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Facebook may still be the most popular social media site, but Instagram is easily the fastest growing site, according to a new survey released by Pew Research Internet Project.

The survey shows the most popular social media site’s growth may be stagnating, but their most recent changes seem to be improving engagement.

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The Pew numbers suggest Facebook facilitates the most engagement of any social platform, as 70% of users fully engage with the site daily. That’s a notable increase from 63% last year. In comparison, only 49 percent of Instagram users and 17 percent of Pinterest users engage with the sites on a daily basis.

While Instagram is unable to draw the engagement levels of Facebook, they outpace anyone in the market when it comes to attracting new users. Over the past year, the number of American adults using Instagram rose 9 percent. That means 26 percent of all adults in the U.S. now use the site.

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In comparison to, Pinterest only grew 7 percent, LinkedIn grew by 6 percent, and Twitter grew by 5 percent. Instagram’s huge rise shouldn’t be too surprising, as they recently announced reaching 300 million monthly active users, surpassing Twitter for the first time.

Some other interesting findings in the report:

  • Daily use of Twitter dropped 10 percentage points to 36%. Twenty-two percent say they check the site several times a day, 24% a few times a week and 40% less often.
  • Instagram showed statistically significant growth across all age demographics, while still skewing younger. Notably 53% of younger adults (18-29) use the service, up from 37% in 2013. Instagram users are very active; 49% say they use the site daily, 32% several times a day and 24% weekly.
  • Pinterest is still favored mostly by women, with 42% of all online U.S. females saying they are Pinterest users. That’s up from 33% the year before. Men, on the other hand, are still lagging at 13%, an increase of 5 points over 2013.
  • LinkedIn users are coming to the site less often with weekly users dropping to 25% from 34% and those who visit every few weeks or less increasing to 61% from 52% the previous year. Users of the career-oriented network still skew older, higher income and college educated (50% of college graduates — an increase of 12 percentage points from 2013 — use LinkedIn).

As the year comes to a close, countless companies are releasing their 2014 recaps and best-of-lists, including Facebook and Twitter who have both recently released their year in review which highlights the top trends, topics, locations, and content across social media his year.

 Facebook

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Here are the top updates, trends and locations on Facebook in 2014:

Top Global Topics

  1. World Cup
  2. Ebola virus outbreak
  3. Elections in Brazil
  4. Robin Williams
  5. Ice Bucket Challenge
  6. Conflict in Gaza
  7. Malaysia Airlines
  8. Super Bowl
  9. Michael Brown/Ferguson
  10. Sochi Winter Olympics

Most Talked About US Topics

  1. Ebola virus outbreak
  2. Ice Bucket Challenge
  3. Robin Williams
  4. Super Bowl
  5. Michael Brown/Ferguson
  6. World Cup
  7. Conflict in Gaza
  8. US midterm elections
  9. Malaysia Airlines
  10. ISIS

Most Checked-Into US Locations

  1. Disney properties
  2. Universal Studios Hollywood
  3. Times Square
  4. Yosemite National Park
  5. Grand Canyon National Park
  6. Yellowstone National Park
  7. Yankee Stadium
  8. Las Vegas Strip
  9. Hollywood Walk of Fame
  10. Madison Square Garden

Twitter

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Using the site 2014.twitter.com, Twitter has released their top moments and perspectives of 2014 that can be juxtaposed with previous years. Here are some highlights:

The Golden Tweet (Most Retweeted)

Most Talked About Global Moments

  • World Cup
  • #BringBackOurGirls (Nigeria kidnapping hashtag)
  • #IndyRef (Scottish referendum on UK Independence hashtag)
  • Hong Kong Protests
  • #BlackLivesMatter (Social support against Ferguson decision hashtag)

Most Noteworthy Tweets of 2014

Twitter also shared a collection of the most noteworthy Tweets of 2014. That featured the following content from brands/organizations:

Instagram LogoInstagram is quickly becoming one of the most popular social media platforms around. With new estimates saying Instagram pulls in 300 million monthly users, the photo- and video-sharing app has bypassed Twitter’s official user count of 284 million. The new numbers mark a 100 million user increase since March.

The company announced the milestone yesterday, along with the announcing that Instagram would begin verifying accounts similar to Twitter’s method of certify celebrity or high-profile accounts.

