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The Snap IPO is Overrated

Snap Inc, the parent company to Snapchat, debuted on the NYSE on March 2, 2017 to a lot hype and fanfare. The Snap IPO’d at $17 USD a share and quickly jumped to $28. It settled back down this week at $22 a share. The excitement around the stock links to the popularity of Snapchat. It has captured the attention of the elusive 18-24 year old demographic, coveted by advertisers and brands. Snap had $400 million in revenue last year and is projected to have more than a $1 billion dollars in revenue this year which also makes it attractive. Although Snap’s accomplishments are impressive, Snap has some fundamental flaws.

Snap Inc’s business model could be in trouble. That means that the stock prices could be too.

Facebook Duplicated Snapchat’s Differentiators

Snapchat has attractive features: disappearing messages, filters, status updates (a.k.a. Stories), and augmented reality lenses.

Facebook launched stories and filters on Instagram and Facebook Messenger. Disappearing messages also launched on on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp recently. Bye-bye differentiators.

Image courtesy of Techcrunch

 

User growth is key to Snapchat’s future success. While Snapchat has a loyal user base, right now there isn’t a compelling reason for new users to join Snapchat. What’s the point when Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp have similar features?

Snap’s Spectacles May Not Take Off

Snap launched Spectacles at the end of last year to diversify its revenue. While the initial reaction to Spectacles was favourable, the recent interest in the hardware has declined.

Snap Spectacles

In general, the wearables market has proven to be difficult to compete and win in. We’ve seen successful wearable tech companies like Fitbit and GoPro struggle. Snap may be in for a similar uphill battle in the wearable hardware business.

You Can Get More Views on Instagram

In social media, engagement matters just as much as follower growth. When someone posts something to social media they want to see their views, likes, and shares maximized.

A recent Techcrunch article revealed that the average view per snap has been on the steep decline. Content producers have been posting less on Snapchat since the launch of Instagram stories.

Declining users Snap

Declining engagement and slowing user growth is a bad combination for Snapchat as it stands right now.

It seems that Snap is genuinely trying to innovate and build a viable business. I love that. But it’s important not to get caught up in the hype of the Snap IPO. The company still has a lot of work to do. They need to develop a competitive advantage that can’t be duplicated and “sticky” products that keep users engaged.

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Surviving the Post-Clickbait Era

Facebook has tweaked its News Feed algorithm countless times in an attempt to deliver a better user experience. Sometimes we pay attention, but most of the time we skim an article and wait for the next algorithm change to be announced. But when Facebook announced a full on war against clickbait, you won’t believe what happened next (see what we did there).

Marketers freaked out. But because we’re believers that an internet without clickbait is a better world wide web, we’re breaking down three best practices you can follow to make sure your content survives the post-clickbait era.

Write useful content already

For those who can remember when Google rolled out its Panda update (and marketers collectively lost their sh*t), Facebook’s war on clickbait seems oddly familiar. Similar to Facebook’s update, Google Panda was a search filter meant to stop sites with poor quality content (i.e. spam) from working their way into Google’s search results. How did marketers avoid being penalized by Panda? They wrote useful content.

Our advice here is simple: to not be impacted by Facebook’s war on clickbait, write useful, compelling, unique content. Bonus points if it’s highly relevant to your target market and shareworthy among your Facebook fans.

Be transparent

In their announcement Facebook made it clear: headlines that withhold information or mislead users (think headlines like: “Apples Are Actually Bad for You”), will not be distributed as often as transparent headlines. Our mantra here: think long term.

Writing honest and transparent headlines will not only positively impact your News Feed distribution in the short term, but will also deliver a better user experience that could result in more traffic and higher engagement down the road.

And please, avoid these phrases

Listen, we get it. Sometimes you just can’t help writing a “viral” piece that may skew on the side of clickbait. At the bare minimum, do not use common clickbait language, and if you do, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Here are some common headline styles to avoid:

  • You won’t believe ___
  • This ___ will change your life
  • ___ with this one weird trick
  • ___ you won’t believe what happens next (and of course, what happens next will surprise you)
  • 17 secrets ___ doesn’t want you to know

Now what?

Go forth and prosper. Guilty as charged, we’ve all clicked a headline that we’re not proud of. But clickbait sucks. Join Facebook in making the world wide web a better place and putting an end to clickbait.

