Stay Social May: The Latest and Greatest in Social Media

It’s May, which means the memes about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding are coming in thick! Let’s deep dive into the world of social media marketing and explore what’s happening outside The Royal Wedding memes.

Facebook strengthens its Live offering

Live Video is the social media trend that just keeps getting stronger! Facebook is on the bandwagon and has just unveiled a slew of new features for brands and users who are producing live video content.

Feature no. 1: Persistent Stream Keys

You’ll no longer need to get approval from the Facebook team every time your page wants to go live. The stream key will now be linked to your brand’s Facebook page permanently, so once you’re approved, you can go live whenever you’d like!

Feature no. 2: Cross-posting

If your brand runs multiple Facebook pages or wants to partner with an influencer or another brand, you can go live across several pages all at the same time with the one livestream. It’s a great way to both expand the reach of your Live videos, as well as the engagement they’ll generate.

Feature no. 3: Live Rewind

Users can now go backwards in a Live video to catch up on anything they may have missed. This move isn’t just great for user experience – by having users who can quickly catch up on any highlights, brands can now expect to see better engagement on their Live content.

And with rumours that the platform is finally going to bring Facebook Watch to the international market, as well as a Facebook dating app, brands are going to want to keep keeping an eye on this space.

Facebook dabbles with the idea of expanding into the online dating scene. Image source: The Verge  

Instagram becomes very business friendly

Meanwhile, over on Facebook’s sister platform, Instagram is gearing up to continue giving businesses big and small some new options.

First off, as of this month, users will now be able to link their credit or debit card to the app, and directly pay for a product or service being advertised, without the need to exit to a separate browser or landing page.

Apart from exciting impulse shoppers (us!), it’s certainly going to help brands and marketers prove ROI via social, especially with campaigns built around sales or direct conversions.

On top of that, Instagram is also expanding messaging options for brands on the platform. You’ll soon be able to set up “quick replies”, which will let you create and store responses you find yourself using quite often. That means you can send details like contact or product information with just the tap of a button.

Messages to your business will now also go straight to your Inbox, and you’ll be able to “star” the ones you want to save or respond to later.

This will certainly provide better customer experience and is sure to excite community managers!

How can you use the new Instagram updates to prove ROI from social? Image via Marketing Land

Snapchat turns back time

After a controversial redesign at the start of the year, it seems that iOS users can soon expect to see the app revert to the older design, once again separating Stories from Snaps.

How this will affect the ways brands can reach users on the platform remains to be seen, but it’s a change that’s certain to make users very happy.

Which Snapchat design do you prefer?

And that’s it for May! Stay tuned for next month’s social media wrap!

Read next: 3 Fast Rules for Marketing on Instagram

Stay Social: The Latest and Greatest in Social Media this April

It’s April! So, without further ado, here are the latest news stories on social media marketing from the last month!

Facebook privacy troubles bring big changes

The last month has been tough-going for Facebook. Between the Cambridge Analytica scandal (you can read our summary of it here) and the subsequent Congressional Hearing, the pressure has been on the social platform to improve and clarify its privacy policies.

The Congressional Hearing did result in an abundance of memes and an apology from Mark Zuckerberg as well as a commitment to working with policy-makers on regulation. A slew of changes to the platform have since been announced.


What’s your favourite meme to result from the Congressional Hearing?

The biggest of these changes include sweeping reforms to the platform’s API. Previously, other apps had access to a whole heap of information from Events, Groups, and Pages on Facebook. Now, they will no longer be able to gather data on what people post in Events or on Pages, and they can no longer gain access to any data and information from Groups without Facebook’s direct approval. They can also no longer access the member lists from Events and Groups, which means they’ll only see data from the people who have explicitly agreed to share it.

Beyond the API changes, Facebook is also implementing controls within its own App that will allow users to see how their information is shared and with who. If they aren’t happy with what they see, the users can now also change their privacy settings (or delete their data altogether) from a much easier to find and use interface.

A comparison of the old settings menu (left) and the new settings menu (right). Image source: TechCrunch

Meanwhile, on the platform’s sister site, the Instagram API for follower lists, relationships and public comments for apps has been disabled, which means outside Apps will be unable to track that data through the image-sharing platform.

