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Is OTT Messaging The New Social?

We’ve all become increasingly familiar with the tragic tales of people going for a job, standing for a public position or simply claiming to be off sick, only to be outed by their Facebook posts which reveal their failings, sins and indiscretions to the world.

We live in increasingly glass houses, where our lives are (in the finest tradition of The Truman Show) broadcast live to the world. Even if we avoid posting selfies in flagrante delicto, we can still end up tagged in photos that unflatter us. In the process of sharing stuff with our friends, we’re more and more likely to end up sharing with Google and its few billion acquaintances as well.

We’ve tended to view this is as an inevitable social transition, as the archaic notion of privacy is abandoned in favour of an always-connected “what happens in Vegas … now stays online forever” transparency paradigm. Yes, today’s employers may tut-tut and refuse to hire those whose indiscretions are blatantly displayed online; but tomorrow’s employers, their own failings similarly emblazoned across social networks, are likely to be more tolerant (or so we hope).

What we’re now seeing, however, is a move away from open social networks to the closed user spaces of OTT* messaging applications, especially amongst teens and young adults who are tired of leaving a digital trail which can be seen by parents and employers and by which they can be judged.

* These messaging applications are called OTT (Over The Top), to indicate that they sit on top of the mobile infrastructure, using internet data connectivity rather than the cellular messaging facility, usually at a much lower pricepoint

The move to OTT messaging is problematic for marketers, however, for several reasons:

1. No Clear Leaders

As ReadWrite notes:

“The messaging landscape is fragmented. Teenagers are ditching social media to chat on services like WhatsApp, Snapchat, WeChat and KakaoTalk. Apps like Kik, Line and Tango are other popular SMS replacements, [along with] Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, GroupMe and Skype.”

2. Advertising May Not Be Welcome

It doesn’t help that service providers such as WhatsApp are saying they don’t want to include advertising:

The people at WhatsApp say explicitly that they “are not fans of advertising.” Because of this, “WhatsApp is currently ad-free and we hope to keep it that way forever.” Are you listening, every other company? Because this is what users want.

Mainstream OTT messaging providers such as Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts will be more sympathetic to marketers’ needs — but first they need to capture a significant market share.

3. Messaging Platforms Are Aiming To Keep Those Eyeballs Engaged

As always in the mobile space, the Asian markets demonstrate the future of OTT messaging platforms. According to BGR:

Mobile apps linked to messaging services are taking over the two most important Asian app markets, Japan and Korea. Today, nine out of the ten biggest revenue generators on South Korea’s Google Play app chart are Kakao apps. It is effectively becoming impossible to launch a major hit in the Korean app market unless you use Kakao’s messaging app as your platform. This in turn means that everyone interested in mobile apps is using Kakao. The messaging app has turned into the dominant platform for game distribution. LINE’s role in Japan is not quite as strong, but games for this messaging app regularly hold about half of the positions in Japan’s top-10 iPhone and Android app revenue charts.

… Time spent on messaging apps is exploding even in markets where games linked to these platforms have not yet taken off. According to The Hindu, people in India now spend 27 minutes per day on chat apps, up from 7 minutes just two years earlier. Many of the most populous countries in the world — China, India, Japan, Korea — have now fallen in thrall of the messaging apps. Their share of the daily leisure time of consumers is rapidly expanding. This will inevitably give messaging app vendors a golden chance to turn into content delivery companies. And to stage a serious offensive against Facebook, Twitter and Google.

Second, revenue growth generated by games linked to messaging apps is unearthly. LINE is now generating 67% revenue growth — between quarters, not annually. China’s WeChat is already on a big, global marketing binge, which has helped it boost its presence dramatically from Italy to Nigeria over the past summer.

Finally, one of the hottest app industry topics in Tokyo [at the Japan Game Show in September 2013] was the expansion of content services that we are about to witness. Over the next year, a rapidly expanding selection of comics, videos and music will start flowing to users of WeChat, LINE and Kakao.

4. OTT Messaging Is Taking Over from SMS

OTT Messaging isn’t only competing with Social Media, of course — it’s also taking on good old SMS text messaging, and (according to an April 2013 study by Informa) it’s already won. Business Insider reports that 41 billion OTT messages are now exchanged every day, compared with 19.5 billion SMS messages.

A late-2012 white paper by McKinsey highlights the key drivers of OTT adoption:

  • Technology Readiness, in the form of 3G or 4G networks; and penetration of smartphones
  • Cost Incentives, with SMS too expensive relative to data charges
  • Social Propensity, particularly driven by smartphone adoption amongst teens and young adults
  • Market share of specific OTT messaging applications

Here’s how those triggers drove adoption in South Korea and the Netherlands, according to McKinsey :

ott-triggers

Do most of these triggers apply in New Zealand? Indeed they do.

