Influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous music festival. But influencer outreach is alive and well and will continue to thrive in 2018. Why? A few reasons stand out:
Businesses are feeling new pressure to rely on influencers. As reported recently, Facebook announced that the world’s largest social network is devaluing content from businesses in users’ news feeds and amplifying content from people. Brands that publish content on Facebook are looking for ways to rely on people to tell their stories, which, of course, includes influencers.
People still tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Time and time again, consumers, especially millennials, say they place higher levels of trust in other people than they do businesses, including word-of-mouth recommendations and online peer reviews.
In 2018, I expect to see more reliance on influencers, but not necessarily more spending. Instead, businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific, relying on tools that make the process more precise and measurable.
In addition, brands that do partner with high-profile influencers should invest more time and energy vetting them, giving them the same level of rigorous review that they would give a new hire. We’ve seen a number of instances of high-profile YouTube celebrities embarrassing themselves with reckless behavior and remarks. All it takes is one foolish incident for an influencer to destroy their credibility. Businesses are well advised to review influencers’ social media personal track record, including their personal content on their socials.
Finally, understand how to work with influencers. Know their rules of engagement and research how they can be most effective for you. Influencers who are big on Instagram might be the best choice for supporting, say, an event, whereas bloggers who write longer-form content might be more appropriate for product announcements or news events that require more thoughtful analysis.
Facebook has quickly changed from the brand that could do no wrong to the business that spreads fake news. Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that the company is de-valuing publisher content on users’ news feeds caused a notable drop in its stock value and inspired a CNN article with a once unthinkable headline, “Mark Zuckerberg Is Fighting to Save Facebook.” Facebook isn’t going away. But with the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users.
Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. “Reach” (the number of people who saw an ad) is a metric commonly monitored by advertisers, and when the pool of potential audience members declines, so does the effectiveness of their branding efforts.
The most obvious expected drop-off would be among younger members as parents may begin to heed the addiction warning and implement usage restrictions for their children. Currently, advertisers cannot specifically target people under the age of 13 — so there should be minimal effect on paid ad performance if Facebook sees a decline in users age 12 and under. However, if parents or older siblings start following suit (perhaps by means of setting an example or simply choosing to spend their time elsewhere) the impact could be significant to marketers who have become accustomed to reaching millions of people.
As the Facebook audience narrows, marketers may need to adjust their strategy and opt for conversion-based campaigns versus brand awareness. Measuring the overall effectiveness of a brand awareness campaign is difficult to quantify. But as advertisers start tracking actual results from their conversion campaigns, they may find the cost far outweighs the return and may choose to pull back on their overall Facebook investment.
My advice: keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. Take advantage of the tools we have blogged about (such as Collection ads), but make sure you complement your advertising spend across multiple platforms where it makes sense for your business to be, ranging from Google to Instagram. Get ready for tough sledding on Facebook. For more insight into how to build your brand with digital, contact Keyword First. We’re here to help.
Let’s face it: YouTube will never be free of controversy. Neither will Facebook. Or Twitter. Or even LinkedIn. Social media is, and will always be, a messy and imperfect place for brands to live. The major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube continue to roll out more programs to police user activity on their sites in an effort to protect their integrity for advertisers. Recently we saw YouTube do just that by committing to hiring more people to teach computers to police its site, which YouTube hopes will prevent advertisers’ content from appearing next to inappropriate content.
Of course, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter (the lightning rods for social media critics) need to do everything they can to make their platforms as respectable and safe as possible. But as my colleague Tim Colucci argued recently, YouTube’s ad problems aren’t going away, and neither are Facebook’s and Twitter’s. If you advertise on social media, understand the appeal of social media will always be its openness. On social media, anyone can have an opinion, which means that fringe content will always creep its way on to the major platforms no matter how hard Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube work to contain offensive material.
In 2018, advertisers will need to come to terms with the imperfect nature of social while capitalizing on its many advantages, of which there are many. Let’s remember:
Facebook continues to roll out products that make it possible for advertisers to target audiences more effectively than ever before.
Twitter remains a strong platform for companies to announce news and support product roll-outs.
YouTube continues to be the premier video platform and search tool.
The question, is, how much imperfection and messiness are advertisers willing to accept? The answer depends on how tightly you control your brand’s image. Command-and-control brands will always have a difficult time living on social media. Brands that are comfortable rolling with the punches will flourish. What’s your strategy? Contact KeywordFirst. We can help you manage your digital brand.
What trends will influence how businesses spend their digital marketing dollars in 2018? To find the answers, we asked our own people. The following six predictions from KeywordFirst employees cover a lot of ground befitting the sprawling nature of digital marketing. Our predictions include:
A big year for augmented reality – for both brands and consumers.
