Week in digital #7: Brands and social media engagement, Facebook's new Timeline and The Big March 2012

This week sees that two-thirds of companies have moved beyond the experimental phase of their social media strategies, while other research says the majority of Britons don’t want to engage with brands on social platforms. Also this week Google+ unveils Badges to let brand promote their presence, global brands sign up to virtual anti-bullying march, will Facebook’s new Timeline lead to over-sharing, get argumental on Barkles, and you can now schedule Facebook posts.

Two-thirds of companies have moved beyond experimental phase of social media strategies
The State of Social 2011 report shows that 64% of the companies asked are taking social media seriously, focusing on the ‘big four’ networks, with over half of respondents (52%) saying that their organisations use Facebook for reacting to customer issues and inquiries compared to only 29% last year. The study also found that 50% of companies use Twitter for customer service, compared to only 35% in 2010.

Majority of Brits to not want to engage with brands on social networks
According to research company TNS’ Digital Life study, 61% of UK internet users don’t want to be bothered by big name brands on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. This could be bad news for brands as powerhouses like Pepsi, Burberry and Tesco are pushing millions of pounds into their online marketing strategy. The key focus for brands to turn this around is be to create great content that entertain and educate instead of simply pushing out brand messages left, right and centre. Think what works for each social network platform, look at how these very different audiences interact and customise the content for its intended recipients.

Global brands sign up to virtual march against bullying in aid for Charity
As part of Anti-Bullying week in 2012, Beatbullying has created the first global, virtual march for children’s rights and big brands like Facebook and Universal Music and celebrities such as Pixie Lott and Twiggy have already signed up. The children’s charity is hoping to get more than two million people to march virtual avatars across as many websites as possible over 48 hours in February 2012, which will finish at a virtual representation of the United Nations building in New York.

Twitter users most generous when it comes to charity donations
Social giving is on the rise with platforms like JustGiving making the sponsorship, promotion and donation process quick and easy. A study by the company has found that there’s been a dramatic increase in social giving over the past years and that Twitter users are apparently the most generous writes ShinyShiny. Facebook is still king though when it comes to the amount of donations the site receives, which is not so strange considering the size of the network compared to Twitter and other social networks.

Will Facebook’s new Timeline ask you for too much information?
With the emergence of social media, one of life’s questions is now: To share or not to share? And now that Facebook is introducing its new Timeline “soon”, according to its project managers, we will be forced to make even more choices about sharing. The world’s biggest social network will be asking you to add ‘Life Events’ to your profile – or Timeline – which means sharing key life events with your friends. The Events are grouped into five sections: Work and Education, Family and Relationships, Living, Health and Wellness, and Milestones and Experiences. Each category is further divided into several optional life events, such as buying a house or car, moving and… got a piercing or tattoo? Why would people – let alone Facebook – be interested in when I got my piercing… While the idea of a digital scrapbook of my life seems like a nice idea, parts of me is wondering how Facebook will use this data that many people may and may not willingly share?

YouTube to roll out major user interface redesigns?
The Next Web received a tip about some serious user interface redesigns on Google owned YouTube. What looks like to only have been issued to a selected few of its many users, what is most noteworthy is deep integration with Google+ and the shared content. Thus Google is one step closer towards extending the social platform – which it has said is not a social network – more heavily into each of its products. Check out the images on The Next Web to see what the redesign looks like.

Barkles – a new social network for the opinionated
Do you love a good debate? If yes, check out Barkles, a social network that’s been created for just that. Simply sign up for an account and start your debate – or join in on an existing one. Easy as that! However you only have up to 200 characters to get your point across, so Barkles’ Australian creators have seemingly been inspired by Twitter… Will Barkles be around this time next year: Yes or No?

Google dominates search market in October with a 65.6% share
Just like Facebook dominates the social network market, there is no secret that Google dominates search. New data from ComScore shows that the search giant took the majority of the market in October with a share of almost two thirds.  Yahoo! landed on second while Microsoft with 15.2% and 14.8% share respectively.

How men and women are sharing differently online [infographic] We all know that men and women do things differently in most areas of life – it’s what makes things fun (or really annoying depending on what it is). But how do the two sexes share memories online? NYC based company Proust.com – a private network to share your life story with those who matter (that’s your friends and family in case you were wondering) by answering questions – did a survey of its users and is turns out men and women tend to take different paths as they stroll down memory lane. Check out their infographic for the complete results but to summarise: women are six times more likely to share details of what happened at parties compared to men, women are eight times more likely to share their favourite love songs. That said, ten times more men consider themselves nerdy and share stories about being picked on in school or about their first ever computer. And when are men and women equal in sharing stories? When it comes to weddings and careers. Are you surprised by the findings?

Buffer for Facebook enables users to schedule their posts
Twitter users have been able to schedule their updates for a long time – with good and bad results – using various third-party services. One of these, Buffer, has now debuted its Facebook scheduling service saying it had been its “top requested feature.” We can hear community managers and marketers breathe a sigh of relief, as they can now schedule updates at the right time and well-spaced out over the day without having to remember to log on to Facebook and post.

Google+ unveils Badges to let brands promote their presence
Only days after Google opened Google+ Pages up to brands and businesses they revealed Google+ Badges, a widget that lets brands promote their presence on the network. Much like Facebook’s Like plugin, the easily embeddable widget will allow users to either +1 a webpage or add that page to their Circles. It will also show which other Google+ users have +1ed that page. According to Mashable the Google+ Badge has a few other tricks too: “The Google+ badge also contains a snippet of code that connects your website to your Google+ page,” the company said in an email to developers. “In addition to helping us better index your Google+ page, this snippet will help you show more personal recommendations around the web by linking your +1’s on sites, your Google+ page, search and display ads.”

Brands that include photos and call to action in social network posts see higher engagement rates
Getting followers to engage with their content and posts on social networks is like the Holy Grail for brands, but it can be hard to determine which type of post is more efficient. A study of 16 brands and more than 1,500 brand posts over two months this year, has found that Facebook posts with photos saw an engagement rate of 0.37%, which was higher than posts  with videos (0.31%), text only (0.27%) and links (0.15%). Interesting as these findings are, brands need to decide which strategy work best for them and their audience and as with everything this is a constant work in motion so brands need to regularly evaluate their content and tailor it to what that their fans prefer and want.

Virgin Atlantic launches tweetbot flight checker service
If you’re flying with Virgin Atlantic anytime soon it might be worth following @VAAInfo on Twitter as you can send an enquiry about your flight status and receive information about your flight “within seconds”.

Elisabeth Edvardsen