Category Archives: Instagram

Navigating a New Language: Emojis

Written by: Olga Kraineva
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Ninety-two percent of the online population uses emojis. That’s approximately three billion people. The adoption and use of emojis, a visual language that communicates different emotions or scenarios using digital icons, is exciting but also has tremendous implications.

Emojis’ high rate of adoption can be credited to their universality and ability to be understood by all, regardless of native language. Images are also processed faster in the brain than text is, so there are functional benefits to choosing a visual icon over multiple words to describe the same sentiment.

Instagram embraced the emoji trend and documented the following in a company blog post: “It is a rare privilege to observe the rise of a new language…Emoji are becoming a valid and near-universal method of expression in all languages.”

Brands have come to recognize this consumer behavior and have jumped at the opportunity to use emojis to appear hip, approachable, and current. Last spring, Burger King launched a custom Chicken Fries emoji keyboard that was available in the iTunes App Store and Google Play store (other brands and personalities have since followed suit, like Kim Kardashian and Betches). Taco Bell also made their own spin on emojis with the #TacoEmojiEngine instant-reply campaign on Twitter that used over 600 photos and animated GIFs to show how the taco emoji can play nice with the others.

Moreover, brands are integrating emojis casually into their daily posts, just as consumers would. GE used emojis at RSNA, a professional radiology medical device conference, at the end of last year in their social media communication.

Social media publishing platforms also welcome the trend and continue to create more emoji integrations for consumers, brands, and influencers alike. Below are some of the latest developments:

  • Twitter:
    • Twitter recently (January 2016) revealed three new integrations specifically for high-profile celebrities, including a special camera feature that lends some inspiration from Snapchat. One hundred handpicked celebrities can overlay emoji-style icons onto their photos, giving celebrities a more premium experience through customization.
    • Auto-response campaigns using certain hashtags to unlock content are also an option – something that our client Lifetime did recently. In promotion for the Toni Braxton movie, fans that tweeted one of three emojis and #ToniBraxtonMovie were delighted with a preview of one of three sneak peeks for the movie. The movie garnered 267K tweets and 3.6MM viewers during the premiere. Nielsen reported it as the most tweeted-about program on television Saturday (January 27, 2016), with an 18 percent share of all Twitter TV activity, and the most tweeted movie for the television season to date.
  • Facebook: Facebook is finally moving past the “Like” button in favor of a full range of emotion choices in response to posts. Called “Reactions,” this new feature debuted on Wednesday, February 24, and allows users to respond to posts with six emotion choices: angry, sad, wow, haha, yay, and love.

Keep in mind, there are also implications for brands that use emojis:

  1. According to a Mintel Research Report, Communicating Through Imagery (2015), “Part of the difficulty lies in the fact that images are inherently ambiguous, which can result in consumers misunderstanding key messages.” This can lead to unintentional offense or other negative consequences.
  2. Millennials – the most frequent users of emojis, claiming to use emojis 75.9 percent of the time – don’t want brands to communicate with them using emojis. Only three percent of respondents of an Odysessy research study said brands should use them. That being said, although they say they don’t want brands to use emojis, they may feel differently moving from theory to practice.
  3. Finally, most standard social listening reporting tools do not support emoji-tracking capabilities as of yet. It’s still difficult to get an accurate account of the impact of an emoji-only campaign, unless you also assign a unique hashtag to the campaign in addition to using emojis.
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CNBC, photo by Dimitri Otis | Getty Images

The bottom line is it’s undeniable that emojis are here to stay, and consumer use is likely to continue to increase. Brands should use caution before executing on the emoji trend just for the sake of doing the next buzzy activity, and first evaluate if it makes sense as part of their existing strategy with their consumer at the center.

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.

Fastest Growing Online Retail Channel: Social Media

Written by: Hannah Redmond
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Social for retail is a growing space, from embedded Buy buttons on social to referring traffic to retailers’ websites and apps via social posts. Platforms are creating more and more options for brands and consumers, and brands need to consider social as a serious avenue for sales. According to the Internet Retailer’s Social Media 500, the top 500 retailers earned $3.3 billion from social shopping in 2014, up 26% from 2013. That is well ahead of the 16% growth rate for the overall e-commerce market in the U.S.