Possibly rough sailing ahead for Facebook, but exciting times for LinkedIn.
A more thoughtful approach to influencer marketing.
Growth of visual search.
Check out the following predictions, and let us know how you believe 2018 will shape up for your business. Thank you to KeywordFirst employees for sharing your thoughts! Learn more about our subject matter experts here.
In 2018 the use of Augmented Reality will become an increasingly popular tool used to engage shoppers. Online shoppers sometimes miss out on the in-store experience when searching for a product or service through the web. The use of AR will help create this virtual experience for online shoppers; in return it will increase engagement rates, brand awareness, and hopefully conversions. While the technology to effectively use AR will still be developing well into 2018, I predict that many companies will begin to incorporate these features into their brand awareness and digital marketing strategy. —Bella Schneider, digital marketing associate
With the recent admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and that it is ripping apart the social fabric of how society works, 2018 might be the year we see a significant decline in active users. Although industry analysts have been predicting a reduction in Facebook users for the past few years, the fact that ex-Facebook executives are admitting guilt over the monster they’ve created might finally be the wakeup call that many social media users have been waiting for. If Facebook usage does suffer a significant decline, it’s fair to expect that marketers will also see diminished performance from their Facebook ads. Many advertisers use the Facebook advertising platform as a brand awareness tactic, paying advertising fees based on the number of times an ad is shown versus the number of times someone interacts with an ad. In 2018, advertisers will need to keep a watchful eye on Facebook as an advertising platform. — Beth Bauch, senior manager
Celebrity influencer outreach took a major hit in 2017 through some dubious events such as the collapse of the Fyre Festival, which relied on influencer outreach to lure tourists to a disastrous event. But influencer outreach is alive and well. Why? Because people tend to trust other people more than they do brands. Businesses will get more micro-targeted with influencer outreach in 2018, segmenting audiences more carefully and building outreach around influencers who index high in popularity and credibility with those audiences even if those influencers lack national cache. Influencer outreach will become more targeted and scientific. — Mark Smith, co-founder
LinkedIn will become a more popular platform for companies to build their brands. LinkedIn has been adding a number of features such as Matched Audiences and Website Retargeting to make it a stronger advertising platform. As my colleague Beth Bauch noted on our blog, recently LinkedIn ran a pilot program with more 370 participating advertisers and saw a 30-percent increase in click-through rates and a 14-percent drop in post-click cost-per-conversion with Website Retargeting. In early 2018, LinkedIn is going to launch for enterprises organic videos and then native sponsored videos in its feed, thus capitalizing on the more visually oriented culture we have become. Businesses should take a closer look at LinkedIn as part of their advertising and content marketing strategies. —Taylor Murphy, digital media manager
Social media will remain a messy and imperfect place for brands to live. The major platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube will roll out more programs to police user activity on their sites in an effort to protect their integrity for advertisers. Recently we saw YouTube do just that by committing to hiring more people to teach computers to police its site, which YouTube hopes will prevent advertisers’ content from appearing next to inappropriate content. But as my colleague Tim Colucci argued recently, YouTube’s ad problems aren’t going away. Social media sites have become incredibly effective destinations for advertisers and will continue to be. But part of the appeal of social media is its openness. On social media, anyone can have an opinion. In 2018, advertisers will need to come to terms with the imperfect nature of social while capitalizing on its many advantages. — Kurt Anagnostopolous, owner/founder
As voice-based search continues to gain momentum, 2018 will bring more interest onto visual search. Although they both use artificial intelligence, they have a different focus, thus their use is not the same. Voice search is best suited for providing access to information on known objects, as systems become more capable distinguishing the context of a certain request. Visual search, on the other hand, is ideal for in-the-moment discovery, as it can provide contextual information for any object we can see. Now that Google has improved its visual analysis software Google Lens, and Pinterest has adopted the trend with Pinterest Lens, we’ll most likely see more social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram exploiting visual discovery technology. In this way, they could serve ads based on what people take pictures of. They could even combine location service intelligence with visual product recognition technology to provide even more relevant ads. So if you snap a selfie at McDonalds, and you are wearing a Nike hat, you will be served ads from Burger King and Reebok on Snapchat. —Héctor Ariza, digital marketing associate
According to Facebook, consumers scroll through mobile news feeds 41-percent faster than desktop news feeds, which gives brands 1.7 seconds to get users’ attention on mobile. Consequently, it’s getting more difficult for businesses to engage with consumers. The recently launched Facebook Collection ad format promises to level the playing field by giving brands higher engagement rates, and a more meaningful, faster-loading user experience within the Facebook mobile app. Now that Collection has been in market, retail brands like Lowe’s Home Improvement, Adidas, and Michael Kors have reported successful applications of the format. Here’s what you need to know about Collection ads:
What Are Collection Ads, and How Do They Work?
