The fourth quarter of 2010 was rife with change in the social space. Let’s take some time to look back at what the last three months have brought.
- Facebook Groups – Historically, with only 5% of users building out Lists, Facebook needed to solve privacy and relevancy problems in a new way. The October 7th release of Facebook Groups took aim at both, allowing users to build out organic groups of connections to share specific sets of information with. Because users can tag each other into their Group, much like photo tagging, each action resulted in a more relevant experience for everyone, rather than building a List of friends that would then exist in a vacuum.
- Facebook-Bing Partnership – While Bing isn’t threatening Google’s search dominance any time soon, the relationship between Facebook and Microsoft is significant. Within Bing search results, you’ll see friends of yours who have marked items in their interests on their Facebook profile. Whatever you’re searching for on Bing, the idea is that the results will be more relevant if they’re tied to your social graph.
- Twitter Promoted Accounts – When users follow an account on Twitter, they are presented with other accounts that are similar to the one that they just followed. Now, brands will be able to purchase the marquee spot on that list, reserved for Twitter’s Promoted Accounts. For those roughly 40 advertisers, including video game manufacturers and movie studios, Promoted Accounts may have a large impact on their Twitter presence; for now, however, the feature is still too new for most brands to leverage.
- Facebook Friendship Pages – This new feature on the Facebook platform is one that attempts to strengthen ties between connections using data that already exists. Friendship Pages are essentially an amalgamation of the digital exchanges and common interests that you’ve had with another user over time. If anything, Friendship Pages create a stronger link architecture across the global social graph.
- Facebook Places & Deals – In November, Facebook simultaneously updated their Places and Groups features to be compatible with Android and released Deals as a compelling layer to their geolocation offering. With Deals, brands small and large can offer up discounts and, well, deals, to customers who checkin at their locations. The four varieties of deals include Individual Deal (e.g. checkin and get a discount), Friend Deal (e.g. you and three friends checkin and get a discount), Loyalty Deal (e.g. checkin ten times and get a discount), and Charity Deal (e.g. checkin and we’ll donate a dollar). Brands that partnered with Facebook for the Deals launch include H&M, Gap, American Eagle, Starbucks, The Palms Casino & Resort, and roughly a dozen others.
- Facebook Messages – Touted as the “Gmail Killer,” Facebook began the rollout of the Messages upgrade in November. The new Messages is designed to aggregate your communications with friends across many channels, from email, to text message, to Facebook message. Messages is still invite-only, meaning most do not have access to their new @facebook.com address, so we have to wait and see how quickly it gains adoption once it’s fully rolled out.
- Foursquare Trophy Case – If there’s one thing that keeps the lights on over at Foursquare, it’s branded badges. Those who have invested in custom badges include Starbucks, VH1, Bravo, RadioShack, The Wall Street Journal, and many more. The new Foursquare Trophy Case simply separates native badges from partner badges. There’s nothing to say that users prefer native badges to partner badges (or vice versa), but it’s interesting to see Foursquare segmenting their cash cow.
- Google Translate for Twitter – With 60% of Twitter users located outside the United States, it’s safe to assume many tweets aren’t in English. In November, Twitter integrated Google Translate, so that users can click on an update and see it translated based on their preferences in the expanded view. Some tweets may be meaningless, but now at least you’ll be able to read them.
- Foursquare Photos and Comments – An upgrade to Foursquare, which seems to have been a long time coming, is the addition of photos and comments to checkins. It’s doubtful that this upgrade will have a huge impact on Foursquare registration, but it certainly makes the social engagement within Foursquare more compelling and robust.
- YouTube Trends – Much like memes on Twitter and Facebook, there are videos on YouTube that skyrocket to viral celebrity. In December, YouTube launched a new Trends channel and Trends blog, which document past memes and track new videos as they go viral on the video social network.
- New Facebook Profile – Throughout December, Facebook began to rollout the new profile layout for users. The new profile structure highlights the important things like your interests and your relationships, while shifting bulky tabs to the left sidebar. The fact that the tabs now reside on the left is important to note. Most likely, this is the direction that Brand Pages will shift in 2011, especially with the rise of merged Places Pages.
In our next post, we’ll examine the top five social campaigns of Q4 2010.