WHY FACEBOOK’S NEWS FEED CHANGE SPELLS OPPORTUNITY FOR BRANDS

It has recently been announced that we can expect fairly major changes to the Facebook news feed and how we currently use the platform. Earlier this month, Mark Zuckerberg said it was his 2018 personal mission to “Fix Facebook” and it looks like he isn’t waiting around.

The new algorithm changes will affect what we see in our news feeds by prioritising person-to-person interaction as opposed to person-to-page. This means that current organic reach of brand and publisher content will be significantly reduced.

Facebook has been quite open about this as part of its vision to encourage more meaningful conversations between people. It is also expected that users will spend less time on the platform, but the time that they do spend on Facebook will be more valuable and enjoyable.

This presents a unique set of challenges to brands. Reacting and evolving social strategies in line with these changes is imperative to ensure brands and publishers see valuable engagement.

There is no set date for these changes to occur so to ensure you’re prepped and ready, our social team have shared their thoughts on the biggest opportunities that lie ahead for a very different Facebook…

  1. Increased Emphasis on Communities

Due to this new person-to-person outlook the Comment becomes the new social currency as opposed to the Share. It will therefore be crucial that brands provide engaging content that users want to contribute to. The good news is that studies show brand recall is much higher when users actively comment on posts so focusing on comments is actually a win-win for brands.

The algorithm will mean Groups will be prioritised, so a brand-curated Group can provide a clever way to reach customers. If there is a community conversation your brand can harness then this is the way to go!

  1. The Rise of Individual Influence

The new changes give much more power to the individual user by prioritising much more meaningful interactions. As a result the biggest weapon in the arsenal of a brand will be the people who work there. This will also lead to an increase in blogger and influencer activity as they can have direct conversations with customers in a way that brands will not be able to enjoy. Expect publishers to become much more personal as a result of these changes.

Brands and companies will need to adapt and get comfortable showcasing their key individual influencers on Facebook – time to train up the CEO to truly become the ‘face’ of the business.

  1. Rise of Paid Advertising

Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise but one of the easiest ways to get around the drop in organic reach will be to pay for it. The options available to brands with paid advertising are already very extensive but you can possibly expect Facebook to beef this up with more creative options. As this algorithm could potentially see brands slow down on effort spent on the platform, Facebook will be keen to not lose any potential revenue if they can help it. Its shares have already dropped since the announcement as it is!

  1. Slowing of Facebook Referral Traffic

Aside from the paid features of Facebook generating significant referral traffic, originating from Facebook activity will become harder to achieve as they will want users to have meaningful conversations within the platform rather than driving to external sites.

However, as a result, organic Facebook will become even more of a place for aiding brand engagement and customer service.

  1. Shift in Social Media Landscape

Until now Facebook has almost exclusively owned social media when it comes to user numbers and engagement. Channels like Snapchat, Pinterest and Twitter have tried to carve their own niche but it has barely made a dent in recent times, with usual figures failing to rise at the rate of Facebook.

With the new changes you can expect a shift away from this. News organisations and content publishers may find it more efficient to communicate on other platforms so may move away from Facebook, as their reach will be cut. You can also expect social media platforms to revert back to their core USPs. Interestingly there isn’t any expected changes reported for Instagram as yet. As most social media users have accounts in more than just one platform, using a wider range of social media channels will help brands reach more users.

To follow the latest news and views on all things social be sure to sign up to our #OSoSocial weekly newsletter and stay in the conversation.

Influencer relations for WhiteWash Laboratories wins gold award

O struck gold at the CIPR awards recently for its campaign with WhiteWash Laboratories, an oral care brand that launched a new range of teeth whitening dental cosmetics.

Competing in an already crowded marketplace, our brief was to introduce Nano as a premium yet high-street brand that would entice high street customers and attract retailers to stock the product.

Targeting a predominantly female audience aged 18-35 and identifying Instagram as a key platform, we  implemented a mix of media and blogger outreach, celebrity and social media personality endorsements and paid social media advertising to raise awareness of the product.

The hashtag #NanoSmile was used through all communications, aligning with the key messages of health over the Hollywood smile.

O
 worked with Instagram influencers and high profile celebrities from popular programmes such as Celebrity Love Island, Big Brother, Made in Chelsea and Geordie Shore, to endorse the Nano range through Instagram posts via their own profiles.

