This week’s PNConnect Weekly Reading is a great one. Lots of great stories touching on a variety of topics. Not as chock full of news as some recent editions but the stuff in this one is quite good. I highly recommend it.
Twitter has posted about the usefulness and benefits of their Promoted Trends advertising products. In short they make the case that promoted Trends help lift brand messaging and create more positive brand advocates.
The primary reason behind that lift is, I think, this: The broader audience Promoted Trends reach means publishers are hitting more people who don’t already have strong opinions about the brand one way or the other. So whereas the normal audience may already be immune to the brand’s social media charms, reaching more people means reaching more people who have a genuine “Oh, cool!” reaction. That would account for almost everything else in Twitter’s findings.
It’s also worth nothing that this study looks almost entirely at engagement factors, not anything relating to actually moving the needle on sales. Some people might point to that as a sign of the weakness in making the connection between social media publishing and making the sale, but I don’t think that’s the case. Or at least it’s not the case any more than it usually is. Social media is partly about selling, yeah, but it’s even more about building up some positive sentiment and engaging with fans, customers and others and not necessarily about selling all the time.
This piece about why niche media is important is not only spot-on but also more than a little distressing as it evaluates some recent mainstream foul-ups. But aside from that I think it exemplifies why newspapers in particular missed an opportunity back in 2003 or so to reach out to the emerging independent blogger field and work with subject matter experts, bringing them into the fold in a way that was mutually beneficial instead of playing around with paywalls and so on.
An interesting perspective on why Marissa Mayer is making the moves at Yahoo she is.
Poynter has a great rebuttal of Buzzfeed’s much-discussed “The Social Media Editor is Dead” piece. In my opinion there’s still a strong need for there to be one – two is actually better – who act not just in a traditional editorial capacity but who also are kind of the heart and soul of the program, who keep it true to itself, who know what the goals are, who knows the nuances of the fan base and more. This is’t a dead role, it’s one that is vital and necessary if if the responsibilities are and will continue to evolve over time.
I think this hand-wringing story about the demise of high school newspapers falls victim to the trap of getting hung up on form-factor. So what if a high school is producing a Tumblr blog instead of a print paper if the content is similar? It’s not about the printing press (or the blog platform or anything else) it’s about training kids to be writers, photographers, coders and more in a way that gets them excited about the process, not the distribution form.
This article shouldn’t be necessary as everyone should already be in complete agreement that The Monkess are and always have been cool.
Medium is a platform that I’m super-intrigued about. The closed beta that it’s been in for an extended period has allowed it to highlight and curate some high-quality material from some great folks. But when it does open up and it loses the mystique of being a high-end, prestige magazine of sorts it will have to use it’s cool set of tools and functionality to compete with WordPress, Tumblr and everything else in the platform market.
Movie theater chains want to force studios to make trailers shorter by 30 seconds, or about 1/5 of their current running time. The hilarity starts when the theater owners start talking about shorter trailers creating a better movie-going experience when they’ve done everything in their power to make that experience almost excruciating while grabbing every ad dollar they can.
Long story short: We’re not going to Mars any time soon, though it will be super cool when we do.
No, we don’t want Facebook – or any other company – deciding what is hate speech. That’s largely because at any scale it needs to be algorithm-driven and that leads to an incredibly faulty system that will penalize a lot of innocent people while still letting lots slip through.
Google wants to make sure Google News doesn’t become polluted with native ads/sponsored content/commerce journalism:
If a site mixes news content with affiliate, promotional, advertorial, or marketing materials (for your company or another party), we strongly recommend that you separate non-news content on a different host or directory, block it from being crawled with robots.txt, or create a Google News Sitemap for your news articles only. Otherwise, if we learn of promotional content mixed with news content, we may exclude your entire publication from Google News.
It’s good to see Google making sure that the readers are well-served by using News. If companies are able to litter the News feed results with advertiser-driven content it waters down those results and ultimately makes it less useful than it once was. By drawing a clear line in the sand on this and telling publishers to proactively exclude those stories from News through the use of a Robots.txt direction or other means they are making sure it doesn’t become a cesspool of sponsored content.
