It’s no mistake that major social network announcements tend to come along like London buses. Both Twitter and Facebook this week launched developments to their services that if you don’t already, you should know about.
First up, Twitter announced an exciting new service, called #music. It’s a discovery tool that reveals trending tunes and artists from across the world, and can be used as something of a live social radio station. Users with premium access to Rdio and Spotify will be able to listen to full tracks; all others will be able to listen to iTunes previews.
According to Twitter, half of its users follow at least one music artist, and the platform will be hoping to improve the offerings of an already busy social music discovery scene. It’s not an easy nut to crack: Apple’s Ping music discovery service, launched under fanfare by Steve Jobs in 2010, was closed last year, and MySpace have yet to declare huge success from their music-focused relaunch.
#music will exist as both an app and a dedicated website, placing artists front & centre of the service by also ushering users to musicians’ profiles and showcasing their favourite artists’ music-related activity.
Twitter then also announced far better targeting for promoted tweets, now allowing the ads to be pushed to users based on their Twitter activity. It’s an important shift for the popular ad format and should improve an already impressive average engagement of between 3-5%. The subtle change means engaging users at the right time, with the right material.
Next up, Facebook made headlines with a major announcement regarding its mobile services, with the launch of Facebook Home.
Facebook has long been believed to be building its own smartphone, but ‘Zuck’ has finally dismissed that notion, noting that even an extremely successful Facebook phone would probably only serve 2% of its gigantic 1bn userbase. And so, it’s opted rather to piggy-back with Android by building an operating system ‘skin’ for Android devices, which, coming complete with app-like functionality, will place Facebook at the absolute centre of users’ mobile worlds. Those who opt into the operating system will benefit from features including the ability to review a constant cycle of friends’ content on their smart phone desktop, and carry on live conversations with their pals while using other apps on the phone.
It’s a future that Facebook lovers will flock to, though as Zuck will have calculated, it won’t be for everyone. Facebook has some significant hurdles, too. Smaller but hugely popular apps including WhatsApp and Snapchat are as popular as ever, even overtaking Facebook in parts of Asia. But once again telcos will be looking over their shoulders as Facebook’s ‘voice’ ambitions, pitted alongside this integration, paints a telling picture.
It has interesting implications for marketers. M&C Saatchi Mobile’s James Hilton has noted that the fully integrated offering will supply an astonishingly rich seam of data to compliment Facebook’s already strong data offering. While Facebook Home is not yet an ad platform, it has every intention of becoming one. It will mean incredibly adept insight and ad targeting, and Facebook probably therefore taking an increasingly large chunk of global advertising spend. The million dollar question now is, will users unleash Facebook on smartphones, or keep it knocking on the door from its app? Those with more recent Android devices can install Facebook Home.