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Social network for women Peanut raises $12M Series A amid pandemic

May 6, 2020 No Comments

Peanut, an app that began as a tool for finding new mom friends, has evolved into a social network now used by 1.6 million women to discuss a range of topics, from pregnancy and parenthood to marriage and menopause, and everything in between. On the heels of significant growth in online networking fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, the company is today announcing the close of a $ 12 million Series A round of funding, led by EQT Ventures, a multi-stage VC firm that invests in companies across Europe and the U.S.

Index Ventures and Female Founders Fund also participated, bringing Peanut’s total raise to date to $ 21.8 million.

The round itself closed just weeks ago — arriving at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the startup world, often drying up venture capital for emerging companies. Some startups, as a result, have laid off employees to self-sustain, while others have sought exits or even folded.

Peanut, on the other hand, has seen rapid growth for its platform as women looked for a supportive online environment to discuss their own concerns over how COVID-19 was impacting their lives.

Many women participating in Peanut’s newer “Trying to Conceive” group, for example, worried about their canceled IVF rounds and how to plan for the future. Current moms-to-be wanted to hear from others about how COVID-19 would impact their hospital delivery plans. And others stuck working at home with kids looked for advice and coping strategies.

Since the outbreak, Peanut has seen engagement across its app increase by 30% and content consumption increase by 40%. Its total community also grew from 1 million users in December 2019 to now 1.6 million, as of April.

“We’re really lucky in that we’re growing and that we are, for the most part, untouched by what’s happening,” says Peanut founder and CEO Michelle Kennedy. “And actually, if anyone needed community more, it’s now,” she added.

Though the pandemic has sent the app’s usage skyrocketing, it has also readjusted Peanut’s priorities with regard to its roadmap.

Most notably, its friend-finding feature needs a rethink.

Peanut originally worked as a sort of “Tinder for mom friends” — an idea that arose from Kennedy’s personal experience with how difficult it was to forge female friendships after motherhood. As the former deputy CEO at dating app Badoo and an inaugural board member at Bumble, she brought her extensive experience in matchmaking apps to Peanut, which uses a similar swipe-based mechanism.

But COVID-19 has up-ended this side of Peanut’s business. Today, Peanut users are meeting in Zoom chat rooms to hangout or play games, but not in person.

Kennedy says the company will try to meet these users where they are with the development of more video networking features, potentially with technology built in-house. Other plans for the new capital include improvements to the social discovery aspects of its app, the development of a web version of Peanut, and the creation of more groups beyond those focused on fertility and motherhood, which have so far been core to the Peanut experience.

Specifically, the company soon plans to launch a new community focused on women living with menopause, an experience that will reach more than a billion women by 2025. Despite the fact that all women with ovaries will go through menopause, there are relatively few online communities dedicated to it — which Peanut sees as an untapped market.

Peanut’s real strength, however, is not in the types of communities it grows on its platform, but how they’re created.

There has not yet been a social network that focused on “building a platform for women, thinking about women’s needs and built by a women,” explains Kennedy. “So what we end up doing is using things that already exist — trying to twist them and mold them into what we need, and never getting it exactly right,” she says. “We can do better than that.”

One small example of this is the recent launch of Peanut’s “Mute Keywords” feature that allows women to remove certain types of discussions from their feeds and notifications. Some women used this to create a coronavirus-free news feed that focused on other aspects of motherhood. Others who were trying to conceive muted conversations around “pregnancy,” which they found emotionally triggering.

With the Series A’s close, Peanut says Naza Metghalchi from EQT Ventures joins the company’s majority-female board, alongside Hannah Seal from existing investor Index Ventures.

“Peanut’s user engagement metrics are a testament to the app’s ability to act as a true emotional companion throughout women’s journeys,” said Naza Metghalchi, venture lead and investment advisor at EQT Ventures, in a statement. “The EQT Ventures team is excited to partner with Michelle and continue to grow Peanut into a platform that serves all women at different life milestones, exploring topics beyond fertility and motherhood which have already seen such huge traction.”

The additional funding allows London-based Peanut to expand its business and hire more engineers to join its current team of just 16.

“I think having closed a round in this climate is great for the team,” says Kennedy. “It’s also great for the community because it means that we can grow the team, build quicker, build faster and develop the product more quickly,” she adds.

Mobile – TechCrunch


Social media influencers fight back the Coronavirus disruption

May 1, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • With sponsor deals shutting down, trips cancelled and events postponed, the Coronavirus has given influencer marketing a huge hit.
  • Travel influencers suffered while fitness influencers thrived in a world of social distancing.
  • Twitch, which is a top live streaming platform, saw a 10% rise in viewership.
  • Be it self-help or DIY tutorials, social media figures are finding new ways to help their followers. 
  • As audiences trusting influencers more than faceless brands, they’re collaborating to raise funds from people affected by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to pay tribute to doctors who are on the front-line.
  • Social media personalities are proving themselves to be flexible enough to create content that still resonates with a quarantined population. Dive in for more details.

No one predicted that a virus that emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan would take the world into its grip. All around the world, life is on standstill and most economic and social activities have come to a halt.  

