Instagram Self-Serve Ads Coming Soon

The latest and greatest digital news updates.

Instagram Self-Serve Ads – Coming to a campaign near you!

After much conversation, Instagram has provided an updated timeline for their new self-service model Ad Platform. While the functionalities were announced weeks ago, Instagram has confirmed that the entire new platform will begin rollout sometime in August and will be fully available in 85 countries in mid-late September. The updated platform will function similarly to Facebook’s set-up, allowing for micro-targeting and smaller spends that had previously been unavailable. For brands already working with Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers, the functionality is currently available in their alpha and beta tests phases.

Facebook to Feature a Standalone Events App – Facebook Events

With 450 million active users to-date, Facebook Events has become one of the most popular features on the social network. Recently, Facebook began sending out alerts to notify users of their events coming up each day to test new features. Now, a standalone mobile app is in the works for Facebook Events to drive awareness of events going on that users have both RSVP’d to and even events they weren’t yet invited to.

Snapchat Drops Yahoo! and Warner Music from ‘Discover’ Tab

Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ tab hosts curated content from some of the world’s best publishers including Vice, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, and more. Earlier this week, Yahoo! and Warner Music were dropped from the ‘Discover’ tab and replaced with Buzzfeed and iHeartRadio. While Snapchat has not confirmed why Yahoo! and Warner Music were dropped, some believe it is because they haven’t driven a lot of advertising revenue for Snapchat. ‘Discover’ tab publishers are allowed to sell ad space on their channels with Snapchat taking an agreed upon cut of the revenue.

Best Practices: How to Break the Mold with Visual Storytelling

Jake Athey of Ad Age outlines the best ways to stand out with visual storytelling. Of note, user generated content – but on steroids – is recommended to really break the mold. The article uses examples like Questival and Tough Mudder as events that garner a large amount of user generated content in a short amount of time. Additionally, memes can be activated to tell incredible stories that pictures sometimes cannot, and a clear strategy/North Star is critical in visual storytelling efforts.

Things We Can Learn From Military Public Affairs (Friday5)

Editor’s note: This version has been updated to accurately reflect the USMC’s involvement with Terminal Lance.

Can you imagine being responsible for 3.2 million employees? How about communicating with them? Unless you’re the CEO of Walmart or McDonalds the answer to those questions is probably “No.” The Department of Defense is the largest employer in the world with more than 1.4 million active duty servicemen and women and over 1.1 million National Guardsmen and Reservists (plus 700,000+ civilians). An organization with such scale presents an interesting challenge — how do you effectively communicate with an audience that large? How do you communicate to the public? What do you do when disaster strikes?

Our clients often have those same questions. Here are five things we can learn from military public affairs:

1. Crisis Communications

Seventeen minutes after the first shots were fired on September 16, 2013, at Washington Navy Yard, @USNavy was already tweeting. The Navy became the trusted source on the incident and they were able to control the flow of information for the duration of the crisis. The Navy did such a great job providing consistent and transparent communication that Twitter did a case study on the incident, saying, “Twitter became the news wire on that day; the Navy’s Tweets were the news bulletins.” You’ll find this type of response across all military branches because it’s muscle memory for them as a result of their countless hours of training. They embrace the idea that if you fail to plan, you should plan to fail.

2. Employee Engagement

The United States Marine Corps is known for a great many things, but few point to its humor and irreverence. Watch a show like Generation Kill or read a comic series like Terminal Lance and you’ll see this immediately. Rather than fight that culture and pretend like it doesn’t exist, the Marine Corps has largely embraced it. Last year the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, made himself available for a video town hall meeting. They solicited questions from Marines on Facebook and Twitter using #AskCMC and General Amos answered them. Some of the questions were pretty tough (e.g. “How can the Commandant lead the Marine Corps in a reawakening without a ground combat record?”), but they didn’t shy away. Embracing the culture of your organization and communicating in a transparent and authentic way on platforms that your employees actually use is something the military does really well. As communicators, we should take note.

3. Media Relations

If you’ve been to New York, you know it’s pretty difficult to get tickets to Jimmy Fallon. So you can probably imagine how hard it is to get your organization on his show as a guest. When the Navy Reserve was celebrating their Centennial earlier this year, they secured an extremely favorable placement on the show that involved Vice Admiral Robin Braun commissioning 100 new Navy Reserve recruits on live television. Similarly, the Army convinced Stephen Colbert to go through Army bootcamp and shave his head in solidarity while visiting Iraq. Not only was that a huge media sensation, but it also gave the soldiers a momentary taste of home and a huge morale boost. Sure, everyone loves to support the troops, but it still requires strategic planning and execution to identify and pitch creative opportunities. The military has an extremely robust media relations operation that is both proactive and reactive. They are looked to for information during times of crisis, so investing in those relationships during times of need allows them to be proactive in the future.