With all of these changes, it’s clear that Facebook isn’t just taking PR-friendly half-measures in response to the scandal. The company seems earnest in its goal to make the platform a more secure place for its users’ information.

Snapchat takes on Group Chat

Snapchat recently introduced Group Video Chat to its platform. Users can now chat with up to 16 friends at the same time, all while still using Lenses to give themselves dog ears.

While not monetisable by advertisers, this feature aims to keep users returning to the platform after Facebook’s Instagram and Messenger Apps proved to be stiff competition.  The addition will hopefully prove to be a strong addition to the App’s features, making sure that users and brands can continue using the platform well into the future.


What do you think about Snapchat’s new Group Video Feature? Image source: Fortune

YouTube wants you to reach your audience

In a smaller, but still important update, YouTube is updating how advertisers can share their content on the video platform.

With its new TrueView for Reach, brands can promote 6-30 second skippable videos on the platform, all while these are targeted to reach as many unique users on the platform as possible. All this to help brands reach as many people in their target audience as possible.


Youtube’s newest TrueView feature explained. 

And that’s it for April. Here’s hoping May brings with it much more social media goodness to report on.

4 Instagram Features You Need to Know About for Your Business

Do you freak out when you hear the words “Instagram update” and “algorithm” in the same sentence? You’re not alone. Changes to how people use Instagram often leave brands and marketers a little left in the dark and scrambling to adapt their strategy. So rather than work harder to be seen by the same amount of people, what can you, as a brand or business do to utilise the changes and make them work in your favour?

Replay Privacy Controls

Instagram is hoping to increase the focus on direct with changes to replay privacy controls. Now when you send a photo or video from the Instagram Direct camera, you can decide how long recipients can view it for. Controls include:

  • Allowing recipients to only view it once
  • Replay it temporarily
  • View a permanent thumbnail of it in the chat log

This greater control over viewing can give you new ways to engage with your audience. For example, you could send out one-off coupon codes, or flash sale information for limited viewing to create a sense of urgency. The goal here is to target impulse actions from your audience and turn your viewers into customers!

API Scheduling

The ability to now schedule posts is a huge step forward for the recognition of brands and business on Instagram. While most brands and businesses have either used other third-party apps or planners to schedule their content in the past, Instagram has now opened it’s API to partner applications like Hootsuite or SproutSocial. For brands and marketers, this means they can schedule and manage their Instagram presence and reporting from one platform, saving time with a more integrated approach.

TIP: If you haven’t already, start planning your posts to be published at optimum times for engagement! Collate data from Iconosquare and Facebook Insights to determine when you audience is online.

New Features for Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories are now more versatile than ever. Before, users had to post vertical photos, but now there is an option to use landscape photos – no more weird crops and zoom-ins! In addition, text-only Stories mean you don’t have to include a photo at all! This is perfect if you want to create content like polls or send out messages to your audience. Do some A/B testing and monitor the performance of Stories with images vs text-only Stories to figure out which types of content resonates the best with your audience.

Now there are new ways to get creative with Instagram Stories!

The Algorithm

While it has been confirmed that Instagram will not be bringing back the chronological feed, the app announced that they will be testing a “New Posts” button. By tapping the button, a user will be taken to the top of their Instagram feed where they will see the most recent posts from their network.

For the most part, Instagram sorts user’s feeds based on the interactions the user has with various accounts. This means the posts that appear on a user’s feed are ordered by levels of interaction (through likes, comments, shares, saves etc). In most cases, posts from business pages are often way down the list, only reaching an estimated 10% of their audience.

So how can you use this knowledge to your advantage?

One thing you can and should be doing is interacting with your audience as much as possible – this includes direct messages, too! Reward users for commenting, liking and tagging their friends in your pictures. Respond immediately to comments with additional questions and create discussion wherever possible!

A/B test different types of content to figure out which content is most popular with your audience. Mix it up with a range of video, static images, galleries and more. Use the copy to ask questions or provide tips—anything that your audience will find helpful and can engage with.

With the Algorithm Causing an Ongoing Stir, is Vero Becoming a Real Contender?

If you’re in the social bubble it’s hard to ignore the ongoing complaints about Instagram’s algorithm and so it’s no surprise that another social media app has emerged. Yes, Vero is still on our horizons.

