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Are We Moving Toward Standardised Social Media?

Standardisation of Social Media

Social networks are trying harder than ever to offer what their rivals offer. Users are finding that whenever a new feature pops up somewhere, soon enough something inherently similar materialises on all of the others. So what’s the deal, guys? Are we moving towards standardised social media?

It’s around this time that a great deal of marketers come out of the woodwork and begin to lay down their predictions for next year's social media trends. In the past this has often come in the guise of leaked features and forecasts on what new aspects each network will focus on developing in the coming months. But throughout 2016 social networks’ developmental priorities have changed in a way that is so glaringly obvious it has, for the large part, gone unnoticed.

What we’re seeing, whether as a momentary trend or a glimpse into the future of social networking, is the standardisation of social media sites. This has come in the guise of products that would have been considered a single network niche a few years ago, being slightly altered and assimilated by others. Here are a few of the most obvious examples:

  • Facebook delivering trending topics in a way that is very reminiscent of the way that news is delivered on Twitter.
  • Twitter expanding its character count to allow users to express more in posts reminiscent of those on Facebook.
  • Snapchat introducing Memories, an update that took it fully out of it’s “disappearing content” niche and aligned it with Instagram’s more permanent capabilities.
  • Instagram introducing Stories, and more recently ephemeral direct content, both features that are nigh-on the same as what originally made Snapchat popular.
  • Facebook giving disappearing content a go for themselves in a test for Messenger.
  • Facebook introducing Facebook Live little after Twitter assimilated Periscope into itself.
  • Instagram hopping on the live content bandwagon with an ephemeral twist in its latest update.

Even YouTube has started to expand in this way by testing community features including the posting of text and visual content; which is what Facebook first did before it was suddenly able to do a whole other heap of things as well. YouTube is likely to cling tight to its position as prime video-sharing site above social network as we delve into 2017 - but it seems even they couldn’t resist the tide of casual thievery that has become all-too-common this year.

While as yet no one network has been totally honest with us about their updates (they’re still opting for “we’re expanding the way users can connect with one another” over “people seem to like this sort of feature on Snapchat so we thought we’d give it a try”), little has been more obvious to marketers throughout 2016.

The big four get physical

The sites that are stepping on each others toes here are the current forerunners in the world of social networking - Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Each of these social media giants have, to varying degrees of success (sorry Twitter), invested this year into becoming the social network. For a while, everybody was content to believe that that was Facebook - and it certainly is at the moment - but the internet is a strange a wondrous place so who knows what could happen in the future if standardised social media really is where we are headed.

Let’s be clear here. There are reasons we haven’t seen Periscope throw on advanced business advertising tools or Reddit offer live streaming - the former because it is primarily an app with one capability, the latter because… well, because it’s Reddit and it does what it likes. These aren’t competing in the same way that the big four are - or, at least, they aren’t yet.

What is concerning is that the big four could be cultivating an aura of expectation within users for certain features. While it might not be immediate, there may well come a point when each new site has to conform to a conventional framework in order to be considered a viable network.

“But seriously, where should I post that?”

Standardised social media is looking increasingly inevitable - at least among the most popular networks. Branding, marketing and personal preference have become the primary reasons why users invest in one over another. With the expansion of features, when it comes to the question “where should I post that?” the answer is no longer simple. Really it comes down to where your audience is, where you are established, and where trends and discussions within your industry are common.

Obviously, certain types of content still lend themselves well to certain networks, as do certain outcomes. For example, if you’re looking for click-throughs then Instagram is still next to useless. But if you’re looking for reach and brand awareness, its influence can be enormous.

Is standardised social media becoming a reality? Tweet us your thoughts - @GiraffeSM.

Instagram Live Video & Ephemeral Direct Messaging

Instagram Live Video Update

As one half of a two-part major update, Instagram live video capabilities have begun rolling out with an ephemeral twist on Stories to users globally. The new feature comes alongside yet another Snapchat-esque addition that allows users to send disappearing photos and videos as direct messages.

The announcement of Instagram live video was made in a post on the official Instagram Blog. More detailed information about how to use these new features has also been added to the Instagram Help Center, giving users simple step-by-step instructions on how to use Instagram live video and share ephemeral content on Instagram Direct.

