The Global Source for Social Media Researchers

SMRA Blog 

  • 10 Mar 2020 8:13 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    For years we’ve complained that one has had to go back to the early 2010s to find an exciting new social-media application. This past year might finally have broken the curse: irresistibly shareable personalized video clips from celebrities and being able to be a text chain with your favorite celebs show that there’s still room for novel ideas to go mainstream even in the face of one giant owning several major social platforms. In addition, 2019 brought both the rise of social shopping as well as the return of niche networks for communities that make far less sense being dumped into a one-size-fits-all group.

    1. CAMEO

    For creating the “famous faces on demand” platform, where fans pay for personal videos from more than 30,000 celebrities

    While it was launched in 2017, this past year marks the Chicago-based company’s pop-culture arrival. Both a utility for, and seemingly the next evolution of modern celebrity, the “famous faces on demand” service allows consumers to book celebrities to create personalized video shout-outs for anything from birthdays to good-luck wishes as well as prom invitations and marriage proposals. In 2019, the company’s employee headcount went from 18 to 135, while participating celebs skyrocketed from 3,000 to more than 20,000. Cameo also expanded internationally to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, and raised $50 million in Series B financing.

    Read more about why Cameo is one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies of 2020.


    For giving notable people like Kerry Washington and Jennifer Lopez the ability to text their fans—and receive texts back

    Launched in summer 2019, this text-based social platform provides celebrities, artists, and their fans a walled garden to connect, away from the prying eyes of trolls, and providing the stars with more information about their fans—age, location, and so forth—than they’re able to get from traditional social like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. So far, Community has kept its numbers deliberately low, less than a thousand celebrities and artists, but it’s an impressive cross section, including Ashton Kutcher (also an investor) Kerry Washington, Dwayne Johnson, Amy Schumer, Paul McCartney, Ninja, and more. Star music manager and Kutcher’s investment partner in Sound Ventures Guy Oseary told Fast Company, “The point is now we don’t have to rely on platforms that share all of our information that don’t give [artists] the information directly. They’re all great platforms for broadcast. We all need them. We all use them. They’re awesome. But if I want to have a more meaningful, more direct connection, [Community] is the platform of the future.”


    For finding new ways to convert inspiration into transactions

    The visual social network has evolved significantly over the past year, growing to about 335 million monthly active users, which is an increase of 26% year over year, outpacing the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Its U.S. audience was up 8% in 2019, while international audience growth was 35%. In terms of revenue, the company made $400 million in 2019 Q4, up 46% year-over-year, taking its 2019 total up to $1.14 billion. Back in September 2019, Pinterest introduced Shop The Look ads that allows advertisers to feature multiple products in a single ad, making it easier for users to buy more stuff from one image. Then in January 2020, it launched Try On, powered by Lens, that allows users to virtually try makeup products from brands like Estée Lauder, Sephora, bareMinerals, Neutrogena, and L’Oreal. Pin that.


    For making Instagram’s “link in bio” into a sleek menu for sharing articles, merch, or paid partnerships

    This Australian company started in 2016 as a way to clear out the “link in bio” clutter from brands and others on Instagram trying to connect followers and their products. Now it links up social followers with your entire online ecosystem, using one link to direct people toward the e-commerce or other content that matters for any business or brand. Over the past year, Linktree averaged 10,000 signups a day, growing its active users by 200% to more than three million, with over 40% of traffic coming from sources other than Instagram, including Twitch, YouTube, and Pinterest. In July 2019, Chance the Rapper used it in his partnership with Lyft to launch his album The Big Day, giving fans the option to download it for free or donate to the Chicago Public Schools through SocialWorks, all within the Lyft app.

    5. LOOSID

    For connecting sober people with each other

    Founded in 2018, Loosid is a digital sober community that makes dating, travel, and socializing easier for those who refrain from alcohol. When nonalcoholic beverages are worth $7 billion more than just four years ago, and zero- or low-alcohol beer is the fifth-fastest growing beer type, Loosid is tapping into the occasions around these trends. In early 2020, the company launched Boozeless Guides, inside looks at local restaurants and bars across the United States that offer alcohol-free drink options.


