Integrating Celebrities and Online Influencers

This is the second of three posts taken from my recent interviews with iMedia. This post & video discuss integrating celebrity talent and online influencers.

Millennials love online celebrities, and with the ascendance of the Pluralist generation the importance of integrating influencers will only continue. Both of these groups live and breathe online, and agencies have a huge opportunity to work with social media stars, Vine talent, and popular bloggers to accomplish viral marketing. Brands and publishers don’t have these connections. Agencies are the creative places where online influencers will thrive. The dialogue is more open and the people are more willing to take risks. Smart agencies are remaining relevant by turning into mini-production houses

Tom Edwards is the Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy & Innovation

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Mobile Marketer: Are Selfies Still Relevant???

I was recently asked by Mobile Marketer to provide commentary tied to if selfies are still relevant for brands.

Mobile Marketer Are results for selfie campaigns being negatively impacted by the lack of innovation and the over-use of this strategy?

Tom Edwards – User generated content is still a viable mechanism if the campaign is relevant and creates an authentic connection with an existing behavior. Where “selfie” campaigns can go astray is when brands ask consumers to create content that are not natural extensions of their existing behavior. 

Mobile Marketer Is brand interest in selfie campaigns still high?

Tom Edwards – We are still seeing creative briefs that are focused on creating authentic connections with consumers, fostering advocacy as well as connecting physical to digital. All of which are potentially ideal for leveraging user generated content.

Mobile Marketer- What is the most creative selfie campaign you’ve seen?

Tom Edwards – The recently launched Who are you when you’re hungry? Campaign by Snickers is an interesting take where the brand shifts directions from consumption to creation by turning over the You’re not you when you’re hungry campaign to consumers to tell their story with the winning content taking over Snickers YouTube channel for a day.

Snickers satisfies need for authenticity with new selfie-driven effort - Mobile Marketer - Content 2015-02-26 15-04-11

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Snapchat is NOT a Social Network

Snapchat is deliberately distancing itself from the social platforms that have come before it. With a shift from a creation to consumption model, the roadmap on how best to leverage Snapchat is clear.

Snapchat-logo

Here are eight truths that marketers need to understand about how Snapchat views itself — and the ideal approach to maximizing the value of the platform.

1 – Snapchat is Not a Social Network. The Snapchat team has made it clear that it does not consider itself a social network. Instead, Snapchat is positioning itself as an ephemeral communication and consumption platform. This is a key point to consider when defining an approach to maximizing the platform.

2 – Attentive Audience. Snapchat boasts 50 million users in the US with a primary demographic of 14-28 years old. The average user frequents the app 14-22 times per day. It’s clear that Snapchat considers its platform as the “new TV” for this demo. From an attention and eyeballs perspective, driving views with this demographic is a key benefit of the platform.

3 – Consumption vs. Creation. Initially, Snapchat was a 1:1 content creation platform. Snapchat viewed the native phone camera as a competitor. With the recent shift with the Our Story offering and the new editorially-led Discover Channels, consumption will be the dominant behavior on the platform. The focus on more forms of original content will further support the position of driving views at scale.

4 – Organic Reach. The decline in organic reach on social networks such as Facebook has been a big topic over the past year and half. Snapchat has been direct that the platform is not optimized to support brands organically. Instead, they recommend that brands align their advertising around contextual topics and events vs. personification of the brand narrative with the hope of organic reach.

5 – Targeted Advertising. Snapchat’s advertising model is an opt-in model that is contextual and relevant vs. highly targeted. This is a similar approach to Buzzfeed and is the antithesis to Facebook’s highly targeted approach. This also means that alcohol brands are limited on the platform as targeting and age-gating are not currently an option.

6 – Physical to Digital. One of the other benefits and opportunities for brands on the platform is to connect physical events to an expanded digital audience is through Snapchat’s Our Story offering. With the ability to geo-fence and filter content, and align contextual brand advertising, Snapchat is creating more content for consumption that’s built on peer-to-peer audience sharing.

7 – Direct Response vs. Views. Snapchat’s value to brands is as an awareness driver vs. direct response platform. Snapchat views its platform as THE engagement platform of the 14-28-year-old demographic and it’s comparing its ad pricing to traditional GRP’s.

8 – Editorial Integrity. With the launch of Discover, Snapchat now provides daily editorial content to expand the scale of content on the platform. Each publishing partner is committed to a daily edition of content. This edition is also aligned with contextual advertising. The ad pricing is set by Snapchat and the publisher partner.

Snapchat is currently in the spotlight and there’s significant interest in leveraging the platform. Snapchat should be viewed as a contextual media platform vs. a social network that creates organic equity. The size of the audience and frequency of engagement cannot be ignored. If a program’s objective is to drive reach and create awareness, then Snapchat can play a key role.

Tom Edwards is EVP for Strategy & Innovation/Digital at The Marketing Arm.

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Super Bowl XLIX Advertising Missed Opportunities

With the price of the average Super Bowl ad hovering around $4.5 million for a 30 second spot, you would assume that advertisers would extend the reach of the on-air spot and create comprehensive social and mobile experiences to capitalize on the spend.

For this years game that simply did not happen. SalesForce published a great ad analysis diagram outlining some of the hits and misses.

salesforce superbowl data

The big surprise was the amount of spots that simply did not have a single call to action. Awareness is one thing, but leading up to the big game it is incredibly important to maximize the reach and frequency of the spot and kick it over into an earned media strategy that extends the conversation and builds towards greater engagement with the brand.

Even the usage of hashtags was primarily relegated to end cards vs. being present throughout the spots. Having a hashtag is a good start, but it is also important to ensure that the experience both from a keyword and promoted tweet perspective further aligns the call to action with an opportunity to drive deeper engagement or action to a final destination.

The other surprising take away was the non-use of SMS during the course of the spots as well as the limited numbers of drive to native applications. Mobile marketing was almost non-existent and a huge missed opportunity to further drive customer acquisition of a highly engaged audience.

Heading into next years game brand advertisers need to focus on creating a cohesive experience that maximizes their investment to not only create awareness but diving deeper into creating experiences that extend beyond the spot that further fuels the social conversation.

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5 Reasons for Brands to Try Snapchat in 2015

This is a full repost of my recent iMedia Connection Cover Story.

Each year I like to dive into a specific platform that will make an impact for brands in the coming year. 2014 was the year of Tumblr. This prediction came true as TechCrunch recently released data that shows that Tumblr just overtook Instagram as the fastest-growing social platform.

Tumblr growth

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

Snapchat is already the fastest growing social app heading into 2015

snapchat growth

According to Business Insider, Nearly Half of Americans aged 12 to 24 have used Snapchat

biisnapchatedisonresearch

OVERVIEW & STATS

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

Snapchat-logo

When it comes to frequency of use, the platform is even more impressive as 60% of the active users are on the app daily with frequency numbers as high as 22x 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 the content.

Users can set a timer for when their content will vanish

snapchat timer

Users can doodle, add filters and comment on top of content

dogsnapchat

Here is a Snapchat infographic that our team developed in 2013. You can see the explosive growth since then.

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If that was not enough, there are over 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.

HOW CAN BRANDS USE 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 they can 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 their followers.

