Social networks are constantly introducing new ad products and marketing tools, but this summer brought with it a bounty of significant events that stand to change the way we approach our future campaigns.
As the summer of 2013 comes to a close, most digital marketers are already knee-deep in winter holiday ad plans. If we want to stay on top of our campaigns, we have to be quick to embrace the next season in the queue. Before we leave this one behind for good, though, it behooves us to look back at what the past few months have left in their wake. It's been a busy season for social media.
Facebook Launched Clickable Hashtags
We knew it was coming. Many Facebook users had long been including hashtags in their posts, well trained by their time on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram. In June Facebook finally made those tags clickable, and a new marketing tool was born.
This development gets my vote for the easiest to integrate into existing campaigns. You're already using hashtags on a number of social sites, and including popular or brand-specific hashtags on Facebook doesn't require much additional work. What it does do is open up new opportunities for getting to know your fans and for segmenting your messaging. By using hashtags, marketers can track real-time public conversations and seed new ones, seek our opinions related to products and brands, distribute promotions, and stay abreast of topic trends. Already businesses are making good use of the tags, offering special deals to fans who include branded hashtags in their posts, and using specialized hashtags to increase awareness and interest in social media contests.
Instagram Introduced Video
Just days after the news about Facebook's clickable hashtags, the social media world saw another change with the arrival of video on Facebook-owned Instagram. The clips ingratiated themselves with brands very quickly, in large part because of the platform. Instagram is already integral to many advertisers' social media strategies, and video represents a more robust method of delivering brand stories on the social site. Companies like Michael Kors, Nissan, and Taco Bell have come up with inventive ways to showcase their products within the 15-second time frame. Consumers like Instagram Video, too: due to the ease of use and length, most brands create original videos that can't be seen anywhere else, which means viewers get new, exclusive content.
LinkedIn Rolled Out Self-Serve Sponsored Updates
Marketing to professionals got a little easier in July with the launch of LinkedIn's Sponsored Updates, a self-serve ad option now available to LinkedIn advertising. Reminiscent of Facebook's Promoted Posts (the "Boost Post" button you see next to your page updates), and Twitter's Promoted Tweets, Sponsored Updates allow advertisers to increase the visibility of their brand page updates. Choose an eligible post from among those you've uploaded to your company's LinkedIn profile, and pay to heighten its exposure among LinkedIn users. Sponsored Updates can be targeted by such criteria as location, job title, skills, and age, and are visible on desktops, tablets, and smartphones. LinkedIn recommends that you include images or video in your posts in order to generate further attention, and share useful content, industry insight, or thought leadership advice. You can find LinkedIn's PDF guide to successful Sponsored Updates here.
Twitter Bought Trendrr
Cross-media advertisers were no doubt excited to learn about Twitter's August acquisition of Trendrr. A social TV measurement and analytics tool, Trendrr previously worked with Facebook on a TV-related social activity study that determined a vast number of Facebook posts reference - and generate further interest in - television content. Now that it has partnered with Twitter, media company marketers will have access to Curatorr, Trendrr's "Twitter certified product," allowing them to locate real-time Twitter chatter generated by TV as well as curate tweets to broadcast on their shows. The acquisition stands to deepen the relationship between television and social media, and affords brands the ability to cull and repurpose valuable social site conversations.
Social networks are constantly introducing new ad products and marketing tools, but this summer brought with it a bounty of significant events that stand to change the way we approach our future campaigns. They should keep us busy for many seasons to come.
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Tessa Wegert is a business reporter and former media strategist specializing in digital. In addition to writing for ClickZ since 2002, she has contributed to such publications as USA Today, Marketing Magazine, Mashable, and The Globe and Mail. Tessa manages marketing and communications for Enlighten, one of the first full-service digital marketing strategy agencies servicing such brands as Bioré, Food Network, illy, and Hunter Douglas. She has been working in online media since 1999.
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