    For looping in more than 2 billion monthly views and 22 million fans to its TikTok talk show

    Flighthouse was on TikTok when it was still called, and now generates two billion monthly views. The channel passed the 20-million-follower mark this past year, up from 16.8 million. In early 2020, it launched a new music-focused, short-form show on Tik Tok called \”Certified Superfan,” as part of its partnership with Republic Records. Flighthouse has worked with such artists as Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande, but also helps lesser-known artists boost their profiles. Their campaign with Niki averaged more than 100,000 reposts a week, turning her track “Indigo” into a Top-5 trending song on TikTok.

    7. HOLLER

    For powering 1 billion animated conversation stickers a day in iMessage, Twitch, and more

    Long the go-to app to have as many animated emoji options to ask your friends if they want to grab some pizza, the New York-based company rebranded from Emogi to Holler, and took its intelligent AI-powered, animated visual content for messaging apps and expanded to create sticker campaigns for brands like Ikea, Snickers, Bud Light, Fox, and Subway. At the same time, it expanded to bring animated content to such platforms as Badoo and Venmo. It grew in 2019 from being a part of a billion messaging conversations a month to a billion a day.

    8. MEWE

    For building the only social network with no ads, no targeting, and a privacy bill of rights

    Given its myriad of challenges around privacy, advertising, and user data, anything with a sales pitch that sounds like the anti-Facebook merits attention. Since 2018, MeWe has grown at a 405% rate, and it hit five million members by mid-2019 and closed a $4.5 million offering, bringing the company’s total funds raised to $15 million. Internet pioneer Tim Berners-Lee is a board member, and says of the company, “MeWe gives the power of the internet back to the people with a platform built for collaboration and privacy.”

    9. REVEL

    For helping women over 50 gather for friendship

    While most social startups focus on becoming the next flashy digi-bauble of whatever generation is coming next, Revel’s goal is to create a nationwide subscription-based network tailored to women over the age of 50, helping them foster new relationships. Still in its early stages, so far it has a community of 500 users, and has $2.5 million in funding led by Forerunner Ventures. Age may be just a number, but the number of people in an often-forgotten social demographic—like the opportunity it represents—is huge.


    For re-creating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing on Twitch

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the achievement of President John F. Kennedy’s 1961 “Moonshot” speech, the library partnered with its marketing agency Digitas to create JFK Moonshot, a fully synchronized, augmented-reality app that re-created Apollo 11 where every moment, maneuver, and milestone unfolded in real time, second by second, precisely 50 years later. It also followed the lunar mission on social media in real time, using almost 110 hours of Apollo 11 audio transmissions, fullscreen 3D animations, and live Twitter feeds in the voice of the astronauts. With more than 240 million brand impressions, the effort helped a new generation of Americans experience and get excited about space exploration.

    A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.

  • 19 Feb 2020 9:21 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Our partners over at Clemson's Social Media Listening Center will be analyzing online conversations around this year's elections. 

    Michael Staton, College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences

    February 18, 2020


    Social Media Listening Center

    Clemson faculty will take advantage of powerful social media analytics to inform political polling.

    Clemson University will revive and modernize its Palmetto Poll by combining social media analytics with traditional polling methods in the statewide public opinion survey. Clemson faculty involved in the Palmetto Poll are already gathering data from political conversation using the university’s Social Media Listening Center in order to inform polling activities around the 2020 Democratic primary and the 2020 presidential election.

    The poll has contributed to the public dialogue among South Carolinians since 1999 by sharing information about the attitudes, behaviors and characteristics of the state’s voters obtained through traditional polling methods. Bruce Ransom, professor in Clemson’s political science department, has served as co-director of the poll since its inception. Ransom said the center is one of the few of its kind in the country, and with the political conversation increasingly moving online, it will prove to be a valuable tool in providing information on voter attitudes.

    “We’re excited to partner with faculty and students in the Social Media Listening Center to continually monitor political conversation,” Ransom said. “It is now common sense to start with online conversation to acquire data that will accompany and inform any traditional polling we perform in the coming months.”

    The entirety of the Palmetto Poll’s participating faculty and resources come from Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences. Ransom and other faculty members began analyzing data on various social media platforms in May 2019. Steven Miller, associate professor in Clemson’s political science department, saw the benefit of leveraging the capabilities of the center to identify and begin monitoring keywords and attitudes toward candidates as the Democratic primary contenders emerged.

    The center’s technology allows searches to be as broad or narrow as users require them to be, so by fine-tuning search criteria, faculty can drill down on South Carolina residents’ social activity and attitudes toward political topics.

