How Strategic Social Media Changed Everything

White porcelain cup with saucer on a wooden background

“You come and ask for teaching, but your cup is full; I can’t put anything in. Before I can teach you, you’ll have to empty your cup.” –  Zen Master Ryutan

Without dipping too far into clichés, I was profoundly amazed by the depth of social media that existed right below the surface. When I signed up for this class, I imagined a class about learning purely how brands market themselves in very vague terms. Instead what I found was a class about the importance of self-branding, analytics, and why content is still the most important thing.

Largely being an advocate for new media and new technology snob, I was surprised by how much of the traditional media strategies were applicable to this new field. You still need strategies, you still need those clear objectives, and you still need goals. These businesses are not just sending these messages out into the ether with no idea of the effects. Ignorantly, I never even considered the changing role of social media in the interaction between businesses and customers.

However, there is one lesson that was forever drilled into my head forever: content is still the most important part of the entire process. You have to produce content if you want people to find your content. You have to create quality content if you want people to share that content.  But most importantly of all, you have to make content that will engage people. Engagement and the quality of your content is the most important thing of all. Without these, your doomed to be mediocre at best.

The depth of platforms isn’t in the platforms themselves, but rather the techniques we apply to them. When I came into this class, I was surprised how much more depth was enlightened upon me. A world of analytics and content awaits me and I could not be more excited. Thank you Professor Bufkins for refilling my cup.

Google+ fighting its imminent demise?

Google's new Photo Collection
Image: Google

The short answer: No. Google+ since its launch 4 years ago has struggled to ever find it footing. While at launch it offered several interesting features such as Circles, a feature that allowed for you to custom design who saw what content you posted on the platform, Google+ never really succeeded. However, with Bradley Horowitz taking over Google+, the direction seems to be changing.

Horowitz and Google seem to be pushing the name Google’s Photos and Streams rather than Google+. This along with the new Photo Collection features being rolled out to users; it does seem as if Google seems to be pushing more towards a visual focused social media using lots of the infrastructure from their previous ventures. While the photo collection feature is eerily familiar to Pinterest, worth noting will be Google’s ability to capture the male audience that Pinterest currently seems unavailable to attract. With Pinterest’s primary demographics being primarily women aged 25-44, this would be Google’s opportunity to either try to attract the male or teenage markets.

Interestingly, it does not seem as if Google has plans for Google+ to remain an independent social network. With Google+ sending out its first tweet from a 4 year old account on May 1st, it does appear that Google wants its new Photos and Streams to be more incorporated with existing social networks than it being a proprietary network. With Twitter already starting to make the switch to becoming very visual, and have a much different demographic than say Facebook, it does make sense why Google would chose Twitter for its active engagement.

The Wild Expansion of Online Streaming Platforms

MeerKat;Periscope
Meerkat;Periscope

Probably like most people, I watched what was being mistakenly overhyped as the ‘Fight of the Century’. And while the fight itself may have been a disappointment for a lot of people, I think many agree the clear winner were online streaming platforms such as Periscope. Last night Periscope was inundated with people streaming the fight. Whether from low-quality portraits shots directed at TVs or monitors or shots focused toward living room viewing parties, Periscope users delivered when it came to showing the fight.

Many people have begun heralding this as Periscopes launch to success. However if we look at the stats online streaming is already booming. VentureBeat estimates Periscopes, and its closest competitor Meerkat, user bases to be around 358,000 and 836,000 respectively as of April.

Image from Venture Beat
Image from Venture Beat

Even more surprising to those new to the world of online streaming is these sites are not even the largest platforms. While YouTube continues to be the behemoth in the space boasting 1 billion active users, 300 hours of content being uploaded every minute, and hundreds of millions of hours are watched every day. While these statics are related to their video content, YouTube does offer livestreams including this year’s Coachella Music Festival.  In terms of live content however, Twitch.tv is definitely one of the largest.  For those unfamiliar with Twitch it is an online live streaming platform for primarily video games, eSports, and other gaming related content. According to their 2014 stats, Twitch attracts 100 million unique visitors per month with 1.5 million unique broadcasters per month. It also estimates that 16 billion minutes are watched.

While video games may not be for everyone, Twitch has also had users such as popular artist Steve Aoki broadcasting live music creation or concerts. This year’s Ultra Music Festival was also broadcasted live on Twitch for all 3 days.

While all these platform’s numbers are staggering it does leave the question of how much longer users will be able to continue living in this Wild West atmosphere these platforms currently have before  problems with copyright, licensing, and content restrictions start plaguing the platforms. After last nights popularity on sites like Periscope, I imagine it isn’t long before we start seeing formal complaints against these organizations.