Business Insider recently published a report showing that social is driving more retail traffic than any other online channel. Additional findings below:

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Key points from the report:

  • Social media increased its share of e-commerce referrals nearly 200% between the first quarters of 2014 and 2015.
  • For retailers to maintain these social gains, they will need to pay special attention to mobile, where social engagement with retail content is still limited.
  • Facebook continues to grow its lead as the dominant social commerce platform. Facebook accounts for 50% of total social referrals and 64% of total social revenue. The site’s changing demographics could make older consumers a strong target for retailers leveraging the platform.
  • Pinterest is a major social commerce player despite a relatively small user base. The pinning platform drives 16% of social revenue despite an audience 6.5 times smaller than Twitter. New buy and action buttons on retailer posts should make Pinterest an even stronger referral and revenue engine for brands.
  • Twitter is losing its influence for mass-market merchants, but it could still have a role to play among sporting and event marketers, especially for location-based promotions. Recently, NFL and NBA teams have used Twitter to sell game tickets and merchandise.
  • Instagram doesn’t drive significant sales activity for retailers, but high-end companies have been leveraging the platform for branding purposes. New Buy buttons on paid posts, as well as increased targeting capabilities, could make the app a more important direct-response driver.

It is no surprise that people are spending more time on social not only consuming content but also making purchase decisions, and ultimately purchases. As we think about helping our brands navigate the digital space, social provides enormous value for retail, mobile, and beyond.

To read the Business Insider article that inspired this post, click here.

Pinterest and Instagram Add New Features, Look to Drive Business Outcomes for CPG Brands

Written by: Jake Schneider
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June proved to be a huge month for Pinterest and Instagram, as both platforms introduced the phrase “action oriented” into our lexicon. Over the past year, both platforms have been making strides to enter the digital media space with Pinterest’s “Promoted Pins” and Instagram’s “Sponsored Posts” as introductory offerings; however, both are falling short beyond brand awareness in aligning to business outcomes for marketers.

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Pinterest has long been a passionate community, and particularly for DIY. According to a PriceGrabber survey, more than 70 percent of Pinterest users claim that cooking inspiration and recipes are their number one interest on the platform.

Pinterest added a search functionality to make it easier to be discovered, but the introduction of the “Buy It” button is a huge step for CPG brands in closing the loop that started with “Promoted Pins.” Now with Pinterest you can holistically inspire, promote discovery, and purchase direct from the platform within a few clicks, giving CPG brands another potential storefront and point of entry for commerce. 

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 8.26.27 PMPinterest is only making the “Buy It” button available through mobile for now and has limited it to a few of their partners. There is a waiting list, however, and we suggest you get on it. 

Coincidentally, Instagram introduced us to their new suite of offerings for their platform the same week. Instagram initially entered digital media via sponsored posts with a few exclusive partners a year ago as they built out their media narrative and offerings. This recent unveiling takes Instagram from peripheral, brand-awareness centric content to something much, much more. 

For Instagram, the emphasis is on quality of content and narrative with CPG brands playing on the same level with users and the best content surfacing to the top. With “Carousel,“ Instagram takes the user out of the single moment snapshot and throws them into an immersive experience with multiple pieces of content to provide inspiration or to better tell a story. 

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Carousel is still a continuation of brand, something Instagram has long been known for, and something that has taken them out of consideration when focusing energy and effort on driving to business outcomes.  

Instagram elevated themselves from peripheral to near primary with their action-oriented buttons. Brands can now direct their audience to add “Shop Now,” “Install Now,” “Sign Up,” or “Learn More,” directly through the app, making it a true channel for actionable outcomes. 

CPG brands can now promote discovery, inspire, and inform this passionate and massive audience while directing them to take deeper action, whether that is downloading a brand app, e-commerce, or other promotions. 

Like Pinterest, Instagram is only allowing a few of their partners to leverage their offerings before making them open through power editor to advertisers. 

Needless to say, these bold — and welcome — moves for each platform both ushered in offerings for brands without diminishing the user experience.  

With New Offerings, Instagram Comes of Age

Written by: Jake Schneider
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This week, the Golden State Warriors will take the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first NBA Finals appearance since 1975. As incredibly as the Warriors have played over the past month, the buzz over the past few days may belong to another Bay Area team: Instagram.

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For marketers, Instagram has largely been about building a brand through creative and visual storytelling. Like Tumblr before it, success for brands on Instagram has relied on compelling visual narratives, where both brand and user sit equally at the table as premium content creators.