Influencer marketing is among many industries that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. With sponsor deals shutting down, trips cancelled and events postponed—the once-booming influencer industry is going through a curious time.

In December of last year, Business Insider estimated that brands will invest up to $ 15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Among other things, this estimate was based on the fact that influencers proved themselves to be highly effective promotional tools. Individuals with a significant following on platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook became important voices for brands that were seeking to spread their word.   

But under the current crisis, influencers are not seeing money flowing into their bank accounts.  

Travel influencers, the worst hit 

Travelling from country to country and getting paid to do so is a dream life for many. But those who have been living this dream have been struck by a harsh reality. With countries suspending air travel and companies reluctant to invest in anything new, business isn’t exactly booming for vloggers and influencers who made a living travelling around the world.  

Source: Zornitsa Shahanska’s Instagram 

Zornitsa Shahanska, whose Instagram page usually features captivating images of fashion and travel is feeling the impact of the pandemic. Speaking to the Wired, she exclaimed,

“In the travel sector, the future seems uncertain.”

The influencer further informed that most of her trips and contracts have been either cancelled or postponed indefinitely.  

Travellers who are shut off from beautiful tourists hotspot that previously dominated their Instagram feed are the worst hit in the influencer community.  

Fitness influencers are thriving 

People who made arguments against lockdowns felt they would devastate every section of the economy. While this is proving to be true for many industries, some businesses are thriving in a socially distant world. 

Fitness creators are seeing spikes in traffic to their pages. Videos of home workouts have already garnered millions of views on Youtube. With gyms closed, people are flocking to fitness influencers on sites like Instagram and Youtube so they might stay fit during the pandemic.  

Source: YouTube

Since fitness influencers often promote their own programs rather than relying on advertisements for revenue, they are surprisingly safe from the adverse effect on the lockdowns. 

Live streaming is extremely popular 

Influencers have always used live streams to interact with their followers in real-time and generate community engagement. Social isolation has made this form of content even more popular as people are seeking connections digitally.  

Twitch, which is a top live streaming platform, saw a 10% rise in viewership during the weekend of March 14th. A similar rise was seen on Instagram as celebrities and influencers conducted live sessions. Musicians, in particular, are using Instagram to perform virtual concerts, raising relief money for charity.  

Live streams are currently the only source of back-and-forth conversations between influencers and those who enjoy their content.  

A new kind of content is in demand 

Brands realize that these are sensitive times. Any campaign that comes off as tone-deaf and opportunistic would be a PR disaster that will haunt them for a time to come. This is why businesses are turning towards influencers for more purpose-driven campaigns.  

With audiences trusting influencers more than faceless brands, they are more effective in promoting philanthropic messages. Brands and influencers are working together to raise funds from people affected by the coronavirus pandemic as well as to pay tribute to doctors who are on the front-line.

Governments and private institutions alike are enlisting influencers to promote social distancing and other precautionary measures.  

Many brands are taking the page out of Ford’s book which was quick to replace its scheduled March Madness ads with car payment relief programs. Gestures like these might be the only way brands will be able to win hearts and continue to earn goodwill in this uncertain period.  

Meanwhile, influencers themselves are shifting towards more solution-based content. Be it self-help or DIY tutorials, social media figures are finding new ways to help their followers.  

Though Ad revenue is down, engagement has spiked 

While campaigns are currently on a pause, influencers are reporting more engagement than ever before. Social media usage has increased exponentially with people staying indoors resulting in a dramatic traffic increase for many influencers.  

Apps like FacebookInstagram, and TikTok serve as distractions for individuals who are practising social distancing. In the early days, the same platform saw decreased engagement with Twitter dominating the online world. However, people are back on their favourite social media sites and are showing great interest in organic and non-sponsored content. 

Marketing firm Influence Central conducted a survey involving 389 digital creators. All of these individuals reported an increase in engagement on different social media outlets. The report analyzed the period when states and local governments first gave out the stay-at-home orders.  

Content creators are adapting to the new normal 

Influencers put in a great effort to have a carefully curated feed. Generally, their social media depicts a dream lifestyle that prominently features designer dresses, fancy meals, and breathtaking scenery from exotic locations.  

But given that people are not interested in this content at the moment, influencers are thinking out of the box. Instead of stylish halter tops from famous retailers, they can be seen in more casual clothing.  

Some have taken this opportunity to discuss issues like mental health and anxiety. Others are going down the memory lane, posting images from events they attended or locations they visited years before the pandemic gripped the world.  

Time are tough but there’s influencing to be done 

For influencers, the primary source of income exists via brand partnership and affiliate revenue they earn through tools like exclusive digital coupon codes. Currently, both of these revenue streams are under threat. 

But rest assured, influencers aren’t going anywhere and neither are the millions of their loyal followers. While the circumstances have changed around their work, what hasn’t changed is the power influencers wield over big sections of the internet.  

Social media personalities are proving themselves to be flexible enough to create content that still resonates with a quarantined population. Companies are taking note of this as many brands are still going ahead with their scheduled campaigns. 

Inevitably, when things go back to normal, brands would need these important voices to amplify their message on the digital realm. 

