RIP Instagram?

Social media users express their dissatisfaction with Instagram’s announcement of their move to an algorithmic feed 

Earlier this week Instagram announced that the 400+ million users strong platform will soon be switching from their chronological timeline to an algorithmic feed. In their announcement, the 5-year-old, Facebook-owned company explained that “people miss on average 70 percent of their feeds” and an algorithm will optimize users’ experiences on the platform by showing them posts Instagram thinks they will like most.

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Adweek said this change was inevitable. Was it though?

Social media users were not happy about this announcement, taking to Instagram and other social media platforms to express their dissatisfaction with this update. Two hashtags – #RIPInstagram and #KeepInstagramChronological– even began to trend on Twitter as the news broke.

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People also expressed their anger via Facebook’s newly launched Reactions(maybe Facebook should have announced this change after Instagram’s algorithm announcement…) and via comments on posts reporting about this change.
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Almost all of the comments on the above Social Media Today article post were negative. Some even wrote that they think that Facebook is just trying to get more money out of marketers, not trying to make user experience better.
  • “I always love how social networks think they know what I love best. There are many things I’d love to get first on Instagram – like notifications that aren’t all clumped in one spot. It’s a nightmare for big brands to see all comments, likes and new followers together. Clearly a move to leverage ads more.” –Nycole Hampton
Other comments included:
  • “And so it begins… First the algorithm, then the further decline in organic reach and engagement. Instagram is now the new Facebook” –Sarah Hudnall
  • “Ugh, this is going to be the death of Instagram. All you’ll get is sponsored posts and the stuff from people with millions of followers. Everything else will just vanish.” –Lee Osborne
  • “Not happy at all. I don’t like letting strangers to decide what I can and what I can’t see on my feed. A further step to Instagram facebookization.” –Federica Scrigner
A petition was even created in an attempt to stop this change before it launches in a few months. Last I checked it had over 176,000 signatures.
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Is this change a wise move? Many argue that Instagram has enjoyed its popularity because of its simple, chronological feed, and if it moves to an algorithmic feed it will lose its uniqueness.
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I recently read (and tweeted) an excellent article posted on Medium about the real-time messaging service Slack. The author argued that Slack shot to popularity, barreling past competitors, due to a few key aspects, one of which was social isolation. Slack is a very quick moving platform. This serves a very important purpose: “if you don’t follow Slack all the time you do not and cannot take part in the conversation with your team members anymore.” THIS is what Instagram will lose out on — the social isolation and therefore addiction to the app. The chronological order of photos almost forces users to constantly check the app so they don’t miss out on anything.
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With this in mind, will Snapchat fill the void that the algorithmic version of Instagram will create? Snapchat stories only last 24 hours, so if you don’t view a friend’s story in that small time frame, you’ll never see their story, which can create social isolation.
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One commenter, David Mollison, on the above post thinks so. He said: “Terrible idea. Snap Chat [sic] will take over because of this.”
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Analyzing XYZ Company’s Facebook Insights

XYZ Company is a recently launched small heating and cooling company (HVAC) located in Western Massachusetts. They provide installations, maintenance and repair. XYZ Company has a website, Facebook account, Twitter account, Yelp page and Google+ page. Facebook is one of the primary ways they are advertising in addition to sending direct mail to a 30 mile radius.

Of the various marketing channels, I will analyze their Facebook marketing efforts.

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Synopsis & Key Findings

Based on their Facebook Insights, XYZ Company launched their Facebook page in December 2014 and currently has 167 Facebook fans. Most of their fans were acquired via Facebook ads. Their fans are primarily made up of English-speaking men and women aged 25-64 located in Massachusetts and Connecticut who use Facebook the most at about 9:00pm. Those who engage (like, comment and/or share the company’s posts) with the company are primarily Massachusetts-based men aged 35-54 .

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The company only posts 1-2 times weekly and boosts (i.e. promotes and pays for) every post in order to reach a wider audience (versus just reaching their small fan base organically). Based on their posts between December 22 to March 15, they only share company promotions and advertisements. This is generally not recommended as Facebook users tend to be more engaged when the post is immediately useful to them, not just a sales pitch. They could easily remedy this by sharing posts from other brand pages and by posting relevant articles (a few examples include: facts about weatherizing your pipes from Energy.gov, articles on how to be more energy efficient, or a post from The Weather Channel). Additionally, it does not appear as though they are promoting their other channels (Twitter, Google+, Yelp, etc) on Facebook.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 3.11.36 PMCompany XYZ should cross promote on their other marketing channels. For example on the direct mail pieces (and any other printed marketing materials or ads they may have) and their website, they should include Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and Google+ logos so customers and potential customers know they can find you on these channels. Additionally, their website should have a pop-up the first time someone visits it, prompting the viewer to “Like” Company XYZ on Facebook. They could also place a sign in-store offering 10% off to customers who show a sales associate they have “Liked” Company XYZ’s Facebook page or alternatively if they “Check In” on Facebook. On positive Yelp reviews, the company can reply thanking the customer for the positive review and ask the customer to become an official fan by liking them on Facebook.

