This week: CES, Foursquare does local search, the cost of Twitter verification, new Facebook ads and the smaller social sites that matter
If you're like me (read: a gadget geek), you were probably glued to the CES hashtag this week. I watched from afar, with bated breath, what products made a splash at CES 2012 and which ones missed the mark. But one of my favorite reports from Las Vegas focused on the ties between social media and consumer electronics. The key takeaway: consumer electronics must go social to stay relevant. And I think the same is becoming increasingly true for many other products and industries, including marketing.
2. Best evolution: Foursquare
This week, Foursquare introduced "personalized search for the real world" on its recently redesigned, more advertiser-friendly website. What will these new search capabilities mean for users and advertisers? A new "Explore" feature, better keyword search as well as new filters that let users to drill down in search results. Interesting move into local search by the location services app. It's particularly interesting in the context of this week's clash between Twitter and Google over social search criteria changes. Looks like the convergence of social and search will be hot in 2012.
3. Best new way to get verified: Twitter
Twitter also made headlines this week as a report made the rounds that the social network is now letting brands add "verified" check box to their account…for a price. While verified accounts aren't officially for sale, it seems Twitter advertisers who spend a minimum of $15,000 over three months can get one. Not sure the little blue status icon is worth that much green. A better bet for brands interested in creating trust may be optimizing the content on those new brand pages Twitter has begun rolling out. A new study shows embedded videos and striking header images on brand pages can help turn casual visitors into regular followers.
4. Best new ads: Facebook
Facebook introduced a new ad format this week called Featured Stories, which adds paid advertising messages right into users' news feeds. Think Sponsored Stories that are in the actual newsfeed, not just the right rail. The ads will be marked as "featured" near the time mark and they won't be random. The only Featured Stories users will see are from pages they have already liked. Facebook initially said users would see no more than one sponsored news-feed story per day, but the social network now says heavy users may see them more frequently.
5. Best new sites to keep an eye on: Tumblr and Pintrest
A new comScore report says smaller social networks like Tumblr and Pinterest are experiencing explosive growth. Pinterest has seen a 512% increase in the time its users spend on the site since May, while Tumblr saw a 172% increase in global audience size in the 12 months that ended in October. Not surprisingly, socially-savvy brands like Coke are jumping on the Tumblr bandwagon. These are two sites marketers need to keep a close eye on in 2012.