It has a chronological feed, for starters. You don’t have to pay for ads. Oh, and there’s no algorithm. Win, win, and win. If Instagram doesn’t start taking care of its users Vero and other competitors could see some real growth in their user bases.

Read next: 3 Fast Rules for Marketing on Instagram

Stay Social: The Latest and Greatest in Social Media this March

It’s March, and that means that someone in your office has already panicked and shouted that “this year is going by so fast!”

But let’s leave existential crises behind – here are the latest news stories on social media marketing from the last month!

Facebook’s all about the chat.

Facebook has announced that it is rolling out a few updates to its Messenger service for businesses, in particular when it comes to customer service.

These include easier to understand bot capability, automatic generation of a user contact information form when you request it, new metrics in the API (such as messaging conversations opened and first-time Messenger conversations), and message tags to make it easier to answer questions and provide updates.

After that veritable mouthful of new features, one thing is for sure: customer service and community management on Facebook have never been easier.

But that’s not all. If a recent Axios report is to be believed, then Facebook is preparing to enter the news industry. By later this year, ten digital-first partners will be working with the platform to produce regular news videos for its Watch tab.

For brands, this hopefully means a bit less fake news on the platform, and a bit more brand-safe content on which to promote their services or products.


Facebook’s latest Messenger update will make it easier for brands to speak with and help their customers. Source: messenger.fb.com

Instagram’s on call.

Facebook’s sister in all things social seems to be taking a leaf out of her older sibling’s book. A Tech Crunch dive into some code on the App’s backend revealed that the platform seems to be gearing up to launch an audio and video calling feature.

While this has no direct benefits to advertisers as of yet, the feature could very well keep more users on site for longer, meaning more time spent on monetisable content, as well as on calls.

Snapchat focusses on community.

After its controversial mega-update at the start of the year, it seems like Snapchat was trying to keep mostly on the DL for March. Especially after their stock price took a tumble following a Kylie Jenner Tweet.

But, a couple new features have been added in, both to the delight of users and brands.

The App will start to feature community-built AR lenses later this month, which is great news for content creators on the platform. Brands can start thinking about how to use these filters to enhance their user-generated-content strategy and build engagement-focused competitions around the filters.


A sample of some of the most creative lenses created by the Snapchat community! Source: Mashable vs Snap Inc.

YouTube’s just living its Live.

2018 is the year of live video, and YouTube has just made live broadcasts all the easier.

The platform has introduced a few new features to its Live offering, most notable of which are auto-captioning for broadcasts spoken in English, as well as a Chat Replay feature, so you can see what was said in chat, even if you’re watching well after the event. You can now also tag your location when live-streaming.

While none of these updates are game-changing, they do make it easier for brands and creators to create more accessible and re-watchable live content.

YouTube is also doing what it can to fight the fake news epidemic, announcing a new partnership with Wikipedia. Very soon, when a user is watching a conspiracy video, information cues from the online encyclopedia will appear to counter the ideas being presented.

Hopefully, this will mean a safer space for brands, and way fewer people who believe the Earth is flat.

And that’s all for March! Come back next month for your regular dose of Stay Social.

Facebook’s Algorithm Change 2018: What it Means for You

Uh oh, it’s happening again! You may have heard about the changes to the Facebook algorithm that are rumoured to have HUGE ramifications for brands and advertisers. But what exactly are these changes and just how significant will their effect be? What impact will they have on the Facebook user experience and for your brand?

What are the changes?

The Newsfeed will be overhauled, prioritising content from user’s friends and family, as well as what is algorithmically deemed ‘quality’ news sources in an effort to eliminate ‘fake’ news.

This really isn’t any different to the way Facebook has been optimising content in the past (organic reach on Facebook has been steadily declining over the last few years anyway). But now, rather than seeing posts from brands, users will see more of their friend’s dinner pics and kitten photos. It will be more difficult for brands and publishers to get away with distributing poor content, and they will need to work harder (and smarter) to stay relevant.

As Mark Zuckerberg stated: “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.” Subsequently, a decrease in reach will also mean decrease in engagement rates.

Why is Facebook changing?

