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Category : Social Media Marketing

By James McAndrew

Less content, more engagement: what can brands on Facebook expect in 2017?

Social marketing platform Mavrck waded through 25 million user-generated posts from Facebook in 2016, with several key behaviour trends emerging from the study. In short, users in 2016 on the platform posted 30% less content than they did in 2015, with a 26% increase in average engagements per post in the same time frame. Influencers and micro-influencers achieved some of the most encouraging rates of engagement from original content on the platform, trumping brand content.

2016 was the year that brands truly understood the power of the influencer, but it was also the year of the micro-influencer. Categorised as a user with 500 to 5,000 friends, these influencers’ earned rate of engagement is 3.5% higher than the average Facebook users. With the average number of friends on the platform at 388, these micro-influencers are thriving off platform popularity to drive their average post engagements sky high.

With some of the highest average rates of engagement on Facebook, brands will need to incorporate and harness the power of micro-influencers into their platform strategies for 2017 – who certainly won’t dent budgets quite as significantly as the most popular YouTube personalities and beauty bloggers.

Last year, UGC content containing a brand delivered a 6.9% increase in engagement over that of shared brand-generated content. With 26% of desktop users now using adblockers whilst browsing, the impact of micro-influencers and UGC content has never been more significant when looking to infiltrate the News Feed.

Breaking down these engagements further, users were commenting and liking content more in 2016, with a 19% and 30% increase respectively. As users, we’re much more likely to tag friends in content as a form of engagement, than we are to create and post content of our own. Platform habits have certainly shifted from what they once were, with key 2016 algorithm changes supporting this.

In June, Facebook shifted feeds to bring users more content from friends and family members “to show users more of the content that’s relevant to them”. This tweak, in particular, led to a 0.5% increase in the average number of engagements per post (6), month over month to July 2016. With friends and family now trumping brands at the top of the News Feed, the time is now to implement an alternative platform strategy or face being left for dead by more original, uniquely branded content.

But how do I create a successful UGC strategy on Facebook in 2017? Mavrck state that these are best formed following these 3 key steps: Use Facebook users who publish original content, user-generated content featuring your brand, and engagements obtained from that user’s network.

With users more reluctant than ever before to share updates with friends and family on their own timelines, the expected introduction of Facebook Stories this year will no doubt change the way we share snippets of our lives once again. 150 million users flocked to Instagram Stories in 5 months: “The way people share today is different to five or even two years ago – it’s much more visual,” Facebook say.

Facebook’s newest Stories feature is poised to sit front and centre of user’s home screen (much like its Instagram counterpart) and the company also revealed in January that testing of full-screen video ads had begun for Instagram. All signs seem to point in the direction of full-screen Facebook advertising becoming the 2017 phenomenon, with many brands already testing the water over on Instagram Stories.

With changes expected to Facebook imminently, 2017 will be the year that changes the way we engage with content and alters the way in which brands advertise to users. By looking at the warning signs from 2016, brands who are fastest to get to grips with these new additions will ultimately reign supreme come 2018.

By Emily Knox

Facebook to introduce video autoplay with sound

The silent, subtitled movie trend which has pervaded Facebook over the last couple of years may be coming to an end as the social network announced today their plans to introduce audio to autoplay video before the end of the year.

Facebook has justified their decision with reported good results and positive feedback from limited user testing of the new feature. The user experience will be that the sound fades in and out as users scroll past the video in the feed, ‘bringing the video to life,’ according to Facebook. Sound will not play if the user’s mobile is set to silent.

As mobile video viewing increases, Facebook asserts that users are becoming more likely to expect audio in their browsing experience – a far remove from the days where unexpected sound from your desktop was considered a major annoyance. These days, if users are listening to their mobiles with sound on they often have earphones in, meaning the likelihood of disrupting others is minimised. The increasing popularity of lightweight, wireless earbuds could also make this trend more widespread, as people start leaving their earbuds in all day, in constant audio connection with their devices. And this is a trend which is backed up by rival social platform Snapchat, which reports that over 60% of their users listen to video with the audio on.

These changes are part of a wider ambition by Facebook to become a video destination – not just a social network featuring video. Facebook has been strengthening its video arsenal with its live products and an upcoming television app. They also announced today that they would be introducing an upgraded vertical video experience (another nod to rival Snapchat’s success) and a feature which borrows from video rival YouTube’s app experience, where a smaller video box which sits at the bottom of your mobile screen will allow you to view and browse the news feed at the same time.

