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UEFA Champions League Final Gets Social

UEFA Champions League Final goes Social

BT Sport has claimed that tomorrow’s all­-Spanish UEFA Champions League final will be the “most social sports broadcast ever”. The network will be introducing a live­-stream of the game to social media, giving us an insight into the future of sports broadcasting…

Social media was always going to play a far more active part in the broadcasting of sports. How could it not? As more and more users turn to social media to view video content over traditional televisual media, broadcast media agencies have been well aware of the need to expand their distribution techniques in order to reach their audience where they are.

Social networking is the preferred method of media discovery and communication for millions of people across the globe. Now it seems that the broadcasting authorities have cottoned on to that fact. Finally a major sporting event will be live­streamed on social networking!

How BT Sport will be utilising social media

Tomorrow's final between Real Madrid and Athletico Madrid will be broadcast live across a wide variety of media, including the BT Sport YouTube channel. The company made the decision in order to maximise the amount of people who could watch the game, and also as an effort to re engage younger people by meeting them where they are.

BT Sport will also be using a whole host of other social networks in a variety of different ways. For example they will be using Facebook Live for interactive interviews with Rio Ferdinand and Owen Hargreaves, Snapchat for behind the scenes footage, and also sharing live match action clips via Twitter.

Chief Executive of BT Consumer John Petter had this to say:

“We’ve always said we wanted to give top quality sport back to the people and making the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals free to everyone in the UK does this in a big way… We’re also bringing BT Sport to a new generation of younger sports fans who view their entertainment online, through social media and on their mobile devices. We plan to make these finals the most social sports broadcast ever, with lots of exciting content in the build­up and on the night across YouTube, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Vine.”

The rise of video and live streaming on social media

Social networks have put a significant amount of time and effort into expanding their video ad capabilities over the past few years and it’s now obvious that these have seriously paid off. Social media experts have been saying all along that the future of social media in lies in video and in­ particular live video content. Now it could be that the future has arrived.

Sports is an incredibly lucrative industry that boasts huge fan bases, all with significant purchasing power. The fact that they are paving the way in utilising social for live broadcasting certainly suggests that the future is in social media! What are your thoughts? Get in touch via @GiraffeSM!

4 Big Changes Lurking Behind Instagram’s Code

What's hiding behing Instagram's code

A look behind Instagram’s code has revealed some game­changing unpublished features. The image­sharing social network will soon be bringing analytics to businesses profiles ­- but it turns out that may not be the only feature social media marketers can look forward to…

The potential changes were discovered by Elliott Murray, head of innovation at Social Chain, when he decompiled code from the latest version of the app. The recent update was clearly a prelude to the network swaying towards more monetisable features in line with their growing user base among business users, and was met with widespread criticism (we, however, rather liked it).

It is then somewhat unsurprising that when Murray looked behind Insta’s code he found four different boolean variables that give an awesome insight into future features. Boolean data is a data type that has two values, commonly true and false, which can control flow of different actions. As of yet, these new Instagram features haven’t been activated.

Murray documented his findings on a post to Medium, each of which can be found below…

1. can_boost_post: This will be a common statement for any Facebook business users. This variable suggests that soon Instagram will be offering the same option ­ a paid boost that will allow their content to reach more users.

2. can_see_organic_insights: Instagram scheduling app Later recently leaked a selection of screenshots of what Instagram’s upcoming analytics will look like. As there is a specific label for ‘organic’ insights, this could suggest that regular users will be able to view the analytics interface alongside businesses paying for ads.

3. can_convert _to_business: Much like Facebook, this variable suggests that the social network will soon be differentiating between users and business pages. This should come as no surprise to social marketers when you consider what the update meant for the network. Whether that migration will be voluntary or mandatory is yet unclear.

4. show_insights_terms: Insights terms include reach, views, engagement rate, impressions and other such examples of specific analytical data. Clearly the network want to give strategists exactly what they want - access to some serious data.

Powerful social media management tools for small businesses

Free social media management tools for small businesses

By now we are all well aware of the importance of social media for small businesses. As a community building tool at heart, it can be a crucial tool for building an engaged, quality audience. But while small businesses are certainly the ones who stand to gain the most from social media marketing, they are also the ones who could find themselves losing out the most if their time and resources aren’t used wisely...

If you don’t leverage social media marketing with the right tools it’s easy to let yourself get carried away and your time wasted. Where small businesses are concerned, the pace is often pretty fast moving; so making the most of the small time you have allocated to social media marketing is of paramount importance.

