Category Archives: Best Practices

3 Tips to Making Influencer Marketing Work

Written by: Jordan Lee
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In the social landscape, there are rising stars who have massive sway over their audiences. Influencer outreach began a decade ago, and often brands were able to just send product in order to get a few hits from bloggers. The landscape has evolved quickly over the past few years. Nearly every social platform has their own influencers, and some YouTube stars have eclipsed traditional celebrities. Making influencer marketing work for your brand can be made simple if best practices are followed and you keep in mind a few things special to the space:

1. Influence and size aren’t always synonymous.

It is easy to see a follower count and immediately be drawn to it. However, if this isn’t your first experience in the digital world, you know that numbers can be deceiving. There are bots, spam accounts that can inflate following numbers. Earlier this year, Instagram cleaned house on inactive and spam accounts. Some influencers only had incremental drops in followers, but some dropped by the thousands.

Great partners, networks, and MCNs will share engagement information with you to make the most educated guess on your real ROI. Stats like average views per video, typical click-through rates, and demographic breakdowns are highly valuable information and can set realistic expectations for value.

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Influencer stats example via Kin Community

2. Seek common ground.

Collaborating with influencers in the social space requires a lot of trust. Brands need to let go of control to create the best content with these partners. They know their audience best, and they aren’t going to be willing to compromise the relationship by producing something gimmicky or unnatural.

With larger, more intricate campaigns or content, it can be really helpful to schedule time with the influencer for a creative brief. This way purpose and expectations can be laid out and discussed prior to work being done. Both the brand and the influencer will be more comfortable throughout the process of the work with clear guidelines set.

3. Build genuine relationships.

This may appear to be a no-brainer, but often brands and agencies approach influencers with no genuine tie to their product or service. Influencers are becoming more and more selective about who they choose to work with. If an influencer never talks about your industry, or even has talked about your brand in a negative light, it is best to leave it be and move on. Time spent going far back and researching an influencer can really pay off in the long run because the influencer will also be excited about the partnership.

The best scenario is your influencer is already a fan of your brand. For example, Jeanette Getrost was already a fan of Lifetime’s Project Runway when approached to collaborate. This was a win for everyone; the influencer received meaningful work and Lifetime reaped the benefits of the genuine care put into each post.

Not every partnership is fortunate enough to work that way, nor does every brand find someone who is actively talking about them or their product. Creativity and limits can definitely be stretched if the idea is unique enough. For example, a corporation may have a responsibility initiative that may speak to an influencer’s passions, where they might have otherwise not been interested in working together.

It should go without saying, but just be honest and understanding in these partnerships. Leaving things on a good note with an influencer can open doors later on and ensure a positive reputation in the online community.

How Pinterest Connects Brands to Audiences Better Than You Think

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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When thinking of social networks that are beneficial for tune-in, Twitter comes to mind first. Twitter and TV are intertwined to the extent that Nielsen came out with SocialGuide two years ago to track TV viewing with Twitter. A less likely pair for TV networks? Pinterest.

With no strong data to support that the platform helps drive tune-in, why should networks dedicate time and resources to Pinterest? With 48.7 million users, Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to engage consumers. A Pinterest board full of interesting and relevant content can be extremely influential in engaging a brand’s target audience when strategically executed.

Like many, Lifetime was unsure of increasing their time commitment in the Pinterest space. However, looking at the similarities between the Lifetime viewer and the Pinterest user, it became apparent that focusing on the platform could be a great benefit to the TV network in terms of forming stronger connections with their target audience.

Lifetime viewers are 78 percent women, compared to 80 percent on the Pinterest platform. Fans of both also share an interest in music, fashion, and travel. From a brand perspective, Lifetime is working to shake off old-school views of the network, with a lot of younger women probably thinking, “Lifetime isn’t me.” What better way to discover new Lifetime programming than through carefully curated boards in topics that interest their target viewer with branded posts interspersed throughout? Pinners can see Lifetime pins and choose to repin them onto their own pages, an action by itself that makes the statement, “This is me.”

