Social Acumen

Clearer Insights. Better Social Media

Will Social Media Insight Increase Your Brand Equity?

The data is out there.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can make it available to you. But once you’ve got it, what are you going to do with it?

Without sufficient insight, the data around your social media activity cannot provide you with enough detail to help refine your strategy.

However, if you can turn your metrics and analytics into something meaningful, it will help to differentiate your brand and add value to it.

The Shifting Social Landscape

Creating a strong social media presence builds brand equity, to the extent that it has transformed the marketing landscape.

The way that brands interact with consumers has changed. There is now far more emphasis on building relationships and creating dialogues. This is can be complex, because it requires a greater understanding of audiences.

Brands are jumping aboard and involving themselves in learning how to use social media for increased leverage with target audiences, but for many there is a nagging doubt about the effectiveness of what they’re doing.

Social media engagement often feels more indirect than traditional, sales-based marketing, and building value through it can also seem like a frustratingly slow process.

This is largely because ultimate control rests not with the brand but with its audience.

How can brands work in this context to improve how they execute their strategies?

The Underlying Issue

In attempting to increase their value online, many brands are doing little more than second-guessing their audiences.

This is because, while the analytics and metrics are readily available to them, they do not have the means to see beyond the figures to gain sufficient depth of knowledge from them.

Without this insight, data cannot help to shape strategy, which means that the brand cannot improve on how it performs on social media. The risk is that it gets stuck in a rut.

Making sense of social data requires diligence and expertise. It means examining what the metrics mean and how this relates to testing social media activity on different audiences and learning from this process.

Want to know more about insight and the true value of your brand on social media? Contact Social Acumen.

Shout out to our friends at Marketing Aspects Magazine for the collaboration on this blog too.

Why measuring Social Media success is like Goldilocks & the Three Bears?

In this Social Media blog post, we’re going to be exploring the three main issues that comes when it comes to measuring successful Social Media activity, the challenges that these issues face to your business & what you can do to overcome them.

Reporting on Social Media success suffers from three major issues

1) There’s too little info

2) There’s too much info

3) You get it just right

Much like the fabled bears & their frankly trial-and-error approach to cooking porridge, Social Media reporting can be thought of in a “too little”, “too much”, “just right” approach.

Getting to this sweet spot of “just right” Social Media reporting is a challenge. It requires a fair amount of trial and error to get right. However, most brands & agencies don’t have the time, money & resource to get this wrong.

Social Media reporting can be expensive. But it’s even more expensive when you don’t say anything meaningful or insightful at the end of it.

So we wanted to explore the three main issues with Social Media reporting. Once explored, we will then offer up some advice as to how you can overcome these challenges.

Social Media reporting & the 3 bears – Too Little

A major issue that affects a lot of Social Media reporting is a lack of detail. Moreover, it’s a lack of the right detail that’s the real issue.

Given the amount of data that’s available, analysing a single post can stretch to a 30 page PowerPoint presentation.

With such vast amounts of data available, the natural tendency is to shy away from this quantity, simplifying things down to the point so that it can all fit on a “one pager”.

The difficulty that arises is that things start getting lumped in & analysed en masse. Any form of data grouping will invariably start to gloss over important insights that can be gleamed from individual posts.

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about their Social Media through clearer, better insights

When you start lumping data together, as Facebook Insights tends to do, it’s very difficult to pull out the driving factor in this performance.

For example – if you have 20 posts and you’re analysing the performance of these to as a whole, more often than not, the bulk of the performance can come from just a handful of posts.

If you’re just comparing these 20 posts to the last 20 posts, then you run the risk of glossing over the driving factors of this performance, which lie in the posts themselves.

Therefore, you should analyse your Content on a per post basis and then work up. This will give you the ability to analyse the holistic picture while being able to focus on the deciding factors behind that overall performance.

Social Acumen does just this. We analyse all activity on an individual post basis and then work up. It allows you to see very clearly what content is (or isn’t) working while also being able to compare groups of posts and campaigns so that you can track and measure overall performance over time.

 Social Media reporting & the 3 bears – Too Much

As mentioned earlier, with the volume of data available, it’s as easy to get overloaded with data and analysis as it is to have too little of it.

Every Facebook post that you run – no matter how much of an impact it has – produces between 60-80 Excel columns worth of data.

 

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about your Social Media through clearer, better insights

Facebook Post data certainly isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time

Some of this is more useful than others. But regardless of how useful it all is, getting to the interesting, relevant stuff can be a time consuming challenge. This requires a good working knowledge of what data is available and what to do with it once you’ve found it.

Even Facebook & Twitter’s backend “analytics” platforms struggle to demonstrate all of this data. They certainly don’t make sense of it – that job, as we’ve written at length about, is up to you.

It’s important for us to reaffirm this. And for you to know that not all the data you get back from Facebook is critical to your success.

Moving towards an objective based way of measuring success is a great way of being focused on certain types of data.

If you only want to focus on reach, then measure your impression & reach figures. If you want to measure engagement then focus on your views, comments etc. If you want to just focus on conversion then that’s there within Facebook’s Adverts platform.

While there’s a slight danger that you can become blinkered in this approach, it’s a good way of cutting out the noise.

This can keep you focused on the areas that are most pressing to your business needs and will allow you to go into sufficient detail around each of them.

Without boring you or your audience to tears.

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about your Social Media through clearer, better insights

The opposite of how Social Media reporting is supposed to go down

Social Media reporting & the 3 bears – Just Right

As with so much of life, the key to measuring Social Media success successfully is all about balance.

Analysing performance on a per post basis is crucial. But going into the detail of every Photo View or Other Click will simply bog you down in data.

