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I think this whole social local thing is starting to catch on. This week we announced our upcoming webinar on Social Local Media and we’ve already got hundreds of sign-ups. The big news in my opinion was Google’s upgrade to its social search product, which may be a small step on the search giant’s way to competing with Facebook. And speaking of Facebook, we also surfaced some interesting examples of Facebook Pages from players like LivingSocial to the extremely sociable Ms. Britney Spears. Jed broke down adoption of social mediaa by industry and Peter the K. got all gooey about a local chocolatier’s Groupon promotion for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s what else we uncovered this week in socialsphere:

How Travel Sites Integrate Social Tools
Social media fans could find interesting tools in travel sites that integrate social network features, but Roger Yu doesn’t believe these sites are ready to replace guidebooks and planning tools. Reviewing the sites, he rambles off annoyances and benefits that could act as supplements to traditional books that help travelers find local restaurants or hotels.

How Small Businesses Engage
Postling VP of Customers Alexis Lamster (and creator of the infographic) told Mashable that the company analyzed nearly 20,000 of its users to determine how small businesses use social media. While some findings won’t surprise, they provide valuable insights into how users interact with social tools to reach local audiences.

Ads Consumers ‘Like’
Ad networks and technology companies have begun to develop ways to embed social elements in display ads. Leena Rao tells us about RadiumOne, which developed the “R1 Like Button.” Aside from allowing users to “Like” an ad, it combines social and intent data to serve ads.

ComScore Report Raises Red Flag Re Social Media Marketing
David Card points to comScore’s U.S. Digital Year in Review report that’s full of useful data and several social media industry issues that highlights Facebook’s advertising value problems, communications platform evolution and potential social commerce growth barriers. It also outlines social and commerce trends that should serve as red flags for marketers designing campaigns that integrate Facebook, Groupon, LivingSocial and others.

Walk the Social Media Rice Paper Grasshopper
The connections made through social media can sometimes seem like a commodity, making online interactions inauthentic. So, Lori Deschene taps into Buddha’s philosophy by serving up 10 ways to use social media to share positive intensions, kindness and meaningful insights.

Check-Ins Capturing Local Hearts and Minds
A MerchantCircle Quarterly report suggests Facebook Places could be winning over small businesses. The survey suggests 32 percent of businesses promote their services through Facebook Places and another 12 percent plan to port over offerings within the coming months.

Armstrong’s Social Change Aimed at Local Bike Shops
Lance Armstrong’s commitment to social media changed the flood of new equipment streaming into local bike shops, according to Lennard Zinn. It made more bike equipment manufacturers want to endorse Armstrong and reward him for racing and heroic efforts in beating cancer into submission.

Who’s Minding Your Facebook Store?
Think of a Facebook Fan page as a flagship store, according to Jan Rezab, who describes the page as a commitment local brands with 50,000 or more fans often forget they have. The unique perspective offers insights into monetizing the site for retail brands through the social site.


This weekend stay social, my friends.

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