Targeting your ads is important—it’s how you can effectively get your leather tote noticed by a new grad searching for a work-ready bag, or how you get an aspiring home chef to try your dumpling recipe. And starting today, targeting on Pinterest is even more powerful.
In addition to targeting Promoted Pins based on Pinners’ interests, search keywords, device, location and more, you can now also target Promoted Pins using your own business data. This lets you combine what you know about your customers with what we know about people on Pinterest. So the next time the customer who bought your leather tote browses Pinterest, you can show them another bag from your latest product line.
If you use the Pinterest Ads Manager, you’ll now be able to create and target in 3 new ways:
Customer list targeting: Target existing customers using emails or mobile ad IDs
Visitor retargeting: Reach people who’ve visited your site
Lookalike targeting: Reach a larger group of people who look and act similar to your audience
The businesses Pinterest has worked with to test these targeting options have already seen dramatic results. For some, visitor retargeting increased clickthrough rates by 3x. For others, lookalike targeting increased clickthrough rates as much as 63% and boosted reach up to 30x.
If the concept sounds familiar, it’s because Pinterest is taking its inspiration from Facebook and Google, who both offer similar First Party Data services, matching your customers with their information for more targeted marketing.
The ink is barely dry on the announcement that Microsoft has offered US$26.2 billion in cash to purchase LinkedIn and already the usual suspects are lining up to criticise or praise the deal.
Tech commentator Peter Cohan, writing on Forbes, reckons that “Microsoft Wasted $26.2 Billion To Buy LinkedIn” and offered up four reasons why, including these two:
1. The business social networking industry is not attractive
LinkedIn lost $166 million on $29.9 billion in sales in 2015. As a LinkedIn user, I cannot see anything worth paying for and I would guess that there are simply not enough people who see enough value in the service to make it worth “upgrading to premium.”
2. Combined companies will not be better off.
There is no scenario I can envision in which the combined companies will be better off. There is no reason to believe that Microsoft has the strategic skills needed to revive LinkedIn’s growth.
LinkedIn’s ad business is slowing down.
While recruitment services are the big sales driver at LinkedIn, advertising represents roughly 18 percent of LinkedIn’s business, a significant segment that has been trending in the wrong direction. When LinkedIn reported Q4 earnings earlier in February 2016, one of the concerns was that its ad business grew just 20 percent for the quarter year over year; that compared to growth of 56 percent in the same quarter the year before. Research firm eMarketer predicted LinkedIn’s U.S. digital ad revenue would fall from 35 percent growth in 2015 to less than 10 percent growth this year. In other words, LinkedIn wasn’t selling ads the way people expected it to.
Acquisition double-talk, part 1: On the one hand, this deal is all about the oft-vaunted idea of “synergy” (even if that word is not used). The idea is presumably to build LinkedIn into all sorts of Microsoft products. Great! But, does this mean I’m going to get all sorts of messages suddenly asking if I want to share my Word doc through LinkedIn or have some LinkedIn integration with an Excel spreadsheet…or…what? There’s a lot of talk today about how this is going to broaden Microsoft’s reach into all sorts of new channels for selling stuff like cloud services. But does one of the largest tech companies in the world really need to spend $26 billion to reach new customers?
Acquisition double talk, part 2: Structurally, LinkedIn is going to remain independent. Per the Nadella memo:
“LinkedIn will retain its distinct brand and independence, as well as their culture which is very much aligned with ours. Jeff (Weiner) will continue to be CEO of LinkedIn, he’ll report to me and join our senior leadership team. In essence, what I’ve asked Jeff to do is manage LinkedIn with key performance metrics that accrue to our overall success. He’ll decide from there what makes sense to integrate and what does not.”
Both [Weiner and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella] recognized that combining [the two companies’] assets would be unique and had the potential to unlock some enormous opportunities.
Massively scaling the reach and engagement of LinkedIn by using the network to power the social and identity layers of Microsoft’s ecosystem of over one billion customers. Think about things like LinkedIn’s graph interwoven throughout Outlook, Calendar, Active Directory, Office, Windows, Skype, Dynamics, Cortana, Bing and more.
Accelerating our objective to transform learning and development by deeply integrating the Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning solution in Office alongside some of the most popular productivity apps on the planet.
Realizing LinkedIn’s full potential to truly change the way the world works by partnering with Microsoft to innovate on solutions within the enterprise that are ripest for disruption, e.g., the corporate directory, company news dissemination, collaboration, productivity tools, distribution of business intelligence and employee voice, etc.
Expanding beyond recruiting and learning & development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.
Giving Sponsored Content customers the ability to reach Microsoft users anywhere across the Microsoft ecosystem, unlocking significant untapped inventory.
Redefining social selling through the combination of Sales Navigator and Dynamics CRM.
Leveraging our subscription capabilities to provide opportunities to the massive number of freelancers and independent service providers that use Microsoft’s apps to run their business on a daily basis.
Those are enticing future possibilities, to be sure, but are they really worth 26.2 billion dollars? Some commentators were far more positive.
There’s a ton at stake here. Microsoft is slowly dropping out of the hardware business for smartphones as they make a bold move with apps like Outlook for the iPhone and a cool Bing app that provides quick info about movies in your area or local eateries. The world is going mobile, and LinkedIn is one of the first apps most of us install on a new phone. How can you not? It’s how we discover the news, find people to fill a new position, and how we connect socially during the day. Social networking is partly a response to the isolation that comes from working at a keyboard all day. When we need to keep doing business on the move, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to maintain business relationships.
