You’ve heard everyone talking about it, but how do you know exactly when it’s time to join the newest social network? And how do you go about actually participating once you do? Here’s a quick breakdown to help you out.
3 reasons you know it’s time to join that new network.
1. You’re noticing a decrease in activity on your usual networks.
Before you panic at a decrease in general activity in what’s normally a hub for your audience, be sure it isn’t a holiday or just a slow season first. (And remember that if your audience is a global one, there may be holidays or slow seasons that don’t occur to you immediately because they’re not local; this is why knowing your exact audience is so important!)
If you’re tracking activity and you see a slow and steady decline over several months, that’s definitely a time to start looking at why. That why could be a general migration of your audience from one platform to another, and that’s not a reason to panic. Why? Keep reading.
2. You’re noticing an increase in mentions within those networks from people who migrated.
If you have established a decrease in activity on the platforms your audience usually hangs out on, pay attention to mentions of other new networks. It’s less likely to be a flat statement of “Hey guys let’s all move over here now” and more general mentions of “Sorry for the lack of updates here lately; I’ve been checking out [x] and I really like it. Come find me over there!”. If you see a lot of your most active users saying things like that, it’s definitely time to check the new platform out, or reserve your handle at the very least.
3. The competition is- or isn’t- there.
If they are there, you want to be sure you’re at least keeping an eye on if or how they’re interacting with your audience. If they aren’t there and you have the resources (or masochism, if you’re a small team) to be there, you have the potential to dominate the space.
Be aware, however, that this could end up a waste of resources if the platform turns out to be a fad. (It’s never really a waste if you learn something to apply to future strategy, though.)
How to participate once you do.
Listen before you speak: Why has your audience chosen to migrate to this platform? Are they using it in place of another, or to supplement it? Is it just your audience that’s moving here, or is it “everyone”? What’s different that they’re getting here that they weren’t before? How can your brand provide value for them specifically in this place, with all of those things in mind?
You should listen with a mind to answer those questions before you start posting or even planning strategy in a new place. You can also ask your audience what they want from you there, but remember the responses will be from a more vocal, self-selected audience. That doesn’t make them less valuable, it just means they don’t represent everyone who buys, interacts with, or even just passively follows you.
All of this is possible because you have a social listening strategy in place for your brand. If you don’t, we can help you find the right ways to listen where you need to be listening, with straight answers to apply to a strategy, at any budget.
Black Friday is almost upon us, so we rounded up all of the best advice we have around it for this year to get you ready and feeling prepared, whether you’re facing shoppers in-store, online, on social, or on all of the above.
by Jenn Deering Davis for eSeller
The takeaway: Look at past Twitter activity to plan content marketing strategy for the present and future.
“Using historical Twitter data, retailers can learn from holiday seasons past to better prepare for this and future holidays. For example, when should retailers tweet about their Black Friday sales? They don’t want to share too early and miss the excitement, but they don’t want to share too late or they risk getting lost in the noise. The best time to post information about Black Friday sales would be about 10 days before Black Friday, and making sure to repeat it several times over the next week and a half. Shoppers spend the week of Black Friday researching and sharing their favorite deals, culminating on Thursday as they make last-minute preparations.”
Here’s what the 2014 Black Friday conversation looked like, via Union Metrics Echo:
by Mike O’Brien for ClickZ
The takeaway: For social media holiday marketing specifically, you don’t want to start too early and irritate your followers, but too late and you’ll get lost in the noise.
“The best time to start: The second week of November – that way, by the week of Black Friday, consumers won’t be seeing your deals for the first time.”
If you’re too late for this year, at least now you’ll be prepared to have the best holiday marketing ever in 2016.
by Jenn Deering Davis for iMedia Connection
The takeaway: Make shoppers feel like they’re getting something special from you on Twitter.
“What tweets generate the most engagement?