Pinterest.com/lifetimetv

Pinterest.com/lifetimetv

Aside from a brand play like Lifetime’s, TV Land just published a case study with Pinterest showing that using Promoted Pins and real-time optimization helped their show “Younger” achieve record-breaking ratings and season two pick up.

Pinterest.com/youngertv

Pinterest.com/youngertv

Pinterest helps brands build stories and experiences that speak to their audience members, building up a portfolio that defines the brand. TV networks’ investment in the platform can help extend the stories of their programs and most-loved characters, helping people continue to connect with their favorites. More importantly, it can help consumers discover new programs from places they might least expect.

Preventing Shiny Object Syndrome in Digital Health Innovation

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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I see Shiny Object Syndrome very often in the world of marketing. MediaPost defines Shiny Object Syndrome, or SOS as “chasing after the latest digital innovation with little planning, thinking about whether it will work for the organization, or buy-in from the people responsible for making it happen.”

Marketers and brand managers hear about brands with innovative campaigns or technology and want to implement them immediately for their client. Often they want the process expedited so that it can be pushed into market sooner, which could potentially hurt the project in the long run.

In the past, innovation in healthcare happened only within the R&D departments of medical manufacturers, but now we are starting to see a shift in this model. Hundreds of new digital health companies have been funded since 2012, with a focus on consumer health, wellness, and a rise of personalized health.

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International Journal of Health

It is important to take a step back and really consider whether this particular innovation would be driving the clients’ business goals and strategic imperatives. People with SOS risk focusing too much on being innovative that they lose sight of the actual problem they are trying to solve. Bankruptcy courts are filled with what once seemed like clever software programs and digital innovations that were created under the thinking that customers would want them. Successful innovators take a step back before building and executing these ideas to understand what problem they could solve with their new digital offering.

If you want to sustain and support digital health innovation for your client long term, there are a few key steps that you have to take in order to be successful:

1. Awareness and Education: This is where you learn about an innovation and really start to understand the nuances of the offering so that you can make a decision about whether or not it would be beneficial for your client in the long-term.

2. Engagement and Capacity Boosting: Start testing pilot initiatives and determining whether it makes sense to move forward with the innovation. Is it making a process more efficient? Is it solving a business goal? Does it have a measurable impact? This is where we implement a series of small, low-risk, low-cost experiments designed to test the assumptions behind a new offering and ensure that it is the strategic direction we want to go.

3. Proficiency and Scaling: Successfully utilize the digital innovation in ways that positively impact the client and their key business objectives.

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MediaPost/Fard Johnmar

This process seems very simple and rudimentary, but it helps provide an outline for implementing the latest digital innovation from initial awareness to leveraging technologies at scale. It forces marketers to ask the right questions about their clients’ goals (short- and long-term), target audiences, and plan for how the digital innovation would fit into the larger picture for the brand.

Challenging Pharma and Medical Device Companies to Be Better on Social

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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Pharmaceutical and medical device companies and healthcare practitioners alike have been cautious to join social conversations due to fear of their legal and regulatory bodies and FDA regulations. Twitter, in particular, is worrisome due to the cap of 140 characters – how to disclose everything necessary for best use? Even Kim Kardashian was recently hand slapped for not fully disclosing both the positive and negative side effects of a morning sickness pill on Instagram.

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An easy place to start for many companies was live-tweeting around events, such as healthcare conferences, and simply echoing their press release information. As a heavy media-oriented, news-like channel, Twitter worked well for this, as that info is already approved by legal and regulatory. It also worked well when joining in on the social conversations that occurred at different conferences, simply by adding on the official conference hashtag at the end of their tweet.

However, just this summer, a group of scientists and HCPs have joined together to form the #MICEProject (Measuring the Influencer of Commercial Entities) in the Twitter backchannels of medical conferences. Their argument is while there are certain precautions taken at live conferences to separate third party entities (pharma and medical device companies) and “learners” (healthcare providers, other attendees) so that a learner, if they so desire, would never have to expose themselves to a third party. Currently, these restrictions do not exist on Twitter. Using PageRank, the study analyzed the influence of HCPs and third party entities at 13 different medical conferences from 2011-2013, suggesting that medical device and pharma companies exert around the same amount of influence as healthcare providers within the social space, something that is protected against happening at live conferences.

