Facebook Harnesses the Power of Visual Storytelling

Facebook Harnesses the Power of Visual Storytelling

Facebook

Facebook has demonstrated time and again an uncanny ability to tap into popular interests. Most recently, the social behemoth, which continues to strengthen itself by launching new features and by making acquisitions, demonstrates why visual storytelling can be a powerful ally to brands and an important tool in their marketing toolbox. Read on to learn more:

Acquisition of GIPHY

Facebook’s interest in visual storytelling compelled it to buy Instagram back in 2012, and the company has never looked back. Its recent agreement to buy GIPHY, the popular platform of sharable animated images, or GIFs, and integrate it with Instagram, continues the trend. In an announcement made May 15, 2020, Instagram’s Vice President of Product Vishal Shah spoke to the reported $400 million GIPHY acquisition by saying the move will give users the opportunity to “find just the right way to express themselves.” A GIF, or Graphics Interchange Format, is a form of visual storytelling, of course. Like popular multimedia platform Snapchat, which has challenged users to be as entertaining as possible in 10 seconds or less, GIFs allow people to express themselves in a punchy, visual format.

Think about the applications here: Shah’s comment about personal expression applies to businesses, too. In fact, as Adweek points out, companies are already creating GIFs as “snackable” videos that consumers will feel inspired to share.

Look no further than PepsiCo, which in February rolled out thousands of GIFs (created using GIPHY) to promote Bubly, their new sparkling water brand. The GIFs, hundreds of which feature actor Neil Patrick Harris, were devised so that consumers looking to express that they’re “annoyed,” say, or that they feel like “dancing,” may happen upon one of the Bubly GIF ads and share it (whether they are aware it’s an ad or not). Bubly also partnered with Michael Bublé to create a series of clever GIFs.

The secret to GIFs is that they concisely express a mood that’s relatable, authentic, and shareable, as opposed to demonstrating a full narrative arc, as is done in the familiar ad format.

Getting Personal with Avatars

In the vein of encouraging people to express themselves, Facebook has also recently rolled out its Avatar feature for U.S. users (the feature was launched in other countries last year). As CNN reports, Facebook users can now personalize their responses with a cartoon avatar that looks like them, rather than relying solely on the now-familiar stable of emojis like the thumbs up or sad face. “With so many emotions and expressions to choose from, avatars let you react and engage more authentically with family and friends across the app,” Fidji Simo, the head of Facebook’s app, said in a post.

Again, the relevance doesn’t just apply to individuals. A January 2020 Digiday article discusses how companies are using avatars to engage with consumers. Brands like Cheetos, for example, have empowered users to interact with avatars created using the Genies app, allowing consumers to choose from design “wheels” of options to dress their avatars in Cheetos-inspired garb. Gucci, New Balance, and the NBA have also used Genies avatars in their marketing strategies.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Genies maintains their own avatar talent agency, and celebrities including Jennifer Lopez have their own official Genies, which companies can “hire” for their campaigns. Notably, it’s not just the high-powered brands that are working with avatars. As Digiday points out, avatars are also being tapped by smaller companies seeking cost-effective brand awareness campaigns with a custom feel.

Why Visual Storytelling Matters

The wisdom of Facebook’s embrace of visual storytelling is backed by statistics. According to Brain Rules, relevant images help us remember 65 percent of content, even days later. Most people are visual learners, as Digital Arts online points out. And Generation Z, also called the “visual-driven generation” because of their fondness for digital tools, is the largest population cohort in the United States. Born in the 2000s, this group is aging into a powerful demographic: surveys indicate that Gen Z is likely to make up 40 percent of all consumers in 2020.

In short, brands interested in meeting consumers where they are at are wise to appreciate the significance of visual storytelling.

Embracing Visual Storytelling

We urge all brands to embrace visual storytelling, and we’ve blogged often about how to do so:

  • Instagram is an essential platform to tell your brand’s story, as we note here.
  • Facebook livestreaming is gaining popularity in lieu of companies holding live events, as we discuss here.

Contact True Interactive

Bottom line: visual storytelling is hot! Take advantage of it now. And remember: we can help.

Research Shows That Having a Strong Social Media Presence Pays Off

Research Shows That Having a Strong Social Media Presence Pays Off

Facebook

Having a strong social media presence pays off for your brand – literally. That’s what research from Sprout Social shows. Sprout Social surveyed consumers and social marketers between February 28 and March 4. As reported in Mobile Marketer, the survey reveals:

  • Nine out of 10 people purchase from brands they follow on social media.
  • Seventy-five percent of people have increased their spend on companies they follow on social. That’s a 12 percent increase from 2019, a leap that’s particularly noteworthy given the COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving Forward

These findings validate what we wrote in a recent post: brands advertising on social media can connect with people who are willing to spend money even during the coronavirus era. Knowing this, how does a company move forward during such an unprecedented time? Here’s what we suggest you do:

