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

112987077Although 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.


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LinkedIn Now Has 187 Million Members

112987077LinkedIn now has more than 187 million members, the company announced in its earnings report Thursday.

The social network for professionals has been growing at a rate of 10 million-15 million users per quarter throughout this year. LinkedIn reported having 161 million members in May and 175 million in August.

By comparison, Facebook recently passed one billion active users and Twitter is estimated to have as many as half a billion users.

The latest numbers came as part of LinkedIn's third quarter earnings report. LinkedIn beat Wall Street estimates, reporting earnings-per-share of $0.22 on revenue of $252 million. Analysts were expecting the company to post earnings-per-share of $0.11 on revenue of $244 million.

LinkedIn's stock was up more than 5% after hours, trading at around $112 a share.

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8 Tips to Jumpstart Your Business’s Paid Social Strategy

112987077Every day, social media plays a bigger (and more expensive) role in the way brands find and court new customers. From ever-evolving social advertising opportunities, like video ads on LinkedIn, to the rise of social advertising by politicians in a contentious election year, one thing is clear: Businesses have more paid ways to crack the social code than ever before. The question is, who's paying for what — and is it really working?

Small businesses are on board already, to varying degrees. I asked a panel of successful young entrepreneurs to share one paid aspect of their social media strategy that has actually worked. Here's the advice they'd offer other entrepreneurs who want to succeed doing the same.

1. Look Into LinkedIn Pro Accounts

Access to LinkedIn Pro has made a huge difference in my business, especially with attracting corporate partners. It's easy to find the right person to talk to at non-profits and universities, but corporate information is hidden very well. LinkedIn provides a more direct route to reach high-level corporate executives within my niche, through their InMail feature. This allows me to create up to 25 new connections per month, without having that individual in my network to begin with.

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MIT scientists develop algorithm to predict Twitter trending topics

112987077MIT researchers say they have developed an algorithm that can predict which topics will trend on Twitter an average of an hour and a half in advance.

The predictions have a 95 percent accuracy rate, they say, and sometimes can be made four or five hours in advance. Basically, it sounds like the algorithm learns to recognize the low-level data patterns that precede a topic making "the jump" into a conversational trend.

Pretty impressive stuff. Though, if you think further about it, a popular application of this technology would probably self-destruct.

If Doc Brown and Marty McFly taught us anything, it's that "no one should know too much about their destiny." Knowing what's going to happen in the future will cause us to take actions that end up altering that future.

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Increasing User Engagement on Facebook

112987077If you use Facebook as a tool for promoting your business or brand, then you have probably noticed that Facebook has recently updated its EdgeRank, also known as its News Feed Algorithm.

Facebook is not trying to hide the fact that they want businesses to start paying to promote their posts. It is in Facebook's best interests if your posts are not showing up in people's newsfeeds. They want you to pay to have your posts appear there.

You might wonder if there is any hope in getting your posts noticed in Facebook's newsfeeds without having to pay to promote them. While it is not possible to have your posts appear to everyone who has "liked" your page (even if you pay to promote them), it is possible to improve your chances of having your posts noticed by keeping these tips in mind.

Keep Your Fans Coming Back for More

Many people post whatever comes into their head on Facebook, even on their business pages. Before you post, ask yourself if this is something that your fans would really be interested in seeing. The more posts your fans ignore, the less likely it is that your future posts will appear in their newsfeeds. Many people who "like" a page on Facebook never visit the page again. To get people coming back to your page, your content must be truly engaging.

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