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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.

October was a big month for social media, with updates and new features across all channels. Keep your clients up-to-date and socialize what’s new! If you would like to be featured in the November updates, please let us know!

What you need to know in October:

  • Users Can Now Edit Facebook Posts
    • Facebook users can now go back and edit posts (including status updates and images) after they have been posted. All engagement on a post will not be lost, as opposed to previously deleting a post/comment. http://w.cg/16pz9S
    • Why it matters: While this feature is only available to users and not brand pages, brands must be aware of what fans are posting to ensure they do not change the copy after the comment goes live,
    • What you have to say about it: “This new feature makes it easier to make changes on the go – which is entirely necessary in today’s world. I would imagine I am not alone in making most of my Facebook status updates from my mobile device and am looking forward to be able to edit those when needed, no matter where I am.” – Kendra Cassillo, Account Manager, Health, Los Angeles, CA
  • Facebook Graph Search – Updates
    • Facebook is making it easier for users to search for topics of interest. This update will make almost anything posted accessible to other users and keeps Facebook conducive to real-time conversation. http://w.cg/16pzhAV
    • Why it matters: Facebook is becoming a one stop shop. Brands can easily follow conservation about their products/offerings via Facebook, as well as understanding what fans are saying about competitors. The more time users are spending on Facebook (to seek information), the greater the opportunity to reach fans.
    • What you have to say about it: “This is a much-appreciated update for marketers, providing an alternative to Twitter as the go-to source for trending news.  We’ll be able to conduct real-time searches for publicly shared content. This offers a wealth of new competitive insights and consumer research that can be quickly gleamed through keyword searches into everything from competitors to  product attributes and all things important your friends and followers. For local market perspective, you can search by location to garner conversation threads for a particular city, offering insights for market-specific campaigns. From an engagement perspective, the new content searching enhancements provide quick and painless ways for brands to tap into timely events and conversations with posts that are relevant in the moment.” – Peter Duckler, Director, Earned Media, Los Angeles, CA
  • Facebook Simplifies Ad Buying
    • Facebook is simplifying the ad buying process by asking advertisers to choose their objectives from a list of options and then selecting where the ad will appear on Facebook. http://w.cg/1aWZxkt
    • Why it matters: The easier it is for brands to advertise, the more inclined they will be to do so. Advertising leads to more social recognition, which boots levels of engagement. The advertising will do the talking, while brands watch to see which campaigns are most effective.
    • What you have to say about it: “Previously, a lot went into implementing the most effective Facebook ads. It looks like Facebook is now taking steps to demystify their ad buying process by walking users through some of the more confusing steps and decisions. This is going to make it easier for clients to get their ads in front of the audiences they want. It’s also going to be easier for users to find out which images and campaigns are most effective. So ads are demystified, and our jobs are made easier. This is win-win! – Todd Dwyer, Analytics Manager,  Austin, TX
  • Facebook Ads – Across Platforms
    • Facebook advertisers can now target users across multiple devices, from desktop to mobile, thanks to a new self-serve tool that brings retargeted ads to Facebook’s mobile app.  http://w.cg/1bGNSrM
    • Why it matters: Companies can target consumers who visited their website or downloaded their app, but didn’t make a purchase.
    • What you have to say about it: “Companies are going to be able to reach consumers who may have visited their site, but didn’t necessarily make a purchase. I can see customers getting annoyed with this because they don’t want updates from a company that they are not purchasing from. Ads going on people’s mobile phone will be frustrating because with mobile, the ads are removed and scrolling through the feed is less distracting than on a desktop. I appreciate not seeing ads on my personal devices.” – Gage Grammer, Marketing Associate, Austin, TX
  • Twitter Allows DM from any Follower
    • Twitter users can now opt to receive direct messages from any of their followers. http://w.cg/Hx8fOz
    • Why it matters: This opens lines of communication between brands and their followers and influencers, making it much easier to connect with influencers, receive contact information, etc.
    • What you have to say about it: “This is key for brands who utilize social media for influencer outreach and real-time feedback. For clients like Verizon, who have spent a lot of time and effort establishing relationships and connections with influencers via Twitter, this new feature is a much needed update and opening for more meaningful conversations with both influencers, followers and potential customers in a social, yet a bit less public, forum. It’s amazing to me that this was not an update earlier since so many companies have a strong Twitter presence today.”- Lauren Barbiero, Associate, Media and Engagement, New York, NY
