Since 2019 has kicked off in earnest, anyone that follows tech news will have seen Facebook popping up in their newsfeed very regularly. It's been a busy month for the company, with them making a number of announcements about changes and new products coming throughout 2019. Below are a few of those announcements that caught our attention - and may be useful to know as a small business owner doing any sort of social media campaign or Facebook marketing.
Whatsapp, Instagram & Facebook Messenger to work together
A few clickbait style headings earlier this week announced that Facebook was "merging" Whatsapp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger. While there is some truth to that statement, the changes aren't quite as comprehensive as a full merger. In a nutshell, the plan is to make the underlying structure of the messenging parts of those apps work together. So for example if you have Facebook Messenger and your friend has Whatsapp, you'd still be able to message them directly. More importantly, that messaging is all going to have end-to-end encryption (starting with Facebook Messenger). So you can rest a bit easier knowing your messaging is safe from prying eyes.
Whether this is a sign of a bigger merger to come in the future will be interesting to see, but given Instagram's popularity, it seems unlikely that the platforms will be merged into some form of 'super' Facebook app.
Pages & Groups may be closed before they full violate policy
With all the recent 'fake news' and click baiting that has been coming through the Facebook platform, they've decided to tighten up their protocols by adding a 'Page Quality' tab. This tab will basically tell you as a page owner if your content is being removed or demoted because it is false, partially false, or has a false headline. The idea behind it is to eliminate more misleading content from the platform. In addition to this, the site is going to start banning Pages which are being used to share content that has originally been pulled from the site. For example, if you have two pages and one page is banned or has a post removed, this new policy means you really shouldn't then go and share that same content on the other page. They are calling these 'proactive removals'.
"Scam" button may be on the way
After seeing a few celebrities faces being used by scam posts on Facebook, the company has responded by announcing they will be aiming to launch a scam reporting button to posts - initially in the UK. Again, this whole roll-out of announcements certainly seems to be targeted at improving the trustworthiness of posts on the site.
Run your petitions through Facebook
In an attempt to be seen as more of a platform for social good, Facebook has announced a new feature called "Community Actions". If you have a cause for good, you'll be able to create that cause in Community Actions, tag relevant authorities & government bodies, and the public will be able to one click "Support" that cause, as well as run discussions etc within it. Like alot of things these days, the company will be testing the service in the USA and we'll be curious to see how well they are able to moderate the Community Actions that are posted. Will this just become another feature used negatively by the internet?
SUMMARY: How does this all affect your business?
Like most changes in the online space these days, the changes that Facebook are looking to bring quality to their product. Trustworthiness and reliability are the main focus, so if you continue to create genuine, original and truthful content, then you won't need to worry too much about the changes impacting your page.
Last week Mark Zuckerberg made a huge announcement, one that is likely to have very big ramifications for any business that uses Facebook as a way to reach more customers. It was such a big announcement that Facebook’s stock took a big dive as investors tried to get their heads around what it meant for the social media behemoth. The plan is simple - make our social media feeds more about our friends and family.
The driving force behind the change is Facebook’s desire to bring back more meaningful social interactions to the platform. Over the past couple of years (and particularly through the American election), Zuckerberg has faced increasing complaints that Facebook was causing more social harm than it did good. Besides social media addiction, the platform’s algorithm was mainly serving us up content that confirmed our previously held viewpoints. That wasn’t what Facebook was created to do, and with this latest announcement, they are trying to make our newsfeed far more positive and personal to our actual daily lives.
But what does it mean to businesses? Well, that’s the bad news. Because the newsfeed will be shifting from a focus on ‘topics’ and ‘relevant content’ to ‘meaningful social interactions’, it’s highly likely that a business page’s organic reach will decrease. We believe the emphasis will become less about topics and engagement on page posts, and more about how those posts are shared amongst your friend group. So where currently, if someone who likes cars likes a post, the post might get shown to someone else random who likes cars, in the future, it’ll be more about those posts being shared amongst friend groups. The organic Facebook game definitely just got harder for businesses.
