Contributions by Kathrin Harhoff

This is part four in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start from the beginning, find the first article here. 

Goals are often one of the most talked about, and least defined, topics within any organization. When it comes to digital maturity, goals can be an even more nebulous concept than in many other areas of the business. This is because digital maturity itself is often difficult to define. While there are many frameworks for establishing goals, our experience has been that a simple Goals, Strategies, and Tactics (GoST) framework is the most efficient and effective.  

Goal Setting and Strategies 

In this framework, a team starts with one or two highlevel goals. In the case of digital maturity, this could be something like, transition department to omni-channel marketing.” Goals should be ambitious but achievable, well defined, and measurable. Each goal should have a rough timeline of about a year to accomplish. If goals take longer than a year, they should be re-confirmed annually and aligned with all stakeholders.  

Strategies are large initiatives that directly support the defined goals. They should encompass an entire deliverable that is independent of other initiatives. An example of strategies could be implement a training program for new marketing software.” These strategic initiatives (SI) should provide value in and of themselves but also combine with other SI to contribute more broadly to digital maturity. They should take anywhere from three months to one year and be aligned by stakeholders who are directly impacted.  

The Importance of Tactics 

Tactics are the individual actions that support each SIThey should:  

  • Be well defined in terms of ownership, timeline, and success criteria.  
  • Be assigned to individual team members and, when taken together, they complete the SI. Examples of tactics are map consumer journey or finalize creative assets.”  
  • Have a timeline that is no longer than a month.  
  • Be aligned by the stakeholders of the SI they support. 

Many times, organizations have multiple existing goals, strategies, and tactics in place by the time they start on their digital maturity journey. Our suggestion is to plug these items into the GoST framework and see how/if they support your organizations digital ambitions. Next, work with the entire stakeholder team to modify and/or replace items that do not help progress digital maturity. Lastly, fill in all goals, SI, and tactics for the next twelve months. We find that guiding clients through a workshop is the most efficient way to complete this process.  

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Contributions by Kathrin Harhoff

This is part three in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start from the beginning, find the first article here. 

Just like individuals, all teams have strengths and weaknesses. These can be pretty apparent when it comes to day-to-day responsibilities. However, strengths and weaknesses are less apparent when starting a digital maturity effort.  

To address this, we recommend teams complete a skills assessmentwhich is a quick and easy exercise to gain a collective view of a team’s competencies as well as skill gaps. The purpose of this exercise is not to point out any one team member’s deficiencies but rather to ensure the team collectively has the skills and expertise needed to execute digital maturity initiatives. 

Step 1: Identify Skills Needed 

First, teams need to take an inventory of what skills will be needed in their digital maturity efforts. Every situation will require slightly different expertise. However, a core set of capabilities are required for almost every teamwe recommend the following skill areas: 

  • Knowledge of existing (legacy) systems 
  • Marketing tool knowledge 
  • Collaboration tool knowledge 
  • Analytics expertise 
  • Finance expertise 
  • UI/UX expertise 
  • Marketing expertise 
  • Project management expertise 

Step 2: Team Survey 

After identifying the most critical set of skills, a survey needs to be conducted for each team member to assess their own proficiency with regard to each. This survey should contain clear and detailed descriptions of both the skills and the ratings for each.  

Step 3: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses 

After the survey is complete, a clear view of strengths and weaknesses will come to light. In the hypothetical example below, the team is strong in many areas but needs improvement in skills 7 and 8. 

Step 4: Address Gaps 

There are multiple options to address skills gaps; we break them down into three basic categoriesTrain, Hire, Outsource. Which path to take largely depends on two thingshow quickly does the skill gap need to be filled and how specialized is the lacking skill. 

Training existing team members has the clear benefit of costing much less than other options. It’s also important to realize that training team members on new skills will increase employee engagement and lower attrition. However, training also requires a lot of time that may leave a particular skill unaddressed for too long. Further, some skills are so specialized that it is impractical to train someone from scratch.  

Hiring new team members can not only close a skill gap, but can also increase the performance of the overall team. However, hiring can be a long process, especially when looking for a specialized skill set.  