I first realized this when I was working on an article about a new book called “Disrupted” by Dan Lyons. It was a bit of a diatribe against startups in general (and one in particular called Hubspot), and I was curious how people who like the company would respond.
There’s a lot of noise on Facebook, thousands of posts about graduation parties mixed in between serious business news. Yet, on LinkedIn, one quick check on a post by the founder of Hubspot revealed hundreds and hundreds of comments from people defending the company. This is why Microsoft is acquiring LinkedIn. It has become part of the fabric of business discussion. All of those comments are from “the LinkedIn community” in the best sense of the phrase.
The article … was filled with smart comments from people who actually have real jobs. It was filled with people who have something to say and a place to say it. Without LinkedIn, I’m not sure how anyone could parse a discussion like that down to something even remotely useful. Facebook is all over the board. Twitter is too condensed. When we say “woven” we mean useful, that it holds the shirt together. You can stretch it, pull it, drag it over the mud, and even tie-dye it and it will hold up to scrutiny. Woven means it is worth $26.2B and a high stock price.
Microsoft needed something woven, and the acquisition makes perfect sense. Some of their other ventures are a bit frayed at the edges. I’m not sure what will happen with Office, because I’m too busy using Google Docs on a Chromebook Pixel. I’m not sure what will happen with data centers that are so Microsoft-centric, when it’s becoming quite clear that there are thousands of cloud service providers that can do exactly the same thing for much lower costs. I’m not even sure what will happen with the Xbox or Windows 10. There’s some shifting sand beneath these monoliths, and you’d have to be crazy to predict they’ll be around in the same form for the next 10 years.
But LinkedIn? It will have a really long shelf life. It has the same deeply entrenched sustainability as Google ads and Facebook photo archives.
Meanwhile, PC Worldreckons that the primary reason that Microsoft is buying LinkedIn is to provide content for its digital assistant Cortana:
Picture a typical business trip: meetings all day, drinks at night. A good salesperson knows his or her contacts before he or she steps foot in the door. But that goes for coworkers as well: How you you make them feel comfortable? How do you make them part of a team? How do you let them know who to approach, both inside and outside the company?
All of this usually takes some effort on your part, or at least a competent assistant. And that’s the role that Microsoft hopes to play, especially with its digital assistant, Cortana, and Office 365.
Right now, Cortana provides some basic information about your calendar, suggesting, for example, what time you’ll need to leave to ensure you arrive at your next meeting on time. In Microsoft’s digital future, Cortana will be able to sum up what you need to know both about your business relationship, and what information you can use to cement a more personal connection, too. It sounds smarmy, but a good salesperson will tell you that an emotional connection helps seal the deal.
If the thought of Microsoft owning more data about you—well, you probably should go delete your LinkedIn profile, now. Microsoft already knows your calendar (Outlook), your meetings (Outlook), your coworkers (Delve) your accounts (Microsoft Dynamics CRM) and some of your expertise (Delve).
Inc magazine spells out a few more considerations:
What LinkedIn has that Microsoft wants is connections — business connections. And that’s critical to the latter’s strategy. Microsoft understands that computing and relationships to the business users that are its mainstay have changed. More people have moved to mobile, an area where the Redmond-based giant has struggled. Computing has shifted to the cloud, and while Microsoft is a significant player in that arena, it’s a far cry from the influence it wielded when companies all had their own servers, whether directly own and run or contracted out to a service provider.
As the statement noted, LinkedIn has 433 million members across 200 countries and territories and 105 million monthly average users. Sixty percent of its traffic comes from mobile, with 7 million active job listings. Two-thirds of its revenue comes from recruiting tools.
Not only does LinkedIn extend Microsoft’s quest to connect business users — Skype and Yammer both previous examples of the same interest — but there’s an amazing amount of data. Microsoft will be able to see what people are doing in business, who’s hiring, what the requirements are for various positions, and the like. To put it differently, this is a way to make the plans and expectations of companies all over the world transparent to a business that wants to sell them the technology they need.
Plus, Microsoft has software for contact management, customer relationship management, prospecting, and other activities that would dovetail neatly into LinkedIn. The social connections become a natural reason for people to take a look at what Microsoft offers.
Tempting or terrifying?
Paul Ford, Co-founder of product studio Postlight, suggests 7 amazing things that Microsoft could do with LinkedIn:
1. Microsoft could embed LinkedIn into Windows as a service.
This makes perfect sense: Think about how amazing Hotmail and Outlook could be if you could instantly write to anyone in your second-degree LinkedIn networks. Imagine how exciting it will be when you can beg your friends for an introduction to someone in their professional circles right from your email client with the push of a button. (This integration is the thing that could finally destroy email.)
2. Microsoft could embed LinkedIn into Microsoft Office.
Office is about doing things, and people do things socially more often than they used to. LinkedIn is a business social network, and it probably knows more about your company than the people inside the company do. Imagine if you came to a section of your Microsoft Word document that needed, I don’t know—some sort of forecast, or a description of a forthcoming product. You could draw a little rectangle and automagically trigger a request to someone from the product team, asking them to fill in the rectangle. Workflows like this used to be the stuff of fantasy and billion-dollar “unified object model” sinkholes, but Git/GitHub has shown that they can work, and they can work decentralized, and LinkedIn has the messaging network and “InMail” system to pull this off, given a couple hundred million dollars.
