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bubble-burst

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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Download on Digital Marketing: February 2017

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

Giphy launched library of more than 2,000 GIFs to teach sign language
GIFs can do more than add a sassy quip to the end of your tweet. Now, they can even help you learn a new language.

WhatsApp was the latest Facebook product to clone Snapchat stories
WhatsApp has cloned Snapchat’s popular stories format and is using it to replace its old text-based status messages.

Instagram launched photo albums
The app formally introduced a new feature that allows users to attach up to 10 photos and videos to a single post.

PlayStation VR blasted past sales expectations
It’s a good sign for the adoption of VR, but we still have a ways to go.

VR headsets may get a facelift
Google has been experimenting with adding your face to the outside of a VR headset. This could make the technology more ‘human’.

Facebook is reportedly working on a new app for streaming show
In a bid to increase its earnings from advertising, Facebook is gearing up to put itself against streaming services like Netflix and AppleTV.

Hootsuite acquired AdEspresso to move into paid content and social ads
Hootsuite made a big stride towards paid ads by acquiring AdEspresso, a company that has built a set of tools to create, A-B test, and post advertisements on Facebook and Instagram.

Snap begins selling Spectacles online
You can be the proud owner of Snap’s video-recording sunglasses for $129.99 USD.

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Download on Digital Marketing: January 2017

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

Google refused to give up on Google+
The search giant announced a handful of changes for the service, including hiding “low-quality” comments, adding zoom functionality, bringing back its events feature, and killing the classic design.

Facebook launched the Journalism Project
The project will create deeper relationships with publishers, including giving early access to new tools and features.

Snapchat launched universal search to simplify navigation
Snapchat just made it much easier to find friends, groups, and brands with a universal search bar that’s always accessible at the top of the app.

Google Voice got its first big update in five years, adds new UI and features
Google Voice – their call and text app for the US – got a modern UI, Direct Reply support, and MMS photo support.

Instagram turned up the heat on Snapchat with video ads in ‘stories’
Instagram rolled out full-screen, auto-playing video ads to the stories feature. Brands are excited.

Snapchat’s cracked down on content
Snapchat doubled down on its efforts as a media platform by cracking down on clickbait and banning explicit images. Facebook did it. Will Twitter follow?

Google introduced search data into its YouTube targeting model
Google announced big changes to its targeting model, allowing advertisers to target YouTube ads based on people’s search histories.

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spectacles

Snapchat’s Spectacles Looking to Capture the Video Recording Market

With the rising popularity of video recording devices, it was inevitable that a company like Snapchat would get in on the action. Recently Snapchat, now renamed to Snap Inc., unveiled it’s latest creation, Spectacles, arriving later this fall.

What Are Spectacles?

Spectacles are sunglasses with an internal camera that allow you to conveniently record video snippets right to Snapchat. Its camera has a 115-degree lens that captures circular video so that no matter which way a smartphone is held, the video will always play right-side up and full-screen. They are priced at $130 US and available in three colours: black, teal, and coral.

spectacles-video

How Do They Work?

To record a snap, tap the top left-hand corner of the sunglasses. The Spectacles will record 10-second clips and then transfer them to your smartphone and display them your Snapchat Memories. If you don’t have your smartphone with you, the sunglasses will store the clips and transfer them to your smartphone at a later time. There is an inward and an outward-facing light to alert you and others around you that you are recording. According to Snap Inc., you can get a day of battery life out of your Spectacles.

How Spectacles Compare to Google Glass?

