Thursday, 21 May 2015

Google Partners with Twitter to Include Tweets in Searches

Internet giants Twitter and Google have formed a new partnership, allowing tweets to appear directly in Google searches. By adding these real-time updates into search results, tweets about a popular trending topic or hashtag will be displayed alongside the usual lists of websites and news articles.

Google announced the update in a blog post, claiming that it is "a great way to get real-time info when something is happening" and "another way for organisations and people on Twitter to reach a global audience at the most relevant moments."

Twitter Google Tweets Search Engine Results
Tweets will be displayed in Google in a 'carousel' format (Image:Searchenglineland)

It's felt that Twitter will be the main beneficiary of the new arrangement, with each tweet linking directly to Twitter to allow users to see the post in context and to explore the rest of the topic. It could well increase the importance of the site for those who aren't necessarily Twitter users, perhaps leading to new members registering. Twitter's user growth has stalled somewhat in recent months, with the microblogging site declaring a growth of only 4 million people in its last quarterly report.

Google actually had access to the social network's feeds until 2011, until this feature was 'switched off' by Twitter. This meant that Google had since had to manually insert tweets into its data in order for them to appear. Now, though, they will be fed straight into Google as they are posted, in a change which Twitter claims will make it "easier than ever to explore your interests across both Twitter and Google."

Twitter and Google's relationship has been under the microsope of late, ever since rumours began to circulate in April that the search engine giant was considering making a bid to buy Twitter - a rumour that added over $1.5 billion to the value of the social network. Twitter apparently will not earn directly from this new agreement but gain from increased levels of traffic.

Initially, this new service will only be offered to those searching in English in the United States on mobile devices - specifically on their browser in iOS, Android or the Google Search App. However, Twitter has promised desktop support in the coming months, and will also be extending the service to different languages.    

Friday, 15 May 2015

How Will Facebook Instant Articles Affect Brands?

Digital marketers had cause to be excited this week as Facebook announced their latest innovation – Instant Articles

The premise is simple, instead of linking to a website brands will be able to post articles in their entirety onto Facebook. Currently only a select number of companies are able to use the feature whilst it is in the trail stage, with the Guardian, the New York Times, Buzzfeed and the BBC among the lucky content pushers able to try out the new platform. 

facebook content marketing

Following news that for the first time ever more people are making Google searches on their smartphones than on desktops, and in the wake of Google’s algorithm changes to favour mobile optimised websites it is no surprise that Facebook are introducing their own mobile-friendly system. 

It was announced that “the idea was to revisit Facebook as an experience on mobile devices”, without creating numerous tabs which could damage a user’s experience. Facebook have made the offer more tempting for the brands which use the platforms, with the ability to embed ads and retain 100% revenue, or allow Facebook to sell the ad-space with the brand gaining 70% of the revenue. It is worth noting that BBC has already ruled out having adverts in their instant articles to remain consistent to the BBC brand. 

Whilst the move is undoubtedly going to improve user experience, it may hurt brands which rely heavily on social posts to drive traffic to their websites. Instant Articles may contain back links to websites, but as that would take customers away from Facebook – the main benefit of Instant Articles is that customers remain on the platform – the customer may be less willing to follow any links out of the application.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Could YouTube Win The Election?

The elections are upon us, and as the party leaders make a last-ditch attempt to sway voters, an online presence is more important than ever to persuade on a massive scale.

Social media is far more important now than in the last election, and it is a customary sight in campaign coverage to see politicians patiently posing for selfies that may go viral, proving their relevance to young voters. But the biggest platform this election seems to be video, with the popularity of YouTube making it a vital campaign tool. It is reported that 1 in 3 Britons watch an online video each week, meaning that 20 million Britons watch videos on YouTube every 7 days!

Ed Miliband has taken to the vloggers to help raise his profile with the younger generations, famously being interviewed and swaying Russell Brand into encouraging his subscribers to vote Labour (or Green if they live in Brighton). Miliband has also been interviewed by vlogger SprinkleofGlitter to encourage her viewers to go out and exercise their right to vote – though presenter Louise Pentland remained impartial throughout the video. It was a clever move by Labour to seek interviews with influential online figures, as young voters are notoriously more difficult to motivate than older generations.

