I recently had the honor of being recognized as one of the 2021 50 most influential business leaders in tech. I am incredibly honored by this recognition.
Virtually Speaking Episode #24
I have enjoyed working with Cal Entertainment founder Chris Lee for years as I am an exclusive speaker for Cal Entertainment. We sit down for a fun discussion that covers a lot of ground. We talk about trends across data, AI, gaming, spatial computing, new form factors beyond mobile, as well as some fun with Funko Pops.
1:48 – Introduction and opening statements tied to trends.
3:05 – Creating experiences that go beyond desktop and mobile.
4:10 – Tour of Matrix-inspired office.
4:42 – Awards & BlackFin360.
7:12 – Voice ecosystem and thoughts on Google, Amazon, and Apple.
8:24 – Discuss virtual proxies & how assistants will evolve.
12:00 – How should business leaders think about integrating tech and trends into their existing business with a focus on value creation.
12:50 – The new 4 Ps to consider for marketers.
14:50 – What about small business owners? What do they need to look at?
18:36 – How to apply AI & Machine learning to understand affinities and behaviors.
19:44 – Thoughts on ownership of data.
20:17 – The role of AI & it’s not the enemy via the Pixar Theory
24:15 – Digital Simulation.
25:50 – What about search beyond desktop & mobile? The role of the Google knowledge graph.
27:06 – Moving beyond mobile devices & the rise of smart glasses.
28:14 – Smart contacts are the future.
30:10 – The rise of gaming & how to align with business.
31:55 – What brands should be in gaming?
35:00 – Creating authentic connections.
37:48 – Digital twins & the proxy twin hypothesis.
41:08 – Forecasting trends.
42:18 – Data, experiences, ethics.
45:20 – Blockchain & Industries like Healthcare, Financial Services.
46:55 – Digital rights management
47:30 – Closing thoughts
If you are interested in having Tom speak at your next event, please book with Chris Lee via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 877-300-1888 ext. 101.
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Passion Drives Performance Keynote
Wow! It felt good to be back on stage with a socially distant audience. Yes, I wore a mask on stage per the organizer’s policy, but it was great to be in person! This was a bespoke talk designed to motivate future business & technology, men & women.
The talk covered how a passion for gaming, marketing, and technology, has shaped my career journey. This discussion was more personal and reflective than futurist, but I wanted to provide insights into how various passions have shaped my perspective and translated to driving business performance.
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In The News: AdExchanger & F8
I was recently asked by Ad Exchanger to provide my thoughts tied to announcements made at Facebook’s 2019 F8 developer conference. Here is a link to the published Ad Exchanger article.
My full commentary is outlined below:
(Ad Exchanger) Does this “privacy vision” feel sincere or is Facebook cleverly positioning its shift?
(TOM) I feel the shift from Facebook to “the Future is Private” was necessary as the shift reflects how consumers have been interacting since 2016 when social messaging surpassed open social in terms of usage behavior.
The company went through a similar shift in 2014 with the myopic focus on becoming “Mobile First” with 100% focus and resource allocation supporting the vision. I see the same focus here with privacy. It makes sense that this was the macro theme for F8 and a rallying cry to adjust the product suites. The focus on interoperability and encryption as well as shifting messenger to be the new connection point for friends and families is a smart move.
Separately, how much of an impact will the privacy vision have on how Facebook will be able to monetize?
How this impacts advertising will be interesting. While the focus on reduced permanence and the statements around privacy and encryption are good tent pole statements, item #6 in the privacy manifesto was Secure Data Storage. There will also be the consolation around Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp to create a new advertising network connected to 2 billion people. How data will be used to support the targeting is TBD but the infrastructure to create new avenues of reach and the new consumer acquisition ad units that drive to Messenger will be a key part of their strategy putting the onus on the consumer to share data, as outlined by the new consumer acquisition ad types for Messenger.
And lastly, how will marketers need to change their Facebook strategy as engagement moves invariably away from the feed and more into Stories, messaging, etc.