5. Blink And You’ll Miss It

As if the proliferation of messaging platforms was not enough to worry about in itself, we’re now seeing the development of content that, like SnapChat, self-destructs. Forbes reports:

[Ephemeral apps, such as, in this example, Frankly, work like this:] send a message, and your recipient will initially see a box of blurred text. Once they tap it, a set timer counts down the seconds till the message has been deleted; sent to the digital afterlife. Chat windows, for the most part, thus stand empty at all times. Each time someone sends a text, they can also tap a black “x” afterwards to take it back, in case they change their mind. The idea is that the sender is always in control.

“Maybe, just as the rise of big data and government surveillance and privacy concerns and the over-curated self images on Facebook, people are saying, ‘I miss the days when I could have a private conversation,’” says Frankly founder Steve Chung. “‘Maybe I’m not saying anything bad, but you and I sit down in a coffee shop and we remember what we remember. When we leave, we don’t have reams of paper that recorded it all.’”

The question then isn’t if people want their messages deleted — plenty seem perfectly happy to keep reams of recorded texts — but whether they want more control over what is recorded.

Other ephemeral messaging services include such little-known names as Wickr, Blink, Gryphn, Ansa, SecretInk and Tiger Text. They’re fighting for market share in a still-developing arena, responding to consumer demand for a little more privacy.

Your messages probably still aren’t safe from the likes of the GCSB, Julian Assange or Edward Snowdon, but at least your boss shouldn’t be able to read them without your permission.

PS We cover OTT Messaging in detail in our new Mobile Marketing course

Most Talked About NZ Facebook Pages – August 2013

If you’ve taken any of our Social Media courses, you’ll know that we keep harping on about Engagement — creating content that your followers want to talk about and share with their friends.

We thought it was time once again to check out which Kiwi Facebook pages are the most engaging right now, as at 19 August 2o13. We’ve sliced and diced the numbers two ways, firstly measuring Engagement as a percentage of Page Likes and secondly in terms of total volume.

Leading the first list by a country mile: Made4Baby.

made4baby

This Kiwi brand, which provides natural skincare for babies & children, has only 2,457 Likes but was talked about by 14,300 last week, representing 584.2% Engagement — nearly six times as many people talking about the Facebook page as it has followers.

And the most talked-about post? This one, on August 6:

dirtydishes

This image attracted 286 likes and a staggering 7,393 shares — the sentiment too good not to spread. Clearly Made4Baby understands its audience!

What other New Zealand Facebook pages got people talking? Here’s our Top 10 list:

Most Engaged NZ Facebook Pages August 2013
Engagement as a percentage of Page Likes

Page Name Likes Talking Engagement %
1 Made4Baby 2,448 14,300 584.2%
2 Kaukapakapa Veterinary Services. 55 176 320.0%
3 Shed 10 36 68 188.9%
4 TripMe.co.nz 618 1,139 184.3%
5 Deborah Quin 259 403 155.6%
6 The Factory 570 763 133.9%
7 The Natural Parent Magazine 41,718 55,002 131.8%
8 nzblokes.co.nz 38,527 47,232 122.6%
9 O’Neill New Zealand 587 634 108.0%
10 Dairy Womens Network 1,107 1,123 101.4%

On the other hand, if we just look at the total numbers talking about Facebook pages, these are the Top Ten:

Most Engaged NZ Facebook Pages August 2013
Highest Numbers of People Talking About The Page

Page Name Likes Talking About Engagement %
1 All Blacks 2,016,724 101,459 5.0%
2 The Natural Parent Magazine 41,718 55,002 131.8%
3 nzblokes.co.nz 38,527 47,232 122.6%
4 Paw Justice 268,229 28,398 10.6%
5 Flight of the Conchords 1,626,814 24,782 1.5%
6 Made4Baby 2,448 14,300 584.2%
7 Air New Zealand 647,475 13,710 2.1%
8 Tip Top Ice Cream 129,218 13,560 10.5%
9 Vodafone Warriors 107,180 13,416 12.5%
10 Peter Jackson 1,029,657 13,327 1.3%

NB: We’ve discarded a few pages which were Australia/New Zealand pages (eg BlackBerry Australia/New Zealand) or which were parent/child pages (eg Nissan NZ, where reported Likes and Talking About statistics were cumulative totals of all official Nissan pages globally).

