Social Media Rundown: More Facebook Data Issues; Shoddy Twitter Verification Process; Pinterest IPO

This week’s Rundown includes a fresh round of Facebook data breaches, a healthy IPO for Pinterest, and more social media news. Plus, learn how to combat social media algorithms and take a look at the future of social media with Mark Schaefer.

Social Media News

  • Facebook Says It Uploaded Email Contacts of up to 1.5 Million Users (Reuters). Yet another privacy breach from Facebook: The company harvested the email contacts of new users without their knowledge or consent when they opened their accounts. The company said it is now deleting the data. Meanwhile, it’s Instagram product experienced a data breach of its own when millions of Instagram users’ passwords were exposed to staff.
  • Twitter Secretly Verified Jack Dorsey’s Mom and Thousands of Others Despite ‘Pause’ (Mashable). “Celebrities, and others with backchannel connections to the company, are able to become verified as Twitter ignores everyday users and those without insider access.” And now I know why Twitter keeps rejecting my verification requests.
  • A New Twitter Account Is Outing Shoddy Reporting in Science Stories (Quartz). Here’s a new account you might want to follow: @justsaysinmice tweets about stories that rely on a study of mice to make claims about human health.
  • Pinterest Shares Jump 25 Percent on First Day of Trading (The New York Times). Pinterest stock began trading at $23.75, putting the company’s value above its last private valuation of $12 billion. Pinterest is about interacting with celebrities or broadcasting one’s life. Instead it is meant to be more personal. Its 250 million monthly active users use the site to plan important aspects of their lives, including home projects, weddings and meals.
  • 15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook (Wired). Here’s your weekend long read: “The confusing rollout of meaningful social interactions—marked by internal dissent, blistering external criticism, genuine efforts at reform, and foolish mistakes—set the stage for Facebook’s 2018.”

Learn

  • How to Make Your Website and Social-Media Presence Bulletproof Against Algorithm Changes (Inc). This article includes four ways to keep your web traffic up and three ideas to consider when building out your social media content strategy.
  • Social Media Shakeout: Why the Future of Social Media Is Hazy (businessesgrow.com). Mark Schaefer gives a brief rundown of what’s next in the world of social media — from AI and 5G to regulation and consolidation.

Chart of the Week

The Six Most Popular Digital Marketing Channels with Small Businesses (MarketingProfs). Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents say their business engages in social media marketing; the same proportion also use a website to market their firm.

Top 6 digital marketing channels for small businesses.
Social media and the company website are neck and neck as the most important digital marketing channels for small businesses.

Social Media: Personal and Visual, Pt. 2 – The Power of Visuals

Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.
Infographics can be a great way to communicate complex statistics.

In my previous post, I discussed the importance of knowing your audience as I presented at a recent St. Cloud State University mass communications alumni event. Now is time for part two of that discussion: the importance of visuals in communication.

The idea that people are visually minded is nothing new, but I feel it is important to discuss as the concept directly transfers to the public relations industry. There’s been talk for a number of years about whether or not news releases are effective and if they are on the way out. The short answer is no, they are not on the way out. That’s my opinion maybe, but as long as there are journalists with tight deadlines and news organizations that continue to cut staff, news releases will be an easy go-to source for journalists.

Without getting into the particulars of  journalists expected to push out more content in a shorter amount of time and editors choosing to sensationalize soft stories instead of producing in-depth hard news, I’ll just say news releases are still important. What has changed over the past few years is how the news release is developed and disseminated.

Now in the PR world we’re seeing more interactive news releases. News releases optimized for search engines and the “social media news release” are commonplace. These are news releases rich in content—containing at least one visual element, keywords and links for more information. A media-rich news release is far more effective in reaching a target audience and should resonate with reporters much better.

Visuals are so effective now that many companies are using infographics in place of the news release. Infographics are great because they can take relatively complicated statistics and visualize them into easy-to-understand graphs. A news release with a bunch of stats crammed in the body will never be as effective as a well-designed infographic. They also are easy to share and can make their way around the Internet with little effort.