The majority of those responding to a recent survey by J.D. Power & Associates say they don’t mind brands listening in on the social media conversations being had about those brands.
The study found that most of those between 45 and 54 were aware brands were monitoring what was being said, while many young people 18 to 20, about 40% of respondents, weren’t hip to that fact. More than that most of those who knew this was going on were also completely cool with this happening.
Where it gets interesting is in the number of people who feel such monitoring is invasive. That means, tactically, that any engagement based on what’s being said is going to be seen as unwelcome at best and creepy at worst. The eMarketer story rightly points out that the best advice is often to not respond or engage unless there’s an overt call to do so. If someone wants to get a brand’s attention it looks very different than someone who’s just sharing an idle opinion. But, of course, this goes against the thinking prescribed by those who feel engagement rates of less than 100% are completely unacceptable, despite that never being all that realistic.
On a related note, a SimplyMeasured study found that 30% of companies in the Interbrand 100 have Twitter profiles specifically dedicated for customer service purposes. In such cases, where people have a much different expectation of what sort of listening and interaction is likely, the response rates by the brands are much closer to that 100% mark. But again, that’s a whole different type of program that has it’s own goals.
Adria at SearchEngineWatch speaks truth when she lists what are, in reality, just a fraction of the reasons a blog writer may not be interested in what a PR person is pitching.
It has, thankfully, been quite a while since I had to personally engage in any such activities in my role as an agency person. For a while there I was pretty good at it but somewhere along the road things shifted and those who were starting blogs started expecting more than what was being offered, mostly in the form of compensation for writing anything about the client I was pitching.
This corresponded, I think, with the rise of not just more pay-for-play tactics but also platforms like Twitter and Facebook along with more brands getting in the publishing game themselves. The dynamics changed drastically to put much more of the power in the hands of the blog owners themselves, which is a good thing in the long run but which has made this sort of social media outreach a much more difficult trick to turn successfully.
There’s a ton of good points made in Brian Morrissey’s piece at DigiDay about Twitter’s emerging role as a media company powerhouse. Specifically he dives into how the company is putting the pieces together to lead a new wave of advertising changes, changes that will put the focus back on quality creative as opposed to the soulless algorithms that have dominated much of the last decade of online advertising.
Here’s the nut graf:
All the innovation, he noted, has been around targeting and bid management for Google’s auction system. What’s been a distant third is creative. Bain made the case that this is backwards. Twitter’s ad system is designed to reward those that create good content. That’s done by people, not machines.
When people talk about “content marketing” it too often means something that is an ad first, with slightly longer text shoe-horned in in some manner. But what Twitter is aiming to do is take content that is already produced – in this case Tweets – and turn them into an advertising unit, which allows for much higher-quality material to filter through than in the other scenario.
It actually makes me think of all the talk about “native advertising, which is back in the news thanks to a new initiative by The Washington Post and now Fortune, which says it will write articles exclusively for advertisers.
Imagine if this kind of situation worked out a bit differently. Instead of new material being written at the behest of advertisers, what if advertisers could pay to promote a story that was already written? So after an article is published – say a profile of a CEO, review of an important new product or what have you – a company could come in and say “We’ll pay $X to stick that to the front page for 48 hours/have that get five extra tweets” or something along those lines.
I can’t imagine it would compromise anyone’s ethics any more than they already are in this new “native advertising” world for existing stories to receive paid promotion as opposed to people being asked to write stories for the express purpose of marketing dollars.
