Tag Archives: instagram

Three Secrets of Apple´s Social Media Strategy

Apple does not have particular social media strategy.

By being quiet, they are one of the most talked about brands in social media. It naturally helps that you make iconic products with almost religious following. They have social media channels though, because they have realized the importance of social media as a reach driver. Apple does a lot of social media advertising to help to sell more of their products. What they are not doing is “joining the conversation”. Social media is eyeballs, not likes or tweets.

applehasnttweeted

Therefore Apple´s Instagram account is refreshing detour for their muted social media presence. They are actually posting things!

appleinstagram.png

But again, it is not about Apple starting a conversation or begging for engagement. They are highlighting photos that iPhone users have taken. They are tapping to existing behavior (#shotoniphone-hashtag has nearly million photos in Instagram). They are not telling about themselves, instead they are showcasing people using their products. Instead of talking about popular culture, they are popular culture.

The odds are that you are not working with iconic brand, so you might need to approach your social media strategy differently. Still, these rules might serve as the golden standard to which you should aim for:

  1. Make products people want to talk about.
  2. Use Social media mainly as a channel for reach, secondly to engagement.
  3. Showcase your users, not your brand or products.
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10 Things You Need To Know About Cinemagraphs

If short-form video was the previous content buzzword, in last months people have been raving about cinemagraphs.

Essentially they are individual instants of motion are isolated against a static image, “living photographs” so to speak. They have been around for a while though, invented originally by Kevin Burg & Jamie Beck. Because they work perfectly in visual mobile platforms (Facebook, Instagram), they have been generating more buzz in recent months.

As everyone is raving about cinemagraphs, here is a short cheat sheet to showcase that you know what you are talking about in meetings:

  1. Good cinemagraph should be hypnotizing.

The goal of a cinemagraph is to keep audience longer watching your ad. Same way as fire is hypnotizing, great cinemagraph creates a loop you end up watching longer than you intended.

  1. Good cinemagraph starts with great photo.

You cannot create an effective cinemagraph out of crappy picture. The movement will not capture your attention, photo will. The movement makes you watch it longer.

  1. Ideal for Facebook and Instagram.

The recent looping video in Instagram and FB autoplay are perfect vehicles for cinemagraphs. Cinemagraph is elegant format, which works perfectly to feed-based environments that do not use sound that much.

  1. You buy it like a video.

When considering the ad cost, you have to factor in that cinemagraphs are considered as a video instead of a photo.

  1. It is not necessarily always faster to produce than ordinary video.

It can take weeks to produce high-quality cinemagraph.

  1. Cinemagraph is great vehicle for product advertising.

Because you end up watching the video longer, ensure that your product is there to be seen. Besides ability to increase your brand recall, you can actually show the actual product inside the bottle as well (see below)

dolcegabbana

  1. Currently they are more viral than ordinary photographs

They have 71% more organic reach than regular photos.

  1. Ensure that you make the loop seamless.

Nothing looks more clunky than cinemagraph that does not loop properly. You want to create the hypnotizing effect (point 1)

  1. They will become more commonplace

As your profile image in Facebook can nowadays be 7 second video instead of just a static photo, people are becoming more adapt at creating their own

  1. Be creative

With relatively new format, we have only scratched the surface of the creative possibilities it can provide (like vertical videos). Experiment and test different cinemagraph ideas, the rules have not yet been set in stone.

Our digital world is getting more mobile and visual and the rise of cinemagraphs is just a one manifestation of that.