The fact that live video would soon be coming to Instagram was originally hinted at by CEO Kevin Systrom at the beginning of the month. At that point, little indication was given as to how long users would have to wait before these features arrived; apparently far less time than expected.

Instagram has been steadily adding more and more features that resemble those on rival network Snapchat for the past few months. These have likely been a bid to entice more Snapchat users (typically young adults and teenagers) away and onto Instagram. The image sharing network has experienced major growth in the past year, but a larger percentage of this growth has been outside the US where younger users are clinging desperately to its rival.

Instagram have this to say about the update - we have added a few personal translations to it in bold brackets to give you a better idea of what might be going on:

    “In August, we introduced Instagram Stories as a way to share all the moments of your day, not just the ones you want to keep on your profile [and to steal back all those pesky kids from our nemeses over at Snap]. We’ve seen stories open up a new side of what people share on Instagram [because they can’t be bothered to switch to Snapchat anymore when the same features are already there for them], and now over 100 million people use it every day [so our takeover has, so far, been fruitful]... you’ll soon have two more ways to share freely and in the moment.”

Joking aside, Instagram are following the tide of the most successful social networks in expanding their video capabilities and embracing live content - something that has experienced major growth in popularity throughout 2016.

In this day and age, key social networks have to ensure they envisage and expand with user’s developing preferences. Facebook has taken this to a new level this year; barely a day goes by when they aren’t trialing a new potential feature. Unlike Twitter who only recently discovered what QR codes are.

How Much Should Marketers Rely on Facebook Metrics?

Facebook Metrics Marketers

It’s not unlike Facebook to update the way they report insights to marketers. As the variety of content capabilities grow, the ability to accurately convey Facebook metrics becomes increasingly complicated. Couple that with periodical algorithmic changes and the challenge becomes even bigger.
Instances of widespread errors in their reporting are now not uncommon - so just how much weight should marketers put on Facebook metrics?

The short answer is a lot. As the world’s leading social networking site that commands a significant chunk of the marketing budget of most of the world’s biggest brands, Facebook has a duty to get it right in order to justify the pricing of their services. The trouble is, there can often be discrepancies between what should be regarded as high-enough engagement levels to be considered a reputable return on investment. Especially on a site where regular activity varies so immensely from user to user.

Take the recent miscalculations to Facebook video views for example. Back in September the social network admitted to considering a video as “viewed” when a user had only watched 3 seconds of it. Understandably, while Facebook confirmed that they were not overcharged during the time the issue was active, many advertisers still took issue with this kind of reporting as they considered it misleading.

Facebook focus on enhancing and updating reporting

The video metrics blunder was a mistake that required immediate rectification. What we can take from it that is refreshing is Facebook’s approach. They are willing to be open to mistakes and communicate how they are constantly updating the way they provide metrics to marketers. It seems they are comfortable to take a stance on metrics that reflects their emphasis on development of features for users - of which there has been a great deal in past months - the subject of another article entirely.

The latest batch of updates focused on a number of different areas including Organic Reach, Apps and Video reporting. It’s important to note that Facebook have made it clear that they “do not bill clients on the potential under-reporting/over-reporting metric issues” that have been uncovered.

Alongside the announcement of these updates, Facebook made a pledge to provide regular and clear communication on their metrics, stating that they were developing more measurement solutions with their clients and expanding third-party verification of their reported data to even more partners. This will include Nielsen for video and Facebook Live.

Let’s look at each of the latest updates in-depth:

Organic reach metric updates

Facebook flagged a bug in Pages dashboards that caused one reach summary number to be miscalculated as “a simple sum of daily reach instead of de-duplicating repeat visitors over those periods”. This was a small bug that didn’t affect the vast majority of other organic reach data. What is interesting however is that Facebook have pledged to make reporting of organic reach on Facebook metrics closer to that of paid content. 

This change will make it likely that marketers’ organic reach will be on average 20% lower. This can be expected in the coming months. While numbers will be lower, they will nevertheless hold far more weight and provide more reliable foundations for those looking to build organic growth through original content marketing.

