We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.
B&T Magazine recently published an article by me on reasons to take a second look at Google+. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:
Google Plus is currently the second-largest social network globally according to Global Web Index; it is growing faster than Facebook and has more users globally than LinkedIn and Instagram combined.
Marketers often think of this platform as a mere SEO booster, but two years since Google Plus launched ‘Pages’ for brands it has evolved into an integrated social ‘layer’ that works across Google’s many online properties.
Here are five reasons for brands to take a second look at Google Plus:
1. Google Plus is not Google’s version of Facebook: it’s not about stories and experiences. It’s about being part of a system based on a search engine that expands its power to different platforms that people use every single day. Think of it as a huge dashboard where you can manage your life online.
You have probably noticed that Google is everywhere, not only in search. Chrome? Check. YouTube? Check. Android? Check. Google Play? Check. Not to mention email, chat, maps, calendar, documents and so on. Thanks to Plus, Google knows about people’s contacts on Gmail, the YouTube videos they watch and comment on, the places they go on maps and how they spend their time online on the websites in Google’s ad network. This makes Plus a powerful insights tool for marketers.
2. There’s another reason why Google Plus is different from Facebook. Plus allows people to customize their experience: they can choose the content they want to read in their news feed and decide what is more relevant for them, without allowing an algorithm to do it on their behalf and filtering friends’ posts. Thanks to Circles, one of its key-features, they can also choose the right audience for a specific content they share.
This means: the user’s needs and interests come first on Plus. Google knows that users want to be more and more in control of their social experience, while Facebook makes decisions for users about what they do, or do not want to see or share in their news feed.
3. Google Plus offers different ways to engage with users and be closer to them. In Communities, people come together to have relevant conversations and discuss shared interests (music, art, tech, news, etc). This is an important opportunity for brands that want to listen to people’s opinions, participate in the conversation and drive it to a specific topic.
Within Communities, brands can also offer frictionless customer service to a specific audience without building a dedicated space on their website or forum. Hangouts help brands to engage with users on a more personal level: video chat, live show broadcast, virtual meet and greet, live support and much more can be implemented thanks to this powerful feature.
4. Google Plus obviously offers brands incentives in terms of SEO and visibility to sign up on its social network: it guarantees prime placement on the right-hand side of the search results, with photos and promotional posts to companies with Google Plus profiles. On top of business information, logo, location, website and so on, people can also follow and visit brand’s profile on Google Plus right from Google search results.
5. Google knows that content is king, and wants to make it go faster. With the new +Post ads, it allows brands to turn their Google Plus content into expandable display ads, and those ads can be shown as innovative and conversational display ads within the Google Plus interface. For example, a brand can take the opportunity to re-purpose pictures, videos, Hangouts and potentially show its content on over 2 million websites. This kind of feature is something that only a search leader such as Google can offer brands.
Google is constantly integrating Plus into its different products and services; this makes the people using them also active users of Google Plus. In fact, Google Plus provides an ecosystem for any business looking for massive potential engagement, promotional opportunities and importantly, SEO.
Based on the growth and integration of the platform over the past three years, Google will no doubt continue to expand its offering and opportunities for brands, large and not so large. Watch this space.
24MotionDesign has created this motion graphic video that explores the current popularity of social media platforms globally, looking the usage of YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Vine, Facebook and Twitter.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook and YouTube dominate the social scene, with 1.2 billion and 1 billion members respectively, but the popularity of relative newcomers such as Vine, with 40 million members, shows that the social media landscape is still rapidly expanding.
Twitter is struggling to keep users tweeting
Twopcharts, a site that measures account activity on Twitter, has produced reports that display the platform’s retention issue. Almost 40% of the 20m accounts registered every month send at least one tweet in the first month, but this is likely to decrease to one quarter after a year. It may be the case that Twitter users are logging in but not tweeting. The table below shows the extent of the issue.