  • Twitter Suggests Followers Via Mobile
    • A Twitter update will now suggest which accounts a user should follow by sending push notifications via mobile. http://w.cg/18GTC1r
    • Why it matters: Your brand wants to be a top player in the “suggested follower” game. The more real-time/relevant conversation produced by your brand, the more users will be able to relate and pick-up on what you’re saying, thus, gaining followers and becoming a suggested account to follow.
    • What you have to say about it: “What you have to say about it: “I think that this is a nice, straightforward way to potentially characterize ROI for clients. Since Twitter’s suggestions will be based on engagement, this will be a great opportunity for us to encourage our clients to produce more engaging content to improve their “suggestibility”, and subsequently, to reach their potential audience.” – Jane Hurh, Analytics Associate, New York, NY
  • Embedded Tweets Now Include Photos
    • In an attempt to maintain its real-time marketing appeal, Twitter announced that embedded Tweets will now feature photos. http://w.cg/1aWZOE1
    • Why it matters: Strong visuals are more important than ever. Fans can now scroll through their feed, without that extra click to view an image, and will stop to pay attention to the photos that strike their interest and are above average. Your brand wants to be that brand.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think this speaks to how interactive media has become and appealing to all audiences. When reading a news story I want more than just great writing; I want to see a side-bar with a photo slide show or maybe a 90-second video along with it. Twitter is reminding users that this is one-stop shopping and I love it.” – Christiana Pascale, Healthcare Associate, New York, NY
  • Should Your Company be on Google+
    • While only 35% of big companies are on Google+, they are benefiting via Google. These brands are gaining SEO, properly utilizing hashtags and ahead of the YouTube game. http://w.cg/16zyiPb
    • Why it matters: Sooner or later Google+ is going to be a great platform for brands to have, especially if fans can’t comment on your valuable YouTube content without it. Your brand will also be more searchable, which will boost engagement amongst competitors. If your fans are on it, you might consider it as well.
    • What you have to say about it: “There’s more to engaging stakeholders than the tool you use to connect. It’s about understanding where your stakeholders are, how to meet them there and inspire them forward around what your brand or company offers. Learning about their current behaviors and interests will make the engagement more authentic and effective, helping them to make easier purchasing decisions. Google+ might just be the right platform through which your brand or company can engage, but it shouldn’t be just because it’s the second most-used social network worldwide.” – Abigail Rethore, Director, Corporate Strategy, New York, NY
  • YouTube Comments Ranked, Personalized
    • YouTube is rolling out a new commenting system powered by Google+ which aims to fix the issue of spamming in comments. Comments will be ranked based on several things, including if the commenter is in your Google+ circle. http://w.cg/Hx8usY
    • Why it matters: Influencers can comment on your videos, ranking higher than spam comments, keeping relevant comments higher and conversation between brand and influencer easier to track/follow.
    • What you have to say about it: “I’m interested to see how Google+ based rankings will play out. I worry that Google+ relationships don’t have enough data to make an automated algorithm deliver relevant content and that Google is forcing the channel onto consumers. In addition, adding the ability for brand pages to blacklist certain words will likely make brands more willing to engage, but this could also be a detriment to organic conversation – brands could potentially blacklist competitors’ products, or negative comments about the brand. This provides them with some ease of mind, but could also strip away honest conversation (which is ostensibly the reason that people like to engage online in the first place). – Stephen Yoon,  Manager, Corporate Strategy/Analytics, New York, NY
  • Pinterest  Expands Pins
    • Pinterest announced that article pins will now include the headline, author, title, a brief description and link, right on the pin, making it easier for users to save, organize and share articles. http://w.cg/17ZX33Y
    • Why it matters: Users can pin now, read later. This means that instead of browsing over your content and forgetting about it, they can pin it and it will be saved for them, expanding the content users save/read about your brand.
    • What you have to say about it:  As an avid pinner, it is frustrating when I do not understand the story behind a great photo or where the content originates. Pinners can now access more information on topics they care about from sites – and sources – they trust, knowing that the click-through won’t take them to a dead link. The photos uploaded with these expanded pins are going to need to continue to compete with Pinterest eye-candy and not rely on the links and copy to get attention of readers, because let’s face it, it’s hard to focus on too many words when you staring at a gorgeous shot of homemade lasagna that is made with only three easy steps.” – Jessica Carlson, Account Director, Chicago, IL

