Tag Archives: Tom Edwards

Instagram Video Best Practices

Written by: Tom Edwards
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On June 20th Instagram announced the addition of videos to its popular photo-sharing app. Besides being an obvious response to the growing popularity of Twitter’s Vine app, this is another confirmation that short form content creation is on the rise.

Click above image to watch Instagram video

I was recently asked by DM Confidential to share some tips for marketers to create visually compelling content and test another content distribution channel. Article highlights are at the bottom of this post.

What are some best practices or tips for how marketers and brands should use videos on Instagram?

A couple come to mind right away: Brands can share unique branded experiences, highlight brand advocates, co-create content with audiences, preview products, highlight a specific cause, extend the brands persona via video, preview upcoming events by adding visual context, share important news, drive promotional awareness, leverage Instagram video for promotion, and create videos that show fan appreciation. The key is to create content that is a natural extension of the brand.

How is it different from Vine, from a marketing perspective?

The first key difference is simply tied to reach potential. By embedding Instagram video within the existing application for both iOS and Android simultaneously, Facebook is providing access to a large and very active user base.

From a marketing perspective, the greater length of the video — 15 seconds vs. 6 — the ability to stabilize the shot, 13 filters and the ability to tap to focus allows for greater flexibility and complexity of a shot. This can provide greater depth in terms of the type of content that can be created and better represent the brand.

Examples of Instagram Video Filters

Photo Jun 21, 4 10 44 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 04 PMPhoto Jun 21, 4 11 44 PM

My assumption is also that at some point Instagram Video will support the ability to create custom filters, similar to how brand applications can incorporate custom Instagram filters to further create associations with the brand.

Do you like this addition to Instagram?

I do like the addition of video to Instagram. Facebook is still the ideal storytelling and amplification platform. With so much attention given to Vine, this was the natural next step for Instagram. This combined with Facebook’s ability to support hashtags as well as photos in comments are all signs that the platform’s future is tied to visual content both static and active.

Example of Facebook Hashtag Support

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What does it say about the importance of visual content, and short-form videos specifically?

Compelling and relevant visual content has been a key element of driving engagement. An overwhelming majority of content shared is still tied to images. With that said, Vine and Instagram Video now offer quick and easy solutions for consumers to create short-form content. As brands become even more comfortable with their guidelines tied to user generated content, short-form videos will be another viable alternative to support their existing content strategies.

Click on the image below or HERE to read the full article in DM Confidential.

Follow Tom Edwards @blackfin360

Pinterest Partner Event Recap

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I recently attended the first ever Pinterest Partner Marketing Summit in NYC. This invite only event unveiled their emphasis on developing a strong partner program and also served as an opportunity to introduce new staff to the Pinterest partner team, new resources for brands and agencies and best practices to maximize the platform.

Pinterest Event

There were five primary areas of focus for the event.

1) Why Pinterest
2) Pinterest Interest Graph
3) New product enhancements (Rich Pin & Mobile Pin It)
4) Analytics & Partner Tools
5) Partner case studies & Best Practices

WHY PINTEREST

Ben Silbermann, Pinterest Co-Founder & CEO started the day by telling the story of Pinterest. He discussed his love of collections when he was young… stamps, butterflies, baseball cards, etc… he saw an opportunity as there was not an elegant solution to organize collections online.

He had roots with Google and was enamored by how the search giant was able to so seamlessly focus on enabling search & retrieval across the web. If you know what you are looking for Google provides an ideal platform for search & retrieval.

He actually related Pinterest more to Google & search than to other social channels such as Facebook. With Pinterest people vs. bots are indexing the webs content and organizing them by interests, something that is a bit more subjective but aligns with human behavior.

One of his key points was in defining Pinterests role in discovery of content.

Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity” – Ben Silbermann

Ben

With Pinterest, people are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests. This is their key point of differentiation as the platform is about discovery and action.

It was interesting to hear Ben’s story about the roots of Pinterest and it also provided insight into where the platform is going which leads to the Interest Graph.

INTEREST GRAPH

The Pinterest team spent a good bit of time discussing what they coined the Pinterest Interest Graph. An interest graph is an online representation of the specific things in which an individual is interested. And because the focus of Pinterest is based on what people are indexing on the web and then categorizing by interests, the Pinterest Interest Graph is the foundation for their business moving forward.

