Social media moves so fast, it's hard to keep up. Here are the week's top stories in scan-friendly format:

  • Dell Tweets Itself $6.5 Million in Sales
  • Because of Google, Watch What You Say On Facebook
  • Social Networking Helps Win DARPA Balloon Challenge
  • Twitter Opens Up Full Stream To All Developers, Has 50,000 Apps

Dell Tweets Itself $6.5 Million in Sales

Who says Twitter is a waste of time while you're at work? At Dell, they aren't saying this after the company said they earned US$ 6.5 million on sales of computers on Twitter. The US computer manufacturer uses Twitter to reach out to perspective customers by offering promotions and deals on computers, accessories, software and more.

As noted by Bloomberg, Dell's number of followers on Twitter has risen 23% over the last quarter and now is hovering around 1.5 million followers. How does Dell do it? The company has around 100 employees sending out tweets across 35 different Twitter accounts, by business segments.

While the US$ 6.5 million is only a small fraction of the US$ 61.1 billion in overall sales last year, using Twitter to generate revenue in the millions is a step forward for social media marketing and shows the outreach potential of the "social web".

Because of Google, Watch What You Say On Facebook

Google recently announced a new real-time search feature to their well-used search engine. Under the new set of features, Google users will be able to track real-time conversations on sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook.

So, if you are a Facebook user and your profile is set to public, you should watch what you say on the social networking site. This is because, soon, all Facebook status messages will be open for Google to discover and display along with all the other search results Google serves.

As ReadWriteWeb points out, because Facebook has almost 10 times the number of users that Twitter has, Facebook could become a huge force of real-time status updates when it comes to events and current happenings.

Also, with Facebook's rich personal profiles, there is more data to pinpoint demographic information about the people behind those messages, which is key information for advertisers and other third-party users.

Social Networking Helps Win DARPA Balloon Challenge

The Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) wanted to see how quickly users of social networks could help solve a problem of national scope. In their experiment, the agency placed 10 large red weather balloons in public places around the country and challenged groups to submit the geographic coordinates of the balloons to win a cash prize.

4,000 teams mobilized to help participate in the experiment and the winning team won in just eight hours and 56 minutes. Teams had to try to find the balloons, but not reveal the coordinates to competing teams who might see the winning numbers on Twitter or other social networking sites.

The winning team was headed by Riley Crane of MIT's Media Lab. He built a scheme whereby each balloon would be worth US$ 4,000. Supporting people who find each balloon got a cash prize based on their level of help. All leftover money was donated to a charity.

DARPA said they were surprised by the quickness that the balloons were found. The agency will interview the participants to be informed of the winning strategies.

Twitter Opens Up Full Stream To All Developers, Has 50,000 Apps

Twitter announced this morning at LeWeb that they will soon allow every developer access to the Twitter firehose. What does this mean? Previously only certain developers and partners of Twitter were able to get instant access to the raw tweets coming through Twitters services. Now every developer who wishes to can build an application that can work with this data.

In previous months, Twitter announced arrangements with Google and Bing that would allow them unfettered access to Twitter's datastream. Now, it appears Google and Bing won't be exclusive in Twitter's eyes. As Ryan Sarver, a Twitter official said, "The business model will be a way that we share money and success, so that our incentives are aligned with partners from OneRiot to Seesmic to Tweetie to Tweetdeck".

Details are sketchy as of now as Twitter announced further information would surface early next year. Also, the micro-messaging company announced that there are currently around 50,000 applications built around the service, which is an impressive number.