Facebook reports that users have been interacting with posts frequently and spending time mindlessly scrolling through the feed. Concerned that the time spent on Facebook was not “well spent” and therefore could be isolating to users, Facebook introduced the algorithm change to help increase social and community interaction again. Users also felt that they were not seeing enough content from friends and family. This is, in part, due to the explosion of brand and publisher content on Facebook in recent years (and how well some of it was performing!).

The algorithm update also represents Facebook’s attempt to curb alleged ‘fake news’ on the platform, for which it was criticised during the 2016 US election campaign. The sheer volume of popular posts from brands and the way users are consuming content on the platform (i.e. liking, reacting to or commenting on posts but not actually sharing content themselves) meant that actual user created content was decreasing. To ensure the survival of the platform, Facebook needed to make a change.

But… what can I do to combat this?!

The bottom line is: there’s no need to panic IF you are producing great content. The change won’t be drastic for brands who produce content that is relevant and engaging and aim to provoke meaningful reactions from users.

The bottom line is that brands will need to ensure that their content is above all else, engaging and that they’re not just ‘selling’ to consumers. Brands need to offer something deeper to the user experience.

Facebook has indicated that content that will be prioritised will be:

  • Live video
  • Local business events
  • Celebrities and star social media content creators

Unique content formats like 360-degree video could also play a larger role.

It’s possible that brand partnerships, collaborations and influencer marketing will also experience increased growth. At end of the day, brands who are creating interesting, unique and dynamic content will have better reach than those that don’t and these brand’s pages will continue to thrive as the changes come into play.

The new change has occurred in the US this week, and will be rolling out across the rest of the world in the next few months.

What do you think about the changes?

Ask us today for more information or ideas on how your business can combat Facebook’s algorithm change.

Stay Social: November Social Media Updates

It’s November! Summer is just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about your Christmas shopping (eeeep!). It also means that it’s time for your monthly roundup of all the top stories in social media marketing.

Facebook Stories. Facebook Stories Everywhere.

After stories took over Snapchat and Instagram, they arrived at Facebook. However, Facebook’s feature is being expanded in a way that’s far bigger than Instagram or Snapchat.

Facebook is adding Stories to both group and event pages. This new feature will allow users to share their stories privately, either within groups that they belong to or on the pages of events they are attending.

This is a huge opportunity for marketers to utilise user-generated-content and build their communities. Imagine creating brand event pages and asking users to upload their stories for the chance to win a prize, or simply to be featured on the event page?

Today, we’re excited to introduce the new Facebook camera. We think it’ll give everyone more ways to express themselves and share what they’re up to. So from now on, you can just let your camera do the talking.

Posted by Facebook on Monday, 27 March 2017

#Following on #Instagram

It’s fair to say many Instagram communities have been formed around hashtags- think #fitspiration, #fanart or even branded tags like #shareacoke.

Now, Instagram is introducing a feature that will allow users to follow their favourite hashtags. This means marketers have the opportunity to create campaigns and communities around specific hashtags, and measure success based on the number of followers and engagement with a specific hashtag.

The same hashtag problem persists even with the new feature – popular hashtags will have the most followers, but also the most users, meaning content could be drowned out. On the other hand, less popular hashtags will have fewer followers – a great opportunity for smaller brands and businesses to make themselves known.

Instagram’s latest feature provides marketers with a new way to measure sentiment. Think outside the box when it comes to measuring success- who is using your hashtag? How are they using your hashtag? These kinds of insights are essential for understanding how people feel about your brand or campaign.

More Room to Play on Twitter

Tweeters rejoice! 280-character posts on Twitter have now been rolled out for all users across the social media platform.

We’ve loved seeing how brands and users celebrated the new character limit, one of our favourite examples being Melville Books, who used all 280 characters to remind their followers exactly what it is they sell.

We can’t wait to see how brands and marketers will be using those additional 160 characters.

 

Snapchat Gets a New Look

It’s been a tough year for Snapchat. Since going public, the company has started to see a downward trend in its stock price, and that has prompted big changes to the mobile app.

These changes include a re-design of the app in order to make it more appealing to broader audiences. Their goal is to simplify the app after some feedback suggested the app isn’t all that user-friendly.

Snapchat will also be introducing an algorithmic feed. The algorithm will prioritise stories on user’s feeds, meaning friends and influencers they engage with the most will be shown at the top, rather than just showing all stories in reverse-chronological order.

