Google partnered with Penguin to create Storytime Hangouts, enabling absent parents to place themselves within bedtime stories and read them to their children on screen, from wherever they may be. It’s a free app, available via Google+, meaning any number of contacts can be invited in and given characters. Get it here: http://ow.ly/lND9B
SIX SECOND ANDROID
Vine just launched on Android, bringing six-second fun to a whole new audience. The Twitter-owned app already has 13m iPhone users, and downloads on Android are sure to be strong – although the features differ slightly, and do not allow sharing direct to Facebook. http://ow.ly/lNEAD
But Vine creativity continues to make waves, as demonstrated at The Joy of Six: http://ow.ly/lNEFa
Facebook has followed Twitter’s lead and introduced verified pages for big entities. Currently they’re proactively choosing the biggest and most active Pages to receive the blue tick and are not taking requests. http://ow.ly/lNFNL
This month, Wired asks why Facebook has been put (back) in the Wall Street doghouse. A lot of expectation lies in the launch of video advertising, anticipated this July – will it take off and give stock a much needed lift? http://ow.ly/lNGeI
ADS IN THE AIR
In fact, Wired attributes a degree of the network’s market failing to Facebook’s ‘conventional’ ads – just as we see an Ads overhaul and streamlining. Changes are informed by marketer behavior, and cull features like Offers and Questions, bringing the current total of 27 ad variants down about 50%. Roll-out is unspecified, and will most likely be staggered, with big spenders getting the new products first. http://ow.ly/lNHkW
Burberry adds to an already extensive list of digital credentials with a new partnership with BAFTA. The fashion heavyweight will celebrate and support stars of film, television, and more interestingly gaming, through the newly formed Breakthrough Brits initiative. http://ow.ly/lNI8B
WHO NEEDS WORDS?
Why write a press release when you could make a GIF? Nike had the exact same thought. They just launched the P-Rod 7 in flashing graphic form, supposedly to reflect the ‘perpetual motion’ of skating, but mainly to look cool. Enjoy the ride here: http://ow.ly/lNK6c
Grumpy Cat is going to Hollywood. Last year’s Meme of the Year will be starring in a ‘Garfield-like feature film’ thanks to Broken Road Productions. We suspect she doesn’t really care. http://ow.ly/lNJ2R
Leeds University put on a panel session at the IPA on Monday evening for its alumni, discussing "Do marketeers have a love-hate relationship with social media?". There was an impressive panel, with Nancy Cruickshank (an entrepeneur at companies including handbag.com and now MyShowcase.com, as well as launch CEO at Weve), Lindsay Nuttall (Head of Marketing at BBC1 and BBC Drama, previously at ASOS and Channel 4), and Ruby Quince (Digital Director at Freud Communications). The panel was headed up by Nicola Mendelsohn, the Chairman at Karmarama and until recently, the President at the IPA.
The panel all love social media - being early adopters of digital, their careers have all obviously benefitted from this endorsement of social. More importantly, the value that social media has brought to the businesses and brands they work on has been invaluable.
The biggest value of social for the panel was the closeness it brought to the consumer - it is now easier than ever for a consumer not only to have a voice, but to contribute to the way the business is run.
It can be all to easy to dismiss consumer complaints as trolling, but Lindsay had an interesting example early on in the launch of ASOS in the US. A man was bombarding the Facebook page with negative posts - and when Lindsay got directly in touch with him, she found that he was living in Manhattan and working for a big, creative global brand. He had a complaint about his delivery - and then wasn't happy with the way he was handled afterwards. Once Lindsay and ASOS listened, and addressed his problems, it meant that he stopped posting all over the ASOS Facebook page, but more importantly, stopped his complaints to what would have been an influential group of friends and colleagues in New York. This is important, as his presence on social meant that ASOS could fix the consumer's problem - but also helped ASOS to manage their perception and reputation to a group of early adopters of ASOS.
It shows how important and valuable social is - even when it means having negative feedback on something you've worked hard on, from someone you don't know - and without the politeness filter the internet and a keyboard can often remove. ASOS could learn from the man's issues, and improve their business as a consequence.
In 2013, there are so many different touchpoints the consumer can have at any one point - and if they can purchase something from your online store at 3am in the morning, surely they should be able to contact someone at the other end of Twitter or Facebook. There is a growing need to shift our customer relations to 24/7 availability.
The panel suggested that rather than a "love-hate" relationship with social media, businesses can have a "love-fear" relationship instead. Social can be a daunting task, with multiple channels - and a consumer complaint can quickly get out of hand if it isn't dealt with quickly and effectively. The panel had interesting ways of dealing with this - Nancy gets a text every time someone tweets, so she is able to reply straight away. For Nancy, there is no longer the divide between "in real life" and on the internet - she is always behind a keyboard - just different ones at different points of the day.
It was also interesting to hear Nancy expand a little more on monitoring social - when to moderate, and when not to. With Handbag.com, she found that their best moderators were the community themselves. They were so loyal to Handbag, that they were the best judge of when someone was inappropriate - and when someone was controversial, but shouldn't be censored. Again, it was this idea of "love-fear" relationship - social media is always valuable, but can be ridiculously daunting for the person behind it - and actually, trusting the community worked really well for Handbag.com.
