On the eve of India’s independence day, we’re celebrating the spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship of the world’s largest democracy by spotlighting the best local nonprofits that are using technology to make the world better.

Today we’re launching the Google Impact Challenge in India, inviting Indian nonprofits to tell us how they’d use technology to improve people’s lives. At the end of the challenge, four nonprofits will each receive a Rs 3 crore (around $ 500,000) Global Impact Award and technical assistance from Google to bring their projects to life.

Get started on your application today: registered Indian nonprofits can apply online until September 5 at g.co/indiachallenge. Googlers from India, and around the world, will review applications and announce the 10 best projects on October 21. You can learn more about the top 10 finalists then, and cast a vote for who you think should receive the Fan Favorite award.

On October 31, I’ll join Ram Shriram, Jacquelline Fuller, Anu Aga and Jayant Sinha in Delhi to hear the 10 finalists pitch live. As judges, we’ll select three awardees based on their potential impact, scalability and ingenuity. We’ll also announce the winner of the Fan Favorite, according to your vote.

Growing up in India, I’ve seen firsthand the vibrancy and innovativeness of India’s social entrepreneurs. I’m excited to see their projects and support their ideas for how to use technology and Rs 3 crores to change the world.

The Official Google Blog

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From cracking the human genome to advancing medical research through computer games, British social entrepreneurs have a proud history of using technology to make the world a better place.

Last year, we launched the Global Impact Awards to support nonprofits using technology to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems. We gave $ 23 million to seven organizations working on projects ranging from aerial technology that protects wildlife to data algorithms that ensure more girls and minorities get placed in advanced math and science classes.

Today, as the next step in the Impact Awards, we’re kicking off our first Global Impact Challenge in the U.K., inviting British nonprofits to tell us how they would use technology to transform lives. Four nonprofits will each receive a £500,000 Global Impact Award, as well as Chromebooks and technical assistance from Googlers to help make their project a reality.

Applications open today, and registered British nonprofits are invited to apply online at g.co/impactchallenge. We’ll review applications and announce 10 finalists on May 22. At that point, people across the U.K. can learn more about the projects of the top 10 finalists, donate to the ones they like and cast a vote for fan favorite. On June 3, the top 10 finalists will pitch their concepts to a judging panel that includes us (Matt Brittin and Jacquelline Fuller), Sir Richard Branson, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Jilly Forster. The three awardees and the fan favorite will be revealed at the event, which will take place at Google London.

Technology can help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and we’re eager to back innovators who are finding new ways to make an impact. Today we’re starting the hunt in the U.K., but we also know that nonprofits all over the world are using techy approaches to develop new solutions in their sector. Who knows, the Global Impact Challenge might head your way next.

The Official Google Blog

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Brazil’s Carnival goes social with Google

While you may have heard of Brazil’s Carnival (or Carnaval), not everyone will have the chance to fly to Brazil to experience what are arguably the largest annual street festivals (+ music concerts + dance parties + culture fests) in the world.

Every year, Brazilian cities compete to be the country’s top Carnival destination: This year, we’re bringing you the sights, sounds and energy of Brazilian Carnival directly from the streets of Salvador (Brazil’s first capital and one of the oldest cities in the the Americas) through Google+, YouTube and Orkut.

From February 16 to 21—the height of the festival and the peak of Brazil’s summer—you’ll be able to:

  • Watch the festivities wherever you are in the world on the Carnival YouTube Channel. Starting Thursday, February 16, you’ll have access to everything from a live transmission of the streetfest to videos of bands who have traveled to Salvador to host the party. You’ll even be able to chat with other YouTube users who are watching the party with you from around the world through a map we’ve integrated just for the occasion.
  • Chat with bands and watch live interviews on Google+. Chat with some of the Brazilian bands who have joined the festivities in real time by sending questions via Google+ and Orkut. You’ll also be able to watch celebrity interviews running live throughout the week on the AoVivo (live) Google+ Page and transmitted simultaneously on YouTube and Orkut.