    By continually monitoring keywords and mentions of primary candidates’ names, the center’s technology allows faculty to monitor general “buzz” around candidates as well as how successfully media coverage has fanned discussion of political topics on social media. Miller said the real power of the center will come as conversation and the topic of the day changes leading up to elections.

    “The center is a powerful tool simply because we can augment searches and add new searches on the fly as the conversation changes,” Miller said. “We are also looking forward to engaging with social users and asking them questions directly through each social platform.”

    Miller said faculty have addressed the potential unrepresentative samples that social media can provide by developing a sampling framework and statistical technique to generate state-level estimates of public opinion. Miller said this technique will meet or exceed response rates to random digit dialing techniques, which have long been considered the gold standard of public opinion polling.

    This is not the first time the listening center has been tapped to monitor conversation around elections. According to Joseph Mazer, chair of Clemson’s communication department that houses the listening center, faculty and regional news networks have worked with the center to monitor political conversation in real time, most notably overnight during the 2016 presidential election.

    However, he sees this new approach to the Palmetto Poll as a truly unique way to employ the listening center as a political research hub. Both the communication and political science departments are housed within Clemson’s College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, and Mazer said he hopes this is the start of an ongoing college initiative that will foster quality research, public engagement and student learning.

    “It is always exciting to see the center used in new and creative ways, and as users get more acclimated to the powerful technology that powers the center, searches and results will only get better and more accurate,” Mazer said. “The center will go far in making the Palmetto Poll as reliable and relevant as any other poll in the state and across the nation.”

    Ransom, political science professor emeritus David Woodard, social media professor Will Henderson and several student researchers will staff the Social Media Listening Center in the lead up to South Carolina’s Feb. 29 Democratic primary election. Faculty and students will offer media availability on the following dates:

    Feb. 25, 2–11 p.m. – social media coverage of the Democratic presidential primary debate

    Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. – press conference announcing the results of the Palmetto Poll, led by Ransom and Woodard, with a prediction on the winner of the Feb. 29 Democratic presidential primary election

    Feb. 29, 2-11 p.m. – social media coverage of the Democratic presidential primary election

    The Social Media Listening Center is located in Daniel Hall Room 304 on the Clemson University campus.

  • 2 Feb 2020 8:37 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Social Media Today: Andrew Hutchinson 


     Jan. 28, 2020

    While other social platforms rise and fall, Facebook, seemingly despite various controversies, has continued to add more daily and monthly active users as time goes on - and The Social Network shows no sign of any significant slow-down on the immediate horizon.

    Of course, that's not the complete picture. While Facebook has continued to add more users in developing markets, some have suggested that the time people spend on Facebook, on average, has been in decline in recent years.

    Facebook's last official update on time spent in its apps came in 2016, when it reported that users were spending 50 minutes per day using Facebook, Instagram and/or Messenger - though that's not Facebook-specific. The company did provide something of update to this number in 2018, when it reported that changes to Facebook's News Feed had resulted in a 5% decline in time spent in the app. Estimates suggest that this reduced the Facebook time spent figure to around 41 minutes per day within the app, though again, the numbers here are not Facebook-specific, and the subsequent increases in Instagram and Messenger usage cloud the data somewhat.

    But even on the face of it, the 2018 update does show a slowdown. Facebook users were spending 40 minutes per day in the app back in 2014, so even if that 2018 update was Facebook-specific, it would show that Facebook hasn't added a heap of time spent within the app over that four-year span.

    Yet, even so, Facebook has the biggest reach, the most significant perceived influence - even if you don't use Facebook for hours each and every day, the data shows that you probably do check it. Maybe you log in to see what your friends and family are up to, maybe you engage in groups, share a couple of links. Even if you spend more time in other apps, you're still exposed to Facebook, and that ubiquity has made it a critical platform for brands in order to connect with their audiences.

    Basically, no matter how you look at it, you need to have a Facebook presence for your brand.

    Are you looking to make more, or better use of Facebook in 2020? If so, then this collection of stats from the team at Hootsuite is for you - they've compiled a listing of key Facebook usage stats to keep in mind, and factor into your planning for the year ahead. 

    Definitely, the numbers are hard to ignore - you can check out Hootsuite's full Facebook stats report here, or take a look at the graphic below.