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Instagram Stories is not Original – but it is Authentic

For everyone up in arms over Instagram’s blatant copy of Snapchat and launch of “Instagram Stories,” the great Jim Jarmusch has three words for you: “nothing is original.” Think about it. Every piece of literature, every work of art, every film, took inspiration from something else. And in Instagram’s defence, it’s not about where you take an idea from; it’s about where you take an idea to.

Just like Snapchat’s story feature, Instagram Stories allow users to click on circular avatars that represent an account they follow on Instagram. Each bubble contains all the photos and videos that person has posted within the past day.

But calm down everyone. It’s actually less important that Instagram implements original ideas. What is important is that they remain authentic to their brand and vision. The question is, what will change with the addition of “Instagram Stories?” And will Instagram be able to implement the changes in an authentic fashion?

For certain, the addition of Instagram Stories marks one huge transition for the platform.

Lowering the Bar for Posting and Sharing Everything

The nature of Instagram is that users post their most glamorous and extravagant shots. It is understood that what you post will be archived, which places a higher standard on the content you post. Due to this high standard, it is common that a user only posts once a week, or once a month. Instagram believes that “Stories” will lower the bar for posting, and encourage users to post more frequently.

With the bar lowered, Instagram users can feel more comfortable posting the fun and wacky moments in their lives. However, while the outrageous content posted on Snapchat seems at home on their platform, content of the same style posted on Instagram could seem foreign and dilute the brand’s authenticity.  What was once a photo app that placed an emphasis on quality posts, is now leaning towards quantity of posts.

Instagram Stories

How will Instagram remain authentic?

Instagram is already retaining authenticity by simply implementing Snapchat’s idea better and using a smoother user interface. The one complaint you hear about Snapchat, especially from older generations, is that it’s difficult to use. Instagram took that confusing experience, and made it clearer and digestible for a wide variety of people. The interface includes clearly labelled buttons, hints, and logic flows. Instead of swiping up, there is a clear “send message” button. Overall, it is an experience that is better, smoother, and more enjoyable than Snapchat. Taking an idea, and making it better in your own way, that is authenticity at its finest.

In the end, it doesn’t seem like Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom is worried about the criticism. Again taking from the words of Jim Jarmusch, he said, don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it if you feel like it.” Systrom did just that, admitting that Snapchat deserves all the credit, and that what they were launching wasn’t an original idea.

For Instagram, it seems the first step to attaining authenticity is portraying honesty in their approach. This is a definite breath of fresh air in the tech community. And as long as they continue to create more enjoyable experiences than other services, it doesn’t matter where they take their ideas from.

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3 reasons why Facebook’s Dominance Will Continue

Facebook’s dominance in the social media space is clear. With 1.5 billion users, it remains the top social media network in the world. In the developed world we’re hard-pressed to find anyone without a Facebook account, so the total user stat is not shocking. However, what many people do not know is that Facebook will likely continue to grow as a company for reasons beyond social media. Here are 3 reasons why Facebook will continue to dominate:

#1: Facebook’s ambition is to bring internet to the entire world

This is how Facebook is doing it:

Facebook is investing aggressively in drone technology that can fly over and beam internet connectivity to remote and rural areas of the world. The ambitious plan, internet.org, is aiming to bring internet connectivity to 750 million people in the world. The plan prioritizes getting internet access in African, Asian and Latin American countries where web connectivity can be non-existent or problematic.

This is how it will help Facebook to continue to dominate:

Increasing the amount of people connected to the internet can increase the amount of Facebook users. The more users Facebook has, the stronger the revenue potential will be for Facebook’s targeted advertising and sponsored content model.

#2: Facebook is involved with artificial intelligence

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This is how Facebook is doing it:

In 2013, Facebook began the process of launching two important initiatives, the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) and Facebook M.

FAIR is Facebook’s artificial intelligence (AI) research lab.  Staffed with world renowned AI experts at the New York, California and Paris Facebook offices, this lab works to figure out how machine intelligence can give people better ways to communicate.

Facebook M is an artificially intelligent “personal assistant” that exists within Facebook messenger. In the near future we’ll be able speak into our mobile devices and verbally tell M to manage tasks like cancelling a cable subscription or ordering flowers for a special occasion.

