This month I hosted a session at The Guardian’s annual technology and media-focussed conference in London. The aim of my masterclass was to demystify, explain and contextualise Snapchat’s role in the world, and in the marketing mix for brands and agencies.
The presentation I went through is below and whilst lots of the content was delivered verbally, there are lots of useful stats, examples, best practice and case studies for Snapchat marketing in there.
If you have any questions about any of the content, or need professional help with your digital marketing drop me an email or tweet me @willfrancis
Remember Myspace? (I have to say that now when I intro myself to new people — my years working there are still a key part of my career history).
More importantly, can you remember the countless millions of teenagers who learnt HTML so they could ‘pimp’ their pages?
Kids Were Coding on Myspace!
That is unbelievable in retrospect. We got kids learning to handle (if not completely write) code just so they could make glitter fall down their page and have sexier buttons in their ‘contact box’. They knew how to open style tags, albeit simple ones like <b>, and then close them</b>.
Parents of course thought they had finally lost their young. They were witnessing their kids type and paste pure gobbledegook into boxes in some very confusing admin panel. Kids made their Myspace profiles resemble a sort of digital bedroom wall, plastered with a mess of everything they were into, and everyone they were associated with.
Confusing to ‘Olds’
The more I work with Snapchat (in my capacity running London creative digital agency Harkable), the more I’m struck with how this is the first platform since Myspace to appeal to kids largely because it bewilders and even scares their parents.
Even at my tender age I can still remember the sheer confusion the first time I used Snapchat. This of course was closely followed by a more composed, professional criticism of the UX (user experience).
The Thrill of the Dangerous
Just knowing you could send absolutely any kind of photo or video to anyone on Snapchat is in itself exciting.
Everything there is out of the gaze of authority. Seeing their parents’ horror just makes it all the more fun. And so it was on Myspace, you could be anyone and do anything. There were serial killers and sex offenders but we all accepted that the entire human spectrum was represented there, before everyone left for Facebook that is.
Is Snapchat Destined for Decline?
So the big questions looms. Can Snapchat avoid the fatal death spiral that Myspace disappeared into so rapidly? Ultimately the odds aren’t in their favour.
The only reason Facebook and Twitter have stuck around is because:
their general utility — messaging, groups, events, photos, news
their unprecedentedly high levels of adoption across all demographics — i.e. your grandparents use it, people in places with less access to technology use it
integration across the web and the wider media landscape — Facebook ‘like’ buttons on websites, hashtags in TV shows etc
Will my Mum really get on Snapchat before the youth leave for something new? Will it replace current forms of private messaging like email and WhatsApp? Can it really become woven into our other media experiences such as surfing the web and watching TV?
Seems unlikely but then the entire premise of the app would have sounded bonkers five years ago, so don’t write them off completely.
So Many Users, So Little Money
The big challenge for them will be monetisation. They are the classic example of the social media startup having boomed in user numbers, only to be faced with the task of turning that into a profitable business.
They currently sell vertical video ads (portrait video as opposed to the traditional landscape) which are inserted in between Stories and Discover, kind of like TV ads. They trialled sponsored lenses — augmented reality animated overlays for selfie photos and videos — but have discontinued that for now. There’s no self-serve ad buying platform, and agencies are struggling to justify significant media spend because of the lack of any robust analytics, other than reports on views and reach.
Snapchat’s Future Is Not In Mass Market
They’ll need to bring a much more rounded advertising offering with the ability to target ads and report on exactly what the money achieved.
But like Myspace failed to do, they’ll need to keep its core users interested. And rather than trying to attract that wider demographic, it might mean keeping mum and dad a little bit scared of it.
So many social media sites, so little time. This is my plan for keeping on top of it all, and getting more out of your social media life.
Breakfast – catch up and schedule
Get the latest on what’s happening and find shareable content with Digg Reader for news and blogs, YouTrends for the latest trending videos, Reddit for trending funnies and Twitter for the big conversations globally or in your area. Instantly share the most interesting stuff using Buffer (and its brilliant Chrome plugin), which staggers your updates throughout the day. This keeps your Twitterand Facebookfilled with good content, taking the pressure off in case you have a busy day.
Lunch – respond and engage
This is when everyone jumps on Facebook and Twitter so a good time to check in on the ‘big two’. Use TweetDeck to view Twitter and respond to engagement from your Buffered posts – thank any retweets and mentions with replies or favorites. Then have a scan for any recent developments worth commenting on or adding to your Buffer.
