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What Facebook’s Latest Study Means for Brands—Even Less Visibility?

I’m continuing to write a few more posts on Linkedin. I will update this page with separate content. For now, here’s the latest post with a link to the rest of the post: 

Facebook recently performed a study in which they tweaked what content users saw on their timeline to see how it affected their mood. So if you were one of their subjects, your Facebook feed may have leaned slightly in the direction of lots of good news (e.g., wedding photos, baby announcements) or bad news (e.g., break-ups, complaints about how bad Mondays are). The social network measured the effect of this content bystudying the receiving subjects’ patterns in their own updates.

As you can imagine, the study came under fire once it was discovered. Critics claimed it was unethical for a variety of reasons, mainly because it was done without users’ explicit consent.

For better or worse, marketers and advertisers are always thinking of new ways to approach customers and adjust their spending habits to their liking. So while Facebook’s study on the surface was a psychological exercise, it’s hard not to consider what it might mean in the future for brands and businesses using the site.

What Brands Can Learn

The key takeaway from this study for brands is that connecting with your customer at the right moment is key. Catch them in a bad mood and they’re more likely to brush you off; catch them when they’re happy and chances are they’ll be more willing to at least hear you out.

But on a deeper level, it stresses how important it is to truly know your customer, even if part of that knowledge is that sometimes your customer is unpredictable and moody for reasons that have nothing to do with your business or product.

Entire post here

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Why Content Marketing Is Vital to Business Growth

Content marketing is defined as an approach to marketing that’s based on creating and distributing high-quality content to a specified audience, all in the service of growing profitable customer action. It’s at the forefront of the new style of marketing (count inbound marketing there, too) that’s centered on the Internet and is increasingly complimenting, and in many cases, replacing traditional marketing.

Content marketing can include but not limited to the following forms of content:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Guest blog posts
  • Social media
  • White papers
  • Webinars
  • Email newsletters
  • Live presentations
  • Ebooks

Because more and more advertising dollars are going to content marketing, it’s in the best interest of your business to focus on it. Brands are seeing results when they ramp up their content marketing efforts, and so can you! Let’s look at why this new form of marketing is so crucial to business growth.  

Read the rest here on Linkedin

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I believe the Paper app will hurt Facebook’s mobile revenue..for at least one quarter

There may be some troubling quarters ahead for Facebook. And it’s all due to the new Paper app.   The app itself is a gorgeous combination of Flipboard and fluid design, that’s getting rave reviews from early testers and is poised to push users to more relavant news and less spammy posts from brand.  It’s also ad-free for now.

The issue with the new app is that due to its popularity and engaging nature, it’ll catch on quickly with users especially since one of the options is to allow all push notifications from FB to go directly to paper and bypass the existing FB app, hurting mobile revenue.   As more users start to use Paper over the traditional FB app, the more money FB will lose on getting ads to users within the News Feed.  It may not take them too long to start including ads but the fact that ads aren’t a part of the initial offering is going to hit FB hard very soon.

I love the Paper app and I’m slowly making it my default FB option. However, as someone who’s heavily involved in social media strategy, I like seeing the ads within my News Feed.  I just hope that the ads that eventually come to the News Feed within Paper are more targeted and relevant and don’t ruin the user experience.

I wonder how investors will react to the slow mobile revenues in the future (should it happen) – will they take the Amazon route and believe in FB’s future or hemorrhage the stock due to the dip in mobile revenue?

Download Paper for iOS here

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When apps won’t give you instant access after signing up…Looking at you Confide!

I love new social media channels, apps and technology. Everything about it gets me excited. With that excitement also comes the expectation that we’ll be able to test it and use it ASAP.

Most startups that launch apps provide access to users during launch. Sometimes their servers crash but they ensure that when someone requests an invite, it’s fulfilled ASAP.  However, there are some apps (for whatever reason) just don’t get that message.  This happened today with the Confide app.  The app is a more professional version of Snapchat, something many users would like to test and even adopt.  Confide doesn’t let you use the app without confirming an email.  That’s normal but after signing up and then requesting the confirmation email again, I still didn’t receive it. As of writing this post, it’s been about 3 hours since I signed up.

The problem with this delayed tactic (again, who knows why there’s a delay. There isn’t anything on their Twitter account), is that users who want to test and share their thoughts don’t get a chance to do so. When creating something new, you want people to use it when they’re most likely to do so. If I open the app and want to use it right away but the app doesn’t let me, what are the chances that I’ll continue to check for the moment when I’ll be able to?  Probably slim.

For the sake of Confide, I hope they figure it out because they are getting media coverage and I’m sure others would like to test it out. I wasn’t a big fan of Snapchat but would love to give Confide a chance.

Have you ever run into issues with an app that wouldn’t give you access right away?  