Twitter Continues its Expansion

TwTimelines3
Photo Credit: Twitter

Twitter has recently announced its continuing development for the base Twitter client with its new upcoming feature: “TV Timlines”.  It is already very common for people to turn to social media while watching their favorite shows. On Twitter, it is fairly common to see users “livetweeting” their thoughts, feeling, and even their critiques. Several shows even encourage this second screen engagement by promoting their own hashtags, promoting discussion using the hashtags, or even in some cases sharing ‘behind-the-scenes’ content for users. Considering this trend, it isn’t that surprising to see Twitter attempting to enable and encourage these discussions.

In an article by Lance Ulanoff on Mashable.com, we can get a preview to an early mobile version of these new features. This includes 3 separated columns, abilities to sort the content you want to see, and the tweets sent in this mode will automatically include the hashtag for the show.

While several third-party apps including Hootsuite offer similar functionality and Twitter’s own Tweetdeck seems to be the obvious sources of inspiration for these features, it is nice to see the features being implemented into the standard Twitter client for users who do not use these additional applications.

It will be interesting to see how this new integration of features will influence TV shows’ level of engagement with their audiences. Also worth watching will be the reception to these new features. While Twitter has added features in past, this is the first time it has added features that allow it to directly manage what topics are discussed.

Twitter’s Expansion: Will Third Parties Still Have Room to Develop?

Twitter CEO, Dick Costolo, giving his speech at International Advertising Festival 2012. Photo: LIONEL CIRONNEAU /ASSOCIATED PRESS

In its surprising announcement, Twitter has recently announced its exciting new content curation tool: Curator. It is eing targeted mainly at journalistic and media outlets. In an article by TNW, they show several of the current features available with this tool such as being able to embed collected tweets and vines, allowing for following of worldwide trends, and even some analytics.

So with these details, in seems this tool is in direct competition with apps such as Storify which already have several of these features for content curation. While it seems currently Curator is more focused on media professionals it will be interesting to see how this tool develops and if Twitter will continue making in-house versions of popular third-party applications.

Along with this, Twitter is also adding long desired features to its application Tweetdeck, another once independant third-party application. Being added is the new teams feature. This will allow for brands to have several people access the same account without having to give them the credentials to the account. It will also allow for them to send, schedule, and manage tweets from the account. These are all features that have been long desired and have already been added to users through other applications such as Hootsuite or SocialFlow.

With Twitter rapidly trying to develop its current applications and expand into new applications, we are seeing a Twitter that allows for their service to be used by individuals and brands alike. That being said, we have to continue being thankful to third-party applications for without them Twitter could still be without several features that we now consider crucial. While it is nice that Twitter and its developers continue to be active and add these features, I also hope that Twitter will continue to be supportive to outside developers continuing to develop a better experience for the users of the product.

Is 4.5 Million Dollars Worth it?

Budweiser's 2015 Super Bowl Ad
Budweiser’s 2015 Super Bowl Ad “Puppy Love”

In short – Yes, it is very worth it. In a recent phone conference with Seth Winter, an NBC executive, he is quoted to say:

“We did an analysis around last year’s Super Bowl that Fox ran, and our analysis showed that with all of the video distribution pre- and post-game, the value of the PR, the value of all of that which advertisers used to activate around their investment that it reached a very solid good foundation number of $10 million.”

But is that a realistic claim? When you look at the numbers it definitely seems like one. In an article on Forbes.com by Chris Smith, he mentions that brands receive close to  “191 million impressions for a typical Super Bowl ad” when including Super Bowl viewing numbers, social media impressions, and media outlets such as YouTube.

I know personally that I watch the Super Bowl every year despite not being a fan of traditional sports? Why is that? Because everyone knows the best part of the Super Bowl are the commercials. Everyone talks about their favorite the next day at work, shares it on their social media, or even goes out of their way to watch the ads on outlets such as YouTube. As of the time of writing this, Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” ad is sitting at an amazing 57 million views on YouTube alone. This is not counting the various views on reuploads, compilation videos, or other online video outlets available.

So while it is currently very much worth spending the large amount of money for a 30-second spot, will it always? We are already beginning to see a trend of organisations releasing their Superbowl ads online simultaneously as they air during the Super Bowl. In some cases companies are even releasing their ads before the Super Bowl. In addition to this, we are seeing brands be extremely active on Twitter and Facebook during the event, launching interactive advertising campaigns, are really pushing an online component to their advertisements in the form of promoting sponsored hashtags. We may be rapidly approaching a time where these companies may deem in not worth the large capital investment and instead move more and more to online only campaigns.