This Week in Social (Week of March 18)

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.

Pinterest Releases Design Overhaul (Read more at CNET)

Pinterest released a layout overhaul this week with better search tools and even bigger pictures. The layout was in beta testing in January, and now, all users are able to get their hands on the results. The first new feature is the ability to see pins from the same board as well as other pins from the same website when you click a pin. This allows for even more content discovery related to what a user is interested in. The second piece is a new “People who pinned this also pinned…” feature to, once again, create a deeper sense of discovery.

Pinterest also listened to user frustration around losing one’s place when browsing. According to Pinterest, “Now when you scroll through pins and click on something that interests you, the back button lands you right back where you were no matter how far you’ve gone.

The update for Pinterest likely means more time spent on the site as users are continually taken down content “rabbit holes” as they browse content they like and continue to receive suggestions for additional content. This also has potential for marketers as their content has more potential to get in front of users organically. For example, a user looking at wedding shoes could receive suggestions from a shoe company on some of their products. Now, is definitely the time to integrate Pinterest into your website and potentially create a presence of your own.

Twitter Introduces New Targeting Tools (Read more at VentureBeat)

Twitter has taken more steps to help brands target messages more effectively. The network has slowly but surely been gathering information on its users based on tweets, locations and who a user chooses to follow as well as who follows them. Twitter’s taken this data and turned it into  new ways for advertisers to target users: by interests, by device, by who a user follows and by gender. It’s worth noting that you cannot target followers of someone specifically but you can target users like the followers of celebrity X. Bigger brands with bigger budgets could do this previously, but this is now available within its advanced campaign tools for all businesses.

Twitter provides the example that a golf shop could target users with golf as an interest by targeting users like the followers of Tiger Woods. Marketers will then need to optimize their efforts as it’s unclear why a user is following Tiger Woods.

Device-targeting means marketers will be able to create custom landing pages based on device and only target certain device types to deliver a more optimal experience.

The update is a logical step for Twitter. Facebook has effectively built user profiles that marketers can target by interest. What’s interesting is Facebook gets much of this information from user profiles. Twitter, on the other hand, is aggregating data from user following behavior. This could give Twitter a slight advantage of having more up-to-date user information. Although, that remains to be seen.

Facebook Introduces Lookalike Audiences (Read more at AllFacebook)

Facebook is delivering advertisers yet another tool to target consumers called Lookalike Audiences. The feature allows advertisers to reach users similar to their Custom Audience databases, which are built when marketers take their existing customer data, upload them to Facebook and then target customers who, for example, also sign up for their email marketing. Lookalike Audiences gives advertisers the ability to target similar consumers.

Facebook explains in a blog post “a business could choose to run an Offer to both people who they know have bought from them before, and to people who share similar attributes with those customers. Like with custom audiences, marketers can further refine lookalike audience targeting using Facebook’s standard interests and demographics targeting (i.e. a company could reach lookalikes with an Offer and use standard targeting to make sure that Offer only reaches lookalikes in Florida)."

The feature is expected to increase ad efficiency with lower cost-per-fan acquisitions, higher site registration, improved off-Facebook purchase conversions, higher brand awareness and more coupon redemptions and claims. No personal information will be shared.

Lookalike Audiences should definitely be getting advertisers attention.  It allows them to increase the reach of their campaigns, while reaching people with a propensity to be interested in the brand as they’re similar to existing customers. As always, advertisers should test different targeting options to see what combination works best based on objectives.

Google Launches Keep (Read more at Wired)

Google Reader is going away, but Google’s not done introducing new products. This week it launched an Evernote competitor called Keep, which allows Android 4.0 and above users to capture their thoughts using the note-taking service.

Users can create, edit and color-code notes and checklists with the app, as well as save photos. Keep will also transcribe voice notes. Notes are saved to Google Drive where they can be synced to all user devices. Users can, of course, search for Keeps they’ve uploaded.

There are no plans to expand the service to iOS devices at this time, although a web access will soon be available.

Google seems very well-suited to launch a service like this, particularly given their learnings from Google Docs where many users are already curating things like recipes, to-do lists and reminders. Google also clearly has the ecosystem to make this very successful, which could position it very well against Evernote, Keep’s primary competitor. Although, Evernote has a very strong, passionate user base, which likely won’t switch anytime soon, especially so soon after Google announced the end of Reader, an RSS aggregator many users relied on for keeping up with blogs.

Klout Opens Influencer Data for Businesses (Read more at cNet)

Klout has opened up its social-scoring data for businesses with the launch of Klout for Business. The update allows a more transparent look for businesses into how Klout evaluates influence. Klout uses a combination of one’s ability to spread messages across social media platforms as well as topics a user specializes in to give people Klout scores.

With Klout for Business, marketers will be able to evaluate individuals’ influence, at least according to Klout.

The tool is free and gives brands access to analytics on individuals discussing a brands’ category, products and services along with insight into how a business can appeal to digital audiences.

Klout has been the subject of a great deal of scrutiny as it’s worked to apply a metric to something that’s not necessarily measurable, influence. This has led to a significant amount of industry skepticism. Klout for Business appears to be a pivot for Klout to evolve its offering and become somewhat of an analytics platform, which could be helpful for brands looking to identify influencers and have the numbers to back up their decisions.

News Quick Hits

  • Flickr updated its iOS app with hashtag support. Users can now add hashtags to image titles and descriptions and then search for photos by hashtag. This allows Flickr to be more real-time in nature and compete with services like Instagram, which uses hashtags to a high degree. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • Facebook has hired the co-founders of Legit, a startup built to help services verify user trustworthiness. Legit has been shut down. The team will likely help Facebook with security. (Read more at TechCrunch)
  • Pinterest acquired the local recommendation app Livestar. According to Pinterest, the Livestar engineering team was the primary motivation for the acquisition. Livestar specializes in helping people find local recommendations from friends and other individuals. Livestar will be closing down. (Read more at GIGAOM)
  • YouTube announced that it now receives one billion users per month. This means nearly one out of every two people on the Internet visits YouTube. Part of the growth is attributed to the proliferation of smart phones, which allow users to view content anywhere at any time. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Spotify has officially completed the rollout of its new social following features that allow users to find songs through friends and online influencers. This is intended to solve one of Spotify’s greatest challenges, music discovery. Users can choose to follow others, including their Facebook friends and music aficionados. (Read more at TechCrunch)
  • Zynga will no longer require users to login with Facebook to play its games. Zynga and Facebook have slowly been drifting apart with Zynga building a platform off of Facebook and Facebook making it easier for other game developers to compete on the social network. (Read more at AllFacebook)
  • Reddit is replacing its in-house advertising platform and Doubleclick for the Adzerk system, which gives users the ability to vote ads up or down. As users vote, the system learns and tailors ads to user tastes. (Read more at BetaBeat)