What a week. Just as everyone was finally settled back from their holiday time off, Google went and woke people up when it announced it'd be integrating its struggling social network, Google+, more actively into its search engine. Not surprisingly, this sent a ripple through the social media world. Suffice it to say, some folks (particularly those at Twitter) were less than pleased, and a war of words began.
But not everyone was fighting. (Phew!) Love was in the air elsewhere as more proof was revealed that social media and mobile go together, and two big players in the email space came together.
Read on to learn about these stories and more in our weekly news roundup.
1. Can't Google and Twitter get along?
When Google announced it was integrating Google+ into its search engine this week, Twitter threw a bit of a hissy fit, saying it was "bad for people" and "a bad day for the Internet." Then Google fired back at Twitter, saying if Twitter is unhappy, it's their own fault because Twitter chose not to continue its relationship with Google last summer. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it looks like when a real-life catfight plays out on (and about) social media.
Bottom Line: As Lisa Barone of Outspoken Media said, this drama is "driving us all crazy and ruining search and social for everyone." (Case in point: these real-life examples of how the Google+ integration actually works.) Maybe that's an exaggeration, but it raises the question of why these social sites and networks can't just play nicely with each other. One day, maybe they'll all be integrated, but until then, all we can do is hope that when we go to Google, that we'll still be able to find what we need — and that customers, clients, and prospects will be able to find us too.
It's a best practice to get feedback from your customers. But what happens when everybody is asking for feedback? Consumers get tired of answering those questions and stop giving feedback, that's what.
Bottom Line: Feedback is a gift, but asking for it too often can result in negative customer feedback. Be smart about when you send an online survey, and more importantly, make sure you do something with the results. Part of the reason why people are unwilling to take surveys is because they feel it'll be a waste of their time. If you share the results and what you're going to do with the information you learn, that will go a long way toward encouraging more survey participation.
The number of “Likes” on Facebook being generated from mobile devices has increased by almost 55% since September, according to social media marketing firm Vitrue. Additionally, the use of mobile devices to "Like" Pages increased 18% during the week between Christmas and New Year's.
Bottom Line: The accessing of social media sites through mobile devices shows no signs of slowing down. As the Vitrue study indicated, when people are out shopping or running errands, they often get out their smartphones to check the most recent status updates and tweets. Marketers need to capitalize on this by encouraging mobile engagement. Ask customers to take and share photos/videos. Encourage people to Like and comment on things. Direct them to mobile-friendly websites.
Social media users are a chatty bunch, but one thing it appears they're not talking about as often is brands. According to AYTM Market Research, 57.8% of U.S. Facebook users had not mentioned a brand in their status updates, as of October 2011. Twitter use was similar: 61.3% of users had not tweeted about a brand. Offline channels, such as TV, radio, and print media were the ways consumers most frequently discovered new brands, products, and services. Offline word-of-mouth and physical stores also played a role.
Bottom Line: Do you want your customers talking about you? Are you giving them something to talk about? Tell your customers, clients, and members that you'd love to hear from them. Give them a strong call to action that they should share their feedback on Facebook and Twitter. Or better yet, provide a strong (and positive) enough customer experience that a customer won't be able to stop talking about. The more people use social media, the more likely they'll be to talk about the brands they love.
Email deliverability firm Return Path announced this week that it had acquired OtherInbox, a startup that helps consumers manage the email marketing messages they get. OtherInbox's product works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and AOL mail, organizes email messages from commercial senders (shipping information, payment reminders, and information about upcoming sales, etc.) and places them on users’ calendars or puts them in dedicated folders.
Bottom Line: While this deal will likely not affect small businesses directly, it's still one they should applaud. OtherInbox gathers information that helps marketers craft more relevant, targeted messages. Return Path is the industry's leading arbiter of sender reputation, helping those messages to reach recipients' inboxes. This union will help Return Path to be even better at what it does, and to improve its Sender Score reputation scoring system.
What news stories caught your eye this week? Share your thoughts with us here or on our Facebook Page.
Martin Lieberman is Constant Contact's managing editor. He develops blog posts, articles, guides, and more about email marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, and online survey best practices, as well as small business and engagement marketing trends. Martin has more than 15 years of experience writing and editing content for a variety of audiences. Martin's tips, ideas, and solutions help small businesses and organizations build successful customer and member relationships. Follow Martin on Twitter at @martinlieberman.