Consumers Uncertain of the Validity of Social Commerce Transactions (Survey)

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Despite its ups and downs, social commerce has experienced huge growth in recent years. While adoption among brands and certain consumers is on the rise, social commerce still faces significant roadblocks in the form of consumer sentiment and general reluctance. A report from Sumo Heavy Industries examined this continued resistance.

According to the report, fifty percent of people said that social influences their purchase decisions, and 24 percent said they use social to look for specific information on products and services. While only one-in-five had made a purchase through social media, 47 percent admitted to making a purchase because they had seen products or services on social media. This suggests an attribution disconnect wherein users make a purchase and remain unaccounted for in standard metrics.

The other challenge is that the majority of users remain skeptical about purchasing directly through social platforms. The survey showed that 77 percent of respondents avoided social shopping transactions because of concerns over security and unsecured transactions. In addition, 66 percent were worried about privacy associated with the transaction.

Amazingly, 65 percent of respondents were unsure about the validity of the purchase, which means that marketers need to reassure consumers that their purchases are treated as well as any ecommerce transactions. More education would also help the one-third of people that say they’re unfamiliar with the process.

For more information on user habits, and social site preferences, download the full report.

Niantic Launches New Holiday Event in Pokemon Go

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Niantic launched a new event in Pokemon Go as part of the game’s ongoing holiday celebration.

From the afternoon of Dec. 30 through the afternoon of Jan. 8, players will be more likely to encounter the game’s first three partner Pokemon—Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander—as well as their evolutions, while playing the game.

In addition, the game’s Lure Modules will last for 60 minutes during this event, rather than 30 minutes. Lure Modules can be attached to PokeStops to attract wild Pokemon to these locations.

Elsewhere, from the afternoon of Dec. 30 through the afternoon of Jan. 3, players will be able to purchase special Bronze, Silver and Gold Boxes in the game’s store. These premium boxes will include Incense, Lure Modules, Lucky Eggs, Poke Balls and Great Balls.

These updates join the game’s ongoing holiday event, which began on Dec. 25 and will end on Jan. 3. During this particular event, users will receive one single-use Incubator the first time they visit a PokeStop each day. Players will also be more likely to receive Eggs from PokeStops that contain the game’s newest Pokemon, like Pichu and Togepi. Finally, during this portion of the event, players will be able to find Pikachu that are wearing festive hats.

Pokemon Go is available to download for free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Facebook is incredibly thirsty for your eyeballs this New Year’s Eve

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

App notifications—they’re bad! But app notifications that are basically advertisements? Actually the worst!

Facebook doesn’t care. It’s urging users of Messenger, one of the social network’s Snapchat clones, to open the app and enjoy a variety of “festive frames and stickers” this New Year’s Eve.

SEE ALSO: Facebook Messenger’s latest attempt to hijack your social life

The notification—which you might’ve received on your phone Thursday—is an open invite to explore Messenger’s not-so-well-advertised snapping features. Open the app, and you’ll see a circle at the bottom of your screen, emblazoned with “2017”: Read more…

More about Snapchat Filters, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, Messenger, and Facebook

Top 10 SocialTimes Posts of 2016

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Everyone else is doing it, so why shouldn’t we? Here are the top 10 posts on SocialTimes in 2016, in terms of page views:

10, Latest Facebook News Feed Algorithm Tweak: High Ratings and Likely Engagement, Feb. 1: Facebook announced that it was using qualitative feedback to deliver the most relevant posts to users’ News Feeds.

9, Google Adds ‘I’m Feeling Curious’ Button to 3D Touch Shortcuts on iOS, Feb. 2: Google’s iOS application update introduced a new 3D Touch shortcut for iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus users. Pressing on the app’s icon on their home screens enabled users to select the “I’m Feeling Curious” option to launch the app and view a random question and answer from around the Internet.

8, Here’s How Social Media Will Impact the 2016 Presidential Election, Feb. 17: This guest post from Rohan Ayyar, web analytics and conversion optimization specialist at premium digital marketing agency E2M, was one of the earliest to predict a victory by President-elect Donald Trump, at least on the social media front.