A key point of differentiation between Facebook’s Social Graph & Pinterest & even Twitters interest graphs are the fact that Interest Graphs are used to create people’s interest networks whereas Facebook and other social networks are organized around an individual’s friends and connections that follow them across the web.

The key to the interest graph for Pinterest is the ability to create personalized experiences that change based on an individuals life stage and interests. The association is less with people and more with things. This may include life events such as marriage, children, etc… and Pinterest hopes that by focusing on interests they are building a sustainable platform that can grow with users over time and continue to provide both utility and relevance based on discovery.

The key to the interest graph from a brand perspective is that a single product can be repined into other areas. As the single object passes across the interest graph across categories you are able to leverage the network of interests and passions vs. pushing a message and see how your product resonates in real time. This leads to driving discoverability by interest as well as distribution and lengthens the shelf life of content as it continually gets repined.

Interest Graph in action for me… I like Robots

Robots

PRODUCT ENHANCEMENTS

Pin it Button – the theme that was repeated the most over the course of the event was the focus on the Pin It button. Pinterest reiterated that a strong Pinterest strategy starts with enabling your domain. By enabling and focusing on driving & optimizing pins down to the individual product level are the key to driving more engagement and driving higher referral traffic.

Pin-It-Button-30-Designs

Mobile Pinning – Earlier this week Pinterest launched the ability to integrate the Pin It button into a brands mobile application to further drive discoverability via mobile for both iOS & Android via SDKs. The SDK allows a brands users to create Pinterest content inside the branded app. Currently, this only supports pinning from the web, but the ability to pin local images is on the roadmap as well.

Here is an example of Mobile Pinning in action from the Brit + Co (launch partner) mobile app

mobile pinning

Rich Pins – Also tied to this weeks launch was the release of Rich Pins. Pinterest hopes that Rich Pins lead to action and by adding more brand data to a pin tied to products, recipes & movies that more direct attribution and value for brands and users will be apparent. Product pins from a brand can showcase active inventory as well as price & references the source directly from the pin. Recipe Rich Pins allow more data to be added directly to the pin and movie pins offer insight into reviews as well as cast directly from the pin.

Product Pins

Product Pins

Recipe Pins

Recipe Pins

Movie Pins

Movie Pins

Implementation – In order to implement Rich Pins meta tags need to applied to your domain and decide on the type of rich pin you want to apply for. Then once the meta tags have been validated you can apply to get them from Pinterest.

From a brand perspective, this is the first step to further enabling brand content and attribution. Especially the product pins can be of value to further drive action when discovered.

ANALYTICS & PARTNER TOOLS

On March 11th, Pinterest launched their data analytics tool. This was another key discussion point during the course of the event. The analytics tool supports Pinterest’s position to enable a brands .com as the suite focuses on content pinned directly from the .com and focus on how many people are pinning from the website, impressions & reach over time and which pins receive the most repins and who pins them as well as what other content people are pinning alongside them.

webanalytics_3

This data can be extremely useful when incorporating top pins into tailoring content for the website as well as other social channels. Nordstrom was a presenting brand and the key takeaway from their presentation was their focus on curating pins and using analytics as a driver for surfacing content on their website, e-mail as well as in store. By leveraging Pinterest in this way, Nordstrom claimed increased sell through in stores and online.

Nordstrom Top Pins via .com

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.20.55 AM

Nordstrom in store

Nordstrom

Pinterest also rolled out new partner tools starting with a revamped business.pinterest.com as well as a new business blog that will focused on enabling partners and will serve as the location for new product feature announcements. The team also announced that they will soon be providing webinars on best practices to further enable partners.

Unlike Facebook & Twitter, Pinterest is less about working directly with their partner teams and more about enabling the platform to allow brands to maximize their presence.

CASE STUDIES

During the course of the event four brands were represented including Target, Sephora, Nordstroms & Sony Electronics. I have already referenced how Nordstroms is leveraging Pinterest data to drive their content & in-store strategy. Below are a few key points from the Sephora & Sony Electronics presentations.

Sephora

The most compelling elements from the Sephora case study was their laser focus on identifying trends via pins. Their goals were tied to making it easier to pin from Sephora.com, use e-mail to encourage Pinterest engagement and encourage clients to pin their beauty shopping lists.