Outsourcing skills to an agency, consultancy, or contractors is not always favored because it can be less costeffective than training. However, outsourcing has the benefit of closing skills gaps nearly immediately and allows companies to utilize experts in specialized fields. Oftentimes W2O is hired by our clients to fill gaps in communications, marketing, or analytic functions. Further, we focus on knowledge transfer to our clients in order to ensure benefits well into the future. 

A helpful framework for deciding whether to train, hire, or outsource can be seen below: 

Filling these skills gaps is a critical first step to any digital maturity journey as it allows the team to be agile when address changing technology and business needs. Further, when team members transfer out of the team, using a skills assessment will make obvious what skills are needed from the incoming replacement. Much like the concept of digital maturity itself, the overall skill profile of a team is constant evolving and the skills assessment is the tool to ensure critical functions are always being met. 

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The latest social updates? Facebook rolled out new video publishing tools, Instagram and IGTV posts can now be scheduled in advance, and Twitter users in certain countries can hide unwanted replies.

Facebook Rolls out New Video Publishing Tools

  • Facebook announced a variety of new video features and tools for Facebook Live, Watch Party and Creator Studio. While using Facebook Live, business users can now access rehearsals, “Trimming” capabilities for Live broadcast replays, extended maximum duration of eight hours, and simulcasting through the Live API. Watch Party allows users to watch videos as a group. New Watch Party features include scheduling, replay functionality, expanded viewership metrics, and the ability to tag business partners in branded content. Facebook also made updates to the Creator Studio, putting in place a new visualization to “Loyalty Insights” to display to admins what video content is driving returning viewers. Further, it added a Distribution metric, which scores video content based on a Page’s historical video performance, offering multiple metrics, such as 1 Minute Views, Average Minutes Watched and Retention. Creator Studio has also added 13 new languages to support its auto-captioning feature.
  • What this means for brands: Each new feature will uniquely help brands succeed. The utilization of Facebook Live rehearsals will help brands create stronger live content. The new Watch Party capabilities will allow brands to increase viewership and leverage increased monetization opportunities via the new branded content updates. As video continues to drive strong engagement, these tools will help brands maximize the quality, visibility and performance of their content.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, DigitalStudio ME, TechCrunch

(via Social Media Today)

Instagram Posts and IGTV Scheduling Supported through Facebook’s Creator Studio

  • Facebook announced that business users can now schedule Instagram posts and IGTVs through Creator Studio. While this feature is not new, it removes the need for third-party scheduling platforms and eliminates some of the previous scheduling limitations. Admins are now able to schedule content up to six months in advance and include multiple images in a post. Earlier updates enable users to add locations, tags, and crop images. To fully utilize this functionality, users are required to have an Instagram business account linked to a Facebook page.
  • What this means for brands: The scheduling feature appears to have been created specifically with brands in mind. Allowing content to be scheduled well in advance, including editing capabilities, will provide efficiency around publishing, particularly for brands that post a high volume of content. Content scheduling will also allow for stronger quality assurance as brands will be able to prepare further in advance.

Additional Resources: Tech Crunch, The Verge, Social Media Today, Social Media Today

(via Social Media Today)

Twitter Enables Users in the U.S., Canada and Japan to Hide Replies

  • As an expansion of a test of Canadian users earlier this year, Twitter has officially enabled users in the U.S., Canada and Japan to “hide” replies to their tweets. This feature allows authors to hide negative, slanderous, irrelevant or inappropriate responses to their tweets by selecting “hide replies” in a tweet’s drop-down menu. Once the replies are hidden, they are not deleted but are not visible on a post unless users elect to view them.
  • What this means for brands: Prior to this change, Twitter users only had the capability to mute, block or report users as a way to manage certain responses to tweets. With this change, brands can hide unwanted comments at their discretion with the goal of ensuring that conversations remain civil, on-topic and within community guidelines. Given that hidden replies will still be viewable, brands should use this feature sparingly in order to support an open and transparent conversation within their feeds — and not invite additional negative responses.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Newsweek, Tech Crunch

(via TechCrunch)

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Contributions by Matthew O’Rourke

This is part two in our seven-part series on digital maturity. If you’d like to start reading from the beginning, you can find the first article here.

