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Twitter’s New Experiments are Failing to Gain Traction, Which Could Lead to Major Changes at the App

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We need to talk about Twitter, and in particular, its latest efforts to increase monetization, and ramp up its development of new features and tools to incentivize popular users.

Over the past few months, Twitter has significantly accelerated its development velocity, with new features like Fleets, Twitter Blue, Super Follows, Spaces, Communities and more all coming in quick succession.

Twitter Product Lead Kayvon Beykpour recently lauded the efforts of his team on this front, crediting internal culture, and a new strategic vision, for its improvements. But the question here is ‘are these really improvements?’

Twitter’s trying a lot of things, for sure, and it needs to in order to maximize its potential – and there’s no denying that Twitter has dragged its feet on this front for too long. But are its experiments actually going to pay off?

And if they don’t, what then?

The most obvious case in point, of course, is Fleets, Twitter’s own take on the social Stories format which was essentially a worse version of Instagram or Snapchat Stories within the Twitter system.

Fleets

Twitter launched Fleets for all users in November 2020, then shut it down last month, giving it less than a year of operation before pulling the pin. Which it should have done, and Twitter received some praise for having the courage to test something new, then admitting when it had failed.

But in the same vein, Twitter’s other experiments don’t really seem to be paying off either, and if Twitter’s going to stick with its approach, and shut them down too when they don’t produce, that could eventually paint a poor picture of its internal development processes, and the understanding of its executive team in regards to what works, and what doesn’t, in building the platform.

Today, TechCrunch has reported that another of Twitter’s experiments is also stumbling in its early stages, with its Super Follows creator subscriber offering only generating around $6000 in its first two weeks.

Super Follows overview

Super Follows is only available in the US and Canada right now, and two weeks is not an indicative enough time period to write it off as a failure, especially considering that creators will need time to formulate their paid subscription offerings in order to entice people to subscribe to them. But $6000 off the back of a product launch is not great, especially when you also consider that Twitter has over 37 million daily active users in the US.

At the minimum price point for Super Follows ($2.99), that would suggest that only 2 thousand users – or 0.005% of Twitter’s US user base – has subscribed to anyone in the app. And that’s at the most generous estimate.

There’s also Twitter Blue, its subscription add-on option which enables users to pay for additional features like tweet recall and new color options.

Twitter Blue

Twitter Blue is currently available in Australia and Canada, and we don’t have any stats on usage as yet, but the options on offer are not overly compelling, and it’ll be interesting to see whether people are willing to keep paying a monthly fee to access these new features (anecdotal sentiment seems to suggest that most subscribers found the features interesting, but not worth the extra cost).  

And then you have Communities, its latest big push to expand tweet engagement, and maximize usage.

Twitter launched Communities last week, and again, we don’t have any definitive data on its performance as yet, but a quick look through the current communities on offer doesn’t suggest that it’s ‘taking off’ as yet.

Twitter Communities

The idea of Communities makes sense – people don’t always want to share their comments with all of their followers, so Communities provides a way to have more enclosed group discussion in the app.

But in practice, the process has some flaws.

For one, given that most regular Twitter users have already curated a list of people they want to hear from in their feeds, Communities doesn’t serve any significant purpose in keeping up to date with topics of interest. It could, of course, enable you to find new tweet discussions to join, which could expand your tweeting activity, but the invite-only process means you have to know someone already in a community to join, limiting your options on this front.

Twitter could remove the invite-only provision, but that would then open Communities up to every spammer and junk tweeter who feels like signing on, so there does need to be some vetting in place (already, giving every new member 5 invites is problematic in this respect).

But the biggest reason that Communities doesn’t seem to be catching on is engagement.

Prolific tweeters already have far more followers on their personal handles than they’ll reach within a Community, so tweeting exclusively to Communities, only to see less engagement, doesn’t seem like an overly appealing prospect.

Again, it’s still too early to say, but right now, it doesn’t seem like an ideal fit, and it could end up being another failed experiment for the platform.

What about Spaces?

