Social Media, Not a Baby Anymore

by Lola Rain, Director of Social Media for Eskaton

Social media matured significantly between 2015 and 2016. Experts emphasize building community engagement strategies using new technologies to measure success and deliver better ROI. This year’s trends are around hyper-focused, relevant content delivered to the right audiences. The most important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) include time spent watching videos, shares and comments. Companies must deliver content to where the people are already engaged. Consumers are now smarter and trust rich, engaging content over advertising.

During a February 2015 Social Media Summit in Las Vegas, people from around the country called themselves “Pioneers”. They shared metrics along with internal and external barriers to launching strategies and campaigns. By March 2016, the NYC Digital Marketing Innovation Summit was dominated by global attendees discussing social media success.

The contrast between 2015 and 2016 in this sector is mind blowing. Social media now falls deep into the “digital marketing” category and is no longer a standalone. Every online component is now integrated. The user moves seamlessly between platforms completely unaware if they are on a social site, a webpage or in an app. The fact is, today, 60% of consumers use smart phones and most digital consumption happens within apps says Scott Stanchak of The New York Times. No longer are marketers focused on the form factor of the device, they should be focused on the content delivery and the end-user experience.

With 40 minutes a day spent on Youtube by the average mobile user, and 41,000 Facebook posts per second across the globe, social media consumers have blossomed into everyday media moguls and peer influencers. Because of this consumption and influence every digital marketing strategy must include social. But social media is no longer a free way of advertising. AdAge predicts 2017 will be the first year digital marketing dollars will exceed TV advertising.

60% of users are now on mobile

The top three reasons someone selects one brand over another are:

#1 Access to detailed information – People will go to four websites on average looking for detailed information. They will even pull out their phones while standing in a business to get more information.

#2 Online reviews – The number one reason a person recommends a company is because of outstanding service; 90% of people believe recommendations over advertising.

#3 Price – Price is not the top objection, especially when competitively priced.

 

2016 TRENDS

  1. It’s the year of the video. Facebook changed the rules with instant watching. It’s not all about Youtube anymore. There are many video platforms now and videos should be developed to scale over all platforms.
  2. Social has aged up. Older audiences are now average users.
  3. Live streaming is growing. MeerKat and Periscope have changed the landscape.
  4. Blogs are more relevant than ever. Content drives decision making. Articles must be engaging and emotional. Blogs make it easy to publish articles and other content in a timely manner.
  5. Paid influencers are declining. Influencers are everyday people.
  6. Facebook’s Instant Articles now allows anyone to publish interactive articles quickly.

 What type of content is being utilized?

81% Articles          76% Videos        62% Infographics      61% Webinars   22% Podcasts*

*Podcasts are being underutilized

Key Takeaways from 2016 Digital Marketing Innovations Summit NYC

  • “Social is the fuel of the new marketing engine,” said Tami Cannizzaro from Ebay marketing.
  • 70% of Tweets go unanswered. Not answering a Tweet is like leaving a caller on hold. (Ebay)
  • Social media has moved to a pay to play format in just 2 years. Companies pay for written content, sponsored content and influencers.
  • CMOs are investing in social marketing with budgets and staff.
  • Understand how your content is being engaged with. “Sharing at the end of the day is the ultimate KPI,” says Ken Nelson, Odyssey’s Chief Strategy Officer.
  • “Build brand and earn your [online] citizenship at the same time,” said Alexander Chung, BuzzFeed. Co-exist traditional advertising with new Internet communities.
  • “If you don’t have something worth sharing, it isn’t going to go anywhere,” said Chung.
  • Make small bets with lean production, share as an insider (not outsider) and create a feedback loop for learning. Test, fail, test. Let data drive content.
  • 73% of consumers prefer to get content from articles not ads. (Time Inc.)
  • “There is no such thing as good content. There is only content in context,” said content strategist Melanie Deziel (@mdeziel), formerly of NYT and Huffington Post.
  • The funnel does not dictate the path to purchase.
  • Master the emotion, not product conversation.
  • Know your audience: Where do they hang out and who do they trust? We have so much detailed info about customers, but what drives them? How do they use content?

Why, Verizon Wireless Website? Why?

Willamette Week CoverHave you ever been to a Website, encountered something and couldn’t find it again? I believe this has happened to 99% of us.

