Monday, July 25, 2016

Facebook vs Snapchat: which is the better channel for your brand?

It’s been a great year for Snapchat and it’s no surprise that Facebook is eyeing up many of its most successful features.

At the same time, Snapchat is moving away from ephemeral content and beginning to engage in a stronger battle against the most popular social network in the world than we first thought.

Will there be a clear winner?

facebook vs snapchat

Round 1: Audience 

We may not have all the stats to compare side by side the audience for both platforms, but Facebook is certainly winning with its 1.65 billion monthly active users. There’s no social platform yet that can beat this number, while Snapchat only informs us for now that it counts over 100 million daily users.

Winner: Facebook

Round 2: Youth appeal

Snapchat got popular for its impressive appeal to the younger audience, starting as a fun and instant form of communication among teenagers. Although it has evolved since then, it is still attractive for the audience aged 13-24, as it forms 60% of its audience.

What’s more, Snapchat announced that it reaches 41% of all 18 to 34 year olds in the United States on any given day.

Facebook may be the most popular social network, but it seems to lose its appeal to the younger audience, and this is mostly attributed to the significant rise of the older generations.

There has been a 46% growth of new Facebook profiles from 2012 to 2015 for the ages of 45-54, while a decline of 25% has been noted at the same period for the new Facebook profiles of people aged 13-17 in US.

Teenagers and young adults start facing a new reality when more family members join Facebook, which means they gradually lose their interest and head to new platforms to freely express themselves.

This doesn’t mean that it’s easy to abandon the most popular social network, but there’s a tendency of reduced shared content, especially among the younger audience, who prefers to use Instagram and Snapchat.

Winner: Snapchat

Round 3: Ephemerality

This is probably the most obvious win for Snapchat, as its main focus is on the power of ephemeral content and the urgency it creates to check the platform daily, in order to catch up with the latest content, before it disappears.

Snaps last for just 24 hours, which means that FOMO (fear of missing out) can become more intense, especially once you start adding more friends (and celebrities).

Facebook seems to be fascinated lately with the idea of ephemeral content and that’s why it announced the launch of secret conversations on Messenger, a feature that will introduce encrypted messages with a timer to control the when they will be visible to the recipient. 

facebook secret conversation

Winner: Snapchat

Round 4: Engagement

Snapchat has managed to create impressive engagement with ephemeral content, but it’s still not easy to beat Facebook, which has turned into a daily routine for a great number of its users.

According to eMarketer, US adults spend an average of 22 minutes a day on Facebook, while it is projected that they will be spending 23 minutes a day by 2018. Engagement may be high and it’s certainly attributed to the mobile domination, but its growth may not be enough in the coming years.

Facebook engagement

Snapchat has observed that 54% of its its users engage with the app daily, while the average iOS user in US spends an average of 18 minutes on Snapchat during the day, which means that there is an indication that the battle of engagement will become even more competitive soon.

Winner: Facebook

Round 5: Authenticity

You don’t have to like (or even understand) Snapchat to admit that it brought a new type of content to social media, with its explosive growth being attributed to the combination of ephemerality, creativity, simplicity and visual content.

The idea of vertical video has proven to be successful (and effective for brands), while filters turned out to be a fresh use of branded promotion.

It wouldn’t be fair to omit Facebook’s own authenticity back when it started, but as it’s heading to a more mature status, we’ll give this round to Snapchat and its attempt to beat the odds of success at a surprisingly fast rate.

Winner: Snapchat

Round 6: Fun

I may sound like a millennial (sorry Christopher), but I personally don’t find Facebook fun anymore. It may be informative, it may be creative from time to time, it’s certainly addictive, but it’s not as fun as it used to be.

gatorade snapchat successOn the other hand, Snapchat is trying hard to be taken seriously, as it is still known as the platform that may turn you into a dog, or swap your face with Leonardo DiCaprio. Lenses have turned out to be very popular for Snapchat and their constant update creates a habit of trying out the new ones, again, for the sake of (useless) fun.

However, this changed when brands joined the game of sponsored lenses, which made them more interesting from a business perspective.

For example, Gatorade created a sponsored lens during Super Bowl and it led to 60 million plays in total, 165 million views and an increase of 8 points in purchase intent.