So what do these changes mean for marketers?
The first question is, will people use this feature or just turn it off in their settings? There seems to be a lot of negative feedback on social media today, branding this change as irritating and intrusive, so there is a risk consumers will switch off. However, past behaviour indicates that the majority of users keep the Facebook default settings, so we can probably expect audio autoplay to follow this trend. However, this doesn’t mean that users will like it and there are likely to be teething issues as people get used to sound popping up in their earphones. Marketers should tread carefully and be mindful not to be too brash in their use of audio and keep an ear to the ground for backlash.

This will almost certainly mean a decline in the use of subtitles used in Facebook video, and a reduction in the number of ‘silent movie’ formats which didn’t rely on any sound, music or supers. This could mean a great increase in creativity, as marketers experiment with voiceovers and sound effects. These will probably be most important in the first three seconds of the video, when the viewer is the most emotionally engaged, and could be used as a ‘hook’ to draw people in and encourage them to view through.

By Dan Brown

Instagram: A Fork in the Road

Instagram Live Stories have gone, well, live.

Following in the footsteps of Meerkat, Periscope and Facebook Live, Instagram Live now offers anyone in the world another platform to livestream their DJ set, run, make up tutorial, talk…. etc.

As NextWeb put it, Instagram is now a “one-stop service for all your social photo and video publishing needs”. While that sounds delightful in quote form, what does this actually mean for the app itself and the way people use it?

What was once a clean, aspirational experience of scrolling through a feed of carefully curated images has developed into a world of conflicting forces. You’re now greeted by a choice of viewing Live Stories, delving into your following’s pseudo live Stories or scrolling through the feed; all of which are now interspersed with ads.

There is a growing feeling amongst the Instagram community that the feed is being neglected due to people’s use of Stories. A behaviour that has shifted the tone of the Instagram experience. The platform has moved away from a focus on curated, clean and beautiful moments to that of real life; a messy array of intrigue, excitement and boredom.

While regular folk migrate from Snapchat to Instagram and begin to use Instagram as a “one stop service” it’s imperative brands adapt their strategies to continue successfully thriving on the platform. An approach that reflects the platform’s fractured state would be to segment your Instagram strategy into one with many faces; treating the feed, Stories and Live as their own separate entities. One thing that remains true with Instagram (and other social channels) is that if you create something amazing, people will come.

With the newly announced addition of Facebook Stories you can be sure that we haven’t seen the end of the debate around Live and Stories. Stories seem to be the key that unlocks the castle at the current moment in time for the different social channels, however how much live streaming plays a role in that will remain to be seen.

As JME recently said, it’s all becoming a bit similar.

“Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat Live, Stories & Filters.

Might as well merge offices & make one app.

“Chat Instaface”

Safe.”

By Dani Naydenova

Facebook Maketplace Launch – Social Media’s New Shop

In the beginning of October, Facebook launched its new product – Marketplace – in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. It was described by them as “a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community”.

Since then already 30% of the US Facebook users declare than they turn to social media when they are researching products online.

(The graph is a courtesy of Global Web Index http://bit.ly/2dZsx5S)

Since its launch in the beginning of October, Facebook marketplace has already been called “friendlier Craigslist” and caused trouble to Facebook, forcing it to apologise publicly. The reason behind being the fact that for couple of hours the system failed to filter out all illicit offers. You can imagine what was put out for sale.

But Marketplace is not only just another step in Facebook’s never ending journey in increasing its influence; it can be the first tool to bridge the gap between research and purchase on social media.

The platform does not yet support a native transaction system, and only 6% say that being able to purchase directly via social media would encourage them to buy online; however, 8 in 10 US Facebook users say they have purchased a product online last month, making it very clear why Facebook has decided to move in the direction of social commerce.

At the moment Marketplace is only available as mobile app for Android and iOS, although Facebook has already announced that they will make it available for the web shortly.

By Zoe McGovern

Humans V Chatbots: The Modern Customer Journey

Customer service issues: they’ve come a long way from that tiny desk located in the smallest back-end corner of the store. No longer do we drag ourselves into cities only to hear from monotone staff members how our receipt is one day out of date or to realise we’ve brought the wrong credit card with us. These days all it takes is a simple social handle and 140 characters to get to make things right again. But can our digital equivalents really be as amazing as they seem?

According to Group M, one in four people are genuinely more trusting of a chatbot with their personal information than a human. I know as well as you do that we are living in a (very) digital age but should we draw the line when it comes to human/AI interaction? I’ll hold my hands up and admit I often find it easier to ask online. Last week I went out of my way to book a table online as opposed to calling the pub, not because my palms get sweaty at the sheer thought of speaking with a stranger, but merely because it was the first thing to come to mind. The digitalisation of our lives has led to a shift in how we think and resolve. We want the quickest and easiest solution. No queues please!