This is how it will help Facebook to continue to dominate:

FAIR and M will help Facebook continue its market dominance because they will encourage users have deeper in engagement with the Facebook Messenger app. Deeper engagement with a particular app on our smartphone creates more usage statistics. With more usage statistics, Facebook could better target ads which ultimately increases Facebook’s revenue.

#3: Facebook is involved with virtual reality

Oculus

This is how Facebook is doing it

In July 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR (Virtual Reality), signalling its intention to be among the front runners in the virtual reality industry. Furthermore, Facebook is heavily investing in the development and launch of Occulus Rift virtual reality headset.

It may be tough for us to conceptualize how virtual reality could fit into our everyday lives so here’s an example: let’s say you’re member of the media that covers the politics. Instead of watching the conference in-person or live streaming it on a tablet or smartphone, you’ll be able to put on a headset or “glasses” that will virtually give you seat at the press conference as if you’re there in-person.

Virtual reality is one of the next great frontiers in technology. Marketing research firm Tractica indicates consumer spending on VR hardware and software could reach over $21 billion dollars by 2020.

This is how it will help Facebook to continue to dominate:

The business applications of virtual reality are virtually endless (no pun intended). Imagine, instead of using a smartphone to Facetime or call a friend in Brazil you put on headset and you virtually sit down at a café with them and virtually have a coffee with them. Something like this could dramatically change the telecommunications industry. Imagine you’re a factory equipment sales person: instead of telling a customer about how your equipment works they can put a VR headset on and you can show them how your equipment works on a virtual factory floor. Something like this could dramatically change the sales and marketing industry. Technology like this would be as revolutionary as the internet was to world in the 90’s; it will change everything.

Beaming internet to the world, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, it’s evident that Facebook is becoming bigger than a social media company and it’s exciting to see.

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Facebook’s Universal Search is a Game Changer

Two trillion posts. That’s how much social data Facebook has amassed, and now a good portion of those posts will be searchable, with Facebook’s Universal Search. Launching today, Universal Search will provide access to an entire social library – as long as it’s public. The way Facebook puts it, they’ve indexed the world’s conversations and now you’ll have the ability to find out what’s interesting and trending. More importantly, the search will be tailored to each individual user based on history, friends, and pages you like. It’s a massive step in the next evolution of social media.

Why does this matter? How does social searchability change the game? Facebook understands something that Google has yet to tap into. That humans are social, local animals. Zuckerberg once famously stated: “A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa.” Search becomes much more impactful and relevant if it is connected to social interactions in a local framework. No doubt about it, this is a major game changer.

What does this mean for marketing? There exists the possibility that future targeting will not only be based on likes or demographic info, but also based on what you’ve posted on Facebook. This ad capability is not currently available, but from our experience it is most definitely an opportunity that it’s in the pipeline.

Yes there are some privacy concerns, like any social platform, and there will be some early resistance. But make no mistake, Facebook is moving forward on its stated course of connecting the entire world and Universal Search is a massive step.

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Is Facebook Building a Competitor To LinkedIn?

Looks like Facebook is getting into the professional networking game. A new secret project called “Facebook at Work” is in development to rival LinkedIn. Zuckerberg isn’t stopping there. Facebook is looking to use Facebook at Work as a baseline to compete with Google Drive and Microsoft on the business apps front.

Here are some of the early details of the Facebook at Work project:

  • Facebook will keep business accounts separate from personal accounts. Your client Bob will not be able to see your vacation pictures on your personal page.
  • Collaboration tools look to be a core part of the offering. Group chats, file sharing and more are all part of the plan.
  • This is one additional step in Zuckerberg’s plan to build a Facebook ecosystem to rival Google. With Instagram, WhatsApp and Oculus VR in its ecosystem, the opportunities for cross-platform interaction are growing.

Some might see this as a huge threat to LinkedIn, while others may see a connection between Facebook and business as odd and fruitless. At Stryve, we think it’s a good thing on two fronts:

1) LinkedIn needs to do a better job of developing a platform that’s rich in targeting data if it wants to monetize it’s platform. Although we recently praised LinkedIn’s Sponsored Updates platform, there is a long way to go to transform the ad platform into a rich and effective tool. Some competition from Facebook should focus LinkedIn on richer targeting options and also reduce their high CPC rates.