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New year, new predictions. The top 4 social media predictions for 2014

It’s the new year and a fresh start for everyone. These nba teams are starting to win so this year might be a great year.  In the social, digital and technology space, this year is predicted to be a banner year for new technologies but also a step further for marketers when it come to taking advantage of new social and digital platforms. And there also the increase in mobile ad spending. The outlook for all of them is leading to bold predictions from various agencies, experts and brands. I have a few of my own.  Below are my predictions for 2014.

Increase in social media ad spend 

In 2014, expect social ads to explode and get a lot more attention than they currently do. These ads are proving to be a lot more effective than some traditional forms of advertising, like banner ads. No one cares about banner ads, (clicked on 0.2 percent of the time), however social ads like Promoted Tweets show engagement of one to three percent— up to 15 times better.  Each one of these perform much higher than traditional forms of advertisements.

Video sharing will explode the way images did in 2013

Most millennials, the highly sought after target for many brands, grew up watching online video. It’s what they’re used to consuming and now are creating it more than ever.  Short form video platforms like Vine and Instagram have made it easier to create, edit and share video in real-time. And that’s not even including YouTube, the old guard when it comes to sharing video on social.

The signs for an explosion in video sharing in 2014 are all there.  Instagram introduced video a few months after Vine launched, Snapchat was offered $3 and $4 billion for their ephemeral image and video platform, (money they quickly turned down) which boasts users mostly between the ages of 13 and 25 and Facebook is launched video ads within the News Feed.  In 2014, videos will become the new image.

Google+ will grow in size and importance

Google+ has always taken a back seat for brands looking to connect with their users.  Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram always got the bulk of the conversation.  However, that’s about to change in 2014. Google+ has slowly but surely grown the number of active users to over 540 million in 2013 and in 2014, is poised to create more importance in the social space especially when it comes to search.

Google+ is baked into a range of Google products, including important consumer facing products such as Search, YouTube and Google Maps. While brands continue to carve out a presence on Google+, many have noticed higher search rankings as a result of their presence on the platform.

The importance of community building and brand ambassadors will increase

In 2014, brands will be spending much more time building communities with fans who are willing to help them spread the word about their service or product because they love it so much. Brands will have to find ways to build more word-of-mouth traffic because consumers trust other consumers. In a recent Nielson Global Survey, 84% of respondents said they trust word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and families over anything else.

What are some other predictions you’d like to include in the list above?

 

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Thoughts on Snapchat spurning $3 & $4 Billion Offer, Instagram Direct, and Facebook Video Ads leak

Lots of news in the social space but I’ll focus on Facebook taking up the bulk of the headlines these days.  As you’ve probably heard, Snapchat turned down two acquisitions offers. One from Facebook for $3 billion dollars and another rumored offer for $4 billion.

I think Snapchat made the mistake of turning down the two offers because unlike Instagram, they don’t have a marketing platform for brands to pay to use (plus the offer was all cash!). Yes, I know brands like Taco Bell are being creative with the way they target teens but it’s not a platform every brand can use. That’s the biggest issue for any social platform – getting brands to create compelling content and maintain long-term engagement with those users. Snapchat just doesn’t have that right now and if they were to ever implement a paid strategy, it will have to something much different than their current iteration of their ephemeral product.  I wont’ even go into how fickle the 13-25 year old group is.  If Snapchat releases an ad product that disrupts users, you can bet they’ll leave in a heartbeat.

In Snapchat’s defense, it’s hard to sell when you’re the hottest platform in the social space but they need to be realistic on their potential.   They did hire Emily White, who was responsible for Instagram’s recent ad product (which wasn’t that difficult to come up with. I mean it’s an image-based platform, so brands will obviously share images. The greater success was not getting too much negative feedback on the ads.), so maybe she can come up with something for Snapchat.

So what does Facebook do once they get spurned? They come out with a competing product. They tried this against Snapchat in the past with Poke, which was a massive failure.  But this time they rolled it out on Instagram called Instagram Direct, which I think may end up hurting them in the long run. As I said on Twitter, turning Instagram into a messaging platform will further push younger users away from FB. We know they’re already making the move, so this is just another step in that direction.

Instagram Direct isn’t exactly a competing product against Snapchat. Messages don’t disappear and it still lacks some features but it shows how important messaging is becoming to Facebook.  And it’s also clear what their strategy looks like against competitors, get acquired or face the wrath of Facebook’s size (which may not mean much if users don’t move over). 

The final Facebook news this week was the leaked presentation about their upcoming video ads.  While I predicted something like this coming to Instagram (some variation of this already exist if you share Instagram videos on FB, the mobile version of the News Feed auto-plays Instagram videos), this leaked presentation confirms that it’s on the way on Facebook.  Users will get the videos in the News Feed but sound will be turned off so it’s not distracting users as they scroll through the feed.  I think Facebook will make a ton of money from video ads but they may also lose users in the process. Its one thing to ignore sponsored posts with images but a video will push users off the platform even more. Again, that’s just my perspective but I have been right in the past.