Setting objectives and focusing on the data specific to these objectives is the best way to ensure that you’re analysing the things you want to, in enough detail so that you don’t miss anything crucial to future success.

Through this method you are then able to draw out Insights across a range of areas. Whether it’s determining what content works best amongst certain audiences. Or determining whether video posts perform better than images with certain levels of Paid media spend.

The approach we’ve taken with Social Acumen does just this. You’re able to draw insights on a per post basis and by analysing posts together. Social Acumen generates actionable Insights across our 5 bespoke metrics that can advise you on how to improve your use of Paid media, content formats, use of audience targeting & ad formats.

 

Once each post has been scored, you are then easily able to compare and contrast the performance of the different scores in campaign reports. This way you can get a clear sense of what’s working over time, tracking performance in a clear and effective manner.

What does successful Social Media look like? The first Doing.Social.Better Meetup

Assessing good & successful Social Media activity can be a very challenging task.

The amount of data that’s involved is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you can find out almost anything you want to about your activity. On the other, there’s so much data available that it can become an overwhelming endeavour.

For businesses big and small; agencies and amateurs alike, wrangling this data can be a massively time consuming task which may not lead to actually understanding anything useful or relevant about your data.

So what better subject to kick off our first Doing.Social.Better Meetup event than discussing what successful Social Media looks like?

Doing.Social.Better

Doing.Social.Better is a collaboration between Social Acumen & Never.No to share & impart Social Media knowledge & experience across the industry in both London & Manchester.

The goal is to bring smart, intelligent & wonderful people together who have a common interest in Social Media, put them in a room and provide the right environment & stimulus for them to share and impart what they know to someone else.

Rather than being talked at, we want our attendees to drive the events, using their own knowledge and backgrounds to inform the debate and discussion.

Its aim is to drive practical knowledge as well. Too often people give up their time for very little gain. Doing.Social.Better Meetups are all about people coming away with something tangible they can use to improve.

About last night

We like to think we achieved that last night.

We started the session off with a team game – Buzz Word Bingo – where teams had 2 minutes to list as many advertising buzzwords as they could.

 

Trying to figure out as many buzzwords obviously led to bee impressions by some of the attendees

As you’d expect, it was an engaging, dynamic, blue-sky thinking sort of game, where everyone stepped well outside the box to synergise some great thought-starters.

What was interesting was how many perceived buzzwords are industry standard phrases. Specifically – insights, ROI (return on investment; not Republic of Ireland) and engagement.

Turning data into Insight – applying contextual analysis

Things got a lot more numerical from there as we explored two questions:

  • Are you finding the right data?
  • What do you do when you find it?

In short, there’s a lot of data available when you do any form of Social advertising – organic or Paid. While Facebook & Twitter are helpful by showing you the data in a lot of different areas, turning that data into something meaningful you can use to improve requires Insights to be drawn.

And that, contrary to the name, Facebook Insights doesn’t actually give you any insights. Only data. The responsibility of turning your data into insight falls on you.

How then do you turn all this data into these Insights?

It’s all about context. Providing an analytical context to your data can help you to derive meaning from it that can translate into an Insight.

The example we shared below shows the data, contextual analysis and then an insight that can improve your use of Social Media.

Turning Social Media data into insight

Applying contextual analysis to your data is a great way of drawing an insight.

Applying Context

Simply put, context can be applied in two ways – either comparatively or objectively.

Comparative analysis:

Comparatively is all about comparing and contrasting data and creating context through this comparison. Post A generated X amount of Reach – is that better or worse than the last 4 posts we ran. If so, why is that the case? What can we learn from that comparison that can help us improve?

Objective analysis:

This requires you to choose an area to focus on and then measuring the data relevant to that objective. When you’ve done that enough times, you can then start to get acceptable levels of success or failure. Continue with what exceeds this; ignore what doesn’t.

This approach can lead to the creation of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) – measures of success & failure across different objectives.

What Facebook defines as its marketing objectives is a great place to start when trying to define the areas you want to focus on.

 

Facebook are improving how they define these objectives through the way in which ads are set up. They effectively define the possible objectives when running a Social ad up front and will give you stats associated with these.

Sharing & imparting of knowledge abounded

The overwhelming takeout from the discussion that followed was that it is still a real challenge to measure success.

Whether it was a time challenge of working with so many data points to the way in which certain audiences responded to certain ads, there’s a lot to try and wrangle when it comes to assessing success.

Trying to be as holistic as possible around this seemed to be the main consensus here, with a lot of emphasis being placed on what happens when people leave Social platforms and head into the wider world of the web.

On top of this was the role of Paid media and spending money within Social Media. This is a conversation that has long raged on within the industry and it showed no signs of going away last night.

Interestingly, there seemed to be less of an acceptance to the “it’s a pay to play platform” and more of a “well is Social right?” approach at being faced with the prospect of having to pay to get anywhere within Social.

Guessing briefs

The second half of the event was all around teamwork in a game of Guess the Brief.

We showed 4 interesting pieces of Social content – some good; some interesting – and asked the teams to figure out what the objective of the advertising was by getting them to answer:

  • Who did you want to talk to? (Audience)
  • What did you want to say? (Creative)
  • What did you want them to do? (Action)
  • How will you know it’s a success?

We’ve included the 4 ads that we showed and we’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on whether or not you thought they were a success. Take a look:

 

 

Again, another spirited debate took place around each.

What we took out from the discussion was around purpose. What are you actually trying to achieve when you put something out on Social? Are you actually trying to achieve anything at all? If not, why not?

With the money involved, it’s a question that needs to be asked to everyone doing Social Media advertising. If it doesn’t have a clear, distinct purpose, is it worth doing?