Even if you didn’t have a chance to get a plane ticket to Brazil, there’s no reason not to experience the energy of this year’s 2012 Carnival. Find out more about how you can be part of the party on +AoVivo, Orkut or on our Carnival YouTube Channel.

(Cross-posted from the YouTube blog)

The Official Google Blog

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Bantr, the social network for football (soccer) fans, has announced that it’s expanding into Europe meaning that fans of teams that play in Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Seria A can now check-in to games, vote on the action, view live stats and generally ‘banter’ with rival fans in real-time as the action unfolds.

We first reported on Bantr when it launched into public beta last month, just in time for the new English football season. But it seems that it has decided to look beyond the professional English football leagues and into the glitz of teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, AC Milan and Juventus.

In addition to this, Bantr has also added full support for The Champions League and The Europa League, meaning that users can now follow these games live on Bantr too.

Peter McCormack, CEO of Bantr, said:

“We have been inundated with requests from fans in Europe who love what Bantr is bringing to football but were unable to take part as we couldn’t support all teams from launch. We’ve worked flat-out with our data provider Opta to be able to bring two of the best leagues outside of the UK to European football fans well ahead of our original schedule.”

Bantr has attracted over 5,000 registered fans to date, and with La Liga and Serie A now added to its repertoire this should be set to grow, and McCormack says that Bantr now has its sights set on covering the whole of Europe. “Bantr has received huge amounts of positive support from users,” said Peter, “and we want to ensure we can offer the same excellent service fans in all leagues”.

Fans wishing to join Bantr can register for the beta now at: http://bantr.tv

TNW Aggregated Feed

When we think about social media, it’s very easy to keep it sectioned off into nice, little containers. A thought passed along on Twitter might elicit a response, perhaps even a retweet. A Facebook status message is passed along and it gets a like or two.

But what about when it becomes something much more than the sum of its parts? What happens when lives change because of social media interaction? That was the question on my mind this week, so I turned (naturally) to social media in order to find some answers.

The responses that came my way ran the gamut from lighthearted and entertaining to truly heart-wrenching and difficult to read. I’ve condensed a few of them down and I thought I’d share them with you here.

The Social Media Job Boards

We’ve all heard the stories of the world’s job markets. They’re tough to say the least and many people are turning toward more entrepreneurial ventures in order to find what they’re looking for.

Marga Deona is one such person. Deona relates her story of working as a publicity and campaign strategist, dating back to the earliest days of social media via LiveJournal, Friendster and Internet message boards. After spending years building her own network, she took the leap to working on her own.

“My breakthrough came when I, along with a group of people, took charge of the PR direction of a Presidential campaign last year. The reach of our efforts was phenomenal, with people rapidly sharing and retweeting every single [piece of] content we posted in support of the Presidential candidate.”

Because of the impact of the highly-social campaign in the Philippines, Deona found more doors opening. Companies were sending her messages via Twitter, Facebook and email to do their PR strategies, she was invited to speak at seminars, on radio and elsewhere. But the most interesting twist to the story is how she began curating a businesses musical selection:

“One guy who added me on Facebook because of our common interest in triathlon sent me a message saying he found my musical taste “exquisite” and asked me to curate tracks for his shop. Turns out his family owns one of the biggest mall chains in the country, and he got me to do it for a sports arena that he was opening independent from the family business.”

Deona is far from alone. Though we often times hear about people making job connections via Twitter, Facebook and the like (heck, even my job at TNW began with a tweet), Alexis Lamster found her connection via Tumblr.

I had emailed a few times with this guy from Tumblr because we had common interests in food and photography. One day he emailed me to say he’d be in the neighborhood around my office and that we should meet up for coffee. Well, sort of thankfully I had just finishing pitching a big set of changes to my boss. I worked at a wedding website managing the advertising and sales department and suggested we make a set of changes to become the best website out there. My boss effectively said “These are great ideas but we don’t care enough to make them.”

Lamster was crushed, she said, but the coffee meeting with her friend Dave from Tumblr was like a perfectly-timed gift.