For more detailed information, please view our deck

Samantha HershmanErin Weinert, Amanda Cillo, & Michel’le Roddy, Consumer Team

 

 

 

The Consumer Team is introducing “Socialize,” the latest and greatest social updates you can find. We want our clients to be up-to-date with the latest in social media and we want them to hear it from us so each month, we’ll be sharing the new stuff, the next big thing and what’s hot. In September, we have taken a dive into Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube to socialize what’s different across all channels and why it matters.  If you would like to be featured in the October updates, we would love to hear what you have to say.

What you need to know in September:

  • Pinterest Announces Promoted Pins
    • Pinterest will begin rolling out paid advertising in the form of “Promoted Pin’s” in users’ top results and search categories. Ads will be clearly labeled and no money will be collected from advertisers during the testing phase. http://mashable.com/2013/09/19/pinterest-promoted-pins/
    • Why it matters: Another way for paid and earned to work side-by-side in helping to increase the search results of branded Pinterest pages.
    • What you have to say about it: “Recently we have seen a number of brands seeking out Pinterest as a key channel for connecting with their audiences, so it was no surprise that the platform has decided to make the move to incorporating paid advertising. As an analyst, I hear time and time again that brands are starting to see higher site referral traffic through Pinterest so it’s a natural fit for the site to embrace e-commerce and advertising opportunities.” Natalie DeNike, Analytics, Austin, TX
  • Video Auto-Play Within Facebook
    • Facebook launched a test through mobile that will auto-play any user-uploaded videos when scrolling over. The video will stop playing once it slips off the screen. http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/12/facebook-tests-silent-auto-play-for-user-videos-in-mobile-feed-foreshadowing-video-ads/
    • Why it matters: Moving in the direction of automatic playing of paid content (ads). Content being uploaded to Facebook with auto-play may increase interaction & views. The more views / interactions, the more likely that videos will be seen in other’s news feeds.
    • What you have to say about it: “That’s just more interruption. At least Vine is muted initially when scrolling through. This might as well be another disruptive ad.” Spike Jones, Group Director, Austin, TX
  • Facebook Makes Conversations More Accessible
    • Select users will be allowed to search all public Facebook posts by using keywords and data strings. Rollout will begin with a small group of media outlets such as BuzzFeed, CNN, Slate, etc. http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/facebook-offers-new-windows-into-social-conversation/?_r=0
    • Why it matters: Future focus on targeted advertising, based on public and private information. This introduces another layer of analytics to understand what people are saying about brands and the content, and/or demographic information in private networks.
    • What you have to say about it: “Facebook’s new search features will provide much more depth to our analytics work with Verizon—particularly for unanticipated events like the NSA. We’ll be able to draw real-time insights into what users are talking about and the ways in which they’re communicating (e.g. Hashtags, video, images, etc.), as well as overall demographic information. Not only will our reporting become more robust, but our recommendations into Facebook engagement and best practices will benefit also.” Sarah Masel, Analytics Manager, New York, NY
  • Twitter’s New “Verified” Filter
    • Twitter introduced two new filter tabs to users with verified profiles; filtered (shows mentions based on algorithm to cut out spam) and verified (shows interactions with other verified profiles). http://marketingland.com/twitter-gives-verified-users-new-spam-verified-only-filters-for-mentions-58876
    • Why it matters: For users of verified accounts, you can filter conversations from other verified accounts – meaning you can/should have more meaningful interactions, faster (less spam).
    • What you have to say about it: “From a brand standpoint, I think the introduction is very helpful. As more brands continue to build an online presence, the ability to filter and organize relevant conversations allows for greater and speedier responses from the brand as they can hone in on the important interactions most impactful to their community.” Melanie Weiss, Account Manager, Los Angeles, CA
  • Offline Viewing Coming to YouTube
    • YouTube announced their new feature that will allow users to watch videos while offline. Content will refresh when internet connection is available. http://www.engadget.com/2013/09/19/youtube-offline-video-for-mobile-explained/
    • Why it matters: Pretty big deal – no internet connection required to watch videos. Think of this like DVR-ing your content for offline use.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think this development speaks to the ‘consumer is boss’ mentality.  The ability to download videos and view them at a time that’s convenient for you – where you may not have wifi, internet or phone service – makes it that much easier to consume content.  It also will be good service for emerging markets where internet access may not be readily available or mobile communications are lagging behind” Pete Collins, Group Director, New York, NY

