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.

Chevy Goes Emoji on Us

Chevy appeals to a younger audience with emojis, Instagram revamps its Explore Tab and more of the latest digital news.

Chevy Goes Emoji

Ahead of Chevy’s reveal of the 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, the brand shared a press release entirely in emojis, encouraging users to decode the news ahead of the reveal. This fun approach was aimed at appealing to the younger audience that are likely to be more familiar with emojis.

The All-New Search and Explore: See the World as It Happens

Instagram has revamped its Explore tab to make finding real-time content easier with Trending Tags, Trending Places and the new Places Search. This is part of a large effort by the company to make discovery of content on the platform more immediate and user-friendly.

Long Live Facebook Messenger  

Users no longer need to have a Facebook account in order to sign up and use Facebook’s app, Messenger. The move indicates that Facebook wants to position Messenger as a default chat app that is available to everyone. In essence, the update gives users the chance to connect with people who never joined Facebook or who have deleted their account from the platform.

Twitter Introduces Product and Place Pages and Collections

Twitter is currently testing new ways to feature products and places via special pages and tweet collections. The content will show up from accounts you follow, or it may show up linked to relevant news or popular content. Twitter will be testing this new feature over the next few months with selected brands and influencers. Check out some of Twitter’s selected collections.

LinkedIn is Primed to be the New Corporate Blog (Friday5)

As brands vie for a piece of the fragmented marketplace of ideas, executive blogging is fast becoming the messaging vehicle of choice for organizations across the board. This comes as corporate blogging takes hold among more executives – a trend BRANDfog ascribes to enhanced brand trust. Tangerine Bank CEO Peter Aceto points to many benefits of executive blogging, including enhanced media relations, improved recruitment efforts and greater marketplace credibility, among others.

At issue in the current landscape, particularly with the advent of LinkedIn’s* open-publishing platform, is what property to leverage in building out this executive voice, with some CEOs swearing by corporate blogs, others subscribing to a LinkedIn-only approach and still others cross-publishing across a variety of blogging platforms like Medium and Quartz. It’s in this context that LinkedIn is now the most popular social platform for executives according to the latest Fortune survey.

Here are five reasons LinkedIn is now the blogging platform of choice for executives:

1. Audience

With its 300 million-strong following, LinkedIn offers a wealth of value from a traffic perspective. The platform’s built-in following befits executives looking to grow their network. For executives, the built-in audience means content is more likely to be read, shared and engaged with on the platform.

2. Ease of Access

Equally important in choosing online platforms is accessibility. It’s rare that influencers will seek out a corporate blog in search of industry insights, according to Chris Reed of eConsultancy. Reed, in advocating for a LinkedIn strategy, notes that users, many of which access the site via mobile, are more likely to engage with CEO content they can access without leaving the site to reopen a corporate blog.

3. Thought Leadership

LinkedIn’s user base, teeming with industry influencers, is best suited to executives looking to position themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. Cricket Media CEO Katya Andresen, for instance, leverages LinkedIn to position herself as a champion of social justice – an effort unlikely to see as pronounced results on a corporate blog.

4. Engagement

For executives with resonant content to share, LinkedIn offers the added benefit of third-party validation. Though many corporate blogs include comment features, these tools see limited engagement and lack the popularity or social proof inherent in LinkedIn’s interface. Craig Newmark, founder of San Francisco-based Craigslist, sees marked engagement on his LinkedIn posts, many garnering over 10,000 views.

5. Costs

LinkedIn’s benefits extend to the site’s design. For executives eager to get blogging, the social network is ideally-suited with a built-in interface – one requiring no UX or UI investment. Posts, filtered into follower feeds, can also be accessed via author archives.

Indeed, LinkedIn offers a wealth of benefits to CEOs on social — not the least of which are lower costs and a built-in network of influencers. It’s in this landscape that social executives have the opportunity to not only connect with key publics, but also bolster brand trust.