7, Deadpool Goes 360-Degree on Facebook, Feb. 13: 20th Century Fox released an exclusive 360-degree video on Facebook backing theatrical release Deadpool.

(function(d, s, id) {
var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];
if (d.getElementById(id)) return;
js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id;
js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.8”;
fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);
}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’));

See Deadpool everywhere (especially in theaters)

Deadpool: 24/7, 360º a year. See Deadpool, now in theaters.

Posted by Deadpool Movie on Saturday, February 13, 2016

6, Which Temporary Profile Picture Frames Are Available on Facebook?, March 17: Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg provided this link in a Facebook post, where users can access a pull-down menu that provides them with all of the available options for temporary profile picture frames.

5, Facebook Beta-Testing Desktop App Facebook Games Arcade, May 12: Facebook began beta-testing Facebook Games Arcade, a desktop application for Windows that enabled users to play games on its platform without accessing Facebook.com via a web browser, and promising a “faster, better gaming experience.” The app launched in November as Facebook Gameroom.

4, Here’s How Many People Are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Other Big Social Networks, April 4: This guest post from Justin Kerby, founder of digital marketing agency Cave Social, offered a look at the monthly active user totals of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Snapchat.

3, Recommendations Must Be Thoughtful, Not Random, April 25: A look at the importance of quality social recommendations.

2, Here’s How to Play Games in iMessage on iOS 10, Sept. 13: How to download and play games within iMessage in Apple’s then newly released mobile operating system.

1, Facebook Celebrates 12th Birthday With Friends Day, Feb. 4: The social network marked birthday No. 12 with the release of Friends Day videos, in which photos depicting “special moments” with their friends were stitched together into short films.

Image on homepage courtesy of Shutterstock.

Analytics and Data Will Change Social Media in 2017

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

As we wind down the year and look back on 2016, we find that social media is on everyone’s lips–but perhaps for different reasons than we social media marketers would imagine or prefer. The discussion happening around social media at the end of the year is about responsibility and control.

The outcomes of the EU Referendum in Great Britain and the American presidential election were no doubt influenced to a greater or lesser degree by social media, from President-elect Donald Trump’s insistence on using Twitter as an unfiltered direct communication channel with his followers and critics, to the soul-searching happening in some quarters about the role social media played in serving up news stories to the American electorate.

Social media is also being mentioned frequently as the major news and polling organizations come to grips with the fact that their predictions did not see a Trump victory as a serious possibility, while those monitoring the two campaigns on social media, like our own Socialbakers analysts, saw how much support the Trump campaign was able to muster and how much Trump’s controversies galvanized his supporters rather than hindered his path to the presidency.

In the world of social media marketing technology, there’s been plenty of talk and soul-searching about social media, too, although in quite a different way.

There’s no question that the platforms are maturing both in terms of business models and technology. They are behaving much more like traditional media in their approach to advertising–paid media is becoming the prevalent model.

In a world of abundance of distraction and entertainment all available on a supercomputer that everyone carries in their pocket–aka smartphone–user attention becomes the new currency of success. And companies that are active on social media (that’s nearly everyone these days) need new forms of support to make this powerful marketing channel work for them. Just thinking about the scale, Facebook alone has 26 percent of all attention in the U.S. through its platforms and Facebook Audience Network.

Since social media has such a large share of online activity, companies are seeing social media as an important component of their digital marketing and wider marketing strategies. And it’s not limited to just marketing. Customer service, human resources (recruitment and employer branding) and other departments are taking a stake in social, too. This is helping to increase social media’s importance in the organization and spur hiring.

According to research by McKinley Marketing Partners, digital marketing expertise has been leading the pack in 2016 for the most desired skill sets. McKinley found that 90 percent of all marketing roles required some digital marketing experience or analytical skills.

Social media is a must-have nowadays, and not a nice-to-have. I predict that it’s going to become a business-critical function within the next year or shortly afterward.

We’ve been seeing the social media channels themselves mature in terms of the kind of advertising technology they offer. The targeting, flexibility and media buying options available from major social channels is allowing advertisers to target and reach users with unsurpassed precision.

