google-zeitgeist-hello-professor-ochocinco

Google Social Search & Pinterest Pointers for Brands


Top Story: 
Google Integrates Google+ into Search Results

As I was scouting out a chili recipe online the other day, I was somewhat surprised to see so many Google results from people I actually know. Who knew that blogger’s chili was so popular that their image is the first result to come up on Google Images? That’s when I realized it had begun: Google had integrated Google+ into search. Up until now, I, like many other Google users, trusted that the search results I was getting on Google really were the top search results. But the other day, I quickly understood that the results I was getting for my chili search were showing up because I was logged in to my Google account. Results were showing up personalized just for me, not only from users I follow on Google+, but also for users it is recommended I follow on Google+. The thing is, I’m not very social on Google+. The social content that’s important to me can be found on Twitter and Facebook and most of the people I trust to get me that top chili recipe aren’t on Google+ just yet. Will the promise of your Google+ content showing up in the searches of others encourage you to use Google+ more actively? That’s certainly what Google hopes.

YouTube Preview Image

Many are upset that Google is choosing to promote content from its own service, despite the fact that it’s not necessarily the most relevant content to them. And if Google wants to be trusted as the most reputable search engine, they need to be providing the best results; not the results that cater to their own commercial means. Google will argue that Facebook doesn’t make its content publicly searchable and that Twitter ended their contract to incorporate real-time tweets into search results. But most of that information on Twitter is public, which means Google’s crawlers could easily be bringing relevant tweets to us in their results, too. But they’re not.

There is a bright side, though. Yes, if you’re logged into your Google account, personal search results will automatically show up. But you can easily toggle personal results off with just the click of a button. And I have a strong feeling that’s what most users will be doing.

 

Under the Radar: Google and the FTC

Speaking of Google, according to a report by Bloomberg, they may be in a little hot water with the FTC. Basically, Google’s expansion into the social space and the implications social search implications raise concerns about anti-competitive behavior – a.k.a. all Google, all the time. Other companies and agencies, including Twitter and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have spoken out about the narrowing of search results caused by the Search plus Your World feature. We’re looking forward to seeing how this plays out. Google has been criticized before for having selective results, and this could definitely have an impact on the results the search engine returns in the future.

 

Around the Hub: We Take it Back, MBTA

Last week we wrote about the MBTA missing out on a big PR and social opportunity by not endorsing a Tufts graduate student’s project to improve the design of an upcoming new T station location. Well, a few days after writing about this, the MBTA proved us wrong, launching its own initiative with Hubway.

Together, Hubway (the bike rental service) and the MBTA have launched the ‘MBTA + Boston Bikes Developer Challenge‘ that crowd-sources the creation of 2 different applications and a ‘visualization’. There will be a winner picked for each of the three categories, and the winner receives a one year membership to Hubway, a year of riding free on the T and passes to two food truck festivals. Those are some awesome prizes if you ask us!!

This is exactly what we thought the MBTA was missing out on doing – accessing Boston’s existing creative talent to build cool new stuff while gaining positive PR for working with its customers. The more initiatives the MBTA creates like this, the less the will be slammed on social media.

The three categories are as follows:

  • Applications Challenge: This challenge calls on developers to create applications using MBTA data such as real-time and schedules bus, subway, and commuter rail data, together with New Balance Hubway Live Station Inventory Data to create an app, website, or other software application that provides an innovative way to access MBTA and New Balance Hubway information in real-time.
  • Visualization Challenge: This challenge calls on developers to create a visualization of, “A day in the life of the MBTA and New Balance Hubway” using both MBTA and New Balance Hubway data such as  historical vehicle location, for the MBTA and Hubway origin-destination data.
  • Bonus Challenge Bikes, Lunch, & T Challenge– This Challenge calls on developers to create innovative applications that help hungry residents learn about, locate and get to Boston′s food trucks. This app, for web or mobile, would ideally include locations of the trucks, menus, and routing information on how to get to them by walking, T or New Balance Hubway.
So, if you’re a developer and want to travel Boston free for a year, get to work!

