— blending the mix

That was the week in social 13th December 2013

Getting through thousands of pieces of content per week, I figured that there would be some value in sharing some of those most relevant pieces in a weekly blog post. Like Scott’s, this also goes around various people within the Telefonica business to help them keep track of the major changes and trends in social media.

I’ll be putting this out every week as a bit of a wrap for the week but if you want to make sure you get this and any other posts I put out on the blog, make sure you subscribe here. So, after a break for a few Christmas Party shenanigans…

That was the week in social 13th December 2013 

Platforms

Its been quite a week or so…add a healthy dose of Facebook blackmail, sprinkle in some Instagram and Twitter DM changes and ‘hey-presto’, you’ve got a couple of pretty significant platform pivots on your hands…but at least new Foursquare will give you some recommendations wherever you may find yourself…

Facebook

So Blackmail may be a bit strong, but the evidence coming out of a couple of sources, and highlighted by the table below (and accompanying Facebook document) suggests that the screw is being turned on brands. Tests carried out by US social agency Ignite, suggest that organic reach of page content has dropped 44% since changes to how news is delivered to the Facebook newsfeed. Estimated organic reach is now just 2.5%, some drop from even the shocking 16%, Facebook quoted in April 2012.

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Note that only ONE Page saw any kind of increase sine the December changes (left column).

However, playing devil’s advocate here, there is a lot of sense to what Facebook say in justifying the need to boost (pay) previously organic posts. Newsfeed is a crowded space at the best of times, and screen space on mobile is even more precious – and its 1.19bn users spend an incredible 50% of their time on newsfeed. Mess newsfeed up and you lose your power.

Limited-space-aside there’s also a really interesting play from Facebook in its ambitions to be a LinkedIn Pulse-style personalised newspaper (they even use this term in the document explaining why you need to pay to be seen!) and is something which VP of Product, Chris Cox has long-advocated. 

facebook-newsfeed-photo-380x253The ability to personalise or be delivered a personalised news feed makes Facebook so relevant to you that you would include scanning your newsfeed as routinely as you may have done a newspaper. And just look at how many people are now using Facebook as a source of current affairs and news (Pew chart below). So where do brands fit in to this? Tough one to call. In the olde print worlde, you might argue that they would have to pay for visibility which we called ad-vert-ising…so should we be surprised that we are now being asked to pay for visibility?

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Here’s my two-penneth FWIW:

1) Wasted investment – what possible value can we now derive from the invested-in Page communities? Has this been wasted investment? Given that apps/tabs are unusable on mobile, is the once “glorious” Page now resigned to merely another customer service outlet? The role of the branded Page in a mobile, news feed-first needs a major rethink – by both brands and Facebook. 

2) We have a target – at least marketers have something to aim for – the newsfeed. It should open up an interesting strategy debate about the value and role of the News feed as an entity which hosts conversation. Think of the switch as being the difference between bumping in to a friend in the street versus sitting down for a coffee with them. You were not their point of focus so make the interruption attractive and worthwhile.

Sympathy – ever ‘liked’ someone’s death? #awkward eh?! Don’t worry, Facebook has a “Sympathy” button in development to address those awkward times when you share the sentiment but you clearly don’t like it!

Value of a Logged-In User – social sign-in has been the lazy marketers way to get people to sign-up to services – and good on them. It‘s familiar behaviour, easy to do and opens up the gates for incredible social data gathering – except few people ever either do or analyse the latter. Here’s some interesting insights from people who have done all three! Interesting reading.

We’ve all got a psychopath as a friend right?? Some interesting work here looking at personality types which have been determined by status updates. If one of your friends says they have Dark Triad tendencies…be careful!

Twitter

Twitter’s had a coupe of interesting announcements in the last couple of weeks. The first being tailored audiences (i know, there should be a ‘u’ in taloured!). Like Facebook’s Custom Audiences targeting, brands can now target Twitters users with ads based on their previous browsing habits.

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Apparently early results have been excellent with Hubspot seeing a 45% increase in engagement and Krossover, a sports analysis firm seeing a 74% reduction in CPA. Good, early promise. Handset sales is a no-brainer…

DM Pictures – remember how cool we thought it was that with snapchat et al., we could send picture messages to a controlled number of people – well now you can do that via Twitter. Kind of cool, but another example of how the new messaging apps need to look at what additional value they can bring as the big boys catch on to what is pretty simple functionality.

