This Week in Social (Week of March 4)

This Week in Social is a weekly digest of some of the biggest stories in social media marketing news. These stories are discussed in greater depth on the Brave Ad World Podcast.

Facebook Launches Revamped News Feed (Read more at AllFacebook)

Facebook introduced a brand new news feed for users this week, and in the process, it’s cleaned up a lot of clutter that surrounded it. The update was inspired by the news feed on Facebook’s mobile app, which is much simpler and focuses on the content.

One of the most striking updates is an even heavier emphasis on photos. Photos are much larger and take up a lot of real-estate on a user’s screen.

Facebook also emphasized the idea that the news feed is now more like a newspaper with different sections that you can flip to. Users can switch their news feed to focus on photos, music, games, public figures, friends and a ‘following’ section, which is where brand Facebook Pages will be. The ‘old’ news feed with content placed there by Facebook’s algorithm will also be available, but if a user just wants to view all of their friends’ content, they can do that by switching the feed.

The update will roll out to users in the coming weeks.

Facebook’s approach is pretty clever.

Its algorithm has come under scrutiny as users question why they see one piece of content and not another piece. Now, the control is with the users. It also follows the visual style of Google+, which is a much simpler layout. Facebook has streamlined everything to make the platform more inviting.

Marketers should view this as both a challenge and an opportunity. Their content will now primarily be featured in the ‘following’ feed, which means if a user doesn’t want to see it and wants to live in his or her friends-only feed, they might not see brand content. The opportunity here is that people who do take the time to see a brand’s content will likely be looking for it, giving it more resonance. The other opportunity is brand messages will now carry more resonance. The additional real-estate a brand piece of content takes up means messages should be more impactful.

Marketers should think about their approach and make their content as compelling as possible.

Users will need all the incentive we can give them to check their following feed. Marketers should also emphasize photos and visual content as that’s the type of content that will really stand out with this new update. Finally, because feeds (besides the news feed curated by Facebook’s algorithm) will feature content in chronological order, marketers should consider posting more frequently throughout the day and benchmarking their engagement when it comes to time of day for their posts to ensure that when they do post, it’s at the right time.

Facebook Defends Its Newsfeed Algorithm… Again (Read more at Fast Company)

The New York Times writer Nick Bilton called Facebook’s algorithm out this week when he noted that engagement in terms of likes and shares on his posts has recently dropped. It wasn’t until he invested $7 to promote a post that he saw a jump in engagement. This led Bilton to question how Facebook is surfacing content in news feeds and if content that’s promoted for a fee is pushing organic content out of news feeds.

This isn’t the first time Facebook’s been under scrutiny.Recently marketers have called Facebook out for making their organic content less effective and forcing them to pay to get engagement back up to previously seen levels.

Facebook answered back with a blog post called “Fact Check.”  The post explained that one person’s experience shouldn’t be taken as fact and that Facebook’s algorithm changes are intended to improve user experience. Engagement has actually gone up 34% year over year. Facebook also says it separates its advertising algorithm and its news feed algorithm to ensure engaging posts aren’t replaced by sponsored posts.

Facebook has explained in the past that the three factors that determine if you’ll see a post in your feed are your reaction to the publisher in the past, how others have reacted and if you’ve reacted to similar stories.

Facebook changes, and there’s no shortage of individuals who have noticed. Still, the claim that Facebook is deliberately hurting the effectiveness of some stories to encourage paid options is a big statement to make. That’s not the question marketers should be asking.

Facebook has built a massive user base, and marketers naturally want access. This has led to the growth of Facebook Pages and made Facebook an advertising powerhouse. But at the end of the day, Facebook will do what Facebook wants to do. Marketers should view Facebook as an extension of their other marketing initiatives and their fans as ‘rented.’ They should focus on their owned platforms and encourage their fans to subscribe to their owned brand channels, such as an email list.

Twitter and Nielsen Launch Survey Tool (Read more at AllTwitter)

Nielsen and Twitter launched a survey tool for the Twitter platform called brand surveys. The tool is available for all ad partners in the U.S., UK and Japan. The tool displays a survey that looks native to the Twitter platform and is intended to determine the effectiveness of Promoted Tweets.

Twitter’s been testing the new feature and has come up with a few insights, including Promoted Tweets increase the rate at which users associate a brand’s message with its Twitter presence, Promoted Tweet campaigns are more effective in creating ‘brand lift’ when they’re continuous instead of one-offs and people who engage with Promoted Tweets have an increase in favorability and purchase intent.

Twitter teased these surveys last year, and they’ve clearly worked on the design to be more in-line with Twitter’s look and feel.

This is another move by Twitter to boost its advertising. It recently launched its Ads API, partnered with Nielsen to deliver a social TV rating,  acquired Bluefin Labs and it’s been worked to cut down on the number of third-party apps used to access Twitter in order to get advertising in front of more users.