As you’re probably at a computer, this is also a great time to show some love on Pinterest, trawling through your feed to find great images to like and re-pin.
Dinner – longer reads
Chances are you’re in the majority that have flirted with Google+ but don’t use it regularly. I find that people get great value out of it once they start, so get the ball rolling by posting something and actively joining a conversation in a Community relevant to you or on your timeline, every afternoon. It’s a heavily American audience so early evening is a good time to start posting if you’re in UK/Europe.
This time is also when a lot of commuters are bored on the train, reading Twitter, so your Buffer should have a few scheduled slots between 5pm and 7pm. A good time to post links to well-written content (like the best stuff on Medium, for example)
Supper – prime time conversations
The peak of social media traffic in the week is always at around 8pm, in line with TV’s prime time. Conversation on Twitter is largely driven by real-time conversation around TV, so if you’re watching a popular show get tweeting about it with the hashtag, make any witty observations and retweet other people’s. Share relevant bite-sized content on the topic such as memes – as opposed to long blogs or videos.
If you’re really keen, now is a good time to put a few things in your Buffer so you have content going out to followers in other time zones while you sleep.
It goes without saying you should try to maintain your weekday activity where possible, especially the ‘breakfast’ and ‘supper’ ones, but here are some weekend-specific to-dos:
Saturday – capture your moments
Typically the quietest day in social media as people spend the least time at screens on Saturdays, instead opting for shopping, seeing friends and doing stuff around the house. This is however when you’re likely to do your most interesting stuff so take lots of pictures with your phone’s camera app, and then Instagram them both on the day and later. Think of your fun weekend activities as opportunities to capture photos for use throughout the week.
Sunday – putting time into bigger content pieces
In opposition to Saturday, Sunday is traditionally the busiest day online, particularly in the mid-afternoon post-lunch lull. It’s when the most people are online, they have the most time and are most relaxed – meaning the best content to put out here is long-form content such as blogs, articles and videos. It’s also when you have the most time to properly produce and promote it. Write a blog post or record your video blog or podcast in the morning, post it in the afternoon and then take the time to promote it across all your platforms. Beyond putting links with great hooks such as questions or counter-intuitive statements (e.g. Why Drinking is Good For You, Could Drinking Really Be Healthy?) generate conversation where possible through reaching out to passion centres of the topic e.g. tweet at influential people in that sphere asking them what they think, go to the Google+ Community or sub-Reddit and ask people there what they think. Remember to not take a promotional tone, but a human and conversational one.
Twitter – follow new people, @mention influencers and keep an eye on your Buffer analytics to learn what’s working and what’s not. Use ManageFlitter to find new people to follow and clean out your Following list if bloated.
Blog – at least one post per week, but always as many as you can manage. Use Google Analytics to see what worked and where traffic is coming from.
Pinterest – find new boards and people to follow to keep your feed fresh. Pin cool stuff from around the web (sites like Tumblr, FFFFOUND!, editorial and interest-specific sites).
Review your blog theme and any widgets you’re using. Is everything up-to-date? Is your bio still true or relevant across all networks? Do you still have links to sites you’ve abandoned?
Use ManageFlitteror Klout to chart your growth on Twitter and in social media over the year.
Most of all, have fun and enjoy it. I don’t get round to all of the above but now I’ve actually written it down in this post I’m going to start trying! Let me know any useful habits of yours in the comments below!
I’ve been at Mobile World Congress 2014 with Samsung, where all the latest technology and mobile innovations are announced. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to play with the Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Gear 2 smart watch and Gear Fit sports band.
Here’s the presentation I gave this week at The Hospital in London, showing my take on how the digital world is changing and why this constant change shouldn’t scare us but rather is an endless source of opportunity.
Here’s the presentation I gave and below is the full video of my talk:
On 10th March all Facebook Pages – i.e. pages which are not for personal accounts but for brands, businesses and organizations – will be upgraded to a new style consistent with personal profiles, with a picture gallery across the top and ‘tabs’ now linked to in the left-hand navigation menu as opposed to across the top. You can manually upgrade now at facebook.com/pages/status
The key things you need to know if you run or contribute to a page are:
Use Facebook as your page
This new feature allows you to take on the persona of your page as opposed to your personal identity. You can go around liking, commenting and interacting as the page.
