Instagram web profiles didn’t surprise anyone. Since it first started gaining popularity, we have all wondered how long it would take before web profiles were debuted. In fact, when we all started seeing our new profiles in November, the response was more “About time” than anything else. Many of my colleagues were more disappointed that it took this long than they were excited to see the new product. Even two months later, it seems like one question still hangs over all of our head, “What does this mean for the future?”
Facebook and Instagram Are Getting Serious
The relationship between Instagram and Facebook has been one that has been the topic of many blog posts in the industry. Will Instagram be given preferential treatment among all of the picture apps? Will Instagram’s love be exclusive to Facebook? Will Facebook simply steal some of the usability functions that Instagram has that Facebook’s photo applications have always failed to duplicate? While many of these questions still can’t be fully answered, it is clear that Facebook is setting the stage for a more integrated relationship with Instagram. Does anyone else find it curious that the new Instagram profile lays out in the same dimensions as the Facebook profile? Personally, I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook eventually gives you the option to have your Instagram header take the place of your cover photo in the near future. Other functions that I could see coming include the quick, “Set this Instagram picture as your Facebook profile picture” button and the beginnings of a Facebook-based gravatar.
While Instagram was taking their sweet time creating the desktop profile, the market started filling with third-party apps such as Statigram and (my personal favorite) Ink 361. These apps not only provided a place to view online Instagram profiles but a variety of other services such as keyword albums, statistics, map overlays and the ability to save jpegs. Much like the rest of us, third party suppliers were not surprised by the Instagram desktop profile. When I asked Carel van Apeldoorn, CEO of Ink 361, about the new profiles; he said, “No surprise at all and we have been preparing ourselves for this. We strongly belief that the market is big enough for ink361 to remain valuable for the instagram community and a significant group of users, like there are a variety of services that connect and support twitter.” He went on to remark that while there may be limitations in Instagram’s current profiles, “The fact that the features on the current web version are limited doesn’t mean anything to me, because the guys at Instagram are extremely talented and focused and excellent in execution. We haven’t seen any crappy stuff coming from them and belief that they will remain delivering quality. That said, this new developments gives us an understanding of the way they like to take the experience on the web, and this clarity is useful for us.”
There Will Be New Players
There is always one truth when it comes to the digital space. A new player will emerge. The most obvious choice for the next BIG thing is Path, a service that many have been jumping on with in the industry. Perhaps though, people will start to love the new filters that Twitter is putting out, although I find that scenario far less likely.
Google+ is better than Facebook. There, I said it. I’m not a hipster or someone who is trying to rebel against mainstream social media. I don’t hate Facebook or any other social media platform (besides tumblr). I love them. They reassure my sense of self-worth and campaigns on each of them pay part of my rent every month. I’ve long preached that Facebook will see the rise of any competitor and adapt to become better. I guess you could call me more of a Facebook advocate than any other social media platform. Still, I believe that Google+ is actually a better network than Facebook. Are you hesitant to agree? Well, let’s break it down piece by piece.
There is a reason that Facebook needed to buy Instagram and is reportedly a little afraid of Path. Their mobile apps is horrible! My last update separate the app into three categories, none of which have worked properly. Meanwhile, the Google+ app continues to work without error. It gets used less but it has never disappointed me or made me think about throwing my smartphone at the nearest wall. Facebook, a company noted for many good things, continues to struggle with mobile applications. This could be a problem for Zuck-dawg and the gang as more and more of us do most of our social media engagement on our mobile devices.
Arguably something that we are all continuously yearning for, video chat has emerged as a necessity. Everything from TV’s to phones are getting in on it. So, who has a better video chat? Google+. I wrote a long time ago about Hangouts and why they won’t convert us. It appears that I was right. While Hangouts are much more seemless than the Skype chats provided by Facebook, they haven’t caused us to convert. When I want to video chat, I turn on my real Skype account. Don’t get me wrong. I was all over the Facebook Skype chats for the first 2 months. Now, I go to better video chatting services from Skype itself or Google.
