We Are Social: Tuesday Tune-Up #39

by Michael Batistich in News

One billion people use social media

According to a report from the ITU, there’s now over one billion people using social media worldwide. More interestingly, mobile is fast becoming the main way that the majority of people are using Facebook.

Use of geo-social apps grow

It’s well known that smartphone use is rising, but one of the interesting questions for a while has been whether the rising number of smartphones will see more people using geo-social apps like Foursquare.

Judging by the latest research from Pew, the answer is yes. In the last nine months, use of geo-social apps has risen by 50% to 18% of all US smartphone users. In terms of market penetration, it’s actually still quite low but it’s the next twelve months which are key for these apps. If they don’t break through now, they never will.

Over half of UK youth using Twitter

A quarterly survey of 540 young people across the UK found that 53% used Twitter in April compared to 42% at the end of 2011. It’s worth emphasising the relatively small sample size, as these figures seem markedly higher than other studies we’ve seen. It’s easier to believe their daily use figures:

Social TV becomes priority for TV channels

After 193% growth year-on-year of ‘social viewing’, TV channels are starting to view social viewing as a way to re-build live audiences. Bravo now plan social interactions in the initial concept stages, alongside other elements of the production.

Facebook changes apps ecosystem

Facebook is replacing the current Apps and Games dashboard with a new App Center feature that they will roll out over the next few weeks. The new feature will sort apps by categories and user ratings.

It’s an interesting change from a year ago, when Facebook relied on algorithmic discovery of new apps – but popularity is still incredibly important, as the best-rated apps will fly to the top of the Center. The by-product of this is that once again, ratings will be important, and developers will have a clear metric to measure their work by.

They’ve also launched a beta version of a paid app programme where users would pay to use an app – different from the previous model, where users would pay for in-app extras. In theory, it will mean there’s more fun games on Facebook.

Facebook trials new ad unit, proposes changes to Privacy Policy and Groups

Facebook is also testing out a new ad unit, where individual users could pay anything from zero to $2 to have their posts promoted and stay at the top of the News Feed. Although generally this seems like a bad idea, it could have its uses – for example, letting all your friends know you’ve become a father or similar. Nonetheless, the point of Facebook’s algorithm is that it shows up users’ most important posts in the News Feed, so this ad unit is almost an admission of failure by Facebook. It will be interesting to see whether it progresses beyond its current trial.

Forbes suggested that another bit of news this week from Facebook could make them drive considerably more revenue than users paying to highlight posts: proposed changes to their Privacy Policy would allow them to target ads based on the information Facebook has about you, off-site. Expect rumours of a Facebook powered ad-network to persist, until they actually launch one.

Facebook introduces file-sharing for all groups

In a smaller update – but one that could make their usage grow considerably, especially for collaboration purposes – Facebook has (as we predicted) introduced file-sharing capabilities for all Groups.

Facebook Timeline is good for engagement, Reach Generator has slow uptake

In good news for brands, a new study has revealed that Timeline has helped to increase the lifetime of the average post by an hour and a half, and has also boosted engagement by 13%.

According to Marketing Week, Facebook’s Reach Generator is having a slow uptake, with many brands not seeing the point of the cost.

As Robin Grant, Global MD of We Are Social says in the article:

Reach Generator is a “blunt instrument” which promotes every post for a monthly fee, which can be inefficient compared to promoting just the more important stories.

Facebook finds itself faced with a media agency landscape that just isn’t geared up to take a conversational approach to marketing – it’s as if media agencies woke up to find that their media plans are based on Newtonian physics in a world where quantum theory reigns.

Quite.

Twitter comes under fire over verification process, buys RestEngine

Digital Trends carried a fascinating story about how they lost their verified tick on Twitter, solely because they stopped advertising with Twitter. It reflects very badly on Twitter – stop buying adverts and you’re suddenly cast out as a pariah. It removes any doubt that the relationship between Twitter and businesses was anything more than transactional.

Twitter’s focus on growing engagement on the site was highlighted last week when it purchased email marketer RestEngine, which Tencrunch postulates they’ll use to make their tweet digest emails more relevant. Theoretically, the digests will tempt more lapsed users to return to the site, and thereby boost engagement.

Google+ releases new iPhone app

Google has released a new iPhone app for Google+ which is designed to be more beautiful and make the stream more immersive. According to Google, the new app will create ‘a carousel of beloved memories’ and if you believe that, you’re less of a cynic than me.

