This Week in Social (Week of March 11)

This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are the show notes for the Brave Ad World Podcast. Each story is discussed at a deeper level on the podcast.

Crowley Opens Up on Foursquare (Read more at AdWeek)

Foursquare CEO and co-founder Dennis Crowley took the stage at SXSW and discussed the state of the location-based social network. One of the most notable points from Crowley was that the company can rely on data sent from apps using the Foursquare API, instead of relying solely on user check-ins to identify relevant businesses and points of interest for the purposes of social search. A reliance on check-ins has been one of Foursquare’s biggest critiques as it has worked to shift to being more mainstream and not primarily used by a small subset of social network users.

Today, Foursquare’s API is incorporated into 40,000 different platforms, including Vine, Instagram and Path. Those platforms are tapping into Foursquare 50 million locations to make their platforms more location-centric. That’s where Foursquare gets much of its data, not only check-ins. Although, check-ins remain a critical point for data collection.

Foursquare’s also taken other steps by creating and delivering business ratings for local search as well as making its app run in the background to alert users when they’re near a relevant point of interest.

Gaming features are part of Foursquare’s past. While they still exist, it’s clear that organizing data to help people make decisions is Foursquare’s future, which means Yelp is squarely in their sights. Foursquare’s challenge has been communicating that message to early adopters who left the app after some time. Being a utility that’s accessed on a regular basis is an attractive proposition but only if Foursquare can convince users that that’s the case, and with users will come more investors.

Pinterest Launches Measurement Tool (Read more at AdAge)

Pinterest is showing signs that it will soon be unveiling a monetization plan as it unrolled new tools this week for businesses to measure the effectiveness of their Pinterest efforts. The analytics tool is available to anyone with an account linked to a verified website. It allows users and brands to measure: unique pinners (number of different people who have pinned from a site), impressions (number of people who have seen a pin), referral traffic (number of people who have visited site from Pinterest) and popular pins (the most repinned, clicked and recent pins).

It’s worth noting that Pinterest is launching this tool behind other third parties like Pinfluencer and Curalate, which already have Pinterest analytics tools that are arguably more robust. Regardless, marketers will still need to measure their site analytics to get an accurate view of conversions from Pinterest. Going to the site is one thing. Actually making a purchase is another.

Last year Pinterest introduced business accounts, and now, it’s followed up with an analytics offering. This will be a big step in terms of helping businesses to better understand what Pinterest is doing for them.  With big brands already having a strong presence on the platform, giving them more data will certainly improve their ability to invest more in the platform, which would likely include some funds going directly to Pinterest in the form of paid content promotion and maybe even ads.

LinkedIn Brings Slides to Ads (Read More at CNET)

LinkedIn introduced SlideShare Content Ads, a new ad that brings LinkedIn’s acquisition of SlideShare into advertising content. The ads run on the right rail on LinkedIn in display units. When a user clicks the banner, an overlay comes up, allowing a user to go through the presentation and even expand to view the slides in full screen. Advertisers can also add a link to their website for more information. They can also target by profile information just like any other LinkedIn ad.

Initial advertisers using the unit include General Electric and Constant Contact. The ads will be priced on a CPM basis. Advertisers will be able to view metrics like the number of views, average time on presentations and average time per slide, according to LinkedIn.

The ads should be welcomed by the B-to-B space. Ads are usually used to promote a webinar or a whitepaper to send potential clients to get more info to start to trust the advertiser. Now, that content can be embedded within the ad unit. While advertisers build awareness, they can establish credibility and start to build a degree of trust.

FTC Lays Out Mobile and Social Disclosure Guidelines (Read More at The Wall Street Journal)

The U.S. FTC updated its guidelines for online advertising this week to catch up on the changes brought on by mobile and social media marketing. In short, mobile and social ads have to follow the same rules as traditional ads with full disclosure and the same standards of honesty. The challenge is the limited space available on some platforms, particularly Twitter. If you’re challenged by that, then those platforms might not be for you.

According to the FTC everything from celebrities paid to tweet or posts intended to promote a product’s effectiveness need to make room for full disclosure, such as including the word ‘Ad’ at the beginning of a post or the word ‘sponsored.’ Shortening words or having abbreviations for these disclosures is not okay. They must be very clear. It’s also important for marketers to ensure the locations of their disclosures are conspicuous and don’t go missed by consumers.