Circles were divine. They allow us to easily grab and throw people into their most relevant social segments. The lists on Facebook have gotten much better but are still a bit cumbersome to deal with, especially when on a mobile device. Circles have finally allowed us to have one profile that serves every purpose and relates to all of our social circles. I can easily share my favorite articles with my industry people and post my politically incorrect observations to my friends in the same 5 minutes, nobody the wiser. (If only Klout took into account my posts that weren’t public.) I have found Facebook lists to be a little more taxing but that could be chiefly due to the fact that Facebook’s edits came later, an attribute that rarely leads to the most seamless integration.
With Google’s newest profile update, Google+ now has the best of Facebook’s last 2 profile layouts. You can either choose one large banner image or 4 of your most treasured images to serve as your header. Admittedly, I do like the Facebook Cover Photo better than the Google+ banner image as it is larger and easier to work with. Google+ needs to add a feature that allows you to blow up an image. Finding images over 900 pixels wide isn’t easy. Still, when it is all said and done, I like the larger profile image of Google+ and I feel like the ability to choose between two styles gives Google a +1 in this category.
Ease of Sharing
Let’s be honest. We all share A LOT of videos on social media, most of them coming from YouTube. Of course Google is going to have a leg up here. You can search out videos directly from the homepage and watch them together with your friends. The automatic photo upload is incredibly handy as you get to choose if those pictures ever go public. The new Google+ share button and +1 buttons are very easy to implement and use. The only problem with sharing on Google+ is that there’s nobody there to see it.
WHY IT DOESN’T MATTER!
I think that you’re getting the point of this post. Google+ has successfully (as long as you don’t mind #whitespace) integrated some of the best elements of Twitter and Facebook into one platform. Their listening and search elements are amazing, as you would expect from the leader in search. Everything about Google+ is top-notch. So, what’s the problem? There Wasn’t a Need! Coming up with a great product is amazing. However, if there is no need for that product to exist, what’s the point? Every other social media platform that has shown success has answered a need. When Xanga was big, it allowed those of us who can’t code to continuously write our thoughts online. MySpace allowed us to connect with a network of friends and give updates. Facebook gave us a more exclusive social networking experience and has since evolved into an all-you-can-eat buffet of social interaction. Twitter has given us the ability to live quickly and connect with celebrities on a daily basis. YouTube gave us video. Pinterest gave a place to share dreams without the annoyance of words. Where does Google+ fit in this saturated landscape? It might not.
If you’re like many marketers, you’re still asking yourself one question, “Should I write off Google+ or focus on it?” It depends. While Google+ may have not found its way into most of our social media daily rituals, it is still gaining users; especially bloggers hungry for high Google rankings. Google+’s SEO advantage could lead to a boom in the next 6-8 months. I am not so bold as to say that it definitely will but I could see it happening. Where leaders go, people will follow (he says while remaining skeptical about the claimed 30 million active users stat). Still, most of my network’s unwillingness to transfer to a slightly better Facebook will keep Google+ an engagement cemetery for the foreseeable future. Sorry, Google. Having a better product doesn’t always make you the winner.
Some of you may have seen on your news feeds that Ashton Kutcher aka @aplusk is relinquishing the management of his Twitter account to Katalyst Media. I heard about it on What’s Trending. If you really care what Ashton Kutcher has to say about news topics, you may need to reevaluate your priorities, but that is besides the point. Ashton has since apologized for tweeting some misinformation about the Penn State scandal to his followers. The real question now is whether or not Kutcher should have given the reigns over to someone else?
Here are both answers as I see them:
Yes, He Should!
