Facebook Launches Reach Generator

March 5, 2012 § 1 Comment

Currently, Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm filters through posts to enhance users’ experience by putting only the most relevant content in the news feeds. With EdgeRank, only about 16% of a brand’s fans see the organic content posted by brands.  To increase reach, Facebook unveiled their tool, the Reach Generator.

The Reach Generator, available to large companies, will allow marketers to buy all of the reach they want. Priced according to the size of the brand’s fan base, the tool is designed to take a piece of content and amplify its reach by resurfacing it at as an ad. Facebook guarantees that the reach generator will allow brands to reach at least 75% of its fans. During the initial tests, Ben and Jerry’s was reported to have reached 98% of its fan base.

Additionally, Facebook announced its plans to launch a promoted advertisement upon account logout called the “logout experience.” Any premium advertisements are already fair game to appear as a part of this new promotion in which a sponsored advertisement is featured after a user logs out of Facebook.

These new tools will allow brands to reach their fan base on a larger, more consistent scale as users will see brand content more frequently with Reach Generator.

You can read more about these new advertising tools on AllFacebook or IndsideFacebook.

Facebook Timeline for Brands

March 2, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week Facebook announced that the Timeline for Brands format would be rolled out during March. The changes to the page experience on Facebook will be significant but we believe very positive for brands and their consumers. In particular, the visual representation of the brand is greatly improved throughout the experience from the top image to posts. To provide some perspective on the changes, here are the features that we believe will be most important and relevant to you.

Layout of the Page

The Timeline format offers a large cover photo. To marketers this is a blessing. A large image provides a strong branding opportunity which can be changed out frequently to represent the latest marketing campaign or activities of the brand (not direct promotions). We encourage you to think about this in the same way as changing out the imagery on the home page of your site.

Three Highlighted Tabs

The running list of tabs down the page is changing to now highlight three tabs visually just below the top image. Brands now have the tools to visually call out the most important tabs but must choose carefully which ones to showcase. To access others the user uses a drop down box. New icons (111×74 pixels) will be required for the tab icons.

No Default Landing Page

Many brands use the default landing page to control the initial experience of the user on the page. In the new format the landing page goes away and this puts even greater emphasis on your choice of top image and the tabs that you choose to highlight. This is particularly true for new marketing campaigns where your overall messaging should now include the app, the top image, the tab image, Facebook ads and highlighted posts (see below).

Highlighted Posts

Brands now have the ability to “pin” specific posts to the top of the Timeline for up to a week. The highlighted post will remain above all other content and is a great way to ensure that the messaging you feel is most important receives the most attention.

Expanded Tab Content

The 520 width pixel restriction has been changed to 810. This provides plenty of new real estate to expand the consumer experience. Fortunately, old applications will be centered in the tab so that you can continue to provide the same experience to users as before.

Check out some brands using the new Timeline effectively:

Coca-Cola
Coca-cola uses the new Timeline to highlight Coca-Cola’s history all the way back to 1886. This is a unique and interactive way to share the brand’s history with customers.

Starbucks
Starbucks takes advantage of the way photos post on the new Timeline, sharing a variety of photos and pairing them with conversation pieces such as fill-in-the-blank statuses.

Red Bull
Red Bull launched a Red Bull Timeline Timewarp game-sweepstakes to celebrate the new page. The game is a scavenger hunt that has participants find the answers to clues on the brand’s new timeline page.

Livestrong
Livestrong uses its signature colors of black and yellow to create a cohesive look across the thumbnail, cover and tab images.

Our team at Direct Message Lab would be happy to walk you through these changes and help you determine the next steps for your brand. Please contact us with any questions about these new changes.

Instagram and the Future of Mobile Social Photo Sharing

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

At the end of 2011, Instagram, the  mobile social network where you can share edit, share photos and follow friends and brands streams was named the number one application by Apple. With 15 million users, it is set to be the fastest growing social network, surpassing Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. That’s quite the statistic for an app that is just over a year old. Like Foursquare, Instagram is a mobile based network. Using the app means using it solely on your smart phone (and currently, only if you’re an iPhone user. Although, plans to release an Android app are in the works).

With new social networks popping up every few months (didn’t everyone just decide to give Google+ a shot?), it’s hard to wrap your head around joining yet another network. Instagram, however, really is one of the next big things in social sharing. Where Facebook initially began as a network to connect with your friends, Instagram is solely a network about sharing.  Brands should start thinking about how they can build Instagram into their digital marketing campaigns. News agencies like CNN and CBS News, designers and stores like Bergdorf Goodman, Kate Spade and Gucci already have a strong Instagram following. Redbull and Nike have also integrated the network into their strategy and General Electric recently held a contest for the “Next GE Instgrapher.” You can view the photos of the hashtag #GEInspiredMe on Statigr.am.

