Social Media 2020

four people using smartphones behind glass wall

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Social media in general had a tough year in 2018. Criticisms of fake news, private data being sold and made public by hackers and other issues gave it a bad reputation in the general public. Even the media that uses, perhaps even relies on, social media was critical. But social media is not going away.

Hootsuite made some predictions for 2020 social media (jumping right over this year)  that are pretty safe bets to make. For example, based on their annual global study of internet, social, and mobile adoption across 239 countries, social media usage will continue to grow.  I agree.

In 2017, one million new people joined social networks every day. Nearly a quarter of a billion new users came online for the first time in 2017. Where is the fastest growth? No surprise that it is places like Africa. Five years ago it would have been the emerging Chinese market, but that country has been pretty much conquered. Though Google, Facebook and others would still like a bigger piece of the share.)

Product discovery becomes more visual and social, according to GlobalWebIndex, because about half of internet users follow brands they like or brands they are thinking of buying something from on social media.

Again, the fast-growth markets are in Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. In  the Philippines, Kenya and Morocco, social media beats the big search engines as a way to research purchasing and so it is a good bet that by 2020 search’s grip on product research will be even less. I have to believe that search engine companies are looking hard at that trend. And we know that Google never got social right. We saw the end of Google+ in 2018.

Have you done searches in the past year using voice via Siri, Alexa et al? Visual and voice search are also growing and Baidu expects half of searches by 2020 are going to be through images or speech by 2020. Baidu has the second largest search engine in the world but (like the leader’s company) this Chinese multinational technology company that specializes in Internet-related services and products and artificial intelligence, is also involved in lots of other tech, such as autonomous vehicles.

Pinterest – which I find myself using less and less – has Lens which uses machine learning for brand and product discovery and could really help broaden their reach.

On the commercial user side of things, I don’t think we have really seen much innovation in areas like customer service and support using messaging apps and chatbots. That may be a 2020 trend.

Some would say that social video is at a saturation point. I agree. So if it is to grow there needs to be some evolution. We know that watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram is commonplace. How much of your time doing that is for social or pleasure and how much is coming from commercial and promotion?  I suspect the latter uses will increase. I read that for some late night talk shows and Saturday Night Live video replay on YouTube or their own sites now accounts for 20% or more of their advertising income. It’s no wonder that Jimmy Fallon urges you after every clip to subscribe to their channel.

With all this growth, there are still trends that point to possible declines. The video saturation may not cause evolution but instead just mean that people are tired of all this video hitting them and stop watching.

Privacy is a huge concern and people are sharing less personal information on major networks. I disconnected many social services from others. I don’t share my contacts as readily. I don’t use Google or facebook or Twitter to sign into other services if I can help it. Companies know this. facebook has disallowed me from automatically sharing posts from other networks on my profile.

I keep hearing that Gen Y and Z will drive increased adoption of technology like VR and AR. But that is not what I see in my students that fall into these generational groups. Like myself, they just don’t see compelling reasons to own and use expensive glasses/goggles or add apps yet.

I think it is a given that AI and mobile will continue to grow and slip into our daily lives in many almost unseen ways.


You can read Hootsuite’s report on Digital in 2018 and make your own plans to join (or rebel against) the rise of social in the year ahead.

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Designing For 2019

On one of my demo sites that I use with clients, I do a post each month on what is happening in web design trends. It is hard to keep up as the web evolves. Certainly websites from back in 1989 look VERY different (thankfully!) from today’s sites. The new year always brings predictions of new directions for web design. Some of those predicted trends end up being fads and lasting very briefly.

Here is a look at a few predictions for web design trends for 2019. Which ones will stick?

The blog at bluecompass.com comes from this Iowa-based digital company that works with businesses on web design, development and marketing.

Their predictions have a lot of color, animation and movement.  I have to say that some of this doesn’t work for me. It is overwhelming. One trend is the popularity of long web pages and seemingly “endless” scrolling. They point to the site for magicleap.com/ which I think has too much going on.

color branding by Camden Town Brewery

Color branding is another trend they list. Of course, using colors as prt of your branding is hardly new. It’s about as old as branding had colors available after we got past black and white newspapers, magazines, color TVs and monitors and computer printers. The example above uses multiple colors and animated backgrounds to show the colors coordinated to the beer labels – Belgian White having a yellow label, etc.