(TOM) As marketers it’s important to understand the shift away from content marketing and focus on enabling creativity, utility and entertainment through Messenger and Instagram. Leaning into the ability to co-view video, utility through integration of various API’s, understanding the new payment and commerce capabilities and supporting the creation of AR experiences. Also understanding how to navigate the shift with FB5 towards groups and the role that marketers can play to create new types of connections.
There is a lot to unpack and as Facebook continues to shift towards fast, reliable and private experiences, it will be interesting to see how the platforms actually evolve and where new opportunities to drive monetization will come from.
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Facebook F8 Recap & Reaction
A quick reaction & recap video with highlights from today’s Facebook F8 event. The macro theme was the future is private and it was all about Facebook’s approach to privacy and it’s product suite.
Messenger is going to play a starring role, advances with Instagram and commerce, further maturing of Facebook’s AR toolset, new and exciting VR announcements, a preview of how CRM will evolve via Messenger and what was missing from today’s show. This and more in today’s video.
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Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit Keynote
I recently had the privilege to deliver the Evolution of Experience keynote at the 2018 Frito-Lay Boundless Marketing Summit in Nashville, Tennessee.
For this event, I tailored the Evolution of Experience, E^3 talk tied to Empower, Exponential and Enhanced to focus on the camera as a platform, artificial intelligence, multi-modal and the New 4 P’s of AI marketing.
Exponential is all about acceleration through intelligent systems. This looks at the role of data for AI as well as the rise of virtual assistants and the ability to predict consumer needs ultimately becoming a proxy for the individual that will split decision journeys between consumers and algorithms.
Enhanced is all about the bridging of physical and digital reality and how immersive computing, augmented reality, computer vision and the intelligent camera will forever redefine our version of reality.
The talk ends with an explanation of how we will evolve from a mobile-centric world to the new normal of voice, vision and touch experiences powered by artificial intelligence. This includes a date when project it will all converge as well as 4 new P’s of marketing.
It was an awesome crowd and I really enjoyed the 30 minute session + Q&A.
If you are interested in having Tom speak at your event please contact here.
Tom Edwards Speaker Bio
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Facebook F8 Keynote Recap
Celebrating 500 BlackFin Posts
This post is number 500 for the BlackFin360.com/blog. Starting this blog was one of the best decisions I have made professionally. It provided me with a platform to share original thoughts, cover industry trends and serve as a repository for speaking and media coverage.
It has evolved significantly from the early beginnings in 2007. The blog was originally under the domain TheBlackFin.com. Now that domain is simply a redirect to BlackFin360.com. “BlackFin” was a nickname given to me by a co-worker at the time and the blog name came directly from my Xbox Gamertag “TheBlackFin“.
Here is a screenshot of the original look for the blog from 2007-2009. Why green for a blog named the “black” fin is something I still wonder about to this day.
Over the years the look and feel of the blog has changed but the core content focus on marketing, emerging technology, and gaming has remained to this day.
I officially moved the blog from theblackfin.com to blackfin360.com in 2009. By 2011 at least there were black/techie elements in the look and feel.
Now in 2018, the blog continues to serve as the primary entry point for speaking engagements, advisor opportunities, university lecturing, media coverage and over the past year it has shifted to more of a Vlog.
The look of the site will continue to evolve in 2018 and beyond.
Whether this is your first time here or you have been a subscriber since the beginning, I sincerely want to thank anyone who has stopped by and spent time with my content. I am incredibly grateful for this platform and I would highly recommend to anyone to find their industry voice and build their personal brand in addition to their professional.
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Apple iPhone X Unboxing & Initial Thoughts
Amazon Spark Analysis
Facebook F8 Full Recap & Analysis
I look forward to Facebook’s F8 developer conference each year. It’s a great opportunity to see how Facebook is prioritizing and adjusting their 10 year road map based on shifting consumer behavior and new advancements in technology.
What was fascinating about this years conference is the rate they are accelerating the convergence of technologies that connect us, immerse us into new virtual worlds and advancing innovation well beyond what we would expect from a company that identifies itself as social first.
Facebook wants to redefine how we think about reality and the not too distant future when all reality is augmented and virtual. The following provides analysis across the consumer centric filters of connection, cognition and immersion.
