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Social media enables celebrities to have intimate and frequent contact with fans. In particular, Instagram has served to give us a glimpse inside the daily lives of our favorite stars. Social media has also given birth to an entirely new breed of celebrities, YouTube “content creators,” who have a huge impact among tweens and teens.

When a celebrity endorses a product via TV commercial or infomercial it’s obvious that it’s an advertisement. Now the lines are blurred. In order to protect the general public and ensure that online influencers are transparent about payment and gifts, in 2009 the Federal Trade Commission issued Endorsement Guides. The FTC clearly explains the rules and makes it easy to accomplish by simply using #ad, #paid, #sponsored or #promoted in a post.

Beyonce 7

Beyonce is Crazy in Love with Airbnb

After the Super Bowl, Beyonce shared on Facebook a photo with the caption, “It was a Super weekend Airbnb” with a link to the Airbnb Facebook page. Neither the superstar nor the company will confirm if she was paid for the endorsement or comped the accommodation. If this was the case, then Beyonce would need to disclose that on the post.

Another example is Reese Witherspoon who has started a company, Draper James, and on Instagram frequently shares images of herself wearing the clothing. None of these indicate that she has a financial involvement in the company.

Best FDA Letter Ever

In August 2015, Kim Kardashian and Duchesnay admitted that she was paid for her endorsement of morning sickness medication, Diclegis, via Instagram. The post initially received attention for resulting in a letter from the Food and Drug Administration regarding her lack of fair balance in the post. Kardashian also did not note that there was a paid relationship.

Will the FTC Respond?

These are only the most popular examples, but a few months ago Jezebel identified many more personalities who are ignoring the FTC guidelines. Beyonce, Kardashian and Witherspoon are extremely sophisticated marketers with carefully curated social feeds, so it surprises me that they haven’t been made aware of the potential issues with the FTC. Perhaps it will take the FTC going after a high profile personality to make others compliant.

Social Scoop Option 1And just like that summer is coming to an end, but one thing we know for sure, is social media never stops. Most of the top dogs had something to say in August, particularly Facebook and Twitter rolling out many new features in beta-test that we should see available to all users later in the year. Here’s what happened in August.

 

Facebook: Auto-Play Ads Expand Beyond the News Feed

What It Is

Facebook’s video ads will now start appearing beyond the News Feed. In April last year, Facebook launched Audience Network, an ad platform to rival Google’s AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub. It has evolved since then to include auto-play video ads, which has now been made available to 3rd party publishers that plug into its mobile ad network.

What It Means For Brands

With this opportunity, brands will be able to have lucrative ads that are available to their users across different channels (at a price). In addition, they won’t have to worry about users feeling overwhelmed by noise because it reduces the need for multiple types of ads on the platform itself.

Facebook: “Donate Now” Button Available to Nonprofits

What It Is

Facebook added a “Donate Now” Button to their call-to-action options for nonprofits to include on their company Facebook Pages and link ads.

How It Works

All nonprofits have the opportunity to select the “Donate Now” option on their Facebook call-to-action list, making it easier for donators and supports to give back directly from Facebook. When users click on the button, a disclosure note will appear that confirms that this donation is not endorsed by or affiliated with Facebook. Should the user choose to continue, they will be directed to a donation page from the 3rd party site.

What It Means For Brands

This is wonderful opportunity for nonprofits who are active on Facebook to further engage with supporters. The new call-to-action button also gives donors direct access to a donation page, which is a step forward for nonprofits to gain more charitable contributions.

Facebook: GIFs Are Coming to Ads and Page Posts (Maybe)

What It Is

Facebook started supporting GIF media in user posts back in May, but has recently starting rolling out GIF ads to brands/businesses.

How It Works

GIFs are being tested for posts and boosted posts for a small percentage of Facebook Pages. They will not be supported as Facebook ads in the sidebar, but only as part of a brand’s News Feed post. Facebook is evaluating the user experience with GIFs before rolling it out to all Pages – which it may decide to pull them altogether and not move forward with this new roll out.

What It Means For Brands

Any new capability to advertise, is a new opportunity for brands. GIFs are very loud and in your face, so you have to be careful about the message you’re sharing so that it’s not too “annoying” to users. If Facebook receives negative feedback about GIFs in News Feeds (hindering the user experience), they will be removed. But they are exciting and open a new door to creative adverting, something that all brands should be interested in exploring.

Facebook: ‘LIVE’ is a Step Up in Influencer Activation 

What is It

Facebook recently revealed ‘Live’ for Facebook Mentions, a new way for verified public figures to share live video with their fans directly from their smart phone. With this new feature, public figures can take their fans/the Facebook audience behind the scenes, host live video chats, share announcements, and then some.

How It Works

It’s fairly simple to start a live broadcast from Facebook Mentions

  • Click on the Post and then select the ‘Live’ video button.
  • Add a description to your broadcast (this is very important so that fans understand what you’re sharing), then select ‘Go Live.’
  • Once the broadcast is up, you will be able to see how many viewers are tuning in and you can comment directly on the stream to questions as they surface. Should you want to hide the comments, you can do so.
  • To end your broadcast, select the ‘Stop’ button
  • Once your video has ended, it is automatically saved to your Facebook Page for fans to view later. If you choose to remove the ‘Live’ video content, that is an option as well.

What It Means For Brands

While brands themselves are not public figures, it’s a great opportunity for those that you endorse and partner with to optimize on ‘behind the scenes’ moments at your branded event, visits to the office, photo shoots, during campaign awareness initiatives, etc. Brands should keep ‘Live’ in the back of their social strategies when partnering with public figures to help encourage engagement and promote every branded opportunity. Note – this feature is only available to verified public figures.