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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 over 1 billion views a day and has become the go to for brands emphasizing a 1 to many strategy on the platform vs. 1:1 messaging.

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

3033793-inline-i-1-snapchat-mcdonalds-lebron

Snapchat and Advertising

When it comes to an approach to advertising, Snapchat is more like buzzfeed than Facebook. They focus on contextual relevance of the content to drive impressions vs. a highly targeted approach. Both have their pros and cons, but Snapchat recommends relevance and authenticity are the keys to success when it comes to advertising within their platform. They have recently introduced the ability to position sponsored content in the friend feed. From a viewability standpoint, they count a view as 2 seconds of consumption.

Here is an example of sponsored content from the recent Ouija movie.

Snapchat_FirstAdLong

WHAT’S NEW HEADING INTO 2015?

Our Story | 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 the event and allows others not attending to directly experience the event. A user attending the event has 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 and is next to friend content.

There is also an opportunity for brands to “sponsor” Our Story events. This comes to life in the form of interstitial content that wraps 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 vs. pre-produced content. This better aligns the message and makes it more contextually relevant.

Here is an example from Samsung tied to the recent American Music Awards Show

ama-our-story

What’s New?

Peer-to-Peer Payments | Recently, Snapchat partnered with Square to release a prototype that allowed users to store their debit card via square and the users could quickly process a payment and send cash to a friend’s bank account simply through the chat feature. Users could type the dollar sign, an amount and hit the green button. It is available in the US to those with a debit care and are 18 or older.

Screenshot 2014-12-02 14.21.01

Snapchat Discover | 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.

Snapchat discover

With it’s diversity of use cases, easy of use, sense of urgency and focus on enabling brands and partnerships, Snapchat is primed to have a very big 2015.

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Google Search Just Became More Social

Google just rolled out an update to search engine result pages by incorporating brand social profiles. Previously, social channels were organized as separate results. By streamlining the profiles under the master brand result makes connecting with consumers even easier.

GameStop Social Search

Most notably, the update also provides the most recent Google+ post tied to the brand. This is a key differentiator that validates Google+ posting from an organic discovery perspective.

One additional point to consider in this new update is that direct competitors may be associated with the brand. In the example above you see Wal-Mart as one of the main related searches.

Screenshot 2015-01-15 14.55.24

When clicked, the related searches become the header of the experience.

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Do Snack Brands Need Content?

I was recently asked by Mobile Commerce Daily to provide commentary if Snack brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social. Below are my full responses to the various topics discussed.

(Mobile Commerce Daily) To what extent are food and snacks CPG brands starting to understand and activate social media within the purchase funnel?

Social media has been an integral part of the marketing mix for CPG brands for some time now. CPG social strategy has evolved with the evolution of social platforms and shifting consumer behaviors. Many platforms such as Facebook are shifting away from engagement as a primary metric and focused on reach, resonance and reaction, which aligns social media activation further down the purchase funnel.

(MCD) What are the challenges CPG companies face in leveraging social media to drive purchases?

The snack category is highly dependent on context and timing. With the convergence of social, mobile and digital and the focus shifting to targeted cross screen engagement, there is a renewed interest in aligning digital, physical and data to impact purchase decisions.

(MCD) Besides motivating purchases, what additional benefits/negatives in terms of consumer engagement does a social campaign bring the CPG company?

Social centric campaigns allow brands to deepen their connection with their consumers, empower them to help drive the brand forward (Doritos Legion of the Bold and Do Us A Flavor), impact brand perception and for a number of brands provide impactful reach through social engagement.

(MCD) What are some examples of top food and snacks CPG companies that have effectively leveraged social to drive consumers deeper into the purchase funnel?

Frito-Lay is a company that is continually looking to leverage social as a means to drive consumers further into the purchase funnel. Whether it is a brand campaign that empowers consumers such as Lay’s Do Us a Flavor, or it is creating a community of brand advocates like Doritos Legion of the bold, or connecting in-store elements seamlessly into socially centric campaigns, Frito-Lay is approaching social in a smart and relevant way that connects with consumers and ultimately impacts purchase.

(MCD) What’s your favorite example of a food and snacks CPG social campaign that drove purchases?

My favorite examples are Lay’s Do Us a Flavor and Doritos Crash the Superbowl programs.

Snacks brands need meaningful content to drive in-store purchases via social - Mobile Marketer - Advertising 2014-11-09 21-34-09

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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.

Evolution of Social Marketing Timelines - Tom Edwards

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.

Evolution of Social Media Trends - Tom Edwards

Then focus shifts to the evolution of social marketing globally and the role that content plays in today’s social marketing programs.

Evolution of Social Marketing Content - Tom Edwards

The journey wraps with a look at the future state of social marketing.

Evolution of Social Marketing Future - Tom Edwards

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Followers Only a Small Piece of Pinterest Content Discovery

Acquisition of fans, followers and likes was a staple of the early days of social marketing. The issue is that many organizations still map success to their follower count vs. focusing on the real value created by social marketing.

I have written many posts recently on the importance of organic reach, influencer impact, earned media value and the move towards discovery vs. retrieval and I am constantly working with my brand partners to keep them ahead of the curve while being focused on creating value.

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Part of this process is to work closely with publisher & platform partners to stay informed not only on the latest features, but more importantly to understand strategic positioning of their platform and how they create value for brands.

I have worked closely with Kevin Knight of the Pinterest Marketing team for a few years now. He was at Facebook when we initially met and then made the transition to Pinterest. His background provides the ideal experience to outline the role of a follower on Pinterest and he did so with a great post on the Pinterest business blog “Why you don’t need as many followers as you think“.

Pinterest is less about followers and more about discovery with followers being a “gateway”.

10.8-followers-blog

Here are some excerpts from Kevin’s post.

Instead of thinking of followers as your audience on Pinterest, think of them as the gateway to your audience on Pinterest.

Here’s what we mean: People use Pinterest to discover, save and do things that inspire them. Repinning is the action they take when they save things they want to do or buy later. While people’s main motivation to Pin is to save things for themselves, anything they repin spreads to their own followers who are looking at their home feeds to discover things from people with similar tastes and interests.

That means the number of people who actually see your Pins is often far greater than your number of followers. In fact, the average Pin gets repinned 11 times. Don’t forget that if you have a website with the Pin It button installed, there are probably already people Pinning from your website. That means your Pins are getting discovered by people who follow those Pinners and people who find your Pins in search results and category feeds — a group that may or may not include people who follow your Pinterest profile.

So, while it’s nice to have lots of followers, they’re just one part of spreading your Pins to many, many more people on Pinterest.”

In addition to what Kevin’s post outlines is the importance of the Pinterest Interest Graph. To recap, 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

interest-graph

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.

In order to map value, it is important to not only understand the bits & bytes of a platform, but to dig deeper and focus on the role that the consumer plays in the distribution, amplification and discovery of content as this is a key element of driving value from social marketing.

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The Anti-Facebook? Meet Ello

With the recent shift towards a reach and frequency model and organic reach hovering at 3% (with plans to go lower by the end of the year), Facebook has now created a void in the social networking eco-system.

fb-organic-reach-blog

This is what maturing enterprises do. They refine and evolve and sometimes this change has significant ramifications on existing best practices. Facebook is still an incredibly powerful digital platform. I would no longer classify it as a “social network” at least from a brand marketing perspective. Facebook has moved away from KPI’s such as engagement to focus on becoming a highly effective direct response tool.

