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Author: Corey Padveen

Corey Padveen is Google AdWords Certified, Google Analytics Certified, a Certified Inbound Marketer and the Director of Global Social Business Strategy at t2 Marketing International. With an extensive background in econometrics and statistics, he helped pioneer the concepts of Social Equity and ResponsiveBranding. What’s more, he is the primary author of the t2 Marketing International digital business blog, a contributing author to a number of reputable marketing publications including Search Engine Journal and Social Media Today and is a keynote speaker at digital marketing conferences around the world. Corey regularly shares his wealth of knowledge in the realm of digital marketing, data analysis and social media, and their applications to business in the digital age.
My (Official) Thoughts on Snapchat

My (Official) Thoughts on Snapchat

No one can deny the unbelievable power of this social media juggernaut, but where does it fit in the world of marketing?

Snapchat launched in 2011. About a year later, it was on my iPhone and I started sharing. It wasn’t long before (almost) everyone I knew was using the app, and not too long after that, I read about how Spiegel and his gang turned down $3 billion in cash from Facebook. As someone who has yet to be offered such a huge sum of money (fingers crossed!) I couldn’t comprehend how anyone could turn it down. And I know I wasn’t alone. But, by all accounts, it seems like the Snapchat team made the right move. (At least for now; let’s see if Wall Street continues its devaluation tirade.) So here we sit, about three years later and Snapchat holds a lofty valuation of $16 billion (after a recently closed $175 million round of funding).

Snapchat and Marketing

Let’s Look at the Valuation

The $16B valuation is flat with the round raised in May 2015. But, as a recent Vanity Fair article points out, a flat valuation at a time where banks like Morgan Stanley and funds like Fidelity are slashing portfolio valuations is something to be proud of. Even Snapchat isn’t immune; Fidelity knocked the high-flying Icarus out of the sky in November with a 25% writedown. (Of course, they just led the new round of funding, so read into that as you will.)

The point is, the tech world is in the process of balancing itself out. A little over 15 years ago, money was pouring into tech companies (that returned absolutely nothing) and Wall Street went belly up when the sky came crashing down. This devaluation comes at a moment of sobriety where smart investors realize they don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Snapchat is exciting, and it resonates with a coveted demographic: millennials. So while the Zenefits, Palantirs and Dropboxes of the world are getting serious wake up calls (you can’t just take money forever and not be expected to pay it back) Snapchat still has some rope to work with. But that rope is getting shorter.

Intentional Hurdles

Right now, it costs $750,000 a day to advertise on Snapchat. To say that there are very few brands that can afford that is an understatement. The kinds of brands with six-figure daily ad dollars are very few and very, very far between. But that’s more or less the idea: in Snapchat’s eyes, if you want mom n’ pop shop ads appearing everywhere, you can spend your time on Facebook or Twitter. The limited (and, so far, coveted) ad space that Snapchat offers goes only to those deemed worthy.

This business model looks great when it is first rolled out. After all, everyone knows about Snapchat and its audience of 13-24 year olds (and yes, they say 13-36, but 77% of Snapchat users are under the age of 24), so when they announce that they will be selling ad space, the largest brands in the world tear open their wallets to the tune of $10 million commitments. But most brands and organizations don’t have anywhere close to that kind of spending power. So when a $100 million ad revenue is projected, it needs to be looked at a little more closely.

Snapchat’s ‘Run Rate’

In October 2014, Snapchat unveiled its ad model. They made about $3 million dollars over the course of the next few months. (They lost close to $130 million, but that’s the world of startups for you.) Then Discover launched, Viacom was signed up with several properties, and in the summer of 2015, Snapchat started looking at ‘selling’ its ad space overtly for the first time. Of course, at that point those wallets I mentioned flung open.

$10 million dollar commitments from several brands is impressive – there’s no question there. But let’s be realistic: Snapchat on pace to make $100 million per year if things keep moving the way they are is a concept that makes a lot of dangerous assumptions. Perhaps the most dangerous of all is that brands will derive measurable return from the network in the long run and continue to pour huge sums of money into disappearing ad space.

Snapchat’s Marketing Value

As I’ve mentioned, Snapchat is an exciting platform that is hugely engaging. We’re talking 8 billion video views a day huge. But Spiegel has not minced words when it comes to their approach to advertising: “We care about not being creepy. That’s something that’s really important to us. […] We think it’s weird when brands try to act like your pal [by tracking your web browsing habits].” (Source) That’s great for user experience, not great for advertisers. If I need to reach 18 year olds in the market for a first car with a high propensity to engage with digital ads, I won’t spend close to a million dollars a day to probably reach them. Once the novelty wears off, I’ll want measurable return and granular targeting. It seems like Snapchat is starting to accept that, and this kind of targeting is being rolled out (with criteria like age, gender, location, device and context), but more expansive interest and behavioral targeting will be a necessity for any long-term success.