    Infographic lists key Facebook usage stats

    Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter

  • 26 Jan 2020 7:28 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

     Andrew Hutchinson - Jan. 25, 2020


    This will no doubt be of interest, and will likely spark debate among social media industry watchers.

    Back in October, Instagram launched its new @Creators account, through which it's aiming to share insider insights and tips to help people make the most of the platform.

    And in recent weeks, the account has provided some very interesting insights into the platform's algorithm, common growth hacks like 'comment pods', how it assesses profile verification, etc.

    This week in particular, Instagram has sought to answer common queries around how its feed algorithm works - and while some of the answers it's provided are not 100% clear ("We don't universally favor photos over videos"), they do provide some pretty specific clarification on its rumored workings.

    The Q and As have been posted via the Creator account's Stories, but we've compiled the responses into the below infographic to make it easier to reference.

    If you're not following Instagram's Creator account, it's may well be worth doing so (and thanks to Jack Appleby for alerting us to the most recent Creator updates).

    Instagram Q and A infographic

    Follow Andrew Hutchinson on Twitter

  • 15 Jan 2020 8:45 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    It is a privilege to share this report with you. I find this report refreshing because it is opening up some much needed dialog on all types of research with an emphasis on digital intelligence and where that fits. A friend and colleague of ours, Mark Michelson once told me that he strongly believes in conducting at least 2 methods of research in any research study. I have always hung on to that because I believe many researchers have a misconception of digital intelligence. It is not meant to replace, but to add value.

    Read Jillian Ney's blog post below, detailing the publication of a new report from The Social Intelligence Lab.

    Looking for Better, Faster, Cheaper Consumer Insight

    In the insights world, there’s been a surge in new technologies and solutions to research and understand people.

    We’re in the age of tech-enabled consumer intelligence.

    Text analytics, passive data collection methods, predictive analytics, and niche research data applications are allowing researchers to evolve and go beyond their traditional scope. These new technologies and solutions are also opening ‘research’ to new breeds of niche insights professionals, like CX researchers and social media intelligence researchers.

    There’s a demand for a sophisticated interpretation of data to help in obtaining faster and cheaper insights that can be used in business decision-making. There’s also a growing acceptance from insights professionals that a blend of ‘old’ and ‘new’ research is needed for rigor and speed of insights. 

    Data is becoming a fundamental requirement for successful business strategies, and we are moving towards data insights becoming a core business intelligence function. But this process is not without its challenges. 


    The Challenges

    Where Do New Approaches Fit: Part of the challenge for many insights teams is that they need a deep understanding of how these new technologies and methods fit into their broader set of tools and methodologies that they can use to answer a business question. Weakness in understanding a method can mean it is not taken into account when building the objectives, and it’s also less likely to be chosen as a methodology by the executing teams.

    Accuracy: There is a perception that new technologies and approaches have a lower standard of data quality. They are chosen for speed over accuracy, and used for less complex questions.

    Lack of Expertise: New methods and data require new ways of working and new skill sets, but there’s a shortage of experience. Even full-service agencies or consultants have much expertise in areas like social media intelligence. Clients don’t often see many research agencies offering social intelligence so it never gets tied or tested in small low-risk ways, meaning it never gets fully integrated into the insights function. There’s also too few people who can evaluate new methods and technologies to determine their worth, far too many new methods paint a different picture of the same data. 

    Lack of Platform Knowledge: There’s also a lack of platform knowledge when it comes to using these new technologies. ‘Dashboard drain’ is on the rise from having to learn the functionality and user journeys of many new technologies. There’s a lack of skilled people to properly use the new technologies to reach their full potential.

    Previous Experiences Under Delivered: New methods, like social media intelligence, has previously provided sparse insights that are difficult to interpret. There has been a trend of ‘obvious insight’ with a lack of time dedicated to critical thinking about the findings. 


    Getting You The Insight You Need 

    On one hand, we’re faced with reduced budgets and timescales, and on the other, we have all these new technologies and methods that feel untested and risky. We need a new focus on education and training to help address these challenges, and meet the need for innovation in customer insights.

    So, we’ve put together a collection of discussions, trends, and predictions from some of our leading experts, forward-thinking clients and trusted vendors across our ecosystem. Together they explore the dynamics and challenges of social and digital consumer intelligence across consumer insights. 

