Hello, cherished reader. Let me pose you a question;
What is Social Media?
I imagine that answers such as “Facebook” and “Twitter” are present, and you’re adding that to wider definitions such as “a means of communicating with my friends and family at any time, en-masse or individually.” All of these are traditionally accepted definitions, and I’m sure yours is better than ours. However, as every website has a feedback button, and every topic has a forum, and every e-mail has a subscribe button – surely it is now the case that all media, is social media? Media after all, is designed to be social – if nobody is talking about it, does it really matter (ergo, tree falling in the woods conundrums)? There’s no end of opportunities for us to share information with each other, and with intelligent algorithms or user interaction, we typically discover the crowd-sourced most important topics as they’re “voted” to the top of the pile.
There are, however, dangers here. What if those who are at the top of the pile, never wanted their story shared at all? What if the topics most read are also the most dangerous – explicit content, extremist views, misleading or false? Social media enables the rapid sharing of information, but all too often at the price of actually questioning the validity and quality of the information we receive. Writers look the be on-trend, and rightly so. The shelf life of a story has never been shorter. And indeed, the variants and interactions available on a story have never been more – Facebook and Twitter, in the end, can’t thrive without difference of opinion.
We see this challenge to the writer played out on a daily basis, as they grapple to manage the balance of opinion and substance across platforms. This blog has written extensively on the curiosity gap and Buzzfeed style reporting, mainly because it works. The modern format of “snackable” news that is easily digested and consumed by the reader allows us to be aware of more topics, and form opinion on these subjects. Unfortunately, the rapid consumption and opinion forming rarely allows for critical and processed thought.
Consider the Netflix sensation, “Making a Murderer”. Without a doubt, this was by far one of the most truly divisive pieces of programming in modern times. Conflicting judgements were made on a range of subjects across all media platforms – from stances on policing, to the verdict on the case, and down to the appropriateness of the show itself. It’s both unfair and unreasonable to assume that all members and associates of those involved with the case would have wanted it to air. However Netflix, one can only assume, considered either that A) the case was in the public interest, or B) the profit potential and media storm benefit outweighed any ethical deficit in the event the case wasn’t in the public interest.
Why is this an issue? The question, and the point that should be taken away, is that it wasn’t the courts or each individual who got to make the decision – it was a third-party, in this case, Netflix. As mentioned towards the start of the article, all media is social. And by deduction, nothing shared is ever secret. Sadly, it’s not likely to be you who determines the content shared, by whom, and the manner in which it is received. The media, in all forms, can serve as our judge, jury, and executioner – without the ability to prosecute, but with the unsolicited power to irreversibly damage an individuals reputation or social footprint. We don’t argue that this should change, but do argue that this should be observed and respected. By respecting that power, and understanding the effect you can have when wielding it in your social media interactions, you can be more than a social media user, you can be a positive contributor to people’s lives. And so, reader, I ask you again;
In an article for Forbes, the shocking news arrived that Pokémon GO was on the brink of passing Twitter in terms of daily active users. As of time of writing, it still is. As of one week from writing, this will likely have happened. Much has been made of Twitter’s struggles, but it’s not for a lack of effort to turn it around. They’ve signed deals with the NFL, integrated Periscope, and are teasing users with a raft of possible changes. Except, it’s not just Twitter failing this time. What’s particularly curious, is that Pokémon GO hasn’t reached all regions, and even so, it’s toppled Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook to take the top spot on the Google Play store. How did it come to pass, that the enslaving of cute and friendly super-animals on our phone became the centre of our attention?
Answer #1 – Humans are boring creatures.
Thanks to the unique power that is social media algorithms, increasingly few platforms allow for anarchic chaos. Some may regard this a good thing. However, consider that your Facebook news feed will prioritise video and show friends over publishers and pages. Now consider that before showing you content from friends, it segments further into more “filter bubbles” – so that even the friends you disagree with don’t typically make it to the top. Pro – it stops you discovering a former best friend is now a racist. Con – that’s the kind of thing you probably want to know. The intrusive nature of social platforms upon users is making social media increasingly dull. Twitter is a news ticker. Facebook is an ad-spam mess. Instagram will soon lose it’s uniqueness. And Snapchat…well, OK, you’ve got us here. They’re the apple of everyone’s eye. But it’s a toy we’ve all played with. Pokémon GO offered something old – Pokémon – and something new – Mobile, Free, Social, AR, and Fun. Social media platforms need to recapture this, and entertain their fans – sometimes, that means not giving us what they think we want.
