What does “social-first” content really mean?

downloadContent distribution across platforms like Facebook and Twitter has become an absolute necessity for publishers. Instead of focusing on driving clicks to their own websites, publishers are now vying for their audience’s attention on native platforms where the competition is stiff.

Jason Abbruzzese, Business & Media Reporter at Mashable, says it best: “Social is now flooded with content, and the platforms are no longer content to just be traffic hoses. Social will still be a huge part of distribution, but it’s far more competitive and cut-throat than it has been.” (Pulled from this great selection of social wisdom from NewsWhip)

There are hundreds of articles and blog posts published each week about how to create social content that engages and stands out from the crowd. But what are the key factors that make content truly “social-first?”

Here’s a list of what you should keep in mind when creating content for social platforms:

  • Video, video, and more video:
    Audiences are hungry for video and becoming accustomed to seeing it in their feeds, particularly with the introduction of auto-play. Video posts average 62% more engagement than photos (source). 75% of Facebook video views occur on mobile devices (source), so video content needs to work on small screens. Test length, subject matter, captions, branding and other variables to find the sweet spot for your audience.
  • Leverage Facebook Instant Articles:
    While Facebook made a big to-do about Instant Articles being about a better experience for users, and not about taking power from publishers, the fact is it does indeed provide a better experience. No one likes scrolling down his or her feed, clicking on a post only to wait while it loads—if at all. Publishers say it’s getting easier to make money from Instant Articles, so why not give it a try? It’s now open to all publishers.
  • Social-first is mobile-first:
    Chances are your Facebook and Twitter audience is viewing your content on mobile, so focus on content that can be digested easily and on-the-go. Incorporate snack-able, eye-catching content such as video clips, GIFs, and infographics. Naturally, users will gravitate towards native content published in their feeds, so ask yourself which is more important–clicks or eyeballs? The right balance might be a combination of both.
  • Keep experimenting:
    It’s a phrase said and heard too frequently, but the only way to know what will work for you is to give it a try, while remaining true to your brand. There’s simply no one-sized-fits-all guidebook to producing engaging content. Some brands have shared their best practices, so articles like this one from Buffer Social are a good place to start.
  • Capitalize on trending topics:
    Explore social listening tools to learn what people are talking about and when relevant topics, or your brand, are mentioned. Publishing platforms like Social Flow will even optimize your posts and Tweets to ensure they go out at the best time for your audience: when they are active and when the topic is trending.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Spotify Set to Compete with YouTube and Facebook in Video

spotify-logo-primary-horizontal-light-background-rgbSpotify recently announced that it’s entering the video space as it launches partnerships with dozens of media companies to include video clips on the music-streaming app. Partners including ABC, BBC, Comedy Central, Condé Nast Entertainment, ESPN, Fusion, Maker Studios, NBC, TED , Vice News and others will provide video clips for Spotify users to watch on-the-go in between music listening.

What’s more, Spotify will also introduce original content including “A Full English,” a show featuring artists and other personalities who search for common ground over breakfast. Watch out, Netflix!

“When you look across media, you see new content everywhere. But our content will compliment and extend the core of our users experience.” Said Daniel EK, Spotify’s CEO. Unlike video giant YouTube which has a massive amount of content, Spotify is focused on curation and personalization. The service also just launched a recommendation interface that will play music based on a user’s mood and current activity and Spotify Running which matches music tempo to a runner’s pace.

Video ad opportunities for marketers are sure to follow the recent announcement, as the CEO hinted. “We are seeing that as a very important revenue source for us,” he said. Spotify already has a number of ad options but has yet to turn a profit, according to the WSJ.

The video content partnerships are expected to be just the first in a lineup of forthcoming deals and product enhancements. Spotify also just announced a partnership with Nike to make Spotify Running available in the very popular Nike+ running app.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Facebook’s Rapid Growth in Video

Image source: Variety.com
Image source: Variety.com

Today the New York Times reported that a behind-the-scenes video posted on Beyonce’s Facebook page garnered 2.4 million views, while the same video posted on YouTube garnered just a few thousand views in the same time. Facebook might just be the only media company that can threaten YouTube’s reign over online video.

In recent months Facebook’s video viewership has grown to about 1.3 billion views per day, two thirds of which take place on mobile devices. That’s a 50% increase in video views from May to July, Facebook said. Facebook also added several “You-Tube like” features for video, including improved video ranking in users’ Newsfeeds and the ability to insert call-to-actions in native videos. Soon, users will be able to see how many views a video on Facebook has received and get recommendations for related videos. Read more about the planned features on Facebook’s business blog.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge further cemented Facebook’s power to spread online video. Facebook said more than 17 million videos related to the challenge were shared on its service between June 1 and September 1.

Still, Facebook has a ways to go to catch up to YouTube, which had over 4 billion video views per day as of December 2013.

Further reading:

-Posted by Elizabeth Pace

Trading Ice for Money: Why The Ice Bucket Challenge is Working

Steve Forbes completing the Ice Bucket Challenge
Steve Forbes completing the Ice Bucket Challenge

The following post was written by guest blogger James Colistra. Please read his bio after the post.

If you are on social media, by now you probably know all about the ice bucket challenge. Your Facebook and Instagram feeds are likely flooded with videos of people dumping ice water on themselves to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). At its core, the theory behind the ice bucket challenge seems flawed. Why douse yourself with ice instead of donating money? And why spend money on ice when you could give that money right to ALS?

The truth is, people ARE donating. Most people who dump the ice water donate at least $10, and some donate $100. Furthermore, those of us in the marketing sphere know that video views can lead to dollar signs. Donating $10 while influencing 50 people to do the same is greater than donating $100—it’s simple math. In the charity business, it’s not unheard of to spend money to make money. For example, charity dinners that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars can influence the guests to donate millions more.

Want proof that it’s working? According to The ALS Association, the cause has raised $1.35 million from July 29 to August 11 of this year. That doesn’t include donations to chapter offices around the country. During the same period last year, donations totaled just $22,000.

I’m curious how many videos were uploaded on Facebook last week, it has to be a record! What I love about the challenge the most, besides the fact that it’s raising money to fight a horrible disease, is that people who have never uploaded a “selfie” video before have come out of their comfort zone to do so. I’m looking forward to the look on my wife’s face when she tackles this challenge tonight – she has a few more hours to accept a friend’s nomination.

The desire to see your friends’ reactions to the freezing cold ice is exactly why this challenge works. It’s human nature to want to see other people embarrass themselves just a little bit, but dumping ice on your head is not too far over the line that people won’t do it.

While Slate has reported that the initial idea came from various celebrities and was not related to ALS, I give a lot of credit to Pete Frates for his courage and ingenuity in the face of this debilitating disease.

-Post by guest blogger James Colistra-

JamesJames Colistra is an Associate Director of Integrated Marketing at Forbes Media in New York City, where he works on developing integrated programs for advertisers. He previously worked at The Economist Group as a Marketing Manager. He is also the founder of Farmer Jim’s Ketchup. To contact him, please e-mail: james.colistra(at)gmail.com