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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.

 

Eileen OBrien Blog Post
Nash Grier and one of his 31M fans

If reality TV has redefined the concept of celebrity, social media has taken it to a whole new level. A recent survey found that 8 out of the 10 celebrities that matter most to teens are YouTube personalities – the other two were Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars. Many of these “celebrities” don’t even have a discernable talent, such as singing or dancing, and (like the Kardashians) they are famous for being themselves. But tweens and teens are responding to their genuineness and the ability to potentially connect with them via social media channels.

Many of these social sensations look like the kid bagging your groceries. In fact, if that kid bagging your groceries is Alex From Target then he is “famous” and you can talk to his agent about a product endorsement fee. Variety calls them Famechangers: “Teens’ emotional attachment to YouTube stars is as much as seven times greater than that toward a traditional celebrity; and YouTube stars are perceived as 17 times more engaging, and 11 times more extraordinary, than mainstream stars.”

I witnessed this firsthand at DigiFest in New York City where about 1,000 screaming fans paid to see these personalities in real life. I talked to 17-year-old Nash Grier who has more than 31M followers aggregated across different social channels. Grier explained the dynamic, “It feels like a family – every single one of my followers, we kind of have a relationship. I always try to find some time in the day to tweet some people back to see their support and love.” I guess the definition of the word relationship is different when you are talking about 31M followers, but both the fans and personalities appear to earnestly believe this.

Grier prefers to call himself a “content creator” and notes that only adults distinguish between media and social media. He was very polite, and smiled and posed for multiple photos with all the young girls that tentatively, and sometimes tearfully, approached him. My colleague, Angel Hakim, wrote also wrote about this topic, Influencers vs. Creators: How the Landscape is Changing.

What constitutes authenticity?

These social media celebs call themselves brands and, very astutely, understand the value of their audience to potential sponsors. However, they don’t perceive themselves as spokespeople or advertisers. “I’m really mad at commercials because they are so whack,” said Grier. “I feel like kids are just fed all this stuff and they are supposed to buy it. There should be some content behind it. There should be an incentive to make them want something.”

The idea of native advertising and using content – or celebrities – to sell products isn’t new or unique to this age strata. However, I find the constant reference to authenticity among this group ironic. “One old piece of slang that has not survived is ‘selling out.’ …Frontline asked a group of teenagers what the phrase meant to them. Nothing, they replied. Yesterday’s sellouts, mocked for their contracts, are today’s brand ambassadors, admired for their hustle,” wrote Amanda Hess in The New York Times.

It will be interesting to see how this evolves as today’s tweens/teens and YouTube personalities grow up. What do you think?

 

 

 

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.

Did Google Alphabet remember to google the letter “G” before they said, “G is for Google”?  We here at W2O Group are all about data mining and sometimes all that requires is the simplest of questions as well as the simplest of search tools.

W2O_GoogleAlphabet_R01V2[1][2].jpg

Scott Kramer & Franco Galimberti

Let this soak in: U.S. teens trust online talent more than Hollywood stars. In fact, a Variety survey found 8 of the top 10 stars that matter most to teens are YouTube personalities.

The rationale for their stardom (and flocks of fans) is simple: these icons are authentic. According to the Variety survey, which was talked up and displayed at every angle during VidCon 2015, YouTubers are 90% more genuine to the every day American. And, before you write them off as fluff, bear this in mind: their followers don’t just follow. They listen to them. A YouTuber’s average engagement is 6.7%, compared to an average engagement of 1% for brands. As one enthusiast on-site at VidCon said, “I trust YouTube’s recommendations over magazines. I will make a list of products they mention and buy them.”

Chances are, you’ve worked on or alongside a campaign that includes influencer partnerships. Taking a look at these impactful stats, it’s time to truly understand this landscape and how these partnerships can be the most beneficial for your brands.

Know Who You’re Working With 

What’s in a name? Quite a bit, when it comes to talent.

  • A creator consists of individuals who produces content for YouTube, although it should be noted platforms like Vessel are beginning to take off and spurring their own set of creators. In addition to being the on-camera talent, they produce, edit and promote their videos across their social platforms, which typically see a very high reach.
  • An influencer consists of bloggers and individuals with social specialties (e.g. Instagram, Snapchat, Vine) that may not have a YouTube presence. (It should be noted that just because they are not creators does not make them any less valuable!)