The ‘Humanity in the Machine’ report, which Group M ran, found that 63% of people would consider communicating with a chatbot to contact a business or brand. Fair enough. The report also found that 48% of us also feel it’s “creepy” for a machine to pretend it’s a human, but the reality is that chatbots are becoming hugely popular in digital marketing, and it’s vital that brands embrace becoming an “experience business”. Facebook recently updated its Messenger features, meaning chatbots can now link to an account to make personalised suggestions. “Oh you liked that book, right? How about your read THIS book? No, don’t worry, you don’t need to go look for it, we’ve done that for you!” Simple, easy and effective. Move over redirecting, the chatbot age is well and truly in full swing. Read more about Messenger bots here.

The logic behind why so many brands and businesses are now turning to an AI-led customer service is due to ever-changing and ever-rising customer expectations. Brands must improve the experiences their customers endure in order to maintain customer trust and brand advocacy. Where social media gives the customer the driving seat, chatbots are allowing brands to (sort of) take back some of the control, even if it is through a creepy, fake human. Like it or not, this is the direction our online customer journey has taken and now is the time to embrace it. After all, who wants to wait in line in store? Just send that Tweet, sit back and let the digital magic happen.

By Eve Tyler

Happy Social Media Day!

All around the world, from Denver to Barcelona to Costa Rica to India, people are celebrating Social Media Day – a day to celebrate, acknowledge and discuss the impact social has had on our lives and our communities. Started back in 2010 by Mashable, it’s seen incredible growth over the past few years and has established itself as a truly global experience. As we have seen (especially in the wake of Brexit), social media has played an enormous role in the way we receive and share news, the way we express condolences and solidarity and the way we engage in debate and discussion.

There are events taking place all over the world: agencies, brands, industry leaders and more are coming together to talk around social media issues. For example, from a quick browse of the global event hashtag #SMDay2016 on Twitter, I’m able to tune into a live Facebook stream from Ahmedabad about digital video in India, I can catch tweets from the Philippines about social star Sebastian Castro’s talk about how YouTube changed his life and I’m able to follow threads from all around the world (kind of speaks about the power of social for itself, doesn’t it?)

Interested in getting in on the action? Follow the hashtag #SMDay2016 on Twitter and Facebook, check out the events going on around the world and share your own story: how has social media made a personal impact on who you are?

 

And make a note in your diaries: Social Media Week, a worldwide event focussed on sharing media insights around social media’s influence in business, culture and society, is happening 12-16 September 2016. For those of you in London, events will happen at BFI Southbank and it will feature speakers from big names like National Geographic, Buzzfeed, Forbes and more. To learn more about the event and how you can get involved, click here.

Until then, a happy #SMDay to you all!

By Jenny Illmann

Why Social Media Optimisation matters

Optimising your social media profile for SEO is an often underused tactic to drive more traffic to your social media profiles and help them appear in SERPs. However, you can implement some very quick and easy changes that will make your social media profile stand out from your competitors.

Here is a list of things you can do to help your social media profiles come out top in the SERPs:

  1. Optimise descriptions such as your Twitter bio for SEO: Use keywords and hashtags. Make sure you stick to under 150 characters so that your description is visible in SERPs. Your description is effectively a Meta description and will be regarded by search engines as such.
  2. Interlink all of your social media profiles with one another and make sure they are referenced correctly: If your Facebook profile is mentioned on your Instagram account for example and vice versa, it will help search engines establish relevance between your properties.
  3. Google+ is a platform that is no longer used as much as a few years ago, however, sharing your content will still have a beneficial effect on your rankings in Google.
  4. YouTube acts just like a search engine: make sure your descriptions are long and informative and your video is in the right category so users can find it more easily.
  5. Referencing your key landing pages on your Google+ page will do wonders for their ranking.
  6. Instagram is a great place for keyword optimisation. Use your keywords as hashtags but do not overdo this as it will look spammy.
  7. The Notes-Section in Facebook is a great section to share content. Many brands neglect this section but adding new content will mean that your profile is crawled by Google more often.
  8. Contact details such as address details and telephone numbers also help search engines to establish relevance and authority of your brand

Social Media Optimisation is a way for your SEO and Social teams to work together. Carrying out regular audits of your social profiles is important in order to make sure that they are relevant in terms of keywords for SEO.