For more detailed information, please view our deck.

Samantha Hershman & Erin Weinert, Consumer Team

 

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

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

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

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

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

What do you think of the trend toward content marketing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

BMC

P&G

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

If you’ve ever spent months planning for a trip, a music festival, or even college, you probably employed a few peer recommendations and a healthy dose of guesswork. Which cities/resorts should you consider, which bands should be on your playlist, which school will help you land a dream job? Here at W2O Group, we’re demystifying the process with forensic analytics. We believe that a brand’s online social resonance is a leading indicator of offline word-of-mouth advocacy. By monitoring digital dialogue, content sharing patterns, and peer networks, we can predict the next “big thing”.

I’m excited to introduce W2O Ranks, a digital relevance rating for newsworthy personalities, brands, organizations, and places. You may have seen the past work we’ve done ranking top universities and health care influencers (Sharecare). As we mature into the Agency of the Future we’re leveraging the in-house brainpower of our 70 analytics and 80 digital pro’s to test new proprietary methods. For a bit of fun, we ranked the top 20 bands of this fall’s Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) by reach, relevance, and resonance across social and digital channels.

ACL is a premier fall American music festival which spans two weekends, features 130+ bands, local eats and arts, and takes place on 46-acres of Austin’s Zilker Park. I’ve often wondered how (producer) C3 books bands, how they’re sequenced across eight+ stages and six days, and who will be the next breakout. As music becomes ubiquitously digitized, social buzz might be the best barometer for who is “hot”. But this doesn’t always correlate with font size and implied order on the official ACL lineup list. Each year there’s bound to be an Alabama Shakes, Skrillex, or Lumineers who magically transform their B-list timeslot into a coming-out party. This isn’t the result of organized PR, it’s good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advocacy. In the mobile age, a band’s rise to headliner status can happen real-time, so the question is no longer “who sells records” but “who builds digital momentum?”

To test the hypothesis we ran the 2013 lineup through a proprietary algorithm indexing social scores from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, web, and digital radio. The result is an interesting mix of established artists and a few potential breakout acts. You may be wondering how Eric Church, Portugal. The Man, and Grimes will drive attendance to ACL. These emerging acts may not sell wristbands, but they’ll probably light up C3’s radar with their ability to extend the festival experience beyond Zilker and into the social web.

Check out our playlist and have some fun with the infographic below. You can play media, follow artists, and share with your friends all from within the image itself. Keep an eye out for future W2O Rankings which could include athletes, actors, sporting events, movies, TV shows, vacation spots, chefs & restaurants, you name it (literally)!