Facebook: “M” Will Be Your New BFF

What It Is

Facebook introduced “M” to select users in San Francisco, a virtual assistant that will roll out as a feature within the Messenger app. “M” can make you a dinner reservation, purchase a gift for your best friend, and book your last minute weekend getaways. In addition to using artificial intelligence, “M” is backed by actual people, dubbed “M” Trainers.

How It Works

Facebook users can tap the small button at the bottom of the Messenger app to send a message to “M.” The software will decode the message and ask follow-up questions to the user in the message thread, and send updates to the user as the task is completed. Users will not know if a human or software has helped them. “M” has no gender. Right now “M” doesn’t pull in social data from Facebook to help complete the tasks, but Facebook reps say this could change.

What it Means For Brands

It’s no surprise that Facebook plans to capitalize on this one day soon, but how can it help businesses? If Facebook sees that one business/brand is getting a bunch of inbound requests, it can partner with the business to provide a more direct service over the Messenger app. Businesses could have a presence inside the app directly, boosting the transparency in customer service with consumers. Might not be a bad idea to start thinking about revamping your customer service strategy on social media…

Instagram: Ads API Has Been Activated

What It Is

Instagram officially switch on its advertising API and now it’s ready for business. In most recent times, brands were required to contact an Instagram marketing sales representative directly in order to advertise on Instagram – which was also very rare to get approved and only those willing to spend an arm & a leg were investing.

How It Works

Starting soon, (all) marketers will be able to build Instagram ads and promote their posts on the platform. Instagram campaigns will launch alongside other digital ads and brands will be able to cross-promote, plan and monitor their Instagram activity (including photos that aren’t promoted through paid) using third-party platforms.

What it Means For Brands

Brands can now use the same advanced campaign tools that they are using to monitor engagement on Facebook, which is a huge move in the right direction for Instagram. Brands will be able to deliver relevance-driven ad campaigns that increase ROI by reaching/targeting the right audiences.

Instagram: Thinking Outside the Square

What It Is

Instagram announced that in addition to square posts, users can also share photos and videos in portrait and landscape orientations. Square format has always made it a bit tricky for users to confine their photo into the strict space orientation, prying users to download other apps that “insta-size” photos and videos, to then upload to Instagram. They’ve now moved away from this, because while square made them a bit of who they are, they know that the visual story and freedom to express creativity should come first.

How It Works

When selecting a photo or video, users can tap the format icon to adjust the orientation of the frame to portrait or landscape. Once the photo is live, the full sized version of the image will appear in the feed as planned.

What it Means For Brands

With this new visual freedom, all users (brands included) can pay less attention to the size and cropping of their images, and focus more on the actual story that is to be told through imagery. With video too being more widescreen for viewers, this opens up a new door to cinematography on the platform. Additionally, brands will have more freedom with the orientation of their Instagram ads, which will enable them to capture more of the overall message they aim to convey.

Instagram: What’s This Partnership With Hootsuite?

What It Is

Instagram is quite against letting users schedule posts ahead of time, but Hootsuite rolled out a feature that almost lets users schedule content to be posted to the social platform.

How It Works

Instagram doesn’t allow for uploading via an API, which is why it’s very challenging for users to schedule content. What Hootsuite has done is allow users to schedule content for Instagram, however it is not published from Hootsuite – it is essentially a reminder to post content at a set time and Hootsuite will send a push notification to the user at the time they have set to schedule the content and they will be directed to he Instagram app (the image carries over too) to publish the post manually.

What it Means For Brands

The feature is great for brands because it allows marketing teams to effectively share the same Instagram account (with multiple team members running the channel), as well as managing Instagram campaigns in a more organized manner within a scheduling tool. With everything under one dashboard, you can better schedule, view and engage on social media.

Snapchat: Data-Saving Mode For Those on a Budget + Placeable Emoji!

What It Is

Snapchat’s newest feature allows users to save on data usage by turning on a “Travel Mode” setting. When enabled, all Snapchats, Stories and Discoveries will only be available if users tap them, rather than automatically loading them when users open the app. This is just another way for the platform to connect and appeal to their younger audience who may be on data plans. Additionally, Snapchat also introduced placeable emoji, making it easier to users to add emoji to their snap stories

How It Works

  • Travel Mode
  • Users can go to their ‘Settings’ tab and select ‘Manage’
  • Under ‘Travel Mode’, users can choose to turn on/off the feature to allow Snaps to automatically load
  • Placeable Emoji
  • Users can tap the post-it note button towards the top right of the snap screen, which will bring up all of the available emoji to be placed directly onto the snap. Emoji can be resized and dragged to all directions of the screen and there is no limit to the number of emoji that you use.

What it Means For Brands

The happier people are with Snapchat, the more time they will spend on the platform and the more interested they will be in the content that is being shared. If your brand has a Snapchat or plans to add a Snapchat account to your social strategy in the near future, consider this as another opportunity to engage with fans who are using the platform. Keeping users happy will entice them to spend more time exploring Stories and hopefully following brands on the platform, which is good for you. Additionally, with the new emoji, brands can be more conversational and creative with content sharing on the platform.

Twitter: Keeping Users Engaged With Web Notifications For DM

What It Is

Twitter introduced a web notification feature, alerting users via a pop up window in the upper right hand corner of the desktop screen, that they’ve received a Direct Message (DM) on Twitter.