On that same note, measurement is a real problem. On Facebook, I can tell you almost anything about the people seeing my ads because I outlined a very clear persona when I launched my campaign. What’s more, I can tell you everything that audience is doing from an engagement standpoint, and I can track all of that activity from the medium to my website. Snapchat started with views and reach. If we’ve learned anything from Google Display, views are pretty meaningless. Two seconds with more than 50% of pixels visible. So when I’m told that I received a million views, I have no way of knowing if that is worth my time. Slowly, Snapchat has been working to improve these metrics (for example, by partnering with Nielsen to provide more insightful and useful data). But the big issue (for me as a marketer) isn’t necessarily with either of these problems (both of which can and are being fixed by the platform). My issue has to do with using the platform to drive results for business objectives.

Snapchat is, by nature, a native product that is completely end-to-end (hat tip to Steve Jobs for the lingo). I, as a user, am not interested in clicking through to another source (be it a website or the App Store or what have you) while I’m using the app. I’m there purely to digest content and engage with a community. So when (if ever) Snapchat develops a more universal platform where smaller brands and organizations can afford it, how will they be able to justify the investment? Brand awareness and community development are extremely important; there’s not question there. But from an investment standpoint, will these intangibles (for the most part) be worth it?

My Official Thoughts

So here’s what I think about Snapchat.

I love the product. I think it’s brilliant and it keep getting better (with the exception of a few notable hiccups – paid lenses anyone?). I think that brand humanization potential is huge, and the ability to reach millennials is unparalleled. There is a vast array of potential when it comes to content, and people love digesting this content from both friends and brands (as we’ve seen with plenty of case studies). But, I think a long-run monetization of the audience will be next to impossible. We’ve already seen that with paid replays and paid lenses, the latter of which was one of the worst rollout strategies I’ve ever seen. (I won’t get into that here, because it could easily be another thousand-word article.) Millennials don’t want to spend money, so Snapchat’s only hope for revenue will be advertising.

For now, brands are willing to pay, and the future looks good in terms of targeting and tracking, but the platform is inherently limited in terms of its broad appeal. Barring a paradigm shift, the value in advertising on the platform will only be available to huge, global brands that find tangible value in impressions. Most companies, especially SMBs need results linked to revenue, and right now that doesn’t seem to be on the radar for the app.

There is a lot that marketers can do with the platform, and when it comes to personal branding, I can’t think of too many (any, really) media that do a better job of helping one build one’s brand and connecting with an audience (#KeysToSuccess). I look forward to seeing how brands and individuals continue to use it creatively, and to continue leveraging it in the work I’m doing, but I do wonder about the long-term. It’ll be fun to watch.

Here’s How LinkedIn Can Save Itself

Here’s How LinkedIn Can Save Itself

There are a few important changes LinkedIn needs to make in order to save itself from a disastrous fate.

If you happened to catch a glimpse of LinkedIn’s stock price over the last week or so, you might have noticed a straight line downwards on Friday February 5th. That wasn’t a glitch; LinkedIn’s stock price has fallen by over 40% (at the time of writing) since it announced lower-than-expected earnings and lowered projections for the coming year. Investors are losing their patience.

LinkedIn Stock Price Feb 7 16

Despite having a great core product (which LinkedIn very much still does) many of the efforts of the professional network to expand have not yielded strong results. In fact, in a lot of respects, those expansion efforts have rather resulted in an almost ‘worst case scenario’ outcome.

This is not to say that LinkedIn has missed the mark every time it has done something; the acquisition of SlideShare in 2012, for example, was a brilliant move and continues to be among its best. But some of the more universal oversights have cost the network dearly, and there are a few pain points that need to be addressed as soon as possible in order to end the slide into penny stock status (though that’s still a long way off – we hope).

Spamalot Central

Facebook is consistently working on its algorithm in order to ensure that the content you see is what is most relevant to you. The result has been quarter-over-quarter growth in average session time, engagement per post, engagement per user, and more metrics that have come into existence since the advent of social media in the world of marketing.

LinkedIn has taken a slightly different approach.

In order to encourage engagement among its users, InMail exists (which guarantees a user will see the message). Of course, users pay for that privilege, but is accommodating the users who pay for mass (spam) messages like that really worth the detriment that does on the user experience as a whole?

How often do you receive unsolicited messages on LinkedIn offering to sell you traffic, invest in a business opportunity, or, in some cases, enlarge or enhance something? In the last month alone, I’ve been included on over a dozen chain-style message threads (another issue) from users (and including users) with whom I’ve never connected. I pay close attention to who I allow into my professional circle, but all that seems to factor into is my feed content, and has no influence on what kind of trash I’m sent from peddling affiliates.

A better spam filtration system needs to be put in place by LinkedIn and it needs to be put in place fast. More and more users (as exhibited by time on site and people I’ve spoken to) are using LinkedIn for little more than a place to host a resume and highlight some skills, rather than a network where actual business can get done. These filters don’t need to be all that complicated either for them to work (and improve the experience).