Sephora

  • Focus on top pins to inform content strategy across channels
  • Content goes beyond simple product to incorporate DIY type content
  • Testing various types of Pin to Win initiatives that are cross promoted

Screen Shot 2013-05-23 at 10.41.13 AM

  • Embedded Pinterest across social channels such as Facebook
  • Created pinnable e-mails drove significant results including a 60% increase in referral traffic from Pinterest that has not subsided
  • Focus on creating a shoppable experience on Pinterest
  • Claimed that shoppers are closer to purchase in the path to purchase and stated a statistic of 15x the sales impact vs. Facebook

Sony Electronics

I was most impressed by the work of Sony electronics of the four brands that presented. What I liked about their story is they are not the first brand you think of when you think about the Pinterest platform. They are a manufacturer vs. retailer and their audience is a younger, high tech male group who is not the primary audience of the platform. They had very clearly defined strategy objectives of driving sales, acquisition and brand affinity on the platform and they have leveraged the social power of their internal organization as well as consumers to power their experience.

Sony Electronics

  • Audience (Sony electronics appeal to more than women)
  • They curated content that existed, retro products, artist style, influencers who shoot with their cameras etc…
  • Launched presence with an employee contest to educate and curate relevant content across the organization
  • Drove awareness via the Sony Electronics blog & e-mail
  • E-mail is a critical component to their Pinterest strategy, pin, collect, share –> Pinterest focused messages get double the open rate
  • Inform their content strategy based on Pins
  • Leverage 3rd parties such as Curalate to identify influencers
  • Executed innovative programs such as Pin Deals – unlock via 20 pins – flash sale & Pin it to give it – repins = $1 to charity and received 13,000 pins

pin2givePindeals

  • Partnered with relevant brands to enter new categories such as Pinterest partnership with American Airlines to enter travel

Travel and Tech

BEST PRACTICES

The following is a list of best practices that were discussed during the course of the event. This is not a comprehensive best practices list, but does highlight the key points that the Pinterest team & brands represented did speak to repeatedly.

Strategy

  • The Pinterest team reiterated that the best Pinterest strategy starts with your domain.
  • Remember boards are not destinations, most of the interaction will happen at the Pin level
  • Pinnable E-mail is a critical component to a successful Pinterest strategy, enable content to be pinned on the individual content level

Platform

  • Add Pin-It Button to domain
  • Verify the business with Pinterest
  • Enable Domain Analytics
  • Activate & Incorporate Rich Pins to create a cleaner connection to inventory and enabling action
  • Leverage the Mobile SDK’s to further enable sharing directly from a brands app

Content

  • Learn from top pins, timely relevant pins that map to domain are key
  • Optimize pins, Sony’s audience preferred product shots while Target’s audience resonates with Lifestyle images
  • Short Captions are key, the goal is to tease to promote click through
  • Focus on content that will drive repins
  • Pin your product along with other inspirational content to boards
  • Focus on creating ripples with content vs. “feed stuffing”

Contests

  • When it comes to Pin It to Win it type of initiatives, it is important to ensure that there is a variety of content to pin
  • A pin from a Pin it to Win it is good, but the focus should be on repins. Repins are the key to successful promotion on the platform

SUMMARY

The first Pinterest partner event was definitely insightful and the event closed with the following points:

1) Discovery on the web is an unsolved problem & massive opportunity
2) People are making discovery possible by organizing the web’s content around interests
3) You can make your business more discoverable by inspiring people to pin

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

 

12 Examples of Vine in Action

Written by: Tom Edwards
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By now you have most likely heard through the grapevine (last “vine” pun I promise) about Twitter’s new Vine app and it’s many pros & cons. Many call Vine the Instagram of video as it goes beyond static images by allowing for 6 seconds of context tied to pictures, motion & sound in the form of looping videos optimized to be shared.

vine-twitter

Twitter launched Vine on January 24th, 2013 and it has not left the top 20 in the app store since launch. Vine’s six second video loops are quick, lightweight pieces of content that are ideal for social sharing. Initially launched via a mobile app for iOS (Android app in development) this high-level version of an animated gif is quick & easy to capture. Just point your device, touch the screen and the app records up to 6 seconds allowing for starts & stops.

According to Tech Crunch, Vine (2.8% penetration) has taken an early lead over the likes of Viddy (0.5) & Socialcam (0.2). There is significant opportunity tied to short form video assets & social sharing as the same article referenced that 98% of overly active users shared photos whereas only 4% shared video.

With the recent changes announced by Facebook and the importance of visual content that drives engagement, having the opportunity to create short-form content may be a powerful tool for brands to consider.

