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Facebook’s Answer To YouTube Is A Social Video Platform Called ‘Watch’

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Facebook, the social network once heralded as a great disruptor of traditional television advertising, has just launched its very own TV product.

Called “Watch,” the social video platform will offer a slew of original content created in partnership with some familiar publishers from your News Feed, such as ATTN, BuzzFeed’s Tastemade and Condé Nast, among others.

Unlike traditional TV, and similar to Netflix, Watch debuts with a focus on personalization and discovery. A Watchlist, unique for each user, will feature prioritized shows you may like based on the shows you already follow. A Discover tab will surface new programming for you to browse.

In the announcement, the company strategically positions Watch in line with Facebook’s revamped mission statement, which revolves around building “meaningful communities.” This positioning is supported by product features that allow people to comment and react to videos as they watch, as well as view other people’s comments as part of the overall experience.

“We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community—including watching video. Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

Facebook believes that the commentary around video is as core to the experience as the content itself, and so it’s categorizing content around things like total volume of conversations (“Most Talked About”), how people are reacting (“What’s Making People Laugh”) and what users’ immediate networks are watching (“What Friends Are Watching”). Moreover, each show will get its own Page where fans can form communities around their favorite programs.

Interestingly, earlier this week YouTube introduced its own social video update to the mobile app: a messaging feature that allows people to connect with friends to discuss video content.

So, what types of shows can we expect to see? According to Facebook: a little bit of everything, including scripted series, live events and reality-style programming. According to Business Insider, BuzzFeed, Tastemade, ATTN and Condé Nast are among the partners who will be producing content and receiving a share of mid-roll ad revenue. Creators and publishers will also be able to natively partner with brands, but the onus is on them to tag the sponsor.

Last year, Facebook reported that the average user spends 50 minutes per day with the platform—a substantial number but less than the 2.8 hours per day the average American spends watching TV and movie content, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. With Watch, Facebook is making a clear play for this attention and hopes that user behavior (and ad dollars) will follow suit.

Practitioners in the marketing world might see the debut of Watch as social media coming full circle. When Facebook once debuted as a viable channel for marketers, agencies and brands responded by building out their social and community practices to reach consumers in a new environment. Over time, Facebook’s slow and steady algorithm updates forced brands to revert to paid social media to reach audiences there.

Watch brings the advertising world back to traditional TV model, except instead of mass media buys with major networks, ads will be served programmatically, customized by viewer and able to be hyper-targeted based on the treasure trove of data Facebook holds for each of its 2 billion users. Crowdtap CEO Matt Britton predicted such a model during his SMWLA keynote, which discussed the possibilities of programmatic TV.

Facebook is rolling out the new platform over the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see if eyeballs follow the update, or if people will continue using Facebook as they do today. Ultimately, it’s the content will determine the user behavior (and ad revenue).

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

Social Media Week is a leading news platform and worldwide conference that curates and shares the best ideas, innovations and insights into how social media and technology are changing business, society and culture around the world.

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Instagram Tests Dedicated Private Messaging App In 6 Countries

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Instagram and Snapchat have been trading jabs for the better part of 2017, with Instagram continuing to grow to the detriment of Snapchat. Just last week, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel declared that the platform was “separating the social from social media.”

The latest shot in the rivalry comes from the debut of an Instagram app targeted for private messages, which is currently being tested in select markets. According to TechCrunch sources, we can expect to see a global rollout sometime in the next year. In the meantime, the app (called Direct) is only available in Uruguay, Chile, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, and Israel.

The announcement comes just shy of a month after Instagram rolled out yet another Snapchat-esque feature (Memories) with which users can dig back into their content archives and share anything from their Camera Roll, no matter when it was captured.

“We want Instagram to be a place for all of your moments, and private sharing with close friends is an important part of that. Direct has grown within Instagram over the past four years, but we can make it even better if it stands on its own. We can push the boundaries to create the fastest and most creative space for private sharing when Direct is a camera-first, standalone app,” explained Instagram product manager, Hemal Shah, to The Verge.

So, what exactly does this new app look like, and how does it work? Direct offers the Instagram private messaging experience in the form of a standalone app. It works a lot like Facebook Messenger, which has a similar presence.

When you first open the Direct app, you’ll be presented with a camera view where you can either take a photo, with the option of using four new exclusive filters or swipe down to trigger a screen where you can type a message response to a friend. Swiping left from the Camera will bring you to a profile screen where you can adjust your personal settings or switch accounts. Finally, to the right of the Camera screen is where all of your direct messages will be aggregated, resembling a lot of what we are familiar seeing and using in the main app.