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What´s App Facebook? 4 Questions You Need to Ask to Understand The Acquisition of WhatsApp

Facebook´s acquisition of WhatsApp for about 19 billion (!) is the biggest deal ever for venture-capital-backed startup. As far as the money goes, it is naturally mind-boggling amount of cash but strategically I am trying to get my head around this. Four big questions came to my mind, when analyzing the acquisition:

1. What kind of ecosystem Facebook is building?
Currently Facebook is owner of three really strong (and separate) digital platforms: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. Despite launching the ad units in Instagram, the photo platform has been relatively autonomous regarding Facebook. Apparently they will continue similar approach with WhatsApp and even more so as there will be no ads (in foreseeable future) in WhatsApp. See more in question 2 on that matter.
If we compare to Google, who builds their entire product offering under strong Google branding and synergies, Facebook currently resembles more of a venture capitalist and having quite separate and independent entities. Either approach is right or wrong, but at least currently Facebook ecosystem seems quite disjointed compared to the Google one. But maybe they have a bigger plan intact: see question 4.

2. How will Facebook monetize WhatsApp?
On the investor call Facebook mentioned that there would be no ads on WhatsApp and they are mainly concentrating on growth in the near future. Currently WhatsApp is free for one year and then you pay 0.99 for every additional year (and not even in all the markets).  Current business model is not exactly breaking the bank as it has quite limited growth opportunities, but compared to many other social ventures coming from Silicon Valley it is already profitable. From monetization standpoint it is interesting opportunity for Facebook to enter also to the subscription business and test it first with WhatsApp before rolling it to wider.

3. Was it strategically right decision?
Initially buying WhatsApp seemed a rather uninspiring and unsurprising act. More forward-looking would have been buying some emerging mobile instant messaging platform from Asia (Line, KakaoTalk, etc.). Especially as Facebook mentioned that the reach in emerging markets was one of the core reasons for acquiring WhatsApp. Asian mobile instant messaging platforms would have been better fit also to current Facebook monetization strategy as these platforms are currently more open to advertising as well? Cynical view of the strategic importance of the buy was that as the main Facebook platform loses steam the growth and engagement had to be bought to please the investors.

4.  Will there be Facebook Premium in the future?
How much would you pay for your Facebook account?
It might be that the goal of buying Instagram and WhatsApp is eventually to have capabilities to introduce Facebook Premium. This social network would add the best of the Facebook ecosystem and provide value on certain subscription fee. I have been toying around with that idea for a while, but currently it seems more reality than ever before. I have been quite disappointed of the unimaginative monetization strategies Facebook has had (overtly media-focused) and venturing to subscription models without endangering the crown jewel of free Facebook seems lucrative and interesting option.

The reaction from the markets to the acquisition was slightly disappointed and Facebook stock plunged slightly.

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How To Approach Your Social Media Strategy in 2014?

Year 2014 will be turbulent for both brands and agencies working with social media channels. Because of the recent IPO´s (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), the previous rebels have started to resemble more established media houses. It is a double-edged sword. Many agencies are not as stressed out as the social media ecosystem is more predictable (and none of the innovation labs is making money anyway). On the other hand, the activities have been and increasingly will be quite dull and unimaginative.

Beginning of the year is the time to think your social media strategy. For majority of the brands, year 2014 should be year of revolution instead of just evolution:

1.Facebook is the channel for reach.
Majority of your social media paid media investments should happen in Facebook to maximize the reach. In terms of sheer amount of users, it is dominant. However, the recent developments have been really worrying for brand (and other) pages as well. Certain pages have seen dips as low as 88% in organic reach. Even Facebook itself is not talking anymore about free organic reach, but instead brand pages as a way to increase the reach of the paid media. This is natural advancement and should not surprise everyone familiar with market economy. So I believe that Facebook will get bigger media share in 2014, but actually less focus in terms of engagement. I would invest more in those terms with Twitter (customer service, real-time marketing) and to visual platforms (content creation).