We also targeted beauty bloggers and journalists relevant to the 18-35 age bracket to trial and review the Nano range, securing coverage on hyperlocal blogs and in key publications.

From the launch of the campaign, the WhiteWash Laboratories Instagram following increased by 93%, while social media endorsements and blogger product reviews equated to an increase of 200% in digital sales.

Media and influencer coverage resulted in a reach of 17,763,030 people including coverage in titles such as The Sunday Times magazine, Huffington Post, The Daily Mirror and Grazia Magazine.

The campaign won the gold award in the CIPR North East Pride Awards 2017 for Best Consumer Relations Campaign and was featured in Campaign magazine when WhiteWash Laboratories launched Nano.

O Communications is a creative agency in Newcastle. To see more of our work, including exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, follow us on Instagram and like our Facebook page.

SOCIAL MEDIA PREDICTIONS FOR 2018

Do you remember what Facebook used to look like when it first came out? It’s come a long way from ‘thefacebook’ days.

Social media has been around in one form or another for almost 20 years now. Constantly evolving,

Whether it’s how we use social media in our everyday lives or how technology advances its capabilities, from one year to the next the social media landscape never stands still.

As we now come to the end of 2017, a year when Instagram made a mockery of Snapchat, Facebook hit 2bn monthly users, Twitter expanded its character limit and, well, Donald Trump happened, we can look ahead to what is likely to happen in 2018…

  1. Shopping on Social

The theory of paid social to drive purchases has now been well and truly proven. The next phase is to take this further and truly streamline the purchasing process. This won’t be limited to online purchases either as there are already tools in place to measure offline impact. This will only improve in the coming year.

  1. The Battle for GenZ

The oldest members of Generation Z will be starting to enter the workforce in 2018. This means they will hold more significance than ever before as a result of their new-found buying power. Brands and social networks are already adapting their strategies to advertise to this audience – look at the changes made on Snapchat and Instagram throughout 2017. Because of this, we expect to see marketers begin to make a play for the GenZ consumer.

  1. Further Squeeze on Organic Content

There has been a measured decline in the reach and engagement from organic content in 2017 as platforms try to find new ways to monetize.  This is likely to continue in 2018. The exciting challenge is that brands and agencies will need to be more creative to get their messages across. There are still only 3.5 degrees of separation across every Facebook user in the world, so ‘going viral’ will always be possible. Video content will be more important than ever to get brand messages across so brands will need to make this a major focus.

  1. Expansion of Live Streaming

Live video used to be just a fun feature but now it has become a huge immovable force in the world of social media. 100 million users watch online video daily and live streams are a key part of this. The prevalence of this in 2018 is simply because it works. Statistics show that users are more likely to watch a video for longer if the video is live.

  1. Rise of Chatbots and Automation

This may be a tricky avenue to go down however, in 2018 brands will need to take a very serious look at chatbots on messenger apps. More users use social messaging than actually the social media itself – especially younger millennials. Bots can be tricky to put together but can save a lot of time with customer service and productivity. It can also allow users to purchase products through Messenger.

  1. Increased Influencer Investments

Bloggers, celebrities and social influencers are already a key part of the marketing mix. However, now their endorsements are increasingly transparent (consumers get used to seeing endorsements on social media and regulations are tighter around transparency) they are expected to work harder for their endorsement fees. Whether that is co-creating content or acting as a channel, their borrowed influence will mean more partnerships and collaborations (and less about simply sharing a photo of a product on their platforms).

  1. Increase in Personalisation

More users would now favour seeing adverts and offers that are more relevant to them and reject the one-size-fits-all blanket approach. This means the tracking that goes along with this is becoming accepted more and more. What this means is relevancy and personalised marketing will become the key to successful marketing efforts. In a world where advertising is everywhere, time is seen as more valuable than ever. Users, therefore, will only stop scrolling for what is relevant to them.

  1. Shifting Definitions of “Target Audiences”

The targeting capabilities available to social media marketers are expanding at an incredible rate. This means, now more than ever, the importance of reaching the right customers is at an all time high. Local brands now no longer rely on local audiences to provide their revenue. Likewise, companies that already focus nationally can improve ROI by looking much more local. As users are now looking for greater personalisation, getting the audience right will be very important.

  1. Increase in Brand Protection

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the need for greater brand safety and stronger governance will be required for 2018. Whether this takes the form of additional staff or as new AI software we will have to see however it wouldn’t be surprising if the major platforms incorporated new codes of conduct. YouTube especially will need to ensure they have processes in place so brands are protected when advertising on the platform after the recent boycotting of from major brands.