Cross

Vines can be a powerful addition to a solid content strategy. Whether it’s showcasing supplementary branded content or simply finding a relevant extension of your brand to highlight, Vine can provide yet another option to keep users attention.

Here are 12 examples of Vine in Action:

1) Drive awareness to an experiential event
BeatsByDre teased the opening of it’s SXSW Pill Clinic with this Vine.

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.52.18 PM

2) Share Unique Branded Experiences
Urban Outfitter’s SXSW alien teased via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.41.37 PM

3) Highlight Brand Advocates
Kid Robot highlighted a user’s Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.50.06 PM

4) Pop-Culture Co-Creation in Action
Houston Texans merge their fans & brand with pop culture relevance

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.45.48 PM

5) Preview Products
Intel is leveraging Vine to preview technology

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.42.34 PM

6) Highlight a Cause
OKC Thunder highlighting a social cause via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-11 at 4.57.32 PM

7) Extend the Brand Persona
Trident is using Vine to extend the core attributes of their brand

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.02.41 PM

8) Preview with visual context
Warner Bros. promoting a movie with relevant context

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.11.45 PM

9) Share Important News
Kickstarter announces a record

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.20.53 PM

10) Drive promotional awareness
Sacramento Kings showcasing promotional items

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.25.17 PM

11) Leverage Vine for promotion
Regal Cinemas leveraged Vine as part of a promotional announcement

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.38.15 PM

12) Fan Appreciation
Chick-Fil-A show fans appreciation via Vine

Screen Shot 2013-03-13 at 5.30.22 PM

Be aware when leveraging Vine that there are issues with quality control, as the current version does not allow moderation. The focus should be less on community building & aggregation and more focused on creating content that is then distributed through owned channels.

Also note that it is important to determine the message that is to be conveyed and ensure that it ladders back to the core attributes and persona of the brand prior to just filming.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook News Feed Announcement

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Today Facebook held an event to announce the first major change to the Facebook News Feed in six years. The theme reinforced by the Facebook team was reduction of clutter by providing more choice and control over the content and stories users will see in their feeds.

facebook-news-feed-invite_620x350

From the beginning, our goal with News Feed was different from any other social service was trying to provide… You should be able to share any content that you want. Status updates, links, photos, etc… You should be able to share with any audience that you want, publicly, with the world, with just friends, or privately” – Mark Zuckerberg

bitpix-facebook-zuckerberg3-hpMedium

Here are feature highlights from today’s announcement:

The newly designed newsfeed will start rolling out in limited rollouts today with a focus on a “mobile first” design.

Cross

The new design is heavily reliant on the ability to segment content by feed type allowing for more control:

  • All Friends will showcase everything your friends are sharing this feed will highlight friend content and add a “facepile” type of overlay to the side of the story to show who has shared the content. Social connectivity is highlighted as the intersection of timeline & the newsfeed becomes more pervasive with the inclusion of friends “add a friend” which allows you to see more about that person directly in the news feed.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.52.54 PM

  • Photos will provide a feed with nothing but photos from your friends Pages you like

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.50.37 PM

  • Music a feed with posts about the music users listen to

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.50.04 PM

  • Following, a feed with the latest news from the Pages you like and the people you follow, think of this as a Facebook “newspaper” feature

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.50.42 PM

Within the News Feed design, photos are getting larger in the new design and attachments from links will also get more space. This will include a much larger image, a more prominent title, and a longer summary accompany a linked story.

newsfeed

This is great, but what does this mean as a brand?

Visual Enablement: Further enabling visual storytelling and cross platform consistency are at the heart of the change. One of the forgotten elements previously is the brands cover photo. Yes, it will pop in the newsfeed when the image changes, but with the refresh the cover photo will be pulled into page “Like” stories in the news feed for both organic & paid. This will provide more context about the page, but also provides another opportunity for the brand to be relevant and engaging with their cover photo & profile photo combination. More frequent updates may be required to ensure that brands are maximizing their opportunities.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 9.12.43 PM

Also note that when people and pages post photos, Facebook will try to display the caption on top of the image if the caption is legible and the image does not contain text and when the image is of sufficient size (at least 425x157px). This puts additional emphasis on either minimal or extremely engaging copy.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 9.25.48 PM

Engagement: The core motivation of this revamp is focused solely on keeping users engaged by allowing more freedom and control over the platform and the information that is relevant for them. Facebook is positioning this change as a more engaging place for brand messages. The goal is to get more people spending time reading and interacting with the news feeds and this should beget more opportunities for us a marketers to reach & engage with our audience.