How It Works

Upon clicking on the pop-up notification, the DM will open and let users read and reply directly, even when they’re in a different screen on their web browser. The company also noted that they’re making a change to their mobile app for Android, making it easier to DM people.

What it Means For Brands

This update is Twitter’s attempt at keeping users engaged on Twitter. Brands will benefit from this notification window because it is a way of staying on top of DM messages from followers, so as not to miss a private message when community managers are not directly monitoring Twitter at that time.

Twitter: Platform Offers Promoted Tweets, Videos & More, Beyond Twitter

What It Is

Twitter is offering marketers the opportunity to advertise their promoted tweets and videos with ads that appear in other apps. This update comes in conjunction with Twitter’s purchase of MoPub last year, which allowed marketers to buy mobile app-install and app-engagement ads on Twitter.

How It Works

Twitter marketers can use MoPub’s network of thousands of apps to extend their promoted tweets and videos beyond Twitter during campaigns, using new ad formats as well which include video, native ads and banners. Marketers can participate in real-time bidding to buy promoted tweet and video ad inventory through MoPub. This new landscape allows for marketers to reach their audience outside of Twitter, but directs them back to their stream for additional messaging, content, and amplification.

What It Means For Users

When a marketer promotes a tweet or video on an app in MoPub’s network, the user will be able to see the promoted tweet and video and then can retweet that promoted tweet by clicking on the tweet within the app, which takes the user back to Twitter to actually share the update from their account.

What it Means For Brands

Currently, when marketers run an ad on Twitter, they reach an audience of 300 million monthly active users – with the new offering, they can potentially reach over 700 million users by running the ad through the Audience Platform. Twitter has made this process very easy for marketers – all a brand needs to do is provide one image or video and then Twitter will handle the placement of the ads on the back-end. While this is just a beta-test right now, the ability to reach users outside of Twitter allows brands to market more strategically and reach their audience in many more avenues. This will also force brands to prioritize a strong mobile approach to paid advertising to reap these benefits. As the testing continues, additional apps will join and open up the market visibility to reach the right users in corresponding apps.

Twitter: Testing, Testing…Funky New Photo & Video Editing Tools

What It Is

Twitter is testing funky new photo and video editing tools in an effort to give users more creativity with their media sharing. A few celebrities (who were present at MTV’s VMA Awards) appear to have access to the unreleased editing feature from Twitter.

How It Works

Photo editing is limited to filters and cropping (for all users) right now, but it looks like stickers, doodles, text and more could be coming soon. It isn’t clear if this new Twitter update will be a standalone app or something that users will see rolling out to their Twitter accounts.

What it Means For Brands

We already know that photo and video updates are rolling out left and right, and we also know that people love filters and stickers. This move from Twitter is a great way to keep people engaged on the platform, instead of opening their photo sharing apps for this type of content sharing. This would be a solid opportunity for brands to engage with their audiences in more unique ways via multimedia sharing, especially customized content for different (targeted) audiences during campaigns or events. More to come on this!

YouTube: Google Wants More Control Over Ads

What It Is

Google wants more control over how marketers buy ads on YouTube, revealing in early August that they will remove ad buying through DoubleClick Ad Exchange (or AdX) before the end of the year.

How It Works

Advertisers, who previously purchased YouTube ads through the software’s programmatic network, will now need to go through Google’s AdWords or DoubleClick Bid Manager. DoubleClick AD exchange goes through Google’s third-party ad tech firms, and Google decided they want more control over how advertisers buy YouTube ads.

What it Means For Brands

Google’s intention of gaining a tighter grip on how marketers advertise on YouTube will allow the social mogul to invest more in creating the most effective advertising and buying experiences possible. The problem here for marketers is that ad-tech vendors depend on YouTube’s technology to power ad campaigns for brands and agencies and in return of this, brands get better metric data on how well their ads are performing on Google. Now the third-party tech vendors will have to look elsewhere to find video inventory.

For more information, please view a detailed #Social Scoop here.

 

Lifecycle of a Technological Revolution_today

With the revolution of media and technology disrupting the marketing industry, and business models altogether, marketers are trying to navigate through the storm. On the communications side, TV dollars are shifting to digital. But, digital ads aren’t nearly as effective nor transparent as we want them to be. The traditionally distinct and siloed roles of marketing communications (once upon at time, just known as ‘advertising’) and PR are converging.

Because of the advent of social media, and the frustration with traditional and digital advertising, marcomm is moving into earned media with influencer marketing, native advertising and more responsive campaigns and editorial content teams. Because of the rise of the new influencer – everyday people and celebrities using blogs, YouTube, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, SnapChat, Periscope and other platforms to create personal media companies – PR is expanding beyond traditional media relations and ‘the pitch’, and into influencer marketing, sponsored content and responsive editorial content teams as well. It’s a race to the middle where the lines are blurred. That’s why agencies and publishers are partnering to create wholly new content companies that service brands.

If we take a step back from the race, though, things haven’t changed much since 2009. The big three: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had launched and matured as three distinct and valuable social communications platforms for users. Since then, other social platforms have launched – Foursquare (and Swarm), Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, SnapChat, Meerkat and Periscope being the most touted. But, each of these just feels like an iterative evolution of the discontinuous leaps that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube made. Platforms, and the content they enable, shifted to become more visual, shorter and ephemeral. When Meerkat and Periscope launched, didn’t it feel like they already existed? And, the fundamental rules for how to engage audiences on those platforms is the same; we must adhere to the Reciprocity Theory.

