This month we examine Rio 2016 as the content Olympics, we discuss Instagram's new feature 'Instagram Stories', we highlight the National Theatre's experimental use of virtual reality (VR) for set design and bring you news about Google's new demo accounts for Google Analytics. We also discuss updates in the SEO world in form of 301 redirects rule changes, the marketing implications of viral sensation, Pokémon Go and our top 10 social media tips.
The ability to stream events as they happen is something we now consider to be an easy task since the 2012 London Olympics, where it was used to great effect by brands such as Samsung and BMW, as well as @2012TicketAlert, the innovative ticket availability system. Twitter was huge as it allowed users to share moments as they happened.
However, much has changed in the past 4 years as pointed out by Ben Bradley, Business Director of Sport and Entertainment Partnerships at MEC Wavemaker: "the development of Periscope and Facebook Live, and the growth of Snapchat, provides new formats for brands to leverage and engage consumers".
The live concept has developed and, according to Yahoo and Enders, the growing trend toward content marketing will more than double by 2020 with brands investing up to £349 million on this type of marketing. Nico Tuppen, Managing Director of Iris Sport, believes that more brands will take up the gauntlet this time round. "Until the World Cup, no one had really done it properly," he says.
It’s not simple though. It requires much forward planning in order to react in real time. Rights to footage need to be acquired, top notch editing skills and decision makers need to be on the ball.
Leading up to the start of the games, Samsung took a content-led approach with their comedic concept featuring Jack Whitehall and some Olympic greats. Their Marketing Director, Russell Taylor says:
"Today’s consumers are smart and savvy, and they will put up with a brand’s involvement in a piece of content if there is a reward for them.
"In this case, the reward comes in the form of entertainment – 'Move me and I will share and engage with your campaign'. We believe 'School of Rio' provides that type of consumer reward."
Instagram has recently launched 'Instagram Stories' its newest feature which allows users to share moments of their day with selective other users and all without needing to post directly to their profile, a rather similar approach to rival Snapchat.
The stories stay live for 24 hours and all reactions or conversations remain private. As yet there aren’t any specific features for use by brands but ASOS, Net-A-Porter and Zalando have already made moves to utilise it. Instagram, after all, have always stated that the function is useable by brands and that they have always been a key part of its community.
It’s unsurprising that the move has been compared to Snapchat’s ‘stories’ function which is already in use by big brands such as Burberry, Boohoo, Wimbledon and ASOS. Each of them use the function to create interest around their product in many different ways.
Instagram’s owner, Facebook, has a history of integrating its rivals' better features into its own platform over the years. Just look at the Twitter-style hashtags and live streaming for examples.
According to Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at CCS Insight, this imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. He explains: “The battle among social providers is immense. This move is clearly a massive compliment to Snapchat. It is hard to be novel in this market when it is so easy to follow.”
Jan van Vonno, analyst at IDC, also comments on this bold move, saying “Instagram is trying to identify specific functionalities that resonate with its target audience and to put them on its own platform to avoid users looking elsewhere. It has been around longer than Snapchat so might think it can offer a more personalised experience [to its users]”.
Only the future can tell how this rivalry will develop.
Many industries are now experimenting the possibilities of the practical application of virtual reality (VR), including the military, education and healthcare and organisations such as the National Theatre, which is participating in this incredible medium to investigate how VR can be used for set designers as part of its newly established Immersive Storytelling Studio in London.
The studio will test the exciting new relationship between VR and the theatre and film, and how an immersive experience will augment storytelling. For example, they have already showcased a fire-breathing dragon, created by Tony and OBIE Award winner Rae Smith in Google’s Tilt Brush app using the HTC Vive VR System.
Tilt Brush allows the user to paint in 3D space, essentially sculpting with brush strokes and lines of light that hang in the air. This basically allows the set designer to create his design and then walk throughout the model looking at it from any angle he chooses.
We are very excited to see further developments in this area.
Demo accounts for Analytics has now been launched by Google.
Used primarily in a training environment, this gives those without a fully-fledged account the opportunity to gain practical experience and it can also be used by those who do have an account to experiment before committing to the live version.
Demo account is fully functional, in that it contains real data from the e-commerce Google Merchandise Store and includes all features typically set up in authentic accounts such as Goals, Enhanced E-commerce and Read & Analyze.
SEOs have forever operated through a set of tried and tested practices for handling URL redirects (the practice of pointing one URL to another).
These have included:
1. 301 redirects result in around a 15% loss of PageRank. Matt Cutts confirmed this in 2013 when he explained that a 301 loses the exact same amount of PageRank as a link from one page to another.
2. 302s don’t pass PageRank. By definition, 302s are temporary. So it makes sense for search engines to treat them differently.
3. HTTPS migrations lose PageRank. This is because they typically involve lots of 301 redirects.
The above represents huge concerns for those wanting to change a URL, handle an expired product page, or relocate an entire website. The risks involved mean that the lesser of two evils has always been to leave things as they are and make no changes whatsoever. In fact, many SEOs have put off switching to HTTPS, site migrations and have kept ugly URLs all because of the downsides that arise from switching.
To combat this, Google has been hard at work to whittle down these issues and have come up with the New Rules of 3xx Redirection:
• In February, Google’s John Mueller announced that no PageRank is lost for 301 or 302 redirects from HTTP to HTTPS. This was largely seen as an effort by Google to increase webmaster adoption of HTTPS.
• Google’s Gary Illyes told the SEO world that Google doesn’t care which redirection method you use, be it 301, 302, or 307. He explained Google will figure it out and they all pass PageRank.
• Most recently, Gary Illyes cryptically announced on Twitter that 3xx (shorthand for all 300) redirects no longer lose PageRank at all.
If you haven’t heard about Pokémon Go by now – just where have you been hibernating?
Over 15 million people have downloaded the app that allows you to hunt and catch Pokémon in the real world. It appendages the original game with the user’s landscape using data from Google Maps. This exciting new approach has led to, what was once a youth-led audience, expanding into an adult catchment.
With very little in marketing spend, this app has become a phenomenon, actually crashing the US and European servers due to the sheer mass of downloads. Its augmentation of reality and real-world points of interest have opened up a massive stage for marketers.
Research has found that the average time spent by iPhone users on Pokémon Go is 33 minutes and 25 seconds per day – massively out-performing the time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
There is absolutely no question that in this day and age social media is one of the most valuable marketing tools available for most businesses. Companies can now set up communities around their brand, publish up to the minute content about their organisations and products, listen to feedback from customers (through social listening) and engage in real time with others regarding their industry.
It is therefore vitally important to understand just how social media works and how you can best utilise it to make your company stronger.
Here are our top 10 tips on social media:
1. Pick a select number of platforms that best suit your business
2. Make your brand clear
3. Engage with your audience
4. Post when your target audience is online
5. Use images to make your posts more attractive.
6. Consistency is key
7. Quality over quantity
8. Offer something to attract potential customers
9. Analyse the results of posts
10. Incorporate social media into your overall marketing campaign
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