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The Story On Stories: Snapchat Vs. Instagram

August 16, 2016 Leave a comment

Blog Post-FB vs Twitter v2

I have written previous articles about how marketers should be testing, learning and quickly iterating on platforms like Snapchat and Instagram to tell their brand stories. And recently, Mary Meeker helped drive home the point about the relevance of such social platform in her 2016 annual Internet Trends report. As a refresher:

The report showed how smartphones are increasingly used to combine several powerful storytelling tools via camera+storytelling+creativity+messaging, combined with social sharing network effect. Meeker mentioned that she and her team believe Snapchathas a “perfect trifecta” for this, especially given their daily video growth rate.

Marketers such as Wal-Mart, Sony Pictures, Ford and Dick’s Sporting Goods are just a few that have jumped into Snapchat to leverage massively engaged audiences with cool filters, storytelling and ads. An insight not to miss is that all these Snapchatters (and Instagrammers) are sending geo-specific signals each time they share. For brick-and-mortar retailers, this geo-location is a massively untapped opportunity to reach customers during a store visit and when purchase consideration is happening.

Given the combination of geo-location and marketers’ quest to reach customers in store, attribute traffic and conversion, it’s no wonder marketers are finally embracing Snapchat and Instagram in new ways. And also why Instagram’s launching of “Stories” should not surprise anyone.

Silicon Valley has a long history of companies copying each other. Steve Jobs famously saw GUI at Xerox Parc and that inspired the Mac. Many say he stole it. As Apple’s Bud Tribble is noted for saying: “If you take something and make it your own…it’s your design and that is the dividing line between copying and stealing.” That concept is part of Apple’s DNA and certainly many other tech companies in the valley. Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO/founder, hasn’t run from the obvious copying of Snapchat. In fact, he said “they [Snapchat] deserve all the credit”. In my opinion Instagram has innovated by making the “Stories” feature much more seamless and intuitive vs. Snapchat. Snapchat will almost certainly refine their UX. But the Instagram feature and better UX is just the tip of the spear.

Instagram is owned by Facebook and has a uniquely strong capability to tap into mobile “storytelling” to augment data (especially geo-data) to fortify cross-device insights with Facebook Insights (think purchase data). This combination can be an incredibly powerful for tool for marketers. As marketers, we have become better at understanding our data streams and applying smart strategies and tactics to drive engagement and purchase. Search and social have been a proving ground for following intentions all the way to purchase. As search evolves outside of “traditional” search into platforms such as Instagram (note no search available on Snapchat), marketers will have more ammunition to target audiences and truly track path to purchase while giving attribution to the right events.

I love both Snapchat and Instagram, but the amazing cross-device, geo-targeting and massive network effect of Instagram+Facebook is why I’m betting on Instagram in the long game.

As marketers, you should already be well underway in testing and learning with these platforms and have deft understanding of your first-party data and how it can be combined with the ever increasing rich data set derived from helping consumers tell their stories. Holiday 2016 should be your best season ever with all the tools you have at your disposal. Are you ready?

Reposted from my published artciles on Mediapost and Medium

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What Was Old Is New Again: Pokémon Is Back!

I never played Pokémon when I was young and never really understood what the craze was about. And while I’m not among the millions in the United States who have downloaded the Pokémon Go app, I love what Pokémon Go represents for the brand and enthusiasts. What started as a simple game from Nintendo over 20 years ago and gained a lot of followers among kids and tweens worldwide has now revived the brand with a location-based, augmented reality app. And unless you live under a rock, you will have no doubt seen the news across nearly every media outlet. Pokémon Go has made national headlines across the world in the last week.

For those who aren’t familiar with Pokemon Go is, here’s a short overview:

Once a user downloads Pokémon Go to their smartphone, they are prompted to turn on location services. Once location services are on, users will see a location-aware map with other players in the real world where they can go out and look for Pokémon characters. Once they get to a specified place, players point their phone camera to “find” Pokémon in the real world in an augmented reality-playing environment. Players then shoot a ball to capture the Pokémon and collect awards.