4. Content Strategy

If it’s true that people “eat with their eyes,” then the U.S. military is a 5-star restaurant. From Army training missions in Afghanistan to Air Force paratroopers jumping from a C-130J Super Hercules over Bulgaria, military public affairs professionals consistently produce compelling images and creative videos to engage employees, family and the general public. Their strategy is simple: Tell visual stories from across the world and leverage the social web to get those stories in front of people back home and abroad.

And boy does it work. Just look at the engagement on the U.S. Air Force or U.S. Army Facebook pages. And in the comments you’ll see proud Americans, nostalgic veterans, homesick active duty, and future recruits all talking together. Understanding your audience and leveraging the resources you have (even if you don’t have cool airplanes) to tell visual stories is key to any content strategy and the military is leading the way.

5. Campaign Planning

On May 13, 2015, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced several groundbreaking personnel initiatives during a speech at the United States Naval Academy. As he was speaking, the Navy was sharing quotes and additional resources in real-time. His team prepared pre-recorded videos addressing each initiative, understanding that there would be additional questions, and drove social traffic to those videos. He also made the full text of his speech available online for anyone to read. It is obvious that SECNAV Mabus wanted to be crystal clear and transparent about his #PeopleMatter campaign and that likely came from months of planning and coordination. Due to the flood of information, Sailors were left with answers instead of questions and excitement instead of confusion. This flawless execution can be applied to any major corporate announcement and is a great reminder that planning across the spectrum of earn media, owned media and social media is extremely valuable.

Joe Scannell is an Account Executive on the Digital Crisis team in Washington, DC. He is also a Public Affairs Officer in the United States Navy Reserve. You can follow him on Twitter for tweets about tech, politics, and Chicago sports.

Image credit: The Joint Staff

Brands Will Soon Have Access to GoPro Videos

The latest and greatest digital news updates.

Brands Are About to Find Out How Powerful GoPro Videos Can Be

GoPro will soon launch a new platform called GoPro Licensing, where brands and marketers will be privy to over 600 videos from amateur and professional videographers. Video prices begin at $1,000 and vary by distribution and specific usage.

Instagram Gets Its First Game, Inspired by the World of ‘Rick and Morty’

Adult Swim, in partnership with digital agency Carrot, have recently developed the first Instagram game to promote their show, Rick and Morty. The “Rickstaverse” acts like a hidden object game, with secret collectable goodies and Easter eggs hidden throughout each planet. This creative use of Instagram gives insight into the future of the platform; a place not only for passive absorption of content, but also a place where followers can be actively engaged through games like scavenger hunts.

Facebook Now Lets You Restrict Who Views Videos by Age and Gender

Earlier this week, Facebook released multiple updates aimed at expanding the platform’s video capabilities. The first update will allow video creators to restrict specific audiences from seeing videos, including age groups, gender, locations and languages. Additionally, Facebook rolled out “secret mode,” which limits video views to users with direct links.

Twitter Removes Background Wallpaper from User Homepages

You may have noticed that Twitter removed the custom wallpaper from the home and notification timelines for all users, replacing it with a plain grey background to give the platform a cleaner and more unified look. However, user wallpapers are still visible when logged in and viewing tweet pages, list pages and collections pages.

You Can Finally Search Instagram on Your Desktop

Instagram’s latest update allows users to search images via the app’s desktop interface. While it is primarily a mobile app, adding desktop search has been a goal of Instagram’s for some time. Cofounder Mike Krieger told WIRED that the company invested in computer vision and other image-friendly search capabilities earlier this year leading up to this update.

Lessons from Improv That Benefit Content Strategy (Friday5)

About a year ago, a coworker introduced me to the DC Improv comedy school. I was definitely up for learning improv (I am an ESFJ, after all) but I was terrified of having to make stuff up on the spot. My heart was pounding like a drum line in a marching band and as my family and friends entered the room the lights went dark…

…and I said to myself, “here goes nothing,” as the stage lights were staring me straight in the face.