The range of advertising options on major social channels is playing a pivotal role in helping to make 2017 a watershed year for marketing, when many expect that digital advertising spend will finally surpass TV ad spend for the first time. This shift will be driven to a large degree by the massive amounts of money flowing into social media channels. This influx is driven largely by a significant lag between the share of time users spend on social media and the overall share of budgets invested in this channel.

As we look ahead to 2017, there are a few pivotal changes we expect to happen to take the industry forward and demonstrate how social media is, and will be, truly critical to businesses:

Leveraging data to make the next best action with data-driven recommendations

On social media more than on any other marketing channel, data has been part of the equation from day one, and understanding your data is mission-critical to both improving your performance and delivering greater value from social channels. In 2016, companies have their own platform data in one tool, competitor data in another, ads data in a third, customer service data in a fourth and so on.

Data silos will need to be broken down and connected to one hub in order to create one cohesive ecosystem of data. Only then will it be possible to tap into all of the relevant data and move past time-consuming manual analysis. With a single ecosystem of data, powerful algorithms crafted by data scientists will pull all of your data together on their own, analyzing it on the fly to present companies with tailored recommendations for what is the next best action they should take.

Tools to make life easier for customers

Following on from the point above, it will be essential to create a single ecosystem of all of your data in one place. That means moving from using three to five tools to building one single robust, powerful tool. In 2017 we will see a continuing trend of tools moving toward a more open and comprehensive offer, combining the services of the most important disciplines for the clients and connecting through application-programming interfaces.

In addition, we will see the now-fragmented industry continue being consolidated by larger players who “tuck in” many of the smaller, niche players.

For the client, this makes a lot of sense. Only then will they be able to move past manual analysis of various data outputs (listening, competitor analysis, ads, etc.), decreasing both the amount of work they have to do and the number of tools they have to use to do it–working far more effectively and efficiently.

We see a coming reduction in the number of tools but an increase in staff resources, as cross-product collaboration will further drive this consolidation.

Automation will become a must-have feature of any consolidated tool

As these new systems are able to have a comprehensive view of all of your relevant data and present analysis and recommendations from that data much faster, these machine learning algorithms will only continue to get smarter and smarter as you “teach” them by selecting the best among the best options they present you with. The next step is simply automation. It’s not too far off, and it’s not too hard to fathom.

Having said that, everything starts with a clear definition of goals: What do I want to reach with my investments and how do I measure it? Only with clear goal definition and constant measurement can we allow algorithms to do their magic. In 2017 we will see a strong evolution of the “science/knowledge” of how to successfully maximize social return on investment.

Once goals are defined, use cases can be programmed. Imagine that you create a performance threshold for automatic post promotion of your organic posts on Facebook: Any organic post that performs better than y in the first six hours after you post it should be promoted with a budget of x. Pretty simple, no? The instructions you give can be as simple or complicated as you like.

Content will remain king

Many people think that with the proliferation of the paid media model, the importance of content creation goes away. It might be counterintuitive, but content quality has never been more important.

Why? Platform algorithms respond to content quality, as they want to serve content to the user that is not perceived as irritating or a distraction. So the price that you have to pay to place your content in front of your audience depends on how well the content actually resonates with the audience–culminating in a simple formula: Good content has much higher reach and lower price than content that is not appreciated by the audience.

This is a fundamental change, and marketers will need to adapt.

Generating and sharing content across different platforms and audiences is becoming key to success. This cries for machines to take care of the heavy lifting of timing, audience and budgets so that marketers can focus on generating great content for their customers.

It’s not too difficult to imagine automation taking over many of the routine tasks social media teams perform today–from customer care to content creation, to ads placement and post promotion. In fact, it’s already happening, and there are engines and algorithms driving hundreds of thousands of different content variations and optimizing what works best.

Automation is going to save you significant time, and it will only get better as you use it.

The social revolution we have seen in 2016–from the rapid growth in livestreaming and video, to the unprecedented social groundswell we saw in the U.S. elections–clearly demonstrates that social is a more and more pervasive medium in our lives.