I couldn’t help but talk about what had just happened, how I wanted to work for a company where they wanted to make real change and be the best. He spoke a bit about his startup (Postling) and how they were just starting out. We realized that our wants were very much in line — I wanted to work for a startup and feel like I could make a great impact on a company, while they needed someone to help them get to MVP [minimum viable product] and find their target market.

So while many people turn to LinkedIn or some other, dedicated network for finding jobs, others are stumbling upon success in places that they might have never thought the would. We see it here on TNW quite often. A simple tweet, a Facebook status update, maybe a blog post…any of these can start off simply enough, but then snowball into a story that was never intended to have been told.

Social Travels

Oh sure, we have Airbnb, which allows anyone to rent out their unused space. Couchsurfing has been around for ages and we’re quite used to the social aspect of that. But what about other travels? Those stories are out there, too.

When I asked for stories on Twitter, one of the most common ones that I heard about were people who traveled to the different campuses of NASA in order to take part in a NASA Tweetup. We covered the story of NASA’s social media strategy in depth a couple of weeks ago, so that wasn’t necessarily surprising to see such a response from the faithful.

But I knew that there had to be more, and that’s when I got the story that I was hoping to find.

You might have heard of Paul Smith, also known as @Twitchhiker. Smith set out on a mission in 2009 to travel from the UK to New Zealand, using only Twitter to find his methods of travel and accommodation. Along the way, he would raise money for charity, document his trip in video and on Twitter (of course) and he even wrote a book about his travels. Smith now maintains his own website where he continues to tell stories of travels, encouraging his readers to take part in them.

Social Entrepreneurship

There is a final side to the unexpected results from social connections. It’s one that, even though my entire premise was based on the unexpected, I certainly didn’t expect to hear. When it comes to entrepreneurship, social networking seems to be the tie that not only binds, but also enables.

Megan Hargroder relates to us the story of her findings in New Orleans, which helped her to launch her project called conversations.be. Oh, and there’s another twist to the story, too:

“I moved here 2 years ago not knowing anyone, quickly identified the movers and shakers (and total badasses) that I wanted to be friends with, followed them on Twitter, started engaging in conversations and met up with them at tech-related networking events. These offline/online connections led to personal offline relationships, and then my previous job as community manager of Launch Pad (a creative coworking space) which literally launched my own social media and new business online setup company and where I met my now girlfriend of 9 months.”

So while Hargroder’s goals are set high for conversations.be, there are still others who hope to have an even more wide-reaching impact, and they’re utilizing social media to help them accomplish their goals.

Raiyan Laksemana relates the ale of trying to create jobs in film and media in his native Indonesia:

“Before social media, learning from the best was like trying to fly from Earth to Mars. Everybody is milking everyone else by commoditizing connections. With social media, anyone is just a few pages away.”

Laksamana tells me that the more leveled playing field of social media is enabling him to not only find jobs for himself, but to also create jobs for others.

“In Indonesia, we were clueless as to how to create jobs in the film and media industry. All of the major companies and studios were taking the profits and setting barbaric pricing. What we found is that Indonesia has tens of millions of mobile Internet users and our mobile growth is actually ranked 8th in the world.”

Laksamana took that information, then created a marketing and regulatory platform for the smaller, independent producers. The hope is that, in doing so, the money will go back to where it needs to go, rather than to those who are not directly involved in the creation of content.

“If this works as we have planned, it will trigger a thriving, egalitarian media ecosystem in Indonesia and it’s all thanks to social networking. The system of learning and the opening of a new market would not have been possible without it.”

Now, It’s Your Turn

Any time that we ask for stories to be able to pass them on to the rest of our readers, we inevitably miss out on some great ones. So now it’s your turn. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear it. Let us know in the comments how social media has opened opportunities for you that you might not have had otherwise.

TNW Aggregated Feed

Unsurprisingly (but perhaps aggravatingly so), MTV’s Jersey Shore has managed to dominate the TV/social media charts on SocialGuide.com for the second week in a row.