Further building off the importance of visuals in PR, let’s take a look at what has brought us to this point. Surly, communications specialists have recognized the importance of strong visuals long ago. Marketing and advertising is almost completely based off of visual cues. Even radio commercials contain a visual element—a good radio spot will paint a picture in the mind of the listener, which can be more effective than actually seeing something in print or video.

Social media and, more importantly Web 2.0, have made it much easier to share images and video across a variety of platforms. A few major news items have surfaced over the past few months that have really made this point be heard.

The first is Pinterest. Pinterest is a social networking site that allows users to pin images that link back to the original source onto “boards,” or a scrapbook-style collection of a user’s personality. Pinterest is significant because the website hit 10 million U.S. monthly unique visitors faster than any standalone site ever.

Another interesting phenomenon is Draw Something hitting 20 million active users in just seven weeks. Draw Something is a Pictionary-style mobile gaming application in which users draw something from a set of words and the other user watches the drawing unfold as he/she tries to guess the word.

A final piece of news is that of Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion–which was still a startup at the time with only 9 employees. Each of these news items should aid in understanding the the importance of using visuals in communication.

Lastly, please stop using comic sans and clip art:

Pinterest: The Real Game Changer

Pinterest LogoThe title says it all: Pinterest has come along and changed the social media landscape. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but Pinterest is definitely an innovative social networking site. Actually, it’s hardly a social network at all… it’s more of an online creativity and inspiration hub. At least, that’s how I view it. I use Pinterest for a variety of reasons and they all seem to have a similar theme: I want to be inspired. I turn to Pinterest to  find new things I want to try, express my personality or simply find something I might not discover otherwise.

Before we go deeper into this new social network I’ll let the folks at ReadWriteWeb explain Pinterest:

Pinterest is a visual pin board where you can collect images you find on the Web and arrange them in categories with links back to the original site. It’s been described as being like a binder or folder that you use to store everything you clip from magazines and newspapers, but you have the added advantage of seeing what all of the people you are connected to have been clipping and saving.

Even the above description sounds intriguing and different. Having access to the creative “binders” of everyone you’re connected to (and basically anyone on Pinterest) makes it easy to find things that interest you and expand your creativity. The fact that all the images link back to the original site makes it a great traffic-driving social network. I experienced this first-hand when I posted a photo of Buddy the Elf from my blog. I saw a significant spike in unique visits to my site and I have pinned images of my site since then. Pinterest is now the No. 6 referrer to my site. For a retailer, especially a small business with creative/handmade merchandise, Pinterest makes it easy to publicly display product and find new customers.

Boards on Pinterest by @eric_wheeler
Some of my boards on Pinterest. I have a board dedicated to bacon as well. Yes, bacon.

Pinterest is now referring more traffic to retail sites than Google+ and is a top contender in the Hitwise Social Networking & Forums category. For these two reasons alone, Pinterest is now a critical component for marketers in the retail industry. With Pinterest being such a new social network how can marketers and social media managers tap in to this new medium? I think the answer here is simple. Just as you should research other social networks before creating a strategy you should for Pinterest too. Look at what your competitors are doing. Look at what your customers are doing. Get to know the social network and what type of pins get the most repins and likes. A little monitoring and research goes a long way. Keep in mind Pinterest may not be ideal for every company.

Though Pinterest has just become popular in the past couple months the site has been around for nearly two years. I only joined about six weeks ago and already have more than 450 pins and have created 23 boards. Yes, Pinterest is addicting. I think the main reason behind the success of Pinterest is it allows users to express their personality. If you are not yet on Pinterest be careful. It is addicting (that’s my second warning).

Are you on Pinterest? What has been your experience so far? Please share your thoughts in the comments below or send me a tweet: @eric_wheeler. Please feel free to follow my pins: http://pinterest.com/eric_wheeler/.