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Facebook Adds Snapchat-esque Geo-filters

Facebook Snapchat Style Update

Facebook has continued its tirade into casual plagiarism by releasing another feature reminiscent of Snapchat’s lenses and filters. Facebook’s new Camera Effects Platform will allow users to add what they are calling "frames" - custom image geo-filters.

Facebook have been on something of a feature poaching tirade in recent months, and for the large part Snapchat have been the victims. Most recently these have come in the guise of an updated in-app camera offering Snapchat-esque filters, Snapchat-esque filters in Facebook Live and even an attempt to buy the Asian Snapchat clone Snow. Although the offer was rejected, it was yet another example of Facebook taking on Snapchat and shows just how serious they are.

Facebook’s Camera Effects Platform has one thing that separates it from Snapchat’s filters. Whereas those of the latter are pre-approved by the network, those of Facebook are community created and submitted by people and pages for approval.

The process seems simple enough - you create a geo-filter that surrounds the subject of a photo and has some connection with an event or location, Facebook approves it and others in the area can use it too. Although Facebook have made use of photo frames for users’ profile pictures since 2015, this is the first time they have allowed users to create their own.

According to information acquired by TechCrunch, Camera Effects Platform will initially be open to users in Mexico, Colombia, Taiwan, the UK, and Ireland, as “they’re where the profile frames have been used the most to date.”

How do I create a frame?

Custom photo frames for Facebook could prove popular with local businesses, especially bars, restaurants and venues during events who make use of user-generated content as part of their marketing strategy.  If you want to create one and make sure it get’s approved by Facebook, check out this handy online guide. Full details on guidelines for frames will soon be available on Facebook’s help centre.

The Office Christmas Party, Social Media and Not Getting Fired

Social Media Christmas Party

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”
                                                                                                                      - Phyllis Diller

The office Christmas party is notorious for horror stories. It’s no wonder - your colleagues are the people you spend the most amount of time around. Add alcohol, carbs and the inevitable Secret Santa into the mix and you’ve got yourself a very, very volatile cocktail.

You don’t have to look far before you uncover some tales of Christmas party terror. Now the stress of the occasion has been heightened with the addition of our pal social media…

Christmas parties are an incredibly important part of the year for a great deal of workplaces. They are a great source of reward for many of your colleagues. They can help bring your team together and promote a sense of community within the workplace. But for certain personalities these can also be a considerably stressful experience - and it’s not always the person you expect.

The last thing you want to do is wake up with an awful hangover to discover that you said something untoward to your Managing Director, shouted at Jeff from accounts because you “just can’t stand that haircut any longer”, before making a pass at your HR Manager. But sadly - it happens.

There are plenty of articles out there that can help you make sure you don’t do something silly at the party itself. A good model to follow is moderation. Now we are in an age of social media, there’s another thing that you should keep in mind before - and after - the party, to make sure you don't inadvertently end up losing your job...

Be careful what you post online

For the Facebook savvy, this can seem like a fairly obvious tip. But with more and more people realising the potential that not overdoing your privacy settings can have on your job prospects, it’s a good idea to remind yourself. Here are a few pointers to help make sure you still have a job in the morning:

1. Double-check people are cool with you posting
We know how positive posting pictures of your office occasions can be on brand awareness and PR so we think you should definitely be doing it - but your bosses and people you work with may be less keen. So double-check they are cool with it before you get going.

2. Post positive...
Regardless of how harrowing your party is, somebody went to the trouble of organising it for you. Show your appreciation to these people by being positive about it. If it's obvious that people in charge have really gone the extra mile, rave about it.

3. Don’t focus on the booze...
There’s a likelihood that there will be alcohol at the party, there will certainly be other things you could rave about. The food for example. Or the novelty pencil sharpener that you got given as your Secret Santa present.

4. It’s not just you that could be hurt…
If you have a video of sweaty colleagues dancing inappropriately they may encourage you to post it right there. But would they the morning after? Or when their line Manager brings it up in their next appraisal? It can be good to keep those sort of decisions until the morning after.

The office Christmas party can be incredible for social media engagement - so long as you think about what you post! So keep these tips in mind, be sensible and have a fantastic time. The most merriest of merry Christmases to you and your colleagues!

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

It’s Christmastime and you would certainly know it if you stepped foot in Giraffe Social Media HQ. The garden has turned into a grotto, the music is 85% Christmas music and there seems to be an abundance of cookies around the place. So we couldn’t help but celebrate the only way we know how - through social media. Read on to find out more...

Social media is often a joy to behold around the festive period. Throughout the years we’ve been treated to some Christmas crackers directly through social networking. Recently even the John Lewis advert, while still a TV medium, has spread primarily through Facebook and Twitter.

Social media’s capacity to facilitate a developing global conversation makes it the perfect candidate for such an exciting period. Many businesses take advantage of these channels to promote deals, others to raise awareness of a cause, others just as an excuse to be silly.

Naturally, we have opted for the latter.

Giraffe Social Media Twelve Days of Trendmas

Over our last twelve days working in the office before Christmas Day, we will be re-living some of the biggest and best social media trends of the past decade. We’ll be re-making glorious memes, re-creating viral music videos and re-visiting some of our favourite social media trends.

Each day from the 12th through to the 23rd of December we will post a new trend on our Facebook page. Be sure to follow us so that you don’t miss any! Join the conversation using #12DaysofTrendmas.

Have the merriest of Christmases!

Facebook Express Wifi Launched in India

Facebook Express Wifi launched in India

Facebook’s Internet.org has launched a new service in India in a bid to connect those in currently under-served areas. Express Wifi works alongside local businesses to offer affordable access to the internet.

This isn’t the first attempt Zuckerberg has made at trying to take advantage of parts of the global population that are still offline. Facebook’s Free Basics program, born from Internet.org and originally launched in February, was effectively banned not long afterwards. Much to Mark’s dismay, regulating authorities and indeed a large proportion of protesters, were not best pleased by the restrictive nature of the app.

Free Basics would have been a wholly free-to-use (surprising, no?) internet service provided by Facebook, intended to give access to under-served areas. However, because of its nature it only allowed access to a limited number of websites. It was therefore deemed to put too much power in the hands of the social network and be opposed to principles of net neutrality.

While we remain impartial, we can certainly understand the standpoint of India’s Telecoms Regulation. Free Basics essentially took advantage of certain areas by splitting internet users into those with access and those with access to only what Facebook considers worthy. And it's not unlike Facebook to try and remould the internet around themselves - most of their updates have been intended to limit the amount of time users are forced to spend off of the network, and they certainly don’t make it easy for their competitors.

Facebook Express Wifi

Unlike Free Basics, Express Wifi offers data packs that aren’t restricted. Because Facebook don’t get their way by choosing what users can and can’t view, it does come at a price - albeit a small price. Although we don’t know for certain what this is, the whole point is affordable access for those who currently have none, working with local ISPs, operators and retailers.

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.

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