One way you can exploit this is through joining conversations on similar pages. So if you’re a guitar shop you could go and join in conversations about guitars on Fender or Jimi Hendrix’s page to gain exposure in relevant communities. I expect to see this feature abused in the near future and it will be interesting to see how Facebook deal with this.
Notifications and a newsfeed
Once you’ve switched to using Facebook as your page, when you click the Facebook logo or ‘Home’ you will see a newsfeed as normal, but now it won’t be your personal one containing updates from your friends but rather the page’s newsfeed containing updates from other pages you have liked whilst using Facebook as that page.
You will also see different notifications. Again, instead of your personal ones they will all relate to activity on the page you are using Facebook as.
Photo gallery at the top of the page, ‘tabs’ and liked pages on the left
Once you upgrade the first thing you will notice is the new layout. You have the photostrip at the top just like on your personal profile which displays photos you have uploaded as that page (it does’t include photos uploaded to your wall by users), and the ‘tabs’ (can we call them tabs now? Maybe they’re ‘subpages’ or just ‘apps’) are linked to on the left, with pages you have liked (whilst using Facebook as your page) listed below. You can also feature any number of admins who run the page should you wish to bring out some human personality into the page.
Iframes and the death of FBML
This is in my view the biggest change by far, but a technical one and so possibly the least discussed amongst marketeers. In short, your existing Static FBML tabs will be safe (and updatable) forever, but after 10th March you will not be able to add the FBML app to create new ones. You will have to create a Facebook app and insert an iframe into it. Sounds scary, but whilst definitely more time consuming than the old Static FBML tabs it’s a bit easier than it sounds. I’m currently writing a tutorial just for you, so hang tight and stay tuned 🙂
I’m back online after a whole week off work and without any tweets, blog posts, photo uploads or much action between me and the internet at all.
If you’re curious to know what it’s like to live without Facebook, Twitter, iPlayer, Digg or whatever it is that keep you stuck to your laptop in bed, at the dinner table, on the sofa, on the train and at work I urge you to give it a go. It really made me realise that amongst other things…
Social media is a means, not an end. I’ve always maintained this when referring to people who make social media their life, going to wanky conferences and ‘tweetups’ to try and talk to people who know less than them because it makes them feel better about their insignificant lives. But really stepping away from it for a week and seeing that it had no negative impact on my life drove the point home for me.
Making stuff with your hands is what we humans are designed to love doing. To my shame I’ve not really created much in the physical world in recent years. In my week off I redecorated my house (well, half of it) and was reconnected with the primal joy of just making stuff with my bare hands. Of course there was the odd “should that tile be 3 pixels to the left?” and “can I buy some #ffffff paint please mate? Actually make that #f7f4ea….er… I mean magnolia” moments but I didn’t miss the certainty and consistency of virtual objects and processes, run perfectly every time and rendered on a pixel-perfect LED screen. Now I see why men hit their thirties and start wanting to build their own house.
Email will never die. There are people who see email as a relic from phase one of the internet, soon to be usurped by messaging tools provided in social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. I see that messaging functionality within other services as a passing trend, particularly with the increasing security concerns that are being aroused by the likes of Facebook. When it comes down to it, you can’t beat email and phone (or Skype).
This doesn’t mean to say I’m ditching social media in any way. The week has merely served to recalibrate my use of it. I will be resuming service on my Twitter, Flickr, MySpace, willfrancis.com, Tumblr and the rest from the minute this blog post goes live 🙂
OK, so here we are, well into 2010. A well-used date in the science fiction of the mid twentieth century, by which time we would be zipping between space ports, taking one-second ion showers in the morning and generally looking pretty sodding slick. It didn’t turn out quite how we expected, and we’ve seen it coming a long time.