The bigger unknown will be how this newsfeed change affects sponsored content/advertising on the platform. Given Facebook will want to stay profitable, it seems likely that where companies could get great organic reach previously, now they may need to focus their efforts into paid advertising and sponsored posts. The hardest thing to pinpoint right now is how those sponsored posts will be displayed. Will they stick to the ‘relevant content’ policy, or will there also be an element of the new ‘social engagement’ approach applied to the advertising as well?
As the change rolls out we’ll be keeping a close eye on it, but it’s fair to say that this is a major shift in the online advertising world. By making this change now Facebook hopes to become more relevant and important to it’s users – which may mean that it becomes a more powerful tool for advertisers…or it could mean a huge hit for business engagement. At the end of the day it’s businesses that pay the salaries at Facebook, so our view is that businesses natural reach will drop, but their advertising reach will stay steady…but let's just watch this space.
Pokemon Go Advertising
In the last two weeks a new Augmented Reality game/app has swept through New Zealand, bringing people into the street, glued to their phones and engaged with their surroundings. That phenomenon is Pokemon Go, an app which lets users walk around their cities 'catching' digital anime characters in their real world environment. This blog won't look into the mechanics of the game too much, but rather looks at how smart businesses can take advantage of a craze like Pokemon Go to boost their sales and brand. For us, it all boils down to three steps - know the craze, know your brand and combine the two to take advantage of this unique digital marketing opportunity.
KNOW THE CRAZE
Understanding a craze and what is making people love it is the first step in doing well in these spikes of popular interest. By getting inside the mind of the person you're trying to make a customer, you'll better understand what they might react to. For Pokemon Go - get the game and play the game. You'll quickly realise that certain things are desired; items to collect, Pokemon to catch, gyms to battle at and Pokestops to visit. You'll figure out that you can add an item (a lure) to a Pokestop to have more Pokemon show up, and that something like that immediately increases foot traffic in an area. You'll realise that gyms have people arrive and stay in that place for a prolonged period of time, and that in general users tend to engage with each other people in real life alot more than any other game.
This logic goes for any sort of craze or high engagement activity... knowing what appeals to people on social media like snap chat will make you better at utilising it for your business, just like understanding why people were all of a sudden into 'macaroons' a while back, will help you figure out how you might leverage of that taste craze.
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS
This is where we feel alot of people fall down when it comes to a craze or fad. It's all good and well to jump on board the latest new bandwagon and start throwing social media posts out about it, but if it isn't the right fit for your brand, then think twice. As an example, we haven't immediately jumped onboard the Pokemon Go craze with our professional service clients just yet. As lawyers, accountants or other professional services, they have an image of professionalism and expertise that we didn't think was quite right to associate with the an anime game. A throw away Facebook post wouldn't have garnered a huge amount of traction for those companies, but the perception away from professionalism might have been detrimental. On the flipside of that we quickly realised that any company in the food and beverage industry (and to a lesser extent retail) had a huge opportunity. Because Pokemon Go draws people to certain real world locations, we realised that people at those locations would still need to eat and drink, so absolutely jumped on the idea.
If the craze and your brand go together, then you are in a great position to leverage off it in your marketing activities.
COMBINE THE CRAZE AND YOUR BUSINESS
The final key to leveraging off a craze is figuring out how you are going to combine your business and the craze naturally. Nothing should feel forced in this social world, so be smart and don't just do something for the sake of doing something. For Pokemon Go, real world locations that are already close to Pokestops and that are in the food and beverage service have it easy. By buying and adding 'lures' to these Pokestops in game, you are able to increase foot traffic to your location and as a consequence increase your sales. In America their have been reports of a pizza joint increasing their sales by 75% since Pokemon Go kicked off. For the rest of us creativity will be key. We recently saw Hawkes Bay Signs create a Pokemon character out of post-it notes on their shop window - that might not immediately increase sales, but it will drive more social media traffic and is right on brand for what they do. Offering discounts in store for certain 'teams' in Pokemon has also been gaining traction. As a web design and social media company, our little foray into Pokemon go was to use a local bar (Shed 2) as a spot to put a lure on just so we could post on social media and have our post shared and liked. It was more about experimenting so that we could understand what might work for our clients, and creating this article is a natural progression of that.
