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12th September 2016

Social Media Week London Is Here

Social Media Week returns to London for its eighth year tomorrow. The week long digital conference, also known as #SMWLDN, will be showcasing the latest innovations in the industry plus bringing together brands, suppliers and agencies from the world of entertainment, media, marketing and technology. Brands include Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, BuzzFeed, National Geographic, Warner Bros. Pictures , Google, CNN, Forbes, and Adidas.

Having attended one of the first ever #SMWLDN gathering back in 2010, where the line up was considerably smaller, the event has grown into a truly global conference with with annual gatherings occurring in 27 major cities worldwide.

Whilst applying our social media expertise at another agency, I (the MR in our team) was invited to speak at the 2011 event. Organised by Chinwag, the former organisers of Social Media Week London, the session covered Facebook Marketing strategies and was attended by Brand Executives from Microsoft, Dell and Channel 4.

I spoke about “Keeping it Real-time” using my client Chelsea FC as a successful case study demonstrating how live content marketing and in the moment interactions with customers help to build brand trust and rapport. To think this was all before live video streaming from a mobile phone – a lot has changed in five years! Other speakers who later joined me on a Q&A panel on the subject included social media personnel from big (expensive) integrated agencies which included We Are Social and Wieden+Kennedy London.

MR + MRS Digital speaking at Chinwag Facebook Conference Five years is a long time in digital. I can remember when brands (some of which approached me after my talk) were focused on on collecting Facebook Likes and were obsessed with growing fan numbers on Facebook and Twitter to beat their competitors. Boy oh boy have times changed – with Facebook leading the way on raining on everyones parade by moving the goal posts for brands and business on the platform.

Over the years Facebook has increasingly become a ‘pay to play’ platform for brands – which in case you didn’t get the memo; has been the consequence of Facebook increasingly making changes to what is shown on people’s home News Feed. In a nutshell, since 2014 organic content, not supported by advertising budget, posted by brands is dwindling. As the sheer number of users, brands and organisations flock to Facebook, the social media giant has increasingly prioritised updates from user’s immediate friends and family on the News Feed – rather than brands and businesses a user may have ‘Liked’ in the past. This was a blow for many businesses that invested considerable time and money on building a Facebook following, to have the rug pulled from beneath their feet. Facebook’s rationale for their most recent update to their News Feed algorithm can be found in their Newsroom announcement back in June.

The rules of the game have been rewritten for brands and the early assumptions that they had unlimited, free access to the entire fanbase that they nurtured have been well and truly curtailed. In the ‘old’ days marketers were able to show a positive ROI on every campaign or initiative they ran for their clients as Facebook Likes and the subsequent engagement was all organic – the upside was limitless. Then came the inevitable gold-rush to provide social media services to clients and the trend for outrageous job titles like ‘Social Media Ninja’ and ‘Social Guru’ emerged, which confused everyone, including clients.

This bafflement, shrouded in the excitement of the new, resulted in less digitally savvy clients taking a back seat when it came to the details and decisions around their brand on social media channels and letting the youngest person, with a wacky job title in some random agency / in their office manage the whole social media management process. This was a recipe for disaster and made way for a backlash that tainted the social media profession and the genuine social marketers producing measurable business results.

Gone are the days when social media channels are just a replication of your website, company brochure or relegated to a secondary channel to post inane corporate bulletins that nobody cares about. Our mission here at MR + MRS Digital is to not only attract your audience and customers through original and creative content that’s valued and useful, but to keep them coming back for more – because they value your business or brand in their lives. It is because of the value that we produce (with you) for your audience that generates positive experiences around your brand. Then when the time comes to purchase a product or service related to your sector – you become the shortlisted brand of choice because you’ve earned their time, attention, and invested value in their lives. This increases the chances of them converting/investing in your product or service when the need or desire is present due to the relationship we’ve shaped. Together.

Julian Ferguson, Operations Director for the trade organisation WOMMA UK (Word of Mouth Marketing Association), put it best when he stated: “Successful WOM is about making your brand part of your target audience’s social fabric so that talking about it comes naturally. It doesn’t matter whether conversations are online or offline, recreational or business-based, just so long as they are happening and positive.”

6th September 2016

Snapchat Producing Wearable AR Hardware

Lately the Snapchat strategy over in Venice, California appears to resemble that of a shopaholic with a black American Express Centurion Card – buy, buy, buy. The start-up has been very busy lately, with a flurry of specialist tech firm acquisitions (Bitmoji, Seene, Vurb) product innovations and updates.

However, these buy-outs to improve it’s core photo and video sharing offering are a drop in the ocean for the $16bn app start-up. Diversification and evolution are key to attract new audiences, this seems to be the key to Snapchat’s explosive rise to 150 million users, and now the company has given its strongest indication yet that it plans to expand its product range to including augmented reality (AR) hardware by joining the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. This confirms a CNET report that Snapchat was developing wearable ‘smart glasses’ back in March off the back of a series of new hires from established wearable technology projects.

This follows hot on the heels of all the other Silicon Valley technology giants such as Apple, Google and Facebook investing time, resource and considerable budget into AR.

Of course, if you’re an avid Snapchatter like we are here at MR + MRS Digital, you’ll already know that the platform already supports the ability to merge virtual imagery on ‘real-world’ objects via their ever popular ‘lenses’ feature. These filters scan your facial features and overlay fun digital graphics such as fairies, dog features and recently branded sponsored lenses featuring X-Men and The Terminator.

Snapchat Lenses MR + MRS DIGITAL

With Snapchat’s continued ownership of live event storytelling, media partnerships and video consumption in excess of 10 billion views per day suggest that the often misunderstood platform can claim its place among the big players in the tech world. Its growth is startling, eclipsing Twitter’s daily usage and poses a serious threat to Facebook’s dominance for smartphone attention time and the default app for sharing photos with friends. This ‘threat’ was clearly apparent when Facebook owned Instagram launched Instagram Stories last month. A brazen clone of Snapchat Stories which launched in October 2013. As the two hottest photo-sharing apps on the planet compete for market share we, as marketers and digital consultants need to adapt and include these dynamic storytelling platforms into our client’s strategies and social media channel mix.

In regard to Snapchat, social media management agencies need to be agile when it comes to Snapchat channel management – as the innovations and new features on the platform are coming thick and fast. Often we’re finding that traditional marketing agencies just can’t keep up with the pace and, for fear of looking stupid, leave Snapchat marketing tactics off the table when presenting digital solutions to a client. This, in our opinion, is a huge opportunity missed to reach a super active audience that can be communicating with your business in a meaningful way.