So, I actually take a contrarian point of view: innovation has slowed in media technology. We’re at the tail end of our current technological revolution’s lifecycle, moving past the discontinuous revolution and into the iterative evolution. While folks in the industry are making claims that: “Advertising is dead.” Or that, “Data will tell us what content to make, so we don’t need creatives anymore.” I’m claiming that we need creative more than ever. The discipline just needs to evolve too. As the roles of advertising and PR converge, storytelling becomes an even more critical discipline for marketing.

Just pushing the message through TV and radio and print and display ads is lazy creative and lazy advertising. Great creative has always been about great storytelling. Now we just tell that story across new media platforms/channels in partnership with the new social influencers and in partnership with our customers. Sometimes those influencers and customers are the same. Great creative (‘the story’) is the glue that holds the story together, wherever we’re telling it. It’s what inspires people to participate.

In the late 2000s in the entertainment industry, we began exploring transmedia storytelling. This is where we would develop a core story – characters and the world in which they lived. And, then we’d plan out those stories across media (books, graphic novels, movies, TV, web series). It was a shift away from the linear model of: writer publishes book –> studio buys book and makes movie –> network turns movie into TV series. Instead, we developed it all at the same time. They lived together as extensions, or chapters, of the same story instead of separately as different and distinct adaptations of the story. This style of storytelling became particularly popular in the fantasy/gaming/comics genres, as we could delve deep into the story of a world we were creating.

Now, in marketing, we have the opportunity to take the same approach. How do we create a core story – the story of our brand, which reflects the story of our customers and employees – and tell that story through new (and traditional) media platforms and people? Like a vision, the story we tell requires an intuitive leap of faith. It must inspire. It must create new possibilities. Is that so different from great advertising fifty years ago? Maybe. Maybe not. But, in an increasingly ephemeral world, wouldn’t it be nice to have some moments that impact and last?

—–

This post originally appeared on The ReciprocityTheory blog.

When we look at millennial habits, social networks have become a remarkably important part the Millennials’ digital life.

We all know “The Facebook” first started as a community platform for college students. Today, the social network has over one billion registered users that connect and share information on a global scale.

Similarly, Twitter began as a source of ‘microblogging’, in which users could send out 140-character blurbs on anything they wanted. It has now transformed into one of the fastest and most viral opportunities to communicate breaking news and information.

A new source of information

Social media is becoming more than just a place for people to connect. It’s a reason for discovery, it’s a way to absorb knowledge, it’s shareable.

A survey conducted by the American Press Institute measured the use of several social networks as pathways to news-like information. Interestingly, they found that each social network is now considered a news platforms my proper definition.

Eighty-eight percent of Millennials surveyed stated that they occasionally got their news from Facebook, while Pinterest (36 percent) and Twitter (33 percent) were close to follow.

More often than not, Millennials engage more actively with news that’s already on social networks than developing their own social content. They tend to click on regularly read news that has been shared or viewed by people they know, which is ironic, since the original purpose of social media is to provide users the opportunity to connect with people to see what they’re talking about or interested in.

The fact that more Millennials are looking to social networks as a trusted source of information makes social media an extremely powerful tool.

More Millennials are getting their news

Social media is a powerhouse

In addition to being a resource for news and information, social media has also exposed Millennials to different opinions and views. This generation is constantly looking to social media for insights into purchasing decisions, political views, and social views.

Goldman Sachs Data Story on Millennials found that 34 percent of people aged 18-35 turn to their online networks when making purchasing decisions. Unsurprisingly, this generation tends to do more online shopping than in the store, and brands that have little-to-no social presence are often overlooked when making purchasing decisions. If they aren’t being talked about online or among their social network, people will move on to brands that have a presence.

In recent years, political candidates have seen the impact social media has on Millennials’ lives and they have started to use that in their favor. President Barack Obama is one of the first presidents to have an active social media presence, in which he uses Twitter to inform and connect with his supporters.

Snapchat is a social platform that has seen a fast growth among the younger audiences, 71 percent of its core user base being between 18-24. Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, recently joined the social messaging app in a move to reach this audience, those who will potentially be voting for the first time in the 2016 elections.

Most recently, we have seen social media set the stage for social activism. Many Millennials are now looking at social networks as a way to raise awareness of philanthropic efforts and initiatives, because they can reach a larger audience, at a faster rate.

In 2014, NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin was taken out of Gaza for reporting the killing of four Palestinian boys by the Israeli Defense Force. The lack of media reporting on these issues in Gaza was quickly noticed, and the hashtag #LetAymanReport was developed to alert the world of the situation. Within 24-hours, Mohyeldin was back in Gaza and continued reporting on the whole story.

Similarly, events such as the death of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have sparked movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” to shed light on issues of racism and police brutality in our country. Millennials have the ability to voice their concerns and opinions like no generation has before them and social networks give them the power to do so.

Also notable is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which took to social media to raise awareness around amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive disease marked by degeneration of the nerve cells that control voluntary movement. The social campaign, which encouraged people to dump a bucket of ice water on themselves, raised $115 million last year. It was so successful that the ALS Association has partnered with major organizations, like Major League Baseball, to implement the challenge every August until a cure is found.

Millennials have the power to inspire, facilitate change, and illicit choices.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and they don’t plan on slowing down. Social networks give them a platform to connect, learn, share, and educate. Their affinity for technology and their passion to have a voice has reshaped the way they view and use social media. In a time where you can Tweet, share a status update, Instagram, Vine, or Snap thousands of people at any moment, the Millennial voice is more important and impactful than ever.