When Google Glass was first launched, it received a lot of criticism for coming across as creepy and intrusive. They weren’t exactly fashionable, unless you were going for a cyborg look.  Geared towards millennials, Spectacles are positioned as a fun novelty product for capturing and sharing life’s moments. Its colours and hipster frames communicate a friendlier vibe than that of the futuristic Google Glass. With a price point one-tenth of Google Glass, these video recording sunglasses are much more affordable and should appeal to a larger market.
spectacles-case

My Thoughts

Does GoPro need to worry about Spectacles? Since these sunglasses are considered more of a novelty or toy for capturing small video clips, I don’t think GoPro needs to worry about anything at the moment. GoPro is geared towards the extreme sports category, or activities that require you to keep the camera secure. Spectacles wouldn’t do so well while you’re surfing or skydiving for obvious reasons. However, with the popularity of sharing experiences on social media, I could see Snap having a higher-end line of video recording products that may compete with GoPro in the near future.

I defintely think the lower price point and ease of sharing moments on Snapchat will help the Spectacles will do well. Design wise, I think the frames could use some work. They look like something Fisher-Price would make. That said, other styles and customizations will likely come out in the future. Having said that, Snap Inc. has done a great job learning from Google Glass’ failure by styling these as “friendlier” sunglasses so they are more acceptable than the creepy cyborg look. I think people will always be a little uncomfortable with the idea of being recorded by strangers or without their knowledge. However I also believe that the new up-and-coming generation considers it more normal, and so the stigma may become a thing of the past.

Fun Fact.

Did you ever wonder why Snapchat uses a ghost silhouette for their logo? Before being renamed to Snapchat back in 2011, the app was originally called Pictaboo.

fallon

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Download on Digital Marketing: September 2016

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

There were rumours flying around that Twitter might get acquired
We’ve heard that Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, and even Disney are considering buying up our 140 characters.

Google and others form The Coalition for Better Ads
If this isn’t a wake-up call to step up your digital advertising game, we don’t know what is!

Instagram’s Stories got some additional features
Now you can post coloured text, oh my! Users can also mute Stories if they’re sick of seeing the same old stuff from your brand, so keep it fresh.

Google Analytics added in some artificial intelligence
The AI is supposed to help us pull reports and do repeat tasks faster on mobile. Coming to the desktop experience soon.

Snapchat announced that they’re making video-sharing sunglasses
There are cameras in the glasses so that you can share every moment you see. This opens up some new doors for content – use it wisely.

Google launched another chat app to compete with WhatsApp
This chat app, called Allo, comes with the Google Assistant to help you pick a spot to eat while you talk about dinner plans. But…

Edward Snowden told everyone to stay away from Allo
He criticized the encryption (or lack of it) and the fact that messages are stored and could be accessed by the police.

A Twitter bot tried to be empathetic, but there’s still a ways to go
It’s nice to see AI push the boundaries into emotion, but this example shows we’re not quite there yet.

Instagram rolled out comment censoring to all users
If your brand has an Instagram profile, you should probably turn on these settings!

Facebook will finally give us Facebook for Work
This is supposed to make inter-office communication better, but it will also likely improve targeting for B2B Facebook ads!

BONUS! Get $50 off registration to InboundCon with the promo code ‘socialmediacanada’
Billed as Toronto’s #1 Digital Marketing Conference, you won’t want to miss this.

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Download on Digital Marketing: August 2016

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

Instagram launched “Stories”, a Snapchat-like feature
Even though the concept isn’t fresh, it broadens the type of content a brand can post to their Instagram. Start making some stories!

Researchers asked robots which jobs robots will take over
Which jobs or skills will be obsolete in 2030? Humans are making predictions, but an alogrithm will filter out the human bias.

Facebook decided to crackdown on clickbait content
You’ll be seeing less clickbait on your feed, so make sure your posts aren’t misleading. Worried you’ll get busted? Here are some tips to avoid the crackdown.

Google announced it will be punishing sites with pop-ups
Adjust your website if need be. This is another part of the push to give search priority to websites that deliver good content and user experience.

Meanwhile, Twitter launched a new ad type that seems a lot like clickbait
Want to see this video or the rest of this content? Users have to tweet a hashtag to unlock the content.

A rumour was started that Twitter was shutting down in 2017
The #SaveTwitter campaign started as a protest against their inaction towards online bullies. But Twitter says they aren’t going anywhere.

