Since it’s launch nearly 2 years ago, I have been waiting for Google+ to take off. Right out the gate, many expected Google+ to succeed due to it’s sign up rate and competitive advantage of having a natural tie-in to search.
Over the past 2 years, it seems as if Google+ has just been trying to find its niche with multiple redesigns, updates, etc. As an everyday user of the Google acquired blogging tool, Blogger, I have kept up with Google+’s updates there, and have been impressed by how they’ve leveraged search for content discovery. (With the recent acquirement of Tumblr by Yahoo, I can’t wait to see how this plays out).
This week, Google launched a new look and feel for Google+ that looks a lot like what you might see on your Pinterest profile or on Mashable.com.
While the redesign looks like other popular content discovery sites, I think the most significant update is the ease of finding similar content. Hashtags are now automatically added to posts and allow users to click on them to discover similar content within the same place. All while harnessing the power and information of the Google platforms (Blogger, YouTube, search, Google+, etc.)
For Marketers, this addition makes it clear that Google+ is harnessing the power of search and prioritizing content discovery. It also suggests that Google+ may not need to be a community with an engagement strategy, but more a place to have a presence for discovery and to drive traffic to other content.
What do you think of the redesign?
Seven years later…and Twitter joins the email marketing game with a weekly email digest. According to Twitter’s blog, the site will be rolling out the new feature over the next few weeks.
I received my first weekly email digest yesterday, and will say that I actually noticed it despite the thousands of other emails I receive from sites like AdAge, Smart Brief on Social Media, Creativity Online, etc. Taking a further look into the content that Twitter deemed “the most engaging seen by the people [I] follow” along with “who from [my] network retweeted or favorited the tweets,” I noticed that I had already tweeted or retweeted over half of them.
Since I use Twitter as a tool for news around my industry, I was curious what this email digest looks like for a different kind of Twitter user. I asked my friend in the finance industry, who follows sports, news sites like CNN, and friends. His digest looked a lot different - did I mention he follows A LOT of sports ?
From these two examples, it seems to me that the “stories” section of Twitter is generally useless since the main benefit of Twitter is it’s timeliness. And, if you are interested in something enough to follow it on Twitter, you’ve probably already heard what happened in MLB Baseball this week or that someone finally launched Pinstagram.
What I did find useful were the tweets. This section shows you the most relevant tweets for the week from the people you follow, and what I discovered was a good mixture of commentary on top news stories and humor. I might even go far enough to say this part of the email will keep me from unsubscribing from the digest. AND depending upon the number of people you follow, it’s more likely you wouldn’t have seen these tweets yet.
See what I mean?
As a social marketer, I also can’t help but point out that within this week’s weekly digest, P&G’s “Thank you Mom” campaign received some earned media. The campaign, which allows P&G to take a seat at the Olympic sponsor’s table, is thanking over 2,000 moms of Olympians by helping them get to the 2012 Olympics in London. By promoting this tweet and calling fans to RT, P&G drove tweets and mentions ultimately landing it a place in my weekly digest, and who knows how many others.
What will you do with your weekly digest? Is it a keeper or just more spam?
In November, Foursquare and Scoutmob partnered up to offer Foursquare users more deals at local bars, restaurants and more. After 3 months, I’ve finally received my first Scoutmob deal on Foursquare, and I didn’t even have to check in to get it.
In my notifications, I received an update telling me about a deal at a local bar that my Foursquare friends frequent.
Clicking on the deal ultimately took me to the Special Offer page to tell me more about the deal, and allowed me to redeem it right away. As a consumer, I love this new addition. Scoutmobs are generally a great deal, but I always seem to forget to check the Scoutmob app. I love that these deals will now be brought to my attention as my friends and I check into locations around Atlanta.
What’s in it for Foursquare? When it launched in 2009, the site capitalized on consumers’ competitive nature by offering mayorships and badges to the users as they checked-in. Shortly after, Foursquare allowed businesses to offer deals to customers checking in, and at SXSW last year announced a partnership with American Express. This new partnership with Scoutmob brings more value to the location-based social networking site, which will ultimately lead to more users. More users means more revenue if/when Foursquare decides to go public.