After watching the backlash of various celebrities like Gilbert Gottfried for their tweets, Ashton is better safe than sorry. This time, a simple apology seemed to have worked but everyone is vulnerable to a slip up from time to time. What happens if next time his comment is viewed as racist, antisemitic, homophobic or sexist? That’s only cool if you are a Republican presidential candidate. Right or wrong, actors are held to a higher standard and need to be conscious of their words. Ashton is making the right decision to secure his roles in future productions.
No, He Shouldn’t!
By handing over the reigns of his Twitter, Ashton has given up what it was that makes Twitter awesome. When someone tweets a celebrity, they are not-so-secretly hoping to get some sort of reaction out of their beloved star. Knowing that a third-party is tweeting for Ashton could take a little wind out of the sails of every 16-45 year old woman who tweets @aplusk ‘on the daily’.
Even worse, if it doesn’t hurt his following, other celebrities with opinions may choose to follow suit, save Ricky Gervais. What happens when Twitter is no longer a medium where you can get the attention of and interact with those you follow? Is it really Twitter anymore or does it turn into a branded Facebook status? I don’t know but I don’t think that any of us want to see an opinion-free, bland Twitter.
What Happens Now?
When the celebrity dies, the brands continue to live. Even a complete loss of celebrities will not kill Twitter. It has become more and more brand-friendly over the years and companies have started using it more effectively. Digital/Viral celebrities will never leave. However, Twitter will be poorer if it loses the honest tweets of our Pop Culture Heroes. Besides, a tweet can be deleted and apologized for. Just don’t let anyone catch your rant on YouTube or audio…cough…Mel Gibson.
If all else fails, take a page from sports icons. It takes one great piece of work (championship) for everyone to forget about the most heinous of crimes. Just ask Ben Roethlisberger, Ray Lewis or Kobe Bryant how much can be forgotten and keep tweeting.
November 16, 2011 | Categories: Social Media | Tags: Ashton Kutcher, Branding, Celebrities, Facebook, Katalyst Media, Public Relations, Ricky Gervais, Social Media, Twitter | Comments Off on Ashton Hands Over the Twitter Reigns: What Now?
As social media experts, we still have so many things that we forget to do on a daily basis. Now, I could write a separate 1,000 word article on each of these topics but I have a growing fear of causing myself injury from typing too much on a daily basis. So, without further gilding of the lily, here are 5 things that “Social Media Experts” forget to do.
1: Integrate Other Media
In case you didn’t have the privilege of Melissa Burnett teaching your Creative Marketing class in college, I’ll give you a quick rundown. A fundamental element of every marketing effort should be to drive your customers to ALL of your other channels. That’s where ‘Integrated’ comes in on our business cards and agency taglines. If you’re doing a print campaign, make sure that it matches your digital campaign and has call outs for URL’s, usernames and appropriate hashtags. It seems like a fundamental idea but, if you look through your magazine collection atop your toilet, you’ll notice that many people forget such things on the regular. If you’re running TV spots, don’t forget to direct people to finish the story or join the discussion on social media and/or your dot com. One of the best instances of this was Right Guard’s “Love in the Shower” campaign that had great results on a limited budget. They had those results because of a solid integrated campaign, orchestrated by Defero.
If you’re not sure where to drive traffic or what social media goes with what medium, check out my previous article on the subject here. Also, when you integrate your social media into other mediums, be sure to add in UGC components. That shows people who weren’t already aware that your brand is one that actively participates in conversation with your fans and followers, not just talks at them. (On a side note, stay tuned for my next article on the importance of UGC.)
2: Establish Key Performance Indicators
Being quirky, funny and moderately entertaining is great but it doesn’t justify a budget spend. You need to establish what your social media will do. A great place to start is by establishing the value of a Fan, Follower, Subscriber, etc. For a previous client, I did this with the help of John Marzolph. We established a Facebook Fan value for a skeptical customer. On a side note, our own research came to almost the exact same conclusion as Syncapse’s research did 2 months later.