I don’t need a crystal ball to tell you that in 2017, social media is only going to become more important and influential, both in society and for marketers like yourselves. The key to taking advantage of this will be in the tools. Businesses will invest more and more in social and, as such, the tools they use will need to be smarter, more integrated and easier to use.

Robert Lang is CEO of social analytics provider Socialbakers.

Image of crystal ball courtesy of Shutterstock.

All the Feels: How Brands Use Holiday Video Campaigns

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

The holidays are a feel-good, yet extremely stressful, time of the year. The weather gets colder as cheeks look rosier, the holiday spirit is in the air and money is emptying out of pockets left and right. And the holiday ads? They are everywhere.

Coca-Cola’s polar bears are slipping and sliding in the snow enjoying the savory drink, while the Campbell’s snowman is yet again melting into a young boy enjoying his soup. These ads just keep pulling us in year after year.

Why? It’s because these brands simply do marketing well and their videos shine as bright as the lights on the Christmas tree.

As new media, like the internet and social platforms, are on the rise, brands take advantage of the vast audiences they can tap into through online video. Although holiday commercials can still be seen on TV, advertisers are using online video in order to create a deeper connection with their viewers by encouraging dialog in comments and gaining enough engagement to make videos go viral.

Especially during the holidays, brands are using video to tell a story, rather than blatantly using product placement to generate sales. It’s this storytelling that keeps viewers glued to their screens and watching the story unfold.

Brands have tackled all kinds of angles to tell a holiday story and draw engagement. So how can advertisers set their brand ahead of the crowd? Let’s look at some examples of 2016 holiday videos that have been making waves and grabbing attention.

A timely angle

Most holiday videos promote a feeling of togetherness, but British retailer and e-commerce platform Marks & Spencer added a modern twist to get its message across: Mrs. Claus. The creative minds behind this three-minute video not only tapped into the holiday spirit through amazing cinematography and feel-good music, but took the timely angle of female leadership front and center.

Mrs. Claus is usually more of a background character, but here she takes the spotlight in order to help a young boy who has written to her about wanting make his sister happy for Christmas. While the boy reads his story on voiceover, we see scenes of him innocently upsetting his sister and even ruining her shoes. While Santa gets the sleigh and squeezes down a chimney to deliver presents, Mrs. Claus gets to fly a chopper and simply walks through the front door to deliver a gift from the boy to his sister (a new pair of shoes from Marks & Spencer).

This video excels at telling a story that is so much bigger than just their product. How many viewers can relate to upsetting their siblings and wanting to make it better? Marks & Spencer did a fantastic job at making the viewers more attached to the brand and creating that connection between the viewers and its video that they will remember. It can secure buying decisions that potential customers have without them even noticing.

Another brand that added a much different, yet extremely effective modern twist this year is Amazon Prime.

In this video, a Christian Vicar and Muslim Imam simply meet for a cup of tea. Although you can’t hear their conversation, the two friends sit, laugh and joke, and both complain about their aching knees. This exchange leads them to coincidentally exchange identical gifts through Amazon Prime: knee pads. They each are pleasantly surprised when they receive their gifts and are subsequently shown praying in their respective religious houses with their new knee pads.

The point of this video is to create an interfaith message during a time of separation and anxiety between religions. Notice that the video never actually mentions the holidays but does touch on that gift giving mentality in order to demonstrate that no matter your background or religion, we are all the same. It also helps Amazon Prime show off its social responsibility of using its technology to bring people together not only during the holidays, but all year round.

A unique twist

This time of the year is especially competitive between brands, and it can be tough for one to cut through all the noise. Adding in a modern twist can help a brand stand out.

Many holiday videos look the same and involve obvious product placement, but H&M tells a unique story in order to leave a lasting impression on readers that will have them running to the nearest H&M store.

In most video ads, the viewer can clearly tell what product or service is being advertised. H&M took a different route and subtly incorporated its new collection into its video commercial while telling a beautiful story through captivating scenes and vivid colors. This story is what keeps audiences engaged and subliminally viewing the new clothing collection.

