Pinterest For Businesses

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Pinterest launched business accounts in November, along with specific tools to help those businesses use the site. New buttons and widgets included a Pin It button, Follow button, and Profile widget, meant to increase engagement from pinners and bring traffic back to the business Web site.

Now Pinterest has made things even better for business clients by launching a new tool—called Pinterest Web Analytics—that will help them see how much traffic Pinterest has referred to their websites. The new tool, which is available for free, will give site owners insights into how people are interacting with “pins” that originate from their websites.

According to Reuters, Pinterest does not currently display any revenue-generating advertising on its website, but retailers and large brands such as The Gap, Patagonia and Dell are increasingly using the site to promote their products. Providing businesses with usage data most likely means Pinterest is moving toward monetizing the company.

The analytics page also offers a selection of the most repinned, most clicked, and more recent pins, displaying what is most popular. With all the online tracking occurring these days, it’s no surprise that Pinterest is joining in. Plus, knowing which images are most popular benefits businesses trying to gain perspective on customers. Even bloggers can benefit from this tool to see which of their posts are being pinned most often.

Pinterest Web Analytics Walkthrough

It sounds like Pinterest is moving in the right direction. Now we’ll just have to wait and see if they’ll start displaying revenue-generating ads as the next step.

The Bandages Are Off!

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Facebook’s facelift has been revealed! As Gizmodo puts it, “it’s bigger (truly, wider), brighter, and overall more eye-strangling. It’s full of news. It’s full of sections.” So it’s pretty much like a newspaper. Hardly anyone seems to read print newspapers anymore, but maybe more people will read the Facebook newspaper.

Visual improvements include less clutter. And on top of that, the web version will now match the mobile version more closely. Photo albums are bigger now with more thumbnails so you can get a better idea of what your friends have been doing and where. Also, when a friend shows up on your news feed, there will be more information about them because their entire Timeline badge is pulled over.

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The new News Feed will be filled with high-resolution photos, videos, music, and apps. It seems that Facebook is aiming to be much more visual and plain text statuses will end up looking boring. The stories you’ve commented on and shared will provide Facebook with information to suggest stories to you right in the News Feed. This seems like quite the benefit for marketers looking to target specific fans. If Facebook will suggest stories based on your shares and likes, it sounds like marketing heaven.

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Facebook will also be splitting the feed into four categories: Music, Photos, Games, and Friends. And if you want news that’s only from people you don’t know, such as brands and celebrities you can filter that too. Again, marketers’ heaven or what? But I mean, who really wants to see news that is only from brands? Don’t most people go on Facebook to stalk friends and family?

Does a split up of categories just mean more ads though? I’m sure each section will have its own ads. Facebook says, “vibrant new visuals bring your News Feed to life.” Does that mean ads will come to life, too? I wonder if this will allow ads to integrate better or just get in the way even more?

Interested in the new look? If you want the new News Feed early, you can find more information and sign up here. Or, as some commenters have been saying, you can just sign up for Google+ since the new Facebook looks a lot like it.

Facebook is Getting a Facelift…Again

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According to the Associated Press, Facebook Inc. is hosting an event at its Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters today to show off “a new look for News Feed.” So far there aren’t any other details about what the new look entails. However, as we have all seen, changes to Facebook usually mean users have a bit to get used to while grumbling about new changes.

At the moment, Facebook’s News Feed also has sponsored ads on it. Will this new change affect the ads? Will marketers have to work harder now to get the attention of fans? Right now, users can adjust how much they see on their news feed from friends, but they can’t do the same with what they see from businesses. If this option changes, then it might become more difficult for companies to reach fans with content.

There are currently two types of sponsored ads. The first is sponsored stories, which began in early 2012. Advertisers pay to have user stories and interactions (such as “liking” a page, receiving updates from “liked” pages, checking into local businesses or sharing content from external sites) turned into featured ads as seen below.