Image from Forbes.com
Image from Forbes.com

Kim Kardashian taught us all a tremendous amount about the perils of using social media for prescription drug promotion this week, but the real message seems to have been missed by most folks.

The media, who can’t resist an opportunity to write gimlet-eyed hot takes about the reigning queen of famous-for-being-famous, widely reported this week’s news that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent a warning letter to Duchesnay, the maker of the morning sickness drug Diclegis, after Kim Kardashian took to Instagram to extol its virtues.

The FDA warning was utterly unsurprising. While Duchesnay and Kardashian took some pains to include a link to safety information, the overall content is clearly a violation of the agency’s longstanding policies and recent guidance. (A link to safety information, once called the “one-click rule” and heralded as the best way to ensure that online promotion offers a fair balance between risks and benefits, has been utterly rejected by the FDA.)

These are not new issues to us. In fact, our expert teams handle social for pharmaceutical and healthcare companies daily. This was a rookie mistake by Duchesnay — or a blatant risky one. With priopriety analytics – including our exclusive MDigitalLife database of social activity by physicians – we drive global pharmaceutical and healthcare-related communications decisions across W2O, including WCG, Twist and BrewLife.

So while the FDA’s rules may be overly strict, they’re no longer that confusing. The Kardashian post, then, reflected some combination of ignorance, recklessness or calculated cunning that the risk of an FDA warning would be worth the flood of attention.

Except that there was never a flood of attention, at least, not the important kind.

It’s impossible to know if sales spiked, but we can look at whether Kim’s post prompted certain behaviors. The easiest behavior to look at is Wikipedia, where site visit stats are public, and where it’s been shown that searches are correlated to drug sales. There, the page for “pyridoxine/doxylamine” (the chemical name for Diclegis) was visited 99 times on the day that she posted her endorsement, rising as high as 148 later that week, as the media scrambled to report on it. (“Morning sickness” barely budged from its historical average.)

Google Trends shows much the same phenomenon: a small spike, but one that looks far less impressive when other pharmaceuticals are included as comparators.

So the net effect was that a post that went nearly 50 million people, many squarely in the young-mother demographic, and received upwards of a half-million likes, drove only a few hundred people to research more about the drug on Wikipedia. As a point of comparison, Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy pushed Wikipedia searches for “mastectomy” from 1,000 to 300,000 in a day: a 23,000 percent increase.

To be sure, it’s possible that enough people skipped Google and followed Kardashian’s web links and the impact was far greater, but the fact that so many eyeballs sent so few people to Dr. Google should raise red flags.

The lesson here is not that FDA rules should be followed (they should, and we can help) but that social media impact can’t be measured on likes alone (we can help with that, too). The Kardashian post was designed to catch the eye of people that mattered when it comes to pregnancy. It turns out that the heads that really turned were at the FDA.

Social media changes came in left and right in June and the top dogs are making big moves! Facebook once again has updated their algorithm, ‘Lightning’ is Twitter’s latest project and Snapchat geofilters are now worth a price. Here’s what you missed in June:

Facebook: “See First” Could Change the Way People See Content

What It Is

Facebook announced a change to their algorithm (which is currently being tested) that will allow users to select people/Pages that interest them to show up at the top of the News Feed.

How It Works

  • Users can turn on the feature from a friend’s profile or a Page
  • It allows users to filter the News Feed
  • When a user selects ‘Following’, it will prompt them with ‘Unfollow’ or ‘See First’
  • Until now, users have only been able to Friend/Follow and unfollow other users/brands entirely
  • Once ‘See First’ is selected, everything the person/Page posts will show up at the top of the user’s News Feed so they don’t miss a thing

What It Means For Brands

This feature could be a huge asset for brands that have a following on Facebook. Currently, brands are in a constant battle to have their content viewed (over competitors) by users on most social media platforms. “See First” would provide the opportunity for brands to highlight their content to ensure user feeds aren’t filtering out their content and in return, it’s a great way for users to hone in on content that is important to them. This update highlights the significance of paid media advertising, because to avoid filtration of content, paid media will provide brands with that extra reach push.

Facebook: Algorithm Changes Factor Video Engagement

What It Is

Facebook made another change to their algorithm, factoring in actions taken on videos.

How It Works

  • Users can enjoy video without engaging with it, so now, Facebook is rewarding Pages that post videos in which users turn the volume up on the video or expand the video to watch in full screen and enabling high definition
  • Should a user partake in the above interactions with a video, Facebook has updated the News Feed to infer that the user liked the video and will show users similar videos to that, to push out content that the user is interested in viewing and engaging

What It Means For Brands

This change is set to happen shortly, but Facebook does not anticipate that Pages will see changes in distribution. While that is a strong factor, it is still just as significant as ever to produce content that is engaging and immediately captivating so that viewers will want to “interact” with your Page video. Also keep in mind that the content you are sharing is most similar to your competitors, so this would be a good time to see what they’re doing, and do it better!

Google: “Buy” Button is Coming to Search

What It Is

Google will soon feature a “buy” button along side their paid search ads. Their goal is to provide more than just a link to users, but a direct buying option, giving users the opportunity to take direct action from their google search ads. The “buy” button is about improving conversations on mobile, to help advertisers earn more across mobile devices with the on-the-go buying experience.

What It Means For Brands

The “buy” button will only be available on mobile searches for now and will appear alongside the paid search ads, but not organic search results. While this new feature may not be applicable to all brands, consumer and retail brands will benefit from this opportunity, driving people to their site straight from their Google search. Of course the catch is that brands will need to put paid dollars in to advertising with Google, but Google has said they have no intention to be a retailer, so consumers will still be pushed directly to your website.

