This Week in Social (Week of April 21)

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.

Tumblr Shares its Social TV Value (Read more at LostRemote)

Tumblr is the latest social platform to join the fight for social TV, against Facebook and Twitter.

According to a study commissioned by Tumblr and performed by Pulsar, the volume of social TV activity on Tumblr is greater than what is on Twitter, at least when it comes to how the conversation is extended over the course of eleven days, meaning five days before the show airs, the actual air date and five days after. Twitter is the most popular platform when the show actually airs, but conversation quickly declined over time. Twitter also has more content creators, 1.5 million compared to Tumblr's 1.4 million.

It's a bit of a stretch to say Tumblr is a true social TV competitor to Twitter, but what is worth noting is that conversations tend to extend over a longer period of time on the platform, an important note for marketers who want to maintain a message for a period of time. Twitter, however, has several key social TV partnerships with partners like Nielsen. In addition, it's clearer to marketers how engaged Twitter users are. Tumblr does not release a monthly active user number, which would be useful for marketers looking to seriously evaluate its potential for social TV conversation.

Facebook Continues Social Ad Momentum in Q1 2014 Earnings (Read more at USA Today)

Facebook had a big first quarter this year with the $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition and another $2 billion acquisition for VR technology company Oculus VR. It also doubled down on Facebook Messenger, stripping it from its mobile app and encouraging users to download the app for chatting. That paired with the launch of News Feed reading app, Paper, shows that Facebook is breaking down its many pieces to be more nimble and more of an a la carte solution for its users.

Mark Zuckerberg reported during Q1 earnings reports that these standalone apps, including Instagram, will focus on user numbers, not monetization for the foreseeable future.

Facebook's only growing stronger as it showed in its Q1 earnings for this year. It reported revenue of $2.5 billion (up 72% over last year), net income of $642 million (up from $219 million last year) and ad revenue at $2.27 billion (up 82% over last year). In addition, Facebook showed its mobile efforts continuing to grow, accounting for 59% of ad revenue. The price for each ad was up 118% over last year, which has helped Facebook handle showing fewer of them to users.

Ad impressions saw a decline of 17% because of an increase in mobile device usage.

Outside of revenue, users are also up. 1.28 billion users log in monthly. 63% of them log in daily. The number of monthly mobile active users has reached 1.01 billion.

Facebook has set its sights on markets outside the U.S. like the Philippines to grow its users, but it is still focused on keeping North American and European users engaged with the platform.

Facebook also announced that CFO David Ebersman will be leaving the company in September.

Facebook is having no trouble making money, and it appears to be very healthy. This means its been able to fund evolving as a platform with acquisitions and investments in growing user bases before monetization for apps outside of Facebook.

Facebook did not address the much discussed decline of teen engagement.

While things look very good right now, it will need to continue to keep its existing users engaged and using the platform regularly. But overall, with strides in mobile, some enticing acquisitions and engaged users outside of Facebook's standard app, it looks poised for a successful 2014.

Pinterest Introduces New Search Features (Read more at Mashable)

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann took the stage to announce that the platform has reached 30 billion pins on 750 million boards and more than 100,000 retailers participating by sharing their products. The total number of pins is actually up 50% over the past six months.

Silbermann pointed out that those images include information like where to purchase, locations, related pins, and so on.

In addition, Silbermann introduced "Guided Search" for Android and iPhone devices. The feature suggests pins when a user searches for a topic to help users narrow their search down. They can then tap sub-categories to get closer to the perfect pin. The feature turns a query into tags, which users can delete or add to based on what they're looking for.

For example, a search for "hairstyle" will suggest things like "wedding" or "bangs."

The idea, according to Silbermann, is to help "you discover things when you didn't know how to ask the question in the first place."

The feature will come to the Web version, but it is only mobile for now. 

Pinterest is a source for inspiration for many users, and making its treasure trove of pins more accessible only makes the platform stronger. Pinterest is able to use the combination of pin titles, board titles and comments to make that metadata more actionable. Plus, it helps users get closer to what they want and maybe even purchase, which is a big benefit for advertisers.