  • 18 Dec 2019 8:18 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Influence marketing certainly grew this year and is one of the main reasons brands use social media listening tools. Many marketers are using influencers as one more way to gain creditability and reach consumers. Jim Matorin, founder of SMARTKETING, an innovative marketing company , works with a multitude of product categories- convenience foods, desserts, ethnic foods, plant-based/sustainable foods, etc.. Jim also serves on the SMRA advisory board. 

    He shares with us his views of Influence Marketing in the article below. 

    Influence Marketing – 2019 Awards

    By: Jim Matorin 

    As 2019 comes to a close, I have been culling through all the online content detailing the best of 2019 and forecasting what is coming in 2020. Consequently, I decided to have some fun and draft my own list and award the best influencing marketing movements of 2019.

    Influence Marketer of the Year: Sephora – I have asserted in numerous guest posts, the strategic utilization of macro (greater than 100,000 followers) or micro (10,000 to 100,000 followers) influencers ought to vary by industry. When it comes to fashion, I strongly recommend a macro influencer, the spine of my Global Fashion Influencer post. Global beauty leader Sephora has been a digital/influence marketing pioneer for years. In 2019, to break through the their industry’s clutter of influencers who post beauty tips, it created the #SephoraSquad influence marketing movement. They held a contest to find 24 influencers to work with, both macro and micro (a.k.a. broad and niche influence marketing). In addition, they asked their loyal followers for testimonials and received 250,000. Consequently, their user generated content including video, enabled Sephora to personalize the brand experience for their influencers. Their program validated the marketing axiom “one size does not fit all” and addressed the needs of their diverse customer base. Sephora experienced an increase in engagement, web traffic, leads and sales, plus a gold mine of loyal consumer data.

    Silent Influencers: U.S. Moms – There are approximately 4.5 million mom influencers in the United States (source: Mom 2.0). Originally via blogging and social media, numerous moms recorded all aspects of their daily lives to engage and build community. However, over the years their content evolved into an association with brands and companies. In a viral flash, with one post, popular mom influencers with large followings can either endorse (note: sometimes for free product or sponsorship money) or deflate a brand. The silent influencers have grown in numbers to the point they now have a conference (Mom 2.0 Summit) complete with workshops like “How to Connect and Work with Global Brands.”

    Social Media Platform of the Year: TikTok – Founded in Beijing, China, TikTok is a short video-sharing social networking service. The app (iOS and Android) was launched for markets outside of China in 2017       (over 150 markets in 75 languages). The app experienced a user download explosion, 1.1 billion by March of 2019. Given its popularity among Gen Z, brand marketers are leveraging its user generated video content to create influencer marketing movements.

    Bonne Année!  T

  • 11 Dec 2019 1:38 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Digital Marketing may experience some roadblocks in the next few years. Here is an interesting post by Jeff Green on how the Internet pays for itself. A point of view he feels very few consider. 

    By: Jeff Green

    CEO, The Trade Desk

    Published in World Economic Forum 

    In January, California will implement its Consumer Privacy Act, aimed at enhancing privacy rights and controls for state citizens. This follows the broader GDPR regulations in Europe, as well as preemptive moves by companies such as Apple and Mozilla to restrict the power of internet cookies. Some within the advertising industry are even preparing for a so-called cookieless future.

    What’s often missing from the ongoing debate about such regulation and legislation is any consideration of how the internet pays for itself. As you read the news online or watch the latest binge-worthy series on your smart TV, you are likely paying for it by watching advertising. The more relevant that advertising is to you, the more valuable it is to the advertiser and publisher, and the more it can be used to fund great content.

    For the select few, such as Netflix and The Wall Street Journal, a subscription-based business model works, for now. But in the great scheme of the internet, these subscription success stories are outliers and they will become increasingly rare. The latest research from Deloitte suggests that almost half of US consumers are already starting to experience subscription fatigue.

    For all but the small minority of content providers who can currently sustain a subscription model, the internet is paid for with relevant advertising. This is no different from the way content has been monetized for decades. Whether it was soap companies marketing to 1950s housewives during hour-long daily television dramas or Pepsi sponsoring the Superbowl halftime show, almost all consumer content has had an advertising attachment.

    While the balance between advertising and premium content has always been the value exchange of premium content, it is being tested in a more robust way on the internet, where data can be applied to make the relevance of advertising more precise. Indeed, it is estimated that the internet is funded by advertising to the tune of more than $35 per US consumer, per month.

