Brands Killing It with Social Commerce

Brands Killing It with Social Commerce

Social media

As we’ve blogged, social commerce is gaining traction as a way to bring attention, and sales, to brands. Although social commerce is still in the early stages of real growth, businesses are already embracing its elements in increasingly interesting ways. Read on to learn about companies who are doing a great job in this arena and making the most of the opportunities social shopping affords:

Creating Community

So you’ve got a Facebook page set up for your brand? Don’t stop there: according to growcode.com, “[s]ome companies attribute as much as 50% of their sales to Facebook groups!” But it’s not just sales that drive these groups; it’s the opportunity for discussion that draws users in the first place.

Consider how Mokosh, a Polish natural cosmetics brand, positioned its Facebook group called MOKOSH Lovers. Customers join the group to ask for skincare advice; they also share their own experiences with the brand and suggest improvements. A meaningful exchange takes place between user and brand. And during an era still defined by the limitations of Covid, the group is also a way for users to connect and “belong” to a cohort of people who share their interests and tastes.

Some brands underline the value inherent in belonging by offering special perks to Facebook group members. The ZigZag Stripe, an online women’s clothing boutique, distributes special offers. Group members are introduced to new arrivals 24 hours before other shoppers, and they have access to exclusive products and live sales.

Engaging Shoppers from Afar

Chatbots can also create some interesting opportunities in the realm of customer engagement on social. Avon, for example, makes it possible for shoppers to “try on” different lipstick shades on camera, using Messenger. Thanks to the messenger chatbot, a special plugin, and camera filters, users can get a sense of whether a color suits them before ordering. Chatbots can also be used to share newsletters or distribute promo codes.

Wooing Youth Culture

Meanwhile, American Eagle Outfitters has pushed the social shopping envelope by partnering with Snapchat in an augmented reality experiment that focuses on denim. As reported in Yahoo! Finance, the clothing and accessories retailer worked with Snapchat to come up with a campaign that centers on American Eagle’s biggest category: jeans. Thanks to the AE x Snapchat 3D Shoppable Jeans Guide, Snapchat users can peruse different AE jeans styles and silhouettes. They might view different washes, learn styling tips, and even see 3D views of how a pair of jeans looks on different body types—by “twisting the world-facing camera on their mobile devices.”

The campaign, which features Chase Stokes and Madison Bailey, stars from the Netflix show “Outer Banks,” targets Gen Z. “Gen Z is clearly looking for new ways to shop,” notes Craig Brommers, American Eagle’s chief marketing officer, who notes that approximately 50 percent of Gen Zers use Snapchat every day. “And wherever Gen Z wants to shop is where you need to go, because if you aren’t innovative, you’ll be left behind.” To that end, shoppers can make American Eagle purchases directly through the app, and share reactions to styles with Snapchat friends.

Generating Buzz

Instagram is also a powerful social commerce channel. As reported in growcode.com, a recent Yotpo study reveals that a whopping 72 percent of respondents say that seeing a product depicted on Instagram increases the chances they’ll buy it; almost 40 percent claim they frequently buy products they see on Insta. The app’s dedicated social selling features, like the “tap to shop” function, definitely give brands a way to take advantage of these tendencies. And companies like Sephora use product tagging to make it easy for shoppers to directly access the brand’s online store. Anything a user sees in a given image, be it brow pencil or blusher, can be purchased in only a couple of taps. The process is easy and seamless, increasing the chances Sephora will earn sales from the initial buzz generated by Insta posts.

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How can your brand capitalize on the new opportunities social commerce affords? Contact us. We can help.

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Snapchat Spotlight: Advertiser Q&A

Social media

When Snapchat launched in-app feature Spotlight in November 2020, the company opted to flex its muscles — and take on short-video-making app TikTok—by making daily disbursements of cash to participating Snapchatters. The rationale: to spark public creativity, incentivize public sharing amongst influencers, and build a following. Their efforts were successful: by January, the platform had grown to more than 100 million monthly active users. Curious to learn more about Spotlight and why it matters to your brand? Read on.

What Is Snapchat Spotlight?

