A new month means a new featured topic here at AYB, for us December is Social Media month. As always, a lot has happened in the world of social media over the year so let’s check in with some of the top updates of 2013 affecting marketers (well, up to this point anyway! With just over four weeks left of the year, who knows how much could possibly change?). This is by no means a definitive list of all updates, but we hope to have captured some of the more important ones…
Having just been declared the most searched social media platform by Bing for the second year in a row, Facebook came out with a number of updates this year;
1. Improved Facebook Insights
As the saying goes, ‘what gets measured gets managed’, so if your business uses Facebook as part of your marketing strategy, Facebook Insights are a great way to measure and refine your campaigns. This year’s updates included more customizable results, benchmarking and clearer data sets, making it easier for you to monitor the effectiveness of Facebook for your business. For more on the recent updates, check out this post from Mari Smith.
2. Newsfeed Updates
(Ok, a lot of them!). Facebook seems to be making algorithm changes frequently so this year has seen a number of changes as to how your newsfeed will appear and what posts are more likely to show up. In summary;
- The most recent update means that memes will not show up as often as, according to Facebook, they don’t rank as “high quality content”. This means that more articles and blog posts are likely to be seen, so for your business, focus on your “quality content” production in order to get your posts seen! (What do you think of this one? We think it will continue to drive younger users away from Facebook…let us know in the comments!)
- Story Bump means that posts with more likes and shares get bumped up in the newsfeed. The good news is that if your posts get good engagement results, Story Bump will increase the shelf-life of your post (which is generally two hours or less).
3. Graph Search Updates
For Facebook users with Graph Search, improvements were announced in October to allow searches by discussion topic, time period, location or by posts they have already commented on. For marketers and other users this makes it easier than before to join in topical conversations, and allows Facebook to compete with Twitter in this area.
Google+ has had a very busy year with 86 changes made thus far! Its role in interacting with Google searches means that Google+ is increasingly an important platform for marketers to be on-board (this is why). Check these out…
4. Complete Re-design
Back in May, Google+ had a complete overhaul of the look and feel of the site. For marketers, there is a chance that your visual content has the opportunity to be displayed more prominently, also the ‘related hashtags’ function could put your stuff in front of more people. Photo and video content continued to be enhanced in the October update with a number of new features added.
5. Custom URLs
Make it easier for your customers/fans to find you with a custom URL. If you meet the (pretty simple) criteria, you will be able to apply to Google+ to get it done.
6. Lead Generation Cards
The introduction of lead generation cards make it easier for you to generate leads from within a tweet. You can use this function if you have set up a Twitter ad account as it only works from within promoted tweets. Basically, it works where a tweet is expanded to reveal multi-media content and (with permission) pulls a user’s email address, Twitter user name and name into the card.
7. Self-Service Ad Platform
Currently open to US users, the self-service ad platform has opened up advertising to more than just the select few (with minimum spend requirements) that it allowed previously. Now small businesses with limited budgets can get access.
8. Showcase Pages
Give your followers are more relevant experience with showcase pages. Each company can have up to 10 showcase pages which allow you to create a page based around certain brands or products. This means that followers can opt to follow just the brands/products they are interested in rather than news that may be less relevant to them. This is good news for companies as it reduces the risk of losing followers who don’t want to see the content that is irrelevant to them.
9. Sponsored Updates
July saw the introduction of sponsored updates, meaning for a fee, companies can have their posts show up in the newsfeeds of a wider audience rather than just their own followers.
10. LinkedIn Contacts
LinkedIn Contacts provides a new and improved way to ensure you stay connected with your network. It pulls data from all your address books, emails and calendars and stores it in one place. You can even keep notes such as previous meetings or where you first met a contact. LinkedIn Contacts will send you various notifications such as birthdays or job role changes, and will even remind you if you haven’t been in contact for a while. The implications, particularly for small business marketers are huge given that we often rely on building a good network to generate business.
11. Price Drop Notifications
This was a very handy update for marketers; basically, where someone has favorited a pin that has a price tag attached, they will receive an alert if that product goes on sale.
12. Rich Pins for Articles
You may have been pinning your articles already, but the good thing about this update is that they will be pinned in a more attractive way with more prominent image and meta data display.
13. Analytics Tool for Business Accounts
This was introduced back in May and is a great (and free!) tool to enable businesses to monitor a number of different metrics. To access analytics, you will need to have verified your business account.
Special bonus #14 as it’s not really an update but an observation of the growing popularity of Snapchat. Given that Facebook tried (and failed) to purchase them for the princely sum of $3 billion, they are certainly doing something to be on everyone’s radar. It will be interesting to see how Snapchat is applied by marketers in 2014.