Facebook at 12: a masterclass in disruption

On the eve of the 12th birthday of the global phenomenon that is Facebook, millions of people are set to join in Zuckerberg’s celebratory #friendsday. Our thoughts have turned to both its current legacy and also to the new innovations that are already glinting on the horizon.

The runaway success of the platform has inspired legions of entrepreneurs and former start-ups from Instagram, Vine, Pinterest and chat apps to join the party, creating the compelling social media landscape we inhabit today. But what can business organisations learn from the reign of Facebook?

Regardless of the industry you operate in, when it comes to the art of digital disruption, relentless innovation and agility, Facebook has given us a master class. In fact, there are many aspects of the social network’s business model that can be applied to different organisations to great effect.

Here are just three of the smart moves Facebook has taught us as we move into the post-digital age:

#1 Adapting to changing audiences: The fluidity of the social media landscape means that new and disruptive platforms are springing up constantly. Whilst chat apps, including Whatsapp and SnapChat, are enticing Facebook’s traditionally younger audience away from the site, smart responsive tactics have been delivered with great success. Facebook’s early adopters have grown up and Facebook has grown with them. Whilst 24-35 year-olds are now the biggest demographic, 25% of the platforms global users are 35-44, and 22% aged 45-54. Like Facebook, businesses need to know and understand their audiences and adapt to accommodate them. Whether this is the products or services they offer, or the user experience, swift adaptation to ensure relevancy is key to survival.

#2 Innovative new revenue streams: Facebook is fast becoming the ultimate social media experience, with ventures into Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Facebook at Work Messenger and even fundraising. Mark Zuckerberg is capitalising on an open market to expand what you can do with their products, which will further increase the time users spend within the Facebook app, rather than on other rival websites. Businesses can certainly learn from this: the creation of a seamless customer experience, where actions can be carried out effortlessly without needing to go elsewhere for information, will result in more engagement – and a higher sales conversion rate. The business goes above and beyond the normal parameters of its field will drive more demand generation and steal market share.

#3 Smart mobile-first strategy: “Mobile-first” has overtaken “Mobile-ready”, with adults in the UK spending more than 2 hours a day on their smartphone device. In line with latest trends, 47% of Facebook users only log-in from a mobile device and Facebook is a leading pioneer of the mobile-first business model. Brands that fail to effectively optimise websites to work responsively,  whether on a desktop, tablet or laptop, create useful apps, and implement a robust mobile-first marketing strategy that integrates digital, social and direct marketing, will be left limping behind. In the quest to create longer-lasting and more profitable relationships, it’s never been more important to understand where people are viewing your content and interacting with your brand.

Happy birthday Facebook!

Facebook Bday

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Weekly social scoop

Latest news and developments on social media including Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook – just in case you missed them…

Weekly social scoop
#1 Snapchat leak hints at new audio and video calls as it bolsters its messaging clout
By The Drum:

  • Snapchat appears to be chasing users of Facebook Messenger as screenshots of a slew of new features leaked last week
  • Among the new features is an update to the Snapchat video chat, named ‘ChatV2’, bringing it closer to the likes of Facebook Messenger or Google Hangouts offering, likely no longer requiring both users to hold down on their screens simultaneously to link up
  • The app could add more users to its primarily youthful 100m daily users with the rollout of the bolstered UI, which will have a dedicated button for features such as audio and video calling, stickers and photo-sending

#2 Facebook to update ‘like’ button with emoji ‘Reactions’ in a few weeks
By The Drum:

  • Facebook’s hallmark ‘like’ button is to be extended with a ‘Reactions’ product that will allow users to respond to posts via emojis.
  • The new feature is a natural extension of the popular emoji add-ons Facebook already offers within its messaging app
  • The clickable responses will also provide Facebook’s developers with more data, which can be used to tailor content to users; something marketers will find useful
  • Reactions has been tested in Spain, Ireland and Chile among other countries and will roll out globally in “the next few weeks”

#3 Twitter tests (almost) ad-free experience for VIP users
By The Drum:

  • Twitter has dramatically reduced the number of ads it serves to its “most prominent and active users”, according to sources
  • In a bid to get some of its VIP users to stay engaged with the service, the platform is creating an almost ad-free timeline
  • The social network has apparently been testing the feature since September

