Social Spotlight: October

Welcome to Social Spotlight, our new monthly blog series! We have our eyes on everything social media 24/7, so you don't have to. We saw a plethora of notable social media trends and developments in October, so here’s a quick recap for you, along with our point of view on it all:

Facebook releases new forum app called 'Rooms'

Rooms is an iOS app that recreates the niche world of forums. Room members can drop text, images and videos. Unlike other Facebook products, Rooms doesn’t tie into the social network; it’s a completely separate entity. In fact, you can create a completely new screen name for each room.

Our POV: While many people are talking about Rooms, few seem to be using the app just yet. With that said, we think Rooms has the potential to become a place for open discussions on all kinds of topics including specific products and brands. Therefore, from a brand perspective, it could be a great listening tool. There is some exclusivity to Rooms as well: You can have a select group of people join a room to get information about a new product before anyone else does.

Money transfer via Twitter and Facebook is now possible in select markets

Twitter users in France are now able to tweet money to each other. To make this happen, Twitter partnered with the French banking group BPCE. Shortly after, Facebook partnered with a bank in India to allow payment transfers through the platform. Both services enable sending money without having to know recipient’s banking details.

Our POV: Peer-to-peer money transfer is a necessary building block for social commerce within Facebook and Twitter. As people get more comfortable sending small amounts of money to one another for a cab ride or dinner, their trust level for making purchases from brands within the platforms will become higher as well.

Tumblr is betting big on video

Tumblr released a revamped video player that makes videos easier to load, view and post. The update included support for Instagram and Vine videos, auto-playing and looping of videos as well as faster buffering overall.

Our POV: Similar to Facebook and Twitter, who are actively (and successfully) fighting for a bigger piece of the video pie, Tumblr sees an opportunity to increase ad revenues by increasing native video on the platform. While Tumblr is betting on video, we suggest more brands bet on Tumblr. After all, according to recent data, Tumblr’s audience is one of the wealthiest with a median household income of $80,075.

46% of the social logins around the web happen via Facebook

According to the latest report released by Janrain, Facebook is leading the way in terms of social logins, followed by Google. While Twitter, Instagram, Amazon and PayPal showed strong growth, it’s still primarily a battle between the two.

Our POV: Social logins are definitely a way to go, but the choice will largely depend on the features of your campaign/app/website to make the social login add as much value as possible. From a marketer’s perspective, using the social login data for segmentation and targeting is another must.

Instagram takes video ads live

Instagram has at long last debuted video advertisements after rigorous testing and hands-on work with brands. These videos will show up in-stream and are labeled “sponsored."

Our POV: The introduction of ads will undoubtedly irk many people currently on the platform. However, marketers who understand the specifics of the platform and its audience will be able to connect and succeed. Earlier this year, Forrester research showed that Instagram delivers 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Needless to say, it’s an important platform that’ worth paying attention to.

Google+ introduces polls

Google’s new polls are created using the share box and can have up to 5 choices. Polls are available for profiles and pages, as well as communities. The design of the polls is very elegant and displays an animated response revealing the aggregated results of the poll.

Our POV: Posts that ask questions tend to lead to more engagement. Polls are an easy way to increase engagement on Google+ and to gauge where your audience stands on certain topics. Expect a flood of polls in user feeds, which will soon fade as their novelty wears off.

Facebook focuses on local ads using geo-fences

Local ads are designed to help brick-and-mortar businesses target ads to anyone who lives nearby or has been in the store recently. Advertisers can set up a specific mile radius for their ads to show up in user’s mobile and web browser news feeds once they have traveled within this mile zone. These ads are currently available in the U.S. and will become available around the globe over the course of the next few months.

Our POV: Geo-fencing is not just a marketing fad; it is the future of targeted experience. These types of ads will increase the efficiency of ad spends and allow for specific content to be much more effective at reaching its audience.

Facebook expands its Audience Network

Facebook has expanded its Audience Network to allow more marketer access. The Audience Network is a platform that allows marketers to run ads on mobile apps so that Facebook ad campaigns can expand outside of the platform itself. This is not, however, completely open to all marketers and agencies.

Our POV: Facebook has made it no secret that they want to eventually challenge Google's ad display network. Mobile app ads have been showing more promise, so expect these ads to play a larger role in social media ad campaigns moving forward. Facebook has continued its mantra of being meticulous, so the quality and visibility of these ads are optimized.

Study finds that emails and Facebook ads work together to push sales

A recent study involving a leading U.S. retailer targeted 565,000 email subscribers with both emails and coordinated Facebook ads. It was found that subscribers who received both were 22 percent more likely to make purchases than those who only received emails

Our POV: There are many effective ways to integrate social media and email marketing. If you haven't done it yet, start with the basics: test copy and images via regular Facebook posts, and then use the most successful samples in your Facebook ads and email campaigns. As a next step, use the knowledge you gain about your audience from Facebook campaigns to craft custom targeted email follow-ups. Finally, don't forget that your email database can be used to create custom audiences within Facebook.

Snapchat shows its first advertisements

Snapchat has now tested its very first ad. The ads disappear after viewing or 24 hours. After giving an explanation as to why its selling ads, Snapchat promised to avoid "creepy" targeting and to use the revenue to “continue to surprise the Snapchat community with more terrific products.”

Our POV: Snapchat is moving full steam towards monetization. However, they have taken a content strategy that suits their user base much more effectively than Instagram or Facebook has, which is attracting all the right companies so far. Look for Snapchat to become more of a marketing player in Q1 of 2015.