Retargeting was fun while it lasted, right? … interesting time for online marketing.
Facebook advertisers, in particular, have noticed an impact in the last month. Media buyers who run Facebook ad campaigns on behalf of clients said Facebook is no longer able to reliably see how many sales its clients are making, so it’s harder to figure out which Facebook ads are working. Losing this data also impacts Facebook’s ability to show a business’s products to potential new customers. It also makes it more difficult to “re-target” people with ads that show users items they have looked at online, but may not have purchased.
Pretty funny because I read this via Apple News and there’s no way to share it out to a web browser on my iPad…
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, told The Wall Street Journal’s Joanna Stern that the company’s goal is to “give users a choice.” Those four words are at the core of the problem with the position Facebook has taken since Apple announced the changes last year at its developer conference.
I’m always annoyed when I open Waze on iOS or Android and there’s a persistent widget asking if I’d like to listen to Spotify within the app while navigating. I’ve never said yes.
Now that experience is coming to … Facebook.
In a way, this makes perfect sense for Facebook (and Spotify). Facebook is looking for more engrossing engagement from younger demographics but current efforts have proven unsuccessful. Having Spotify “built in” to Facebook presumably would encourage more of that while young people doom scroll to Post Malone or Ariana Grande.
This also makes sense for Spotify as it continues to position itself as the ever-present soundtrack of our lives with its own engrossing soundtracks and clever attraction-marketing that engenders constant interaction with the service (whether in a standalone app, website, desktop app, widget, or through other services).
While many of us may turn our nose up to this sort of thing, it will be very successful for both Facebook and Spotify (especially podcasts)… however, I just don’t think it’ll get the young people to spend more time on Facebook these days.
“Facebook announced last week an expanded partnership with streaming music service Spotify that would bring a new way to listen to music or podcasts directly within Facebook’s app, which it called Project Boombox. Today, the companies are rolling out this integration via a new “miniplayer” experience that will allow Facebook users to stream from Spotify through the Facebook app on iOS or Android. The feature will be available to both free Spotify users and Premium subscribers.”
But Nextdoor has gradually evolved into something bigger and more consequential than just a digital bulletin board: In many communities, the platform has begun to step into roles once filled by America’s local newspapers. “Anecdotally, Nextdoor has gone from being kind of sub-Facebook to actually being the main platform you hear people discussing as a vector for local news and events and discussions,” says Emily Bell, director of the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University.
This is a really fascinating development. First Microsoft and now Facebook are suspending PAC (Political Action Committee) spending in Washington. They’re joining financiers Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Citigroup, along with Marriott, Blue Cross Blue Shield (caveat — our insurance co), Boston Scientific, and Commerce Bank. Bank of America (caveat — one of the banks we do business with), Ford, and AT&T, CVS, Exxon Mobil, and Wells Fargo are considering pulling their political monies.
This hits politicians where it really hurts.
For years, many of us in the “tech world” have decried these PACs and looked at them as a unnecessary evil that needed to be banned or done away with for a number of reasons.
Here are my personal convictions:
The PAC system reinforces the existing system of graft and corruption that so many Americans claim to abhor.
PACs favor the privileged both socio-economically and relationally. It’s a blight on a Democratic Republic and shouldn’t be seen as a “necessary evil” to doing business in the United States. Whatever your sector.
Tech boomed in the late 90’s and then again in the early ’00s because it was seen as a disruptor. From Google to Tesla to Uber (well, maybe they aren’t a great example but they did usher in a transportation paradigm shift) to even Twitter, the tech sector excited us with the promise of something different and more democratic to challenge the status quo. However, as the going got weird, the weird turned pro and put on suits. I want a return to the weird disruption tech that spurred creativity and a hope for a better representation to the powers that be. We’re not so far gone that it can’t happen in light of #metoo, BLM, LBGTQ+, trans rights, accessibility emphasis, and recognition of differently abled persons. Real revolutionary tech that can change the world… I still believe. PACS stand in the way of that.
So as we continue to process and deal with the terrorist insurrection on our Capitol last week, let’s take a second to recognize what these companies are doing by restricting or redirecting their PAC monies and how we can all do our part to not just “unify and move forward” but to cause real change.
Hearing from Spectrum never brings joy. We have been Time Warner Cable (which became Sprctrum) customers of their high speed internet offerings since moving to our new home in 2013. We regularly receive mailers and calls from them asking us to consider their phone plans or cable tv packages. Remarketing is a powerful tactic, but has to be deployed wisely. There’s also been the occasional past due notification (comes in a pink envelope and all) when we’ve changed debit card numbers and forgot to update the auto-payment on their app (which is a whole other blog post).
We never hear anything good from Spectrum.