By Eric Sisti

It Feels Good To Be Cool

What a difference a few years can make. The Toronto Raptors have gone from the laughing stock of the NBA world to the hottest ticket in the city. They have talented young players, a fantastic coach, and a promising future. Heck, it wouldn’t be crazy to say there’s a good chance they’ll make it all the way to the eastern conference finals! Simply put, things are going great. But as their record improved so did something else, something ever more important; their cool-factor. Although their winning ways did play a role in this, the ‘6ix-God’ himself Drake lit the fire. Named the team’s Global Ambassador in 2014, Drake’s seemingly boundless popularity and OVO branding has put the Raptors back on the global map.

Drake’s involvement with the team is apparent by just skimming through his Twitter and Instagram accounts. He will frequently post photos of himself enjoying a game court-side or hanging out with the players. This means that his 50 million followers (a number quickly growing) are being exposed to the Raptors on a daily basis. The power of social media marketing is pretty incredible! This alone is a fantastic way of promoting the brand, but it doesn’t stop here. There are also ‘Drake Nights,’ home games celebrating this partnership where every fan in the Air Canada Centre receives a free OVO/Raptors shirt. The immense popularity of the OVO record label and clothing brand has made these shirts a super-hot commodity; some selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. On top of all of this Drake frequently mentions the team, or specific players in the case of Lou Williams (‘6 Man’), in his chart-topping songs. Being that he is arguably the biggest rapper/pop star in the world at the moment, this is a pretty big deal!

So what does all this good stuff ad up to? A team that fans want to watch, and players want to play for. A team with a firm grip on the pulse of modern pop culture. A team with tons of positive buzz and energy around it. A rejuvenated Toronto Raptors brand.

It feels good to be cool…even in Toronto!

By Naomi Young

The death of Facebook’s 20% text rule

In the past, to use an image in Facebook ads, it had to pass the vigorous 20% text rule. This meant that if the banner was made up of more than 20% text, it would not be approved. This was Facebook’s way of making sure ad copy was confined to the text and heading, keeping banners image focused and of high-quality.

Today I went to use the grid tool, which helped you check whether your image would be approved or not, however, I couldn’t find it. And this is when I discovered Facebook’s policies have changed… dun-dun-dun!

Now, images must have as little text as possible. It means that the more text these images have, the more the reach of the ad will be limited.

An email to Greg, our Facebook contact, confirmed this. He said:

The text policy has changed slightly in that your ads won’t be disapproved for having over 20% text anymore, instead the ad will be approved but if an ad has a lot of text in it then it will be penalized on the delivery front so the reach will be limited.

 

Going forward, I imagine it will help with relevancy, making ads look more streamlined within the news feed and less intrusive for users.

More info can be found here 

By Eva leluel

NASA and the Social Media Conquest

On the 20th of July 1969, when he first walked on the moon Neil Armstrong was watched by 600 million people and in the middle of the Cold War, NASA really showed high communication skills by diffusing the US victory in the space conquest race with the Soviet Union.

Forty-seven years later, NASA is the most famous space agency in the world and is one of the most recognizable social media brands in the world. Indeed, when asked to mention a space agency, the name of NASA is the name that automatically crosses Western peoples’ minds. With 14.7m Twitter followers, and 9.2m followers on Instagram, there are few businesses that have such a great established social media presence as NASA. NASA even won the Shorties’ Sixth Annual Ceremony prize in the ‘Social Media’s Best Government’ category.

You’ve probably heard about the ‘Curiosity rover’, the NASA robot super star, tweeting selfies from Mars, making space exploration fun instead of a closed-doors club requiring two PhDs to make sense out of it.

As part of their communication strategy, astronauts have also been asked to contribute to social media content. In 2013, the cover of David Bowies’ “Space Oddity” by the astronaut Chris Hadfield aboard the Internation Space Station went viral and reached almost 31 million views on YouTube.

NASA’s presence on social media not only enables the space agency to inspire wide audiences but is also a clever way to increase its budget. Indeed, NASA is primarily financed by public funds and the agency is legally not allowed to engage in lobbying. Some therefore might argue that NASA’s popularity influences the American government to allocate more budget to NASA’s next exploration.

By making astronauts the new Superheroes and robot’s eco-friendly rescuers, Hollywood is also a key asset to NASA’s popularity, positively contributing to its brand image and communication, take the Oscar nominated film ‘The Martian’ for example.

NASA is a great example of an institutionalised company that successfully embraced social media in ways that are beneficial for educating and informing its audience whilst fostering the relevance to invest in space exploration.

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Less content, more engagement: what can brands on Facebook expect in 2017?
Facebook to introduce video autoplay with sound
Facebook Maketplace Launch – Social Media’s New Shop
Humans V Chatbots: The Modern Customer Journey
Happy Social Media Day!