Not only does this change force marketers to rethink how their content engages the audience, it also shifts how we rank and choose Snapchat influencers. Audience engagement will trump audience size as a metric of influencer success.

Do you find Snapchat’s current interface hard to use? Source: sketchappsources.com

And that’s it for November! Big changes are coming, so start thinking about how they can form part of your social media strategy next year.

Read next: Best Practices to Increase Your Social Media Conversions 

Stay Social: September Social Media Updates

Do you feel like you’re a little behind the eight ball with the latest social media updates? Tune into our monthly roundup of the biggest and best changes in social media.

Facebook Updates Business Manager

Facebook’s latest update for Ad’s Manager combines Power Editor with Ads Manager in a bid to make advertising on Facebook easier for businesses.

Facebook said in a statement:  “In the updated Ads Manager, people will automatically be opted in to the workflow they used in the past. And everyone will have the option to change their preferred workflow at anytime using a button in the top right of the ad creation window.”

Other features include single source reporting which combines “the comprehensive charts and activity history of Power Editor with the breakdowns, summary rows, date benchmarks, exported insights reports and the ability to customize columns from Ads Manager.” Finally, Power Power Editor’s automatic draft saver will be incorporated into the update- something we’re all glad for!

Instagram Expands the Grid

It was a month of testing for Instagram with lucky some users getting the chance to test some of the new features.

Users on Android devices will now be able to determine if someone is following them by looking at the person’s profile. This means you’ll no longer have to scroll through your follower list to see if your friends have followed you back, but rather just head to their profiles and look there.

Convenient? Yes.

Potential for awkward conversations? Also yes.

In a more controversial move, Instagram also seems to be testing a change in their three-grid system. Currently, photos displayed on a profile scroll down the page in rows of three, but some users are now seeing rows of four.

While this means you can fit more on your profile before having to scroll down, it also means that influencers and brands who curate their feeds according to three images in a row will have to edit their feeds or rethink their posting strategy.

What do you think of the new grid? Let us know in the comments below.

Snapchat Ads Get Fancy

Snapchat has announced new partnerships with creative and tech companies. These partners will focus on building ads to enhance the post-swipe-up experience and bring additional value to advertisers.

Whether it’s campaign-specific apps, mobile games, fillable lead-generation forms or 360 videos, each partner has a unique specialisation that can be leveraged by advertisers. This tactic might go a long way to helping users actually enjoy branded content on the platform.

Do you think Snapchat’s new approach to ads will help users enjoy and engage with branded content on the platform? Source: Curlate

YouTube takes big steps for its creators

This month YouTube announced changes to their Studio App, as well as the introduction of a user-sponsorship feature to make their platform more user-friendly.

Change no. 1: Studio App (previously called the Creator Studio) now allows creators to schedule the date and time they’d like their videos to go live on the site. They can also choose whether the video goes live as public, private or unlisted. This is huge from a strategic point of view- you can now target your audience in relevant micro-moments when they’re looking for information about a specific topic.

Change no. 2: YouTube has now opened a new feature to its users: the ability to pay a small subscription fee to a creator they like. This is currently only available to creators on the YouTube Gaming platform, but is in beta for the rest of the site.  

The change is designed to encourage community-building and regular content from creators.

Do you think it will work? Tell us in the comments below.

Read next: New Metrics of Success: Video Completion Rate & Watch Time

4 Reasons Why Ads for Instagram Stories are so Hot Right Now

Whether you’re trying to capture a Millennial audience or simply trying to build a more immediate connection with your audience, Instagram Stories are proving to be a key a key digital tool. 

Since May of this year, ads have been available on Instagram Stories with objectives beyond reach including video views, traffic, conversions and mobile app Installs. So on that note, we’ve complied some tips on how to use ads for Instagram Stories strategically in your next campaign.

Target practice

Social media managers rejoice, the same Facebook-powered targeting capabilities you enjoy on Instagram are available for ads for Instagram Stories, allowing you to leverage essential data for targeting.

The key difference is that you can apply existing targeting to reach an audience in the right mindset to engage with your brand. Your audience has to choose to view your Instagram story, so you’re essentially engaging with an audience who is looking for information about your brand. Pair this with relevant, engaging content and your onto a winner.

