Insights

The End of ‘Happy Wednesday’

 
 

It’s now likely that Facebook will be the first major social media platform to go to zero per cent organic reach. This means all that effort you’ve put into building a community on Facebook will be wasted as no-one will ever see your content again.

Unless you pay to promote it. And if you’re paying, your content had better perform.

We’ve known for a while that Facebook’s algorithm restricts the flow of content to your news feed so that you’ll only see what it thinks you’ll find the most relevant. Controversially, in March 2012 Facebook announced it was restricted to 16%.


There was a backlash from disgruntled businesses who, having invested their time nurturing communities, now understood why they weren’t getting through to anything like the numbers they’d expected.

Wind forward to 2014 and this organic reach is fast approaching zero. So Facebook, in its post-IPO enlightenment, has come up with a neat solution for brands who aren’t reaching. It called ‘money’ and if you give some of yours to Facebook, you can ‘promote’ a post and some of your community will then see it.

In fairness, though, it’s not all Facebook manipulating its own algorithms for financial gain. Consider the clutter of your own news feed: several hundred friends and brands, all being increasingly active with their content vying for your attention – if there wasn’t some sort of filter, there wouldn’t be enough time in the day to review it all.

But is Facebook alone? No, certainly not in its need to drive revenues. And no, certainly not in its need to somehow limit or filter content from ever-expanding and more active user bases.

So if the future is paid-for rather than organic reach, suddenly social brands posting social content will come of age and become accountable. When it was free to post such mission-critical nail-biters such as ‘Happy Wednesday everyone!’, no-one cared about the post’s performance (or noticed for that matter). But in the new age of content promotion being necessary for audience retention, the bean counters are going to be all over the community managers with their ROI calculators. And quite right too.

So content-optimisation will be the social media challenge of 2015. If you have to pay for it then at least make sure it works – by which I mean it generates some sort of engagement, because as we know, engagement is good.

The performance of content is the new king. Now financial brands will need to become expert in understanding subconscious MINDSPACE behavioural cues as much as the impact of time of day or tone of voice or the importance of saliency to maximise performance of each and every post.

Our analysts and community managers have developed their own ‘C-O’ tools and they’re already in high demand. Wednesdays will never be the same.

Olly Honess is a senior account manager for social agency @cubaka.

 

Is the Demise of Sharing Closer Than We Think?

 
1455278476586.jpeg
 

As humans, sharing stems from our innate need to reach out, share experiences and form a bond with those around us.  Google’s Abigail Posner refers to sharing as an energy exchange that intensifies our pleasure and it is something we are hardwired to do.

Following the rise of social networking platforms through the privacy spectrum, oversharing has reached the extreme, and the signs are indicating it’s about time we moved back to the humble idea of ‘undersharing’.
It’s fascinating that complete strangers most probably know more about us than our own friends and family. Twitter is a platform that fuels this familiarity because it is instant and encourages users to pour out their stream of thoughts. It’s unsurprising how much information can be gathered about where someone lives, where they work, what gym they go to, where they have their lunch.  And the scary thing about it is that whatever data we put online stays online; the internet is forever.

Some would argue that if you’re using social media, emphasis on the word social, you shouldn’t demand privacy or be anti-social with your information, but there are huge neon signs pointing at the fact that people want privacy. The popularity of platforms like Snapchat and WhatsApp solidifies that notion.

The instantaneous and momentary nature of Snapchat allows us to share photos with friends without leaving traceable data breadcrumbs. Whatsapp does the same but is more intimate and leaves room for deeper interactions in various forms with people we know. Even app developers are responding to the signs and creating anti-social networking apps that make it possible for you to avoid people in real life that you don’t necessarily want to speak to.

It has been ten years since Facebook came into the scene, yet it feels like millenials want the opposite of everything Facebook represents. Some say their participation on platforms like Facebook have decreased because it is swamped with oversharers. Millenials want more control over their social circles and what content they share and receive.

There is a shift towards undersharing. Inevitably, this will have an impact on marketers and their social presence as a result of less traceability and declining participation numbers in the form of likes, shares, comments and retweets. Should we continue to see a rise in  ‘secretive’ apps and platforms, it many brands could be forced to seriously reconsider their social strategies.

