Yesterday, Potomac Tech Wire held their Social Media Outlook 2013 at the Gannett/USA TODAY Corporate Headquarters in McLean, VA. The event consisted of a keynote, panel and three speaker presentations all focused on bringing us expert viewpoints and analysis of where things stand with social media and where they’re expected to go in the upcoming year. You can check out the recap of the keynote, posted by my colleague Jennifer Edgerly here and get all the details from the panel below. Panelists hit on everything from Facebook to Tumblr and told us about the coolest social media campaigns they’ve seen this year. The panel was moderated by Potomac Tech Wire’s Paul Sherman and included the following industry thought-leaders:
- Leigh George – Director of Digital Strategy, R2integrated
- Rohit Bhargava (also the keynote speaker!) – Founding member of the 360 Digital Influence Group at Ogilvy and author of the best selling book “Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behavior, and Inspring Action”
- Jodi Gersh - Director/Social Media & Engagement at Gannett
- Shashi Bellamkonda – Social Swami (otherwise known as Sr. Director, Social Media) at Web.com and Adjunct Marketing Professor at Georgetown University
Q: What’s going on with Facebook? I’ve heard that Facebook is losing its “cool” for younger generations.
According to panelist Leigh George, Facebook is now a mass media that has reached every demographic. She stated that the only real area of growth for the major social media platform is with baby boomers, which may be why it seems like it is losing its “cool” amongst the younger generations. Bhargava agrees, saying that one drawback to Facebook is that once your parents are on it, it may not be cool anymore. That said, he doesn’t think people will be fleeing the platform. He also noted, Facebook is the only way he is connected with many people and to ditch his account would mean to lose those connections.
Q: How are you advising clients to use Facebook right now?
George also weighed in on this topic, stating that Facebook is not a sales platform, if you want to engage with people here, as a company, you have to reach them through what people are talking about. Ads on Facebook are viewed as intrusive – you need to talk about topics like community involvement or recruiting, and not try to buy your way in. She says you must add value to your audience.
Jodi Gersh noted that the newest challenge with Facebook comes from their ad- ranking algorithm, which places a higher value on engagement than likes. This gives companies the new goal of not simply attracting more likes to their page, but getting those who like their page to engage with their content. She admitted to currently having a love/hate relationship with the platform. Bellamkonda stated that Facebook is the easiest publishing platform and it isn’t going anywhere. He noted that people will share content that provides them with value and recommends people holding social giveaways on fan pages that give away the companies’ own products.
Q: Startups used to have Facebook at their core, but now they appear to have more of an “at arms length” relationship with the platform. Is Facebook losing its “cool” with startups?
There was a time when you had an ecommerce site that you had to display openly that it was VeriSign secure, or people would be nervous to purchase. But, over time, everyone had one so sites didn’t feel the need to put it in the limelight – it was just expected that sites had it, explained Rohit Bhargava. He goes on to say that this is similar to the relationship between Facebook and startups, which used to have the platform front and center. But now, everyone just knows they are there. Continuing with the similes, he also compared Facebook to plumbing, saying that you don’t miss it until it’s gone.
George agreed that his analogy between the plumbing and Facebook was spot on. Hitting back on the younger demographic, she notes that the 18-24 demographic is really involved with the more visual social networks like Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram, and Facebook is the plumbing for all of them (meaning they are all interconnected and you can log in to these various platforms via your Facebook account). Most of these platforms are mobile and she thinks they will eventually catch on with the older demographics.
Shashi Bellamkonda added that as companies and startups integrate into mobile, whoever makes plugging-in easiest will be the most successful, and right now, integrating with Facebook is the easiest way to do that. Bhargava agreed the Facebook platform was simple, but also noted that the interface is looking pretty old and almost compares to that of craigslist. He’s super excited about the new MySpace platform, though, noting its horizontal scrolling.
Speaking of interface makeovers, have you checked out the new USA TODAY web page? Gersh says the new web page is super visual and almost “Pinteresty” with a new cover view option. I’m not going to lie, it looks pretty sharp!
Q: What campaigns/strategies have wowed you this past year and why?
Panelist: Leigh George
Reason: Leigh is fascinated by Coca-Cola’s embracement of becoming a social company. Last summer, they released their content strategy and people thought they were crazy for giving out their secret sauce. Leigh disagrees, stating that she thinks transparency is intelligent. Coca-Cola is also embracing social business, Leigh explains. They co-create content with their consumers via social by getting them to talk about their concept of “Opening Happiness.” Check out their “Happiness Is…” campaign on Tumblr.
Panelist: Rohit Bhargava
Campaigns: Toyota 100 Cars for Good and McDonalds “Ask Anything” Twitter Campaign
Reason: Rohit mentioned the cleverness of the Toyota 100 Cars campaign, which allowed social media users to select which charities received the free cars from Toyota. But he gave most of his praise to McDonalds, who challenged its customers to ask any question on Twitter and they would answer it. He noted this was the perfect way to engage people when they think you are “BSing” them. Check out some of the results.