The feature allows for far more serendipity on the platform. Users may search for one thing and discover something completely different.

Google+ Leader Steps Down (Read more at The Wall Street Journal)

Vic Gundotra, longtime Google employee and leader of Google+ since it first started is leaving Google to try new things. Gundotra was behind Google+, especially specific features like "circles" and the platform's focus on photos.

Speculators wonder if part of the reason he is leaving the company is because of internal politics and friction among team members. However, Gundotra has also had to contend with the challenge of building a social network as an answer to Facebook's growing dominance.

Despite having 300 million regular visitors to Google+, it still contends with the stigma of being a ghost town. However, critics argue that anyone who clicks the little red notification in Gmail counts as an active user. Insiders say the actual number of daily users is much smaller.

The big question mark is around what this means for Google+. It's become a key layer to all Google properties from Gmail to YouTube. But with its leader and biggest supporter stepping down, speculation around its future is all over the place.

However, Google+ may have accomplished what it was meant to. It could never compete against Facebook, but it could provide a single identity across all Google and Android properties, giving Google more valuable user information. Thanks to Google+, users are constantly logged in no matter where they go from search to YouTube to Gmail.

LinkedIn Adds New Ad Features (Read more at AdWeek)

LinkedIn has brought two new offerings to its advertising platform.

The first is Sponsored Updtes API. The API allows partners to now sell Sponsored Updates. Partners include AdStage, Brand Networks, Shift, ExactTarget and Unified Social. The partners can now set up dashboards to purchase and monitor LinkedIn advertising that displays in user content streams.

The second is Content Partners. This program allows advertisers to sponsor posts from media partners, which tend to receive higher engagement than other content on the platform.

LinkedIn is doing an excellent job diversifying its platform and offering something that no other platform out there can--the ability to reach business decision makers. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms are more consumer focused, and LinkedIn is okay with that. It aims to own business relationships.

The API program allows it to scale more effectively. While Content Partners helps brands get noticed by users when paired with content they were already going to consume.

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News Quick Hits

  • Instagram photos shared to Facebook now show the number of people who have liked the photo on Instagram as well as who has liked the photo on Facebook. (Read more at AllFacebook)
  • WhatsApp, the mobile messaging service acquired by Facebook, passed the 500 million active user mark this week, up from 450 million in mid-February after the acquisition. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Twitter's profile redesign is now available for all users. The update started a slow rollout to users at the beginning of the month. (Read more at AllTwitter)
  • Google will start selling app install ads through AdWords and YouTube, allowing developers to prompt app downloads directly through the ads. (Read more at AdAge)
  • Google has made +Post ads available to the public. They allow advertisers to share Google+ posts across the Google Display Network where they can receive comments, +1s and shares on third-party sites. The Google Display Network includes 2 million sites worldwide. (Read more at SocialTimes)
  • Reddit has announced that advertisers can now target users by county and city with promoted posts on the front page of Reddit. The question that remains is how open Reddit's notoriously privacy conscious users will respond. The ads will start on the front page and will eventually also appear in subreddits. (Read more at The Wall Street Journal)
  • Amazon reported strong earnings in Q1 2014 with sales up 23% and a profit of $0.23 per share, meeting expectations. Amazon noted that Prime video streams tripled over one year ago. (Read more at Mashable)
  • Facebook has created a real-time news feed page for journalists called FB Newswire. The page is public and includes curated public photos videos and status updates. The idea is to help editors find news that is breaking on Facebook and "tell richer, more engaging stories using public content from Facebook," according to Facebook's director of news and global media partnerships. Storyful, the social media news monitoring service, will verify each piece of content before posting it to the page. The idea is intended to compete with Twitter, which has become known for being a platform with breaking news. (Read more at The Wall Street Journal)
  • Facebook has acquired the ProtoGeo Oy, the parent company of the fitness-tracking activity diary application Moves, for undisclosed terms. Moves will continue to operate as a standalone app. The acquisition continues Facebook's continuing acquisition of technology companies outside of social networking. (Read more at AllFacebook)