This Week in Social (Week of March 24)

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 Addresses Lingering Facebook Page Redesign Questions (Read more at Facebook's Business Blog)

Facebook has gotten more specific on what brands can expect as it rolls out a new format for brand pages. First, it addressed what information will appear within the left-hand column of pages. It varies by the type of business. For example, some businesses will display their hours and phone numbers. Apps will also be displayed when relevant along with likes, photos, videos and reviews. All of these sections will be able to be rearranged. So it is clear that apps will appear on the left column as well as in the top navigation menu when users click 'More.'

Messages sent to the page by users will be viewable within the 'Activity' tab in the admin view or in a "This Week" box accessible through the right-hand side of a Page.

Then Facebook addressed the question around whether or not other Pages will be notified when added to Facebook's Pages to Watch feature. Page admins will be notified when they're added to Pages to Watch but by whom will not be disclosed.

Finally, Facebook addressed when the redesign will be fully rolled out. They're coming in the next several weeks and have already been unrolled to a few pages.

Facebook addressed most marketer concerns.  The changes are aesthetic in nature with no major implications. However, most implications will be unknown until users start interacting with the new pages. Admins will need to evaluate how people interact with their Apps and get value out of their interactions with brands.

Facebook Acquires Oculus Rift (Read more at The New York Times)

Facebook has acquired the virtual reality start-up Oculus VR Inc., the makers of Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset with the potential to revolutionize modern gaming. The acquisition cost Facebook $2 billion. Facebook recently made headlines with its $19 billion acquisition of messaging service WhatsApp.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, "Oculus as the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate… Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face -- just by putting on goggles in your home."

Oculus has come under fire on Kickstarter where it initially garnered support from users to build the platform from users who feel betrayed by the buyout.

This acquisition shows how Facebook is evolving its long-term viability. It wants to be a technology company, not just a social network or even a communications company. Wearable devices, like Oculus Rift, is one of the fastest growing areas in technology. Google has launched Google Glass, and Apple is on the verge of releasing a rumored smart watch.

Facebook is acquiring and evolving to become more than what it is today. This isn't the first time it's done this. It was impossible to view Facebook as a gaming platform years ago but with the rise platforms like Zynga, so it's possible to see how Facebook could continue to evolve.

As for the Kickstarter backlash, it's not a major surprise. People are skeptical of Facebook's motives. However, this points to a bit of a misunderstanding with what Kickstarter is. Users give their money, get a reward and then there's no obligation for the business to do anything else. Kickstarter is a risk for users to see an idea they'd like to support come to life.

LinkedIn Continues Content Push with New Tools for Marketers (Read more at AdAge)

LinkedIn is giving marketers a new set of tools that assigns them content marketing scores on company page posts, branded groups, posts by company "influencers" who participate in LinkedIn's publishing program, employee posts and sponsored updates. Scores will be calculated by dividing the number of people who engaged in the past month by active target users and then multiplied by 1 million. The score is then displayed in relation to other "best-in-class" brands along with a score to show how the brand is doing across all of LinkedIn.

In addition to giving marketers feedback, they'll also be shown "trending content" based on what their audiences are most interested in. The tool is free of charge but currently only available to businesses with account representatives.

This move lines up well with LinkedIn's focus on becoming a content platform. It also gives advertisers more reason to create content on an ongoing basis by giving them a constant feedback loop to see what's working and where there's room for improvement.

It's hard to invest time in something without knowing how it's performing. This is one way to get advertisers more active and potentially spending money on sponsored updates on LinkedIn.

Facebook Expands Lookalike Audiences (Read more at VentureBeat)

Facebook is evolving its Lookalike Audience tool, which allows advertisers to create target groups based on information it had on its existing customers, such as email addresses and phone numbers. Now the Lookalike Audience tool can be used to target new groups based on who is visiting the brand's website, connecting with their Facebook Pages ore even using their mobile apps.

The idea is to to use what you know about your existing audience to build a profile of potential customers who share similar characteristics.

The updated features are now available under Facebook's Power Editor for all advertisers.

The update makes Lookalike Audiences far more useful as businesses can make the tool more effective by looking at more factors, including who has visited the brand website, made a purchase, used a mobile app, purchased using a mobile app or even who has liked them on Facebook.

The tool does a great job in allowing advertisers to inform their Facebook marketing efforts with behavior occurring outside of while protecting user privacy.

Twitter Adds Photo Tagging (Read more at CNET)

Twitter is working to grow its user base, and its latest features include multi photo uploads and tagging friends in photos.

This means users will be able to tag up to 10 people in photos. This will not affect character counts in a tweet. Users who are tagged in a photo will receive a notification. Users can also go into their settings to limit if and who people can tag them in photos.

It works by allowing users to tap "Who's in the photo?" when they post a picture. Then users type and select the name of the person being tagged. Then names of people tagged in the photo will appear next to it when the tweet goes live. The name next to the photo will link to user profiles.

The second aspect of the update is the ability to post up to four photos in a single tweet.

All features are available on the iPhone app now with updates coming to Android and coming soon.

This is clearly a 'me too' feature that's been offered by Facebook and Instagram, and it will certainly increase engagement with photos as users receive notifications and go to check them out. But this also shows how Twitter hopes to make its platform more welcoming to a larger user base.

It's had problems growing its user base to appease stockholders, and photos are one way to do that as platforms like Instagram and Facebook have shown.

It must be careful, however. Twitter has a loyal user base, so Twitter is striking a careful balance to add more features to embrace new users while working to maintain its core base.

Foursquare's New Ad Feature Integrates Twitter (Read more at AdWeek)

Foursquare has introduced a new ad unit called Tap to Tweet. When it comes to the platform in early April, the unit will invite users to tweet marketing messages after checking into a business.

The unit was tested at SXSW, but as Foursquare gets ready for a full rollout, AdWeek is reporting that they're asking for commitments of $100,000.

MasterCard tested the platform when it encouraged users to tweet with the hashtag #pricelesssurprises and then link to the campaign site.

The unit is clever in some ways because it allows many users to do what they already do--share their check-ins on Twitter.

For advertisers, it allows them to provide a strong CTA for users to broadcast what is essentially an endorsement after checking-in.

News Quick Hits

  • Twitter is taking steps to determine why some tweets are disappearing from the platform, including Ellen DeGeneres' celebrity selfie. Twitter says the cause is a bug, which it is researching. (Read more at CNET)
  • Disney acquired Maker Studios, one of the largest YouTube Networks, for $500 million. However, it could end up paying $950 million if Maker hits certain "performance milestones." The move allows Disney to expand as an entertainment company more into short-form online video. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Twitter #Music will be no more as of April 18. The app was designed to point users to new music based on Twitter info and who they follow. The service never gained traction against other services like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora and iTunes. (Read more at WIRED)
  • Lithium Technologies' acquisition of Klout has gone through for $200 million. News of the acquisition leaked last month. Klout will continue to operate as a separate platform, but it is unclear what other ways Lithium will use Klout's technology. (Read more at The Verge)
  • Instagram has reached the 200 million monthly active user mark. In addition to the announcement, it released several other stats, including 65% of users are outside the U.S., more than 20 billion photos have been shared, the platform sees 1.6 billion likes per day, and users upload 60 million photos per day on average. (Read more at AllFacebook)
  • Twitter is testing a new mobile-advertising product in the next few weeks that allows developers to prompt downloads from users, also known as app-install ads. Users who click on the ads will then be taken to the app store to download the app. (Read more at AdAge)