This Week in Social (Week of August 12)

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.

Restaurant Facebook Pages Integrate with OpenTable and TV Listings Come to Facebook (Read more at InsideFacebook)

Facebook Pages for restaurants, TV shows and movies are getting a major update to their mobile pages. Users will now be able to make reservations for nearly 20,000 restaurants using OpenTable on Facebook even if they are not members of OpenTable. Pages of TV shows and movies will feature detailed TV listings similar to what is on guides on set-top boxes in a way tailored to a user’s current time zone. The feature is only available for iOS at this time.

Beyond those updates, Facebook also added searchable hashtags to its iOS application, faster load times and a cleaner design for iPad users, and a bug fix to prevent false notification alerts from showing up.

Facebook isn’t the only one with OpenTable integration. Yelp also offers the reservation feature, so this clearly puts Facebook in direct competition with the local search giant, but it’s a logical move, especially as Facebook continues to roll out Graph Search with more features and works to appeal to small businesses.

The TV listings also play well with Graph Search, allowing people to search for content and get information.

The move shows an emphasis on adding utility to Facebook Pages, something many businesses have been wanting, but with the de-emphasis of tabs, haven’t been able to adopt fully.

Facebook’s getting a bit closer to identifying user intent, something Google has mastered and monetized effectively. This could only be the beginning for Facebook, which could continue to rollout commerce-like features for businesses.

Yelp Reviewers Can Now Go Mobile (Read more at PCMAG)

Yelp’s mobile app has gotten an update to let users post reviews from their phones. The update is available now for iOS and will come to Android soon.

It comes in response to an increasing number of people using their phones as the sole way they access Yelp. Users will be able to install the update and post full-length reviews, add “quick tips” or leave star ratings. Yelp does say, however, that reviews that are too short will be converted to “quick tips.”

It almost seems like this is a feature that already existed, and that may be because it should have as other local apps like Foursquare already have the feature. This is good for a couple reasons. It allows users to leave a review immediately, meaning instant feedback. It also brings more competition to the local mobile space. Foursquare is here. Google and Facebook are catching up, but Yelp remains the king of reviews. If it wants to stay there, it has to evolve to the increasing number of mobile users.

The New York Times Goes Social When Site Goes Down (Read more at The New York Times)

The New York Times’ site went down on Wednesday due to a server issue, so when they considered what a news site is to do in that event, they turned to Facebook. Their stories for that day appeared as Facebook notes. Over the course of the outage, The New York Times published stories related to the protests in Egypt and the sentencing of Jesse Jackson Jr. Shortly after that the site was back up and running.

Notes was a smart solution because the feature allows for headlines, constant updating, photos and formatting. But this also shows how social media channels can be used by businesses to nimbly communicate with customers. These social channels are tools that marketers can look to as potential solutions when communication is critical.

Facebook Testing Mobile Payments (Read more at AllThingsD)

Facebook has confirmed that it is testing a mobile payments product that allows users to make payments using their Facebook accounts. Users who provide their payment information will be able to pay without having to re-enter billing and payment information, similar to PayPal. If Facebook continues with the product, it could be a source of purchasing data on its audience. Facebook is testing it with JackThreads, a shopping site for young men.

The rollout of such a product makes sense for Facebook, but the question is whether or not it makes sense for users. Trust in Facebook has waned, and users may not be comfortable using the platform to make purchases, especially with competitors like PayPal already serving that role for a long while.  Facebook has, however, successfully allowed users to organize their online connections, so this could be one more way to consolidate your online identity into one platform, which could be a convenience factor for some users. If Facebook can pull this off, there’s a lot of potential for advertisers to merge social and purchasing data.

News Quick Hits

  • Facebook acquired Mobile Technologies. The terms were not disclosed, but Mobile Technologies offers voice recognition and translation tools. The company built the “world’s first speech-to-speech translator on a phone that runs online and even off-line.” (Read more at Mashable)
  • Twitter is updating its TwetDeck dashboard to make tweeting, sending direct messages and previewing images to share easier. The update will come to all versions of TweetDeck, first to Web and Chrome users and then to apps. Users can click the New Tweet button or reply to a Tweet to open up the New Tweet panel, or users can choose to have it open at all times. Users can also choose which accounts they’d like to tweet from by selecting the desired avatar. Users can easily select Direct Message or Schedule Tweet, and they can preview an image before sending a tweet. The update brings TweetDeck into a similar usability realm as a more prosumer platform like Hootsuite. (Read more at VentureBeat)
  • Facebook is in the process of testing an application only available to celebrities. It will allow them to monitor mentions and quickly respond to fans. The update may be an attempt to make Facebook more competitive with Twitter in the realm of celebrity use. (Read more at AllThingsD)
  • Google+ brought new features to its Android app this week, giving users the ability to share locations with varying degrees of detail with their circles. The update is intended to replace Google’s previous location platform, Google Latitude. In addition to locations, users can now add photos from Google Drive to Google+ profiles, switch more easily and integrate the app with Google Apps for business. (Read more at Mashable)
  • China’s premier social network Sina Weibo announced $30 million in ad revenue in Q2 2013, 200% more than last year, and an increase in user count by 186% over last year. The service is now valued at $6 billion. (Read more at AllTwitter)
  • Google will soon start pulling information from users’ Gmail, Google Calendar and Google+ accounts to deliver personalized results around reservations, plans and flight times over an encrypted connection. The feature can be disabled but when turned on users can search for things like “What’s my flight status?” or “When will my package arrive?” (Read more at The Next Web)
  • Twitter is testing a new feature for its iOS app that highlights local events happening nearby a user’s location. The feature shows hashtags for events nearby your location with information on how far away you are. It also includes a tweet from someone using the hashtag. (Read more at VentureBeat)