Their bottom line is that pharma and medical device companies should stop spreading biased information and instead focus on evidence-based medical knowledge – or curb their use of medical hashtag use overall. While it’s quite provocative to have full restrictions on companies’ hashtag use at medical conferences, the larger issue this brings up is using social strategically and not posting for the sake of posting.

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As part of the #MICEProject, Pharma Marketing News created an initial survey on third party medical conference hashtag use.

As an overall struggle many companies face, pharma and medical device companies need to move past one-way communication streams and sending information that is likened to an ad and instead engage in social conversations that add to the dialogue. Using event hashtags can be a great springboard to reach your target audiences, but make it conversations that matter to them – not just what is safe and approved by your L&R. At the present moment, as seen with the #MICEProject, we’re in a place of not applying best practices and angering our audiences – quite the opposite of the intended result.

6 Things to Know About FTC Disclosures When Working with Influencers

Written by: Allie Wester
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Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission updated their Endorsement Guides FAQ for disclosures in digital advertising. This new document helps provide additional clarity into their 2013 Disclosure Guide, which is a bit ambiguous.

In blogger/influencer brand partnerships, it’s always best to make disclosures clear and conspicuous. If you’re not sure if something is clear and conspicuous, take a step back and look at the content through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t work in the advertising/marketing industry. Assume this consumer has no idea that bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, Viners, etc. get paid by brands to market on their behalf. Is it 100% clear that the content is a partnership with a brand? If not, then you have some editing to do! If it is… good job!

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Here are some general guidelines that bloggers/influencers and marketers should follow when working on sponsored content:

1. Make sure to clearly disclose relationships in blog posts.

Again, make sure the disclosure is clear and conspicuous. You can say something like, “This post is sponsored by Brand X,” or “This post is in partnership with Brand X.”

2. Disclose relationships in individual social media posts, too.

Typically, influencers promote brand partnerships on social channels that complement their primary channel (such as their blog or YouTube channel). These complementary social channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. If the brand is mentioned in text (e.g., calling out the brand’s Twitter handle) or image (e.g., the product is visible in the Pinterest image), disclosure needs to be included in that individual piece of social content, too.

Linking to a blog post with disclosure is not sufficient. What if someone never clicks on that link?

3. #sp and #spon are not acceptable disclosures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Use #ad instead.

Many bloggers use #sp and #spon as disclosure. This is a common mistake. The FTC Endorsement Guide cites #spon as insufficient and not clear. A consumer may not realize that #spon or #sp is shorthand for “sponsored.” I see their point here; even I, a marketer, read #sp and think, “Spelling error!” (Elementary school essay flashbacks…)

The easiest solve is to use #ad. It uses the least amount of characters and is undeniably clear. For a softer approach, you can disclose in context such as, The easiest BBQ brisket, in partnership with @BrandX: [LINK].”

4. Don’t put #ad in the first comment on Instagram.

If multiple people comment, then it will get buried and no one will see it. It needs to be in the description.

5. On YouTube, make sure disclosure is stated verbally both in the video and in the description.

Make sure that the disclosure is featured in the description above the fold, before the “Show More” link. Additionally, disclosure should be stated verbally at the beginning of the video, since YouTube videos are often embedded and a consumer may never see the description. And, as the FTC says, it’s even better to disclose multiple times throughout the video.

6. If you’re working with a blog network, make sure they call out the brand name in the disclosure. 

Some blog networks have bloggers disclose with a simple “This post is sponsored by Blog Network X,” without any mention of the brand name. The consumer may think Blog Network X is a neutral third party, so it is not sufficient. The brand name must be mentioned.

For further insights and guidance, visit:

FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

Amazon Launches ‘Home Services’ To Take the Guesswork Out of Booking Goat Grazing Services

Written by: Rita Mogilanski
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Amazon recently launched Home Services, a portal that allows users to find, schedule, and purchase professional services through Amazon. The services that are currently provided include appliance repair and installation, home cleaning, music lessons, iPhone repair, and so much more (including Goat Grazing).