Answer #2 – The Power of Nostalgia.
As mentioned, social media is increasingly becoming a live news ticker. The prioritization of video does little to change this, if anything, it promotes it. Consider the news items we’ve had over the last few weeks. Brexit, Zika, Orlando, Dallas, ISIS, Syria, Trump/Clinton, and much more. It’s hard-hitting content that could easily shift the status-quo of all we know. Can we really be surprised then, that when presented with the opportunity to check out for a while and capture a Pikachu on the railway, people are incredibly keen? Social media has a responsibility to inform and allow the sharing of information, and as we’ve seen in the Arab Spring, it can be a tremendous force for good. However, rightly or wrongly, we now approach information overload much faster and have a much reduced attention-span. Nobody wants to tune into Chernobyl FM unless it’s for Schadenfreude, and to this end, social media needs to re-invent itself. We would never endorse the burying of difficult content. But we do endorse the ability to choose how we approach it. Social media always presents it in cold-light, before your eyes – and sometimes, all we want is a cat picture.
Answer #3 – People Like Free Stuff.
Word of mouth, and to a lesser degree, electronic Word of Mouth, remains the most powerful means of marketing. It’s therefore no surprise, that it’s incredibly hard to generate. Except, Pokémon GO got this right. Social media presents a unique opportunity to generate rapid global traction within minutes, if engaging with the right people at the right time. Trusted figures jumped on the bandwagon, and soon it was rolling with genuine pace. This highlights two things about social media in it’s current form. Firstly, that there’s no replacement for interesting content that people want to engage with. Secondly, that accessibility wins prizes. Through allowing a free and easy download, Pokémon lends itself to being approachable for all – new and old to the franchise. Social media may be free, but is it truly approachable to all? We’re inclined to say not. Not everyone likes sharing. Some can’t do it in 140 characters. Some hate photos. Social media needs to become flexible to the wants of users, and make life as easy as possible for users to share as they please. Once the penny drops, the second coming of social lies just round the corner.
Social media apps have been part of the social marketplace for long enough, yet now more than ever users are looking to get more out of them for less time spend. A study from SimilarWeb, which contrasted the app time spend of the key four social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat) between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, showed a significant decline in the time users spend in-app. Most alarmingly, Instagram time spend decreased by over a third, and Twitter by over a quarter. With the old guard having struggles to varying degrees, let’s take a quick look at what social media apps you need to know about, that give you value without taking up your time. We’ve even gave you some handy videos!
Curiously, this is a fairly new development – Reddit apps have often been provided by third parties, and found high levels of growth. Yet, not enough as entice the owners to make one – until now. They’ve woken up, embraced what everyone has wanted, and built their own. With a glossy interface and early growth across iOS and Google Play, this could be the tool that gets Reddit out of the shade and into the spotlight. But whatever you do, don’t go in there thinking you’re going to make millions in sales without giving value.
We touched on this a short while ago, but Twitter have made a big investment into Periscope in the hope that integration with this live streaming superhero will turn around their fortunes. Despite the decline in app time on platforms like Snapchat, it’s important to consider that videos typically gain 8-10x more engagement than more traditional forms of copy. As such, this can represent a great opportunity for businesses and users alike. Need more evidence? Just ask Chewbacca Mom about the value of live video.
Ok, you caught us – we’re a little biased on this one. But with good reason. We’ve been featured in some interesting articles, and offer users and small businesses the chance to use our automation tools to manage their social media. Users can decide how active or inactive they want to be, safe in the knowledge that SoGrow is building a targeted and relevant audience. Not convinced? You can try it free for 30 days, with no obligation or contract to stay. We’re big believers that our social media app could help change the way that people spend their time on social media – more focus on creating engaging content, less time on the boring leg work. What’s not to like (other than self-promotional parts of blog posts…*ahem*)?
Modern Wall Street’s helpful video above helps explain Peach, the social media platform for iOS that’s fast becoming the hottest property in mobile circles. Essentially, Peace serves as an aggregator and provides a walled garden – everything is on the platform, and you don’t need to leave it. Get the best and most relevant content for you, your friends and your connections, across all key social platforms in one place. To put it simply, Peach pulls everything into one place. The lovechild of Twitter, Slack, Instagram, Snapchat, and Outlook – in other words, worth checking out. Looking for a more detailed insight? Influencer Carlos Gil, reviews it here.
