social media

Users Like It Raw. Authentic Content Wins.

Last week a great piece in the The AtlanticThe Instagram Aesthetic Is Over – detailed the trend of organic, real imagery making a comeback and being more relevant than ever before. Especially for influencers who are now opting for on-the-fly content rather than overly produced, fancy filter pics. The insta-pros are experiencing better engagement and growth with raw and real.

The reality is real and authentic content never went away. 8 years ago I presented at conferences about real-world authentic shots in fashion were outperforming studio shoots. Then our team a year later was a USA Twitter Trending Topic for 20+ consecutive weeks (a record) with a campaign using original, authentic content.

 

Where brands and influencers fall short is thinking that audiences only want authentic content. People want to be entertained, informed and persuaded. Doing this effectively – aka consistently over time - requires a variety of content types – studio, raw, user-generated (UGC), original animation and video. Aspirational, fun, intriguing, emotive “produced” content STILL WORKS! Look at the top fashion brands, consumer tech, gaming.

 

Above all, the quality of the creative is what matters most – sure aesthetic matters, but it’s far from everything. Produce assets that have VALUE. When you give to the community, it’s remarkable what the community is capable of giving in return. Do the best you can with the resources available and continuously improve.


Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He’s pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Still Wondering "Do Social Ads Really Work?"

When Facebook’s annual revenue hovered around $40.6B in 2017, an SVP of marketing approached me and the following conversation took place:

 

SVP: Do Facebook ads really work?

Me: Well, about $40B in revenue says they work pretty well.

SVP: Right, but could just be a fad. When one business does something everyone else will jump onboard. Maybe it’s just great PR by Facebook or people riding a tech wave.

Me: Sure, but it’s $40B globally, companies everywhere.

SVP: Of course, surely you believe word spreads across borders with the internet nowadays etc.

Me: Well, we also have months and months of data and tons of spend to prove performance.

SVP: Right, but I’m still not sold.

 

This actually happened…the reality is many people still don’t believe anyone “buys anything off social media” or, a step further, that social media impacts the sales journey. Part of me didn’t want to pen this piece because it sounds so outlandish, but clients and marketing peers continue to ask, “do ads in social media (any network) actually work?”

 

100% they work! Absolutely there are instances where social ads may not be effective, but I’ve found in these scenarios that other channels fail too including SEM and the holy grail email. Such cases tend to be more so about the inadequacies of the business and its web presence rather than shortcomings of online marketing channels.

 

Now the Facebook research appears to be done in-house, but people spend more time on social than anywhere else so it’s common sense that they’ll be willing to shop during the hours that they’re liking and posting selfies. Remember, Facebook’s ad platform in particular is phenomenally powerful, so odds are better than average that they can find people likely to buy.  The article also contains a bunch of good links to Facebook best practices and techniques, so take a peek. Time to get onboard, the world isn’t only search, email and amazon. Social demands a seat at the table too.


 Joseph Nolan is the founder of JONO MKT, a digital marketing and strategy agency. He has pioneered digital and social transformations at several billion-dollar brands and is an alumnus of the renowned MA Strategic Public Relations program at USC Annenberg.

Cambridge Analytica: Hysteria Hyped

Photo Credit: Huffington Post https://bit.ly/2unxdhe

Photo Credit: Huffington Post https://bit.ly/2unxdhe

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook hysteria. Put aside political preferences and selling of user lists (although emails lists are regularly purchased). Let’s focus on what’s also under assault this week breaking the internet – so-called “psychological warfare,” better known as digital marketing.

That’s right, people are freaking out that they were marketed to and how well the marketing performed. But the reality is that the user targeting and messaging doom and gloom scenario described by the Guardian and genius of Mr. Wylie are actually the norms of modern-day digital marketing. That is, using sophisticated audience targeting and tailored messaging. It happens every day, all the time, all over the world.

Mr. Wylie’s fancy algorithms to find people most likely to click – that’s called data science.  Thousands of companies invest in data science to drive their businesses, maximizing return on investment.  This isn’t just a Facebook, Google, Amazon thing – it’s a way the world works thing.  And 99% of time smart, good people do their best and the right thing for customers and companies.

Ever see one of those “recommended products” sections? How about an email for “products you may also like?” Data science and digital marketing in action. The notion that this is the first time everyone is experiencing this is outrageous. Think about it, everyone complaining about data science today has experienced it many times within the last 24-hrs and had zero issues with it.

