Facebook Becomes Friends with Wall Street, and Other Hot Topics

Well, it finally happened.

This week, after months and months of breathless anticipation, Facebook filed its S-1 paperwork, one of the first steps as it prepares for its initial public offering. Shares are expected to be available this spring — which means that right now, there are a lot of stock market investors out there salivating.

It was also revealed that Pinterest drives more referral traffic than sites like YouTube, LinkedIn, and Google+. And it seems that many companies in the Inc. 500 are slowing down their blogging efforts. Is this an opportunity for small businesses to pick up some ground?

We discuss these and other stories in our weekly news roundup.

1. Facebook’s S-1 provides an inside look

With a goal of raising as much as $10 billion dollars (!!), Facebook this week filed the preliminary paperwork for its long-awaited initial public offering. In the process, it revealed some stunning facts, including:

  • Facebook now has 845 million monthly users worldwide, 483 million of whom log on daily
  • In the fourth quarter of 2011, there were 2.7 billion likes and comments per day
  • 60% of people in the U.S. and United Kingdom use Facebook
  • 250 million photos are uploaded every day on Facebook

Bottom line: Sure, Facebook going public is going to make some people a lot of money (Mark Zuckerberg could be worth $20 billion when all is said and done). But what does this mean for users?

Well, as ReadWriteWeb explained, having shareholders and Wall Street watching may mean a significant change to how new features will be unveiled moving forward. Case in point: Timeline was announced in September but wasn’t made available to users until December. In the future, engineers at Facebook will have to get things right sooner before the public gets to try them out.

Otherwise, the filing and what it revealed provides even more incentive for small businesses and organizations to get on Facebook and make it the center of their social media marketing activity. Nearly 850 million users? Who wouldn’t want to play in that playground?

(One side note: Are you or is someone you know hesitant about Timeline? Check out this cool new app, released this week, that turns your Facebook Timeline into a movie. We’re big fans.)

2. Google, Bank of America, and others team up to fight spam scams

A group of 15 technology and financial institutions announced this week that they are joining together to help combat large-scale email scams. These scams, known as phishing, try to trick people into revealing passwords and other personal information. The group has proposed an ad hoc standard called DMARC (or Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) that will help internet service providers (ISPs) sort out which emails are from a real company, as opposed to someone who is attempting to deceive a customer.

Bottom line: DMARC was created primarily for very large financial institutions or brands that send millions of emails each day, and whose customers are subject to massive fraudulent email scams.  It’s just entering an experimental testing phase and likely will not be widely used for some time. For now, Constant Contact supports the efforts of DMARC and encourages its development. Stay tuned for more information about what this means for small businesses and organizations like yours.

3. Pinterest drives more traffic than Google+, YouTube, and LinkedIn combined

Are you on Pinterest yet? This week it was revealed that the virtual bulletin board, social media’s fastest growing site, drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. (Wow!) Specifically, Pinterest grew from 2.5% of referral traffic in December to 3.6% of the referrals in January. That’s impressive growth, considering Pinterest had just .17% of the referral traffic in July. (By comparison, Facebook accounts for 26.4% of referral traffic.)

Bottom line: If you’re not already looking at Pinterest as a marketing channel for your business or organization, we think it’s a good idea to start. We’re in the process of exploring Pinterest and will report back soon on how using it can benefit small businesses and organizations.

4. Study finds huge drop in corporate blogging  

According to a study by the University of Massachusetts, the number of Inc. 500 companies that maintain a blog dropped significantly in 2011 — to 37%, from 50% in 2010, 45% in 2009, and 39% in 2008.  The study noted the rise of social networks and tools like Facebook, Twitter, texting, and Foursquare, as contributing to the decrease in blogging.

Bottom line: While big businesses may be slowing down their blog writing, many more small businesses and organizations are realizing the value a blog can have. That’s because a blog can be a powerful tool when it comes to putting a more human face on what you do. Businesses like the Storywalkers Consulting Group and Resource Advisory Services have found significant results from their blogs, and, well, while Constant Contact isn’t exactly a small business anymore, we still consider our blog an important piece of our marketing mix.

5. Big chains are reaching out to partner with small businesses

Target, Walmart, and other big chain stores are forming partnerships that will result in small businesses’ products being sold in stores and online. The Shops at Target collection will bring in five small businesses from across the country to sell their products in stores and on Target.com for six weeks. The program has the potential to return later this year and next year, if it’s successful.

Walmart recently launched a “Get on the Shelf’’ contest, where small businesses upload videos of a product they want to sell at Walmart, and the public votes on the winners. The top three will have their items sold on Walmart.com, and one grand prize winner will also get his or her product on the shelves of Walmart stores.

Bottom line: We applaud any effort that gives a boost to small businesses, no matter how few get the boost. As more and more big businesses realize the value in going local, we hope to see more efforts like this.

What stories caught your eye this week? Share your thoughts in the comments section below, and then use the buttons at your left to share this article with your friends and colleagues.

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