What sort of products, sales, and brands have consumers tweeted about in the past? What did they like or dislike? What questions did customers ask retailers? Researching these topics from holiday seasons past can help retailers prep more relevant content calendars and assets for the upcoming holiday season. Shoppers love tweets with good deals, previews of in-store sales, and links to products they want most. That’s often deals on electronics and technology, as well as toys and clothes. But they’re also looking for something special, so consider sharing Twitter-only deals with your followers. Tweets with a hashtag or image also perform well, so consider including a photo of the sale item or a special holiday hashtag.”
by Nicole Leinbach-Reyhle for Forbes
The takeaway: Black Friday deals are already happening and stores like REI are encouraging shoppers to #OptOutside, but a lot of people are still planning to shop on Black Friday and they’re talking about it on Twitter.
“So just what do more tweets really mean? Customers are talking. . .and stores are taking notice. Certainly, REI’s recent announcement to #OptOutside has helped to make this happen, but we can’t neglect other companies – such as Nordstrom – and their efforts to promote keeping their stores closed on Thanksgiving and saving their big holiday push for Black Friday instead.”
To put it in stats (all from the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker),
- Overall 45% of shoppers plan to shop on Black Friday. Meanwhile, 47% plan to shop on Cyber Monday.
- It’s estimated that Americans plan to spend $584 on average this year on Black Friday, notably higher than last year’s $501.
- By the day’s end on Black Friday, six in ten customers expect to have finished about one-half or less of their holiday shopping.
by Alex Spencer for Mobile Marketing
The takeaway: The future of Black Friday might look more like a Black November.
“But with Black Friday now embedded into the public consciousness and growing every year, what’s the alternative?
Well, it could be as simple as spreading it all out. Offering deals at different times throughout the day can help spread the load. In the UK, Amazon has distributed its ‘lightning’ deals over a 10-day period, though it will still be running Black Friday promotions as usual in the US, where the day coincides with a common holiday.
Black Friday doesn’t necessarily have to be retailers’ biggest sales day, especially in other countries.”
Got a question, comment or concern? Leave it below or find us on Twitter at @UnionMetrics. Thought that Union Metrics Echo screencap above looked pretty cool? Learn more about how Echo works and what it can do for you here.
Please allow us a little extra time to return your calls and emails over Thanksgiving weekend from Thursday, November 26 through Sunday, November 29.
On these days, we will return all non-urgent requests within 24 hours and urgent requests as soon as possible. As always, you can get in touch with us in many ways. Email is the fastest way to get through to us during holidays.
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Last week the Union Metrics Editorial Team- Editor-in-Chief Jenn Deering Davis and Social Media Manager Sarah A. Parker- attended SocialPro in Las Vegas, and came back with some handy tips to consider working into your social content marketing strategy going forward.
There were a ton of great presenters sharing expertise on a range of topics- Jenn gave two herself on The Facebook Metrics that Matter and Instagram Insta-Success- and this post couldn’t cover them all, so browse the rest if there’s something you’re interested in we didn’t get into here.
On video content.
When it comes to video campaigns, Andrew Grinaker had a great takeaway in his presentation on the first day of SocialPro: Build layers into a story and break those layers out into repurposed content across different platforms. How to do this in practice? If you’re live-streaming something, have a second camera on it for permanent footage that can be broken down into a series of short videos for other platforms, and even GIFs and still images. Capture the parts of the story in each format that work best for the platform you plan to share them on.
Michelle StinsonRoss had more to add on streaming video, particularly repurposing it: Edit a vertically shot streaming video file before you add it to platform like YouTube; you can use the border space to add in questions or anything else that will add value and clarity for the viewer. An example:
Dennis Goedegebuure had a great reminder when it comes to Facebook video: You need to upload it natively to get exposure on that platform, but then you don’t own the property. Be sure you also upload your content to places you do own, such as microsites etc.
Speaking of Facebook. . .
Lisa Buyer on the Care and Feeding of Your Facebook News Feed: Be sure to cohesively brand images so when fans see them in their News Feed they immediately recognize it as being from your brand. Also consider treating your cover image like a magazine cover and switch it out seasonally or quarterly to match what is going on with your brand’s content calendar.
Rhune Kincaid experimented with high quality video production and lower-quality but still funny video production for First Entertainment Credit Union on Facebook, and actually found more engagement from the audience with the latter. The takeaway? Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun to find the type of content your audience is actually interested in.
