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SMT Expert Series: Nick Cicero Discusses the Latest Analytics Trends and Opportunities

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SMT Expert Series - Nick Cicero

Nick Cicero is one of the most experienced and knowledgeable minds in social media analytics.

Nick made data analytics his primary focus with the launch of his company Delmondo back in 2014. Delmondo was the first platform to offer in-depth data on Instagram and Snapchat video performance, and quickly rose to be the leading provider in the space, with clients including Viacom, Red Bull and ESPN. Delmondo was acquired by Conviva in 2018, and now, under the Conviva banner, Nick focuses on real-time measurement and intelligence solutions for streaming video across all platforms.

Given his experience, Nick is uniquely placed to provide insights on the evolving digital marketing space, and the importance of analytics and performance measurement to improve your efforts.

We recently had a chance to put a few questions to Nick, worth noting in your process.

Q. What do you think has been the most significant trend in social media marketing over the last few years?

NC: For sure the growth of video. In the first wave of social, it was all about using text, conversation and images to communicate. Today, nearly all social platforms are video-first. The cost to produce, distribute and consume video has decreased exponentially, and this has now pushed businesses to think about how they position their message to a video-first consumer. 

This isn’t just about media companies or sports teams either. Consumer brands are growing their video output significantly. As measured by Conviva Social insights, from January to June 2021, across more than 2,500 consumer brands, video output on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube is up more than 60% year-on-year. And that’s not even counting the surge in video content published to TikTok.

Q. In terms of data trends, what’s been the most interesting shift over the past 12 months?

NC: Two in particular – first is the growth of TikTok in terms of share of the time spent by social media users. Of the 900 TikTok accounts measured in our recent Conviva TikTok Benchmark report, the profiles gained a staggering 604k new followers, on average, over the past year. 

Conviva TikTok report

Second is the growth of YouTube as a player in OTT/Streaming Video. Among our thousands of customer accounts, we found a 69% increase from Q4 2019 to Q4 2020 in terms of connected TV viewership on YouTube. Today, YouTube is becoming more and more like Hulu or Netflix for a wider scope of content. 

Q. Which types of brands are you seeing perform best on Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat?

NC: Sports and Sports Media accounts have long been some of the best performing accounts anywhere on social, but we saw a shift in the last year as to what was keeping people entertained, and streaming services, as a result, have really taken off.

In our Q1 2021 State of Streaming report we saw that most streaming service accounts grew their total audience by nearly 100% over the last year. Streaming services are building empires of regional accounts, and show specific accounts to increase their brand footprint. This works even better if a show has a nostalgic following – the iCarly reboot on Paramount+, for example, has a massive cross-platform audience of 27.8m, which is more than Netflix’s golden goose, Stranger Things’ audience at 26.4m.

These shows, their actors, the services are all performing very well on social right now.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the key element of an effective Stories strategy?

NC: Consistency. In our previous Stories research we’ve noted that the brands who are able to grow their Instagram Stories reach consistently always have two things in common – they post multiple times per week, and their Stories are always, at minimum, 6-7 frames long.

One frame Stories here and there simply aren’t going to cut it for brands trying to be competitive in today’s world ruled by social algorithms.

Q: Which platform do you think is underrated in terms of brand opportunities?

NC: While TikTok is the newest platform with tons of opportunities for brands, Snapchat is the most underrated, by far.

In May this year, Snapchat added Brand Profiles, which means you can now get your brand verified on Snapchat the same way that Sports teams, influencers and Discover shows can. 

Snapchat brand profiles

This gives brands something on Snapchat they didn’t have access to in the past – viral organic reach. Currently, only verified accounts show up in Snapchat’s Discover/For You page. As such, a good brand story on Snapchat is no longer limited to just the people who follow you.

Snapchat’s ad products are also highly user-friendly, and very effective.

Q: How significant a role do you expect to see AR play in future social marketing strategies?

NC: I still think that it’s early days, but the potential upside for all the various applications of AR within social platforms is massive.

Today it’s still fairly experimental, but it can be a great piece of the engagement toolkit for user-generated content. We’re also seeing the physical and digital worlds converge through NFTs and the Metaverse, and while a lot of this exists in pure VR or gaming environments, I can see more and more AR applications used as ways to customize an individual’s content creation tools.

For example, superfans of a brand could be given access to unique, exclusive AR effects. Combined with the social graph, the possibilities are endless.

Q: What’s the most common error you see brands make in analyzing their analytics?

NC: I’d say the most common error we see is twofold.

First, you need to set benchmarks. What’s your baseline engagement, video viewership, average watch time, engagement rate, etc.? What are your benchmark for engagements or video views among your competitors or industry? 

You can’t measure what content works and what doesn’t if you don’t know the baseline. 

Second, once you establish your baseline, you need to categorize your content based on initiatives. These could be your Content Messaging Themes, Video Series, or Campaigns (and there are many other ways to segment content). This way you can identify what social media investments are moving the needle, and which ones aren’t. 

It’s important to remember that while we all set out to be successful with every post we publish, or every interaction we have, you need to be honest about what’s working, and what’s not producing results. 

You can swing for the fences, but to hit home runs in social, just know you’re going to need a lot of chances and you’re going to strike out a lot. 

You can be a solid position player, and be more consistent in your hits, but you might never hit that home run.

Try to balance these two extremes when you look at the data to adjust your strategy.

Q: Do you think that Facebook will remain the key social platform of focus for the majority of brands moving forward?

NC: From a content creation perspective, I think the primary focus has quickly shifted to other platforms for the majority of brands, with more brands doubling down on paid spending. That being said, their groups are home to rich, vibrant communities, many of these are brand-curated, and there’s still a large audience on Facebook, and these active group/community users are highly valuable.

