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Ü Oughta Know: Social Media Musical Chairs

Ü Oughta Know is a combination of digital crib notes and marketers’ cheat sheet, bringing you important – and occasionally weird — stories and trends from digital marketing news. Each week our hope is to help keep your knowledge sharp while providing a delightful craving of classic Alanis Morissette.  Here’s what you oughta know:

All a-Twitter

Twitter’s been busy over the past couple of weeks: The number of changes and tweaks we saw were almost Facebook-like. And speaking of Facebook-like … “Twitter Rolls Out Its Facebook-Like Profile Redesign,” Mashable’s recent headline read recently. “Twitter redesign looks a lot like Facebook,” said The Verge. Even Wired weighed in with “The Reason Twitter Wants to Look Like Facebook: Your Parents.” Twitter redesign OK, we get it. When Twitter grows up, it wants to be Facebook. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing say some analysts – and by some analysts, I mean people who get quoted by sites like Mashable, The Verge and Wired. They suggest that it’s a way to make Twitter more mainstream. And that’s important when you play with the grownups and your stock is trading on the New York Stock Exchange as Twitter’s now is. When that happens, you need to monetize things a bit – and to do that you might need to do a little mainstreaming. But I know what you’re asking: What’s it mean to marketers? Alex Charalambous of circlestudio.com was kind enough to explain: “…the new design may help with engagement as the popular tweets will have larger text. So if your firm has a tweet that starts gaining popularity, it could create a domino effect and go viral faster than in the past.” Color me meh. I’ll believe it when I see it. But as social media grows into ‘tweenhood,’ each network is looking at what’s working on other networks and in the hope of getting a piece of the big success pie, is borrowing a bit here and there to boost its own standing. Twitter wants to look like Facebook; Pinterest has added a search that might Justin Timberlakeout-Google Google. LinkedIn introduced sponsored updates that are an awful lot like Facebook’s sponsored stories – which have been dropped. Every social media network wants to be like other social media networks. Pretty soon they all combine into one big social network and it will probably be called MySpace. Justin Timberlake’s looking pretty clever now, isn’t he?

Website cards

More interesting for marketers is a new feature: Twitter’s ads that preview a company’s website. The Website Card is described by Twitter as: “a new way for advertisers to easily surface website content within a Tweet and drive relevant traffic to any page of their site, such as their home page, product page, or an Twitter website cardimportant blog post.” Think photo, context and call to action – stuff that should drive the traffic to your site. But not just any traffic; relevant traffic. That means people who are actually candidates for buying what you sell; possibly even people who will tell others about it. These people are the human equivalent of Willy Wonka’s golden ticket: You can’t find them everywhere, but when you do find one, it’s gold. Twitter says in its blog that the Website cards were tested with a few brands and results included decreases in cost-per-click; higher engagement rates; and an increase in URL clicks. What’s not to like?

Significant notifications

Currently in iOS testing, Twitter’s “significant engagement” feature will highlight “Important or higher than usual engagement with your account or Tweets.” A couple of people at The Next Web got the feature. Here’s what it looks like: The feature can be turned on and from within your settings. According to the Next Web, if switched on, the alert you get will look something like this: Twitter notification Contacted by The Next Web, a Twitter spokesman said significant notifications is, “This is a new feature that is currently available to verified users,” but didn’t share any more details. BTW: Twitter quietly tried out a “share” button to replace the “retweet” function a couple of weeks ago, but quickly pulled it. Really, is nothing sacred?

Meanwhile at Pinterest …

The news for Pinterest is its new guided search, which is image-based – and that makes sense as Pinterest is a visual medium. What makes it especially noteworthy is that, while Google excels at finding information based on specific keywords, the new Pinterest search allows you to start wide and then offers suggestions as you go along. In other words the search engine allows you to use image exploration to find things you may not have known you were even looking for – or as Pinterest says, “leaving a little room for serendipity.” What does that mean to marketers? Again, not a lot, but as always, the devil is in the details: Now it’s even more important for businesses using Pinterest to have kick-ass pin descriptions – you know good, ol’ Pinterest SEO.

And finally, Gmail

Meanwhile, Gmail has taken an image-centric approach to email. Sound Pinterest-like? It is. The chatter about how it affects marketers is mixed. Hubspot sums up the arguments pretty well, but like everything, we’ll have to wait and see how it shakes out. Have you had any experience with it? Let us know in the comments!
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