Bloomberg analysts said Twitter better watch its back
Snapchat is taking ad revenues away from Twitter but not Facebook and Instagram. Are you moving away from Twitter ads as well?

YouTube made plans to expand beyond just video
They’re calling the new feature ‘Backstage’ and it may start rolling out to select users this year.

A study found that good grades were correlated with playing video games. Bad grades were correlated with social media usage.
The results aren’t causal in nature, but it is interesting to see the relation between grades and different forms of digital media.

The first website ever made turned 25 years old
It wasn’t much to look at, but it is crazy to think how far websites have come in a quarter of a century.

BONUS! Get $50 off registration to InboundCon with the promo code ‘socialmediacanada’
Billed as Toronto’s #1 Digital Marketing Conference, you won’t want to miss this.

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instagram-stories-ft

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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Download on Digital Marketing: July 2016

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

Snapchat Introduced Memories, a Way to Save Your Snaps
Don’t want that to disappear? Add it to your Memory collage. Meanwhile…

Facebook Tried to Make Disappearing Messages a Thing Again
They’re testing out secret conversations that even Facebook doesn’t see. We won’t be getting handy data for ad targeting with this end-to-end encryption.

A Man Was Convicted for Sharing His Password
An oversimplification, yes, but it points to the evolving nature of digital rights management. Be vigilant with your business’ licenses and user access.

Buffer Got in on the (Subpar) Instagram Scheduling
Like Hootsuite before it, Buffer now lets you plan your Instagram posts ahead of time. You still have to manually post it at that time though. C’mon Instagram API!

LinkedIn Bought a Startup That Helps Sales People Seal the Deal
PointDrive makes it easy to share links, videos, presentations, and documents during a sales pitch. Stronger connections to social networks can only mean good things for digital marketers.

Facebook is Paying Internet Celebs the Big Bucks to Use Facebook Live
They hope to keep young audiences engaged with the platform so that we can keep serving ads on their Newsfeeds.

Twitter Opened Up Verified Accounts to Everybody
Apply to get your personal and business accounts verified now. It will boost your credibility and could be extremely important to the future of the Twittersphere.

Pokémon Go has already spawned Marketing Opportunities
We talked about the potential before it hit Canada, and there are already businesses starting up to provide marketing opportunities through the augmented reality game.

Verizon spent $4.83B on Yahoo!
The main reason they’ve cited is to strengthen their push into mobile advertising. There’s further proof that the future is digital.

Facebook Improved its Mobile App Targeting
You can now target users who won’t just download your app, but those who are more likely to engage with it after download.

BONUS! Get $50 off registration to InboundCon with the promo code ‘socialmediacanada’
Billed as Toronto’s #1 Digital Marketing Conference, you won’t want to miss this.

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Download on Digital Marketing: May 2016

What’s new in digital marketing? The answer is always “everything”. In a world that is constantly changing, we’re making it easy to stay on top of the latest updates.

This Month in Digital Marketing…

Twitter Loosened the 140-Character Limit
@mentions and media (photos, videos) will no longer take up some of your precious space! Links still will, but overall it’s a win.

Adobe Launched Spark: an Easy Way to Make Beautiful Digital Creative
This new web tool helps you make stunning social posts, videos, and web stories without the need to bring in a designer.

Twitter Launched a new Connect Tab
The new feature is meant to help users find interesting accounts to follow and to ultimately increase engagement with the platform.

We Got a Sneak Peek at Instagram Brand Profiles
Instagram has been testing the new features like a Contact button with a small group of users.

Instagram Rebranded
The retro-inspired logo and app icon was replaced with a bright, colourful gradient.

YouTube Went Head-to-Head with Broadcast for Advertising Dollars
In their Brandcast presentation this year, YouTube claims they have more viewers than the top 10 TV shows combined and that big budgets are shifting their way.