 

Tool of the Week: Pinterest

We’ll admit it: we’re addicted to Pinterest. In fact, it’s an obsession for some (we won’t name names) in our office. When it first came on the scene as a social tool to share images and ideas with our friends, we were on-board immediately.  Its integration with Facebook made it an awesome way to have a new conversation with existing contacts. And, due to its overwhelming popularity, Pinterest recently joined the illustrious list of the top ten social networks.

The mission of the company is simple enough: to connect everyone in the world through shared tastes and “things” they find interesting.  More recently, we’ve begun to think of Pinterest as a social tool for companies.  As an agency that focuses on consumer brands, having the ability to share images of your products and ideas that complement your brand in a visual way is a very appealing way for our clients to engage with their audience and help them picture their products in the home/in their closet/on their dinner table. Mashable recently released its top list of brands on Pinterest.  We put together our list of the top things we’ve seen brands do to leverage the hot new tool.

  1. Clearly Defined Boards: the brands do a great job of dividing their content into themed boards, allowing users to easily follow the types of content that they want to see from the brand.
  2. Stunning Images: people pin things they think are pretty.  Having high quality, beautiful images definitely make your pins more re-pinable.
  3. It’s All In the Details: well-written descriptions explaining the content and context of an image makes it easier for pinners to add to your pin and share with their followers.
  4. Complementary Content: just as with any good social media communication, adding complementary content in-line with the theme of your brand is a good call.  Don’t only talk about yourself: include content that contributes to the topic as a whole.
  5. Encouraging Users to Pin Brand Content: Some brands have started to run promotions and contests that ask entrants to pin content from the brand to their own boards for a chance to win a prize. We’ll likely be seeing more and more brand promotions on Pinterest in the near future.
  6. How-tos: Many brands are using Pinterest to show users how their fans use their product. For instance, Chobani has boards devoted to photos of dishes fans have created with their yogurt.
Whole Foods Market’s Pinterest page

What do you think of the new Google social search results? How does your brand use Pinterest to engage with customers? Let us know in the comments section below or tweet us at @451heat.

google-zeitgeist-hello-professor-ochocinco

Who “Owns” Your Followers & Instagram’s Facebook Integration

 

Top Story: Instagram Gets Deeper Facebook Integration

From the start, we haven’t had very many complaints about photo-sharing and social network app Instagram. Not only have we had the ability to share our photos with our Instagram network, but we’ve also been able to send our self-filtered photos to various social networks, like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and more. But this week, Instagram’s Facebook integration got a little deeper, making photo viewing and interacting much easier through the Facebook platform. Previously, when you sent an Instagram photo to Facebook, it would show up as a small thumbnail hosted on Instagram’s servers. If one of your friends clicked on the thumbnail, they would be taken to the external Instagram website to view the photo. Now, when you send an Instagram photo to Facebook, it shows up full-size and high resolution. If a friend clicks on the photo, it enlarges within the Facebook page, just like any other photo on Facebook does.

Going a step further, Instagram photos can now easily be shared, tagged, and commented on, just like any other Facebook photo. This means Facebook users will likely be seeing Instagram photos in their newsfeeds much more than in the past. Which also leads us to believe that more and more users will be signing up for Instagram in the near future.

We’re thrilled by this development as it means we can now use Instagram as our main photo-sharing application, without worrying about sending photos to Facebook that our friends wouldn’t be able to interact with or be tagged in. In case you didn’t hear, Instagram was just named the largest mobile social network– and this is only going to help it grow even larger!

 

Under the Radar: Who Owns Your Company’s Twitter Followers

We came across an interesting story this week about Twitter followers and “ownership.”  The story goes that Noah Kravitz, an employee at mobile app and device review site PhoneDog, began cultivating a Twitter following for the company in 2006.  Then, when he left the company in 2010, he changed the handle name and “took” the company’s 17,000 followers with him.  In July of the following year, PhoneDog sued Kravitz for $340,000  – $2.50/month/follower for 18 months.

There are a lot of arguments to consider in this ground-breaking case.  How do you calculate the value of a follower on Twitter ie how did PhoneDog decide $2.50/month was the value for them?  Who was the real value-add for the followers – PhoneDog or Kravitz? Also, the fundamental idea of having a fool-proof (is there such a thing?) social media policy in place at your company comes in to play – if it is clearly stated from the get-go that corporate Twitter handle followers “belong” to the company and not the individual user behind the handle, can a company prevent follower “theft?”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out –  a hearing in the case is scheduled for January 26 in San Francisco.