    But therein lies the emerging, thorny issue of consumer data control and privacy, now rumbling through the tech industry and consuming the time of regulators worldwide. When Facebook was marched to Capitol Hill to explain, in part, how data is used to understand consumer audiences in granular detail, politicians started to appreciate how digital marketing works and the wealth of consumer data that is being mined.

    These are valid concerns: consumers should have comfort that their data is not being misused. Every time you search for something on the web, research or make a purchase online or express your views on social media, data about you is being gathered and stored. As more of that data is aggregated by a few companies, the argument goes, not only is your privacy compromised, but tech giants can use that data to exert growing control over the ad process, driving revenue to and from specific publishers.

    That’s scary, but advertisers come at this from a different perspective and it’s important to consider how they approach funding great content while protecting the consumer. Many of the world’s leading consumer packaged goods and automotive companies, for example, have a decades-long relationship with their most loyal consumers. They know that this loyalty can be destroyed in an instant if the consumer worries that their privacy has been compromised. At the same time, those consumers who understand their side of the value exchange are willing to engage in loyalty programmes, sharing information about themselves, in return for targeted value.

    Advertisers understand this and have come to appreciate that privacy and relevance can co-exist in a digital world awash with data. That means using advances in technology to drive relevance and value in advertising without abusing consumer data. Some advertising pioneers are innovating with technology that will allow them to build anonymized patterns that represent their loyal customer base and understand where those patterns show up elsewhere in the market. In these emerging cases, relevance is all about anonymous patterns and associations rather than any specific form of identifiable personal information. These innovations have the potential to improve the consumer experience – perhaps we will finally get to a point where we don’t all have to sit through hundreds of new car ads when only 5 million people in the US are actively looking for a new car at any given time. Perhaps we’ll get to watch fewer, more relevant and more valuable ads.

    This value exchange is not lost on big tech either: as Google implements changes to its Chrome browser to improve consumer privacy controls, it is doing so in a way that protects the ability to drive advertising relevance. Google understands the crucial role that advertising plays in funding the internet as we know it today and it won’t do anything to destroy that value.

    While new regulations can be helpful to consumers and businesses alike, we have to be careful about the consequences for the vast majority of digital content that is ad-funded. Without valuable ad dollars much of today’s content, including great journalism, will not be sustainable. It is in the advertisers’ interests to make their products as relevant to you as possible and to make your web experience as pleasant as possible. At the same time, they have a similar interest, and the technological ability, to ensure the responsible management of consumer data.

  • 27 Nov 2019 10:42 AM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Photo: TechCrunch

    By: Kathy Doering

    I have been waiting for some time to see which platform was going to take this plunge first in the social media world. Software companies have for years been able to tap into open sourced (publicly available) social media data used primarily as a metric on how well they were performing in social media marketing against their competitors. It is also very well known that these software platforms can handle reputation management for business and even for consumers. Controversy surrounded this and Facebook was squeezed hard over privacy concerns. This was instrumental in the creation of GDPR (*The General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679 is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individual citizens of the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.) *Wikipedia

    It was and is a game changer. Software platforms will not allow users to dig into the posts of individuals who "liked" a post or mentioned your brand within their platforms. Rather, they use the publicly available information to provide the same analytics at a sky high level. This is still excellent data for marketers.

    In a statement issued to the UK’s Independent newspaper Facebook said,“We believe in the right for people to have a private conversation online. End-to-end encryption helps protect that right and is fundamental to the value we provide to over a billion people every day. We oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of our users everywhere.”

    So how can Facebook monetize all this data they hold and ensure the privacy of their users? Easy... create a market research app inside the platform. Introducing Facebook Viewpoints. Facebook Viewpoints will give people the opportunity to participate in surveys and receive points that convert to cash paid via PayPal, for taking a 15 minute survey. If marketed correctly, I think they have a shot at this. There is no better place in the social media atmosphere where you have a more captive audience. As of the end of 2018, it boasted over 2.32 billion monthly active users.

    This isn't their first attempt at market research. The previous app Facebook launched was called Facebook Research. The Facebook Research app, which offers volunteers between the ages of 13 and 35 monthly $20 gift cards in exchange for near-total access to the data on their phones, would no longer be available on iOS. This is because the app violated Apple's developer guidelines. Android users will still be able to use it.