Campaign ideas

Tag someone in this post you’d like to cuddle with on this cold Massachusetts day for a chance to win a brand new heater! Post this during the winter with a picture of the snow-covered ground. This meets Facebook’s relatively new campaign rules and will help Company XYZ more brand awareness. Boost the post and promote this on all platforms, in-store, and on direct mail pieces to bring more traffic (and likes) to the Facebook Page.

Why do you need a new heater? Post a photo of yourself on our Facebook Page proving that you deserve a free heater from us! Again this meets Facebook’s guidelines and gets people to create content that can be used for promotional purposes by XYZ Company. Boost the post and promote this on all platforms, in-person, and on direct mail pieces.

Sign up for our e-newsletter and receive a FREE HVAC check-up. Create a MailChimp account, then post the promotion on Facebook and promote this on all platforms, in-person, and on direct mail pieces. Email is a very effective way to communicate with potential and current customers.

 

Vimeo, A Review

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FILM WITH A PASSION

Vimeo is a video-hosting site. Users can watch, upload, comment on and share videos. It is a content community as users are brought together via common interests versus personal connections. Visitors search by keywords and can subscribe to brands’ and individuals’ uploads. Here’s a short video explaining what Vimeo is (Vimeo doesn’t allow embedding of this particular video so, unfortunately, you must click to view it). 

FEATURES

The video-sharing platform offers many features attractive to marketers. Individual members can follow channels they like, comment on videos, upload their own videos, download and embed videos. There are also robust privacy settings. When one follows a brand, s/he will see the most recently uploaded videos on their feed which reside on the homepage, vimeo.com.

Vimeo has three tiers of membership: Basic, Plus and PRO. Though one does not need to sign up for a membership to view Vimeo videos, non-members don’t have the ability to like, comment, or upload videos. Basic is free and allows for uploading videos and creating Channels, but with limitations. Plus costs $60/year and allows for more storage space, HD embedding, player customization, and unlimited Channel, Group and Album creation. PRO costs $200/year and “is made for creative professionals and businesses who want to showcase their work in exactly the way they want, anywhere on the Internet, and on any device.” PRO also allows for users to sell their content on Vimeo on Demand. Businesses, companies and organizations are required to buy this level of membership.

Every day 6.5 million smartphone users around the world watch online videos on their devices. So it follows that Vimeo is mobile-friendly. And, in fact, is available on almost every internet-connected device.

Brands can integrate Vimeo with their other social media channels. Vimeo videos can be embedded on to a brand’s website and/or shared on their social media accounts. Individuals can also easily share content they like on their personal social media accounts.

Sharing Vimeo on multiple platforms is very user-friendly.

Sharing Vimeo on multiple platforms is very user-friendly.

Since Vimeo does not allow for any advertisements on its videos, marketers don’t have to worry about inadvertently promoting a competitor (unlike the below Vimeo competitor).

Example of advertisements that appear at the end of a YouTube video.

Example of advertisements that appear at the end of a YouTube video.

As you may have guessed, it is difficult to showcase Vimeo without comparing it to video-hosting giant and primary competitor, YouTube (see above).  View this Prezi for a side-by-side comparison of the two and find out why a brand might choose Vimeo over YouTube.

HISTORY

Headquartered in New York City, Vimeo was founded in December 2004 by video enthusiasts and Connected Ventures employees Jake Lodwick and Zach Klein. According to Wikipedia, the name “Vimeo” comes from combining the words “video” and “me.” It is also an anagram of the word “movie.”

As part of its acquisition of Connect Ventures in 2006, IAC/InterActiveCorp acquired Vimeo. In 2007, Vimeo became the first video site to offer high definition quality for user generated videos. In 2008, Vimeo began offering a premium service called Vimeo Plus, which costs $60 a year and includes more storage space, HD embedding, video player customization, and other advanced features. In 2011, Vimeo began allowing commercial video content and introduced Vimeo PRO, optimized for use by businesses and creative professionals. In 2012, Vimeo introduced Tip Jar, allowing for viewers to give a small cash payment to a video they like. In 2013, Vimeo launched Vimeo on Demand, giving PRO users the option to monetize their Vimeo content via a paywall. Also in 2013, Vimeo released its first full length feature film. As the video above notes, February 16, 2015 marked Vimeo’s 10th anniversary of its first uploaded video.

USERS & GROWTH

Vimeo has a niche audience. The users are focused more on quality and originality when compared to other video hosting sites. Vimeo users are primarily made up of filmmakers and serious film buffs. Other Vimeo users include: filmmakers, photographers, musicians, comedians, action sports enthusiasts and artists. According to this Mashable article, filmmakers even go as far as using Vimeo to receive feedback from other Vimeo users about their latest works. In comparing Vimeo to YouTube, I think this blogger puts it best:

“YouTube is like New York. It is sensory overload, filled with advertisements and you have to filter through the junk to get to the good stuff. Your video might get lost in the scuffle of the big city or it might find itself in the bright lights of Times Square.”