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Later in the year, Facebook decided to start included suggested page ads in the news feed aimed at a brand’s non-fans. The ads themselves are pretty minimalist, displaying only a thumbnail of the Page’s profile picture and then a gray box with an image and some text describing the brand. They mirror the organic posts that pop up in users’ feeds when a friend likes a brand’s Page.

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Although Facebook’s user base is growing, many users tend to take a break from the site. A Pew study reported that many Facebook users take a break from the site for weeks at a time. The report, from the Pew Research Center‘s Internet and American Life Project, found that some 61 percent of Facebook users had taken a hiatus for reasons that range from boredom to too much irrelevant information to Lent.

A change makes sense if users are beginning to get bored of the site. But are users really bored of the site itself or the content? I mean, how much can you read about someone’s wedding, baby, job, life, etc.? For all we know, the change could increase ad content.

More to come once details about the new look come out…

Would You Pay for YouTube?

YouTube is getting ready to launch paid subscriptions for individual channels on its video platform. According to those familiar with the plan, YouTube has reached out to a small group of channel producers and asked them to submit applications to create channels that users would have to pay to access. The cost ranges from $1 to $5. Talk of pay-to-view channels started around the end of January, but recently, code found in YouTube’s most recent mobile app update suggests that this will begin soon.

As I’ve discussed before, online video is important to brands. YouTube is a big player in the online video space and many brands use YouTube’s ad offerings. If content owners make their paid channels ad-free, this could mean that marketers will have a tougher time reaching the preferred audience. However, if like with Hulu, paid content doesn’t mean ad-free, YouTube could see an increase in ads as marketers try to reach the new paying audience.

If users are willing to pay for content, then YouTube paid subscriptions could be a great idea for businesses. Just take a look at Hulu: at the end of 2012 the company announced that it has more than 3 million paying Hulu Plus customers, a number that doubled from the previous year. People have been dropping their cable and satellite TV services in preference of Hulu or Netflix to watch the TV shows they want so why wouldn’t users pay to subscribe to individual YouTube channels?

Just think about it: over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month and over 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube. Imagine what could happen if those users started paying for channel subscriptions. Here are 10 of the Most Subscribed-To YouTube Channels right now.

Would you pay to access certain YouTube channels?  I don’t use YouTube enough to be willing to pay for certain access. However, I have paid for both Hulu and Netflix to be able to watch content that I can’t necessarily see on TV or have missed because of timing.

Is Your Brand Secure?

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You may think your social media accounts are secure…so did Burger King. Unfortunately, the company’s Twitter account was hacked earlier this week. The company’s logo had been replaced by a McDonald’s logo, and rogue announcements began to appear. The same thing happened to Jeep a day later. According to the New York Times, “Other prominent accounts have fallen victim to hacking [as well], including those for NBC News, USA Today, Donald J. Trump, the Westboro Baptist Church and even the “hacktivist” group Anonymous.”

This just proves that security should be a bigger focus for all brands, big and small. So what can you do to help keep your social media accounts a little safer? To start, monitoring your presence is key. Regularly checking your social media accounts allows you to know sooner if something has gone wrong. Not to mention that regular monitoring means you can interact and respond to customers faster. Burger King’s hacking event seemed to go on for quite a while with 55 malicious posts. Jeep, on the other hand, shut down its account quicker.

A tough password, as repetitive of a tip as it seems, is just as important. Using random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols rather than a word that can be found in the dictionary makes it harder for someone to figure out the password.

And in the end if your brand’s social media site does get hacked, the best first step, while you work to fix things, is to notify your customer’s with a post that lets them know the account has been compromised and you are working to fix it. Using dashboards such as SproutSocial or HootSuite also can help minimize risk. For Twitter users, following @Safety or @Spam will alert you to the latest spammer activity or malware.

If you still think you’re invincible, here are 3 Social Media Hacks to Learn From from Mashable.