Aisha Kareem is a social media intern at Cubaka.

 

The Scary Thing Is, Our Autopilot Is Terrible at Strategy

 

Everyone with a passing interest in behavioural science knows that we humans make most of our decisions using our ‘autopilot’, which bypasses our need to think too much about what we’re doing. In marketing strategy, we need to be wary of our autopilot in order to make good long-term decisions for our clients. In social marketing strategy, we need to be more than just aware of our autopilot – we need to be damn right afraid of its influence over our decision-making!

Why? Because our autopilot loves how social platforms work, especially how they feedback to us. They make it all too easy to make decisions based on misleading social cues that don’t necessarily help us to develop solid long-term strategy. 

Let’s think about this for a moment in terms of three behaviour heuristics – tangibility, immediacy and certainty – and how they apply when managing social content.

We’ll see that social media platforms work in a way that actively encourages autopilot thinking rather than the conscious thinking we require to develop effective strategies for our clients.

Tangibility:

Each social platform has its own reward system in place. For Facebook it’s Likes, Shares and comments; for Twitter it’s RTs; Pinterest has Pins, and so on. We naturally know these things to be ‘good’ and we are rewarded when we see them. Even though we know that this isn’t necessarily an indication of marketing effectiveness, we can’t control our autopilot, which rewards us for receiving RTs and Likes. Try not to feel anything next time you see a Like on your content – not easy, is it?

To compound this problem, there is a less tangible and less measurable link between our social content and the business metrics of our clients. Sometimes you will never have the answer to how much social affected loyalty or brand preference; little wonder it’s easy to become preoccupied with Likes and follower numbers.

Finally, the costs of producing social content are relatively low compared to most marketing. This means that the tangible pain of spending money (for the client) is lower. What does this mean? That clients are more willing to approve larger quantities of social content as the perceived pain is lower than for other marketing channels. Quantity, however, does not guarantee quality.

Immediacy:

Social strategists benefit from the power of immediacy more than their counterparts in any other marketing discipline. We can post something onto Facebook and within minutes (or even seconds), we have secured our reward in the form of likes and so on. This rapid feedback loop is potentially dangerous as it can blindside us to the truth. We are automatically programmed to obey our reward system which is concerned only with the here and now, rather than the bigger picture or longer term goals.

The immediacy of reward in social media therefore poses a threat to long-term and integrated strategy as it encourages us to focus on the short-term gains.

Certainty:

As the cycle of tangible and immediate rewards continues, norms are developed. Community managers learn from their experience concerning which content ‘works’ (and bear in mind that this could be based on tangible rewards such as Likes rather than less tangible business metrics) and begin to value the content strategy they have above the risk of developing a new content strategy, eve if it isn’t the most sound strategy to help meet the client’s business goals.

In addition, we evaluate our content in the context of competitor activity, and since this is also developed with the immediacy of tangible rewards (such as Likes) in mind, a social norm is set for how social content should behave. It’s one of the reasons you see so many pictures of cats.

Strategists need to be better than this if we are to avoid weak plans. We need to be aware of the limitations of our own autopilot whilst at the same time realising that we can use this understanding to create more effective content that affects consumer buying behaviour.

Isn’t it about time we seized the controls from our autopilot?

Olly Honess is a Senior Account Manager for social agency @cubaka.

 

The Dark Side of Social Media

 

 

We’ve all been kept up to date with the Winter Olympics in Sochi and the struggle for Great Britain to win more gold. With Gordon Brown having sold most of the UK’s gold many years ago, it’s much needed. Speed skater Elise Christie has been the focus of much media attention over the last few days but it seems for the wrong reasons. She won silver, then disqualified, raced again, disqualified again…seems to be a theme arising.

Sadly, she was targeted online via Twitter by trolls having suffered this misfortune. “I have had a few people threatening me, cyber bullying basically, so it’s been a tough few days”. Christie explained. “I have to deal with abuse on the internet. So I have found it hard but it’s not always about the medals”.

The cyber bully is a fairly new phenomenon. Several people in the UK have been imprisoned for “trolling” and it’s increasingly making the headlines. Recent new stories include Tom Daley, Rebecca Adlington and Stan Collymore.