The verified badges for public figures and brands will be coming within the week according to Instagram, who says the badges “will make it easier for people to identify and follow the authentic brands they care about.” The blue badges will appear next to names on their profile pages, as well as in search.

The increase in users leaves only a few social media sites ahead of Instagram, including Google+, LinkedIn, and Instagram’s companion company Facebook. The site is extraordinarily popular among youth and brands, and predictions see it continuing its fast growth.

In the announcement, Instagram also said it would be purging fake accounts from the site, so brands can expect to see a relatively small follow count decline.

With its ever decreasing organic reach, Facebook is putting a lot of attention into their paid ad platform, especially the ads shown on mobile devices. Now, the reporting side of Facebook’s paid ad is getting improved to reflect the huge increases in mobile ads in recent times.

One of these improvements is the launch of cross-device reporting for Facebook ads. Now Facebook advertisers are able to see how users move throughout their sales process, even if they move across devices. The announcement described just how advertisers may benefit:

Imagine seeing an ad for a product on your mobile phone while in line at the bank. Do you immediately make a purchase on your phone? Probably not. But perhaps you go back to your office later that day and buy on your desktop computer. Such cross-device conversions are becoming increasingly common as people move between their phones, tablets and desktop computers to interact with businesses.

Cross-device reporting allows advertisers to be able to see which devices ads were viewed on, and on which devices conversions subsequently occurred. That means you can see how many people clicked an ad on iPhone but then later finished their conversion on desktop, and vice-versa.

In a recent analysis of US Facebook campaigns, it was found that of the people who show interest in a mobile Facebook ad before converting, over 32% converted on desktop within 28 days.

You can view the cross-device conversions for campaigns by going to your Facebook Ad Reports, where you will click Edit Columns, and select Cross-Device on the left-hand menu.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Brands have been complaining for quite some time that their Facebook engagement has been plummeting, especially for smaller brands who rely on organic reach to connect with their audience. Of course, plenty of analysts and SEO “gurus” have offered their fair share of strategies for increasing engagement, but most of these can be very expensive. Some would even cost more than giving in and using Facebook’s paid ad platform.

Don’t let that get you down though. Organic reach and engagement may be nosediving, but there are still free ways you can boost your page’s engagement. Just ask a few members of the Young Entrepreneur Council. Or don’t, because 10 founders from YEC already shared their suggestions on Search Engine Journal.

We may eventually reach a point where organic reach is effectively dead on Facebook, but there are always tactics available to negate some of the drop in engagement and get the most possible out of the free side of the largest social media platform available.

Social media is typically thought of as where all the cool kids hang out. Fast food, clothing, and entertainment all have it easy when it comes to making friends and getting retweets, but businesses in seemingly boring industries frequently settle for mediocrity out of the belief they can’t keep up with the “cooler” industries. But, Uri Bar-Joseph showed us five companies that shrug off the assumption that “boring” businesses can’t be exciting online.

All week we try to keep you up to date with the most important SEM news across the web, but inevitably there are smaller stories that fall through the cracks. That’s why we compile all the most important news we missed this week all in one convenient place every Friday. Despite the distractions of the world cup, there have been some pretty big announcements throughout the week. So, let’s get to it.

Google Preps Online Retailers With Best Practices

Google Shopping

With the clock ticking before Shopping Campaigns becomes the default campaign type for running Product Listing Ads at the end of August, Google is trying to help prepare retailers and marketers by issuing best practice guidelines to help everyone make the transition smoothly.

For the most part, the guidelines listed aren’t far off from the original PLA recommendations. Yes, the paper covers product feed optimization and newer updates, but most of it is a refresher for those who have been working with retailers for a while now, including classic rules like “use relevant titles and high quality images.”

However, marketers and retailers may be interested in the new recommendations about how to structure new shopping campaigns, especially as we enter the transition period.
You can download the whitepaper of the guidelines from Google here.

Sneak a Peak at Google’s New Reconsideration Rejection Forms

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Last week, Matt Cutts made headlines throughout the SEO community by announcing that Google will be revising their reconsideration requests rejection notices with more detailed information in some cases. Of course, there were plenty of skeptics, but an example of the rejection notices has been shared on Twitter by @johnwarddoyle.

Surprisingly, it seems Google made good on their promise.

Don’t get too excited. The individualized response is short and easily missed, but rejection notices at least offer some useful information for repairing a site now. Largely the note is the same as before, but down at the bottom you will see a new section titled “A note from your reviewer.” Here, you will find specific advice relevant to your site that could be potentially highly useful.