Brand’s channel, known as the Trews for its self-described unbiased take on the news, was an inspired move by the Labour party as it steps away from the negative view of politicians who run away from giving direct answers. Ed's appearance on SprinkleofGlitter, a series which offers lifestyle and beauty tips to subscribers, is a great way to offer voting advice on a platform viewers look to for help and advice. However Brand’s image was tarnished slightly as he backtracked on his famous stance of not voting, and despite encouraging his viewers to vote Labour, Brand is not registered to vote in this election.

Labour have also proved to be the most successful party in terms of viewing figures for political party broadcasts. With help from Martin Freeman’s star power, Labour have gained 293,397 views for their video. The Conservative party had less luck with their offering, seeing only 15,382 views, and the Liberal Democrats gaining 10,391. The lack of traction for the Conservative’s video is more surprising as between the party and David Cameron the Tories have the most followers on Twitter, which should in theory improve the viewership of their videos if shared across all platforms. The Green Party showed the most creativity with their election broadcast, writing a ballad of the main parties (and UKIP) to highlight the similarity of their policies. However it was Nigel Farage’s appearance with Paddy Power that made the biggest splash on social media, as Farage justified his love for Europe whilst discussing the Open on a golf course.

Whilst all parties have a presence on YouTube, with regular uploads onto their channels, they still require a celebrity or gimmick to make a lasting impression with the younger generations. We will find out over the coming days if Ed has managed to have any impact with his vlogger appearances, though more may need to be done over the coming years to make younger generations interested in politics without a celebrity influence.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

An Irreversible Love Affair With Digital

At its peak in 2004 Blockbuster had 9,000 stores and 60,000 employees, dominating the video rental market – yet as the world embraced digital Blockbuster failed to keep ahead of the trend and has fallen by the wayside. Netflix, now famed for its streaming service, started out as Blockbuster’s competitor, posting DVDs out without charging late fees. In the early 2000s Blockbuster was offered the opportunity to purchase Netflix for $50 million, which they famously rejected – Netflix is now worth $32.9 billion whilst Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010. 
Online video streaming
The move to online streaming services has been dominated by Netflix, with other services proving profitable but currently unable to compete. The biggest indicator that online streaming services will win out over traditional television is the success of original series created by Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. House of Cards, the first of Netflix’s successful shows, has beaten primetime television shows to awards, whilst Amazon Studio’s Transparent recently won out at the Golden Globes. Original online shows are increasingly able to pull in big names who may not normally consider television projects – Kevin Spacey and David Fincher’s presence as producers in House of Cards allowed to show to be greenlit without a pilot, a luxury few productions are offered. Similarly Sky announced a 41% increase in customers this year, after releasing their new online service Now TV. Much like Netflix’s users boost when they had exclusive online access to Breaking Bad, Now TV will only go from strength to strength as it has streaming rights in the UK to HBO’s Game of Thrones, the most illegally downloaded television show ever. As more people consume television online the value of online marketing can only increase. 

We have been experiencing a similar trend with music, as users are more likely to consume radio stations and music online than by purchasing physical editions of CDs. This has led to a backlash over services that offer streaming, with Napster opening the door to online streaming services that massively reduce the pay packet of artists. Recently musicians joined together to launch Tidal, a paid for service that offers exclusive access to music, videos, and streamed gigs to combat the popularity of Spotify, which offers a similar service as a fraction of the cost. Tidal is trying to offer a similar service to Netflix, with proof that consumers are happy to pay for a superior service when it is in their interest, though early app download signals suggest that consumers aren’t willing to pay the higher price demanded by Tidal. The alternative is a free account with Spotify or listening to music through YouTube – both of which come with adverts. Signs that free or cheap streaming is the price level of consumers are willing to pay is good news for advertisers, opening the door to new popular platforms with active users. 

Recent figures revealed that over half of all ad spend will go on digital this year, and with consumers spending more time online on phones, laptops and tablets isn't it time you made sure your reaching your target where it matters?

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Twitter's New Changes: The Key to Market Dominance?

Twitter has unveiled yet more new features that have got people talking - taking steps towards tackling online abuse yet at the same opening up its direct messaging function on a more public scale. Could this be the platform's next step on the road to social media dominance?

We've become used to Twitter unveiling new services and upgrades, and on Monday it announced one of its most controversial yet - introducing the ability for users to send direct messages to anyone, regardless of whether or not you follow each other. If you read the small-print, you'll soon learn that this service is something that you have to opt-in to, and that the current system in place - needing to mutually follow one another in order to send a private message - remains unless the user changes their settings.