2.Use Twitter as the channel for real-time and customer service.
I am not saying that every brand should necessarily be in Twitter, but if you want to jump on the real-time marketing bandwagon, Twitter is the place to be. I have a love-hate relationship with Twitter throughout the years, but despite all the shortcomings the service has proven its worth. It does certain things really well (like customer service), and provides more natural ways to engage with audience than Facebook. Here is example of random interaction with Warby Parker, after I shared their innovative annual report:
Warby Parker Tweet

3.Invest heavily on visual social media channels.
Whereas online media money is going to Facebook, I would concentrate majority of the production and engagement investments to visual social platforms. No one has time to read text anymore, unless you are able to condense it to 140 characters or say it in photo.
Online video has been the fastest growing online ad format for couple of years. Naturally the pre-roll is the TVC of the new generation, but creation of good content provides great reach & engagement opportunities for brands. Video is a great tool for customer service as well:

Besides video, the photos are naturally huge and I expect the short-form video content to rise rapidly (Instagram video, Vine). Especially tutorials are naturally fit to for shorter video content (Check: #lowesfixinsix).
Many companies should actually rethink their community manager talent pool. In 2014 if you cannot take great photo or shoot a great video, you should not probably be community manager.  Social media used to be more verbal, but now it is increasingly more visual.

4. Embrace the renaissance of anonymous randomness.
Contrary to what Facebook says, many people want to remain anonymous while online. 6% of all adults on Internet use Reddit. People engage way more on Tumblr blogs nowadays than on Facebook brand pages. One reason is that not all the people want to attach their Internet personality to real-life. In Internet you can be that backpacker hiphop-dude you really are and do not need even remotely to try to sound smart. It actually reminds me of the original promise of MySpace. You did not need to use it with your real name. You could make a site for your cat if you fancied. Anonymity can naturally bring some problems, such as hate-speech, crime and stuff but it also enables refreshing randomness that is currently missing from Facebook. Many people are more interesting talking about things they are interested and not about themselves (assuming they are not completely narcissistic). So do not underestimate the power of “anonymous” social media channels. Maybe Yahoo was on to something when it bought Tumblr.

5.Experiment with the new upcoming channels.
I have written before about how you should approach your social media strategy like investor. The landscape in terms of the hot newcomers changes really rapidly. Global brands should nowadays be more tuned into what is happening on local level. Experimenting with various social media channels goes hand in hand with that. For example if you had done tests with Path, it would be easier to utilize the learnings in Indonesia (which is the third-biggest Path user country). The innovation in social media sphere is also not limited only to Silicon Valley anymore so cutting-edge firms should empower their local teams to experiment with local social media channels as well. For example WeChat is way more advanced than WhatsApp. Competitive advantage can come from everywhere. The trick is to identify it, experiment with it and scale it.

There will interesting year ahead. In 2014 companies need to dramatically update and revamp the social media strategies. Which is great. Whenever there is turmoil and crisis, there is always an opportunity.

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How Teens Abandoned Facebook and Other Lies You Can Find From Research

First of all, I recommend everyone to read “Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us”, a brilliant book by David H. Freedman. It showcases that painstakingly big portion of scientific research is completely faulty. The book did not address the subject of marketing research, but as the situation was quite bad with scientific research, I would say that nearly all of the marketing research is somewhat inferior. That does not mean it is not useful, but you should always take it with grain of salt.

I was reminded of this when there were lots of shares in social media about research on how Facebook is not the most important social network for teens. The news coverage it got made me sad and angry because of three things. First of all, that study was conducted to 802 teens (there are 20+ million teens in US). Second, it was focus group, not assessing the real behavior online. Third, it was mainly a study about privacy, which might also skew the answers to certain direction (like the previous study about social media effect on teen purchasing patterns). If you look at cold facts, not feelings coming out from the focus groups, the truth is different:

Numbers trump feelings
The so-called popular network Twitter has 24% penetration in teen audience, while Facebook has 94%. That gives a clear signal about reality: Facebook is “only” over 3.5 times bigger than the “most-liked” social network. You rather have actual reach than likes. When you are crafting your next campaign for teens, I would still concentrate on Facebook to get that actual reach. Instagram (owned by Facebook, which is good to remember) or Twitter might be good for more engagement, but by the time of writing, something new is probably surpassing them as the social network of choice for teens.