While some obviously have their qualms with the popular series (our editor Brad McCarty, for example, expressed his disbelief that I wasn’t immediately fired for admitting Jersey Shore is my favorite TV show, claiming that it makes him “feel a deep, profound sorrow for humanity”), the strategy behind the social success of Jersey Shore is spot-on.

Casting Producer Scott Goldstein said to me in a quick interview over Skype chat, “The owner of the production company [495 Productions, responsible for Jersey Shore], SallyAnn Salsano, is extremely savvy. She pushes the kids in the media as much as she possibly can. Each of them has a huge Twitter following.” Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, for example, has nearly three million followers at the time of this post, while Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino comes close to nearly one million (yes, I follow them both).

Goldstein continues, “She had Vinny do an interview with Perez Hilton via Skype two days ago, while Pauly D spins for multiple radio stations across the country — he is doing a set Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the biggest LA hip hop station this weekend — not to mention he is the opening act for the Britney Spears and Niki Minaj tour.”

How does this all tie in with Social Media?

Take a look at the Twitter feeds from the cast and you will immediately see that the Jersey Shore housemates have made a constant effort to keep their fans well-informed with both special promotions for the show as well as personal appearances and partnerships.

Take a look at this tweet from Paul “Pauly D” Delvecchio:

There are three things to note about this tweet.

  1. The first is obvious: Pauly D is clearly promoting a personal appearance via social media for his fans. Now they can join in and participate, watch, or simply be aware of his current status.
  2. He includes his partner, Power 106, in his Tweet. This is, of course, helpful to Power 106 in terms of acquiring new Twitter followers and listeners in what will hopefully ramp up their traffic.
  3. In the fine print beneath the tweet, you’ll notice that Pauly D originally sent this update via Facebook. This means that he has merged Facebook’s ability to post through Twitter’s flexible API and can now quickly and effectively reach both audiences across each platform.

From the perspective of companies or brands looking to potentially partner up with any member of the cast, the appeal is clear. The cast knows how to promote and market both themselves and their potential partners in a way that will effectively reach their massive following across all networks where Jersey Shore fans have gathered. In this way, partners of the cast are assured that millions upon millions of fresh eyes and consumers will now be attracted to their product.

The Jersey Shore cast gives back to its fans.

Being a reality TV star can be an incredibly stressful job (aside from the very awesome perks, of course). Even in the midst of their very busy success, however, the cast is constantly finding ways to give back to their fans through various social channels.

The Situation, for instance, often takes the time to retweet both the supportive words of his fans, as well as the mocking insults of his “haters“. Knowing this, both fans and haters are often rapid-firing tweets his way in an attempt to score a spot on The Situation’s Twitter feed.

Speaking of Jersey Shore fans …

Jersey Shore fans are even bigger promoters of the show than the actual cast is.

The power of Jersey Shore extends not just through the cast’s ability to manage their own following, but through their rabid and aggressive fanbase themselves. For example, moments after The Situation and Pauly D coined the new phrase “Twinning“, fans on Twitter began blasting this phrase in hashtags, soon shooting the topic into global trending status.

Jersey Shore fans continuously run with the lasting viral slang of both phrases in the series, as well as hashtags coined on the cast’s Twitter updates. Now-popular hashtag topics previously dropped by the reality TV stars such as “ShesTooYoungForYouBro” and “#LastTimeIWoreAbercrombie” are only some of the phrases that have quickly escalated into global trending status.

With so many fans and followers discussing the series, it’s almost impossible to avoid Jersey Shore news (including here on The Next Web). The accessibility of the cast through their various social channels has made it easier for fans to both reach out to and feel more personally connected with the reality TV stars.

The various platforms the Jersey Shore cast uses to broadcast to their wide network act as extensions of their personality, offering further perspective on what goes on behind-the-scenes with the cast, as well as providing fans of the series with plenty of options in terms of hearing more from their favorite voices on the show.

For any celebrity looking for tips on how to manage their following or work social marketing to their advantage, merely take a peek at Jersey Shore. As often-hated as the cast might be, they definitely know social media.

TNW Aggregated Feed

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