Instagram hits 200 million users
Instagram produced a blog post last week to celebrate passing the 200 million user milestone. The network, which has added 50 million users in the last six months, has now seen over 20bn photos shared. Its growth in the US is particularly impressive, where there are now 50.6 million users in total, of whom 35 million access Instagram at least once a month. These figures mean Instagram and Twitter are now very similar in size – the former has more mobile users, but the latter’s desktop usage leaves it slightly larger overall.
Twitter and TV
There were two pieces of research released by Twitter today about Twitter’s relationship with TV. The first discussed the importance of hashtags: 75% of those surveyed believed hashtags were used because they were seen on TV, while 76% thought other users made sure tweets about TV were funny in order to get retweets. Finally, 69% liked seeing celebrities talk about TV on Twitter. The second looked at the way in which people discuss TV on the network, making a distinction between ‘relaxed’ and ‘engaged’ types of behaviour. Analysis of two BBC programmes, Line of Duty and The Voice UK, display the difference between drama and live events. For drama, conversation peaks before and after the show, while talent shows tend to produce sustained chat throughout.
How marketers use Twitter
Twitter’s use for marketers is primarily in increasing brand awareness, as 72% of respondents made clear in a recent survey of more than 1,000 marketing professionals.
Perhaps oddly, considering the above goal, Socialbakers found that only 23% of marketers are using Twitter advertising at the moment. This falls in fourth place among social networks, after Facebook (92%), YouTube (35%) and LinkedIn (24%).
Wisemetrics produce research on Facebook reach
Wisemetrics has produced an article about the extent of the decrease in post reach on Facebook. They display that it has been a two-step process, with dips in both August and November, followed by a plateau since roughly January. The larger the page, the bigger the decrease: pages with over one million fans have suffered a 40% decrease, compared with 20% for pages with one thousand.
Facebook is number one for social commerce
Facebook drives by far the most online commerce of all social sites, according to online store operator, Shopify, and accounts for almost two-thirds of referrals to sites operated by the company. In total, 85% of all social orders were driven by Facebook, which amounts to a 129% year-on-year increase. It wasn’t the highest in terms of order value, though, coming in fourth behind Polyvore, Instagram and Pinterest.
Facebook purchases Oculus-VR
Facebook has announced its intention to purchase Oculus VR, known best for the ‘Oculus Rift’, a 3d virtual reality headset. The move is worth $2bn in cash and stocks and is described by Mark Zuckerberg as a “long-term bet on the future of computing.” Nick Hearne, senior creative at We Are Social, spoke to the Drum about constrasting senses of “admiration and trepidation” about the move:
I’d certainly question whether this is even the right move for Facebook right now. For me, Google’s move into robotics with the purchase of Boston Dynamics has more credibility than Facebook moving into virtual reality. We’ll have to wait and see whether this acquisition is an admirable ‘moonshot’, or a case of joining the scramble to snap up any hot new tech companies for Zuckerberg and co.
Other online users were even more sceptical, to the extent that Oculus founder, Palmer Luckey, had to take to Reddit to quell fears about the future of his company. He assured users that a Facebook account wouldn’t be needed to use Rift, but didn’t rule out either Facebook branding or in-game advertising.
Facebook expands Lookalike Audiences
Facebook has extended the capability of Lookalike Audiences. Now, advertisers can create audiences based on people who visit their website, use their mobile apps or are connected to their Facebook pages, where previously only information like email addresses, phone numbers and user IDs could be used.
Twitter makes photos ‘more social’
Twitter introduced two major changes to photographs last week: users can now tag up to ten others in a photo and post four separate photos in one tweet. Naturally, certain brands were quick to react, as shown in the below examples.