Knowing “social talent” is not a category anymore is also important. Many creators have gone offline to garner book deals, television roles and cosmetic lines.

Think Bigger Than “One and Done”

With so many brands tapping into this space, brand deals are thrown to this genre of talent left and right. More and more, creators are maintaining a defensiveness about their content and what they love. Being approached by so many brands, they reserve the right to do what is most authentic, and are able to truly tell a story versus a one-off opportunity. When strategizing the best programming for your client(s), think about the ways these creators can work beyond video integration.

Creating with the Creators

Talent, whether it’s a Hollywood actor or creator with 3 million followers, ultimately aims to do one thing: tell a story. Creators are in a unique position to break the barrier between themselves and their audience, whereas traditional celebs are much more unattainable. Experimentation is key to unlocking success with creator programming. Overheard at VidCon, creators underscored the importance of working with brands that allow them to be themselves while organically incorporating brands. Creators don’t just share a product review, for example: they may do an unconventional road test, take it on the streets or do a comedy bit about it. It’s their voice that makes their followers listen, so it is in a brand’s best interest to work with the creators, not direct them.

Where do influencers fit into it all? They absolutely still have a role in marketing success, but, like with creators, it’s time to refresh the approach. Several bloggers, for example, have been churning out content for longer than some YouTube channels have existed; and in their right, they deserve the same respect. As platforms like Snapchat and Vine have become an integral part of many social media portfolios, it’s advised to keep an eye on the top performers spanning those channels. But it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach, so the first question must be, “What are we trying to accomplish?” From there, consider new ways to partner and create.

Online video is succeeding, and with other platforms on the horizon, it shows no signs of stopping. For marketing professionals, accepting the power of creators is the best approach. And it’s okay to admit you watch Jenna Marbles videos before you go to sleep.

And just like that, the social updates you knew from June are tweaked, more defined and bound to change again before next month. It’s a beautiful world of social that we live in, but you’ve got to keep up with the trends. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube have made some big changes to their platforms in July and we’re sharing the Social Scoop here!

Facebook: ‘See first’ -Good for Users, Bad for Marketers?

What It Is

Last month, Facebook announced it was launching a new feature called ‘See First’ in which users can select who/what they want to see at the top of their News Feed. The concern for brands, is will your Page be on users’ ‘See First’ list

How It Works

  • ‘See First’ allows users to prioritize up to 30 Pages, friends, and/or groups they want to see first in their News Feed
  • Everything is set up through the user’s News Feed preferences, where they can:
    • ‘prioritize who to see first’
    • ‘unfollow people to hide their posts‘
    • ‘reconnect with people you unfollowed’
    • ‘discover new pages’

What It Means For Brands

While this new feature is great news for consumers, it’s not so great for brands. Quality of content is always key, but brands will have to revisit their social strategies and step up their game in order to avoid falling by the wayside. Getting content in front of your followers will be the challenge, but once your brand has made it into your followers ‘See First’ list, you’ll know that your content is impacting the right people. While brands cannot tell their followers to list their Pages as ‘See First,’ there is a twist here. This new update brings changes to Facebook’s algorithm, in which Facebook’s “Discover New Pages” will choose similar pages as suggestions for users based on the Pages they have liked. Brand recommendations are based on user experience now, so targeting the “Discover New Pages” section should be part of your strategy.

Facebook: The Floating Video Has Arrived

What It Is

Video, on video, on video. Facebook understands the power of the video and they’re letting everyone know. This month Facebook is testing out a new feature that allows users to detach a video from their News Feed and move it to a different location within the browser to view while scrolling through other content or to save for later. This is only available on desktop as the feature rolls out to some users.

How It Works

  • The option will be built into the video player so that when users click the icon, the video will detach from it’s original source, and allow users to drag the video to a different/preferred section of the website browser
    • Users select the small box, within the larger box on the video screen in the lower right corner to detach the video and enable it’s relocation

What It Means For Brands

Users can watch more videos at one time, as they can continue to scroll through their News Feed, and pull out the videos they want to reserve for later viewing. This feature encourages users to view longer and remain on Facebook “video” for all of their video viewing needs, so the more video content you produce and share on Facebook, the great chance you have that consumers are watching all of your content.

