Friday Wrap #143: The end of Google+?, Starbucks documentaries, Goldman Sachs social network

Friday Wrap #143
Flickr photo courtesy of dvs
The Friday Wrap is a review of news, posts, reports, and other items appearing in the last week that will help you stay on top of the forces shaping communication in this fast-paced, ever-changing environment. These are stories that may have been lost in the flood of headline news stories. I collect the items from which I choose the Wrap stories in my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.

News

Is this the end for Google+?—From the beginning, Google+ was Google’s play for integrating services. The search giant has apparently abandoned that philosophy, announcing plans to split Google+ into two separate entities: Photos and Streams. Google’s senior VP of products told Forbes to watch for a focus on three key areas—communications, photos, and the Google+ Stream—rather than having everything in one place. Included in the split will be a distancing of Hangouts from the Google+ social network. Read more

Facebook will delete Page Likes from deactivated accounts—There’s a reason for that decline in Page likes your brand may experience in the next few weeks. The social network is removing likes from closed, memorialized, and deactivated accounts. Facebook thinks the remaining likes will provide more accurate insights and simplify finding audiences. Read more

Twitter launches embeddable video—Produce a great video and share it using Twitter’s native video functionality, and it could wind up on web pages everywhere thanks to a new embeddable video tool. Twitter has made it possible for publishers to embed Twitter video on just about any site, something YouTube has made possible for years. Twitter hopes the functionality will make it a major video player. Read more

Starbucks will make documentaries addressing social justice—Every company has to be a media company. That’s the mantra that has driven the rise of content marketing, and the latest demonstration of that trend comes from Starbucks, which is opening its own media company to produce long-form documentaries focusing on social justice issues. Washington Post reporter Rajiv Chandraskaran is leaving the newspaper to work for the studio, noting that the company recognizes “the power of storytelling” and its desire to help drive social change. See the item in the Trends section (below) on Millennials if you’re confused about why this makes sense. Read more

Goldman Sacks launches social network for bankers—Vertical social networks are hot, with Doximity for doctors, RallyPoint for military professionals, and a growing number of others. Add to the list Symphony, designed for Wall Street workers to communicate with each other through instant messaging, chat forums, and internal feeds. Goldman Sachs is backing the service, which will include its own app store for add-ons. Fifteen banks invested $66 million in the service, which will operate as a standalone company. Read more

Google to offer its own cellular network plan—Google plans to sell smartphone and tablet data plans in the U.S., marking its entry into the telecom market. The company already offers high-speed wired access in a few communities. The goal is not to become a Verizon or AT&T competitor, but rather “to drive a set of innovations which we think the ecosystem should evolve and hopefully will get traction,” according to Sundar Pichai, Google’s product senior VP. Read more

Edison Research will develop podcast measurement technology—Edison Research, which has been measuring podcasting for a decade, is partnering with Triton Digital Partners to deliver Webcast Metrics on Demand (WCMOD), a podcast audience measurement solution. The tool will be released later this year. Read more

Mobile and Wearables

Google emphasizes editorial coverage in mobile search results—The algorithm that drives Google’s mobile search now includes a stronger emphasis on fresh news articles that feature the brand or term searched. “When you search for a topic, just scroll down to see a ‘carousel’ of recent articles, videos, or more on that subject,” according to the official Google Inside Search blog. Read more

IBM introduces tool for testing mobile app accessibility—IBM is launching a tool to test how well people with visual, auditory, and other impairments will be able to use mobile apps written for both Android and Apple devices. No price has been set for the tool. Read more

Virgin Atlantic tests Sony smart glasses and smart watches for engineers—An eight-week trial at Virgin Atlantic will assess the value of wearable technology for engineers performing routine maintenance and repairs at London Heathrow airport. The test will examine the real-time communication capabilities between engineers and support teams. Engineers will use Sony’s nascent augmented reality glasses to take pictures or video of what they’re working on, allowing office-based staff to see a problem from the engineer’s perspective. Read more