 

Around the Hub: MBTA, MassDOT Blow Opportunity for Good Press (Shocker)

A Tufts Graduate student has created a unique promotion to get the city of Boston involved with the design of the new train station at Gilman Square in Somerville that crowdsources to get ideas to improve the station design. The student has created an impressive kit to get you started as well, including creating a virtual tour of what the station is purposed to look like – to give everyone a chance to visualize and imagine more improvements.

As you would expect, the MBTA, MassDOT and any other government run organization has nothing to do with this. It would have made sense for these organizations to do so, especially with the large amount of bad press and social media chatter is always surrounding them. Simply approving of the contest and donating a 3 month pass (or something more exciting, like a years worth) would have got them a serious amount of positive press.

They are currently perceived as organizations that do not listen to customer feedback, have a record mechanical failures, and have trains in very poor shape. They hay be underfunded, but they also don’t do themselves any favors with their overall forward facing image.

By not embracing this creative use of the existing talent in Boston – the MBTA in particular – has demonstrated that even when presented with a no-effort-needed opportunity, they will not pursue it even when it would have been a large boost to reputation. If there was a good reason they decided not to affiliate themselves I would be interested to hear it.

 

Event of the Week: 2012 International CES (CES)

Today marks the beginning of the world’s largest consumer technology trade show, CES, held over four days in Las Vegas. The list of brands in attendance is a veritable who’s who when it comes to consumer brands: Microsoft, Ford, Verizon, AT&T, Unilever, Intel, Ericsson – and the list goes on.  For those who can’t be there, Spike TV is covering the trade show on television and online.

Some cool things happening at this year’s event:

  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s Keynote Address (Monday, 6:30 PM PST): Microsoft has used the CES keynote stage in previous years to unveil innovative new products, including the original Xbox and Avatar Kinect.
  • PMDA Awards (Monday, 7:30PM PST): While the The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association Awards may be a mouthful, there is an impressive line-up of honorees – the CEOs of Sony and Shutterfly, a Pullitzer Prize Winner, and a Nobel Prize Winner will all be recognized.
  • Last Gadget Standing (Thursday, 10:30 AM PST): Last Gadget Standing challenges contenders to give the product demo of their lives. At stake: bragging rights as the product “most likely to change the face of technology.” See all the winners strut their stuff in this inventive, fast-paced competition. Guest emcees Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein from the Howard Stern Show will host the event.
  • Mobile Apps Showdown (Thursday, 12:30 PM PST): Apps producers will have two minutes to demo their app, and an applause-o-meter will measure audience enthusiasm to determine the winners. Guest emcees Gary Dell’Abate and Jon Hein from the Howard Stern Show will host the event.

We’re excited to hear about the new, innovative ideas that surface from this year’s event.  How can you experience CES from your cubicle?  You can follow their handle, @intlces, or use the hashtag #CES

 

What are the top Social Media/PR stories on your radar this week?  Let us know in the comments section below or via Twitter at @451heat.

 

labs

Exploring Twitter, An Uber Cool App, and Other Facebook Messages

 

Top Story: Twitter ‘Explores’ a New Look and Feel with Redesign

Twitter has redesigned not only its interface, but some of its terminology as well. They went to a simpler overall experience by giving more definite categories and designing the site to be easier to navigate.

Twitter added two categories – ‘Connect’ and ‘Discover’. While neither adds actual features, it changes how you view your content.

Connect – this is now where you will find all interactions: who tweeted you, who added you tweet to their favorites, followed you, or retweeted you. This is somewhat similar to the Facebook activity feed, if you ask us.

Discover – this basically is a news aggregator and it accomplishes this by, putting imagery, trending topics, and hot stories in one area. By pulling in more than just the words that are hot – they have made it into more of an actual news resource.

‘Discover’ is the feature that could really change how Twitter is used. It will now be more appealing to people solely looking to stay up to date in news real time because it has a dedicated page.

 

Under the Radar: Why is Facebook hiding messages from us?