Instagram: The Next Move in Ads

What It Is

Instagram announced they will be making sponsored advertising available to all business, regardless of their size. In addition, ads will feature a call to action similar to Twitter’s functionality with Twitter Cards, driving users straight to source.

How It Works

  • Each sponsored post will have a call to action button attached to it
  • It will be located on the same line as the “like” and “comment” button
  • User capabilities will include “shop now,” “install now” “sign up,” and “learn more” all directly from the post, really revamping the user experience on Instagram

What It Means For Brands

This development completely changes the way brands can target their content on Instagram. People want to see ads that mean something to them and in return, advertisers want to get their content in front of the correct audience to effectively deliver their message. These new features will allow brands to create an actionable post, converting more followers into more buyers. The platform will be working closely with Facebook in the next year to enable advertisers to reach people on Instagram based on select targeting options.

Instagram: An All New Way to Search & Explore

What It Is

Instagram has enhanced their Explore page to include trending tags (hashtags) and places, making search easier and more powerful for users.

How It Works

  • The Explore page surfaces trends as they happen in real-time by allowing users to view trending hashtags and places. There is also a curated collection of content that will be regularly updated.
  • Search now spans discovery to people, places, and tags at one time. Users will be able to search any topic and see Top and Most Recent Posts that have been updated, down to the second.

What It Means For Brands

People now have an easier way to find and see everything that’s being posted around trending topics. This is especially interesting news to brands, particularly surrounding campaigns or branded hashtags, to ensure that your content is populating among trending conversation. Additionally, if your brand does not currently have a customized hashtag, you can explore the conversation and develop a post to become a part of that topic. The same goes for places – if your company has an office for example in Los Angeles and there is a big event going on in that area, be sure to take advantage of posting an image from that location (with a trending hashtag!) to participate in real-time discussion. Instagram also mentioned that there will not be ads alongside images in the trending feeds and sponsored ads are not available for trends.

LinkedIn Elevate: A New Way for Employees to Share Content

What It Is

LinkedIn introduced LinkedIn Elevate to brands. This new feature helps companies encourage their employees to be brand advocates by giving them the tools they need to create and share content. It has three basic functionalities: content curation, easy social sharing, and measuring impact. This feature is only available to select companies at this time.

How It Works

  • Content Curation: The app recommends stories from Pulse and Newsle based on an algorithm designed to show employees relevant stories that reflect their presence on LinkedIn
  • Easy Social Sharing: Makes it easier to share on LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Measure Impact: Allows the employee and companies to review statistical information about their content sharing, so that employees can see the impact they’re social sharing is having on the overall engagement of the Company Page

What It Means For Brands

According to LinkedIn, when any employee shares content on LinkedIn, the company they work for receives six job views, three Company Page views, and one Company Page follower. Employees drive tremendous value to a Company Page and are responsible for about 20% of the overall engagement. LinkedIn Elevate gives employees the knowledge to be thought leaders and share information about what they do and who they work for, which in return, helps companies better hire, marketing and sell.

Twitter: Video Autoplay Has Landed

What It Is

Twitter is making some big changes, including the elimination of click to play! Native videos, GIFs and Vines are now playing  automatically on Twitter as users scroll through their timelines.

How It Works

  • Native videos, GIFs, and Vines uploaded and Tweeted will play automatically when scrolling through timelines
  • When the video is clicked on, it will resize to a larger view and continue playing with sound from where it left off
  • This feature is currently available on web and iOS, with Android following

What It Means For Brands

Brands will now be able to capture the attention of current and new followers with powerful and engaging videos. Twitter has acknowledge that Promoted Videos would continue to deliver high impact, engagement and meaningful views for partners (no worries – your dollars won’t go to waste), so paid advertising is still as important as ever when developing social strategies. Additionally, since videos are playing on a repeated, automatic notion, brands will want to ensure that video content is unique and compelling so that users remain captivated and don’t continue to scroll through, with the first few seconds being super engaging and eye catching.

Twitter: “Project Lightning” is Going to Change the Way We Look at Tweets

What It Is

“Project Lightning” is a major new feature that will bring event-based curated content to the platform so that users can follow live events in one spot. Rather then getting lost in the Twitter timeline, the content will be handpicked high interest tweets that will live on its own tab.

How It Works

  • Users will be able to select the tab that will direct them to a live events screen (current events, breaking news, cultural events and experiences)
  • When a user opens an event, they are taken to a selection of tweets that have been hand selected by Twitter editors
  • Twitter will have guidelines for what constitutes “Project Lightning” material and will aim to feature only 7-10 top events a day
  • Users will also be able to follow an event directly, which will curate tweets in their timeline

The Best Part!

Users can access ‘Lightning’ events on and off Twitter. Tweets will be viewable on Twitter.com, on the mobile web, in the Twitter app, and as embeds on other webpages.

What It Means For Brands

It is crucial that brands share strong, unique content to drive engagement, which means the need for rich, creative images and videos is important in every tweet. With this new update, brands will also want to revisit their current social strategies, as the urgency for agile and timely approvals on content will be imperative to real time event progression. In addition, paid media will largely contribute to content exposure in real time. Promoted Tweets give your brand exposure and magnify your content reach, which with Project Lightning, will translate into users both on and off of Twitter.