Why Use Amazon?

Amazon handpicks the service providers to assure quality by performing background checks and verifying insurance and licenses. They remove most of the risk associated with choosing domestic help by suggesting only verified vendors and giving customers standardized, prepackaged prices. Amazon will match prices if customers find a lower price for the service provider elsewhere, and you are only charged after the service is completed.

4.1-1This service will prove helpful for users making purchases that need installation. When shopping for an air conditioner, I was served a link to book a professional to install the appliance. This seamless integration relieves much of the stress around installing major appliances. Consumers already trust Amazon and will be willing to go with the professional services the platform recommends to expedite the process.

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How is it Changing the Industry?

Other similar platforms like Angie’s List and Yelp provide users with trustworthy reviews. Unlike Angie’s List, there is no membership fee for Amazon, and unlike Yelp, you can book directly through the site. Competing platforms may choose to increase the services they provide to be more robust in order to compete with Amazon’s one-stop shop experience.

TaskRabbit, which is a platform that provides services very similar to Amazon Home Services, has partnered with Amazon in such a way that allows Amazon users to hire fully-vetted “Taskers,” or TaskRabbit’s service providers, through Amazon.

Small businesses that rely on the local community may feel the pressure of competition from businesses listed on Amazon. For professional services looking to get their business on the website, they can apply here. Businesses pay Amazon a portion of the profits, and Amazon handles payments and customer complaints and issues, taking some of the stress off the professionals as well as the customers.

If you’re looking to take the risk and guesswork out of booking professional help, Amazon Home Services is a great tool. They are currently making life easier for customers and small business owners in most major US cities. For similar platforms, however, the competition just got real.

Image: Amazon.com

Image: Amazon.com

 

2015 SXSW Interactive: 5 Things That Stood Out

Written by: Jake Schneider
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Thanksgiving, SXSW, Halloween.

Those are my favorite holidays, in that order. 2015 marks my 9th year attending the annual conference and as TMA’s resident Austinite, nothing excites me more than hearing the words “Film,” “Interactive,” and “Music” categorized under one event within walking distance of my downtown home.

In years past, I’ve seen the transformative launch of Twitter, watched Kanye perform at the Power Plant – now home to Under Armour Connected Fitness – and taken in many great films and parties.

Last year, while there were still significant highlights like Edward Snowden’s session that I found fascinating, the 2014 version felt bloated and unmanageable.

2015, however, felt like a shift or transition probably aided by the fact that there wasn’t one super strong theme that overpowered everything. This led me to be open to the serendipity that is part of the very soul of SXSW.

With that, here are five things that stood out for me at this year’s conference:

1. Meerkat: If there was a clear winner for 2015 SXSWi, it would be Meerkat. Every single human being at badge pick-up was talking about and using the app that allows you to live stream video directly into Twitter.

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Meerkat was everywhere around Austin. It felt like SXSW activities and experiences were being streamed all over the place.

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Then somehow (perhaps through the Force), Twitter felt the surge of usage and, in realizing they recently purchased a competitive app called Periscope, put Meerkat in a chokehold by cutting its access to their social graph.

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The significance of Meerkat’s emergence this past week is that streaming content is here and it is embraced. This type of channel opens up doors to publishing experiences and helping users and brands become their own networks.

2. Verizon’s #ATXunite: For those Austinites who attend SXSW, the experience is amazing. For those who don’t, it can be downright frustrating, or so I’ve heard. There are three things we love to complain about in Austin: traffic, crowds, and traffic. Verizon took a different route this year with #ATXunite, a social campaign focusing on aiding Austin locals with survival kits featuring everything from Yeti coolers, Bose ear buds, and Philips Hue light bulbs to exclusive lunch experiences at Franklin BBQ just by following and tweeting Verizon and #ATXunite.

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Verizon nailed it with this activation by bringing the serendipitous experience of SXSW to those locals who can’t or don’t attend. Or, in this case, by bringing it to me and my coworker, Zane.