What’s in it for Scoutmob? As a relatively new company that launched in 2010 in just 13 cities, this partnership gives Scoutmob a nationwide service with 10 million usersto help spread the word about its service. Sounds like new venues and more cities in are the start-up’s future.
Facebook and Twitter sales teams will tell you that posts aligning with time relevant events (like national holidays, sporting events, etc.) receive the most interaction. But many times brands have a hard time using their owned media to support a general, non-brand specific message. It looks like this MLK day some brands caught on and even implemented this insight. Walmart took it a step further and promoted its post as ad.
Insight? - Even if a brand’s post doesn’t sell a product or promote one of its current campaigns, positing content that is interesting to users and results in a response is just as valuable. Possibly it is even more valuable, since the message connects with users on a more personal level and resembles and interaction made between friends on the site.
The new Facebook profile changes are here! Well….only if you’re a Facebook developer or followed Mashable’s 8 step process to become a “Facebook Developer.” For everyone else, your profile will update automatically on 9/30.
Having already inundated the blogosphere, by now most of you have probably read extensively about the profile changes or even watched f8 live. So here’s a quick list of the top line updates and their implications for brands in the space.
1. Timeline - Although this new feature’s premise comes awfully close to start-up, Path’s (seriously watch their product videos and you’ll see how eerily similar the two are - Path’s & Facebook’s) news of its release is blowing up across the web. Dubbed by many as a “virtual scrapbook,” this combines all of your wall posts, photos, events, check ins, etc. into a cohesive timeline, and allows you to backtrack to your birth date and update your profile.
2. Friend’s app activity will now be more prevalent -Apps will only ask permission to publish your updates once. You may have been surprised to see today how many of your friends were “suddenly” on Spotify streaming live music updates on your ticker. Now users’ app activities will appear in the ticker to let friends click through, download the app and participate themselves.
3. The “like” button will get a lot more specific - Instead of only being able to like your favorite band or like a TV show you’re watching, you’ll now be able to insert any verb for where like used to be.
Catch up on the changes Facebook made to users’ homepages, like top stories and the ticker, earlier this week here.
What does this mean for brands on Facebook?
For now, people are talking about the shift of Facebook’s focus from scale to engagement, but if you ask me this is about a lot more - revenue.
Yesterday sites across the blogosphere released articles about Facebook’s plan to launch “major” profile changes at Thursday’s f8 conference. But today when you sign into Facebook, you’ll be greeted with a few notes updating you on changes made to your homepage.
1. Top Stories (Combines Most Recent and Top News) - Your newsfeed will now feature your most “interesting” stories at the top marked with blue in the top left corner. These tops stories will be determined by who posted it, your relationship to them, and the number of likes and comments their post receives. What’s most likely to appear at the top for the average Facebook user? The most recent stories, larger photos, and of course any posts that have been made to your wall while you were away. Less frequent users will see top photos and status updates. Users will still be able to hide unwanted posts and view only friends lists within their newsfeeds.
Tip: You can control which stories make it to your top story list by rolling over the top right side of any story.
2. Ticker- Word about this new addition leaked earlier this summer in June, but the feature is now live on user’s homepages. This new addition will allow people to see what their friends are commenting on, liking and sharing in real-time. Users will be able to click on an update to expand a pop-up window, and see the entire update’s thread.
Do these updates foreshadow tomorrow’s impending profile updates? Check back later this week for an update.
A preview of the influence measuring site’s newest feature is now available to users who opted into the Topic pages preview perk last month, according to Klout’s blog. Over the next few weeks more and more users will be able to check out the feature, but for now…here’s a sneak peak.
Topics will now have pages that include:
What’s the benefit for users?
How accurate are these new topic pages?
At this point, it’s hard to tell. If you’re like me, you’ve checked out your Klout score profile and found that out of the three topics you’re considered “most influential about” at least one doesn’t seem to make sense. For now, Klout’s relying on users to keep topics accurate by allowing them to hide those that don’t make sense.
Even with its heavy reliance on user moderation, it seems that Klout topic pages will prove to be a more accurate social media directory source due to its analysis of user’s influential topics compared to other sites that allow users to input them themselves.