Spaces, which latched onto the Clubhouse-led audio social trend, still seems to be showing some promise, and could still become a bigger element in the app, with the public nature of Twitter providing the best exposure potential of the current audio social platforms on offer.

Twitter Spaces

But discovery remains an issue, and when you also see Clubhouse’s popularity in decline, it could be that audio streaming isn’t as big a game-changer as some had anticipated, and without adequate tools to highlight in-progress Spaces to every user, it’s hard to see Twitter making anything major out of the option, at least on a broad enough scale to the move its usage needle in any major way.

Of course, all of these tools are still being developed, and it could be that they all, eventually, gain enough cumulative traction to help Twitter boost its performance, and there are other experiments like Professional Profiles that show promise in their own ways.

But the question, as noted, is what happens if these new tools don’t catch on, which could be the key consideration in Twitter’s next shift.

Because while Beykpour overlooked this element in his reasons for Twitter’s increased development momentum, the real major motivator here is Twitter’s board, and a group of investors who forced their way onto it last year, in a bid to oust current CEO Jack Dorsey over concerns with his direction at the company.

Those board members, from Elliot Management Group, are not convinced that Dorsey, who also heads Square, is the right man to run Twitter, and they made a deal with Dorsey and Twitter’s management team last year on growth targets and momentum, which lead to Twitter’s renewed development focus, announced at its Analyst Day back in February.

Twitter growth targets

If Dorsey and Co. don’t meet these targets, it’s fair to assume that changes are coming, and that could see the end of Twitter’s executive structure as we know it, and a whole raft of new changes coming to the platform.

So while ‘culture’ and other factors are playing a part in Twitter’s new development focus, the truth here is that Twitter needs at least some of these bets to pay off, otherwise it stands little chance of meeting these targets. And while it is on track now, and usage is steadily rising (particularly in developing markets), the risks for the platform are very real, and the initial response data is likely provoking concern in this respect.

But Twitter needs to experiment, it needs to test, it needs to try new things in order to maximize usage, while the broader ‘creator economy’ shift also forces its hand, in some respects, in attracting and maintaining creative talent.

The problem is, most of these additions are solutions looking for problems – they’re additional pieces in the Twitter puzzle which look like they should be there, but maybe, ultimately don’t fit.

There’s still much to come, and Twitter does have opportunity on several fronts. But it’ll be interesting to see just how many of these new projects gain traction, and what that means for those approving their launch.

Socialmediatoday.com

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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

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Reports Show that Facebook Usage is Up, as Meta Continues to Develop its AI Targeting Models

While Facebook is no longer the cool app, especially among younger audiences, it remains a key platform for many users, and its capacity to keep people updated on important updates from friends and family is likely to ensure that many continue to return to the app every day for some time yet.

But more than that, Facebook usage is actually increasing, according to internal insights viewed by The Wall Street Journal, which also include some interesting notes on overall Facebook and Instagram usage trends.

As per WSJ:

Data gathered in the middle of the fourth quarter showed that time spent on [Facebook] was up worldwide, including in developed markets, over the course of a year.”

Which seems unusual, given the subsequent rise of TikTok, and short form video more generally. But actually, Facebook has been able to successfully use the short-form video trend to drive more usage – despite much criticism of the platform’s copycat Reels feature.

Indeed, Reels consumption is up 20%, and has become a key element in Meta’s resurgence.  

How is it finding success? Increased investment in AI, which has driven big improvements in the relevance models that fuel both Reels and its ads, which are also now driving better response.

On Reels, Meta’s systems are getting much better at showing users the Reels content that they’re most likely to be interested in. You’ve likely noticed this yourself – what was initially a mess of random clips inserted into your Facebook feed has now become more focused, and you’re probably finding yourself expanding a Reels clip every now and then, just to see what it’s about.

Reels has actually been too successful:

“Because ads in Reels videos don’t currently sell for as much as those sold against regular posts and stories, Reels’ growing share of content consumption was denting ad revenue. To protect the company’s earnings, the company cut back on promoting Reels, which lowered watch time by 12%.

