Monday Afternoon Quarterback: May 23, 2016

It’s a busy world out there. If you haven’t had time to catch up on all the digital doings of the past month, here’s a quick Monday Afternoon Quarterback review of some of the past week or so’s more notable stories.

Snapchat Is Considering An Algorithm (Digiday, 5/18)

Snapchat is reported to be considering an algorithmic approach to presenting content, joining pretty much all the major social channels in adopting algorithms. This means it’s time to drop the fiction of unpaid organic reach in social media. Like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram before it, Snapchat would be placing a filter between brands and the audiences we’re trying to reach. Users might cheer this or feel it’s a good way to keep these channels “safe” for the conversations they want to have with their friends… but it’s another example of why digital marketing is getting tougher for brands. This stands to benefit “influencers” on Snapchat (similar to how influencers on other platforms have had their importance to brands increase on other algorithmic platforms) — though there are signs that brands are getting tired of ceding their customer reach to “influencers,” and that discontent with the current model, if not total revolt, is brewing.

85% Of Facebook Viewing Is Done Without Sound (Digiday, 5/17)

How many brands are cognizant of this pattern, and tailor their Facebook video content appropriately? When such an overwhelming percentage of videos on Facebook are viewed without sound, brands would do well to account for that reality as they create their videos. More interesting to me is that, by accommodating and encouraging silent video, Facebook appears to be using this as a wedge to drive more video creation specifically for its own platform. Most YouTube views don’t happen silently; sound is a bigger part of the YouTube experience. Emphasizing silent video makes brands develop video content more specifically intended for Facebook rather than other platforms. It’s subtle, but I don’t doubt that it’s intentional.

YouTube Rolling Out In-App Messaging (TheNextWeb, 5/11)

YouTube is testing a messaging service that would live natively within the mobile YouTube app and allow users to share embedded videos within the chat window. Not only does this make sharing videos easier on mobile, which is increasingly how people access the Internet and platforms like YouTube, but it brings sharing YouTube videos into a form factor (chat/IM) that increasing numbers of users are most familiar with. Smart move by YouTube.

43% Of Social Media Users Don’t Know Where The Stories They Read Originally Appeared (Digiday, 5/13)

New research indicates that up to 43% of social media users do not know where the content they read on social platforms originated. This is something of a horror movie for publishers, who are under increasing pressure to publish and promote their stories directly on Facebook and other platforms — but in the hopes of driving some of those 1.5 billion users to the publishers’ platforms.

If almost half of the users don’t even realize the origin of the stories they’re reading, it confirms every publisher’s worst fear: that Facebook and other social platforms have basically usurped their audiences, and publishers have increasingly become mere content providers to the social platforms. As the article points out, brands that stand to suffer the least are the ones already well established with strong branding on platforms, as users will seek out their content.

Google’s Building Its Own VR Headset (Marketingland, 5/19)

Google had previously announced its Daydream ecosystem, which will be open to any manufacturer to develop to. But as it turns out, they’re also developing their own headset and controller. If anyone doubted how serious Google is about virtual reality, let those misconceptions be hereby dispelled.

Kohl’s Smartly Taps Into Chewbacca Mom (Digiday, 5/23)

A lot of brands wouldn’t know how to effectively take advantage of a tangential connection to a viral video. Kohl’s does, however. They showed up Saturday to the Chewbacca Mom’s house with a few gifts in tow.  

Representatives from Kohl’s met up with Payne at her house on Saturday, where they gave her a bunch of free Star Wars toys, more Chewbacca masks and $2,500 worth of Kohl’s gift cards.”

Kohl’s uploaded the video of their gift to Facebook, where it got more than 30 million views.

Kohl’s could have tried to use the publicity to promote their products, or by trying to shift the spotlight from Candace Payne to themselves. They would have failed miserably, but they could have. Instead, they recognized something I’ve said in presentations: brands are not the stars of any good show; rather we are the sidekicks. Kohl’s saw that Candace was the star of this show, and just did their best to be part of her joy and ongoing story.  In doing so, they generated positive feeling and good will from an online community that is enamored of Candace Payne, not of Kohl’s. By being part of her story instead of pushing their own, Kohl’s kept the tide of good feelings going and made themselves part of it. Yeah, it sounds pretty basic… but we all know a lot of brands would have fumbled this.

The X-Men Learn The Dangers Of Intruding On The Experience Users Want (Digiday, 5/23)

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Snapchat has millions of users within the target demographic of the new X-Mean movie, Snapchat wants brands to more actively explore reaching audiences on its platform, and Snapchat has debuted a lens takeover just in time for the movie promotion. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, as it turns out. You might have been able to predict this, but Snapchat users didn’t really want their experience interfered with by branding and corporate content. They’re reacting badly. (Sure, not everybody hates it — I am sure there are some users who are all over the lens takeover — but it’s still pronounced enough a negative reaction to draw media attention.)

I don’t fault Twentieth Century Fox here — they took advantage of a tool offered to them. I kind of wonder instead if Snapchat’s in such a hurry to monetize that they’re forgetting about their core audience’s desires, and have built features that allow brands to push ourselves on the user more than trying to become part of their desired experience. It’s a lesson brands should remember on any platform: users aren’t there to interact with you, they are there to connect with their friends. Any activation we develop that makes us part of their experience had better be unobtrusive, and should make the brand secondary to the user’s desired experience on the platform.

Video Ad Spending Is Rising Fast (eMarketer, 5/23)

Some brands still haven’t upped their budgets for video content creation. Some brands also may be looking at doing daily Friendster updates too. But seriously folks, even if the industry hasn’t quite figured out good metrics yet (I do not count 3 seconds as a “view,” no matter what Facebook says — and just rendering a video on a screen shouldn’t count either, Snapchat!), you need to be focusing more resources and budget on developing video content.

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(image via eMarketer)

Is Twitter Dropping Character Counts For Photos And Links (Finally)?

Bloomberg is reporting that Twitter is FINALLY about to drop media and links from its character count. This would/will free up another 20-25 characters for many brand tweets — good news for content marketers and brands, because it gives us additional flexibility in explaining context or providing details on what we’re sharing. It also means we’ll see a lot less of those annoying abbrvtns ppl used 2 use.

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