In my opinion it is too early to tell whether this is good or bad news for brands. The fear from a brand perspective is to lose engagement opportunities by being relegated to a lower visibility feed such as the “following” feed, which currently will not support paid at the initial rollout, but Facebook left it open for opportunities later this year.

Also, one key point to consider, the affinity & engagement of content is key in this new structure, as the more individuals engage with content, the higher the position within the feeds. Obviously this is a key attribute of EdgeRank, but engagement on a post level is still as important as ever. Facebook did confirm that as of now the change is mainly aesthetic for desktop and there will not be a change to Edgerank as it stands today, however this is something that continues to evolve and I would not be surprised if there are changes when the change is fully rolled out to the public.

Paid: The initial rollout will focus on better utilizing paid assets via incremental value adds vs. new streams tied to feeds . but Facebook did leave the door open for injected paid units into subsequent feeds such as “following”. Let’s fast forward for a moment, the new feeds will offer more opportunities to append paid for both small & large advertisers as a whole. The new model also reinforces spend on the post level to further drive visibility of content across feeds. It will be interesting to test media against feed types as units become available as the new design looks to further enhance existing units and offer more opportunities for engagement.

Example of new Page Post Ads

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 9.37.42 PM

Example of new Sponsored Ads
Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 9.37.35 PM

Brand Reach & Visibility: More real-estate should theoretically increase the throughput of branded content if it is optimized for EdgeRank. This also reinforces the importance of having a relevant content strategy that can maximize content distribution across the various feeds. The thought is that this change will net more visibility for brands moving forward. The key to increasing reach and visibility is to combine organic engagement and then amplify the content via paid that is driving engagement naturally. This Pwned Media approach will optimize paid while leveraging the best of organic engagement to propel content and further drive impactful brand reach & visibility.

The assumption on increased engagement through segmentation/multiple feeds may have an initial lag. The native user behavior of the primary newsfeed as the consumer catch-all and primary point of engagement will remain for awhile until users are reconditioned to filter feeds. One of the inherent benefits of the news feed over the last six years has been tied to the simplicity and minimal effort on behalf of the user to engage with content. It remains to be seen how much usage the secondary feed options will see in terms of interaction type.

Analytics: From an analytics perspective, my hope is to also append feed distribution as an option to track content performance. This would then inform content decisions in addition to social interactions to further optimize content for optimal impact. As it stands today, Facebook has stated there will be no immediate impact on performance, and they will continue to monitor various performance metrics, including performance of Page posts and paid media.

Here is a link to Join the waiting list for the new News Feed.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Evolution of the Newsfeed

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Today I met with one of my local Facebook team members as we were partnering on a client initiative and our conversation sparked an interesting thought about the future of newsfeed publishing and how brands should be thinking about maximizing their publishing strategies as Facebook’s platform continues to evolve.

I have recently written a number of posts on the subject of Facebook publishing from the intersection of Paid & Owned, the importance of visual storytelling and best practices for optimizing content. All of these topics are relevant to this conversation and further frame the importance of the following statement:

Everything happens in the newsfeed vs brand pages

facebook-news-feed-icon

This was an incredibly simple statement that all of us who publish on behalf of brands sometimes take for granted. The numbers definitely back up the statement with 115 billion impressions served daily via desktop and 65 billion newsfeed impressions served daily via mobile.

Think about your own behavior when it comes to interacting with brand related content on Facebook. How often are you clicking through to a brands page to consume their content? This divide is even better visualized when it comes to users mobile interactions?

Where do you consume brand messages on the desktop?

Snickers Newsfeed

This becomes even more apparent via mobile!

Snickers mobile Newsfeed

The reality is most social interaction happens via the newsfeed. Interactions being likes, comments and shares. Most brands approach content publishing from the perspective that users come to the brands’ page and consume their content in a linear manner. The reality is brands need to create a publishing strategy that is optimized for Edgerank and based on deliberate content buckets that are relevant & engaging for the brands audience that can be consumed in a non-linear manner but still represent the core social persona of the brand. This requires a detailed strategy that is grounded in the core attributes of the brand that then leads to content pillars that are designed to maximize engagement.

The following graphic represents the % breakdown across interaction types.