Tumblr Launching Mobile Ads (Read more at AdAge)

In a move to increase revenue, Tumblr is expanding its advertising options from having advertisers pay for prominent places to now include mobile advertising. Marketers will soon be able to promote their content on Tumblr’s mobile app, similar to the how the Web version works.

Tumblr predicts that with this new option, profitability is around the corner as it continues its strategy to have advertisers pay to promote their own content. The move follows impressive growth for Tmublr’s mobile app, which has quadrupled in users in six months. Much like Facebook that had to catch up on mobile, Tumblr’s moving quick to capitalize on this behavior.

Tumblr now receives more than 16 billion page views worldwide per month.

How much can advertisers expect to pay? Just under six figures.

Tumblr has grown up considerably. Advertising was once shunned by Tumblr founder David Karp, but Tumblr’s found a way to integrate advertising while staying true to its core values.

Marketers aren’t paying to place display ads. They’re paying to promote original content.

Google+ Gets Design Overhaul (Read more at TechCrunch)

The day before Facebook was scheduled to announce changes to the news feed, Google+ made changes of its own with redesigned profile pages. The changes include much larger cover photos with a maximum size of 2,120 px by 1,192 px.  Users will be able to take advantage of the real estate by experimenting with different kinds of photos than they were able to previously.

The other update is the addition of a local reviews tab. Users will now be able to see all of their local reviews in one place along with favorite restaurants. If users don’t want the tab, they can hide it.

The final piece is an updated “About” tab, which breaks things out in separate sections, visually separated into squares. Users will be able to use the new format to more easily manage what content is shared with different Circles.

Google is continuing to invest massive resources into Google+, and it shows. The new design is beautiful, and Facebook has certainly taken notice with their latest update to the news feed. Facebook’s news feed is going to be simpler and emphasizes photos, something Google+ started. Google+ is getting Facebook’s attention, and they’re clearly attempting to entice users to update their profiles with a more beautiful aesthetic and layout.

Path Adds New Monetization Features (Read more at Forbes)

Path launched version 3.0 of its app with two brand new features.

The first allows users to send instant messages in the form of voice, text, locations, songs, videos, books, movies and stickers, which are purchasable photos that can be purchased in packs for about $1.99. The stickers have been created by artists. Users can send messages privately to one person or send them to a larger group.

The next feature is the Shop where users can go to purchase stickers as well as photo and video filters.

Before this update, Path offered a few photo filters for a price, but beyond that there were no monetization opportunities. Path seems to be avoiding revenue drivers like ads or in-app purchases to unlock features. Instead, Path is offering additional content, created by artists. Users of Path who value the app and what it brings to them may feel compelled to support Path by making the purchase.

The question remains on whether or not this is a valuable revenue driver. Path has built a user base. Now, they’re working to figure out how to turn that user base into revenue. The new messages feature should help with that as users send messages back-and-forth, it may remind users who haven’t used the app for some time to come back.

News Quick Hits

  • Twitter announced that it will discontinue the AIR, Android and iPhone versions of TweetDeck. The app will be removed from the app store in early May with support ceasing shortly after that. The company is instead focusing on its web app and an app for the Chrome browser. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Rumors are circulating that YouTube will soon be launching a subscription music service that would compete with platforms like Spotify. Users will be able to play songs for free with ads or pay a fee for an ad-free experience. YouTube is already one of the most used music services out there. (Read more at CNNMoney)
  • Facebook has announced that more than 15 million businesses have Facebook Pages, a jump of more than two million in the past three months. More than 8 million businesses are using Facebook’s mobile management app to maintain their Pages. (Read more at VentureBeat)
  • The ambient location-based social network Highlight is adding photos and events to its app. Users will have access to photo filters, the ability to upload photos, the ability to contribute to collections of photos of events and locations and a new map view that will show people and events nearby. (Read more at TechCrunch)
  • Twitter’s latest update do its iOS app has cut down on the options for video upload. Users will no longer be able to upload videos through Mobypicture, Vodpod or Posterous. Twitter is working to cut down on the number of third parties on its platform. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Twitter’s app update made search faster with new features. Now, when a user opens a link within Twitter to go to a web page, the tweet that had the link in it will be displayed at the bottom of your mobile web browser, giving additional context to what you’re seeing. The second update is improved autocomplete suggestions that come up in search and when writing a tweet. Finally, when you search for something on Twitter around an important topic, a Top Tweet will be at the top of the search results, separated from everything else. This tweet is deemed more valuable based on engagement and relevance, so finding the best tweets in a search will be easier. (Read more at AllTwitter)
  • Quora is now allowing users to write reviews and leave star ratings for things like movies and cars. (Read more at AllThingsD)