#RIPTwitter: The Future of Twitter and Your Brand

It took a week’s worth of bad news to make people talk about Twitter again. Today, you’re probably hearing a lot about the future of Twitter, and wondering whether it has one.

From the #RIPTwitter backlash to news that user growth has “come to a halt” – as a few media outlets put it – the company is fighting to prove it’s still relevant.

If you’re a marketer, you want to know what all of this might mean for your brand engagement on Twitter. Here’s what you need to know:

Twitter User Growth
Twitter released its fourth quarter earnings report late Wednesday. Not only has the company failed to increase new users since it went public, it has actually lost monthly active users from the previous quarter, according to news reports. Investors were clearly disappointed, as stocks fell in after-hours trading.

The timing couldn’t have been worse, as it arrived on the heels of the #RIPTwitter drama. The company’s fight is now two-fold: Proving itself to investors and preserving the loyalty of the angry users it desperately needs.

#RIPTwitter: What Does it Mean?
Twitter has been hinting for a year that an algorithm was in the works. On Friday, Buzzfeed broke the news that it would be introduced this week, sending the twittersphere into a frenzy. Enraged users created the #RIPTwitter hashtag to protest the change, officially announced Wednesday.

Why the revolt? Users say Twitter is copying the Facebook playbook. Until now, the real-time Twitter feed has been its key differentiator, setting it apart from other platforms. Now, users worry the algorithm will vet everything they see.

What is an Algorithmic Timeline?

  • How it works now: The feed appears in reverse chronological order. Users see the latest tweets from people they follow.
  • The problem: If you don’t log in for a while, your real-time feed keeps updating without you.
  • What changes: If you log in after a hiatus, the new algorithm will highlight the top missed tweets it thinks are most relevant to you, based on your activity and other factors. (Read more about the feature on Twitter’s blog.)
  • What stays the same: After these “top missed tweets,” users continue on to their normal feed.
  • Who has to use it: It’s an optional setting that’s rolling out in waves.

How Does the Twitter Algorithm Impact Brands?
So die-hard Twitterheads are upset. As a marketer, should you be, too? It doesn’t look that way.

Here’s what changes:

  • The algorithm will only pick tweets from a user’s followers. It will not select ads.
  • It will factor in organic engagement, so promoted tweets can’t cheat the algorithm.
  • The company promises it’s not moving toward a “pay to play” system for advertising, like what Facebook uses.
  • Your brand’s unpaid tweets are still equal to user tweets. They may appear as top highlights, if they get enough traction.

That means you should continue to invest in and distribute high-quality content. And who knows, maybe these changes will actually help you reach more people – that is, if Twitter makes good on its promise to Wall Street for user growth this winter.

Interested in learning more about social media trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

How to Use Snapchat for Your Brand

Snapchat debuted as an app with a reputation as a tween/teen alternative to more traditional channels like Facebook and Twitter.

Today, Snapchat has begun to emerge as a legitimate social network that brands and agencies cannot ignore. Consider these stats from Snapchat:

  • 60 percent of 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users in the U.S. are on Snapchat
  • 5 billion-plus daily videos views
  • Over 100 million daily active users

According to these numbers, Snapchat is growing up. And for smart marketers, it presents a key opportunity to reach a coveted demographic.

What is Snapchat?

Founded in 2011 by three Stanford students, Snapchat had a clear goal: Provide a social media platform where posts, pictures and opinions shared “in the moment” would not haunt a user’s online reputation forever. It promised the ability to be spontaneous and honest without those 2 a.m. college posts popping up during future job interviews.

How Does Snapchat Work?

Snapchat is a smartphone app that allows its users to take pictures and video, add filters, text and emojis, and share them directly with friends.

The key to Snapchat’s appeal – and success – is its short window: No post lasts longer than 24 hours, and some disappear in seconds. This is important because it builds an engaged audience. Users keep checking in so they don’t miss posts and because they can only see them once, they make it count.

Snapchat and Marketing: What You Need to Know

Snapchat provides advertising opportunities with their Discover section, which is populated by big name publishers like ESPN, VICE, Wall Street Journal and many more.

  • Targeted advertising opportunities: Recently, Snapchat has announced wider ranging advertising options that will allow digital marketers to target specific groups of people. This type of ad product will allow brands to directly engage with their target audience depending on a number of factors like location, interests, etc.
  • Compelling campaigns through My Story: Brands can use the ‘My Story’ feature to highlight a product or service in little bite size chucks with a reveal at the end and a strong call to action. My Story compiles a series of posts – or snaps – in chronological order to tell a story.
  • Comprehensive social media strategy: Brands can use their existing social media groups in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to add more followers on their Snapchat page via posting the Snapchat user QR code as their profile picture or a straight up image post. (Be bold, make your Snapchat QR code your Facebook profile image and watch your followers jump higher.)

While Snapchat is still in the early stages of growth, I’m seeing more and more 30+, 40 + individuals creating and sending snaps to their friends and colleagues. With every image having a permanent home elsewhere, sharing “of the moment” images/video to friends creates more of an intimacy with your friends. However as the user base of Snapchat moves to an older demographic, having opportunities to deliver your message to where the attention is of your audience will further validate using Snapchat as one of your social media channels.