Facebook-Reach

We are currently at a significant cross-roads from a social marketing perspective. The mantra of reach through engagement is really only applicable on Tumblr & Instagram (for now). Twitter is shifting towards an algorithm driven approach to showcasing tweets in your feed and organic reach has continued to decline and it will be interesting to see how much of the feed is “real-time” moving forward.

twitter

With all of this movement away from what made social… social, you should expect to see new platforms emerge that essentially provide what Facebook used to be, an actual social network.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.33.14

One such platform that is starting to pick up momentum is Ello.

Screenshot 2014-10-02 08.18.58

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers” according to the founders. It is designed to be an ad-free digital zone.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 19.08.45

One of the selling propositions to join yet another network is the fact that they state they won’t sell data to 3rd parties.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.33.39

The core of the experience is similar to what you would expect, it supports GIFs, comments on posts and reply directly to friends. You also have insight into how many people have viewed a post but there is nothing revolutionary with the platform, it simply is what Facebook used to be.

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This is still in it’s early stages and is very similar to the early stages of the social networks that came before it so there are still some elements that need to be refined but there is a need for platforms such as Ello that provide an alternative to the increasingly ad driven models and allow for more organic connection and discovery of content.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.53.10

Be sure to sign up for an invite.

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Apple’s Big Day & Samsungs Shrewd Move

Yesterday, all eyes & multiple hashtags were set on Cupertino, California for Apple’s seismic announcements. I will admit that I am an Apple apologist and almost all of my hardware has the iconic fruit emblazoned on it. So it was with great anticipation that I watched the keynote unfold yesterday.

AppleInvite

I was excited about the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, shared high-fives over the new Apple Pay & Apple Watch and left the keynote feeling good about the direction of the new products.

Apple

During all of the excitement and monitoring of the social conversation around #appleevent, #appleliveevent and other Apple centric hashtags I spotted something that seemed amiss.

Samsung - Promoted Trend

Note in the Promoted Trend highlighted above, among the various Apple organic trending topics is #GalaxyFamily. For those of you not familiar with executing a promoted trend, this is a calculated, date driven buy with Twitter that requires advanced planning and a decent sized media buy. The fact that the Samsung marketing team was able to secure the date, assuming this was executed after Apple announced the Keynote is impressive.

Here is a full view of Samsung looking to disrupt the action on the #appleevent hashtag yesterday via promoted tweets tied to Twitter search. This was an example of incredibly shrewd marketing on behalf of the Samsung team and an interesting approach to combating the enormous wave of organic conversation being created by the Apple event.

Samsung Promoted Trend

 

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Google + Real-Time = Gifs???

I first saw the Google real-time display offering with their Nike partnership during the 2014 World Cup. The partnership featured the first instance of Google testing their real-time display delivery platform at scale with 8 different real-time activations displayed in 15 different countries recreating key moments through the lens of Nike’s Risk Everything campaign.

Screenshot 2014-09-04 15.53.48

Nike athletes were digitized into the Risk Everything creative and fans were able to remix and share key moments. The results were two million fan interactions across 200 countries by the end of the World Cup.

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With the kick-off of Football season tonight we are now seeing a collaboration between EA Sports and Google to provide real time animated Gifs that are easily sharable. The catch, this is not happening in a social channel, this is served to fans browsing sports-related sites such as the bleacher report through Google’s ad display network.

The campaign will feature real-life action highlights recreated by Madden players during tonight’s Seattle & Green Bay season opener. The goal is to enable the creation of sharable content at scale.

sorrycheeseheads

Users can customize their own gifs on an EA micro-site called the Giferator that is optmized for multi-screen engagement.

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Google is partnering to build “affinity segments” to drive additional personalization through fan interaction. In this case the teams that are selected are mapped to the individual for better targeting in the future. This is another example of how Google “gets it” when it comes to reinventing their approach to display as well as maximizing the reach of their ecosystem.

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SXSW 2015 – What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020

Now through September 5th, 2014 is the time to vote on panels & presentations for SXSW Interactive 2015. I have submitted a presentation for consideration and would greatly appreciate your support.

Screenshot 2014-08-11 11.06.41

My proposed topic is What Will Advertising Look Like in the Year 2020. This is an in-depth extension of my previously published iMedia article of the same name. Here is a brief outline of the proposed presentation. I will also roll out the new consumer engagement platform called #DatabaseOfYou during this presentation.

Screenshot 2014-08-07 10.30.58

Presentation Description

Where should marketers and brands place bets over the next five years? What is hype over substance? Taking all of this into consideration, I interviewed my strategy teams in Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to map the state of digital marketing in the year 2020. We had fun with discussions of drones, crypto currency, the internet of people, and more. While the team agreed fundamentally about certain platforms making an impact, there were pros and cons to impact and feasibility. The following panel is the consolidated and highly visual vision of the future of advertisting in the year 2020. This presentation will take a look back at transformational media moments that give clues to the future state of advertising. We will then look at the role of integrated mobile, converged media, connected life and the digital ecosystem of the future. Presentation Cameos by Drones, Terminators, the Jetson’s, Marty McFly, Grumpy Cat and more!!!

Questions to be Answered

The presentation will focus on the three predicted core pillars of advertising in 2020 (Content, Data, Channels). The pillars will fuel the discussion and points of connection between where technology is going and how to stay relevant with a information overloaded consumer.

1) How can media of the past predict the future state of advertising?

2) What role will mobile + wearables play in 2020?

3) How can media fragmentation and personalization unlock new opportunities for converged media?

4) What role will the internet of things and connected life play in predictive advertising?

5) Who will be left standing as major players digital ecosystem players in the year 2020?

Here is a preview of some of the initial visuals tied to the presentation.

 

I would greatly appreciate your support with a vote. You can vote here. In order to vote you must create an account at http://panelpicker.sxsw.com

Then you can simply search for Tom Edwards and give it a thumbs up to submit your vote.

SXSW - Tom

Thank you in advance for your support! It is much appreciated.

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World Cup Real Time Marketing Win = Snickers

Over the past few years the brands that can seamlessly inject themselves into real-time events in a relevant and often funny way are normally the winners of the never ending PR game. The World Cup is no exception. During yesterday’s Uruguay v Italy match, Uruguay’s star Luis Suarez is believed to have bitten an Italian player and this served as the perfect opportunity to have a little fun with a global moment by injecting a bit of the Snickers brand into the conversation.

Snickers Italian

I am very proud of my TMA/Fanscape social team in NYC. They worked closely with the BBDO & Mars team to inject a little Snickers branded fun into the #LUISSUAREZ conversation. Snickers is all about the fact that you are not you when you are hungry.

This led to pickups in both Mashable & AdWeek (See below). A lot of work goes into the creation of a single real-time message and I am proud of the structure that we have put in place between the TMA/Fanscape team, BBDO and the Mars client.

Mashable

mashable.jpg

Adweek

Big Brands React to Luis Suarez’s World Cup Biting Incident | Adweek 2014-06-24 22-40-09

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Harley-Davidson Project Livewire

Today marks the reveal of Harley-Davidson’s 1st Electric Motorcycle, Project Livewire. I served as a member of the core The Marketing Arm/Fanscape Harley-Davidson team and very happy to be a part of today’s big reveal.