Panelist: Jodi Gersh
Reason: Jodi gave kudos to Oreo’s recent Facebook campaign, in which they post photos regularly of Oreos that have been carved to look like different things. She says its brilliant because of Oreo’s complete understanding of Facebook as a platform. They are taking the cookie that everyone already loves and making something out of it to share. Check out AdAge’s coverage.
Panelist: Shashi Bellamkonda
Campaign: Network Solutions, Go Granny
Q: What is coming in 2013 for Twitter and Google+? What about “dark social?”
According to George, Google+ is a ghost town and will continue to be a place for the small, yet active older, male population. She says its great for SEO, but not broad engagement. But, Bellamkonda says it still plays a role, saying that everyone should have a Google+ button on every page of their website. He also noted the rise in predictive analytic-focused platforms like GoogleNow, which collects your data and gives you the info it thinks you want to see when you start your browser (i.e. local weather, favorite sports scores). The group didn’t have too much to say about Twitter, but Bhargava gave a final push to the new MySpace, calling it an exciting destination.
They wrapped-up the panel by talking about dark social, stating stats from an Atlantic article that showed half of the links we go to come from email, text, chat, etc. George said that we should look at dark social traffic and use it to help generate content. And, Bellamkonda recommended using a button tool such as AddThis to help track this data.
During the last few weeks, I've seen what appears to be an exponential amount of animated GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) online and in email communications. As it were, Internet memes take on a viral, speedy nature as it infiltrates one's brain. Animated GIFs are no exception. As picture heavy sites like Tumblr gain more users, it makes sense that animated GIFs have hit their stride.
An animated GIF is a visual image on the Web that is looped with multiple frames - making it look like an animation. Often, an animated GIF is created from a few images or several seconds-long clip from a movie, TV show or Web clip.
What I love about animated GIFs is that they often brilliantly encapsulate every day emotions. From dealing with a broken down car to experiencing a frustrating customer service experience, I can guarantee you there's an animated GIF for that emotion somewhere on the Internet. Mashable shared their top sites for animated GIFs and I have to agree that WhatShouldWeCallMe has some of the best. For example, you know that feeling when a client calls with a last minute request for a press release to go out the same day? Sometimes it causes a feeling similar to this:
(GIF source: WhatShouldWeCallMe)
What are some of your favorite sites for animated GIFs?
When faced with one minute on the internet, how much can you get done?
This week I came across a great infographic from web design firm Go-Globe.com (see it full size here) on things that happen on the internet every 60 seconds. It is AMAZING how much happens in such a small amount of time – there are almost 700,000 Google searches, 60 new blogs started and 13,000 iPhone apps downloaded.
They got such a great response to their first infographic they put together part 2 that shows that 232 computers are infected with malware, 38 tons of e-waste is generated and 1,100 acres of land are farmed in Farmville!
It’s amazing to see the number of useful (and time wasting) things we do in one minute – could you imagine being the recipient of all 168 million emails?
– Ali Robinson
Whenever we talk social media with our clients, the usual suspects generally pop up. We discuss the benefits of creating and maintaining a Facebook profile page, setting up a Twitter feed and building a list of followers, and the pro’s and con’s of LinkedIn. Interestingly, there’s one name out there that never seems to be mentioned: Tumblr. Which is curious, because, when you think about it, Tumblr may just possibly offer the best platform for sharing information in quick, easily digestible – yet still informative – bites.
For the uninitiated, Tumblr is somewhat of a cross between a blogging platform and social media site. Users can create and maintain their own personal “tumblogs,” aka “microblogs” – short (but not Twitter-short) online spaces to muse about whatever happens to be on their minds.
As Tumblr has grown in popularity – there are more than 33 million tumblogs on the site as of the writing of this post – so has its use by corporations as a means of promoting products and services. There are many big-name companies using Tumblr, including tech giant IBM. Likewise, a number of media outlets – The New York Times, Washington Post, etc. – have taken to Tumblr as a means of sharing news.
Unlike Facebook, however, which offers a very mainstream demographic, Tumblr’s user base appears to be younger…edgier…more prone to seeing through “marketing speak.” They also love visuals; Tumblr, like Instagram and Flickr, relies very heavily on images to get messages across.
That doesn’t mean Tumblr should be ignored as marketing vehicle; it just means that organizations that use it need to get very, very creative. In fact, it’s best to adhere to the following guidelines:
- Appeal to the young. Tumblr’s users tend to be on the younger side. Therefore, developing a tumblog on a solution that appeals to the 20-something set – a young developer community, for example, or a social app or trend – is a good rule of thumb.
- Keep it short. They’re called microblogs for a reason. You’ve got more space than a tweet, but still...get your messages out quickly.
- Try something pretty. If your product or service has a visual element to it, all the better. Tumblr users love pretty pictures.
Like the content on Tumblr, these are some very quick hits on what to keep in mind; there are many more ways to approach Tumblr as an online marketing tool. Just bear in mind that it’s not for every company, which is probably why it doesn’t get often get included in the same conversations as some of the other big kids on the social media block. But if you’ve got the tools, and if you’re looking to reach a very specific, young audience that can really champion your brand, it’s likely worth taking a tumble for.
- Pete Larmey