Similar to Facebook Messengers relationship to the broader Facebook platform, toggling between Direct and Instagram will be relatively speedy and seamless. By swiping right from your inbox in the new Direct app, you’ll see an Instagram logo appear on the side. Completely swiping all the way to the right will result in Instagram opening automatically. Comparatively, when you’re on Instagram, swiping entirely to the right will return you to the Direct app.

What do you think of the new Direct app? Will most feel inconvenienced at having to download a second app, or will it help bolster its overall audience? Sound off in the comments!

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7 Ways To Engage Millennials and Gen Z On Social Media In 2018

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Social media has gone through a lot of changes in the past year. Twitter rolled out #280characters. Instagram allowed for multi-photo posts. Augmented reality (AR) and photo filters continue to evolve. And everyone competed for eyeballs with ephemeral content, that is, short-lived stories and video.

As 2018 approaches, it’s only natural to wonder how social media will continue to evolve, and how to use these innovations to appeal to the lucrative millennial and Gen Z demographics.

For those not in the know, Gen Z is the generation born after 1992 who grew up in the digital age, compared to millennials who are the children of baby boomers and remember (even if only briefly) an age before the internet.

Gen Z is entering the workforce and has immense buying power ($44 billion). Marketers need to take the characteristics of this generation into account, while still targeting the now-aging but larger demographic of millennials.

In terms of social media consumption, millennials spend an average of six to seven hours per week on social media, whereas 44 percent of Gen Z check their social media at least hourly.

Here are some interesting personality comparisons between both groups from Ryan Jenkins by way of Inc.:

MillennialsGen Z
Optimistic: All thanks to their Boomer parents, still desire the lifestyle of their parents.Realistic: Grew up in a recession and the 9-11 era, not as coddled, and harder to sell to.
Collaborative: More likely to assemble desks into a circle.Independent: More likely to want their own workspace.
Digital Pioneers: Witnessed the rise of the internet and mobile devices.Digital Natives: Born into the Digital era.
Public: Facebook-using folks who put their whole life on display.Private: More cognizant of privacy, tend to prefer timebound content sharing.
Formal Education: More likely to have a post-secondary degree and student debt.On-Demand Learning: More likely to pursue online or piecemeal learning.

 
Here are some social media trends to look out for in 2018 and how you can use them to entice both millennials and Gen Z.

1. Better Personalization

All the major social media networks are actively improving their analytics to allow for better personalization of advertising and content.

It’s notable that 74 percent of Internet users get fed up with a site or network when sponsored content has nothing to do with their interests.

Right now, “personalization” is still often equated with creepiness – ads that follow you all over the internet after you’ve looked at an item or abandoned a shopping cart.

This is starting to change. Using deep learning, Facebook is working to improve its algorithms to account for a user’s passions, browsing habits, and changing interests. Instagram is even starting to use image recognition to determine your interests from photos (as well as any brands that appear in them, of course).

We may not have reached the peak of personalization algorithms, but you can start creating more personalized content now. Be creative in how you adapt your offers or ad campaigns for different audiences, rather than reduce Gen Z and millennials into a bucket. Try creating variations of ads with different copy or imagery to reflect the audiences you are targeting. If it resonates with the viewer, it’s much more likely to get a click.

2. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) Using Ephemeral Content

Available for a limited time only!

Ephemeral content such as Stories or Snaps are only available for a limited time after they’re published. Live video may be recorded for posterity, but only by watching it live can you interact with the host of the video and other viewers. Brands, influencers and celebrities alike use ephemeral content to encourage consistent social engagement.

SnapChat was the king of this type of content, but has seen a decline since Instagram and Facebook both released their own ephemeral content feature called Stories. Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users as opposed to Snapchat’s 166 million. That said, SnapChat still dominates the youth market. Approximately 72 percent of Americans aged 12-24 have it on their phone, compared to 66 percent for Instagram, and 46 percent of Snapchat users in the United States don’t use Instagram.

While millennials grew up with social networks like Facebook that encourage you to keep a record of your life online, Gen Z engages a lot with SnapChat and Stories as it allows them to engage with their friends privately with no paper trail. This way they can ensure they won’t leave an awkward photo to be dug up years later, or face the scrutiny of their parents.

Brands have been doing a lot with social media stories. On Instagram, Cheerios sent out personalized compliments to their users, and Loft used Stories to encourage viewers to tag their friends in a style challenge.

Loft tag a friend instagram stories

For an example of a brand going outside of their comfort zone to entice a younger internet-savvy crowd, look no further than Marriott on SnapChat stories. Rather than promote their hotel, they ran a campaign where they did a tour around D.C. with hilariously captioned images.