This morning I’ve been receiving text message notifications about their service outage here in our area. That’s definitely not good news on an otherwise busy Monday morning working from home during my “busy season” with a few Zoom calls planned, some website audits that need to be done, and lots of charts to be made for clients. Not to mention, my partner runs her business and ministry from home, and our children have become digital natives during the pandemic (although they are much more resilient than we are when the web goes down).
I remember about 12 or so years ago, a Comcast customer service rep began the @comcastcares account on Twitter. These were the fun days of the Twitter platform and we users were so anticipating how the service would transform everything from customer service to entertainment to politics. Cory Booker was the Mayor of Newark at the time, and his revolutionary use of Twitter as a way for his community to reach out for help with downed trees or kittens stuck in trees was fascinating to watch. It brought joy. Little did we know how future politicians would use the service in the coming years… but I digress.
The @comcastcares account went viral and sparked a number of other services to open their own accounts for people like me who were valued customers but preferred a Twitter DM to submitting a support ticket on a terrible website, or (God Forbid) picking up the phone. It was a marketing play, but it brought joy from an otherwise joyless interaction when people are at their most frustrated. It’s also why every company uses carefully researched “hold music” and why some are better than others like Verizon’s terrible repeating 4/3 beat monstrosity.
During the pandemic, I’ve become fascinated by restaurant marketing. I’ve only worked with a handful of restaurants and restaurant groups as clients and the sector is admittedly not in my marketing wheelhouse.
However, watching local and national restaurants and chains adapt to new types of marketing technology and techniques during the pandemic has become a learning experience for me. I’ve downloaded dozen of restaurant and chain apps and had a few chats with various marketing teams.
A couple of large scale standouts have been McDonalds innovative use of their app to bring joy to an otherwise mundane human experience with promotions like a free item each day during the Holidays. Wendy’s has also been using marketing technology in a daring manner to build experience and interaction. For instance, their edgy Twitter account isn’t for everyone, but even snark can bring joy during a pandemic. Wendy’s is also using platforms such as Twitch to stream their team playing live games of Animal Crossing while giving away promo codes in the flowing chat. Again, it’s not for everyone and that’s the point.
Just like Comcast reached out to users with marketing technology that wasn’t “mainstream” or seemed silly in 2008 to do both outreach and perform a service, it’s important to bring joy and not just interruption.
So while our family scrambles to hook up internet hotspots and figure out how to work in new ways (yet again) this morning while our Spectrum service sorts out, think of ways that your organization can bring joy with marketing technology.
Don’t just send emails offering new services, asking for more donations, or updates about a new award you’ve won to your intended audience. Don’t dismiss Instagram Reels or TikTok or Twitch or Clubhouse or Reddit or even Twitter because you don’t think your audience is there or you don’t have the time to experiment. Stagnation is death. Stagnation doesn’t bring joy.
Joy will be a prime marketing technique in 2021. Embrace that and think outside the interruption.
I remember the first few times I saw a friend post a Reel on Instagram and thought “well, that’s a weird knock-off of Snapchat and Tik-Tok” and wondered how or if my clients should even know about (or bother) with it.
Then in November, we also got word from Instagram that major changes were coming to how they promoted content in a much search-friendlier way (without having to use hashtags!).
Those two combined together means that Instagram with its 2 billion active users and built-in affinity groups shouldn’t be overlooked in 2021.
Use Reels for whatever you’re marketing or trying to message about and don’t skip over the functionality there.
2021 is going to be the year of 15 second videos.
Engagement umbers are already through the roof with Reels and that’s only going to continue to increase.
To further help Instagram categorize your account, you want to consistently post content that’s relevant to your niche. To illustrate, if you run an Instagram account for your dog training business, you’ll want to focus on posting content about dog training and avoid content that strays into an unrelated category. Other ways to help you show up in search within your category include following other similar accounts and adding a relevant keyword to your name in your bio (i.e., Alexa | Dog Trainer).
To compete with the rise in popularity of TikTok, Instagram launched Reels, a new form of video content delivered in 15–30 seconds to create quick, attention-grabbing moments in a creative and entertaining way. Instagram’s new UI update, which put IG Reels front and center, should hint to marketers that Instagram Reels will be here to stay in 2021.
I get these sorts of questions frequently from new clients:
“Why aren’t my Facebook Page posts getting more likes?”
“Why isn’t my website getting more views?”
“How can I let more people know I’ve written / made / created / offer the best service / product in my area?”
“When will people start responding to the emails I’m sending them about our product / church service / nonprofit fundraising?”
“What is the best way to market this because what I’ve done hasn’t worked so far?”
After being in the marketing world for almost 20 years now, these are among the most common questions I get from people just beginning to take marketing seriously (and have hired me to help them realize that vision).