Facebook: Taking Another Step Forward In E-Commerce

What It Is

Facebook is building shops within Facebook Pages that allow brands to showcase their products directly on their Page. This is another part of Facebook’s push into e-commerce, which also includes money transferring through Facebook Messenger and the buy-button, introduced earlier this year to increase the online experience, from discovery to purchasing on one platform.

How It Works

Within the “Shop” section of the Facebook Pages, businesses now have the opportunity to showcase their products directly on the Page. Users can make their purchases without leaving the site.

What It Means For Brands

This new feature gives brands a secondary platform to connect with its primary audience. Users spend roughly 80% of their time on mobile apps, smartphones, tablets, or computers and Facebook has created a way for brands to utilize this by putting buying options on the Pages platforms.

Snapchat: Talk About Updates!

What It Is

Snapchat is making a LOT of moves (at once)! The days of ‘hold-to-view’ is a thing of the past, users can now “Add Nearby” friends (in bulk) to their snap contacts when in close proximity of others, and a new two-factor security authentication feature makes it harder to hack another user’s account.

How It Works

  • Viewing: Users can simply tap on a snap they want to view without holding down on the picture for the entire viewing time. Users can also tap through snaps or swipe down to close the story.
  • “Add Nearby:” Under ‘Add Friends’ there is now a tab called ‘Add Nearby,’ which allows users to add contacts (either one at a time or in bulk) who are in close proximity to that user.
  • Security: The newest security feature can be enabled from the ‘Login Verification’ menu in the app’s main settings.

What It Means For Brands

This new update makes it easier for users to view content on Snapchat. Again, content is key – advertisers don’t want to worry about their ads being skipped over because users can tap through or swipe down to exit their content without actually viewing it. The ‘Add Nearby’ is a nice opportunity for brands that are using Snapchat to connect with users who are in close proximity to their businesses, and in return, users can discover brands that are on the platform that they may not have realized have a Snapchat presence. Additionally, the new security authentication should be built into a brands social strategy and required for all community managers and admins to keep accounts safe and hack-free.

Snapchat: ‘Stories’ Has A New Look

What It Is

Snapchat has redesigned their Stories section, prioritizing content from media partners over pictures from a friends.

How It Works

  • When users open Snapchat, the updated Stories ‘tab’ features (in this order) personal stories, ‘Discover,” ‘Live,’ recent updates and all stories
  • Users will still see friend content, but they will have to scroll down to find it
  • “Discover’ content still exists on its own tab

What It Means For Brands

Now media content very hard to ignore. Snapchat is continuing to find ways to monetize its app and this is their way of boosting engagement without disrupting the activity from it’s core user base. Surfacing content in more areas of the app will help with ad revenue (more viewing opportunity) as well as boost user interest in branded content.

Twitter: Are Your Tweets Being Indexed On Google?

What It Is

In May, Google and Twitter announced their partnership, enabling tweets to show up in Google search results on mobile devices. Since then:

  • Stone Temple conducted a study that looked at several factors which may be influential in Google’s tweet selection
  • The data showed that tweets from profiles with higher follower counts were appearing more often in Google search results
  • Tweets with higher social authority based on Followerwonk’s metrics for social authority also showed up more often

What It Means For Brands

Of course it wasn’t going to be as simple as just tweeting and having your content show up on the top of Google search results! Google has made it clear that a brand’s Twitter presence and authority will provide major value to SEO. It also means that handles with a lower following and less authority may still be missing out on having their tweets indexed.

Twitter: Say Hello to Auto-Expanded Link Previews

What It Is

Twitter continues to strive for visual excellence, rolling out auto-expanded link previews (to a small amount of users) that will show content previews automatically for links provided in tweets.

How It Works

  • Expanded previews are a new Twitter card opportunity that the platform has rolled out to advertisers (Summary card with a large image)
  • Advertisers must enable the card in order for users to see the auto-expanded links

What It Means For Brands

Brands have a higher chance of engagement when posts include a large image. Tweets with auto-extended links will allow brands to tweet out richer content that’s more visually appealing to followers, but keep in mind, it’s going to cost you!

Twitter: What’s With All the White Space?

What It Is

Twitter has removed wallpapers from users’ home and notification timelines – everything is white. Users can only see background images while logged-in and on public pages (i.e., Tweet pages, list pages, and collection pages).

What It Means For Brands

By removing the ability to have user’s change their background, Twitter has taken away the uniqueness of each user. They have essentially unbranded everyone – so once again, your content is key. There is nothing else that drives people to your Twitter Page at this point, other then your content and brand interest.