As a content strategist at Edelman DC, my job is to tell stories for our clients. Three improv courses and two performances later, I’m ready for SNL. (Lorne Michaels are you reading this?) Ok… Reality check… but I did learn so many skills to enhance what I do for Edelman. Here are five lessons I learned in improv that will enhance your content strategy skills:

1. Listening

Improv is all about listening. Since there isn’t a script, you have to listen to what is happening on stage and be able to adapt and react quickly. If you don’t you could miss a critical part of a scene. The same goes for content strategy. It is our job to listen and observe what our clients are doing as well as the social trends online when we write content. If we ignore what’s happening around us, we lose our audience, we lose engagement and we’re not effective storytellers.

2. The two most important words in improv are “Yes AND”

Agreeing to what is happening on stage and then contributing to what is already happening will make you a better improv artist and a better storyteller. Some of the best content comes from cooperation with others. One of my favorite examples is when Old Spice tweeted “Actions speak louder than words. So remember to scream loudly while doing things,” and the Harlem Globetrotters responded enhancing the conversation. When we write content, it important to find opportunities to not just agree but also to enhance the story.

3. Be honest

My improv teacher told me the story of an acting class that Marlon Brando was in where the class was told to act like chickens and that a nuclear bomb was about to fall on them. While the class acted like crazy chickens clucking, Brando sat calmly pretending to lay an egg. When his teacher asked he said, “I’m a chicken, what do I know about bombs?” The truth in life is comedy and when we tell stories, audiences will resonate with the truth. Why? Because they go through the truth every day. Successful content is compelling and draws the audience in because of the personal touch and the connection they make.

4. Relationships matter

In improv, you have to keep the audience engaged and without props, sets, and an entire cast, trying to advance a plot is pretty pointless. What is important is relationships in improv. At the beginning of a scene, the audience should be able to understand the emotions and relationships of the characters on stage regardless of the plot. This same skill is important in content strategy. When we write content, we’re writing for an audience. Whether its consumers, B2B, influencers, etc. When we research an audience, we become them while writing content and we keep our audience interested.

5. Don’t be afraid to fail

The best improv artists fail. They perform scenes that don’t work. That’s OK, if you don’t take risks in improv you’re afraid of what can come from thinking outside of the box. Some of the best movies scenes that we quote everyday were improv. It may not always work but it’s worth the risk. Content strategy is the same way. When it comes to telling stories we must always be willing to take risks and work with our clients to take those risks with us. What if Steve Job’s 1984 Apple commercial never made it to TV? We have to be willing to take risks!

Tatiana Posada leads content strategy for Edelman Digital in Washington, DC.

Image credit: Tatiana Posada

Customers of Crimson Hexagon Can Now Access Tumblr Insights

The latest and greatest in digital news updates.

Crimson Hexagon Now Offers Access to Tumblr Firehose

Analytics provider Crimson Hexagon has joined Tumblr’s Preferred Data Partners program, and now offers customers access to insights on the platform’s full firehose of public activity. Customers will be able to track brand mentions and logos, measure conversation volume and analyze sentiment drivers on Yahoo’s network, thus making it easier to prove engagement, awareness and, ultimately, ROI through Tumblr. See the rest of Tumblr’s Preferred Data Partners here.

Best Practices: What is the Optimal Length for Video Content?

Mary Pederson of Ad Age offers insight into the perfect video length on social media. Determining the length of your video is less about the actual time and more about your goals. For instance, audiences on Twitter and Facebook have a higher tolerance for 30 to 45 second videos, while Vine and Instagram audiences expect media in the 15 second range. Additionally, title length should be kept top of mind. A formal title leads the viewer to expect a longer video, while an informal/punchy title implies a shorter, fun video.

Twitter is Auto-Expanding Link Previews

Links shared on Twitter now appear to be showing content previews automatically, similar to Facebook’s auto-populating preview. Although there is only evidence of certain Twitter users experiencing auto-expanded link previews, this enforces the assumption that Twitter will soon roll out link previews platform-wide.

Facebook Adds Buy Button to Help Reinvent Pages

More than a year after Facebook started testing its buy button in ads on the newsfeed, it appears that the company is now ready to take the service to the next level. Facebook recently started testing shops with ‘buy buttons’ inside of Facebook Pages, where users can browse for and purchase items.