Spotlight is a space within Snapchat where users can watch a vertically scrolled feed of short, engaging videos (up to 60 seconds long) backed by music. Rather than the day-in-the-life content traditionally associated with Snap, Spotlight offers content with a meme-like, jokey feel.

Why did Snapchat launch Spotlight?

Spotlight’s raison d’être may go beyond the obvious move to take on behemoth TikTok. It is also the place where Snapchat can branch off from the strategies that made the app a household name in the first place. Snap’s mandate since its inception in 2011, of course, has been privacy first, with photos and videos simply disappearing in 24 hours. It was a successful formula, and one that completely reimagined what online sharing could be. But the app seems to be acknowledging that some permanence can be a positive: with Spotlight, viewers can tap on favorite videos and save them.

Why Is Spotlight Popular?

Although comparisons to TikTok are inevitable, users claim the two are in fact different beasts. As Ad Age reports, CJ OperAmericano, who goes by her online name, explains that “Snapchat and TikTok have pretty different users and I am seeing higher rewards for originality and creativity on Snapchat Spotlight. You’re more likely to pop off on an original idea [on Spotlight] than just following along with a cookie cutter trend like you are on TikTok.”

Another difference: unlike TikTok, Spotlight does not have a function allowing public like counts or comments. But right now contributors are being rewarded another way. Based on a formula which includes number of views and length of views, among other factors, Snap is recognizing Spotlight contributors by awarding cash to the most popular creators. Users might make a minimum of $250 per Snap, but if someone has an extremely viral video, they could take home a big chunk of the pot. The approach has gotten attention because it’s not just existing influencers and TikTok stars who are benefitting. Average users are also making a profit after their videos go viral.

Consider Andrea Romo, who works at a Lowe’s in Albuquerque. Romo was shocked to find out that her Spotlight video—her sister deep-frying a turkey at Thanksgiving—was so popular it had earned her approximately half a million dollars. “You don’t have to ask to be paid, you don’t have to join any program, you just post a video and if it does well you get paid,” 19-year-old Dax Newman, a ceramist who has made about $30,000 on Snapchat, tells The New York Times.

What Should Brands Know?

Spotlight doesn’t show ads yet — with the operative term being “yet.” While Snapchat is, for the time being, simply giving Spotlight space to become a habit with users, the early surge of creators are exactly the people brands partner with and sponsor online. And it could be argued that Spotlight’s egalitarian approach — the fact that you don’t have to be a celebrity or have famous parents to get a leg up — is bringing attention to a new crop of budding influencers. Influencers that brands can look forward to partnering with down the line: according to Ad Age, “advertisers expect to be able to tie into the program and its creators in the future.”

Contact True Interactive

While Spotlight may not be open to advertising yet, digital opportunities for brands abound. Eager to learn more? Contact us. We can help.

Clubhouse: An Exclusive New App Powered by Audio Chat

Clubhouse: An Exclusive New App Powered by Audio Chat

Mobile Social media

Oprah Winfrey is a fan. So is Drake. But the new social media app Clubhouse, developed by Paul Davison and Rohan Seth, is not just for celebrities. Why does Clubhouse matter to brands invested in digital? Read on to learn more.

What Is Clubhouse?

Clubhouse, an audio app that facilitates live conversation, is self-described as “a new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.” Conversations are not recorded or saved; when a Clubhouse cyber “room” ends, the conversation is done and gone. Participants can opt to just listen in, or they can spontaneously host their own rooms. And the topics under discussion are eclectic, ranging from talks about music to chats about film, beauty, culture, tech, and more.

Clubhouse is distinguished by the fact that it is an audio-only app. There is no feature for private messaging, and there are no written comments. It’s a conversation that just happens to take place online.

What Is the Clubhouse Experience Like?

As Michael Stelzner describes in Social Media Examiner, when you enter a room you hear the conversation going on. Participants can “raise their hand” (using the raised hand emoji) to participate, and might subsequently be invited “on stage” to join the discussion. Those who contribute to the conversation may even become moderators, which allows them to call others up on stage.