Hackers are also quick on their feet. When Anonymous broke into Westboro Baptist Church members’ Twitter accounts, Twitter suspended the account of @YourAnonNews, one of the primary accounts associated with Anonymous. But almost immediately, the hackers set up a backup Twitter account, @YANBackUp, until the original one was reinstated. When it was, the account not only emerged unscathed, but had added 100,000 followers. Below is a scene that involves hacking from the movie The Social Network.

Hacking is not the only security issue that brands can experience. Sometimes an insider with access to a brand’s social media accounts will post something that can hurt the brand’s reputation. For example, someone representing Chrysler (who owns Jeep) posted a four-second video on the Chrysler “Under the Pentastar” PR YouTube channel, overlaying an image of the Dodge Viper sports car onto actual video footage of the giant meteor that exploded over Russia and injured about 1,200 people.

The lesson here is to pay attention to social media news around you and your own social media accounts. Whether you are a big business or a small business, hackers don’t discriminate.

Pheed Your Social Media Addiction

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Do you know what the top free app in Apple’s App Store under the Social Networking Category is? No, it’s not Facebook or Twitter. It’s Pheed. The app debuted in November, but last week a few heavily-followed teens on Twitter and Instagram reportedly shared their enthusiasm for Pheed, leading to an explosion of downloads.

So what’s this app all about and why are the teenagers all over it? The catchphrase for Pheed is, “A new way to express yourself.” Whether you want to do so in text, photos, videos, audio, voice or live broadcast, Pheed offers all of that functionality. So it’s like having Twitter, SoundCloud, Tumblr, Ustream, and Instagram all in one single application.

With all this functionality you might wonder about copyright and content ownership. That’s no problem because with Pheed users can put their content behind a paywall if they want. They can charge $1.99 to $34.99 per view, or $1.99 to $34.99 per month, and split the proceeds with Pheed. Users can also put a watermark on their content and always have ownership of it.

The app already is popular among artists, photographers, filmmakers and musicians. Are marketers next? Why not? It’s been named one of CNN’s 7 Social Networks to Watch in 2013. With the ability to charge for content and put a watermark on pictures, marketers can use this app to upload a variety of content while keeping it their own. Also, the functionality this app offers allows users to keep all of their content in one place. As a marketer, you don’t have to post a picture to Instagram and a video to Ustream while linking to those on Twitter. All of this can be done on Pheed.

Not to mention, it’s really easy to use. The iPhone app has 1,500 reviews, more than Twitter’s, and an impressive 4.5-star rating. This slideshow shows the features Pheed has and just how easy it all is.

I guess we will just have to wait (hopefully not too long) and see if marketing departments catch on and “Pheed” their need for reaching consumers.

’til Death Do Us Part

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…or in this case, not.

Apparently in the world of social media, we are immortal. A new Twitter app called LivesOn is launching in March. The application analyses your main Twitter feed and learns about your likes, tastes, syntax, etc. The account will keep tweeting even after you’ve passed away. As the slogan on the site says, “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.”

Creepy much? I sure think so. Not to mention there are plenty of ethical issues with relatives signing on using your password and content being passed on. Digital libraries of messages and photographs can’t easily be passed on unless the correct consent is in place. It is hard to say who controls a digital legacy. LivesOn requires the user to nominate an executor who will have control of the account. I know that I wouldn’t want to keep tweeting after death. I don’t trust an autobot to speak for me, or a human for that matter. Would you?

“It offends some, and delights others. Imagine if people started to see it as a legitimate but small way to live on. Cryogenics costs a fortune; this is free and I’d bet it will work better than a frozen head,” says Dave Bedwood, creative partner of Lean Mean Fighting Machine, the London-based ad agency that is developing the application.

LivesOn is not the only application of its kind. DeadSocial is another such service lets you set up a series of messages to be sent out posthumously, via Facebook and Twitter. You can register now for early beta access, but the site will launch in full beta at the end of March.

The world of social media has done a lot from passing on information, raising money for causes, allowing people to stay in touch, etc., but I think this is going a bit overboard. We are already glued to our laptops and mobile devices while living, shouldn’t we be able to at least rest in peace?