A photograph has the ability to capture something that words can’t and now brands have the opportunity to take their digital marketing to a more visual level. Giving customers the chance to see an inside look into a brand, such as a typical day inside a business or how a product is made allows customers to feel connected to the brand in a different, more personal way. Allowing the same customers to share their opinions on photos of products, or share them using a company’s product gives customers the chance to express their feelings towards a product through a creative outlet.

Similar to Twitter, Instagram uses hashtags to categorize photographs. Brands can use hashtags in connection to a specific campaign or contest, or Kate Spade uses a hashtag (#popofcolor) regularly to identify posts about their brand. Nike launched a campaign at the start of 2012 asking fans to photograph how they plan on making 2012 count. #MakeItCount has nearly 2,000 photographs in just a couple of weeks. Hashtags are a filter people are already familiar with, and an easy way to track mentions of your brand.

Unsure of how your brand can integrate a photo based program into your digital marketing? Do you have products to sell (like Nike) or an image to build (like President Obama)? Perhaps you want to engage your fans in a different way, or rebuild a loyalty program? Brands can use Instgram to give insight into a company, let users show off how they use a brand’s products, or enhance a loyalty program. Possible aspects of such program could include sending a photograph of a receipt or while inside the store. A campaign giving users a visiual of how a new product is made and allowing them to give their insight along the way would allow customers to feel connected to the brand. For more information on how your brand can begin to implement your brand into Instagram, we welcome you to contact us here at Direct Message Lab.

Learn about how Instagram is changing social mobile sharing, and what brands have already launched Instagram campaigns by downloading our white paper on here. Check out how some of the most prominent brands on this list.

Brands Are Creating Unique Social Media Campaigns this Holiday Season

December 2, 2011 § 1 Comment

How are brands using social media to stay relevant this holiday season? Not surprisingly, businesses are doing this in a variety of ways. From holiday apps, Twitter personas and holiday sweepstakes, brands are finding unique ways to keep their customers engaged during the holidays.

Starbucks just launched a free mobile application for iPhone and Android to give users a fun way to interact with their famous red holiday packaging (cups, bags, gift packages, etc.). With the Cup Magic application, users scan their cup and watch the unique scene come to life.  Interact with the scene, discover what other merchandise comes to life and even send the video to a friend or share it on Facebook. Additionally, you can send Starbucks eGift Cards direct from the app, with a personalized message and in any amount you choose. Reviews for the application itself are strong, but the specificity of the app makes it have quite a short shelf life.

Walmart took a more philanthropic approach to its holiday marketing. This past month it launched the “12 Days of Giving” program on Facebook. Customers can nominate charities that help provide basic necessities to communities. In the month of December, Walmart will choose 12 winners from December 12-23rd to receive a portion of $1.5 million. Using social media to help companies allocate funds to charities isn’t an entirely new concept, but it’s still a great way to get your customers engaging with your company and allowing them to feel like they’re having a say.  Grand Marnier is holding a similar Facebook campaign. For the Grand Giving Tree, users pick an ornament relating to one of three charities and place it on a virtual tree. At the end of the campaign, the cause with the most ornaments will receive a $10,000 donation. Grand Marnier’s Tree of Giving is a unique, interactive way to get users in the holiday and giving spirit.

Target used Twitter to kick off Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. Their persona, the Christmas Champion, could be followed at @ChristmasChamp for updates on the sale, shopping and gift advice. The account had 19,400 followers,  and gives a personal face to the Target brand. RadioShack launched The Great Giftervention, allowing customers to post pictures of the worst gift they’ve ever recieved. Each week, the top worst gifts will receive gift pack from RadioShack.

The holiday season has given brands and social media marketers a great opportunity to create unique and engaging campaigns. Through interactive social apps and mobile apps, brands are not only boosting their digital presence, but reaching their most loyal customers where they spend their time. Through Direct Message Lab’s REACH v4 platform, social media marketers can manage multi-channel campaigns for any holiday or occasion. REACH’s Social Analysis allows brands to collect deep user profiles of customers that engage with their social networks and mobile apps, to target future content and promotions.

Happy Holidays from all at DML!

Direct Message Lab provides a central platform , REACH v4,  for brands to effectively build, manage, and analyze their social, mobile and app-based marketing. For more information, check out www.directmessagelab.com, and follow us on Twitter, @dmlinfo.

 

Mobile Commerce: Changing the Way Brands and Customers Interact

November 15, 2011 § 3 Comments

With 800 million users on Facebook, 200 million Twitter users and 10 million checking-in on Foursquare  it is easy to understand how social commerce is quickly growing into a massively successful business. Pampers’ Facebook store reports 1,000 transactions per hour. Groupon is one of the fastest growing businesses and social commerce is only expected to become an even larger industry. Similarly, mobile commerce is a business that is quickly being tapped into by brands and advertisers. A huge increase from the expected $6 billion it will bring in by the end of the year, it is estimated to become a $30 billion dollar industry by 2016.

