The Numbers Are In..stagram

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Remember when Vine took over the social media world and shortly after, Instagram decided to add videos to their feed? Well, as many predicted, Instagram has not stopped its clone ways. Just a few weeks ago Instagram added “Stories” to its platform. Sound familiar? Instagram has done it once again; it has now taken Snapchat’s concept and incorporated into its own feed. So the question is, are people using this tool? Yes! Though Snapchat numbers have not decreased any, Instagram numbers are growing because of the new Stories feature. As of now, brands are using this tool to their advantage because the amount of views they receive on Instagram nearly triples the numbers on Snapchat.

According to Social Media Today, over 100 million people use Instagram Stories each day. Maybe users had enough practice story making since Snapchat launched four years ago, but Instagram has not stopped there. The Explore tab on Instagram always informed users on their favorite interests including celebrities, clothes, and even food, but now Stories will be loaded in the Explore tab so users can watch stories from different sporting events, concerts, and other events. The popular Stories being posted on the Explore tab is very convenient for users who want to know what is going on around the world and Instagram has made it one click away.

Facebook adds ‘Safety Check’

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In the wake of disasters, such as the tsunami in Japan, Hurricane Sandy, earthquakes, wildfires, and floods; Facebook employees have observed how people communicate during natural disasters. Many people tend to turn to Facebook to see if their friends and loved ones are safe. The social network introduced a tool Thursday to simplify that process – Safety Check.

Safety Check’s main goal is to allow you to provide your friends and family with a status update that you are in fact safe. It also allows you to check on the well-being of others in affected areas and to mark friends as safe. Once activated, the tool uses the location you have listed on your profile, your last location (if you have opted in to the Nearby Friends product) and the city where you are using the Internet. If you are in fact in an affected area, a notification will pop up on your phone where you can select “I’m Safe”, and an update is posted so your loved ones know you are okay.

Facebook isn’t the first or only company to consider such a feature. Google launched Public Alerts for natural disasters in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Do you think this is a beneficial addition to Facebook? We’d love to hear your opinion.

Further Reading:

http://allfacebook.com/safety-check_b135353

Social Media Ecommerce

Online shopping was first introduced in 1995 with the launches of Amazon and eBay. At that point in time, only 16 million people in the world had Internet access. Ecommerce made shopping for most items more convenient, but not necessarily easier. Over the years we have seen many changes and advances in ecommerce, not only from the seller’s side but also in buyer’s behavior.

Now, in 2014, there are over 3 billion people in the world that use the Internet, and the way we use the Internet is drastically different, thanks to the introduction of social media in the early 2000s. With an immersion in constant, immediate information, we are turning into an instant gratification-seeking type of people. Experian Marketing Services says Internet users spend 27% of their time online on social media, which, according to Business Insider, makes social media the most popular online activity.

Facebook and Twitter are both working on a one-click buying process that won’t take you away from their website, making it easier than ever to buy the products you want, need and love. Back in July, Facebook started to test a ‘buy’ button to make it easier for consumers to purchase items featured in its ads and posts. It was also announced in September that Twitter is working on a ‘buy’ button for tweets. These social networks seem to realize that when users are on their favorite social network, they don’t want to leave.

Twitter has been focused on making “social ecommerce” easier for a while now. They have been working with the number-one online retailer, Amazon, since May. Simply by using the hashtag #AmazonCart, you can now place an item in your cart on Amazon. In July, Twitter bought CardSpring and now allows users to redeem coupons and discounts by using —you guessed it —tweets. This month, Twitter introduced the hashtag #AmazonWishList, to place an item, on your Amazon Wishlist.

Not only will these ‘buy’ buttons change the way users purchase items, they will also change social media advertising. This ecommerce push gives even more value to ads on the social networks. Yahoo Finance’s Jeff Macke says, “Because you are actually selling something directly, that makes all kinds of sense.”

This new, strong focus on ecommerce efforts poses a lot of questions and potential opportunities for retail businesses on social media. Do you think these ‘buy’ buttons will be successful? Do you think there will be an increase in social media advertising? Do you think other social networks will join in on the ecommerce fun? Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations would love to hear from you!

Further reading:

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/hot-stock-minute/e-commerce-in-social-media-is-inevitable-154403857.html

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/81009.html

http://www.searchenginejournal.com/use-twitter-build-amazon-wishlist-using-hashtag/116829/

http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-strategy/social-media-is-a-terrible-ecommerce-tactic-or-is-it/

YouTube’s Transition to Hollywood

Brian Robbins worked in the traditional entertainment industry for decades, getting his start on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class.  Since then, Brian has produced TV shows such as Smallville and One Tree Hill and directed several feature films catering to the teenage audience. But when he noticed the way his two teenage sons consumed media, he was convinced that the future of youth entertainment wasn’t in broadcast or cable TV but in short-film videos, particularly on YouTube.

In 2012 Robbins launched a YouTube channel called AwesomenessTV, geared toward teenagers and preteens and featuring thousands of two- to five-minute videos ranging from talk shows to mini-reality shows. Within months, AwesomenessTV was ranking among the top YouTube channels on a regular basis.  Around the same time, Robbins started noticing that several new media companies in Los Angeles were accumulating billions of monthly views on YouTube began bundling existing channels together to create a multichannel network, or MCNs. Mons were attempting to solve a problem that plagued YouTube since the beginning — how to organize such a vast and chaotic programming environment in a way that makes sense for viewers, creators, and advertisers.

