This Week in Social (Weeks of July 1 and July 8)

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.

Facebook Rolls Out Graph Search (

While many have had access to the beta version of Graph Search since January, the official rollout to all users is underway and will wrap up in the next few weeks.

Graph Search was introduced by Mark Zuckerberg as the third pillar of Facebook. It allows users to search Facebook using natural language for information related to their social connections, businesses they like and so on. For example, you could search for “Photos of my friends who live in Cincinnati.”

The rollout includes improvements in speed in which suggested searches are given and results are displayed, a better understanding of queries, results organized by relevance and a more prominent and easier to use search box. Users also have improved control over what personal information displays in Graph Search and what doesn’t.

You’ll know you have Graph Search when your profile’s search box changes to the new format.

Graph Search has the potential to make social data more useful for users. Many don’t take the time to organize their friends into lists, but with Graph Search, that’s not necessary. One can easily filter Facebook connections based on what he or she searches for. On paper, it also has the potential to be used to inform decisions, such as a search for “shoe companies my friends like.”

That’s all dependent upon users keeping their profiles updated and setting their privacy settings in a way that’s open enough to show up in search results. Without accurate information and somewhat open profiles, Graph Search will not be useful. However, if it is, Facebook has the potential to add paid search to its ad units portfolio in a more meaningful way than previous iterations.

Twitter Introduces Ad Retargeting (Read more at AdAge)

Twitter is now allowing advertisers to target users with ads based on behavior outside of Twitter, including browsing behavior and email address. This means advertisers will be able to target people who have visited their websites or signed up for an email list.

This is the first time third party data has been able to be integrated for targeting purposes into Twitter’s ad platform.

Users can opt out of targeting using third-party data, unlike Facebook. Twitter will also make data anonymous to protect user data.

This effort should make Twitter advertising more effective. After all, retargeting is typically more effective than other ad targeting methods, and as Twitter proves itself, this should become a significant source of revenue. This also shows how social is stronger with other, third-party data. Merging data from outside of social platforms to make them stronger is now key to success as Facebook advertisers have already discovered.

Yelp Diversifies with Booking Services (Read more at CNET)

Yelp has announced that users will soon be able to do much more on the platform than read and write reviews. Users will now be able to complete transactions, and the first transaction to come is with food delivery services, which will now allow users to order food for delivery all through Yelp.

Plans for allowing people to book appointments at spas, dentists, salons and more are in development. The initiative is called “Yelp Platform.”

The move makes a lot of sense for Yelp, and it could benefit business. After all, Yelp is the web’s database for local businesses. While other competitors such as Grubhub offer food delivery, Yelp brings everything together and allows it to be the go-to source for local shopping. There is also revenue potential here for businesses to promote their listings, so Yelp gets revenue while businesses get additional exposure.

Instagram Allows Embedding of Content (Read more at Mashable)

Instagram has now made it possible for users to embed their photos and videos on other websites. The feature is available only on the desktop in the share icon on the right side of photos and videos. This allows users  to get a snippet of code to add to their personal blogs or websites. The feature is only available for photos and videos that have not been set to ‘private.’

On the surface, this isn’t a huge update, but the implications could be big. News organizations can now take Instagram content and give it additional context by embedding it in articles. This gives Instagram more potential than ever as a news source. It also provides brands the ability to take their Instagram content and give it a more prominent role in their other digital marketing efforts.

LinkedIn Overhauls Mobile Search (Read more at The Next Web)

LinkedIn is continuing to evolve, and it recently upgraded its mobile search feature, now allowing users to still search for other people but now also Companies, Groups and Jobs. Users don’t even need to use keywords to search if they aren’t looking for anything in particular as results related to each category are displayed for content discovery.

Beyond search, users are encouraged by LinkedIn to use the mobile app to have an edge at the work place by gaining professional intelligence at any given moment with advice from professional thought leaders and also using the LinkedIn app as efficiently as possible by customizing navigation to make sure favorite sections are as easy to access via shortcuts as possible.