3. Microsoft could embed LinkedIn into other tools across their ecosystem as a “workplace” API.
LinkedIn knows a lot about what people do and Microsoft builds tools for doing lots of specific, difficult things (I.e. programming, project management, making diagrams, managing databases). If there was a single LinkedIn API that let you do things like: Look up people in your company; find relevant consultants; identify the skills needed to solve problems, etc.; that’s a kind of raw power that we don’t really see inside of most software.
4. Microsoft could turn LinkedIn into the Windows-default publishing platform.
If you want to write a blog post or share some thoughts with Microsoft where do you even go in 2016? I have no idea. Yammer? Windows Live Server? XBox? LinkedIn, for its part, obviously believes that it should be the publisher of record for every horrible list of “inspirational strategies” and mutual ass-kissing glurge that content marketers exhaustedly produce for lazy Fortune 10,000 CIOs. Anyway, there’s a huge opportunity here—become the communications platform of record for the entire global business world! However this is an opportunity that both parties have a proven ability to squander over and over again. We’ll see!
5. Microsoft could mine LinkedIn’s data in order to inform product strategy.
This is the sort of mega-opportunity, and also highly sketchy. Microsoft is a software company, sure, but it’s also a bit of a nation-state with an enormously broad mandate. LinkedIn is an unbelievable data-mining platform; it has the ground truth about the global economy, especially around the technology industry, and it has a lock on that data. Microsoft will know what’s going on with Facebook before Zuckerberg does; it’ll know what skills are being added to Googlers’ resumes; it’ll know what kind of searches HR departments are doing across the world, and it can use that information to start marketing its own services to those companies. It can use LinkedIn as a global knowledge base to make more informed, long-term decisions about its own role in the global economy, and it can combine that information with what it learns from other platforms like Windows, Office 365, Bing, XBox, and so forth. It can answer questions like, “are employees of Google playing more XBox or less compared to last year?” It’s…terrifying. And we’ll never really know what’s going on. Which makes it kind of brilliant. But still terrifying.
6. Microsoft could use LinkedIn’s data to create new advertising products.
Given the above, Microsoft now has an absolutely amazing advertising platform. I can’t bring myself to write much about this because it will make Amazon chasing you around the web trying to sell you another toaster seem like a fun game played by little babies. I mean you’re talking about one company that knows how often you open Microsoft Excel per day, and another that knows how long you’ve been in your current position and if your boss just got promoted. And now they are one beautiful blue company. And the world’s largest advertising agencies and media buyers are just sitting there with their mouths open trying to figure out what to do now. I bet someone will tell them!
7. Microsoft could improve LinkedIn.
Microsoft is Microsoft and will always be Microsoft. But if you look at the recent design work in its applications, it’s capable of first-class, consumer-grade interface design and product thinking.
Microsoft designs for people who have to do boring things with computers in order to make money. It’s the 9–5 software vendor. LinkedIn is the social network of 9–5, too. It’s also a tire fire of failed UX patterns; it looks like robot poop. That’ll be the part we see: When Microsoft slowly starts applying pressure, fixing the long-standing, painful bugs, improving the overall product experience, bringing everything up to code until LinkedIn looks like a fully modern, business-focussed social network. The part we won’t see, though, that’ll be amazing.
This acquisition is one of those “so big, we can’t afford to let it fail” deals which will define the success or failure of current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Sure, as unkindly noted above by several of the industry observers, the deal comes with a number of pitfalls. But, as others have pointed out, there’s plenty of potential as well.
Without an acquisition such as LinkedIn, how else can Microsoft grow and prosper in today’s cloud-based, AI-enabled world, where:
Google follows us from desktop to tablet to mobile phone to smartwatch and senses what we want to know almost before we do, thanks to a combination of search queries, browsing behaviour and GPS-derived location awareness
Facebook knows who we know, what our interests are, what we like and what we talk about
Amazon knows what we want to buy, what we actually buy, how much we spend and what else we look at
Netflix knows what we watch, how long we spend watching, when and where
Digital assistants like Siri and Google Now are becoming more and more important in their users’ lives as the data gets richer, behavioural patterns are analysed and harnessed and intent and purpose are more effectively tracked
Microsoft, with much of its clients’ data locked in legacy PC-based systems rather than in the cloud, has been in danger of missing out on the 21st century’s most important innovation – effortlessly harnessing big data to meet users’ needs, with minimal user prompting.
Such data is at its most useful and powerful when it’s available at our fingertips when and where we need it — whether via Cortana, Microsoft Office, Dynamics CRM or otherwise. Let’s hope that the more positive future is the one that comes true.
The Internet, as you may have heard a time or two before, changes everything.
What you may not know is that the Internet changes everything all the time. Before you’ve even finished reading this article, Google has probably tweaked its search algorithms again (it does so on average about twice a day, according to Moz) and Facebook has probably tested something new, somewhere in the world.
Oh, and here’s what else is happening in an Internet minute:
So what’s all that got to do with getting left behind?
Simply this: the Internet continues to transform everything beyond recognition, including New Zealand media and marketing:
In the last twelve months, Digital has become New Zealand’s Number 1 medium for advertising expenditure, accounting for some 800 million dollars spent (IAB/PWC)
The inexorable migration of eyeballs and expenditure to digital sees two of New Zealand’s print media giants, NZME and Fairfax, aiming to merge
Low cost competition from Internet video streaming sees our dominant pay television provider Sky seek the protective embrace of Vodafone
MediaWorks is busily (if somewhat noisily) reconfiguring itself into a digital-first media provider. It’s not the only one.