Yesterday Twitter rolled out its newest photo-sharing feature, Image Galleries. Much like the photo component Twitter launched a few months ago within search, this new feature will create an aggregated photo gallery, but on users’ profile pages. The gallery will collect up to 100 of the user’s most recent uploads (dating back to January 1st, 2010) from photo-sharing services like Twitter, Twitpic, Instagram and Yfrog.
With the focus of photos ramping up on Twitter, it’s interesting to see the difference in brands who have been actively using photos and those who haven’t. See how some brands’ image galleries compare.
National Geographic: National Geographic has established itself in the world of photojournalism, and most recently won a top ASME award in the category. So far the institution has created a hub for photography on its website and Facebook page by focusing on the Photo of the Day, Galleries of Photos, Wallpapers, Photo Tips, and more. But what’s its approach to photo sharing on Twitter?
Currently the National Geographic Twitter account has over 900,000 followers and only four photos on its profile page.
As a non-profit, this new Twitter feature is a great, free way for National Geographic to share photos of the day and photography tips to gain new followers, spark conversation, and further establish themselves as a venerable photography reference within the digital world.
Skittles: Skittles has done a great job building its presence within Facebook, and has gathered over 19 million fans on its page. Posting one-liners every day, Skittles received 242,729 comments and likes total in just 30 days. Skittles’ focus on Facebook as its main social platform is obvious when looking at its Twitter account, which only has around 15,000 followers. Its image gallery, however, already contains pics reflecting the light-hearted tone of the hard shelled, fruit candy brand. With just four images so far, Skittles has the opportunity to enrich its social media presence by building up its content and followers on Twitter.
The Today Show: America’s #1 morning show has the opportunity to share its exclusive photos from around the world, on set, behind the scenes and more with its almost 900,000 followers on Twitter. And it is doing just that. Its photo gallery includes images from a sunset in the Bahamas to a radar around Hurricane Irene to behind the scenes footage from music performances.
Have you seen any other photo galleries on Twitter that stuck out to you as good or bad?
Google’s product manager, Brian Glick announced on his Google+ stream Thursday that Google+ hangouts are now available directly from YouTube.
"Just click on ‘Share’ underneath any video, and then click on "Start a Google+ Hangout" in the bottom right-hand corner."
From there a pop up window will appear asking you to download a plug-in (if you haven’t already), and then you’re off! And don’t worry, Google’s not letting you forget to do a hair and mic check for the camera.
What does this integration do for Google?
1. Improves Google+ Hangouts’ User-Flow: While watching videos with friends has been a possibility from the start on Google+, this improvement makes it easier for users to initiate a hangout and coordinate with friends. With users logging into YouTube and Google at the same time, they are able to plan a hangout on Gchat and share videos with friends that they know are online, all from within Google’s sites.
2. Capitalizes on Google Owned Properties: Google+ has the opportunity to bring value to its users in ways that differ from other social networking sites by capitalizing on Google’s network. The site has already started doing this by making Google+ public posts available in Google search, by bringing Gchat into users’ Google+ homepage, and now by adding a YouTube integration. Harnessing the network allows Google to integrate already established and highly used products into a new platform, and improve multiple platforms at the same time.
3. Evolves YouTube’s Social Experience: Videos are inherently a social medium. People watch a video and want to pass it on to their friends. Google has picked up on this human insight, and has consistently integrated social capabilities into YouTube. With “100 million people tak[ing] a social action on YouTube (likes, shares, comments, etc) every week” (Statistics, YouTube), this Google+ integration is a no brainer. It brings users a more social way to share videos, and the capability to actually see their friend’s reactions to the video through their webcams. This feature also adds a Turntable.fm quality to video sharing, by letting users within the hangout search for a new video and select it to be played.
Kraft Macaroni and Cheese’s latest campaign, Smile Tagging, is a great example of a brand building its social media strategy on proven human insights to create a lasting relationship between a brand and its consumers. Its new campaign capitalizes on people’s habit of sharing funny things they find on the web with others and their affinity for photo sharing.
The Facebook application invites users to take a picture of themselves smiling and send it along with a funny video, website or picture they find on the web.
My favorite so far is a site that was passed around my office earlier this week - www.leisuredive.com, which has of course made its way into Kraft’s Smile Tagging app. If you haven’t seen it yet, make sure you’re prepared to laugh out loud at your desk.