Buy a cup of Starbucks using the app and it’ll instantly record as a business expense—Starbucks—the most commonly expensed restaurant chain and the top business-meeting destination—will make it easier for people paying with their phones to have the expenses recorded, thanks to a partnership with expense reporting system Concur. Business travelers will also be able to more easily earn points for their business purchases. Read more

Internal Communications

Most business leaders face employee engagement issues—How long have we been talking about engagement? Yet engaged employees still account for a woefully small share of the total workforce. Consequently, 87% of HR and business leaders are facing a lack of engagement as the top issue—up 8 percentage points from last year. Deloitte’s third annual Global Human Capital Trends report found the number of leaders who cited engagement as “very important” doubled from 26% last year to 50%. Yet 60% said they have no programs for measuring or improving engagement, or the ones they have don’t cut it. Read more

SEC probes companies’ treatment of whistleblowers—Internal communicators, take note: An SEC invsestigation could lead you to start communicating policies about whistleblowing. The agency has sent letters to companies asking for years of nondisclosure agreements, employement contracts, and other documents, as part of an investigation into possible corporate backlash against whistleblowers. according to The Wall Street Journal. Dodd-Frank regulations prevent companies from interfering with employees reporting possible securities-law violations. It’s part of a growing movement to ensure protections for whistleblowers. Read more

Trends

The next frontier for PR: Podcasts, says Richard Edelman—Edelman Chairman Richard Edelman posts that “We have to go where the viewer or listener wants to be.” Given the audience engagement with podcasts, the audio programs are an emerging important place to go. Edelman’s 6 A.M. blog featured an interview with Slate’s Jacob Weisberg, who notes that Slate podcasts have produced lucrative advertising deals, including a $1 million deal with Acura. Read more

Google could contribute to podcasting growth—Despite the availability of a variety of podcast apps for Android, Apple’s iPhone accounts for the biggest share of podcast smartphone listening. Apple’s dominance results in part from its legacy, having introduced podcasts to the iTunes store in 2007. But Android, the market leader for smartphone operating systems, could change the game by introducting a native podcat app, making podcasts available to 98.5 million users in the U.S. who may not have bothered downloading a third-party app. Read more

New York Times crowdsources native video ads—As native advertising continues its meteoric ascent, The New York Times is looking for new ways to infuse the category with creativity. “The Selects” is a new program asking directors not already represented by a production company or agency to submit their work for the opportunity to produce native ads for companies contracting with the newspaper’s T Brand Studio. Read more

Your customers probably think your loyalty program sucks—Most Americans aren’t happy with the reward choices offered in their loyalty programs, according to a survey. Instead of just discounts, consumers want experiences in exchange for their loyalty, such as access to live events. Taking advantage of rewards is another pain point for customers; nearly half report frustration with the redemption process. Read more

Further evidence that print’s not dead—Over 400,000 issues of the fashion and beauty magazine Stylist are distributed in Paris and nine other French cities, which compares more than favorably to Vogue Paris, circulation for which is under 150,000. The difference: Stylist is free, distributed by hand in Metro stations to just the right individual: “A young woman with a rich and young vibe.” Top-drawer advertisers are lining up to get a spot in the magazine, which is able to take editorial liberty since the publishers aren’t trying to sell it on newssstands. Read more

Millennials want brands to reflect their values—79% of Gen Y-ers choose or boycott brands based on their support for social issues, according to a Pinpoint Market Research study, and 88% want brands to effect change in the communities in which they operate. Key issues include online privacy, the U.S. debt and deficit, climate change, LGBT rights, Net neutrality, and police brutality/excessive force. Read more

Is your small business ready for Snapchat?—Brand interest in Snapchat is surging after ignoring it for a long time thanks to its reputation as a teen sexting platform. But there is a shift from Instagram to Snapchat underway, and even small businesses can benefit from tapping into the app’s user base, currently heavily concentrated in the 16-24 demographic but expected to expand to 18-40 as the migration continues; 24 million adults use the network today. The app offers interactivity and fun to users, which brands can leverage. Users spend 17 minutes per day with the service, so getting your branding on Snapchat right will take time to get right. Read more