  • Make sure you have a strong social media presence. As we’ve noted, use of social media has surged in the first quarter, with engagement on platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram spiking 40 percent or more — this despite, or even because of, the pandemic. In short, not only are people willing to spend on brands, there are more people on social, period. Brands that advertise on social will reach that larger audience.
  • Make sure your content is engaging, and that you engage with the audience. According to the Sprout Social report, 61 percent of consumers say that engagement with the audience is the brand characteristic that is most meaningful to them.
  • Complement your advertising with strong customer service. What does strong customer support look like now? Per Sprout Social, responding to people quickly is a strong barometer of customer service. As noted in Mobile Marketer, 40 percent of consumers expect brands to respond within the first hour of connecting through social media; and 79 percent expect a response in the first 24 hours.
  • Reach out to younger consumers in a way that matters most to them; that means a strong presence on YouTube and Instagram. Gen Z is the largest age cohort in the United States, and Millennials remain sizeable. It’s important that brands understand where Gen Zers spend their time. Right now, visual content is the key to Gen Zers’ hearts. The Sprout Social report reveals that social sharing platforms highlighting videos and photos, such as Google’s YouTube and Facebook’s Instagram, are becoming more and more popular with younger consumers. As reported in Mobile Marketer, “Almost three quarters (73%) of Generation Z said they plan to use Instagram more often, while 65% said they plan to spend more time on YouTube.” So it’s no surprise that Facebook just purchased Giphy and will integrate the business with Instagram.

Finally, make sure that you stay abreast of the various tools that are constantly made available to businesses to maximize the value of their social media spend. For instance, Google has adapted the YouTube masthead ad format for the era of connected TV.

Contact True Interactive

Eager to build a stronger social media presence? Contact us. We can help.

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Facebook’s Growth Highlights Importance of Messenger

Facebook’s Growth Highlights Importance of Messenger

Advertising Facebook

Facebook is having a good year financially. In its recent third-quarter 2019 earnings announcement, the company bested analyst expectations for growth in not only revenue but also membership: monthly active users now number 2.45 billion. Facebook isn’t going anywhere even though its problems have brought upon itself the threat of government regulation and even break-up.

What is Facebook doing right? Well, here’s one answer: Messenger.

What Is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is an app that people and businesses use to communicate with each other. Users can send messages, react to messages from others, and exchange photos, videos, and audio files. Facebook operates Messenger as a separate app. And it’s an extremely useful tool for brands, which can share all sorts of things, including ads. Through Facebook Messenger Ads, companies and users enjoy real-time text conversations—with the click of a button.

Currently, Facebook offers a number of different types of Messenger Ads:

  • Destination ads, which employ a lighter touch to engage customers. Rather than the usual “Shop Now” call to action, a “Send Message” button allows users to “get their feet wet,” as it were, and grow acquainted with a brand.
  • Sponsored messages, which deliver specially created messages (a sale coupon, for example) directly to a consumer’s inbox.
  • Home section ads, which crop up in the home dashboard of the messaging application and allow users and brands to engage in organic conversations.

Brands embracing tools like Messenger Ads stand to benefit: according to Facebook, 53 percent of users are more likely to make a purchase if they can message you. And because Facebook Messenger Ads don’t target non-brand-aware users, companies connect with people who have already interacted with their ads previously—an audience that is likely to be receptive (brands also gain points for not invasively reaching out to . . . everyone). Finally, it’s worth noting that Messenger Ads offer local targeting options, allowing brands to touch base with a specific audience based on where the business is located.

What Does Facebook Have to Say About Messenger?

During a recent conference call with investors, CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg returned to the topic of Messenger, and its importance, several times. Some key points stand out:

  • Businesses are already using Messenger to drive sales. According to Sheryl Sandberg: “Messaging is one of the fastest growing areas for online communication–especially between businesses and people. We’ve seen businesses use Messenger to reach customers, generate new leads and even sell cars. For example, French auto manufacturer Renault used a combination of Instagram Stories and Click-to Messenger ads to drive sales of a limited-edition vehicle, the Captur Tokyo. Facebook was their only advertising channel, and over the span of 30 days, they sold 100 cars—20 directly through Messenger. This quarter we added a Click-to-Messenger feature in Stories so businesses can grab someone’s attention in Stories and then continue the conversation.”
  • Messenger and Stories Deliver a 1-2 Punch. As noted above, Renault is using Messenger in conjunction with Stories. In the investor earnings call, Zuckerberg and Sandberg underline how businesses can maximize the value of features like Messenger through this type of imaginative pairing. To make it easier for more brands to create ads for the Stories format, Facebook has launched customizable templates for Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Advertisers can upload existing photos and videos, then augment them with different layout, color, and text options. The end result? More engaging Stories. And the Click-to-Messenger feature Sandberg references makes it possible for businesses to capture a user’s attention on Stories and then continue the conversation via Messenger.

What You Should Do

 When using Messenger as part of outreach:

  • Consider how Messenger will serve your brand in the context of the entire customer journey. Messenger Ads can spark interest, for example, and the Messenger the app can be a brilliant customer service tool.
  • Combine Messenger with Stories for an engaging and ultimately personal customer experience.

Contact True Interactive

Want to learn more about Messenger and how it will elevate your outreach? Contact us.

