Social Media Rundown: Facebook Relaunches Search Ads; Government User Data Requests; Instagram ‘Creator Accounts’; Google+ to Officially Die

A relatively quite week in the world of social media. But two news items stick out. The first is the potential launch of Instagram ‘creator accounts’ for supporting social media influencers on the platform. The news isn’t Earth-shattering, but it goes to show just how important influencer marketing has become — it’s now fully part of Instagram’s business model.

The second big story is the end of Google+ after the search giant disclosed its second major bug in just three months. Again, not huge news as most anyone who’s used Google+ can attest that the social networking site was not only a social media ghost town, but also was riddled with spam, NSFW content, and was just generally difficult to use and understand. The bigger story is the data leak; if you still have a Google+ account, it’d be wise to shut it down immediately.

Be sure to check out the lean section for some simple live video tips and an interesting experiment with Twitter threads.

Social Media News:

  • Facebook Relaunches Search Ads to Offset Slowing Revenue (TechCrunch). Facebook is testing ads in its search results and Marketplace, directly competing with Google’s AdWords. The ads will be “repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites.”
  • Twitter Says Governments Are Ramping up Their Demands for User Data (TechCrunch). According to Twitter, the company received 6,904 government requests for information on 16,882 accounts. Twitter turned over at least some data in 56 percent of cases. Most demands came from Russia and Turkey.
  • Instagram Will Offer Special Features to Influencers with New ‘Creator Accounts’ (Mashable). The app is testing “creator accounts,” which would add new analytics and messaging features geared toward influencers and other power users of the photo-sharing app.
  • Google to Close Google+ Social Network After Disclosing Second Bug in 3 Months (The Washington Times). After years of failure, Google is finally pulling the plug on its social networking site. A recent bug leaked the private information of 52.5 million Google+ users to developers, including their names, birth dates and email addresses, among other data. Time to make sure your Google+ account is closed; if you ever had one in the first place.

Learn:

  • 13 Live Video Marketing Strategies, Hacks and Tips (The Social Shake-Up). If you’ve ever considered doing a Facebook Live or other live stream event, this post is for you. From strategy and how to keep your broadcasts engaging to logistics and what gear you need, this post has it all.
  • Can Twitter Threads Increase Reach, Engagement, and Referral Traffic? An Experiment (Buffer). This is an interesting experiment that showed Twitter threads (a series of connected Tweets sent from one account) do in fact increase reach and engagement, but do not improve referral traffic. My takeaway is that it is worth trying if you just want to create awareness or drum up enthusiasm for a particular cause, event, or hashtag. For example, a Twitter thread could be used to remind your followers about the start of an online event by sharing the name and time of the event followed by what participants can expect and maybe a quote or two from the first couple speakers.

Chart of the Week:

Instagram’s Rise to 1 Billion Monthly Active Users (QuickSprout). I think this chart speaks for itself. Click the image for “10 Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2019.”

Instagram reached 1 billion monthly active users in June of 2018.
Instagram has grown steadily since 2010 and shows no sign of slowing down.

Did I miss some major social media news this week? Be sure to let me know in the comments. 

New Google+ Events Feature Brings the Social Network to a New Level

New Google+ Events has animated themes.
New Google+ Events feature has cool animated themes and ability to share photos during the event to create a slideshow.

I was greeted with a pleasant surprise when I opened Google+ in my browser the other day: Google+ now has events. I guess I geeked out pretty hard as I immediately created an event even though I didn’t really have an event coming up. I created the methodical “Event Celebrating the New Events Feature on Google+” and invited a few Google+ friends I thought might actually be interested in the new feature just to see how it works.

My test run turned out pretty good. Creating an event is rather fun because it’s really easy and Google+ has a classy set of animated stock photos to choose from to be your theme. This is definitely a step up from other social networks with event features–Facebook doesn’t even have photos to choose from, let alone animated images. Of course, you can also use your own photo–either by choosing from your photos already uploaded to Google+ or you can upload straight from your computer (proper dimensions are 940px x 280px, only static images supported at this time.).

After a theme is set, add a title, select time and date, location, other details and invite your friends. That’s pretty much it as far as creating an event. When inviting people, you can choose between searching anyone on Google Plus, choose specific circles or type in an email address. This is another feature that definitely sets Google+ apart from Facebook. With Facebook events, you can only invite other Facebook users. With Google+ events, you can invite anyone you know as long as they are either on Google+ or have an email address (which is pretty much anyone).