As far as The Facebook Metrics That Matter, here’s a quick takeaway from Editor-in-Chief Jenn Deering Davis’s presentation:
— MichelleRobbins (@MichelleRobbins) November 19, 2015
(You can also read our blog post about it here.)
A final few takeaways for brands to consider across social platforms:
- Share of voice has shifted from brands to personal brands/content creators since 2010; that’s what has driven the rise in influencer partnerships/influencer marketing (Sean Womack, @Touchstorm)
- Any channel you are in becomes a customer support channel, so be prepared to dedicate the resources to deal with customer complaints that come in unexpected places. (Eric Enge)
- Dealing with trolls is more about the takeaway your other customers might get from viewing the interaction than actually converting a troll (also from Eric Enge)
- Finally, find the content that’s performing the best organically and pay to boost it (Larry Kim). Or to put it another way:
— Sarah A. Parker (@SparkerWorks) November 19, 2015
Were you at SocialPro? What were your big takeaways? Leave ‘em in the comments or tell us about it on Twitter @UnionMetrics.
And if you’re interested in learning more about the metrics we have to offer from either of Jenn’s presentations, you can learn more about our Facebook analytics here, see a live demo of our Instagram analytics here, or even give them a small test drive with our free Instagram account checkup.
We’ve updated the interface in our single-channel Union Metrics accounts (that includes TweetReach Pro by Union Metrics subscriptions, as well as our Instagram and Tumblr analytics). Here’s a quick look at what’s changed. For more detail on the full set of changes, read this.
Our top navigation has been updated with pretty new icons. You can navigate to your dashboard, Trackers listing, or snapshot reports (in TweetReach) by clicking the icons in the top left of your page, in that order. Your account and user settings menus have been consolidated into one menu on the top right, under the gear icon.
Our Tracker listing has been updated to better display more information about the account, topic or hashtag you’re monitoring. The Tracker list is now more easily searchable.
For single-channel Twitter subscribers (also know as TweetReach), the snapshot listing has been updated to better display more reports per page, as well as the top level metrics from each report.
We spend the week reading the best things we can get our eyeballs on and on Fridays we share them here with you. Leave your thoughts in the comments, or come find us on Twitter at @UnionMetrics.
On video content marketing.
If you need help with your YouTube marketing, then How to Effectively use YouTube for Video Marketing by Sarah Quinn for Social Media Today is something you should definitely read. Not sure YouTube is worth it?
“YouTube has over a billion users which is almost a third of ALL people on the internet.”
At least some of your target audience probably uses YouTube, but be sure that’s true before you invest your resources in it.
Neil Mohan also has some great tips for getting more out of video content with 11 Levers to Create Social Video for Edelman.
Trolls are, unfortunately, going to troll.
When dealing with trolls, look no further than this guide- When Followers Attack: A Monty Python Guide to Maintaining Social Media Harmony- from Jonathan Crossfield for Content Marketing Institute.
On the law.
eMarketer has some alarming news: Many B2B Marketers Not Aware of FTC Sponsored-Content Guidelines.
“More than two-thirds (67%) of sponsored-content creators were aware of and understood the FTC guidelines for sponsored content. To compare, only 8% of B2B marketers felt the same way. In fact, one-third of B2B marketers said they were not aware of the guidelines, while only 7% of sponsored-content creators were in the same boat.”
As we always say: When in doubt, disclose.
On regular old content marketing.
We’re competing for customer attention in a sea of more content than ever, so how do you stand out? Bryan Adams discusses in Authentic Storytelling in an Age of Mass Marketing for Spin Sucks.
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy at all, definitely start planning one for 2016. Here’s How to Create and Document a Content Marketing Strategy in Eight Steps from Jennifer Smoldt for Marketing Profs.
By now, you’ve probably heard us talking about Union Metrics Echo – our brand new tool to help you explore and analyze anything from Twitter’s archive, instantly. We wanted to show you what, exactly, you can do with it. So here’s one of the lessons we learned using Union Metrics Echo to dig into Twitter data. Want a demo of Echo to see how it can work for you? Schedule one here.
