Google Maps Launches Brand Logo Test in US

If you search Google Maps right now, you’ll see little gray generic icons beside the names of businesses to denote their field. Dollar signs for banks, fork and spoon for an eatery, a tiny shopping bag for stores and something that looks like a snail shell for art galleries. (??)

In the quest to make every single pixel count, Google is going to change some of those generic icons to tiny logos for popular brands. According to a report by Brandweek, Google has been testing the idea in Australia and now it’s opening it up to US users. Bank of America, HSBC, Target and Public Storage are the first icons you’ll see on your maps. Right now, Google says they are only offering the option to large brand names with multiple locations and they aren’t sure if it’s a feature that will stick.

Facebook Fans and Brands: Not a Two-Way Street

”70% of consumers who “FANNED” a brand on Facebook didn’t feel they’d given this company permission to market to them.”

This comes from a 2009 ExactTarget study that was revisited in their latest installment of Subscribers, Fans & Followers. The study says that most users saw “Liking” (as it’s now called) a brand on Facebook as a way to express their personal endorsement. An almost equal number of respondents (40%) said they “like” a brand in order to get discounts and promotions. 36% said they were looking for freebies.

Digg Weathers the Storm After New Release

It’s been a busy week over at Digg and the changes just keep on coming. It began with the public release of the new Digg, which I happened to like, but many did not. The loudest noises are coming from Digg’s old guard and it’s not surprising since the new Digg is designed to allow a wider variety of users to rise to the top, not just the dedicated few.

Digg founder Kevin Rose responded to many of the complaints in his blog this week. Some were valid points which he says they’re taking into consideration. Some were features that were accidentally broken in the transitions, but some, like the fact that comments from your friends rise above all, were intentional. So, live with it, is the message.

Gmail Rolls Out the Priority Inbox

Starting tomorrow, Gmail users will have a little help setting their priorities at the start of the day thanks to the new Priority Inbox. The concept is pretty cool. From day one, Gmail will take a look at your incoming email messages to determine which ones are important and which ones not so much. The important messages get a gold flag and they stay at the top level of your Gmail inbox while everything else falls below the line.

Warmth and Competence Promotes Brand Loyalty

Does your brand exude warmth? If so, you’re on your way to securing a loyal audience. The researchers at Princeton University conducted a study for The Relational Capital Group where they evaluated the impact of warmth and competence perceptions on loyalty to eight national brands.

They concluded that people judge brands the same way they judge people, which is more by instinct than fact and that there is a statistical correlation between consumer loyalty and how the consumer perceives each brand’s warmth and competence.

Why warmth and competence? Social psychologists say that Mother Nature has gifted us with the ability to make those two judgments swiftly and accurately as part of that “fight or flight” mechanism that we’ve had since caveman days.

Facebook Gets Sued Over Like Button on Ads

There are ads that I like. Target is always kitschy and catchy. Those Mac vs PC ads are charming and I wish the Gap would go back to those great dance commercials. I really liked those. But when Facebook asks me to “like” a sidebar ad, I find that weird. Two parents in Los Angeles are finding it more than just weird. They say it’s illegal and they’re suing Facebook over it.

According to a report at ClickZ, the case stems from the idea that encouraging  children to “like” an ad, Facebook is, in effect, asking them to use peer pressure to get their friends to click and that’s exploitation of a minor for profit.

The Majority of Business Are Using Social Marketing, But Why?

63% of marketers are already using social media marketing while more than half of those who aren’t currently involved said they were planning on jumping in probably within the next year. But why? Extra Mile Audience Research conducted a study for PivotCon and here’s what they found out:

People said they used social media marketing because:

– We realized that social media marketing is a powerful tool for brands or products 70%

– Our audience is on social media sites 62%

– We saw that social media users/always-on consumers gather information differently 47%

– To use social media as part of our customer support and relationship management 40%