Digital maturity starts and ends with people. It is an ongoing change process that requires fluidity. Ideally, this is driven by the culture and leadership of an organization. Both aspects create an environment for digital initiatives to thrive. However, we find ourselves in structures that are hesitant to change, and, in many companies, it is still more accepted to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally. So how do we achieve digital maturity in organizations that are hesitant to change?

In our experience, making digital maturity a reality often comes down to influential and well-connected change agents who are open to innovation and continuously plant ideas and initiatives across the company. The people who are accelerating in digital don’t hesitate to take risks, launch pilots and share their learnings with the rest of the organization (even if they weren’t successful).

We’ve seen change agents in a variety of roles and functions – from human resources to procurement and in some instances even among legal, regulatory and medical teams. They are crucial in driving digital innovation. Typically, we find change agents as part of the following w stakeholder groups with varying levels of digital maturity and influence:

  • Internal business stakeholders, such as brand or marketing teams, who have a specific business need or objective, which digital initiatives aim to address.
  • Digital Center of Excellence (DCoE), such as digital planners or managers, who support business stakeholders as experts in planning and executing digital initiatives.
  • External partners, such as agencies or consultancies, which bring high levels of specific expertise and knowledge to digital initiatives.

Roles and Level of Digital Maturity

While business stakeholders have a very strong understanding of a specific brand, category and business need, their experience with digital processes, platforms and functionalities can be limited. It’s not their job to be experts in the latest technological developments, but, rather, to focus on what is most beneficial to the brand and the business. They are often the owner of the initiative, budget holder and ultimate decision maker.

Members of the DCoE are able to bring together a solid understanding of the business needs with a broad understanding of digital platforms and channels. This enables them to enter each engagement with an internal perspective to assess the need for the given situation and the external knowledge of potential digital solutions. Their role includes defining the brief for the digital initiative and supporting the execution or helping select the right partner for execution. They are digital consultants to the business stakeholders and can share learnings across the organization.

External partners, such as agencies, are typically engaged for a specific area of expertise. If there is one key success factor in engaging these external partners, it’s to set clear expectations. Be transparent about why you are bringing in the external partner (do they provide a capability, experience or resource you’re lacking in-house?) and what you want them to do (do you want their advice on the approach or do you have a specific brief you need them to execute?).

Informed Decision-Making and Digital Pilots

The roles of these three stakeholders are clearly defined as long as there is a clear brief in place. It becomes challenging if the situation requires a new way of thinking and approach. Digital initiatives often don’t rely on proven and tested tactics. Through evolving demands in user behavior and experience, we have continuous access to new platforms, formats and channels. This opens opportunities, but also risks and creates a blurry definition of what the solution may look like, which makes it hard to secure buy-in from internal stakeholders.

In the absence of a strong and precise brief it can be helpful to include a trusted (external) partner at an early stage of the assessment and solution-defining process. (Yes, we all want to be part of this decision-making process, because we want to share our experience and help create better outcomes.) If you are concerned about a potential conflict of interest, you can decouple the consultation from the executional efforts.

We know there are many stakeholders already involved at this phase and navigating the politics internally is quite complex and time-consuming. At this point, the last thing the in-house team needs is another opinion. However, sharing a draft brief with an external partner for feedback can save time and costs, pressure test the scope of the assignment, or generate ideas for a potential pilot. The latter is a great way to mitigate risks, since they cover a short time period, require low investment, and focus strongly on measurement of potential outputs. This way, they allow for larger-scale projects if they demonstrate they can deliver the desired outcome.

In summary, change agents manage to bring together the right team of internal business stakeholders, who are open to pilot digital initiatives, and DCoE members, who understand the business need and can define the digital brief as well as select the right external partners. Launching scalable pilots can help mitigate risks and secure buy-ins from internal stakeholders. However, the process for creating and advancing digital maturity requires an honest skill assessment of internal teams and external partners to identify and address potential gaps. Find out how to best approach the skill assessment in part three of our series.

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Contributions by Matthew O’Rourke

Digital transformation is a term that has been prevalent throughout organizations across many industries for at least the last decade. Regularly cropping up in board meetings, annual reports and strategic planning, the term itself is often used to enable new types of innovation and creativity. However, the business questions that digital transformation is trying to answer haven’t substantially changed:

  • How can we be more efficient?
  • How can we measure our impact?
  • How can we better connect with our stakeholders?

