October 23, 2018: Facebook announces three updates to its branded content and collabs features (& gets slammed with another lawsuit), Instagram passes Snapchat as most-used social platform by teenagers, UBS report highlights link between Instagram engagement and sales, YouTube invests $20 million in series of education initiatives.
Here’s what’s worth knowing this week:
Facebook’s Branded Content Glow Up
Facebook has announced three updates related to branded content on its platform.
Hold onto your seats, folks. The social network has updated the language on its branded content tag from “Paid” to “Paid Partnership” – we know, life changing. In case that wasn’t a big enough update for y’all, the tags will also have a new “About This Partnership” icon which will lead people to more information about the two tagged pages and their partnership. Facebook has also said its testing the ability for page to tag other pages for collabs or other non-financially motivated relationships (currently pages can only tag other pages via the branded content tool). Oh, and their Brands Collabs Manager has gone global – with new and improved search capabilities as well as a new feature that enables brands to post briefs and creators to respond to those briefs.
Why the sudden change(s)?
Two words: FTC compliance. After a series of lawsuits and increased scrutiny from the government – the last thing FB needs is any FTC action around misleading consumers when it comes to influencer-generated content, especially since going all-in on its influencer game. Consumers don’t always understand advertiser partnerships, and the new tags, in particular, enable influencers and advocates to fully disclose the nature of their brand relationships #gifted.
Should we be excited?
We think so. Until now, Pages couldn’t tag other Pages outside of the Branded Content tool. What we’re excited about is the increased transparency the new tags allow for disclosure of brand-influencer relationships, as well as the cross pollination potential of co-collabs between influencers, consumers, and brands – and the ability for influencers to simply tag the brands they love (non-spon love!).
Marketers ask and you shall receive… and if you don’t receive ask until you do. For so long, influencer marketers have been asking for better briefs and search capabilities. So what does FB do? They make updates to its Brands Collabs Manager tool. However, as hard as FB tries, Instagram is still very much the platform-of-the-moment, Instagram influence being the standard. Marketers are still going to want to activate on more than just Instagram (and FB) – so while search may be commoditized, the workflows activating those influencers across platforms remains a challenge.
Pivot To Video, Because Facebook Said So
It will be fine, Facebook said. Spoiler alert – it wasn’t. According to new legal filing claims, Facebook overstated the success of videos posted to its social network for years, exaggerating the time spent watching them by as much as 900 percent. Citing 80,000 pages of internal Facebook documents, advertisers further allege that the company knew about the problem for at least a year and did nothing.
Why is this a big deal?
TLDR; layoffs on layoffs on layoffs – because you don’t need writers and editors when you “pivot to video.” Got time? Check out the longer version of the story here.
What are advertisers saying?
“Facebook’s internal efforts behind the scenes refelt a company mentality of reckless indifference toward the accuracy of its metrics.”
What’s FB saying?
“This lawsuit is without merit and we’ve filed a motion to dismiss these claims of fraud. Suggestions that we in any way tried to hide this issue from our partners are false.”
Let’s get to the bottom of this.
Turns out math can be hard for FB too. The actual error was that FB divided total time spent watching a video not by the total number of users who spent any time watching the video (a group that would have included people “quickly scrolling past muted auto-playing video advertisements,”) but instead by only the number of users who watched a video for three seconds or more. The result? A much higher time spent watching number.
In a situation like this, who’s to blame? For starters, the responsibility falls on publishers (and marketers) to be completely informed by how their marketing and advertising partners calculate their metrics and analytics – understanding data and full methodology behind the stats they’re basing business decisions on – where it came from and how it was calculated. It’s also publishers’ (and marketers’) responsibilities to not just depend on one platform, but to invest in a diversified marketing strategy – in terms of both content and platforms. But as well, to continue trust, marketing and advertising partners need to be fully transparent on how they share the data, analytics, and other “proprietary” information behind their measurement.
Instagram Beats Out Snapchat for Teens’ Fav App
Instagram has officially passed Snapchat as the most-used social platform by teenagers, per Piper Jaffray’s fall 2019 survey. The survey polled about 8,600 teenagers across the U.S. with an average age of 16.
Tell me more
Piper Jaffray found 85 percent of teens surveyed use Instagram at least once a month, just beating out long-time leader Snapchat at 84 percent. When participants were asked about the best way for a retailer/brand to communicate with them about new products, 70 percent voted Instagram as the best channel to do so. Snapchat moved to second place for preferred brand engagement ahead of email, both just over 40 percent.
While Snapchat may be a nice-to-have for marketers, it is no longer a must-have. Snap’s only real claim to fame was that it was the favored platform among teens but, now that teen usage on Snap is behind the ‘Gram (for the first time ever), Snap needs to think fast. It’s likely we’ll see an abundance of new releases geared at appealing to the teenage crowd – aiming to steal them back from the ‘Gram. But TBD if it will be enough to reverse the damage. Over the past few months, we’ve seen Snap release countless new e-commerce features to keep its users engaged, but none have been enough to reverse its declining user base.
Not Unrelated: Investors Look to the ‘Gram for Hot Stocks
According to a UBS report on European luxury, volume of Insta followers and engagement are likely to lead to sales. The report surveyed more than 3,000 consumers across China, Europe and the U.S. by UBS Group AG.
UBS used six key measures to determine the level of engagement between a brand and its followers, including the brand’s total monthly likes, average likes per post, and follower growth. It also used Google Trends to look at search volumes around specific brands. Instagram engagement offered a reliable indication of “current brand heat,” with top performers including Gucci, Versace, Rolex and Louis Vuitton. UBS added that there’s a “clear linear relation” between a brand’s number of followers on various social channels and its retail sales. Even if not all of a brand’s followers are current customers, those followers should still translate into sales eventually “as long as there is match between the product offer and earnings capacity.”
YouTube Bets Big on Education
YouTube has revealed new plans to invest in $20 million series of education initiatives, including a fund to support YouTube creators making learning-based videos and providing them with resources to better monetize their videos. The company is also said to be working on educational “YouTube Originals” videos as well as launching a “Learning” channel with DIY videos and tutorials that will be listed under its existing “Best of YouTube” section on the homepage.
Two words. Brand safety. Let’s be honest, YouTube hasn’t always been the safest environment for brands to advertise on – you know it, I know it, and Marc Pritchard sure knows it. Now, the company hopes to earn back advertiser trust (in the form of dollars) by giving them more safe places for ads.
How does a creator secure funding?
An FAQ about the program states that eligible projects must:
- Come from applicants that manage at least one YouTube channel with a minimum of 25,000 subscribers
- Demonstrate a strategy to develop multi-session content – multiple videos that build on one another
- Clearly depict the intent to teach in a factual, informative, and trustworthy manner, indicating expertise and / or a scrupulous approach to accuracy, including but not limited to research, fact checking, and objectivity
The deadline to apply is November 30th, 2018.
Educational content (in the form of how-to videos) has been growing in popularity on the platform for quite some time now. As well, a lot of times engagement comes from seemingly less than perfect content, like live video. Where content is commoditized – what are consumers actually engaging with and what do they actually want? This is a case for a consumer-sourced/influencer-sourced research strategy. Utility is a great driver for engagement – especially when they’re crowd sourced; as well as the case for rapid iteration vs. pitch-perfect video… less-than-perfect, high-volume video enables marketers to quickly understand what works, and what doesn’t, and able to faster double-down on the content trends and themes actually resonating with their core audience.