Welcome back to Spark Social Report by Spark Growth, your weekly source for social media updates! This week, Instagram launched a range of features for messages, Twitter is testing experimental new advertisement formats, and Snapchat has a new integration with YouTube. Continue reading for more updates across social media from this week!...

As internet usage trends increasingly towards mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly web page is essential to maximizing your website traffic. 60% of online traffic is now coming from mobile users, but those users may not find your web page as easily as before (1). In mid-April, Google made changes to their mobile algorithm to adapt to the shift in browsing methods. With these changes, mobile-search results now give preference to websites Google deems mobile-friendly, while penalizing those that are not. For the search engine which has traditionally focused on content relevancy, it is a big shift to see user-experience hold such weight.   So, what is mobile-friendly? There are several factors to consider, but the overall emphasis is on having a webpage that, when viewed on a mobile device, fits the screen, is easy to navigate and runs well. To ensure mobile-friendly...

Last week we looked at the top reasons why small businesses need a website, from ensuring your company pops up when people search for you on Google to establishing credibility. This week we’d like to help you ask a few deeper questions you’ll need to answer before crafting a solid site.

What is the purpose of your site?

To begin, what kind of business are you? An ecommerce site will want features that a community site probably won’t, and vice-versa. Are you selling a product on your site? Do you need for it to work with social media to engage with a community? Will it need a calendar to advertise frequent events?

It’s easy to see why a larger company might need a website, but it can be hard to see why a local shop or consultant might need one. If you’re running a locally-owned shop where most of your customers come in from around town, or if you’re a one-person micro-business acquiring clients through word-of-mouth or social media exclusively, what more could a website add?

Customers these days can interact with businesses on any number of review or social media sites, and it can be hard for small to mid-sized businesses in particular to keep track of who’s tweeting or writing about their service. Even if you’re consistent about maintaining a strong community on a site like Facebook— replying to comments, messages and questions to keep customers happy with your business— others likely pass by unnoticed, posting on pockets around the web. In 2014, you can keep track of all of it with a social monitoring app we love called Perch.

What makes a good website for a legal firm? Just as there are many kinds of firms and clients, so too there are diverse approaches to legal firm branding and design. When site-building, whether you’re a one-person operation or part of a full-service firm, make sure you’re tackling the following: Establish authority and trust. Clients want to feel like they can trust you. Inspire this security in the information you post on your website. Will your clients feel more secure with testimonials? Clear displays of legal association membership? Media appearances? All of this content can help establish you as an authority, and many firms mix and match when creating a site. Target your audience. Remember that copywriting is as important as design. Will your clients respond better to a casual, clear tone, or will they prefer something more formal? Is...

mac-square-socialThe social media landscape is ever-evolving, with networks dying as quickly as they’re born. Similarly, the features on some networks change at the drop of a hat. With Facebook, for example: today it’s cover photos, but who knows what we’ll have this January. The best social media strategies adapt to these frequent feature changes.

The number one thing that you should consider when choosing a social network is the community around it and not the features it has: is your target demographic using it? If not, why are you? Social media is not one-way. It’s about listening as much as it is sharing.

buzzAh, the holidays. A lot of rest, a lot of relaxation and a lot of idle hours spent surfing websites and social media. It’s the perfect opportunity to connect with your users through great content. A special, well-timed campaign can make all the difference going into a new year. Best of all, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn— you name it, there’s a way to create a stellar campaign for it with some creativity. We’ve thought about holiday social media strategy a bit, too, so here are our tips to get you going.

pinterestMany small businesses already have a captive audience with Pinterest: local retailers and eateries have special products that are practically begging to be posted to Pinterest. Now with Place Pins, those local businesses can receive even more airtime on Pinterest as their pins make the rounds. Travelers and locals won’t even have to leave the site to see contact information for the connected business, speeding up the buying process and leaving everyone happier.

Just yesterday, Google+ and Twitter unveiled two changes to their service that impact individuals who work with social media strategy: Google+ vanity URLs and Twitter photo preview in feeds. Social media offerings and features are always in flux, but here’s why we’re excited about these two small tweaks.