(This post originally appeared on the PNConnect Blog)
This Week’s Top Stories
“Want to get millennials to follow you on Twitter? Offer a coupon. According to fall 2014 research by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research, US millennials were most likely to follow a brand or company on Twitter to get a coupon or discount, cited by 85%. Following brands to receive coupons and discounts was more common on Twitter than on Facebook or Pinterest.”
PNConnect Insight – What’s most interesting about this study is how big a delta there is between Facebook/Twitter and Pinterest. The latter two are more about either affiliating themselves with the brand in a public way or receiving coupons or discounts; mostly passive activities in that the individual sits back and waits for something to come to them. But on Pinterest it’s about sharing interests or researching products. So adjust your content strategy on those platforms accordingly.
“…USA Today sports blog For The Win has found that its mobile readers don’t share much through Twitter, according to Chris Pirrone, general manager of USA Today’s digital sports properties. It’s actually so negligible that FTW, which is solely focused on social media distribution, dropped Twitter sharing buttons from its mobile stories in late 2014 in favor of SMS-sharing buttons. The early results have been staggering: the SMS button has been used three to four more times more often than the Twitter button ever was, according to FTW’s editorial director Jamie Mottram.”
PNConnect Insight – While it’s not uncommon for media brands to experiment with tools and tricks that aren’t fully baked, this feels less like that and more like an acknowledgement that audience sharing habits have fundamentally changed. If you’re publishing a site where an increasingly large percentage of visitors are coming in via mobile (and odds are good that you are) then it may be prudent to evaluate whether or not SMS-sharing buttons make sense for the site. This pairs nicely with research done by Joshua Benton at Neiman Labs about the declining use of the Tweet button, perhaps because people are doing discovery/sharing within Twitter itself on mobile and perhaps because they just don’t have the Twitter network that would be receptive to the stories being found on the mobile web.
“In the first half of this year, tweets will start to be visible in Google’s search results as soon as they’re posted, thanks to a deal giving the Web company access to Twitter’s firehose, the stream of data generated by the microblogging service’s 284 million users, people with knowledge of the matter said Wednesday. Google previously had to crawl Twitter’s site for the information, which will now be visible automatically.”
PNConnect Insight – What this amounts to is Google getting the realtime feed as opposed to only indexing new updates at scheduled crawling times. That may not sound like a big deal, but as more and more of the mobile-first world prioritizes timeliness over authority the matter of minutes this amounts to is increasingly important.
“Coca-Cola has suspended its #MakeItHappy automated social campaign after a prank from Gawker had the brand inadvertently tweeting out several lines from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. The soda brand’s campaign, introduced during Sunday’s Super Bowl, encouraged Twitter users to mark negative tweets with the #MakeItHappy hashtag. Then, the brand turned those words into cute art images using ASCII lettering code.”
PNConnect Insight – In general automating social media actions and responses (i.e. setting up a system to respond to a defined set of messages with a canned response) is not a great idea since it takes a necessary level of human approval and common sense out of the equation. That being said, the ethics of a media organization, in this case Gawker, intentionally exploiting the system to prove a point or, more accurately, to poke fun at the brand are questionable at best.
“The social analytics player Simply Measured today said total engagement for marketers jumped 105 percent year over year in the fourth quarter. After studying Interbrand’s list of the 100 Best Global Brands from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, it also found that brands authored 11 percent more tweets year over year in Q4. Even with the extra messages showing up in users’ Twitter feeds, brands grew their followers by 38 percent during 2014 as a whole.”
PNConnect Insight – As the story points out, the most interesting takeaway is the engagement data, which shows that while Twitter may still be struggling with new user acquisition, those users who are there and active are increasingly engaged with brand updates.
“New data from Bitly, the web’s leading url shortener, shows that Facebook’s share of clicks from mobile devices increased 30.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014. That’s after a gain of 27% in the third quarter.”
PNConnect Insight – This should clear up a lot of confusion at publishers who have been wondering how to categorize a large portion of the audience. And considering how the mobile audience, particularly the audience coming in via Facebook, is growing at a ridiculous pace having this sort of insight is extremely valuable.
“(GE’s Linda) Boff said that the multinational conglomerate is not abandoning the platform completely, just devoting less resources to creating for it. In lieu of that, GE is putting more effort into its Snapchat account, which it believes will be a powerful media consumption platform.”
PNConnect Insight – GE sees which way the wind is blowing, at least in terms of buzz and “hot” platforms and adjusts accordingly. While there are powerful cases to be made about Snapchat being less than ideal for brands – content decay is at its worst here and metrics are still severely lacking – placing small bets like this can be a good way to experiment with the platform and begin to include it in the overall content mix.
“It’s easy to forget that without captivating content to wrap itself around, advertising is like opening a present … only to find an empty box. Ads best find their home near content that serves the needs, passions and curiosities of consumers, which in turn should inspire advertisers to find ways to elevate their own conversations with consumers.”
PNConnect Insight – A good reminder that you can provide all the data you can put your hands on but it all comes down to producing quality content that people want to read/consume. If you’re not meeting audience needs and wants with what you’re producing, the data you provide will be relatively worthless.
When PlayBuzz talk about their belief in ‘playful content’, it might seem difficult to believe that quizzes could have such enduring appeal to readers. The thousands of Facebook comments beneath that post suggests otherwise. Month after month, these quizzes are mopping up engagement on News Feeds.