With the sheer amount of users now, marketing decisions have to be data­-driven to make a difference. There are a variety of free tools out there that can help small businesses to get the most from their time and the best possible results. Here are some of our favourites…

Socialrank

Socialrank is a simple to use platform that allows you to identify, organise and manage both Twitter and Instagram followers. It will help to give you a better understanding of who your best followers are and what they are about. With the use of filters you can see, amongst other things, who your most engaged and influential followers are.

Coschedule

Content driven social media marketing is a recipe for success and we’re all about that here at Giraffe. Coschedule analyses and gives quality scores on the strength of article titles and headlines in relation to social media engagement, particularly shares. It will also determine the likelihood that a blog title will be beneficial to your SEO.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is the preferred social media management tool of millions that allows you to schedule, engage with and grow your audience across all of your social networks from one place. It also offers social analytics. Free features are limited but there is a selection of affordable pro plans available.

Canva

We can’t recommend Canva enough for image editing. Absolutely everyone in the office makes use of it to create professional graphics for social media posts. It’s simple, easy to use and comes with a whole host of pre­packaged graphics and features, alongside a great range of fonts.

Pixabay

If Canva is the sword of Giraffe Social Media, Pixabay is the shield. This website offers over 640,000 images all under Creative Commons CC0 ­ which means you can do absolutely anything you like with them, even use them for commercial use, and you won’t have to attribute a soul.

Later

Marketed as “The simpler way to plan your visual content marketing”, Later is a scheduling tool for Instagram that allows users to schedule and manage their posts ahead of time. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks and if you can afford to tear yourself away from instantly uploading your pictures, Later allows you to spread out and create a steady stream of content.

Website Grader

Hubspot’s Website Grader gives a full report on the strength of your marketing efforts across all of your digital channels, including social media, content and SEO. Great if you're strapped for time and in search of immediate direction.

Uprank

Uprank is an advanced research tool that analyses and provides data on the strength of your brand’s digital marketing, including website architecture, SEO and social media. It then generates a digital marketing strategy tailored to your site in the form of comprehensive tasks.

AdParlor

AdParlor lets you create free mockups of ads for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, giving you a better idea of what your finished campaigns would look like to users on these networks. Features allow you to re­use your most commonly used social media profiles to help save time when creating mockups. This tool also gives you a great understanding over whether your images are compliant with Facebook’s text guidelines.

Facebook Tweaks Trending Topics in Reponse to Bias Claims

Facebook Trending Topics Bias Claims

Facebook have denied claims of a left wing political bias in their trending topics section, but have pledged to improve the feature regardless. On Monday, in both a press release and a direct letter to the chairman of the US senate commerce committee, the social networking giant claimed that the allegations were directly contrary to their mission.

Colin Stretch of the Facebook General Counsel announced yesterday, via the Facebook Newsroom, that the social network had found “no evidence of systematic political bias” in the systems that the ‘trending topics’ feature uses. He then went on to explain how their data analysis had “indicated that conservative and liberal topics are approved as trending topics at virtually identical rates."

The allegations were originally brought to media attention on the 9th May when Gizmodo posted an article entitled “Former Facebook Workers: We Routinely Suppressed Conservative News”.

How do trending topics work?

Trending topics appear in the upper­right hand side of Facebook. They exist as a stand­alone feature which allows users to discover current, popular news content which is both meaningful and has been approved as worthy of their time. To allow them to do this, Facebook use a combination of a system of algorithms based on how users interact with each piece of content, as well as the contributions of physical staff.

The allegations appear to have been based on the latter of these two identifiers, with headlines suggesting that staff at the network actively suppress conservative news. However, in the press release, Stretch confirmed that they [Facebook] were “unable to substantiate any of the specific allegations of politically-motivated suppression of particular subjects or sources”, having “initiated an investigation into the policies and practices around Trending Topics to determine if anyone working on the product acted in ways that are inconsistent with [their] policies and mission”. Regardless, they still concluded that they were unable to “fully exclude the possibility of isolated and improper actions or unintentional bias”, and have announced one or two changes to try and minimise the risk of these occurrences.

Full details of their updates, which include additional training, guidelines and controls for their news review team, as well as no longer relying on external sources to substantiate the importance of topics, can be found on the fb newsroom.

Should You Consider Snapchat For Your Business?