Winner: Snapchat

Round 7: Branded content

Facebook Pages have formed the idea of branded content in social media and they have been imitated by many platforms. It’s an organised way to distribute content by encouraging users to stay up-to-date with a brand’s news, while Facebook offers several tools to boost this experience.

However, the platform’s monetisation has reduced the reach of organic posts, which means that nothing comes for free anymore and thus, Facebook Pages are not as effective as they used to be, at least not without paying for advertising.

On the other hand, Snapchat wanted to revolutionise the idea of branded content, by encouraging a new format of visual content which focuses on the engagement with the user, ensuring that the reach is not missed through a customised feed that hides the content you’ve liked.

This doesn’t mean that all brands are ready yet to experiment with Snapchat and this may be attributed to the lack of options regarding the distribution and the measurement of the content, which is certainly something that we’d love to see in the future.

Both platforms have their advantages and their disadvantages when it comes to branded content, but Facebook is certainly a winner, mainly due to its established status, the flexibility and its insights.

Winner: Facebook

Round 8: Video

This is probably the biggest battle between Facebook and Snapchat and it’s also the most interesting one.

Snapchat counts 10 billion daily video views and Facebook counted 8 daily billion views in November, and both platforms try hard to succeed in this field, as this may be the battle that will crown the ultimate winner.

Video content is on the rise and it’s not expected to stop anytime soon, and both Facebook and Snapchat have their own advantages and disadvantages on its creation and distribution.

Facebook is favouring video content on the users’ news feeds and this has led to an increase of native video content among brands in the platform. In fact, according to Quintly, brands prefer native videos over links to other videos as they have 4 times the interaction rate compared to Youtube, Vimeo, or other sources.

What’s more, Facebook has launched the idea of Facebook 360 videos, in an attempt to succeed with another popular trend.

Snapchat on the other hand is definitely ambitious enough to compete with Facebook’s plans with video content, especially when taking into consideration the fact that in Q1 2015 it counted just 2 billion daily video views, reaching more than 10 billion daily views in just a year!

This sign of explosive growth cannot stay unnoticed and that’s why there is an attempt to keep up with its fast growth by offering more features and options for brands that join the platform.

Vertical video along with mobile power make a great combination for appealing and engaging video content, while Live videos have turned into a big deal for Snapchat, hoping to use its curation skills to maintain the engagement with users, but also to attract more brands to trust it.

Facebook is currently the winner in this round, but it wasn’t as easy as it thought it would be and that’s why it should not rest upon its laurels.

Winner: Facebook

Round 9: Instant communication

Snapchat started as a fun platform of instant communication between teenagers and that’s how it became popular with its ephemeral content, its simplicity and its mysterious appeal.

Facebook started as a platform that connected people all over the world, although the concept of communication changed over the years as it focused more on content and its monetisation. However, the launch of Messenger was a great move for Facebook, as it brought the best features of all the communication apps into one platform, counting now more than 1 billion users.

Both Snapchat and Facebook have benefited from their appealing instant communication in their own way, the first by creating a strong engagement rate which helped it grow, the second by expanding its features to interesting paths that we keep exploring.

This battle will be a tie, as both of them have their own advantages on why we use them for our communication.

Winner: TIE

Round 9.5 : Chatbots 

Instant communication in terms of business opportunities is already changing on Facebook Messenger with the introduction of chatbots, the pre-programmed messages that allow users to stay informed from their favourite brands and pages regarding a new release, a sale, or an event.

This could be the big step for Messenger in ecommerce and further business opportunities, and as there are more than 11,000 bots in Messenger, we are expecting great things from this feature.

Thus, this battle goes to Facebook.

chatbot facebook

Winner: Facebook

Round 10: Advertising

This is an unfair battle, as Facebook is already established in advertising, offering numerous options for brands to promote their products. There has been a 50% increase in Facebook’s active advertisers in a year, counting now 3 million advertised businesses in Q1 2016.

Mobile advertising has turned out to be extremely effective, as it accounted for 79% of the company’s revenue of Q1 2016.

From a brand’s perspective, Facebook’s advertising tools can help an ad reach the right audience, while the introduction of Canvas led to more creative formats that may be more appealing to users.