Some users find Clubhouse to be like a podcast: something they can listen to while doing other things. Some liken it to a panel discussion. The rooms cover a wide range of topics, something like AOL chat rooms from back in the day. Depending on your interests, you will find rooms devoted to, say, investment strategies for Bitcoin or daily habits for high performers, film talk, writing sessions, mindfulness tips, and much more.

Like any interactive experience, certain protocols are observed and expected. The understanding is that participants will mute themselves until they are called upon, or until they have something germane to add to the dialog. Moderators control the conversation, and rooms can run for hours.

Who’s in the Club?

The app brings a wide range of individuals—and interests—to the table. Celebs like Kevin Hart, Oprah, and Drake are already on board, drawn by the relative privacy the app affords. The app is currently invite-only; each participant is granted limited invites to extend, though the more active a participant is on the platform, the more invites they are able to share. Stelzner recommends downloading the app and setting up your account, then . . . waiting patiently. As he notes, “Someone who knows you might be notified in-app automatically and grant you access.”

Why Clubhouse Matters

Stelzner has asked other Clubhouse members to highlight reasons the app keeps drawing them back (he notes that “[n]early everyone I interviewed was a creator, marketer, or business owner”). Among the responses:

  • It’s viral. When someone you follow goes onstage, the app sends you a notification. You can click on the notification and immediately join the room as a passive listener.
  • You don’t have to be ready for your glam shot. There’s no camera; it’s just your avatar and your voice. So you can join the conversation with that shaggy Covid hair, or even while you are running errands.
  • It helps build business connections. Think the conversations that start at business conferences; this is the same thing, but online.
  • It’s a place to test ideas. Got an idea for a podcast? Clubhouse is a forum to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks.

What We Recommend

Clubhouse, currently in beta, is only available to iPhone users; the invite-only protocol also limits availability. That said, according to wfmynews2.com, “Clubhouse claims it will eventually open up for everyone, but is attempting to ensure it takes the proper steps in doing so. They also want to make sure they can incorporate features that will be able to handle large chat rooms.”

In the meantime, the app’s very existence is a reminder of the myriad ways brands can plug into culture, understand the trends, and stay connected, even as the pandemic continues to minimize in-person contact. Clubhouse demonstrates yet another way to engage—and the importance of staying current and thinking outside the box—not just during Covid, but beyond.

What can be learned here? We suggest that you:

  • Stay abreast of the opportunities apps offer to connect with a new, diverse audience.
  • Don’t forget the power of audio in digital.
  • Understand the power of crowdsourcing new ideas or feedback on your brand.
  • Get involved. Download the app and request membership individually. Then start exploring the app in your role as your company’s brand ambassador. Network with experts in other industries. Never underestimate the value of learning from diverse startups, CEOs, tech giants—whether on an app like Clubhouse, or in other venues.

Contact True Interactive

To succeed with online advertising, contact True Interactive. Read about some of our client work here.

Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Why Pinterest Matters to Advertisers

Social media

During a tough pandemic year, the image-sharing and social media service Pinterest rebounded mightily. According to cnbc.com, shares of Pinterest surged in trading late in October, closing up nearly 27 percent after a third quarter in which total revenues jumped to $443 million. That’s an increase of 58 percent year over year. Why is Pinterest growing, and what sets Pinterest apart from some of the other big advertising apps? What can you do to capitalize on what Pinterest has to offer? Read on to learn more.

Why Is Pinterest Growing?

As reported by The New York Times, widespread shelter-in-place during the pandemic has meant that expenses like travel, restaurant dining, and even clothing shopping have dropped considerably for most people. Some consumers have channeled money that might, in a different year, have gone towards an exotic vacation into purchases that help make their homes a cozy sanctuary during an uncertain time: updated furniture, for example, or new dishware. Enter Pinterest, which has become an important site for people to share ideas with one another about everything from recipes to decorating. As Emarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman notes, Pinterest is “especially well positioned for the moment.” That’s because users are looking to Pinterest for inspiration during a time when the idea of “nesting” seems more attractive than ever.

What Sets Pinterest Apart?