Facebook Shows Off Their Snapchat Competitor

Slingshot

After having a $3 billion offer refused by Snapchat – the popular self-destructing photo messenger app – Facebook is trying to fight back. This week Facebook announced Slingshot, an app obviously influenced by Snapchat’s concept, but with a new twist.

Slingshot does allow users to send photos or short video messages that will delete automatically after a short period of time, but there is more to it:

To get started on Slingshot, shoot a photo or video… add some text and color, then sling it to a bunch of friends. Here’s the deal: friends won’t be able to see your shot until they sling something back to you. They can then reply with a reaction – or simply swipe your shot away.

The concept encourages reciprocal communication more and could potentially catch on, but it could just as easily fall apart in the shadow of it’s better-established rival. With the faltering youth activity on Facebook, it is hard to know how much traction this type of app can get.

Major Brand’s Seeing Engagement Plummet on Facebook

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Speaking of Facebook’s problem of bleeding activity and user engagement, recent reports show that it isn’t just the teen demographic evaporating from the site. Facebook analytics provider Simply Measured says consumer engagement with Facebook posts from almost all top Interbrand companies are down significantly from last year.

According to the firm, monthly engagement is down over 40 percent since May 2013.
Only two brands on the list (MTV and Harley Davidson) say increases in engagement, while the others saw huge decreases. Overall engagement was down at least 50 percent.

Most troublesome for Facebook, the report outright cites the decreasing organic reach available on Facebook as a primary blame for the decline in engagement.

Facebook’s Graph Search Makes Its First Appearance on Mobile

graph-search-preview

While Facebook’s Graph Search hasn’t been officially released on mobile yet, but it is most likely getting very close to being rolled out. Over the past week, many people reported encountering a test showcasing in-depth integration for the Graph Search for mobile users with all the same features you’ve come to recognize.

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The most anyone has gotten out of Facebook is the response “we’re testing improvements to Facebook mobile search.” But, I would wager the release will be sooner than later. The current testing version for mobile seems to be able to handle all the complex searches capable on desktop and appears to be largely ready for release.

Twitter Finally Adds Animated GIF Support

Twitter’s announcement this week may seem super minor, but it has received nearly as much coverage this week as any other bit of information relevant to online marketing. The reason is simple: internet users love GIFs and this week Twitter announced you can now post and view animated GIFs on Twitter’s website and mobile apps.

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Of course, the announcement came in the form of a Tweet featuring an animated GIF from Twitter Support.

Previously, users could share links to GIFs via third-party services like Imgur, but starting this week you can now share and view the moving images directly on Twitter.

Importantly, GIF’s won’t start playing automatically in your feed like they do on Tumblr. Instead, when a GIF is shown, a white play button will be overlayed, allowing you to choose when a GIF starts playing.

Source: Jason Howie

Source: Jason Howie

Marketers have overwhelmingly confirmed that social media is a highly valuable target for campaigns of all shapes and sizes, but you have to be able to effectively aim your message. If your social marketing strategy is out-dated or unfocused, then it will never gain traction on any of the major social platforms.

Social Media Examiner recently released its annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, based on surveying more than 2,800 marketers. If you want to make sure you are up to date with the state of social media and guarantee you are sending out the right message to the right people, you’ll want to know these important trends highlighted by this year’s report.

1. Blogging is Back – It should be obvious by the widespread cries of “Content is King!” over the past year, but blogging is all the rage yet again. The report shows this blogging is only going to get more popular looking forward as 68 percent of marketers said they would be increasing their blogging efforts. That is the most attention blogging has received since 2010 according to the report.

2. Facebook is Showing Its Age – Compared to the relatively short lifespans of popular social media platforms like Myspace, Facebook’s reign at the heights of social media has been extremely long. But, the report supports numerous claims over the past year that Facebook is beginning to lose users and marketers alike. Despite still being the most important social network overall, by a significant amount, only 43 percent of marketers feel their efforts are effective and 7 percent intend to decrease their use of Facebook this year.

3. Google+ is Finally Getting Some Attention – Despite still being the source of plenty of derisive jokes, Google+ is finally seeing some light on the horizon. The report explains, “While 54 percent of marketers are using Google+, 65 percent want to learn more about it and 61 percent plan on increasing Google+ activities in 2014.”