Snapchat for business

Since its creation as an iOS­only app called Picaboo, Snapchat has evolved into one of the most popular social networks for younger people. However, its popularity has always been somewhat tarred where businesses are concerned because of its slightly risqué history. Is it finally time for you to consider using it to market your business?

With such a wide variety of social networks around, businesses are now in a very interesting position where digital marketing is concerned. In the past the digital path to the consumer was far less complicated. Nowadays there is such a broad variety of possibilities that a huge amount of consideration has to go into where a company’s audience is located. Alongside this, each network has its own parameters surrounding the type of content that can be posted ­ and not all content is suitable for reaching all users.

The first thing to consider where Snapchat is concerned is whether the user base is going to be a good fit for your audience profile. There’s no use hashing out potential content unless it is clear that it could actually reach the consumer.

Who uses Snapchat and who could it be useful for?

Snapchat’s user base is predominantly younger. According to Statistica around 52% of active logged in users occupy the 16­24 age range, and 35% of the remainder are under 34. Therefore it would be a good idea to deduce that perhaps the network is only really suitable for businesses looking to market to Millennial users.

The style of content that you share on the network would depend entirely on the kind of story that you want to purvey to your audience. However a big case can be made for the power of transmedia storytelling for brands who want to reach a younger audience. Therefore it would be a good idea to consider how your Snapchat content could play into your broader media brand story.

If the Snapchat user base is right for your brand, here are some reasons why it’s worth considering marketing on the network…

Simply target your campaigns

Snapchat allows you to simply target your campaigns to reach your audience. Although they aren’t as advanced as other social networks, tools like Geofilters allow you to send your promotion to users close to your business.

Your audience is already incredibly mobile

We’re all well aware of the importance of mobile amongst all user bases now. For Millennial users and younger users, that mobile is even more important. Using Snapchat could allow you to reach your audience on their device of preference, streamlining your brand story.

Video content is very engaging

Snapchat was made for video content. This is a style of content that naturally receives a tonne of engagement from users. Unlike other social networks where ads may be resized to fit into a newsfeed, Snapchat is a network that your videos can shine on.

The finite nature of content

Because Snapchat content is finite by nature, this can be incredibly useful when marketing promotions. You can use your videos to boost sales by providing access to exclusive, limited offers to your followers ­ a great sell to get building your audience.

If the user base is a good fit for your audience, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t consider Snapchat for your business. Can you really afford to overlook one of the fastest growing networks out there?

Mountain Climbers Document their Everest Ascent on Snapchat

Mountain climbers document their ascent up Mount Everest

If you thought the influence of finite content sharing network Snapchat stopped at college, you’ve obviously never climbed a mountain. Two mountain climbers have been documenting their ascent up Mount Everest on Snapchat ­ and the results have been nothing short of tremendous.

The professional mountain climbing duo Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards have been creating what has been described as the world’s first serious Snap­umentary. The two are members of the Eddie Bauer Athlete team and have been documenting the journey on their Snapchat account ‘EverestNoFilter.’

Looking out from the “death zone”

The duo left base camp on Thursday and recently, after climbing nearly 25,000 feet, found themselves battered by a serious storm with winds approaching 50 miles an hour. With bodies battered and starved of oxygen, they considered turning back. However just one day afterwards decided to continue pushing on to over 26,000 feet. This elevation is more commonly known as “The Death Zone.” Here’s what Richards had to say…

“As you go higher your body just simply can’t regenerate, and every minute spent above that altitude puts you ­ without trying to be too dramatic here ­ puts you closer to death. The margin for error drops to zero. If you screw up, you die… we need, without oxygen, to never stop moving. If we stop moving we’ll freeze.”

The two are regularly checking in with a doctor via radio at basecamp who is ensuring they sound okay and are eating regularly to keep their strength up.

A serious story for Snapchat

The climb has been one of Snapchat’s most serious stories so far in the network’s history. The two have been sharing daily video entries that capture all the aspects of mountain climbing ­ from mundane yet crucial activities like maintaining body heat and watching American Horror Story on Ballinger’s phone at an altitude of 25,000 feet, to jaw dropping vistas from the mountain side...

Cory Richards was named National Geographic Adventurer of the Year in 2012, when he captured his surviving of an Avalanche in a documentary called Cold. He believes that social media absolutely has a part to play in the sharing of adventures.

“I’ve captured content in just about every beautifully quiet corner of the world ­ bringing access to my adventures to so many. But through new innovations in social media, those adventures are now even more raw, unfiltered and in 100 percent real­time and that’s exhilarating.”