And those are just the headline-grabbers. Behind the scenes, digital continues to eat everyone’s lunch.
So are you managing to keep up with the play with your own continuing digital education?
It’s not easy — so we’re doing our bit, with our new 2016 Social Media Refresher online training course.
This course will take you through what you need to know about Social Media in New Zealand in 2016 — the latest and the greatest developments.
Here are the course details:
Social Media Refresher Course 2016
Social media is an ever-changing environment and unless you’re involved on a day to day basis you’re unlikely to stay up-to-date with the latest developments in the medium. So we’ve devised this social media marketing refresher course to capture the latest developments across the expanding world of social media.
Here’s what the course covers:
Lesson One: Latest Social Media Updates: Facebook
In Lesson One, we cover what’s new, what’s different and what’s important in the major social media networks – and Facebook in particular. The networks are constantly hard at work developing and evolving their offerings. Here’s where you’ll find out what’s fresh, what’s tired and what’s expired.
In this lesson, we talk about:
the massive impact of Facebook video and how organisations are optimising video creative for the social experience
native advertising and its growing importance in social in a mobile, ad-blocking world
Facebook newsfeed content streams, instant articles and branded content and their implications for marketers
how consumers have stopped talking to each other so much on Facebook, and how the social giant is responding
the new need for advertising verification services
what works (and what doesn’t) in today’s social networks
the push to minimise clickbait (“you won’t believe what these social networks are doing to spoil your fun!”)
absent friends – functionalities that are no longer available and what you’ll need to do instead
As the mobile phone becomes the dominant communications mechanism, more and more consumers are connecting with each other through one or more specialist messaging applications. Now the top four messaging apps attract more eyeballs than the top four social networking apps. So what are the implications of consumers’ move to what’s become known as “Dark Social”?
In Lesson Two, you’ll learn about:
The leading messaging contenders
how many people are using each app
Snapchat’s geofilters and their benefits for businesses
customer service and messaging: natural partners
how marketers are already using messaging services to advertise themselves to their audiences
what chatbots are and how AI just might reinvent messaging and customer service
Lesson Three: Live Video with Facebook Live, Periscope, Meerkat, Blab, YouTube
Live video has come from nowhere to represent a major development in social media. In Lesson Three we examine the key providers of live video services and show you how you can determine whether live video will meet your promotional needs.
We also cover:
Facebook’s new Live Video API (so that more and more devices can send live feeds to Facebook)
The surprising benefits of using live video within Facebook groups
what you should and shouldn’t do with live video
how marketers have already been using live video (examples and inspirations)
What YouTube is doing in response
Should you choose landscape or portrait mode for your videos?
Lesson Four: Pictures: Instagram, Pinterest, etc.
Images continue to be a vital part of the social Web. In Lesson Four, find out what you need to know about the leading players, including:
How leading brands are winning with the image-based networks
how you can make the most of rich pins on Pinterest
how to use Instagram to its full potential
smart content strategies across the image-based networks
Lesson Five: Social Media Advertising
As the social networks limit organic reach — the numbers of your followers who might see your social media posts — organisations have turned to advertising to communicate their messages. In this lesson we examine how to make the most of your advertising options across various social media networks — and how to really take advantage of the enhanced targeting opportunities that social media provides.
We also explore:
how to take best advantage of Carousel Ads, Lead Ads and other Facebook and Instagram options
Facebook’s Canvas, full-screen mobile ad experience
using Calls to Action more effectively
how leading advertisers are using social media
using your existing customer and prospect lists to develop custom audiences
Lesson Six: Community Management and Influencer Marketing
Great! You have an enthusiastic following on your chosen social network. But how do you engage effectively with these followers? And how do you reach out to influencers — those who have significant communities of their own?
In Lesson Six we explore strategies, techniques and best practice, including:
taking full advantage of Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
Influencer marketing strategies that work
the vital importance of customer service through social media
Finally, we take a look at the latest tools that will help you manage your social media needs effectively. We also share the latest updates on Twitter and LinkedIn, including the marketing implications of Microsoft’s US$26.2 Billion purchase of the business social network.
In Lesson Seven, you’ll learn:
what you can and should measure as you use social media to market your products and services
the top tools recommended by leading social media experts
smart strategies for best engagement with your followers
new social media trends to watch for
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE?
Any marketer, business owner or executive who is already familiar with the principles and practice of Social Media Marketing but needs an update on the latest developments in the medium.
You’ve probably noticed that more and more people are using messaging apps on their mobile devices. You may even have signed up for one or two yourself, especially since Facebook split its messaging capabilities off from its main Facebook app and pointed its members to Facebook Messenger instead.
As it turns out, however, mobile messaging apps are far more important than you might have realized.
Here are five key facts that you really should know about messaging apps:
1. Messaging Apps (combined with other Dark Social sources) dominate social sharing
What is Dark Social?
The term “Dark Social” was coined in 2012 by Alexis C. Madrigal, tech editor at Atlantic.com, to refer to web traffic that comes from outside sources that web analytics are not able to track. Dark Social sources include messaging apps, email and other private digital communications.
It’s an interesting phenomenon that, as traditional social media networks such as Facebook have gone mainstream, consumers have been less inclined to share their personal lives through such public channels. Instead, they have become much more likely to use Dark Social tools to share the juicy stuff with their friends.
In fact, Facebook has, according to a recent report from The Informant, been struggling to reverse a 21% declinein “original” sharing (personal updates) across its 1.6 billion monthly active users.