— Meow Mix (@meowmix) March 28, 2014
— IZZE (@IZZE) March 27, 2014
True brilliance is remembered by its effect on people, not things. pic.twitter.com/wQjjNEF2nH
— General Electric (@generalelectric) March 28, 2014
Twitter partners with Billboard and ITV
Twitter announced two partnerships this week. First of all, the network will be working with Billboard to create social music charts, based on online chatter, which will include a section for ‘new and upcoming’ artists. Secondly, the UK’s ITV has announced that it will start using Twitter’s Amplify service, which will allow brands to purchase pre or post-roll adverts on ITV content across the network.
LinkedIn introduces Insights for published content
LinkedIn has announced a free set of Insights, aimed at showing brands how effectively their content is performing on the site. Not only can companies see which stories are trending on the platform, but each will be assigned a performance score based on the effectiveness of their posts, as well as those of related influencers and employees.
It is this last group that could be key to brands’ success on the platform. Last week, Adweek published a piece on the importance of employees on LinkedIn, discussing how their cumulative reach can be higher than that of the brand itself.
Pinterest is preparing to launch ad business
Pinterest is getting ready to roll out the ad business it has been testing since last September, with a soft launch planned for April. Digiday showed some examples of how the ads will look, which reportedly came from a pitch deck sent by Pinterest to an unnamed agency. Other takeouts from the deck include the main target audience (women on mobile), the cost ($30 per 1,000 impressions) and the plans for targeting, which will occur on both a national and regional basis.
Foursquare launches ‘Tap to Tweet’ ad product
Foursquare has added a new element to its ad offering. Entitled ‘Tap to Tweet’, the system encourages users to tweet pre-written marketing messages on checking into certain locations.
BlackBerry looking to monetise BBM
BlackBerry has updated its BBM instant messenger with two new features, each aimed at raising revenue. The platform will now feature sponsored content, alongside a virtual goods store that allows users to purchase stickers.
The Sun adds hashtags to print stories
British newspaper The Sun has become the first of its national rivals to include hashtags in print stories. A postscript titled “What Do You Think?” appears at the bottom of certain articles, encouraging readers to take to Twitter to discuss the paper’s content.
Nike hosts ‘shoppable’ Google+ hangout
Sportswear giant Nike hosted the first ever ‘shoppable’ Google+ hangout last week, in partnership with Asos, to celebrate 27 years of the Air Max product. Hosted by MTV’s Rebecca Dudley, the stunt discussed the various different ways in which the trainers can be worn.
Taco Bell buys its first Instagram adverts
Fast food chain, Taco Bell, is promoting its new breakfast menu using the hashtag #WakeUpLiveMas, and will do so by purchasing Instagram ads for the first time. Other social marketing is being employed, too, including Vine videos, Snapchat messaging and the influencer activity we reported in last week’s Mashup.
We Are Social helps Strongbow launch Rio competition
Cider brand Strongbow is asking men’s 5-a-side football teams from the UK to compete for the opportunity to play against one of Brazil’s best female teams in Rio this summer. The team will be coached by ex-footballer Chris Kamara, TV personality Mark Wright and Brazilian coach Janio Cruz. Teams can sign up using a Facebook app, created by We Are Social, which has also produced social content to drive applications.
Wu Tang Clan doubles Facebook audience in one day
Wu Tang Clan announced that they will release just one copy of their next album. This generated so much chat on Facebook that they increased their fan base from 2.9 million to 4.8 million in just one day.
West Ham United announce social media match
English Premier League football club, West Ham United, will be marking their game against Hull City with twelve different pieces of activity on social media, including competitions, tweeting by players and a man of the match vote. We wonder how much it can distract people from having to actually watch Sam Allardyce’s team.
Barack Obama joins Quora
Following in the footsteps of his Reddit AMA, Barack Obama is joining Quora to answer questions on the Affordable Healthcare Act, and will become the first verified account on the site. Unlike on Reddit, he will not be responding live; instead, the President will answer questions that people have already asked on Quora about the act. His answers will be aggregated on his profile and across the site under existing topics.
As we saw in our recent round of #SDMW reports, an increasing number of people around the world now live digitally integrated lives.
But what does this mean for the future?