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Because of this, they’ve given way to a massive influencer support channel for brand engagement and a supplementary channel for authentic content. They rolled out their first trial ads service a year ago – injecting sponsored content into newsfeeds and crafting what would be their offerings, waiting like any good Nor-Cal vintner for the perfect batch.

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What has been missing for brands is direct attribution for business outcomes for advertisers…until now.

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I checked the “this day in history” calendar for important events, and other than Marconi filing his patent for the radio and Dana Carvey and wrestler Lex Luger’s birthdays, “Instagram releases action oriented formats and targeting for ads” is about the biggest thing going for June 2 – especially for brands.

Instagram has taken the time to meld the visual narrative we love with the business outcomes (“shop”, “install”, “sign-up” and “learn more”) direct response marketers need without sacrificing the authentic feel we have come to know from Instagram.

Blending aspirational creative and narratives with specific calls to action can hit multiple goals specific for retailers looking to drive discovery, purchase, and mobile app downloads all with attribution back to campaigns.

Combining these new assets with the recently launched Carousel, Instagram gives brands the potential to extend their story and expand their ecosystem. Providing the user an interactive and near immersive experience evolves Instagram into a destination rather than a vessel for serendipitous content that relies on “link in profile” clicks to further the conversation.

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The ability to provide a deeper, richer front-facing experience through Carousel, along with the ability to extend to actionable outcomes through “learn more” CTAs, could prove to be a game-changer for Tech and CPG brands looking to drive registrations for loyalty programs, innovation sessions, or specific communities that are brand-centric.

It’s been called “a year of progress” by Instagram, but the additions of these actions and interest targeting evolves the platform, pulling it from the periphery as a support/influencer channel and adding it to core digital and digital media strategies as a viable and true power channel.

10 Key Takeaways from F8 2015

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I attended the F8 Facebook Developer Conference 2015 last month, and below is a recap of the 10 key takeaways from the annual developer conference that outline the current and future state of plans of one of the world’s largest tech companies.

F8 2015 Top 10

Current State

The primary theme was that Facebook is a “people first” company. Facebook is now positioning its core offerings as a family of applications that are designed to align with how people are naturally using technology to engage and share.

F8 2015 Current State

It was quickly noticeable that each platform now plays a very specific role in the Facebook ecosystem. WhatsApp will continue to be a modest messaging platform, while Instagram will maintain a focus on simplicity and creative expression. Facebook Messenger is quickly being positioned as the primary mechanism for one-on-one communication, and direct connection to businesses and groups continues to be of great importance for 700 million people who want to collaborate around specific topics.

Meanwhile, the core Facebook experience is focused on further extending its video capabilities while setting the foundation for their future — to support more deeply immersive forms of content, such as virtual reality.

Enhanced Messaging

One of the larger announcements from the conference was the expansion of Messenger as a third-party development platform. This is an important move for Facebook, especially since WhatsApp confirmed during the conference that they will not be providing API’s anytime soon on their product road map.

F8 2015 Enhanced Messaging 1

Third parties can now reach and engage over 600 million active users. With the Messenger Platform it is possible to drive discovery, engagement, and attribution through images, videos, GIFs, and sound clips.

Applications can either be stand-alone apps designed to enhance conversations, or it is possible for a brand application to create a workflow to share content through messenger and deep link into the messenger optimized experience in their native application.

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Facebook also announced the beta launch of businesses on Messenger, which is how Facebook envisions brands and consumers engaging directly through enhanced customer service. They hope that this will add value to the consumer through templates that can showcase product details and enhanced order details.

Embedded Video

Facebook users are viewing over 3 billion videos per day, and Facebook took another step toward challenging Google-owned YouTube for market share by launching a new embedded video capability.

The new feature supports view-count synchronization, full-bleed video, and includes social actions in video such as “like” and “share.” Also important to note is that the desktop version is Flash-based and mobile is HTML5.

F8 2015 Embedded Video

In recent Facebook briefings there have been discussions about Q3 introducing sequential storytelling into the fold. This is one area where the current embedded video option is lacking compared to YouTube. YouTube currently has the ability to create annotations, and now has “cards” to create connections between assets.

Importance of Advocacy

With all of the talk about Facebook and their other brands’ lack of organic reach, it was confirmed that for users, the News Feed is still what determines the content that is served. This confirmed that peer-to-peer sharing remains the most viable option for content-centric brands.

Another central theme was tied to the sharing of content and, with that, the importance of creating relevant and engaging content that inspires consumers to share. It is also important to create content that is tailored for the specific audience and to utilize the ideal application from the Facebook family delivery and discovery.