These updates seem to make sense, and they follow the FTC’s previous guidelines for brands working with online influencers that are compensated in one way or another. While implementation may be simple enough, there will certainly be challenges when it comes to execution. However, the important aspect about all of this is that the rules are now clearer than ever, which means legal will have more information to approve campaigns and to get things moving forward within an organization.

Facebook Rolls Out New Timeline (Read More at MediaPost)

Following up on its News Feed revamp, Facebook has quietly started rolling out a Timeline redesign. The format removes the two-column format and replaces it with a main column featuring life events and a left-hand bar with a user’s ‘About’ information along with info on music, photos, app activity and so on. Users can customize this bar to share the activities and the content they want, such as their latest Instagram photos. Users can also show not only what their favorite TV shows, books and movies are but can also now showcase what they want to watch and read in the future.

The update removes a lot of clutter and makes content easier to read as users no longer need to shift focus from column-to-column. The update does not affect brand pages at this time.

The update certainly makes Timeline content easier to consume but it also really showcases apps. Users can easily highlight content from Pinterest, Etsy, Instagram and others. This gives developers more reason to build on top of the platform because they’ll get more exposure via that left-hand bar. It’s also worth noting that users are more in control of their Timeline than ever before, and that’s also one of the primary features for the News Feed update. Users control the experience.

We’ll see if Facebook continues in this direction because by giving users more control, it’s also better able to identify motivations and preferences, which means more potential for ad targeting.

Hashtags Coming to Facebook (Read More at SocialTimes)

Facebook will soon be bringing hashtags to its service. The grouping of social media posts by topic by adding the hash (#) symbol before a word or phrase has been popularized by other social networks like Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and even Pinterest. Facebook sees the value in that kind of content organization, especially as it continues to roll out Graph Search. Users could search for conversations by using the hashtag symbol. It’s not confirmed, however, whether this feature will make it into Facebook’s full user experience.

This move would be a significant one as Facebook takes aim squarely at Twitter. Twitter is where much of the web’s real-time conversation takes place, and hashtags play a big role in that. Users can search for and join real-time conversations easily, which is the case with social TV. Facebook could be a bigger part of real-time conversations with this update by allowing users to search for existing discussion and join in. This would make Facebook a potentially powerful tool for real-time ad dollars as marketers look to be a part of a real-time event with paid placement.

Facebook’s already added the ability to add the @ symbol ahead of a person’s name to tag them in a post, a feature that originated with Twitter.

News Quick Hits

  • YouTube co-founder Chris Hurley has plans to create a competitive service. He sold YouTube to Google in 2010. He describes his new project as a video-based product that “gives flexibility for people to work together and create content.” (Read More at Gizmodo)
  • Facebook acquired the storytelling service Storylane, which will be shut down so the Storylane team can join the Facebook team. Storylane will provide tools for users to migrate their content and data. (Read More at AllFacebook)
  • SoundCloud launched a new tool called ‘Moving Sounds,’ which allows users to create slideshows with images and audio. SoundCloud, a service primarily used for uploading and distributing audio files, will make the service part of its Pro Partner package to promote their profiles to users in the site’s ‘Who to Follow’ section. (Read More at SocialTimes)
  • Tumblr launched a stand-alone app called Photosets for users to create photo collections last year. Photosets has now been rolled into Tumblr’s official iOS app. Users will now be able to create and share photo collections through the Tumblr app, which will soon have promoted content according to a recent announcement. (Read More at Apple Insider)
  • Google has announced that it will be shutting down Google Reader, its RSS aggregator. Google cites declining usage as the reason. Although it notes that it has a very loyal following. Users will be able to export their information to another platform. Marketers with blogs should explain to their Google Reader users how to use the alternatives and encourage them to switch RSS readers or subscribe to email newsletters. (Read More at Mashable)
  • Congress has finally changed the 1988 law prohibiting a video tape service provider from revealing customer information, and Netflix has responded by adding social features powered by Facebook’s social graph. Users who authenticate with Facebook will be opted in to sharing viewing information, which can be turned off. They’ll then be able to see lists of friends favorite videos as well as what they’re watching. (Read More at Bloomberg)
  • Vimeo has launched a new update to allow creatives to charge for access to their content called Vimeo On Demand. Previously, they were only able to accept donations. Now, the content creators can set the price, geo-fence content and create custom landing pages and trailers to entice views. Vimeo will take 10% of sales. (Read More at TechCrunch)
  • Twitter may be launching a music-sharing application for iOS devices this month. This would allow users to follow bands, discover music and share recommendations. This follows Twitter’s 2012 acquisition of We Are Hunted, a music service start-up. (Read More at The Guardian)