Digital Transformation is Ongoing 

W2O has begun using the term digital maturity when referring to the status of the digital transformation taking place within our clients’ organizations. While digital transformation indicates an (often unachievable) endpoint, digital maturity allows us to quantify the ever-evolving processes, digital tools and platforms required. Let’s be honest – no company will be able to outpace digital change nor will technological evolution ever be completed. Therefore, the goals of digital maturity are readiness and agility rather than transformation.

As organizations face increasing pressure to keep pace with the speed of this technological evolution, compete in a crowded landscape, and battle for talent, we are seeing the gap in digital maturity widening. In healthcare, in particular, we have seen companies bring in expertise from outside industries to help them lead the pack.

While this is a good starting point, we must address the urgency and time pressure that a widening digital aptitude gap creates. Companies that do not move forward now will have more and more ground to make up once they start their digital maturity efforts. So it’s crucial that they establish platforms and frameworks for continuous experience and learning sharing.

Best Practices Established by W2O 

In guiding many clients along their digital maturity journeys – from tech consulting, implementation and build, to analytics, governance and training around digital channels – we have codified some best practices on how to establish and maintain digital maturity. Although there is clearly no one-size-fits-all process, tactical frameworks can be tailored to specific organizational needs – from small biotech companies to large, decentralized organizations with multiple business divisions. We will describe those frameworks in a series of blog posts right here over the next seven weeks.

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The latest social updates? Instagram is doubling up on story ads, Facebook is rolling out lead generation ads in messenger and an updated desktop layout, and YouTube is improving its efforts to remove inappropriate content.

Instagram is Doubling the Number of Story Ads Being Served

  • In January, Instagram created a new placement for advertisers to run engaging content: full-screen ads within a story. Now, Instagram is conducting a test that will double the number of story ads served within select users’ stories – even showing back-to-back ads to some users. The feedback generated from this test will determine if Instagram rolls out this increased volume to all users. While it’s common to come across an ad between stories, users will now see double the number of ads and possibly even two ads in a row while tapping through their own followers’ stories.
  • What this means for brands: For users, this increase in ads may seem bothersome, but it will positively impact brand awareness. Instagram’s launch of branded content ads increased the opportunity for brands to reach a broader audience beyond their followers, using interests and previous actions on the app to gain insight. With one-third of the most viewed stories coming from businesses, it will continue to be important for companies to produce fresh and creative story ads that capture users’ attention. Story ads can target by reach, video views, traffic, conversions, app installs or brand awareness. With double the number of ads, companies have a better chance of their content being seen by their target consumer audiences.

Additional Resources: Instagram Business, Digital Trends, Tech Crunch, Social Media Examiner

(via Instagram Business)

Facebook Rolls out Lead Generation Ads in Messenger

  • Earlier this month, Facebook launched lead generation ads in Messenger, which can be set up by selecting “Click to Messenger,” “Generate Leads” and “Create Chat.” These ads drive users to Messenger where a conversation will open up for consumers to answer questions and fill out information without having to leave Facebook. Additionally, to optimize engagement, Facebook will send a reminder to customers who have not yet responded after a specific amount of time.
  • What this means for brands: Facebook surveyed people worldwide and 61% expressed that messaging is the easiest way of communicating with a business; convenience is an important focus area when strategizing ad placements, as it streamlines information sharing between companies and consumers. Given this, it is evident that consumers will be more inclined to answer questions and share information because it allows for a convenient and quick process. This Facebook update will drive success for brands as they can better find out what their customer is looking for via a direct one-to-one conversation.

