Hello. How’s it going? So it turns out that I’ve been working with Social Brighton for a whole year now, which provides me with a nice moment to reflect. From writing my first Social Brighton blog piece to meeting with new and interesting clients, from helping companies through GDPR joy to recently producing my first podcast, it’s been a great experience. And I’m looking forward to more.
Anyway, enough of my musings. Welcome to your monthly instalment of social media news and insight. We’re here to separate the gospel truth from the fake news, and show you which new features you should be trying out for your social media marketing.
Twitter launches audio only live broadcasting on its Periscope app
Over the past months Twitter has noticed a strange phenomenon displayed by users of it’s live video streaming features. People were broadcasting with their cameras covered over so they couldn’t be seen. Feedback from the community showed that some people lacked the setting or kit to stream quality live video. And many were simply uncomfortable being in shot.
In fact, Facebook had already tested live audio streaming back in 2016. They enabled the feature for test accounts including the BBC World Service, LBC and Harper Collins. The BBC found the feature particularly useful for reaching people in developing areas who lacked the connectivity speeds to handle live video.
All of this indicates a sizeable appetite for live audio streaming.
Based on this insight, Twitter has now built an audio only streaming functionality into its Periscope app. This allows people to toggle between video and audio only broadcasts. When in ‘audio only’ mode the app displays a sound wave animation that pulses in tandem with the audio. In Periscope you can broadcast publicly or to closed groups (followers) and can block certain people from listening. People listening in to broadcasts can ‘heart’, comment and share them.
The feature is already launched on the iOS app and is coming soon on Android.
Periscope itself is a live video streaming app that was acquired and launched by Twitter in 2015. It picked up 10m users within four months of launch but quickly began to struggle against other competitors, such as Facebook Live. In 2016 some of Periscope’s features were integrated into the main Twitter app.
How could I use this for my business?
Well, the first thing to note is that other live audio streaming platforms (i.e. Facebook) are available. And if the feature is successful in Periscope it’s likely to be added directly to the Twitter app, making it more accessible to more people. But it can’t hurt to give it a test now and develop your technique. From experience, I can tell you it takes a while to get familiar with the technology and to find your ‘broadcast’ voice.
Technical setup is pretty simple:
- Download the Periscope app.
- Register an account (you can sync with your Facebook and Twitter accounts and Periscope will highlight which of your followers are also on Periscope.)
- Tap the broadcast button to start broadcasting
- Tap the top of your screen to reveal broadcast options and hit the microphone icon to switch to audio only
- Start broadcasting
Audio broadcasts are a great way of connecting with your customers. It breeds trust and loyalty, and lets people really get under the skin of your company. There are myriad ways you could use live audio streaming, and it’s really for you to get creative and consider how (or whether) your business would benefit from this kind of interaction.
If you’re a radio station, you could open up new live distribution channels. Musicians could broadcast concerts or rehearsal sessions. If your business has insight to share, why not broadcast an hour a week talking about a related topic, or taking questions from an audience and responding live? There’s no better way to show off your expertise.
Audio only (as opposed to video) streaming reduces the friction for wannabe broadcasters who are just starting out and not that comfortable on camera. It’s really useful for developing and honing your broadcast skills.
It’s also a great way of making content go further – if you’re already recording a podcast, why not live stream it as well? And it doesn’t matter if the live broadcast isn’t as polished – people are accepting of small mistakes in favour of live action and interactivity.
Six top tips for live audio broadcasting
- Have a good reason to go live – how will being live make it different from a recording?
- Make the content relevant to a time-shifted audience as most of your listeners will be listening on catch up
- Bear in mind your audience can’t see what you’re seeing so make sure to use words to set the scene
- Rehearse before going live, particularly if you have other guests. Know who is going to say what do you don’t derail the conversation
- Run a practise broadcast with a closed group of friends and family to get feedback and try things out
- Make sure to embed some calls to action in the broadcast – what do you want people to do as a result?
