Facebook down; Internet explodes

I wonder what the loss of revenue is when Facebook goes down?

Not for Facebook I mean, though I’m sure it causes employees and shareholders considerable grief, but for the people who use it.

I don’t know if there’s any kind of public figures or even estimates for the number of Facebook ads being run, from the massive political and government advertising that makes up a huge proportion of their income (again, figures are hard to come by, even with more transparency on political advertising in some countries) to a single person local business spending a very small amount of money to engage a few new customers.

Of course, anyone who pays for advertising doesn’t (or shouldn’t) lose money while Facebook is down – though if you did, I suspect there’s no legal comeback. However, if you’d planned an ad to coincide with a particular timescale, public holiday, or offer at your own business, every moment that ad isn’t being seen is a moment where you aren’t getting in the customers that you wanted.

Also, the whole world of professional influencing has a problem when Facebook and Instagram aren’t up and running, since that’s a very fast-paced world for views, likes and attempts to manipulate the algorithm. It’s also a very sink or swim world for many people trying to make money off it – for every multi-million follower multi-millionaire beauty blogger there are thousands of small-scale influencers chasing six or seven revenue streams to make up one pay cheque. Losing out on those views, especially views promised to a particular sponsor, could do a lot of damage to their career.

This kind of dependence on one digital service is not new, nor is it something I’m criticising people for (on a professional level, I’m waiting for a Facebook ad to be put together, as it has to go out soon or conflict with another marketing campaign. It’s certainly not career or business-damaging but it is frustrating.) But it is interesting to think how much industries and lives can be affected by this.

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Personalised Ads aren’t actually Complicated

So, after spending a Boxing Day doing things that are very traditional for Boxing Day and mostly involve getting cold and wet along with a large group of other people (followed by lots of food) I’ve decided to put together a quick post on a feature of digital marketing that doesn’t often get talked about.

Recently whilst browsing Twitter, I spotted some comments that stuck in my mind (though frustratingly not well enough for me to remember who said them and exactly when/where I saw them) and the basic gist was this – people are very worried about the amount of data that advertisers have on them, and how they are able to turn this into ads that exactly appeal to their needs. The concept of ads that push some kind of specific psychological buttons is pretty deep-seated in the public consciousness now – as the script for the already infamous Brexit trailer shows.

To tell you the truth, as someone working in marketing this worried me a little too at times, because it made me feel like I was floundering in the dark when it came to audience segmentation. I would read articles like this one and think, ‘yes, but I already segment the audience based on location, age, gender, interests, job type etc. etc. etc. – what else am I missing?’ Which is where the next part of that original Twitter comment came in – which was about how many people see an ad, and actually care about it.

Digital advertising, just like newspaper ads and leaflets and massive roadside billboards and stickers on lampposts and just about every other form of advertising that exists, only ever gets the attention (and subsequent sales/sign ups, whatever is being pushed) of a tiny fraction of the people who see it.

A 1% return on leaflets would be considered pretty good (and this is pretty hard to track, even with promo codes or surveys. Clickthrough rates on digital ads isn’t much higher – 3-4% would be good – imagine your ad is seen by 50,000 people. That means 1500 actually clicked through and looked at your website, and hopefully from there actually decided to buy something, or at least signed up on your mailing list so you can send them tempting offers in the future. Maybe a 10th of those 1500 looked through your collection of, let’s say, personalised ethically sourced jewellery and because a few of them bought quite a bit you’ve got an average spend of £20, you have £3000 worth of sales. If your ad cost you around £400, you’ve got a pretty good return on investment there for not a lot of work.

However, that also means 48,500 saw your ad on their screen, scrolled past it, and then probably forgot all about it, just as they probably couldn’t tell you what ads they saw on the front page of the Metro on the train last week. So, exactly how personalised are these ads?

So, you get political ads on Facebook and (unless you have clearly expressed support for a particular political party) if you’re a young person they’re probably left-wing ads and if you’re older they’re probably right-wing, because that’s simply the general trend. But if you got a timeline advert from the Labour party and you’re not at all interested in voting Labour, you’ll probably ignore it. It becomes part of the background noise of social media and/or the internet in general, just vague words and pictures in between more interesting content.

This means that really, marketeers, strategists and consultants don’t know anywhere near as much about you as you might think, but they’ve got enough data to make educated and profitable guesses (and I’m sure they’d like to think that they’ve got more then that, so that companies will employ them on large salaries to tell them how to make more money). In the end, marketing has got slightly more directed and personalised in recent years, but only slightly, and based on the exact same methods and data that marketing has always used. It’s only the medium that is truly different.

Things to work on in 2019

So, in the last week I took a really, really big step in life that I’ll talk about publicly here in January, and what that step means is that I no longer feel like I’m living in limbo, which has slightly been the case for the past few months. So, with some free evenings over the Christmas period, I’m doing some reading up for 2019 plans.