On to the next

From the feedback we got last night, we are certainly going to be running more Doing.Social.Better events. We will certainly be planning one in Manchester which we’re very excited about. But the next London event will be taking place at some point in early November and more details will be shared through the Meetup event.

You can join Doing.Social.Better here https://www.meetup.com/preview/Doing-Social-Better

Are You Wasting Your Money on Social Media?

The UK’s digital ad spend is at an all-time high, going beyond the £10bn threshold.

But is anyone stopping to ask what all this money is buying, and whether it’s worth it?

Are You Getting What You Pay For?

Many people appear to recognise the importance of social media and of putting content out there but not truly knowing what they are getting out of it.

Around half of the UK’s total internet time is spent on smartphones, and that’s a key driver in people advertising using social media. But this adds to the sense of a gold-rush without enough strategic thinking behind it.

The right social media strategy comes from in-depth knowledge of what your target audience is doing online and how it responds to you.

Successful marketing activity requires insight. While you can attract followers who claim an affinity with your brand, using this effectively to build your business means measuring responses and online activity.

To know what your social content is worth to you requires meaningful metrics and detailed analytics.

Choosing the Right Content and Platform

If you collect the right sort of data about your social content, data that is detailed but intelligible, it will provide the basis for a clear analysis of how effective your social media activity is.

However, it has a value beyond indicating what your real return on investment is.

This is because social media involves different platforms and a multiplicity of choices in how to use them to reach your audience.

For example, if the measurement of your advertising activity indicates that you’re failing to reach your target, this doesn’t discount you taking a different approach.

In fact, the data might clearly give you pointers to what you could be achieving based on how your audience is currently responding.

There’s more to social content than sales conversions.  You can use it build your brand equity, or highlight your degree of corporate social responsibility. These are not woolly notions, they’re real gains to be made using social media as a launchpad.

Analytics and metrics don’t just look at what you’ve currently got and your past activity; they point the way forward, as the basis for new social media marketing strategies.

Is your social media activity worth it? Don’t be in the dark about your digital effectiveness, contact Social Acumen.

How insightful is Facebook Insights?

In this Social Media blog, we’re going to be asking just how insightful Facebook “Insights” actually are

Social Media data can be a very complicated subject. There is an awful lot of the stuff and if you aren’t massively experienced with it, understanding it can be like speaking a different language.

While Facebook & Twitter both offer “insights” and “analytics” respectively on their channels, what really are these platforms? Can they actually help you to improve your use of Social Media? Can they actually tell you anything “insightful”?

If they aren’t, then what are you actually looking at? How helpful is the information you’re getting back from these platforms and, fundamentally, is it worth you even bothering?

Facebook Insights provides analysis not Insights

* Spoiler Alert *

Facebook “Insights” is an organised list of the data available on your Social Media activity. It is a processing of your data, presented to you with the most minimal amount of analysis.

As with Twitter “Analytics”, it’s an ordering of the relevant data sets surrounding your activity. Think of it as a guide as to what data is relevant to certain objectives.

If you want to know how many people saw your content, look at Reach. If you want to see how many people viewed your videos, head to Videos. If you want to see who Likes your page, then head to People.

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about their Social Media through clearer, better insights

Facebook “Insights” simply replays you your own data for you to interpret

There’s a lot of data. There’s a bit of analysis. But there’s almost no insight whatsoever.

What are you really looking at then?

And what does all this mean?

That’s a question that we’ve heard time & time again. This is because all Facebook “Insights” shows you is a series of numbers either going up or down over time.

That is not an insight.

If you are able to understand why your numbers are going up & down, then that is an insight. Unfortunately, no matter how long at you look at your line graphs, Facebook “Insights” is not going to tell you this.

It’s up to you. And this is where things get complicated.

Complicated for a number of reasons. Because numbers are complicated, particularly when they start telling you different things.

Applying the most basic levels of analysis on to your data – an Engagement Rate – can lead to hugely misleading insights.

An organic post with 90 Impressions & 15 Engagements will produce a 7% higher Engagement Rate than a post with 1,000,000 Impressions & 100,000 Engagements. If taken at face value that would suggest the Organic post is not only superior, but vastly superior to the Paid post.

Data is therefore meaningless if you’re unable to turn this into effective insights.

How are Facebook trying to help?

Facebook have started to try and help you to achieve these insights through how they now prompt you to set up your Paid ads. As an aside, Facebook’s stance on Organic content should be abundantly clear to you now. In short, there’s no help coming.

When setting up a Facebook post, they prompt you to choose one of several ‘objectives’. They are a condensed version of the purchase funnel – Awareness, Consideration & Conversion.

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about their Social Media through better, clearer insights

Facebook’s marketing objectives that they offer when creating Facebook ads

With each of these, you need to choose a specific sub-objective. Traffic driving, purchasing on-site or even a humble page like, these are all classified as “Actions” within Facebook.

Pick one and Facebook will then tell you, throughout your ads cycle, what the “cost-efficiencies” of your ad was.

This is a very simple cost-per-ACTION calculation. I got 40 Likes for £2.35 per Like.

Now what?

What do I do with that information? Is that good? If it is good, how can I do better next time? A multitude of questions can arise as the data has only been analysed, it hasn’t been turned into an insight.

Obviously you can start comparing different posts to try draw out those insights. But unless you’re targeting the same audience each and every time, with the same message / offer / content, this can quickly become a very expensive process.

Should you even bother to look at your data?

Yes. A hundred times, yes.

To ignore the data because you can’t understand it is the advertising equivalent of pretending you’re invisible because you have your hands over your eyes. Just because you can’t see, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Insights don’t have to be massively complex or grandiose. Simply looking at overall reach & engagement vs. time of the day can generate an insight as when is best to post.