Screenshot 2014-06-19 11.43.15

Here is the Project Livewire teaser video launched on the 19th.


Here is today’s reveal of the Project Livewire electric motorcycle supported by our teams creative, strategy, influencer activation & production.


Join the conversation with #projectlivewire and for more information go to http://www.projectlivewire.com

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What the #SelfieRevolution Means for Brands

Recently, I contributed commentary (pages 8 & 9) to a whitepaper published by The Marketing Arm/Fanscape team. The white paper dives into the psychology of what the #SelfieRevolution means for Brands.

Here is a #Selfie approving the #SelfieRevolution content

Photo Jun 06, 2 19 53 PM (1)

Other topics covered are the nuances that make up a Selfie, exploring the psychology, why brands should care and examples of brands that are capitalizing on the Selfie phenomenon.

Here is the #SelfieRevolution whitepaper via Slideshare.

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Digital + Physical = Evernote

One item from SXSW 2014 that has remained relevant for me is a simple package of Post-it notes. These are not just any Post-it’s, they are digitally enabled Post-it’s that integrate seamlessly with Evernote. The simple utility of the integration that allows users to convert physical post-it notes into digital, searchable records inspired me to contact the Evernote team for a briefing to bettter understand how they partner with brands.

Post it

During the course of the briefing we touched on many topics such as their current user base of 100M+ as well as their approach to partnerships and how they are working with various device carriers at the OEM level to ensure Evernote is ever present on the latest devices. We also discussed their focus on physical accessories and partnerships with Moleskin & 3M.

Evernote 100M

Evernote’s approach to creating value is to seamlessly become a part of a users daily routine. An interesting perspective about their user base was tied to the fact that out of 1000 people 999 will use Evernote in a different way. Users leverage Evernote as a way to capture anything important to their life, reuse it or stem off of it. From a brand partnership perspective, the goal is to “engage with customers in the right way”. This means that Evernote does not monetize with an advertising-based model, or data mining.

So if there is not an advertising-based model, or data mining how can a brand partner with Evernote?

The real answer is it depends on the brand. If a brand is looking to buy against the current base with a targeted ad model, that is not feasible. The current partnership focus is tied to the Evernote physical marketplace. This is the core revenue driver for Evernote and fits with their mantra of engaging consumers in the right way and connecting the digital and physical world.

Photo May 22, 2 00 46 PM

I do see opportunities to align Evernote beyond physical goods as their growing stable of native applications such as Evernote Food create opportunities to further connect directly with consumers. One of the most valuable elements to work through as a marketer, especially one focused on shopper marketing and “getting on the list” is the fact that Evernote represents deliberate intent on behalf of a user. The user is taking a specific action to interact and store content.

Photo May 22, 1 58 07 PM

Other core benefits of Evernote, if they ever move towards an advertising-based model, would be to leverage their recent addition of location tagging. Location + Tags open up the possibility to better align relevant targeting of consumers. Similar to Pinterest, a user has to take an action in order to maximize Evernote and there is a deliberate nature to the platform vs. search and retrieval. Having the ability to understand what users are interested in combined with other factors such as time & location could open up opportunities to natively connect with consumers with highly relevant and targeted advertising. But that is an assumption that is built on an advertising model which does not exist to date.

Evernote Atlas

When I think of brand categories that may ultimately benefit from an Evernote partnership CPG brands are an obvious choice. From a shopper marketing perspective “getting on the list” is of paramount importance. With Evernotes efforts to seamlessly convert physical notes into digital lists that push reminders to consumers in addition to their focus on specialized app experiences such as Evernote Food there is a great opportunity to maximize a partnership with Evernote.

Photo Mar 28, 8 03 39 AM

The key to a partnership with Evernote is ensuring that your brand aligns with the vision of the Evernote team and is not a traditional advertising play. They are looking for partners that can add value to their users lives on a daily basis so careful consideration will need to be made when developing a strategic partnership.

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Rewards and Risks of UGC Webinar Video

On April 30th I participated in a webinar with the head of global social for Levi’s as well as the legal counsel for Thismoment. We discussed the rewards and risks of UGC and our view on best practices for getting started with UGC. My commentary starts around the 14:29 and continues throughout the remainder of the webinar.

UGC Webinar 2014-05-01 21-12-04

Here is the Full Rewards and Risks of User Generated Content Webinar

 

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From Virality to Engagement to Reach & Frequency. Facebook’s Latest Strategy Shift Explained.

Facebook is rolling out major changes to their platform that greatly affect marketers. To help navigate this shift, I have worked closely with the Facebook team to understand the nuances of the shift and created a white paper that should help organizations to understand the shift and what steps to consider next.

The overarching point you need to understand is that organic Facebook reach is being reduced dramatically and it will cost you to reach your own audience. Facebook is now less about brand-published content being the sole driver of engagement. You must pay to amplify your content and you must create multiple variations of your content based on targeting different segments of your audience.

Here is a summary of what you will find in the white paper:

1) Past: Facebook Reach = Earned Media. Present: Facebook Reach = Paid Media

2) Trend of organic reach of content on a brand’s Facebook page:

  • October 2013 reach = (approx) 12% of followers
  • February 2014 reach = (approx) 6% of followers
  • Soon reach = (approx) 1-2% of followers

3) Now, more than ever, brands must pay for reach on the platform

4) Near Term considerations:

  • Re-evaluation of your creative
  • Frequency of posting
  • Personalization
  • Optimization

5) Defining the “Way Forward”

  • Reach and Frequency Focus
  • Engagement Focus
  • Community Focus

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SXSW 2014: Grumpy Cat & Thismoment

Yet another SXSW has come and gone. From meeting Grumpy Cat to key meetings with Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc… The days in Austin are fast paced and full of inspiration, innovation and solidifying partnerships.

Grumpy Cat #HolyShrimp

Reviewing pre-release technology is another benefit of SXSW and I had the opportunity to review key updates to the Mass Relevance platform as well as a preview of Thismoment’s Content Cloud solution.

As part of the process I was also interviewed by the Thismoment team discussing content distribution and my initial reactions to their Content Cloud solution.

Here is the video:

Screenshot 2014-03-19 16.13.57

Definitely looking forward to another return to Austin in 2015.

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BlackFin360

Is 2014 The Year of Tumblr

In 2013 one platform created more requests for POVs and testing from our Fortune 500 clients than any other. That platform… Tumblr.

tumblr

What makes Tumblr unique? The platform is a hybrid of social & the web. Tumblr provides a massive (225m monthly uniques) and highly engaged audience as well as complete creative control over the look & feel of the experience. This is a valuable proposition for extending the equity & discoverability of a brand’s digital presence.

Tumblr Web Social

Tumblr can serve as a campaign destination or social hub which has become a lost element within the social ecosystem. Most social platforms have moved away from a destination approach and are focused on atomized content engagement. Meaning the emphasis is on making sure your content is engaging enough to capture users attention within a short amount of time.

Tumblr Hub

With Tumblr, brands are not limited to a single media type, there are no design restrictions and no character limits. A brand can create a compelling experience that transcends the social stream and maps to discovery through traditional channels such as search.