(Note: I think I’ve said everything I want to say here but I’m not sure. It’s messy to be sure but I wanted to get this all down and shared regardless of the raw form it’s obviously in. Proceed with caution)
Twitter announced before the Super Bowl that about half of this year’s Super Bowl ads would contain a hashtag and according to a MarketingLand tally that turned out to be an accurate number, with 26 of the 52 aired spots including some sort of hashtag, whether it was one for a specific campaign or just a general one. That same MarketingLand piece points out that Twitter was included in 26 commercials while Facebook made it into just four, Instagram and YouTube scored one each and Google+ was completely shut out. Ads, according to a separate study, wound up making up about 30% of the tweets published during the game. Overall across Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue there were 30.6M social media comments over the course of the broadcast, with 24M on Twitter and 400,000 on GetGlue, meaning the balance of 5M or so happened over on Facebook. And of course some brands gained additional buzz because they quickly turned some creative around to take advantage of some timely stories coming out of the SuperDome.
A recent study showed that including a hashtag during a TV show broadcast can increase the social conversation about that show by up to two-thirds what it otherwise would have been. The idea behind using a hashtag is to take advantage of the multi-media-tasking that’s going on as people watch TV while also browsing Twitter or Facebook on their iPad or mobile device.
But I still wonder what the value of doing so actually is. What’s the point of pushing people to participate in a conversation that is not controlled – or controllable unless it’s through some sort of aggregation on-domain – and which has questionable long-term brand value?
I, as a publisher on Twitter, might be moved enough to go post something like what the ads are asking me to, whether it’s sending in a personal anecdote or sharing a memory or some such like that. But what is the brand getting out of it? They can say that X thousand people used the hashtag within Y hours of the commercial being shown, but what subset of that audience took the next step to actually follow the brand’s Twitter profile? And what subset of *that* visited the brand’s site or took some other action where they could get a richer, more full experience and message?
I get why hashtags are so widely used. They give most brands a nice cozy blanket to pull over themselves as they talk about how engaged in the community conversation they are. But the reality is most of them are the result of a brainstorming session and will be abandoned as quickly as they’re thought up.
Also, what’s better, a rise in conversational volume by 2/3 or a 20% increase in the number of visits to a brand website that comes in the wake of the Super Bowl? I say it’s the increase in site visits since that’s something a company can leverage in multiple ways down the road, not just abandon after this particular campaign is done, leaving nothing but the fresh scent of pine where it once was.
A good story finally broke a couple days ago about what movie studios will be advertising their 2013 releases in this Sunday’s Super Bowl. So what movies can we expect to see commercials for?
Universal will show off The Fast and The Furious 6, Paramount will advertise both World War Z and Star Trek Into Darkness and Disney will preview Iron Man 3, The Lone Ranger and Oz. Sitting out the broadcast are Fox, Sony and Warner Bros, despite all three studios having big tentpoles later this year that would be good fits for the game’s audience.
One big part of the advertising that will be done is the inclusion of hashtags, which according to Twitter will appear in half the commercials during this year’s game. The idea here is obviously to start a conversation online but, as I’ve stated before, while such a tactic might generate spur-of-the-moment engagement it’s still unclear what the long term brand value of it is. Especially compared to pointing viewers to an owned platform (ie website) where a stronger brand case can be made.
Meanwhile, there’s been a ton of conversation this year about the viability of releasing Super Bowl commercials early, something that a ton of advertisers have done this year but which seems to be subject to some questioning this time around. Which makes the timing of a new study from YouTube (the platform, of course, most companies release those teasers or full spots on) that claims ads shown before the game broadcast pull in six times the views as spots that aren’t.
A new survey predictably shows that people think the opinions they share with or about brands on social media are super-important:
Brand-connected consumers do appear confident that their voices are seen and valued. Roughly 8 in 10 believe that brands see their posts on social network pages and review sites, and a similar proportion believe brands value the information they provide in those locations.
That makes sense. Everyone thinks their opinion is so relevant and that the brand they’re talking to or about should really pay attention to them if the company wants to succeed. That may or may not be true (it largely isn’t, but don’t tell them that) but when coupled with the fact that people do change their buying behavior based on their impression of how a social media interaction ended (or maybe didn’t start) it can have very real implications for brand managers.