At a basic level you need to familiarise yourself with your data and the data that’s available. Once you know what is there, you can start analysing it. Which, as we saw earlier with Facebook’s cost-per-Action analysis is becoming slightly more straightforward and tangible.

The real value comes in what you do with this analysed data and trying to answer why the data is as it is so that you can use this learning to inform better decisions moving forward.

Setting KPIs can be a good way of implementing this. Look at the objectives you want to hit, measure these over time & create a level of performance that you’re accepting of as being ‘good’.

It’s by no means a perfect set up – KPIs largely ignore huge swathes of important data in an attempt to become intelligible. But it’s better than just looking at numbers going up & down. And it’s certainly better than simply ignoring the numbers entirely.

Fundamentally though, analysing your Social Media data isn’t enough – you need to turn this into insight in order to improve.

Clearer insights means better Social Media

Social Acumen turns your data into insights that you can use to improve your Social Media. These insights are designed to improve your use of:

  • creative
  • ad & content formats
  • audience targeting
  • use of Paid media

We focus on the data that’s relevant to these elements, using bespoke metrics to convert this data into a score out of 100. Based on this score, Social Acumen then generates your insights which tell you why you’ve scored as you have done and what you can do next time to improve.

All in real-time, all at the click of a button.

So if you want to start getting insights you can use to improve your Social Media activity without looking at any data or spreadsheets, then visit www.socialacumen.co to discover how.

6 things that are nearly as fun as doing Social Media campaign reports

 

Boring Social Media analytics meeting

Social Media reporting meetings don’t have to be like this (mainly no one who works in Social Media wears a suit)

Anyone who’s done a Social Media report can tell you – they aren’t a huge amount of fun. Unless (like us) you’ve got a masochistic penchant for Excel data & Powerpoint formatting, the mere mention of a Social Media campaign report can fill people with dread. Clients and agencies alike.

They tend to be either too data heavy to comprehend. Or too light to offer any real insights. As such, improving your Social Media advertising can be a real challenge.

In our experience, doing a  detailed Social Media campaign report can take anywhere between 6-10 hours. Not only is this a long time, it’s quite expensive.

Assuming that you’re doing one of these reports monthly, we wanted to find 6 comparable things that were nearly as fun as doing a monthly Social Media advertising report. All of which take about the same time as producing a Social Media campaign report. Let us know if you agree with our picks.

Getting a tattoo

Tattoo of a smiling face

The tattoo version of a Social Media sentiment analysis

Tattoos can be thought of in the same way as doing a Social Media campaign report. They take hours to complete. Can be extremely painful to produce. And a single error in their preparation can wreck them in an instant.

We’ve classed them as slightly less fun as producing a dodgy Social advertising report only lasts a month or two at most. A dodgy tat lasts a lifetime.

Teaching a child an instrument

The sound of a violin bow scraping a string is enough to put people off kids entirely. Like all irritating sounds, the pain is almost entirely inflicted on the listener.

Not unlike how many Social Media campaign reports have been presented in years gone by. The horror of realising that you’re only halfway through a Powerpoint and noticing that you’re only on slide 4 of 40 can have clients looking to ‘take this offline’ in an attempt to save their own sanity and schedule.

At least with your kid learning an instrument, there’s a slim chance things will improve. Even slimmer, that you’ll be able to recoup the time & money invested. So pretty much the same as Social Media advertising report then…

Commuting in to work

With commuting times for the UK at around 49 minutes (one way) this takes roughly 20 hours a month – aka a particularly lengthy Social Media advertising report.

Unexpected delays and interruptions are common to both, with any disruption to the journey likely to wreak havoc on your productivity & general ill-will to those around you.

Unlike commuting in to work, once you’ve completed an analytics report, the monotony doesn’t return for at least a few weeks rather than that evening. Unless you’ve dramatically ballsed up your Paid media calculations. Then the two are almost identical.

Learning a new language

Social Media data can be a like speaking french

Because there’s a Simpsons meme for every occasion

Much like a Social Media report, when you’re having weekly language lessons you can go in to them feeling you’ve remembered all the hints, tips and tricks for improving your knowledge. Then you arrive at the lesson & you realise you’ve forgotten everything you were taught last time and the presenter is speaking a language you still don’t understand.

Much like a new language, even a basic grasp of the detail of an analytics report can get you by. In the same way Fran-glish can help you “parlez” with our French neighbours, a bit of Report-glish can help you baffle those who don’t speak the language. Observe:

Boss: “How’s Social doing?”

Digital Marketing Manager: “Alright – our average Engagement Rate is up 25%, estimated recall is up from Q2 &  our 95% Views are through the roof

Boss: <slightly louder & slower> “How’s SOCIAL DOING?”

Doing your laundry

Clean clothes always look better than dirty. And clean data can be a thing of real beauty. Mostly to those who live alone.

However, doing laundry is a tedious task. Made all the worse by its frequency. Weekly washes are next to impossible if you hold down a full time job/social life. And leaving it all for two weeks becomes near insurmountable.

If you’re unfortunate enough to have to analyse content on a weekly basis, you may experience the same challenges. Every week is too frequent; every two becomes a lot of work.

But, that pie chart, am I right?!

Social Media pie chart

Nearly as delicious as a real pie. Nearly.

 Being hungover

While definitely not as fun as doing a Social Media campaign reporting, there are a lot of similarities. They both take about 6-10 hours – really bad ones last far longer – and can cause headaches, sweats, nausea (delete as appropriate).

In the same way a beverage is in your hand before you can vow never to drink again, a new social campaign is already hurtling its way towards you before you can even finish the analysis of the last one.

Sadly neither client nor agency can get away with calling ‘dry January’ to have a month to fully recover.

Salvation is on the way

If you haven’t detected a sense of glibness by now, you’re almost certainly not reading this.