5 Tips for Video Amplification (Friday5)

The widespread proliferation of mobile and tablet devices has created a boom in digital video content consumption in the past few years, and video ad spending in the US is growing with it. eMarketer projects overall spend will nearly double from $7.8 billion this year to $14.4 billion by 2019. If you or a client is new to video, consider these five tips for video amplification:

1. Production considerations

Because video content can be expensive to produce professionally, consider the supplementary content that can be created during the video shoot itself. If the end product is a premier video, plan to shoot a short teaser for Instagram and/or bring a photographer to capture behind-the-scenes imagery and b-roll footage. This is especially important if you have limited time with a spokesperson or other cast members.

2. Facebook vs Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are becoming more video-focused with the former’s forthcoming pre-roll style video ads and the latter’s recent introduction of autoplay video. While they’re great for organic content amplification, both offer robust video ad targeting directly in users’ feeds using a cost-per-view model. One of Facebook’s paid video strengths is video retargeting, allowing advertisers to reach a consistent audience with sequential videos. Twitter excels with viewability, setting the standard at 100% in-view while Facebook videos autoplay when at least one pixel of the video is on the screen.

3. Native

Native advertising platforms like ShareThrough and Nativo give advertisers new options for targeting and a broader audience to complement social video ads. These platforms serve your video on premier publishers’ sites in the same format as their own content for a more authentic, in-feed experience. Videos can be played on publishers’ sites without clicking off the page, creating a seamless experience for the user.

4. Publisher partnerships

Partnering with media companies that have an ad network across multiple sites helps achieve targeted scale and reach for big-budget projects. They can serve your video to an audience segment (i.e. millennials, business travelers, etc) across their properties in the form of pre-roll or an in-unit display video ad. Some may give the option to embed a YouTube video (Flash) or use the native video file (HTML5) – the former isn’t mobile-friendly but attributes views to your YouTube channel while the latter is better for a consistent experience across devices and tracks metrics separately.

5. Measurement

With any video campaign requiring the video live on disparate platforms, it’s important to track view counts and impressions in a central location for comprehensive reporting. Tracking these details together allows for cost-efficiency analysis overall and by platform, in addition to data indicating which platform was best for driving conversions, shares and the like. Finally, before launching a video campaign, understand the difference in how platforms measure a “view.” Facebook and Twitter charge after a video plays for 3 seconds, so looking at completed views or views to 95% completion are good secondary view metrics.

Image credit: Julian

Twitter Improves Advertising for Mobile Apps

Twitter improves mobile app ads, Facebook updates cost-per-click definition and more digital news.

Twitter Adds Advertising Tools to Promote Mobile Apps

Twitter has announced new tools for its mobile application advertisers. These include video app cards that showcase apps before prompting users to install them, and a pay-per-download system.

Facebook Updates Its Cost-Per-Click Definition to Only Include Clicks to Website and Apps

This week, Facebook announced that cost-per-click (CPC) will now be defined by clicks to the website and clicks on apps, excluding likes, shares and comments from the measurement. This will particularly benefit marketers using paid media to better understand where their money is being spent when looking at CPC data, ultimately helping with campaign optimization.

Facebook’s Latest News Feed Change Lets You Pick Who You See First

Facebook is making the News Feed more personal, allowing users to prioritize who to see first, unfollow people, reconnect with people previously unfollowed, and discover new pages. The new preferences are available on Facebook’s iOS app with a desktop and Android update coming soon.

Instagram Photos Are Now Bigger and Better

Take a look and see what the very near future of Instagram looks like!

Send a Tweet to Coke’s Digital Billboard, and It’ll Tell You Fun Facts About Your Name

Blending social engagement with experiential tactics, Coca-Cola has launched a new billboard in Times Square that shares fun facts about the names of people who tweet to it. The display is powered by a microsite created by Coke and Google, and contains various facts about the 1,000 names the soda company printed on its cans and bottles over the summer. Just tweet the billboard with hashtag #Cokemyname to learn about your name.


Ways to Strengthen Measurement and Reporting (Friday5)

Following a regular measurement and reporting process can help illustrate the impact of a brand/organization’s online presence and lead to content optimizations. Whether it’s campaign-focused reporting or an established monthly/quarterly cadence, here are five tactics for improving the process and final product:

1. Campaign reporting brief

For a specific campaign report, begin by outlining campaign objectives, digital tactics (i.e. social amplification, webpage overlay, paid partnership), timeline and key players. Using the brief to inform the report output ensures it focuses on the right metrics to tell the right story across all campaign elements.

2. Benchmarking

Telling a story with report data is more impactful when you offer the context of benchmarks based on historical data. Instead of saying the campaign resulted in 2,103 new Twitter followers, you can make these results more meaningful by adding that the audience growth was 70 times the typical growth over any other month of the year. Benchmarking also tells a more objective success story than comparing engagement metrics with other brands’ social channels.