Source of this analysis: the 19 August 2013 edition of our own Netmarketing Courses database of more than 31,000 NZ Facebook pages, for which we gather updated data weekly.

NZ’s Leading Pinterest Pages

We’re slowly assembling a database of Pinterest Pages created by or for NZ businesses and we’d welcome your input. Please tell us in the comments about any NZ business pages on Pinterest with more than 100 followers (yes, as few as that — Pinterest is still an acquired taste for most New Zealand marketers, and Kiwi companies have only a fraction of the followers on Pinterest when compared to the numbers they have attracted on Facebook or Twitter).

On the inevitably-flawed basis of the 497 NZ Pinterest Pages we’ve collected and analysed so far, here are the Top Ten Kiwi pages (ranked by Numbers of Followers), as at March 12 2013:

10. Black Cow Nz (mystichillsnz) — 551 Followers

pin10

 

9. DressMePretty .Co.NZ (DressMePrettyNZ) — 592 Followers

pin9

8. Good as Gold (goodasgold) — 690 Followers

pin8

7. Glassons (glassons) — 866 Followers

pin7

6. Farmers – Your Store (farmersnz) — 918 Followers

pin6

5. Superette (superettestore) — 978 Followers

pin5

4. Pure New Zealand (purenewzealand) — 1192 Followers

pin4

 

3. Styled NZ (StyledNZ) — 2,215 Followers

pin3

2. Air New Zealand (airnewzealand) — 2,338 Followers

pin2

 

And, leading the charge (and, frankly, way, way out in front):

1. Michelle Halford (mgrim) — 15,808 Followers

pin1-580

NB: We’ve included Michelle in this list because her blog accepts advertising and sponsorship revenues, which from our perspective makes her operation a business. We left out a large number of other Kiwis who might otherwise belong on this list because, at least from what we could observe, they pin for pleasure rather than for business purposes.

 

Content Types

The types of Pinterest pages that are topping the polls here are no real surprise. As we noted in an earlier article, these are the most popular content types on Pinterest:

If your product falls within one of those categories, we recommend that you consider adding a Pinterest Page to your product portfolio, sooner rather than later — 291,000 Kiwi consumers visited the site in December 2012, according to Nielsen Online Ratings. That may be only about a tenth of the number of NZ visitors attracted to Facebook, but it’s still a sizeable chunk of potential buyers of your products or services.

PS We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that we cover Pinterest in detail in Lesson Two of our Advanced Social Media Marketing course.

 

Ken8U0AbON8

Facebook Revamps The News Feed

[uvc-youtube id=”Ken8U0AbON8″ width=”560″ height=”315″ autoplay=”0″ controls=”1″]

Facebook just announced a revamped version of its News Feed, which it is starting to roll out around the world. The Facebook video above (supplied via CNET) highlights the key points:

1. User Controls of News Feed Content

Users Can Choose The Contents Of Their News Feed

Users can now determine exactly what populates their News Feed.

PC World explains this new approach:

The existing News Feed displays a mash-up of posts from friends alongside Facebook pages you’ve liked . Those posts include check-ins, photos, videos, and status updates in some arcane order determined by an algorithm. The updated News Feed, by contrast, separates  types of content, and lets users choose to view only photos, or only music, or only updates from businesses like yours—in other words, the pages they’ve liked.

TechHive drills into more detail about the new News Feed options:

The Music feed

One of the biggest changes to the design is the way it handles music. There’s a new feed to deal only with music-related stuff. You just choose the feed from a feeds drop-down list at the top right of the page.

Facebook News Feed

Music feed

The Spotify music your friends are listening to is now featured in the music feed. Facebook has moved your friends’ song listens out of the old ticker at the right hand side of the screen, and into the music feed.

And Facebook is doing a lot more with those Spotify listens. It looks for artists and songs that multiple friends are listening to and groups them together in an article in the news feed. The article contains a large picture of the artist, and at the left you can see all your friends who’ve listened to the artist lately. Mouse over any of the pictures and you can see what those people said about the artist.

The Following feed

Facebook News Feed

Some of these themes are continued in other feeds. In the Following feed, Facebook now builds media rich articles using content from the pages of publications or public figures you like. For instance, if you follow the Onion’s page, you might see an article in your feed with the three most recent articles from the publication. Each article has its own image, and a 20-word summary. You might also find in-page videos of public figures you follow.