Social reporting isn’t all that bad. But it could definitely be made easier & Social Acumen can help.

Social Acumen enables brands to make smarter decisions about their Social Media through clearer insights. It delivers these at the click of a button – generating a bespoke score out of 100 as well as actionable insights across 5 bespoke metrics, that tell you how & why you can improve your creative, content formats, targeting & use of Paid media.

No Excel; no powerpoints. Just real-time analytics that can help you make better decisions about how to make your Social content as good as possible.

 Visit www.socialacumen.co to discover more

Is Game of Thrones losing its Social Media crown?

In this Social Media blog article, Sam Edwards, founder of Social Acumen, shares some thoughts around whether Game of Thrones can still claim to rule the 7 Kingdoms of Social Media and whether it can be toppled from its once impervious position as the most talked about show on Social Media.

Game of Thrones Twitter house

Game of Thrones owes a lot of its success to its Social Media presence, particularly on Twitter

I love Game of Thrones.

It has been one, if not, my main cultural passion for the past 6 years now. Unlike my namesake from the series, I am not a big reader. Yet I’ve read all 5 of the Game of Thrones books cover to cover. I’ve also read the spinoff book about Ser Duncan the Tall – in itself a brilliant read and a storyline that would make a wonderful spinoff TV show.

It’s very much safe to say that I am not alone in this love. Game of Thrones has managed to transcend the appeal of usual fantasy stories about dragons, kings and magic in a way that can entice the hardcore, geekdom while also appealing to the more casual television fan.

This appeal happened to coincide with the explosive proliferation of Social Media.

With the first season launching in 2011, the timing could hardly have been better for George RR Martin & the showrunners. A show with so many talking points launching at a time where the global conversation was expanding exponentially has surely led to the continued success of the show, cementing its place as a truly global phenomenon.

Watching Game of Thrones became as much about the action on your TV screen as it did about the action on your phone.

The Twitter pandemonium around the Red Wedding was a cultural event in itself. Major character deaths all typically straight to the top of the trending list on Twitter. Google Chrome now even has an extension that blocks spoilers on Social Media because of the ubiquity in which Game of Thrones has been talked about.

The hype (and promotion) around the launch of Season 7 was immense. This was made all the intense given that its usual release date of April was pushed back to July.

Such pressure was released in the first episode of S7, which, according to HBO, was the most talked about episode in its history. Helped, in part, by a totally awkward cameo from Ed Sheeran that drove around 7% of the conversation.

So things started well for GoT Season 7.

Is the crown slipping?

Anyone who’s a GoT fan & who works in Social Media can probably attest to, productivity throughout Monday is usually low when the show is on. I simply can’t go on Social Media if I want to remain spoiler free – extensions or not.

As I’ve done for most Monday’s since the shows launch my usage of Social Media was overly cautious this week. I expected to see my Facebook newsfeed bursting at the seams with GoT reactions. My Twitter trend list topped with character names or locations from the show.

But then something rather strange happened. There was next to nothing. Buzzfeed’s hit or miss “51 or so things I thought during GoT” popped up on Facebook on Monday morning. But that was mostly it before the event. Things would surely pick up during the 9pm broadcast?! But again, there was no real major GoT activity.

What was visible at 9pm, in the UK at least, was that most of the trending spots on Twitter were devoted to Love Island.

Love Island or Game of Thrones?

Diplomatically, Love Island isn’t for me. Say what you will about the show, from a Social Media perspective, it shares some similarities with Game of Thrones. Most notably, it’s a show that people want to talk about and want to talk about on Social.

Since the start of this season, its popularity as a show on Social has been increasing week on week.

A search using Hashtagify shows that the popularity of #LoveIsand has been increasing over the last 4 weeks, jumping from 78.1 to 83.5 on their popularity scale.

To put this in context, Game of Thrones’ popularity last week was around the 72 mark.

Much like the events of last week’s episode, it seems that Game of Thrones was blown out of the water by Love Island in terms of Social Media activity.

A few caveats…

Twitter is not the be-all and end-all of Social Media. It was the Love Island final compared with the second, albeit fantastic, episode of Game of Thrones. Putting the final episode of Game of Thrones directly up against the finale of Love Island would have made for an interesting (and fairer) comparison.

Love Island was a live, appointment-to-view final, whereas Game of Thrones, due to its overwhelming popularity, is now available to watch at any point from 2am on Monday morning. So there’s less of a singular event around Game of Thrones episodes as there potentially was when the Red Wedding aired.

Yet the fact that something even went up against Game of Thrones and potentially beat it in terms of Social Media buzz is no mean feat.

For any show to expect to dominate the Social landscape week in, week out is pretty unrealistic. However, this is the high bar that Game of Thrones has set for itself.

But as this week’s instance with Love Island has shown, Game of Thrones is not immune to challengers for its Social Media crown. It now seems conceivable that a show could take Game of Thrones head on & win that share of voice that TV shows tend to crave on Social.

It may never come to the point where Game of Thrones isn’t a huge talking point on Social. With only a handful of episodes left that will reveal totally unchartered territories, fan theories and, of course, a conclusion to the Song of Ice & Fire, fans will have a lot to talk about.

Condensing these talking points into a dozen or so episodes not only preserves the quality (hopefully) of the remaining episodes. But it will almost guarantee that there will be a major talking point each week.

A dynasty that could last for years

In short, it looks like Game of Thrones will preserve its legacy as the ruler of Social Media, with its shorter final seasons ensuring that it won’t overstay its popularity.

The Mountain from Game of Thrones in gold armour

Much like The Mountain’s armour in Season 6, Game of Thrones’ dominance on Social Media has begun to show a few chinks

However, chinks have begun to appear in the once immaculate armour. It will need to stay on top form to maintain its place on the Iron Throne of Social Media, lest an upstart usurper take its place.

