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Facebook Updates Its News Feed Algorithm Again and Twitter Direct Messaging Now Available to All Users

Facebook released three more updates to its News Feed algorithm, Twitter’s direct messaging feature is now available to all users and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Tweaks News Feed to Show More Updates from Friends, Fewer Stories When Friends Like or Comment 

Early this week, Facebook announced three updates to the News Feed algorithm. The first update will further prioritize content (photos, videos, status updates and links) posted by a user’s Facebook friends. Another update will deprioritize posts that friends have engaged with, putting the most emphasis on posts that come directly from friends and pages that the user has liked. The last update will allow multiple posts from the same source to appear in a row, in an effort to keep Facebook interesting for those who don’t have a large network.

Twitter Direct Messaging Now Available to All Users

Twitter announced that all users now have the option to receive direct messages from other users. Originally, this capability was introduced to a small group of users in 2013. On Twitter’s “Security and Privacy” page, users have the option to adjust their settings to turn the direct message option on or off. This is an attempt by the platform to boost engagement, especially for brands on the channel.

Snapchat May Soon Let Users Unlock Photos If They’re Standing in Just the Right Location, According to Patent

According to a patent filed by Snapchat, users may soon be able to unlock photos and messages from friends based on their geolocations. Though this feature is by no means official, it suggests that Snapchat is thinking about how to tie location into its product even further, in alignment with its existing geo-based filters.

Vine’s New Share Screen Lets You Post to Multiple Social Networks at Once, Including Tumblr

Vine, Twitter’s six-second video application, now allows users to easily share videos between Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. The update enables users to quickly share their favorite videos across their social properties, spreading the net of popular Vine videos. The update is currently available on iOS and will be available on Android at a later date.

Friday5: 5 Ways Technology is Helping Reduce Health Disparities

By Alexis Cummings, Christen Smiley and Will Ayers

April is designated as Minority Health Month to raise awareness of the disparity in health conditions between minority and non-minority populations. This year, the FDA’s Office of Minority Health (OMH) is collaborating with the HHS Office of Minority Health to celebrate this year’s theme – “30 Years of Advancing Health Equity, The Heckler Report: A Force for Ending Health Disparities in America.” We took this opportunity to focus on five ways technology is being used to alleviate health disparities.

1. Mobile makes health accessible

Multicultural consumers have led the growth in smartphone penetration and according to a Pew Research Center study, Hispanics and African Americans were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to access health information on their phones. Search topics concerning specific diseases, medical treatments and weight loss were the top search categories for African-American and Hispanic smartphone users.

Researchers at UCLA are currently conducting clinical trials in Los Angeles using a smartphone app that tracks the eating habits of 40 African-American women at risk for heart disease.

2. Building communities

A study completed by the University of Michigan found that a majority of African-American men surveyed said they do not go to the doctor because visits are stressful and physicians don’t provide adequate information on how to make prescribed behavior or lifestyle changes.

Many culturally targeted online communities have sprouted to provide relevant and actionable information such as Black Men Run, Black Girls Run!, Pretty Girls Sweat, and The Healthy Latina*.

3. Social media

According to a late 2014 Pew Research Center survey, Latinos, African Americans and Whites use social media networks equally, but there are differences in their preferences for specific social media sites. Facebook is the most widely used platform regardless of race or ethnicity but Instagram and Twitter are more popular with Latinos and African Americans.

Understanding these nuances is important when trying to connect with these diverse communities. Organizations like the American Heart Association has incorporated social media channels to raise awareness on its EmPowered To Serve initiative, which focuses on improving health in multicultural communities by building a sustainable healthy culture. The American Heart Association’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ platforms have a combined audience of 1.3 million followers.

4. Engaging health professionals

In a 2011 Mintel study, about two thirds of both Hispanic and African-American respondents indicated that their health is excellent or generally good – which counters the large amounts of data that proves the opposite to be true. Among these groups, cultural dietary patterns and fear of social stigmatization have been found to deter significant changes in behaviors that lead to a healthy lifestyle, such as diet or exercise lifestyle modification.