Here is an example of THE SIGNAL from Lexus. Note the design freedoms of the platform.

Screenshot 2014-02-18 22.00.05

Other key elements to consider: Tumblr blogs can support custom URL’s which are ideal for campaign landing pages. SEO has been a key focus area for Tumblr and the platform is optimized for mobile.

Here is an IFC example of a custom URL solution

IFC Spoils of Babylon

Here is the IFC example as the #1 search result for Spoils of Babylon

ifc spoils of babylon - Google Search

Regarding engagement, Tumblr content tends to have a longer shelf life compared to some of the other social platforms that integrate time decay of the content into their algorithms. With Tumblr as content is re-blogged it continues to earn impressions over time.

Tumblr Impressions over time

In a recent briefing by the Tumblr team, I was pleasantly surprised by the composition of their audience. Let’s just say that breakdowns are consistent with today’s millennial focused campaigns. And the rate at which Tumblr’s daily users are actively creating original content, re-blogging content and/or “hearting” content is significantly higher than I was expecting. All of this with a very healthy daily growth rate.

A recent Social Media Intelligence Report from Adobe referenced that in Q4 2013 Tumblr’s RPV (Revenue per visit) rose 340% year over year, with a healthy $1.10 revenue per visit. Facebook is currently #1 with a $1.22.

Tumblr RPV

Another shocking revelation was the amount of time spent per visit with an average session of 20 minutes with 66 pages visited per day.

How Brands are using Tumblr

Community Driven – Some brands are relying on their users to power their Tumblr presence. Here are a few standout examples:

Disney The Looking Glass

Disney Tumblr
Samsung Camera

Samsung

Commerce-Driven – Here a few brands who are extending commerce and maximizing the referral revenue potential of Tumblr

Target On the Dot

Target

GameStop

GameStop

Angry Birds

Angry Birds Tumblr

AT&T

Screenshot 2014-02-18 22.22.38

Tumblr now supports a more robust paid amplification offering as well, allowing for targeting that covers both desktop & mobile. At a later date I’ll get further into to paid amplification on Tumblr.

With all of this momentum, in my opinion, Tumblr will be a force to be reckoned with in 2014.

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5 Ways The Facebook Paper App Could Change the Future

With the recent rollout of Facebook’s new mobile news reader app Paper we see the next step in their single purpose app strategy. This post does dive into what Paper is, but more importantly, it focuses how brands can potentially capitalize on Paper now, and into the future.

The launch of Paper is directly targeting Google News, Flipboard, Twitter and other more visually centric news services. The key differentiator for Facebook is by integrating core functionality (engage and post across the Facebook ecosystem, native functionality like messages and notifications) combined with a highly visual curated user experience, it goes beyond the simple utility of consuming news into an engaging experience built on top of Facebook’s social graph.

Here is a brief overview of the app

Having talked to numerous Facebook representatives it appears that there is NOT YET an opportunity for brands to create a unique experience or impact the curated content in categories… the key word is yet. The following section is speculative based on potential directions Facebook may take the Paper application to create value for brands and potentially monetize the platform.

WHAT ARE THE POTENTIAL BRAND OPPORTUNITIES WITH PAPER?

Having worked closely with Facebook over the years I am projecting that in the near future there may be opportunities for content rich brands to infiltrate the experience with the goal of driving content discovery. Below are a few thoughts on how content rich brands may be able to leverage Paper in the future.

1) Category Inclusion – As the application gains adoption, there will be an increased desire from content rich brands to be included in specific category feeds. I would project that their may be a tiered approach to content positioning based on relationship factors such as Facebook media spend.

At this point there is not any type of self serve option or a rep based option to influence the content sources for each category. The natural next step is to expand the categories and sources or allow groups to create and curate their own categories. Very similar to how Flipboard (For more information on Flipboard, here is a previously written article on how to incorporate Flipboard into your content strategy) enables brands by allowing them to create custom curated brand magazines.

Here is an example of the Paper category user experience

Paper Categories

Here is a brand example of a Flipboard Custom Curated Magazine

Callaway Apex Irons MagazinePhoto Oct 08, 2 01 25 PM

2) Recommendation Engine – Going beyond simple inclusion would be the coveted ability to gain visibility through a category recommendation engine. This could be in the form of category/content specific feeds. An example would be creating a “Gaming” category and having a content provider such as Game Informer feeding relevant content.

Example of Google+ Recommendation Engine

interesting-on-google-plus-box

Example of OutBrain’s Content recommendation engine

Screenshot 2014-02-05 10.09.38

3) Sponsored Content – This will most likely mimic some of the native advertising approaches we see from other native publishers. Eventually I would expect sponsored content to become the primary monetization option for the application.

Example from Buzzfeed and Sponsored stories inserted into the organic “news” streams

Buzzfeed

4) Social Graph Enabled Personalization – Facebook Paper is more focused on discovery vs. personalization and the initial roll-out reflects this approach. The Paper application is more about self-selection from the user against predefined categories vs. customizing their curated feeds. Over time there may be an opportunity for the application to be more connected with a users social graph and personalize the news experience in a more targeted manner. This could lead to further aligning targeted media based on consumption habits of the apps users to create a truly personal experience.

If this were the case the value to brands is the ability to potentially target specific messaging to drive engagement into conversion.

webofgraphs_320x245

5) Geolocation Based Content – Another area of opportunity would be associating content recommendations based on location. This could either be curated location based content that is relevant through your social graph connections or simply mapped to a specific location with relevant news and tips.

One of the core benefits of Facebook as a platform is the ability to connect with local content that matters. Including geolocation based content could extend the reach of the platform to support event specific content and drive additional value for brands sponsorship dollars. An ideal use case could be to create curated feeds tied to an individuals NCAA College Football preferences and inject native sponsorship messaging into the experience that outlines where the sponsor may be setting up during gameday with a compelling value proposition.

Here is an example of the AT&T Fanzone Tour. A new point of discovery could be a personalized sports category that also aligns content recommendations based on locations with events that can enhance gameday and provide great value for sponsorship dollars

att-fanzone2

All of this is speculative, and Paper may go the route of Home & Poke but it is fun to think about the possibilities of extending the Facebook ecosystem. If the application drives a healthy install base eventually content rich brands will become a more prominent part of the equation.

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Visual Storytelling & Thumbstopping Design

How we consume information is constantly changing. With the shift towards mobile centric visual storytelling and the decrease in organic reach by many social platforms it is even more important that your content tells a story and ultimately gets a users thumb to stop and take notice.

The following deck highlights best in class examples of visual storytelling, atomized content, thematics & real-time examples that are highly creative and drove engagement.

Many examples were featured by Facebook & Twitter teams as best in class.

Even though the deck focuses on best-in-class creative examples, it is important to reiterate that most of the examples are rooted in a formally defined social persona. The tone & voice of the brand is represented while also aligning with the online behaviors of the target audience to create relevant points of connection in addition to being visually appealing.

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Social Advertising Goes Native

The line between social & native advertising continues to blur. With that in mind I created the following presentation to provide an overview of native advertising, relevant platform examples and best practices for both open & closed native platforms.

This presentation focuses on the 6 broad native advertising product types such as in-feed, search, promoted listings, recommended content, custom content as well as native in traditional advertising.