Live video is a fantastic way to earn engagement with fun content, and be authentic on social media. Spend time with bakers in the Dunkin Donuts test kitchen, or watch ASOS employees dress a dummy in 100 garments in just 30 minutes.

Our first-ever LIVE tour of the DD test kitchen + a big announcement for engaged Valentines!

Posted by Dunkin’ Donuts on Thursday, February 11, 2016

There are plenty of opportunities to boost your brand using ephemeral content, but the key is to be authentic. Traditional ads won’t cut it here. You need to find ways to engage and relate to your audience.

3. More (Quality) Video

As traditional cable continues to see a decline in engagement, social media video is continuing to rise at an impressive rate. As of this year, video streaming represents 74 percent of all internet traffic.

A whopping 95 percent of Gen Z watch YouTube, and 50 percent of the survey group said they could not live without it, as compared to different social media networks. Fifty-four percent of millennials visit YouTube at least once a day.

Facebook video garners a lot of engagement, with 100 million hours of videos watched every day, but this is still a sliver compared to YouTube’s 650 million hours. At any rate, that leaves a lot of potential for brands to get in on the action.

Videos for brands on social must be entertaining or inspiring in order to win over younger viewers. HubSpot has great roundups of amazing social video campaigns for both Instagram and Facebook.

A well-produced video campaign on YouTube can go viral if it touches the heart-strings, such as Unicef’s Unfairy Tales animated series raising awareness of the Syrian refugee crisis.

If you’re posting your video on social media, consider adding subtitles, as nine out of 10 Facebook videos are watched without sound.

4. Unsurprisingly, Mobile is Still King

It’s official: 80 percent of social media time is spent on a mobile device. If you’re not already, you need to be thinking mobile-first when planning your content.

Make sure that you optimize your post or ad copy and images for mobile – minimal copy and simple, but colorful images make your messages more enticing when a user is scrolling on a small screen. You must also ensure that the pages you link to are responsive or optimized for mobile.

Mobile responsive site

Image credit: Mashable

Remember, the average attention span of Gen Z is eight seconds, so if you want to grab their attention, you need to make sure you test vigorously to see what works for your brand.

5) More AR Than You Can Shake a Stick At

Augmented reality, or AR, uses live footage taken on your phone and enhances it or adds 3D elements to the environment using technology. The most famous example is the Pokemon Go app which swept the world last year, but AR features are making their way into social, as well. For example, the ability to take a selfie of yourself as a White Walker from Game of Thrones on Facebook:

Facebook Photo Filter Game of Thrones

Some of the more recent AR trends on mobile include Apple’s new animoji, and Google’s soon-to-be-launched AR stickers for photos.

While creating your own filters and AR characters won’t be within the scope of every marketer, if your brand is known for being fun and at the forefront of internet humor, make sure you keep up to date with the newest releases, and see if you can make them work in your own marketing.

6. Influencer Marketing That Adds an Air of Authenticity

What an age to be alive, where anybody can become a celebrity. Many brands have been thrown for a loop by the rise of YouTube celebrities and influencers – those who gained popularity outside of the normal publicity channels through social channels and YouTube.

In this video, popular video game YouTuber Arin Hanson promotes a new line of Nintendo Amiibo figurines:

Gen Z and millennials alike relate to these grassroots celebrity stories – Gen Z in particular. According to Google, 73 percent of Gen Z feel a close relationship with at least one YouTuber, and about 40 percent would even say that they feel they relate more to those YouTubers than their own friends.

Many social media stars and celebrities use ephemeral content to show behind-the-scenes footage of their work or lives, encouraging users to tune in regularly. If your brand has relationships with influencers, this is also a great opportunity for product placement if it’s not forced. Influencers won’t work with brands that don’t fit in.

You need only look at popular brands online and see whom they’re pairing up with. Consider items from this HubSpot influencer campaign list, including when Old Navy tapped online comedian Meghan Rienks, who has 2 million YouTube followers, to style up for different occasions. Or Sperry encouraging micro-influencers who are fans of their brand to produce content for their Instagram channel.

For guides on how to get started with influencers, look to Kissmetrics.

7. Interactive Posts and User-Generated Content

Whereas millennials grew up with cable and classic, passive advertising, Gen Z are more savvy in choosing the content they want to watch, when they want it. They’ll skip ads or ignore them when possible.

Instead of running passive ads, brands need to come up with interactive ways to engage with customers on social. Polls are an easy way to get feedback from your followers, and also give followers a chance to choose what type of content or offers they want to see from a brand, such as this one from eBay:

eBay Twitter Poll

Perhaps the most powerful type of interactive content is user-generated content. According to one report, User-generated content on Instagram can receive up to 6.9 times more engagement than branded content on Facebook.