Health Net uses its online platform to provide cultural literacy training to its workforce, which enables healthcare professionals to better connect and understand patients from diverse cultural backgrounds.

5. Access to health resources

Wellness websites such as HolaDoctor.com and BlackDoctor.org are online platforms using innovative ways to assist multicultural populations with health information and access. HolaDoctor.com is providing uninsured Hispanics with a tool that provides access to healthcare options through The Affordable Care Act’s special enrollment period. BlackDoctor.org has a similar tool that provides visitors with information on healthcare laws, Medicare, insurance plans and available doctors in their local area.

*Michelle is an Edelman employee

Image credit: rosmary

YouTube’s Paid Subscription Coming Soon and Tumblr Debuts 24-Hour Dashboard Ad

YouTube soon to offer paid subscriptions, Tumblr debuts a 24-hour dashboard ad and more of the latest digital news.

YouTube’s Paid Subscription Offering Takes Shape – And It’s Almost Here

YouTube’s paid subscription offering is quickly taking shape as it moves closer to its expected release in the next few months. A subscription will offer consumers ad-free videos, the ability to store videos offline on mobile devices and much more. The producers of YouTube videos will take a percentage of the subscription revenue, with the caveat that they must participate in the subscription offering or their videos will be set to private. Subscriptions could cost consumers around $10 a month, with a reduced price option to subscribe to specific channels. This move comes at a critical time, as competition has increased in the online video space.

Tumblr Debuts New Ad That Sits at the Top of Users’ Dashboards for 24 Hours

Tumblr yesterday released a new ad product called Sponsored Day, enabling marketers to appear at the top of viewers’ dashboards for a 24-hour period. Sponsored Day posts will be marked by a dollar sign icon and are intended to direct traffic to a brand’s custom content channel through the site’s Explore tab. Ads are viewable by anyone who visits the platform and brands are not required to have a Tumblr page to purchase an ad.

With Snapchat’s First Ad Format on Hold, Focus Shifts to Live Event Feeds

Earlier this week, Snapchat stopped selling Brand Story ads that let advertisers pay to promote a standalone piece of branded content within the mobile app. Instead, the company is promoting its TV-like Our Story feeds, as well as its portal Discover. Additionally, Snapchat is also pitching localized stories that will be specific to college campuses or metropolitan areas. Their “Our Story” feature will be restricted to pre-produced footage.

Instagram Adds Post Notifications for Specific Accounts, Color and Fade Tools

Instagram users are now able to receive push notifications from their favorite accounts with the platform’s new post notifications tool, making it easier to keep track of favorite accounts. In the same announcement, Instagram also released new photo editing tools called Color and Fade. Color allows users to adjust the tone of the highlights and shadows of pictures for moody effects and Fade blends colors together for a muted effect. The Color and Fade tools are currently available on Android devices and are coming to iOS soon.

Friday5: 5 Paid Media Tips

This post originally ran on Edelman.com.

Digital marketing is blurring the lines between owned, earned and paid. While this has limited brands’ ability to leverage the organic reach of content, it has also given brands the impetus to break silos and create multiple, yet specialized touch points with their highly fragmented target audiences.

Marketers are therefore testing tools and technologies to activate the right audience at the right time with the right content. This is where marketers turn to paid media techniques – an excellent way to break through the clutter on the Internet.

As we digital marketers experiment with the complexities of designing successful paid media strategies for brands, we thought it would be helpful to get advice from Chris Paul, Edelman’s global director of paid media.

1. Why is paid crucial to the success of a social media program?

Paid tactics offer the ability to target specific audiences by behavior, geography or a brand’s own audience insights. When we’re looking for increased accountability and efficiency, the paid media space has been focused on those goals for 15+ years.

2. What are the key considerations for a marketer while developing a paid media strategy?

It boils down to goals, audience and analytics. You must be crystal clear on your definition of success, you have to bring some fresh perspective on what matters to your audience and you must be able to connect your media success to your business success.

