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

  • Twitter Finally Exposes Money Making Plans
  • U.S. Government Agencies Are Free to Use Social Web
  • Google Launches Buzz Button
  • Who's Winning with Online Identity?

Twitter Finally Exposes Money Making Plans

Twitter has been a dark horse in the online space. Yes, the service is popular and widely used. But everyone has wondered, how will the site choose to make money on the millions of users that visit the site each day? Would Twitter use paid accounts, conventional online ads, or sponsored tweets?

Twitter's approach, revealed Tuesday, is called "Promoted tweets" that show up at the top of results for a specific search on Twitter. So, if you were to search for "Los Angeles coffee shop", an ad for Starbucks would appear. Using a 'resonance score', a tweet will be shown if it based on the amount of times it is retweeted and how often folks click the link in the tweet.

Advertisers pay per 1000 views for now, but will eventually pay Twitter based on the resonance score their promoted tweet gets.

Some folks are calling the new ad scheme shockingly boring and dull. But, that's probably the point. Twitter wants the ads to co-exist in your Twitter stream and be noticeable when you're trying to find information about a brand or product. Do you think the Twitter ads are annoying or do they bug you? Do you see the ad model any differently than you do Google AdWords?

U.S. Government Agencies Are Free to Use Social Web

In an effort to improve transparency and embrace the web, the Office of Management released a memo to U.S. Federal agencies outlining ways to communicate with citizens and receive feedback online. By embracing social media, government agencies are now open to utilize these new tools to publicize legislation, gain public insight and stream messages to the online populace.

Back in January 2009, President Obama asked the government to become more transparent and collaborative in the OMB memo that aims to address Obama's call. Under the new guidelines, government agencies are now free to set up sites on Twitter, Facebook and utilize wikis to interact with the general public.

Who is getting started under the new Federal policy? The Department of Housing and Urban Development is reportedly going to post information about homelessness so that advocates can confront the issue. Also, the Energy Department has created a wiki to help facilitate discussion of clean energy technologies.

Google Launches Buzz Button

While perusing the web, you likely encounter buttons and icons that allow you to share an article via your favorite social network. Using these tools, it's easy to send a link to your friends via email, your Facebook page, Twitter, or other social networking site of the month. Google wants to enable you to do the same with the new Buzz buttons. 'Buzz' a story and it will appear for all your friends to see a link to the story on your Buzz stream.

This sounds great and all, but will it catch on? Buzz is not very widely used and Google's privacy breaches surrounding the launch of Buzz has hindered the service's popularity from the starting gate. Upon launch, the Buzz button is supported by many sites including The Washington Post, Glamour, YouTube, PBS NewsHour, Disqus, Vinehub, SocialWok and more.

Unless Google makes a big-name acquisition such as Twitter or ShareThis, Buzz will not likely make any headway in terms of rivaling Facebook and Twitter. There is no shortage of sites that allow you to share links and items, and Buzz offers too few factors that set it apart from the pack.

Who's Winning with Online Identity?

There are numerous companies fighting the war to be your online identity. That is, what site do you prefer to log in with when visiting a site that gives you the option? JanRain, a Portland, Oregon-based, OpenID provider says its numbers show that Facebook and Google are the most preferred credentials that people use when logging into to third-party services.

Looking at the statistics, Google accounts are the most used account to log in to third-party sites, gaining 38.5% market share. Facebook is second with 23% of all login events. In terms of posting information back to social networking profiles, Facebook is widely the most popular, followed by Twitter. This usage includes product purchases or notifications back to a person's Facebook profile, for example.

Why use your Facebook or Google username and password when logging into third party sites? Because doing so allows you to avoid creating a specific set of credentials for that particular site. Companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Google are in a race to become the choice online identity, which is why this data is significant.

Do you use your Google credentials to log into sites not affiliated with Google? What benefits do you see in doing so?