Two of the top shows in Twitter’s history are The Walking Dead on AMC and Empire on FOX. They’ve taken different paths to their social success, and generate very different conversations on social media. But there are a few lessons we can learn about social TV and how Twitter embraces its favorite shows.
The Walking Dead premiered in a very different time – way back in 2010. Twitter had not yet become to be the place to talk about TV. The first season of TWD was only six episodes and over those six weeks, there were about a million total tweets about The Walking Dead, including some lead up to the premiere and discussion after the finale. The premiere episode generated the most buzz, earning 63k tweets on the day it aired, October 31, 2010. TWD averaged about 150k Tweets per week during its first season.
What makes the The Walking Dead so interesting – and one of the reasons it’s been so successful on Twitter – is that it followed a very different pattern than most shows do on social, even from the very beginning. The biggest tweet volume spike of the week was on the day the episode aired, as holds true for all shows, then and now. But volumes for The Walking Dead only decreased slightly in the two days following each episode, which is unique. It retained 50-80% of size the original conversation on Twitter for two days after. Most shows generate some conversation the next day, but at significantly reduced volumes, usually around 10% of the episode day’s conversation. Here’s a streamgraph showing the daily tweet volumes for the first season of The Walking Dead. You can see big and then only slightly-less-big spikes corresponding to when an episode aired.
Starting in the second season, The Walking Dead began airing each season in two parts with a few months break in between. In 2011, tweets about the show increased considerably, premiering with 200k tweets and hitting 350k during the finale. It generated 5.6 million tweets over the full season, and averaged 375k tweets per week (when episodes were airing). But more impressively, TWD continued to follow the same pattern it established the year before, with larger-than-average Tweet volumes the two days after the episode airs. This is really unlike any other show on TV. And it still holds mostly true today; the most recent season of The Walking Dead saw a big spike on episode day, then maintained 30% of that conversation the day after.
So why is this? Why does The Walking Dead generate so much conversation on non-show days? There are a lot of time-delayed viewers of TWD, which was true even back in 2010, which means more people talk about it on Twitter in the few days following a new episode. And The Walking Dead gives everyone a lot to talk about after an episode airs. It’s a show that embraces drama, cliffhangers and water-cooler moments. It’s not afraid to kill off important characters. And it’s one of the most reviewed shows on TV; people love to write and discuss it.
The Walking Dead has been a social media sensation for five years. Even now in 2015, TWD continues to hold strong on Twitter, generating nearly a million tweets every week it airs.
But let’s compare The Walking Dead to one of the newest social TV sensations – Empire. Empire premiered earlier in 2015. Its first episode started relatively small on premiere day, generating 135k tweets on January 7. However, Empire followed a unique pattern that only a few shows can hope to emulate. It generated more tweets each week as the season went on, not fewer. Most shows see an initial spike when they premiere, then see weekly declines after that. The lucky ones get another spike during the finale, but the unlucky ones continue to decline over time. During its first season, Empire saw more tweets each week than the week before. This culminated in a powerful final episode, that generated 1.7 million tweets on March 18, making it one of the most tweeted about shows of all time. You can see the weekly increase in this graph, which shows bigger and bigger daily tweet volume spikes until the finale episode.
It helps that Empire had a short first season and didn’t take any weeks off. It aired 12 episodes, one each week for 12 weeks. A shorter season helps audiences stay engaged. The marketing team behind Empire worked tirelessly to promote the show and engage its audience across social media. The new season of Empire just aired, generating 860k tweets on premiere (just beating The Walking Dead premiere’s 801k tweets a couple weeks later).
Both The Walking Dead and Empire are on lists of the most tweeted-about TV shows of all time. It’s fascinating to look at the different ways they’ve built an audience on Twitter and the patterns around how their fans tweet.
One of the easiest ways to boost engagement with your Instagram posts is to use better hashtags. So, how do you know which hashtags lead to more likes and followers? It’s easy with our Instagram account checkup. So first, log in to your Union Metrics Instagram account checkup and make sure you have the newest data for your Instagram account.