After you establish a value, establish analytics that will prove the success of your campaign. If you have a high value, gaining more people is a good place to start. Visits, comments, new followers, and a bunch of other statistics are telling but; don’t forget to use more complicated analytics that show how your social media actually caused a consumer to act. Place a value on social media specific coupon codes. Check the Google Analytics on your site to see if people are coming to your dot com from Facebook or Twitter. The more complex the campaign, the more key performance indicators you should build in. Otherwise, your success could be attributed elsewhere.
3: Integrate Digital with Reality
This is the kicker that takes a social campaign to the next level. All of my favorite social campaigns have a touch of reality in them. There’s not one set way to do this either. One company created a hangover monster and used it as guerrilla marketing. As the monster terrorized parties all over, the companies brand grew. Another company recently used a digital tip jar that only acted when you Liked them on Facebook. The Gran Turismo video game franchise constantly has test drives and races that integrate digital with reality. Mercedes Benz had a social contest where your tweets actually fueled the car of your driver in a distance race. There is no one way to integrate the reality and social media but creativity is constantly being rewarded and UGC components are rarely a bad idea.
4: Measure the Results…Constantly
This is the most important step and should never be done all at once at the end of the campaign. Build a system where you can constantly grade your progress at least once a week. Use your key performance indicators to create a list of goals that you’re looking to reach and see how you’re progressing towards them.
If you have the ability, I like Shoutlet as a Social Media measurement provider. I think that they’re management team is one of the best and brightest in the game and that you’ll find their services useful.
5: Adjust Your Message
Lastly, don’t be so stubborn. After you’ve ‘Stayed the Course’ through a few storms, be ready to adjust a little bit. Flexibility is key in a market that is fickle at best. If you missed the target a little bit, don’t ride that out until your contract is up. Prove that you’re an expert who can take responsibility when something goes wrong and evolve. If you evolve and come back with a strong showing, your client will trust you to continue that trend despite a slow start in the next round.
Whatever you do, just remember to only promise what you can deliver and then deliver those results. Socrates said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Consider every social media campaign you do as a new life. Examine it. Oh, and be original. Originality is always respected even though it is not always accepted.
Upon doing some more research, it appears that Facebook Places may not actually be going anywhere. They are simply changing out some of the check-in features to make it even easier to share your location. This is an official recanting of my previous post that reported incorrect news. I thank Brian Carter by way of Casey Copeland for getting me the right news. I must confess, I was victim to trusting news sources that happened to be wrong. I should have trusted my gut and dug much deeper into the story before publishing my knee-jerk reaction to incorrect news.
To all of my regular readers, I’m sorry and such a mistake will ne’er happen again. Come back soon.
It appears that once again, people are overestimating Foursquare and underestimating Facebook. Immediately after Facebook declared that they were going to remove the Places option from their mobile platform, reputable people were eager to declare Foursquare the victor in the battle between Foursquare and Facebook. To declare such a victory is premature at best and ignorant at worst.
Business Insider titled their article “Round 1 to Foursquare: Facebook is Scaling Back Their Places Check-ins.” This is much more accurate than the finality that others are suggesting. Have we not learned that Facebook will come out with something that will compete for the market that they want. Rather than seeing this as a battle between Foursquare and Facebook, we need to take a holistic view and realize that Facebook is well aware that Google+ will be a competitive format in the business world. Google+ has Google Maps at its disposal, a mobile integration that Facebook and Bing could struggle to compete with if Google carefully crafts their next steps. Perhaps, Facebook would rather scale back Places in favor of a much more complete and advantageous feature.
Long story short, to suggest that Facebook was beaten and is going back to lick their wounds is wishful Schadenfreude. Zuckerberg is not willing to give up a market that he has competed in. He wants to win that market and continue to work towards the goal of 1 billion users. In the short-term, perhaps it would be advantageous for social media experts to create and maintain a business Foursquare if you haven’t already done so. Mark my words though. This is just the beginning.