Already brands and customers are utilizing their smart phones to engage with each other and interact in social loyalty programs. Branded applications allow users to track their progress in a loyalty program, as well as participate in games and social sharing. Direct Message Lab’s platform, REACH v4 gives brands the ability to build and launch mobile applications so that brands can deploy information, build loyalty programs. Additionally, REACH complies user data so that the brand is able to receive and analyze information and metrics.

As security, speed and availability increases, customers are looking to their smart phones to get even more done. PBS recently launched their mobile kids product store after seeing that the demand for parents of young kids wanting to do their shopping on-the-go via their phone was high. Lucky magazine, owned by Condé Nast released Lucky Shopper, a mobile application that allows the user to scan any bar or QR codes, Microsoft tags or digital watermarks all from the same app. From there customer is able to compare prices and find out information about the product that exists in an issue of Lucky magazine. Furthermore, advertisers are able to partner with Lucky to offer users to scan their products targeted information, special offers, videos and branded games.

Starbucks' Android App

Starbucks' Android App

There are a variety of directions mobile commerce can head. To some extent, businesses are already testing out different ways a mobile device can integrate the entire shopping experience, target customers and make the entire process easier. Starbucks’ Android application allows customers to manage their virtual gift card, check their balance, earn rewards, reload the card, and most importantly pay with it. A bar code allows cashiers at Starbucks to scan the card off the phone and the user’s balance is instantly deducted .

Additionally the realistic possibility of brands and advertisers being able to send
location based offers directly to a users phone might not be too far off. Just by entering a mall with a specific store, or walking through the doors of a business, offers could be instantly sent to your phone, further creating incentive for the customer to make a purchase during the visit.

E-Commerce Guide offers a plethora of statistics that all point to the growing success and possibilities of the mobile commerce business. A few notable points include that over half of those surveyed used a mobile phone during their shopping experience, with almost half (48%) of mobile users having made a purchase on their smart phone.

The scope of mobile commerce is expanding quickly. The industry has the possibility to have a larger impact on how customers make purchases as well as how brands are able to target their customers. As a brand, this is not an industry to ignore.

Google Introduces Google+ Pages and Google+ Direct Connect

November 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

“Google+ Pages: Connect with all the things you care about”

That’s the title from Google’s official blog, and seems to be the motto surrounding the bigger picture for Google+. Today, Google introduced Google+ Pages for brands, bands, sports teams, companies and businesses with hopes of making Google+ become a little less boring.

Per Google:

“For you and me, this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour”

“For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you.”

Check out some examples of Google+ Pages for Burberry, Toyota, Dallas Cowboys, and even The Muppets, in which Kermit and Miss Piggy will hold a live hangout with fans today at 4:30p.m.

While Google+ Pages will be helpful to big brands trying to increase their social media reach, it’s tough to see how these pages will catch on with the social, mobile, local trend.

Google is putting its faith on the hopes that customers and brands alike are a) already active on Google+ and b) will want to take part in “Hangouts” with their local bike shop, or add their favorite coffee shops to specific Circles.

Hard to imagine, at least for the short-term, seeing as Google+ has seen its traffic significantly drop since its September 20 public launch.

Additionally, Google has also introduced Google+ Direct Connect. This will allow you to search for a brand on Google, and have it immediately take you to their Google+ Page. For example, if you search +Pepsi in Google, it will automatically connect you to Pepsi’s Google+ Page.

But, why would local businesses want to take the time and resources to create another social channel, with little knowledge of the social ROI? Your Facebook page is going strong with 1500 Likes and you have over 1000 Followers on Twitter; what incentive do you, as a business, have to create another outlet and possibly dilute your brand’s social presence?

It will be interesting to see how Google+ Pages rank in regards to SEO on Google Search. Say for example, you are searching for your favorite local coffee spot or favorite bookstore and the first result, by default, is their Google+ Page — above their website, Facebook page and Twitter account. There’s an incentive to jump on the wagon.

Direct Message Lab provides a central platform , REACH v4,  for brands to effectively build, manage, and analyze their social, mobile and app-based marketing. For more information, check out www.directmessagelab.com, and follow us on Twitter, @dmlinfo.