Back to Cambridge…it’s Important to understand the way Cambridge used the data isn’t novel or magical. Looking closely at what’s been reported, using the data from 50 million app subscribers accelerated and reduced the cost of what could’ve been closely replicated through traditional digital marketing methodology. Works something like this…

1. Build basic websites, Facebook pages and Instagram profiles. Even launch their own Facebook app instead of buying data!

2. Target users based on numerous political attributes – profile interests, TV shows, celebrities, politicians, geography, etc.

3. Launch political/cultural ads to determine the degree of users’ liberalism or conservatism

4. Measure people’s engagement with the ads then tailor subsequent ads/messaging

It’s that straightforward but would absolutely take some time to be done well.

Furthermore, people are really losing it over how effective ads were. The fact that messaging can be tailored to groups of people is being called “spooky.” But it happens to everyone ALL THE TIME. Every speech. Every meeting. Every ad. Messaging is tailored to the audience. How about the new video where the gentleman describes putting great content out into social media – hello! Social media teams around the globe do that every day. In fact, there’s a huge industry dedicated to communicating effectively called public relations - been around for centuries, leveraged by politicians and companies. Usually people enjoy being told what they want to hear, it’s not seen as offensive or controversial.

The truth is a user would only keep being served ads if he/she liked, clicked, watched ads or visited sites. Stop engaging with ads, stop receiving ads. Which means people are actually upset about their own actions. This is like people complaining about ads for products they liked and bought – think about it.

And, Interestingly, even candy bars are causing a ruckus. The seemingly alarming discovery by Wylie that certain people like Kit Kats, is not rocket science and accessible via the Facebook Audience Insights tool or more slowly via expensive 3rd-party research databases. In fact this author made a similar discovery once that revealed an audience indexed high for frozen yogurt and small pickup trucks/SUVs. Rather than turning this universe-altering finding into something like “Operation Kit Kat” and calling the CIA it became nothing more than Operation Water Cooler topic and a lighthearted way to start meetings. Cool story bro, but we never held photoshoots in front of Chevy Colorados and Toyota Tacomas with people eating Pink Berry (maybe we should have tried that…).

Broken down to its simplest form, here’s a translation from hysteria to marketing speak. Ph.D. in rocket science not required.

“Identify people” means create an audience

o   Use your own email database or ad targeting info like demographics, interests, shopping behavior, prior ad engagement

“Ads designed to get a reaction” means strategic messaging and great creative assets

“Sophisticated secret algorithms” means use data to determine people most likely to click

o   Propensity to purchase models for existing customers, scoring (ranking) leads

The right moments” means media strategy and where people are in the funnel

o   Awareness – consideration – likely to purchase

“Get better over time” means measuring results and improving

“Serve ads based on people’s reactions” means behavioral targeting and sequential ads

o   Different messages displayed in a particular sequence

Hopefully this article contributes to quelling the hysteria a bit. In the end, it’s important that we understand what we’re so upset about and look closely at how information is presented to us. Political preference and marketing are obvious causes of angst in this instance. If marketing’s got you down, realize this is the way the world works and has been for quite some time. If it’s politics, understand modern marketing isn’t unique to the right or left. Though content is everywhere and nonstop, you the user still has power over what you decide to click, watch, visit and buy. The game’s not over. You still have a choice. And regarding that choice…there’s an algorithm for that.

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Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more at jonomkt.com + @josephjnolan.

 

Facebook Algorithm Apocalypse 2018

Breath in…and…out. Step back from the social media ledge, the world isn’t ending (yet). Although the buzz about the great Facebook algorithm change of 2018 has been so tremendous, one might think the digital marketing apocalypse was finally upon us. 

Yes, the reality is branded content was further deprioritized and social ad inventory will decrease - so buckle up. The results at first glance can cause concern: ad rates may increase due to decreased inventory and fewer people will see organic content. Now what for marketers??! Damned if you pay, damned if you don’t.

Not so fast on the doom and gloom. Let’s pause for a minute and take a close look at the social landscape. First regarding advertising…ad rates may increase but maybe not as pervasively as anticipated and not so much so as to be a deterrent from spending. What if in the future you received the same number of purchases for the same cost as today but frequency and impressions went down? In other words, your CPMs go up but your CPAs stay the same - greater efficiency. Not so bad after all, right? And, all the while users have a better experience which means they spend more time on Facebook and that benefits both Facebook and your business. Not impossible...