How is ubiquitous connectivity shaping the world in which we live?
However, these aren’t ‘predictions’; they’re thought-starters, designed to inspire and stimulate more innovative ideas.
Whether these provocations come true is up to people like you.
#1: From Destination To Function
The web turned 25 just a few days ago, but today’s internet is very different to the one we knew back in 1989.
The most profound shift is the move from web pages as destinations, to the internet becoming an all-pervasive connective power – a bit like the communication equivalent of electricity.
Digital is now all about facilitation – connecting people and devices in ways that add value to everyday contexts, rather than offering standalone media experiences.
From wearable technology to the internet of things, digital connectivity now adds an extra layer of utility to our everyday experiences.
The task for marketers is to embrace this opportunity – to add usefulness to their digital marketing, and offer distinct audience value instead of mere short-term distraction.
#2: The Evolution Of Brand Content
Until recently, most marketing was shaped by a costly media environment that required brands to distil messages down into the shortest possible soundbites.
But ubiquitous connectivity has changed this reality; mobile devices mean people are consuming content wherever and whenever they choose, and any time can be primetime.
Consequently, our paradigm needs to shift from maximum media efficiency, to an approach defined by maximum marketing effectiveness.
Instead of ‘matching luggage’ campaigns disseminating the same message across TV spots, press and billboards, brands can now offer more complex narratives that build and evolve across contexts and time.
These ‘content rabbit warrens’ allow brands to tell more engaging stories and keep audiences interested for far longer than was feasible in a broadcast-only world.
What’s more, we can now actively involve audiences too. Digital connectivity enables us to bring audiences to the very centre of our experiences, making them protagonists instead of passive spectators.
As a result, brands are no longer constrained by standard media units, and can now plan for the best possible content experience.
Ultimately, each brand’s marketing should become a central part of its value proposition.
This means we need to stop merely advertising our products, and instead start ‘productising’ our adverts.
We need to create communications that are so compelling, people will actively seek them out, and in some cases even pay to become a part of them.
#3: An End To Egocentric Interruption
These new opportunities don’t come without their challenges though; the wealth of new media options mean people have far more choice, and it’s easier than ever for people to ignore brands’ messages.
People are no longer willing to allow brands to interrupt their content.
As a result, the media model needs to change.
If brands are to survive in this world, they need to change their approach too.
We need to move from a sales-oriented model to a more integrated approach. Instead of the 4Ps, there will be one P to rule them all: the integrated Proposition.
In this model, Product, Promotion and Place are all inherent within the broader brand experience.
Consequently, ‘Price’ becomes less about payment for products, and more about mutual value exchange.
The only brands that will survive are those that people choose to talk about and share.
This isn’t just about comms, though; brands will need to rethink their business models too.
The secret to success lies in identifying which elements of your brand’s proposition people are willing to pay for – not how much you can charge for your product.
#4: From Listening To Learning
In order to identify these elements, brands need to get much better at understanding their audiences.
We need to turn big data into big insights.
We need to get better at understanding people’s desires and motivations, not just their past behaviour.
In the words of John Willshire, we need to make things people want, instead of trying to make people want things.
The answer to this isn’t about investing in better tools though; it’s about investing in better understanding.
We need to analyse people, not just data.
#5: Meaningful Measurement
The best place to start is to end our fascination with vanity metrics.
Real engagement isn’t just about attention: it’s about a change in beliefs and behaviour. We need to influence people’s interest, desire, and action:
[click to enlarge]
We need to measure things that actually make a difference, not just things that are different.
#6: Connected Wellbeing
Interestingly, many people in our audiences have already taken to collecting data about themselves too.
As a result, we’re likely to see a rising demand for services that make better sense of this data.
Personal trainers won’t just be people we meet at the gym; they’ll be people who guide us through all aspects of our health and wellbeing, supported by data from a variety of sensors tracking everything from calories burned to the state of our immune system.
