Google Hangouts New Look

Google have transformed the Hangouts app for iOS with a complete overhaul to their service, putting them in the firing line of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The new iOS app that only allowed users to send a photo now offers very familiar features to it’s rivals, including tabs along the bottom of the screen with categories like Hangouts, Favourites and Contacts and videos, stickers and location functionality similar to that of it’s competitors – Hangouts has always supported video calls, however.

The new app is also optimised for iPad and includes two panes, meaning you can divide the screen with your current conversations and still have the option to scroll through your contacts or existing Hangouts on the other.

Messaging is the most popular way of communicating right now in the tech world, thanks in large to Facebook’s $16 billion acquisition of standalone messaging app WhatsApp last week.

Users can download the new iOS app in the App Store.

Facebook Ends Its @Facebook.com Email Address Service

This week Facebook finally put an end to their dreadful @facebook.com email project, but the question is did you even notice?

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Facebook engineer Joel Seligstein said:

Now people can share with friends over email, whether they’re on Facebook or not. To be clear, Messages is not email. There are no subject lines, no cc, no bcc, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modeled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation.

Since the launch of the email service back in November 2010, there are many reasons why users of the social network never opened their arms to the transition. Firstly, If you’re a user of Facebook you would have been automatically assigned to your very own Facebook email address. However, if you didn’t activate your email account by making it your default email, you never would have received a notification.

Another issue was if someone did opt in to the service, the messages were automatically forwarded to an email you used to set up your Facebook account.

I doubt there will be many people losing sleep over the news.

Infographic: How Top Brands Use Twitter

Ever wondered how the top brands use Twitter? Simply Measured have released a study analysing how the worlds top brands are leveraging Twitter in their marketing strategy. Check out what they found in the infographic below and get your notepad ready…

Infographic: How Top Brands Use Twitter

Falcon Social

I spoke to Falcon Social today about their real time SaaS (software as a service) platform they’re providing marketing departments to help create, launch and measure social media campaigns across multiple social media types and display ad networks.

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According to the friendly operations specialist at Falcon I spoke to, the service enables marketing teams from Start Ups to Social Enterprises and through to Blue Chip companies to collaborate and ensure their brand presence across the different social media types is consistent.

According to the companies LinkedIn page

“The platform incorporates complete functionality for social marketing and yet remains simple to use with an engaging, visualisation-based user experience (UX). marketing and yet remains simple to use with an engaging, visualisation-based user experience (UX).”

Falcon proved very efficient with their service, I submitted my details for a demo, I received an email followed by a phone call and already have the demo at my disposal. The only problem I found with the Falcon Social Media tool thus far is the price tag; prices start at 1000 euros…

I expressed my concerns with this to the operations specialist and requested for testimonials from current users that, unsurprisingly, I’m still waiting for.

For now though, I have the demo to play with and intend to post a review next week. The first question I would like to discover from the demo is what does this software offer that’s so different to many free social media tools including Hootsuite, Klout and Cloze?

The video below is from Falcon Social’s CEO Ulrik Bo Larsen…

Check out the companies YouTube channel for more info.

Video Of The Week

The video of the week comes courtesy of our Tory-led government who have released their Facebook look back video on YouTube. The video highlights the key moments since 2010, and you’ll be happy to know it paints an impartial look at the 4 years since the coalition government took over at 10 Downing Street.

LinkedIn Social Media Case Study

A new report from LinkedIn found that the majority of small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are turning to social media for growth. In fact according to a LinkedIn case study released this week it states that 81% of SMBs are using social media, and of those that use social, 94% do so for marketing purpose.

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Social media has become the catalyst to “hyper growth” for many companies, or those that self-reported “significant” year over year revenue growth. The Hyper growth companies included in the survey was approximately 16% of the entire group, 91% said social media helped “increase awareness” of their brand, while 82% said it helped them generate “new leads.” Nearly three quarters of the hyper growth companies increased their social media budgets last year.

“We know that for SMBs the greatest challenge is attracting and retaining customers,” says Lana Khavinson, a senior product manager at LinkedIn who oversees the company’s SMB initiatives. “Here is a really clear indicator of the value that social media is providing to companies that are rapidly growing.”

The data reported is essential to the growth of LinkedIn, which has “millions” of members who are small business entrepreneurs, says Khavinson. It was also revealed this week that LinkedIn will be launching a dedicated website to help SMBs utilise LinkedIn for growth and marketing purposes.

The case study will be equally reassuring for other social networks, particularly social media giants Facebook and Twitter. Facebook, for one, has a lot to gain by attracting small business advertising. The platform has more than 1 million advertisers, but 25 million businesses have active Facebook pages, which means a lot of untapped potential ad revenue.
Twitter expanded its self-serve advertising platform overseas last quarter to try and entice SMBs in Canada, the UK and Ireland. The expansion was further evidence that the company sees value in reaching smaller advertisers.

The report defines a “small business” as having revenue between $1 million and $9.9 million; a “medium business” has revenues between $10 million and $49.9 million.

For more info click here

Introducing Paper: Facebook’s News Reader App

After Facebook celebrated 10 years at the top of the social network ladder, it was only right if our video of the week was a new app innovation from the social network giant. The video showcases the new ‘Paper’ mobile app that offers an intuitive news reader experience pulling in 19 categories including tech, sports and popular culture.

It was refreshing to see that the app doesn’t appear to have any of the ‘basic’ Facebook trimmings and the content displayed will be curated through a process that includes both an algorithm and a human selection to ensure the best content is tailored to you.

For now, it won’t have ads, but expect this in 6 months for sure. And a more personalised new content service to go via location at that point too. This will be just one of a number of new apps released by Facebook this year. Stay tuned! Check it out here.

Infographic: Facebook’s 10th Birthday

Whether you like it or not we all joined Facebook this week to celebrate the social giant notching up a decade… who shared their Lookback video? The Drum looked back on Facebooks journey so far with an infographic showing just how the social network changed the media landscape for marketers and most importantly it’s users.

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We’ve recently posted on here how Facebook has found itself fending off competition from the likes of Snapchat and Whatsapp, especially with the teenage market and we’ve also been critical of recent innovations compared to new and exciting social media platforms. More recently they’ve struggled to establish how to monetise its mobile user base and come under scrutiny with to dealing with issues around inappropriate content. Nevertheless Facebook has 1.23 billion active monthly at the end of 2013 and recent revenues highlight a steady growth that should see the the social giant dominate for some time yet.

“Facebook changed the marketing rule book, revolutionising communications by providing a quick and easy way for consumers to share opinions – and because it is open for the world to see it forces brands to take notice. Smart brands have embraced this and engage in open conversations, learning about what their fans are interested in and adapting their content to keep consumers entertained.

For more Facebook facts click here