Evelyn Johnson is a full-time cat lady and a part-time blogger. I write about money-saving, technology, social issues and pretty much anything that’s in the now. She can be found on Twitter @EvelynJohns0n.

The post Social media influencers fight back the Coronavirus disruption appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Social media insights in a time of social distancing: The relationship between paid and non-paid social

April 19, 2020 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • A brand awareness campaign that includes paid search can result in more organic search traffic with an increase in branded search terms.
  • With a large number of the world’s population now confined at home, people have turned to social media as an outlet to remain connected with family, friends, and work. This online behaviour is the intersection of paid, earned, shared, and owned marketing, or the PESO model.
  • So, what happens when a company decides to increase or decrease their paid social media campaigns at a time when so many people have turned to social networks for connection, resources, and to just pass the time?
  • JUST Media produced the following analytical findings across their accounts to help other marketers ensure their brand’s message is reaching the right audiences, their brightest minds, Jennifer LoMonaco and John Smith take you through the finest insights.

Marketing does not work in silos, and neither does life. 

A brand awareness campaign that includes paid search can result in more organic search traffic with an increase in branded search terms. A newsworthy event can result in additional organic searches or views on social networks, such as what we’re currently seeing. 

With a large number of the world’s population now confined at home, people have turned to social media as an outlet to remain connected with family, friends, and work. This online behaviour is the intersection of Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned marketing, or the PESO model.

So, what happens when a company decides to increase or decrease their paid social media campaigns at a time when so many people have turned to social networks for connection, resources, and to just pass the time?

At JUST Media, we run media planning and buying for some of the world’s most powerful enterprise technologies. We produced the following analytical findings across our accounts in an effort to help other marketers ensure their brand’s message is reaching the right audiences. 

Company A, shown below, had a paid social campaign running in 2020 and saw a positive trend with social traffic and engagement with an improvement in Cost per Engagement (one of their KPIs).

social media insights

And, an uptick in click-through rate.

As the global pandemic spread and events were cancelled, schools and businesses closed, and shelter-in-place orders enacted, paid social was paused the week of 3/17/2020. In the chart below showing organic social traffic (measured in 1000’s), the 2020 graph has outpaced the 2019 graph all year. It isn’t until after the paid social budget was paused that we see the 2020 organic social traffic line dip below the 2019 line. 

You might wonder, though, how much of that is due to cutting the social budget vs. the overall global uncertainty with COVID 19. Let’s compare it to Company B, which left its paid social budget unchanged. This chart shows organic social traffic during the same time period as Company A, but notice the strong 2020 trend line that is outpacing 2019. There is no indication that 2020 cannot continue to outpace 2019.

social media insights chart

Finally, let’s look at another example where Company C decided to boost its paid social media presence in 2020. Cost per click and (CPC) and cost per 1000 impressions (CPM) both saw efficiency with the higher budget.

chart showing higher budget

Not only are the pre-click metrics showing improvement, but organic social traffic also shows an uptick. 

Notice that 2020 and 2019 organic social traffic is pretty close together until the 2nd and 3rd week of March when we start to see some distance where 2020 rises and maintains above 2019. It raises the floor and gets a larger return for the investment.

To further show the effect of paid social with organic social, let’s look in more detail at the last six weeks. The week of March 8 when so many companies implemented a mandatory work-from-home policy, there was some pull-back in the social strategy. The following week when the focus returned, organic social traffic rebounded to similar levels.

Beyond the traffic volume that social networks can provide is the engagement on these platforms by its users who are liking, sharing, and commenting on posts and ads. This engagement provides the opportunity for companies to interact with their customers at a time when face-to-face contact is not possible beyond a video conference call. Companies can also guide the conversation and initiate messaging with their customers. This is known as community management, and it can be powerful in an overall social strategy.

What we are seeing right now with clients who are active on social platforms is an increase in engagement. This means an increase in the opportunity for companies to interact with their clients at a time when businesses are closed, face time is diminished, and customers have an increased need in having their concerns and worries calmed.

Companies who have chosen to decrease their paid social presence or pause it together are likely not only seeing a drop in their paid social traffic, but also their organic social traffic, and if they are also not involved in a community management strategy, they are potentially missing a key opportunity to interact with their customers. Those companies that are maintaining their social presence through paid campaigns and community management will likely be better positioned for an upswing in the coming weeks and months when the world begins to emerge from the current situation.

Note: This is not a sponsored feature.

Jennifer LoMonaco is Director of Data and Analytics and John Smith is a Data Engineer at JUST Media.

The post Social media insights in a time of social distancing: The relationship between paid and non-paid social appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Clubhouse voice chat leads a wave of spontaneous social apps

April 19, 2020 No Comments

Forget the calendar invite. Just jump into a conversation. That’s the idea powering a fresh batch of social startups poised to take advantage of our cleared schedules amidst quarantine. But they could also change the way we work and socialize long after COVID-19 by bringing the free-flowing, ad-hoc communication of parties and open office plans online. While “Live” has become synonymous with performative streaming, these new apps instead spread the limelight across several users as well as the task, game, or discussion at hand.