Content marketing, that alien buzzword creature. What a ridiculous notion, that by putting out sufficient quantities of high quality content, someone could attract customers without reaching out to them. A curious idea, indeed. Except of course, we’ve now seen it work. Inbound marketing strategy typically results in more leads, conversions, and best of all – does it for much less financial cost. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional outbound direct mail, or even *gasp* picking up the phone. However, with the success of content marketing, came an overwhelming number of blogs, guides, tips, tricks, and endless more channels that can guarantee you ever more fantastic results. So, as we move towards the next phase of Inbound Marketing, how can a brand look to position itself and stand out from the crowd? A TrackMaven study back in February suggested that while the amount of content produced last year rose 34%, engagement on these decreased by 17%. What this means, is that it’s a saturated market. And as such, we need new ways to stand out. The answer, is in automation.
According to brandpipe, marketing automation is now worth a monumental $5.5bn as an industry. Across the board, it’s the go to tool for finding new leads, nurturing, distributing content, and maintaining engagement. There are no shortage of automation tools that can help you share your content – from MailChimp for your e-mails, to (wink wink, nudge nudge), SoGrow for your social media automation needs. The responsibility of the marketer, entrepreneur, business owner, or key communicator is to establish which channels best connect with each type of customer, and segment accordingly. Not every e-mail will drive traffic, just as not every Tweet is going to generate brand new business. However, the right blend of marketing channels will bring you the best chance of having your content seen by the right person.
How do we identify the right person? There’s two ways that we can look at this. Option A, is the creation of targeted content, and sharing it with the appropriate audience – this would be the “talk at” the audience model. This is an excellent way to raise your brand awareness and make people conscious that your brand exists and performs. However, let’s consider an alternative, Option B, Permission based content marketing. Now, that sounds like an impressive phrase that you can drop into your performance review and show off to your line manager, but what does it actually mean? Ever gave a website your e-mail address to receive an e-book, access a guide, access a trial, or anything in between? You’ve actively gave them your permission to be contacted. Not only does this make sure that your marketing operations remain strictly white hat and avoids the sending of unsolicited e-mail or other contact – the numbers don’t lie. It’s a few years old now, but in a study from 2011, opens on the opt-in lists were twice as high as those who hadn’t consciously given permission. Better still, not only did it receive more opens, the click-through rate on these e-mails were double the average engagement. In the years that have followed, there’s nothing to suggest this trend has really changed.
The Next Step
The moral of the story. Automation isn’t a scary thing, and is a force for good – when used with active permission based methods. The same applies to all channels – messages to your followers about your product is reasonable, messages to the world about them can be less so. To bridge the gap, and achieve opt-in results, it’s important to get your brand in front of people and deliver your value proposition. SoGrow, lets you do just that. Learn how, at www.sogrow.co.uk
It’s absolutely no secret that Twitter’s a social platform with a lot to prove. Growth has slowed, leadership has been questioned, and there’s a feeling that the forthcoming big changes to character limits is the last roll of the dice. However, there’s been some more subtle tweaks that we reckon not everyone knows about. So here’s 3 quick points;
1) Connecting Contacts
Last Month, Twitter realised that without following the people you know, it’s not particularly “social” media at all. After all, if we wanted 24hr news, there’s no shortage of places to get it. To combat this, Twitter introduced the Connect tab, allowing you to search through your contacts for people to follow. Not only this, you can also receive recommendations based on location and the types of people you already follow. To get there, follow Twitter’s helpful guide below;
2) Go Live
It feels like everyone has seen “that” Chewbacca Mom video, and it goes to show the value of live video. Indeed, even Facebook prioritises live streams in the newsfeed, making it a great way to get the message out quick. If we look across to Snapchat, we see the value of video even more pronounced, with videos gaining 8-10x more engagement than traditional text or picture driven copy. If you’re lucky enough as not be tied to an Apple device, some users will see a “go live” button which connects you to Periscope, and lets you show a live feed on Twitter. Gone is the 140 character Q&A.
3) Images, Polls, Videos
We’re not quite there with this yet, but one big change to keep an eye on – especially if you’re a fan of visual content – is the coming removal of media counting towards your character count. This will also apply when you’ve used any @handles to reply. Not the biggest change in the world, but one that opens up a world of possibility. Considering that a link and a photo consumes 48 of your 140 character, you’re now going to open up around 20% more Tweet space. Don’t waste it.
Any other big changes that we’ve missed? Comment below!