YouTube: Mobile Videos Are Lookin’ Good

What It Is

YouTube is focused on ‘mobile, mobile, mobile’ and their latest update reflects just that. They have redesigned their mobile app to optimize a vertical video mode to display better content. In addition, they have streamlined their app to include tabs that focus on a user’s homepage, videos users subscribe to, and account pages.

What It Means For Brands

More than half of YouTube’s views come from mobile devices. With this new update, brands have the opportunity to engage more users with mobile friendly versions of their videos, keeping users on their channels longer from their mobile phones, and giving them the freedom to continue to explore brand channels directly from their mobile device. YouTube (and the rest of the video sharing world) has discovered that vertical videos better fit the aspect ratio of smartphones and now brands have the ability to utilize this to optimize video viewing. But just keep in mind – you’ll have to size your videos to ensure they match the new mobile sharing specs.

Special contributions to Chantelle Patel, W2O Shared Media Intern

 

 

Imagine what your life was like before the age of 20. We realize for boomers you may have to think a bit longer on this one.

What were your biggest accomplishments? Did you like to help others? Had you won any awards? Your biggest accomplishment may have been winning a big football game or feeding the homeless each week or making honor roll in high school. Or maybe you just had fun.

That’s what most of us do. Megan Parken, one of the leading millennial beauty bloggers in the world, had a different idea, starting at age 13.  Just three years after Google bought YouTube in 2006, Megan, who is now 19, decided to build a YouTube channel to share her latest thinking on beauty and life skills. Today, her growing audience has more than 800,000 subscribers to her channel and more than 120 million views. It’s now a media outlet with more reach than most cable shows.

Not bad for an idea started by Megan when she was 13. Megan is also a great friend of mine. So I asked her a few questions recently. Here is a summary of our conversation.

#1 – Vlogging vs. Blogging – “When I first started, I had no idea where it would take me,” said Megan Parken, age 19, and one of the world’s first Beauty Vloggers on YouTube. When I asked Parken what motivated her to create this leading social media platform, meganheartsmakeup, she replied, “Videos for me was something I felt comfortable with. I also felt there was a connection I made with the viewers that was very important to me.” My question was “Why videos? Why not write a blog?” Parken enlightened me how important the personable aspect of videos became to her. Much like an in-person conversation, you can see the way someone’s facial features coincide with what they are saying. Videos are the same way. You can see emotion. “People often comment that they see me as a ‘friend’ or a ‘big sister’ and that means a lot to me.” Parken explained.

#2 – Classic website reviews are becoming outdated – yes, reviews written and posted online are quick, simple, and easily accessible…but for beauty products, video reviews are the latest fad. Parken commented, “People love to watch review videos. I think seeing how a product looks and performs live is huge! You can search your favorite lipstick color and see exactly how it looks and applies on a real person!” After watching review videos, you can now buy that Russian Red lip color that looked too bright on advertisements, yet really appeared its true darker maroon shade shown on a Beauty Guru’s lips. With that being said about videos creating more of a truthful view on products, Parken admitted, “I am very careful with the products and brands I choose to represent. I want to stay honest, and have that mutual respect with my viewers that I will never promote something I don’t truly use and love.”

#3 – Millennials aren’t the only ones watching – We know that the Internet is a huge place and anyone in the world can view the same screen you’re viewing at this moment. What we don’t know is how one blog, video, status, or tweet can affect someone from halfway across the globe, and to what extent. “I’ve had many people from all around the world say I have impacted or inspired them, but the ones that stick out in my mind are moms.” Parken not only has Millennials constantly scrolling through her video feed, but she also has parents glancing at her work and acknowledging her for it. “Many moms comment on my videos telling me that they see me as a role model for their young girls, and that is just so special to me.” Parken tells us.

#4 – “Letter To Me” by Brad Paisley – is a famous country song where Brad Paisley goes back and tells his seventeen year old self everything he would have done differently, and has learned. Parken’s favorite video that she has done is a video called “Letter To Me”, which was inspired by the wonderful country song. “In my video I urged people to send me video responses, explaining their own personal ‘letters to their younger selves’,” Parken told us, as we learned not all of her videos are about beauty, makeup, or fashion. She is different than other beauty guru’s on YouTube…she speaks to her subscribers about life skills, her life experiences, advice, and much more. This not only sets Parken apart, but it also allows her to feel connected with her viewers. Parken then said, “The response was amazing. It made me truly realize how many people I was affecting and showed me no matter how far away these people lived, we were all alike in some ways.”