The most buzzy of these startups is Clubhouse, an audio-based social network where people can spontaneously jump into voice chat rooms together. You see the unlabeled rooms of all the people you follow, and you can join to talk or just listen along, milling around to find what interests you. High-energy rooms attract crowds while slower ones see participants slip out to join other chat circles.

Clubhouse blew up this weekend on VC Twitter as people scrambled for exclusive invites, humblebragged about their membership, or made fun of everyone’s FOMO. For now, there’s no public app or access. The name Clubhouse perfectly captures how people long to be part of the in-crowd.

Clubhouse was built by Paul Davison, who previously founded serendipitous offline people-meeting location app Highlight and reveal-your-whole-camera-roll app Shorts before his team was acquired by Pinterest in 2016. This year he debuted his Alpha Exploration Co startup studio and launched Talkshow for instantly broadcasting radio-style call-in shows. Spontaneity is the thread that ties Davison’s work together, whether its for making new friends, sharing your life, transmitting your thoughts, or having a discussion.

It’s very early days for Clubhouse. It doesn’t even have a website. There’s no telling exactly what it will be like if or when it officially launches, and Davison and his co-founder Rohan Seth declined to comment. But the positive reception shows a desire for a more immediate, multi-media approach to discussion that updates what Twitter did with text.

Sheltered From Surprise

What quarantine has revealed is that when you separate everyone, spontaneity is a big thing you miss. In your office, that could be having a random watercooler chat with a co-worker or commenting aloud about something funny you found on the internet. At a party, it could be wandering up to chat with group of people because you know one of them or overhear something interesting. That’s lacking while we’re stuck home since we’ve stigmatized randomly phoning a friend, differing to asynchronous text despite its lack of urgency.

Clubhouse founder Paul Davison. Image Credit: JD Lasica

Scheduled Zoom calls, utilitarian Slack threads, and endless email chains don’t capture the thrill of surprise or the joy of conversation that giddily revs up as people riff off each other’s ideas. But smart app developers are also realizing that spontaneity doesn’t mean constantly interrupting people’s life or workflow. They give people the power to decide when they are or aren’t available or signal that they’re not to be disturbed so they’re only thrust into social connection when they want it.

Houseparty chart ranks via AppAnnie

Houseparty embodies this spontaneity. It’s become the breakout hit of quarantine by letting people on a whim join group video chat rooms with friends the second they open the app. It saw 50 million downloads in a month, up 70X over its pre-COVID levels in some places. It’s become the #1 social app in 82 countries including the US, and #1 overall in 16 countries.

Originally built for gaming, Discord lets communities spontaneously connect through persistent video, voice, and chat rooms. It’s seen a 50% increase in US daily voice users with spikes in shelter-in-place early adopter states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Washington. Bunch, for video chat overlayed on mobile gaming, is also climbing the charts and going mainstream with its user base shifting to become majority female as they talk for 1.5 million minutes per day. Both apps make it easy to join up with pals and pick something to play together.

The Impromptu Office

Enterprise video chat tools are adapting to spontaneity as an alternative to heavy-handed, pre-meditated Zoom calls. There’s been a backlash as people realize they don’t get anything done by scheduling back-to-back video chats all day.

  • Loom lets you quickly record and send a video clip to co-workers that they can watch at their leisure, with back-and-forth conversation sped up because videos are uploaded as they’re shot.

  • Around overlays small circular video windows atop your screen so you can instantly communicate with colleagues while most of your desktop stays focused on your actual work.

  • Screen exists as a tiny widget that can launch a collaborative screenshare where everyone gets a cursor to control the shared window so they can improvisationally code, design, write, and annotate.

Screen

  • Pragli is an avatar-based virtual office where you can see if someone’s in a calendar meeting, away, or in flow listening to music so you know when to instantly open a voice or video chat channel together without having to purposefully find a time everyone’s free. But instead of following you home like Slack, Pragli lets you sign in and out of the virtual office to start and end your day.

Raising Our Voice

While visual communication has been the breakout feature of our mobile phones by allowing us to show where we are, shelter-in-place means we don’t have much to show. That’s expanded the opportunity for tools that take a less-is-more approach to spontaneous communication. Whether for remote partying or rapid problem solving, new apps beyond Clubhouse are incorporating voice rather than just video. Voice offers a way to rapidly exchange information and feel present together without dominating our workspace or attention, or forcing people into an uncomfortable spotlight.

High Fidelity is Second Life co-founder Philip Rosedale’s $ 72 million-funded current startup. After recently pivoting away from building a virtual reality co-working tool, High Fidelity has begun testing a voice and headphones-based online event platform and gathering place. The early beta lets users move their dot around a map and hear the voice of anyone close to them with spatial audio so voices get louder as you get closer to someone, and shift between your ears as you move past them. You can spontaneously approach and depart little clusters of dots to explore different conversations within earshot.

An unofficial mockup of High Fidelity’s early tests. Image Credits: DigitalGlobe (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

High Fidelity is currently using a satellite photo of Burning Man as its test map. It allows DJs to set up in different corners, and listeners to stroll between them or walk off with a friend to chat, similar to the real offline event. Since Burning Man was cancelled this year, High Fidelity could potentially be a candidate for holding the scheduled virtual version the organizers have promised.