First, these kinds of promotional messages (and chain messages) should be restricted to second or third points of contact. Introductions (with character limits or standard content set by LinkedIn) should be the ONLY content that non-connections are allowed to send at the outset. If someone send me something along the lines of, “Thanks for connecting, I look forward to talking to you a little bit more about how we might be able to work together!” I’ll be significantly more likely to look through his or her profile, see what it is they do and, if I see potential, engage with the user and open up a professional dialogue.

I wonder what kind of horrific return these affiliates and marketers see when they purchase InMail packages and generate nothing. That might be a nice short term gain for the network, but as we have seen with this year’s earnings reports, it’s not a solution.

Improved Ad Dashboards

Advertising is any social network’s (even a professional one’s) bread and butter. So, as we’ve seen with Facebook – the shining example of social advertising that marketers love – constant improvements should be made to a dashboard in order to make it simpler, more effective and more evolved. This is an area where LinkedIn has really struggled.

As someone who has been involved in social advertising for years now, it is not hard to tell which network (of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn) has seen the slowest evolution in its ads platform. As Facebook and Twitter have introduced new capabilities and made the management of campaigns and creative much more efficient, LinkedIn has done little to evolve its dashboard.

It has certain undergone some aesthetic changes, but ad campaigns function in an archaic fashion. It is almost as if marketers are publishing magazine ads and hoping that they work. Why do I say this? Well, ads can be created…but that’s about it. Editing is a nightmare (if not entirely non-existent) and as you create varieties of your creative, your campaign become overwhelmingly populated with different variations. For a network that is built on professionalism, the ads dashboard is far too disorganized.

A simpler, more tasteful segmentation, like that of Facebook’s setup (which modelled itself after Google) would make life much easier. Moreover, the ability to edit ads and feature proper creative to populate a link preview (as opposed to a tiny window with a fraction of what’s actually on the ad) would go a very long way in driving marketers to use LinkedIn ads more frequently.

Improved Ad Placements

And again with the ads.

Most marketers can agree that the age of the banner is dead. And yet, the right-hand side ad lives on. Granted it is a viable bit of real estate, and LinkedIn has done a better job than Facebook of optimizing the appearance of the RHS ad (instead of several ads scrolling, one appears in a noticeable box at a time) but for advertisers the value is in sharing content to a targeted user’s feed.

That can still be done on LinkedIn, but where both Facebook and Twitter have the network beat is in how to drive traffic from these ads. As noted above, the tiny image that populates a link is completely worthless. A large, eye-catching piece of creative with a clear call-to-action and a different visual structure than a regular post or update is what makes an ad worth the marketer’s budget. LinkedIn needs to make changes to how creative we can get with those ads.

There is no denying the viability of the audience on LinkedIn. Barring those users that are simply sharing spam (I’ll get to that again in a second) there is the most targeted group of people active on the network than any other social platform. So it would make sense that LinkedIn charges a little bit more than other networks for its ad space, but you’re paying five, ten even twenty times as much per click (trust me I’ve done the comparisons) for an ugly, boring ad that can’t be changed once you click ‘Start’.

Ads need to be more visually stimulating if marketers are to see results from them, and their placements need to be more apparent in the timeline than simply allowing users to create Sponsored Updates.

User Purge

LinkedIn has registered about 414 million users. Based on the content I mentioned above that floods my inbox, I wouldn’t flinch if you told me half of those were spam.

OK – maybe not half. But you get my point.

It’s time for LinkedIn to clean up its network. Hitting that critical mass is exciting, and it means charging more for advertising, but as more bots and tactless affiliates join the network, the value of that ad space goes down. Now, the cat is out of the bag as far as how people are using the network. Several are using the online space to store a resume. Others are using it to share content and find a new job. Recruiters are using it to find those users. And so, so, SO many are using it to tell me about an amazing business opportunity that I need to act on or sell me traffic.

To rebound from this devastating hit, LinkedIn may need to sacrifice a huge portion of its user base. That might seem counterintuitive, but one theme that has been apparent in a lot of what LinkedIn has done has been short-term thinking. This is looking at the value to marketers in the long-run.

Conclusion

Nothing here is vastly complex. I’m not suggesting a paradigm shift in how the network functions or what it offers. These are existing models that simply need a tweak.

Of course, this won’t happen overnight. It will take time and it will take just as much (if not more) time to see the effects of this working. But I really do believe that in order for LinkedIn to survive this downward spiral, it needs to look towards simplification, rather than expansion.

As Wall Street begins to shake and the memories of 2000 start to creep back up in their minds, they are taking good hard looks at what is working and what is not. Right now, there is a lot about LinkedIn that scares them. But the potential is certainly there and the product is fantastic. Taking heed of a few of these suggestions might just help it get back into the good graces of the powers that be (and drive up active advertiser numbers as well).

