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.

Ads Achieve Audio Supremacy

Breaking through during the holiday season is no easy feat -  you can buy your way in front of customers (impossible for 98% of advertisers) or you can be unique via clever creative or the outrageous - sometimes both.  

Now most of us have seen these ads, but they truly standout amidst an abyss of new holiday TV spots and flooded inboxes. Thankfully Apple, Google and Houzz have made the most of their ability to buy their way to top of mind and delivered super cool creatives. 

Focus on audio… Take a look at how well the track captivates from the first second then maintains the heightened energy until the very end. Sound is perfectly edited to enhance the visuals and text overlays - they don’t compete or play alongside, they function as one. Audio is integral to the storytelling not an afterthought. And finally, whether you’re an ios addict or Google to the core, it’s easy to agree these ads stand out in the standard 6-minute commercial lineup where people only watch about 6 seconds…what do you think?

Apple - "Meet iPhone X"

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. 

 

Lessons from the Trenches: Adjust Your Focus

On a patch of dirt roughly 45 yards wide and 50 yards long, not a blade of grass in sight. Nestled on a city street next to an old junkyard piled high and deep with car parts and pieces of rusted metal machinery…a blistering 95-degrees with 90% humidity on balmy August mornings transformed into 35-degrees with a 20-mph wind on weeknights at the end of October.  The Manhattan skyline so close across the Hudson River you could touch it, pride tattooed on your chest for the whole world to see…

An economically and ethnically diverse lot of 50 freshman traveled six days a week to this infamous, dreaded practice field from 30 towns across Northern NJ, some with a commute more than an hour long each way.  Every player was a gridiron star in their hometown now embarking on a journey to see if they could endure the daily grind on the field and in the classroom at one of the state’s most challenging athletic and academic high schools – St. Peter’s Prep.

There were good days and bad days just like anywhere else.  However, at the corner of Grand and Warren in Jersey City, it seemed like every day was gameday – commute to school, six or seven classes, practice 3-6 PM, commute home, 2-3 hours of homework, repeat – for FOUR years. Everyone learned quickly and it wasn’t a secret, this lifestyle and level of commitment for 48 months was simply a battle of attrition.

So the 50 freshman players stood in alignment with the traditional “silver dome” helmets next to them forming perfect rows ready to stretch out before another grueling practice.  A million things going on in the mind of a teenager, and though geared up and ready run around and hit and get rocked, football was often the furthest from top of mind.  Fast-forward to the mid-point of the season and the combination of pure physical exhaustion and perplexing exams made the toughest kid feel like crap.

From the deep in the belly of a boisterous, big guy who worked as a police officer by morning and life coach moonlighting as a football coach in the afternoons, Ed Roselle bellowed loud and proud every day across the stretching lines, “How do you feel?!” The team replied in unison, “Good.” He repeated, “How do you feel feeeeel?!” 50 strong replied, “Good good.” And last in escalating tone and pitch, “I said how do you feel feel feeeeeel?!!” The freshman squad yelled, “Good good goooood!” Then practice began.

No one ever actually felt good. But thanks to Coach Roselle, suddenly no one cared. No one cared about their parents being upset about a bad test grade or their girl friend breaking up with them. At that moment in time 50 minds became focused on the task at hand – playing football. The lesson? It’s what you focus on that matters. Focus is what separates top performers from everyone else. There’s always going to be good and bad; focusing on the right thing at the right time is what gets you through the bad and leads to more good.

Do you have that feel good focus? Does your team?

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Lessons from the Trenches is a series about leadership and success from experiences in athletics and the corporate world.  Joseph Nolan is a Los Angeles-based marketing and digital executive with over a decade of experience at leading companies in retail, ecommerce, entertainment and health/fitness. Opinions expressed on JoeSocial.com are his own. Please direct business inquiries and suggestions for future posts to joe@joesocial.com.  

 

Startup Interview 101

The pitch is tough to pass up: work really hard (like you do anyway), talented colleagues, fun office environment, change the world and get rich doing so. But before you swing for the fences there are few things you need to know to ensure the homerun isn’t actually strike three.

The questions below should each be answered by the interviewer in 30-seconds or less; if not,  RED FLAG.  Of course he/she may be having an off day, but the well-run companies of any size have consistency in message top to bottom and it transcends from words into actions. Unfortunately many startup executives can’t answer these questions succinctly, even the ones who’ve received funding. But, it is absolutely possible.

One founder was asked his vision and the answer was “be a billion-dollar online mattress company.” He’s well on his way. Another was asked and the response was “I want to make suits and fashion available to men anywhere in the US.” 1,200 stores later he succeeded. A third was asked and the feedback was “I want to end metabolic disease.” Nearly a billion-dollars in protein bars and powders later he is succeeding. These responses take 3 seconds. You’d be amazed at how many take 5 minutes…

1.  What is the ideal state, grand plan? Not a vision, a clear depiction. HINT: Unacceptable answers include, “we’re just riding the wave,” or “startups start then pivot, having an end goal is contrary to what a startup really is,” or “I don’t know that’s the fun part.”    

2. What is version 2.0 1-2 years from now? HINT: Unacceptable answer includes “we’re going to keep doing the same thing we do now.”

3. How do you make money? HINT: Can often be more complicated and fragile than actually appears.

4. Why don’t the big guys do what you do, what is preventing them? HINT: They're too big and bureaucratic doesn't always count, too easy of an answer. Look for some novelty. Novelty means the idea has some legs. 

5. If not included in answer to Question #2 - what are other streams of revenue you can utilize quickly?

6. Why should a customer buy from you and what is so impressive to make them stop buying from someone else?

7. Is there $100M demand for your product now or in the next 3 years? Why or why not?

8. Discuss your philosophy of people management. HINT: Likely the best answer is something like “we hire the best talent that fits our corporate and individual team culture then enable them the best we can to succeed.”

9. What gets you excited, totally completely amped, every day you go to work? HINT: Arguably the best question I’ve ever been asked in an interview…and have only been asked it once.

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Joseph Nolan is a Los Angeles-based marketing and digital executive with over a decade of experience at leading companies in retail, ecommerce, entertainment and health/fitness. Opinions expressed on JoeSocial.com are his own. Please direct business inquiries and suggestions for future posts to joe@joesocial.com.