On the other hand, Snapchat is yet at an early stage of its advertising growth, but its ROI is still impressive.

It has noted that its Snap Ads have a 5x higher CTR compared to other platforms, while vertical mobile video content leads to 9x bigger completion rate comparing to horizontal videos.

Snapchat is focusing on 3Vs, video, vertical and views, to promote its advertising concept and it promises to offer more metrics soon to help brands measure the ads’ performance more effectively.

Still, this was an easy victory for Facebook.

Winner: Facebook

Takeaway

Facebook may be the winner among the two, but 2016 was Snapchat’s big year, so we’re still curious on how the future will develop for both platforms.

The fact that Snapchat managed to become a serious competitor for Facebook in certain areas in just a couple of years is an indication that we cannot ignore its potential, as its growth is expected to continue.

According to eMarketer, Snapchat is expected to surpass Twitter and Pinterest in US users this year, reaching 58.6 million users with a growth of 27.2%, while it will keep building its audience until 2020 to further close its gaps with Facebook.

snapchat growth

Even if it’s not enough to ever beat Facebook, it is still impressive to monitor its success and it is offering us many useful lessons on how a platform can take advantage of its best features to build an audience and grow with consistent engagement and creative content.

Four key digital transformation trends you must pay attention to right now

Last week ClickZ Intelligence held its webinar on The What, Why and How of Digital Transformation in association with Marketo.

If you missed it, it’s now available on demand where you can listen to the high level overview from me, and actionable information from Marketo’s VP of demand generation Heidi Bullock and HeroK12’s head of marketing Bryan Lanadburu.

As a taster, I’ve summarised just a few of the key points from the webinar for you to read below…

The increasing speed of technological and consumer change creates a need for companies to act differently – or suffer the consequences

Taking a view of the long term trend over the current century and the last, it is clear that digital technologies such as smartphones are just one of a number of changes that have emerged and reached mass market adoption with an increasing speed.

Before the internet, innovations such as the telephone, refrigerator and clothes washer came to market at an accelerating pace, as shown in this chart from HBR.

Digital transformation and speed of consumer change

Today, we are now in a situation where adoption of products and services by hundreds of millions of people can occur in a blindingly short time – the recent explosion of Pokemon Go being further evidence of this.

Established companies of all sizes are being challenged by this increasingly rapid pace as fast-moving startups with more of an eye on customer centricity than internal process adherence eat into market share.

It is this changing set of circumstances that has caused a spike in interest around the idea of digital transformation, as illustrated by this chart of search volumes from Google Trends.

Digital transformation search volume from Google Trends

Digital transformation has multiple definitions but common themes

There doesn’t exist a single, accepted definition for digital transformation, however common themes do emerge.

The first is obviously around technology. Businesses with established processes and ways of working may not be making the most of new tools that are available to grow and protect market share.

The second is around business transformation. The reason why many businesses use legacy technology and lack innovative ways of working is because they have processes, skill sets and cultures that create barriers to moving quickly. While marketing often drives and sets an agenda for digital transformation, doing so requires the buy in and support of multiple departments.

The third is around customer experience. As previously mentioned, it is too common an occurrence that companies look inward at the status quo rather than outward towards the needs of their customers. Customer centricity is an element that needs to be deeply embedded as part of any serious digital transformation effort.

Technology, techniques, teams and talent will help you win

/IMG/582/278582/marketo-logo-large-320x198In the panel discussion, Heidi Bullock from Marketo emphasised that the reason why businesses need to care about the shift to digital channels (with people now spending over eight hours per day using them) is because digital channels are where your customers are. Luckily, 93% of multinational companies are in the process of changing their business models to adapt.

These adaptation requires aligning the three areas of techniques, teams and talent, and technology. By doing so, you can start to take steps towards improving your business processes to enable your company to adapt to the speed of digital change.

You don’t have to be huge to be very successful

HeroK12 and digital transformationBrian Landaburu of HeroK12 shared his lessons at a company which has been moving in a transformative direction for only three years.

HeroK12 is a tool that is sold to schools and school districts to keep track of pupil performance and behavior. Students can be recognized in a positive way and change school culture by focusing on positives rather than just discipline.