Additional Resources: We Are Social Media, Social Media Today, Ad Leaks

(via Social Media Today)

Facebook Launches Updated Desktop Layout

  • Did you receive a notification about a “Fresh, Simpler Facebook” yet? This notification is encouraging users to make the change to the platform’s newest layout, with new experiences. Facebook explains that this new layout will allow users to more easily navigate between different spaces, such as groups, by placing tabs on the top of the screen that show recent group activity. Groups are an important part of Facebook as they build a community of members with similar interests and passions. It is important for users to be able to navigate between groups easily in order to increase engagement. This new tool will increase the likelihood of a user finding another group that aligns with their specific interests as Facebook will also recommend similar groups for users to engage with. In addition to easier navigation, this new layout has larger fonts and saves your spot if you click on a different landing page.
  • What this means for brands: Communication and story-telling are key factors to a brand’s success. The encouragement of group involvement will build larger communities and increase engagement, while the recommendation feature will allow individuals to gain further support from those who share similar experiences. In healthcare, patient stories and doctors’ advice can lead to support and, in some cases, treatment and even a cure. If a patient or caregiver demonstrates interest in a particular disease state, Facebook will recommend that user to groups that focus on that disease state. Patients can communicate with other members to hear their stories while caregivers can get treatment advice from doctors and experienced patients. Additionally, due to an update this past April, members of health support groups can post questions and answers anonymously – with the post coming from the administrator. This feature is a perfect addition to the new layout, as patients can feel confident that they can participate in multiple groups while maintaining their privacy.

Additional Resources: We are Social Media, Facebook Newsroom

(via Social Media Today)

YouTube is Improving Efforts to Remove Inappropriate Content

  • YouTube is improving its efforts to remove inappropriate content from the platform. The platform has revamped its Community Guidelines Enforcement Report to outline its review process for removing inappropriate content, which includes spam, child safety and promotion of violence. YouTube also is partnering with government entities to ensure a smoother process for removing inappropriate content. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki outlines four R’s to reflect this process: remove inappropriate content, raise up authoritative voices, reduce the spread of inappropriate content, and reward trusted creators. YouTube has been tackling the challenge of hate speech over the past few months, but its launch of Intelligence Desk, which monitors trends and inappropriate content, has led to the removal of 17,000 accounts, 30,000 videos, and 500 million comments. This approach uses data ad user reports to detect inappropriate content as quickly as possible — ideally before the content receives any views.
  • What this means for brands: Placing ads on social media platforms is a significant way for brands to gain global visibility. However, brands are hesitant to run ads on YouTube for fear that the ads will run next to inappropriate content. Community management is important for brands to monitor irrelevant or controversial comments that have been posted on their content. Many brands turn off commenting altogether to avoid any negative reactions. YouTube’s Intelligence Desk will hopefully be able to catch these comments quickly, so brands do not have to manually turn off comments and so other users are not dissuaded from engaging with the brand.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Social Media Today, Business of Apps

(via Social Media Today)

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Although the summer is winding down, social updates are ramping up! LinkedIn launched an insights hub that provides marketers with relevant data and expanded its live stream option. YouTube is removing the ability to send direct messages, and Twitter is adding larger carousel ad images. Read on to learn more about these social updates.

LinkedIn Launches Insights

  • LinkedIn is host to over 645 million members and 30 million global businesses. The abundance of activity on the platform has created a wealth of data that marketers can use to their advantage. To assist them, LinkedIn launched a new “Insights and Research” hub within its pre-established “Success Hub for Marketers.” On this new hub, users can access people, industry and advertising insights. The “People Insights” section provides information on audience demographics, highlights resonating topics, and showcases the most engaged content. Within “Industry Insights,” users can discover trends, research and data across a wide range of industries from financial services to healthcare. The “Advertising Insights” section helps users understand the LinkedIn advertising landscape so they can best optimize their content.
  • What it means for brands: This new hub will provide brands with up-to-date insights relating to their audiences, industries and LinkedIn’s advertising strategy. LinkedIn is quickly becoming a hot platform for healthcare brands to be on. For those newer to the platform, the “Insights and Research” hub will be a great starting point in creating an approach to LinkedIn advertising. For brands that have included LinkedIn in their content strategies for some time, the hub will provide a deeper look into who they are connecting with and how. Healthcare brands of all sizes and experience levels will benefit from the insights gleaned on this hub.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Search Engine Journal

(via Search Engine Journal)

