Social Media Roundup - December 2013

Bitcoin Debuts at Subway
A Subway franchisee in Allentown, Pa., has started accepting Bitcoins for payment - and it's working. Sapan Shah, a 24-year-old MBA student at Lehigh University, is attracting a lot of attention at his shop, with Bitcoin fans driving hours to spend their digital currency. While Subway has "encouraged operators to have innovative ideas," Shah said, he added that "Subway has not endorsed this at all. This was just my idea." Accepting Bitcoins sure qualifies as an innovation. Shah, himself an investor in Bitcoin, has initiated a lively conversation on Reddit, spurring hundreds of comments and questions about how corporate is reacting, how employees are dealing with the online currency, and the risks involved. If you're interested in learning more about Bitcoin and seeing how Shah has engaged so many people on social media, take a look at the conversation on Reddit.

Reviews Tab Coming to Google Places
Business owners now will be able to see all their customer reviews in one place on Google Places. The new format allows businesses to track reviews more easily, and will provide some basic analytics for seeing how their online reputation changes. Also, the Reviews tab will pull in data from around the web in addition to Google's own information, making it even easier for businesses to keep an eye on what's being said about them online.

Making the Most of Videos on YouTube
If you're using or planning to use YouTube videos as part of your marketing plan, you'll do better if you follow best practices. "People tend to forget YouTube is in fact a social platform just like Facebook and Twitter with sharing capabilities, comments, and likes as part of its features," writes social media blogger and author Jeff Bullas, adding that "the video site's search page is now the second most popular search engine (and thanks to Google's acquisition ... intricately connected to the number-one search option)." Tips from Bullas include:

  • Offer an embed code, a snippet of code that can be used on a website, so people can easily share your videos.
  • Optimize for search engines with keywords so people can find your videos easily.
  • Grab viewers' attention fast. You only get about 15 seconds before they head for the exits.

Using Instagram? 20 Apps To Help You Use It Better
People love pictures, still or - and Instagram recently surpassed 150 million active users. "To create lasting engagement with those users, you need to share beautiful and targeted content that resonates with your audience," writes Thibault Davoult in a blog on Social Media Examiner. "If you're not a professional photographer, this can present some difficulties. That's where image and video apps come in." Davoult lists and describes 20 apps, most available for both iOS and Android. If you want to get better results from your Instagram account, start by improving your content and targeting it to your network more effectively.

Selfie: Oxford Dictionaries' 2013 Word of the Year
The Oxford Dictionaries (both U.K. and U.S.) define selfie as "a photograph one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website." Smart local business owners could do worse than encourage their patrons to post selfies to a special gallery on their website, or on a Facebook Fan Page. Now that even Pope Francis and President Obama have joined in, here are a few of the 13 factoids you need(?) to know about selfies, according to Search Engine Journal:

  • As of October, Miley Cyrus had posted the most selfies on Twitter, with 121. Tyra Banks was second with 62.
  • Samsung reports that selfies account for 30% of the photos taken by people between 18 and 24.
  • Selfies are most popular in Australia, followed by the U.S. and Canada. A survey found that two-thirds of Australian women between 18 and 35 take them.

After you stop shaking your head, think: there must be a marketing opportunity here!

Look Outside Your Window: Drone Delivery by Amazon!
Jeff Bezos announced that the online giant is ready to start delivering Amazon Prime orders by drone, pending regulatory approval. Domino's posted a video of being delivered by drone in June, and in early 2012, lovers were temporarily buoyed by the famous TacoCopter hoax. These were meant as humor, but Bezos isn't kidding. Amazon is serious about drones, although many analysts question the legal and economic viability of the program. If Bezos succeeds in overcoming the regulatory hurdles, can burgers, subs (and yes, tacos) be far behind (and do you tip a drone)? As Bezos has said, "Often times, invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood."

One for the Kids: NORAD Teams with Bing To Track Santa
'Tis the season. NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, has partnered again this year with Microsoft's Bing search engine to track Santa through its "NORAD Tracks Santa" website. Google, not to be outdone, is joining the pursuit, although it's unclear where they are getting their tracking information. Since NORAD is providing Santa with a U.S. Air Force fighter escort this year, you know that Bing is going to be up to the minute. There's no word from Mrs. Claus about which service she prefers, although she is said to think that "google" is a verb. For the latest on this latest twist to Santa Claus and his travels, see this article on Search Engine Land.

2013 Black Friday Weekend Mobile Sales Stats
People are using their smartphones and tablets more and more for shopping - no surprise, but how can franchise brands cash in on it? Over the four-day Black Friday extended weekend, 1 in 5 (21%) online sales came from users of devices. Cyber Monday was particularly hot for with mobile users for 30% of online sales. Almost 10% of the merchandise purchased on Cyber Monday consisted of tablets, and about 6% of smartphones. The bad news: the 4-day total spend was down about 3% this year, compared with 2012. See more details on the MarketingTech blog.

Top 10 Gifts on the 2013 Holiday Wish List, Courtesy of Social Media
The ability to listen to lots of conversations has always been the "killer app" of social media. The huge amounts of data available give analysts and planners plenty of information to work with. Digital firm Prime Visibility analyzed more than 1 million conversations about what people want for the holidays this year. Want to know what your customers really want? Take a look at this infographic on ViralBlog. Hot gifts include gift cards, iPhones, Nike and Ugg apparel, and DVDs of Breaking Bad. (Note: 73% of the sample were females.)

Fail! The Top 5 Social Media Gaffes of 2013
The painful gaffes and missteps featured in this infographic on Search Engine Journal were all perpetrated by large businesses. But smaller, local businesses can fall into similar traps. Don't be one in 2014

  • Burger King's Twitter account was compromised. Hackers changed the logo, name, and posted tweets that McD's had taken over the company - as well as photos of BK's employees taking drugs in bathrooms. Ouch.
  • Amy's Baking claims insulting posts about users of Yelp on their Facebook page were the work of hackers. Doubts remained and reputation damaged, at least temporarily.
  • Bank of America was caught out answering customer service questions on Twitter when its automated replies didn't fit into the conversational flow. Followers didn't like it and let BofA know it. Don't automate your tweets unless you have a very good reason.

Daniel Lieberman is the founder of Daniel Lieberman Digital ("I speak Geek - You don't need to"). Based in Shelburne Falls, Mass., he helps companies, organizations, and individuals learn to use the Internet to communicate, market, and brand themselves using the most up-to-date and techniques. Contact him at 413-489-1818 or

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