Leading a ‘hard pivot’, Bryan has switched marketing entirely from an old way of working involving trade shows, advertising and mass media to an entirely inbound approach, having people learn about it through lightweight interactions over time delivered by Marketo. Everything was reinvented, with business processes and the product also changing.

The result is that a product which helps millions of students at thousands of schools (with thousands more software users interacting everyday on the platform) is served by a company of only 35 people and a marketing team of just four staff.

This provides an example of how an effective transformation can result in a highly efficient and brilliant experience for customers, even in industries and sectors where old ways of working can be difficult to change.

Are you dealing with the issue of digital transformation? Then make sure you come to Shift on August 30th 2016 in San Francisco. A limited number of complimentary passes are available so make sure to register your interest!

Five ways to improve your organic reach on Facebook

Organic reach on Facebook is abysmal and getting worse, thanks to the latest announcement from the social network that’s visited by more than a billion users every day.

Facebook will show more funny videos and baby pictures posted by family and friends instead of news and other marketing content from brands, businesses, and publishers.

How bad is organic engagement on Facebook? On average, engagement is somewhere in the neighborhood of less than 1%. Every once in a while, one of your posts might still get tons of organic engagement. But it’s fast becoming mission impossible.

So what’s the solution?

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to mitigate the loss from the latest Facebook newsfeed algorithm. You must raise your organic engagement rates.

Let’s meet your new weapons – the five crazy hacks that will help you do what’s said to be impossible: hack the Facebook newsfeed algorithm.

Note: Some of these hacks involve spending a little bit of money. Others are totally free. All of them are totally worth your time.

1) Preferred audience targeting

Listen up: Preferred audience targeting is a brand new Facebook feature that works just like ad targeting, but for your organic posts. That’s right, this new feature lets you target your organic updates as if they were ads, for free.

Facebook lets you target your update so only the people who are most likely to be interested in your update will see it.

Here’s where the preferred audience targeting option can be found:

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-3

This feature is so powerful because not everyone who follows your Facebook page is going to care about every single update you publish. If you want to start raising your organic engagement, you need to stop broadcasting to all of your followers and focus on those people who are most likely to engage with specific updates.

Facebook’s preferred audiences feature is pure genius for companies that have a variety of products and divisions, or that operate in multiple countries. You can narrow the targeting based on users’ interests and locations to reach the people you really want without bothering the rest of your followers.

This feature also has benefits for smaller companies and publishers. Take me for example… Preferred audience targeting allows me to decide who sees my posts – or who won’t see my post, using audience restrictions:

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-4

Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re a French clothing retailer with locations in France, Poland, and Germany. You could make it so that only French-speaking millennial females who live near your locations will see your post announcing your latest deals.

Remember: everybody who likes your page isn’t your target market. Plenty of random people will like your page over time, but then never engage with your updates, visit your website, or buy from you.

If you can only reach 1% of your audience, you should more narrowly target the people who are truly interested in what you have to offer.

2) The unicorn detector pyramid scheme

The Unicorn Detector Pyramid Scheme is the process you can use to separate your content unicorns from the donkeys.

What is a content unicorn? Well, content becomes a unicorn when it is clearly among the top 1 to 2% of all of your content. These are your most rare and beautiful pieces of content that attract the most shares, engagement, and views.

A content donkey, on the other hand, doesn’t stand out at all. At most, it’s average. 98% of your content will be donkeys that get average engagement – again, less than 1% is the average organic engagement on Facebook, which is insanely low, right?

To raise your organic engagement rates on Facebook, you need to post fewer, but better updates. You can test out your content organically on Twitter. Here’s how it works.

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-7

Post lots of stuff on Twitter – somewhere around 20 tweets per day. But imagine that every tweet has been infected with a virus, one that will ultimately kill them without the antidote within less than 24 hours.

The only cure for these infected tweets? They need to get a significant number of retweets, clicks, likes, and replies.

Examine your top tweets in Twitter Analytics. Those tweets with the most engagement – your top 5 or 10% – have survived!

Your content that got the most engagement on Twitter is also highly likely to generate similar engagement on Facebook.

3) Post engagement ads

You can use Facebook’s Post Engagement Ads to give your posts a bit of a push. Yes, that means you’re spending a little money to “earn” some free reach in the news feed.