3. Do you agree that the lines are blurring between paid, owned and earned media? How can brands take advantage of this?

I completely agree. The results from Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View confirmed that a consumer’s primary expectation from the media is good content, whether it comes from brands, publishers or people. More recently, the Online Publishers Association reported that 71 percent of readers have no objections to native advertising. Think like a publisher, if not like a peer, when you’re crafting your brand content and you’ll have a better chance of having your communications welcomed and shared.

4. How do we make paid effective?

At Edelman, we approach media from a storytelling perspective, using our paid dollars to amplify owned and earned assets that people choose to share, not just advertisements that they might see. We produce entertaining, informative, useful content and experiences that resonate with consumers and spur action.

5. Organic Social Content Still Important

As brands open up to paid media strategies, let us not forget, organic social content is still important for engaging and growing community. Successful paid amplification is a function of correct audience segmentation supported by real-time unique, creative and engaging content creation. It has the potential to improve the performance of good organic content but it cannot make up for poor content.

Image credit: Maryland GovPics

Facebooks Integrates with WhatsApp and Twitter Launches New Feature

Facebook begins integrating with WhatsApp, Twitter launches a new Retweet feature and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Begins Integrating WhatsApp

Following Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp last year, the platform has rolled out a new button on their Android mobile app, allowing users to share content directly to the WhatsApp platform. This button appears just to the right of the share button under status updates for select Android users, and is a move on Facebook’s part towards owning more of the mobile messaging scene.

Twitter Officially Launches Its “Retweet With Comment” Feature

Earlier this week, Twitter launched a feature that allows users to share an embedded tweet in a new post. The new feature will help users share and comment on tweets without having to shorten or change content, helping preserve the context of the original tweet. Embedded tweets do not interfere with Twitter’s 140-character limit. “Retweet with comment” is available for iPhone users and site visitors, with a planned Android update in the future.

Pinterest Makes Marketing Easier for Brands with Rich Pins

In addition to Pinterest’s Promoted Pins offering, the platform now offers advanced Rich Pins. Rich Pins contain detailed product information, ranging from real-time pricing to availability. They also contain locations for purchasing specific items. Brands including J. Crew, Target and Nordstrom are already taking advantage of the actionable details of these new Pins.

See the First Brands to Use Instagram’s Carousel Ads

As Instagram builds out their advertising platform to showcase longer stories, a few brands jumped right on board. See how brands like Old Navy, Showtime and Banana Republic are telling their stories with the new carousel ads.

Friday5: 5 Ways Social Has Become the New Front Page

With global smartphone penetration at an all-time high, social media continues to shift the ways in which users are consuming and sharing the happenings of the world around them. Whether it’s catching up on Facebook on the way to work or sharing pictures of major events on Twitter, this increased mobility has continued to create an environment in which “news” is no longer limited to a daily newspaper. Rather, the stories a user sees are specifically curated based on the brands, individuals and news outlets they choose to engage with digitally.

As an increasingly tech-savvy population, breaking news has users turning to social media more than the traditional front page. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study claims 68% of smartphone owners use their phone to follow along with breaking news. The ever-evolving nature of social media has built a truly dynamic modern media landscape in which news stories can begin anywhere within the media cloverleaf and transcend traditional, hybrid, social and owned media. News agencies have been tweaking their content strategy to reflect this, creating bite-sized content for easy consumption on smaller screens.

Here are five ways social connectivity continues to change the way we consume news:

1. News Content within Facebook

In an effort to improve experience for its over 1.4 billion users, Facebook may begin hosting content natively from major news publishers such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic. While this may ultimately take away site traffic and advertising power from those media outlets, Facebook’s power over the types of media presented to users via algorithm would make outlets eager to participate keep users’ eyes on their content.