PNConnect Insight – As with so many of these studies about what publishers are doing really well in terms of Facebook engagement, it comes down to emotion. They produce content from beginning to end that evokes some sort of emotional impact in the audience, whether it’s curiosity, humor, anger or anything else. We can talk about custom CMSs that are designed for social sharing all we want, but it still comes back to content.
“Video news publisher NowThis has gone all-in on social media. Today it stripped its website of all content except for links to all the places where users can get its content.”
PNConnect Insight – This makes at least two or three publishers that have abandoned – or not even started – an owned, on-domain hub for their content but instead gone completely native on managed social channels. But this sort of move trades long-term brand loyalty for short-term brand utility. By abandoning the owned site they’re creating new archive of content that can be searched for and through and diminishing the value of their content by making it so ephemeral. If it’s just part of the stream on a social network then the brand is only as good as their last update and, as engagement drops so too does exposure.
“Many news organizations take few steps to actually verify this sort of viral story that they often publish, Silverman found, noting that outlets will start a chain of linking to and citing others who have already reported the rumor. “The story’s point of origin, once traced back through the chain of links, is often something posted on social media or a thinly sourced claim from a person or entity,” he wrote.”
PNConnect Insight – In addition to the failure of some news organizations to fact-check dubious stories, these spread on media both social and not because they usually combine two essential elements: 1) The fear of missing out, specifically that a website will miss out on the traffic that’s being generated by the story and 2) That these stories so often are highly emotionally charged, something that does very well online, particularly on Facebook and elsewhere.
“Twitter pulled the covers off a new tool during the News:Rewired Conference in London last week. It’s calledCurator. The new web app is designed to allow media organizations to pull together embeddable collections of tweets and vines, and TNW is one of the first to get its hands on it.
PNConnect Insight – Twitter is taking on Storify in a big way. But it’s interesting that this seems primarily aimed at journalists and media organizations, not brand publishers. The latter group will likely get access to the tool at some point, but the gist here seems to be that Twitter wants to make itself even more a part of the media’s toolkit, now including the ability to create curated threads on Twitter itself for embedding elsewhere.
“Amazon has launched a new tool, Amazon Giveaway, that dramatically simplifies the process of holding contests around products in the company’s massive inventory. So long as the item you want to give away is sold by Amazon.com and under $5,000 in value, you can set up a promotional sweepstakes with a few clicks. You choose the item being offered up, and Amazon handles pretty much everything else.”
PNConnect Insight – This is, in professional terms, a pretty cool tool that could save some companies a ton of time when it comes to streamlining product giveaways.
“We built Facebook Mentions to help public figures connect with their fans and each other. Since we introduced the app in July, thousands of actors, athletes, musicians and other influencers have used Mentions to post photos and videos, talk to their fans, and connect with other public figures. Today, we’re introducing two new features for Mentions.”
PNConnect Insight – If you manage a large enough verified Facebook account this is going to be of interest to you and you may want to check your page to see if you have access to this yet.
“As a smartphone generation, Millennials place a strong premium on the speed of communication offered by messaging apps; as many as 7 in 10 in fact say they use IM services because they are quicker than SMS or social media. Globally, WeChat is the most popular IM service for 17-31s, reflecting its massive success in China (where 60% of Millennials are using it). Outside of China, though, it’s Facebook Messenger (35%) and WhatsApp (32%) which compete for dominance – with Messenger typically doing well in mature markets and WhatsApp posting its best figures in fast-growth countries.”
PNConnect Insight – In case you were wondering why everyone was rushing to figure out their messaging app strategy, this is it.
“Give Snapchat credit for knowing its medium. Its new original video series, “Literally Can’t Even”—part of a new video and content effort called Discover—feels at home on an iPhone in a way few others do.”
PNConnect Insight – Content-decay concerns (which are real), Snapchat continues to win praise for getting mobile layout right.
“Instagram was once a digital playground for hipsters and teens looking for a place to share pictures of frappes and puppies. In the past few years, Instagram’s user base has exploded and now includes well-known brands and companies who use the platform to reach and engage with customers.”
PNConnect Insight – If you thought Instagram was just for B2C brands, this should dissuade you. Instagram is about branding more than direct sales and that’s just as relevant for B2B as it is B2C companies.
“Those YouTube views of ads on big events often thought of as free can cost actually plenty, according to a study of Super Bowl advertising from Google preferred marketing developer Strike. The study, however, found there’s a big gap between advertisers who get almost all their online views free and those who pay dearly.”
PNConnect Insight – Keep in mind this comes on top of the millions they spent on the TV commercials that are supposed to be the whole point.
“Facebook has only been able to support such creative because of its autoplaying video, which sets images in motion without users having to click a button. “Advertisers buy it just like video,” the ad insider explained. Just last week, Facebook updated Instagram to allow videos to play on a loop, which could help brands post cinemagraphs there because they are set to constantly repeat.”
PNConnect Insight – Advertisers like video and people like GIFs. So Facebook has found a way to kinda sorta combine the two in its effort to make more money.
“As we continue to invest in the growing media ecosystem, it’s important to provide a wide variety of tools for content creators to distribute and ultimately manage all of their content. To that end, we are excited to share that we’ve signed an agreement to acquire Niche, a provider of software, community and monetization services for the growing creative community.”
PNConnect Insight – This is Twitter looking for a bit of vertical integration. By being able to match the talent with the advertisers they can, as many have pointed out, monetize these creatives regardless of where the content eventually appears.