One of the more salient comments I’ve heard recently was about how Google+ wasn’t a stand-alone offering, but is part of the ‘Google product’. There’s definitely some truth in this – from now on, users will be able to respond to Google+ comments directly through their Gmail notifications.

Engagement grows for brands on Google+

According to a new report, engagement with brands on Google+ is up 112% in the last three months but that’s mainly for the top 20 brands; brands who have been circled less aren’t seeing nearly the same engagement or rate of growth.

One brand which is successful on Google+ – far more than on other social media platforms – is Cadbury, and their Head of Digital gave an interesting interview explaining their strategy.

Bing make search more social

Bing has re-designed its search engine to make it more social, with the help of a new sidebar which includes four components:

  • An “ask friends” feature that lets users post a question to Facebook
  • A list of “friends who might know” about the topic of a user’s query. This pulls information from users’ Facebook profiles to make suggestions based on what friends Like, photos they’ve added, where they’ve lived, work history, where they went to school and more.
  • Suggestions of experts, enthusiasts and other “people who know” about a topic based on their public activity and authority on networks like Twitter, Quora, Foursquare, Google+ and others.
  • An activity feed of real-time posts and queries, from which users can answer their friends questions and Like posts. This activity will simultaneously appear on Bing and Facebook.

This is very impressive stuff. Although, just like Google+, no-one actually uses Bing, so it’s hard to tell what difference this will make.

According to CNet, Facebook supremo Mark Zuckerberg gave the engineers a lot of guidance in building this, repeatedly telling them:

Don’t try to do social by building social on the side. Build it into the experience.

I’m sure I’ve said that before…

Foursquare look to merge check-ins with coupons

Foursquare has thus far failed to drive significant revenue – but then again, it hasn’t really tried that hard to do so. Now it’s planning to through offering coupons for check-ins. The idea is that they’ll charge venues a small fee for issuing the coupons and through this, make a lot of money.

Foursquare check-ins finally link up with Facebook properly

Foursquare has also finally introduced a link-up so that Foursquare check-ins are posted to the Facebook Timeline Map. Overdue.

The Wall Street Journal is using Facebook to cover Facebook

After Facebook Timeline launched, there was a lot of reporting about how it wouldn’t help media organisations, despite social being ‘their saviour’.

Well, the Wall Street Journal is starting to disprove the comments about Timeline, launching a Facebook Page to cover Facebook’s IPO and using Timeline to tell Facebook’s story. It’s a nice idea, but as with similar ‘projects’, it’s hit the stumbling block of a lack of fans. As of today, the page has 980 fans, compared to 490,000 for the main newspaper Page. Even considering that people might read the Timeline without liking the Page, it’s basically a really good bit of journalism which isn’t being seen by anyone. They might as well have built a Facebook App…

Uniqlo launch wake up app

Uniqlo have launched a social wake up app, which changes the music it plays depending on the weather – and then shares the time, weather and temperature at the time users stopped the alarm to Facebook or Twitter.

Domino’s bring pizza ordering to Facebook

Domino’s have launched an app which allows customers in Australia and New Zealand to order their pizza directly through Facebook. It remains to be seen whether Facebook will take a slice of the revenue from each order and whether topping it all off will be some free dips.

Pay with miles run instead of money

Nike have been running a really nice campaign in Mexico: rather than paying for a new pair of trainers with money, you can bid for them with miles you’ve run in your Nike+ enabled trainers. Nifty. You might even call it a sweatshop.

Ford teams up with PeerIndex

Ford have teamed up with PeerIndex for a massive influencer campaign, where they’ll send 1,000 social media users various ‘perks’ including a hologram of their new car, the B-Max.

Cathay Pacific’s Klout perk

Cathay Pacific have launched a cool perk using Klout scores: anyone in the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport with a Klout score of 40 or higher will be allowed into the airline’s lounge, which is normally limited to Cathay’s first class and business class passengers. Flying.

Made In Chelsea star in trouble for plugging freebies on Twitter

Made In Chelsea star Rosie Fortescue (yep, me neither) could be in breach of strict Consumer Protection Regulations for repeatedly plugging products on Twitter she’d received for free, without disclosing she’d received them for free.

Twitter resists demands to release Occupy tweets

Twitter is contesting a US court order ordering it to hand over the message history of one of its users, on the basis that tweets are owned by individual users, rather than the company. It’s a great way of championing freedom of speech – Twitter, I applaud you.

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