Next the presentation outlines the differences between open & closed platforms as well as an ecosystem recap that outlines the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Taboola, Outbrain, etc…

Finally the presentation outlines some of the key elements that should be considered when creating native advertising creative. ENJOY!

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Google Blurring the Line of Native, Traditional & Social

There is a reason Google is trading over $1,000 a share and closed platforms such as Facebook & Twitter are at $55. Google owns 66% of search marketshare in the US, the #1 online video site with YouTube and Google claims 540 million monthly active Google+ users and 300 million monthly active “in-stream” users. Now Google is looking to change the game when it comes to paid amplification and content discovery by extending social content through their entire network with +Posts.

Here is a graph outlining Google Plus user growth

google-plus-usage

Content discovery, distribution and streamlining the user experience across the the Google ecosystem appear to be the future and the future is now. Recently Google deployed single sign on across the ecosytem, rolled out new content discovery options within Google+, refined the TruView suite of paid tools via YouTube and further integrated main properties such as Google+ comments embedded within Youtube.

Here is an example of the latest SSO option for Google properties

Screenshot 2013-11-04 11.11.00

Here is an example of Google+ comments embedded within YouTube

Screenshot 2013-12-18 14.25.20

I recently published what I call Google+ Circle Impact Theory outlining the intersection of social & search. Google+ represents the intersection of search & social via contextual search driven by engagement. The launch of +posts is a significant addition that truly leverages the breadth of the Google ecosystem vs. simply driving discovery of content within Google+.

The +Post is built to support content discovery. Taking organic content from a brands Google+ page and allowing distribution through Google’s Display network. The key difference is the “open” approach to boosting the content through Google’s Display network and replacing a traditional banner with a piece of relevant social content that can create conversation within the unit itself.

Here is a video overview of +Posts

Here is an example from Toyota USA’s Google+ brand post. The brand post is published via Google+ and aligned contextually with individuals through Google’s display network.

+Post Toyota

The +Post is extensible through Google’s display network combining Native & Traditional elements. The boosted posts can create more points of engagement and expand the reach to look-a-like individuals further boosting post level engagement.

+Post Native

Once expanded the +Post opens via a lightbox and allows the user to +1, share and comment to that single piece of content directly from the unit.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 12.50.12

Then the CTA will direct the user to whatever the specific action is to engage with the content.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 12.50.44

From a Circle Impact Perspective, the higher the post level engagement, the higher the probability that content will rank in SERP even for those not following the brand via Google+.

Screenshot 2013-12-18 14.04.20

From a pricing perspective, charges for brands boosting +posts is only incurred when a user hovers over the ad for two seconds.

This approach is a major shift from Facebook & Twitter’s closed native platform approach of boosting posts within the confines of their networks. Google’s approach increases the likelihood of content discovery and potentially extends the shelf life of content. Further driving value as the organic reach of some of the closed platforms continues to decrease for brands.

This is an important launch for brands and marketers focused on shopper marketing as delivering the right message at the right time is key to driving a shopper to action. The ability to create a content centric shopper strategy that can be targeted and deployed next to key publishing properties where users can create conversations directly is very appealing.

A final thought is that Google’s display network offers multiple tools for contextual & affinity segmentation across multiple screens. This means that not only are they enabling the syndication of social content but also offering the robust targeting capabilities of Google’s ad tools. +Post ads are currently in beta but you can sign up here.

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Facebook To Launch Video Ads In News Feed

I wrote this post back in May of this year when I was first briefed by the Facebook team about this potential product roll-out. It has been a long go for this feature to roll out.

I hear it now… “Wait, we can already promote a video via paid… how is this different?”

Facebook’s goal is to now incorporate sight, sound and motion in a users newsfeed on both mobile & desktop without a click. They had recently rolled out the feature to general users to test the response with consumers. They have seen a 10% higher engagement than non autoplaying videos since launching in September.

Photo Dec 17, 10 49 51 AM

We know that the power of Facebook is tied to Storytelling & amplification. The goal with this new offering is to further extend social context via storytelling + great content = great conversation and to capture a users attention without a click to initiate.

video-screen-shot

Seeing it in action is impressive and definitely gets your attention as it is ALREADY active when you scroll down your feed. The video starts as soon as it enters your frame of view within the newsfeed.

Initially the sound is off with subtitles and an option to turn the sound on is then prompted to the user.

Here are the details…

  1. The view is defined by 3 carousels, similar to how multiple images show in a post
  2. The first video is a 15 second brand reveal spot that is also subtitled and initiates upon visibility in your stream
  3. There are two other spots that can play the extended cuts of video content 30, 60, 90 to a 10 minute trailer within the carousel
  4. The user is then prompted to share & comment directly within the video post view
  5. The video will pause and start back up again when the user scrolls back up
  6. Each video has to be a minimum of 15 seconds (no vines here)
  7. There will only be 1 video campaign per day. You read that correctly. 1 video per day. Your brand owns that day
  8. Pure impression based pricing at the moment, no CTR or True View type option yet.
  9. Segmentation will be limited to (male/female 18-54) demos. The only segmentation available out of the gate is tied to gender and 18-54. As with all products, after launch the ability to further segment will come into play
  10. This is only available directly through Fb I/O no self serve option. Pricing is comparable to a day’s takeover on other channels

From a strategic standpoint this is a pure awareness driver as of time of launch the product is purely impression based at the moment with Facebook providing guaranteed reach.

From a measurement standpoint, Facebook is claiming guaranteed audience through Nielsen OCR (Online Campaign Ratings) as well as Video insights powered by Facebook insights reporting that will capture everything from sound, engagement (likes, comments, shares) organic reach and fans.

There are a number of brands that are lining up to take advantage of this type of placement. For large programs that center around digitally centric content, this is a great addition to the platform.

Initial reaction even among my team was mixed. Terms like “fascinating”, “interesting” & “awesome” were also met with some concern. A very savvy team member made the point that he was concerned with the recent levels of driving monetization could be impacting the overall user experience… potentially leading to a loss of interest on the platform”.

My takeaway was from a brand perspective I like the opportunity to feature my digitally centric content and drive guaranteed reach. The motion seemed like a natural extension of the News Feed and the “sound off” option did not lead me to remember the days of geocities sites that blared music upon load.

It will be very interesting to see the impact that this new type of offering will have and which brands will be first out of the gate.

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Custom Audiences for Facebook and Twitter

I was recently briefed by the Twitter team about today’s formally announced tailored audience product release. The need to create custom audience segments based off of existing datasets is becoming increasingly important for organizations to further differentiate and target relevant messaging.

Twitters offering on the surface is very similar to how Facebook approaches custom audience targeting but with a few subtle nuances. Facebook’s approach allows organizations to use existing e-mail addresses, phone numbers or Facebook User IDs to create a match with users on Facebook to create custom segments.

This is represented simply by the Identify, Find & Reach visual below.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.42.33

The way that Facebook’s matching works is your organization would map the selected customer base into groups of people you want to target with specific messages and then upload the list via the Facebook power editor. That data is then hashed via a one way hash. This information is not “kept” by Facebook and a rep recently stated an example… “You cannot run sausage back through a grinder to make a pig“. This hashed data is then mapped against existing Facebook UID’s and a custom list is created with a match rate of over 80%.