What do you think LinkedIn needs to do to come out of this mess?

Brand Trust is on the Rise

Brand Trust is on the Rise

Every year, Edelman releases the Edelman Trust Barometer, and for the first time in a long time, consumers are starting to trust in brands again.

The Edelman Trust Barometer (embedded below from SlideShare) was first released in 2001, and its purpose has consistently been to show the state of trust of the average consumer (globally) in different bodies. Those bodies range from governments to NGOs to, most recently added, ‘a person like me’. When this last one was added, we started to see some changes in the way marketing and, more universally, business works.

Edelman Trust Barometer Trends Each Year

In 2005-2006, as social media began to take shape and brands began to adopt these new media as a means of sharing a message, reviews, experiences and stories began to rise as the most trustworthy sources for accurate information. Not much has changed today; most of us still turn to websites like Yelp! and TripAdvisor when trying to decide where to go to dinner, or where to stay on a vacation. But this year, something was seen that we have not seen since the Great Recession back in 2008.

The 2016 report shows a significant rise in the trust consumers have in brands themselves. Everyone from NGOs, to businesses, to media to governments saw a rise in the trust factor, with businesses themselves receiving the highest jump of five points. Transparency mixed with an increase in the size of the informed public has led the charge upward. But for the general public (not part of the informed public, that has seen a rise in trust) trust has decreased. We’re now in the midst of a significant trust gap (shown below).

Edelman Trust Barometer 2016 Trust Gap

Now, I won’t dive too deep into the correlations found in terms of income inequality and trust disparity (those you can review in the complete report below) but suffice it to say that it is all pretty interesting. What’s more, the countries identified as having these gaps might surprise quite a few of you (I was certainly surprised by some).

The Exciting Stuff

All of these universal findings are noteworthy – that’s for certain. But when it comes to my interests – both professionally and personally – I have to say that the focus on influence and the value it holds in terms of trust is what I find most interesting.

When it comes to the sources most used (and trusted) for news and information, half – HALF – of the top sources are peer-influenced media. What is peer-influenced media, exactly? Media with low barriers to entry that are influenced by the population around them. So, while newspaper and television might not be peer-influenced (seeing as how there are significant barriers to entry and a small minority controlling what is deemed relevant content) blogs and social media are.

Edelman Trust Barometer Peer Influenced Media

Once again this year, peers and experts are seen to be more credible than executives or even government officials. In fact, ‘a person like yourself’ received an impressive four point bump this year (CEOs received an eight point bump, but are still trusted by less than 50% of the general public).

Edelman Trust Barometer Trust Levels

These rises, after years of low trust levels, present a great opportunity for business. While the informed public has been quicker to trust businesses, there is still an upward trend on which brands can capitalize. The key, however, is going to be living up to expectations.

With every move a brand makes being thoroughly scrutinized by the public, decisions need to be carefully considered. In today’s fast-paced, highly social marketplace, it is hard to understand how so many companies still stumble. Granted, for a lot of organizations, these new media meant adaptation, and many are still in the process of meeting the learning curve. But now that 80% of the general population believes that companies can make money and do good, it’s time to pay more attention to detail than ever before.

The startup culture has turned the CEO role from one shrouded in mystery, to one that the public wants to see more than anyone else. The positive side of this has been the rise in trust (from 41% to 49%) by the general public. The risk (to the executives themselves) is shifting focus away from traditional business metrics to social metrics. This is a hard culture to adopt, but one that the general population is deeming necessary.

See For Yourself

There is (unsurprisingly) a lot of great stuff in this year’s Trust Barometer findings. Scroll through the slides below and see if anything catches your eye!

Quantum Computing: First Steps to Creating a Mind

Quantum Computing: First Steps to Creating a Mind

Google’s newest super (duper) computer is a major step towards creating a mind.

Where to even begin on what it possibly the most exciting topic I’ve covered since I started writing. This is a subject so dense that I had to research plenty just to write a subjective blog post. Google recently unveiled the superest of super computers that recently proved its capable of something special: quantum computing.

Google Quantum Computing

Perhaps the best place to start is with a brief discussion about Ray Kurzweil.

Creating a Mind

Google’s Chief Futurist (and, I think it would be safe to say, humanity’s chief futurist) is, put simply, a genius. He predicted the demise of the Soviet Union as a result of increased access to technology and the age of intelligent machines (capable of winning a chess match) correctly, and in 2012, he wrote How to Create a Mind.

In his book (a fantastic read if you find yourself looking for something to flip through over the holidays) he details the complexity of the human mind, paying special attention to the neocortex and its higher functions such as conscious thought. Ultimately, Kurzweil aims to explain how one might create an artificial mind, and uses the vast landscape of the human mind to showcase the difficulty in doing so.