Collection ads let brands use a combination of image, slideshow, and video to engage with consumers by allowing them to browse through the product catalog to discover new products and their features. Served exclusively on mobile devices, Collection ads appear in the news feed showing a main video or image and four thumbnails right below it. This format is very similar to an organic post with tagged products. However, a single tap on any of the pictures or video triggers a canvas, which is a full-screen experience where many more products are exhibited.
Marketers can use Collections to advertise and to encourage eCommerce. When it comes to selling actual products, there are two options:
The grid layout, which can show up to 50 products from their catalog.
The lifestyle layout, which lets users see the products in action.
The lifestyle layout provides the ability to tag products in the lifestyle images, which appear as clickable circles that viewers can interact with to see a specific product. From there, users can be taken to the company’s website or app to seamlessly complete a transaction.
Why Should Brands Use Collection Ads?
Collection ads offer an immersive way to boost brand awareness and promote product discovery on Facebook. Brands can expect not only higher engagement rates, but also lower cost per clicks and higher conversion rates. In addition to helping retailers, Collection ads have the potential to yield outstanding results for hospitality and aviation. If you are looking to leverage your brand’s presence on social media and to influence brand consideration, contact KeywordFirst. We are happy to help.
Snap Inc. is finding allies in its ongoing war with Facebook. The latest battlefield is location-based marketing.
Last week, Snap announced the launch of Snapchat Context Cards, a new feature that injects more information into the content that Snapchatters share on the app. The launch has raised questions from businesses, ranging from “What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?” to “What the heck are Context Cards?” Here are some answers to popular questions:
What are Context Cards?
Context Cards consist of optional “more” buttons that Snapchat has embedded into the Snaps that Snapchat users post on their accounts. When you click on the “more” button, the Snap reveals location-based information about a user’s Snap.
For example, let’s say Snapchatter Marcia posts a photo of herself enjoying a breakfast burrito at her favorite café. Her photo, of course, is the Snap, or content that she posts on Snapchat. A Context Card, or “more” button, which appears on Marcia’s Snap, reveals a treasure trove of information about the café, such as its address, map location, and user reviews. In addition, Marcia’s Snapchat friends who receive the Snap can click on ride-sharing services embedded in the Context Card if they want to visit her at the café.
This video gives you more insight into how Context Cards work:
Context Cards have generated a lot of curiosity because Snaps are the language of Snapchat. Context Cards enrich that language with information about the places where Snapchatters share information with each other – sort of like turning Snaps into Swarm check-ins loaded with information about where Snapchatters are and what they’re doing.
The term “context card” is not unique to Snapchat. Facebook uses them, too. As Facebook explained in 2016: “A context card is an added (and optional) tile that pops up after someone clicks on a lead ad but before they get to the form, giving businesses a place to offer more details on the information people are signing up for. So, if a business is using lead ads to find new email subscribers, they may use a context card to explain what type of content they offer in their emails. Context cards help businesses ensure that the leads they receive are high-quality.”
But Snapchat has branded the term within a specific context of location-based information.
Does every Snap now contain a Context Card?
No. According to TechCrunch, “[Context Cards won’t appear in every Snap, however, lest you were worried that Snapchat was turning every single post on its platform into a marketing tool. Instead, it’ll include those that have been tagged with the company’s venue-specific Geofilters, or with any Snap that’s been submitted to the public ‘Our Story’ feed and that appears in Snap Map or Search.”
Where does Snapchat get all location information needed to create Context Cards?
Snapchat is not mining all the data on its own. To retrieve and publish location-based information, Snapchat is partnering with companies that collect this kind of information already. As reported in Adweek: “The messaging application teamed up with launch partners TripAdvisor, Foursquare, Michelin, Goop, Uber, Lyft, OpenTable, Resy and BookTable to supply information including reviews (from critics and customers), tips, reservations, booking rides, directions, hours of operation, phone numbers, websites and other Snaps from around the area.”
Foursquare provided more insight into how Foursquare partners with Snapchat on Context Cards here.
What does Snapchat get out of Context Cards?
Context Cards could make Snapchat more attractive to businesses, which it must do in order to compete as a revenue-generating advertising platform. Just how Snapchat will benefit remains to be seen, but here are a few ways the company may become more valuable to advertisers:
User engagement: If Context Cards cause Snapchat users to spend more time on the app by digging deeper into each other’s Snaps and interacting with the location-based data, Snapchat will be able to report stronger user engagement numbers to advertisers. For instance, conceivably a user could tap into a Context Card, check out customer reviews of a restaurant pictured in a Snap, and use Uber to visit the restaurant all within Snapchat. More time spent on Snapchat means more opportunities for advertisers to interact with users.
