Americans rely on social media when conducting product research
The new report by Pew Internet reveals increased levels of American Internet users influencing their purchasing decisions by going online to compare prices and the listen to the opinions of other shoppers. As a matter of fact, says the author of the new report about online product research, ‘Even if (consumers) end up making their purchase in store, they start their fact-finding and decision-making on the Internet’. In a similar vein, the report’s findings show that 1 in 4 adults have contributed their experience of a product or service by posting a comment or online review, which demonstrated an increased level of willingness to share buying experiences with others.

UK online advertising spend increases 10% in first half of 2010

According to the IAB’s UK Online Adspend Study for the first half of 2010, online advertising spend in the UK increased to nearly £2 billion. Among the key drivers of growth are the facts that the UK’s active online user base increased from 36.7 million in April 2009 to 40.5 million in April 2010, and that time spent on social networks/blogs now accounts for 23% of all the time spent online in the UK – ‘making online sessions more immersive, whilst offering huge opportunities for brands to exploit the social nature of the web’.

Econsultancy survey reveals positive outlook for investment in social media
The results of a recent survey by Econsultancy have been released and point to expected increases in social media investment over the next year.

The study, which collated the opinions of 800 senior industry figures, indicated that 83% of respondents from in-house marketing teams expected their investment in social media to increase, whilst 89% of agencies that responded said they expect the same from their clients.

New Facebook Groups, whilst 'openness' and data portability come to fore

Last week was a big week for Facebook. First, it announced its new ‘Groups’ functionality that lets users interact with a handpicked selection of their friends, followed by the announcement that it will now allow users to download all of their information.

Whilst Facebook has positioned the move as measure to meet user’s requests of ‘sharing something without bothering all 250 of my friends’ as well as ‘giving users more control of their information’, others see it as a strategic move ahead the anticipated arrival of Google’s rival social networking product.

Is it an honest move to keep users happy, or is it all part of Facebook’s strategy to be the ruler the web? You be the judge.

Facebook and Playstation strengthen ties
It was announced last week that the networking giant teamed up with PlayStation in what’s been called an ‘important step for Facebook - connected games spreading off the social network onto other platforms like videogame consoles’.

Facebook rolls out new guidelines for alcohol advertising
In the latest update to what alcohol brands can and cannot do on Facebook, more stringent measures have been put in place whereby brands will have to ‘target their ads by country, eliminate creative material that misleads users into thinking that alcohol is healthy, suitable to minors, or a contributor to success’. Of the latter, the biggest change is the one stating that alcohol brands must now target their ads by country as in the past they were not forced to do so, thereby maneuvering around local laws relating to legal drinking age for example.

No more third-party user profile tabs on Facebook
On the 13th of October, Facebook will prohibit users from adding third-party applications to their profile. This will be followed by a mass cleansing of all third-party application tabs on the 3rd of November. The only third-party tabs that will remain are those on company fan pages.

Beefed up Promoted Accounts and Twitter’s new CEO
The first of two big announcements from Twitter last week is that of the new and improved ‘Promoted Accounts’ that will feature on Twitter’s ‘Suggestions for You’ section. The promoted accounts that appear on this section will be based on the user’s public list of who they follow, and those accounts that those users follow. If the user follows some of those accounts, but not the advertiser’s account, then the advertiser’s account will show up in the ‘Suggestions for You’ section. Twitter’s second big announcement was that of it’s new #newtwitterceo – Dick Costolo. Best of luck to him in his new role! …and please, from all of us at We Are Social, please give us built-in insights for our Twitter accounts!

Crowdsourcing to the rescue: the Gap Logo story
Companies and brands getting slammed on blogs, Twitter or Facebook is nothing we haven’t heard before. What is rare is to hear stories of how they rose from the ashes by being quick on their feet, turning a potentially catastrophic situation into a lesson in crowdsourcing. Well, such appears to be the case of the new Gap logo. Although some may say it’s too little-too late in the sense that consumers should have been involved since the beginning of the re-design, others are hailing it as a textbook example of changing a negative into a positive. Over to you. Has the damage been done? Or is this only the beginning of a good thing?

Orange singing Tweetgrams
Following on from Old Spice’s personalised videos, Orange is now creating #singingtweetgrams that friends can send to each other.

Interflora leverages public tweets to spread the love
Turning sad tweets into happy stories is at the heart of Interflora’s new Social Media campaign conceptualized by none other than We Are Social. Capitalising on the public and expressive nature of Twitter users and leveraging the real-time nature of the social web, Interflora has set out ‘to exceed people’s expectations by delivering a personal, trusted service that will brighten up someone’s day’.

Couple gets kicked out of hotel after writing a negative review on TripAdvisor
Talk about being a bit too trigger-happy when writing a negative review! A couple in Blackpool, England, were astonished when they got ousted from the hotel they were staying at two days before they were due to leave as a result of a negative review they shared about the hotel on TripAdvisor. This goes to show that in today’s world, it’s not only a matter of being careful of what you say, but when you say it.

The Conan Blimp
Conan O’Brien has done it again as he checks-in at his favourite locations on Foursquare whilst high above on ‘The Conan blimp’ – but wait, you can check into the floating beast as it flies above too!.

Bubble & Squeak: This week's Mashup leftovers
So, you'll have noticed our mashups getting longer and longer, so we're trying out a new format for our end section - each week we'll now have a Bubble & Squeak, where we link to camapigns we haven't had time to write about but are worthy of inclusion. Here goes...