Forgive us if you have heard this before, but video is becoming an incredibly powerful medium. There are other sites that host video content, but the biggest by far is YouTube. There are more than 800 million unique visits to YouTube.com each month. There are 72 hours of videos uploaded every minute, and there are over 4 billion hours of video watched each month. Those numbers are staggering, and brands need to understand how to leverage this visual medium. The good news is that there are folks like Jeben Berg at YouTube that understand how to create interesting branded video content. Jeben’s presentation at #socialcommerce was loaded with information, but here are a couple of takeaways from my perspective:

  • 25% of the search results from the world’s top 10 brands are links to user generated content. Jeben noted that this statistic was from 2009, but we would expect that number to increase substantially as social media becomes (even more) mainstream.
  • NIKE and GoPro leading the way – Jeben highlighted video examples from both NIKE and GoPro during his talk, and after seeing the videos you can see why. These are two brands that companies could learn from when they

We’ll be paying close attention to how YouTube evolves over the next few months as more brands begun to adopt it as a way to tell their story.

I know what you’re already thinking. Absolutely. Where else can I get 7 million+ hits on a piece of owned, branded content, if not on YouTube before the big game? It’s a hard argument to convince anyone otherwise, as I don’t know any other time of the year when consumers are more open and willing to invite branded commercials into their leisure time. For that alone, the answer is probably yes.

But all the controversy around this years’ ads got me thinking. If you spent $4M to air a commercial during the game, would you put it on YouTube in advance and give critics the opportunity to pick it apart? Or, wait until it’s shown in its regular airslot without all the pundit’s comments? I know the rule of controversy – a healthy debate adds fuel, and thus, more people watching.

The commercial for Mercedez Benz featuring Kate Upton was probably filmed knowing it wouldn’t ever air and it would ride the publicity. But in defending the ad, Kate created a bigger “oops” by admitting that she doesn’t even own a car.  Compare this to the 1992 Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford which is revered as one of the best commercials in Super Bowl history.  Obviously, in the pre-YouTube era, Pepsi didn’t exactly have to wrestle with such a decision to syndicate it ahead of time or not.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcroQsUN60s[/youtube]

Given their history of past ads, GoDaddy.com played their cards early this year. But wouldn’t a supermodel kissing a tech nerd receive more online buzz for its “shock value” had it first broken during the game? The fact that the controversy was the story lead, the effect has all been diluted before the game-time commercial. Same can be said of the Budweiser ad featuring the Clydesdales. I’d have been more interested in the storyline and it would have resonated more for me, had I not seen it already.  Maybe that’s why I loved the Jeep ad so much.  It packed an emotional wallop and it debuted during the game.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FadwTBcvISo[/youtube]

And finally, there’s Volkswagen who practically wrote the book on the pre-airing concept in the YouTube generation. “The Force” (still one of my favorites) received 13 Million views before it aired on the big game. I don’t believe VW deserved the unnecessary negative spotlight for this year’s ad, so I’m glad to see it air during the game. But I have to wonder if its shelf life was cut short merely because it was released so far in advance that pundits could pick it apart.  I really hope not.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H0xPWAtaa8[/youtube]

Only time will tell if this year’s crop of ads that waited until game day to air will outrank the ones that chose to release it early.  But I have to wonder, given the response of this year’s critics, if ads of the future will continue to release their spots so far in advance or if they’re better off waiting until game day to put them up on YouTube.

2012 was a huge year for social media. The whole internet rallied against Congressman Lamar Smith‘s Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The music video for Korean pop star Psy‘s runaway international hit Gangnam Style hit 1 Billion views, surpassing Justin Bieber‘s Baby to become the most-viewed video ever on YouTube. NASA put another rover on Mars and broadcast the landing on YouTube. These and a hundred other moments defined 2012 through social media.

And Mashable reported all of it.

Pete Cashmore‘s blog Mashable was one of the first social media blogs and quickly became the biggest. And, when it comes to using social media to reach and engage an audience, Mashable is second to none. In 2012, Mashable had an estimated 1.8M monthly visitors per month. On top of that, Mashable content gets shared on average 3.0M times per month on Twitter, Facebook, and StumbleUpon alone. Mashable content gets shared more than it gets viewed.

As such an important player in the social media space, it’s interesting to view social media through the lens of Mashable’s footprint there. Here’s how Mashable’s content fared on social media in 2012:

 

How is social media and analytics transforming leaders?