#4 Jack Dorsey confirms four more Twitter executives to leave company
By The Guardian:

  • Dorsey confirmed that senior vice-president of engineeringAlex Roetter, vice-president of global media Katie Jacobs Stanton, HR vice-president Skip Schipper and senior vice-president of product Kevin Weil are all leaving the embattled social media firm
  • Weil is already reported to have scored a job running product for Instagram
  • Twitter is under increasing pressure from shareholders to increase revenues and become more aggressive against competitors including Facebook and younger rivals such as Snapchat
  • Chief technology officer Adam Messinger will be heading up engineering, consumer product, design and research, user services andTwitter mobile development platform Fabric

#5 Facebook takes on Periscope by giving live streaming to all U.S. iPhoners
By Social Times:

  • When users go to share a status update, they’ll see the Live button beside ones for photos, stickers and locations
  • Facebook started with just big celebrities, then opened Live to journalists and public figures through its Mentions app, then brought on Verified Pages, and now is finally equipping all U.S. iPhone users
  • Facebook’s filtered feed might be worse for real-time breaking news streams and the re-sharing isn’t a big thing there. But if a stream gets lots of viewers and feedback, Facebook can automatically push it higher in the feed so it’s more visible

#6 Facebook to axe Parse after struggling to compete with Amazon and Microsoft
By The Drum:

  • Facebook is shutting down Parse, its tool for helping developers build mobile apps, as it steps away from the intensely competitive cloud computing space to focus its attention elsewhere
  • Parse will gradually shut down until it finally turns off completely on 28 January 2017
  • Facebook had high hopes for the service, which it purchased in 2013 for around $85m, however it struggled to compete with the might of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, who have grown exponentially in recent years and continue to lower their prices


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Weekly social scoop

Latest news and developments on social media including Whatsapp, Yik Yak, Twitter and Facebook – just in case you missed them…

social media
#1 WhatsApp drops subscription fees
By TechCrunch:

  • WhatsApp is dropping its £0.69 / $0.99 annual subscription fee, and will test more commercial services – specifically a B2C business for companies to communicate with their customers rather than ads
  • Companies such as Bank of America and American Airlines were named by WhatsApp’s CEO, Jan Koum, as the types of companies that would work with WhatsApp – addressing possible fraudulent transactions and sending boarding details respectively
  • WhatsApp is now approaching one billion users worldwide

#2 Facebook introduces tools to make the news feed more relevant again with organic audience optimisation
By Marketing Land:

  • Facebook is helping publishers improve their organic reach and relevancy by offering a tool for targeting posts to interests, demographics and geography
  • Posts can also be restricted from being viewed by other demographics – useful if your product is only targeted at over 30s, or an offer isn’t available in a certain country
  • A lot of publishers have been complaining about a drop in organic reach and Facebook becoming a “pay-to-play” platform, but this is designed to give a little power back to publishers

#3 Yik Yak launches on the web
By TechCrunch:

  • Yik Yak, the anonymous, location-based social network that’s incredibly popular in colleges and universities, has launched a web platform
  • Users add the same phone number they use with the mobile app and verify their anonymous web profile to sync up with the profile they use on mobile
  • The company has been working on the web version of the app for a few months in a closed beta, aiming for the same user experience on both devices

#4 Facebook Now Tracks Call-to-Action Clicks via ‘Actions on Page’ Insights Tab
By Social Times:

  • Facebook has added a “Actions on Page” tab to the page insights menu to give page owners a greater understanding of how active their main call-to-action buttons are
  • These call-to-action buttons have a lot of uses: to drive traffic back to your company’s website, call attention to a whitepaper or have people sign up for your email list

#5 Facebook launches ‘Facebook Sports Stadium’
By Social Times:

  • iPhone users in the U.S. can now access a real-time hub for all Facebook content related to sporting events
  • All sports-related content will be shown chronologically, including: live scores, statistics and play-by-play, posts and comments from friends, fan pages and experts, and coverage from national, regional and local media plus broadcast information
  • Facebook’s head of global sports partnerships, Dan Reed, said, “350 million people joined the social conversation around the World Cup in 2014. Last year’s Super Bowl was the most talked-about in history, with 65 million people discussing the game in real-time on Facebook” – it seems Facebook is just tapping into an existing audience (and maybe trying to stop Twitter Moments in its tracks?)

