Tag Archives: social networks

5 Key Facts You Should Know About Messaging Apps

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

dark-social

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% decline in “original” sharing (personal updates) across its 1.6 billion monthly active users.

As the Guardian newspaper notes:

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.

messaging-apps-big-4

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.

messagingapps-individual

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:

poncho

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.

In Summary

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.

 

7 Obvious Signs That Your Organisation Needs Social Media Training

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.

7 Obvious Signs That Your Organisation Needs Social Media Training

Social Media Warning Signs

Get yourself social media training fast if 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.

Amy & The Cakes #fail

 

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:

social media responses by industry

 

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).

donut posts that nobody cares about

 

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.

May the Fourth Be With You

 

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.

Justine Sacco

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”).

when your fans are online

Post perhaps twice a day, at times that coincide with most of your fans being online.

fans 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 learn How 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

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

Latest NZ Social Media Statistics

If there was any doubt about the spread of social media in New Zealand, the release by Statistics New Zealand of the findings of the 2012 Household Use of Information and Communication Technology study should quickly put to any concerns to rest.

nz-social-media-statistics

Two out of every three of the 2.8 million New Zealanders Over 15 who went online between December 2011 and September 2012 accessed social networks, according to the report. Think of that result as cumulative social media reach.

65-percent-of-kiwis-access-social--media

These numbers will come as no surprise to those who have been following social media regularly, but consider them official confirmation.

If you’re wondering exactly which social networks were worthy of Kiwi attention in 2012, Nielsen Online Ratings data from December 2012 can answer that question:

which-social-networks-are-most-popular-in-nz

Not much of a race. Since it slipped past Bebo and took over as the Number 1 New Zealand Social Media destination in April 2009, Facebook has gone from strength to strength in this country (as, indeed, it has elsewhere on the planet).

Younger users may gripe that the site is no longer cool (now their parents and grandparents are on Facebook), but so far there are no meaningful alternatives. For now, at least, long live the king!

  • If you’d like to know more about Social Media in New Zealand (and how to use it effectively to market your organisation), check out our courses.

For other data from the Statistics New Zealand survey (specifically, the latest NZ ecommerce statistics, with details of how many Kiwis are now shopping online), please refer to the article on our eCommerce.org.nz resource site.

 

20 Ways to Engage More in 2012

If you’re a typical marketer, your tendency will be to use Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus for a one-way stream of information about yourself and your products. #socialmediafail

Umm — they’re called “social networks” for a reason. The idea is for you to ENGAGE with your connections, not simply pour out your own thoughts and ignore them.

In fact, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm — which determines how visible your postings are to those who say they “like” you — gives priority to posts that are two-way in nature. In other words, the more engaging your content — the more your posts turn into conversations — the more visible they are to your fans and followers.

So, what can you do to engage more effectively through social networks in 2012?

Apart from the obvious — LISTEN to what your connections are saying and RESPOND in a timely manner — here are 20 ways for you to engage more, by constructing relevant, valuable, remarkable content designed to cater to the needs, wants and interests of your audience. Your aim is to add value to your followers, including outbound links to areas that could help them with their goals and purposes.

These are the criteria you need to use to shape the content:

  1. Your message needs to be relevant to your audience — and to their audiences as well, if you want the content to be shared beyond the initial recipients
  2. It needs to be fresh — stale news won’t get past the Delete key
  3. Your news needs to be worth buzzing about
  4. It needs to be exclusive — those potentially sharing the information want to be seen as ’in the know’, ahead of the pack
  5. There needs to be an element of scarcity involved to drive urgency (’only 150 made’, ’only until [date]’)
  6. It needs to come from a credible source
  7. Your product or service needs to be the right stuff (inherently valuable)
  8. Helpful – Does your content help solve problems? “Always be helping” is the new “always be closing.”
  9. Timely – Can your target audience relate to it?
  10. Targeted – Is the content intended to inform those “just looking”, “close to buying” or in the post-purchase phase?
  11. Interruptive – Is there a captivating element that grabs and sustains attention?
  12. Entertaining – Is there a novel or enjoyable aspect that is well-conceived and engaging?
  13. Illuminating – will it lead to “A Ha!” moments for recipients?
  14. Shareable – Does it have a viral quality? Would an influencer want to forward it, or post it?
  15. Progressive – Is there a call to action or “next-steps”?
  16. Versatile – Can it be leveraged across media channels?
  17. Crowd-sourced – Does it involve customers or partners in the spirit of cooperation?
  18. Efficient – Is it concise, perhaps in an effective list format, to offset diminished attention spans online?
  19. Attractive – is it graphically interesting and will it stand out?
  20. Integrated – Does it fit with your existing or upcoming marketing pieces?

You should also regularly ask questions of your constituents, seeking their opinion or input (and responding to them if they give it).

Don’t just treat social media like advertising, you won’t like the results.

PS If you need guidance in how to engage, may we direct you to our social media courses, all of which include a healthy focus on tools of engagement.