Many people, especially those over the age of 40, may call customer service and proclaim: “Your Website isn’t working right.” The competent help desk employee on the other end first asks: “Is your computer plugged in? Is it turned on? Are you sure there isn’t a blackout?”

Once he or she determines the hardware is working correctly, then the nice customer service rep addresses the user competence. Often by the end of the call, the user feels very incompetent and highly frustrated.

On the other hand, if the user is under 40, most likely they just chalk it up to “It’s the Internet: A flawed creature that we deal with because there is no other way.” It’s similar to driving down a street that needs paving. It may be bumpy, we might lose a hubcap, but its the only way to get to work and get home.

As a person who has created many websites with development expenses as great as $250,000 (and as little as $1,200), I can tell you there are flaws that can be worked out, and there are flaws that cannot be worked out. The most likely reason a flaw cannot be worked out is due to a management issue. Either management is willing to pay what ever it takes to get it done right the first time, or they are not.

In the case of today’s launch of Willamette Week’s (WW) new site, www.wweek.com, I found many bugs. The trouble is not so much the bugs, they will get worked out. The problem is that WW announced the new site to Facebook users before working the bugs out. After spending 10 minutes trying to read an article and not being able to pull it up, I gave up. Good news for WW, later on that day the site worked just fine for me and it hasn’t tarnished their reputation.

www.verzonwireless.com is another site that launched a new product, but it didn’t tell its employees. As I was attempting to teach my Boomer dad how to list his top five friends and family, a pop up asked if I wanted to chat with a customer service rep. At the time I did not want to chat. But five minutes later I did and I couldn’t find a link anywhere on the site. Was I seeing things? Am I incompetent? Or did management test something new without telling anyone? I spent 20 minutes on the phone with 611 and even drove down to the VZW store to ask about this service. No one knew what I was talking about. I must have been seeing things, right?

The fundamental problem with this situation is that VZW has an in store philosophy: If someone comes to the store to complete something they could have done online, a VZW rep teaches the person how to do it — such as online bill pay or add your top five. Since I was attempting to do the work of a VZW rep by helping my dad, I had a set of expectations. 1) The site would work correctly and 2) I could easily access a customer service rep online. I guess one out of two isn’t bad.

Often we hear stories of a site launching an update and users becoming angry. Management has to make tough decisions when it comes to their users. Either the new update was part of a larger strategy or it wasn’t.

When Facebook launches a new services or interface, they stick to their guns regardless of negative responses. Twitter, they run the old and new simultaneously to give users the opportunity to adjust. But smaller sites, and businesses that operate both in the real world and online, often don’t think through the entire strategy. Unfortunately, not anticipating customer reaction can be problematic and lead to decreased satisfaction, decreased revenue, and increased expense.

The point is: Always make a strategy and think it through. Do not cut corners on your website, and don’t launch before the bugs are worked out.

You may be interested in these articles:
http://www.future-ink.com/blog/avoid-website-launch-failure/
http://www.imediaconnection.com/content/20282.asp
http://www.eroi.com/online-marketing-resource-center/resource-center/

Portlandia Makes Fun With Portland, Not At

Armisen and Brownstein in Portlandia

Browsing through the Tweets (hash tagged) #Portlandia, I was happily surprised to find people from Austin, Boston, Philadelphia, Glasgow UK, Shanghai, and New Zealand ranting and raving about the show.

Several things happened during the Portlandia vignettes that made my ears perk up. In “Read It,” the dynamic duo Brownstein and Armisen eat a Portland Monthly (PM) magazine. The crew at PM didn’t seem impressed. I am eager to find out how many new subscribers will sign up to learn the “truth” about Portland and its people. PM, you best have a bird on the cover of the next issue. This is exactly what you need to round up the lost advertisers of the great recession.

The mention of Tumblr also got my attention. Of all the media called out in the “Technology Loop,” Tumblr is the only one I am not familiar with — so I had to check it out. Since Tumblr is not as intuitive as other social media, and it doesn’t tell you immediately why you should sign up, it is no surprise the Alexa.com (a traffic measuring site) reports 48% of web traffic to Tumblr bounces*.  Compete.com reports a little over 9 million visitors went to Tumblr in December 2010 (not bad for the new kid on the block). In order for us to see the impact of Portlandia on Tumblr traffic, we need to revisit Compete.com next month to view the January traffic report.

But the big question is: Why was Tumblr mentioned? Is it a sponsor? Does IFC own it? Do the creators use it, like it, hate it? I must know!