Jump Into Video

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This week in class we’re talking a lot about videos in marketing. Whether it’s a short film or a video that has gone viral, it’s a good idea for marketers. Video is taking over, presenting opportunities for marketers looking to gain a competitive edge. The age of video is here, proven by the substantial growth of viewing in the past year.

According to the Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) benchmark report released in 2012, approximately 52 percent of B2B brands reported using video marketing as a content strategy in 2011. In 2012, 70 percent used it. And who is watching all these online videos? Women. Approximately 87 percent of women surveyed for the “What Women Watch” study indicated that they view video content online. These female consumers also prefer to engage with visual media on their desktop computers more than on laptops and mobile devices.

Based on all these numbers I see no reason for marketers to not jump in on the video marketing. Besides the fact that more users are watching online video content, it is also engaging and there are so many ways to get started. You don’t even have to spend a lot of money on getting started creating a video. Still not convinced? Read Why Short-Form Video is the Future of Marketing.

With so many people consuming content on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, video is a way to get in with those consumers. And remember, if you want consumers to watch your video, make it entertaining and memorable. After all, it is people who make a video viral.

Ready to get started? Here are Five YouTube Tips Marketers Might Not Know.

A Manly Way to Pin

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You knew it was coming. Pinterest has been doing so well with the ladies that there was bound to be a similar site created for men. That site is Tapiture. There have been other sites before such as Dudepins, Dartitup, Gentlemint and Manteresting where visitors can see images of gadgets, fast cars, and scantily-clad women. You don’t “pin” images you like here though; you “nail” or “dart it.” Even online retailers are following the trend of attracting men to shop online.

So what’s different about Tapiture, or as TIME calls it, Pinterest for Dudes? Well, Tapiture gives men an outlet in which to browse or “tap” their favorite images and entices them into buying stuff. Now the question is: will this site actually last? The company announced that is has raised $825,000 in seed funding to support its growth efforts. In Q4 of 2012, the site recorded 8.6 million visits by 4.1M unique visitors with engagement levels of close to seven minutes per visit. Tapiture generated 78 million page views during this same period and collectively bests all other direct competitors in traffic and engagement, combined.

I personally have yet to use Pinterest, which according to a Nielsen report saw the most growth out of any other social network in 2012. A September study from Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 12% out of 1000 people said they use Pinterest, and of those, the vast majority were women. A full 19% of online women were said to be on Pinterest. I think Tapiture will do well to start off with, but I’m not sure it will last long and grow the way Pinterest has. I can’t quite say what goes on in the heads of men, but I can’t see them staying excited about a Pinterest-like site geared toward men.

Men out there: would you or do you use a site like Tapiture?

Happy 9th Birthday Facebook!

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Yep, that’s right; Facebook is 9 years old today. Can you believe it’s already been 9 years since the site first launched back in 2004? And back then it was called The Facebook and only open to Harvard students. Here’s the first article about Facebook’s launch from The Harvard Crimson.

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Today Facebook has come a long way from the original site. To start with, it is now a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange. The company’s initial public offering was iconic. Wall Street has changed the way Facebook works now. Facebook’s fourth quarter financial statement showed that for the first time in the company’s history, the number of mobile daily active users surpassed the number of users checking Facebook on the web.

Facebook has gone from a place to find classmates and old friends to a marketer’s heaven. In this article, Nicola Joshua talks about the 3 P’s of Facebook marketing: posting, promoting, and paid advertisements.

As someone who works with small business marketing, I find Facebook a great and inexpensive way to market. Along with Twitter, it’s a great way to get the word out on promotions and new business openings. However, some think that today, Facebook seems like the juggernaut crushing everything in its path, most recently Twitter’s Vine app and Yandex’s social app.

What do y’all think about Facebook and its changes over the past 9 years? What about the thought that Facebook is crushing other applications? Can everyone just work together?

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