F8 2015 Importance of Advocacy

While most social brand personification strategies have taken a back seat now on Facebook’s primary platform due to the shift toward reach and frequency, leveraging consumer and employee advocates — as well as groups — are still viable means to distribute a message outside of paid advertising.

State of Plug-Ins

Social plug-ins have been a staple of the Facebook ecosystem for years. The Facebook social plug-ins team outlined their intentions to redefine the experience of many of the standard plug-ins in order to create a richer mobile experience.

The first step will be to relaunch Facebook moderation tools to allow greater flexibility and an optimized experience for moderation that includes bulk actions and custom lists — and is being rewritten from scratch.

F8 2015 State of Plug Ins

The team also outlined they are testing a new form of comment mirroring that aggregates comments from external news articles to the Facebook page, and vice versa. This is a significant point to consider, as this will align different audiences and shift the potential engagement that happens on-page.

Instagram

The Instagram team reiterated their focus on being community-first, and maintained that simplicity matters above all else when it comes to their product roadmap and the overall experience of the application.

The team confirmed that the Instagram News feed is 100 percent deterministic, meaning that the content posted from your followers will appear in your feed. Based on this feedback, the idea of potentially adding features such as a “regram” button is not currently part of the plan, as the goal is to keep the experience as uncomplicated as possible.

F8 2015 Instagram

They reiterated that Instagram is not a distribution platform for brands. “Likes,” “follows,” and comments will not necessarily drive additional visibility within the platform due to the deterministic feed and the lack of any type of “regram” functionality. For brands, the ideal approach is to curate against existing behaviors, and create a relationship with passionate fans that showcases their view of the brand as the core asset in order to fuel your branded experiences.

Omnichannel

In recent years, Facebook has increased their focus on shopper and direct response capabilities. They stated that they view omnichannel as the future of commerce, and that they are positioning their cross-channel approach as the ideal for brands.

Facebook highlighted the size of their network, the persistence of logged-in identity, and their cross-platform approach as to why they should be considered as a holistic omnichannel offering.

F8 2015 Omnichannel

A key point of discussion was tied to cross-screen attribution without proxies. With their SDK and conversion pixel, they stated that they have the ability to capture accurate measurement tied to their real users.

Future State

The most intriguing aspect of F8 was the insight into the future of Facebook strategy as outlined by Mike Schroepfer, CTO, Facebook. In his keynote speech, he discussed the three core areas of focus for the near future: Planetary connectivity, natural interfaces, and immersive experiences.

F8 2015 Future State

In the near future, services that scale and planetary connectivity are key areas of focus for Facebook. One of the key initiatives is tied to the Aquila, their unmanned solar drone. The drone is designed to stay aloft for three months at a time, in order to deliver connectivity for remote regions.

Information overload was also an area of discussion for the future of Facebook. The goal is to build contextual systems that deal with information overload. One approach is the use of artificial intelligence built around the concept of convolutional neural nets that essentially create deeper associations between content elements at a faster rate than a simple algorithm.

The last of the three core pillars of the future state of Facebook is tied to the importance of creating and enabling the consumption of immersive content such as virtual reality. One of the crucial direct points was the fact that 3D spherical videos will be supported in the Facebook News Feed. This is setting up for the immersive virtual reality experiences that are to come.

Parse + IOT

Facebook’s Parse was also a primary area of focus. Facebook acquired Parse in 2013. Since then, they have been working to leverage the platform as a service that offers to provide additional rapid development services to mobile app developers, such as user management, push notifications, and analytics at scale.

F8 2015 Parse + IOT

Now with over 400,000 apps built on Parse, the Facebook team is extending Parse to connect Internet of Things experiences. Facebook wants to make it easier for developers to leverage data from connected devices into their applications.

Many other tech heavyweights are investing in IOT data solutions. Apple, Google, and recently IBM have all been vying to unlock the key to leveraging IOT data.

Facebook’s approach is to connect devices and software that share common elements in order to increase the probability of systems working together. This could then lead to Facebook becoming the data aggregator between devices, software, and data used to create unique experiences across devices.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality played a key role throughout F8 2015. Facebook referenced virtual reality as the next evolution of content experiences.

They showcased different applications from their teleportation stations that showcased what was happening in Menlo Park, as well as their more immersive Crescent Bay demos that showed off the full capability of the Oculus Rift.