2. Real-Time Video Updates

The rising popularity of live-streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope will pave the way for a more nimble media cycle in which users will have the power to watch breaking news as it happens, rather than waiting for these reports to be released on news channels. With functionality allowing users to tune into streams through browsers, engagement with this type of content is not limited to smartphones, making this type of news accessible to most with Internet access.

3. Media Brands on Snapchat

The start of 2015 brought a new Snapchat functionality allowing for daily updates from media outlets such as CNN, ESPN, National Geographic and Yahoo News in the app’s “Discover” section. Viewable for 24 hours, each publisher is able to provide Snapchat’s over 100 million monthly users with short, visually-rich content snippets.

4. Breaking News on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter’s trending topics have always been representative of breaking news and popular conversation topics across the country and around the world, however, this week’s update to eliminate the platform’s “Discover” timeline and move trending topics into the search page now includes descriptions of trending topics in an effort to be more informative. Facebook has thrown their hat in the trending topics ring as well, launching the functionality on its desktop site early last year and launching mobile trending functionality in December. Additionally, Facebook’s prioritization of video content has cemented its role as a source for breaking news updates via video.

5. Social Becoming the News

Social media has brought the social activity of public figures front and center, with this activity sparking more news stories shared in traditional media. Social has armed these public figures with the ability to communicate directly with their fan bases and has increasingly evolved into the preferred medium for making announcements which then trickle into traditional reporting. The increasing popularity of these news stories sparked by social activity brings users to their social newsfeed rather than a traditional front page to get a more holistic, quick snapshot of their world.

Image credit: Jon S

Brands Take Advantage of April Fools’ Day and Facebook Announces Analytics for Apps

Brands take full advantage of April Fools’ Day, Facebook adds in analytics for apps and more of the latest digital news.

April Fools’ Day 2015: Our Giant Roundup of the Best Brand Hoaxes

April Fools’ Day is one of the great advertising holidays when brands manage to be smart, relevant and amusing on their smallest budgets of the year. This year, Funny or Die wrangled 250 celebrities for their fake video streaming platform, Tough Mudder jokingly rolled out Baby Mudder, and more.

Facebook Announces Analytics for Apps

At their annual F8 conference, Facebook announced Analytics for Apps, a new tool for marketers who want to better target campaigns based on aggregated social data such as engagement, usage behavior and campaign performance. The tool’s web dashboard lets users see how apps are performing in regards to audience engagement and conversion rates. In a live demo, Facebook showed how marketers can see not only ad clicks, but how far different groups got through the sales process. By providing a native analytics app for free, Facebook is competing with the likes of Google and other paid measurement tools.

Facebook Embeddable Videos and Updated Comments

Last Wednesday, Facebook launched an embedded video player for all users. Facebook users can now embed videos uploaded on the social platform across the web. In addition to the new product, Facebook is rolling out an updated comment plugin. Users can now log in with their Facebook account and comment on a website, and the comment will be duplicated on the official Facebook-shared story. These recent updates provide users with additional opportunities to engage with Facebook outside of the platform.

Twitter Ads are Coming to Your Profile

As part of a new test, Twitter is bringing promoted tweets to profile pages. This means when you visit a friend’s profile, you may find a targeted Twitter ad just a few tweets into the user’s stream. For now, the ads only appear to users who are logged in, but Twitter has been working on a way to put ads in front of people who visit the service without actually opening an account.

Instagram Just Launched a New App to Let You Create Photo Collages

Instagram launched a new standalone application, “Layout from Instagram.” Layout lets users drag and drop multiple photos into eight different frameworks to easily create a collage. The app also allows users to flip and mirror images, take a series of quick succession photos and more. While Layout is complementary with Instagram, it doesn’t allow users to automatically upload images to Instagram or add filters to their creations. Layout is Instagram’s second standalone app, following the release of Hyperlapse last fall.

Friday5: 5 Things Communicators Can Learn From Super Troopers 2

In 2001, a comedy group called Broken Lizard gave a gift to the world called Super Troopers. 14 years later, it is still a cultural phenomenon because of the shenanigans in the movie and fans have been clamoring for a sequel for years.