That said, it does mark a fairly notable shift for the social network. It's without question a blatant effort from Twitter to try and take further steps into the world of instant messaging - an incredibly lucrative field and one that is currently dominated by the likes of Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. Group messaging on the platform was introduced in January, and Twitter even said of its latest update that its goal is to make it "even easier for you to communicate one-to-one or with a chosen group of people, anywhere in the world."

Twitter Social Media News Marketing

The upgrade would appear to have been made with the intention of benefiting brands, marketers, politicians et al who will now be able to use direct messages to communicate with 'normal' users. It opens up a whole world of new marketing opportunities for companies - but also raises concerns about privacy, harrassment and spamming.

Twitter has long come under fire for taking too few steps towards tackling its 'cyber-bullying' and 'trolling' problems, and a leaked internal memo in February from CEO Dick Costolo showed that Twitter is well aware of its failings in this respect:

"We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform and we've sucked at it for years," he wrote, frankly.

It remains to be seen just how many people will opt-in to the new messaging option, but responses have been mixed - it seems bizarre, at first glance, for a platform which has been so heavily scrutinised for its safety and trolling problems to open up a new window of opportunity for people to exploit it further.

The following day, though, Twitter announced a couple of new privacy features intended to tackle cyber-bullying and give users a bit more protection online. The new update included the ability to 'lock-out' users who are reported as being abusive, with some cases requiring phone number verification to regain access. A relatively small step, perhaps, but one that shows Twitter is beginning to look more seriously at its safety problems.

The changes Twitter are rolling out are at times difficult to keep up with - on top of the new messaging and reporting features, we've also seen a new 'Quote Tweet' system put in place, and interestingly, a new option to make purchases on Twitter itself - following in the footsteps of Facebook's 'Shop Now' button. NBA team Atlanta Hawks are the highest-profile name to take advantage of this new system, with Twitter claiming that selling tickets and items through tweets could increase its ad business, with brands required to pay to add a 'Buy' button to their posts.

On top of this, since acquiring Vine back in 2012, Twitter has made no secret of its desire to exploit the growing concept of online video - and the new arrival of Twitter's Periscope live-streaming software shows that this trend is going to continue for the forseeable future. Twitter is fast becoming a 'jack of all trades' when it comes to social media - and it's going to take some stopping.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

How Social Media Has Changed Politics Around the World

As the UK general election edges ever closer, politicans across the country are stepping up their game in terms of social media activity, using it to campaign, champion their policies and to interact with voters who are, on the whole, of a younger and more tech-savvy generation.

Cameron, Obama and Thorning-Schmidt Selfie Politics Social Media Election Campaign
The majority of politicians are active on social media these days!
Social media has changed the world in a number of ways, but the manner in which it has transformed politics is nothing short of remarkable. In recent weeks we have seen Periscope live-streamings of Ed Miliband's education press conference, the televised leader's debate dominate trending topics, and a primary school girl become a Twitter favourite after she upstaged David Cameron during his announcement of a new education proposal.

The past few days, though, have been dominated by the news from across the pond that Hillary Clinton is set to run to be the next President of the United States. By announcing her campaign on Twitter and releasing a video on YouTube to explain her decision, Clinton has highlighted just how important social media is for politicians in the present day - it's undoubtedly become the easiest way for them to announce campaigns, promote policies, interact with the public and drum up support ahead of election day.
It's not just would-be Prime Ministers or Presidential candidates who are reaping the benefits of a solid social media presence, though. Politicians across the world are all using the likes of Twitter and Facebook to get closer to their constituents - particularly those voters who are younger or who usually aren't overly interested in politics. Through social media platforms such as Instagram, politicians are able to reach the computers, tablets and smartphones of millennial voters, making politics more engaging and, in a sense, more 'fun' for those active on social media.

Social media has made politics more accessible, more inclusive and more egalitarian. Politicians are able to host online surgeries and be generally more connected with their constituents in a way which simply wasn't possible a few years ago. Be warned though - the nature of social media means that you are just as likely to receive criticism as you are support. Clinton found this out the hard way at the weekend, when the logo design for her election campaign drew its fair share of criticism...

Clinton Election Logo Mocked on Twitter Social Media Politics

Clinton Election Logo Mocked on Twitter Social Media Politics

Clinton Election Logo Mocked on Twitter Social Media Politics