“On Pages, we’ve historically defined reach as a person refreshing their News Feed and the post being placed in their feed. For paid ads reports, we’ve moved to a stricter definition that only counts reach once the post enters the person’s screen (“viewable impressions”).”

Measuring video completions

Measuring video completions has been a tricky obstacle for Facebook, owing to the fact that the length of a video can differ by a fraction on different devices when the audio and video tracks don’t line up. Having an accurate understanding of video completions is very important, especially at a time when social media video marketing is held in such high regard. Facebook are updating how they analyse video completions as a result:

“Moat found and reported it [this issue] to us. We are now updating how we read the video length to address this issue. This may result in roughly a 35% increase in the count of “video watches at 100%.””

Measuring time spent on Instant Articles

The social network have stated that time spent on Instant Articles has been over-reported on Facebook metrics at an average of 7-8% since August last year. If you are unfamiliar with them, Instant Articles are a tool for publishers that uses the same technology used to display photos and videos quickly within the app in order to give users a faster and more responsive reading experience, reducing the likelihood of them abandoning the article after clicking.

“This [miscalculation of time spent] was caused by a calculation error: we were calculating the average across a histogram of time spent, instead of reflecting the total time spent reading an article divided by its total views. We have now fixed this issue.”

Measuring app referrals

Facebook also announced that Referrals within Facebook Analytics for Apps dashboard had been miscalculated, taking into account clicks that didn’t go directly to an app or website. This will likely come as significant annoyance to users whose primary strategy focuses on app promotion; in order to best understand the value of each hit, they will want to weigh up referrals next to downloads.

“Out of the [app] referrals we currently report, on average about 30% are actually clicks to consume content on Facebook. For power users of this metric (top apps that look at this data in the dashboard most frequently), we found that referrals have been overstated by approximately 6% on average. Other measurements of referrals, such as those appearing in Facebook’s ads reporting tools, are unaffected.”

Follower counts affected as Interest Lists dropped

Remember Interest Lists? Introduced back in 2012, they allowed users to follow and organise particular types of content so that they had more control over their News Feed. The feature never took off and as a result Facebook have decided to retire it. Although not a feature within Facebook metrics, this nevertheless may result in certain users seeing a drop in follower counts depending on whether or not they engaged with or were featured in lists.

“The impact to profile follower counts will vary, depending on the number of interest lists the profile created and was featured in. Most profiles will see a drop in followers of less than 5%.”

Clarifications to metrics

At the end of the post, Facebook announced updates to the process of reporting that will help clarify details and make reports easier to understand. These will include more descriptive names, such as the re-labelling of “video views” to “3-second video views”, clarifications to calculations of certain metrics, regulated definitions that are more consistent across-board, and better categorisation for marketers to customise their reports. These can all be explored in full detail on this post on Facebook’s business centre.

Placing weight on metrics

In conclusion, so long as Facebook continue in their willingness to hold themselves accountable for the information they report, marketers should have little concern about placing weight on metrics. In the grand scheme, social media has grown at such an exponential rate that tools such as these have had to catch up.

There will always be certain issues and aspects of Facebook metrics that are hazy. The trick is to stay alert and aware of updates so that you don’t get caught out or taken aback by sudden changes to your reports.

Check out the Infographic below...

[Infographic] Facebook Metrics Updates

Twitter Introduces User-specific QR Codes

Twitter Introduces QR Codes

Twitter has now introduced QR codes for its iOS and Android apps, and as yet, nobody is entirely sure why. Very much in the same vein of Snapchat, the new feature allows users to directly follow users by scanning QR codes linked to their profiles.

The new feature is a very simple concept, especially when you consider that it is one that Snapchat have been making use of for quite a long time now. It was announced yesterday in a tweet by Brittany Forks, a designer at Twitter.

The new feature seems to be confirmation that Twitter are more than content to join in on the latest social media craze of ‘doing what Snapchat do’. You don’t have to look far to see that many social networks have been adopting this model, most notably with Instagram adding their finite Stories feature. Not that we are knocking stories - on the contrary, we believe they can be a great tool for building your strategy and expanding your content. Check out our Instagram Stories how-to guide here.