Complexity of the human mind

What makes the structure of the human mind so complex (and therefore makes the process of trying to mimic its functions such a daunting task)? There are roughly 100 billion neurons in the human brain. Each neuron can have upwards of 10,000 connections to other neurons, and is capable of passing signals via as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections. Put that into machine terms, and you have the equivalent to a computer with a 1 trillion bit per second processor.

The point is, it’s a lot, and its easy to see why Kurzweil cites the creation of a mind or mind-like mechanism as a daunting task. But not impossible. (For more on that, I would recommend reading Kurzweil’s book The Singularity is Near, which you can buy here.)

Understanding Quantum Computing

I’ll be the first to admit that I am far from an expert in the field of quantum mechanics. Like a lot of people, I find the area of study to be fascinating, but I don’t profess to know the first thing about atomic and subatomic processes. That said, I’m happy to share a (very) laymen’s explanation in the way that I understand it in order to give you a better understanding of quantum computing. (Watch Cosmos for a clearer definition with Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s soothing voice explaining it to you.)

In the large-scale world of energy, we have checks and balances. We see movement and change and shifts in our universe as continuous. For example, if I have a scale, and I place a weight on one side, that side will drop. Quantum physics studies the behavior of matter at the atomic level. While we might observe a uniform movement of an object (like the scale) quantum physics shows us how energy is actually absorbed and released in small, discrete quantities (quanta). Suffice it to say, it helps explain a lot (and gave us lasers!).

Quantum computing and the superposition principle

The superposition principle of quantum physics tells us that is stimulus A produces result X and stimulus B produces result Y, then (A+B)=(X+Y). I won’t go into much more detail, but this principle is what led to the theorization of quantum computing. Your average bit can either be on (1) or off (0) but what if, at the quantum level, it could be both? Then we go from 0 or 1 to 00, 01, 10, 11. This is what’s known as a qubit, and it’s at the root of quantum computing.

What Does This Have to Do with Google?

Quantum computing is not a new theory. In fact, it dates back about thirty years. What’s important is that now we can see the potential of quantum computing in action thanks to Google.

Earlier this week, you might have heard that Google created a computer that is 100 million times faster than the average PC. That’s clickbait at its finest. Google did build a $10 million quantum computing system that it tested on a  number of controls (successfully) but don’t expect a quantum computer on the shelves of Best Buy next Christmas. As Kurzweil predicted, we are still a few years away from that (closer to 2020). The important thing is that we’re getting there.

The Exciting Part

Moore’s Law states that the number of transistors in a circuit doubles every two years (based on technological development). If this law proves true in perpetuity, then we should reach the Singularity by 2045 (you can either take that as a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your stance vis a vis artificial intelligence). A functional quantum computing system is key to getting us there.

Moore's Law and Quantum Computing

As more data comes into existence, the computational systems that currently exist simply will not suffice. Think about that on a small scale, like YouTube. (Small, of course, being a relative term.) Every day, the YouTube community watches hundreds of millions of hours of content, while decades more worth of content are uploaded at the same time. Now scale that to the Internet as a whole. Without more powerful machines, none of this would be possible.

Processes like machine learning, artificial intelligence and, of course, the expansion of deep neural networks are facilitated with quantum computing. Soon enough, one hopes, we might be at that stage where we can create a mind, but for now, it’s exciting to watch the whole thing unfold before our eyes.

(Unless we face a Judgment Day-like scenario, which I’m guessing is why Elon Musk is not a fan of AI.)

Effectively Manage a Social Media Crisis [New eBook]

Effectively Manage a Social Media Crisis [New eBook]

This article originally appeared on t2MarketingInternational.com.

We hate to think about it, but we should always be prepared for the case of the dreaded social media crisis.

The speed at which information travels has increased exponentially with the advent of social media. Therefore, when a crisis breaks, a carefully thought out strategy and proper mechanisms need to be in place in order to mitigate the issue before it spirals out of control.

In our latest eBook, we walk you through the proper steps to managing a social media crisis, and provide you with an easy-to-follow document that will allow you to outline every aspect of a crisis, making it that much easier to handle should it ever occur.

Click here or on the image below to download the eBook today and find out how you can properly plan for a social media crisis and mitigate an issue spiralling out of control!

How 2 Manage a Social Media Crisis

An Important Facebook Lesson Worth Sharing

An Important Facebook Lesson Worth Sharing

I was locked out of Facebook for five days, and this is what that ordeal taught me.

On Friday morning, I woke up, went about my usual routine, and when I sat down to go through a couple of every day work checklist items, I realized something: I was ‘temporarily’ locked out of Facebook and I couldn’t seem to get back in.

When the message first popped up, I thought to myself, “No big deal. I’ll just change my password and I’ll be back in any second to get some work done.” Then it seemed as though I was caught in a never-ending loop, where the closest I could get to accessing my News Feed, Messenger and, most important, Facebook for Business account and ad campaigns was this:

Locked Out of Facebook

It was a pretty helpless feeling, particularly when you realize that Facebook has made a great effort to prevent individuals from reaching out to them with problems. Luckily, as an advertiser (and a few peers working there) there are alternative routes to dealing with this kind of thing. Granted, it wasn’t until after the holiday weekend that the engineering team was able to help me out, but I was fortunate enough to have a contact there that helped me deal with this issue quickly.