Houseparty’s former CEO Ben Rubin and Skype GM of engineering Brian Meek are building a spontaneous teamwork tool called Slashtalk. Rubin sold Houseparty to Fortnite-maker Epic in mid-2019, but the gaming giant largely neglected the app until its recent quarantine-driven success. Rubin left.

His new startup’s site explains that “/talk is an anti-meeting tool for fast, decentralized conversations. We believe most meetings can be eliminated if the right people are connected at the right time to discuss the right topics, for just as long as necessary.” It lets people quickly jump into a voice or video chat to get something sorted without delaying until a calendared collab session.

Slashtalk co-founder Ben Rubin at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2015

Whether for work or play, these spontaneous apps can conjure times from our more unstructured youth. Whether sifting through the cafeteria or school yard, seeing who else is at the mall, walking through halls of open doors in college dorms, or hanging at the student union or campus square, the pre-adult years offer many opportunities for impromptu social interation.

As we age and move into our separate homes, we literally erect walls that limit our ability to perceive the social cues that signal that someone’s available for unprompted communication. That’s spawned apps like Down To Lunch and Snapchat acquisition Zenly, and Facebook’s upcoming Messenger status feature designed to break through those barriers and make it feel less desperate to ask someone to hang out offline.

But while socializing or collaborating IRL requires transportation logistics and usually a plan, the new social apps discussed here bring us together instantly, thereby eliminating the need to schedule togetherness ahead of time. Gone too are the geographic limits restraining you to connect only with those within a reasonable commute. Digitally, you can pick from your whole network. And quarantines have further opened our options by emptying parts of our calendars.

Absent those frictions, what shines through is our intention. We can connect with who we want and accomplish what we want. Spontaneous apps open the channel so our impulsive human nature can shine through.


Startups – TechCrunch


What Nonprofits Taught Me About Social Media Marketing (and how it applies to COVID-19)

April 5, 2020 No Comments

The coronavirus has caused either a spike or downfall for companies across the world. Here are 6 strategies on how to use social media marketing during a crisis.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Social Bluebook was hacked, exposing 217,000 influencers’ accounts

March 28, 2020 No Comments

A social media platform used to match advertisers with thousands of influencers has been hacked.

Social Bluebook, a Los Angeles-based company, allows advertisers to pay social media “influencers” for posts that promote their products and services. The company claims it has some 300,000 influencers on its books.

But in October 2019, the company’s entire backend database was stolen in a data breach.

TechCrunch obtained the database, which contains some 217,000 user accounts — including influencer names, email addresses, and passwords hashed, which had been scrambled using the strong SHA-2 hashing algorithm.

It’s not known how the database was exfiltrated from the company’s systems or who was behind the breach.

We contacted several users who when presented with their information confirmed it as accurate. We also provided a portion of the data to Social Bluebook co-founder Sam Michie for verification.

“We have just now become aware of this data breach that occurred in October 2019,” he told TechCrunch in an email Thursday.

He said affected users will be informed of the breach by email. The company also informed the California attorney general’s office of the breach, per state law.

Social media influencers are a constant target for hackers, who often try to hijack accounts with popular handles or high follower counts. Some influencers have relied on white-hat hackers to get their hijacked accounts back.

Last year, an Indian social media firm left a database of Instagram influencers online, which included phone numbers and email addresses scraped from their profiles.


Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755–8849. 


Social – TechCrunch


Five social media trends that are shaping 2020

March 11, 2020 No Comments

Every year the social media marketing community turns into fortune tellers — we collectively try to predict what trends, features, and innovations will take place in the upcoming year. Of course, trying to predict social media trends is much more trustworthy than fortune-telling even if you’re using astrology as a framework for that. 

Most social media predictions stand on the existing trends and research, which makes them highly likely to actually be accurate. It’s a common truth that social media platforms are constantly changing, they come up with new features, change algorithms, review their respective policies, and it all affects the way we do marketing on social. But it’s not like these changes come out of nowhere — they are all the results of social media company’s vision and business model or external circumstances. 

To identify trends that will dominate social media this year we need to consider all of these internal and external circumstances. And that’s exactly what I did to make up this list of five major trends that will be prominent in 2020. In addition to simply describing what to expect in 2020, I also give some recommendations on how to use these trends to your brand’s advantage.

1. Let data analysis lead your strategy

Social media trends using data for social listening

 

Source: Screenshot from social listening tool, Awario

Knowledge is power, and social media companies want to empower their users and brands, or rather attract more investments. That’s why they are giving social media managers more and more access to insights and data analytics. Facebook is constantly expanding Creator Studio’s and Facebook Insights’ functionality, Twitter is adding more insights to Media Studio, and Pinterest is adding Pinterest Trends to inform brands on user behavior. 

This year we are likely to see more ways to access user trends on different platforms and tap into this data for marketing and social media research. At the same time, due to trend number three on this list, brands might have to change the way they used to do social media marketing, especially with targeted advertising. There are ethical and unethical ways to use data, and the upcoming year will probably be the time to rethink these terms. That may encourage brands to get more involved in the research of the publicly available data with the help of social listening, for example.