3. Virtual Reality: We are so close. You remember that part in Jamiroquai’s video for Virtual Insanity where Jay Kay, after spending so much time getting further away from the frame, comes as close as possible and stays there to finish the video? That is where I feel we are right now. So close, and from here it is all mainstream. SXSW definitely had its share of VR experiences and installations. From Interstellar’s setup for their Blu-ray release to Google’s Cardboard viewer, VR showed it is ready and the demand showed that we are ready for VR.

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I am, in fact, giddy at the possibilities that VR presents for brand experiences in the entertainment, automotive, fashion, and retail industries.

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There is demand – as you can already pick up Google Cardboard on Ebay.

4. Big Data and Social: Finally Big Data, you have arrived. There were tons of panels on utilizing and the importance of Big Data this year, and rightfully so. Big Data is no longer a nice-to-have, it is a need-to-have. Understanding your audience and gaining that competitive advantage has never been more important to brands. How to make it actionable, how it and Audience Intelligence can work together, how to use it to drive engagement – it was all on display during SXSWi. Audience Intelligence platform People Pattern even made a cool persona infographic on SXSW:3.23-7

5. Curiosity: There were plenty of speakers on hand this year, and the two that stood out most for me both focused on the value of curiosity. The first speaker was TV & Film Producer Brian Grazer, who created Imagine Entertainment with Ron Howard and has created exceptional films like “Backdraft” and “Apollo 13.” Grazer was discussing his book written about his life philosophy of having “curiosity conversations” with different and interesting people every two weeks. He uses these conversations to guide and inspire his work and build relationships.

The second was with Henry Rollins. I’ll be honest: Rollins is a personal inspiration of mine – I was initially just happy to be in the room. He was there attending and promoting his new film, “He Never Died.” Rollins covered his life travels and experiences; however, the gravy was poured when he talked about his life philosophy of how anger fuels his curiosity. The anger is what makes him curious, and the curiosity, in turn, fuels the anger. The result, he states, “makes me want to do stuff and live vigorously.”  I left both of those talks inspired.

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I clearly had better seats for Grazer than Rollins.

SXSW has been a great success for me. For anyone that is considering a future trip, I would highly encourage it. There is something for everyone. You’ll leave here more knowledgeable and inspired.

Follow Jake Schneider @jakeschneider

SMWNYC: Day 2 Recap

Written by: Sarah Shapleigh
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“The New Millennial Model for Business: Under-30 Leaders Sound Off on This Generations Impact”

This session featured a panel of millennials from the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was moderated by Randall Lane, the editor of Forbes Magazine. The panelists were Elise Andrew, the creator and editor of I Fucking Love Science, Jeremy Cabalona, a community manager at Vine, and Rachel Gogel, a Creative Director at The New York Times. Each of the panelists brought a different perspective because they each had a different path to lead them to the position they have today.

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It is predicted that by 2025, 75 percent of the global workforce will be comprised of millennials. As more and more millennials are becoming leaders, they are bringing tech-savvy ideas and changing the way business is done. Each panelist stressed the importance of technology in their personal and professional lives. Elise Andrew talked about how she created a Facebook Page so she could share articles and funny things she found on the Internet without clogging up her friends’ News Feed with science posts. Similarly, Rachel Gogel discussed how technology and social media are transforming businesses from fashion to publishing. Gogel has worked at companies such as Diane Von Furstenberg, Travel and Leisure, and GQ, and she now works at The New York Times. Her experience spans many industries but digital played a large role in each.

A common question in recent years has been “How do we manage millennials in the workplace?” With millennials making up such a large portion of the global workforce, people are now beginning to wonder about Gen X. Jeremy Cabalona stressed the importance of treating them like a peer because there is so much you can learn from them. He even said he has recommended hiring a 15-year-old consultant for Vine because they really have become the experts on that platform.

One of the most interesting responses from the panel came as a question from the audience. An attendee asked a classic interview question: “What is your five-year plan?” All three of the panelists had the same basic answer: A five-year plan doesn’t work anymore because the landscape is constantly changing. With the rise of social media and advances in technology there will be jobs in five years that don’t even exist today, so it is impossible to plan that far ahead in today’s world.