My, rather biased view, is that it will do so with aplomb. Much like the deceased members of the Night’s Watch, with Game of Thrones, we may never see its like again.

You can follow Sam & Social Acumen on Twitter here & here. And on Facebook here

Facebook – we need a new term for ‘Dark Posting’

In this Social Media blog post, we’ll be exploring how recent ‘news’ on how the major political parties utilised ‘dark posts’ in the 2017 General Election, how this has been covered by the press and why it’s very much time for a new term to describe ‘dark posts’.

The 2017 General Election – the Social Media election?

Or was it 2015? Or 2010? Since Barack Obama took office in 2008 thanks to a Social Media heavy campaign , commentators in the UK have been yearning for something similar.

That landmark election where they can vindicate their opinions on how important Social Media is by claiming how it played the crucial role in deciding the election.

2010 came and went. Social’s role was important, but not critical. 2015 came and went. And still Social wasn’t the deciding factor. A month removed from the result of #GE2017 and there’s good evidence to suggest that 2017 perhaps was the year where Social Media decided the result.

Labour’s Social Media game was on point

It’s hard to imagine what Labour’s vote tally would have been if it wasn’t for a sophisticated, targeted and good natured Social Media campaign. Mobilising a younger demographic into political action is no easy feat.

Corbyn’s appeal as an establishment antihero worked well and allowed him to more naturally fit into content that would have genuine appeal to a younger, typically disinterested audience.

Jeremy Corbyn dabbing

The fact that this exists shows you how far Jeremy Corbyn’s appeal to the youth came during the last election.

Labour’s use of grime influencers was a particularly novel approach that seems to have massively paid off. For which Labour’s comms team should be massively congratulated for. Not all MPs get this so right – as Greg Knight can attest to.

The Tories use of Social Media was too aggressive

Speaking of the Conservatives, they’re approach to Social was deemed to be much less good natured.

Hostile, attacking ads aimed at their political rivals seemed to dominate their Social Media content strategy, particularly on Facebook. It’s difficult to say how much harm this approach caused their campaign.

Regardless of whether it was their Facebook ads or not, the polls spoke for themselves and the Tories campaign was derided as one of the worst in living memory.

Among so many others, one thing that has been picked up on, particularly by the media, is how both parties employed ‘dark posts’ to run their more targeted and aggressive Facebook ads.

Before we continue, a little education piece.

What are Dark Posts? 

Dark posting is a strategy for publishing and posting ads to select, targeted audience groups with very specific ads.

By running ads ‘dark’ they only enter the newsfeeds of a very specific target audience that you specify.

Doing so allows you to run a number of different messages or ad variations to a number of different audience groups.

If you wanted to run the same video – but with a different message to men and women – then you would create two separate dark posts to target both groups.

All of this allows for a much more sophisticated and granular advertising strategy through Facebook, targeting the audience you want with the message you want them to see.

Best of all, your dark posts won’t appear on your Facebook page. That means your Facebook following won’t be bombarded with lots of variations of the same ad. It also means that they won’t see anything that’s not relevant to them.

Effectively, it’s just a much cleaner and specific way of advertising through Facebook.

Class dismissed.

Into the darkness

The media’s coverage of the Tories use of ‘Dark Posts’ would suggest that there is something inherently nefarious and sinister in their usage.

Dark posting is, and has been, a long established strategy for brands and Social Media advertisers. Any Facebook campaign using Paid media will employ them and there is nothing inherently sinister about their existence or use.

However, for a headline obsessed, fake news digesting electorate, to label this approach as ‘dark’ implies that this approach is devious or underhand.

Critics have reacted to this approach with disdain, claiming that it is undemocratic and obfuscates the transparency in which an election is supposed to be held.

Claims that these dark posts are no one can ‘officially see’ these ads or that they are ‘difficult to track’ are simply unfounded. As such, we thought we’d debunk a few myths.

Dark posts are visible even if you’re not targeted by them

Dark posts appear in news feeds of those who an advertiser wants. This will, by its very nature, exclude some from seeing the post. They also won’t appear on the brand’s own Facebook page.

However, they still appear in user’s newsfeeds. And they can be viewed by everyone, if those who are targeted by the ad tag, link or share it with those who aren’t.

To suggest that they are somehow invisible and outside the realms of electoral regulators is simply untrue.

Dark posts are difficult to track

Dark posting is actually encouraged by Facebook when looking to run more action-orientated advertisements. While you can opt to run a number of ads through your Facebook page, by ‘boosting’ content, the full suite of ads are available through dark posting.

Facebook has made an awful lot of money through the sophistication of these very ads because they are immensely trackable. Each & every post – for both boosted content & dark posts – have a huge amount performance data assigned to them that allows for performance tracking.

While this data is only accessible by the advertisers or and 3rd party tools they might be using (here’s a good one by the way www.socialacumen.co), it is naïve to think that this data would be immediately available to the public.

No advertising medium – digital or not – would actively publish its client’s data around how their ads are performing, who they’re targeting and how much money they are spending.

Political parties present different challenges to your more traditional advertiser. However, if the rules for these parties dictate that this data must be publically available, you couldn’t possibly ask for a better platform than Facebook to deliver this data.

The granularity in which you can report on Social ads – dark posted or otherwise – is insane. If you want this data to be made public, then better regulations are required if political parties are going to be permitted to use Facebook ads in the future.

So why have dark posts come under such scrutiny?

Hopefully, we’ve pointed out that dark posts themselves aren’t that shady a practice. Their usage is entirely commonplace across the advertising industry and for good reason.