 

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6 lessons brands can learn from Miley Cyrus’ recent string of newsworthy headlines

I’m a little late to the game with this piece but Miley Cyrus’ recent eye opening stunts have been discussed, dissected to the point where we’ve all come to the conclusion that she is heading towards the path of former teen stars who pushed the boundaries of sanity and publicity stunts and fizzled out to be never heard from again.

I think there’s a great marketing lesson to be learned from Miley Cyrus. She’s a perfect example of how you can market products and become a household brand overnight. It takes a little bit of everything – approach, timing and the help of the social community.

Here are 6 lessons brands can learn from Miley Cyrus’ recent string of newsworthy headlines.

Promotion requires the right timing

Promoting content or products at the opportune moment is all the rage these days. Social media allows for content to be delivered at exact moments for users to consume. Ad targeting lets brands target specific individuals with specific products at exactly the moment of purchase. Miley picked the right platform to promote herself and her brand.  We always knew who she was but after the MTV stunt, she became a household name (even if it was for the wrong reasons).  Her VMA performance set a record for most tweets per minute, 306K/minute.  

Brands need to know when the right moment may be for them. It may not always be the big award show with millions of viewers or a specific holiday but could be moments after competitors have pulled back or aren’t as present. It doesn’t work for every brand but understanding where you get the most exposure will benefit how many people actually are aware of your product or content.

Newsworthy follow-ups

Miley Cyrus did an excellent job following up her VMA performance with other attention grabbing headlines, which have continued to keep people talking about her.  First was her new single, Wrecking Ball, performed nude on top of a wrecking ball with her tongue sticking out (it’s her signature, if you haven’t already figured it out).  Then came the Rolling Stone cover with her tongue sticking out again. This past week she dropped another controversial headline to Matt Lauer – after 40, sex is nonexistent.

Brands need to do the same – follow-up with great products or content.  In the social space, promoted content will increase engagement and reach new users but if they don’t engage with any additional content, then the promoted content didn’t completely do its job.  Brands need to have strong follow-ups to any kind of content or product release. Take Apple for example. During the years from 2001 to 2010, they had arguably the greatest decade of innovation ever.  They introduced one great product after another. From the original iPod to the iPod Nano, the iPhone and then the iPad, turning a fledging company into the most iconic tech company in the world.  Remember, your follow up is just as important as your original piece of content or product. 

You don’t have to always create viral content, let others do it for you

After the VMA performance, millions shared GIFs of Miley’s performance. Everyone had an opinion about the performance from the team at Buzzfeed to social media sites like Mashable.  What each one of these websites did was create greater visibility for Miley Cyrus and she didn’t even have to do a thing.  The same thing happened when she launched her “Wrecking Ball” video. A Vine parody took the internet by storm, garnering millions of views, again creating additional visibility without her doing a thing. 

In Miley’s case, those sharing the Vine video and GIFs weren’t her advocates but she let others create viral content for her brand to generate greater visibility.  Brands need to focus on doing the same. Social media is a great channel to make sure fans and followers can be leveraged to speak on behalf of the brand for greater visibility. However, that requires a two-way dialogue while sharing relevant content that matters to fans. It cannot just be blasting content and hoping it goes viral. 

Stay true to your core

Many in the media have questioned why Miley Cyrus does what she does but no one really knows. All we know is that she hasn’t stopped doing it. She’s been true to her core even before her VMA performance.  Her antics may not sit too well with many in the media but it is something to be admired. She’s not giving into criticism, looks like she has a plan in mind – one that is propelling her brand forward (even though many of us may never understand).

Her ability to stay on course and not waver when others told her to be a certain way is what many brands need to focus on.  Brands tend to take criticism and make dramatic changes to cater to those loud few.   Staying on course and continuing to work on your core products is the way to move forward. Competitors will attack your weaknesses but your weaknesses only become a hinderence if you react too soon to every move.

Talent does win out

At the end of the day, in order to be successful, brands still need products and content that performs well. In the case of Miley Cyrus, her talent is undeniable.  Her exposure gave her the opportunity to perform on Saturday Night Live, letting her talent win over “haters”.  After her SNL performance, the web was raving about her great performance. Many forgot that only a few days ago they were criticizing her for antics on magazine covers and award shows.  Great products and content will win over anyone and will lead to greater exposure and most like greater success.

 While many of us look at Miley Cyrus as the next teen star gone crazy, I tend to look at her as an opportunist, who is using the public space to showcase her talent but also display her personality.  Sometimes, being who you are can intimidate others, but a brand that has solid content to back up great products with measurable goals, can do some pretty amazing things.

 

 

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