    Social Media Post by TechCrunch

    TechCrunch initially published the following about the Facebook Market Research App:

    "TechCrunch’s investigation discovered that Facebook has been quietly operated the Research program on iOS and Android since 2016, recently under the name Project Atlas. It recruited 13 to 35 year olds, 5 percent of which were teenagers, with ads on Instagram and Snapchat and paid them a monthly fee plus referral bonuses to install Facebook’s Research app, the included VPN app that routes traffic to Facebook, and to ‘Trust’ the company with root network access to their phone. That lets Facebook pull in a user’s web browsing activity, what apps are on their phone and how they use them, and even decrypt their encrypted traffic. Facebook went so far as to ask users to screenshot and submit their Amazon order history. Facebook uses all this data to track competitors, assess trends, and plan its product roadmap."

    In a statement, Facebook objected to parts of TechCrunch’s report.

    “Key facts about this market research program are being ignored,” the company said. “Despite early reports, there was nothing ‘secret’ about this; it was literally called the Facebook Research App. It wasn’t ‘spying’ as all of the people who signed up to participate went through a clear on-boarding process asking for their permission and were paid to participate. Finally, less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens. All of them with signed parental consent forms.”

    The company also denied that Facebook Research was intended to replace Onavo, although it did not respond to evidence that the apps shared similar code.

    How this will pan out down the road remains to be seen. Facebook has a long way to go to become the next JD Powers, but even those who are the most skeptical have to admit, it was a brilliant move. If they can pull this off it will make a huge impact on market research as we know it. However, I tend to get a little ahead of myself.

    The question remains whether or not people who use the platform will be willing to give up more information to Facebook. The company does state it won't sell your data to third party apps or publicly share the results. Many hurdles are ahead and I am not sure the timing of this is the best.

    What do you think? Can Facebook be trusted? How could this impact market research?

  • 10 Nov 2019 8:06 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Feel like you’ve finally got a handle on social media marketing? You’re posting to Facebook and Twitter regularly, your Instagram account is growing, and your content is becoming more relevant to your viewers and customers. But wait, there’s a new trend on the horizon! Well actually, it’s now new. But TikTok is quickly becoming the latest craze in social media usage among the younger generations.

    TikTk is a free social media app that lets you watch, create, and share videos - often to a soundtrack of the top hits in music - right from your phone. It was originally called in the U.S. but was rebranded when the two apps merged in August 2018. With more than 100 million users, TikTok is incredibly popular. Users can watch and record videos of themselves lip-synching to popular music and sound bites, and then connect with friends and admirers through likes, comments, and even duets.

    Rachel Pedersen, an organic social marketing pro and host of the Social Media Secrets podcast, was first introduced to TikTok through the popularity of the song “Baby Shark”. She and her children decided to join the fun by sharing their own rendition of the song. In spite of having only six followers, her first video was viewed by 9,400 people by the next day. She immediately saw a big opportunity in TikTok that neither Facebook nor Instagram could deliver. Eager to learn more, Rachel created videos almost every day and watched her TikTok following grow to nearly 2,600 within 60 days.

    Although unplanned, this launched Rachel’s career as a social media consultant. She attributes TikTok’s growth to a number of factors. “We’re moving into an era of shorter attention spans. Most people are only interested in things for 15 seconds, like videos you see on TikTok, movie trailers, or ads. Within those 15 seconds, the viewer gets to decide whether they want to binge more content. The trick is finding a way to capture and sustain their attention in that 15 seconds, especially if they’ve never heard of you”, she explains.

    How Does TikTok Work?

    TikTok features two side-by-side feeds. The main feed on the right features a stream of content that’s been tailored “For You.” As you scroll through these videos, you can follow the accounts, engage with the content, and more. The feed on the left features content from accounts you already follow. You can easily switch back and forth between the two feeds. When you open the app for the first time, you’re presented with a clear news feed. It doesn’t know your preferences so what shows up in the For You feed will be totally random. Once you start following and interacting with other users, the app will begin surfacing similar content and creators in the For You feed.

    All videos in TikTok are vertical and take up your entire phone screen. A majority of the content is typically 15 seconds or shorter, but the video clips have since been expanded to up to 60 seconds. All TikTok videos are looping.