- Connection – Trends that reimagine how we connect, enable and empower consumers
- Cognition – Trends where machine based intelligence will disrupt and redefine data assets and how we work
- Immersion – Trends that align technology and presence to evoke emotion, entertain and power commerce
Here are few examples of the 15 territories analyzed starting with:
The Camera as the First Augmented Reality Platform – Facebook understands that in order to truly create scale the key is to empower consumers, developers and other 3rd parties to create experiences on their behalf. Consumer empowerment is powerful and will accelerate adoption and ultimately influence consumer behavior towards a new normal.
The democratization of augmented reality (AR) powered by advancing artificial intelligence (AI), has the potential to redefine advertisers approaches to content marketing, making it less about content and more about enabling experiences through compelling and contextually relevant effects.
Frames & AR Studio – Two sets of tools comprise the new Camera Effects Platform. The Frames Studio allows for quick deployment and creation of effects that can enhance an image, video or even Facebook live stream. This platform allows artists, creators and brands to create frames that can be targeted using Facebook targeting abilities for distribution.
The AR Studio is where it’s possible to create light weight AR effects that can developed and enhanced with elements such as real-time data to build highly contextual AR experiences. This is where brand marketers have an opportunity to align data + experiences.
Gaming & eSports
Convergence of gaming & video has been a massive trend over the past 24 months. 2B people play games each month. The rise and consumption of game streams now consists of 665M people watching people play games.
On Facebook people watch, play & create. Facebook’s gaming video product supports eSports (14-31% of live gaming consumption), developers, gaming entertainers and social connection for consumers of game stream content.
Gaming content is digitally native baked in real time interactivity. With gaming video the audience is more than a spectator. They participate in the experience via comments and getting involved in the gameplay.
Messenger 2.0 – 2016 was considered the year of the bot. Primarily fueled by Facebook’s Messenger beta which accelerated the development of a bot ecosystem to further enhance the Messenger experience.
In 2017, Facebook is positioning Messenger as Messenger 2.0 with a sharp focus on integration of other services via chat extensions giving 3rd party bots the ability to seamlessly connect other services such as Spotify or Apple Music.
Facebook is also keen on driving discovery among the 100,000 bots now on the platform via the new discover tab.
Data Design & Artificial Intelligence
Facebook is focused on leveraging multiple facets of Artificial Intelligence to power their products and accelerate 3rd party ecosystems.
Computer vision, natural language processing, and algorithms drive content discovery and their newly launched AR experiences. AI is now a foundational element to Facebook’s go-to-market strategy.
Facebook’s ultimate goal is to develop intelligent systems that go beyond computer vision and truly understand the world. This will then converge with their vision of an AR driven future to create a unified experience.
The Rise of Proxy’s – In the very near future we as consumers will have intelligent systems serving the role of a proxy. Facebook is betting on M to first serve as a virtual assistant that will eventually become a predictive service that is the foundation for their virtual computing future.
M will integrate into multiple facets of a users life from sharing location to recommendations. In the near future M can become the connection between a recommendation and AR object recognition action.
Virtual Reality & Facebook Spaces – Facebook officially launched Spaces for Oculus. This was first teased at F8 last year and the experience has definitely advanced from the grainy avatars from a year ago.
Facebook took research and learnings from Oculus Rooms via the Samsung Gear and refined an experience that lets your virtual avatar interact with Facebook content and friends in a virtual environment.
From virtual selfies to watching 360 video. It’s very clear to see that Facebook is focused on creating a new for of social interaction via a virtual environment.
The Future – Facebook took the first major step in achieving their 10 year goal of fully immersive augmented reality by launching the camera as their first augmented reality platform.
On day 2 of the conference, they outlined in detail how they view transparent glasses (deemed more socially appropriate) or some equivalent that is paired with a general artificial intelligence system to enhance our daily lives.
This includes improving memory, cognition, recognition and redefining how we interact with the physical world and collaborate with one another.
Here is the full recap consisting of all 15 territories analyzed plus implications for brand marketers to consider based on the trend identified.
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In The News: AdExchanger & F8
I had an opportunity to sit down with AdExchanger during Facebook’s F8 developer conference.