So again, while Meta has been criticized for stealing TikTok’s format, it’s once again shown, just as it did with Stories, that this is a viable and beneficial pathway to keeping users engaged in its apps.

You might not like it, but replication works in this respect.

But for marketers, it’s likely the development of Meta’s AI targeting tools for ads that’s of most interest.

Over time, many performance advertisers have been increasingly recommending that marketers trust Meta’s AI targeting, with newer offerings like Advantage+ driving strong results, with far less manual targeting effort.

Advantage+ puts almost total trust in Meta’s AI targeting systems. You can choose a couple of targeting options for your campaigns, but for the most part, the process is designed to limit manual impact, in order to let Meta’s systems determine the right audience for your ads.

Which may feel like you’re ceding too much control, but according to Meta, its continued AI investment is now driving better results.

Heavy investment in artificial intelligence tools has enabled the company to improve ad-targeting systems to make better predictions based on less data, according to the interviews and documents […] That, along with shifting to forms of advertising less dependent on harvesting user data from off its platforms, are key to the company’s plans to overcome an Apple privacy change that restricted Meta’s capacity to gather information about what its users do outside its platforms’ walls, the documents show.”

That’s likely worth considering in your process, putting more trust in Meta’s targeting systems to drive better results. At the least, it may be worth experimenting with Meta’s evolving AI for ad targeting. 

It’s not all good news. Meta also notes that while time spent in its apps is on the rise, creation and engagement is declining, with fewer people posting to both Facebook and Instagram than they have in the past.

That’s particularly true among younger audiences, while notably, usage of Instagram Stories is also in decline, down 10% on previous levels.

So while Meta is driving more engagement from Reels, which draws on content from across the app, as opposed to the people and Pages you follow, that’s also led to a decline in user posting.

Is that a bad thing? I mean, logically, engagement is important in keeping people interested in the app, and Meta also relies on those signals to help refine its ad targeting. So it does need users to be sharing their own content too, but if it can get more people spending more time in its apps, that will help it maintain advertiser interest.

In essence, despite all of the reports of Facebook’s demise, it remains a key connective platform, in various ways, while Meta’s improving ad targeting systems are also helping to drive better results, which will keep it as a staple for brands moving forward.

If you were thinking of diversifying your social media marketing spend this year, maybe don’t reduce Facebook investment just yet.

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Effective Ways To Personalize Your Customer Touch Points Even More In 2023

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Effective Ways To Personalize Your Customer Touch Points Even More In 2023

Will 2023 be the year of personalization? Consumers hope so. For the past two years, shoppers have been craving the personal touch: In 2021, McKinsey & Company noted that 71% of customers expected companies to deliver personalization. In 2022, a Salesforce survey found that 73% of people expected brands to understand their needs and expectations. So, this year is looking like one where personalization can no longer be seen as a “nice to have.”

The problem, of course, is how to get more personalized. Many companies have already started to dabble in this. They greet shoppers by name on landing pages. They rely on CRMs and other tools to use historical information to send shoppers customized recommendations. They offer personalized, real-time discounts to help buyers convert their abandoned shopping cart items to actual purchases.

These are all great ideas. The only problem is that they’ve become widespread. They don’t move the needle on the customer experience anymore. Instead, they’re standard, expected, and kind of forgettable. That doesn’t mean you can afford to stop doing them. It just means you must devise other ways to pepper personalization throughout your consumer interactions.

If you are scratching your head on how to outdo 2022’s personalization in 2023, try implementing the following strategies:

1. Go for full-blown engagement on social media.

One easy way to give the personal touch is through your social media business pages. Social media use just keeps growing. In 2022, there were about 266 million monthly active users (or MUAs) on Facebook, one billion on Instagram, and 755 million on TikTok. Not all these active users will fall into your target audiences, but plenty of them will.

Make engaging with your social followers one of this year’s goals. People spend a lot of time on social media. It’s where many of them “live,” so it only makes sense that it should be a place to drive personalization.

