Facebook Releases Larger Link Images

For the past year, brands have resorted to advertising on Facebook with default, thumbnail sized images that weren’t exactly ideal for driving clicks, responses, or conversations. But today, the social network debuts larger images for link shares on desktop as well as mobile ads. The idea is that larger images will help to drive conversions from simply glancing at an ad to actually clicking on it, reading it, and interacting with it. When posted, it becomes a giant link that will point users to a respective website. It fits with Facebook’s June announcement that it was going to cater to marketers even more in the near future, and laid out a new ad format that effects page post link ads, page like ads, offer ads, and more. 

Twitter Acquires MoPub

Twitter has been building clout as an advertising platform for all of 2013, and their acquisition of startup MoPub is another piece of the puzzle.  MoPub helps mobile publishers manage their ad inventory, and by owning them, Twitter has shown an increased focus on revenue generation.  This acquisition will serve to maximize Twitter’s own ad space, increasing the effectiveness of ads running across the entire platform, but will also add revenue from other companies using MoPub’s service to develop native advertising strategies, like WordPress, Flixter, Ngmoco, and OpenTable.

Instagram Preparing to Sell Ads

The coveted millennial demographic is elusive to advertisers due to its prevailing savvy that comes from being a digitally native generation.  Much of the effort to reach these tough customers has been focused on social media, and another player is about to enter the game. Image sharing giant Instagram is on the path to monetization following its acquisition by Facebook last year, and director of business operations Emily White is ready to begin selling ad packages on the service.  Brands are already using Instagram to run viral campaigns for free, but many have expressed an interest in more formal advertising options.  There is fear that excessive advertising could drive users, especially millennials, away from the service, so there is explicit focus being placed on the development of Instagram’s ad program’s seamlessness.  Only time will tell what shape this final presentation will take, but it could quite possibly shift how we think about ads in the app space, given Instagram’s oversimplified user interface which currently shows few obvious options for ad placement.

Facebook Hashtags Aren’t Useful For Viral Reach

A new study shows that Facebook hashtags aren’t useful for viral posts – and in fact, post without hashtags have greater reach than those with hashtags. Facebook recently copied this feature from Twitter in June to add context and shared interests; EdgeRank Checker’s study, though, examined over 500 pages in the past few months, and discovered that hashtags only bring views to brands’ pages incidentally, rather than intentionally. There was a decrease in the amount of engagement per fan in posts with hashtags, and there is no correlation between the amount of fans and the greater positive impact on a brand’s engagement. Moral of the story: Facebook branding doesn’t work well with hashtags. 

Facebook Debuts Shared Photo Albums

Facebook announced shared photo albums, a new feature that lets multiple users upload images to the same album. The original owner of the album can add up to 50 contributors, who can each share up to 200 photos to an album. Album creators can choose a setting that allows contributors to invite others – or retain total control over an album. It’s easy to see how companies can invite large numbers of consumers to collaborate on crowd-sourced albums showcasing a particular product, or wrapping offers up into album-sharing functionality. It could prove to be a powerful marketing tool to galvanize visible support. 

Twitter Tests Trending TV

A few Twitter users awoke this morning to find their activity streams filled with a new ‘Trending’ TV box. The social network is testing out new ways of monetizing its service, and to drive higher usage. The trending box displays current popular TV shows as cards in a user’s Twitter timeline, and links to more information about the show, people in it, as well as promotions and other offers. So far, the elusive feature seems to only appear through the iOS app, rather than through the desktop, implying that Twitter is testing it as an augmented second screen activity. Expect to see more on this soon as it’s a developing story.  

Graph Search Available To All U.S. English Users

Facebook’s Graph Search, the tool that enables plan-language search across information shared by friends or anyone on the social network is now available to anybody who uses U.S. English as their default language. It’s a useful tool, and as more people use it it will only increase in its applications, as new meaningful searches turn up new information across different parts of the network. However, privacy will become a much larger concern, as now nearly everything on Facebook can be looked up with a simple click of a button. 

Facebook’s New Users Come From Feature Phones

Facebook released some new statistics about its mobile usage, and revealed that it now has 100 million monthly active users who access Facebook’s app on feature phones – showing particularly large growth among users in countries like India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Though Facebook is at over 1 billion active users around the world, the company is looking to expand its global profile, and in positioning itself as a viable product for feature phones, Facebook has access to nearly all of the 418.6 million handsets shipped during the first quarter of 2013. Facebook presently runs on over 3,000 different types of feature phones, so the data isn’t surprising, but it puts Facebook in the unique position of ensuring that the next global generation are already Facebook users, irrespective of the phone they own. 

Soldsie Exceeds $10M In Transactions

Soldsie, a company that processes payments on top of Facebook comments, announced that it has processed more than $10 Million in transactions, and will be expanding into several foreign markets. The service allows you to buy things in the Facebook comments section, and allow companies to grab buyer’s attention in the moment. With several companies mounting challanges to the traditional buyers model, Soldsie seems to have figured out an effective method of transitioning social media engagement into dollars. 

Twitter Launches Retargeting

Twitter has entered the digital ad sphere full-force in 2013, launching its Amplify TV platform, and now they’ve launched cookies-based retargeting for brands, allowing them to use their e-mail lists and cookie IDs to serve users applicable ads.  This is standard practice for other online services, but has come with some concerns over privacy.  Twitter’s senior director of product, Kevin Weil, assures the public that all information is non-identifiable and there will be the option to opt-out of the promotions within Twitter’s interface, or via Do Not Track.