Hi. How’s your summer going? Any holiday plans? Really?! Sounds nice. I’ve always wanted to go there. I treasure these little catch-ups. Anyway, back to the important business of social media and… er… business. This month’s blog explains how Obama lost 2.3m Twitter followers in just one day; how your customers will soon be able to sample your wares using augmented reality; what voice assistants and smart speakers might do to our worlds; and how Facebook advertising just got even easier.
Hope you enjoy… and do remember to stop for ice cream halfway through.
How did Obama lose 2.3m Twitter followers in one day?
In July Twitter removed locked accounts from follower counts. For years Twitter has routinely locked accounts that were behaving suspiciously, requiring the account owner to reset their password in order to unlock the account. Many don’t ever do this. Until this month Twitter has still counted those locked accounts in the total number of followers. As these locked accounts are removed from the count, the average person will have only noticed a drop of just a few followers. But if you happen to be Obama, Bieber or Perry (yes, we know you all read this blog) then you’ll have noticed a big drop in follower numbers.
Social Bakers produced a list of the top 50 biggest declines and it’s interesting to see that the biggest loss was actually sustained by Twitter itself. This perhaps breeds a bit of trust in Twitter’s attempts to make its platform more honest, despite shooting itself in the foot somewhat.
I guess with a following of over 55m you’d expect a large number of accounts to be locked, but digging into the biggest percentage declines has raised some eyebrows. Social Media consultant Matt Navarra contends that some Twitter accounts have lost up to 70% of their followers (actor Steve Guttenberg). Hmmm. Suspicious?
What does this mean for my business?
While this news probably won’t affect you directly, it’s a stark warning to those who have been building large online followings from accounts not linked to real, genuine human beings.
As a test, you can find out how many fake followers you have using TwitterAudit. We were pleased to see that 99% of @Social_Brighton followers are human. We like humans.
All this serves to remind us of the ‘quality over quantity’ mantra. At Social Brighton we are advocates for building loyal and engaged online followings. This is going to be far better for your business than going for large numbers of followers.
However, in some arenas, it has been all about the total number of followers. If you’re a sports star looking for a branding opportunity or a social influencer that charges to repost advertorial content, having millions of followers may signify a big pay check. However, marketers are becoming savvy to this, and beginning to look for more proof that influencers’ posts are delivering a good return on investment.
So, in summary, take your time and build a following the right way. By posting interesting and relevant content you’ll grow a following that will value your brand more highly. If you’d like to find out more about how to do this then consider signing up for our Social Media Strategy course. We’ve got loads of great ideas to help unlock your creativity.
Facebook testing Augmented Reality news feed adverts
At Facebook’s F8 conference the platform announced a gradual roll out of Augmented Reality (AR) ads in its main newsfeed, as well as Messenger. This new feature allows brands to create in-app experiences that will allow potential buyers to try out products including sunglasses, make-up, and home décor.
These will appear within normal adverts in the Facebook news feed, but with a ‘tap to try’ call to action button. When people tap on the button they’ll be able to see the product in situ. The adverts will also be shoppable, meaning people can go on to buy the item within Facebook itself.
How can I take advantage of this?
As with most new Facebook features only a few retailers are given access to the technology during testing phase. However, subject to a successful trial, this new feature could allow you to demonstrate your products and services in a more engaging and realistic way.
Your customers may soon be able to try on your jewellery, see how your furniture will look in their living rooms, try out a new hairstyle or check out a new fashion. This will allow people who aren’t able to get to your store to get a better sense of how your product will fit into their lives. Stay tuned to this blog for more news on the launch date and how to get involved.
Mandatory ice cream break
Photo by Tim Stief on Unsplash
An update on the voice assistant and smart speaker market
The world of voice controlled assistants, artificial intelligence and smart speakers continues to develop at a rapid rate. The Amazon Echo (“Alexa”) is well established, Google Home (“Hey Google”) is gaining ground, Microsoft “Cortana” and Apple Home Pod (“Siri”) are developing new features and Facebook looks to be joining the party soon.
The worldwide market has grown threefold in the last year, and smart speaker ownership will reach 100m worldwide during 2018.
In the first quarter of 2017 Amazon had nearly an 80% market share worldwide. A year later this has dropped to <28%, with Google Home (36%) and a number of other competitors chipping into Amazon’s share.
The market in the UK is smaller but likely to follow the US trends. In the UK, 10% of people own a smart speaker. Of these, 75% have Amazon, 16% have a Google Home or Mini, and 2% an Apple Home pod. Google is likely to catch up with Amazon by 2022.
