Our quick guide to some of the interesting articles we’ve seen this week.

A blueprint for retailers?

First of all, a very nice, indepth analysis of how Walmart is using its key social media channels – Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and Google+. A more than usually thoughtful article, and definitely worth a read if you’re in retail, or just want some inspiration generally. Of particular interest is the way that Walmart have used the Facebook Milestones function to showcase the rapid spread of their stores. They’re also using it for some good “soft” messaging – emphasising their CSR and focus on sustainability.

The growth of the main Walmart brand page vs the smaller pages created for local stores is also intriguing. Depending on your viewpoint, it either gives weight to the “digital bumper sticker” argument – that many people Like brands on Facebook as a way of just giving them a Thumbs Up, rather than because they want to engage more closely with the brand – or proves that the kind of expertise and resources available to Head Office are necessary to make a success of Facebook. Without studying the individual store pages it’s hard to know, but an interesting study nonetheless.

This week’s changes at Facebook – Links and Graph Search

No, they never stop tweaking. This week, Facebook has announced that it is changing the way that it handles links in the News Feed, making them more prominent and with a lightbox view function on click.  Full details here.

But the big news was the new Graph search. Having called the world’s press together for an announcement, the media were a little overexcited to say the least, and the big reveal was initially met with disappointment from those who were hoping for a big departure such as a Facebook smartphone. That said, it didn’t take long for the “is the new Facebook search going to slay Google” type headlines to start appearing.

Graph Search is primarily a way of mining more information from within the Facebook database, and leveraging the preferences of those in your social network to “short cut” finding things you want. It can also be used as a full Web search engine, although this is based on Bing search capability so personally we’d be, well, surprised, if the results pose any kind of a threat to Google at least for now.

Whilst Graph search offers some fun possibilities, it does also depend rather heavily on the quality of the social network you’ve built in Facebook and how closely that network reflects your “real world” likes and dislikes in the present. For example, my network is heavily biased towards keeping a sneaky eye on those I went to school with – but that was in a very different time and place, and that particular group of people wouldn’t be my first port of call if I was looking for a restaurant in New York (that’s what Twitter is for, isn’t it!).

If you want to sign up for early trials of the Graph search function, you can do so here.

Trying too hard on Twitter?

Next up, a semi-serious article from Digiday suggesting some Twitter guidelines for execs who are the wrong side of 40. Some of them we’re not sure about (we love our emoticons and see that changing) but other guidelines make some good points – for example, we’d be very happy to see the back of  the old “Tweets are my own opinions” biography cliche, which has transplanted awkwardly from other media.

Website Revamp without the stress

A good proportion of clients coming to us for training do so because they’ve either just completed a website revamp, or are in the middle of it and want to launch their social media presence alongside the new site. We recognise these people by their short fuses and general resemblance to wrung out dishcloths. That’s an exaggeration, but it’s certainly true that the whole process is stressful for many and downright painful for a few.

HubSpot have just produced an excellent free template for tackling your website revamp in a structured way, which we’d definitely recommend to anyone about to start on a review project. Along with talking to us about web designers who can be trusted to do what they say, when they say…

And this week’s Giggle Prize goes to:

If you’re feeling a bit down after Christmas, have a look at our final link. From the makers of Awkward Family Photos comes the Christmas Edition…guaranteed to make you grateful that the whole thing is safely over with for another year.  And also give you a good selection of “what were they THINKING?!!” pics with your afternoon coffee.