*Edelman client

Image credit: Nan Palmero

Amp Up Your Instagram Engagement

Tips for amping up Instagram engagement, Pinterest’s new verified account update and more of the latest digital news.

5 Tips for Cranking Up the Comments on Instagram

In a recent blog post, Simply Measured released a few tips for maximizing the volume of quality Instagram comments. Of note, they recommend that the copy includes comparisons that are easy to react to (i.e. “left or right”, “blue or green”). Additionally, relatable content such as memes have proven to generate significant social buzz.

Lightning is Twitter’s Plan to Be ‘Event Central’ For Users and Non-Users Alike

In an effort to expand the reach of content without having to grow its user base, Twitter announced ‘Project Lightning.’ Lightning will focus on providing embeddable content (both across the web and within other apps) surrounding events like the Oscars or NBA Finals. The user experience and is designed to be immersive and media will consume the user’s entire screen. Timing for Lightning’s roll out is still to be determined.

Pinterest is Adding Verified Accounts and a Way to Narrow Your Search

Pinterest announced tweaks to its platform across all devices beginning Tuesday, 6/23. The updates will optimize user search efforts and help users find exactly what they’re looking for on the platform. Though the updates are minor, they will add significant user experience changes. The platform is also verifying high-profile pinners, which will be indicated with red check marks next to user’s names. Pinterest is working with select brands for verification and is not accepting applications for verification at this time.

Facebook Knows How Much Time You Spend Looking at Each Post

Facebook software engineers recently updated the News Feed ranking to include a new factor – how much time users spend viewing stories in their Feeds. This update came in response to survey results noting that folks still find stories meaningful despite a lack of engagement through likes, comments or shares. This update is another move by Facebook to maximize time spent on the social network.

The Science of Content Optimization (Friday5)

When developing a strong content approach for a client community that is new to you, it can be hard to find a good place to start. Here are few ways to successfully optimize content so you can continue to evolve it to be smarter and work harder toward your goals.

1. Look at the Past

The best way to start finding your sweet spot in editorial content is to look at what has performed well before. By developing content that your audience is already prone to engage with, you are setting benchmarks you can look to for data-driven insights to inform content in the future. Be consistent in your publishing so you can develop a reliable cadence for measurement.

2. Keep Evaluating

Once you’ve got a steady flow of content planned, set up an evaluation plan in the form of a monthly or quarterly report. Set goals and select the appropriate key performance indicators. With each report you will collect more data that will continue to inform your content strategy—it should be constantly evolving, so make sure you’re shifting appropriately to make your content stronger month-over-month. Make it easier on yourself by including tags or labels in your content calendar so you can go back and see which types of content are performing well, allowing you to more easily dig into the “why.”

3. Be Intentional

When you’re ready to answer specific questions about content performance, you’ll need to set up A/B tests so that you can properly measure variables. By intentionally planning content tests, you’ll learn what resonates best with your community. This can be as simple as finding out the best time of day to publish your message, and can provide strong insights to influence your evolving strategy. Make sure to consider a relevant sample size for these posts—if you are only comparing two posts, the insight may not be reliable.

4. Give it a Fair Chance

When you test different content types, messages and more, you’re bound to run into some bumps along the way. It’s important to keep in mind that not all content is created equal. For example, if you are integrating a video strategy into your existing content lineup and not seeing the same engagement rates across the board, don’t be discouraged. Comparing photo posts and video posts is like comparing apples (engagement) and oranges (views), so make sure you are giving them a fair chance for success by measuring against similar content.

5. Fail More

Just when you think you “know” your community, they may throw you a curveball and surprise you with content that significantly over- or under-performs. These posts offer a great opportunity to look at your community from a new angle. Consider the “why” behind the performance and see how you can learn what motivates your audience to engage (or not engage) and use it to your advantage. By taking calculated risks with content, you can learn even more about your community. Maybe they are ready to be “on point,” and maybe they aren’t—you’ll never know until you test it.