Twitter: Ads Targeted at What Apps You Download

What It Is

Twitter shared a new tool, only available to advertisers, called “installed app category targeting,” which allows advertisers to target their ads to users who have installed similar apps.

How It Works

  • Twitter has added a “search or browse for installed app categories” section for targeting on the back-end. Marketers can go in and manually search apps or pick from a list of App Store or Google Play categories.
  • Twitter provides an analytics dashboard that gives insights into how users are responding to those ads

What It Means For Brands

Brands will now have a new way to target potential users similar to “who to follow” suggestions. This tool allows marketers who are interested in driving installs of their app to target users that are using apps similar to theirs in order to reach the maximum potential demographic. Knowing exactly who your audience is becomes a huge advantage to app makers. Additionally, Twitter is providing an accompanying metrics dashboard that provides insight into how users are responding to the ads.

SnapChat: Could Geofilters Be a New Source of Revenue?

What It Is

Snapchat’s geofilters are fun, colorful ways for users to let people know where they are, and now Snapchat is hoping to turn these location-centric digital stickers into revenue. Businesses can make their own geofilters – for a price, of course

How It Works

  • Half of Snapchat’s several thousand geofilters are user generated, but the social platform is now prompting brands to partake in ‘paid-for’ stickers that are distinguished with a small ‘sponsored’ imprint
  • Brands and Snapchat will collaborate on the design
  • Geofilters can be applied to an image or video when the user has turned on their location services

What It Means For Brands

This move to use geofilters is a clever way to disguise advertising as a fun and whimsical add-on for users. It opens a huge door for brands to get their fans to show support without making them feel like they are promoting something. Right now, Snapchat charges $20 per 1,000 views of a video ads –  but have yet to reveal the cost and duration of a sponsored geofilter. This is a great opportunity for brand exposure, especially for those that target teens and millennials, who’s audiences then save their Snapchat images to their camera roll and share across multiple social channels for their followers to see.

A special thanks to summer intern, Chantelle Patel, for her contribution this month!

For more: The Social Scoop – June 2015

 

 

 

The evolution of social media from something “your teenagers did” to something that brands use to connect with key stakeholders has been nothing short of amazing. As evidence of that evolution, take a look at the audience figures for the last couple of months for some of the most popular social networks

It is those latter two statistics that have brands buzzing these days. Regardless of what conference room we are in, or what client we are talking to, the conversation inevitably leads back to content marketing and the importance of visual content therein. Why do brands care? Sites like Instagram and YouTube are still seeing tremendous growth, while Facebook and Twitter have stagnated. Millenials, a key target for many brands are flocking to these sites in droves instead of Facebook or Twitter. Most importantly, sites like Pinterest are proving successful in driving people to websites where customers can ultimately make a purchase. ROI…ROI…ROI.  Bob Pearson, W2O Group President is fond of asking, “If we were to take away all of the written text about your brand online would the visual content still tell the story you want told?” In case you were wondering, the answer to this question is most often ‘no.’

So how do brands start to answer ‘yes’ to the question that Bob is posing, aside from using channels like Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube? One of the ways brands can leverage multiple visual assets within unit is a Content Capsule. The Content Capsule is the brain child of Tim Bahr, CEO of NextWorks, a strategic partner of W2O Group. The content capsule is a unique platform for content delivery across the PESO model of media (paid, earned, shared and owned). Tim and I sat down to talk about the content capsule, and how it fits into broader content marketing program.

Why do you think marketers are showing such strong interest in Content Marketing?

Smart marketers realize that consumers are not interested in ads and promotional material; especially when they are online or on mobile devices.  A .01% click through rate on display ads pretty much tells that story. Online and mobile consumers, who are in a buying mode, are most often seeking information to help them make a buying decision.  Marketers now recognize this as a huge opportunity to provide valuable and relevant information on their products and services that can help people buy their products.  That’s exactly why content marketing is the top priority for most marketers today, and why many believe it will be the most important area of marketing in the future.

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

I think the move toward content marketing is a very significant advance in marketing and the entire business/customer relationship.   We are finally starting to recognize the intelligence of our audiences.  We can’t just talk at them anymore with promotional messages that they have not requested and have no interest in.  They can just simply turn those messages off.

To successfully deliver a message to an audience in the digital world, where the user controls the receipt of messages, the message must be informative, relevant and provide value.  That outcome of this new means of communicating will be greater engagement and stronger customer relationships.

What do you think is key to successfully delivering content to an audience?

First you should know what the audience wants.  Today’s social media analytics can give you those insights.  Then you need a distribution platform that can deliver content to the audience wherever and whenever that want to receive it in an engaging and interactive manner.  Finally, you must be able to monitor all interactions with the content so you have metrics that can help you continually update and alter content to meet the specific needs of your audience and ensure you remain timely and relevant.

How does the Content Capsule platform deliver this type of audience engagement and measurement?

The capsule platform is an interactive canvas that allows marketers to tell complete stories with videos, images, presentations, links and transactions in one self-contained, branded and highly sharable unit.  An audience can be taken on a journey from assessment through engagement to conversion without ever leaving a company’s content.  Capsules allow marketers to easily launch content campaigns across owned, earned, shared and paid media on all devices.  And, because every piece of content within a capsule is monitored and measured, a marketer can respond in real time to audience interactions and update content while a capsule is in distribution.  When content is updated, capsules embedded and shared across the digital ecosystem all update.  This creates an opportunity for ongoing programming of relevant content to multiple audiences across all platforms. Here are some examples of content capsule platforms we have built for other clients.

