50% of Web Sales to Occur Via Social Media by 2015

Although some brands over the years have been skeptical about how social media can bring in revenue, a new infographic reveals social commerce sales are expected to bring in $30 billion each year by 2015, with half of web sales to occur through social media.

Cloud marketing software provider Vocus has put together an infographic with stats from Gartner Research highlighting how brands are currently using social media and what trends are on the horizon.

According to the data, Facebook drives 26% of referral traffic to business websites and those numbers are only expected to increase. About 20% of shoppers already prefer buying products through a brand’s Facebook page compared to its website.

Although Facebook users still use the platform largely for personal use, one in three businesses embrace it to reach out to consumers. Nearly 10 million registered small businesses have a Facebook presence, and 89% of agencies use the social network to advertise for their business clients.

Fans who follow brands on Facebook are also more likely to purchase items from the company than non-fans. With that in mind, about 89% of small businesses believe Facebook is a valuable marketing tool for their brand. Read more…

8 Hacks to Make Google Calendar More Useful

If you use Google Calendar, you probably add events, reminders and vacation days to it, just like the calendar that used to hang on your wall (or the day planner you carried with you before the emergence of smartphones). But, what if it wasn’t just a calendar, and “events” weren’t just places you had to be or items on your schedule? It turns out, Google Calendar can be useful for just about any task that is relevant to either days or times.

Check out this list, a compilation of creative ideas we found around the web. Have you tried any of these, or use Google Calendar for something cool that we missed? Tell us in the comments.

Facebook Testing New Timeline Format With Single Column of Posts

Be prepared for another change to your Facebook profile: Timeline could soon be getting a makeover.

The social networking giant is testing a new design for profile pages that places all posts in a single column on the left, while activity updates, friends, places, apps and other sections are on the right.

The current format, a two-column layout, includes posts on both sides, forcing users to look back and forth. When Timeline rolled out site-wide last December, many complained that it was confusing. One Facebook page, “I hate FB Timeline, and want to disable it ASAP,” was started shortly after its launch, and now has nearly 26,000 likes.

In its new incarnation, Timeline no longer has the vertical line that divides a profile in half. This change, ironically, makes it look less like a timeline, according to Inside Facebook, which revealed the updated design. Clickable dates that help users navigate through profiles, however, are still listed on the top right.

What’s more, modules on the right-hand side are now smaller than posts (they were the same size, before); so, Timeline has blank spots that would have previously been filled with posts. Read more…

Google+ Hangouts Rolls Out New Features

Google announced on Thursday it is rolling out new features and updates to its video chat platform Google+ Hangouts, such as colorful notifications and a sidebar which consolidates key function tools.

Google developer Amit Fulay posted a note to his Google+ page that the updates will be rolled out to users in the next day or so.

Among the new features is a new sidebar which touts key tools in one spot: “The most important part of a hangout is the people in the room, so we’ve consolidated important items (like invites, chat, and apps) into a sidebar that’s there when you need it, and tucked away when you don’t.”

The sidebar also contains frequently-used apps, but allows you to remove apps in the process. Fulay said the goal is position “apps that are easier to find and manage.”

Google also introduced colorful notifications to make it easier for users to get a sense of the message. Alerts are now highlighted in red, while actions are in blue and announcements are grey. Read more…

Pinterest Tops Facebook in Driving Ecommerce

If you can’t stop yourself from buying accessories, clothes, handbags, apartment decor and recipe ingredients after seeing them all in pins, you’re not alone.

A recent survey of 7,431 online shoppers, conducted by BizRate Insights, reveals Pinterest motivates more online purchases than Facebook.

More than 70% of Pinterest’s 10 million users told BizRate that they turn to the social pinboard for shopping inspiration and to keep up with trends. There’s also better user engagement with brands on the photo-sharing website: 66% of users regularly follow and repin retailers. Only 17% of Facebook users said they rely on the social network for purchasing inspiration. But while Pinterest’s 10 million users drive more purchases to retail websites, Facebook still dominates in reach and sending traffic to third-party websites. Read more…