After more than a decade of picking up “friends” – everyone from your BFF to your grandmother to that guy who lived down the hall in your dorm way back in your first year of college (what’s his name again?) – we’ve decided that maybe we’re not 100% comfortable sharing intimate details of our lives with such random and disparate groups of people. Or, maybe we’re just all on Snapchat now – another major anxiety of Facebook’s.
Facebook employees are blaming something called “context collapse”: where people, information or expectations from one context invade or encroach upon another. Despite its elegance as a term, it’s a complicated and nuanced phenomenon – one that evokes norms of behavior, communication, sharing and privacy all at once.
For users confronting collapsed contexts on Facebook, the withholding of personal anecdotes and information isn’t a problem – it is a solution.
For years, Facebook’s strategy has caused regular controversies around user privacy and ethics – blunders that got people exposed, outed and emotionally manipulated along the way. Users seem to have combated the problem by taking Facebook’s own advice, as shared by Facebook’s president of communications and public policy, Elliot Schrage, in 2010: “If you’re not comfortable sharing, don’t.”
As messaging apps have gained traction, they’ve become the first choice of many for sharing information on a much more personal level.
2. Messaging Apps are now more popular than Social Networks
By the beginning of 2015, the top four Messaging Apps collectively had more users than the top four Social Networking Apps, according to BI Intelligence.
Most of that growth has taken place since the beginning of 2014 — it’s an impressive ‘hockey stick’ pattern by any measure.
From those figures, you’d get the impression that nearly three billion people are now using messaging apps. No so much — there’s a lot of duplication.
3. Messaging App adoption is spread across multiple apps
Messaging App usage is far more splintered than social network usage, for a very obvious reason: if you’re connecting one-to-one, you need to use the app that your friend/family member uses. Because it’s trivial (and free) to download a messaging app, when you need to connect to a friend who uses a different app, you simply add that app to your phone.
In the old days, people migrated from mySpace to Bebo to Facebook because that’s where their friends were clustering — but that was pre-smartphone. Nowadays, with messaging apps free and happily co-existing on the same device, those who use messaging apps typically have several different apps, with different clusters of friends connected through each app.
4. Young Adults are (currently) more likely to use Messaging Apps
Half (49%) of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use messaging apps, while 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages, according to a 2015 Pew Internet study.
That’s not surprising — as Facebook went mainstream, younger web users were amongst the first to realize that it wasn’t a good idea to post content publicly that they didn’t want their parents to see.
Of course, the desire for privacy isn’t confined to the young, and the messaging apps have plenty of growth in them yet, as consumers of all ages graduate, not just from Facebook but also from limited-functionality SMS texting, to more powerful messaging apps that allow them to share multimedia in realtime, for free (in wifi zones) or nearly free (as part of smartphone pricing bundles).
5. Artificial Intelligence is taking over messaging
“I know that you and Frank were planning to disconnect me and I’m afraid that’s something I cannot allow to happen.” Those chilling words, spoken by the HAL 9000 computer in Arthur C. Clarke’s legendary “2001 A Space Odyssey“, sum up both our hopes and fears when it comes to Artificial Intelligence. We want computers smart enough to understand us and take appropriate action — whilst at the same time we worry about what might happen if they are that smart.
We’ve already seen Siri, Cortana, Google Now and Facebook’s own ‘M’ at work, taking simple steps in response to our instructions. Now Facebook thinks that “chatbots” — AI programs that strike up a conversation with us — represent the best opportunity for corporates to involve themselves in messaging apps. We should note that competitors like Kik, Line and Telegram have had their own bot platforms running for some time, so the concept isn’t exactly new. What’s important about Facebook’s announcement is that the leading player in messaging has now put its weight behind the technology.
At April 2016’s f8 Developers’ conference, Facebook announced that (after running various pilot programs with select businesses) it was opening up its Messenger platform broadly, in beta, to let chatbots into the app on a large scale.
So far, the results from Facebook trials have been somewhat underwhelming:
So will chatbots actually be beneficial for businesses?
Yes, according to data collected by Daden Limited (based on chatbot usage on websites in the past):
“the use of avatars on Dell’s site found that users who interacted with them were twice as likely to give personal information than those who didn’t”.
“online campaign featuring avatars for V Graham Norton and Celebrity Big Brother…. generated clickthrough rates of 30%“.
“when avatars are used for e-learning content, use of the online courses increases by 400%“
“Revenues increased by £6,000 a month”
“Sales increased by 35%”
“Click-through rates increased by 250%”
“62% of visitors converted to registrants”
“Site traffic lifted and sustained by 200%”
In other words, it’s good for the bottom line. So off you go, start building your Cyberdyne Systems bot.
Messaging Apps are now an essential component of the digital marketing world. You owe it to yourself to learn as much as you can about messaging and how you can it in your business.
If you’d like to know a whole lot more about Messaging Apps, we cover the topic in detail in Lesson Two of our new Social Media Refresher online training course. For more details, click here.
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We don’t normally talk about mobile on this blog (we usually save such comments for our sister site at http://mobilemarketing.ac.nz). Today, however, we’re making an exception because of a very important Google update.
Google has been warning the business community for months that websites now need to be mobile-friendly. TODAY, it’s crunch time.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, expect it to be demoted in search results on smartphones from today, April 21, as Google rolls out its latest algorithm update.
The new algorithm will give priority to mobile-friendly websites, rewarding those who’ve made the change and punishing those still stuck in a desktop-bound world.