That connection with audience is one of the things that makes Pinterest especially interesting to advertisers. As CFA Andres Cardenal notes here, Pinterest’s business model lends itself to a symbiotic relationship between consumers and advertisers. When Pinterest users “pin” images they like to specific boards (much like someone tacking a physical artifact of a favorite recipe or vacation destination to a cork board in their office cubicle), Pinterest’s algorithm takes note and suggests new pins based on the user’s interest. (Think the coworker who might notice your Grand Canyon virtual Zoom background, and recommend checking out the hiking at Yellowstone.) Some of Pinterest’s suggestions can take the form of advertising, and as Cardenal points out, a useful ad that “gets” a user is a very different animal from invasive advertising. He also notes, “Pinterest is focused on inspiring and uplifting content, which sets it apart from the big social media platforms.” And during a chaotic year, the power of inspiration and uplift cannot be underestimated.

Another reason Pinterest is popular is because it is highly visual. We live in a visual age! As far back as 2014, Business Insider reported that people were uploading 1.8 billion images to platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat every day. Recent stats shared by the Omnicore digital marketing agency indicate that as of 2020, on Instagram alone, 995 photos are uploaded every second. And people respond to images: as HubSpot noted earlier this year, Tweets with images earn 150 percent more retweets than tweets without; Facebook posts with images enjoy 2.3 times more engagement than those without; and articles with an image every 75 to 100 words get double the social media shares compared to articles incorporating fewer images. Bottom line: content with visuals gets shared and liked more than content that lacks visuals. There is no turning back.

Finally, Pinterest is interesting to advertisers because it’s a hub for cultural trends. As noted in yahoo!finance, Pinterest and its advertisers take trend-watching seriously. Witness the Pinterest 100, the platform’s annual report that showcases emerging trends around the world. Pinterest is a goldmine for understanding not only what is popular, but what’s coming next. And if, as a brand, you understand the trends, you can learn where your particular “in” is. You’ll stay relevant.

What You Can Do

Advertisers can benefit from Pinterest’s uplifting connect with its users, visual nature, and understanding of what’s cool. We recommend that you:

  • Dig deeper into Pinterest’s user base. Understand who they are. As reported by Omnicore, 69 percent of Pinterest users are between the ages of 18 and 49. These are folks with a lot of earning power—more so than younger teens, say, who might more likely be found on TikTok or Snapchat. Pinners are also more likely to be women: 71 percent, according to the Omnicore stats. How does your messaging resonate with this audience?
  • Get to know Pinterest advertising options, such as:
    • Promoted Pins appear in the search results and home feed as regular pins do, but they are boosted and targeted to deliver more reach. Users can pin them to boards, comment on them, and share them. Note that after a Promoted Pin is shared once by a Pinner, the “Promoted” label disappears, with repins considered “earned media.”
    • Promoted Carousels feature two to five images that users can swipe through. This can be a useful format for brands who wish to showcase multiple products or features.

Contact True Interactive

Can Pinterest help you connect with your audience in new and exciting ways? Contact us to learn more.

Three Reasons Why Snapchat Is Back

Three Reasons Why Snapchat Is Back

Social media

Snapchat has come roaring back. Its parent company, Snap Inc., was once on the verge of collapse, but recently it posted stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings: according to a FactSet poll, while analysts had estimated revenues around $557 million, Snap’s quarterly revenue in fact enjoyed a 52 percent rise to $678.7 million. And its stock value is soaring, with shares gaining 74 percent this year through the October 20 close.

Why is Snapchat rebounding?

Reasons for the Rebound

Understanding Snapchat’s renaissance means understanding the factors in play during a complicated year:

  • Snapchat’s user base has grown. According to Adweek, the social media company has seen 249 million daily users in the third quarter of 2020: that’s an 18 percent increase from the 210 million users noted for the same period last year, and 11 million more new daily users since last quarter. Notably, the growth is not restricted to the United States: in India, for example, daily active users in the third quarter are up almost 150 percent from the same time in 2019. The growth makes sense: as The New York Times reported earlier this year, “Stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic . . . Americans have been spending more of their lives online.” That online phenomenon has been repeating itself again and again around the globe during this year of COVID-19, and at least some of those users are gravitating to Snapchat.
  • Advertisers are spending money on Snapchat. The July ad boycott of Facebook, which protested the company’s policies on hate speech, may have helped Snap in terms of where advertisers are channeling their dollars. TikTok’s troubles, both domestically (attempts by the Trump administration to ban it) and abroad (India’s successful TikTok ban) also likely gave advertisers pause. While Snap has declined to draw a direct line between other companies’ struggles and its own resurgence, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said in a prepared statement, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.”