Vimeo is like Portland, the smaller city with a big town feel, the streets aren’t as cluttered and it’s much easier to find what you are looking for. Your video isn’t as likely to make it to the bright lights of the big city, but you’ll reach an audience of people who appreciate the time and effort you put into making your masterpiece.”

Vimeo has 25 million members with an 80% year over year increase in global membership. Monthly, There are 170 million viewers on Vimeo worldwide, with 128 million viewers residing outside of the U.S. Vimeo videos reach over 90 million people worldwide per month. CEO Kerry Trainor recently announced that he hopes Vimeo monthly video views will reach 200 million by this summer. This is due in part to their new partnership with the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. And, Vimeo’s views aren’t the only thing growing; Vimeo’s staff more than doubled in 2014 (from 80 to 170 employees).

So, brands that should choose Vimeo as their primary video marketing platform should discern whether their target audience lie within Vimeo’s narrow viewership. For example, a company that sells video equipment would benefit greatly from having a strong presence on Vimeo, as many Vimeo users are filmmakers. Additionally, advertising/marketing agencies and independent production companies could benefit from using the platform to showcase their past work to gain new clients.

BRANDS ON VIMEO

Due to the niche audience, the brands that have a presence on Vimeo are lesser known (at least to me!). Here are a few that already have an established presence on the video sharing site:

The online marketplace Etsy uses Vimeo to promote their site.

Airbnb uploads travel-related videos to promote their worldwide community of hosts and travelers.

The DC-based monthly magazine The Atlantic uses Vimeo to further spread news.

Zacuto is a large manufacturer of high-quality filmmaking camera accessories.

Digital Kitchen is a creative and digital agency who have worked with well-known companies, such as Bose, AT&T, Whole Foods Market, Estee Lauder and others. They created the opening credits for both True Blood and Dexter (two of my favorite opening credits, actually!)

CONCLUSION 

With the growing popularity of online video, having a video presence on social media is a necessity for most brands. Vimeo is not the right social media platform for all brands, but for those who want to reach the audiences that Vimeo attracts, using the platform effectively is sure to pay off. Vimeo can fit into a brand’s multimedia plan by using it as an extension of their current marketing efforts. Brands can use the platform to feature new products or services, industry-related how-to videos, interview employees and customers, engage with current and potential customers, among other things.

Though I primarily use YouTube for watching video, I come across Vimeo from time to time. Now that I have researched Vimeo and have seen a few videos on the site due to this assignment, I believe I will become a frequent user.I think continuing to watch Vimeo will help to make me a more creative professional. I especially enjoyed the Vimeo Staff Picks Channel as all of those videos were beautifully created.

Classic & Social Media Marketing

Classic marketing and social media marketing are two very different approaches to reach the same goal – to gain brand awareness and acquire customers.

For example the direction of communications for classic marketing is unidirectional, where the brand pushes out information for the consumer to view, while social media marketing is bidirectional meaning the consumer is given a voice. Both mediums are necessary for a brand, but social media allows a consumer to provide feedback and to feel closer to a brand. As we learned in this week’s lecture, social media allows consumers to own a brand’s messaging and be a part of it. Consumers who feel a connection with a brand are more likely to share their experience with it, therefore further spreading brand awareness. While bidirectional communication benefits both consumer and brand, this type of communication does require brands to actively monitor online mentions. This of course is more time-consuming than classic marketing but the information that can be gleaned from online monitoring is extremely valuable. According to The Guardian, two-way conversation “allows consumers to take part in brand activity through co-creation,” and “it can even mean using social media as a development tool where consumers suggest improvements to products.” For example, according to this CMO article, a television ad for Reliant Energy spurred viewers to post on social media how much they enjoyed the ad’s music. After seeing this trend, Reliant Energy bought the rights to the song so that consumers could download it. Social Media Examiner explains, “The better you can match a consumer’s needs, the more likely they will be to buy from you. The better you can engage them and show that you listen to their needs, the more likely they’ll become loyal customers.”Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 5.46.50 PM

Both classic and social media marketing can work well together. Brands can include a hashtag or social media icons on a billboard, print ad or television ad , encouraging consumers to bring the conversation online. Though social media is better for communication purposes, according to this Forbes article, classic marketing is still necessary because it “opens the door” for companies to customers.

Screen Shot 2015-01-18 at 5.31.17 PMAvailability is another key difference between classical and social media marketing. Using classical marketing, consumers can only provide feedback to brands via phone during regular working hours or email or direct mail, which is often ignored. Social media, however, allows consumers to message, comment or post about or directly to the brand. While this is great for consumers, this can difficult for brands. According to this article, 42% of consumers complaining on social media to brands expect to receive a response within an hour. Furthermore, “57% expect the same response time at night and on weekends as during normal business hours.” This expectation is obviously very difficult for many companies to meet, so while 24/7 availability is more convenient for consumers, it can put a strain on companies and their relationships with their customers.