Interactions

With so much consumption happening via the newsfeed, shouldn’t the in-stream experience/opportunities be as relevant and compelling as possible? This leads me to what I see as the next step in the evolution of brand publishing and that is going a step beyond visual storytelling and incorporating compelling interactive experiences to enhance the publishing strategy.

The recent announcement and coverage of Stipple’s Facebook support and subsequent usage by Justin Timberlake to provide interactive cover art is a glimpse into the future of newsfeed publishing.

stippled-photo

Interactive posting is not a new concept. I remember first seeing this executed by Vitrue’s platform back in 2011 via the Buffalo Wild Wings example below. Leveraging this type of interactive content publishing was one of the enabling factors that has driven Buffalo Wild Wings to acquire over 9 million fans. Their content strategy has led to an engagement rate of 4.8% over the last 30 days with over 477,000 interactions. Having a point of differentiation in-stream has led to positive results for the brand.

Buffalo Wild Wings

The number of vendors supporting interactive posting in-stream has grown since 2011 with shops such as Shop Igniter providing solutions that are optimized to support rich interactive in-stream campaigns to drive lead generation, giveaways, promotions, etc…

Fiat In-Stream

The real key point of differentiation now vs. then is the ability to create immersive newsfeed experiences for both desktop & mobile by leveraging responsive design. Now it becomes easier to publish across both desktop & mobile to drive in-stream & even in-app (Facebook’s app) interaction.

The example below shows an example from Shop Igniter’s platform that enables in-stream video that then drives to a mobile optimized experience based on responsive design that allows the flexibility of staying within the application, but also allows the addition of an action object in the experience that extends the reach of a users action beyond the newsfeed into the activity ticker. This is a key element to further drive distribution and discoverability of content as well as the fact that the newsfeed does not support action objects directly.

GoPro

The GoPro example is a great example of a light weight execution that does not rely on driving to an end destination to generate engagement & story creation. This in my mind is the next evolution of content publishing in-stream.

Similar to the evolution of static banners to rich media, creating compelling content that is optimized for EdgeRank, light weight in design and contains the experience within the existing stream and Facebook application across both desktop and mobile that also taps into the social graph to append actions is an ideal addition to an owned content strategy.

This also maximizes the principles of real-time paid amplification that I have discussed in the past because these are actual posts being created on Facebook’s platform that can fit seamlessly into a paid media strategy.

The other benefit to this type of publishing is the engagement data on the content level that can drive further optimization of content moving forward. By tracking impressions, engagement rate and social actions, we can directly map to our core KPI’s.

When it comes to Facebook, it is not enough to just have a content calendar. It is incredibly important to have a true strategic framework that outlines the brands publishing strategy and how the content will be optimized to drive targeted reach, but it is also important to leverage interactive assets to drive tangible results and activation where appropriate.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Facebook & Interactive Images

Written by: Tom Edwards
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I have been following Stipple for a while now and with today’s big announcement tied to Facebook support launched the platform to the forefront of my mind to support social content & publishing strategies. What is Stipple? If you have not heard about the service, Stipple allows you to embed interactive hotspots into an image to create additional connections directly within the image. Today’s announcement is key for those who manage owned properties as now Stipple supports direct publishing support via Facebook a feature that has been missing to date.

Now it is possible to add a data driven overlay to an image that can create connections directly from the newsfeed that allow users to take action. Whether it is to drive to a branded destination such as the brands Facebook brand page or .com, create a quick path to purchase opportunity by linking the image to an e-commerce based product, embed a link to videos that relate to the image, or create additional connections as outlined below.

Tag Types

Today’s announcement is a huge addition for those of us who manage Facebook brand properties. Combine this with my recent discussions associated with visual storytelling to drive engagement and you can create a rich experience that can immediately extend the reach of a static image.

With a majority of engagement happening directly from the newsfeed, adding a rich content overlay to images can optimize associations related to the content. The combinations and support possibilities are endless. Whether it’s supporting branded content, promotion, acquisition, etc… the flexibility to tag and append content to an image is a great way to maximize story creation and connection throughout an integrated approach across channels.

Stipple Facebook Overview

In November of 2012, Stipple rolled out the ability to support Twitter publishing. From a single Tweet you can surface videos, photos, etc.. in-stream vs pushing to another destination. Adding a rich content overlay through this media is a great way to extend static images, or link to terms & conditions for a Twitter driven promotion, etc…

Stipple Twitter

I first noticed a Stipple execution by IKEA and I immediately saw the potential. The ability to claim attribution, but also create a centralized experience with various access points is something that create additional value for online retailers. I immediately started to tout the benefits to this approach, but there were limitations to social sharing until today. Now with the additional support for Facebook & Twitter, the value of this platform increases exponentially for those who drive owned asset creation & publication.