Are managers grasping the significance of a workplace where information is democratized and expectations for open, transparent, authentic relationships are now the norm?

This issue of CommonSense…for the C-Suite delves into the new construct reshaping how organizations lead and manage people.

We hope you find it informative and useful!

The Food and Drug Administration, last week, pushed out guidance on how companies may respond to inquiries about off-label use of marketing drugs and devices, reaffirming a policy that’s been in place for at least a quarter-century. The document includes a discussion of a number of different arenas in which information in shared, including online outlets. **

As a result — in a fitting reflection of how starved people are for rules governing the use of new media technology – the document has been widely referred to as the FDA’s “social media guidance.” AdAge’s headline called them “Social-Media ‘Guidelines” in a widely cited piece. Slate’s headline used “Draft Guidance on Social Media.” FiercePharma’s headline talked about “sharing in social media.”

Though the excitement is forgivable, the headlines are not quite right. None of the larger philosophical questions about social media were addressed. None of the impacts of FDA inaction I wrote about last month have been ameliorated. It’s hard to imagine any large-scale changes in approach based on this document. Indeed, to the extent that the new guidance is helpful, it is in codifying a set of policies that are already in place.

What the FDA published last week is not social media guidance. It is merely guidance that mentions social media, or — in FDA’s parlance — “emerging electronic media.” It uses the words “YouTube” (once) and “Twitter” (once) and “blog” (once). The lack of ambition was skewered by former Merck policy guru Ian Spatz, who called the document “a belated lump of coal” on Twitter.

But even if the guidance doesn’t change the rules on social media, there is reason for optimism. The FDA is clearly conversant in digital media strategies and the new rules suggest an understanding of the way that companies are operating in the online space. When it comes to the narrow topic of unsolicited off-label communication, the agency did a thoughtful job of including a broad range of potential communication scenarios, from YouTube contests to public medical meetings. If all future guidance is as inclusive, we’ll begin to see the outlines of a coherent communications framework. Eventually.

Of course, the alternative is that the FDA could pull back the curtain on that framework even faster. Now that would be headline-worthy.

** WCG clients: We’ve done a brief analysis of the implications of the new guidance for both real-world and on-line communications. Please talk to your client partner if you’d like to learn more.

Viral videos have become something of a holy grail for marketers, in no small part because a quickly spreading Internet meme can bring boffo numbers. Here at WCG, we’re big fans of Toyota’s “Swagger Wagon” spot (9.8 million views). And that’s taking nothing away from the Will It Blend guys (12.7 million views for the iPad spot — yes, it blends) or the angry flier ballad “United Breaks Guitars” (11.1 million views).

But there is a video platform even more impressive, number-wise than YouTube. It’s a platform that 99 percent of American households have invested in, where top videos get more than 22 million views every day (or, about 15 times more than the last Old Spice video has received in the past 2 months). It’s a medium where year-over-year growth has jumped toward the double-digits recently.

I’m talking, of course, about the evening news.

Theories on why the evening news is experiencing a renaissance are varied, but the implications are clear. The broadest of the broadcast mediums has arrested a three-decade slide, and it’s adding viewers, even younger ones. That means that at least as much attention should paid to that opportunity as trying to recreate the magic of the skateboarding bulldog (17.9 million views in 4+ years).

Of course, unlike YouTube, not everyone gets a shot at a lead-in from Scott Pelley, and  — with only 22 minutes per episode — there is much competition for airtime. But thinking hard about the ways of doing that, taking into account the increasingly unique approaches of each network, is well worth the risk. That means thinking visually, not just in terms of b-roll, but also graphics, interviews and animations that take advantage of the information-dense nature of television.

The bonus? That sort of thinking has spillover benefits across other media types, the least of which is YouTube itself. A brilliant medical animation can be repurposed in a dozen different ways even if Diane Sawyer takes a pass. Collecting a half-dozen illustrative statistics makes for a great infobox on TV … but also serve the raw material for 2011’s hippest media form: the infographic.

