2012 Social Media Updates and Changes: RECAP

Social media sites and platforms change almost daily. Below are some major changes and/or updates we saw in 2012 from the top social media sites, as they relate to you, the retailer. Please let me know if you have any questions – enjoy!

Google+ Places Becomes Google+ Local

In May, Google+ decided to get rid of Google Places and put all of its energy into Google+ Local. By searching for a place or store in Google+ Local, the contact information, reviews, and photos of that place appear in the search engine results page. Google+ Local is also now integrated when someone searches for places on Google Maps.

As a retailer, you absolutely should fully fill out your Google+ Local page, especially since these pages are integrated with Google Maps. This is a great opportunity for you to gain exposure, polish your web presence on Google and hopefully generate new business.

Pinterest Business Accounts for Brands

In mid-November, Pinterest finally answered every marketer's prayers and announced business accounts for brands. And the process of setting them up is pretty simple.

Even though you may not have heard about Pinterest until recently, it has actually been around for a while, and totally blew up as a marketing mechanism in 2012. This shift to creating dedicated business accounts is an encouraging sign of things to come from Pinterest – maybe features like analytics might be a hot new addition to the already awesome platform.

Mobile-Only Facebook Ads

In June, Facebook launched an important feature for marketers who use sponsored ads. For the first time, they allowed marketers to pay for ads only in the Facebook mobile app, as opposed to the mobile app and desktop app combined.

Now that these options are separate, marketers can target their mobile audience differently than those accessing pages on their desktop. They can also see which platform performs better to understand where their advertising dollars should be going.

9 More Facebook Ads Targeting Options

In August, Facebook announced that they were going to allow advertisers to target their audience based on more criteria than before, including age, gender, gender the user's interested in, relationship status, education, college grad (college name, major), in college (college name, major, years), in high school, and workplace ... all in addition to the options already available including language and location.

Before this update, everything that a Facebook page updated would appear in a user's newsfeed just because of their language and location, even if it didn't really relate to them. Thankfully, with more nitty-gritty targeting options, social media marketers can target parts of their audiences with more personalized content.

Promoted Updates on Foursquare

In July, Foursquare announced Promoted Updates. Before, companies could only reach users who had already checked into their business. But with the launch of Promoted Updates, companies had the ability to appear in people's "Explore" tab even if they had not been to the store before. They could promote a special, share photos, or share another message encouraging users to come to their place.

This new feature has helped marketers extend their reach and appear in anyone's feed, even if they have never been in contact with the business before. For example, if you're a small coffee shop, your name may not be known by many people, especially in areas dominated by Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. But if you have a promoted post in Foursquare, you have the opportunity to reach a completely new audience.

Twitter Cover Photos

In September, Twitter announced a change to the layout of its profile pages. Similar to Facebook, Twitter now has cover photos on a user or company's profile page.

Marketers now have more real estate to promote their company and give followers a better feel of what the company is all about. Followers' eyes will immediately go toward the larger image that also promotes the username, location, and bio, which was far less visible with the old layout.

New LinkedIn Company Pages

In September, LinkedIn announced a new design for their company pages. Before, all of the LinkedIn pages basically looked the same, with the exception of the unique logo and company information blurb. However, the new pages display Company Updates and Products & Services more prominently, provide space for a cover photo, a different layout for Jobs, and the option to better target your company updates to certain segments of your audience.

For retailers, you might not get a lot of business from a Linked In page since it’s primarily a B2B site (business to business), but it is a good idea to spend just a couple of hours to create, add the types of products you carry, upload pictures, add links to your website and/or social media profiles like Pinterest and Facebook. This could help you get found in Linked In search results, or on other search engines like Google.