BMC

P&G

During this week’s Content Marketing World in Cleveland, Ohio Tim and the NextWorks team will be demonstrating the capsule platform for attendees. Make sure you stop by and check it out.

After numerous requests – and despite reading this and this – I (along with my wife) agreed to allow my son to get an Instagram account. It seems I’m not alone in my debate on this issue. I’ve heard from many friends and family members with children about the same age and, generally speaking, the feedback is that only about half of the parents of tweens asked allow their child to use Instagram. Others noted that kids under 13 (or even 15) aren’t ready for this and there are numerous stories about the improper and inappropriate content/use by some (read the posts on the links above).

I know what you’re thinking – that I should know better. You’re not necessarily wrong. After weighing the pros and cons, I felt that, with specific rules and close supervision, it would be better to allow him to try Instagram vs. ‘suffer’ the social consequences of not being able to connect with his friends and classmates in this way. Social skills and making/keeping friends is hard enough for a child with Asperger’s, so I felt it would be better to give it a try. Also, there was a time when he was interested in photography (he even won two awards in a local photography show), so maybe this is a way to reignite that interest.

All this being said, I think any parent should think long/hard about letting their tween use Instagram or other social media platforms. A few things we’re doing that you might want to consider:

  • Policy – in this case, a “rules of engagement” contract that my son will sign. Break the rules, lose the device.
  • Administration – The account will be set to private (Instagram’s default setting is that all your photos are public. Go here to learn how to change that to private.) In addition, the name, user ID and avatar will be determined/approved by my wife or me.
  • Community – Only “known” personal friends will be allowed as connections. No brands, celebrities or “trying to get 100 friends” allowed.
  • Monitoring – we will regularly monitor his activity on Instagram. Any violation = lose the device.
  • Trial – this is a trial, not “indefinite use allowed.” If successful, use can continue.

Finally, if you’re a parent facing the same dilemma, you should also be aware of Versagram and the notes app on your child’s iTouch/iPhone. Versagram is an app that allows you to create text messages with graphical backgrounds. It, along with the notes app, are being used by kids to send text messages via Instagram.

What are you doing to keep you (and your kids) safe online?

This morning, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel titled “On the Location-Based Services Horizon” at the second annual Foodservice Social Media Universe (FSMU for short). Joining me on the panel were three of the smartest folks not only in the restaurant industry but also in the world of location-based services. This group included Rick Wion, director of social media at McDonalds, BJ Emerson, VP of Technology at Tasti D-lite and Lauren Barash, director of corporate communications at Moe’s Southwest Grill.

  • During the hour long conversation, I kicked us off with a few relevant mobile/location-based facts including:
  • Smart phone penetration has reached 50% in the U.S. (mobithinking.com)
  • As of May 2012, 74% of smart phone users claimed having used a location-based service. This includes things like Google Maps. (Pew Internet Study)
  • According that same report, 18% of smart phone users claimed to have checked into a venue like a movie theater using a service like foursquare. That number is up from 12% year over year. (Pew Internet Study)
  • The leading location-based service, foursquare, has approximately 24 million users (LBMA September, 2012)
  • Photo sharing service, Instagram (now part of Facebook), has grown to 80 million users in just 18 months (C|Net)

Following the industry stats, each panelist took some time to talk about what their companies were doing on the location-based marketing front. Here are a few of the key take aways from each:

McDonalds: 1) during key pilots, they have gotten good traction with foursquare in driving increased checkins. 1) After analyzing their mobile web traffic, they realized that a) store locations with details about drive thrus and playscapes b) nutritional information and c) job applications are the top three most visited areas of their site. Their mobile app features those three items. 3) In order to train franchise owners, they have used location-based scavenger hunts (check into a bar/get a tip/complete an action). This has worked well in helping their franchisees understand foursquare and how it works better).

Moes: 1) They have a check-in club that allows customers to connect their foursquare accounts to Moe’s loyalty program. Customers earn points through check-ins and can achieve “rock star” status on Moe’s leaderboard. 2) Changing offers requires a lot of training for staff which sometimes slows the pace of innovation at many retail locations. 3) Moe’s is also working together with their cheese vendor to sponsor a free queso day tomorrow.

Tasti Dlite: 1) BJ and this CEO just wrote/published a book called The Tasti D-lite Way that document’s the companies location-based and social media journey. 2) An early innovator in the location-based space, Tasti D has created a way to connect foursquare, Facebook and Twitter to their loyalty card. When the card is swiped, it auto posts across the customer’s social networks and gives the customer points for each purchase/check-in. 3) BJ thinks that one way retail stores/restaurants can create higher engagement/check-in activity with their customers is to put a customer-facing camera at each register that would capture any willing customers as they checked in.

There were a lot of great tweets from our session as well as from the conference. You can see them here.

  • I said that I believed that Google would ultimately win the race given the recent UI change it made by allowing users from the mobile Google.com page to “use your current location” and then suggest nearby bars, restaurants and coffee shops.
  • BJ thought that a great focus on value exchange from brands and more “celebrating” of mayorships should take place
  • Lauren disagreed with me that Google would win (while agreeing that having one’s place page(s) correct was critical. For her, it’s about more check-ins and better offers/value.
  • Rick suggested that based on activity they are seeing from Radian6 whether or not photos are the new check-ins (McDonalds sees far more customer photo uploads than checkins — to the tune of thousands/day)

Last but not least, here is a list of some resources that I’ve pulled together for the last few LBM sessions I’ve done. Included on that list are links to BJ’s book and a few of the reports referenced in the report. Enjoy!