Why then has there been such a furore around their use in the last election?

A lot it seems to be that it’s an easy headline to write:

“<insert political party> uses “dark posts” to win election”

smacks of entirely underhand, Machiavellian tactics that, to the British electorate, just isn’t cricket.

In a political context, it conveys back room, dodgy dealing that the UK has become acutely aware of. In an advertising context, it doesn’t feel that comfortable a term and implies a brand is doing something it doesn’t want to be discovered.

Therefore, it’s time for a new way of describing this approach to Facebook advertising.

‘Unpublished’ has been a long time synonym for dark posting. But this feels inadequate and paradoxical, given that you are of course publishing it for it to become an ad.

Our best suggestions – Focused, Tailored, Custom – feel not only more accurate but far less insidious.

We’re calling for a change and an abandonment of the term ‘dark post’. At a time where Social Media platforms are coming under such scrutiny, this is one of the quicker changes Facebook can make to improve its public image. One that has been long overdue.

Our favourite Social Media Content examples this week

Three of the best pieces of Social Content that should inspire your own Content strategies

In this Social Media blog post, we’re going to be looking at some of the best examples of Facebook content & Social Media content that brands have produced this week. We’re hoping this can show what good Social content looks like.

KFC – Chicken with Fries

A brilliantly pitched piece of Social Content, this KFC ad perfectly pastiches one of Game of Thrones’ most infamous scenes from Season 6. If you haven’t seen it yet then we despair for you just a little bit. The beauty with this bit of Social Content is that it works perfectly well as a standalone ad. But if you have seen Game of Thrones and get the reference, it’s absolutely brilliant.

Making no bones about it, KFC are clearly looking to target a key passion point of their customers – Game of Thrones. And they’ve nailed this in two major ways.

Leveraging the Social ‘talkability’ of Game of Thrones is something that so many brands try and fail at. In the game of leveraging Game of Thrones to sell stuff – you either win or you die.

This sort of Social Content could have so easily fallen flat. But because the Content is such a faithful recreation of one of Season 6’s most talked about scenes, they’ve created something that Game of Thrones fans will actually want to interact with – and this is no mean feat.

In short, the content is absolutely on point.

Secondly, with Season 7 coming up in less than two weeks, excitement online for Game of Thrones is bubbling over. By posting the ad just before this online frenzy, they’ve been able to carve out a day or so where they are the main thing the massive online community of GoT fans are talking about. Again, no easy feat.

The posting of the ad is pretty much perfect from a timings perspective. Obsessive fans are craving anything GoT related and this incredibly clever (albeit KFC) ad has come along at just the right time to fill that hunger.

If this can convert into filling a real hunger with fried chicken, the ad will surely be looking at some major Social Media content awards.

Pokerstars

Right off the bat, it’s quite easy to see how & why this Social Content will succeed. Pokerstars have been able to leverage two immensely likable stars, with huge Social Media followings.

Both Kevin Hart and Usain Bolt are major global stars, with pretty universal appeal. What they also have is a genuine interest in Poker. Kevin Hart has come on board to be one of PokerStars’ global influencers and can be seen actively playing at their tournaments. Usain Bolt too has signed a deal to promote the gambling giant. Both clearly have an interest in promoting the brand past the financial aspect of it.

This is where the campaign appears to be succeeding. Both Bolt and Hart seem more than willing to post additional bits of Social Content across their own Social channels, promoting the rivalry between #TeamHart & #TeamBolt.

Usain Bolt & Kevin Hart giving each other some (un)friendly bants about their poker skills

Usain Bolt & Kevin Hart giving each other some (un)friendly bants about their poker skills

There’s no glossy production value here; it feels genuine and the type of rivalry that PokerStars’ own members would have with their mates. A great example of behaviours being set that the brand would like their audience to replicate.

This has translated into the main Facebook video that PokerStars hosted on their own page. The video is light-hearted and allows the personality and humour of Bolt and Hart to come through without feeling overly contrived. This is something that those engaging with the ‘which team are you’ mechanic have received well with no one – neither the talent nor the target audience – taking things too seriously.

It’s a great example of how to work with major talent in Social Content – get them excited about the project & let their personality shine through. That’s why you’re working with them in the first place!

Absolut – Equal Love

A slightly tricky one this. But we like its intentions so it’s in the best content list. Just.

Absolut have had a long standing tradition of supporting Pride and one they are not afraid of promoting.

There is always a slight danger when a brand supports a cause or social movement that this is seen as an underhand way of selling their product by harnessing a cause they have no natural relation to.

For the most part, consumers are right to call brands out on this. And brands should rightly be wary of this approach. Because when they get it wrong, they get it really wrong. Just gonna’ leave this here on a totally unrelated matter.

 

However, Absolut are different. They’ve been a long standing supporter of Pride and this has featured in their marketing since 1992.

Their latest ad / Social Content continues this tradition. We don’t feel that the execution of the ad is going to set the world alight. It feels like it is trying to appeal to a very broad range of people rather than being more focused towards the LGBT community.

It’s execution across Social Media also feels like they’re holding back a little. Yes it’s on YouTube and their use of a Facebook cover video is pretty bold. But it doesn’t look like they’ve supported the video on either channel with Paid media and this smacks of a brand that’s a bit nervous around the content they’ve created.

While they may be holding back a little, they’re still one of the biggest brands in the world to support Pride in this way.

In the trolling atmosphere of Social Media, it puts a brave and rather hefty marker in the sand around who they are as a brand, what they stand for and, who they want their customers to be. And for this ongoing commitment we salute the effort.

 

 

Facebook & the last great frontier for Social Media – old people!

Facebook are going where no Social Media platform have gone before.