And the best part, this can be done at scale so you can tick off the brand awareness objective.

Awareness boost

Recently, Ben & Jerry’s ran a paid Instagram Stories campaign to promote their new ‘Pint Slices’ product. The campaign objective? Increased reach and brand awareness about the single-serve packaging of their new product.

Following the campaign, a Nielsen study found that Instagram Stories had increased the brand awareness by 6 points, lifted ad recall by 14 points and raised purchase intent by two points.

This campaign demonstrates that developing the right type of content to suit the Instagram Stories format is essential to success. The short, sharp and fun videos created for the campaign were perfectly suited to the ephemeral, ‘snackable’ nature of Instagram Stories.

Reporting

Beyond reach, brands can set up Instagram Stories ad campaigns to deliver for conversions, views, app installs and site traffic.

This means Instagram Stories ads can be used for a variety of campaigns beyond brand awareness campaigns, and for a variety of clients in industries beyond lifestyle, travel and food. We use Instagram Stories ads to promote one of our clients in the construction space, optimising the ads for site traffic. We have found that there is less competition in the space, meaning that cost per click is coming in at fraction of the price of our in-feed Instagram ads.

Share your brand story

Your audience craves authenticity, real time communications and transparency, and what better way to deliver an insight into your brand than through the immediacy of Instagram Stories?

The nature of Instagram Stories lends itself to “behind-the-scenes” content, so it’s a great way to share your brand identity with your audience.

We suggest using Instagram Stories to:

  • Provide audiences with an intimate look at company culture
  • Create behind-the-scenes content
  • Using video to developing engaging narratives, or perhaps series content
  • Establishing brand identity
  • Create teaser videos to preface new product launches
  • Develop live content

By effectively utilising Instagram Stories, brands get a chance to show off what sets them apart. 

Read this next: Should Facebook’s Advertising Practices be Regulated?

Why video content is the future of digital marketing

It’s quite fair to say that video is the future of digital marketing. Video is everywhere, and it’s only going to keep growing, with fifty percent of all mobile web traffic now being video.

Most of the major social networks, including Facebook and Twitter, have made major shifts towards the hosting and sharing of video on their websites. Users have also started shifting more and more time towards watching video over reading articles, with over 50% of people in the US watching videos on YouTube every day.

But this shift isn’t just due to social networks and their users – over time, video content has proven to be a very effective tool for brands, no matter what their objective.

How video can help your brand

If you’re looking to increase revenue or boost sales, according to ComScore, consumers are more likely to convert from video content than other media. In the best cases, the increase in conversions was as high as 64%.

Video is also a huge help when it comes to SEO, with Google heavily favouring videos and sites with video embedded video content. This means that 70% of the top 100 search results on Google are videos, and that’s made all the more compelling when you consider Moovly’s impressive figures: your site is 53% more likely to appear on Google first if there’s a video embedded on the page.

Thanks to its use of both sight and sound, video is also highly effective at creating a connection with audiences. Video’s use of image and sound can be particularly helpful in evoking an emotional reaction and, in doing so, brands have the ability to further increase recognition and loyalty.

And all those social networks shifting to video? Well, they each provide a deep set of video analytics that you’ll be able to use to get to know your audience better. It also means your customers can become your biggest advocates, with 76% of users saying they’d share a branded video if they enjoyed the content.

Making the right content for your audience

So, you’re sold on video, but don’t know how to go about it. Here’s a quick look at how a few brands are doing it right.

Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all now support video, however with crowded newsfeeds and features like auto-play, videos have to catch the eye of a user almost instantly. That’s why a lot of best content on these platforms is very short.

AirBNB’s #livethere content on Instagram is four seconds long, but gets its message across highly effectively. It shows a quick clip of somewhere beautiful and challenges its followers to live there.

Meanwhile, on Facebook, Buzzfeed’s Tasty page provides users with roughly one-minute long cooking how-to’s whose opening seconds get right into the cooking, with no time wasted on an intro. This strategy has proved highly successful, and the page now has just short of 80 million followers.