How are smart speakers being used?
Most people use smart speakers for playing music, answering questions, setting alarms or reminders, checking the news or weather, or recording a memo or list.
In the UK 9% have used it to order products online. And in the US 20% of consumers have shopped using voice, mainly on mobile. These people tend to be mainly younger and male.
A recent Google survey showed that these voice shoppers want information about deals, sales and promotions; personalised tips and information; news about upcoming events or activities; access to business information such as store hours; and access to customer service or support.
How might ‘voice shopping’ change things?
Voice searches are leading us to choose ‘items’ over ‘brands’. Using voice-controlled assistants, your customers won’t necessarily navigate to your brand’s webpage as they would before. They will just be served a list based on their query (i.e. “I want to buy some sandals”, “shop for watches”). When searching for things using voice people will be less likely to specify a brand name.
In a recent Comscore survey 25% of US users said that when searching for an item they were offered a deal/discount for something other than their usual brand.
The huge competition between the tech giants for control of the smart speaker market signifies its importance. The winner will effectively become gatekeeper. If Amazon ends up ruling the world, it’s likely to prioritise products sold through its online store. If you’re listening to music through Google Home, it’ll probably lead you towards it’s own music service.
You may have spent time and money on SEO to make sure you’re on the first page of Google search results. But how worthwhile will this be when virtual assistants only read out the first three results?
With this added competition comes an opportunity to build brand loyalty. If a customer successfully orders a pizza from one restaurant, the voice assistant is likely to remember this for the next time they want to order.
What can Facebook bring to the table?
Although there’s no release date confirmed, this year Facebook is likely to release two types of smart speaker. The “Portal” device will feature a large screen, and there will be a second, smaller, speaker-only version. Signs point to an international release this year, prior to a launch in the US.
So, how does Facebook differ from its competitors? It holds a wealth of very personal data on billions of people, captured from Instagram, Messenger, What’s App, Market Place, Groups and all it’s other platforms and services.
Using this information in a smart speaker could lead to new, more personal connections. It could let you know when a friend has had a baby, or moved house; remind you to call your dad for his birthday and also recommend a present for him. You could be offered the chance to buy a concert ticket for a show your friends are attending in your local area.
Facebook could help us move beyond transactional exchanges such as setting alarms and reminders, to actually improve our communications with each other. Combine this with Facebook’s move into hardware production which includes the Oculus Go VR headset, and the development of its own microchips, and we’re likely to see some big changes in how we interact with each other and technology in the next few years.
What should be doing now to prepare?
- Make sure all your company info is easy to find on your web and social media sites for virtual assistants to find.
- Did you know Amazon’s Alexa can read Twitter feeds out loud? So, think about this when crafting social media content – write in a more conversational way; no business speak, acronyms or unspeakable phrases!
- Think about the interactions that take place using voice. People usually phrase their query as a question, so think about displaying important information in FAQ form, with clear responses.
- Voice assistants and smart speakers are growing more sophisticated with social media. They’re here to stay, so now is the time to get one step ahead and comfortable with the technology. Try using a device yourself, the Amazon Echo Dot starts at around £30 and Siri is built into most iPhones already, so this shouldn’t break the bank.
New tools in Facebook ads manager app
With more business being doing via mobile than ever before, Facebook has launched a range of new creative tools for its Ad Manager mobile app. Since 2015 social media advertisers have been able to create and manage their Facebook Ads using a mobile app.
New tools recently launched will give you the ability to add text overlays, crop images, use existing templates, add shapes, stickers and logos and apply colour filters to images. All of these will help you create more eye-catching and beautiful adverts, all within one mobile app. A ‘text policy checker’ will also tell you when your advert is getting too wordy.
Why should I consider advertising on Facebook?
If you’ve not already tried advertising on Facebook now might be a good to dip your toe in the water. With over 2bn people spending an average of 50 minutes per day on the platform, even a small budget would help you reach new customers.
Facebook’s huge reservoir of personal data and sophisticated targeting options will help you direct your adverts to the people who are most likely to be receptive to your business. With these latest developments you’ll also be able to manage your campaigns via a easy to use mobile app. Need some help getting started? Why not check out our How to Use Facebook Advertising guide, or sign up to our next course.
That’s it for this month. I’m off to listen to the ridiculously happy band I’m From Barcelona while pretending to be in Barcelona.
Adios amigos. Hasta la proxima vez!