There’s some important news for social marketing this week, and first up is Facebook’s announcement that they have extended their Timeline to brand pages and will be allowing direct brand interaction with their audience. Brand page admins will be notified about the redesign when they next visit their page and will have until 30th March to finalise the look and chronological organization of their page.
In other Facebook news, social gaming company Zynga has announced that it has launched its own portal, separate from Facebook. Stand-alone Zynga.com will allow users to play its popular games, such as Farmville, without having to be on the Facebook site, although they will still need to log in through Facebook Connect and pay using the Facebook Credits currency. Users will also be able to play games with “zFriends” ie people beyond their Facebook companions, thus extending the games’ reach and, presumably, their appeal to advertisers.
Zynga currently accounts for around 12% ($445m) of Facebook’s total revenue, according to the social network’s recent IPO filing, and Zynga gets about 90% of its revenue through Facebook, so it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out going forward as Zynga will offer developers access to advertising promotions to increase their games’ visibility to its 240 million monthly active users and will also provide them analytics about how gamers are interacting with their products.
Over in the USA, new kid on the social block, Pinterest, has become the biggest driver of traffic to some of American’s most popular women’s magazines, including Country Living, House Beautiful and Elle Décor, over the last few months. In the States the majority of Pinterest users are women into crafts, weddings, décor and homes, compared with the UK, where the users are currently mainly male and far less craft orientated.
The US Army has also turned to Pinterest to capture female audience, and their boards look pretty good, to be fair, and they have already gathered over 1160 followers. The move, which may seem counter intuitive, is all about reaching out to “the female population and maybe the Army spouses and family members – the people who wouldn’t have any other reason to follow the military otherwise.” Says Director of Online and Social Media, Juanita Chang.
Staying with Pinterest for a moment, Flickr has heeded photographers concerns and has blocked images on Flickr that are private or those for which the owner has opted-out of sharing from being pinned. “Only content that is ‘safe,’ ‘public’ and has the sharing button enabled can be pinned to Pinterest,” a spokesman for Flickr told the technology blog VentureBeat.
The change has been widely advertised on its networks and reporters, such as ourselves, as well as mainstream newspapers, and yet a recent poll, carried out by YouGov for the Big Brother Watch pressure group, found that while 92 per cent of adults who use the internet go through a Google service at least once a week, only 1 in 8 have read actually the new policy.
Google’s move is likely to contravene UK data privacy laws and has further fueled the ongoing furor about privacy on the internet, which looks like becoming a proper fullblown backlash in response to overarching actions by the giants that cause huge public concern (Google’s being only the lastest), with new trends of ‘unfriending’ and locked down profiles and privacy management online emerging almost daily and the new Cookie law still scheduled to become law this spring.
Hopefully it will soon settle down at a harmonious central point between open sharing and giving brands the ability to collect data, measure ROI and get to know their audience versus a healthy respect for people’s privacy and personal preferences. After all it is on advertising that most networks exist, and if brands can’t measure ROI, they are unlikely to invest hugely in advertising, which means that “pay as you go” will be the only other option for consumers, and that won’t be popular either, which will leave us – and the digital industry – where, precisely?