LinkedIn is Looking to Expand its Live Feature

  • Earlier this year, LinkedIn launched a “LinkedIn Live” option to select users. It is now expanding this offering by publishing a tips and tricks guide on how to make the most of the live streaming option. Unlike live streaming on other social platforms, LinkedIn Live is hosted through a third party, which is intended to create a more professional video experience. It is important to note that, while it is expanding, LinkedIn Live is not available to most users. Company pages must connect with their LinkedIn representatives or apply to the LinkedIn Live beta program for access.
  • What it means for brands: LinkedIn users are 20 times more likely to share a video than any other form of content on the platform. In addition to garnering engagement, live videos allow brands to interact with audiences, promote unique features of a product, showcase what makes them unique and much more. For healthcare companies, live video allows the audience to feel more connected to the brand whether that be by live streaming from a medical conference, sharing news of drug approvals, or showcasing a spokesperson for unbranded campaigns. Real- time video invites audiences to engage with the event as opposed to simply watching it.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, WeRSM

(via Social Media Today)

YouTube to Remove Direct Messaging

  • YouTube will remove its direct messaging feature effective September 18. The platform believes that this feature no longer fits within its priority parameters. Within the last two years, YouTube has placed a heavy emphasis on public conversations with updates to comments, posts and stories. Therefore, the shift from private to public conversations is a clear next step for the platform’s focus. While users will no longer be able to share videos and comments privately, they will continue to be able to share video on YouTube outside of the platform by clicking the “Share” button and choosing where to post it.
  • What it means for brands: While this update will likely not have a significant impact on brands, it does provide a variety of new opportunities. Without the option for viewers to communicate privately within direct messages, they may be more apt to post a public comment on a video, allowing brands to gain a better understanding of viewers’ perceptions of their company or product. This update is also indicative of YouTube’s switch to newer features such as YouTube Stories. While healthcare brands are likely to have YouTube comments turned off, there is the opportunity to create short-form video content and post it on their YouTube story as on Facebook or Instagram. Video content and stories have both enjoyed recent popularity, so a combination of the two could be the key to a successful content strategy.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, WeRSM

(via Social Media Today)

Twitter Tests New Carousel Ad Format

  • Twitter is looking to expand its carousel ad capabilities for additional campaign types beyond its current app installs offering and, with it, a new look. The new format includes a larger image panel and a swipeable carousel stream. The new layout places a greater emphasis on an ad’s creative assets, with the intention of creating the best experience for scrollers and a higher value for marketers. Twitter will monitor the results of the new layout and assess its next steps before providing additional roll-out information.
  • What it means for brands: The old saying “bigger is better” is true in the case of this update! Visuals are the best bet for grabbing the attention of social media scrollers. A larger image is more likely to catch users’ eyes and, therefore, provide an opportunity for them to engage with the content. For healthcare brands, using pictures of real patients in carousel ads can add a personal and relatable touch for audiences. The swipeable feature also allows brands to share more and audiences to learn more by experiencing more content in one place.

(via Social Media Today)

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In social platforms we trust? That’s the hope as Facebook and LinkedIn take new steps to increase trustworthiness. Facebook is rolling out a “Clear History” tool and plans to hire journalists for a developing News tab, while LinkedIn is increasing fraud prevention measures.

Facebook has started rolling out a “Clear History” tool

  • Facebook announced that users everywhere will soon have the ability to clear off-Facebook activity. Users will be able to select “off-Facebook Activity” from “Settings” to view their website and app activity that other businesses and organizations have shared with Facebook. Users can choose to clear all off-Facebook activity and disconnect this information from their account or disconnect future off-Facebook activity from their account or specific apps and websites. By clearing off-Facebook activity, users will be able to remove their identifying information from the data that apps and websites share with Facebook, including which websites a user visits, how long a user spends on a site, and any user activity on those sites. Facebook – and its advertisers – will not be permitted to use any of the data a user chooses to disconnect to target ads on Facebook, Instagram or Messenger. Facebook has confirmed that, while clearing and disconnecting off-Facebook activity will decrease the specificity and relevance of the ads users are shown, the number of ads users see will not change. Off-Facebook activity is currently available to users in Ireland, South Korea and Spain and will be rolled out everywhere over the coming months.
  • What this means for brands: While this update represents an important step in Facebook’s continued privacy updates, this newest feature will likely have negative implications for brands. The potentially limited availability of off-Facebook data will decrease the specificity of targeting, with which brands can reach interest-targeted audiences. Brands using the Facebook pixel to re-target website visitors could experience a drop in the size of retargeted audiences, as disconnecting off-Facebook web traffic data from the user’s profile will prevent brands from reaching them. Healthcare brands utilizing re-targeting from an unbranded website to a branded Facebook page should expect retargeting audience sizes to shrink. Brands will need to consider using a retargeting audience from on-Facebook page activity as it will not be impacted by this update. Advertisers should also note that, since the number of ads a user is served will not be affected by this tool, as confirmed by Facebook, some users may choose not to clear their off-Facebook activity in favor of being served ads that are more relevant to them. While it is unclear at this time how many users will choose to opt into this tool and begin clearing/preventing the sharing of off-Facebook data, brands should monitor closely for any reported impact to key performance indicators in the countries and markets where this update already has been rolled out.