Firstly, I’ve gone back to a website I used to rely on for tips – Social Media Today. The first post I read on there, about visual ideas for 2019, gave me some really interesting ideas. Companies and organisations that I’ve worked with in the past always want to be bigger – bigger social media numbers all round, often setting KPIs based solely on that, but this suggests it’s really about keeping a niche group of people, which is a much more realistic way of looking at marketing and comms, especially with a limited team, budget and resources.

Elsewhere, I wrote in my last blog post that I’m looking into doing a Project Management course, but first, some studying in order. Expect notes from these and more soon.

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Plus, I‘m setting myself a task to read from the Association for Project Management website – it seems like they have a set of really useful videos, which I always find to be a great way to learn.

‘In the Moment’ Social Media

This is a little blog post/thought that has been bouncing around my head for a while – mostly due to a particular evening at work recently where I stretched myself too thin. I realised that this issue is probably quite common, even for people who work in social media regularly, and I wanted to get it down as much to remind myself as anything!

Without going into too much detail about my day job, I market concerts and other events, and a large part of that job involves social media. For the most part, it’s about carefully planned and scheduled pieces of content to encourage visits, ticket sales and other engagement. However, when an event is going on, that’s a fantastic source of immediate, relatable content. People love it. So, over time, my colleagues and I have taken steps to ensure that there is a system in place for this – work phones and tech available logged into social networks etc. so that staff on the ground can get the best shots.

However, I’ve realised that even in this situation, you do need some planning in place – some knowledge of when those great shareable moments are going to happen, and someone with the time off from other duties to get content uploaded with the appropriate copy, hashtags etc.

It does seem like the easy option, but if you want to get both quality and quantity of content, especially to Twitter and Instagram Story etc (and if it isn’t both of those things, there isn’t a lot of point in trying), you need to ensure you have time, training, and preferably a dedicated person.

#Blaugust and #Hootchat – Listening in

So, after a few days off from blogging, I decided to get some inspiration via #Hootchat, which is a Twitter discussion run every week by Hootsuite to discuss digital marketing, branding and other similar topics. It’s often a pretty useful place to pick up tips from other marketers and social media managers, and in the various tweets from this week’s questions (which were specifically about building and maintaining a brand), I started to notice a trend running through them.

Many of the recommendations, tips and comments were specifically about the importance of reading, rather than writing, listening rather than speaking, when on social media. Listening to your followers, reading what your competitors write – it’s actually something we don’t talk about a lot with social media, which is usually all about your content, your thoughts – so I thought these views were an interesting contrast.

Blaugust – Low Season for Content

A short post tonight, but another social strategies post – leading on from this one I wrote last week about scheduling content.

My job is marketing live concerts and events, which is a job with seasonal peaks and troughs – obviously Christmas being the most busy one. At the moment, we’re in the longest trough, because there are almost no events between now and the end of September for me to market. This means that when it comes to posting on social media, there is simply less to talk about, and it would be easy to become repetitive.

I certainly do ease back on the posting, one or two per day is fine at this point so as not to bore the audience. Some people have suggested that it’s better to simply switch off altogether instead, and come back at an appropriate point, but I feel you only have to stop posting for a few days before it starts to look odd. Plus, you will end up missing any number of opportunities for organic engagement.

So I’ve developed a few strategies for dealing with this.

Regular weekly hashtag use: A lot of #tbt to share old news posts, photos and videos – it’s the perfect time to go back to old content without it seeming out of place. #Fridayfeeling and #HappyMonday are particularly good for sharing audio tracks relating to the new season as a way to suggest daily soundtracks for followers, and to engage with them. #CharityTuesday is one that I use infrequently, but as I do work for a charity, it’s a good way to remind people of this. A number of other organisations I work with do #TuesdayThoughts quite often.

More focus on sharing other people’s content: Writing fewer social media posts means a little more time for research, so I have the opportunity to find news and articles that would be relevant to our audience, even when it’s not specifically about us and our events.

Be a little jokey or more off the wall: It’s summer! People are bored at work! It’s the perfect time to make bad puns, do caption competitions and make a lot of references to the weather.

 

Blaugust – How much longer is Facebook worth it?

A few days ago, a work colleague and I were having a chat about social media plans for the company going forward, and how we would be segregating certain content between Facebook and Instagram.

I started to realise that the entire model of Facebook is aging, particularly the newsfeed, which at the most basic level hasn’t changed at all since the mid-2000s (and from a design perspective, it is starting to look quite ugly compared to the streamlined approach of more recent platforms). Yes, they’ve introduced stories in Facebook, basically having moved the idea wholesale over from Instagram, but I would be curious to know how much it is used. At the moment, Instagram is the big new frontier for content and marketing, and it wouldn’t surprise me if more and more resources starting being put into it over what is now clearly the predecessor platform.

It will be interesting to see if, in the future, social media continues on this generational cycle, and another app replaces Instagram – which will then be immediately bought out and monetised by Facebook (who will still be the parent company, even once Facebook itself is truly dead!)