Twitter’s QR codes have been slightly less well received than similar expansions on Snapchat’s models. The reason for this seems fairly simple. They are, for all intents and purposes, rather hidden away. On iOS they can be found by navigating to your profile, tapping the gear icon and then “QR code”. On Android the path is slightly different - navigate to either the “...” menu on your profile.

Obviously the encouragement is for users to share their QR code elsewhere and limit the amount of investment it takes by others to follow them. The issue is that in order to make use of them this user has to return to the same place in order to bring up the QR code scanner. So it could potentially be easier to just search for the user and follow them manually.

QR codes are widely used as a tool to follow users on Snapchat. They are also available on Messenger but not at all popular - which is likely to be the case for Twitter too, simply because users have been fine without them so far.

Live Video is Coming to Instagram


Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has confirmed that live video will be coming to the social network. Although there is no indication yet as to when these features will arrive, reports have suggested that live broadcasts will appear within users’ Stories carousels.

At the beginning of the year many were citing 2016 as a new era of live video - although we had technically already had live video streaming for a great deal of years. The widespread availability of Smartphone technology has made it easier and and more accessible for users to take advantage of new social networking features.

It was really only a matter of time before Instagram got involved - especially when you consider the significant developments to its capabilities throughout the second half of the year. These have included curated video channels, the addition of Stories and more recently the testing of enhanced e-commerce capabilitiesSystrom confirmed the development of lives streaming implementation in an interview with the Financial Times.

Live is really exciting for us. I think it can enhance what we’re doing. If I’m trying to strengthen relationships with someone I love, them streaming video to me live would be an amazing way to be closer to them.

There’s is currently little indication whether or not, or even how, live streaming on Instagram will tie in with Facebook. Photos posted on Instagram are often shared directly through to Facebook, but not the other way around. In this way, traditionally it has been something of an add-on, support network. However, if one thing is for sure Instagram is getting serious and way more substantial a player in the world of social networking. Only time will tell.

While we still don’t know when Insta-Live (not a confirmed name, but totally what it should be called) will arrive, the feature was reportedly leaked by a Russian user who discovered it while testing a beta version of the app.

Vine App May Have a Future After All

Twitter in sales talks Vine

Vine, the micro-video sharing app, may well survive oblivion after all. Announcements were made last month that Twitter would be discontinuing the mobile app. Now it seems that multiple companies have approached the social network vying to purchase Vine, including a number from Asia.

While details of the bidders remains a closely guarded secret, information provided by TechCrunch suggest that among those rumored was a Japanese messaging and gaming company LINE. Further research uncovered that Twitter is likely to have narrowed their pool of potential purchasers from 10 down to 5,

Rumours suggest that a proportion of the offers are below the $10 million mark, meaning that Twitter is unlikely to generate significant revenue from its sale unless the right buyer is found.  To put that into perspective, The New York Times recently reported that the running costs of Vine in terms of infrastructure and employees was over $10 million a month and had considered selling it off to cut costs.

Upon announcement of Twitter’s intention to do away with the app, an FAQ page appears giving more detail about what exactly would happen to the network. It stated that it intended on eventually shutting down the app but retaining an archive of all current Vines playable, while giving users the option to download their content.

Now it appears Twitter have gone quiet regarding the future of Vine - an unsurprising move with it being in current talks about its sale. Ideally, we would imagine the ideal purchaser would be someone who intends on retaining, to a certain extent, an integration between in and the social network as Vines remain a highly-regarded style of content that commands a large amount of engagement by users.

Much speculation has been made regarding the future of the network since the announcement of its discontinuation. Only time will tell as to what destiny has in store for the app.

6 Tips for Repurposing Content to Impact More Networks

Repurposing Content

Every piece of content you produce has the capacity to have an impact on multiple social networks; it's all about repurposing content. This is one of the simplest ways to increase your campaigns’ capacities for engagement and success. And it’s one we just don’t take enough advantage of.

