The online world has been all abuzz with the news of Facebook’s recent $1 billlion acquisition of Instagram with some excited about what this could mean for their marketing, along with the critics who say the move is a desperate one to keep fans on board.
Details are still coming into focus as to how the two platforms will weave together in the future but for the moment Mark Zuckerberg insists that Instagram will be completely independent and will continue to be so.
Nevertheless there are plenty questions about the Instagram/Facebook combo and the new challenges and opportunities that will come up for marketers due to this alliance.
Instagram remains the place to communicate visually with friends via photos, artfully masking suggestions and influence with their users surpassing 30 million and many companies are realising that a picture of what you had for lunch (especially when there is a brand name displayed) can actually be worth the marketing involved. While this is the case, it is a small platform that brands are only just beginning to make use of.
With Facebooks members close to 1 billion, a powerful advertising program and the rollout of Timeline for Brands, Facebook has shown immense support for brands and has established itself as a reputed and imperative platform to make use of in marketing strategy.
By integrating Instagram into a brand’s Facebook communications, the potential is to create a much more visual conversation via rich stories and conversations. This could really revolutionise brand personification by fleshing out previously transparent personalities with no real humanity behind it.
The question really is whether as the branded Instagram content begins to work its way into users feeds, people will notice or mind the instrusion. Paid endorsements are supposed to be unobtrusive but whether this will hold true remains to be seen.
Facebook and instagram will need to maintain independence and their authenticity as separate platforms so as to not push users away. Marketing efforts really do need to have the end user in mind. This doesn’t just go for the way that Facebook and Instagram roll out their paid endorsements but also for the brands that are making use of the platforms.
It is vital that the brands and companies making use of social media marketing remember why their audience is even accessible: the need for entertainment and interaction online.
While this move may prompt many to join Instagram, brands need to continually evaluate their image and whether Instagram is a platform which will enhance their brand reputation or whether the integrity of the platform will be affected by misuse and guerrilla marketing tactics.
While Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook may bear the brunt of anything that may go wrong in the future of Instagram, the real responsibility lies with brands and their focus on user engagement. Used correctly, however, the two platforms could complement each other wonderfully.
Facebook has confirmed that over the next few weeks, they will be changing the way it counts check-ins numbers, photo posts and multiple visits over certain periods of time to locations on Facebook.
Whether this will impact overall numbers of check-ins remains to be seen but the change, according to the developers of Facebook on AllFacebook, aims to give a more accurate picture of how people are visiting your business.
If an individual checked into your business multiple times, each check-in was counted toward your page’s total check-in number. The aim is to be able to discount any erroneous check-ins by counting a person with multiple check-ins within a 12 hour period as one unique check-in.
When an individual checks in to your business and tags a number of friends in a photo they upload along with the check-in, the total amount of check-ins will be that individual, plus the number of friends that are tagged in the photo.
The numbers may not change much as the change occurs, or they may plummet slightly, however this will give page owners a more accurate idea of how many people are actually visiting their business on a daily basis.
Owners of brand pages may have to reconfigure the way they measure success on their page metrics but overall, the developers at Facebook feel this will be a positive step towards more accurate measuring of daily visits to businesses.
Twitter recently announced that selected small businesses will be able to begin using its self-serve ad platform for promoted tweets and accounts. The select group of companies with initial access to this feature will be American Express merchants and card members.
The credit card company has partnered with Twitter in order to launch the platform and has offered early access to their customers along with $100 credit for advertising for the first 10,000 signup companies.
The first batch of small businesses to have access to the platform will be notified via American Express and access to the platform will be increased to others over the next while.
The Promoted Accounts feature suggest a brand’s Twitter account to users with interests similar to those who are following the brand, while Promoted Tweets use existing tweets that have inspired more engagement than other tweets and promotes the tweet in the search results. A small business will only pay when their account is either followed or someone engages with a promoted tweet.
The self-serve advertising platform which was made available in November to a handful of advertisers remains closed to most businesses.
American Express has been involved in the past with Twitter-based promotions and has shown aggressive interest in pursuing partnerships with other social networks such as Facebook with “Link, Like, Love” and Foursquare loyalty rewards.
Twitter, being a private company, doesn’t disclose advertising revenue on principle but eMarketer estimates that Twitter’s revenue will more than likely total $259.9 million this year alone.
In a recent study by Shareholic it was established that Pinterest actually drove more traffic to blogs in the month of February than Twitter did. This is an amazing fear as the relatively new social network only has an estimated 11.7 million active users compared to Twitter’s 100 million or so users.
Shareholic’s sharing widgets are used by more than 200,000 online publishers, most of which are independent bloggers who altogether reach about 270 million unique visitors every month.
February saw a little less 50% of all the traffic coming from Google, Facebook generating just over 6%, Yahoo (1.61%), StumbleUpon (1.29%), and Bing (1.21%). Pinterest came in at 1.05% and Twitter only at 0.82%.
In January, Pinterest fell into line just behind Twitter and so it is clear that Pinterest is definitely growing in popularity. The biggest beneficiaries of the growth seen in the new social network have been women’s lifestyle, home décor and cooking magazines amongst others.
Would your brand or company benefit from being on Pinterest? If so, it would serve well to make sure you are on this new social network.
The Facebook Timeline format is going to be made available later this month for brands, according to a report from Facebook.
Facebook is apparently planning on using its February 29 conference for marketers in New York to announce the coming initiative. It will start in beta with only a “handful of brands” says Ad Age.
Facebook first announced Timeline, in September and since then the company has been very hush hush about if and when the format would ever be rolled out for brands. The photo-heavy format for profile pages was rolled out for all users in December.
Since the announcement and rollout of Timeline, both Twitter and Google+ have introduced brand pages. This leaves little choice for Facebook to open up Timeline to brands which gives them some new options for expressing themselves and their corporate brand images on Facebook.
The design of the Facebook Timeline layout allows for a large image at the top of the Page, which could make individual pages more distinctive than the old template that we are all used to. Keep an eye out for how brands start to make use of this interesting layout to market their brands and think of ways that you could optimise your brand page in the future.