Yes, it is an app-tacular world out there. Mobile devices rule our lives, so the applications we use to engage with each other – and with businesses – should offer up the best user experiences, right? The Week in Social Media saw Foursquare and Facebook take big steps in that direction: Foursquare with an app makeover that should interest small/midsize consumer-based businesses, and Facebook with the grand opening of its App Center.
And then there was LinkedIn, the thundercloud hovering over the week thanks to millions of hacked passwords leaked on the Internet. But let’s save the bad news for last, shall we?
- Facebook’s IPO may have stunk up the joint, but don’t tell me that the Mother of All Social Networks isn’t still influencing others when it comes to look and user experience. The revamped Foursquare app gets more of a Timeline feel, right down to the larger photos and block-style grouping of Friends, Stats, Photos, Lists, Tips and Badges on my personal feed. But the new and improved Explore feature is where the action is (and should be) for businesses: it plays up recommendations for restaurants, shops and the like from other users close to where you are at the moment, and in that respect it acknowledges competition from Yelp and the new Google+ with Zagat integration.
So now it behooves businesses to not only monitor Foursquare to see what’s being said about them, but also to offer up specials, discounts and other incentives (like photo-sharing) for customer engagement.
- Facebook’s App Center isn’t exactly breaking news; the company introduced the concept back in May. But it’s rolling out to U.S. users this weekend, and for those still smarting over gloomy Wall Street prognostications about the company’s future, the App Center is a lifeline that offers the potential for a revenue-enhancing mobile marketing strategy that’s been missing from Facebook so far.
As in the Foursquare makeover, recommendations are key: the App Center will send you suggestions based on what you and your friends are already using and downloading and will only serve up “high quality apps in the App Center, based on user ratings and engagement,” no matter if they’re based in the Apple Store, Android Marketplace or on the web. And you’ll be able to send apps to your mobile device from your desktop/laptop via App Center. Bonus transparency points to Facebook for highlighting what each app needs from you, such as your basic info, email address, etc.
Facebook also released some impressive statistics regarding its apps: more than 230 million people are gaming on Facebook every month, there are now more than 4500 Timeline apps, and the network prompted 83 million visits to the Apple App Store in May alone. All of that speaks to people spending more and more time on Facebook during their daily visits, and that should always be encouraging news to businesses and brands wanting a shot at those 900 million users.
- Yes, it took a while for LinkedIn to confirm what was already making the rounds on major news outlets on Wednesday morning: hackers had leaked some six million passwords to accounts at the social network for professionals. That overshadowed another privacy issue for LinkedIn that focused on how its mobile app syncs your calendar data. Ultimately in both cases, LinkedIn fessed up, came clean, got proactive with changes and apologized. In the case of the hacked passwords, LinkedIn shut down any compromised accounts and notified affected users.
And while there is some responsibility on the part of users to randomize their passwords and change them frequently, nearly every aspect of social media marketing and engagement is based on trust and credibility. As these social networks grow and become more integrated with business, it’s incumbent upon them to lock down security issues as much as they can in our connected, app-tacular world.
Do you think the Foursquare makeover will result in more businesses checking out check-ins? What do you think of Facebook’s App Center? And will LinkedIn’s hacked passwords damage the trust businesses have in the social network. Please share your thoughts in our Comments section.