#6 Twitter announces dates for HelloWorld developer tour
By ZDNet:

  • In an effort to grow its developer bases, Twitter has unveiled dates and locations for its developer tour in more than half a dozen major cities worldwide
  • The agenda will be centred around building features for the Twitter platform itself, with sessions focusing on Fabric for mobile development, Gnip for data analysis and public Twitter APIs

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C-Suite social – it’s time to shine

Business leaders

Social media is becoming an increasingly integral part of any B2B organisation’s brand. It has permeated through the consumer space, past the corporate barrier and into the heart of every business sector. But what’s the view from the top?

As reported by Hubspot, a recent study has shown 71% of US and 61% of UK respondents agreed that a company is more trustworthy if their C-Suite executives use social media. Despite this, the majority of executive leaders still remain invisible in the social sphere, with either no personal social media presence or inactive accounts.

The blunt truth is that people buy from brands they trust. And here’s more food for thought: a brand offering a high quality product or solution that’s failing to position its C-Suite as thought leaders on social, can be surpassed by a less innovative brand whose senior executives do engage in open, honest and inspiring dialogue with their customers.

Think about the funnel. The average B2B buyer is 57% of the way through the purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep. We all know that buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase, which means that marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle. This is exactly where senior brand experts need to step in – and step up to the stage.

The fact is that buyers don’t just compare the businesses they want to engage with online – their exposure to intelligent posts and commentary by senior brand representatives on LinkedIn and Twitter, or via blog posts, can often pique their interest, sway opinions and can change impressions for the better. When it comes to establishing leadership and expertise, building a rapport with customers and presenting an engaging human personality behind your brand, where better to start than at the top? C-level executives are arguably an organisation’s greatest assets.

Here are our top five reasons why building a visible and active presence for your CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO and CIO – can benefit your company’s brand and business:

  1. Place yourself above your peers

Wouldn’t you like to have one up on your competition? For the C-Suite, building their own brand presence on social media enables them to showcase their expertise beyond the walls of your boardroom. It enables them to be at the forefront of industry conversations, and if they can build up a following based on thought leadership, then you’re already one step ahead. The most successful CEOs are looked up to by their customers, partners, and even competitors. They have distinguished themselves as business leaders and influential members of the industry community, by sharing their knowledge, passion and ideas.

  1. Get on the press radar

The media are big fans of social channels, and Twitter especially. Having a strong persona online can give your C-level execs greater exposure to some of the high-level journalists that are seeking comment and opinions on breaking industry news and trends. Want to get that double-page interview in Forbes? Well, you’ll have a much better chance if the journalist already knows who your CEO is.

By connecting with the journalists and analysts covering your industry, your CEO will be able to form positive relationships, which could lead to greater coverage opportunities.

  1. Smart networking

As industry peers make the move online, there is another chance to meet and greet potential new business leads. As long as your senior reps understand how to operate on these channels, and what they’re saying is relevant and valuable, then there’s a rich opportunity for striking up new relationships with potential clients.

Coaching and supporting your senior reps to get active on LinkedIn, and committing to a strategic plan for regularly posting comments, sharing links and publishing articles, can successfully establish them as leading influencers.

  1. Intelligent crisis management

Social media has become one of the most valuable tools in a crisis situation. Its immediacy allows brands to inform and connect with customers promptly and efficiently during key crisis moments. Of course, any crisis management needs to be underpinned by a robust communications plan, delivered with tact and understanding, but statements from the top can show a CEO’s strength of character. By sending out informative and transparent messaging from a CEO’s personal account, you’re able to position them as someone unafraid to face challenges head on.

  1. Brand credibility

It’s 2016 – and it’s no secret that modern business communication and engagement technology is all about social. Imagine heading up one of the world’s leading tech firms but not understanding how to post a tweet? We expect it of our politicians, so why not our CEOs?

This credibility can also stretch to internal relations within a business – a CEO who doesn’t participate in social media, can’t fully understand what’s involved and what the realistic business outcomes might be. Especially in terms of sales leads, control of corporate messaging, or customer service.