Stipple Web

It’s one thing to publish and push content out, but having the ability to measure the engagement and reach of each individual image and the interactions that Stipple creates is another advantage to leveraging this platform. As you can see below, Stipple allows the tracking of engagement and reach so image interactions can be applied into the current KPI’s associated with your publishing strategy.

Measurement

I would definitely recommend evaluating Stipple and the potential impact to your publishing strategy.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Twitter Interest Graph

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Last Thursday featured a rather large announcement from Twitter regarding the future of their advertising product. According to multiple sources the announcements hit the wire. I was at Twitter HQ in San Francisco just a few days ago and the Twitter Interest Graph was a featured topic of discussion. I just received the green light to discuss publicly from Twitter, so here we go.

Now that the news has been unveiled, let’s take a deeper look at the Twitter Interest Graph and its potential impact for our clients. With 140 million users and strong international growth, further developing their ad platform was an obvious next step to drive increased value and offer additional opportunities to monetize their brand relationships.

Currently, the promoted tweets product was focused primarily on amplifying messages to users who were either already following a particular brand or a similar association as deemed by Twitter. Now by introducing the ability to target promoted tweets via other factors such as location and now interests, this opens up the landscape for brands to capitalize on growth and awareness goals that were simply not feasible until now.

An example of this would be American Airlines. Currently, AA could use a promoted tweet to target its 415,000 followers or people deemed similar by Twitter. Now, AA could essentially target new users based on interests tied to travel or destinations.

Google has its Google Knowledge Graph, Facebook its Social Graph and now Twitter has its Twitter Interest Graph. This graph, based on 25 top level and 300+ second level “interest categories” in addition to custom interest segments, uses asymmetrical real-time signals by users to drive the correlation with a user’s interests. In layman’s terms, Facebook shows a direct relationship between an interest and a user via a Like. Twitter takes other signals such as who an individual follows as well as your retweets to make associations of interest. This is also an extension of the logic used by the “who to follow” suggestions on your Twitter homepage.

From an earned media perspective, this definitely changes the game when it comes to driving value from Twitter. I cannot go into the details of the models discussed, but know that based on actual Twitter data the value of a campaign over the course of multiple years is extremely positive.

From a data standpoint, it is still unclear how this data will extend beyond the ad platform. With Facebook’s social graph, we have access to 180 points of data if authorized by the user that includes interest level data. This is incredibly powerful information to create highly relevant experiences and spark action on behalf of a user. As it stands now, and this could change as the graph evolves but today, the data is primarily tied to insights associated with paid campaigns.

Example of Facebook’s Social Graph data points

This is a great next step for Twitter as it continues to evolve it’s platform from simple utility for brands to becoming a major factor in not only impacting real-time and topical events, but harnessing the true power of its 140 million users and more closely associate brand goals with better targeting options to truly maximize opportunities.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

Klout Launches Topical Brand Pages

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Back in January I wrote about 3 brand benefits of Klout. Today, Klout launched brand squads, which is their version of brand pages into beta with Red bull as their primary launch partner with more to come in upcoming weeks. Red Bull was also a key innovator with the launch of Facebook timeline for brands as I recently covered as well.

In recent conversations with Klout’s Garth Holsinger, he provided insight into the release of brand pages for Klout. “Previously, a brand was treated like an individual user, which in some cases does not necessarily make the most sense as a Klout score for a brand should mean something different.”

With the new release, Garth’s words ring true in that the new squad pages uncover the top influencers associated with the brand (topic) as well as showcasing the latest Red Bull content and providing a platform for the brand to directly reward influencers with brand centric perks.

Below is an example of the initial beta for the new Red Bull squad page

This presents an interesting dynamic for brands, as they are able to reward those individuals that are already passionate about the brand vs. pushing content to individuals to consume. By aligning influencers directly with the brand, it provides an easy point of connection between brand & influencer.

The example below showcases the top 1000 influencers tied to the topic of Red Bull

The top influencers are determined by +K’s which are given to other users who are influential around specific topics. Note that +K’s are specific to the Klout platform meaning, users who are already engaged with Klout directly are influencing the allocation of +K’s vs. simply using a users Klout score. This is a key point to consider for brands looking to solely use Klout squads as a primary influencer identification & engagement channel.