Why all the fuss over a “kids” game that now has a smartphone app? For starters, the app, which just launched a week ago has over 11 million daily active users. In the app world, that is rocket ship growth that any app or media property would love to have in a year, let alone a week! To provide some context, according to data from SensorTower, Pokémon Go is already bigger than the dating app Tinder, as big as Snapchat and Google Maps and about to overtake Twitter. And Pokémon Go players are spending an average of 43 minutes per day using the app. That daily usage rate outpaces WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and FB Messenger! The cherry on the top is that it’s not just kids and tweens playing this game, it’s a lot of adults and new users to the Pokémon franchise.

As any marketer that has launched an app will tell you, two of the biggest success metrics for apps are downloads and daily active users (DAUs) or monthly active users (MAUs). Achieving download goals are hard enough. Many marketers spend millions of dollars just to drive downloads; it’s not uncommon for costs to hit $20 per download. The bigger challenge is getting users to actually keep using an app after download and that is where the vast majority of apps fail unless they have a high utility value (e.g., Tinder, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc.). Pokémon Go daily users are spending 40+ minutes each day!

Again, to provide some perspective, below is a chart from SensorTower showing Daily Usage Time of Pokémon Go vs. Social Media Apps.

Pokémon Go news stories have been making the nightly news across all the network and cable news channels about the craze and how app users are having fun in droves as well as some questionable issues arising from playing an augmented reality game in public spaces. I was nearly shamed for not playing the game by a fellow UberPool rider earlier this week, while she was looking to snag another Pokémon in the Uber. And while I’m not playing (yet), I can think of myriad ways marketers can engage and follow the lead of the Pokémon Go augmented reality app.

On a basic level, brands with location-based presence can engage with promotions. Outdoor apparel brands could leverage the location-based aspect to engage with players in parks and resorts around the globe. QSR brands could offer a limited-time experience to help drive short-term traffic and sales goals. Marketers looking for more ideas need only to listen to what Pokémon Go players are saying on across social channels about how they are engaging with the game and what types of experiences they are creating. Smart marketers will listen and respond from the plethora of ideas being shared in the community.

While I have never been a Pokémon fan, this augmented reality app has been a great way to re-introduce adults and kids to a great brand franchise in a smart and meaningful way with a technology (augmented reality) that the average consumer has had little experience with until last week. Perhaps we’re at a tipping point for the “general release” of augmented reality for the masses.

Social Media and Going Viral

November 28, 2011 1 comment

Every Monday I look forward to seeing the cartoon that Tom Fishburne comes up to start the week off.  This weeks cartoon was another nail on the head for digital brand marketers everywhere.

Recently, I was working with a friend and she was asking about how to create a viral strategy for her product launch.  My response – same as it always is when agencies or marketers ask this question – “Viral is not a strategy, it’s an outcome”.

Brands and their agencies spend a lot of time conjuring up “viral strategies” and on a good day about one percent actually go viral.  And for the ones that do, it’s truly a combination of stellar creative, an excellent story and a payoff (for the consumer) that has a great and fun twist.  And a many of the most successful viral campaigns are not what most brands would consider “brand safe”.  For the brands that understand the differences between strategy vs. outcome and how to push the envelope of brand safety, the viral world is yours to enjoy!

Decisions

March 29, 2011 2 comments

“Should I stay or should I go now?
Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
An’ if I stay it will be double
So come on and let me know!”

– The Clash

Although The Clash was signing about something a little different, do you think  the inner monologue of Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs may be a bit similar at the moment?  There is a lot of buzz about Gibbs being pursued by Facebook to be their next head of communications.  Clearly Gibbs is well suited for the role but methinks if Facebook really is after him, it is about much more than communications and more likely his deft skills at navigating the sea of  lobbyist and policy makers in Washington D.C.

One simple reason why I could see Facebook wanting Gibbs is their road ahead may be fraught with lots of government regulation issues around online privacy, data collection, etc. An in-house expert, like Gibbs, would be a significant advantage in dealing with potential government issues that may be ahead in the US as well as the EU.  And then there is the equity upside for Gibbs at the hottest pre-IPO company in the valley.

Then again Gibbs could also go and work for Obama on the “Election Campaign – Part Deux”  But shhh…it’s all still a secret with Gibbs for now

And since you all know I really like to grok about Online Privacy, here is a great primer from the friendly folks at the IAB

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