Here is an example of how it works.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.44.19

One of the questions I receive a lot on this topic is if the brand has to do this or can it be administered by a third party? The answer is both. Those comfortable with the process can create custom audiences or pass to a 3rd party to facilitate the mapping.

This type of targeting is ideal to pair with paid to deliver a highly impactful message. An example would be taking an offline loyalty database, taking the top 5% of purchasers and create a custom mapped list based on past purchases to deliver a high impact message.

Twitters announcement today regarding what they call tailored audiences is a similar concept. Twitter already has a number of ways to target individuals on their platform.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 13.15.11

What is interesting about their approach to targeting is that they can target off of both CRM and Web. From a CRM standpoint the process is similar to Facebooks where offline data such as e-mail is matched against Twitter users to reach them with Twitter Promoted Products.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.50.49

Where it gets very interesting is Twitter’s ability to tailor web audiences as well. This is done by a data partner sending anonymized cookie ID lists composed of chosen audiences that is then mapped against Twitter lists.

Screenshot 2013-12-05 12.51.08

With further dependency on paid due to lower organic reach, the ability to target and activate existing assets socially is going to be of paramount importance to the success of going beyond engagement to create intent with targeted consumers. The ability to further align offline & online behavior to those who have shown interest through purchase or other means is a key point of consideration moving forward.

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Linkedin Showcase Pages Create New Points of Discovery

Linkedin has proven to be an incredible asset for B2B Social Media Strategy & execution. With Hubspot defining Linkedin (45%) as the most effective B2B source for lead generation followed by Facebook at 33%.

Linkedin continues to focus on creating relevance for company pages. The latest roll-out called “showcase pages” allows businesses to highlight specific brands or products by creating product centric content hubs that allow users to further align with relevant content.

Each showcase page is setup to exist independently from the company page while still showing (below the fold) a connection to the parent page as well other showcase pages.

Here is an example from HP focusing on their Converged Infrastructure offering with the company & additional showcase pages expanded.

Screenshot 2013-11-21 10.21.22

Users can follow specific showcase pages and connect directly with the content they are most interested in. This natural segmentation can create more targeted opportunities for brands to connect with audiences who are interested in specific product lines.

Here is an example from Adobe Marketing Cloud.

Screenshot 2013-11-21 10.09.23

Brands can easily create up to 10 showcase pages that also includes access to page insights & analytics. This combined with the 3 million existing company pages can exponentially increase the amount of content in the platform.

It is easy for an organization to create a showcase page

Screenshot 2013-11-21 10.39.30

The organization has the ability to define the showcase page URL, define the industry and connect up to 3 existing Linkedin groups.

Here is a screenshot of the creation screen for the showcase creation.

BlackFin360 Digital Strategy POV: Overview Edit | LinkedIn 2013-11-21 10-42-30

Here is an example of a MIcrosoft showcase page. Linkedin Company pages have worked well from a search discovery perspective and showcase pages provide an additional option to create new points of discovery for products & services.

Linkedin Office Showcase

Here is an example that shows the Microsoft Office example was indexed almost immediately upon launch. At the time of this writing the page was posted 20 hours before.

Linkedin Office Search

This latest addition will allow Linkedin to align paid advertising with in network content hubs to create engaging & targeted experiences within the platform vs. driving off-site. The more content that is created and housed within Linkedin means higher amounts of eyeballs which essentially means more potential advertising revenue for Linkedin.

This new showcase option will need to be carefully considered though when deploying. As determining which products have enough content to support the audience in addition to further segmenting the brands following into subgroups and aligning master brand content against product specific content will need to be considered prior to rolling out showcase pages.

Company pages vs. Showcase Pages

Screenshot 2013-11-21 10.33.20  VS  Screenshot 2013-11-21 10.09.35

The benefits though of having subsets or micro-content hubs is that the audience that engages is truly interested in the product and is actively searching for information. This also allows more flexibility in terms of search discovery as well as one of the issues with other platforms such as Facebook is that you are limited in terms of new points of discovery via organic search.

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Visual Storytelling Twitter Style

In celebration of Twitter’s IPO, I recently put together the following POV on the new visual Twitter experience outlining what changed, potential impact for programs as well as best practices directly from the Twitter team.

Twitter_IPO_1_610x436

When: This update was rolled out to the public on October 29th, 2013

What: Images, Videos & Vines in users Twitter feed for both web client & mobile apps are now auto expanded (contingent on users updating their iOS & Android apps to the latest update version of the Twitter app).

New Look

Why: Twitter wants to make the service a more visual experience heading into their IPO. One of the core goals of Twitter is mainstream adoption and user growth. In Q3 their user growth rate declined slightly so the goal is to make the product more approachable by incorporating a more visual feel to the timeline similar to Facebook & Tumblr.

Screenshot 2013-11-07 10.32.42

Impact: Previously, a user would need to click on a link to see the preview of the image or video. Now, the user will see a preview of the image and have the ability to zoom in or watch the clip in stream. The visual redesign has also streamlined the ability to replay, retweet or favorite a tweet without leaving the timeline as before.

Xbox

Currently there is no way for a user to turn off the visual previews via the web. However, users can opt to turn off the visual option in the mobile application via settings. Based on past behavior though, this extra step may not be taken by a majority of users.

From a metric standpoint, this change may have an impact on the total interactions per tweet as prior to the update users would need to click on the link to preview an image and that would count as an interaction.

Thus interactions via the tweet may go down, but providing more visual content directly in the stream may impact overall engagement in a more positive way as the visual content will stand out from the traditional text based tweets.

Vine

Final notes: The new visual Twitter update still does not support animated GIF’s and there is currently no filter or blocking functionality for the individual user. Also, Instagram and other services are currently still represented as links vs. auto expanded.

Note this example highlighting Instagram as a link & images uploaded to Twitter as expanded

instagram v twitter

Recommendation: The new best practice associated with image posting per Twitter renders at 440 x 220 and uploaded via pic.twitter.com in order to be auto-expanded.

Twitter Visual Dimensions

Here is additional info that I just received from Twitter RE: Image pixel size and file size:

The longer side of your photo should be 1024 pixels and the shorter side should be proportionately fewer pixels. This applies to horizontal, square, and vertical photos with any aspect ratio. For example, a horizontal photo with a 4×3 aspect ratio should be sized 1024 x 768 pixels. A square photo should be 1024 x 1024 pixels
Photo file size limit is 3MB

To show your entire image in the Tweet preview:

Use an image in horizontal/landscape orientation with a 2:1 aspect ratio (e.g. 1024 x 512 pixels)
If you do this, the preview image will be the same as the image shown when the Tweet is expanded and/or when the photo is fully revealed.

Currently, there are no text restrictions on the images, so there is an opportunity to maximize the real-estate of images. One key point of consideration is that mobile users still need to update their Twitter app to get this feature so that is still a barrier to removing legal copy from photos as only 6% of Twitter users use the web client. Also note that Twitter has been very strict with 3rd parties who use their API, so at some point this update will push through that ecosystem as well.