The Photos feed

Facebook News Feed

Photos feed

The Photos feed simply displays all the posts that include photographs. The photos appear larger in the feed, as well as the text around them. Even the text in the comments boxes below the photos appears to be a little bit bigger than before. At the top of the Photos feed page, you’ll find a small header image that incorporates one of the images from your feed. (Actually, all the new feeds pages have these header images.)

2. Larger Pictures for More Visual Impact

Images are to be given much more priority in the new-look News Feed, for which we can probably thank Pinterest and Instagram (and the fact that, as revealed by Mark Zuckerberg, 50 percent of the content in the Facebook News Feed already comprises photos and videos). Little wonder, then, that the News Feed is being given a visual makeover.

Here’s what you’ll see if you look at a typical Facebook News Feed now:

Current Appearance of the Facebook News Feed

And how it will look once the revamp rolls out:

Larger Visual Images in Facebook News Feeds

3. Facebook Albums Look Better Too

From this:

How Facebook Albums Look Now

To this:

How Facebook Albums will look

4. New Look For Shared Stories

Perhaps the most dramatic change is to the way that links are shared on Facebook. You’ll be familar with the current appearance:

How links are shared on Facebook

Look again:

The new look for shared links on Facebook

The new Sharing layout resembles (and was probably inspired by) the table of contents of a magazine. The new look includes:

  • A much larger image
  • A more prominent title
  • And a longer summary that tells you what this article is about

Facebook is also starting to add the logos of the publishers in the corner, its own effort to add authority and credibility to the shared content.

5. Desktop Mobilised

Facebook Looks The Same Across Desktop and Mobile

This visual makeover will see Facebook adopt similar layouts across both desktop and mobile, taking advantage of recent mobile styling.

What About The Marketers?

Collectively, the changes add up to a bold new look to the Facebook News Feed, at least for consumers. But where are marketers in all this?

AdWeek reported on the reaction from the marketing industry:

Many marketers gleefully anticipated that the content-specific feeds that Facebook was reportedly prepping would improve their ability to target ads. But when Facebook announced the new feeds on Thursday, advertisers were all but shut out—many of them feeling none too happy about it. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company has yet to determine how it wants to handle ads in the four new feeds.

The ability to target, say, image-rich ads to the Photos feed, or promote a brand-related jingle to the Music Feed ads would be “definitely a great opportunity for advertisers. I don’t know why they’re not making that available right now,” said Performics global CEO Daina Middleton.

Facebook isn’t leaving Madison Avenue completely in the dark. After the announcement, the company emailed marketers with a follow-up overview of the new feeds and design “and said right now ad units aren’t going to change,” said iCrossing’s head of social media Amanda Peters, who received such an email.

Despite that outreach, “I was surprised that there wasn’t any mention of ad units [during Thursday’s announcement],” Peters said. “I think [the new feeds] do present an opportunity for new units and potentially more dynamic units, more targeted units for specific feeds. My guess is that would come very soon.”

But maybe marketers shouldn’t be surprised about a lack of initial ad talk, given past Facebook announcements regarding product changes, said MEC managing partner and social practice lead Kristine Segrist.

“I feel like historically whether it was Timeline or other big platform changes, they roll out the user experience first, get some learnings, test it in the wild, then roll out the accompanying ad products,” she said. However “the scary story for marketers is whether users have newfound controls and can choose to spend time where brands or businesses can’t be part of the conversation.”

“There will be a section of the new News Feed dedicated to pages that users have liked”, says Tony Bradley. However:

Borrowing the personalized newspaper analogy, that section will be the equivalent of the classifieds section.

It’s fair to assume that the users who have liked your Facebook page are at least peripherally interested in your products and services. However, people spend time on the social network to be, well, social.

Their first thought won’t be, “Hey, I wonder if that company I liked has anything new to say.” It probably won’t be their second or third thought, either.

Don’t wait for users to find you in the equivalent of the classifieds. To stay in the game and engage with your community, take your business to them. How do you do that? Use lots of photos and videos to help you business show up in the sections of the new Facebook News Feed, such as Photos, that will have the most traffic.

In other words, even in the new-look Facebook News Feeds, old-fashioned Engagement is as essential as ever.

How To Brief A Social Media Consultant

how to brief a social media consultant

So you’ve decided to start promoting your business in Social Media — and, to make the task easier, you’ve decided to hire a social media consultant. But how do you brief him or her? And how will you know if he or she is doing a good job?

The Challenges When You Use A Social Media Consultant

The whole social media phenomenon simply didn’t exist when many of today’s Kiwi business owners learnt the marketing ropes. As a result, there’s a significant lack of knowledge amongst business owners — and it certainly seems to be age-related.