Watch the 22 minute episode on Hulu.

PortlandiaTV, I know you only made six episodes and your future is uncertain, but we want to keep you around. Here are some ideas to sleep on. (I encourage all readers to post ideas in the comment section below.)

Portland LOVES Its Old People
We saved grandma and grandpa from being locked in nursing home institutions. Our hippie, pot smoking communes stopped the aging process by keeping the elders young and healthy forever. Is it cyber punk cryogenics or anti aging cream made with hemp?

Sugar High or High on God?
Have you eaten a cock and balls donut, drunk, in the middle of the night? Or sober on a Sunday morning on your way to rock n roll church? Which faith is the faith of choice in Portland? None. Wikipedia says Oregon is the number one religion-less state in the union. It could be the confusion of too many options such as the Church of Elvis, Oregon Scientology School and Reading Room, Portland Buddhist Temple and Zen Center, the Muslim Mosque and Discoteca, the Morman Temple and basketball court, and the Old World Russian Community House, just to name a few.

Trash Fanatics, Mostly Mothers, Put Doggie Poop in Plastic Bags
With thousands of miles of plastic creeping up from the Pacific ocean, a bunch of mothers with babies in Burka bags are putting an end to the use of plastic bags, well for everything except dog crap. The only way Fido can poop anymore is straight into a grocery sack that mom will tie around its neck in disgrace.

Keep it real Portlandia!

*Bounces are visitors who only hit one page and bounce out of the site instead of voluntarily clicking on multiple pages. In the case of Tumblr, I would guess that many people come to the sign up page and leave without taking action. So when Compete.com reports 9 million visitors, nearly 4.5 million of these only visit the homepage (or another page) and leave.

Read more about Portlandia at http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/blogs/culturephile-portland-arts/portlandia-premiere-january-2011/#new

Warning: Facebook cannot be depended on to gather attendees for intimate birthday parties and funerals!

Funerals on FacebookOver the last year I have used Facebook as the primary medium to gather friends for social events such as pool parties, open houses, taco night, and most recently my husband’s 40th birthday party.

I began the Casa Bonita Social Club as a way to entertain and build strong, lasting relationships. The response was very disappointing. I cancelled our Labor Day party due to no RSVP’s.

As a media expert, I know the rules when it comes to building a successful campaign for products, services, and branding efforts. It starts with setting realistic expectations. When I launched the American Heart Association of Oregon’s Facebook page, it took over six weeks to get “liked” by 100 people. Once the 100 person mark was reached, the “likes” grew exponentially. The goal of the page was to create an awareness of local events and national health issues revolving around heart disease, obesity, and stroke. The expectations were managed, and the long-term social media campaign is on track.

Working with State Senator Richard Develin (D-Tualatin, OR) on his campaign, I advised him about setting realistic expectations when it comes to online promotion. He selected not to launch a social media strategy due to the fact the election was only weeks away, and a Facebook campaign could not deliver the results he desired. Instead he focused on other efforts which lead to his re-election. His opponent, however, was immersed in what looked like a successful online campaign, but it did not yield the results she desired.

Although I know how to develop social media campaigns by setting realistic goals and expectations, I did not use these strategies in my own efforts to build a social network outside of the online world. I took it for granted that I have 500 friends on Facebook. I felt that many of these “friends” would be engaged enough reading my posts that they would take action. Today, people are so involved in multi-tasking and interacting with their devices that it takes extra effort to get them to interact in a face-to-face social environment. Sometimes only a phone call will work at persuading a person to attend a social function. I learned this lesson the hard way and it has changed the way I will approach social media in the future.

A friend of mine died last week and no one called to tell me about the funeral. After the funeral, I received a text message from a friend who was surprised I was not there to support the family. My response: “No one told me or my husband.” Later I found out another friend posted it on Facebook and I didn’t see it.

Dear readers, I hope you can understand my complete shock and anger at the fact that no one picked up the phone to call me. A Facebook announcement is only effective if it appears in the “News Feed” at the time the user logs in. Most Facebook users don’t read every single post or click the “Older Post” link at the bottom of the page. There are many, many strategies you can implement to make sure your friends see a post – post it on their wall, upload a picture and tag them in it, post an event and send an invite, send a message…. Or for the sake of those in mourning, pick up the phone and call.  After all, that’s why the phone was originally invented.