F8 2015 Virtual Reality

Facebook also spent a portion of their presentation simply showcasing the physiology associated with virtual reality, and why the timing is now right for progression in the field: The cost of technology to create affordable consumer products is feasible, the experience is compelling, and there is broad industry participation as well as a long-term commitment to advancing the technology.

Facebook did a great job of balancing the short term vs. the future state, while ensuring that they are bringing their developer partners along the way. By shifting toward the family of apps strategy — as well as building toward connected devices and immersive experiences — Facebook is in a position to remain relevant well beyond whatever happens with the core Facebook platform.

 

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360 and check out this post on iMedia Connection.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook and Twitter Lock Horns in Post-Super Bowl Battle of the Statistics
Facebook and Twitter released a barrage of data this week to claim the title of most popular social network for spectators watching the Super Bowl. Facebook boasted that 65 million people chimed in about the game. Twitter reported 28.4 million game-related tweets, compared with 24.9 million last year.  Facebook claimed that 676,000 people per minute commented or liked someone’s comment after the game-ending interception. On Twitter, the same play generated a surge of 395,000 tweets per second.

Twitter Launches Vine Kids
Twitter recently created its first child-friendly app – Vine Kids.  The main feature is the same, six-second looping videos, but the focus is clearly for children with animated characters leading them through the experience.

Nielsen Pitching New ‘Tweets Per Impression’ Metric to Entertainment Marketers
Nielsen has begun engaging movie studios and TV networks on a new metric — tweets per impression (TPI) — that gauges the social impact of entertainment marketing efforts. TPI maps the number of impressions a commercial has on TV against the number of tweets referencing that particular impression just minutes after the commercial airs.  While TPI isn’t limited to the entertainment industry, there has been significant interest from studios, which can adjust their TV advertising plans in real time based on input from the metric.

Tweets Will Return to Google Search
Twitter has reached a deal with Google to add tweets back to Google’s search results later this year. Google previously had to crawl Twitter’s site for tweets, but now the company will provide the data directly to the search engine. As part of the new arrangement, tweets will appear in search results as soon as they are posted.

Twitter Expands Promoted Tweets
Twitter has announced plans to expand Promoted Tweets beyond its own borders. Flipboard and Yahoo Japan have signed on as the first platforms to participate in Twitter’s newly syndicated ad network.  Twitter’s syndicated ads will be seen by users within Twitter content sections on third-party properties, as well as within third-party content areas.

Global Social Media

China Tightens Its Grip on the Internet
Over the last two weeks, China has been further tightening its grip on the Internet, blocking several tools that allow users inside the country to escape and circumvent what’s popularly known as the “Great Firewall of China.” Some popular Virtual Private Networks were the latest victims of the censorship system, with many reportedly unable to use them to connect to censored websites.  Though China has always been aggressive in trying to control the Internet, this new crackdown is seen as unprecedented.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Gap Debuts Love Story ‘Micro-Series’ on Instagram
Following Gap’s noirish brand campaign from David Fincher, and quirky holiday ads directed by Sofia Coppola, the brand has launched a “micro-series” on Instagram to promote its spring collection.  “Spring is Weird” is a 12-part love story starring actor Paul Dano and “Marcel the Shell” creator Jenny Slate. The 15-second episode will roll out each week on Gap’s Instagram account. The story will also be featured on dating websites and apps. Followers of #APerfectFit will also get special offers for trying the brand’s form-fitting “Resolution Denim” featured in the series.

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.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Facebook to Make Sure the Right People See Publishers’ Posts
Facebook unveiled new tools this week to give publishers a better shot at making sure people on Facebook see their stories. One tool lets publishers target their Facebook posts at a subset of their fans interested in certain topics. Another lets publishers put an expiration date on their posts so that timely stories don’t pop up in people’s feeds after the timely event has passed. A third tool called Smart Publishing identifies a story that a lot of people are linking to on Facebook and, for publishers who opt-in, posts it in the news feeds of people who like that publisher’s Facebook page.

Facebook Adds Call to Action Buttons to Its Pages
This week, Facebook announced seven “call to action” buttons for Pages. Page admins can now select one of seven buttons that use verbs to attempt to get user conversion and appear on the top of the cover photo. The options are Book Now, Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Shop Now, Sign Up, Watch Video.  Dollar Shave Club has been trying the buttons and said that adding “Sign Up” converted 2.5x more users than previously.