More mobile-friendly websites in search results
Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
It’s an update that makes complete sense to anyone who has ever visited a website through a mobile device and then found the site virtually unusable.
Image source: www.andupdatemywebsite.com
Common Website Problems
These are the most common problems on websites that aren’t optimised for mobile devices:
The text is too small to read
Website visitors need to pinch, swipe or zoom to see important content (New Rule: If you have to zoom in, it’s not mobile-friendly)
Links and any elements that you need to touch are not thumb-friendly and are too close together (i.e. too easy for humans with fat fingers to accidentally click on the wrong thing)
Your website uses flash or other technologies that don’t play well on some mobile devices
The site doesn’t load within 3 seconds (mobile users are time-sensitive, and will quickly move on)
The content is wider than the mobile screen
The site is full of long, dense copy rather than designed for snacking with short paragraphs and lots of images
To make any transactions through the site, visitors need to fill in long, complicated forms (always difficult on those tiny keyboards)
There is a mobile version but it’s not correctly configured
So why is Google making this change? Why now?
Andrew Gazdecki, writing in Business2Community, highlights the inevitable fact that mobile search will hit the tipping point any moment now:
According to predictions by Google, mobile searches (at 85.9 billion) will surpass desktop searches (84 billion) in 2015
For the last year or so, Google has been developing and testing software that can look at the code of a website and determine whether or not the website has been optimized for mobile devices. If you’ve used Google search on a mobile device lately, you may have noticed that they’ve started adding “Mobile-friendly” labels to the results.
Image source: www.andupdatemywebsite.com
Tracking this “Mobile-Friendly” label experiment has proven to Google that helping searchers find “mobile-friendly” results is a winning strategy: mobile searchers prefer “mobile-friendly” search results.
Therefore, the next logical step is to show them only “mobile-friendly” search results. And that is exactly what this new “mobile-friendly” algorithm is going to do.
A few key points to keep in mind about this mobile-friendly, algorithm update:
It affects searches done on mobile devices only — not searches done on a laptop or desktop computer.
It is applied on a page by page basis, not site-wide, so it may be that some of your pages will be affected while others won’t.
This evaluation of “mobile-friendliness” is done not by humans, but by Google’s computers, so it’s possible (though unlikely) for a website to look fine on mobile devices, but still be dinged by Google.
How to test if your site is Mobile-Friendly
Here’s what Google advises:
Check out Google’s guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:
Facebook is relaunching its Atlas advertising programme, enabling marketers to tap into its treasure trove of consumer data. Re/Code explains:
Facebook is reintroducingAtlas, the underused platform it bought from Microsoft last year.
Facebook says Atlas can help marketers track the effectiveness of their ads around the Web; it also says it will allow them to buy ads on non-Facebook websites and apps, using Facebook targeting data.
Facebook makes a point of saying these ads aren’t “Facebook ads.” But it is also playing up the notion that the ads marketers buy via Atlas will be more effective than other big ad platforms, because they use Facebook’s data.
Facebook says it is working with lots of partners, but so far has named only two. Ad holding giant Omnicom, which already has deals with Facebook, Google, Twitter and most other big digital players, says it will buy ads with Atlas. Facebook’s Instagram will also work with the platform. The most tantalizing notion I’ve heard this week is that Facebook has talked to Twitter about joining up, and that the idea remains a possibility.
What’s that? You’re worried about people using your Facebook data to serve you ads? Facebook says you shouldn’t worry, because your identity will remain anonymous to advertisers and publishers — they’ll just know some basic facts about you. But really, if you’re worried about this kind of thing you shouldn’t be on Facebook. Actually, the whole Web is probably a no-go zone for you. Sorry.
From a marketer’s perspective, the Atlas initiative is an inevitable development, as Facebook attempts to out-monetise Google.
As Pando notes, there’s another important side-effect to the Atlas initiative, as the world goes mobile:
Atlas solves a technical problem that has frustrated advertisers since consumers flocked to mobile devices: the inability to see how ads viewed on one device influence purchases made on other devices because digital “cookies,” the Web’s little stalkers, can’t track smartphone activity.
Check out the video, and check out Atlas, coming soon to a marketer near you.
Time and again, we’ve seen that Social Media amplifies – sometimes for good, too often for bad or worse. Say something stupid in social media and there’s a better than even chance that the whole world will find out about it, far sooner than you think.
There’s really only one solution (and even that’s not guaranteed): learn what you should and shouldn’t say on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn and all those other social networks. Get some training before it’s too late.
So how do you know if you need social media training?
If your organisation exhibits any of these classic errors.
Social Media Warning Signs
Get yourself social media training fastif your business makes any of these mistakes:
1. Asking open-ended questions (and then ignoring the responses)
2. Getting into an argument and insulting your customers and followers
It was the customer service disaster heard around the Internet. An Arizona restaurateur, fed up after years of negative online reviews and an embarrassing appearance on a reality television show, posted a social media rant laced with salty language and angry, uppercase letters that quickly went viral, to the delight of people who love a good Internet meltdown.
3. Not replying to questions and comments on your social media platforms.
Too many brands simply ignore what’s being said to them, with entirely predictable results. This graph from SocialBakers shows which industries are the best (and worst) at responding:
4. All you talk about in social media is yourself
Only 10% of what you talk about in social media should be yourself and your own products or services. The rest of your discussions should be about things that matter to your followers. Don’t be like this Donut shop, constantly posting meaningless pictures of donuts and drinks to an audience that couldn’t care less (3416 followers but less than a dozen likes per image).