Did you know that Facebook has been filtering your private messages for over a year? If you’ve never noticed your “Other” messages, you may want to take a look and see what you’ve been missing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We all know what it’s like to be bombarded with annoying messages on Facebook. From event invites for parties located across the country to band performances from “friends” we talked to once in high school, it’s easy to feel spammed by Facebook on occasion. But what you may not know is that Facebook has its own form of a spam filter set up. It’s a section of your messages called “other” and you may have never noticed it if you haven’t bothered to look. But Facebook has allegedly been implementing this system since November of 2010.

I checked my “other” folder for the first time the other day and noticed quite a few messages in there. Admittedly, most of them are messages that weren’t important and I would have immediately trashed anyway. And, I thank Facebook for sparing me the creepy “I’d like to get to know you better” messages from faceless people. However, there were a few in there, like a special discount from a company I follow and a message from a friend (who I’m not connected with on Facebook), that I would have liked to see— messages that I had no idea were being hidden from me.

Am I mad? Not necessarily. I do think Facebook’s “other” folder is incredibly useful and has saved me much annoyance. But it’s also something that we should have been aware of from the start. I thank goodness for Gmail’s spam filter on a daily basis, but I still like to take a quick look at it from time to time to make sure nothing important is getting by. I’m thrilled not to get all those annoying Facebook messages to my inbox, but at the same time, I would have liked to know that my messages were being filtered and I wasn’t necessarily receiving everything that was sent to me. Check your “other” folder and see what you’ve been missing!

 

451 Labs Tool Review: Uber’s App—Making it easy to get a cab from your phone

Waiting on the side of the road waving your hand to get a cab to stop is so yesterday. With Uber, you can request a car right from your iPhone or Android. It will come in no time and be a whole lot less sketchy than many of the cabs you’ve likely ridden in before. But what will it cost you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you live in a major city, you likely know what it’s like to be frustrated trying to catch a cab. Especially if it happens to be raining out or you stay at the bar until last call and want to get home when every other city-dweller is also trying to hitch a ride. It’s enough to make you want to spend the winter huddled in your apartment to avoid being stranded far from home at all costs. Enter Uber.

Uber is a new service that makes it easy to get a cab. A non-sketchy car that is much more comfy and classy-looking than the average cab. All you need is the iPhone or Android app and you can request a car from anywhere. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can simply text Uber your address. A sleek black car with a professional driver will come pick you up, generally in about 10-15 minutes. Which means you can stick around the bar a little longer, instead of standing on the sidewalk with your hand up waving for a cab, while simultaneously shoving people out of your way and screaming that you were waiting first. Or maybe that’s just how we do it in Boston? (Tweet This!)

Adding to Uber’s appeal is the easy pay option. Instead of making certain you have cash on you or dealing with your cab’s faulty credit card machine (if they even have one!), Uber simply charges the credit card you have on file with them. It sounds super easy, but how much does it cost? Well, Uber charges based on distance traveled and time spent in cab and varies from city to city. In Boston, the base fee is $7.00, plus a $4.00 distance fee per mile, and $0.85 per minute time fee (for when the car is traveling less than 11 miles per hour). So, taking an Uber car will cost you more than a standard cab in Boston (which generally has a $2.60 base charge, plus a $2.80 per mile distance fee, and $0.47 per minute time fee). However, when you factor in the fact that you can avoid waiting and annoyance, along with a potentially sketchy cabby who’s chatting on his cell phone and swerving in and out of traffic, it seems pretty worth it for certain occasions. We’ll likely be saving the luxury for when we’re really stuck and want to get home hassle-free.

Uber’s services are currently offered in San Francisco/Palo Alto, New York City, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Paris, and Washington D.C.

 

Around the Hub: Foursquare-Amex Partnership comes and goes in Boston

There was a lot of buzz about the Foursquare-American Express partnership when it was announced, but in Boston there hasn’t been much talk about it lately because it wasn’t really activated anywhere in the Hub.

About a week ago, Foursquare quietly rolled out specials at a number of local businesses that have a ‘Spend $10, get $10 off’ specials – provided by American Express. While we are excited to see this feature coming to Boston, it raises some concerns as well.