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-9

For example, let’s say I posted the above update only on my wall. The engagement is going to be pretty low. Maybe a few hundred people will see it.

So what happens if I spend just $20 to promote it? In this case, I paid for more than 4,400 impressions (clicks, follows, likes, etc.), but also got more than 1,000 organic engagements for free as a result.

How? Whenever someone shares your promoted post, it results in more people seeing it organically in their newsfeeds and engaging with it.

4) Add engaged followers

Did you know there’s a way you can selectively invite people who have recently engaged with one of your Facebook posts to like your page? This is a valuable but little-known feature available to some (but not all) pages.

You want people who engage with you to become part of your Facebook fan base. You know these people like you and are more likely to engage with your content because they’ve done so in the past.

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-11

Here’s how you do it: Click on the names of the people who reacted to your post (liked, loved, etc.). You’ll see three types of buttons (Invite, Liked, Invited). Clicking on that Invite button will send an invitation to people who engaged with one of your Facebook posts to like your business page.

Does it work? Yep. Between 15 to 20% of the people I invite to like my page are doing so.

5) Use video content

The decline of organic reach almost mirrors the rise of video on Facebook.

Users watch more than 8 billion videos every day on the social network. And these videos are generating lots of engagement.

Just look at this recent research from BuzzSumo, which examined the average total number of shares of Facebook videos:

Facebook-newsfeed-algorithm-13

Facebook is doing its best to try to kill YouTube as the top platform for video. If you haven’t yet, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon.

Stop sharing vanilla posts that get little to no engagement. Add some video into your marketing mix! That should help improve your organic engagement because engagement begets engagement.

Facebook organic reach is pretty terrible. That’s why you should start treating your organic Facebook posts more like a paid channel, where you have to pickier and optimize to maximize engagement, in the hopes of getting more earned organic engagement.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Google launches imported call conversions

If the internet killed the phone call, the smartphone has revived it.

While more and more business is conducted without human interaction, there are still times customers need to reach a business by phone and mobile click-to-call is on the rise.

According to data from BIA/Kelsey, calls to US businesses from smartphones will hit 162 billion in the next three years, a jump of nearly 75% since 2015.

For businesses that derive revenue in some way from those phone calls, attribution can be a challenge.

Those using adding a phone number to their Google AdWords ads or running call-only campaigns have up until now been able to track conversions in a rudimentary fashion only.

Specifically, Google’s conversion tracking has enabled advertisers to track when AdWords ads result in calls of a minimum length.

adwords number

But recognizing that this offers a limited view of conversions, Google has announced imported call conversions, a new feature that allows advertisers to import call data so that they can attribute detailed conversion data, such as revenue generated, back to the calls generated by their AdWords campaigns.

As Amit Agarwal, Google’s senior product manager for Mobile Search Ads, explained:

“You can also distinguish between various types of customer actions that you may value differently. For example, the travel advertiser might assign revenue amounts to different call types like new bookings, rate requests, service calls, and customer upsells to a larger trip package.”

The data from imported call conversions can be used with Google’s target return on ad spend (ROAS), an automated bidding strategy that is designed to help advertisers realize an average return on ad spend that they specify across all of their campaigns, ad groups and keywords.

To import call conversions, advertisers must minimally supply a phone number, call start time and call length. Custom conversion events can be defined, and for each, advertisers can specify an optional conversion time, conversion value and conversion currency.

Already, Google says advertisers using imported call conversions are using the data to realize significant gains in their campaigns.

Insurance provider Nationwide, for instance, says that “since including imported call conversions into campaign optimization, we’ve been able to increase spend on top-performing, call-driving terms by nearly 3x. This has even helped us identify new keyword expansion opportunities from search queries we wouldn’t have otherwise found without increasing our investment backed by imported calls data.”

Images: three optimisation tips to help speed up your site

People like fast websites and so does Google.

In fact, your website’s speed is a ranking factor in Google search engine results.

If your site loads quickly, it’s more likely to appear when people search for your brand. This along with the knowledge that a fast site provides a better user experience (UX), means that a faster website can lead to higher conversions.

If your website isn’t loading as quickly as you’d like, it’s very likely that your images are to blame.

