Instagram Launches Profile Badges

Instagram just launched Instagram badges, a super-easy way to help users promote and share their Instagram profiles across the web.

Instagram badges are similar to badges and buttons offered by Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

To get an Instagram badge, just visit http://instagram.com/accounts/badges and select the icon you want, then copy the JavaScript and paste it on your website, Tumblr or blog. Read more…

Does Facebook Drive Sales? New Tool Helps Advertisers Find Out

Does Facebook drive sales? That’s a question posed by many an online retailer active on the social network — and one Facebook is looking to answer with a new conversion tracking tool for advertisers.

Here’s how it works: Under Ads Manager, marketers can find a unique snippet of code to add to the pages on their websites — say, the page that thanks visitors for signing up for a newsletter, or for completing an order. Every time someone who clicks over from a Facebook ad lands on one of those pages, it registers as a “conversion” in the Ads Manager console.

Until now, marketers could only track the numbers of clicks and, depending on the ad unit, app downloads their ads were generating, but had little data about how well each ad click-through was converting into sales, newsletter signups, site registrations and other targeted actions.

In addition, marketers can also now opt for “Optimized CPM bidding” during the ad creation process so that they are able to automatically target the demographic of users who are most likely to convert.

The tool is currently in “extended beta” and will launch officially at the end of the month, a spokesperson said. It will help marketers determine if Facebook ads deliver better conversions for the cost than paid search and other forms of trackable online advertising. Beta tester Fab.com said it was able to lower the cost of customer acquisitions by 39% using Optimized CPM bidding, according to Facebook.

Facebook, which has approximately 1 billion members, brought in $1.09 billion in advertising revenue last quarter. The viability of the company’s ad model has been questioned as users spend more time accessing the social network via mobile devices, which generate less ad revenue per page than views on desktop devices, but early growth in that segment is promising.

Lauren Indvik Lauren Indvik is the associate business editor of Mashable, covering the fashion retail and media industries from Mashable’s New York headquarters.

5 Premium Channels YouTube Should Drop

YouTube is about to pull the plug — or at the least the funding — for up 70% of its premium content channels.

The move comes at the end of a bold and year-long $100 million experiment to foster specialty program to rival broadcast television. While the corporate pink slips aren’t being handed out for another couple of weeks, YouTube has outlined its criteria for determining which of the 100 channels will continue to receive funding.

“We looked at viewership they’ve been able to achieve, the cost of the content, and from that we are able to determine the channels that are delivering the best return on our [investment],” Jamie Byrne, YouTube’s global head of content strategy, told Ad Age. Read more…

Facebook Testing Sound Notifications

You hear that? It’s the sound of Facebook’s next feature experiment, and it sounds like it’s already starting to annoy the test user group.

The social network is currently testing an alert notification that emits a ping sound when someone writes on your Timeline, sends you a message or invites you to an event.

“We are currently testing a sound with notifications,” a Facebook spokesperson told Mashable. “It’s only testing with a small percentage of people and it can be controlled from the Account Settings page.”

The test was first spotted by a VentureBeat reporter whose profile page was among the test audience. The writer posted a video and noted he “hates” it already. We can assume many others will not be pleased to hear a constant stream of sound alerts.

Facebook is no stranger to sending new features to a select test group, but it’s unknown at this point if sound notifications will actually roll out to all members in the near future.

Click here to see the video.

What do you think of the concept? Would a sound alert help keep you on top of new messages or drive you crazy? Let us know in the comments below.

Samantha Murphy is a Tech Reporter for Mashable, where she covers all things tech and entertainment. She joined the Mashable team in 2011 and is based in New York.

Twitter Hacked? Here’s How to Protect Your Account

Twitter is the latest large-scale company investigating the possibility of a password hack of its user base. It recently sent an email blast to accounts that may have been compromised and automatically reset their passwords.

The social network joins a long list of companies — from LinkedIn to eHarmony to Dropbox — who have faced account hacks in recent months. Although site hacks are nothing new, it’s becoming increasingly critical to protect passwords, as incidents like this continue to rise. The same password and email login you use for one site could unlock a wealth of information on other platforms, including personal information and credit-card data.

That said, there are a few steps to take to protect your Twitter account — or any account, for that matter. First and foremost, it’s key to create a strong password which includes a variety of upper and lower case characters, numbers and symbols, and is also 10 characters long.

“We highly recommend that you use a unique password for each website you use; that way, if one account gets compromised, the rest are safe,” Twitter advised in a tips post on its site. “Also, please use a secure and private email address to associate with your Twitter account. If you forget your password, you’ll be able to get instructions for resetting it emailed to that address.” Read more…