Another point all the panel agreed on was how important it is for the highest up in the business to be interested in social media, and fully appreciate the value it brings to their business - it can't be something just left to junior team members. Burberry was used as one example - both the CEO and Christopher Bailey went to to Silicon Valley to visit Facebook, Google, Twitter etc, and they were determined to become the best case studies of using these platforms.
Similarly, Lindsay talked about how the ASOS CEO would go onto the street outside the office and talk to their target audience on the street. Social is a way to be monitoring this conversation at all times - and if the CEO is constantly on top of what is being said about their company, the rest of their team are going to follow suit.
I've also heard something similar about the CEO of O2 - he looks through Twitter in the evening, sometimes contacting people talking about O2 himself. With the failure of the O2 mast last year, the panel also talked about the success of O2's social after this event. For the first few hours, O2 was replying to complaints with a standard line from their press release - and consumers were getting more irate. And then suddenly, they started replying to people in a fun and interesting way. The account became humanised, and people actually enjoyed having a conversation with the network who they'd been complaining about in the first place. The most important thing with this was the trust that had been given to the people running the account - they were able to do their job well, without being scared of moving away from corporate speech.
The panel also talked about data, and how much knowledge about consumer habits businesses can get from this. Businesses could have the ability to know the exact conditions that someone is more likely to buy something, and position themselves to take advantage of this effectively. Lindsay had a particularly interesting insight - when the BBC was recently doing a review of broadcasters worldwide, they found that no one has really started to use data as a tool for content generation. The networks still rely on the writers. I can imagine this is something that will divide our agency – when creativity is so core to our way of working, trying to measure or rely on data to generate creativity seems like a scary prospect. But then, I'd be interested to see what sort of things HBO, or the BBC would produce by using data from millions of people to generate the content.
In the panel discussion, there were a few ways that would be good to see working better with social media. It would be great to be able to get a more connected user journey that linked Facebook, Google, websites browsed: more effective, comprehensive and universal measuring tools. There was also a discussion about linking social more directly to ROI - people can both interact with a brand, and buy their product with a couple of clicks. I'll be interested to see how e-commerce gets more integrated with social media over the coming years. Of course, mobile was also talked about - this year, 30% of all shopping on Boxing Day was done through mobile - and this number is only going to continue to go up.
The panel were all immensely passionate about social media, and couldn't say one thing they hated about it. Social media can sometimes be difficult, as it brings you closer than ever to a demanding consumer. However, ultimately, the consumer is the one interacting with your brand or business - and actually if you listen to them, they can help you improve and bring a lot more value to your business. Social media is here to stay, and at its most effective if it is loved from the very top of the business.
Facebook have announced the ‘Facebook phone’ – or rather a set of apps, called Home, which can be downloaded on to Android phones to put the social network at the very heart of your device. It launches on 12 April, alongside an HTC phone which will come with Home as standard. http://ow.ly/jLKxc
Custom audiences allow Facebook marketers to enter data collected offline about their target markets from various CMS systems– be it phone numbers, addresses or Facebook user IDs – as the target for their ads on the network. Facebook then match up the data with their user database, ensuring that ads are accessible to a wider range of marketers, regardless of their prowess on Facebook. It’s expanded and more open to third parties than ever. http://ow.ly/jLLpe
If Home wasn’t enough, you can also make video calls through the Facebook Messenger app over WiFi. It’s a completely free app downloaded from iTunes, and just requires your call buddy to have Messenger open somewhere on their device. http://ow.ly/jLLVi
Google Keep has officially launched, providing an integrated note-taking function into the Googlesphere (i.e. Drive). It works in a similar way to Evernote, syncing as you jot things down. http://ow.ly/jLMfD
Twitter have taken their Cards feature to the next level, allowing app developers to bring their product to their audience directly deep-linked within the tweet. It could be a moneymaker in the future, if the app makers are charged for clicks gained from their tweets. http://ow.ly/jLMGC
Arguably something all of Ad Land should apply to, Camp Grounded is a summer camp for technology-fatigued adults who want to take four days off from the digital world and get back to basics with nature. Activities include archery, yoga and marshmallow roasting. http://ow.ly/jLOUf
As it is announced that libraries will be archjving the web, the British Library have curated a list of their top 100 websites. It’s a fascinating mix that pits giants like eBay and Amazon against more niche gems like Shit London and The Dracula Society. http://ow.ly/jLN84
Louboutin have enhanced their social offering specifically for their ecommerce launch in China – they’re now on Weibo, Tudou and Youku. http://ow.ly/jLPpQ
Are you a part of The Fox Problem? It’s the first ‘TV’ series to be streamed out of a Google Hangout. Tune in on Tuesdays from 7.30pm. http://ow.ly/jLPBu
If you ever smashed an iPhone, this one’s for you. Your device may learn to shift its mass mid-fall, saving its soul from shattering. http://ow.ly/jLQ4K
Mark Zuckerberg and his colleagues last week announced major redesigns to the Facebook News Feed. In a live stream press statement, they outlined three main areas of change which they hope mirror the ever-changing ways in which people around the world use the network.