“Is Social Media Just Media? The Future of Paid, Earned and Content”

The second session I attended was with Matt Britton and Lisa Weinstein, and moderated by Mike Shields, senior editor of The Wall Street Journal. Matt Britton is the CEO and Founder of MRY, the creative agency that was one of the first social media marketing stewards. Lisa Weinstein is the President of Global Digital, Data, and Analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group, the largest media shop in the world.

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Weinstein and Britton discussed how social media marketing is currently at a crossroads because Facebook has stressed that brands will have to pay to get visibility for any of their posts, and most social platforms have rolled out “promoted post” ad models. This shift causes brands to have to pay to play in social. In addition, both Weinstein and Britton agreed that there really isn’t such thing as a USP anymore. All brands claim their product works and is the best – so nothing is unique. This is where content comes in. Creative briefs need to shift from focusing on a USP to focusing on content and the unmet needs of the consumer. Brands will have to be more selective in the content they produce – as Britton said, “The days of ‘Like this if you like Wednesdays!’ are gone.” If a brand can deliver on that unmet need and provide compelling content, then they will be successful.

Matt Britton brought up dark social and his views on whether social networks such as Whisper, Snapchat, and Yik Yak were a good solution for combatting the zero organic reach on Facebook. He argued that brands don’t really have a role on these platforms and that consumers don’t want brands to be there. On Snapchat for example, brands think they have a role in branded stories and events, but consumers may not. Similarly, Discover on Snapchat is not set up for success. Facebook and Twitter naturally integrate sponsored content into the overall user experience, but for Snapchat it is on a completely separate page. Many teens and other users are using the app daily but not even going to the Discover page because it is not an integral part of the user experience for the platform. Weinstein added that from an ad model perspective she loved it, but from a consumer perspective Snapchat hasn’t fully figured it out yet.

Britton and Weinstein also brought up an interesting point – “brands are people, people are brands” and that most times brands don’t influence audiences, people do. This is evident in Marc Cuban having more followers than the Dallas Mavericks or Bill Gates having more followers than Microsoft.

Overall, it was a very interesting discussion about the challenges that marketers face in getting their message across to consumers. In an increasingly crowded space, brands need to act as publishers and develop focused content that meets the unmet needs of their consumers, with an emphasis on quality content over quantity.

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“Networks of Influence: Hosted by Translation, Elite Daily, and Crimson Hexagon.”

My final session of the day was my favorite session of the week. It included a presentation by Marcus Collins, Head of Social Engagement at Translation, with an overview of a social analytics tool by Mitch Brooks, a Senior Research Strategist at Crimson Hexagon. The session ended with a Q&A with David Arabov, Co-founder and CEO of Elite Daily.

First, Collins shared a presentation on networks of influence and how important they are for marketers today. He defined networks as groups of people that exchange information, experiences, data, and knowledge. Networks have shared beliefs, unwritten rules, rituals, and social rules. Essentially, our networks significantly impact our behavior. Collins explained that our brains are wired to imitate people and we are most likely to imitate people that are like us.

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The rise of the connected class and the social web have made it theoretically easier to reach target audiences but more difficult to forge authentic connections with consumers. Traditional methods of demographic-segmentation will no longer work, because demographics fail to fully describe people. For example, a person who lives in a certain area or falls into a particular age range does not tell you much about their interests or behaviors. Marketing to the connected class will require a deeper understanding of human behavior and to see consumers as complete human beings. This can be done through leveraging networks of influence.

As marketers, we need to understand that we are in the business of behavior adoption. Broad demographic information does not help us anymore, so “target audiences” are useless. Instead, we need to be focusing on target networks, which have social norms and can influence the rest of the people within that network. This will completely change the dynamic of how we target consumers, and if done correctly can help us reach consumers more effectively in order to impact their behavior.

