Happy Belated, America! If you were making merry during the USA’s birthday celebration and missed some of the stories that hit the digital or media world, here’s some that caught my eye.
Snapchat’s Teen Fans Wince As App Catches On With Their Folks (Wall Street Journal, 7/4)
Don’t we do this every time a social media platform approaches mainstream adoption and maturity? Someone writes a “sky is the kids are uncomfortable here because their parents are on it now” post, and everyone starts fervently looking for the “next” platform the kids will embrace while proclaiming the end of the old platform’s “cool” factor. Of course, this mindset overlooks the very real issue that in order to monetize and maximize their value, platforms pretty much have to add older users. This is the vicious circle of social media: the kids make it hot, but the adults make it money… and thus begins the uneasy balance of trying to attract older users without losing the newer ones.
Meanwhile, the last time we listened to this storyline was in 2013 or so when many proclaimed that too many parents were hanging out on Facebook, and all the kids were going to leave Facebook. All Facebook has done since then is add about 350 million users and make $3.7 in profit last year alone. So, take this bevy of stories with a grain of salt before you conclude that the kids are all about to bail on Snapchat.
For brands, the story here isn’t that the kids are weirded out that their parents have started getting on Snapchat (don’t worry kids, very few people over the age of 35, at least in my sample set, can actually figure out that hideous UI long enough to see anything you snap anyway!). The story here is that fully 14% of Snapchat’s user base is now over the age of 35. If you’re a brand manager and you’re still dismissing Snapchat as a playground for teenagers using silly filters to send photos of themselves with rainbows streaming out of their mouths, you’re not seeing the whole picture.
Heavy sigh. You’d think by now that publishers and brands would have recognized by now that disingenuousness or falsehood is quickly sniffed out, exposed, and is rightly demeaned or belittled on social networks. You can’t get away with faking something or trying to mislead the audience anymore; it was always bad practice by people in the media/PR/advertising business, but it’s especially inadvisable in today’s environment. PBS and Huawei are just the latest publishers/brands to learn that this lesson the hard way.
No matter the motivation (in the PBS case, cloud cover made the National Mall fireworks less than optimal viewing, so PBS interspersed footage from previous years’ fireworks into their broadcast), deceptive or misleading content is always a bad idea. Whether you’re working for a media outlet, a brand publisher, or a non-profit organization, if anyone in your work circles ever suggests deliberately deceptive or inaccurate content, shoot the idea down in less time than it would take for someone on social media to figure out that you did it. And in cases where misconceptions are even possible, take pains to be absolutely clear and candid with your audience (looking at you, Huawei).
9 Mistakes You Might Be Making With Your Content Marketing Strategy (7/5, Content Marketing World)
Neil Patel offers some wisdom for content marketers (and would-be content marketers) as to what you might be doing wrong. Obviously, since I am sharing this piece I agree with its points and premises, but the mistakes he identifies that resonated most with me (read: the ones I see happening most often) are #2 (“Your content isn’t useful” #3 (“You’re selling instead of teaching”), #5 (“You don’t know what you want your content to achieve”), and #7 (“Your content isn’t ideal for your audience”).
Three of these four mistakes involve the fact that brand publishers still far too often create content that primarily focuses on their product, services, or branding rather than trying to create relatable content that an audience is going to watch. (Remember, you’re not the hero; the audience member is the hero, and you are the sidekick. Build your content with the audience’s interests, needs, and problems front of mind, and work backward to fit your brand into it, with your brand or product’s role being to support the audience member in achieving their quest or desire. No one goes on Facebook or Instagram to be sold to.
Why People Unfollow Brands On Social Media (Digital Marketing Institute)
This isn’t a “new” infographic or survey; it’s been floating around since March 2015. Yet it’s not a horrible thing that it still occasionally resurfaces. Most commonly cited reasons to unfollow a brand: boring or repetitive content, posting too frequently (more than 6x per day), especially on Facebook; lack of engagement or slow response times. Take care to try and avoid these annoyances to users by building a strong, user-centric content plan, avoiding spamming your followers, and being sure to build in some time to actually interact with people who ask you a question.
It’s always useful to see what other brands are doing with their social media programs. IN Jack Daniels’ case, success has involved developing a brand voice (and the content to match) that celebrates and embraces the brand’s heritage and history, as well as giving fans an inside look into the artisanal distilling process and making fans feel part of that heritage. Good case study worth spending a few minutes with.
First of all, it is remarkable to think that just a decade ago, we were talking about 12 million people on Facebook (almost all of them in the US), and that most of the other platforms that today constitute “social networks” — and in 2016 we are talking about 2.34 billion people around the world. For better or worse, social platforms have been an absolutely transformational technological and experiential development in human history. But beyond the hyperbole, the important note here is that the growth opportunities — at least for adding new users — are very much in the developing world: Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. For global companies, this is a significant thing to note: your efforts in these developing markets over the next few years had really ought to include a social network and messaging strategy.
How Fortune 500 Brands Use Instagram: Top Filters, Best Times And Days To Post (Marketing Profs, 7/5)
While every brand is different and no one should adopt a posting or social media strategy just because “everyone else does it this way,” there are some interesting tidbits in this observation. Among them:
- 99% of interactions on Instagram for the Fortune 500 are likes, not comments; if you’re looking to set engagement metrics, you probably should weight yours heavily in favor of likes.
- 89% of Fortune 500 Instagram posts use no filter; when filters are used, the most effective at driving higher engagement seem to be Mayfair, Hefe, and Ludwig.
- “88% of Fortune 500 Instagram photos are posted between 9 AM and 9PM ET. Photos posted outside this timeframe, between 10 PM and 3 AM ET, have the highest impact scores, on average.” Frankly, this one shocked me. While most of us have long recognized that posting outside of regular business hours is effective and better leverages the times most users access social networks, I don’t think I saw it coming that posting late at night (ET) could have such an impact.
This survey is worth your review.
5 Things Marketers Need To Know About Gen Z (The Content Strategist, 6/30)
I know, I know… you have just gotten used to Millennials’ expectations in the marketplace and you’re starting to feel comfortable working with and marketing to them. Pat yourself on the back, but then get back to work — because here comes Gen Z.
Born between 1996 and 2008 (or so… darn generational tags are hard to pin down when it comes to start and end dates!), Gen Z are even more digitally native than the Millennials who proceeded them. For Gen Z, there has never not been a Facebook or Instagram; the oversharing we all worried about in Gen X is just what Gen Z has always known and always done. (I would argue that as younger Millennials and Gen Z hit the workforce in force and older Millennials move into positions of hiring authority, the dreaded “what you’ve posted on social media” will stop being as automatic of a career killer. Racism and hate speech will still cost people jobs, but that embarrassing photo of you throwing up in Mexico for spring break will not matter as much. But I digress.)
By 2020, according to some estimates, Gen Z may make up as much as 40% of all consumers. (Gosh, I am aging fast! Poor Gen X.) This piece gives you some insight as to what Gen Z wants from marketers. Hint: if you put authenticity and realism at the center of your marketing and content, and you make audience participation a big part of the experience you offer, you’re probably going to be okay. This is a really fascinating article and a really interesting look at a generation we’re all going to have to learn how to engage with really soon.