Last week, Broken Lizard announced that the script for the sequel is done, but they needed to independently secure funding for the production of the movie. They turned to Indiegogo for a crowdfunding campaign with the hope of raising $2 million in 30 days. 24 hours later, they hit their target fundraising goal and with 22 days still left to go, they have raised over $3 million.

The wild success of this campaign might seem like a Hollywood stunt, but in reality, this was a grassroots communications campaign with some great execution. What can we learn from this?

1. Know your audience

One of the most important aspects of any communications campaign is knowing and understanding your audience. Before you can talk to someone, you have to make sure you know where they hang out and that you’re speaking their language.

Super Troopers is a cult comedy classic and Broken Lizard knew they were speaking to a very specific audience. They had to be true to the movie and that’s why the campaign is full of absurdity and irreverence — just like the movie. They announced the crowdfunding campaign via reddit AMA and after hitting the front page, they raised more than $600,000 just from that effort alone. As you read through the Indiegogo campaign page, you’ll see movie quotes and references throughout as well as all the original cast members participating in videos and perks. It’s clear they know their audience and that audience has rewarded them handsomely.

2. Clear call to action

It’s said that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but I think that’s nonsense. As communicators, it’s our responsibility to make our messages clear and lower the barrier to entry enough that anyone can participate. Broken Lizard nailed this.

They have creative perks ranging from $1 to $35,000 and a very clear call to action:

Friday5 Super Troopers - Clear CTA

There’s no doubt that raising $3 million in eight days is impressive. But what is perhaps more impressive is that Super Troopers 2 raised this money from only 33,000+ funders – roughly $95 per funder.

3. Be creative

The internet is an amazing thing, but it has also raised the bar for creativity — something I refer to as the “Jimmy Fallon Effect.” To compete for attention in the age of the Internet, it’s no longer sufficient to just have a celebrity come on your show and give an interview; you need something more. A quick look at Jimmy Fallon’s most popular videos on YouTube has Emma Stone in a Lip Sync Battle, Daniel Radcliffe rapping, and Will Ferrell having a drum-off.

The same applies to communications campaigns — you have to dare to be creative. The creative fundraising perks range from the cool (naming a movie character or being an extra) to the absurd (a battle at Beerfest Chicago or actually purchasing one of the squad cars used in the movie). These crazy perks make for a great story and the media has played a big role in the campaign’s vitality.

4. Be visual

In addition to a higher bar for creativity, the internet has also challenged our attention spans. With so much content being generated every day, being visual is more important than ever. In order to cut through the clutter and noise, Broken Lizard created visual content for all of their perks and main messaging points. This helps draw attention to the important information and also stays consistent with their tone of voice throughout.

Friday5 Super Troopers - Be Visual

5. Build a campaign

Campaign planning is an integral part of any communication strategy. It’s important to plan for the big splash, but also the long swim, especially in the case of a thirty-day crowdfunding campaign. With such a strong cult following, it’s not a huge surprise this campaign met its funding goal in one day. What is impressive, however, is the fact that Broken Lizard planned a campaign for sustained engagement and not just the initial splash.

In addition to the original perks, they’ve also added stretch goals and new perks every day to help drive more contributions. Again, their call to action is clear: the more money they raise, the better the movie. And now they’re giving people a reason to check back in with the campaign and possibly donate again.

In an interview with Wired, they said they approached this campaign like a live show. “We want to make it feel like an experience you’re having over the course of a month, something you want to go along on the ride for.”

This is definitely one ride I’m excited to go on and my only regret is that I’m not getting married anytime soon, otherwise I would do whatever I could to get the Troopers at my wedding.

Friday5 Super Troopers - Wedding

Image credits: Broken Lizard

Friday5: 5 Highlights From SXSW

With another South By Southwest (SXSW) in the books, Edelfolks from Texas share their biggest takeaways, observations and findings after immersing themselves in the nine-day festival. From Meerkat to artificial intelligence, robots and ISIS’ social presence, here are the team’s takeaways.