Why Your Brand Will Love Snapchat in 2015

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Each year I like to dive into a specific platform that can make an impact for brands in the coming year. In February of 2014, I published “2014: The Year of Tumblr.” This prediction was recently validated, as TechCrunch released data showing that Tumblr just overtook Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

In 2015, Snapchat is the fastest growing social app. I have received numerous client requests for POVs on the platform, and I was recently briefed by the Snapchat team. What the team unveiled takes the platform to the next level for brands interested in reaching the 14-to-28-year-old demo in 2015.

Snapchat is already the fastest growing social app heading into 2015.

Here are the five reasons to consider Snapchat in 2015:

1. Heavy usage by younger audiences

According to Business Insider, nearly half of Americans aged 12 to 24 have used Snapchat.

A majority of campaign briefs called out some form of Millennial as the target, and Generation Z began to regularly appear toward the end of the year as well. Combine the penetration and rate of growth with new offerings that are designed to further enable brands on the platform, and Snapchat is important to consider for the right brand.

Snapchat launched in 2011 with a heavy emphasis on teen and 20-something users, and it has quickly gained traction over the past few years. Snapchat’s sweet spot is between 14 and 28, with a slight female lean. The numbers are impressive, including the fact that almost 50 percent of U.S. users aged 12 to 24 have tried Snapchat. The company now sits at 100 million active users with 50 million users in the U.S.

When it comes to frequency of use, the platform is even more impressive, as 60 percent of the active users are on the app daily, with frequency numbers as high as 22 times per day.

For those not familiar with Snapchat, one of the unique elements of the platform is that content “disappears” after a short period of time that is set by the content creator.

Users also have the ability to “doodle” directly on the content to quickly personalize it, as well as add filters and comment on top of content.

To give you further perspective, check out this Snapchat infographic that our team developed in 2013. You can see the explosive growth since then.

If that’s not enough, there are more than 700 million snaps sent everyday. One of the key behavioral factors is tied to the fact that there is a sense of urgency with the content, as it will eventually disappear.

2. Brands are active on Snapchat?

When it comes to the various use cases of Snapchat, users can chat with one-to-one messaging and live video chat, they can consume a feed of directly sent snaps and messages from friends, capture photo and video (filter, doodle, caption), and interact with the story feed.

While some brands go the route of directly sending and feeding snaps and messages, one of the key areas of focus recently has been tied to the “story” feed.

Here is an example from Taco Bell showcasing new products directly to its followers:

The “My Stories” feature was introduced in 2013 and has become one of the most popular features within the app. “My Stories” allows users to link multiple snaps together over a 24-hour period. This feature alone is driving more than 1 billion views a day and has become the “go-to” for brands emphasizing a one-to-many strategy on the platform, versus one-to-one messaging.

Here is an example of McDonald’s using multiple snaps to reveal a new product:

3. Snapchat and advertising

When it comes to an approach to advertising, Snapchat is more like BuzzFeed than Facebook. It focuses on contextual relevance of the content to drive impressions versus a highly-targeted approach. Both have their pros and cons, but Snapchat recommends that relevance and authenticity are the keys to success when it comes to advertising within its platform. Furthermore, it has recently introduced the ability to position sponsored content in the friend feed.

A sponsored post is for a period of 24 hours and can be up to 20 seconds of premium content. From a viewability standpoint, Snapchat counts a view as two seconds of consumption, and it states that the biggest difference is its model is built around the idea of connected engagement versus reach and frequency.

Here is an example of sponsored content from the recent “Ouija” movie:

4. Snapchat is opening up opportunities for brands and event sponsorship

One of the latest additions and one of the bigger brand opportunities is tied to the new “Our Story” offering. “Our Story” is a location-based collaborative story that leverages content from events and allows others not attending to directly experience the events. A user at an event has the ability to upload a photo or video snap, and Snapchat drops a Wi-Fi geofence around the event. Content is then aggregated and the “Our Story” content prompt is located in the story feed next to friend content. The video below helps to clarify this new offering:

There is also an opportunity for brands to “sponsor” the “Our Story” events. This comes to life in the form of 10-second interstitial title snaps. The sponsored content is then interlaced through the user-generated content and clearly identifies the sponsor. One key point to consider with this type of offering is to leverage authentic event content versus pre-produced content. This better aligns the message and makes it more contextually relevant.