In another example of innovation, Snap Inc. worked with Headspace to mark World Mental Health Day on October 10, releasing two new meditations in Snapchat’s Headspace Mini. During a year when Snapchatters in the U.S. are feeling significant stress — a survey by independent research company GroupSolver indicates that COVID-19, finances, politics, and school are leading sources of that stress —the meditations, called Snap Minis, are “bite-sized utilities” that require no installation and are accessible via chat and search. Headspace director of meditation Eve Lewis guides the meditations, which run approximately six minutes each and focus on practicing kindness and navigating uncertainty during the school year.

What Should Advertisers Do?

What does this news about Snapchat mean for brands? We recommend that advertisers:

  • Consider Snapchat if you are interested in the Millennial and Gen Z markets. As we’ve blogged, the app appeals to these demographics. Meet your desired audience where they are at—and right now, these powerful demographics can be found on Snapchat.
  • Consider Snapchat to be a complement to your advertising with Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Snapchat is not going to challenge the Big Three. But if you are interested in experimenting with technologies such as augmented reality, Snapchat is a good platform to try.

Contact True Interactive

Should Snapchat be part of your digital plan? Contact us. We can help.

Instagram Reels: A New Way for Brands to Connect with Gen Z

Instagram Reels: A New Way for Brands to Connect with Gen Z

Facebook Social media

On August 5, Facebook released a new feature on Instagram called Instagram Reels: “a new way to create and discover short, entertaining videos on Instagram.” Sound familiar? Facebook has been accused of cloning multiple popular social media app features in the past; given the rising popularity of TikTok, especially with Gen Z, we knew it would not be long before Instagram debuted its own short-looped video feature. The release of Instagram Reels also comes at an interesting time, as TikTok and Microsoft try to hammer out a purchase deal in the face of concerns that TikTok poses security threats.

Regardless of TikTok’s path forward, Instagram Reels has legs. And while Instagram Reels may seem identical to TikTok, that doesn’t mean brands should ignore it. Here are some reasons why:

Connect with Gen Zers on Instagram

It’s no secret that Gen Z is growing up in a world where many aspire to be an influencer or creator. TikTok, which became available worldwide in 2018, quickly gave teens the creative opportunity to do so. Many brands whose main customer base is Gen Z started using TikTok as a way to engage with that demographic. But some brands have felt hesitant about working with a new social media platform.

Now with the release of Instagram Reels, many Gen Z influencers and creators are bringing their successful TikTok content over to Instagram. The shift gives those brands reluctant to engage with a new social media app a familiar platform on which they can connect with Gen Z. And on Instagram Reels, brands have an opportunity to create fresh, engaging content to reach that audience.

Refresh Your Content for Your Instagram Community

If you were already seeing success with TikTok, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. On Instagram Reels, you can share the same or similar content with your Instagram following, which most likely will include a broader age range than Gen Z alone. Instagram Reels is a great way to refresh your current Instagram content and stay relevant.

If you don’t know where to begin on Instagram Reels, scroll through Instagram to get a feel for the popular short videos of dancing, lip syncing, or tutorials already on view. And consider making Instagram Reels part of your Influencer strategy.

Post Creative Videos Without Breaking the Bank

Instagram Reels doesn’t just help brands stay relevant. The platform makes sense economically, too. Because let’s face it: when it comes to video content, many brands, hampered by limited resources or limited budget, struggle to produce high-quality videos. Instagram Reels (and TikTok) allow brands to be creative without needing a full production team or deep pockets. A variety of editing tools include audio, AR effects, timer, speed, and more, giving users the ability to share high-quality videos in minutes.