The explosion of media types over the past 15 years has given those of use in communications a vast palette of tools. The challenge now is making sure that the allure of the shiny new ones doesn’t blunt the fact that, a few hours after you read this, a population of people greater than the size of the entire state of New York will sit down in front of one of their 2.86 television sets and watch the evening news. Will you be on?

I recently attempted to host a YouTube hangout.  A friend of mine posted a music video he had been working on for a while; knowing that I had friends who wanted to partake, I decided to host a hangout so we could revel and compliment in one digital spot.  The experience (slow and glitchy at first) got me thinking about whether or not the concept of digital meetups for the express purpose of hosting YouTube parties could work.  My opinion is that it could change the way many big players in social media think about hosting their users social interaction, but not in a way you’d expect.

The world is not really ready for online hangouts…except maybe on YouTube.

First, lets just get this out of the way: YouTube is full of stupid junk.  In fact, there is probably more stupid junk on YouTube than anywhere else on the Internet.  Why?

1) The potential for fame.  It yanks at the common denominator: “desire for recognition.”  Nowhere on the Internet is this possibility more scintillating than on YouTube.

2) It’s incredibly easy to upload mobile video.  For example, someone created this video of a kid prostrating in the crest of a wave (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REnKJg6Wcs0&feature=related).  They had to create an account to do that, and when they created an account, they were then able to start commenting on other videos.

There are millions of proud parents posting these types of videos, and millions more teens who create videos of the AWESOME conversations and pranks they pull in middle school, post them to YouTube, and tell all their friends who go sign up so they can comment, “LOLOMGWTF.”  Keep this in mind.  People share these funny videos via Facebook or word of mouth, and their friends make a new account to participate in the experience of watching that video.  No one wants to be left out of an inside joke.  How embarrassing, especially in Junior High.

Figure 1:

Drivel.
Drivel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, you have an infinite brain trust of savvy, motivated adolescents who signed into YouTube for an express purpose—to participate in their community.  Unlettered commentary and barbarous response follow naturally because these analysts are fed an endless supply of ‘related content,’ which inevitably lands them astride a ‘high-brow’ video that attempts to provoke thought or reflection and stirs them into primal fury.  YouTube is one of the few places on the internet (save Wikipedia) where you can start on the subject of social media strategy and end on a computer generated 3D rendering of oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria.  But unlike the world of Wikipedia you don’t have to worry about community backlash when you posit your lack of sophistication.

Figure 2:

XKCD comic
This reminds me of that video where … no? How have you not seen that? Oh man, let me find it. No, it’s ok, we can go back to your video later. – Via XKCD.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because of the way this content consumption works, and the opportunity this ceaseless flow of new content represents, I think “Hangouts” can ONLY be successful on YouTube.

Video chatting is gaining popularity.  It’s free, it’s everywhere, most of the time you can get it in HD and it has made long distance relationships more bearable.  But it is a rather intimate experience.  Often, when people are at home, they’re there to be comfy, aren’t wearing pants, and have put in their retainer.  People will take pause before joining a group chat to wonder if they really need to SEE their friends just now, especially if they’re just hanging out in front of their computers, discussing the contents of the YouTube ‘related videos’ carousel.  Unless, of course, they’re meeting up with the friends who they already nag them to like and comment and syndicate their video content, who might be sharing something hilarious whose hilarity will convert into inside jokes at Monday’s lunch gathering.

“So what if they see how I live (terribly), I don’t want to be on the outside!”

The videos we discover can now enjoy instantaneous group critique and our skills as scavengers of the net can be vetted in real time as we gather in the glow of kittens batting spindles of thread.  I know the technology behind online, ad hoc, group video chatting is impressive, and that it has the potential to infuse the viral video experience with the wisdom of the crowds, but it will be a while before we see widespread adoption.  For now, the only way you’ll get me to join an online hangout is if my friends are trying to show me something unbelievably entertaining on YouTube.  Which is most of the time.  THUMBS UP IF YOU LAUGHED AT <insert timestamp here> roflcopterbbq.

 

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