According to a recent MYOB Business Monitor (November 2012):

  • just 12% of business owners over 60 years old are using social media in their business
  • 20% of business owners who are Baby Boomers are making use of social media
  • 21% of Gen X business owners have adopted social media for their business
  • 42% of Gen Y business owners have gone social

With Kiwi consumers overwhelmingly adopting social media (95% of them went to a social media site in the last month), businesses really have little choice but to get involved with the medium, even if it is through the use of a social media consultant. But it is essential to give them an effective brief.

What your Social Media Consultant needs to know

Your brief to your social media consultant should give them meaningful guidance on these seven questions:

  1. Who are you trying to reach?

    As with any marketing, an effective social media brief starts by identifying your target market. Understanding the target audience’s age, gender, location, interests, activities and passions will have direct bearing on both the content of any social media campaign and the networks your social media consultant opts to use.

  2. What are you trying to achieve through social media?

    For some businesses, the objective of any marketing (no matter the media channel) is simply to make sales. For those operations, the social media consultant might recommend Facebook Offers or Gifts or similar sales tools. On the other hand, you might be aiming to build a customer support channel; to achieve that, your social media guru might suggest a significant devotion of time and resources to Twitter. Or perhaps you want to generate leads, or improve your brand’s reputation.

    Whatever your business objectives within social media, you need to specify them upfront to ensure that your consultant is on the same page.

  3. What is your Brand Personality?

    Whoever is speaking to your prospects and customers through social media needs to reflect the brand personality and style of your business.

    An organisation that prides itself on friendly, homespun advice to anyone who walks through the front door needs to adopt exactly the same tone on Facebook. If you wish to be perceived as a thought leader in your industry, then your LinkedIn posts need to take the same proactive, well-informed approach.

    On the other hand, if your staff are not happy outside their carefully-protected comfort zone, you don’t want your social media consultant to be outspoken on Twitter.

  4. What resources can your organisation devote to social media?

    You may think that by outsourcing to a social media consultant, you’re avoiding getting bogged down. The reality is otherwise: social media is a direct conduit  between your organisation and your prospects and customers.

    As such, it touches on every aspect of your organisation: marketing, sales, PR, customer service, logistics, the lot. Even if it’s the social media consultant’s fingers on the keyboard, he or she needs to be able to draw information and answers from, and supply follow-up requests to, every part of your business.

  5. What related topics are of interest to your prospects and customers?

    An effective social media presence is not simply about you and your brands — your followers will quickly abandon you if every message you post is about your organisation. At the same time, your social media consultant must post information that is relevant to your customers/prospects and related at least tangentially to your business.

    A food company, for example, can talk about recipes (not only those featuring their products) or about last night’s TV chef surprise or ask followers for tales of their worst cooking disaster. Similarly, an engineering business might post about the engineering challenges of the proposed 501-day trip to Mars and back, or about new technologies that will impact on Kiwi businesses in the next five years. Posting about upcoming concerts is unlikely to be relevant to any business but music labels, concert promoters and ticketing agencies.

  6. What key products and events do you want to promote (and how)?

    Social media isn’t purely non-commercial, of course, so you will want to brief your social media consultant to post stories about your products and your organisation, of course. The secret, however, is in exactly HOW you go about planning those posts.

    Consumers who like brands in social media do so because either (a) they do actually like the brand (they’re fans); (b) they want discounts and deals; and/or (c) they want to hear about new products and services. Actually, if they want to hear about the new stuff, they want to be first to know — and they won’t bother sharing stale news with their friends and acquaintances.

    So if you want your messages to have a chance of being shared, you need to brief your social media expert to first start building anticipation ahead of a new product announcement; and then leak the news in social media ahead of the traditional channels. Think about it this way: if you were a big fan of X, wouldn’t you simply die to get inside knowledge ahead of the crowd?

  7. How is your social media consultant going to be measured?

    Managers and financial controllers are now starting to ask tough questions about Return on Investment and whether social media really delivers value for the time and money involved. If you’re going to outsource to a social media consultant, you need to set some benchmarks against which his or her efforts can be evaluated. The presentation below by Olivier Blanchard provides some smart suggestions which can form a great starting point for measuring that social media performance.

In Summary

Outsourcing your social media can be a good idea — provided that you provide an effective and comprehensive brief that can make your social media marketing achieve tangible outcomes.

Credits: content for this article is largely drawn from our online training courses “Preparing an Effective Social Media Brief” and “The Principles and Practice of Social Media Marketing