Top influencers also have an opportunity to receive a news associated with the brand as well as access to brand perks that are centralized within the topical brand page vs. the normal perks location via the navigation.

Normally, perks are exclusive products or experiences that users can earn based on their overall influence tied to their Klout score that are distributed to select influencers based on their topics of authority, location & score. With the introduction of squads, a secondary level of perk associated with topic specific influencers are also available. I have a request in to Klout to confirm if the topical perks are also associated with a premium cost similar to the existing perks program.

This is a significant step forward for Klout as it creates a more relevant experience for brands vs. treating brands as an individual and applying the Klout algorithm solely based on the brands published content. This new model makes more sense from a brand perspective. It will be interesting to see how the topically driven influencers begin to align as the system is predicated on klout’s proprietary +K’s.

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The Relevant Web

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Recently, I attended the Facebook Studio Live event in LA. The keynote speaker was author & Facebook employee Paul Adams of the Global Brand Marketing team. Paul provided a very insightful presentation that proved to be the highlight of the event.

In February I wrote about the importance of Social Sign-On for brands. Paul’s presentation reinforced this message and also provided additional insight into 3 fundamental shifts that are key factors to what is quickly becoming the next iteration of the web.

1) The web is being rebuilt around people

2) Amount of information we can access is increasingly exponential

3) Information is everywhere but our physiological capacity to process information has remained the same

From a marketing standpoint, these shifts also represent a fundamental change in how we as marketers should approach campaign strategy as well as the design of brand sites moving forward.

Lets consider the initial statement “The web is fundamentally being rebuilt around people”.  Think about how Facebook has redefined how you as an individual represent your virtual persona. You show affinity towards brands via Likes,  your opinion and interaction with others are the keys to fueling the algorithm that shows you the most relevant content. You select the types of content that you interact with from the sources that you deem have value. In essence, you are now in control.

The side effect to this control is that you are also providing extensive amounts of data via your social graph that now allow for more personalized experiences across the web.

Web experiences have evolved from the early dot com days of simply repurposing marketing materials to becoming more interactive by nature. The web as it stands today, represents incremental innovation when it comes to true integration of social with branded web sites. Strategies today involve “bolting on” social features. This meets a basic need of interconnection, but the brands who will truly capitalize on the next iteration of the web will provide a social by design approach that drives frictionless and relevant engagement to its users.

Examples of this concept are beginning to appear across the web as more organizations begin to adopt open graph principles into their brand presence. One example is Etsy. When you initially look at a site such as Etsy, you see a standard web presence that could be any commerce driven site that you have seen before. The site puts the onus on the user to drill down via categories or assuming the user knows what they are searching for.

By leveraging Open Graph, Etsy is able to create an experience that is incredibly relevant to the end user and their friends by quickly analyzing their Likes & affinities and presenting items that may be of interest. This frictionless discovery increases purchase intent by quickly surfacing items that may be immediately relevant.

An even richer experience is being provided by Amazon’s new Facebook open graph driven beta.

Amazon has been at the forefront of surfacing relevant items based on purchase history. Their relevancy algorithm’s have been a foundational element of their success over the years. It is very telling that they have recently launched a beta that further integrates a users social graph data to provide additional levels of recommendation.

The Amazon Facebook beta experience quickly scans the LIkes of the user as well as the social graph data of their friends to surface targeted recommendations that are based on interaction by friends as well as actual amazon purchase.

By adding additional utility in terms of gift giving for friends and discoverability of wish-lists, a user quickly has access to items that their friends may be truly interested in receiving.

The process of leveraging social graph data to streamline the path to purchase exemplifies the potential of social graph enabled social commerce. Social commerce should be less about seeding products via social channels, and more about creating seamless experiences that are permissible to end users vs. trying to interrupt. More on the topic of interruptive vs. permissive marketing based on this model in a future post.

The relevant web is also incredibly important based on the statements associated with the amount of information that is available as well as our capacity to comprehend information. With the exponential growth of information and choices, our dependency on our closest bonds to help us process information becomes even more relevant.

By enabling relevant experiences that users can seamlessly engage with, the ability for brands to capitalize on these fundamental shifts become fully realized. Those that embrace the social graph and redesign their brand presence to seamlessly integrate with social channels vs. simply bolting on features will realize greater returns.

Follow Tom Edwards @Blackfin360