Google+ Events Integrated in Google Calandar
Google+ Events Integrated in Google Calandar

Some of the event options include allowing guests to invite others, allowing guests to add photos, making it a public event or making it an exclusive a Google+ Hangout. Advanced features include adding a website, a ticket seller URL, YouTube video and transit/parking information. Probably the best part about Google+ events is that it’s fully integrated into other Google products. You can easily add the event to your Google calendar (it adds automatically when you create an event or mark yourself as “attending”) and emails are sent to guests with an invitation. I can see the last point as being a negative as well–more popular Google+ users might get spammed by event invitations. Receiving an invitation in your gmail inbox might not be so bad, but you also get an email every time someone comments on the event page. Of course, this is a minor problem as you can easily mute updates to the event (just as you can regular Google+ posts) and you can always adjust your Google+ email settings.

I can definitely see this as being a great marketing tool for businesses to promote upcoming sales events or conferences. The ability to easily share photos before, during and after the event is what Google+ Events is basically built around. It will be interesting to see what brands come up with to further connect with consumers.

Further reading:

9 Reasons to Switch from Facebook to Google+
Google+ Events: This Week in Social Media
Google+ Events: Learn More on google.com

Setting up a Google+ Brand Page: A few tips

Google Plus LogoA few weeks ago, I set up a Google+ Brand Page for KVSC-FM. The basics of setting up a Google+ Brand Page is pretty self-explanatory. However, you should be warned that Google+ currently requires Brand Pages to be linked to a single gmail account. I was unaware of this and now have the KVSC page linked to my personal gmail account. This is nice because it’s easy to switch back and forth between accounts without having to sign out/in, but this is actually very bad news. Now I am the only person who can make any changes to the KVSC Brand Page–there’s no way to add admins. I’m refraining from going on a rant here, but just beware of this Google+ flaw. In hindsight, I should have created a gmail account for the station first (such as kvsc.gplus@gmail.com). I should also note this is the second time I have had a bad experience with creating accounts using Google’s services. The KVSC YouTube channel is also linked to my personal gmail account and I have not been able to fix it in nearly two years. Moving on…

KVSC 88.1FM Google+ Brand Page example of a profile banner.
Using the Google+ Scrapbook to create a profile banner can be a fun branding opportunity.

Once the basics are completed in setting up your Brand Page (basic info, links, profile photo, etc.) you should make a nice banner at the top of you profile using scrapbook photos. This is definitely a cool feature and should be used to showcase your business–either through creative branding or by using the photos to highlight an upcoming promotion or event.

KVSC Google+ Brand Page profile banner for Trivia Weekend.For KVSC, I used the scrapbook photos to showcase the station’s tagline “Your Sound Alternative.” I recently changed it to feature the annual Trivia Weekend contest coming up in February. Be aware of another flaw though: you currently cannot rearrange photos in scrapbook. Without the ability to rearrange photos, you will need to delete the old photos and replace them with your new images in order to get a new banner. This also means you will need to upload the photos in the correct order to make the banner image. A bit of a pain, but I still think this is some cool branding real estate. Also, remember to save your old photos before replacing them.

The hard part with setting up a Brand Page will probably be to actually build a following. All I can suggest here is to post frequently and cross-promote on other social networking sites–namely Facebook and Twitter. With posts, I suggest using lots of visuals. Intriguing images and video coupled with headlines that inspire comments are key. All posts do not necessarily need to relate directly to your business or industry. Find images that are funny, inspiring or otherwise interesting. There are many other suggestions on what to post and how to get the most of your Google+ Brand Page. Here’s a good article I found on HubSpot that may help.

I believe Google+ is one of the easiest social networking sites to use. It is not as personal as Facebook and a little slower in pace compared to Twitter. Google+ has found a happy medium and just needs to get past the initial early adopter phase–once users start posting more frequently it will become more popular. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around how to use Google+ Hangouts from a marketing perspective (especially for a small business or non-profit), but I have heard of many organizations using it for some pretty cool things such as free conference calling, a virtual press conference, celebrity chats or a behind-the-scenes look.