If and when this feature makes it into the main Twitter app you’ll be able to reach a much wider audience. If you do your homework now, you’ll be light years ahead of other businesses that haven’t tried out the functionality. And once you’re comfortable producing live audio broadcasts, you could progress to live video to grow your business even further.
Twitter gives users more control over their feed
This month Twitter has announced that it is testing a return to reverse chronological feeds. This new feature would give people the option to switch back and forth between an algorithmically curated newsfeed and one that shows the most recent tweets from people they follow. While Twitter isn’t making a bit deal of this change, it could have big implications for marketers on the platform.
The goal is to give people more control over their timelines. Twitter has built a reputation of immediacy – bringing people relevant stories that are happening right now. The ‘best Tweets first’ option sought to bring people the most relevant content, but somewhat sacrificed their ability to see things as they happen.
In other news, Twitter is also testing buttons that allow people upvote and downvote content. Their votes won’t be visible to the tweet’s publisher but will give a discreet way to tell the platform which content to serve more or less of. If rolled out widely this will let users guide the algorithm directly, rather than it having to infer our likes and dislikes based on our public activity. So, it would mean no more having to publicly dislike the 1000th photo of your best friend’s baby. You can just have a quiet word with Twitter’s algorithm and it’ll know to limit your visibility of those pictures. Nice.
How will this affect my business?
It’ll be interesting to see whether Twitter releases stats on how often people view content chosen by the algorithm versus via the chronological timeline option.
If more people start viewing only the most recent Tweets then marketers will need to pay particular attention to the time of day they post, and perhaps consider reposting variations of the same content at different times in order to appear higher up the feed. However, if more people opt for the ‘best Tweets’ view then more effort needs to be made to ‘keep a tweet alive’ by participating in discussions, encouraging engagement and sharing. My guess is that Twitter is trying to reach a comfortable balance between these two settings, but doesn’t quite know how to do that yet.
In terms of up and vote voting tweets, you’ll just need to make sure your followers understand this functionality, and encourage them to upvote your posts (if they want to keep seeing them, of course!)
Instagram may be working on standalone shopping app
Sources close to Instagram have revealed that the platform may be working on a new standalone app specifically for shopping. With over 1bn registered Instagram accounts and 90m people tapping the shopping icon on their feed, this could present a huge opportunity to retailers.
Instagram’s shopping experience is based on See. Tap. Shop – its mission to create a seamless shopping experience. It currently allows businesses to tag up to 5 products in their posts, or 20 via carousel posts. When a customer taps on the product tag they are shown product details. They can then tap again to purchase the item. Product stickers in Stories are currently available for a few business accounts, ahead of a wider roll out in the near future. These allow users to tap on a shopping bag icon within an image to find out more and make a purchase.
If businesses tag 9 posts with product tags a shop tab on their bio will be activated, making it easier for customers to shop with them. However, many big brands aren’t doing this yet, giving you a chance to be one step ahead. In an Instagram case study, one business has reported a 25% increase in website traffic and 8% increase in revenue from using shopping tags on Instagram.
What opportunities and threats does this pose?
The possible launch of an IG Shopping app presents both a threat and an opportunity to businesses. As a business you’ll have the opportunity to tap into Instagram’s huge user base, market to new customers and make more sales.
However, you would also lose some of the direct relationship you have with your customers. At the moment when people tap on your shopping tag in Instagram they are taken to your mobile site. This means you can manage the process and capture customer data yourself, allowing you to re-market to your loyal customers. If the entire purchase process takes place within Instagram then retailers will become more reliant on the platform. This could pose a threat to future business, as control would remain with Instagram. Future changes to policy, algorithms or monetisation structure could severely impact companies that sell through the platform.
Also, IG will have more control over the products it surfaces to your potential customers, and is likely to start charging for sponsored listings or targeted advertising.
This isn’t all too different from other retail aggregation sites such as Etsy, Eventbrite and eBay, but we’d definitely advise not becoming too reliant on one particular channel. As a business, it’s always good practice to work across a number of platforms, social or otherwise, to protect your revenue stream.
Anyway, that’s us for now. Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed.
And remember, you can check out our previous ‘What’s New’ blogs right here.