How to be on-trend

  • Make sure your social media strategy is based on insights gained through data research, not a blind guess. Use the insights provided by platforms like Facebook and Instagram Insights, Twitter Analytics, and so on to find what content performs best, when you should post, and what resonates with your audience. Your KPIs should respond to your goals – if you are raising brand awareness, pay attention to the number of followers, if you’re focusing on community building, keep track of the engagement metrics. 
  • Collect and analyze publicly available data, this is the most ethical way to conduct marketing research without invading anyone’s privacy. Social monitoring and listening tools such as Awario or Brandwatch break down the sentiment, reach, demographics, and user behavior trends behind any phenomenon you want to research on social media. 

2. Make your communication more private

Making social media more private

In 2019 Mark Zuckerberg claimed that “the future is private”. This was a surprising turn of events for the company which started out as a service to meet people and connect strangers. Facebook’s CEO announced that from now own the platform will prioritize ways to build and sustain smaller communities and tet-a-tet communication meaning more focus on Groups and Messenger as well as WhatsApp. And it’s not just Facebook, social media apps have been introducing more privacy-driven features lately including Instagram’s “Close Friends” list, various updates to DMs functionality for Twitter and Instagram, more ways for brands to manage social messaging. With the upcoming redesign of Facebook feed (expected to be fully rolled out in Q1 and the new ability to limit replies to your tweets, it’s obvious that 2020 will be the year of private social media. 

The turn to private communication is, of course, motivated by user behavior. People simply got much more into messaging their friends and interacting in small interest-based communities. Social media companies took notice of that and are now giving people what they want. However, taking into consideration how many privacy scandals we had in the last couple of years, it’s easy to imagine that the turn to privacy was also prompted by the intent to improve ones’ reputation, especially when we are talking about Facebook. 

How to be on-trend

  • If you don’t have a Facebook group for your customers yet, it’s high time you start one. 
  • Use the “Close Friends” list on your Instagram account to share exclusive content with your most engaged followers. 
  • Go beyond the big three by looking into smaller communities on Reddit and Quora for better opportunities to engage with the audience.

3. Take up more social responsibility

Taking up more social responsibility will be a social media trend

Source: Twitter

This will probably be the most prominent theme in the news coverage of social media companies for 2020. Once again, it’s not a new trend — the pressure to sort out the issues with spamming, misinformation, manipulation of the algorithm, and the social media impact on users’ mental health has been there for a while. 

In 2020 we can expect more regulations on ads, more sophisticated algorithms for discovering spammers and bots, and more ways for users to control what they are seeing on the timeline. In 2019 we saw some actions taken not just by the platforms themselves but also by the state — there were several court cases around creating fake engagement and selling followers and likes that could become precedents for creating legislation around this matter. 

Both Facebook and Twitter CEOs publicly stated that the ultimate framework for dealing with misleading ads and handling users’ data should come from the governmental actors and independent expert committees, not the social media companies. California Consumer Privacy Act is the first attempt at such legislation. This will certainly affect the way brands advertise on social and conduct marketing research (see trend number one).

Social media companies also face a bigger challenge – how to avoid locking people in their own social media bubbles and creating echo-chambers that skew their view of the world? Admittedly, this is a broader challenge for our society in general. However, we can’t ignore the fact that social media contributes to exacerbating the political and social divide between people, and it might be the time for platforms to rethink the core functionality and algorithms behind them.

Another area where social media companies are encouraged to take on more responsibility is mental health. By now it is obvious (and confirmed by research) that social media can have a negative effect on users’ self-esteem and mental health, especially among teenagers, and social media companies need to take notice of that. Some platforms have already made steps in the right direction by informing users about how much time they are spending on the app. The next big change will concern vanity metrics (see below). In 2020, it’s expected that there will be more platform regulations that aim to protect users from abuse and bullying and more ways for users to filter the information they don’t want to consume.

How to be on-trend

  • Make sure your ads comply with the platform regulations.
  • Discard sketchy growth hacks such as buying followers or using third-party tools for follow-unfollow tactics in favor of genuine engagement and community building.
  • To make interactions with your audience actually genuine, understand when those interactions are welcome. The best way to start engaging with people on the internet is by commenting and replying to their public posts: and of course, your comments should be meaningful and relevant. You can find people and posts to engage through social media monitoring — simply monitor keywords and phrases appropriate for your niche.
  • Use social listening, competitor and hashtag research to find accounts related to your niche and engage them in the comments. Offer your expertise or start conversations discussing relevant topics. 

4. Focus less on vanity metrics

Less focus on vanity metrics
This trend is partly related to the previous one. In 2019, we saw several experiments around hiding vanity metrics, mainly like count, on Facebook and Instagram. Twitter’s CEO has also been vocal about his desire to move away from vanity metrics. Moreover, both Instagram and Twitter have slightly tweaked their design to put less emphasis on the number of followers an account has. The rejection of like count is probably motivated both by moral and practical reasons, comparing your number of likes to someone else’s is proven to damage one’s self-esteem.

Hiding vanity metrics from anyone could eliminate the pressure of competition people feel and make social media less stressful. Instagram has also revealed that during the tests they discovered that discarding like count leads to more content on the platform and that’s what any social media company wants. 