Such a trekkie inspired quote would usually kick off a Social Media blog around the tech giant heading to space.

Facebook approaching an older generation

Much Captain Picard & the crew of the enterprise, Facebook are boldly going where no other Social Media platform has gone before

But no. This frontier is much more innocuous & seemingly, less glamorous. We’re talking about their user growth into the over 65s demographic.

It’s a wonderful quirk of modern technology that Facebook attempting to send something into our planet’s orbit becomes almost expected for a company of their ilk.

Yet news that old people are starting to use Facebook comes as something as a shock. Even in a Social Media blog.

And with just cause as well. Despite its mundane quality, such news marks one of the last great frontiers for Social Media and for Big Zuck’s plans to ‘connect the world’.

Digital natives vs digital novices

To anyone born post-1980, adopting the Internet and Social Media into our everyday lives has been a straightforward and gradual process.

Whether going from dial-up to broadband. Mobile to smartphone. Text to WhatsApp, Gen-X’ers to Millennials have grown up & lived with seismic advancements in technology all our lives.

They’ve naturalised themselves to Moore’s Law and become resistant to such seismic shocks when technology lurches forward. We hang on and keep pretending to know what ‘on fleek’ is in the process.

Spongebob and Patrick On Fleek

WHAT THE F*CK DOES ON FLEEK MEAN?!!?!

With this naturalised adoption of tech & Social Media, it is easy to forget that this is by no means the same for the older generation. Specifically the Baby Boomers.

Yet recent Ofcom figures show that this may be changing. Among others, they show that:

a) Baby Boomer adoption of Social Media is rapid

b) Facebook are currently the only platform seeing the benefits of this

65-74 year olds are 48% likely to have at least one Social Media profile (up from 35% 2015).

Yet it’s the 75+ demographic that shows the greatest growth: 19% to 41% from ’15 into ’16.

Facebook are cornering older people (not literally) 

Most of this growth has gone into Facebook.

82% & 87% of 55-64 & 65+ age groups respectively consider Facebook to be their main account, with WhatsApp (also Facebook owned) making up the lion’s share of the rest. Facebook, as a company, currently have the monopoly on the older demographic.

Based on this, Facebook’s growth into this older demographic could produce massive rewards.

People aged over 65 make up 18% of the UK. So roughly 11.5m people. Given that 44% of this demographic use the Internet, that gives us a pool of c.5m potential users.

Taking the average growth in Social Media usage (on at least one platform for the two demographics listed above), the growth from last year would jump from 27% to 44.5%.

The result? An additional 1.3m to 2.2m users in the UK alone. All within a demographic previously didn’t ‘get’ Social Media.

This is potentially huge business for Facebook. With each user worth roughly $4.30 in the UK per quarter, that represents a revenue increase of $5.59m to $9.6m per quarter. In the UK alone.

All with adoption at currently less than 50% from the 65+ market.

Growth at this rate can never be that sustainable. There just aren’t that many people in the UK. Moreover, there’s a hesitance amongst some of the older generation to even join the internet in the first place.

Hans Moleman trying to be young

Silver surfers can no longer just be seen as old people trying to be young. Isn’t that right, Hans?!

What is clear though is that we’ve reached a tipping point for the ‘silver surfers’.

They’re evidently embracing Social Media with the same fervour as those of us who first uploaded that dodgy photo, letter chain or pointless status with irreverent glee nearly a decade ago.

What does this mean for non-Facebook owned Social Media platforms?

For almost all other Social Media platforms, the over 65 market is still a total unknown.

While current figures showing Facebook’s dominance will be a concern for sure, it must give the remaining competitor platforms hope that they can corner at least a part of this market.

A comparatively paltry inroad into this demographic of 3-5% would potentially give Twitter’s user base a pretty sizeable shot in the arm.

Given that its growth in Q4 2016 was only 2m users, if Twitter could tap into the older demographic as Facebook has done, it could see a real reversal of fortune.

It’s a massive if though. Twitter’s bad press recently provides a major barrier to entry to silver surfers, already a bit trepid around Social Media.

This, ironically, has mostly been perpetuated by one of its most famous users, who just so happens to be 65+ himself.

Snapchat has big expectations which requires big growth

Snapchat’s core user base still remains below 25 years old. But there’s cause to keep an eye on the growth rates over and above this.

Ofcom’s figures show that UK usage above the age of 35 is currently low. However, US figures show that Snapchat users above 35 years old is around the 15-17% mark.

With a high profile IPO and news of overall user growth stalling, user growth is surely a key priority for Snap Inc. Looking to an older generation for growth could help keep their share price at where it needs to be.

Clearly, it’s not as simple as this. Both Twitter and Snapchat have – at best- challenging – at worst – bewildering, user experiences that would preclude an older generation from easily flocking to the platforms.

It may also be a double edged sword.

Millennials embraced Snapchat to avoid sharing a Social platform with their parents.

It’s more than possible that a mass migration of an older generation to Snapchat could lead to a migration away from the platform from its most active users. An irony that would bite hardest on Snapchat’s founders and investors.

A step into the unknown

Like a true frontier land, there are tremendous opportunities to be wrought by leveraging an older generation on Social.

Facebook seem to already capitalising on this. What will be critical – potentially for the growth of all other Social Media channels – is whether they will retain dominance amongst this market.

What’s exciting about this demographic is how enigmatic they are. Internet and Social Media usage of the younger generations have been tracked and commentated on almost since their inception.

But for the older generation, their usage is much more difficult to predict or pin down. A year ago, a prediction that there would be 100% Facebook growth in the 75+ market would have been written off.

Yet here we are. Addressing an unknown, mercurial demographic that may dominate the Social Media landscape for years to come. The fact they call it ‘The Facebook’ is only a bonus.

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