This Week in Social (Week of June 17)

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.

Digg’s RSS Reader Coming Just In Time (Read more at VentureBeat)  

Digg Reader, Digg’s answer for RSS, will be coming to users on June 26 with a basic version that can import everything from Google Reader, such as existing feeds and folders. It will also have features for sharing, organizing and saving posts for reading later. But Digg won’t stop there with plans to add new tools for filtering feeds based on personal tastes and integration with services like Evernote, IFTTT and Buffer.

According to Digg, the team focused on one audience given the short time frame to pull this together. Digg’s blog said, "Given the compressed time frame for this sprint, we decided early on that we needed to focus on one type of user. We asked ourselves who had most to lose from the shutdown of Google Reader, and the answer was fairly obvious: the power user, the people who depend on the availability, stability, and speed of Reader every day. The good news is that these users are also the most eager to contribute to the development process."

This comes only days before the end of Google Reader, which will be shut down July 1. Digg Reader will be available within the existing Digg iOS app, and an Android app is on its to-do list within the first 60 days after launch.

Digg joins a slew of other RSS services benefiting from the end of Google Reader, including Feedly, Zite and Flipboard. Feedly actually passed the 12 million user mark and launched Feedly Cloud, so it can work with multiple reading applications and now works on the web with no plugins or extensions required. It will now work with other RSS app interfaces like Reeder, Newsify and Press via an API.

Clearly, Digg pulled everything together quickly to capitalize on the end of Google Reader. Now, the question is if users have held out until now to switch away from Google Reader or if they’ve already found another service.

Feedly has benefitted greatly and has made improvements to its platform since Google Reader announced it would shut down. That’s tough competition for Digg. One thing that Digg did that was very smart is it surveyed people and it incorporated feedback into the design. Making the community part of the development experience may put Digg in a good position with a segment of users waiting to see what the team pulls together.

Facebook Delays Video Ads Launch (Read more at InsideFacebook)

Facebook video ads were schedule to launch in June or July, but the launch is reported to be pushed back until at least mid-October as the network adds new features. If you’re not familiar, video ads, limited to 15 seconds, have been rumored to come to Facebook for some time. The ads will autoplay within your newsfeed. Although, they are said to autoplay without sound. Users will see no more than three ads per day.

The incorporation of Nielsen metrics is one feature that’s being added to incorporate traditional TV ad metrics like gross rating points, even for videos that play without sound.

Facebook ads are reported to come with a $1 million price tag and may go as high as $2.4 million, depending on reach. Facebook may be working to make sure the ads are with the price tag by being more able to answer questions around value. Adding in more traditional metrics as a service like Nielsen can provide may help allay marketers’ reservations on investing that much in a single unit.

User reservations aside, this could be a big opportunity for Facebook to generate a lot of revenue, so it makes sense for them to want to get it right. Although, the longer they wait, the longer they wait on the potential revenue.

Instagram Debuts Video Sharing (Read more at The New York Times)

Instagram released a major update for its app this week when Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom took the stage and announced video-sharing for the photo-sharing platform. The offering comes only five months after Twitter-owned Vine launched.

The update seamlessly integrates video into the app by adding a video-camera icon that allows users to switch between photo and video mode. In video-mode users can record videos up to 15 seconds in length with multiple clips and then choose from 13 different filters. Lastly, users can choose the cover image before sharing. On the backend, the app has a stabilization feature to help prevent shaking.

As users browse through their Instagram feeds, video will play automatically with or without sound, depending on user preferences. Instagram’s video competitor, Vine, is limited to 6-second video length to make it more mobile-friendly. In addition, Vine allows users to loop their videos, so they repeat.

In addition to the announcement for video, Systrom noted that Instagram’s current 130 million active users have shared 16 billion photos.

Given Instagram’s user base and popularity this is a big deal, particularly for the visual web. Now, more than 100 million users have the ability to create short, quick videos on the fly.

This does not mean the end of Vine. Vine will continue to thrive and grow among its users, but now Instagram videos will be showing up on Facebook. This means people who wouldn’t have used Vine in the past will be exposed to quick video through Instagram, potentially making it more mainstream.

One potential risk is that this invites users to create more noise on the Instagram platform. Making photos compelling is easier than video, so it will be interesting to see how this affects user behavior and content quality.

Still, one of the big unspoken pieces of this is the potential for advertising. Videos are limited to 15 seconds, the same length as a short ad, so this could mean video ads coming to Instagram and even to Facebook’s upcoming video ads product.

Facebook Updates for Brands (Read more at AdWeek)

Facebook has been working to simplify its ad offerings with fewer options, and this week it continued by making changes to Facebook’s analytics feature Insights. Now, the People Talking About This (PTAT) and virality are broken out so advertisers can quickly see how they translate to likes, comments, shares, clicks generated by a post and negative feedback received such as when a post is hidden or indicated as spam.

Advertisers will also benefit from deeper information on demographics of their fan bases.

The rollout of the updates has already begun.

In addition to improving Insights, Page Admins will also now have the ability to see comments on posts in the order they were posted. This has been enabled for all pages with replies turned on.

Facebook Insights have been a useful tool for marketers who take the time to dig in and try to get something out of it. As Facebook works to make itself more approachable for advertisers, making updates to Insights is a good next step. Insights are more actionable and information is clearer. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up to other analytics tools like Page Lever in terms of making data useful.

News Quick Hits

  • Skype launched a new feature this week that allows users to send quick messages and send them to Skype contacts that last up to three minutes. Users can preview the videos prior to sending, delete them and re-record them. With similar, yet different services like SnapChat and Google Hangouts, Microsoft is working to make sure its video service remains relevant, useful and consistent with competitors. (Read more at Business Insider)
  • Yelp has a new “Call to Action” feature that allows advertisers to integrate a single transaction type on a Yelp listing. For example, a concert venue could sell tickets from its Yelp profile. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Viggle, the second-screen app, reached the three million user mark and now has 800,000 active users each month. Its growth in users has led to partnerships with the NBA, NBCUniversal and other TV networks and properties. (Read more at LostRemote)
  • Facebook has reached the 1 million active advertiser mark, meaning 1 million advertisers, most of which are small businesses, have used Facebook in the last 28 days. (Read more at Reuters)
  • Twitter’s TV ad targeting product has a starting price tag of $100,000. The product tracks what TV commercials have aired and which TV viewers may have seen them, so advertisers can then target ads and reinforce their TV message with a message on Twitter. Additional investment comes with additional perks. (Read more at AdAge)
  • Google is launching a pilot program that matches advertisers with YouTube executives and resources to improve their YouTube content strategies and creations. The program is available to advertisers who agree to spend a certain amount with Google. The program will start in September. (Read more at AdAge)
  • Facebook photo comments have started their release to all users, which means users will be able to share images as comments on a post. The feature is only available for user profiles but will come to pages soon. Users can respond with a photo by clicking the camera icon beside the text box where a message would normally be written. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Twitter acquired the location-based social discovery engine, Spindle, which aims to connect users with relevant content based on time and place. Spindle will be shut down and could potentially end up being integrated in Twitter’s Discover feature. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Facebook’s week wrapped up with news that it inadvertently shared 6 million user email addresses or telephone numbers because of a software bug. The bug was discovered when some users downloaded their Facebook archives, which included contact info for second-tier connections. (Read more at Mashable)