Interested in learning more in social media trends? Read more from our blog, View from the Charles:

The Rise of Mobile Chat Apps

Facebook & Twitter Unleash New, Exciting Features

Instagram Ad Rollout – More Opportunity for PPC

The world is becoming more mobile every day. According to a national survey 92% of Americans own a cell phone, 58% of which own a smartphone. The result?  We are constantly connected to one another and to the world.

One of the most popular ways we connect on mobile is via social networks. Over the past decade+ we’ve connected virtually on platforms from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook, the latter of which has arguably become a part of everyday life.

Instagram Used by Almost 20% of Cell Phone Users

Instagram is one of the latest in this social media landscape – and originated as an app.  Since being introduced in 2010, it has grown in popularity. According to the Pew Research Center, one in five American adult cell phone owners use the app (roughly 18% of the population).

Like Facebook (Instagram’s parent company), Instagram is now serving ads in users’ feeds that appear “natural”, like a post from a friend or someone that you follow. When one of these sponsored images or videos appears, it will feature a “Sponsored” icon in the top right corner.

Instagram Ad Targeting

Instagram ads are targeted to users by combining data from personal Instagram and Facebook accounts. Ad content will depend on who you follow on Instagram as well as what you’ve already “Liked” on Facebook. If a user does not have a Facebook account (or have their Instagram linked to their Facebook), the ads shown will be less tailored.

Advertising on Instagram is in beta – currently not available to all advertisers – but will be slowly rolling out over the next few months. Large brands such as Adidas and Lexus have created Instagram accounts in the past few years and have already built quite a following. These types of brands can leverage both their natural presence, as well as the ability to advertise to engage users in multiple areas, with multiple messages.

Are Instagram Ads Right for You?

As with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and advertising,  not every social media channel will be right for every company. Pew Research Center has broken out some very significant data that will help us to determine whether or not Instagram ads are a good fit. One example is that 43% of cellphone owners age 18-29 currently use Instagram, but only 18% of the  30-49 age bracket does. If your brand targets Gen Y, Instagram could be very successful. If targeting anyone over 30, you may be wasting your ad dollars or may want to at least take a closer look at what appeals to this smaller segment.

CRI is very excited to have the opportunity to reach our audience via new PPC formats and services, and we look forward to testing and analyzing results in the months ahead. Stay tuned for what will definitely be an exciting time in the ever-changing world of online advertising.

If You Build It, Will They Come? 3 Steps to More YouTube Traffic

Having an attractive and fully functional YouTube channel for your business is very important. A YouTube channel that contains quality videos and takes advantage of all of the features YouTube offers can make a significant difference in page views and conversions. Below, we have compiled a list of suggestions that can drastically help improve the look and functionality of your YouTube channel.

Step 1:  Use annotations to build subscribers

YouTube gives you the ability to add annotations to your YouTube videos that incorporate clickable calls to action. These annotations appear on your videos for a specified length of time and they can include links to other videos and playlists, or even a subscribe option. Any administrators to the specific channel will have complete control of the annotations including what they look like as well as where and when they will appear in the video. By adding annotations to certain videos, you may be able to quickly convert casual viewers who saw your video indirectly, into subscribers of the channel. Strategically placing annotations at the right time and in the right place on the video will give you the best opportunity to funnel viewers to various parts of your channel where they have the highest chance of donating.

Creating annotations can also be helpful if you have created a video with out-of-date information. Instead of deleting the video, you can direct people to the newer and more relevant video by using a simple annotation.

Here is a simple tutorial on how to add annotations to videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qZmGDN30PI

Step 2:  Leverage other social media platforms

YouTube is a great social media platform that allows you to easily extend the reach of your videos through sharing tools that automatically share new videos with other popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In the socially connected world that we live in today, it is critical to have every one of your social platforms connected to one another as it will give you the best opportunity to reach the most interested audience.

  • Post to Blog.

Every time you release a new video, you should create a blog post around it. Create keyword-rich title and fill your post with complementary content to describe and support the video. This will deliver your video to your blog subscribers and increase its chances of being found in a search. Plus, you can add your own sharing buttons on your blog, making it easier for other people to share your content.

  •  Post to Facebook

Every time you release a new video, you need to put it on your Facebook page. By connecting your YouTube channel with your Facebook page, you will ensure that your Facebook audience has direct access to your YouTube channel. Followers will receive updates when a new video is released and they can even watch newly posted YouTube videos directly on the Facebook platform. By linking the two social media platforms together, your YouTube channel will see a rise in views, visits and subscribers.

  • Tweet it.

Newly released YouTube videos should also be posted to your Twitter page. Similar to Facebook, a Twitter page has a significant amount of followers that can easily be notified when a new video is released. By connecting your YouTube channel to Twitter, followers of your business will know when a new video gets posted and can have instant access to it.

StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking site has always been a powerful referrer. It drives a significant amount of traffic to social media sites including YouTube. This is a very simple way to gain exposure for your YouTube channel.

Step 3:  Analyze YouTube Analytics

YouTube has very powerful analytics that give you insight into who is watching your videos and how they discovered them. Analytics are vital to regularly review because it will indirectly tell you what your channel has done well, what things need to improve and where new potential opportunities lie.

Don’t take a chance on creating wonderful content and letting it go unnoticed.  Try these easy steps to get your channel noticed today!