We’ll also see a rise in socially-connected healthcare, with areas like blood and organ donation benefitting from connectivity to specialist groups.
Aggregating such data will also allow us to better monitor and predict the spread of diseases, ensuring earlier treatment and prevention for those at risk.
Savvy marketers will also be able to harness people’s personal data to offer improved audience value.
While privacy concerns will inevitably be an issue, those brands that succeed in establishing sufficient trust stand to gain incredibly detailed insights into their audiences’ lives.
#7: Digital Decay
We’ve not cracked the problem of privacy though, with marketers often responsible for some of the worst transgressions.
As a result, people are increasingly wary of their ‘digital footprints’.
Perhaps ironically, though, such concerns have led to new opportunities.
This prompts an interesting question: can marketers actually add more value to their audiences by not collecting personal information?
As revelations about government and corporate tracking continue to capture headlines around the world, brands that offer a more sensitive, ‘little sister’ alternative to Big Brother practices are likely to gain in popularity.
#8: Data As Individual Value
People are aware of the advantages of sharing certain aspects of their data though, especially where it helps them reduce effort or complexity.
One potential opportunity here is the concept of a ‘life operating system’ – a common OS that allows us to sign on across every device and appliance we use to access our preferences and settings.
This could be as simple as moving seamlessly from desktop to tablet to mobile phone to TV as we move through the day, but it gets more interesting when it helps us move to and from environments.
For example, a system that remembers how different members of a household prefer the temperature of the shower, or the ‘doneness’ of their toast.
Taking that further, a system that tracks our activities and controls appliances accordingly; for example, turning on the oven and central heating as we near home, or automatically turning off the iron and the TV if we’re more than 100m away.
Such systems could also provide useful ‘memory’ references too, providing ‘life history’ in a similar way to today’s internet browser history.
However, such systems would require access to considerable volumes of personal data, and this would inevitably raise concerns.
One answer to this might be to shift the ownership of personal data back to the individual, rather than it sitting with organisations like Google, Apple and Facebook.
This raises the concept of the personal ‘data bank’: a large repository of personal information – owned and controlled by the individual – that we ‘license’ to brands.
Brands would need to offer something valuable in exchange for this data, whether that’s a financial payment or specific value-added utility.
#9: Networked Economies
As Wikipedia has proven time and again, none of us knows as much as all of us combined.
By bringing all of this collective knowledge together, we not only have access to information wherever and whenever we need it; we’re also able to accelerate progress.
Beyond straightforward Search, internet indexing algorithms will start to create new connections between content, resulting in the rise of Discovery Engines. We’ll n longer need to know what we’re looking for in order to find things of value.
Internet-powered education will offer people all over the planet equal access to learning resources, while online classes will bring the best teachers to students in even the smallest of remote villages.
Meanwhile, global e-commerce and greater price transparency will change the way people shop. Increased competition will result in ‘personal procurement’, with companies bidding to fulfil individual consumers’ orders at the lowest possible price.
At the same time, we’ll see a rise in collaborative fulfilment, with individuals coming together to create, source and share goods and services in more efficient ways.
Business models will evolve to focus more on shared access and on-going licenses instead of one-off sales, ensuring more sustainable benefits for businesses and for the environment.
#10: Currencies For A Connected Age
This increased global interaction will change the way we pay for things too, bringing radical changes to money itself.
In the short term, we’ll see the rise of payments systems made specifically for mobile, instead of mobile payments systems that access existing infrastructure.
Meanwhile, financing systems already common in emerging economies will spread back to more developed nations, with peer-to-peer financing and micro-payments accounting for an increasing share of transactions.
Stretching this further, there’s a real possibility that the connected population will embrace a global, non-sovereign digital currency.
Phenomena like Bitcoin will become more widespread, removing many of the inefficiencies associated with currency exchange, and fundamentally changing the role of banks and financial institutions in our societies.
On the more extreme end of this spectrum, money could be replaced completely. There is a real possibility that digital connectivity will facilitate the return of barter-based transactions, where people exchange goods and services directly, without the need for an intermediary form of payment.