Brands get attacked too. So what do you do if you, your company or client are overcome by cyber bullying? Well the larger social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are under some pressure from the Government to tighten their security to help quash trolls and the potential damage they can do. Here are my top tips:

  1. Like playground tactics, if someone’s bullying you, ignore them. I realise this doesn’t always work, so you have other options.
  2. Each social media channel worth its salt offers owners or admins the chance to easily block and report spammers and trolls, swiftly removing them from your online space. This is now often administered by a click on the post.
  3. If that doesn’t work, reach out to that social media platform and log a complaint. I stress that it’s worth taking the time to build a relationship with a representative from the channel(s) you use. They often have the power to block, officially report and work with the police, in extreme cases, to take these little people off the internet.

Further to Christie’s bad luck on the ice, she’s taken down her Twitter handle too. From a brand’s perspective this isn’t the answer, but I hope you find some of the points above useful if you come across something similar.

Personally, I like the Urban Dictionary’s definition of a troll: “Being a prick on the internet because you can”, with a strong emphasis on the first three words in that description.

Oliwer Kmiecik is Social Media Manager for Toyota & Lexus GB at cubaka. Follow him on Twitter @carbonollie.

 

Social Media Experts: Get Ready to Be Placed Under the Microscope

 

This week it emerged via AdAge that Facebook are changing the way non-paid engagement works, effectively increasing the price of reach. How? By reducing the reach of unpaid posts in order to encourage brands to put more budget behind paid Facebook media.

Whatever we may think of this move, effectively it will lead to an increased scrutiny on Facebook content. Clients are not going to accept a decline in reach and aren’t going to hurry to empty the coffers to pay for it (not initially anyway).

Instead, clients will be asking how they can get more ‘bang for their buck’ in terms of engagement on non-paid posts. So if you’re not already, you’ll need to think very carefully about the fundamental reasons driving people to share your content.

A knee jerk reaction may be to opt for more tactical posts to try to boost engagement – those which ask people to engage in ways that are not always relevant to the brand mission: Fill in the missing words, here, Share if you love Friday there…

But what’s really required (and always has been) is a real understanding of your audience, their motivations for Liking the brand, their relationship with your brand and, crucially, an understanding of the behavioural reasons driving them to engage with your brand.

Do you fully understand your audience? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How does your Facebook content fit into the customer experience of your brand? Your content should already be linked to your client’s business objectives, if not, take a step back and some time to re-plan your content, it’s likely to have drifted off-course.
  • Who are your audience? Are they current customers? Future customers? Why have they liked your page in the first place?
  • What sort of content performs well and why? Don’t just look at the time of day content was posted, think about the content itself  – what is it saying? Why would someone care enough to share this with their friends?

 

The latest move puts us at a crossroads for unpaid Facebook content and is a good opportunity for many of us to re-convene with clients and agree objectives for social. This, and nailing the strategy before focussing on tactics will lead to better work.

Assuming that can be done, the wider issue is this; will increasing the price of Facebook reach push content budgets into the arms of the competitors?  Only time will tell if this move from Facebook will backfire.

Olly Honess is a Senior Account Manager for social agency @cubaka.

 

It’s All About Context, You Know

 
 

With the holiday season coming up some of us might have to make trips to the airport to pick up visiting relatives. If you happen to be going to Heathrow, try to get a look at BA’s latest outdoor campaign.

Using new custom surveillance technology, the billboards tracks BA aircrafts as they pass over and shows an image of a child pointing to the plane with the copy displaying the flight number and destination before following up with a relevant sales message. Not only do I love the technology behind this campaign but I love the execution, which taps into my childhood fascination with airplanes.

Although real-time marketing isn’t exactly a new trend, it has so far been limited to Twitter (Oreo’s Super Bowl ad, pictured, being one of the most well-known examples), mainly because of the social platform gives advertisers the best opportunity to react to the latest breaking news and events.

It is already widely discussed that we are entering a new age in advertising where context is paramount but however, BA have raised the bar here, and with technologies improving all the time I expect to see many more brands trying their hand at producing entertaining and sharable content in response to events as and when they happen.