How Facebook’s Timeline Affects DML’s Customers, Partners

September 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Dear Customers, Partners and Friends,

At f8 Facebook announced several major changes which directly affect the visibility of your brand and the engagement users have with your brand within Facebook. Fortunately, many of these are positive. To help you make sense of the changes we have boiled down the list to the key elements that we think you should be focused on. Here they are:

Timeline
Facebook released an entirely new perspective on a user’s social profile call Timeline (https://www.facebook.com/about/timeline). Timeline is fundamentally a catalogue of the user’s whole life (at least as he may have uploaded it to Facebook) curated by the user. Users choose a cover photo and highlight life events (e.g, birth of a child, marriage, etc.) to tell their story. To make the whole timeline manageable, Facebook condenses the information that is displayed in the user’s Timline the further back in time you scroll.

What is most meaningful for marketers is that users can connect applications to their Timelines. Once connected, an app automatically loads information and actions into a user’s Timeline. The actions can be any verb and noun combination – listening to music, cooking a recipe – that the brand establishes for its apps. If it meets relevancy criteria (see GraphRank below) the auto-inserted information appears in the Ticker of the user’s friends. The insertion continues forever or until the user actively stops it – which is great for brands!. Important events also appear in the user’s News Feed. The Ticker drives social discovery of your app, and your brand, by the user’s friends.

GraphRank
For marketers, application and brand discovery have always been a problem on Facebook. To help solve the discovery issue, in addition to the compelling solution of the Timeline and the Ticker, Facebook has built a relevance filter called GraphRank. GraphRank promotes information based on the amount a user and his/her friends interact with an application and its content. More interaction – greater visibility, For marketers, this ups the ante to create and deliver applications and content that users want to, and do, regularly engage.

What You Should Do?
The list is short but simple. First, audit your apps and see where including the “Add to Timeline” functionality would be relevant and add it. Second, continue to create experiences and content that users love – now you will be rewarded handsomely for your efforts. And third, design future apps with the Timeline and Ticker in mind.

As you know, the Direct Message Lab platform is based around creating compelling, customized and targeted experiences for users. The new Facebook changes provide a wealth of new information for the REACH platform to target users, build user profiles and understand your customers on a granular level. We would be happy to provide assistance as you think about how the latest Facebook changes can help you connect with customers and build your brand.

Direct Message Lab provides a central platform , REACH v4,  for brands to effectively build, manage, and analyze their social, mobile and app-based marketing. For more information, check out www.directmessagelab.com, and follow us on Twitter, @dmlinfo.

The F8 Dust Has Settled, What Does it Mean?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Interweb was shaken up last week, as Facebook introduced a round of new updates/features at the F8 Developer Conference. By now, you know that the Timeline, Open Graph and integration with music and movie services will all be rolling out to a Facebook page near you in the next coming months. But, what does this mean for Facebook, users and marketers?

Back on May 27, 2011, after learning about how Zuck wanted to integrate music, movies, books etc. into Facbeook, we wrote an article expressing a concern that, while the social world is becoming united and intertwined, this influx of details from people’s lives would eventually become too much for any single user to handle.

As Facebook has grown, it has segmented itself into two user bases; one side is the everyday user, who go on to see what their friends are up to, post a status update, poke, message, Like and comment. On the other side, there are the marketers, who try to get the users to Like their product or service, engage with their brand page and increase awareness for what they are offering.

The F8 announcements were successful because there was something for everyone.

The Timeline is an interesting addition. Quoting Zuck, “”For every major evolution we’ve done at Facebook, the profile is at the center,” he said. “It’s a really personal product, and our job is to make this product the best way for you to share everything you want.”

Obviously, Facebook believes that your memory is shot, and the only way you can properly talk about “back in the day” is referencing your Timeline. It appears, at first glance, that the Timeline is their way of saying, “Hey, look. We told you we could store everything you ever said, did and thought.” Kind of creepy, but a cool feature for the every day user, nonetheless.

And then the Open Graph API for the devs and marketers. Per a Search Engine Journal article, “Open Graph will allow Facebook users to add activities to their news streams without being bothered by prompts asking for their consent.”

 

The most notable features:

  1. Permissions will no longer be needed for Apps every time content is published to Facebook. Instead, there will be a Facebook permissions screen that users will only have to complete one time.
  2. The Open Graph updates will only appear in the new ticker. Unless, of course, it holds a higher value of importance, in which case it will show up in the News Feed.
  3. The Open Graph will allow users to share what they are watching, listening to, reading etc. in real-time via the Facebook Ticker.

This will allow for seamless integration of third party apps to Facebook’s user base, and will help marketers target a more narrowed audience, based off of users interests and Likes via their Facebook profiles.

As the Internet advances and adapts, Web 2.0  is being augmented by the fabric that Facebook has laid down. It is becoming a world of third party apps and Facebook Connect. The infrastructure of the web will be forever changed, and how people connect and disseminate (un)useful information about themselves, whether it be playing games, watching movies, listening to music, or any other activity you confine yourself to, the new Open Graph just made the web that much more social.