In Boston, they did not consult the businesses before putting this special up. While the money exchange is done on the credit card, many customers will likely ask the businesses about the specials. It makes sense that Foursquare would want to push this out to many businesses, however they should be giving merchants more information and training staff on the specials. If a local restaurant was consulted on this, they would be able to internally push the promotion to existing customers and get more reach overall.
              

UPDATE: As of this morning it appears the AMEX specials are gone in Boston

 

Will you be using the uber cool app for your next taxi? Will you be more keen to check your “other” Facebook messages, Will you be more tuned in with the new Twitter, or will you be checking in to see what new discount you can get? Join the conversation #451Labs and drop us a line.

labs

YouTube Gets Social and a Mayor Becomes a Mayor

 

Top Story: YouTube Gets Social

YouTube is getting a makeover! Yes, you heard right, YouTube is going to have a clean, simple, and more social interface than before. It’s going to feel a lot like watching TV.

YouTube Preview Image

With their new design, YouTube is trying to get us to click around, stick around, and become more social on their site. And after spending some time exploring the new design, we think they’ll be seeing success. However, they still have a long way to go in getting us to choose YouTube over television on a daily basis.

You can think of the new design as sort of like the YouTube version of DVR. With hundreds of new channels launching soon, (from celebrities and well-known personalities) YouTube wanted to give us a better way to organize our favorite channels, making it easier for us to watch. The new homepage succeeds in making it simple for us to see what channels we’re subscribed to, which ones are recommended to us, and which are popular and trending. It also gives us a quick way to share our videos with connections on Facebook and Google Plus. Admittedly, we found that the new homepage is making it much more common for us to get sucked in and fall into that endless clicking hole – which is exactly what YouTube wants.

Will the YouTube redesign have us canceling our cable and watching YouTube channels for our television fix? Definitely not. The content on YouTube’s channels is still just not as good as it is on television, though we are interested to see if channels from Ashton Kutcher, Jay-Z, and the like can change that. Also, unlike television, we still can’t fall into that lazy mode, where we keep watching and watching. Even with YouTube’s redesign, we still have to actively seek out and click on videos to watch. But they’ve certainly made that a lot easier for us to do.

 

Under the Radar: A Mayor Becomes a Mayor

Take a Foursquare tour of the city with Mayor Bob Buckem of Tampa, FL. Get insider tips and earn your badges!

Foursquare is all about connecting with other people. We have seen celebrities join, but for the most part they don’t actually want people to know exactly where they are. Politicians on the other hand, always want citizens knowing where they are going and what they are doing for their respective cities. This is what Tampa Mayor, Bob Buckhorn, has been doing. He recently has taken it to the next level by creating a ‘Tour of Tampa’ within Foursquare.

There is obvious value in this for someone who is a heavy Foursquare user visiting Tampa, but what is really interesting about this is that Mayor Buckhorn has started an initiative that is really pushing Foursquare and LBS’s (location based services) into the mainstream. This proves that LBS’s can serve more of a purpose than just finding where your friends are and occasionally getting discounts. The more practical uses that can be demonstrated, the more people are likely to use them and in turn the more businesses will embrace it.

 

451 Labs Tool Review: Buffer

Never know when to publish content on your twitter feed? Buffer is a platform that is here to help you engage your Twitter followers by taking tweets and publishing them at certain times to procure the most engagement.

 

We certainly have enough experience with tweet scheduling services, using Hootsuite and TweetDeck on a daily basis. So, our main goal here was to see if Buffer could set itself apart from those other easy-to-use services. Buffer’s main draw is that it does make scheduling tweets a bit easier. Instead of being forced to choose a specific time for each tweet we’re scheduling, the service lets us pre-define the times we want our tweets to be sent out. So, all we have to do is add our text and links to the “buffer” and let the service do the rest. That is, if we want our tweets to go out at the same times every day.

We loved that there’s a Buffer Bookmarklet for easy sharing. Instead of heading to Twitter.com or our preferred application, we can simply click on the bookmark extension and schedule our tweet without leaving the website we’re on. We also love that Buffer’s analytics allow us to see sent tweets, along with their retweets, clicks and estimated reach.