 

Facebook Shares an Advertising Roadmap for 2019

Facebook Shares an Advertising Roadmap for 2019

Facebook

Call it was the meltdown that wasn’t.

As Facebook prepared to announce its quarterly earnings January 30, there was a lot of public speculation that its scandal-ridden year might finally scare away advertisers and members.

The doubters were wrong.

Here’s what Facebook announced:

  • A 9-percent year-over-year increase in monthly active users, with 2.32 billion as of December 31, 2018.

  • Fourth-quarter revenues of $16.9 billion, up 30 percent year-over-year. That number beat Wall Street’s expectations of $16.4 billion.

Facebook is not only weathering months of data-privacy scandals, it is actually getting stronger. At True Interactive, we’ve shared our concerns about Facebook’s scandals and their possible impact on advertisers. We still think it’s important that advertisers watch Facebook closely. The threat of government regulation looms large. The number of fake and duplicate accounts are on the rise, by Facebook’s own admission (116 million fake accounts and 255 million duplicate accounts exist on the site). But advertisers should also be aware of some other numbers:

  • 93 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue comes from mobile.
  • 500 million people use Instagram Stories daily.

  • 2 million advertisers are now focusing on Stories.

Stories play a big part in Facebook’s growth plans for 2019, which Mark Zuckerberg published in a Facebook post. I have excerpted some highlights and used boldface to emphasize some points that jump out at me:

Messaging is the area that’s growing the most quickly, and this year people are going to feel these apps becoming the center of their social experience in more ways. We’ll roll out payments on WhatsApp in some more countries. Private sharing in groups and stories will become more central to the experience. We’re going to onboard millions of more businesses that people can interact with.

On Facebook, I also expect this to be the year where Watch becomes more mainstream. There are now 400 million people who use it every month, and people spend on average over 20 minutes on Watch daily. This means we’re finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed so it doesn’t displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for.

In Instagram, one of the areas I’m most excited about this year is commerce and shopping. There’s a lot of natural activity happening here, and this year I expect us to deliver some qualitatively new experiences around that.

Longer term, I remain very focused on building technology that brings people together in new ways, including through AR and VR. I’m looking forward to Oculus Quest shipping this spring — the feedback there so far has been very positive.

The numbers tell me this:

  • Advertisers need to understand how to capitalize on messaging. In September I wrote an Adweek column about Facebook monetizing WhatsApp. Clearly, Facebook is going full steam ahead here.
  • If you aren’t using Stories, you’re behind. Stories are now table stakes for brand building on Facebook’s platform, which includes Instagram Stories.
  • Figure out how Facebook Watch plays into your strategy. So far adoption numbers are underwhelming. But these are early days. The success of Facebook Live shows that Facebook knows how to make video a branding platform.
  • Integrate your Instagram with commerce. Brands are getting better at giving users compelling reasons to stop scrolling and buy. Expect new features to make social shopping more of an experience.
  • Augmented reality and virtual reality are branding plays for forward-thinking businesses, but AR and VR still have a long way to go.

Facebook is not as weak as its doubters said it was. Neither is Facebook as powerful as some would have you think. The company has issues. It’s not the cool place for Gen Z to hang out. A potential recession coming up could take a bite out of its advertising revenues. And as I mentioned, regulation is a constant threat. But Facebook remains a strong platform for advertisers with exciting features worth embracing. For more insight into how to succeed with digital media, including Facebook, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

A Reckoning for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg?

A Reckoning for Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg?

Facebook

One year ago, I predicted that Facebook could be facing a tough year due to the steady decline in users and the admission by former Facebook executives that the social media platform was designed to get its users addicted and was ripping apart the fabric of society. For those reasons, I cautioned Facebook advertisers to expect diminished performance from their Facebook ads. And as we enter 2019, we’re experiencing a serious case of Facebook déjà vu.

With the most recent revelation that Facebook gave some of the world’s largest technology companies including Bing, Amazon, Netflix, and Spotify more intrusive access to users’ personal data than previously disclosed, Facebook once again finds itself in hot water. Much of the negative publicity in 2018 focused on privacy concerns about Facebook. A few months back, news broke that Facebook could face a fine of $1.63 billion by the European Union for a massive data breach, and in April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by Congress over data privacy concerns. Two questions loom large:

  • Could 2019 be the year Mark Zuckerberg is forced to step aside? Zuckerberg accepting a diminished role is not out of the question given the reality that Facebook has failed to address its problems on its own. What Facebook does not want is tight government regulation, and the company may need to offer up a C-level sacrifice to avoid such an action.
  • Will advertisers scale back? Businesses have continued to advertise on Facebook despite its scandals, partly because Facebook is too big to ignore and partly because there’s nowhere else for Facebook’s users to go. But Facebook is vulnerable to another platform coming along and challenging its dominance – which could change things for users and advertisers.

Advertisers may want to think twice about associating their brands with a social media giant under such scrutiny. Given the current tumultuous state of Facebook, I once again recommend advertisers proceed with caution when it comes to their investment in Facebook marketing and also lower performance expectations.