(If you aren’t going by Heathrow, BA’s ad can also be seen in Piccadilly Circus, but the context isn’t really the same there.)

Damian Pang is an Account Manager at cubaka

 

How Can Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel Move Out of His Dad’s Place?

 

Stanford dropout Evan Spiegel revealed to the Huffington Post recently that he still lives with his Dad and said that he plans to stay under the parental roof ‘until he kicks me out’.

Perhaps he’s using the long evenings in to draft his eagerly anticipated business plan to monetize the platform. Presumably if he gets that right, he’ll be packed up and into a city-centre penthouse in no time.

Whatever his ambitions for his next pad, he’s bound to be seriously considering how his creation, which is highly popular among teenagers and young adults, can work with brands.

Spiegel has already confirmed that the first phase of the monetization strategy will involve in-app transactions but let’s consider a few of the options for how marketing on Snapchat could look, and how likely it is that Spiegel can cut the apron strings and get his own place based on the strength of those ideas…

Option 1

‘This message replay is brought to you by…’

Allowing users to re-view messages is one option. Spiegel already introduced ‘stories’ earlier this year where users can choose to allow their image to be viewed over a 24hr period.  Spiegel could expand on this idea by introducing message replay options where user messages can be replayed a limited number of times. Revenue could be gleaned from brands who sponsor the replayed message.

Likelihood of Spiegel moving out: Medium

Option 2

‘You’re nearby, come and shop’

Spiegel could sell user data to retail companies who could then contact customers who are nearby with special offers and discounts to try to entice them in-store. This would be in the form of unsolicited ads that would appear in the users inbox. This is a tricky move for Snapchat and you can imagine there would a few aggravated users who find the ads a nuisance. You would also have users put off by the feeling that their behaviour is being monitored or tracked, which is counter to the disposable spirit of the platform.

Likelihood of Spiegel moving out: Medium/Low

Option 3

Product placement

It’s a safe bet that Spiegel will introduce stickers as part of their editing software. Brands could pay to be part of this package by featuring their products as sharable stickers – effectively introducing product placement within Snapchat.  This would fit pretty well within the existing platform without disrupting the user experience too much. In addition you can see how this lends itself well to reporting  (an area in which Snapchat has so far been non existent to the frustration of marketers everywhere). Perhaps ‘number of Coke bottles/Nike trainers/iphones shared on snapchat’ will soon be included in social media managers reporting…

Likelihood of Spiegel moving out: High

Whatever option/s Spiegel ends up choosing, he’s going to need to be careful to maintain an enjoyable user environment in which people feel free from aggressive monitoring and selling and that conversation is allowed to flow naturally. It would be a shame to see a turnabout in fortunes and alienate the fickle young audience.

And even sadder for Spiegel not to have his own hot tub which he surely deserves.

 
 

NB: This is by no means an exhaustive list – nor are they mutually exclusive – but are some of the more interesting options available to Spiegel in my opinion)

Olly Honess is a Senior Account Manager for social agency @cubaka.

 

Right Sentiment, Wrong Execution for British Gas

 
 

It’s very easy to look at the British Gas Twitter fiasco and condemn it as an outright disaster from start to finish… British Gas ask for customer feedback after announcing that it will be raising bills by 10% at a time when consumers are already penny pinching and worrying about the costs of heating this winter. So begins the avalanche of vitriolic comments from the Twittersphere, many of which were comedy gold.

British gas look very silly. And greedy.

So case closed, they won’t be doing that again.

But hang on…. essentially the sentiment and the reasons for doing the Tweet-in were right: British Gas should be part of the conversation and should be actively listening to what customers have to say.

Where this all falls down is the execution, which is woefully inadequate.  The Tweet-in should have been accompanied by video content form the CEO and other strands of content that explain the price rise to customers from the perspective of British Gas. To have the Tweet in as a stand-alone, unsupported piece of activity seems throwaway in relation to the scale of the announcement.

In addition, having a Tweet-in alone didn’t allow British Gas to build a case and adequately explain the price hike. They’ve brought a knife to a gunfight.

BG and other brands need to learn from this and consider the planning required to deal effectively with problematic announcements through social to avoid getting their fingers burned.