3. Tracked links

Using tracked links through Google Analytics can help organize referral traffic data for reporting purposes by segmenting specific traffic sources from the complete dataset. Create tracked links for all digital assets linking back to your site, including display media, paid search ads and sponsored content to analyze how traffic from those sources differ from other visitors. Do visitors from sponsored content pieces stay on the site longer or view more pages than average? Are paid search ads driving new traffic or bringing returning visitors back to the site? What percentage of overall traffic is driven by display media?

4. Reporting ROI

Though still relatively new, the addition of ‘Buy Now’ buttons to Facebook and Twitter will allow brands to report ROI of paid social for new product launches, flash sales and the like, which adds more business-oriented metrics than reach and engagement. Even without the ‘Buy Now’ features, brands can use tracked links in paid social posts to attribute ecommerce sales to various paid social tactics.

5. Implementing optimizations to improve results

Reports are most helpful when they offer insightful analysis and recommendations for reaching goals, content improvements, adjustments in content cadence, paid strategy and the like. Ensuring optimal execution elements are perpetuated and issues are addressed should always be a reporting objective, making content creation, distribution, reporting and optimization cyclical.

The New Social Media Trends in Asia-Pacific (Friday5)

A version of this post appeared in PRWeek.

Edelman Digital APACMEA’s review of social media usage across Asia Pacific and the Middle East reveals constant shifts in the social media channels being used, the nature of usage and the users themselves. One of the most evident tendencies in this region is that when the social media party gets crowded, the cool kids move on. As social media continues to become more and more a part of the fabric of daily life, the pattern of that fabric is forever altering, as can be seen through these trends:

1. Users Are Getting Older

The average age of social media users across all six key markets in Southeast Asia now starts at 18 rather than 15 or 16 in every country except the Philippines – which has the fastest growing population (Source: comScore). The popularity of more visually oriented platforms such as Instagram – usage in the United Arab Emirates has grown from 14 to 34 percent of the population over the past two years (Source: ictQATAR) – and private networks have fragmented the markets.

2. Social Media Platforms Are at War

Of the top five platforms in China in 2014, only one remained there as of last year. And that one – RenRen – once considered the Facebook of China – was bringing up the rear at number five with less than a fifth the users of the market leader (Source: CNNIC). It’s a similar story in India, where the once mighty Orkut has gone from second-to-oblivion in the same amount of time (Source: comScore).

3. Private Is the New Black

The generation that was once seen as over-sharing has grown up to be a bit shy and now prefers to circulate their selfies among smaller, more secure networks. This can be partly explained by the growing desire for privacy among formerly socialist (the original “sharing”) societies.

4. Mobile Is the New TV

The number of people using mobile for video in China has more than doubled during the past five years, while the number of people accessing via TV has collapsed to less than a quarter, confirming that this is the dusk of the single-use device (Source: CNNIC).

5. Brand-based Engagement Is Low

Across Southeast Asia, average engagement levels for brand-based content continue to fall to low single digits, with the notable exception of Vietnam, where it is a whopping 25 percent (Source: socialbakers). Vietnamese marketers: make the most of this while you can.

Image credit: Harco Rutgers

Facebook Updates Video Ads

Facebook updates video ads, Google Analytics releases a huge update and more of the latest digital news from this week.

Facebook is Changing the Video Ad Game in a Big Way

Previously, Facebook charged marketers per impression earned on videos, even as videos were played for a brief moment. In response to complaints, the platform now offers the option to pay after a video has played for at least 10 seconds. This gives marketers more control and creative direction on a platform that boasts over 4 million video views per day.

What’s New in the Latest Google Analytics Update

Google has announced the opening of Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (rebranded as “Audiences”) to Analytics users, allowing admins to customize ads based on visitor activity on a website. Here’s how to get started.

Seven Stats about the Top Social Networks for Brands

Simply Measured released the findings of their 2015 State of Social Marketing Report, which analyzed the Interbrand 100 Companies across YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr. Important findings to note include that most brands are active on five or more networks, Facebook by far has the most monthly users and company activity on YouTube and mobile platforms are growing at a high rate.

Brands Join the Gay-Marriage Celebration in Social Media

Following the Supreme Court’s decision for a nation-wide right to same-sex marriage, social media naturally celebrated in all the best ways. See how brands joined the party.

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