2) Facebook may not be a direct competitor to LinkedIn, but rather a productivity tool. LinkedIn may still be the destination of choice for recruitment, networking and business newsfeed information. Facebook may bring an entirely different approach with their platform.

If you’d like to learn more about Facebook at Work, check out Tech News Today’s podcast; Facebook Turns Pro.

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Why Ello Isn’t Here to Stay (in Plain English)

Working in digital marketing, it’s part of my job to keep new social platforms on my radar. In September, there was some pretty significant movement towards one called Ello, the “simple, beautiful & ad-free social network”. Ello was introduced as the anti-Facebook: less noise, more privacy, no ads or selling your information, and more bearded hipsters. But Ello is not going to be around long for the simple reason that although people generally hate Facebook ads, they don’t hate them enough.

Life is a series of tradeoffs.

We’re all pretty comfortable with that fact by now. Don’t want to walk everywhere? Buy a car, buy car insurance, buy gas. It’s a tradeoff I’m okay with. It takes me 6 minutes to get to work.  In a lot of situations, tradeoffs are about money. But a lot of times they’re not.

We’re already comfortable trading our information.

I collect Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum points. I didn’t pay for my Optimum card, but I told them things about myself in exchange for it. When I buy something and they scan that card, I’m collecting points that equal dollars that I can spend in store (… like $10 off, 13 years from now, AMAZING!) What do they get? Loyalty and insight. For a very small cost to them (about $10, 13 years from now), they now know a lot about a 24 year old female living in my specific neighbourhood. They know what products I buy, which brands, how often, which products I tend to buy together…the list goes on. They use my information to make money. It’s a tradeoff I’m okay with … someday I’ll redeem those points for a bottle of shampoo and half an Essie nailpolish.

How does this concept apply in the digital world?

I also use Facebook. I didn’t pay for my account or any of its features, but I did tell them things about myself in exchange for it. In return, Facebook provides me with a pretty awesome user experience. And judging by the sheer size and momentum of the platform, a few of you must agree.

Great things cost money to build.

There is a huge, wicked-smart team of humans that go to work every day to continue building and improving Facebook for us.   That team, their technology and their infrastructure costs money, and lots of it.  To pay the bills, they use my information (and yours) to sell ads to advertisers. It’s a tradeoff I’m okay with… I get to keep using a great social network that all my friends are on without spending a cent.

Enter Ello, the idealist’s social media platform.

The user experience doesn’t even come close to comparing—how could it? They don’t have the money to build the team that creates that phenomenal Facebook-level user experience. Eventually they plan to make money with a “freemium model” (offering extra features for a small fee) but paying is a pain, and something we aren’t accustomed to doing on social.  We’re used to having it all, for free.

The bottom line.

For Ello to work, people would have to prefer the tradeoff of paying money for a service over the tradeoff of simply tolerating a few Facebook ads for a better service. This is why they won’t have enough users jumping the Facebook ship.

The bottom, bottom line.

Who wants to post a picture of their Sunday brunch on Ello if no one is there look at it? Nobody. Exit Ello. Tradeoffs make the world go ‘round.

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firstladytwitter

The New Twitter Layout: 3 Things Brands Need to Know

This week, the new Twitter layout was rolled out to all users, so your brand should have it by now.  Some profiles have the option to wait to turn it on, so if you read through this list and realize you’re not ready for these changes to happen right this second, you can hold off (but we’re not sure for how long!).  Here are the 3 things you need to know to make the best of this makeover:

You no longer have a background image on your profile.

Many brands used the background image real estate to list other social media and web properties like their website, Facebook Page, or LinkedIn Company Page. Although you’ll still see your background image when browsing other pages within Twitter, it’s no longer visible to followers or visitors. You’ll need to move this information elsewhere.

You now have more space in other places.

The good news is that you now have a HUGE header image to work with—1500×500 pixels to be exact. You can move all of your background image info here, or use it for something fun that communicates your brand’s personality. You’ll also notice your profile picture grew to 400×400 pixels. If your previous header image and profile picture were specifically designed to fit the old specs, they’ll display pixelated and need to be resized.

You can take advantage of better Tweet management.