This update follows the acquisition of mobile newsreader Pulse, the launch of a separate application to manage user contacts and other moves that show LinkedIn’s focus on mobile, a focus other companies like Facebook have taken as well.

LinkedIn is made for a mobile environment. Its users are on-the-go and probably feeling time strapped, and despite all of the updates LinkedIn still has work to do to bring its mobile offering on parity with the desktop experience.

The endgame for LinkedIn is to be your personal assistant wherever you go and whatever you do, managing your contacts, delivering you information and being there to help you succeed at work. Mobile’s the best place to do that, and with every update the team gets a bit closer.

Vine Releases Major Update (Read more at Wired)

Vine released its most aggressive update to date just prior to Independence Day. The update includes a new camera tool that has a grid, focus and ghost tools to make shooting easier. The grid helps users frame shots, and the focus button helps users focus an image in the frame without tapping the screen and accidentally recording a video. The ghost tool shows a “ghost” image of your latest frame if you’re shooting a stop-motion video, allowing you to frame things up more effectively.

They’ve launched 15 channels that users can submit their posts to and an Explore screen that highlights popular content in different categories. Users can also check out the “On the Rise” section to see what is starting to gain popularity on Vine. Vine now has its own version of the Retweet, called the Revine that allows users to share others’ Vines. Lastly, users can protect their Vines and approve who can follow them.

This is a big update and really makes Vine a much more effective app with a focus on making content higher quality and helping users discover interesting content. This makes the service stickier and more enjoyable for users.

One of the key additions is the ability to Revine. This makes Vine videos much more sharable, and it also gives users more positive reinforcement to create and continue to create quality content. Many were eager to dismiss Vine with Instagram video coming onto the scene, but Vine isn’t giving up easily, and this update is a big boost for the service’s quality.

News Quick Hits

  • Google Reader, Google’s RSS reader, closed down on July 1, but there’s no need to fear as other options emerged to fill the gap, including Feedly, Digg Reader, AOL Reader and Flipboard (Read more at VentureBeat)
  • Facebook hashtags are getting some added features in the coming weeks. Facebook’s mobile site now has hashtag support, and related hashtags have started to display in search results. (Read more at AllFacebook)
  • Zynga CEO Mark Pincus has stepped down and the leader of Microsoft’s Xbox business for the past three years has stepped in to take his place. Pincus will remain involved as chairman and chief product officers. (Reade more at The New York Times)
  • Yahoo acquired the mobile storytelling app that integrates video and photos, Qwiki, for about $50 million. No details have been revealed how Yahoo will use Qwiki. (Read more at GigaOM)
  • Instagram updated its iOS app to allow users to record videos and take photos in landscape mode. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • Facebook updated Home, its launcher for Android devices, to now give users access to folders, allow users to store the app on a phone’s SD memory card, swipe on the screen to open chats and bookmarks, and share News Feed stories within private messages. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • Twitter rolled out an update that brings direct message syncing to users. This means if you read a direct message on an official Twitter application, it will be marked as read across all other applications. This overcomes the issue of checking a direct message on your iPhone, for example, and still having a notification for an unread message on your iPad. (Read more at The Verge)
  • Tumblr released an update for its iOS and Android mobile apps that helps users discover new content by allowing them to search for tags and blogs while also viewing the tags and blogs trending at any given moment. A search for a tag gives users results for blogs that use the tag. The update is intended to improve engagement through content discovery. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • Foursqure is now available for one of the most popular phones in the world, the Nokia S40. The effort is intended to boost Foursquare’s user base and follows an agreement with Nokia to preload Foursquare on a series of upcoming devices. (Read more at AllThingsD)
  • Zynga announced the launch of several real-money Facebook gambling games, including ZyngaPlusPoker and ZyngaPlusCasino in the United Kingdom, where online gambling happens to be legal. The launch is highly anticipated as a potentially very lucrative revenue stream for the struggling social gaming company. No official date for the launch has been given. (Read more at GigaOM)