At first we were excited by Buffer’s suggested tweet option. But after playing around with it on different Twitter accounts, we found that the suggested tweets were not very well-tailored to the type of content we generally tweet out. They also included many advertisements for the service. Fair enough, considering the service is free to use with 1 Twitter account and 10 tweets in a queue at a time. If you want to use Buffer with 3 Twitter accounts, schedule 50 tweets at a time, and add a team member, it will cost you $10/month.

So, does Buffer really increase clicks by 200% as many claim? We didn’t see quite that high of a click-through rate, but we’ll continue experimenting with Buffer. It does make timing tweets simpler. But as we’ve known all along, it really is about tweeting valuable content that’s the most important factor in soliciting clicks and re-tweets.

 

According to Fantana’s research, 60% of the time it works every time. (Tweet This!)

 

Around the Hub: 31 Nights of Lights

Boston’s Prudential Center features “31 Nights of Light”

Every December the Prudential Center “lights up” to support Boston’s non-profit organizations. Many of these organizations will host fundraising events at the shops to raise awareness on their cause.The Prudential Center Tower is using its colorful combination of lights (often best known for supporting the Sox, B’s, C’s and Pats) to support a different charity for all 31 days of December.

This is a brilliant use of the Prudential Tower, which is a landmark of Boston, because it makes use of existing resources (the lights) to help align itself with 31 great charity organizations. The Tower is seen by millions every day, and the constantly changing colors will grab the notice of many.

The Prudential Center itself does not do a large amount of marketing, so this is a good way to push out their brand image – which is focused on supporting Boston (charities and sports). The month of supporting these organizations is also a good way to tap into the large networks of all of the charities, many of which are large national groups. It looks like the Prudential Center tower has found an eye catching and relatively easyway to execute to build their brand image and support some great non-profits this winter.

 

 

How to Make a Klout Coupon For Your Facebook Page

 

 

As of last Wednesday, a brand can now create a custom experience on Facebook using Klout scores to target fans with the largest social media followings thanks to social marketing company Involver.  Companies can add the Klout Coupon App on their Facebook page as a Facebook Tab, which asks visitors for their Klout score.  Based on their Klout score, a brand can decide what pages are visible to the visitor and how to reward them. Klout is the leading way to measure online influence based on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles.  Setting up your Klout Coupon App is very simple; below you’ll find an explanation of how it works, along with some tips to help you get started.

Starting from the Involver website, you may install the Klout Coupon Application.

You are then redirected to Facebook to verify the addition of this application to your Facebook Page and allow permission.

After applying the Klout Coupon App you will have access to your settings where you can establish your landing image, threshold settings, and visitor rewards.

The Landing Image is an image that will appear when the user first lands on your page.  It is recommended to include a visible Call-To-Action indicating that the user must click on the image to get their Klout score and coupon.  For example, on the Audi landing page viewers are encouraged to click and get their Klout score in exchange for a free Le Mans desktop graphic.

Klout scores measure how much influence a viewer has in its social network on a scale from 1 to 100.  The Klout Coupon App allows you to establish a threshold between 0 and 100.  By establishing this threshold you can set the Klout score that separates your most influential users from the crowd.

Next is the configuration of the coupons.

The coupon image will show up after the user’s score is calculated.  The coupon details are optional and are to your discretion.  They will appear above the coupon image.

You can also configure separate coupons for users below your selected Klout score threshold. If they are below your threshold, you might want to consider providing the visitor with a link that leads to a branded document offering tips on how to raise their Klout score.  The coupon can be a link or document.  You can even include unique coupon codes to track redemption.

Lastly, you can limit who has access to the Klout landing page by using it as a Fan Gate, which means it is only visible to those visitors who have already Liked your Facebook page.  Doing this can create special offers to influential, but having accessible to everyone allows for the creation of buzz around your brand.

Below is an example of the Klout Coupon App in action through the Involver Facebook page.

After clicking you are redirected to the coupon page.

 

As you can see, Involver has made this is a pretty simple process. This Klout/Facebook bridge offers businesses another way to reward and engage social influencers in their network.  What do you think about this Klout and Facebook integration? Will your business take advantage of this tool? Let us know your thoughts.

-Elizabeth Bond, 451 Marketing Social Media Intern