Of course, there’s also a place for longer content, and that is, without a doubt, YouTube. The site has tweaked its algorithms to favour promoting videos with longer watch-times (rather than higher view counts). As a result, it’s a great place for brands to drop content that comes in at a few minutes, rather than a few seconds. A recent hit in this category was H&M’s “Come Together” short by Wes Anderson.

There’s also a cheaper alternative to producing full-blown live-action video, and that’s animated explainer videos. These can basically serve as a video infographic that tells a viewer all about what your business is about, different functions of your brand or the benefits of a product. Vox, on YouTube, have a huge library of animated explainer videos that could serve as inspiration.

In the end, there are any number of ways you could go about crafting your video content – the key is finding the right fit for you.

 

Declaring war on Snapchat

Last night, Instagram announced that they are introducing a new feature on the platform: Instagram Stories. The announcement has come amidst a storm of controversy due to the fact that it bears such a striking resemblance (i.e. is exactly the same) as Snapchat. In fact, CEO of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, openly admits that Snapchat “deserve all the credit” for the concept of Instagram Stories.

Innovation or appropriation?

Systrom suggests “this isn’t about who invented something. This is about a format, and how you take it to a network and put your own spin on it.” He goes on to say that “the feed”, originally invented by Facebook, was then adapted for use by Linked In, Twitter and Instagram. He does raise a valid point. Innovation stems from inspiration from the environment around us which, in this case, is the current social media landscape. How directly Instagram took that inspiration though, is another case.

Moving into the firing range

Snapchat was founded in 2011 and was initially met with skepticism. When it launched, it was inconceivable that it would ever take off as a social media channel, let alone a fully-fledged digital advertising outlet or a means for brands to connect in a meaningful way with their audiences. However, it quickly gained in traction due to its unique and transitory sharing nature. It was appealing for young people to think that their private videos and messages couldn’t be shared afterwards to platforms like Facebook, which (once a domain for younger people itself) had morphed into somewhat of a public directory of peers, parents and colleagues. However Snapchat has grown rapidly in popularity over the last few years, is now worth over $19 billion and has released a number of advertising products, making it a major contender for Instagram.

What is Instagram Stories?

Instagram “Stories” lets you take a video or photo message, and allows users to edit it with basic paint-like text and drawing tools. It also is only available on your feed for 24 hours. Unlike regular posts, there is no capability to comment or like the message, and the “story” can be either sent privately to whomever you chose, or posted to all your friends on the platform at once. If all these features sound familiar, it’s because they are. In fact, the only major point of difference to Snapchat is that Instagram offers the capability to post the content on your wall so it can be shared and viewed, reducing the impermanence of the post.

Strangely, Instagram has taken no pains to really differentiate it’s offering from Snapchat, even down to the language it uses to describe the various features on its new feature. Even the word “story” is taken directly from Snapchat.

But is it “Insta-worthy?”

Instagram’s major drawcard has always been that it was a (more) premium product than other social media platforms, and it has always been an archive of high quality photography in a clean-and-simple format, akin to a glossy travel magazine. In the same token, the downside of the platform was that there was pressure for users to share only those “Insta-worthy” moments; those beautiful holiday photos, or perfectly crafted flat-lays. Meaning that people were sharing less, and the platform was losing traction in a world where people want to share more, more regularly. Instagram “Stories” solves that issue by transforming sharing to a more casual act, but still retaining the ability to still retain those “Insta-worthy” posts by saving them onto your wall.

“Lifecasting”: is this really the future?

It has become somewhat perplexing that we feel the desire to share every moment of our lives with others, every day. This need for “lifecasting” is probably one of the stranger phenomenons to evolve out of social media the last few years. There is an argument for increased connectivity through lifecasting, however this point becomes moot when you are, for example, out with friends or family Snapchatting your every movement in order to connect with other friends. The camera lens becomes a barrier to being present in the moment.

What does this mean for your brand?

The implications of Instagram Stories to its advertisers is not yet clear. The place of social media and digital connectivity is questionable for our combined futures. Are we moving forwards in new and exciting ways? Or is social media slowly edging its way into all the private moments that make up our lives in a farcical attempt to connect us more deeply?
Either way, brands need to get with the times. The alternative is to be left eating dust in the wake of other brands taking up new technology and social channels in ever-evolving, innovative ways.

Want to stay ahead of the trends?

Get our really useful (non-annoying) emails