We’ve all asked ourselves similar questions after the initial excitement of an idea has faded away due to the lack of engagement from everyone else who didn’t respond the way we wanted.
But that’s the beauty of marketing… it’s a system of nuance and subtleness and not a blunt tool. It’s not meant to “convert” (that’s sales) as much as “persuade” … and that takes extra effort and thinking outside of our own heads. Some do that with data. Some do that with incredible gut instincts.
Nonetheless, don’t fall into the trap of letting your own perspectives dictate all of your marketing efforts…
The dilemma for my boss, for me and for you – as humans – is that it’s very difficult to admit that you were wrong, or even stupid. It’s is the last thing someone will admit. The alternative is, instead of believing the evidence, you double down on your initial belief – belief perseverance – and say it’s the other person who’s wrong.
Google’s annual Shopping Gift Guide is out for 2020. While it’s a handy tool for personal shopping, it also has some incredibly helpful stats for marketing and messaging.
The trick is to focus on trending items using data. The same is true for Instagram… the hashtags that you should be incorporating into your posts for more exposure and likes (and follows) are the ones that are trending but not necessarily popular.
So, if you’re looking for some fun market research in your business’ sector, don’t pass up these sorts of insights:
Monitors and headsets with microphones both saw 450%+ spikes in searches.
Searches for streaming increased 33% this year.
Searches for ring lights are at their all-time high, as they provide ideal lighting for video recordings and meetings.
The Google Shopping Gift Guide provides a helpful list of products rising in popularity based on Search trends in the US.
Along the same lines of posts I’ve been making about authentic marketing outreach aimed at specific communities, causes, and moments… this isn’t just about crass capitalism.
Businesses, nonprofits, churches, community orgs, public officials etc need to be engaged in this sort of marketing messaging regardless of your political or religious affiliations but in respect of what your group’s ethos represents… super powerful:
Show up where and when it matters.With advancements in communication, moments create new avenues for marketers, planners and creatives looking to connect with these once-a-day, once-a-year and once-in-a-while moments. Find a moment like Giving Tuesday, Ramadan or Pride Month when your business can connect with customers and communities who share the same values.
Today we’re announcing some big changes to Instagram – a Reels tab and a Shop tab. The Reels tab makes it easier for you to discover short, fun videos from creators all over the world and people just like you. The Shop tab gives you a better way to connect with brands and creators and discover products you love.
Instagram’s new layout announced today isn’t a massive overhaul and most people will probably adjust just fine… but the inclusion of Reels as a separate tab is super interesting and yet another way that Facebook and Instagram are looking to capture some of the virality and buzz around TikTok.
There’s not much conclusive data on Reels’ success or adoption so far (released back in August), but it is notable that it now has its own tab in an interface that hundreds of millions of active users visit daily (or hourly depending on your demographic).
Shopping also gets its own tab. Again, like the talk late in the summer about how Wal-Mart was interested in acquiring TikTok due to its ability to be a platform for e-commerce, Instagram is making it easier for users to make direct purchases from their app rather than the janky “link in the bio” workaround we’ve been using for years. I know I’ve personally made a few impulse buys of new camping gear or knives (looking at you, Smoky Mountain Knife Works) because of an Instagram Story or pic.
But take note that the landscape is changing ever so slightly from Instagram (and TikTok) being places of consumer-generated content to consumer buying and selling. That will continue, especially as we all hunker down in our homes this winter to avoid Covid outbreaks.
Interesting dynamics for the marketing world (something I’ve been arguing for since “influencer marketing” became a thing years ago) as we continue to see re-evaluations of things like Google Ads and social media marketing as well. The landscape is changing rapidly and I’ve been on a ton of strategy calls with clients lately trying to help them make sense of it all.
Contributing to the rise of OnlyFans is one harsh new reality: the “influencing era” is ending. Travel influencers can’t travel, lifestyle influencers can’t live lavishly, and fashion influencers aren’t being sent clothes without any place to wear them. The economic downturn has caused companies to dial back marketing budgets usually spent on sponsored content and, during a global disaster, followers are craving authenticity over “picture-perfect” life.
Interesting play that was pretty predictable. But I do wonder if Facebook’s presence with nonprofits, churches, and small businesses will mean that Messenger Rooms takes off on a steep path of adoption? I think it just might because so many people in those areas are “already on Facebook” and comfortable with the platform as opposed to say, ZOOM or Google Meet.
It should be interesting to watch the adoption curve…
Of everything announced today, Messenger Rooms promises to be the most significant. The feature, which Facebook says will be available in the company’s products globally sometime in the next few weeks, will allow up to 50 people to join a call. The room’s creator can decide whether it’s open to all or lock it to prevent uninvited guests from joining. You’ll be able to start a room from Messenger and Facebook to start. Later, rooms will come to Instagram Direct, WhatsApp, and Portal. Guests can join a room regardless of whether they have a Facebook account.
