaborating on an academic initiative that will provide analytics and training resources to MBA students, helping them develop the skills needed as they prepare to become future business leaders. Academically, this is so needed within our college and university systems. Social media is here to stay, and our future leaders need to know how to utilize the field.

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Obama Launches Startup Non-Profit

In a bid to encourage U.S. entrepreneurs, the White House launched the Startup America Partnership, a non-profit campaign to encourage the development of new businesses.

With backing from Facebook, IBM, Intel; and leadership from AOL founder Steve Case, Startup America, the campaign pledged to provide $2 billion in matching funds from the Small Business Administration to select startup companies.

In partnership with Colorado-based startup incubator TechStars, the campaign also intends to expand the TechStars mentorship model to nurture 6,000 new entrepreneurs around the country; and encourage large businesses to invest in smaller ones. IBM has pledged to invest $150 million in new entrepreneurs, and Intel has pledged $200 million, according to U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra.

Other partners include Facebook, which intends to host startup events around the country, HP, and Google.

Startup America will be funded in part by Case’s Case Foundation and the entrepreneurship-focused Kauffmann Foundation.

IBM Acquires Unica Corporation

Today IBM announced the acquisition of Unica, a cloud-based marketing software company located in Waltham, Massachusetts that works with businesses to streamline and automate their marketing processes, as well as understand and predict their customers’ preferences.

Unica is the company that electronics retailer Best Buy hired to flood consumer mailboxes with tempting direct mail campaigns, like this “thank-you” note and coupon sent to a customer one week after a purchase.

IBM had announced its intent to acquire Unica in August, and it seems that just talking about the acquisition has boosted the marketing company’s sales. “Over the past year, Unica added nearly 450 customers, including many industry leaders like Air France, Autodesk, Hilton Hotels, O2, Qualcomm, and United Airlines,” said Yuchun Lee, CEO of Unica in a statement.

The sale follows IBM’s other marketing technology efforts, which include the recent acquisitions of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics, as well as the launch of the WebSphere Commerce software.

“IBM is committed to helping CMOs address the challenges facing marketing organizations today” said Craig Hayman, general manager, IBM Industry Solutions Group in a statement. “Together, the Unica and Coremetrics acquisitions help deliver the customer insight our clients demand, along with the measurable results they are seeking across sales channels. We will support the Web analytics investments Unica and Coremetrics customers have made by delivering industry-leading Web analytics capabilities for line-of-business users and analysts both on-premises and in cloud environments.”

Once the deal is closed, approximately 500 of Unica’s employees will transfer to IBM’s Software Solutions Group.

UPDATE: Consistent with IBM’s announcement in August, the company purchased Unica in a cash transaction of $21 per share, or a net price of approximately $480 million, after adjusting for cash.

Social Enterprise Software Race Picks Up Pace

Today I.B.M. announced the release of Bluehouse, the company’s workplace collaboration software. Whether you are using the word “collaboration”, “social”, or the phrase “Enterprise 2.0″, it is all describing the same thing. There is a huge shift towards services which integrate communication and productivity tools making it easier for employees to access information and improving the organization’s overall productivity.

Just last week I wrote that Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook, was leaving the company to start a new enterprise software company. If that’s not a sign that things are heating up in the enterprise space, I’m not sure what is. As we continue to learn from our experiences with social networks, companies are rapidly trying to figure out how to adapt these new tools into their organizations.

The new Bluehouse product includes a web-based meeting tool, a social network, a document sharing tool which includes tagging for quick access, a task management solution, a forms wizard, a charting tool, and a chat application. Ultimately the product isn’t revolutionary but it adds a lot of features that many enterprise software products don’t include.

The most important takeaway from today’s Bluehouse announcement is simply that the shift toward enterprise social software is continuing and rapidly gaining momentum. If there was a major opportunity for web developers building social applications, this would most definitely be it. The best part of enterprise software is that companies pay for it!

Yes, you can make money by selling social software rather than giving it away and relying on advertising revenue!