Additional Resources: The Verge, Social Media Today

(via Facebook Newsroom) 

Facebook to hire Journalists for Developing News tab

  • According to the New York Times, Facebook announced it will be hiring journalists to curate its forthcoming dedicated News section. In a video interview from earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new News section, which is reminiscent of the Trending News section Facebook did away with in 2018, will help users find “high quality and trustworthy information,” though the level of curation is still undetermined. Facebook has been in talks with some of the largest American publishers to license news content to be shared on the News tab, allowing the platform to display article titles and previews. Whereas previous News sections have been purely algorithm driven, this latest iteration will combine algorithms with the expertise of journalists that Facebook plans to add to its full-time staff. These journalists will curate credible content but will not develop original content. By including human judgement in the curation process, Facebook hopes to avoid excessive bias and the spread of misinformation, which have occurred in the past using algorithm-only news curation.
  • What this means for brands: This update could present the next step in a continually blurring line between traditional and social media. With 43% of Americans getting news on Facebook, the potential reach of the News section should not be underestimated. While Facebook will not be developing content of its own, the power of these live Facebook curators to determine what content is seen and prioritized could present a shift in the way brands pitch stories to news outlets. When it becomes clear which sources and topics Facebook will be prioritizing, brands should expect to factor the social media network into sponsored and earned media opportunities. For healthcare brands looking to pitch consumer-friendly stories such as disease awareness and patient experiences, the added reach provided by an article’s placement in the News tab could increase visibility of important brand narratives.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today, Axios

(via The New York Times) 

LinkedIn Takes Steps to Eliminate Fake Accounts and Spammers

  • LinkedIn is continuing work to detect and remove fake profiles. The platform introduced new features aimed at keeping LinkedIn safe earlier this year, including technology to detect fake profiles and updated online safety tips. As a result of these changes, the platform acted on 21.6 million fake accounts between January and June, including preventing 19.5 million fake accounts from being created at registration. LinkedIn claims these measures will help prevent theft or fraudulent use of user data and limit the impact of potentially harmful or dangerous content.
  • What this means for brands: The high volume of personal and business information on LinkedIn makes this professional platform a prime target for spammers as they seek to obtain user and business data. In its continued attempts to increase user security, LinkedIn is creating an environment where users and business can be more confident that their data is safe. For businesses for which fake employee profiles and users have been an issue, this push for security can help protect important information while tapping into LinkedIn’s 645 million members for both paid and organic content.

Additional Resources: Social Media Today

(via LinkedIn)

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New month, new updates! Facebook is expanding its advertising capabilities within search and updating the specifications for newsfeed ads on mobile. Snapchat launched a new tool centered around creating ads from existing brand websites or apps. And Google is testing a new social network called Shoelace. Read on to find out more!

Facebook is Expanding Search Ads Availability

  • With the announcement in late 2018 that it would re-launch its search ads, Facebook has now significantly expanded the search ad option. For background, Facebook originally launched search ads back in 2012 but discontinued them shortly thereafter. This re-launched version is different than the initial offering but focuses on the same functionality, as TechCrunch noted last year:

“Advertisers will be able to extend their existing News Feed ads to the new “Search” placement through the Facebook Ads Manager, similar to how they’d pick Facebook Audience Network or Instagram. No video ads will be allowed, and search ads won’t appear on desktop. Marketplace search ads will appear on iOS and Android, while Facebook search ads are only testing on Android. For now, advertisers won’t pick specific keywords to advertise against, and instead may appear in search terms related to auto or retail topics.”