Also, Facebook’s ad platform, spanning both Facebook and Instagram, is highly valuable, and I don’t see the majority of brands moving away from using the platform for driving conversions.

Nick Cicero is the Vice President of Strategy at Conviva, which leads the way in digital video intelligence. You can follow Nick on Twitter for more of his industry insights.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

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Snap making changes to direct response advertising business

The company posted a net loss of $288.5 million, or 18 cents a share, including $34 million in charges from its workforce restructuring. That compared to a profit of $23 million, or one cent, a year earlier.

Snap ended the fourth quarter with 375 million daily users, a 17% increase. In the first three months of the year, the company estimates 382 million to 384 million people will use its platform daily.

Snap has become a bellwether for other digital advertising companies. Last year, it was the first to raise concerns about the slowdown in marketer spending online and to fire a significant number of employees—20% of its workforce—to cut costs in the face of falling revenue.

The company has spent the last two quarters refocusing the organization, cutting projects that don’t contribute to user and revenue growth.

In the first quarter, Snap expects the environment to “remain challenging as we expect the headwinds we have faced over the past year to persist.”

Investors will get additional information about the state of the digital ad market when Meta and Alphabet report earnings later this week.

—Bloomberg News

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

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Twitter Outlines New Platform Rules Which Emphasize Reduced Reach, as Opposed to Suspensions

After reinstating thousands of previously suspended accounts, as part of new chief Elon Musk’s ‘amnesty’ initiative, Twitter has now outlined how it will be enforcing its rules from now on, which includes less restrictive measures for some violations.

As explained by Twitter:

“We have been proactively reinstating previously suspended accounts […] We did not reinstate accounts that engaged in illegal activity, threats of harm or violence, large-scale spam and platform manipulation, or when there was no recent appeal to have the account reinstated. Going forward, we will take less severe actions, such as limiting the reach of policy-violating Tweets or asking you to remove Tweets before you can continue using your account.”

This is in line with Musk’s previously stated ‘freedom of speech, not freedom of reach’ approach, which will see Twitter leaning more towards leaving content active in the app, but reducing its impact algorithmically, if it breaks any rules.

Which means a lot of tweets that would have previously been deemed violative will now remain in the app, and while Musk notes that no ads will be displayed against such content, that could be difficult to enforce, given the way the tweet timeline functions.

But it does align with Musk’s free speech approach, and reduces the onus on Twitter, to some degree, in moderating speech. It will still need to assess each instance, case-by-case, but users themselves will be less aware of penalties – though Musk has also flagged adding more notifications and explainers to outline any reach penalties as well.

“Account suspension will be reserved for severe or ongoing, repeat violations of our policies. Severe violations include but are not limited to: engaging in illegal content or activity, inciting or threatening violence or harm, privacy violations, platform manipulation or spam, and engaging in targeted harassment of our users.

Which still means that a lot of content that these users had been suspended for previously would still result in suspension now, and it leaves a lot up to Twitter management in allocating severity of impact in certain actions.

How do you definitively measure threats of violence or harm, for example? Former President Donald Trump was sanctioned under this policy, but many, including Musk, were critical of Twitter’s decision to do so, given that Trump is an elected representative.

In other nations, too, Twitter has been pressured to remove tweets under these policies, and it’ll be interesting to see how Twitter 2.0 handles such, given its stated more lax approach to moderation, despite its rules remaining largely the same.

Already, questions have been raised on this front – Twitter recently removed links to a BBC documentary that’s critical of the Indian Government, at the request of India’s PM. Twitter hasn’t offered any official explanation for the action, but with Musk also working with the Indian Government to secure partnerships for his other business, Tesla, questions have been raised as to how he will manage both impacts concurrently.

In essence, Twitter’s approach has changed when it chooses to do so, but the rules, as such, will effectively be governed by Musk himself. And as we’ve already seen, he will make drastic rules changes based on personal agendas and experience.

Twitter says that, starting February 1st, any previously suspended users will be able to appeal their suspension, and be evaluated under its new criteria for reinstatement.

It’s also targeting February for a launch of its new account penalties notifications.



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4 new social media features you need to know about this week

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New social media features to know this week


Social media never stands still. Every week there are new features — and it’s hard for the busy comms pro to stay up-to-date on it all.

We’ve got you covered.

Here’s what you need to know about this week.

LinkedIn

Social media sleuth Matt Navarra reported on Twitter that LinkedIn will soon make the newsletters you subscribe to through the site visible to other users.

This should aid newsletter discovery by adding in an element of social proof: if it’s good enough for this person I like and respect, it’s good enough for me. It also might be anopportunity to get your toe in the water with LinkedIn’s newsletter features.

Instagram

After admitting they went a little crazy on Reels and ignored their bread and butter of photographs, Instagram continues to refine its platform and algorithm. Although there were big changes over the last few weeks, these newer changes are subtler but still significant.

 

 

First, the animated avatars will be more prominent on profiles. Users can now choose to flip between the cartoony, waving avatar and their more traditional profile picture, rather than picking one or the other, TechCrunch reported, seemingly part of a push to incorporate metaverse-esque elements into the app.

Instagram also appears to have added an option to include a lead form on business profiles. We say “appears” because, as Social Media Today reports, the feature is not yet listed as an official feature, though it has rolled out broadly.

The feature will allow businesses to use standard forms or customize their own, including multiple choice questions or short answer.

Twitter

In the chaotic world of Twitter updates, this week is fairly staid — with a useful feature for advertisers.

The platform will roll out the ability to promote tweets among search results. As Twitter’s announcement points out, someone actively searching for a term could signal stronger intent than someone merely passively scrolling a feed.

Which of these new features are you most interested in? That LinkedIn newsletter tool could be great for spreading the word — and for discovering new reads.

Allison Carter is executive editor of PR Daily. Follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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