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Privacy 360 in 24 hours – Twitter made changes to its blocking functionality which still allowed the blocked person to read, favourite and RT their “victim’s” tweets. Kinda defeating the point of blocking someone. Users revolted and Twitter reversed the changes overnight so that blocked, now properly means blocked. William Shatner saved the day…#notreally

Instagram

And keeping up with the Jones’s comes the news that you can now send Instagrams via DM too…they called it Instagram Direct. #imaginative #not Cute video though!

It’s been about a month since Instagram started offering ads – so what’s the impact so far – definitely higher engagement levels for sure. I’d wager that this is more to do with the guaranteed visibility of the ads in and amongst a somewhat less sophisticated news feed than Facebook, but clearly attention breeds engagement. But will it convert to £/$/whatever…nobody has/dare say…yet…

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Foursquare

Do you remember Foursquare? Course you do…it’s the technology that powers Pinterest’s Place Pins…no? Some people used it to check-in to places a long, long time ago and the active ones were called Mayors (amongst other things)…Here’s a really interesting article about how though, they are looking to deliver a much sought-after innovation and really deliver some value from the immense quantities of location data it has.

UK readers may well use VoucherCloud  which for some time has attempted to automatically deliver location-based deals but the new Foursquare is attempting to deliver much more than that. The big challenge with all location-based services is that they require an interruptive check-in to deliver something of value. Foursquare aims to change all that, offering unprompted but relevant hints, tips and deals based on your current location. A location utopia.

Google/YouTube/Google+

Thought Google Glass was just for early adopters? Yeah, maybe you’re right but following a second release of sales, Google Glass now has its eyes (and ears!) firmly set on an established market – music. Now with its own Google Glass Play Music app and recently announced Glass earbuds, you cant help but think that the sea of smartphone screens at gigs may be the beginning of the end…

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Oh…and finally, an admission that things didn’t go quite so well about the YouTube/Google+ comments integration. More work needed there methinks…

Payments

Some more interesting news on mobile payments this week with Square (the payments startup founded by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey) having acquired startup Evenly. Square is a payments processing device that plugs in to smartphones and allows transactions to happen very easily by almost retailer. Evenly is a tool that allows payments to be sent and received easily between friends via an app.

With the fast-moving nature of the collaborative economy and self-production omnipresent, it’s not a big stretch of the imagination to think that we’re all going to become retailers. Selling our time on Google Helpouts is further proof.

Research and Insights

Some interesting charts to round off this week for you!

Pinterest is unstoppable at the moment. Almost 20% of shared content in Q3 2013 was to Pinterest. This was up 4% from Q2 and set amongst the backdrop of a drop to 41% (from 50%) of Facebook.

Gigya-Social-Sharing-Destination-Preferences-in-Q3-Dec2013

The mobile gaming market is in good health and only going to get bigger by 2016, emarketer predicts. Mobile phone gaming clearly accelerates, but tablet gaming nearly triples.

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Really interesting piece about the needs to manage the always-on consumer looking at time spent on various devices (US-based):

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Summary

So, I think this week, it’s been interesting to see how both Twitter and Instagram have responded to the direct competition of the Snapchats etc. in delivering private image-based messages. It’s a clear indication of the changing habits of users, but also a reminder that the next big thing is not quite here yet.

The biggest current challenge though, sits around the role that Facebook plays for brands. If users are naturally erring towards news feed and unpaid visibility is declining, is it worth continuing to invest in an entity (the Page) that even within Facebook appears to be falling down the pecking order? Sure, Facebook ads deliver good returns and social signals on ads convert even better, but these all feel hollow if the Pages to which they are attached are devoid of value.

There’s certainly a challenge to made to Facebook to do something with Pages, especially in the mobile-first space. It’s nearly two years since timeline was introduced for Pages (March 2012) and almost nothing has changed since then. Shifting apps to tabs has rendered anything of real value redundant on mobile, whilst the change of long-standing rules to allow competition entry by like or comment feels like the last act of a desperate man.

It’s easy to be over-dramatic with all of these things but the smart brand is the one recognising declining organic visibility, declining engagement, increasing competition, increasing competitive ad spend…and a future where, on the face of it, the deepest pockets will win out.

Mobile-first social networking is changing Facebook’s role…so where is your money going…

And finally…

And because it’s Christmas, a reminder that you don’t have to be fancy or clever to win at social. Just create memorable, shareable experiences. Like WestJet Airlines:

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