Here are a few common mistakes people make regarding optimising images for their website.

Images are too big

Many marketers and publishers like to use big, high-resolution images on their site, believing that these images will provide a better user experience.

The problem is that high-res images often have a very large file size, and take a long time to load, especially when there are multiple images on the same web page.

We’ve seen many publishers uploading images in the range of 2Mb to 5Mb in their blog or content posts. This image size is way too large for the web, and is one of the most common mistakes that slows down websites.

If your image is larger than 500kb, something might be wrong, and the image could be compressed.

Before you upload new images to your web page or blog post, remember these tips:

  • Before you upload any image, double-check the file size (right click the image, and choose properties)
  • Keep image files sizes below 500kb (and below 100kb if possible)
  • There are many online tools that can help you compress your images to get a smaller file size, such as io, CompressJPG, and TinyPNG.
  • If you use Photoshop to prepare your images, keep an eye on the dimensions and make sure the DPI is set to 72dpi (Image/Image Size) and remember to ‘Save for Web’ in order to control the final outputted file size.
  • Convert your images to the proper file types. In most cases, you’ll want to use JPG. However, if your image uses transparency (such as an image with a “see through” background) you’ll need to use PNG. There are some rare cases when GIF is best, but, when in doubt, always use JPG.

A specific example: An exclusive online designer footwear brand uses a lot of large banners and products images on its fashion site that dragged the Google PageSpeed score down to just 20/100.

We created a daily cron job (automated task that runs daily) to automatically resize big images down to smaller web standards, while maintaining a good quality.

In the screenshot below, we reduced the file size of an image from 1.3MB to only 142KB.

metallics webpage

reduce page speed chart

Simply by reducing image file size, we increased the Google PageSpeed score from 20/100 to 58/100.

Auto-scaling images

Another common mistake with images, is auto-scaling large images so they display smaller than they really are.

Doing this is often more convenient for the developer and content creators, but can really slow down a website.

For example, a big photo banner in a post might also be used as a small thumbnail elsewhere on the site.

The developer, rather than creating multiple versions of the image (e.g. 1000×425 for the banner and 64×64 for a side column), uses code to auto-scale the same big image to display as a small thumbnail. So a big image is being loaded unnecessarily. This shortens development time, but the page speed pays the price.

Not to mention, auto-scaled images can end up looking distorted because they’ve been stretched with code. For example, the thumbnail below is auto-scaled from 1000×425 pixels down to 64×64 pixels, and becomes distorted.

distorted thumbnail

reduce distortion on thumbnail

Keep an eye out for times when the same image is used many times on your site. If your site requires 12 different size variations used in 12 locations (something like 25×25, 40×40, 200×200, 658×258, 56×56, 64×64, 92×92, 150×156, 110×110, 160×160, and 180×180) that’s probably too many, and you might want to limit that down to less than four.

Then create a separate image for each different size, and load the correctly-sized image version rather than auto-scaling large images to look smaller than they really are.

Lack of image caching

Even if you use proper image compression, and serve properly-scaled images, a page that’s very image-heavy can still take a long time to load. Since images are static content, a great way to speed up the load time is to use CDN caching.

Caching (pronounced “cashing”) is the process of storing data in a temporary storage area called a cache. For example, you’ve probably noticed that a website you’ve visited in the past will load more quickly than a site you’ve never been to. This is because the visited website is cached by your computer.

A CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a network of servers that delivers cached content (such as images) from websites to users, based on the geographic location of the user.

For example, if you’re in New York, and you’re looking at a website from India, you can load the images from a server that’s actually in New York, rather than loading images from halfway around the world.

A site using CDN caching can deliver images and other static content much faster, especially in peak traffic time, because images are not loaded directly from the web server, but from a cached server with much faster speed.

On top of this, a CDN also helps you serve more visitors at the same time. If your site experiences a sudden or unexpected spike in traffic, a CDN can keep your site functioning effectively.

Some of our favorite CDN providers are CloudFare, Akamai CDN, Amazon CloudFront, MaxCDN, and CDN77.

Mike Le is the Co-Founder and COO of CB/I Digital, a digital agency based in New York and a contributor to SEW. You can connect with Mike on Twitter or LinkedIn.