Do not replace your common sense with research
Main takeaway from the research was that teens do not find Facebook cool anymore. That is hardly surprising and you do not really need research to get that insight. Why would teens even find it cool? Their parents are using Facebook, for god´s sake. There will be always a demand for that “new thing” amongst teens (whether SnapChat or twerking). That “new thing” enables teens to differentiate from adults and hopefully shock parents as well. When Twitter becomes popular enough, teens will “abandon” it as well. That “abandonment” does not mean that Twitter would be irrelevant. On the contrary, that might mean it is just big enough to make business sense for the target audience.

This rant is not really about the teens fleeing away from Facebook (which they actually do, to some extent). It is about that I am totally sick and tired of sloppily executed research and lazy misinterpretation of that research. You run into these bullshit stats taken out of their context everyday, whether you are reading blogs, industry press or just browsing the latest deck from the research agency. When these stats get passed on in social media without any deeper thought, I sincerely hope that people are just too lazy to check details of the research. Other alternative is that marketing people are just too stupid. Hopefully not.

Especially we, as planners, should take a stand and always dig deeper to the research and be the devil´s advocate when it comes to research. Find the occasional nuggets and gems between the lines and rip the other pieces of the research apart.

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6 Seconds of Fame: Idiot´s Guide to Vine

I heard it through the grapevine, that Vine has been all the rage in the social media circles last couple of weeks.

Here is brief summary what it is all about:

What is Vine?
It is basically Instagram for short videos. Twitter mastered the microblogging with 140 characters and now it is aiming to do the same with microvlogging and six seconds. Vine currently works only in iPhone and best in conjunction with Twitter. Vine was launched on the end of January.

What it supposed to be?
“Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.”
Dom Hoffman, co-founder & GM, Vine

How it works?
Go to Apple app store and download the Vine app. Then you (preferably) log on with your Twitter handle to the app. After that start shooting. The process is super simple: press what you want to film with your thumb. Then edit what you filmed to 6 second video. Share it on Twitter.
To use Vine is really intuitive and simple, but to make something worthwhile takes probably more than just six seconds.

How does it look like?

More examples can be found here.

What Twitter has to do with it?
In a way Twitter missed the Instagram bandwagon, so Vine is natural leap from photo sharing. It tries to benefit from the overall rise of visual storytelling in our current digital culture. It´s a little bit Instagram, little bit YouTube, little bit funny GIFs and working solely on your mobile. Twitter wants to strengthen it dominance in the short-form messaging and Vine is at least some sort of answer.

What brands already use it?
General Electric, Taco Bell, McDonald´s, Marriott Hotel, Urban Outfitters to name a few. Also porn industry has found it, like all the technological breakthroughs.

Give me some examples!
Not showing you the porn ones, but here are three Brand vines:

What brands should use it?
If your brand is already strong on Twitter, Vine is quite natural extension to your Twitter presence. If your company is not that active in Twitter, Vine probably is not the first social media channel you should invest in.

Where it can be used?
There are couple of good listings about potential use cases of Vine for brands, but currently I think the most prominent ones are the following six:

1. Flashing your brand´s digital cojones: Like with all new applications, there is currently the short timeframe when your brand can appear to be on top of the curve. Half-baked Vine executions will probably fill Twitter in the following weeks.
2. Improving your customer service: Short how-to guides about the products.
3. Spicing up the internal marketing: Employee presentations made more interesting and faster.
4. Even faster way to convince investors: Quick elevator pitch for your company.
5. Enhancing your rapid social media responses: Wheat Thins message to Questlove above is a good example of that.
6. Making your product catalogue come alive: New ways to showcase products (like Urban Outfitters has done below)

Hot or not?
Some might argue that Vine is a novelty app, but so is Instagram. That novelty had $715 million price tag. It remains to be seen will the 6 seconds be as revolutionary as 140 characters were. Vine has potential though. It is certainly something new. With its strong social, local and mobile dimensions it might just be the new killer app.

Now I am just waiting for Harlem Shake Vine edition.

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