Movie star Adrien Brody plays a train conductor and has to inform his passengers, who are on their way home to visit loved ones, that due to unexpected delays, the train will be arriving late to its destination and they won’t make it on time for Christmas. The conductor and his assistant aim to make the situation a little brighter and recreate Christmas in the dining car. All passengers make their way to the dining car and decorate the Christmas tree, and of course they all don their H&M gear.

The commercial was filmed by Wes Anderson, who brought his very particular filmmaking style to this ad. The cinematography, use of colors and unique use of sound to beautifully tell a story, with a less prominent focus on the actual product, is what makes this video stand out from the rest.

Togetherness

Every video promotes togetherness, which is essentially the point of the holidays. But how can a brand with key messaging that relies on “bringing people together” make itself stand out from the noise?

Heathrow Airport created a fantastic video ad about being together, because it knows really well that coming home for the holidays and being with family is the best gift of all.

There are millions of people making their way through airports all over the world every holiday season, but Heathrow focused on two extra special passengers in its video. It follows a couple that also happen to be senior teddy bears making their way through the airport. It follows them through passport control, getting their luggage at baggage claim, buying goodies from a shop and ultimately reuniting with their family at the arrivals section where their grandchildren run up to them with huge hugs.

Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke

This especially speaks to those big brands such as Coca-Cola. Here’s its 2016 ad:

The video follows a boy who spots the holiday Coca-Cola trucks rolling in through town. The song in the background plays “The Holidays Are Coming,which is pretty fitting considering that you know the holidays are here when you spot the first holiday Coca-Cola ad.

Notice that while many of the videos that have stood out this year are between one minute and four minutes long, Coca-Cola got its point across in 30 seconds. Why?

Coca-Cola simply does marketing right. It’s consistently looked up to as having one of the best marketing strategies of all-time and steadily hits the nail on the head when it comes to stirring emotions. This 30-second ad is a smaller piece of a big story Coca-Cola is constantly telling. The brand is so recognized and so familiar all over the world–even in remote locations in the world–that 30 seconds is more than enough to send out its message.

By following this recipe for a great storytelling video, brands can also foster a real connection with its audience by sharing it online. Sharing these videos online and on social platforms encourages conversations in the comments, as well as through shares and likes.

Once you perfect this recipe and grab that attention and social demand you need from your audience, you can consistently create perfect video creations again and again.

Effi Atad is CEO of video-creation tool Showbox.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Police point out robber’s major fail in humorous Facebook post

By Friday, December 30, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Police officers in Georgia are annoyed with how easy one thief made it to solve a recent crime.

The Marietta, Georgia Police Department posted a brief note on Facebook Monday addressed to the “gentleman who shoplifted from one of our local pawn shops today.”

“When you make it this easy it takes all the fun out of chasing bad guys!” they wrote in the sarcastic post.

SEE ALSO: LA County email hack exposes data of 750,000 people

Apparently the shoplifter gave the pawn shop clerk his driver’s license and a finger print on the pawn ticket before stealing from the shop. The robbery was also caught on camera, so the police have a lot to work with. Read more…

More about Facebook, Police, Watercooler, and Us

Jack Dorsey to Users: What Do You Want From Twitter in 2017?

By Thursday, December 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey wants to know what Twitter users would like to see from the social network in 2017.

Dorsey sought suggestions via tweet, using the hashtag #Twitter2017:

Following in the footsteps of (Airbnb co-founder) Brian Chesky: what’s the most important thing you want to see Twitter improve or create in 2017? #Twitter2017

The ability to edit tweets came up quite frequently in the comments, and at one point, Dorsey hinted that Twitter was considering the addition of this long-sought-after feature:

Readers: What improvements or new features would you like to see out of Twitter in 2017?

Instagram in 2016 (Infographic)

By Thursday, December 29, 2016 0 Permalink 0

Instagram had a big year in 2016, and Robert Katai, visual marketer and brand evangelist for online banner creator Bannersnack, summed it up in infographic form.

Milestones achieved by the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing network in 2016 included:

600 million monthly active users.
300 million daily active users.
500,000 global advertisers.
60 percent of users learn about brands on Instagram.
75 percent take action after seeing Instagram posts.
50 percent follow businesses on Instagram.