In 2016, Facebook noted the platform was facilitating over 2 billion searches per day. Because social media usage behaviors have changed over the last three years, utilizing this new ad placement could help broaden the reach of campaigns on Facebook. Unlike with Google, Bing or other SEM engines, brands are not bidding on specific keywords (at least for now). Instead, Facebook will serve ads to “search terms that have commercial intent, such as those related to e-commerce, retail and auto.”

  • What it means for brands: While this feature is focused on e-commerce and retail for now, depending on how the rollout occurs, creating ads within healthcare and pharmaceutical industry could be next. Whether it’s creating a search ad for an OTC product using the carousel format or using this feature in the city at a major medical meeting, the ability to create search ads can engage users searching on Facebook, leading to larger reach across Facebook campaigns and an additional, specific way to target an engaged audience.

Additional Resources: Marketing Land, Search Engine Journal

(via Social Media Today) 

Facebook is Updating Text and Aspect Ratios for Ads on Mobile

  • Facebook announced in a blog post that page posts and ads on mobile will be changing. The specifics, being rolled out on August 19, are as follows:
    • Fewer lines of primary text will show on mobile News Feed: Only three lines of primary text will show on mobile News Feed. After that, users will be prompted to click to view additional text.
    • Maximum media height for photos and videos will reduce to 4:5 on mobile News Feed: The tallest supported aspect ratio for images without links and for videos will be vertical (4:5). Media taller than 4:5 will be masked on mobile News Feed.

Before this new change, Facebook allowed up to seven lines of copy before it was truncated with the “See More” prompt, and the aspect ratio was larger (2:3).

  • What this means for brands: Facebook claims this update will help “improve consistency” of the mobile experience, but it points to a larger need in social media marketing: less is more. Organic posts and ads alike must be skimmable. When creating ads that will run on Facebook mobile, the message needs to be focused, concise and adaptable. For Click-To-Web disease awareness content, be sure to keep the copy short and include a strong call-to-action to drive users to the website where they can read more in-depth information.

Additional Resources: Digiday, Social Media Today

(via Facebook)

Snapchat Introduces Instant Create

  • Snapchat announced Instant Create, a new, simplified way for advertisers to create ads in three steps:
    • Step One: Select an objective of web visits, app installs or app visits
    • Step Two: Enter the business website
    • Step Three: Finalize targeting

For advertisers with limited resources, Instant Create provides a way for them to quickly get started, as the tool will pull photos or images from the websites or apps they have inputted to begin the creative process. Instant Create is now available for all users with a Snapchat Ads account.

  • What this means for brands: Snapchat continues to be an ideal social media platform for brands who want to target a younger demographic, as Gen Z and Millennials represent the majority of users. This new feature will allow brands that have few resources to create simple, effective Snapchat ads and make it easier to advertise on Snapchat. Whether a brand is doing disease awareness campaigns to drive people to their website or driving app installs for their mobile app, this new tool will facilitate both.

Additional Resources: TechCrunch, Marketing Land

(via TechCrunch)

Google is Developing a New Social Network, Shoelace

  • Google is testing the social networking waters again with a new app called Shoelace. A hyper-local social networking app, Shoelace aims to connect people based on shared interests in specific events and in-person activities. In short, Shoelace is encouraging people to spend less time on their phones and more time doing something in real life. With Shoelace, users are able to create “Loops,” which are listings for events that can be shared with others on the app. Currently, Shoelace is only available in New York and is invite-only. Depending on how successful this test is, a larger rollout could be next.
  • What it means for brands: While Google+ might not have worked out the way Google had hoped, this new app could lead to additional advertising opportunities if it is rolled out nationwide. Additionally, brands potentially could host events surrounding medical meetings or awareness days and find people who are interested in attending through the app. The fact that Google is focusing on encouraging people to meet off the app is part of a persisting trend: actual human interaction instead of simply communicating on an app. We will continue to monitor and report on updates on this new app as its offerings evolve.

Additional Resources: Gizmodo, Engadget

(via Engadget)

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