Blue Compass’ own UX testing found that rather than horizontal lines, using diagonal line design is not only visually intriguing, but it creates a directional purpose for the user’s eyes to follow down the page or to point to a call-to-action. The example below from TaxiNet illustrates this trend.
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The blog at movableink.com has its own list of trends for 2019. One that I agree on is breaking the grid. That grid is the symmetrical, graph paper kind of balance and design that came from engineering. We like its harmony. It is logical. But it can be boring and restrictive.

Broken grid layouts actually don’t use a grid, or if they do it is to be able to overlap and see where you are breaking the lines. Images, backgrounds and text elements can seem to drift into and across the gutters that we are used to having form the boundaries. This trend is great for people who never liked to color within the lines.

A broken grid on belletrist.com

Not animated but still striking is the use of big, bold lines that can draw attention to a point or a complementary image. With thick lines, the color(s) and intersection points pull the user’s attention – sometimes to and sometimes away from the lines creating a focal point.

Big, bold, thick lines are central to this Mountain Dew and the NBA campaign.

Crisis Response and Social Media Strategy

t-rex in the rearview mirror

Ready for a crisis when it appears?

Often when we think of a social media strategy, we think of marketing. Create a plan, make a content calendar, and build campaigns.  But organizations also need a strategy to respond to a crisis using social media (SM) and ones that emerge in SM.

Many organizations and boards use an Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) approach for dealing with a crisis. But that ERM was probably overseen by an audit committee or some group other than a social media team. In fact, the SM team might not even be in-house. The traditional ERM might have originally considered things like disaster recovery (fire, flood, hurricanes) and had its purview expanded to oversee things like cyber readiness. A well prepared organization’s risk mitigation should also have pre-reviewed  SM responses ready.

Betsy Atkins, writing in Forbes, suggests that you prepare for your ten most likely risks. Having prepared such strategies and taught students to do so, I know that though there may be some industry typical risks that are obvious, you really need a list customized to your organization.

For example, Atkins suggests that for a restaurant, those risks might include a wide range from food poisoning, to a #metoo issue, or a breach of customer info, to an armed attack/active shooter.

She notes that the difference between Starbucks’ speedy response on an alleged racial bias issue contrasts poorly with the poor responses by United Airlines concerning passenger abuse removal scandal followed by a puppy suffocation death.

In a time when customers are more likely to tweet their anger with your organization or post a bad review, you need to respond very quickly and as proactively as possible. I was a MoviePass customer and I saw many complaints on social media about service and all received the same boilerplate “contact us privately” kind of response. I knew they were in trouble. Beyond the person who posted their complaint, there were many more readers of it who had the same issue or would have in the future and they saw that the company was avoiding any public response.

Is there any crossover between the marketing side of SM and the risk management side? There should be. Since I work frequently in higher education, I was interested in an article about how George Washington University is using campus influencers  to market for them. Using students, alums, campus leaders is not unique, though much of what you see online is probably accidental rather than intentional marketing. These participants received a package of GW “swag” and were asked to post about GW at least three times a month using the hashtag #GWAmbassador and attend at least two events at GW (tickets provided) each semester if they live in the D.C. area.

The article was vague on details but said that “officials” would provide these ambassadors with “expectations” about how to promote the given material. I hope those expectations are carefully worded and thorough in their coverage since you have designated these people as ad-hoc members of the marketing team. Are they disclosing that they were given the ticket to the event they are posting about?  If they wear their GW hat and sweatshirt at a gun control rally and post a photo without the official hashtag are they still representing the university at some level?

The campaign sounds okay, and the few examples I saw in Twitter seemed innocent enough. Are they ready to respond to a crisis emerging from it?

 

Meme Feeds

Meme accounts (AKA meme feeds) have been appearing on social networks, especially Instagram.  Meme accounts are also becoming attractive for brands and publishers who are seeking a better ROI compared to “influencers” who aren’t getting the results they once did.

You know memes, right? They are things, often witty or humorous, like an image, video, small piece of text that is copied (often with slight variations) and spreads rapidly by social media users.

A brand is probably no better at creating a meme than any of us are at creating a viral video. It just happens.

But with a meme, the wit comes more naturally when crowdsourced. Meme accounts are people who aggregate a meme.

Of course, social media sites also aggregate memes. Twitter has trending hashtags, such as #BlackGirlsRock or a brand meme like Subway’s #SubTheBurger campaign.