That’s the logical outcome of the previous point, if people feel less pressure to get the most likes, they will feel more at ease with posting. All in all, prepare to say goodbye to like counts in 2020.

How to be on-trend

  • For social media managers, discarding vanity metrics means new ways of doing competitor and influencer research. You can use Facebook’s native functionality (Brand Collabs Manager, Insights) or social media analytics tools to compare your brand with your competitors or find and evaluate influencers relevant to your niche. 
  • Track the number of followers, engagement rate, and ads placed on Facebook through “Pages to Watch” and “Ad Library”.
  • Use social listening to compare your social media Share of Voice with your competitors.

Share of voice of top 10 UK universities calculated

Source: Screenshot from social listening tool, Awario

5. Try TikTok

Social media trends - try TikTok advertising

In 2019 TikTok became one of the most downloaded apps in the app store. The swift rise of the social media app drew a lot of attention from social media marketers, and will surely draw even more attention this year. The greatest thing about TikTok is its feed algorithm which allows you to reach a significant number of users right from the get-go, without having to gain followers for a long time. 

The platform is tailored for viral content: easy sharing, trends, and challenges enable you to easily create videos with a huge potential reach. Moreover, the platform is constantly developing its business capabilities, just recently TikTok rolled out the ability to run ads on the platform for everyone. 

TikTok is the app to keep an eye on, as it is one of the fastest-growing social media networks, it surely has bigger plans for the upcoming year.

How to be on-trend

  • If you’re not TikTok yet, create an account right now.
  • See what trends could be useful for your industry, check out what your competitors are doing, examine the latest trends. A lot of TikTok’s content is focused on viral songs, dance challenges, and certain editing techniques. So you should research those if you want to create popular content.
  • Try advertising on TikTok! TikTok Ads is not the only way to promote your product, you can also partner up with TikTok creators to reach new audiences.  

In conclusion

Social media trends don’t just pop out of nowhere and it’s not difficult to predict what will happen in the upcoming year. However, knowing something is only half the battle — you need to actually adjust your social media strategy to the ever-changing circumstances to get the best results. 

In this article, I tried to demonstrate the broader trends but also shared actionable tips to implement in your work. Some of the trends that will play out in 2020 may seem like an impediment for social media marketers, you can’t use targeting, you can’t see how many likes an influencer gets, and people are getting harder to reach since they are all hanging out in private communities. But it’s actually a chance for building genuine and trusting relationships with your audience — and you can do it by using these trends to your advantage.

Aleh is the Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario. He can be found on Twitter at @ab80.

The post Five social media trends that are shaping 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Social learning: How to optimize your Facebook PPC campaign

March 3, 2020 No Comments

For many of us, social media is a mysterious and ever-changing corner of the internet. Networks rise and fall at rapid rates, but one always seems to stay at the forefront of our minds. It’s clear that Facebook is the place to be, and 2.26 billion users may feel inclined to agree. If you feel like you’re not getting the most out of Facebook PPC ads (or are too afraid to take the plunge right now), you may have asked yourself how effective campaigns can take place through the social network. 

As the data shows, Facebook is only a narrow second-place to YouTube in terms of popularity among US audiences, and the world-renowned social network is twice as popular as its nearest like-for-like competitor. 

(Image: LYFE Marketing)

Naturally, this means that your PPC campaigns will be accessible for more users if utilized on the pages of Facebook. If your business has serious ambitions focused on attaining more customers or scaling as efficiently as possible, it’s certainly worth looking at building some PPC campaigns to go on Facebook.

But how exactly can users optimize their PPC campaigns? And just how effective could Facebook PPC actually be? Let’s delve into how businesses can optimized their Facebook PPC campaigns in a way that drives conversions and generates growth: 

Optimize your sales funnel

Facebook ads perform a little differently to Google ads, for example.

In the case of PPC advertisements placed via Google, it’s clear that audiences will be actively looking to buy the products or services in question, whereas with Facebook, it’s far more likely to be the case that you’re appealing to audiences who are simply browsing with little intention of making an immediate purchase.

This could potentially be problematic if you’re looking to operate on a smaller budget for advertising. 

With this in mind, it could be more useful to create a Facebook campaign that’s more focused away from the act of making an immediate purchase. Through using Facebook as your platform, it’s potentially most useful if you run a series of campaigns at the same time, all with different goals which could lead to creating your own social sales funnel. 

One of the most purposeful funnels you could create as part of your Facebook PPC campaign could focus on engagement. This helps to lure new customers in and is perhaps most effective when undertaken through the medium of video. 

It’s worth taking a moment to consider exactly who your target audience are before focusing on crafting a campaign that builds meaningful connections with them. 

Be sure to build engaging content for prospective customers and optimize your campaigns. When an uploaded piece of media has attained a healthy number of views – say, over 2,500 – create a new conversion campaign that targets users who viewed around 25% of your video.

By targeting audiences who have already engaged in viewing your campaign, it’s possible to yield much higher conversion rates as opposed to marketing in a more unfocused manner

Build exposure through frequency

It’s possible to monitor the number of times one specific user views your advertising campaign through ad frequency. This is an important metric because audiences that witness your ad repeatedly are more likely to recall it.