Brands Already On Board

Brands eager to appeal to young consumers are already giving Instagram Reels a go. Dunkin’, for example, has posted a video, set to original Dunkin’ music and making good use of the platform’s filters and stickers, promoting the brand’s drive-through service and cold brew coffee.

And Maybelline has debuted a video starring influencer and model Nikkie De Jager, who lip-syncs Maybelline’s catchphrase—Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline—while applying makeup.

Red Bull, Louis Vuitton, and Sephora have also already posted to Instagram Reels.

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Eager to learn more about how Instagram Reels can bring attention to your brand? Contact us.

 

Businesses Balance Risk with Reward on Social Media

Businesses Balance Risk with Reward on Social Media

Facebook Social media YouTube

One of the more interesting aspects of the ongoing Facebook advertising boycott is the concern over brand safety. Advertising Age reports that boycotting advertisers want assurance that the ads they place on the Facebook News Feed will not appear next to objectionable content such as hate speech. And who can blame them? But advertisers may not get everything they want. And they may have to live with an ongoing reality: so long as your brand lives on social media, you will always need to manage risk (whether you advertise, manage organic content, or both) against the ROI of having a presence on the world’s most popular digital destinations.

Social Media Controversies

I’ve been following how brands have managed occasional controversies on social and have commented on them in posts such as “Twitter’s Troll Police Struggle to Separate Humans from Bots” and “Social Media Remains a Messy Place for Brands to Live.” Many of the issues I’ve been writing about remain today, and Facebook is not the only platform wrestling with them. They include:

  • The inherent tension that exists when businesses exist on platforms designed to give people and organizations an open forum. An open forum means that anyone can have an opinion, which means that fringe content will always make its way on to social.
  • The reality that malicious parties are actively looking for ways to game the platforms and disrupt them. Twitter is reeling from a major hack July 15 in which the accounts of high-profile individuals such as Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk were hijacked as part of a Bitcoin scam. Of course, the bad guys out there are also going after brands’ websites, too, but on social media, your account is only as secure as the platform where you are renting space.
  • The difficulty of combating malicious content. As I discussed in a post about Twitter trying to combat trolls, social platforms continue to struggle with the fact that they can employ only so many people to monitor and combat inappropriate content. And when the platforms use automated tools to root out trolls, those tools make mistakes by overreaching and going after innocent accounts, too.

But brands simply cannot decide to ignore social media. Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube are among the Top 20 most visited sites in the world according to Ahrefs. And as online traffic has surged across the board in 2020, businesses continue to succeed with social media advertising.

What You Should Do

So what’s the answer for brands wanting a safer experience? Well, there is no easy one. But:

  • Artificial intelligence is going to get better. Remember, we’re still in the early stages of AI’s development. As AI improves, social platforms are going to do a better job rooting out objectionable content.
  • Social platforms can and should be more transparent about how they monitor and react to objectionable content. It’s unrealistic for any social media platform to promise brands that their ads will never appear alongside offensive content. But according to Advertising Age, Facebook is figuring out how to more proactively report to brands how it monitors content and responds to flare-ups. This is a step in the right direction. It’s just not a good idea to leave advertisers in the dark. Being candid and including them in a solution goes a long way.

Advertisers should demand that social media platforms work with them to manage their brands. But social media more than ever will always be a risky place for brands to live. I suggest that businesses:

  • Have a strategy for how social media attracts and keeps customers both with advertising and organic content.
  • Measure success – but also measure your risk tolerance. Assign a numerical scale to assess the level of risk you are willing to accept on each platform and for various types of incidents ranging from security breaches to your content appearing alongside inappropriate content.
  • Monitor your ROI as well as incidents you experience. How much ROI are you getting? How frequent are the violations you experience? Does the ROI outweigh the costs of dealing with negatives? (Your mileage will vary.)
  • Keep applying pressure to the major social platforms to hold themselves accountable.

What have your experiences been on social media? I’d love to hear from you.

Contact True Interactive

Do you need help making decisions about advertising on social? Contact us.

Photo by dole777 on Unsplash