4. Is Podcasting the Next Big Thing? – Only 6 percent of marketers are currently involved in podcasting, but expect to see efforts skyrocketing soon. The report says 21 percent of marketers are planning on increasing their podcasting activities this year. Many also showed heightened interest in podcasting, with 28 percent saying they wanted to learn more.

Are you trying to stay on the cutting edge of social media? It is hard to stay ahead of the curve, but with enough effort you can corner all the new emerging platforms while keeping up with the content trends.

With the constant stream of information coming out of the online marketing industry, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest updates without missing some important news. That’s why we compile all the biggest stories you may have missed this week all in one convenient place every Friday. This week, Pinterest dominates headlines. Let’s get started:

Pinterest Finally Starts Paid Test of Promoted Pins

PromotedPinsImage

Last fall, Pinterest announced they would be making their first foray into paid ads on the social media platform under the title of “Promoted Pins”. They ran some tests shortly after the announcement to gauge how their users responded to the ads. Now, Pinterest declared they have officially begun a small paid test of the Promoted Pins while working with a small group of brands from the U.S. The test will only be shown in Pinterest’s search and category fields.

Pinterest lists the entire list of brands taking part in the test, including ABC Family, Banana Republic, GAP, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. If you do happen to catch one of the Promoted Pins being tested, Pinterest would like users to give feedback via a form found here.

Pinterest Reveals the Most Popular Categories On Each Day of the Week

Twitter Daily Trends

Just about every social media platform has their own mini-trends that influence what type of content gets shared the most at a certain time. Facebook users follow predictable patterns of usage times and the success of content on Reddit is partially decided by the “prime sharing times” when users are more likely to see new content. Similarly, Pinterest recently shared a post on their blog detailing the most popular categories for each day of the week.

4 Statistics About Pinterest You Need to Know

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On the topic of Pinterest trends and data, RJMetrics recently ran a study of 50,000 random pinners and their pins to analyze how people are using Pinterest. At first glance, the data may seem like old news, however the details found in the study give strong insight into what pinners are interested in, what they are likely to share, and when they are most likely to Pin. For example, it is no secret that the majority of Pinterest’s users are female, but it may come as a surprise that around 80 percent of pinners are female, and an whopping 92 percent of all pins on the site come from women.

You can get all the details from the study in RJMetrics’ report on their site.

Google Maps Adds Location Based Quick Facts

Yesterday, Google announced via Google+ that they have added a new section on map results for location searches named “Quick Facts.” As many have pointed out, the section looks quite similar to the Knowledge Graph that appears on some Google searches, and has the same type of very quick information about the area you are searching for. The Quick Facts are pulled from Wikipedia and other data sources typically used in the Google Knowledge Graph.

You can get an idea how the Quick Facts operate thanks to the example Google released of the results for Angkor Wat in Cambodia below.

Quick Facts

Twitter Introduces a Mute Button To Quiet Individual Users

Earlier this week, Twitter revealed they will be adding a new feature for its iPhone and Android apps, as well as Twitter.com, which allows users to mute specific people and forbid their tweets from appearing in your timeline. You can mute users two different ways. You can either mute a user from a Tweet by clicking on ‘more’ followed by ‘mute @username’ or you can mute users from their profile page.

When a user is muted, their Tweets and Retweets will be no longer visible in your home timeline and you won’t receive push notifications if you previously set up that feature for the user. However, the muted user will still be able to see, face, reply to, and retweet anything you share. From the muted users perspective nothing will have changed.

You will be able to unmute users at any time and the new feature is expected to be rolled out in the next few weeks.

Facebook and Twitter See Slightly Less Global Usage While Instagram and Tumblr See Big Increases

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Facebook and Twitter still hold a strong hand on the social media landscape/ However their grasp may not be safe forever as new survey data from GlobalWebIndex shows a slight reduction in usage for both networks over the past six months. They Facebook may not be too nervous yet. The survey of more than 40,000 internet users in 32 global markets, excluding China, found that as much as 82% of users worldwide have Facebook accounts.

However, several reports suggest the small dip in usage may be an indicator of a growing trend within Facebook, opening the door of opportunity for smaller and more focused social platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr.

The survey also found a significant growth in the use of mobile apps. Out of all apps, Snapchat saw the biggest rise in use as it is accepted by more and more teens worldwide. You can download the full report from GlobalWebIndexhere, but Martin Beck also summarizes the findings over on Marketing Land.