It’s important to leave your mark within campaigns – but be careful of overdoing your frequency – if your ad appears too often, it’ll only lead to users ignoring your branding. 

To help you take control of your exposure, be sure to place a frequency cap on your advertising report. Once the audience is saturated, your PPC costs will slowly begin to increase.

If you notice sharp increases in your costs, it could be worth duplicating your ad set and re-launching it for new targets – thus helping to realign your campaign for new audiences. 

Make your budget go further

A/B testing is always a great way of checking which type of campaign is best for your business.

When you first create your PPC setup for Facebook, you’ll likely be running two-to-three ad sets with multiple adverts within each set. To pick which ad set is more effective, it’s important to study the metrics available to see which campaign is best helping you accomplish your goals. 

When you’ve determined which ad is performing best, gently allocate more budget towards the set – a steady boost of about 10-20% will help to optimize the money you’re using without taking too many dangerous risks. 

If you continue to see encouraging results, repeat the process each day until you see signs of diminished returns on your investment. 

To help to study your ad performance more forensically, Google Analytics has a reliable platform for gaining insights into campaigns, while external platforms like Finteza can provide rich insights into your overall website performance as well as deep traffic quality checks. 

Fine tune your target market

Proper placements bring perfection to PPC campaigns. It’s possible to use automatic placements here as well as edit your settings. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but different options will benefit different types of campaign. 

For example, if you decide to incorporate Instagram into your ad reach, it’s reasonable to expect far greater engagement, but it’s likely that you’ll see far fewer comments or likes if you choose to place your ad as a Facebook page post.

Another effective add-on comes in the form of Facebook Messenger, which generally performs well when it comes to conversions. Audience Network placements can often increase a brand’s reach but it’s important to constantly monitor your metrics to ensure that no budgeting is being wasted. 

Get the right bidding option

Facebook uses an auction-based system when running advertising campaigns. Simply put, the social network chooses the most appropriate ad for audiences based on the level of money bid by a company and its performance on the website. 

The bidding system utilized by Facebook is becoming more complex than earlier in the 2010s however, and now users need to choose how they want to optimize their ads. Advertisers need to pick the type of campaign they want to run – whether it’s based on conversions in the form of link clicks, landing page views, or certain on-site interactions. 

Naturally, this will require some introspection and businesses will need to have a clear idea of their respective advertising goals before determining the bidding option that best suits them. 

Recycle ads to preserve engagement figures

It’s vital that your advertisements go down well with their intended audiences. More popular ads will be viewed widely as more favorable among users, and will likely receive considerably more engagements from targets.

However, many of the ad tests that you’ll perform to optimize your PPC campaigns will remove your comments and restart your engagement stats for each post. 

This can be a nuisance because of the value of likes and comments to advertisers, however, it’s possible to utilize the technique of ‘social stacking’ in a way that helps to keep all interactions in tact for all to see online. 

To perform social stacking, go to the ad preview page for the existing advertisement you’re aiming to keep. Click on the drop down menu to the top right of the preview and select the option ‘Facebook Post With Comments’. Copy the end of the existing URL for your ad and then choose to ‘Use Existing Post’ when setting up a new campaign. Paste the copied Post ID from the previous step and voila – a brand new PPC ad with all the relevant likes and comments carried over.

Peter Jobes is the Content Marketing Manager at Solvid, a digital marketing agency who specializes in SEO, paid advertising and website designing.

The post Social learning: How to optimize your Facebook PPC campaign appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Multiverse virtual worlds will be healthier for society than our current social networks

February 29, 2020 No Comments

The basis of the classic James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies” is an evil media mogul who instigates war between the U.K. and China because it will be great for TV ratings. There’s been a wake-up call recently that our most popular social networks have been indirectly designed to divide populations into enemy camps and reward sensational content, but without the personal responsibility of Bond’s nemesis because they’re algorithmically driven.

(This is part five of a seven-part series about virtual worlds.)

The rise of “multiverse” virtual words as the next social frontier offers hope to one of the biggest crises facing democratic societies right now. Because the dominant social media platforms (in Western countries at least) monetize through advertising, these platforms reward sensational content that results in the most clicks and shares. Oversimplified, exaggerated claims intended to shock users scrolling past are best practices for individuals, media brands and marketing departments alike, and social platforms intentionally steer users toward more extreme content in order to captivate them for longer.

Our impending cultural shift to socializing equally as often through virtual worlds could help rescue us from this constant conflict of interest between what we recognize as healthy interactions with others and how these social apps incentivize us to behave.

Virtual worlds can have advertisements within them, but the dominant monetization strategies in MMOs are upfront purchase of games and in-game transactions. Any virtual world that gains enough adoption to compete as a social hub for mainstream society will need to be free-to-play and will earn more money through in-world transactions than from ads.


Social – TechCrunch


Social Tips: Facebook Bulk Edits and UTMs

February 10, 2020 No Comments

Simplify your work in Facebook with these necessary bulk editing tips. They are relatively simple tools but will save you time when working in the platform.

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