It would be understandable if you were distracted this week and weren’t paying much attention to digital stories, given the horror in Orlando over the weekend. But here’s a handful of stories that had resonance in the digital space in the past few days that you might have missed.
Texas Lt. Governor Deletes Bible Tweet After Shooting (ABC News, 6/12)
Taking the politics out of it (I think we’re all happy to not have me ranting about politics) and assuming that Lt. Governor Patrick’s office is telling the truth, and that this was just an awful coincidence that this tweet was previously scheduled and unrelated to the Orlando incident… this is a dramatic and supremely unfortunate reminder for brands that the first thing a brand should do in times of emergency is check your scheduled tweets and posts. I’m not a huge fan of scheduling social content anyway, but I’ll readily concede that for many larger publishing programs it’s necessary for efficiency’s sake.
But when news of a crisis or tragedy breaks — whether a mass shooting or terrorist incident, a plane crash, or some other situation in which there is loss of life — the first reaction of brand publishers has to be to check the schedule of posts. The brand publisher can use their judgment as to whether a post or tweet seems insensitive, and should consider holding all publishing while the story is still playing out. You never want to get caught in a situation where your brand inadvertently publishes something that comes off as tone-deaf, insensitive, or worse yet upsets people, while a national or international tragedy is playing out. As Peter Shankman has said many times, no brand has ever gone broke because they shut up for 24 hours. So when something like Orlando happens, the smartest thing to do is check your schedules and go on a publishing hold for a day or so.
Microsoft Buys LinkedIn For $26.2 Billion (New York Times, 6/13)
On its face, this is a good move for both organizations. The integration possibilities are certainly intriguing; if Outlook and LinkedIn profiles are connected, for example, the integration of direct email with professional backgrounds — not to mention material a prospect or contact has published on LinkedIn — could be a gold mine for salespeople. And for Microsoft, the possibility of using LinkedIn as a distribution channel for its software systems has to be exciting. LinkedIn gets financing and exposure to potentially tens of millions of new users. I wouldn’t have thought the platform would go for as much as it did — $26 billion seems a little higher than I might have expected — but this move makes sense for both companies, if they get the integration right.
As Snapchat’s Ad Biz Expands, It’s Pressing For Shorter Ads (Marketingland, 6/13)
Snapchat continues to walk a very fine line between trying to monetize via advertising, and annoying or alienating its user base with too much ad content. 10 second ads get skipped often, apparently. Shorter ads mean it’s less likely that people will swipe up to skip the ad, I suppose, but I can’t see advertisers being all that happy at shortening their messages and content even further to suit a finicky platform and its very resistant user base.
Snapchat To Grow 27% This Year, Surpassing Rivals (eMarketer, 6/8)
True, eMarketer is defining “user” a little differently than many platforms define it (eMarketer defines a user as someone who logs into an account at least once a month consistently over a calendar year). But it’s still interesting to see Snapchat’s rapid growth compared to other networks — and that it has more regular users now (at least by this estimation) than Pinterest or Twitter. One thing for consideration for brands: one factor in Snapchat’s popularity is its focus on one to one interaction between users — the same aspect driving the growth of messenger apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. It may be an area for brands to explore across multiple platforms: how to get back to one to one communication (or the appearance of one to one, anyway) in order to drive engagement and interaction from consumers.
Facebook’s New Ads Will Track Which Stores You Visit (Recode, 6/14)
This is a fascinating new effort to do something digital marketers have long wished was more precise: tying online ads to offline activity. Because while online sales continue to grow, physical in-store purchases still represented 92% of all retail sales in Q1 2016. By being able to demonstrate that online ads drive foot traffic and even in-store sales, Facebook would be taking a quantum leap in providing value to retail brands and would clearly stand out among social platforms.
Facebook’s New Support Tool For Suicide Prevention Rolls Out Globally (The Next Web, 6/14)
This story is close to my heart as someone who is deeply concerned with mental illness issues. I applaud Facebook’s effort here to help users help those in their network who might be in danger or in need of help. There’s no real application or lesson for brands, but individual brand reps and all marketers should take note anyway, just in case there is ever anyone in your network who need help.
Twitter Aims To Keep The Trolls At Bay With Improved Block Feature (The Next Web, 6/14)
While I still wish social platforms could be more active in patrolling the posts and content their users publish (and taking action against those engaged in bullying, trolling, or threats), this is a good consolation move by Twitter — improving the block feature so that not only do you not see the tweets of someone you’ve blocked, but they don’t see yours either. Perhaps this will cut down a little bit on trolling and bullying on Twitter.