Data: Snapchat can collect more data about user activity, such as what they are searching for and where they are spending their time, which would make Snapchat a source of more targeted advertising. And targeted ads mean more relevant interactions with users, which is Facebook’s stated competitive advantage.
Revenue generation: the Context Cards could create ways for Snapchat to collect more revenue from transactions and advertising. As discussed in Forbes, “The feature could also open up a new revenue stream for Snap, as it could charge its partners a commission for each booking or transaction carried out via its platform. If Snap is able to scale up this opportunity, it could be quite lucrative given the company’s relatively young and affluent user base, which is located primarily in developed markets.”
But Snapchat will have to tread carefully. People won’t use Context Cards that create unwanted advertising popping up on their screens.
What do Context Cards mean to advertisers?
If you operate brick-and-mortar storefronts, make sure your location-based data and content are accurately reported to Snapchat’s partners such as Foursquare. A Context Card isn’t going to be very valuable if it sends users to the wrong address of that café where Snapchatter Marcia is enjoying her breakfast burrito. Now, more than ever, you need to manage your data and content closely.
Keep your eyes on Snapchat especially if you advertise to a millennial audience. Watch how Context Cards evolve and be ready to capitalize on advertising opportunities as they arise.
If you advertise on Facebook, keep an eye on how Facebook responds. Facebook has not capitalized on location-based marketing beyond giving brands real estate to create their own pages. Look for Facebook to answer Snapchat with more effective ways for businesses to embed location-based information into the world’s largest social media platform.
Bottom line: Context Cards give Snapchat a way to combat Facebook in location-based marketing. Facebook offers something akin to Context Cards when users check into places on Facebook and reveal information about the location of the check-in. But they are not very and interesting and useful. Context Cards embed a lot more information. Snapchat has an advantage – for now.
To make your marketing more effective across the digital world, contact KeywordFirst. We’re here to help.
How concerned should advertisers be about Facebook in light of the credibility problems that the world’s largest social network has been facing lately? The answer depends on how you use Facebook to advertise.
If you rely on Facebook solely to achieve visibility, you should be especially concerned about the recent news concerning Facebook being manipulated with political advertising through the creation of phony accounts. Even if you don’t do political advertising, you have good reason to ask, “How can I be sure I’m not paying for phony accounts to view my advertisement?”
But for businesses that employ Facebook advertising with a cost-per-click (CPC) model, the existence of phony accounts is less concerning because fake accounts are not going to click on your ad.
But however you advertise on Facebook or any other social media, Facebook’s recent woes are a reminder that you should not take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to advertising on social. At a minimum, monitor the performance of your advertising and the integrity of the engagement you are getting from your ads, an example being the inevitability that people will troll your ads with inappropriate comments on social.
The concerns are understandable. At the same time, I think it’s useful to take a step back and look at the big picture:
Facebook has 2 billion members. Its ability to create engagement and brand activation remains strong. In a sense, the platform is too big for brands to ignore. For all its problems, Facebook brings incredible scale and shareabilty to any advertising roll-out. For example, with Facebook’s targeting tools, media/entertainment companies can create effective 15-second video spots to promote upcoming events in order to boost awareness. Put another way, it would be foolish for Warner Brothers to react to Facebook’s problems by dropping the platform from its media mix for promoting Justice League with clickable trailers.
As noted, a CPC model, while not perfect, helps a brand hold a platform like Facebook more accountable for performance, as click-throughs separate the real people from fake accounts. Yes, click fraud happens. And yes, Facebook has been stung by periodic criticism about click fraud in the past, but Facebook has a way of learning and improving in response. (At KeywordFirst, we’ve not received any complaints about click fraud on Facebook recently.)
The bigger problem is trolls commenting on your ad. You have to brace yourself for the reality that the more you advertise on a social site, the greater the risk you run of attracting trolls who disrupt the conversation occurring about ad after you post it on Facebook. This risk is especially great on Facebook.
I suggest Facebook advertisers:
Keep your Facebook advertising focused on a CPC model.
Manage your account closely. Don’t go on autopilot. If your ad is getting trolled, you want to be the first to learn about it on your own.
Avoid clickbait or ads, which will act as troll magnets.
Keep advertising on Facebook, but be smart about it. Use tools at your disposal such as retargeting and audience segmentation.
You should definitely advertise on Facebook depending on your objectives. But if recent news has taught us anything, it’s this: manage your presence on Facebook. Closely.