The content we produce is often a lot more versatile than we give it credit for. While it might seem that all you have is an article on a specific subject, in reality you have the groundwork of a theme. Aspects of your blog content can and should be drawn out, teased apart and remodelled to create different post types and features. That is what's known as repurposing content. And it’s not just for anything new you write - these concepts can just as easily be applied to your old evergreens.

It’s important to note that there is little point in spending too much time repurposing content that is finite news content - only in the short term if you are looking for large scale promotion in one go. Evergreen content is simply any type of content that doesn’t expire in relevancy in the short term - something that is continually relevant and useful for readers.

Repurposing content has the added effect of reaching a new audience. When you decide only to focus on one particular style you inadvertently limit your reach to a particular subset of your target audience. This is simply because, while each industry and business will likely have a preferential network, different styles of content will be more visually appealing to each different person.

Repurposing content helps give your blog articles the maximum amount of promotional chances for success. The more (quality) original posts you create, the higher the likelihood of gaining unique hits on your blog, the bigger the benefit to your digital marketing as a whole.

Repurpose snippets and quotes as social media posts

This can be particularly useful for facts, figures and statistics. In fact, any textual snippet that is interesting and eye-catching should be used as a promotional technique on social networking. Influence more click-throughs to your blog from Twitter by leveraging those statistics as singular elements in tweets. When you do this, be sure to include a link through to the full article.

Create feature graphics

Take the above tip one step further by creating feature graphics as shareable, accessible highlights. This visual content not only performs far better on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but also allows users to take advantage of visual networks such as Instagram and Pinterest.

Create an infographic

Apologies if it comes as a surprise, but it is highly unlikely that anybody will truly read your content in its entirety. By consolidating all of your findings into an accessible, visual medium like an Infographic you make it easier for users to digest. These perform particularly well on Pinterest, and also look great as an additional feature on your article itself.

Do a live webinar/Q&A on the subject

We’re living in the era of Live. No longer do businesses have to invest in expensive equipment to broadcast live on a subject. Periscope and Facebook Live make it incredibly easy for brands to repurpose their content as a Q&A, webinar or expert advice session.

Create video tutorials or an ongoing podcast on your weekly content

One type of content that performs better than straight-up visual is video. If you are considering starting out on YouTube then a great place to start is by repurposing your weekly content into tutorials. Obviously, to be successful a change of tone will likely be required. Alternatively, an audio podcast can be a great way to develop your digital marketing - you already have yourself some written content to use, just one or two tweaks and you can get going.

Amalgamate content into whitepapers and how-to guides

A great way to repurpose content, albeit one that can take a little more time, is to amalgamate a selection of articles on different aspects of the same theme into one singular whitepaper or e-book. These resources can be particularly useful tools for building your email marketing database. Make them useful and high quality and your audience will happily sign-up to your newsletter in order to receive them.

10 Tips to Help Supercharge Your Editorial Calendar

Content Marketing Editorial Calendar Tips

One of the most important but commonly disregarded aspects of a content marketing strategy is the editorial calendar. Any successful digital marketing strategy requires robust planning and understanding. An editorial calendar gives clear and coherent steps to creating a fully fledged strategy across board - and not just relying on flights of fancy for posts.

Sadly, by their very nature, editorial calendars and content marketers don’t often go together well. This is simply because the vast majority of writers tend to be creatives - and quite often these minds are prone to fits of creativity. Planning, although highly regarded and very much appreciated by them, may not be in their nature. Alternatively, if you’re lucky enough to be in the minority that have cracked the code to amalgamating preparation and inspiration, we salute you - but there are always steps that can be taken to improve your current processes.

Editorial calendars should be well respected in the world of content marketing. They allow for integrity and consistency in a strategy that will benefit both your short term and long term campaign goals. While they might be seen to be a limiter, often the reality is that the role they take is one of guidance, ensuring, among other things, that each separate post or aspect is aligned with your campaign.

Editorial calendars also enable content creators to delve deeper into what they are going to write about. The angle that they offer can often play a crucial part in deciding how your content sways; when you have a certain niche that you have to look through while researching you can find new and different ways of approaching a subject.