    Why Marketers Should Pay Attention to TikTok

    TikTok offers a brand new opportunity for marketers because they will likely be the first of their generation to be on it. Most marketers haven’t moved to TikTok, but it’s gaining traction and being introduced to the masses. According to data and demographics, TikTok is currently in 154 countries with about 500 million active users. It has consistently been in the top 10 most downloaded apps in the App Store. Among TikTok’s users, about 66% are younger than 30, But there seem to be plenty of younger moms and others who seem young, which means TikTok is an ideal platform for any brand wanting to get in front of this valuable audience.

    Creating Content

    When you open the TikTok app to create content, there are several different options for getting started. Similar to Instagram Stories, you can hold down the button for the entire duration of the video to natively record. You can set up a self-timer and record from a distance. You can also create a series of short segments that come together to form a longer video. Users can then add awesome effects and text throughout different parts of their videos to make them interesting and fun. TikTok videos can also be downloaded and repurposed for other platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

    Videos on TikTok are a combination of lip-syncing to original and uploaded music, sound effects and audio clips, rants, and anything else the imagination can create. Lately though, users are moving away from singing along to music and going more towards creating their own clever renditions of songs. The user will sing new lyrics to a song and create a video with a funny take, creative interpretation, or double meaning of the words.

    Nurture a Younger Audience

    Rachel says that she plans to use TikTok for exposure and growth over the next year. She’ll do this by nurturing a younger following on the platform and preparing this audience to know who she is in the next 10 or 20 years.

    Adding Bio and Links to TikTok

    Although the platform currently doesn’t support clickable links within the videos, users can include a link in their TikTok bios. Rachel noticed a jump in her website traffic when another user visited her profile and read the URL in her bio during a live broadcast on TikTok. Like video captions, the bios on TikTok are also limited to 140 characters of plain text and emojis. The 140 characters can include a link to your website; however, the URL isn’t clickable. You can upload one profile photo and your previous ones aren’t saved in an album as they are on Facebook.

    What Marketers Need to Know About TikTok

    Videos that are overproduced, too corporate, or overtly promotional tend to perform poorly. Rachel has witnessed people go crazy in the comments when they sense a user is trying to sell them something or sneak in an ad. In order to blend in, take time to research what the content on TikTok feels like. Watch other people’s videos and start to identify and adopt the trends you see.

    Upcoming TikTok Ads Program

    TikTok is tinkering with the idea of integrating advertising with a new self-serve ad platform as major brands try to reach the younger demographic on the platform. Macy’s recently used TikTok to run a back-to-school campaign targeting high school and college kids. Rachel recalls alcohol brands, concerts, big parties, and musicians being promoted on TikTok too. Once TikTok’s ad program is fully rolled out, marketers will be able to diversify their clients and offer something beyond Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all of the other trusted platforms we’ve relied upon until this point. You’ll begin seeing more ads throughout the feed and notifications in the future.

  • 31 Oct 2019 1:52 PM | Kathy Doering (Administrator)

    Written by:  Jimmy Matorin, Business Catalyst at SMARTKETING

    I am a student of influence marketing. I am constantly evaluating what constitutes a trustworthy influencer. It has been months since I posted an influence marketing article. The last one was back in June on my company’s blog titled Virtual Authenticity?  I detailed the emergence of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) influencers, specifically “fashionista” Miquela Sousa @lilmiquela. How authentic is a digital/virtual avatar posting pre-scripted content?

    This past month, I read several articles about human behavior, specifically emotional connectivity. As a result, I am now beginning to question whether marketers can truly identify, thus connect with brand advocates who are at the epicenter of their influence marketing movements.

     Case in point: The term authenticity has grown in popularity. Recent studies indicate authenticity is driven by the different core values of consumers and the emotional trust evoked by their online engagement. Sound deep? Definitely!  However, in an era of flash digital engagement (a.k.a. social media) and questionable online product/service reviews, how deep is our understanding of the core values of the people with whom we engage?

    Also fueling my current confusion is the new book “Talking to Strangers” by renown author, story teller Malcolm Gladwell.  Mr. Gladwell advocates we tend to be too trusting of people with tragic results, thus suggests we need to approach strangers with caution and humility. Malcolm’s hypothesis was achieved via numerous anecdotes detailing how we evaluate other people.

    How well do you know and trust your brand’s advocates?

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