That’s right, we tend to neglect that Facebook has the most powerful ad intent platform in history and it’s in their best interest to continue to deliver results for their advertisers. Better today than ever before, they know when people will watch your vids, click your ads and buy your products. Don’t believe me? Simple example, they retarget other members of a household using the same IP address with relevant ads within 1-3 minutes of a user visiting a company’s site - get on onboard it’s not hype.

Additionally, the ad platform has evolved perhaps more significantly in the last 6-8 months than ever before making it easier for marketers to be more successful. Asset creation and testing, advanced targeting and measurement, robust campaign optimization capabilities - all of these previously privileged to 3rd party ad tools now at the fingertips of every advertiser in Ads Manager. So the tools are available to the masses to be more effective, more efficient with less wasted spend.

Now the good stuff, the holy grail of social media - organic content. It’s FREE so it’s got to be good - oh wait, forgot about those rapidly growing content production and personnel budgets…The reality is the organic reach percentage is already at ~0.7% on Facebook and ~4-10% on Instagram — that means that on average less than 1% of your Facebook fans will even see a post every day, let alone engage with it. And, the engagement number is roughly 10% of the 0.7% reach! Now maybe that organic reach drops to 0.4%, or 5% on Insta…so what? Is that really making a dent in your campaign?

The best brands generate up to ~9-10% of traffic organically from social channels (excluding media publishers and top of the top online retailers) and these visitors tend to be overwhelmingly existing customers. This means that organic traffic isn’t the cure all of online customer acquisition like many companies are learning the hard way after over leveraging personnel allocation to content creation. Should you continue try to excel at organic content in order to maximize that organic reach and engagement rate - ABSOLUTELY. Is organic content effective at retention - YES. Does organic play a role in acquisition - SURE. Magic bullet - NO.

So should you look to diversify further from social with this latest algorithm? Where will you go? Display ads? Likely not, the c-suite threshold for believing 22 impressions causes a purchase has about reached its peak. More paid search? Perhaps, but you’re probably really good at SEM already and you’re saturated. Event marketing? Nope. OOH? Umm, no. Straightforward solution: continue to get better at social overall - organic and paid - and excel at omni-channel / CRM. Instead of screaming SOS, start championing S-E-S. Now more than ever it’s a Search - Email - Social world. And not necessarily in that order...

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Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more @ jonomkt.com / @josephjnolan.

Twitter 280 Save the Day or Total Zero?

Twitter: Among the first globally adopted social networks and continues to profoundly impact elections and political movements, social trends, celebrities and athletes, connectedness between people and cultures. It is also one of the most promoted brands in the world. Despite all this fuel, Twitter stock, revenue and user growth (and investor patience) are running out of gas. Empty tanks with up to 500 Million tweets a day and nearly 200 billion annually - still can’t figure out how to make more money. 

Big league struggles as Facebook/Instagram and Youtube lead the media consumption and advertising revolution driven by imagery and video content (not text) paired with their science fiction-like ad capabilities. Sure Twitter has bits and pieces of features like the behemoths and text does remain significant, especially in ads. But years of technology/engineering leadership challenges have resulted in poor monetization capabilities. 

So does 280 characters save the day and bolster revenue? 

Case for 140 is strong. Instantly, at Twitter-speed, popular authors and pundits (King, Rowling, etc.) are fumed the decision, valid complaints as the short space is considered the most prominent point of differentiation. Many also believe the 140 count reduces the amount of bad content while adding novelty that keeps users coming back for more and operates at the warp speed of today’s nanosecond info age. All good things right?

Case for 280 is strong. Too few characters previously scared away many users and actually fostered lots of bad content - shorter is no guarantee of better. 140 wittier? Probably, but let’s what people do with 280. Spam and crowded timelines are a major problem that, combined 140 stunted user growth.  2 tweets can now be 1 - that’s got to help their algorithms make timelines more tolerable.

Overall, the verdict is still out and Twitter isn’t down for the count (get it?). We’re playing the long game where MUCH better ad infrastructure, more relevant timelines and access to different content could give Twitter a real chance to survive and thrive. In theory it’s not impossible…MAYBE 280 leads to better content because it’s easier to express and comprehend an idea with some more space. And MAYBE better content will make Twitter a more comfortable experience that attracts users and increases engagement. And MAYBE that leads to more revenue…m-a-y-b-e. 

Remember, we put a man on the moon so anything’s possible.

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Joseph Nolan is a Los Angeles-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback and article ideas welcomed at joe@jonomkt.com. Learn more at jonomkt.com.