#5 – From Digital to Print – Back in 2009, Parken was contacted by Seventeen Magazine and asked if she would be willing to appear in their magazine as a Beauty Smartie (a guru who creates beauty and hair related articles). When Parken said yes to Seventeen, she explained “the next day I was flown out to NYC to shoot with them.” Parken has now appeared in the magazine over ten times as a Beauty Smartie. She explained that working with Seventeen was an amazing experience and “working with them on shoots felt more like fun than work! Working with them was such a surreal experience. It felt like something out of a movie.”

#6 – Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the Smartest Beauty of them all? – Megan Parken! She excitedly shared “In 2011 I won the Seventeen Beauty Smartie of The Year. It was a long process of challenges, and going against other very talented YouTube Beauty Gurus. In the end, I was lucky enough to win! To win Beauty Smartie of The Year really meant a lot to me, and showed me my hard work really did pay off! It was really an honor.”

Megan, this was a lot of fun to do. Thank you.

I hope you all enjoy learning about Megan and her work.

Best, Brittany Pearson

I have always enjoyed reading what David Cassak, Editor-in-Chief of The MedTech Strategist, has to say about medical devices and innovation.  Recently, I participated in a column written by David that was published in the April 13th issue of The MedTech Strategist.  Enjoy, Bob

The Column

The argument that digital health proponents often make as to why they healthcare industry needs to step up its game – and quickly – when it comes to digital technologies is simply that if the whole work is incorporating digital technology into its day-today existence, how can healthcare not follow along? If virtually everyone on the planet has made smart phones and similar devices integral to every day functions, healthcare can’t help but become part of the phenomenon.

Can a similar argument be made for Social Media? If Facebook and Twitter have become major media of communication, shouldn’t healthcare companies find a way to incorporate those channels into their communications efforts as well? As the accompanying chart suggests, medial device companies – to take just one segment of the healthcare industry – lag far behind consumer and tech companies in their use of Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook and generate dramatically fewer hits on Google and YouTube (See Figure 1). To be fair, more and more device companies are incorporating Social Media into a broader strategy that embraces a direct-to-consumer approach. Companies like sleep apnea specialist ResMed Inc., for example, diabetes company Dexcom Inc. or cold-therapy company MyoScience Inc. are not only aggressively using Social Media, they’re bringing on staff marketing folks who specialize in the media (See, “MysoScience: The Promise of Cold Therapy,” The MedTech Strategist, February 27, 2015)

Areas of online Influence

But effectively using Social Media isn’t simply a matter of racking up the most “likes” or hits. Bob Pearson, president and CIO of W2O Group, an integrated marketing agency powered by analytics, notes that all B2B and B2C populations follow what he calls “the 1, 9, 90 model” – i.e., “less than 1% of a population creates content, approximately 9% shares or moves content and 90% lurks and learns and benefits, via search mainly.” And he notes that device company customers – namely, hospitals and physicians – “are online, learning from each other today,” making it incumbent on medtech companies to begin to understand the 1% and 9% who create or share content “well enough to understand what [those customers] desire/need/ask about.” He says, “Patients, payors and other parties are often following each other and are learning form their communities.” More, he notes, providers aren’t just following providers. Thus the critical question Pearson poses is “What is the social media network that is shaping the market’s perception of a given device?”

Pearson insists that “it’s not all that important how many Facebook ‘likes’ a device company has.” That’s a nice metric, but largely irrelevant, he says. Rather, more important is whether device companies have “defined the exact audience that is shaping the market’s perception and activity related to a disorder or disease, a device or your company.”

Indeed, he says that while device companies are amazing at understanding which physicians are most important, how to train them and build relationships, nearly all such activities today are done in person and offline. “That same experience should continue online,” Pearson says.

But device companies can’t make customers and other influencers come to them. They “must become expert at Audience Architecture to identify, build and interact with their audiences in a highly engaging/content driven relationship.” In short, rather than just chasing “likes” or followers on any given social media channel, it’s about understanding your audience and how they’re participating in social media in all of its ramifications, and in particular, how that audience perceives and understands individual medical devices.