Live Streaming: Things to consider before going live with your brand

Things to consider before live streaming with your brand

With YouTube and Facebook leaping to join Twitter’s Periscope on the live streaming bandwagon, there’s never been a better time to rethink how you actively build your network on social media. For B2C companies, creating content that is aspirational, emotional and above all else entertaining is key - and live streaming can give you a fresh platform to achieve those goals.

Widespread smartphone technology and the development of untethered data exchange has made live streaming far more accessible than it was in the past, both for consumers and for brands. Bear in mind that while it may feel like live streaming represents a new era of instant in an era when we already had instant in the first place, it isn’t. The possibilities haven’t been stretched where marketing is concerned - rather made simpler and more achievable.

There’s nothing really new about live streaming

It sounds ridiculous to talk about something like live streaming - something that has been around for years, but the primary function for these features is as yet undetermined. Therefore, if live streaming wasn’t the driving force behind your digital marketing a year ago, it’s unlikely to be so now. Rather you should use it to compliment your current social media strategy - at least until such a time when its purpose becomes clearer.

Before you get started utilising live streaming apps and features on existing networks, there are one or two questions that need to be answered…

Who will be around to watch your content?

You need to get very detailed about your audience persona, and where live streaming is concerned. That means being realistic about who will watch your content. This kind of careful consideration will help you to define your live voice, the sort of content that you should be streaming and when you should be streaming. It’s no use to start a normal day at work if your audience aren’t at that point in a position where they are able to tune in.

Remember, work only really stops for one thing, and that’s a World Cup Final. Unless you have the budget to create your own football league, you are better off streaming at a time when your audience are around.

How are you going to make a story worth watching?

For social media users to consider engaging with a company’s video content it needs to offer them a significant amount of value. The days of peddling your wares on a megaphone are long gone. Social media storytelling transcends your business, your brand and sometimes even your products. Therefore you need to be realistic about whether what you are streaming is actually worth your audience's time.

This calls for a considered approach towards analysing what you can realistically achieve. Remember that you are trying to compliment your current strategy, not completely overhaul it. There may be versions of video content that you’ve been successful with for ages that could benefit from being repackaged as live streams.

How will you promote your stream?

Working out which social network your audience is most engaged on will normally have the biggest impact on deciding which live streaming platform to use, but consider how you will connect and promote your stream across all networks. More importantly, define how you want your audience to talk about the stream in order to promote a wider conversation with your brand at the centre. This dialogue is what your brand will ultimately benefit from.

What is the ultimate aim of streaming?

What do you want to achieve from live streaming? Okay, it’s fairly obvious that building brand awareness will be way up there, but what sort of action do you want to spur your viewers into taking after you finish streaming? If it’s sales of a product then that product will need to be used in a favourable light during your stream, but bear in mind that social media users don’t deal well with sales pitches.

Live streaming gives users an instant snapshot into another world - that’s what makes live content so enticing to them. Quite often the brands that get the best results on digital marketing are the ones who take the time to actively evolve their communications systems with social networks. Make that success yours!

Twitter Stop Including Images and URLS in 140 Character Count

Twitter discount images and URLs from 140 character count

Founder and CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey has made yet another move in a bid to help the network stand up among it’s competitors by allowing images and URLs to be discounted from the iconic 140 character count. Although a minor change it is nevertheless one that represents a departure from the “internet of words” and has been well received by users - many of whom are agog that it’s taken this long…

Until now when Twitter users included a photo, GIF or URL in their tweets, regardless of Twitter shortening links, 23 precious characters have already been used up, leaving them with only 117 characters for their actual message. This means that yet another layer of restriction is added to their already restrictive 140 character count.

The move to discontinue factoring URLs and images is a welcome one as it represents an understanding of social media’s having evolved from a primarily text-based medium to one that is awash, and indeed enriched, with a variety of different styles of content.

It’s unclear just how much of an impact the change will have on re-engaging Twitter’s dwindling user base but either way it certainly brings an air of the network tidying up what were originally their defining features. This is a change from completely departing from them which has been evident in some of their more controversial changes.

Good news for all users - but Twitter, please don’t go any further…

Relaxing the character count allows brands and businesses to share their content and gives them bigger leeway to share a richer, more evocative story. However, as social media powerhouses Facebook and YouTube begin to muscle in on the world of live streaming (a style of content that Twitter has quite openly been relying upon as a driving force for the network’s success), there is a distinct possibility that this could be expanded further down the line.