Users who use a branded hashtag might have their images reshared by that brand, gaining exposure for themselves while also helping promote the brand organically. This can also be run as a social media contest as an extra incentive, and instead of photos you can encourage creative submissions such as videos or art.

What trends do you think will engage millennials and Gen Z in the new year? Leave a comment and start the conversation.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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12 B2B Social Media Marketing Firms To Be On Your Radar In 2018

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Marketing

Social media is one of the most important platforms for businesses to leverage. With the growing size and scope of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, it’s possible that social media will become the most important content platform for marketing.

The problem for enterprise is that there’s no set-in-stone way to run a successful social media campaign. Most executives know the timeless line from 19th-century business magnate, John Wanamaker that goes: “I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted…I just don’t know which half.”

Like most advertising, social media platforms are constantly changing, and the target groups are routinely getting exposed to alternatives from successful campaigns. Consumer tastes change, and it can be difficult to pivot and target the right demographic.

Fortunately for enterprises, there are firms that dominate the social spheres and market like rock stars, even in the business-to-business space. Here are the top 12 social media marketing firm for enterprise, along with specialties, for 2018:

1. Socialfly

A top firm in the New York area, Socialfly focuses on social media and influencer marketing to drive measurable results for brands like Maxim magazine. They have a vast network of social influencers at their disposal, giving them an edge when it comes to creating diverse types of content and reaching niche audiences. Their in-house creative and production studio allows them to produce innovative content for brands in real-time.

A top firm in the New York area founded by Stephanie Cartin and Courtney Spritzer, Socialfly focuses on social media and influencer marketing. With a vast network of social influencers and an in-house creative studio, they are able to create impactful content, reach niche audiences and drive measurable results for clients.

2. VaynerMedia

Started by well-known entrepreneur and influencer Gary Vaynerchuk, VaynerMedia is a cutting-edge firm that strives to be ahead of all other firms when it comes to innovation. Their work ranges from award-winning YouTube ads to integrating marketing into Alexa and Google’s voice services. Their social-media services play well with other parts of their business including VaynerTalent, which serves a number of enterprise-level personal brands in a new market where C-suite branding has become more important.

3. Movement Strategy

From Under Armour to Disney, Movement Strategy has worked with clients to produce content, manage media and engage social communities. They have offices in New York, LA and Denver, giving them prime locations for networking and connecting with influencers.

4. Laundry Service

Laundry Service uses tried-and-true methods that continue to resonate today – with a bit of a spin. They understand that mobile is more important than ever, so they create high-quality content that delivers.

5. 360i

Basing their marketing off search and social, 360i combines their talent and analytical prowess to create effective marketing campaigns. Social media is just a small segment of what they’re capable of, but they’re still as masterful at managing social accounts as anyone.

6. BigFuel

BigFuel does everything big – especially social. With recent campaigns involving influencers like Kim Kardashian, their standard campaign is meant to make an enormous splash, making sure that whatever brand they’re promoting is gaining large-scale attention.

7. Ignite

Ignite Social Media isn’t just a premier marketing firm – they literally created social media marketing. Named the top social media agency of the year across the world, Ignite has been a constant presence in social since they started over 10 years ago.

8. Edelman Digital

Edelman Digital is the 800-pound gorilla that is always looking to find out what’s going to be the next best practice in social media marketing. As a result, their campaigns tend to leap off the screen and leave a lasting impression. Look no further than their content which is just about as ambitious as content can get.

9. Havas

From analytics to content, Havas is striving to provide their clients with everything they need to make a strong social impression. Their clients range across the board from alcohol to video gaming. They’re globally based, so you’re bound to run into some of their work online no matter where you live.

10. Attention Global

Attention Global has proven their commitment to creativity by opening a large new facility specifically for creative minds. These guys have been a presence in SMM for a while, so their methods are always bound to make an impact.

11. Blue Bear Creative

Millennials make up a large part of social platforms, so Blue Bear Creative focuses on targeting millennials with their campaigns. From gathering data to making impressions, millennials are the focus of their work – and they do it well.

12. PowerPost

Content is king online, and PowerPost creates content that cuts through. They’re always paying attention to breaking news and trends, and they create and edit content faster than your social followers will be able to notice. A string of recent acquisitions shows their dedication to growing in the field, and they aren’t showing signs of slowing down.

Expect a lot out of these social media agencies over the next year. It will be exciting to see how they traverse new platforms as they emerge and leverage any updates to current platforms.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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