1. Spike Jones, Managing Director, Southwest – Where did Social Media go?

My biggest takeaway this year is that nobody was saying the words “social media” anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s now such a part of our everyday lives, but there were no panels on “how to use Twitter” or “best Facebook techniques.” Outside of Meerkat, the social media conversation finally gave way to what SXSW was founded on: smart people collaborating and birthing BIG IDEAS. There were conversations about robots, artificial intelligence, tech and how it’s helping/hindering us as humans. In other words, some really exciting stuff. No longer are we so focused on the what, but focused on the why – and more importantly – the how.

2. Dominic Ybarra, Technology Sector Lead, Southwest – Think global!

Countries from every region showed up in full force – bringing in tow a delegation of global startups to show off innovation, insert an authentic international viewpoint, talk cross-border policy and most of all, lure in top entrepreneurs and big brands with special visa programs and tax incentives. There’s always been a hint of international companies at SXSW, but this year it was evident that SXSW is a global stage like no other. The infusion of the unique cultures from around the globe just enhanced the collaboration, reminding us that the next big thing can (and will) come from anywhere.

3. Deven Nongbri, VP Digital, Houston – ISIS making inroads at… SXSW?

For the first time, the Islamic terrorist organization was a hot topic of conversation across a couple of different panels during the week-long festival. And it makes sense, since they make extensive use of social media to both promote their work and recruit others to their diabolical cause. What we saw in Austin was a close look at how the group was using public social platforms like Twitter and what private organizations, NGOs and governments were doing to track and battle the group online. What’s their secret? Themes included: people being drawn to drama and extraordinary visual storytelling, the emotional outrage that gets so much attention, and why Twitter should use a systematic, big data approach instead of a “whack-a-mole” method for shutting down participants who are using the platform to spread hate.

4. Jennifer Trou, Account Supervisor, Austin – Battling for earned media coverage

Obtaining earned media coverage at SXSW continues to become more challenging as more brands, more panels and more attendees create more white noise. The breakout of Interactive this year was Meerkat, with many media piloting its use to do live streams of the festival. The brands that earned the most coverage were the ones providing a benefit to festival-goers (beyond just a free beer), such as MasterCard’s Priceless Elevator Pitch, which awarded $15,000 to the winner of a pitching contest. To stand out at SXSW, the mandate remains clear – be proactive, be strategic and be ready to think on your feet.

5. Neven Simpson, Account Executive, Austin – Navigating ever-evolving platforms

Reoccurring themes for me all stemmed back to the plethora of platforms that exist for both news outlets and influencers. When Dan Rather states the nightly news won’t exist in 10 years, but Snapchat will, you know the game has changed in traditional media.

Similarly, Mashable’s CEO Pete Cashmore touched on the role of artificial intelligence in content writing in the future. Luckily robots won’t ever be able to provide the “human element” (we hope), but the key to good storytelling, now more than ever, is finding a new voice and leveraging new formats. We saw this first-hand throughout SXSW Interactive with the explosion of Meerkat, which really put a spotlight on in-the-moment audience interaction. While this style may not always be perfect, it makes audiences feel like they’re right there with you.

In a keynote, Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], stated, “If you want to make a ton of progress, you have to make a ton of mistakes.” While we may not be inventing Google Glass or Self-Driving cars, the message still applies to us every day: if we’re not willing to take risks, explore new mediums, and push the boundaries of storytelling, we’ll never get ahead.

The biggest question for me coming out of SXSW was what types of platforms will we continue to see evolve and how will they be integrated into our communications strategies moving forward? We have more opportunity than ever to continue taking risks with our brands using new formats to share authentic, credible content.