YouTube Offering Its Stars Bonuses
Google’s YouTube is racing to lock up its top stars as rival online video services court them aggressively. Facebook and video startup Vessel, among others, have tried to lure YouTube creators to their services in recent months.  In response, Google is offering some of its top video makers bonuses to sign multiyear deals in which they agree to post content exclusively on YouTube for a time before putting it on a rival service. Bonuses are tied to how well videos perform.

Instagram has 300 Million Monthly Users
Instagram announced this week that 300 million people check out the photo-sharing service each month. That’s up from 200 million nine months ago and 100 million in February 2013. There are however, a lot of fake and spam accounts and Instagram has begun deleting them. This means that some Instagram users may see the number of people following them shrink. Instagram will also start authenticating real accounts, starting with brands and public figures.

Global Social Media

Google News to Shut Down in Spain Over  ‘Google Tax’
Google said this week that it will shut down its Google News service in Spain to prevent publishers’ content from appearing on it – ahead of a new law requiring the company to pay Spanish news organizations for linked content or snippets of news. The law goes into effect January 1 and is nicknamed “Google Tax.” The move marks the first time globally that Google will shutter Google News.

Noteworthy Campaigns

General Mills Revives French Toast Crunch in Latest Nostalgia Play
General Mills is now reviving a cereal brand that had its heyday in the late 1990s. The company has announced that French Toast Crunch, launched in 1995 and discontinued in the U.S. in 2006, is now back in some U.S. stores and will be available nationwide again as of January. It seems U.S. fans of the cereal have continued to ask General Mills to bring it back – creating a petition and a Facebook Page dedicated to the cause. Some consumers have even paid big bucks to have boxes of the cereal shipped to them from Canada, where it continues to be sold. The company has responded to requests and launched a marketing campaign in support of the revival. The new campaign includes a 30-second spot, digital video, a new website, and Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter accounts featuring Miss Cleo, known for her telephone psychic services on TV during the ’90s. News about the brand’s comeback is also generating buzz through the hashtag #frenchtoastcrunchisback.

Headlines & Stuff

Written by: Christy Wise
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Here are some cool things we read about this past week:

Instagram Rolls Out Video Ads
Instagram is now selling video ad inventory launching the product with autoplay spots for Disney, Activision, Lancome, Banana Republic, and The CW. The ads started appearing this week and will continue to roll out over the coming weeks.

Tumblr Rolls Out Video Ads
Instagram isn’t the only platform rolling out video ads this week. Tumblr began featuring autoplay video ads from advertisers including The CW, Lexus, Axe, Universal Pictures, JCPenney, and Hulu.  Ads will be featured in Tumblr’s new video player (unveiled last week), which supports Vine and Instagram video.

LinkedIn Ad Sales Soar
LinkedIn continued its tear in the third quarter, with revenue climbing to $568 million. That’s 45 percent higher compared to last year. The increase was led by sponsored updates – a product that allows advertisers to reach members who don’t follow their company. Sponsored updates generated 31 percent of ad revenue in the third quarter.

YouTube Considers a New Subscription Service
YouTube is in the early stages of exploring new subscription services. Though specifics aren’t available, one option would be an ad-free service that users could pay for.

Global Social Media

Thousands Protest in Hungary over Proposed Internet Tax
Trouble is brewing in Hungary, as thousands of concerned citizens took to the streets in Budapest to protest a new proposed tax on Internet use. Over 10,000 protesters marched through the capital to demand the proposal be scrapped, as they believe it would increase their tax burden and curtail their freedom of expression and access to information.  The proposal was part of a bill drawn up by the current Prime Minister.  Protest organizers, backed by a Facebook group with over 210,000 supporters, issued an ultimatum demanding the tax be scrapped or they would return to the streets for more protests.

Noteworthy Campaigns

Taco Bell Blacks Out Its Social Sites to Launch Mobile App
As part of the launch of its mobile-ordering and payment app this week, Taco Bell blacked out its social media channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and even its website. The idea was to play up the announcement and attract attention with a Twitter feed, Facebook page, and website all showing nothing but a black screen. Each of those pages only offered a link to the app download. The chain was hoping to prompt conversation using the #onlyintheapp hashtag. The stunt appears to have had some initial success – 75 percent of all Taco Bell stores had processed a mobile order one day after the app launch. Taco Bell plans to continue with their social media activity, but it will be limited until they feel they’ve properly promoted the app.  They have since started promoted tweets and other social ads.