As avid Twitter users, we are urging the network not to depart further from the 140 character count than this! The character count is a defining factor in Twitter communication and doing so would cause them to lose their USP.

Photo Source: By Rosaura Ochoa [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Meet the Team: Jerri Cook

Jerri Cook Senior Business Development Manager

We’re proud of our team at Giraffe Social Media! And why wouldn’t we be - it’s those little individualities that help make our team stronger and more diverse, and when we work together we constantly achieve the best for our clients.

We’d love for you to meet some of us - up today; senior business development manager, Jerri Cook…

Hello there Jerri! Tell us about yourself and what you do here at Giraffe?

Hello Mark. My name is Jerri and I’m senior business development manager here at Giraffe. I help to develop ideas for new clients who want to expand their digital presence and succeed on social media. I’m also the second oldest - which nobody lets me forget.

Have you worked here long?

We are just coming up to my two year anniversary here and it’s been amazing seeing the vast changes over that small amount of time.

What do you love most about being part of Giraffe Social Media?

It’s fantastically rewarding to genuinely help businesses achieve great results while being part of such a strong and fun team. I also get to play with Pokemon figurines and listen to angsty teen music, which is just great.

What’s your favourite social network and why?

I’m a devoted Facebook user myself, predominantly because it has my widest network on it and it allows me to connect with friends and family.

Now let’s get serious. What’s the theme song to your life and why?

Errrm… Oh my gosh… Cacharpaya by the eighties South American tribal band Incantation. Because it’s just a fun, feel good, fantastic tune. I challenge anybody to listen to it and not agree with me. The addition of alcohol may assist.

What do you like to think you’d be doing if you weren’t here at Giraffe?

I’d love to think I’d be working for the RSPCA as I really love animals.

What was the best era for music and why?

It’s too hard to choose. Anything from eighties up to early 2000s! But if I had to choose I’d probably go with the 90s - because I grew up with it.

What three things would you take with you to a desert island?

Okay. I have the survival skills of a bluebottle next to an open window so these are completely impractical. I would take chocolate, my phone, and a mains plug. And hope for the best. Desert islands have electricity right?... Oh no, I’d definitely need to take my cuddly toy Jimmy the Bunny because I’m nearing 30 and still can’t sleep without him.

What are you waiting for somebody to invent and what would you do with it?

Calorie free chocolate! What would I do with it? EAT IT IN AMPLE QUANTITIES OF COURSE!

What’s your favourite favourite?

Ahh! That’s hard! I would say Peep Show at the moment...

Finally, how do you like your eggs in the morning?

Boiled eggs and soldiers... Actually that’s not true - eggs should not be eaten in the morning, unless with a fry up. Give me chocolate instead.

Twitter’s Cortex are Developing a Livestream Scanning Algorithm

Twitter Develop Live Stream Scanning Algorithm for Periscope

With the help of Twitter’s Cortex, Periscope could soon be able to scan and identify the content within live streams. Twitter have created a new system using a deep learning algorithm which allows it to categorise a selection of different streams. Intended to help deliver an increasingly seamless and advanced discovery experience for users, the new technology could potentially also help to rid the network of unsavoury content…

Twitter’s Cortex is a team of engineers, data scientists and machine learning researchers who focus on developing ease of discovery and systems which reflect the users and content on their products. They first unveiled this new live streaming scanning technology to MIT Technology Review, managing to successfully scan and categorise 24 live streams.

Over recent years researchers have been successful in developing algorithms that identify and categorise content within stationary images and photographs. Twitter’s Cortex are the first to have substantially made progress in the development of products that can do this for live videos. Live streams are particularly tricky due to the constantly altering nature of the content within them and also the variance in video quality. This is how MIT Technology Review described the technology:

            “Twitter effectively built a custom supercomputer made entirely of graphics processing units (GPUs) to perform the video classification and serve up the results. These chips are especially efficient for the mathematical calculations required for deep learning, but normally they are just on part of a larger computer system… The Cortex team has ambitions to develop a sophisticated recommendation system to help filter and curate all sorts of content shared through the service, based on a user’s previous activity.”

What could the new scanning algorithm be used for?

The team’s primary intentions for the algorithm is to help develop content discovery on the network, such as search within the app. Although the project is in it’s early stages, live streaming is becoming increasingly prominent in the world of social networking, and so the development of search and discovery tools such as these will eventually become incredibly important. The algorithm could also prove very useful for tackling the issue of “dark” content in the network, something that has been all over media recently.

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