This Week in Social (Week of July 29)

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.

Twitter Clamps Down on Abusive Tweets (Read more at DailyMail)

Twitter is launching a new feature intended to make it easier for users to report abusive tweets through their iPhones and other devices following an outcry in Britain. The feature is in response to rape threats sent to freelance journalist and women’s rights advocate Caroline Criado-Perez. Perez worked with other activists to get Britain to honor Jan Austen on a banknote. Their success led to Perez and others being attacked with rape threats on Twitter.

Perez stated, “We need Twitter to recognize that its current reporting system is below required standards. It currently requires users to search for details on how to report someone for abuse; a feature that should be available on each user’s page.”

Twitter followed up by testing easier methods to report spam. It brought the ability to report a tweet for abuse through the Twitter iPhone app and will be brining the feature to other platforms in the near future.

Twitter stated that it does have rules in place, and when those rules are violated it will take steps to remove users. It cannot, however, be responsible for all content published on its site. Enforcing its policy has proven to be difficult, however.

Making reporting abuse easier is an important step in making Twitter a more welcoming platform for civil discourse. It does, however, point to a larger issue of ethics and free speech meeting online. Social networks are forced to strike a careful balance between protecting users’ ability to speak freely while also being protected from others who argue that retaliating is free speech as well.

In the end, the best solution is a subjective one, and empowering users to flag content as inappropriate is a good short-term solution.

Pinterest Introduces User Tracking (Read more at ZDNet)

Pinterest has announced that it will introduce a new feature that brings more relevant content recommendations to users with a “board suggestions” feature. The feature tracks users’ behavior, including the Web sites they visit that have a “Pin” button. So if you’re visiting a lot of cooking sites, you’ll likely see more cooking content when you go to Pinterest.

Now, this could easily anger privacy advocates, but when Pinterest announced this feature, it also enabled Do Not Track, allowing people to opt-out of being tracked on Pinterest. Privacy advocates were very pleased by the announcement. Pinterest is following the lead of Twitter, which also has a Do Not Track system.

This likely isn’t music to advertisers’ ears. However, this does earn Pinterest good will among users, and brings little risk to advertisers, as most users likely won’t sign up. Even if they do, Pinterest has still proven to be a powerful marketing platform, whether or not users can be tracked.

Facebook Video Ads Around the Corner (Read more at Bloomberg)

Several reports this week revealed that Facebook is mobilizing to launch its video ad product or products soon. According to Bloomberg, Facebook will soon be rolling out 15-second video ads that will appear in user news feeds, targeting users by age and gender, which illustrates Facebook’s emphasis on using video ads to achieve reach, not pinpointed target audiences as is the traditional approach with Facebook ads. They’ll cost somewhere between $1 million and $2.5 million and will be priced on a per-day basis. Users will not see a commercial more than three times per day.

Facebook has been planting seeds to sell this in to advertisers as of late with COO Sheryl Sandberg discussing Facebook’s 5 times greater social TV-related activity than any other social network combined with 88 to 100 million people using Facbeook during primetime TV viewing hours in the U.S.

In addition, Facebook recently launched hashtags, a feature commonly used on Twitter to discuss TV shows and programming events in real-time.

In related news, Facebook’s stock increased again this week to get closer to its IPO price of $38 per share.

Facebook’s strategy for ad dollars here is not to take share away from other online platforms. It’s going after TV networks and working to capitalize on its traffic during primetime TV hours. This is a different approach than Twitter, which has built partnerships with TV networks as part of its social TV initiatives.

This also plays into Facebook’s approach to Instagram video. Instagram videos are limited to 15 seconds. This could lead advertisers to create what feels like more organic, native content for the Facebook platform versus taking their regular 15-second spots and simply putting them on Facebook. Either way, Facebook has started to get users accustomed to seeing 15-second videos in their news feeds.

Foursquare Makes Data Available through Ad Targeting Firm (Read more at AdAge)

Foursquare has been under pressure to generate revenue, and one its latest approaches is a partnership with ad-tech firm Turn. Turn will allow advertisers to use Foursquare location data to retarget users on other websites.

It would work like this. Turn will help advertisers identify their audience on Foursquare. From there, advertisers will be able to retarget those users through display ads through Turn’s ad exchange partners.

This means advertisers could theoretically target users based on where they’ve been, perhaps to a competitor, their own stores or related businesses. That’s not how it will work in the short-term as advertisers will initially only be able to target consumer segments, such as “Business Traveler” or “Luxury Affinity.”

One of Foursquare’s greatest assets is its location data, which it collects through Foursquare users and API partners like Evernote that use Foursquare’s location database on their own platforms. This approach allows Foursquare to take that data and be part of the growing real-time bidding market. Those dollars could be reinvested into the Foursquare platform to reinvigorate user growth and usage.

News Quick Hits

  • Supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hacked Thomson Reuters Twitter account and tweeted political cartoons supporting the president this week with the hashtag #Syria. (Read more at AllThingsD)
  • Washington state’s law banning employers and potential employers from asking employees and applicants from sharing social media passwords has gone into effect. Violators are subject to fines of up to $500 in addition to court costs. (Read more at AllFacebook)
  • Pinterest updated its iOS applications with a shortcut allowing users to pin, like and share faster. Users can now press and hold a pin to view a menu with options to pin, like and send while browsing their home feeds or boards. (Read more at CNET)
  • Facebook formally announced that it is launching a mobile games publishing effort. It put out a call for developers to join who are interested in getting Facebook’s help in launching their mobile games by connecting them with an audience. Developers large and small have joined with indie developers and big developers like Gameloft. (Read more at TechCrunch)
  • Facebook has launched embedded posts, allowing users to take public posts and place them on blogs and websites. The embedded posts can be liked and shared. News organizations as well as users on their personal websites can use the feature. This gives pages more exposure outside of Facebook and encourages people to use Facebook when they’re elsewhere online. The feature is available when you hover over a public post (marked by a globe icon), click the drop down, select ‘Embed Post,’ copy the code and paste it onto your site. (Read more at Inside Facebook)
  • Twitter released a report on requests for user data from governments. The report said Twitter received 1,157 requests covering 1,697 users and it turned over data about 55% of the time in the first half of 2013.The U.S. accounted for 30% of requests, more than any other country. Twitter could not include requests made under national security laws. All of this is essentially a PR move to maintain a level of transparency as users grow increasingly wary of how they’re data is being used and shared between social networks and governments. (Read more at VentureBeat)
  • LinkedIn has updated its analytics for Company Pages to allow brands to better track post engagement and follower demographics. The upgrade is likely intended to encourage brands to use the platform more and make use of LinkedIn’s recently launched Sponsored Updates. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • YouTube is launching a new feature called Top Fans, which offers a dashboard within the Video Manager. Admins will be able to view the latest activity from their most engaged and influential fans, send exclusive info to those fans only and view demographic details of the fans when they’re added to a Google+ circle. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Facebook has updated its Android app to allow users to set the cover feed as a default lock screen without using Facebook Home. The feature allows users to see status updates and full screen photos while their phones are locked. (Read more at The Next Web)
  • LinkedIn’s Q2 earnings showed strong growth with 238 million users, 37% growth over last year. It beat market expectations with earnings of 38 cents per share and revenue of $364 million. (Read more at TechCrunch)