Olly Honess is a Senior Account Manager for social agency @cubaka.

 

Why Instagram Is #Instagood for Consumer Brands

 
 

Instagram – the photo-sharing app that alerted us all to the whimsical majesty of blurry effects and high contrast sepia aesthetics is, in my opinion, a must for brands.

The winning blend of audience and purpose, make Instagram a no-brainer for the savvy B2C social media marketer looking to create some sought after brand buzz. The app exists to make otherwise banal photos resemble David Bailey originals, and just last week, global monthly active usage topped 150 million.

While Instagram is a community space, from my experience, user focus isn’t about building and nurturing a large following in the way same way that it is on Twitter – Instagram is about developing advocacy, and fast.

In certain contexts – a product launch for example; the value of a like on Instagram is more than one received on a Facebook post. The reason for this is that the content contains no copy and doesn’t link to anything. Users simply like what they see.

Marketers are wising up to the benefits of Instagram too – ever-so-slightly ominously-titled Austrian luxury hotel ‘1888’, is offering Instagram users with more than 10,000 followers a night on the house in exchange for some Valencia-filtered love.

In July, Instagram added video to its remit, and in doing so, it has made its only serious rival, Vine, sink – think Miley Cyrus headlining the Reading Festival.

If you have an iPhone or Android phone (who doesn’t?) then now is the time to get on board with Instagram, before it starts serving ads, and while many brands still don’t have a clue how to use it.

By Eliott Farr, Social Media Publisher for Toyota at cubaka.

 

Twerking Can Help Your Social Business

 
blog_06.png
 

There is a video that’s gone viral on YouTube entitled “Worst Twerk Fail EVER – Girl Catches Fire!“. The video is of a girl ‘twerking’ (Google it…) whilst doing a hand-stand, leaning up against a door and guess what…someone walks in, knocking her over onto a glass table with several burning candles. She catches fire. Screaming ensues and then the video comes to an abrupt end.

The video has notched up an astonishing 11 million views in just over a week. The success of this video is down to sharing. Largely the story was picked up by US media outlets namely Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, KLTA Morning News…even Whoppi Goldberg was talking about it on her popular chat show over in the States.

 
 

In steps Jimmy Kimmel, host of a popular chat show in America: Jimmy Kimmel Live!

On his show he was talking about twerking (seriously, Google it) and how popular it has become in a short space of time. They bring up the aforementioned video and show it, only this time the full, uncut version and there’s a twist. It’s actually a video made by Jimmy Kimmel and his team and the uncut version shows Jimmy putting the girl out with a fire extinguisher at the end, previously unseen in the ‘original’ version.

Like shopping in Dubai, this is a real fake. It’s real enough that people genuinely believe it is, but scratch under the surface and it’s a setup. So, over 11 million views later we learn that we’ve been duped.

So how much of the content that ends up in your newsfeed is actually planned and executed to a tee? Well, we must remember that there is ‘brand viral content’ and ‘consumer viral content’. Interestingly ‘consumer viral content’ can often lead to a whole new generation of superstar, the YouTube superstar! This is worthy of a whole blog post in itself (did anyone say Bieber?).

‘Brand viral content’ is meticulously planned and here’s how this was a success:

– The Idea – Twerking is currently a hot topic, started by Miley Cyrus at MTVs recent Music Video Awards.
– The Planning – The creative team behind the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show.
– The Content – A superbly executed ‘fail’ style video featuring said twerking.
– The Outreach – US news channels, major new outlets and celebrities helped to spread the word.
– The Result – Already well over 11 million YouTube views…in a week.

You’ll need to be ready to invest in ideas and content to push it out as far and wide as you can, which doesn’t have to necessarily be with your target audience. You want people to talk and share, this’ll need a little help before it happens organically. This will help by using influencers in your network to amplify your message, in this case the new and celebs.

Like watching a professional athlete, an epic viral video looks effortless. However, development and publishing of such content must be carefully thought out. So, whether it’s twerking or a music video or even a car commercial, careful planning and execution could help push your content to a global audience on a massive scale.

Right, back to t’work you lot.

By Oliwer Kmiecik, Social Media Manager for Toyota at cubaka. Follow him on Twitter @carbonollie.