Facebook want to create a richer, more beautiful News Feed, without the ‘clutter’ surrounding the stories which bring people to the platform
Photos become central to the stream, which is now two, not three, columns wide. This allows all posts, whether image, text, video or ad, to take up the majority of screen space, with more prominence given to visual assets
Links to articles/news sources are displayed in a magazine format, with more prominent headlines, longer summaries and a publisher’s icon
The News Feed will continue to highlight news and events from liked Pages
CHOICE OF FEEDS
A drop down menu will allow users to choose which stream of content they want to view
Demand for all news to be collated in one place has resulted in the ‘All Friends’ feed, so you never miss a single movement
New feeds include Music, Photos and Following, which will show only the news from the Pages and public figures that you have liked
Much of the design has come from Facebook’s work on mobile, using minimal screen space to prioritise key features and utilities
The pop-out black bar, which many are used to seeing on the left hand side of their mobile app, now comes to desktop, eliminating the right hand bar (previous home of Ticker, Chat and ad space)
Facebook have worked hard to create consistency across numerous devices and screens, which should create a better user experience for all users, wherever they are and whatever they’re using
These three aspects come together to form what Zuckerberg calls ‘a personalised newspaper’ – drawing on both personal and public news sources, in various formats, to create a more colourful feed. These are the stories without clutter; note too that Facebook no longer use their full name as a logo, but a more simple, streamlined ‘f’ to demonstrate their back seat role.
Rollout will be slow and considered – users can sign up now, but it will be some time until we see the new designs on the majority of profiles.
For advertisers and Page owners, whose Reach has been significantly damaged in recent months due to Facebook’s internal mistakes, questions mainly surround the anticipated effectiveness of paid media on the new News Feed. Facebook maintain that nothing about how users interact with ads has changed – however the sheer prominence of posts in the new feed, in terms of pixel space, is undoubtedly a bonus.
The algorithm which determines who sees your Page’s news will remain unchanged, although the focus on images discussed here might suggest a return to image-led assets, after a period of experimentation with text-only updates.
Advertisers should also consider the placing of their brand’s posts in the new Following feed. Brand posts used to sit intermingled with personal news; however they can now be viewed in stark contrast to each other, within the same forum. For advertisers with major competitors within similar Facebook demographics, it is more important than ever that Facebook content is creative enough to engage and enthuse both current and potential fans.
A fortnight of news from the digital-social sphere.
Facebook are trialling a ‘buy tickets’ function, which could further tie the platform to the intricacies of your social life. Not only would the Facebook calendar become integral, but it poses questions as to how they can make money out of potential commissions from the big ticket sites. It’s currently available in the Netherlands, but keep an eye out for the ‘Buy Tickets’ button on your event invites.
BMW scored highly when they took a design idea submitted by a four-year old child to their Facebook page and made it real. Charmingly it features 42 wheels, 19 engines, 8721 horsepower and a trunk full of toys.
A recent study shows that videos posted on Facebook through the native video functionality, rather than linking to YouTube, gain a 40% higher interaction rate. But why? Well, being native, there are more places for Facebook to showcase such content, e.g. in the Fan Page gallery, and more importantly in this day and age, they perform better on mobile (as opposed to a YouTube redirect). It seems however that we are still eerily attached to YouTube, with Page admins posting 3684 YouTube links over 458 Facebook videos in January alone.
Amex have partnered with Twitter to allow their customer to sync their card with their social account, in turn letting them make purchases with the use of special hashtags. You simply tweet your reply to the offered deals and products alongside the hashtag, wait for Amex to reply, and the purchase is made. Initial deals were made on Kindles, Xbox, Sony cameras and jewellery. It has received a mixed reaction – Twitter isn’t known for its social commerce – and only time will tell whether tweeters are ready and willing to drop cash through the platform.
Gaffe of the fortnight goes to Burger King, whose account was hacked and briefly displayed a McDonald’s avatar, whilst making slurs against its competitors and generally offending everyone around. Weirdly though, it piqued everyone’s attention and gained them 450,000 mentions and over 30,000 new followers.
Heineken USA stepped in on February 14 to help its charming army of lads who had forgotten to book a dinner table for V Day. Stragglers simply had to #tweetforatable and let the brand do the work. They promised they would be ‘cool, man of the world’ restaurants – only a few lucky ladies would be able to confirm that claim.
In bigger news, Twitter have finally released an Ads API, allowing partners to easily manage marketing on the site. They’ve chosen five partners for the initial launch – Adobe, HootSuite, Salesforce, SHIFT and TBG Digital – and the hope is to make advertising on the platforms better for both brand and consumer.
Ray Bans and Instagram are a match made in hipster heaven. It’s therefore no surprise that the sunglass giant have created their own in-store filtering service, allowing fans to submit photos and get them reinvented through their Ambermatic lens. It’s another ironic twist in digital photography.