During my five-day Facebook-less stint, I realized a few things.

Facebook and the Hierarchy of Needs

Somewhere between love/belonging and self-actualization lies access to Facebook.

MaslowsHierarchyOfNeeds

I remember talking to a friend who works at Facebook recently and she said something that has resonated with me for quite some time:

“People talk about the decline in Facebook usage and how ‘Facebook is dead’ but the truth is that when people stop paying attention to how much they use it and it is simply with them and accessible wherever they go, Facebook has won.”

Nothing has ever rung more true than this thought while I was locked out of Facebook. So much of my daily routine – both personally and professionally – relies on unblocked access to the network. I was lucky enough to have a contingency in place that allowed me to resolve the issue, and all I could think to myself was, “What would happen if I needed access to all of this and was just…helpless?”

Marketers: Make Plans

For one reason or another, I was locked out of Facebook. Maybe it’s because there were issues with our email server (and my business email was connected to the account) maybe it’s because of a glitch on Facebook’s side, but whatever the case was, I was locked out with no end in sight. On a personal side, I wasn’t happy, but I would get over it and move on. On the professional side, if I hadn’t had contingencies in place I would have been in a very bad spot.

As an agency, t2 has been active on Facebook for Business for quite some time. (On a side note, if you’re not currently using the platform for your client management, you’re missing out on the network’s best feature for agencies.) So, when my account went down, administrators within the agency could still access and manage ad campaigns and client Pages. That won’t be the case for everyone.

So, if you haven’t taken the necessary precautions to protect your clients, ads and assets, stop reading this article and do it now.

Take Advantage of Security Options

While Facebook might not make it easy to reach a human being at the company, they do provide several security measures that are designed to both protect you and help you out in a case like this.

Make sure to have a few emails set up, a phone number or two, a security question to which you know the answer, a credit card on file (assuming you’re an advertiser) and – the one that I forgot to set up and wonder now if it would have made a difference – Trusted Friends.

Your trusted friends can be found in the Security menu within your Facebook settings, and it is a pretty simple way to get your closest friends on Facebook to verify your identity with a code sent by the network. Take some time and really complete your profile in order to ensure that you never find yourself in the same kind of situation.

Conclusion

I was lucky (and, again, many thanks to my friends at Facebook that helped me out of this jam) but not everyone will be. As soon as I got back into the network, I went above and beyond in creating multiple redundancies in order to ensure that if ever this happens again (and who knows – it might) I won’t sweat it. Do yourself a favor and do the same; it’s not fun to realize all of the things you’ve overlooked once it’s too late to take any action.

Some Marketing Trends for Which to Be Thankful

Some Marketing Trends for Which to Be Thankful

In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, here are a few marketing trends for which we can all be thankful this year!

We all know that the marketing world evolves rapidly. In just a few short years we’ve seen the landscape change from buying print ads to AdWords to social advertising, and as we approach Thanksgiving, there is yet another collection of new marketing trends for which to be thankful this year.

Smart Automation

Marketing automation has been refined considerably over the last few years, and the powerful tools that exist on the market make it one of the most valuable assets in a marketer’s arsenal. What we are starting to see is the evolution of these technologies thanks in large part to their improved and more powerful analytical capabilities.

According to research conducted by Smart Insights, marketers feel as though marketing automation will have the greatest impact on their strategies and success in the coming year (shown below).

Marketing trends and commercial impact

This shouldn’t surprise us considering the power behind a marketing automation software. As machine learning becomes less of a luxury and more of a standard and these technologies become more intelligent and capable of truly optimizing conversion rates and decreasing the length of the buyer journey (which they are currently in the process of doing) we can expect to see marketing automation become the central pillar for many marketing professionals’ strategies.

Simpler Data

As exciting as the concept of ‘big data’ has been for a lot of marketers, the subject has been largely too complex for most to breach. In the chart above, you can see that ‘big data’ is of growing importance, and a large part of that is the simplification of its applications and the lowering of barriers to entry into the field.

If you’ve read some of the articles I’ve written about data, then you probably already know my feelings on the subject; I have long asserted that in order to get any use out of data, we need to think about it in context and look at it on the micro level. Now, we are finally seeing a rise in that way of thinking and the release of tools that allow for the simplification of data use. That trend is growing, and data will be a much easier beast to tackle in the coming year.

All Mobile, All Day

At this point, talking about the importance and growth of mobile is about as redundant as it is necessary. Though we all know how crucial mobile is (see the chart below) there are still new facts and justifications released every day that further strengthen that point.