Tried and true, content optimization starts and ends with evaluation. Keep in mind there is no cookie-cutter solution for content development between any two communities. Use these tips to find the right balance for your community and constantly optimize for top performance. What do you think—have you seen success using other tactics?

Image credit: Jason Rogers

Facebook Ramps Up its E-Commerce and Vine Updates its Search Engine

Facebook improves its e-commerce in the news feed, Vine’s revamped search functionality and more of the latest digital news.

Facebook Lets More Merchants Add Buy Buttons to their Posts

Just weeks after Pinterest announced the arrival of buyable pins, Facebook has expanded a test of “buy” buttons in the News Feed to a larger group of merchants. Clicking on the “buy” buttons enables users to make purchases without leaving their Feeds. Facebook’s precision ad targeting will likely make this a very attractive feature for marketers.

Hey Twitter Advertisers — Want More Clicks? Lose the Hashtag!

In an effort to boost the results of direct response ad units, Twitter has released a new report detailing creative tips, best practices and key optimization tactics. Findings include that click-driving ads without a hashtag or @mention can generate 23% more clicks – emphasizing the importance of reducing clickables. Read on to #TweetSmarter and increase your brand’s ROI.

Vine Updates Search Results to Include Actual Vines, Not Just Hashtags and People

Previously only showing usernames and hashtags, Vine has updated its search results to display actual content, including the most popular and most recent vines that fit a user’s search terms. For marketers, this update underscores the importance of being aware of platform trends and popular hashtags in order to develop more discoverable content.

Twitter Will Remove 140-Character Limit on Direct Messages

After its update allowing users to opt-in to receive private messages from anyone, Twitter plans to remove the 140-character limit on direct messaging in July.

Instagram’s New Design Has Bigger Images (And Room for Ads)

Predominantly mobile, the photo and video sharing platform Instagram has revamped its web layout with larger images and more open space. The official reasoning for the update is unknown, but digital experts speculate it to be for advertising reasons. Stay tuned for additional updates.

5 Considerations for Working With Sponsored Content (Friday5)

In its many forms, sponsored content partnerships between brands and online publishers are customizable, scalable and effective vehicles for reaching an audience online. These activations can range from a branded listicle with a couple integration/messaging points throughout, to a co-created collection of thought leadership material, to custom recipes on highly visual culinary sites and everything in between. The eruption of online content varieties that speak to and satisfy consumer interests and needs also benefits brands–aligning consumer interests with topics your brand can add value to can effectively engage a core audience in a natural setting.

Producing and distributing content on channels besides the brand’s owned properties adds credibility and a fresh voice. Additionally, millennials have increased trust in all digital media (including but not limited to owned) according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, scoring even higher than the survey audience.

Here are five considerations for working with publishers to create and promote sponsored content:

1. The Right Publisher/Partner

While renowned publishers (Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, New York Times, etc.) have sponsored content offerings, niche audiences could be better reached and more engaged in born-digital publications. Take your audience’s media consumption habits into consideration – natural user experience and authentic content formats are key for engagement. For example, if your topic is best addressed through visuals and your target is the older half of Gen Y, look for a partner with a strong mobile and social presence with interactive infographics. Third-party data (comScore, MRI, eMarketer, Iconoculture, etc.) can identify potential publishers in the ideation phase, as well. Finally, think outside the site itself and survey the publisher’s overall social presence. Do they share content on Facebook? Are they active on new platforms? How much overall site traffic is driven by social sharing? With more screens and social sites than ever, and publishers striking deals with social networks, a publisher’s overall presence is critical.

2. Supporting Assets

Some partnerships include supporting media spend for branded or co-branded banner ads during a campaign. If the publisher isn’t scoped for creative development (many have in-house creative shops for content and media production), consider your existing display media from other initiatives before starting from scratch. Create tracked URLs for banners and links within the content itself to consistently measure site traffic and conversions driven by the campaign. Unbranded images, campaign videos and spokesperson contributions can also be leveraged to support the content.