We discussed how Facebook’s new focus on Augmented Reality through camera effects can impact the future of marketing.
From the creation of effect based advertising and the intersection of artificial intelligence and the role of data.
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F8 2017 Live Recap
Social Media To Social Messaging
Today, Twitter announced the integration of native GIF search support. This feature is designed to enhance a conversational user experience and is yet another signal of an impending shift that validates the importance of supporting visual language usage behavior (emoji, stickers, GIF’s).
Over the past few months I have talked a lot about the seismic shift in consumer behavior towards intimate sharing as well as platform and publishers integrating new features and testing conversational user experiences to keep pace with the shift from social media to social messaging.
This shift will redefine how brand marketers approach connecting with consumers. It will be less about the hallmarks of social media marketing which included personification of the brand in a witty way and more about enabling conversation and finding the key points to passively enable a conversation through visual language or by creating compelling customer experiences through messaging channels.
Publishers such as Facebook and Twitter as well as ephemeral platforms such as Snapchat are redefining the future of social media. In recent briefings with the Snapchat team, they stated emphatically that they are not a social network. And some brand marketers may not be comfortable with the pending new normal.
I recently discussed with iMedia how Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp’s go-to-market approach is key to their long term strategy to remain relevant with younger audiences and serves as a precursor to the shift that is coming.
Facebook is a microcosm for what’s happening in the industry. They have over one billion users engaging monthly, yet they are laser focused on evolving beyond social media and are doubling down on social messaging.
Facebook sees that consumer behavior is shifting towards intimate connection vs. broad-reaching social platforms. As a result, messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and SnapChat are dominating engagement with key demographics.
In addition to stickers, animated GIFs, and emojis, messenger applications will also focus on enabling customer service to serve as a primary commerce hub for publishers. Facebook has already tested programs connecting local service providers with consumers through Messenger, as well as enabling third-party developers to create new experiences that enable the messaging experience.
It’s not just about Messenger and WhatsApp. Facebook owned Instagram now has improved DM capabilities that focuses on intimate shareability of content. Instagram made it easier to share content without tagging as well as the ability to share with up to 15 people, respond with emoji or add additional images with a threaded approach. This is another signal of the importance of a conversational user experience.
Now Twitter is continuing it’s product evolution by adopting new functionality that is already prevalent with ephemeral messaging platforms. They announced support of native GIF search functionality across iOS, Android & web.
This is in addition to their recent testing of Snapchat stylized doodles and photo editing and expanding the character limit via direct messaging.
It is important to consider the macro shifts in consumer behavior combined with the signals given by the platforms in response to where they are placing their bets for the near future. If the Asian markets are any indication of future behavior in the US, we will see the rise of micro-messaging branded initiatives similar to WeChat.
Here is an example of Starbucks leveraging WeChat in China to conversationally connect with consumers. By sharing their emotion they can engage with branded content and offers.
From a marketing perspective, it is important to begin thinking about how to create or leverage a conversational user experience as well as begin to understand the shift in approach to supporting messaging apps with an “enabling” approach vs. social personification or brand centric messaging.
Consider the role that sponsored brand chats, stickers, emojis or a 3rd party app in the Messenger app ecosystem can provide towards building connections with consumers.
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Instagram Strategy and the Path to Purchase
From a strategy perspective, Instagram is one of the more misunderstood social platforms when it comes to outlining it’s role and business impact along the path to purchase.
Below is a breakdown of three Instagram use cases that outline various levers that can influence user behavior that can ultimately lead to awareness, advocacy and offline conversion.
Instagram’s numbers are impressive. 300 Million active users, 30 billion photos shared per day, 2.5 billion interactions per day as well as support for iOS, Android and web presence make it an ideal consumer engagement channel.
Instagram Session at F8
When crafting an Instagram brand strategy, I always start by mapping the objectives and goals of the brand against the various use cases and scenarios outlined below.
Depending on the desire of the brand marketer, it is possible to execute each of these as stand alone elements, but the greatest impact can be achieved by integrating multiple use cases.
Typically, I map Instagram strategic initiatives into three primary use cases: Brand Channel, Cooperative Content and Direct Response.