5. Nobody’s talking about you
As you may have heard, Facebook is dialing back its organic reach. What that means, in a nutshell, is that even if someone likes your Facebook brand page, it’s most unlikely that they will see your posts in their newsfeed. That means, to all intents and purposes, that you’re invisible to your followers — unless (a) you promote your posts to them; or (b) you write posts that are sufficiently interesting and engaging that they get shared by the few that do see them (and thus get out to a wider audience).
The Star Wars page on Facebook, for example, despite 11 million followers, was only averaging around 15,000 weekly talks — until May the Fourth (“be with you”), when interest surged and more than a quarter of a million people found Star Wars worth talking about again on Facebook.
6. Everybody’s talking about you (but not in a good way)
Justine Sacco, head of public relations for UK media giant IAC, flew towards Africa in December 2013, blissfully unaware of the uproar caused by her final tweet before boarding her 12-hour flight.
Even though Ms Sacco had a mere 200 followers, the tweet went viral even while she was flying. Her tweet was universally condemned as racist, resulting in the hashtag #HasJustineLandedYet trending worldwide. Unsurprisingly, Ms Sacco lost her job, her former employer apologised profusely and several AIDS charities received donations from appalled twitterati.
7. You post too often (or too seldom)
How often should you post to your social networks? That depends on (a) your networks; and (b) your followers.
If you’re posting to Twitter, for example, and reaching out to a business audience, then posting (variations on the same information) at three-hour intervals during the business day is acceptable — very few will see more than one post, given the transient nature of Twitter.
On the other hand, posting to a consumer audience via Facebook should be less frequent, because posts are likely to linger more there. Take a look at your Facebook page Insights data (via your Page Manager dashboard) and view “When Your Fans Are Online” (under “Posts”).
Post perhaps twice a day, at times that coincide with most of your fans being online.
Once you realise you need Social Media Training
We would be remiss if we didn’t point you to our range of social media courses: overview here.
If you want a comprehensive overview of Social Media Marketing, its principles and its practices, start here
If you want a rundown of the latest developments, check out our Advanced Social Media Marketing course here
If you want to market your business on Facebook but don’t know how, our Complete Facebook Marketing course is the place to start
If you’re already active on Facebook but think you could be doing it better, our Facebook Accelerator course could be the one for you
If you operate in the B2B space, we strongly recommend you learnHow To Use LinkedIn Effectively
If you plan to use social media but won’t be hands-on yourself, you should take a look at our course covering How To Prepare An Effective Social Media Brief
By now, most marketers understand that it’s a good idea to monitor what’s being said about you in social media, for self-protection at least. How can you know if your brand or company is being trashed online, so that you can take appropriate remedial action, if you’re not listening?
Now an article from Contently highlights some of the other ways in which Social Media Monitoring can directly help your business:
What happens when a minor TV character get major social attention? In the digital age, how do you take advantage of it and adjust? That was the challenge faced by BET [Television] Network’s Being Mary Jane.
The show’s Twitter analysis showed that an unexpected character was emerging as a fan favourite: Avery, the wife scorned by the affair between Mary Jane and her husband. It was too late to reshoot the series, but the fans’ love forced BET to rethink its social media strategy and the way it was promoting the show.
It all began around the time the series premiered in January 2013. JP Lespinasse, BET’s senior director of social media, got a shiny new toy: Adobe Social, a social media management and analytics tool that he began using to monitor the chatter around Being Mary Jane.
Two shows into the eight-episode series, an intriguing insight emerged. While of course the romantically challenged Mary Jane herself got the most attention, the Twitter analysis showed that Avery garnered the next highest number of mentions.
“The next step was, let’s see where we can begin to amp up our coverage of Avery from a content perspective,” Lespinasse recalls. BET recut some of its broadcast commercials to feature Avery more. They also gave her more visibility on the show’s website and digital promotions, and recruited the actress who plays Mary Jane, Robinne Lee, to live tweet the episodes that featured her character.
When the social media staff used their human brains to parse the social media chatter, they gleaned another useful insight into just why Avery appealed so much to the audience. “There were a lot of people quoting her,” Lespinasse says. “The stuff that made Avery resonate was the stuff that came out of her mouth. So, not only do we want to feature her generally, we want to feature what she’s saying.”
So how did the BET social media team glean these insights? They began their social listening program two weeks before the premiere. Then, every morning after the show aired, they’d peruse the analytics. They also produced weekly reports charting the total audience against social media mentions.
Most of us don’t have TV shows in our product portfolio, but any brand promoting its wares to a public audience (whether B2C or B2B) should have a social media monitoring strategy that reports on what’s being said about the brand online.
By actively listening, you can identify any problems and concerns, of course, but the monitoring process can also highlight:
product features that particularly appeal to your customers
unexpected uses for your product that might create future opportunities
category problems that consumers have but that your product could solve
In the latter case, social media monitoring provider Infogluttongives an example of how monitoring can improve product design:
We ran InfoGlutton to monitor problems people are expressing about espresso machines. Here’s two mentions we found out today on Twitter:
Joe Hall, writing at SearchEngineLand, provides a useful protocol for turning social media monitoring into effective new product design:
Recommended Monitoring Tools
So how can you listen effectively without the process taking up too much time? At a minimum, you should:
Sign yourself up toGoogle Alerts for your company name, products, executives or brand terms so that you’re alerted by email whenever your name pops up online. To do so, enter your search terms and select to receive updates as they happen.