Multichannel networks combine small amounts of crafted premium content produced in-house with large amounts of less polished content acquired from decentralized amateurs. As the MCNs gather up channels, they form programming clusters based on popular topics, which they then sell to advertisers. This business model has proven to be a success when it comes to generating a huge audience, but it’s not quite there with the profits. However, that is predicted to change. Some of the top multichannel networks include Maker Studios (55,000 channels, 8.5 billion monthly video views), Fullscreen (50,000 channels, 3.5 billion monthly views), Machinima (12,000 channels, 3.1 billion monthly views) and AwesomenessTV (88,000 channels and 1 billion monthly views).

Six months after creating AwesomenessTV, Robbins posted an invitation to anyone interested in becoming the next big YouTube star. These hopefuls were encouraged to join AwesomenessTV as a member of what they dubbed the ATV Network.  After thousands of inquiries within 24 hours, Robbins knew they had something good. In the months to come, AwesomenessTV blossomed into a teen entertainment factory, and within a year, venture capitalists were looking to invest. DreamWorks Animation bought AwesomenessTV in May 2013 for $33 million up front and $84 million in potential payouts in the future.

On the heels of the DreamWorks acquisition, other media companies with backgrounds in storytelling and talent management have been drifting toward YouTube to snatch up top MCNs. “There is a tremendous amount of activity,” says Gian LaVecchia, a managing partner at the global media-buying agency MEC. “At the macro level, it’s about these companies moving aggressively to reimagine how they connect with digital, mobile, and social audiences.”  In March, Walt Disney acquired Marker Studios for an initial $500 million, plus a potential $450 million, depending on future performance. Warner Bros. invested $18 million in Machinima, which focuses on programming related to video game culture. Chernin Group and AT&T are closing in on Fullscreen. And Scripps Network Interactive led a $25 million investment round in Tastemade, an MCN specializing in food.

This rapid consolidation of YouTube programming has thrown everyone, especially small players, into a frenzy of excitement and uncertainty. Some people are afraid these big companies will squash the creativity of the community. But on the other hand, these investments are helping creators create more premium programming that will lead to more premium advertising, which will finally unlock YouTube’s full economic potential.

There are some people that will tell you YouTube in 2014 is comparable to cable television in the 1980s, when a handful of entrepreneurs conquered a new distribution landscape, giving rise to programming brands like MTV, CNN and ESPN. “We are the paradigm, we believe, of what media companies will look like in the future,” says Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Maker Studios. Says George Strompolos, CEO and founder of Fullscreen: “We want to be the next Viacom, the next Disney, the Next NBCUniversal. We feel like we’re on that path. We’re laying the foundation for what we believe will be a massively valuable and massively profitable media company.”

There has already been a change in viewing habits reflected by decreasing TV and box office numbers. Over the next few years we should begin to see a faster increase in premium video content on YouTube, which will lead to premium advertising opportunities. The net global advertising revenue for YouTube is continually growing, from $1.2 billion in 2012 to a projected $3.4 billion this year according to estimates from EMarketer. Though it will always be secondary to TV advertising, we should expect to see tremendous growth in online advertising, especially on YouTube.

Further Reading:

http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/221838-hollywoods-big-money-youtube-hit-factory

Facebook Algorithm

Facebook uses a certain algorithm to determine where and what posts appear on each individual user’s newsfeed. The algorithm can be understood as the sum of actions; each action is made up of affinity, weight and time decay. An action is considered to be anything that happens on Facebook – literally anything. Facebook algorithm takes these Facebook actions and ranks them based on the importance to the user. Objects with the highest Facebook algorithm “score”, if you will, will show up at the top of the News Feed. Sounds a little confusing, so let’s break it down.

  • Affinity: Measures the relationship between the viewing user and the creator of the post. The closer the relationship, the higher the score. This is one way Affinity is measured. If you, user A, interact with user B’s posts, you will see their content more often, but they won’t necessarily see your content more frequently.
  • Weight: Different types of posts carry different rates. In order, they rank 1.) Photos/videos 2.) Links and 3.) Plain text updates. Engagement is also a factor in the post’s weight. More engagement on a post the greater the weight, and it becomes more visible. However, the amount of complaints or negative feedback also has an effect. The more negative feedback a post has, the less likely you are to see that post.
  • Decay: Posts continually lose value as they grow older. This way, the content on your News Feed stays fresh.

The higher the score for these three variables, the more important Facebook feels that object is to the user; therefore, it will be higher on the News Feed. By improving the size of your network and the frequency of their engagement with your content, you will simultaneously be improving your Facebook algorithm score.

The variables in which Facebook uses to determine News Feed content changes, but affinity, weight and decay are three main principles of the algorithm. The most recent addition to the algorithm is content on the News Feed that looks like spammy or considered click-bait. It is suggested to make sure your post or headline gives enough information to the reader to decide whether they want to read the article or not. If your post or headline is vague, it will be harder for it to be seen on the News Feed.

Why is it important?

It’s important to have a good Facebook algorithm score for two reasons: people are more engaged with the News Feed, and the News Feed is a competitive space.

In 2012, 40% of all time spent on Facebook was in the News Feed. In the US, people spend more time on the Facebook News Feed than ABC, MSNBC, Yahoo! News, CNN, New York Times and Huffington Post combined.  Since approximately 96% of fans don’t go back to a brand’s Facebook page after the initial engagement, your post is 40-150 times more likely to reach your fans through their News Feeds than your page.

You can check your current Facebook algorithm score, and see where your page needs improvement.  And don’t forget to call Robertson & Markowitz Advertising and Public Relations if you need help improving your content and increasing your Facebook algorithm score.