1 – COMMUNITY FIRST = BRAND CHANNEL – Some marketers desire to have a robust branded Instagram presence to round out their social channel ecosystem.
1.1 – Why have an Instagram brand channel? Over the past few years, Instagram marketing strategy has been approached in a very similar manner to other social platforms that came before it. This included extending the persona of the brand, fostering transparency and extending their visual storytelling efforts.
An Instragram brand channel can serve as a brand anchor on the platform, engagement driver and point of personification for the brand and connection with the Instagram community. But it is important to understand there are limitations to this approach if a brand has any desire beyond awareness and engagement.
1.2 – Can I extend organic reach through engagement? When I met with the Instagram team at F8, Instagram has what’s called a deterministic newsfeed. This means that all content that you post will be seen by your followers. The issue is that unlike Facebook’s previous algorithm that rewarded additional reach to your followers and beyond for interaction, Instagram engagement does not equal additional organic reach.
They reiterated that Instagram brand channels should NOT be treated as 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 (Think ReTweet) functionality limits branded content sharing.
1.3 – What does it do for my business? It is important to understand the parameters and set client expectations accordingly about what to expect if a brand channel is the only use case that is realized. Understanding that organic reach is limited to existing audience, a brand channel strategy alone would simply garner awareness and engagement.
1.4 – Conclusion (Awareness & Engagement) – If your brand has a robust social strategy that includes visual storytelling and is primarily focused on awareness and engagement as core drivers and are okay without having additional reach through engagement then a branded channel is right for you
2 – INSPIRE CREATIVITY = COOPERATIVE CONTENT In a recent meeting with the Instagram team, they expressed that the true power of the platform is the creator community.
For those marketers looking to move beyond awareness and engagement, it is possible to foster intent while maintaining the authenticity and connection with Instagram’s community through curation based use cases.
For most product based businesses, they expressed the importance of driving behavior and using the content created by users tied to hashtags as a cross-platform advocacy play.
This is an example from Sephora, that takes user created content and aligns it with the products that created the look to create contextual alignment between the brand and consumer.
2.1 – CALL FOR COOPERATION – The call for cooperation is the key element to maximize a UGC curation strategy. The key is to specifiy the behavior that is expected, provide a relevant hashtag and actively deliver the call to action.
The call to action can manifest itself in many forms. It can be tied to promotional activations that drive a specific behavior, such as the ATT #BeTheFan promotion.
Or it can come in the form of leveraging influencers to drive the call to action to create content on behalf of the brand.
The call to action and galvanizing Instagram’s creator community is the first step in curating cooperative content.
2.2 – App Centric Approach – Many brands leverage Instagram primarily through the lens of the consumer and the native filters of the app. For marketers that are looking for more brand equity out of user created content and have a strong branded application install base, it is possible to create custom filters through the brands native app and tie the share into the Instagram share stream via an API.
Tiffany’s integrated custom black and white, peach and Tiffany blue into a native app experience and then curated the best images as a part of their True Love in Pictures campaign.
2.3 – Choose the Right Moments – It is important to have an asset management system that allows you to have a flexible workflow to review submissions, facilitate rights management and connect pathways to cross-platform publishing of the content.
One of my go-to partners in this regard has been Chute.
2.3 – Display for Impact – Once you have aligned with your community about a call to action, curated images or videos natively or through a 3rd party application and have worked through rights and asset management, it is now time to display the cooperatively created content for impact.
This is an example from WestElm that highlights professional and user created Instagram content into their product pages.
Here is an example from ThinkGeek that highlights consumers with products in action.
2.3 – What does this mean for my business? Associating user generated content with products has shown a direct correlation to sales lift according to a recent IPSOS study.
For brands that are focused on leveraging earned media to create advocacy and impact “intent” (middle of the purchase funnel) a cooperative content curation strategy may be the right choice.
2.6 – Conclusion – For certain brand marketers the ideal approach is to curate against existing behaviors and create a relationship with passionate fans to showcase their view of the brand as the core assets to fuel cross-platform branded experiences and display for impact.
