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Federal Judge Tosses Out Facebook Antitrust Suits

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First, the facts:

  • Landmark antitrust lawsuits against Facebook were tossed out by a District of Columbia federal court on Monday, dealing a blow to regulators’ efforts to curb the social networking giant’s power.
  • Separate lawsuits submitted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and more than 40 state attorneys general late last year alleged that Facebook has grown into a social media monopoly that uses its market dominance to squash or acquire rivals. The complaints pushed for Facebook to spin off its Instagram and WhatsApp platforms, two acquisitions that previously received regulatory approval.
  • In a ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge James Boasberg wrote that the FTC failed to “plausibly establish” Facebook’s monopoly power. Separately addressing the states’ complaints, Boasberg said there was too wide a time gap to challenge the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions, which were completed in 2012 and 2014, respectively. The moves speak to the difficulty regulators will face in reigning in tech companies that offer free services that operate within the nebulous bounds of the internet.

A potential breakup of Facebook — which would reshape the tech world and carry steep implications for advertisers who spend billions across its platforms — is less likely with the rulings handed down Monday. The Washington, D.C. federal court’s decisions lend credence to skepticism expressed by some industry watchers when the lawsuits were initially filed in December, namely that regulators waited too long to crack down on Facebook’s dealmaking and that U.S. antitrust laws simply don’t account for the ways that internet companies operate.

Boasberg’s dismissal of the FTC lawsuit as “legally insufficient” is indicative of the challenges in proving that a company like Facebook wields outsized influence. The judge specifically took issue with claims that Facebook holds a market share in excess of 60%, which he said was an unsupported assertion. He called out the fact that personal social networking services are free to use and sometimes hard to define, creating a market that is not “ordinary or intuitive.”

The news could be interpreted as a win for Big Tech as other companies in the sector, including Google, grapple with their own regulatory crackdowns. Facebook meanwhile has made efforts to unify its platforms on the back end, something that could make spinning off apps like Instagram more difficult. Still, Big Tech’s power is likely to remain in the spotlight regardless of Monday’s rulings. The Biden administration has appointed several tough critics of the industry, most notably Lina Khan, who was tapped to lead the FTC earlier this month.

Mounting government scrutiny and even advertiser boycotts have not meaningfully stoppered Facebook’s business. The company, fortified by a pandemic period that led troves of people to spend more time on social media, saw advertising sales rise 46% year-on-year to $25.44 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Executives said revenue gains in the second quarter would be strong compared to last year, when the onset of the COVID-19 crisis led to some advertiser pullbacks.

At the same time, Facebook is contending with some of its heftiest external competitive threats in years. TikTok, the video-sharing platform owned by Chinese tech conglomerate ByteDance, has asserted itself as a favorite app among the types of young consumers that are showing less favor for Facebook. Facebook has introduced several features that closely emulate the TikTok user experience, including Instagram Reels, which started running ads earlier this month.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

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The Drum | What Does The Growth Of Little Red Book Mean For Post-pandemic China?

The shopping app proves that consumer confidence and community are key to a thriving business post-Covid, writes Michaela Zhu of Emerging Communications.

Little Red Book, aka Xiaohongshu, or more simply ‘Red’, is a leading Chinese social shopping app. With over 300 million users (and counting), western brands are taking notice – and with good reason.

Little Red Book first appeared in 2013. From modest beginnings focussing on female beauty products, the app expanded to help all kinds of global brands connect with Chinese consumers. Whether it’s holiday inspiration, university choices or luxury fashion, Little Red Book is now the go-to app for lifestyle content and shopping.

With a unique mix of social sharing, long-form articles, live-streaming and e-commerce, it’s a vital part of the Chinese social media landscape. What’s more: Little Red Book is the place for interacting with Chinese gen Z and millennial audiences. In July 2022, nearly 30% of Little Red Book’s active users were under 24 years. Another 40% of users fall into the 25-35 age bracket.

Discover how Little Red Book has transformed over the last few years, key trends, and how to integrate them into your China digital strategy.

How Little Red Book is changing post-Covid China

By 2019, Little Red Book attracted over 200 million users. Fast forward nearly four years, and the platform has maintained its grip on affluent Chinese consumers. It’s one of the few social media platforms where growth still exceeds 30% year-on-year. Little Red Book is here to stay, and in a big way.

This user growth has brought significant changes in content, especially as Chinese consumers adapt to post-pandemic life. Gone are the days when Little Red Book catered exclusively to beauty and fashion niches. Instead, people use the platform to make significant life decisions as well as day-to-day purchases. With content on entering high school, getting married and buying property (to name just a few), you’ll find almost every aspect of daily life up for discussion.

While the relaxing of Covid restrictions has brought drastic changes alongside feelings of liberation, there’s understandable uncertainty among Chinese Gen Z. Long-term lockdown life caused younger generations to pay close attention to their immediate environment. There’s a focus on simplifying their lives and recycling items, as well as yearning for distant places and global cuisines.

A related trend for Little Red Book is the growing Chinese travel industry. Unsurprisingly, the recent easing of travel restrictions resulted in a travel bonanza. For example, two billion trips are expected during this Lunar New Year period. These figures are nearly double the previous year’s and represent a 70% recovery on 2019 levels.

China branding: two essential trends

For content marketing in China, there are two major Little Red Book trends that any marketer needs to know. These are the recent surge in travel-related content and the shift toward new minimalism and ‘rational consumption’.