How editorial calendars can differ in function

Editorial calendars vary immensely from industry to industry, business to business, marketer to marketer, and depend wholeheartedly on what is included in each strategy. They can even go full scale to include absolutely all social media posts, interactions, and internal and external blog postings. At this point, they can start to look closer to a workflow management system. If this is what you are on the lookout for, we would suggest looking towards software like Asana.

Our personal recommendation for the function of editorial calendars is that they should be used to plan each of your blog posts from research through to publishing. This should include the production of the articles themselves, keyword research findings, purpose analysis and, importantly, the inclusion of an acceptable KPI. You should also include promotion details such as what social networks and communities you plan on sharing it with.

Are your editorial calendars really up to scratch?

The best way to layout an editorial calendar is in a spreadsheet style that is accessible and easy to follow. Chances are that there are some steps you can take to improving your editorial calendars, and we hope that this article works as a springboard for additions to your current processes. We’ve broken down a selection of best practice tips for editorial calendars as a place to start and ideas for columns on your spreadsheet:

1. Chosen headlines: Obviously it is important to include headlines for each of your chosen blog posts, however it is a good idea to think these up in advance. A great post headline can be the difference between a successful article and one that fails to hit where it should. If you are struggling to write headlines that incite enough interest to gain clicks, take a look at  CoSchedule’s Headline Analyser.

2. A (brief) brief: Ensure you include a few sentences on what your article should include. Unless it feels right for you, we wouldn’t necessarily suggest including pages of research as an editorial calendar should be accessible, succinct and usable. Just enough to tell yourself, management or a client the kind of thing that your articles will include.

3. Full-scale timings: Choose timings for each part of your editorial calendar. Dates of when you will produce, proof and publish each article, alongside any research you have about the best times to post on your website for traffic.

4. Keyword research findings: If SEO is a big factor in your content marketing strategy, this step cannot be overlooked. Research the most/least contested keywords for your industry and for the topic you are covering and take note to ensure you make use of them.

5. Campaign details & post purpose: Make note of how each post will fit into your overall campaign and the part it will play.

6. Graphic details: Good blog posts always include graphics. While you don’t have to create them beforehand, keeping details of the kind of thing you think will work will help you when you get to that point further down the line.

7. Target audience findings: This is another piece of information that will play a big part in the tone of your articles. Be sure you know exactly who you are writing for.

8. CMS details: Content marketing is about way more than just creating a great piece of writing and hoping it sticks. Be sure to include as much detail about your blogging/CMS platform as possible; categories, tags, SEO details, meta data etc.

9. Social media promotion plan: A good content marketing strategy can only be as good as it's promotion will allow. Certain posts work for certain networks only. Be sure to plan where you will posts in advance as this will effect the style you opt for.

10. Your own KPI: Be sure to include a KPI in line with your overall goals. Everything you do will be accountable to this, so make sure it relates to what you want to achieve.

Another Facebook Live Fallacy

Facebook Live News

Facebook Live has yet again become subject of controversy as a pre-recorded video was shown under the guise of being live, through the network’s live video platform.

The reputedly pre-recorded not-live “live” video in question was that of a sky-high maintenance job; somebody changing a lightbulb on a 609 metre high tower. This “live-video” (but not live) was simultaneously hosted by the Facebook pages Interestinate and USA Viral.

It didn’t take long for users to spot that the video, marketed as both live and four hours long, was neither of those two things. It was in fact a looped 18 minute video that was first posted on YouTube back in September 2015.

Facebook Live has been subject of a number of controversies in recent months, including live broadcasts of killings in France and the battle for Mosul by Channel 4 News. However, the main thing that critics are taking issue with is the fact that Facebook has technically promoted and brought millions of views to something by marketing it as something that it isn’t. This is the exact type of misinformation that the social networking giant have been trying to rid itself of in recent years.

In many ways, fingers can’t be pointed at the perpetrators - these are simply publishers making use of the tools available to them to the best of their ability. It is Facebook who, in their infinite wisdom, have given preferential treatment to those creating “original” content, while failing to ensure that such content is truly what it says it is.

Facebook’s intentions are admirable - they want to increase the accessibility and frequency of high-quality, worthy content for their users. But something has to be done to ensure publishers are abusing these tools. Otherwise, what’s the point?

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