(Haven’t run a free Instagram account checkup yet? Sign up here.)
Then scroll down to the hashtag section of your report. It should look like this:
We’ve highlighted your top Instagram hashtag. This is based on activity with your account from the past month, and looks at all the hashtags you’ve added to all your posts to find the ones that have resulted in the most engagement (likes and comments). It then maps your top hashtags against your average likes and comments per post. So anything above or to the right or the orange lines in your graph is above average for you.
The top 3 hashtags are shown in blue. In the above example, that’s #sunset, #clouds and #nature. Photos with these hashtags have gotten more likes and comments than the average post on this account. If this was your report, then we’d suggest that you use those hashtags more frequently. The content you’ve shared to those hashtag communities has resonated well, so you’re on the right track. In this case, pretty pictures of sunsets seem to be working well.
So once you’ve found some of your top hashtags, try using them more often and see if your engagement rates go up. But don’t overuse or spam them! As always, make sure your content fits with the Instagram aesthetic and will work well in a particular hashtag’s community. This only leads to more engagement if your content is good and makes sense with your hashtag.
So that’s it – find your top hashtags and use them more often, and you will get more engagement.
And once you’ve set up your checkup, you can refresh it once a day to get updated metrics, so don’t forget to come back later and see how your other hashtags are working.
Keeping up with the changes around Facebook’s News Feed algorithm can be daunting, with new articles constantly coming out around changes in the type of content that Facebook prioritizes. Are photos still getting the best organic reach? Or is it statuses now? But if it’s statuses why do I keep seeing so many posts about how visual content marketing is everything? As with all social media there is unfortunately no magic answer that will work now and continue to work forever; the best strategy is a mix of best practices combined with what you already know about your audience and enough experimentation to keep learning about any changing demographics and/or interests. With that said, we dug around a little to see how we could best understand how the Facebook News Feed algorithm really works and the best approach for brands to take that isn’t so of-the-moment it will be instantly outdated.
The most recent changes and what they mean for brands.
This summer Facebook released several algorithm changes for News Feed that were written about at length: Time spent on story (stories that may not be “likeable” are still prioritized in a feed if friends spent time reading them), more criteria for video (considering users turning on sound or making video full-screen, instead of just counting likes/comments/shares), and “See First” which allows users to directly prioritize which friends and Pages they see content from in their feed. Brand takeaway: “See First” means brands shouldn’t be shy about asking fans to prioritize their content if it’s something they enjoy seeing and interacting with. Facebook also announced a growing interest in visual content for a global audience (emphasis added):
“People everywhere are embracing visual communication formats, like video, at a staggering rate. More than 50% of people on Facebook in the UK, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Israel and the UAE watch a video every day. In Asia-Pacific people are spending more time creating and consuming videos, including ads. In fact, in just one year, the number of video posts created per person on Facebook increased 75% globally, 52% in Australia, 36% in South Korea and 138% in the United Arab Emirates. People in the Middle East now consume more video per person than any other region in the world.”
Brand takeaway: Pay close attention to Page demographics and test content based on this information if their audience matches; brands might be surprised how widespread their audience is and there is potential to strengthen relationships with untapped audience.
But does this mean brands should definitely prioritize visual content? TIME has a thorough piece on how, exactly, News Feed works with this important takeaway:
“Around 2011, Facebook moved on from EdgeRank to a more complex machine learning system that better individualizes each user’s experience. Instead of assuming that all users enjoy photos, the algorithm would adapt to users’ behavior so that people who click on photos see more pictures and people who don’t click on them see fewer. This is the algorithm that’s currently powering your News Feed, and the one Facebook’s engineers are constantly tinkering with. ‘You have a lot of impact,’ Steinberg says about working on the News Feed. ‘When that team makes a change, the rest of the company is going to be paying attention.’”
Brand takeaway: Does your audience like photos? If you don’t know that answer, now is the time to start experimenting, and that doesn’t even have to take a ton of resources. For example, select a piece of content for re-marketing and present valuable information from it in multiple forms: Photos yes (try photos with captions and photos with text superimposed on them), but also short videos, status updates, links to related pieces, shares from Instagram. Pay attention to the response on each type of content and use that information to plan going forward.