1. Exploring opportunities for the travel sector

With China’s international borders reopening, travel is no longer a far-away dream. Many Chinese visited their nation’s most popular cities during the pandemic years. Others opted for secluded opulence, spawning the growth of glamping as a trend. Indeed, this luxury camping culture saw ‘glamping’ searches on Little Red book increase by 746% during 2022.

In 2023, foreign countries are also a possibility. As a result, nearby destinations such as Tibet and Southeast Asia predict a strong rebound in the coming months.

Global brands such as Marriott Bonvoy are already capitalizing on these trends, hitting the mark with their China marketing campaigns. For instance, the 2021 Power of Travel campaign used 10 Chinese key opinion leaders to show how travel inspired their lives.

With influencers including Chinese gen Z creatives, families and business executives – the brand showed their relevance to the China market as well as inspiration for rediscovering ourselves through post-Covid travel.

2. Embracing minimalist and rational consumption

In the aftermath of an unprecedented pandemic and global economic downturns, people all over the world are simplifying and streamlining their daily lives.

China is no different, and its younger population has particularly embraced a minimalist mindset. This doesn’t mean stopping purchases completely, but instead shows a shift towards ‘rational consumption’.

Young people are especially shunning impulse purchase decisions, resulting in a decline in ‘hard selling’ and live broadcast sales events. This trend has worked in Little Red Book’s favor due to the platform’s focus on in-depth consumer reviews and trusted user-generated content. Put simply, it’s all about building confidence and community before purchases take place.

For more in-depth insights into Chinese social media trends, download our guide to getting started with Little Red Book.

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

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8 Core Disciplines for a Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Are you looking to create an effective social media marketing strategy? Want to learn the core disciplines you need to pay attention to?

The team from MDG Advertising share their social media tips in this infographic.

They break things down as follows:

  • Strategy
  • Auditing
  • Technology
  • Paid media
  • Content development
  • Customer response
  • Compliance and risk assessment
  • Measurement

Check out the infographic for more detail.

A version of this post was first published on the Red Website Design blog.

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

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Five Ways To Make Your Startup Stand Out From The Competition

Making your business stand out from others in a crowded marketplace is key to its success. High-quality products and services, a smart pricing strategy, and effective marketing are just the basics. The most successful entrepreneurs have a few extra tricks that separate their business from the rest of the pack.

Tell a strong story

Businesses need to do two things to succeed; be relevant and distinctive. As Steven Hess, founding partner at WhiteCap, explains, doing one without the other will lead to failure. “Being relevant on its own leads to a focus on price and an inevitable sublimation into the sea of sameness, and customers will not look for you,” he says. “Being distinctive without solving a problem leads to gimmickry and longer-term weakness. You have to do both, and one way of uniting the two is with a strong story.”

This could focus on the founder’s story, what led them to set out on their business journey, how they identified the problem they are solving, and how they are solving it uniquely. Stories can also be drawn from customers; how are they using your products or services? What problem does it solve for them?

“You also need to look at how your competitors are presenting themselves and then present yourself in the opposite way,” says Hess. “This will feel uncomfortable, and most businesses fail at this point. Why do ads for cars, financial services, estate agents, etc., look the same? It’s because most of us don’t want to stand out. We’re afraid to fail and be seen to fail. But if we are not being seen, being distinctive and solving a real problem, we’ve already failed.”

Focus your messaging on customer needs

A company’s messaging has to be focused on its potential customer’s biggest wants and needs. It should clarify what people will get if they buy from you, what transformation they will see, and how they will feel afterward. “Most importantly, it should communicate what people will miss out on if they don’t buy from your startup,” says business growth consultant Charlie Day. “When you shift your messaging from simply trying to grow a business and make money to focusing on your customer’s biggest wants and needs, the sales and growth will come, and it will set you apart from others.”

Target an underrepresented audience

This can be a powerful way for startups to stand out. “By focusing on a group that larger companies often overlook, they can differentiate themselves and appeal to a unique and untapped market,” says Vladislav Podolyako, founder and CEO of Folderly. “And by providing solutions to the specific needs and challenges of this audience, startups can establish a strong reputation and build a loyal customer base.”

For example, a fitness startup targeting older adults can stand out by offering specialized classes, products, or resources. By providing solutions to the physical limitations of older adults, the startup can differentiate itself from other companies, address the unique fitness challenges faced by older adults, and build a loyal customer base.

However, as Podolyako points out, this strategy must be carefully thought out. He says: “The startup may be associated with an older audience only, so you should work with PR agencies to get the positioning right and potentially think about creating a sub-brand.”

Differentiate your social media strategy

A unique voice and communication style will make you stand out on social media. However, it’s not just what you say but what you do that makes the difference. “If everyone is offering ‘how to’ tips on LinkedIn, create some short form behind-the-scenes videos. If everyone is doing special offers on Facebook, publish some tip-based stories,” says Catherine Warrilow, managing director of Daysout.com. “Make yourself accessible for customer support on the social media channels used by your audience, for example, via What’s App or Messenger.”

Respond promptly to customer calls

Making it easy for customers to contact you and get a response is vital for customer engagement and retention. Yet, businesses are surprisingly poor at answering their phones, listing phone numbers on their websites, and responding to voicemails. It’s a massive turn-off for customers, as a survey by global communications company Moneypenny revealed, with unanswered phone calls topping the list of consumer gripes, cited by 43% of respondents, followed by annoying hold music (35%).

Joanna Swash, Group CEO of Moneypenny, says: “Customers use the phone when they have an urgent or sensitive issue to discuss, so companies cannot afford to provide a poor call experience; business will be taken elsewhere. By mastering the art of call handling, businesses can keep their customers happy and loyal and boost the bottom line in the process.”

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