Google Made Cardboard VR Available in Canada
For $20, you can turn your smartphone into a VR headset – a great way to test out an up-and-coming technology

Google Finished Rolling Out ‘Mobilegeddon’ Algorithm Update
The search results algorithm gives mobile-friendly webpages a boosted ranking over those that aren’t optimized.

Unilever Saw ROI from Snapchat
CMO Keith Weed says they’ve seen a return on their investment in Snapchat, showing that the platform has ‘come of age’.

Instagram made Carousel Ads Available
Similar to Facebook’s carousel ads, advertisers on Instagram can now include multiple photos and videos in one ad.

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Marketing Trends (1)

2016 Marketing Trends for B2B Companies

Generally speaking, if something is becoming popular in the B2C market, the B2B market will eventually catch on and use it as well. Here are four marketing trends for B2B businesses to keep an eye on in 2016 and beyond.

Trend 1: Virtual Reality (VR)

Oculus Rift virtual reality (VR) headsets went on pre-order sale this past week and sold out in a matter of hours. The popularity, demand, and game-changing potential of VR tech is undeniable.

Digital Marketing Trend: Virtual Reality

B2B applications of VR 

While the virtual reality headsets are primarily for the consumer market and so far have demonstrated mostly video game applications, VR tech could be useful to B2B marketers in a big way in the future.

For example, imagine you’re a factory equipment salesperson: 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. VR headsets could dramatically change the way B2B companies interact with their customers and market their products.

Trend 2:  Instant Messaging (IM)

Instant messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat are the fastest growing technology and behaviour the world has ever seen. It “is arguably one of the greatest opportunities to ever strike business” writes TechCrunch contributor Tom Goodwin. New and exciting changes are being made to IM apps. For example, a Facebook Messenger conversation about a time and place can be turned into an Uber transaction. You don’t even need to leave the Facebook Messenger chat thread to order an Uber.

Messenger Uber

B2B applications of IM 

In the future, B2B conversations could move from the email exchanges to instant messages. New functionality could allow decision makers on the customer side to press one button to accept proposals and make buying decisions within a B2B IM chat the way Facebook is allowing consumers to book Uber rides in the B2C world. Read: no more asking for people “sign the last page of a PDF and send a scanned copy of the PDF back” in order to complete a deal.

Trend 3: Artificial Intelligence (AI) 

Many of the largest technology companies in the world such as IBM, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are racing to figure out how artificial intelligence technology can make our lives easier. For example, 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 personal tasks like cancelling a cable subscription or ordering flowers for a special occasion. Think Siri on steroids.

Facebook M

B2B applications of AI

Artificial intelligence can have an endless amount of applications in the B2B world. We all know what it’s like trying to book a meeting or a phone call with a potential client. It can be a lot of back-and-forth emails trying to find availability in their calendar and yours. AI technology in the future will be able to do this back-and-forth messaging for you by finding times in your prospect’s calendars that are available, sending messages to them on your behalf, and booking the meeting for you. It will be like having your own artificially intelligent personal assistant.

Trend 4: Smartphone Apps

Stats indicate that we’re using apps on our phone more than ever before. Why? Because apps on our smartphones make our lives easier. If you want to order a pizza, ordering through the Domino’s app on your smartphone is a lot easier and more efficient than opening up a web browser, going to Domino’s website, and filling out a form to order the pizza.

Mobile Usage

B2B applications of apps

B2B marketers should be thinking about creating apps that make their customer’s experience with their company easier. For example, suppose you work in the marketing department of an industrial parts supply company: wouldn’t it be great if your customer had the option to open an app and reorder the parts they need without having to call a sales person or go to your company website? Take that a step further and imagine if that app could connect to their inventory management or ordering system. It could all be managed through a phone!

If you don’t believe this is the way your customers will be buying your widgets in the future, just look at how using the Uber app has challenged the act of calling a cab company for a taxi ride. Similarly, the old way of ordering your company’s widgets will be replaced by ordering through a smartphone app.