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Social Search And Circle Impact Theory

One of the questions I receive a lot is the relation between Google+ and search. I commonly hear “of course Google+ impacts search”, but when pressed most don’t fully understand to what extent. Google+ is one of the more misunderstood properties when it comes to mapping it’s value for a social strategy. The key is not to look at Google+ from just a social lens.

Google provides an incredibly powerful ecosystem for a brand but when it comes to strategy Google is often a secondary area of consideration because of the separation of traditional SEO and the entities that manage social properties or the disconnect between paid & owned strategy.

google ecosystem

Think about the three primary points of entry, Google, YouTube & Google+. Google is the primary search engine for a majority of the world, YouTube is the #2 search engine and a key point of distribution for video content and the Google+ represents the future of where Google is building the intersection of search & social via contextual search driven by engagement.

You can see more emphasis on the ecosystem via Google’s new authentication Messaging

Screenshot 2013-11-04 11.11.00

So I thought it would be interesting to test the impact of Google+ content on search and the impact of content discoverability. I continue to be impressed by how timely Google is mapping newly created content into search results.

Contextual

You can see that a Google+ post that I added is already associated with the topic in a search query for a broader topic “5 Reasons to Consider Flipboard”. I wanted to understand the point of differentiation from a contextual placement vs. standard.

Circle Impact TheoryGoogle+ Post Tom

I enlisted the help of various team members to test the contextual mapping of the post:

Step 1: Please google a recent Google+ post topic such as “5 Reasons to Consider Flipboard”
Step 2: Try this while logged into Google+
Step 3: Try this while logged out to see if you get the same result.
Step 4: If I don’t appear in your results please follow me on Google+ and see if that changes your results.
Step 5: Please send me a quick note directly to me that outlines at which step the content appeared to you if at all.

Why the experiment? One of the key elements we need to constantly consider from a content strategy standpoint is the impact that posting through Google+ can have from a search perspective vs. engagement. If the domain is verified and the author is mapped as a contributor via their personal Google+ profile, content created will associate elements of the authors Google+ profile in search results (You can see my Google+ profile pic is shown in conjunction with the post). Understanding the reach of the end result of Google authorship and if this is purely contextual vs. standard is of interest.

The Results: For those who were not following me prior to the experiment my social content did not have any association with their Google results either logged into Google+ or logged out.

Here are the results without any contextual association

Google

The association did not become apparent until the user had added me to their circle, then 100% of the users saw the content within the next 24 hours.

Here is what users who added me to their circles saw upon searching for the topic

Google+ Post Tom

Content that is optimized for contextural search, including correct usage of hashtags, keywords, etc… will show in search results within minutes of posting to Google+. If a user is following you via a circle and happens to search on the topic you just posted about in the traditional google+ ecosystem, they will see your post towards the top of the 1st SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

As a brand, topical content shows towards the bottom of the 1st SERP for those that in your circles. I am a follower of Callaway Golf, and their Google+ topical content now displays in my SERP.

Callaway Brand
The final signal to Google is via engagement. If the content gets a significant amount of engagement (Threshold TBD) then the content has a higher probability of the content shifting from contextual to standard, meaning the content is now discoverable outside of those in immediate circles. This is one of the driving factors behind driving circle growth within Google+. It is less about Google+ as a social platform, and more about mapping social content into a more traditional point of consumer discovery.

Google will continue to be a key ecosystem to consider in mapping larger integrated digital campaigns. Especially with the increased focus on content creation, discovery & distribution, understanding how to amplify the content and create contextual associations between socially created content and search will be a key point to consider as contextual search moves to the center of the Google ecosystem.

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6 Latest Trends In Marketing Technology

This morning my new article the 6 latest trends in marketing technology is the cover story for iMedia Connection.

The article reviews 6 key industry trends such as collaborative commerce, curation, second screen & social TV, rich social media, crowdsourcing & social + CRM as well as partners and products that bring it all together.

Tom Edwards

A quick follow-up… I wanted to thank everyone for the great support of this article as it just hit #1.

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5 Reasons to Consider Flipboard to Support Your Content Strategy

I was recently briefed by the Flipboard team and was pleasantly surprised by how their platform is scaling to support brands. Here are 5 reasons to consider Flipboard to support your branded content strategy.

Flipboard is a content curation and discovery social magazine app that over 85 million people are using. The application visualizes your social feeds such as Facebook & Twitter as well as providing access to curated topical magazines all while allowing the user flexibility in how they consume their content of choice.

What is Flipboard

From a brand perspective there are 5 key areas of interest to leveraging Flipboard to it’s full potential.

Reason #1 – Brand Magazines – Over the past few months more than 60 recognizable brands have launched curated magazines. This includes Callaway Golf, Levi’s and more. With such a large user base combined with users appetite for both curated and original content, Flipboard is becoming an ideal destination to aggregate and present information in a unique and compelling way.

Here is an example from the Callaway Golf Team. They created a brand magazine to support the launch of their new Apex Irons.

Callaway Apex Irons MagazinePhoto Oct 08, 2 01 25 PM

Flipboard launched an online editor earlier this year. The editor allows anyone the ability create customized titles and over 3.5 million customized titles have been created.

Here is an example of a BlackFin360 magazine that was created via the editor

BlackFin360 Flipboard Editor

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Reason #2 – Flip It Web Bookmarklet – Flip It creates a connection point to update brand magazines quickly based on newly discovered external content. Simply add the bookmarklet to your browser of choice and quickly add curated content directly into a brand magazine.

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Simply identify the content and hit “Flip It” to add directly from anywhere on the web

FlipIt - BF360

Another use for Flip.it links are to extend brand magazines into the web as well. With a Flip.it link, you can connect to a web enabled version of a brand magazine that exists in the Flipboard ecosystem.

Here is an example of the BlackFin360 Brand Magazine viewable on the web via a Flip.it link.

BlackFin360 Flipboard

The Flip.it link when opened on a Flipboard app enabled device will open the magazine via the web and offer an option to open directly in Flipboard.

Flipboard Web to Flipboard App

Reason #3 – Sponsored Search – As part of an advertising package with Flipboard, there is an opportunity to highlight a brand magazine via a promoted element appended to keyword search results.

Here is an example from Levi’s promoting their Modern Frontier magazine tied to the Levi’s keyword.

Flipboard Promoted

Reason #4 – Full Page Paid Advertisements – Brands have an opportunity to align with prominent publishers and associate their content in the form of full page ads that can also link directly within Flipboard. In this scenario, Flipboard can act as the agent with the publishing partners.

Here is an example of a Levi’s Full Page add that also connects directly to their Brand Magazine

Levis Flipboard Example

Paid advertising only appears within the pages of formal publishing partners such as Conde Nast publications. According to a recent interview with Flipboards CEO Mike McCue, he referenced click through rates averaging around 3% across both mobile & tablet.

Another Example of a Full Page Ad

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Reason #5 – Editorial Opportunities – With Flipboard curating & creating content, there are editorial opportunities for brands that can also drive additional value for a brand. This would require working directly with the Flipboard team but relevant content sessions can be created and distributed through inside.flipboard.com

Inside Flipboard

WIth a total of $111 million dollars raised to date and a growing user base, Flipboard is riding a key consumer trend and providing a service that will be incredibly relevant over the next few years as more brands create content and look for platforms that can organize and distribute content in a relevant and cost effective manner.

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