3 – SIMPLICITY MATTERS = DIRECT RESPONSE – What we have seen over the past 6 months is a fundamental shift in social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and now Instagram towards better supporting offline conversion through direct response ad types.
From an investor perspective, awareness and engagement are not always seen as the most viable way to invest dollars that drive tangible business impact. This is one of the primary reasons that Twitters CEO stepped down as they did not have a viable way to measure true impact of spend.
3.1 – Why Paid Advertising on Instagram? Instagram’s paid advertising offerings have evolved significantly over the past year and we as marketers are starting to see the influence that the Facebook acquisition has had on the platform.
Recent announcements highlighted advanced targeting will be coming soon to the Instagram ad products. In partnership with parent company Facebook, Instagram’s ad products will allow for greater specificity to deliver a contextually relevant message that may drive a direct response from the consumer.
3.2 – What does it do for my business? With improved targeting capabilities thanks to Facebook and now an option launching this fall to support direct response call to actions such as shop now, install now, sign up, learn more, we see an increased emphasis on driving a user to action. One element that has been missing from Instagram.
Also, the news that an Instagram ads API will be available this fall to support both small and large organizations is important news for those marketers that are not spending millions of dollars on the Facebook ad platform.
3.3 – Conclusion – Instagram’s ad products are continuing to evolve and the addition of direct response units is a very welcome addition. Initial signals are positive, but it will be important to see what changes a more comprehensive ad product suite will have on a platform that has prided itself on simplicity and community.
As you can see, there are various strategic use cases that can drive different outcomes depending on your objectives. Understanding when to activate one vs. the other, or multiple elements simultaneously is key to fully maximizing the highly creative and engaged Instagram audience.
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10 Learnings from Facebook F8 2015
Today my recap of 10 Learnings from Facebook F8 is the lead cover story for iMedia. Here is a link to the full article and below is a repost of the content.
I recently attended the 2015 Facebook F8 conference. Below is a recap of my top ten takeaways from the annual developer conference. The following outlines the current and future plans of one of the world’s largest tech companies.
Current State – The primary theme of the opening keynote delivered by Mark Zuckerburg was one of “people first”. Facebook is now positioning it’s core offerings as a family of applications that are designed to align with how people are naturally using technology to engage and share.
It was quickly noticeable that each platform now plays a very specific role in the Facebook ecosystem. WhatsApp will continue to be a simple messaging platform, Instagram will maintain a focus on simplicity and creative expression.
Messenger is quickly being positioned as the primary mechanism for 1:1 communication and direct connection with businesses and groups continues to be a go to for 700 million people who want to collaborate around specific topics.
The core Facebook experience is focused on further extending it’s video capabilities while highlighting how they will remain relevant in the future by setting the foundation to support deeply immersive forms of content such as virtual reality.
Enhanced Messaging – One of the highly touted announcements was the expansion of Messenger to a 3rd party development platform. This is an important move for Facebook, especially with WhatsApp confirming during the conference that they will not be providing API’s any time soon on their product roadmap.
3rd 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, GIF’s 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.
Facebook also announced the beta launch of Businesses on messenger, which is how Facebook envisions brands and consumers engaging directly through enhanced customer service and value add 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 towards 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. Key points to consider are the desktop version is flash based and mobile is HTML5.
In recent Facebook briefings there have been discussions about Q3 introducing sequential storytelling into the fold. This is one area that the current embedded video option is lacking compared to YouTube. YouTube currently has the ability to create annotations and now “Cards” to create connections between assets.
Importance of Advocacy – With all of the talk about Facebook and brands lack of organic reach, it was confirmed that for users the newsfeed is still mostly deterministic in terms of the content that is served. This confirmed that peer to peer sharing is still the most viable option for content centric brands.
Another central theme was tied to sharing of content and 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 audience and then selecting the ideal application from the Facebook family delivery and discovery.
While most social brand personification strategies have taken a back seat now on Facebook’s primary platform due to the shift towards 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-in’s team outlined their intentions to redefine the experience of many of the standard plug-in’s to create a richer mobile experience.
The first step is to relaunch Facebook moderation tools to allow greater flexibility and an optimized experience for moderation that includes bulk actions, custom lists and is being rewritten from scratch for a better mobile experience.