KPCB Importance of Mobile Marketing Trends

We’re spending more time on our mobile devices, mobile advertising is generating exceptional results and this year, for the first time, mobile web traffic is expected to surpass desktop traffic. All that (and a whole lot more) is reason enough to keep emphasizing how crucial mobile is and will continue to be.

Departmental Integration

The silo approach is dead. I’m not entirely sure why organizations still approach business in this way, but thanks to the advent and permeation of communications and media at every level of the business, it is no longer an option to look at your departments as operating in a vacuum. Everybody needs to be involved in everybody else’s business.

That is not to say that there still should not be carefully outlined objectives and tasks, but in order to find success, departments – from marketing to customer service to your executive team – need to work together. The reason for this is twofold: first, communication and action is happening too quickly to operate in a silo format. Simply put, buck passing is not an option when the whole world can hear about something in a matter of hours. Second, your organization is no longer just the big corporate facade, but rather the people inside it – all the people. Communication is not a department, but a part of your culture, and culture affects everyone and everything.

We’re seeing this happen at both large and small companies, quickly and slowly. The important thing, however, is that we are seeing this happen, and we can expect to continue to see this trend expand in the coming year.

Enter the Chief Marketing Technologist

Last time I counted the number of marketing technologies that existed on the market today, I lost count. At this point, there are well over two thousand. That, by the way, is not a type (which is why I typed it out). There are well over 2,000 pieces of marketing technology and MarTec clouds and add-ons and all sorts of tools that exist on the market. To know what to use and how best to use it, you’re going to need someone who lives and breathes this stuff.
Marketing technology landscape marketing trends

The Chief Marketing Technologist is a relatively new position (no more than a few years old at this point) but one that is quickly growing in value and importance. Tools are designed to not only make life easier, but help you build your business. Knowing which tools are right to help you achieve your objectives in the shortest timeframe possible while maximizing profits is crucial to the success of your company.

When you consider the fact that there are as many tools as there are listed above (plus hundreds more that are not listed at this point) and how important these tools are, it is no wonder we are seeing the rapid rise in the implementation of this position.

Conclusion

As with every year, there is plenty to get excited about and be thankful for in the world of marketing this year. We have seen a lot of changes, but those changes mean that the market is evolving. Processes are simplifying, the market is growing and capabilities are expanding. It should be an exciting year in our field, and there is no doubt that at this rate, we can expect to see some great advances next year as well.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

An Update on the State of the Internet of Things

An Update on the State of the Internet of Things

Most of you know by now that I am obsessed with the Internet of Things. Here is an update on the state of the industry.

Fairly regularly, I mention my fanboy-like infatuation with the concept (and advances in the industry) of the Internet of Things. After all, when you look at the market potential, the theoretical applications and some practical implementations that have been presented to date, can you really blame me?

State of the Internet of Things

Every so often, I like to look around the industry and see what major announcements have been made, what research has been conducted and get an overall update on what’s happening with the IoT. Here is some of what I have read and discovered as of late.

Projections are Huge

Based on certain studies and analyses of the state of the industry today as compared to where its headed (and at what rate) the market for the Internet of Things is going to be a pretty substantial space. That isn’t all that surprising when we consider the fact that virtually anything can be a part of the Internet of Things. Unlike a lot of emerging and new markets, there are no constraints with regards to the scope of what might be involved.

Certain projections (and there are a lot that vary pretty significantly) conclude that by 2020 (in just five years) there will be anywhere from 24 billion to 50 billion connected devices in the world (up from an already impressive 10 billion today), and that over two thirds of those devices will be IoT devices. Let’s remind ourselves again that IoT isn’t just smartphones and tablets, so it isn’t all that inconceivable that the average person has 5-10 IoT devices (anywhere on their person or in their home).

On top of that, projections suggest that we might see investments as high as $6 trillion into the IoT industry over the next five years.

Business Will Lead the Charge

As with most things (and as we’ve seen to date) the investment in and adoption of IoT devices and practices starts with big organizations and slowly makes its way into every day society.

Of course, early on, a lot of this has to do with the fact that there are high barriers to entry (in terms of integrating IoT applications in several fields) and among those barriers is the prohibitive costs involved. But as those costs have decreased, we’ve seen more brands and organizations moving towards IoT-enabled practices, and a major reason for that has been improved efficiency.

Though we don’t have long-term studies yet that prove this assumption empirically, it is hard to deny the benefits of IoT when it comes to improved productivity. Smart devices are smart for a reason – they make life (and work) easier. As more businesses factor in the savings and increased output that IoT applications can generate, we will surely see a greater (and much faster-paced) adoption of IoT across multiple industries.

Adoption is Happening Fast

14 countries already have more than a 10% market saturation for IoT-enabled devices. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published a study this year that found that South Korea currently has the most IoT devices, with a saturation of 37.9% (37.9 devices per 100 inhabitants) and thirteen other countries saw rates of over 10 devices per 100 inhabitants.