What’s always true for brands.
Having the latest industry data and keeping up with best practices gives every brand a great benchmark to start testing from, not to create a rigid content marketing plan from. Why? Because every audience is unique and might not necessarily respond to industry best practices. Brands should test new content types, timing and other factors regularly to see what types of content their audience responds to the best, and build an ongoing dynamic strategy from there. It always takes hard work and research to listen to your audience, but when you really know what they want they’ll be way more likely to stick with you.
This article, written by our Editor-in-Chief Jenn Deering Davis, was originally published on AdWeek’s SocialTimes.
We’ve read dozens of articles citing how many millions of views social video garners every day. We know that teenagers now watch more online video than broadcast TV every week. Adults watch many times more online video now than they did a few years ago. Social video is definitely a thing.
And so far this year, one of the biggest emerging trends in video has been streaming video. Facebook is adding streaming functionality. Meerkat has more than 2 million registered users. Periscope says their users watch 40 years of video every day, and claim 2 million daily active users. There are guides and listicles aplenty to help an excited new user get the hang of Meerkat or Periscope.
But streaming video is actually a very small portion of the overall social video conversation. Vine videos loop more than 1.5 million times a day. Snapchat gets 3 billion video views daily and has 100 million daily active users. Facebook gets more than 4 billion video views per day, with nearly a billion daily active users. YouTube watch time has grown 60 percent year-on-year and has more than 1 billion users. These sites are generating tremendous engagement with video content, and very little of it is live streaming. The future of video doesn’t lie in streaming; it lies in the stream.
The stream – your timeline, your newsfeed – is how you consume social media. You open a social app, and content streams past. And if you’ve been on social media for a few years, you’ve probably noticed your stream has gotten a lot more visual lately. How much of that content is video? A lot of it, probably. Why? Because video loves the stream and the stream loves video. Here are just a few reasons why.
Video that fits the medium the user is in – content created to make the most of where it’s posted – performs better than video originally posted on an external site. Facebook is very enthusiastic about native video and gives preferential treatment to videos uploaded directly to Facebook instead of cross-posted from YouTube or Instagram. Tumblr recently rolled out a new video player to improve the native video experience. And this makes sense; native video looks better in the stream. It’s easier to consume; it breaks up text posts and static images and brings life to your stream.
It may sound ridiculous, but removing something as simple as a click can significantly impact how a user interacts with a video. As more social channels like Twitter and Facebook have added autoplay, video views have increased dramatically. Now certainly some of this is due to the fact that now every display in every stream generates a view, but engagement with and attention to those videos has also increased. Removing any barrier, no matter how small, improves the video experience.
Video ads keep getting better and more creative as brands get more sophisticated. Some of the most interesting advances in advertising are in digital media, specifically video. The more engaging and relevant an ad is, the more authentic it feels to the medium and the more successful it will be. Brands and agencies have figured this out and are creating high-quality content to achieve that success. Shown in-stream, the right video ad feels like it belongs there.
Maybe we really are too lazy to rotate our phones. There’s some evidence now that mobile viewers are more likely to stick around to watch content that’s intentionally created to be viewed vertically. Snapchat is spearheading this movement, but we’re seeing it more everywhere. Not having to change your phone’s orientation makes for a better experience, and is less interruptive to the mobile experience. This is a tough one for video purists who prefer horizontal video, but we’ll continue to see lots more vertical video, so you’ll need to get used to it.
But not streaming video
This streaming video trend will prove to be just that – a trend. The truth is, most of us just aren’t that interesting. On YouTube and Facebook, we can prepare a script, rehearse and edit to make a high-quality video. On Snapchat and Vine, the videos are short, forcing their own sort of creativity. But most of the time on streaming platforms, there’s just nothing there to watch. Getting more celebrities and brands who have more streamable content (and lives) will help, but the average user just won’t have much of their own to stream. Streaming video isn’t a standalone product; it’s a feature in the rest of the social stream.
If you’d like to monitor the performance of your social video, check out the Union Metrics Social Suite.