This post and image were contributed by Neven Simpson

Friday5: 5 Things You Should Know About Brand Engagement On Snapchat

By Caitilin Doherty, Edelman London

Snapchat has risen in popularity with its “disappearing act,” attracting millions of users. While it was not initially designed as a platform brands could easily engage on, newly added features and a $19 billion valuation as reported by Bloomberg raises the question of why more brands aren’t on board.

Snapchat offers brands an opportunity to engage one-on-one with its audience. Not only do users have complete control over who they want to see content from, they also have no idea who else is viewing that Snap. It becomes a more intimate conversation between the brand and the audience.

1. Back to Basics

The tried and true sponsored ad approach to amplifying content has enabled brands to take a more traditional route to engagement on Snapchat. However, it is not the type of platform that you can use any and all content on. The key is to be authentic and, most importantly, relevant to your audience. The sponsored ads will appear in users “Recent Updates,” but be aware that you will quickly lose your audience if you don’t become the ”friend” whose content they can’t wait to open. The biggest differentiator for the platform is a model built around the idea of connected engagement versus reach and frequency.

2. Tell Your Story

While the “My Stories” feature first showed up in 2013, it has definitely found popularity within the app and continues to offer a unique opportunity for brands. Linking multiple snaps together over a 24-hour period has driven billions of views in a day. This feature offers unique ways to engage, with brands creatively developing campaigns that tie directly to the limited viewing time of this feature.

Audi’s partnership with The Onion for this year’s Super Bowl was a great example of how a brand found a new way to insert itself into social conversations. Audi moved away from a traditional ad placement on one of the biggest TV viewership days of the year and offered content to audiences who wouldn’t typically engage. Drawing in users with jokes about real-time aspects of the game and halftime show, which opened the conversations for anyone to get involved. They understood the real-time advantage of creating content that users would want to receive, and how going beyond product placement would yield a much greater return for their efforts.

3. Live Action

Building off the “My Stories” feature, brands can also choose to sponsor events with the “Our Story” option. Originally designed so that users who are at the same event location can contribute their Snaps to the same feed, it has recently evolved to allow brands to participate. Brought to life in 10-second interstitial title snaps, the sponsored content is then interlaced through the user-generated content. In the name of transparency, the sponsor is always clearly identified. The one thing to keep in mind is the importance of leveraging content directly from the event, as opposed to pre-produced content, to stay relevant to your audience in that moment in time.

Samsung* was one of the first brands to utilize the popularity of the “Live” section of the “Our Story” feature at last year’s AMAs. Providing a stream of posts from the awards show, including user-generated shots from the crowd and red carpet, Samsung promoted its Galaxy smartphone series. This was the first time that a live event took user-generated content and sprinkled it with branded content for one big socially driven share session.

AMA samsung

Image via TechCrunch

4. Get Discovered

As mentioned in a previous Friday5, Snapchat recently introduced the “Discover” feature as a way to explore stories from media publishers. Coined by Snapchat as “a storytelling format that puts the narrative first” and not your typical social media feed, this is whole new way to look at Snapchat. You can already view content from ESPN, Food Network, Comedy Central, People Magazine, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, CNN, Vice, The Daily Mail, and Yahoo.

With popular media outlets publishing the content, Snapchat moves from a peer-to-peer content sharing platform to a news provider. Brands may also be organically featured at the discretion of the editorial teams who feed the stories into their channel. There is a paid component, as the feature is ad-supported, with most editions showing a video ad every few pages. With users following these brands, the “Discover” feature offers an engaging way to offer up text and video on a platform that audiences want to be on.

5. Expand Possibilities

With all of these features re-inventing the way users and brands can engage on the platform, the next step is to get creative. Already, brands are finding ways to expand on the features you can use on Snapchat.

To stay ahead of the curve, look at ways Snapchat can expand your current social ecosystem, or even become a new full-time engagement platform.

GrubHub* uses the platform to stay authentic, keeping on message with its very honest approach to social, and directly engages with its audience. From rewarding its followers with promo codes to sending out custom doodles, they understand the unique opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

*Edelman client

Image credit: Snapchat

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