AFL best tweets

Your brand’s best tweets will appear in slightly larger text so they’re easier to find. The algorithm to determine what is best is based on engagement, so anything that received a lot of interaction will now be highlighted. You can use a pinned tweet to make sure an important message reaches everyone that visits your profile without constantly tweeting it again. Looking for something specific? Find it more easily with filtered tweets, where you can look specifically at regular Tweets, Tweets with media, or Tweets with replies.

One last new feature worth mentioning is the new navigation around Twitter via keyboard shortcuts. I wouldn’t consider this a “need to know” for brands, since a lot of people use Hootsuite or mobile, and really, they don’t save you much time over clicking… but it’s still kinda cool. Hit “g-d” (go discover) on your keyboard to instantly navigate to the Discover tab and test it out, or just hit “?” to pull up the full list if you think this is something you’d want to use.

Do you like Twitter’s new makeover? Will it improve the way you use Twitter for your brand? Tell us in the comments!

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Circle App: Creepy or the Future of Local Social Networking?

Move over Bitstrips and Candy Crush Saga, a new social media app has taken over my Facebook notification feed. Circle is the location-based app with a beautiful interface that lets you know what’s going on near you right now.  It claims to connect the mobile web to the real world, delivering real-time information about local events, people, places, and news that you care about – everything from lost dogs and promotions at local restaurants to free kids events, closed roads and concerts in the park. Judging by the number of invites I’ve been receiving each day, I would say it’s sparking a lot of curiosity.

The art of leveraging “creepy” technology

Launched by the trio that brought us the now-extinct LikeALittle.com, Circle aims to leverage location-based technology in a way that many of the bigger players have struggled to do.  A lot of our recent behaviour suggests that we are getting increasingly comfortable with GPS integration, whether we’re announcing our brunch location via Instagram’s Foursquare photo map or setting a reminder to buy milk next time we’re near Sobey’s through Google’s Keep. However, the difference between this behaviour and the idea behind Circle is that we tend to be more comfortable divulging location-based information on a case-by-case basis, rather than allowing an app to run in the background of our lives, constantly letting people know what we’re up to.

Is Circle here to stay?

Is person-to-person tracking technology still thought of as too invasive? Definitely for some people, but the over 10 million people using the app today seem to have an open mind about it. The key to seeing it really take off and begin to play a useful role in our lives will be adoption, so only time will tell.  Intuitively, an app that delivers information based on crowd-sourced updates from people in your vicinity can only be valuable if enough people adopt it and contribute to it. So far, reactions seem to be polarized with Twitter users offering support and praise for Circle as well as threats to left knees everywhere:

Circle App

Have you tried Circle? We want to know what you think of it! Not your thing? We want to know why not. Let us know in the comments!

3 Wishes Granted By the New Facebook Ads Manager

Facebook Ads Manager

It seems that the Facebook genie finally granted us Facebook advertisers our three wishes. This week, Facebook rolled out a long overdue overhaul of Ads Manager. For someone like me who spends quite a bit of time working with the platform, I was really happy to see it ‘cleaned up’ with:

  1. A more intuitive interface for building ads
  2. More features
  3. A better analytics dashboard for evaluating ad performance

Building ads has never been easier.

The previous version of Ads Manager had the type of scattered layout that left Facebook ad newbies a bit confused and Facebook ad vets with a sense of accomplishment after managing to set up an ad without accidentally missing a setting or two.  The new Ads Manager has been built “wizard-style”, asking the user for information one piece at a time and in a logical order.  Now, you are first asked to set your objective (revolutionary stuff—our first year business profs were onto something!) and Ads Manager guides you to the correct type of ad where you can continue to set it up in a step-by-step fashion.

Additional features expand what you can accomplish.

Looking to drive an outcome other than Page Likes or post engagement? You can now choose from a longer list of objectives that can help you drive different types of actions including clicks to an external website, website conversions, app installs, app engagement, offer claims, and event RSVP’s. Looking to do some A-B testing? You can now upload up to 5 images for one ad and have them all run at the same time.

Analyze your ad performance more quickly.     

The analytics dashboard also got an overhaul, now allowing advertisers to easily decipher which ads are performing well and which ones aren’t. This not only helps with budget allocation, but also helps you learn what appeals to your audience and what doesn’t.  Was your targeting a little off? Did the brighter picture grab more attention? Try making adjustments one at a time so that you can attribute a change in performance to one factor and start learning from your experimentation.