However, such a scenario would require a radical redefinition of corporate success. The accumulation of financial ‘wealth’ would become neither possible nor meaningful, and business would need to fundamentally rethink the concept of ‘shareholder returns’.
Even if this view seems extreme, it’s worth exploring this redefinition now, as it can help brand to gain a tangible advantage today. Start by asking yourself two simple questions:
What is the core human value that my brand offers to people, society and the world?
If people didn’t pay us in money, what other forms of enduring value exchange might we ask from them in order to achieve our objectives?
Those brands that can clearly articulate an answer to this second questions are the brands that are best placed to succeed in the long term.
#Bonus: Defining Your Own Future
Predicting the future is never easy, but the surest way to succeed is to take an active role in bringing your vision of the future to life.
Begin by challenging today’s accepted wisdom, and questioning everything you take for granted. Use your ‘ubiquitous connectivity’ to explore alternative perspectives from around the world, and share your own provocations with the world too.
The future will be what we make it.
However old you are, socialising has never been so complicated. In today’s world we have a myriad of platforms and devices to choose from, different friendship groups to update as well as family and colleagues; a busy work and personal life to balance.
Our social lives are played out on WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – and the list is ever expanding. But there is a new cohort of society which is of increasing interest to academics, who have had a lifetime of growing up alongside digital technology – today’s teenagers.
It’s teens who have had every aspect of their lives recorded since the creation of the Internet in the 80’s. They are the ones who have literally evolved alongside media devices and been on the receiving end of a questionable amount of privacy invasion. They are also the ones who are continuously experimenting with new platforms to escape the eyes of their policing parents and teachers.
A new book has triggered all sorts of discussions around teens and their digital behavior. “It’s Complicated” by Danah Boyd, a researcher at Microsoft and professor at New York University is an interesting proposition. It’s based on eight long years of research with interviews and focus groups with the teens of today.
The book aims to do away with myths around teenagers, focusing on their personal views on privacy and friendships. It appears that Boyd is more interested on how teens’ lives have evolved by using technology, not that the technology itself is the culprit for impacting their behaviour. Boyd says: “Teenagers like chatting to their friends; there’s nothing new in this. And most teenagers aren’t “addicted” to their phones, or their computers: they’re addicted to their friendship groups.”
Boyd says that lots of teens’ actions are not that different from previous generations. She says ”Social media hasn’t radically altered the dynamics of bullying. But it has made these dynamics more visible.” Her argument seems to be that most of their actions are not due to the technology but they are just happening on public screens rather than a playground.
It’s an interesting point. However, just this morning I read an article about a teen who took 200 ‘selfies’ and turned suicidal after not getting likes on any of them. According to The Metro: “Addiction to taking selfies is apparently increasingly recognised as a ‘serious problem’ by psychiatrists.”
This suggests that a strong association between self image and apps or social networks is rife amongst teens and even leading to a few very severe cases. This also rings true of the teen YouTube phenomenon recently where young girls would record themselves on YouTube asking the public “Am I ugly?”
The Daily Mail reported this as digital “self-harm” and the concept of these teens ‘trolling themselves’ by becoming their own online bullies. The immediate danger wasn’t that the teens were being picked on out of the blue; but the fact that they were putting the limelight onto themselves through a public platform and opening themselves to major criticism.
Maybe bullying isn’t the main culprit in recent changes in teen behavior, but it appears that teens who overuse platforms as a tool of life-comparison, self-help and an outlet for depression could potentially lead to very dangerous trends in teen behavior.
Maybe social media hasn’t ‘radically altered dynamics of bullying’ as Boyd put it, but it certainly seems to be altering the way teens perceive themselves and by posting public photos and videos on the web they are potentially becoming more vulnerable to online criticism. It seems this discussion around teens’ online and offline personas and the battle for privacy is a conversation that is far from over.