There were also several countries – namely Brazil, Japan and Australia – that were very close to that 10% saturation. All in all, 24 countries were studied, and there is no sign of this rapid adoption and integration into every day life slowing down (see the five-year projections above).

Connected Driving

One industry that is on the war path to get connected is the auto industry. There are only a few brands that currently connect you to the Internet (some luxury, like Tesla, and more and more overarching brands, like GMC).

It is estimated that the option currently exists in about 10% of vehicles, but in the next few years (again, looking towards that 2020 goal) we can expect 90% of (new) vehicles to have Internet connectivity.

Conclusion

As is often the case when I write an IoT article, I could easily carry on for another few thousand words filled with updates and fun facts (for example, some potential market value estimates value the IoT market at over $19 trillion) but these are some of the more crucial (big picture) highlights we should be aware of when it comes to this space.

Five years is a pretty short timeframe to see all of these estimates come to fruition, but the pace at which the market is currently evolving, it is certainly not out of the question.

How to Optimize Advertising Budgets on Facebook

How to Optimize Advertising Budgets on Facebook

This article originally appeared on t2MarketingInternational.com.

In order to drive positive results from Facebook advertising, it is important that marketers optimize advertising budgets.

Facebook advertising is a hugely useful asset, but it is so easy to see budgets spiral out of control when they are not being properly allocated. In order to truly get the most out of Facebook ads, marketers need to learn how to optimize advertising budgets.

In our latest eBook series, How-to with t2, we cover everything from simple applications to advanced practices in simple, easy to follow steps. In this first issue of the series, we cover the process marketers need to follow in order to optimize advertising budgets on Facebook using t2’s proprietary Incremental Bidding System.

Click here or on the image below to download the eBook today and find out how you can get the most out of your ad budget next time you decide to fun a Facebook ad campaign!

How-to with t2 Optimize Advertising Budgets on Facebook Cover Image

Case Study: The Changing Landscape of News and Media Outlets

Case Study: The Changing Landscape of News and Media Outlets

The world of traditional media is being turned on its head – how can it keep up with new trends?

Over the summer, I was invited to speak for a group of traditional media (newspapers, for the most part) publishers and executives. Of course, I wasn’t the only speaker there, but on paper I was the only one who would be tackling the oft-sensitive topic of social media (new media, in a broader sense) and how the world of traditional news outlets can begin transitioning in an effort to adapt and thrive taking these new media into account.

Print Newspaper Industry and Media Outlets Social Media

During the two day summit, I was able to sit in on a number of sessions, and while several focused on areas like legal changes to the newspaper industry, I was surprised to find out that there was a fairly significant focus on new media and social media. So what does it mean that an industry entirely predicated on defeating media like Facebook and Twitter  (at least in the past) is now embracing it and looking for new ways in which to use it?

There is no avoiding change.

For centuries, print media (in some for or another) has been the dominant source of distributing news and information. It is no surprise that we have experienced a rapid change in the last decade, and it is interesting to see that even the most traditional communications platforms are looking for ways to adapt.

Theodore Levitt conceived of the concept marketing myopia, and I’ve expanded on that idea with my sub-theory of social media marketing myopia. I won’t get into the details here, but essentially, we know that the norm has shifted when certain industries adapt to new technology or forms of communication. For Levitt, this included an industry like utilities. When it comes to social media, there isn’t an industry more apt than newspapers.

Slow isn’t dead.

It might have taken some time, but at long last we’re seeing a big move by the newspaper industry into new media. And not simply using a Facebook page as a source for driving traffic to articles; that’s been going on for a while. We’re talking about a proper use of both data and behavioral trends as they relate to social.

Just because it is ‘late’ in the game – and I use that term very lightly, because we aren’t sure whether or not this is early, late or right on time when it comes to the big picture – it does not mean that there isn’t a tremendous amount of potential that can be extracted from these media. Yes, social platforms have been used as a publishing space for quite some time, but only now are brands starting to really use data effectively.

The key is getting granular. At this conference, I saw that there were some organizations that started moving in that direction. What’s more, they were using this data to start expanding their offers.

New ways of driving interest.

One of the most interesting uses of both social media and data came when I saw an organization that had begun developing gamified versions of their product signups based on data collected from users. As I’ve noted in a number of articles that I’ve written, there is more data available on the individual and group level as a result of social media than we’ve ever had access to in the past. It’s time we started using it.

This was an example of these data going to good use. Finally, a newspaper brand was recognizing potential that existed outside of basic signups, and had begun exploiting that in order to stay relevant.

In conclusion…

It’s always interesting to see an industry that has been disrupted. In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen explains that for incumbents, one of the hardest parts is often justifying the expense needed to shift to a new paradigm (when the paradigm is simply on the fringes of the industry).

Now that social is front and center, we’re seeing big brands making some changes. I was encouraged to see that as a primary focus of conversation, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes out of this industry in transition.