Social Media Back-to-School: 5 New Changes You Need to Know About

Fall is officially here, so in the spirit of the Back to School season, here’s a quick lesson for you on some of the changes and trends you need to pay attention to on social media. Let’s get to work:  

1. Twitter has a new header image

Launched on September 18th, Twitter introduced a headline image, similar to that of Facebook and Google+. The dimensions are different (1252px X 626px for optimal viewing across all devices), so you you can use an image that has a broader impact. Also, whereas on Facebook your profile picture is on the left side, on Twitter both your profile picture and personal bio are centered on the header image in white. The new header image has been optimized for mobile and tablet interaction, so there are even more reasons and opportunities to get creative about how you present yourself and/or your organization.

Why this matters:

You and your business now have the ability to put a better public face forward on one of the two most influential social media channels. The sooner you adapt to the new format, the better you look compared to the competition who is surely working on the same thing.

Your homework:

2. Yelp is now integrated into iOS 6

With the release of iPhone 5, Apple’s faithful users were inundated with new features to make the gadget even more synchronized and easy to use. Among the most anticipated was the integration of Yelp into iOS 6 Maps. Even though post-release Apple’s Map application has been less than ideal (see Tim Cook’s apology), Yelp’s introduction to the  platform has been widely accepted.

As Yelp’s director of business development Mike Ghaffary said, “Yelp’s integration with Apple maps is now available on iOS 6 on all iPads and iPhones . . . and in 17 countries where Yelp has a presence.” So when you search for bars, coffee shops, spas, movie theaters and more, Apple Maps will return a collection of places all tied to their Yelp business pages, with their Yelp star rating on the map.

A click on any business shows a vibrant business page with a rotating cover picture, business information, Yelp reviews, and photos sourced from Yelp. You can also click to “check-in” at the location, add a photo, or leave a venue tip all through this new integration.

Why this matters:

It’ never been more important to list and claim your business on Yelp. With the kind of audience that Apple products provide, there is no reason not to take advantage of the free listing and see your visibility increase and your business increase with it.

Your Homework:

  • If you haven’t already done it, claim your business’ listing on Yelp. Here’s an overview on how to do it. When you’re ready to claim it: start here.

3. Facebook reintroduces Facebook Gifts for users to buy friends real gifts

With more than 800 million active users, Facebook exerts the heaviest gravitational pull in the social media universe. (To wit: Apple announced that more than 100 million iOS devices are running the latest operating system, which means approximately 15 million iOS users have connected with Facebook only a week after the option became available.)  With that kind of audience, any changes to Facebook deserve your attention.

Here’s what you need to know:  Gifts are back.  Yes, those quirky little relics from mid-2010.
If you can remember back that far, you’ll recall that you could send your friends virtual gifts for $1, which were then donated to a charity of Facebook’s choosing:

On September 27th, Facebook officially re-launched Facebook Gifts, available through their desktop or mobile versions. But this time, it’s a true e-commerce function, meaning that you can choose, purchase and send real (as opposed to virtual) gifts to your friends. Facebook announced this new feature shortly after acquiring Karma, a social gifting application.

Why it matters:

Facebook + ecommerce. Nuff said? Even if you’re not in a position to become a retail partner and offer Facebook Gifts from your business, this feels like it’s the start of something big. We all need to pay attention.

Your Homework:

  • Reevaluate your own Facebook presence and make sure you’re doing all you can to promote your business.

4. MySpace is bringing music back…to a social platform

Until last week, few people gave MySpace a second thought. Although it still had 25 million monthly visitors, when compared to Facebook’s 800 million, it was considered an antiquated social media platform from the early 2000’s and most people couldn’t say if it still existed or not. Undoubtedly the biggest change in this list, MySpace is trying to make a huge comeback after its demise seemingly as a result of Facebook becoming available to the general public.

After trying to remember my login information from six years ago, I saw first-hand that Myspace has been hanging in there with a relatively small but committed base that’s dedicated to sharing and finding new music. In fact, most musicians still maintain a Myspace page, and often Googling an artist will show their MySpace page as a top result. (And as we pointed out in May, the MySpace audience is primarily young and racially diverse—and potentially still attractive to businesses targeting this demographic.)

Then, the musical heavens opened up and Justin Timberlake took a vested interest in the out-of-date platform. After watching the “New Myspace” promotional video, I have to say JT and his team have made me hopeful that this once giant site will make its return to the big leagues. The new MySpace will let users connect to the site with their Twitter and Facebook accounts, signaling that they won’t try to compete with those social media giants as a networking service, a smart move no doubt.

Why this matters:

One niche the current top five is missing is social music exchange and this new, seemingly flawless design seems like a promising contender to fill the gap. If MySpace does reemerge as a big player in social media, businesses will need to assess whether it makes sense for them to have a presence there.

Your Homework:

  • This one’s fun. Put yourself on a list to get an invitation (eventually) to try out the new MySpace. Sign up here. 

5. Klout adds support for Facebook pages

And finally, let’s talk about the measurement tool everyone loves to hate: Klout. In case you weren’t tuned in this summer, Klout has made some major changes in how it determines social influence and how it is used. Here’s a run-down:

  • Klout introduced support for Facebook Pages almost two years to the day after they added support for Facebook users’ influence. In respect to how this addition will affect individuals’ Klout scores, the website’s blog (ambiguously) says, “It depends. The mean score increase for a Klout user with a Facebook page is about seven points, all else held equal.” They also quickly make the distinction that they will only support having one type of Facebook account connected per Klout account. In other words, you can only connect your personal profile or your business page.
  • Klout and Bing have recently teamed up to create more “influential search results.” According to Klout, this change will allow people to understand their influence, be recognized for it, and benefit from it. Perhaps more importantly, Bing will provide Klout with additional search data, a long-time missing piece of the user-influence puzzle. “Just like Wikipedia articles can reflect a person’s real world influence, search results for a person signal accomplishments achieved beyond social networks and serve to influence others,” Klout CEO Joe Fernandez said. Klout also revamped its formula to determine your Klout score. Its new algorithm purports to give a better and more authentic measure of a person’s influence.

Fun fact: As a result of this adjustment, President Obama finally has a higher Klout score than Justin Bieber, who used to have a perfect 100 (though under this system, he has been pushed down to a mere 92).

Why this matters:

Although there is ongoing debate about the accuracy and importance of Klout scores, the number is becoming increasingly  pervasive, as indicated by their multi-million membership numbers. If you have a Facebook page, this can help bump your influence in areas of interest and if you have any desire to gain a bump from the new calculations, this is a reminder to check the account and see how many points your score has increased. Klout is a good way to identify influencers on specific topics and in your industry though we often take their topics with a grain of salt – they still have trouble parsing phrases versus individual words.

Your Homework:

And now, we’ve come to the end of our lesson. Hopefully, you’re good and motivated to get back into the social media groove. If you could use a little tutoring to get you up to speed, please contact us at Innate. We’ll make you an A+ social media student in no time.

Class dismissed.

[Photo credit: Phil Roeder, Flickr Creative Commons]

Hannah Bryan

Content Marketing Specialist

Hannah is a content marketing specialist at Innate. When she isn’t writing, she can be found going to concerts, obsessing over English bulldogs and making addictively-delicious baked goods.

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