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 key 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 newsfeed is 100% deterministic meaning that the content posted from your followers will appear in your feed. Based on this feedback, potentially adding features like a ReGram is not currently on the roadmap as the goal is to keep the experience simple.
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 to showcase their view of the brand as the core assets 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 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.
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 outlined by Facebook’s CTO Mike Schroepfer. In his keynote, he discussed the three core areas of focus for the near future. Those being planetary connectivity, natural interfaces and immersive experiences.
Services that scale and planetary connectivity are key areas of focus in the near future for Facebook. One of the key initiatives is tied to the Aquila unmanned solar drone. The drone is designed to stay aloft for three months at a time 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 was 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 key immediate takeaways was the fact that 3d spherical videos will be supported in the Facebook newsfeed. 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 are leveraging the platform as a service offering to provide additional rapid development services to mobile app developers such as user management, push notifications and analytics at scale.
Now with over 400,000 apps built on Parse, the Facebook team is now 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 are all vying to unlock the key to leveraging IOT data.
Facebook’s approach is to connect devices and software that share common elements to increase the probability of systems working together. This could then lead to Facebook being the data aggregator between devices, software and data to create unique experiences across devices.
Virtual Reality – Virtual Reality played a key role throughout F8. 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 to their more immersive Crescent Bay demos that showed off the full capability of the Oculus Rift.
Facebook also spent half of a keynote simply showcasing the physiology associated with virtual reality and how the timing is now right as the cost of technology to create affordable consumer products is feasible, the experience is compelling and there is broad industry participation and a long-term commitment to advance the technology.
Facebook did a great job of balancing the short term vs. the future state while ensuring they are bringing their developer partners along the way. By shifting towards the family of apps strategy as well as building towards 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
Evolution of Social Media Marketing
Here is a preview of my latest take on the evolution of social media marketing.
The presentation starts with a trip down memory lane by reviewing the rise of social media platforms across the globe.
Next is a look at the impact social media trends have had on consumer behavior. Everything from viral videos, #selfies and the rise of YouTube celebrities.
Then focus shifts to the evolution of social marketing globally and the role that content plays in today’s social marketing programs.
The journey wraps with a look at the future state of social marketing.
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Instagram = Engagement…For Now
A lot of industry attention has been directed at the recent Facebook shift to reach and frequency and the relevance of engagement on social platforms. The key areas of emphasis from Facebook is so much content is being generated that it is not possible to consume 15,000 potential stories so Facebook’s edge rank algorithm allows for ~300 to show in the news feed. The impact for brands was to rethink their owned & paid strategy approach on the platform.
The shift impacted the ability for brands to create reach through engagement on Facebook which had been a viable strategy. There are still ways for brands to maximize organic content distribution and create reach through engagement socially. I have written previously on the benefits of Tumblr for organic content distribution and extending the shelf life of content. Today, I am focusing on the potential to create reach through engagement with Instagram but with a caveat that this may only be for a limited amount of time.
Recently, Forrester studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks. The key takeaway was the fact that Instagram blew the other platforms away when it came to organic engagement. The Forrester study showed that Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter.
Another example in the CPG space is on display in a recent social media analysis by Zuum. Their report highlights that Oreo’s 184,000 Instagram followers generate more engagement than their 37 million Facebook fans.
I recently spoke to team members @ Facebook to discuss the organic Instagram algorithm and the unofficial answer is that we should expect Instagram to closely mirror Facebook’s approach in the near future… “to reach the right audience brands will need to invest to get the scale they need to impact business results. There is too much content being created to get meaningful organic distribution and it will be required to build ideas that will have scale to the right audience“.
The recent launch of Instagram Business Tools validates the pending shift. The current approach allows brands to track both organic performance through the account insights dashboard, highlights paid performance through the ad insights and even allows cross-agency collaboration with the new ad staging tools.
Here is a screenshot from the Instagram Blog highlighting account insights
The key is to leverage the organic capabilities while you can and then plan on shifting to a similar approach to Facebook with content that is specific to Instagram.
Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360