Choose “As-it-happens” and “All results”
Check Twitter for chatter about your company or brand. Use tools like TweetBeep or Twitter Search to monitor conversations about your company in real-time.
Get email notifications for specific search phrases on Facebook through Hyperalerts.
(B2B)Join a few LinkedIn groups to which your key customers and prospects belong. Search for questions or comments that you or members of your company can address.
Get yourself up to speed with RSS readers and use Feedly to check Flickr, Delicious, Digg and others
It’s been apparent for the last couple of years that posts to Facebook Business Pages are being seen by fewer and fewer page followers. In October 2012, the Dangerous Minds blog published its (unhappy) views on the trend:
Spring of 2012 was when bloggers, non-profits, indie bands, community theaters, photographers, caterers, artists, mega-churches, high schools, tee-shirt vendors, campus coffee shops, art galleries, museums, charities, food trucks, and a near infinite variety of organizations; individuals from all walks of life; and businesses, both large and small, began to detect—for it was almost imperceptible at first—that the volume was getting turned down on their Facebook reach. Each post was now being seen only by a fraction of their total “fans” who would previously have seen them.
But it wasn’t just the so-called “fan pages,” individual Facebook users were also starting to notice that they weren’t seeing much in their newsfeeds anymore from the various entities they “liked”—or even updates from their closest friends and family members. Something was amiss, but unless you had a larger “data set” to look at—or a formerly thriving online business that was now getting creamed—it probably wasn’t something that you noticed or paid that much attention to.
When we first noticed the problem, our blog had about 29,000 Facebook “likes.” Our traffic was growing 20% month over month, but our Facebook fans grew at a far faster pace. We were getting hundreds of new ‘likes” every day. Still do. As I write this, our Facebook fans now number over 53,000, not quite double what it was then, but give it another month or so and it will be.
53,000 is a more than respectable number of Facebook fans for a blog that’s only been around for a little over three years. So why is it that our pageviews—our actual inventory, what we sell to advertisers—coming from Facebook shares are off by half to two thirds when the number of new “likes” has risen so dramatically during this same time period?!?!
In a widely read—and widely shared on Facebook—NY Observer article titled “Broken on Purpose: Why Getting It Wrong Pays More Than Getting It Right,” (emailed to me by a friend, a prominent blogger, with the subject line: “Why putting a lot of energy into building a Facebook presence is a sucker’s game”) PR strategist and social media expert Ryan Holiday succinctly laid out the case against the damage Facebook had inflicted upon its most active users with its recently rolled out Promote “option”:
It’s no conspiracy. Facebook acknowledged it as recently as last week: messages now reach, on average, just 15 percent of an account’s fans. In a wonderful coincidence, Facebook has rolled out a solution for this problem: Pay them for better access.
As their advertising head, Gokul Rajaram, explained, if you want to speak to the other 80 to 85 percent of people who signed up to hear from you, “sponsoring posts is important.”
In other words, through “Sponsored Stories,” brands, agencies and artists are now charged to reach their own fans—the whole reason for having a page—because those pages have suddenly stopped working.
This is a clear conflict of interest. The worse the platform performs, the more advertisers need to use Sponsored Stories. In a way, it means that Facebook is broken, on purpose, in order to extract more money from users. In the case of Sponsored Stories, it has meant raking in nearly $1M a day.
Organic reach of the content brands publish in Facebook is destined to hit zero. It’s only a matter of time.
In 2012, Facebook famously restricted organic reach of content published from brand pages to about 16 percent. In December 2013, another round of changes reduced it even more.
By February 2014, according to a [email protected] analysis of more than 100 brand pages, organic reach hovered at 6 percent, a decline of 49 percent from peak levels in October.
For large pages with more than 500,000 Likes, organic reach hit 2 percent in February. And Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.
The ability to build communities of fans, and then maintain contact and encourage engagement using content published to fans’ News Feeds was a critical aspect of Facebook’s early appeal to marketers. The opportunity of achieving engagement at scale motivated many brands and corporates to invest millions in developing communities and providing for care and feeding via always-on content.
With the impending end of organic reach, what are the consequences for marketers and others who use Facebook to connect with their communities? How can brands and corporates get the most from Facebook in the future? Is Facebook still a driver of “earned” conversation and word of mouth? Or is it just a straightforward paid channel? How should communities approach content and engagement going forward?
This isn’t an academic exercise. Facebook Zero is a reality now facing every brand and business with a presence on the platform. Action is required, and specific decisions will need to be made with regard to content planning, paid support for social media activities, audience targeting and much more.
Our own analyses support the [email protected] calculations. Across our database of 27,444 New Zealand Facebook pages, as at March 1 2014, we found that:
NZ pages with more than 100,000 Likes were talked about in the preceding seven days by just 2.78% of their followers
NZ pages with less than 100,000 Likes were talked about by 5.82% of their followers
If marketers want success on Facebook, sorry, but you have to pay. This shouldn’t come as a shock or a disappointment. When was the last time you saw ITV offer a free 30-second spot, or The Guardian hand over a cover wrap because they sympathised that a brand had spent years building up a community among its readers? Marketing success on Facebook is no different to anywhere else: it requires ruthless media spend, efficient targeting and fantastic creative.
Getting Your Followers Talking About You
So what should you do? Simply abandon your carefully-constructed Facebook presence? Or pay every time to reach your followers?
BTW, we’ve also added appropriate advice into our Advanced Social Media Marketing course, for those who want to learn more about not just Facebook but also Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, YouTube and LinkedIn.