3. Content Longevity

With some partnerships, content included in the contract becomes owned content for the brand. Consider how a piece can be repurposed in the future and take an evergreen approach when possible, especially with high-quality productions such as videos.

4. Distribution

Most partnerships include media spend to promote the content on the publisher’s site to reach contracted impressions, and some include social amplification on their channels. Use a native advertising platform (Outbrain, ShareThrough, etc) to surface content to more readers on other sites and use promoted social posts to ensure you’re reaching a broader portion of your audience off the publisher’s site.

5. Measurement

In most cases, impressions is the only guaranteed metric outlined in contracts for these programs, though partners can report supporting figures such as page views, social shares, banner click-through rate and time spent on the page. At the beginning of a program, confirm which metrics the partner can measure and report, establish a reporting cadence if clients expect mid-campaign updates and request available benchmarks for final reporting purposes.

Image credit: Wikimedia

Pinterest and Instagram Enters the E-Commerce World

Pinterest and Instagram become e-commerce friendly, Twitter launches audience insights, and more of the latest digital news.

Pinterest’s New Buyable Pins Let You Purchase Items Directly in the App

In a few weeks, pinners will be able to buy their favorite Pinterest finds directly from the platform by clicking on a “Buy it” button. When searching for pins, there will be a new price filter, as prices are available with search results. Partners participating in this rollout include Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Kate Spade, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores and more.

Instagram to Open Its Photo Feed to Ads

Recently, Instagram announced their plans to open up advertising to all brands. Small and large businesses alike will now have the opportunity to reach the platform’s 300 million users. Additionally, Instagram is testing a type of ad that enables viewers to buy products directly from Instagram.

Twitter Launches Audience Insights

Twitter introduced Audience Insights as part of its current dashboard. The new tool will allow marketers to gain information about the people who have engaged with their organic tweets and also helps identify new audiences. Insights can be used with current campaigns to identify how to target ads and tailor content accordingly to reach new audiences.

Facebook Tests “Saved Replies,” A Tool That Lets Pages Respond to Customers with Canned Messages

Earlier this week, Facebook began testing a new tool that enables Business Page owners to write, save and re-use messages directly on Facebook. The tool, “Saved Replies,” allows an owner to create a list of canned messages, which can then be searched and placed automatically into the body of outbound messages. The update is focused on saving community managers time when communicating with customers, and is currently in beta testing.

5 Tips for Covering Events on Social Media (Friday5)

In a given year, there are thousands of industry-related conferences.

Whether you are attending an industry-related conference on behalf of a client or for your own personal benefit, these events are great opportunities to learn the latest trends, network and provide a nice break from the daily grind at work. As they try to seek more attendees, social media is becoming a key component to any successful conference.

Here are a few tips to bring your social media A-game to the next event or conference you attend:

1. Do Your Research

Before you go to an event or conference, be sure to do your homework. Does the conference have a hashtag? What are people saying online about it? Create a list of Twitter handles of the keynote speakers and session presenters that you can refer to throughout the conference.

2. Have the Appropriate Tools

My go-to conference social media management tool is Hootsuite. What I love about Hootsuite is that it allows me to see all of my scheduled tweets/posts at a glance and, I can set up several streams to monitor the conference hashtag, speakers, mentions and more.

3. Use Social Media to Be Social

Don’t hide behind your phone or tablet the entire time of the conference. Use social media to connect with fellow attendees, exhibitors and speakers. You never know who you might meet!

4. You’re Not In This Alone

I often attend conferences that have thousands of attendees. Although I constantly feel that I am the only attendee capable of informing the masses, I have to take a step back and appreciate the content that others are sharing. I take time to read other people’s tweets and benefit from their perspective. Sharing other people’s content can lead to great networking opportunities.

5. Don’t Forget to Enjoy the Moment

Although trying to capture every keynote and breakout session on social media can be exciting, it can also be exhausting. My advice is to find times to put your phone away, focus on what is being said and take time to smell the roses.

Image credit: Jason Howie

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