One quick way to ratchet up your company’s personal touch on social media is to personalize all your retargeted ads. Quizzes can also offer a chance for personalization. Simply set up an engaging quiz and allow people to share their results. It’s a fun way to build brand recognition and bond with consumers. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with going very personal and answering all comments. Depending on your team’s size and the number of comments you receive, this might be a viable option.

2. Leverage AI to go beyond basic demographics.

Most companies rely on customer demographic information to bolster personalization efforts. The only trouble with this tactic is that demographics can’t tell the whole story. It’s impossible to get a lot of context about individual users (such as their lifestyles, personal preferences, and motivators) just from knowing their age, gender, or location. Though demographic data is beneficial, it can cause some significant misses.

Michael Scharff, CEO and cofounder of Evolv AI, explains the workaround for this problem: “The most natural, and therefore productive, personalization efforts use demographics as a foundation and then layer in user likes, dislikes, behaviors, and values.”

You can leverage AI’s predictive and insightful capabilities to uncover real-time user insights. Scharff recommends this technique because it allows you to stay in sync with the fast-moving pace of consumer behavior changes. He adds that AI can be particularly beneficial with the coming limits to third-party cookie access because it can be a first-party data source, allowing you to maintain customer knowledge and connection.

To flesh out your organization’s strategy, look to other companies that have gone beyond demographics. Take Netflix, for example, which constantly tweaks its AI algorithm to help improve personalized content recommendations. Bottom line? Going deeper than surface information makes all the sense in the world if you want to show customers you know them well.

3. Keep your data spotless.

The better your data, the better your personalization efforts. Period. Unfortunately, you are probably sitting on a lot of unstructured or otherwise tricky-to-use (or impossible-to-use) data. One recent Great Expectations survey revealed that 77% of data practitioners have data quality problems, and 91% say that this is wreaking havoc on their companies’ performance.

You can’t personalize anything with corrupt or questionable data. So, do your best to find ways to clean your data promptly and routinely. For example, you might want to invest in a more centralized data system, particularly if the personalization data you rely on is scattered in various places. Having one repository of data truth makes it easier to know if the information on hand is ready to use.

Another way to tame your data is to automate as many data processes as possible. Reducing manual manipulation of data lessens the chance of human error. And you’ll feel more confident with all your personalization efforts if you can trust the reliability and health of your data.

4. Go for nontechnical personalization.

It’s the digital age, but that doesn’t mean every touchpoint has to be digitized. Consumers often react with delight and positivity when they receive personalization in decidedly nontech forms. (Yes, you can use tech to keep track of everything. Just don’t make it part of the actual personalized exchange!)

Consider writing handwritten thank-you notes to customers after they’ve called in for support or emailed your team, for instance. Or send an extra personalized gift to buyers who make a specific number of purchases. These interactions aren’t technical but can differentiate your customer experience from your competitors’ experiences.

A groundbreaking Deloitte snapshot taken right before the pandemic showed that people were hungry for connection. By folding nondigital experiences into your personalization with customers, you’re showing them that you see them first as valued humans. That’s compelling and appealing, making them more apt to give you their loyalty in return.

Putting a personal spin on all your consumer interactions takes a little time. It’s worth your energy, though. You’ll wind up with stronger brand-buyer connections, helping you edge ahead of your competitors even more.

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Planning for 2023: What Social Media Marketers Need to Win in 2023

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Planning for 2023: What Social Media Marketers Need to Win in 2023

January is, for many, a month of reflection, goal-setting, strategizing and planning for the year ahead. 

In line with this, we’ve kicked off the new year with a series of articles covering the latest stats, tips and strategies to help social media marketers build an effective game plan for 2023.

Below, you’ll find links to our 2023 social media planning series, which includes:

  • Content strategy guidelines to help you define your brand’s content mission and set SMART goals
  • Organic posting tips for Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat and Pinterest 
  • Explainers on how to research key topics of interest in your niche, understand the competitive landscape, and help you find your audience and connect with them where they’re active
  • A holiday calendar and notes on the best days and times to post to each of the major platforms

 

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