Different versions of the future down the ages have always fascinated me (that’s a whole other blog post). It’s interesting that since the 1980s science fiction has started to be a lot more realistic with its timelines, placing plots 300 or 3,000 years hence, not 30 years ahead as in Back To The Future II which depicted people going about on hover-skateboards and wearing shit baseball caps made out of hologram-foil:
I guess they kinda got that last bit right…
This realism was no doubt due to the space race cooling off and the harsh realisation that space travel is actually quite hard and even getting someone to Mars would be a bit of a ballache. Whilst coming to terms with our unstellar, essentially-medieval-but-cleaner present and future existence we’ve made some truly amazing advances in more useful, mundane technology which allows us to make telephone calls on the move and listen to any music in the world from the comfort of home. There are however some aspects of consumer technology that really need to pull their socks up:
Video connections – should it still be this hard to send and receive moving images with sound, in the same room? We still have no standard, other than HDMI which is still far from universal. The DVI out on my MacBook Pro has to be converted into VGA and I still have to pipe the audio out from my headphone socket into the TV or a hi-fi. Too many cables and hassle. We really should have a wireless, lossless video transmission protocol which is adopted by all TVs, DVD players, computers etc. ETA: Development is slow and offices the world over seem happy with a VGA cable limply hanging out from a flatscreen TV for those who dare to risk looking like they can’t operate their own laptop. I’m setting the flux capacitor to 2015 on this one.
Internet connectivity – use a laptop? Who doesn’t? And yet it’s still a stroke of luck if you manage to get wifi anywhere. I rely on my jailbroken iPhone and an app that lets me turn it into a wifi hotspot for internet on the move. It seems crazy that modern laptops don’t come with 3G as standard, and that 3G isn’t quite a bit faster. ETA: The iPad will put the pressure on laptop manufacturers and 3G (or even forthcoming 4G) will become standard in 2012
File-sharing – use a shared drive at work? Crap, isn’t it? Ideally we should all be working in ‘the cloud’, perhaps on Google, though even Google Docs is a tad hokey. It really feels that by now we should have full Microsoft Office-level publishing software that allows seamless collaboration and publication. ETA: Feels close, with the likes of Dropbox and Google, not to mention Microsoft Office Live, I expect us all to be working nebulously by next year.
Mobile internet – thank the Lord for the iPhone. Without Apple’s groundbreaking dog-and-bone we’d still be struggling with mashed up, half-loaded webpages on screens the size of postage stamps. But it feels we’re still a long way off the dream of mobile internet access being anything other than a crippled ‘lite’ version of the real www. And then there’s document management. We need to be able to make PowerPoint presentations, images and webpages on the move. Maybe the iPad will resolve this but it remains to be seen how portable we’ll feel Jobs’ latest creation to be. ETA: Another job for iPad. Expect mobile devices and networks to step up their game this year. We could be living the dream of a full web experience on mobile by next summer.
Media-sharing – remember when Bluetooth came out? Suddenly the future of effortlessly swooshing files between devices wherever you were started to look like a reality. Not quite… it’s slow and still not universal. And the marriage of TV and internet has hardly been idyllic. We all access an increasing amount of music and video online and yet we will always, even in 2510, want to just sit back from time to time with a box of Tunnocks teacakes and a cup of Lady Grey on a welcoming, tattered sofa and just watch. No interactivity, no options, certainly no plugging in DVI cables, audio cables, transferring files to/from games consoles etc. Apple TV was supposed to address this but has too many restrictions and is far from widely adopted. Recent Boxee integration might help. ETA: Getting better, and with an increasing amount of new TVs coming with net connections this could be two or three years away.
Video game purchases – most home connections can download 3GB in an hour (if from a fast server). I guarantee that on average people spend longer than that travelling to and from physical retail stores to obtain video games in plastic boxes. It’s frankly madness that I can’t just buy and download any game through the Playstation Store or Xbox Live. If anyone can explain the business sense of this to me please do in the comments below. ETA: Plastic boxes will start to die out in the next 12 months. Expect digital game releases to dominate by Christmas 2011. This is admittedly optimism on my part!
In writing this I’ve been pondering why these gaps (and others, please discuss them in the comments) even exist. I think a large part of it is the lack of standardisation. In some ways standardisation isn’t good for the tech industry as it often relates to monopolisation and the lack of competition can leave development stagnating. It can however be great for the consumer as advances in functionality and usability can be concentrated on widely adopted products and formats instead of spread thinly amongst millions of them. An example of this could be on the horizon in the form of the proposed universal mobile phone charger which some major mobile manufacturers have agreed to conform to. As well as making consumers’ life a lot easier this initiative will inevitably cut down on waste, which is another great reason for widespread standardisation.
I guess it’s a delicate balance to strike between a free marketplace that fosters innovation and one which provides individuals what they need to innovate but in controlled parameters. A bit like liberals vs socialists then. Which makes me a technology commy. Does that make Steve Jobs the tech equivalent of Lenin? He’s certainly getting the look.