The bottom line is that once you understand the craze, understand your business and think creatively about combining the two if appropriate, the opportunities for increased sales and exposure are definitely waiting to happen. Be smart, be natural and always have someone on staff or contracted to your company to keep on top of social media changes and crazes like these. The early bird catches the worm!
Email Newsletter Campaigns
In the digital world we are constantly bombarded with advertising and companies wanting to sell themselves and their products to us. It's often a tough world to get heard, with the 'noise' of social media and search engines leaving little space for genuine information and communication. For 543, the solution to breaking through that noise has been getting better and better results through the use of electronic digital marketing, or EDM. Below are our pointers on how to make the most of a mailout, make it look incredible and importantly, keep your users engaged.
The first step you need to understand before pushing on with an electronic mailout is why you are going to do it. What are your motivations for sending out an EDM? Is it purely sales? Do you just think you should be doing it? Can you offer your readers something?
For us, a good EDM starts at giving the people you are emailing something that they'll find interesting and worth reading. There is no point bombarding people with sales emails that don't really serve the recipient. Rather, it's important to be sending information that they will read, engage with and possibly enjoy. In a digital world, marketing is more about creating a familiarity with the sender/reader than hardcore sales. Send information that will make your readers go 'ah yes...blah blah is an expert in that' next time they need to make a purchase in your area of specialty. WHY - BE HELPFUL.
You can't just scatterbomb everyone with an email address - first off it's against anti spam legislation, and secondly it's an extremely inefficient way to make a sale. You want an engaged audience, people that want to hear what you have to say. A starting point is obviously your email contact list, but thought needs to be put into how you expand that list. Add every new client, or every new contact you come across, but also aim to increase your database beyond those you already know.
We recommend using something like SUMOME. It's a fantastic tool that let's you create pop-ups or forms on your site to generate more sales leads and increase your email database. Our top tip is offering a discount or something free in a pop-up in exchange for being included in a mailing list. You may sacrifice on the final sale price, but you will inevitably pick up more sales by being able to talk directly to interested parties. WHO - POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS.
Regular content is what often stops small businesses from sending out EDM's. It takes time and discipline to sit down and right an email. The trick is definitely writing about something you know alot about, and if possible something current. Think about giving away small bits of free advice to hook the bigger bit of work. Try to send something at least once a month, but don't send it if it feels forced - content is king. And don't be afraid to search through the net to find topics that you can write on. When all else fails - contact 543 and we can help with the content! WHAT - BRIEF, INTERESTING, REGULAR.
Lastly, once you know who you are sending an EDM to and what you are going to write about, you need to make sure you have a great tool that will get the email into all their inboxes. The tool that seems to be the most popular globally is MailChimp - but for us, the winner is definitely CampaignMonitor. Both those tools provide ready made templates and a level of testing that can have you fairly certain your email won't get stopped by spam filters. They both let you know who is reading your message, and who is clicking what links within it. Both are affordable, and if you do go for CampaignMonitor we can set it up, monitor it and generally help out remotely.DO IT YOURSELF? OR GET HELP?At 543 we are pretty big on empowering our clients to be able to do all these marketing things themselves, however sometimes it's just not the smart play. Ultimately, with any marketing, you need to decide if the money/time you spend trying to do something yourself, would be better spent getting a pro to do it quicker, better and without you ever having to worry. For some it will be DIY, for others it might be worth sending Jamie an email at [email protected] to chat about helping out with all aspects of your marketing for as low as $150.
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The founder of 543 Design & Online gives his thoughts on everything web and branding.
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