I made the decision last week to attempt what I previously thought was relatively undoable for my business and/or personal life and pull out of the Twitter stream and Facebook world, and Instagram performance art gallery. Some of that was due to this liturgical season of Lent and some of that was my constant need to try on new “thought technologies” that helps me explore more of this life.
After a week, I can say a few things that have struck me as personal revelations.
First, I am more focused and “get things done” work-wise in a more deliberate and intentional way. It’s not that I was skipping over things a year or a month ago, but the silence that comes from not having a constant TweetDeck tab open in my browser window (or on the large screen that was dedicated just to TweetDeck) has made a marked difference in my workflow as evidenced by my time sheets and my client ticketing system.
Second, I find myself reaching for my phone fewer times during the morning, day, and night. I would constantly be scanning Instagram or Twitter when I had a few spare moments or minutes during the course of a day. Now that I don’t have those time sinks, I find myself scanning Feedly for news or longer form articles or just doodling on paper for 30 seconds.
Third, I’m blogging here more. I feel more “creative” in general to be honest. Being away from the constant stream of short takes on the latest political scandal or presidential tweet or funny meme has made me recognize how much I’ve pushed down my own voice inside of my head (as much as it is an unreliable narrator sometimes!). But I feel like we’re picking back up the conversation after a long 12 years on Twitter and as a heavy user of all things social. I feel more creative and less anxious in general.
Most importantly, I have space to be more mindful about my place here. I already feel a change in my outlook on issues and things I need to give or pay attention to. I’ve found myself turning off notifications on my phone from Slack and Email (heaven forbid!) and even our ticket support system. Could I make do with a flip phone? Who knows. But that mindfulness and a better sense of presence doesfeel different than it has the last few years.
Coincidence is not causation, so we’ll see how this happens as I keep up with this thought technology of being mindfully and spiritually situated in specific places and times rather than floating through the matrix of performative attention.
“The sublime—whether a feature of the natural world, or of UFOs, or of religious experience—is a sense of our own vanishing smallness before something impossibly vast: a mountain range, a churning ocean, the universe, God. What we get in return for being so existentially demeaned is freedom from the tyranny of our own personalities, a sort of liberating oblivion. But data-extracting platforms don’t sublimate our personalities; they multiply and magnify them. And the Data Sublime, far from making the internet feel thrillingly big, has conspired to make it feel smaller, claustrophobic, and profoundly boring. As Facebook and Google metastasize,the more interesting destinations on the internet are dying off; recent sweeping media layoffs were also largely the result of Facebook, Google, and Amazon’s stranglehold on advertising revenue. The sublime promises a sort of redemptive immensity, but Silicon Valley strives to compress all of digital experience into a single, monotonous feed, mainlining capital into the pockets of billionaires.“
Today we already see that private messaging, ephemeral stories, and small groups are by far the fastest growing areas of online communication. There are a number of reasons for this. Many people prefer the intimacy of communicating one-on-one or with just a few friends. People are more cautious of having a permanent record of what they’ve shared. And we all expect to be able to do things like payments privately and securely.
Not saying I called it, but I called it. Look to WeChat for how we’ll be doing “social networking” here in the US within the next 5 years.
Twitter completely flopped and missed the ball by not shipping a DM app.
As a teacher from 2001-2006 and then from 2008-2012, I had the chance to work with dozens of young people and their parents at a time when so much we knew and thought about education and transmitting information was changing. There was a rapid cultural shift in that decade that was primarily driven by “technology” and the internet.
One theme that remained constant going back to the first time we set up a class blog in 2003 was the notion of “tech addiction”. It remained a constant question and concern of parents and education colleagues (particularly my administrators) over the years.
Since 2012 as a marketing and tech consultant primarily working with religious orgs, nonprofits, and community groups, I’ve encountered the same concerns about tech addiction and young people. From MySpace to Instant Messaging to World of Warcraft to Instagram to Facebook to Fortnite, the boogeyman of evil tech hellbent on ruining our children’s minds and attention and willingness to go outside and play stickball keeps a constant current over time.
However, tech addiction (in the mainstream cultural sense) is just that… a boogeyman. It’s much better to focus on our responsibilities and usage patterns… as adults and parents and community members… rather than blaming Zuckerberg for our lack of accepting personal agency and being responsible people with our choices.
Good piece here that says all this in a much nicer and more approachable way:
Nir says the idea that technology is “hijacking your brain” or that the general population is “addicted” to their phones is rubbish.“Yes, there’s a very small percentage of people that very much are addicted—which is a completely different conversation—but this ‘addiction to technology’ is not the generalized disorder the media and others would have you think it is.”