Check out this example from Samsung tied to the recent “American Music Awards” show:

5. Snapchat partnerships

It was recently reported by multiple media outlets that Snapchat is in negotiations with Comedy Central, Spotify, Vice, and other media publishers for the upcoming launch of “Discover.” “Discover” will most likely serve users articles, music, and videos produced by media companies. This will create an additional avenue to drive contextually relevant native advertising to further monetize the platform.

In addition, Snapchat recently partnered with Square to release a peer-to-peer payment prototype. The prototype allows users to store their debit card via Square to quickly process a payment or send cash to a friend’s bank account through the chat feature. Users can type the dollar sign, an amount, and hit the green button. It is available in the U.S. to those 18 or older with a debit card.

With its diversity of use cases, ease of use, sense of urgency tied to the consumption of content, and focus on enabling brands and partnerships, Snapchat is primed to have a very big 2015.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

 

BERLIN: the logo of the brand “Snapchat”, Berlin” and “heart shape design for love symbols” images via Shutterstock.

Just When You Thought You Knew Everything About Hashtags…

Written by: Rita Mogilanski
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You may be surprised to learn that there are very specific and different rules for using hashtags on each social platform. This red, yellow, and green guide will explain how lenient and indulgent one should be when including hashtags in a post.

  • Red = Steer clear of using hashtags
  • Yellow = Use hashtags sparingly
  • Green = Go hashtag crazy.

FB logo Facebook
Red. Stop. Move away from “shift” and “3” keys. Hashtags should not be a priority on Facebook. When applicable, tag a partner page instead of using a hashtag. Hashtags should only be implemented when it complements a call to action as part of a larger, cross-platform campaign.

Twitter logo Twitter
Yellow. Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags and still their most natural home. Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than tweets without, and 55% more retweets. However, using MORE than two hashtags in a tweet actually decreases engagement by 17%, so use them wisely.

YouTube logo YouTube
Green. Feel free to go hashtag crazy. Hashtags (in the tagging section) on videos are important for search and discoverability. Use at least 3 tags on videos to increase the likelihood that users will find your content.

GPlus logo Google+
Yellow. Like YouTube, Google+ is a platform that is important for search. Google will automatically tag certain posts with relevant and popular hashtags. Hashtags can also be added to comments on a post. It is often good practice to tag or add search terms used for paid SEO and webpage strategies on Google+ posts as well. Use one or two hashtags that will help users discover content.

Instagram logo Instagram
Green. Instagram is home to #ThrowbackThursday, #TransformationTuesday, and other alliterations that allow users to post baby pictures. #There #seems #to #be #a #hashtag #epidemic #on #Instagram, but believe it or not, these people have the right idea. Hashtags are the primary way to find and browse new content on Instagram, and data has shown that interactions are highest on posts with 11+ hashtags. While over-hashtagging is distracting and considered poor etiquette, do not hesitate to include as many hashtags as are relevant to the post to increase discoverability.

Tumblrlogo Tumblr
Green. Like YouTube, hashtags are hidden on the back-end on Tumblr. This allows users to post more hashtags that cover all the aspects of the content. Use 9-12 terms that are both specific and general to completely represent the post content and the interests of the audience. Just remember that only the hashtags that are entered into the tag section will be clickable and searchable.

Pinterest logo Pinterest
Red. Believe it or not, hashtags may harm the reach of content on Pinterest. Clicking a hashtag will actually take you away from the content on the page, and to a list of all posts using that hashtag. This means that you will end up driving users to a list of other similar brands and competing content. Keywords, without a hashtag attached, are a better way to label content and help users discover it.

Vine logo Vine
Yellow. Like Instagram, hashtags are really the main way to find content, and like Twitter, Vine features trending hashtags and topics. It is best to include any and all relevant hashtags, but over-hashtagging isn’t proper etiquette. #DoItForTheVine

LinkedIn logo LinkedIn
Red. LinkedIn is unique in that the platform does not support hashtags at all. They are not clickable or searchable. A hashtagged word will just show up as normal text, and what good is a pound sign if doesn’t automatically hyperlink? Steer clear.