And a meme account saves money.  “For 1 million followers, you could be paying $15,000 to a human influencer, and for 1 million followers on a meme account you’d be paying about $1,000,” said Tim Armoo, CEO of influencer platform Fanbytes.

Of course, what we still want is engagement. The engagement rate is calculated as LIKES + COMMENTS divided by the number of followers.   1000 likes + 100 comments divided by 250 followers would give you a nice engagement rate of 4.4%.

Some numbers found online say that the engagement rate is 3.5 percent for the cool meme accounts and that is equal to mainstream influencers doing the same kind of posting. Brand-sponsored meme posts only have an engagement rate of 1.7 percent.

MORE at digiday.com

What’s Cool With Gen Z?

gen z
I looked at “It’s Lit: A Google Guide to What Teens (Gen Z) Think is Cool”

The social media global penetration will hit three billion people worldwide by 2021, and one of the fastest growing, quickest adopting generations on social media is Generation Z  These are the current teenagers and they make up about 26%, of the US population.

Where are they posting online? Snapchat, and Instagram are cool. Twitter and Facebook, not cool. Still, Facebook is still almost a daily habit for most teens for viewing/consuming content from friends and family, but they are not engaged there or posting.

Snapchat and Instagram don’t encourage sharing as much and are more about who you follow which makes them feel more private/closed allowing messaging and shares without it being public.

Apps like WhatsApp, Telegram, and other chat services may play no roll in your clients’ or your personal social media landscape but are growing in popularity with Gen Z.

Pinterest is down with only a 26% reach with teens. In Google’s report, they don’t treat their own YouTube property as social media but as a streaming service. In that category, teens rank services in this order: YouTube, Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu.

I was surprised at some of the brands they engage with most often: Oreo, Playstation, Doritos, Xbox, Apple, Nike, Amazon, Chik-Fil-A, and Go Pro. Low engagement goes to  Patagonia, Zara, Lululemon, Quicksilver, Oakley, Nordstrom and Sunglass Hut. If you are in that latter group, you would want to consider where these teens will be looking and buying in the next decade when Gen Z purchasing power increases significantly. Will you have lost them?

New Template Being Pushed for Facebook Business Pages

changes

Many of you Facebook received the same update news that I got about changes to business Pages. I have read that these changes are largely inspired by a push to support small and local businesses.

There are more than 80 million businesses that use Facebook Pages. About two-thirds of the 1.6 billion people around the world visit a local business Page or an Event Page each week.

I have also read that Page reach and engagement for brands has been on the decline. The area of weakest engagement is the News Feed.

The News Feed is the key area for personal pages, but not so for business Pages. The changes seem to be making your business presence more like a website. Some smaller businesses have been using their Facebook Page as a website in that they don’t have a traditional website at all. Recently, I built a Facebook business Page for a professional photographer who did not have a website, though he did use Zenfolio to display and sell his work.

Business owners know that customer reviews (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor etc.) are important to all businesses but especially for local businesses. If you trust the validity of those reviews for restaurants and services, they can drive engagement and sales. And facebook quickly realized (and abused to a degree) the fact that most of us especially trust reviews by their friends and families.

The update makes it easier for people to recommend your business by posting text, photos and tags directly on your Page.

There are also action buttons prominently near the top of Pages for things like booking an appointment for a haircut, ordering, sending a message or writing  a recommendation.

The email I initially received said:

We want to let you know that your Page’s template will be changing. This new design will help you connect with the people who care most about your business on Facebook.

The new layout is specifically for businesses like yours and will showcase important information about your business – like hours, prices and your menu – making it easier for people to connect with Ronkowitz LLC.

You can make this change now, or we’ll automatically update your Page layout on August 24th, 2018. You can also continue to use your current template.

Other changes are also coming for businesses. It may not really affect small, local businesses but job listings (which Facebook has been testing since 2017) is supposed to be added to business pages in the next few months.

Choosing the action buttons best suited to your business would be a good first step, but you can also feature information such as hours and prices, as well as Recommendations more prominently on Pages. You can also choose to highlight new content such as events and offers.

Some of these features are not new, but are displayed differently. Facebook says that 700 million people use Facebook Events each month. You could always link to ticket sales on another site, but now you will be able to sell tickets directly through Facebook Pages and make event-specific ads to help with promotion and marketing. Obviously, those changes benefit Facebook monetarily too.

I have seen other recent changes too not mentioned in most update articles. For example, a photo post I shared from my Instagram to Facebook no longer carried an Instagram label and so looked less like a repost.