As the election race continues to heat up, the SoGrow team have got all excited about something else. Unless you’ve lived under a social media rock, you’re probably aware by now that the new series of House of Cards has arrived. To give a brief summary of the series for those who haven’t watched it, the show follows protagonist Frank Underwood’s unique and shadowed path to the presidency.
The 10 word summary: This show displays what happens when POTUS and FUBAR merge.
(If you’re not an acronym expert, it’s maybe best to check over your shoulder before you click that…).
A key feature of this year’s real-world race has been the roles of social media and online communities. With Bernie Sanders raising over $40million in one month, politicians can’t avoid online channels anymore. Debates have consistently trended on Twitter, and offered candidates a chance to row back or fact-check after the event – giving candidates even more range with which to land a punch or deflect a blow. But with this in mind, we ask ourselves – if Frank Underwood had Twitter, what would it look like? And of our current contenders, where are their profiles strong, and where are they weak?
With such a divided field, and in the interest of not boring our readers to tears, we’ll take the three most likely candidates – Trump, Cruz, and Rubio.
Where he’s strong:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. Whether you agree with his opinion or not is a different issue, but his constant attack stream makes it difficult for opponents to gain an advantage on social media. As soon as he has points scored against him on one issue, he’s able to find another to shift the focus. This is an art, and say what you will about Trump – he’s not stupid.
Where he’s weak:
Trump is always keen to speak his mind, and happy to put his own name to things. But, writer, you said that was where he’s strong?! Exactly. The problem with being as active on so many positions as Trump is on Twitter, is that sooner or later it’ll always backfire. Whether it’s a spelling mistake, or whether it’s a block capital loaded press of the panic button, Trump can be his own worst enemy.
Where he’s strong:
Cruz is fighting hard to support traditional areas of Republican voter pride, and given his performance in last night’s debate, it suggests he’s starting to build momentum. Whether this is enough, time will tell, but his inclusive rhetoric on Twitter is a marked difference from other candidates – and could position well in a fight against Clinton’s “Make America Whole Again” message.
Where he’s weak:
Attacking the front-runner candidate is rarely a bad plan. What creates an issue, is when you have to spend so much time trying to bring them down that you neglect your own message. There’s a balance to maintain here, between tearing down a rival’s barricade (or wall…), and promoting your personal brand. We feel Mr Cruz has struggled with this, and needs to start pushing himself as a better alternative – hope often beats fear.
Where he’s strong:
Rubio is the type of Republican that should play well with their younger voters, and has pushed his belief in millennials hard. Indeed, his newer approach to take on Trump with sophomore type jokes will serve to strengthen this position, and shows he’s prepared to fight in the trenches.
Where he’s weak:
Rubio’s Twitter feed has become filled with nothing but anti-Trump messages. While this may help him towards the Republican nomination, it doesn’t help the early general election message. Rubio must be careful to ensure he’s known as more than “the guy who makes fun of Trump” – and essentially, start looking like a president, instead of a message candidate.
The fight goes on, within America continuing to “Feel The Bern” despite state losses. There’s still twists and turns in the road before the nomination, or according to some sources, coronation. So let’s have a look at where the pair stand;
Where she’s strong:
Clinton’s campaign have an excellent understanding of visual media – and not only visual media, but how to be funny through it. Comedy might not win a presidency, but it makes her significantly more personable – helping her start to shed the Wall Street Hillary tag. If keeping up the momentum on Twitter, she might start to win over some of Sanders grass-roots campaigners – and deliver the fatal blow.
Where she’s weak:
An interesting message, given the articles about Goldman Sachs donations. Clinton has to work hard to be seen as more than a franchise candidate, or a safe pair of hands. In other words, she needs to inspire – and her Twitter content is on the whole humorous and easily shared, it doesn’t fit the media narrative. Something has to change, otherwise there’s an imbalance and the attacks over her lack of consistency will continue.
Where he’s strong:
Bernie’s popularity with young voters, a demographic often turned off by politics, has defied expectations. The strength of a grass-roots campaign that has snowballed to the stage where he has a slim but real path to the nomination is remarkable. The way his campaign has run will allow him to last longer in the race than many would have expected, and his donors can afford to give again. The longer the campaign rolls on, the more the message will get out – but will it be interesting enough?
Where he’s weak:
As a grass-roots powered candidate, it’s disappointing to see that he takes no personal involvement with his Twitter campaign. While in some ways this may add to his charm, it does beg the question as to whether he’s ready for the younger voter, despite the younger voter clearly being ready for him.