A CEO can, of course, still be seen as trustworthy or likable even if they’re not active on social media. But there’s often a disconnect between the C-Suite and employees on the ground that’s difficult to ignore. Social media also allows information and rapport to filter down through your business internally, which can only have a positive effect on employees, as well as external customers.


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Weekly social scoop

Latest news and developments on social media including Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook – just in case you missed them…

social media

#1 Mobile video explosion sees Snapchat close in on Facebook
By The Drum:

  • When measured by mobile video traffic after exponential growth, the media sharing app saw the number of video views exceed 7bn per day between June-November last year, just a hair’s breadth away from the 8bn videos per day viewing figure reported by Facebook
  • Attributing this exponential growth to its newly introduced ‘stories’ feature, Snapchat says the ability to broadcast clips to contacts for 24 hours at a time has proven extremely popular
  • However, when it comes to monthly active users, Facebook remains king with 1.55bn people logging in at least once a month, 15 times more than Snapchat which has just 100m daily users

#2 Periscope autoplay hits Twitter timelines as livestreaming service aims for ‘massive’ reach
By The Drum:

  • Twitter’s livestreaming service Periscope will now broadcast videos direct on Twitter, meaning users won’t have to open a separate app or browser to watch clips and won’t need Periscope app or a user account
  • As well as bringing a richer experience to the Twitter timeline, the move is likely to appeal to brands and publishers, with Periscope saying the change will allow its broadcasters to reach a “massive” social audience
  • The new function is being rolled out on Twitter’s iOS app, with Android set to follow

#3 Snapchat makes moves towards automated ad sales with reports of ad tech acquisitions
By The Drum:

  • Snapchat is looking to sustain the exponential growth it has achieved in recent months and monetise its coveted Millennial audience by strengthening its advertising credentials
  • According to Re/code, the company has been in talks with a number of ad tech startups, including Beeswax, a startup that helps advertisers bid to target particular users, and Metamarkets, an analytics firm focused on programmatic buying
  • The company has only been selling ads for a little over a year, and by looking into ad tech acquisitions, Snapchat appears to be recognising its inexperience on that front and adopting the same model as Facebook and Twitter to lay out a path for success

#4 Twitter quietly launches dedicated gaming channel
By The Drum:

  • Twitter is ramping up its efforts to become a major player in the gaming space with the launch of a new dedicated channel, @TwitterGaming
  • Julia White from the social network’s media partnership team said the platform wants to tap into the “thousands of gaming-related tweets” sent on Twitter each day
  • Twitter Gaming, which debuted quietly last week, joins the platform’s roster of official accounts spanning various topics from music to government, and follows on from the launch of the social network’s gaming vertical at the end of last year

#5 The White House joins Snapchat
By Mashable:

  • The move comes just one day before President Obama is scheduled to give his final State of the Union address
  • Unlike most users, The White House doesn’t want its posts to disappear, and in fact they can’t, per government regulations that require presidential administrations to keep thorough records
  • The administration plans to use the platform to showcase behind-the-scenes moments from the address, perhaps engaging a demographic that might not ordinarily tune in to the major networks or to politics

#6 Facebook ‘friend finder’ constitutes advertising harassment, says German high court
By The Drum:

  • Facebook’s European legal challenges continue to mount up after a court ruled that the social network’s ‘friend finder’ feature was violating laws on data protection and unfair trade practices
  • The recruitment feature invites users to grant Facebook permission to vacuum up all the e-mail addresses of contacts in the user’s address book and allow it to send an invitation to non-Facebook users to join the platform
  • In a statement, a spokeswoman for Facebook in Germany said it was waiting to receive the formal decision and would study the findings “to assess any impact on our services”

#7 Skype and Liverpool FC partner to launch new channel for fans and range of player emojis
By The Drum:

  • Liverpool Football Club (LFC) and Skype have announced a new global partnership that will offer the club’s fans exclusive content and new ways to interact during matches
  • As part of the partnership Skype will launch a range LFC emoticons, including miniature versions of Reds manager and players
  • Angie Hill, general manager of Skype consumer marketing, said the company was “excited to introduce new ways for fans to come together, wherever they are. Through Skype chats and custom content, we look forward to bringing these fans even closer to the action”

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