There's no summer vacation in Silicon Valley--or at least that's how a few major players are making it seem. Within the past couple of months, Amazon, Facebook, and Google have all introduced new consumer-facing features that have some real potential for future marketing use. Here's what's happening--and how it may affect your brand.

Amazon Stealthily Launches a Social Network

I know: You just mastered Snapchat. But the social media world is ever evolving, and there's always a new platform right around the corner.

One that has potential to be the next big thing for online retailers is Spark--Amazon's new e-commerce-meets-social-networking platform. Spark takes the concept of Instagram's shoppable photos and--being Amazon--makes it even easier to shop right in the app.

Spark is still finding its footing, and has a few barriers in the way of Amazon-level growth. Though anyone can use Spark, for now, only Amazon Prime members can contribute. It's also a little tough to find--even if you're looking for it. Instead of launching a new app, Spark is part of an update to the existing Amazon app. Within the app, it's still a few clicks away (found under Menu, then "See All Programs," and--finally--Spark).

Though brands can't post on Spark just yet, influencers certainly can, so this could be a great add-on to your next microinfluencer program. Keep an eye out for improvements down the line--and for savvy brands to, shall we say, spark interest in their products with the platform.

Facebook Enables Brands to Make Groups

Connecting with your customers on Facebook is nothing new, but up until recently, brands have had limited ability to segment their audiences. Now, brands can create groups on Facebook--all linked to the main brand page--and they no longer need to use personal pages as administrators.

What this means for your brand is twofold. To start, you can now segment your brand's existing audience into different interest groups, thus enabling you to reach them with hyper-targeted messaging. Secondly, you can use interest- or hobby-based groups to bring new audiences to your brand. Ultimately, this new tool enables brands to use Facebook more like people do, making branded Facebook interactions that much more personal.

Google Rolls out a Personalized Newsfeed

It's no secret that Google monitors your online habits, and typically expresses that tracking in almost eerily accurate targeted ads. For Google app users, though, this monitoring of online behavior now shows up in personalized newsfeed recommendations. The content stream will be based on users' search histories and selected preferences, and users will be able to "follow" search results to ensure similar stories pop up in this feed.

That means that significantly older, but still highly relevant, results have an opportunity to surface in users' feeds. Because of this, I recommend that brands that have content hubs or blogs update their top older posts (what we at Masthead Media call "live content optimization"), as Google is now more likely to send traffic to those older, high-quality articles.

Make sure those pieces contain timely language and links to products that you're currently selling--so readers will have every opportunity to learn about your brand and buy your products.

Published on: Aug 15, 2017