  1. Twitter Reimagined

This one is a bold prediction however Twitter has been struggling recently in comparison to the big hitters. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp all comfortably have more users than the micro-blogging platform and have been growing at much faster rates. Twitter has also been struggling to gain access to some TV shows; they no longer have access to streaming NFL matches. Negative perceptions as a result of political reasons like Donald Trump, cyber-bullying and fake news may trigger a shift in how the platform may work. Watch this space….

To follow the latest news and views on all things social be sure to sign up to our #OSoSocial weekly newsletter and stay in the conversation.

Why successful scale-up is all about bigging-up

Author: @KariOwers

Having worked with entrepreneurial fast-growth businesses for over twenty years, one thing the success stories I’ve worked with got right was they believed in and shared their story, so much so, they managed to get everyone else to ‘buy in’ to their business both figuratively and literally.

Business man young entrepreneur writing some new project calculations on gray wall

From young entrepreneurs selling their business before the age of 21, to one of our region’s biggest businesses trebling in scale overnight with a major merger, and some of our best tech innovators going from one office to multiple sites worldwide in a heartbeat – for me, being around a scale-up in the eye of the storm is thrilling.

I’ve also been in many situations where I meet a scale-up business I’ve never heard of. Great companies beavering away with their eye on the prize – but forgetting to tell anyone.

If I haven’t heard their vision, safe to say neither have their potential funders, future workforce or buyer one day.

There are so many reasons why getting your communications right can lead to scale-up success, but here are just a few I’ve witnessed along the way.

1. When you say it you do it

Communicating your plans for growth is a powerful way to compel yourself to make it happen. After all they say a goal is just a dream if you tell no-one.

2. Punching above your weight

This is the most powerful impact good PR can have on a growing business – being bold, visionary and putting yourself out there gives everyone else a sense of your ambition, and that’s contagious.

3. Attracting investment

Funding may be all about the projections and the business plan, but people buy into people. If you can’t communicate why you’re a business to back, and project the special qualities of your management team and workforce, you’re just another spreadsheet to a potential investor.

4. Luring great people

Scaling up is all about getting the right people on board. There’s no time to waste on getting it wrong, or not being able to attract great candidates when you have urgent projects that need delivered. Promoting your business culture by being transparent and enthusiastic about your workplace and investing in your employer brand means the right people will seek you out instead.

5. Positioning for exit

The best scale-ups know their destination as well as their journey, and for many the potential of selling the business is there from the get-go. With this in mind its ever more important to make noises in the right circles, to build the profile of the founder and management team and position your business as an attractive proposition by being media friendly from the start.

Consistent and compelling storytelling is key to scaling-up successfully, so be prepared to share.

Scale-ups are success stories everyone wants to read about.

 

GLEE AND GRAND DESIGNS LIVE – GARDEN AND HOME TRENDS TO WATCH IN 2018

We have been on the road at GLEE, the UK’s most popular and best-attended garden and outdoor living trade show for the retail industry, and Grand Designs Live where we discovered the latest innovations, unearthed some of next year’s biggest gardening and home trends previewed exciting unseen products.

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So what will be seeing on the homes and garden landscape in 2018?

Light it up

Buzzword of the day: solar lighting and more of it. Getting the garden wired is expensive and time-consuming, so expect more and more of the market opting for solar energy power to light up their gardens. Perfect for the environmentally-conscious among us, it’s cheap, safe and radiates a low, relaxing level of lighting. The Solar Centre one of the UK’s leading eco brands was exhibiting at GLEE, displaying a huge host of innovative products including lantern, fairy lights and solar spot lights for your everyday garden through to a DIY enchanted wedding setting.

Embrace ‘gluggavedur’

Our obsession with the Danish concept ‘hygge’ is dying down, and there’s a new trend for us to embrace in 2018.

Perfect for the British weather, Icelandic concept ‘gluggavedur’ means ‘window-weather’ and denotes the sort of weather that’s best enjoyed from inside, behind a window. Echoing the premise of the well-loved concept ‘hygge’, this new trend encourages Brits to enjoy simple home comforts, inspiring us to curl up by the fire with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the rainy scene outside.

Industrial Chic

The industrial trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Bricks in the home and cement textures on floors and walls are moving out of the kitchen into every room in the house with companies like Relentless Interiors offering concrete finishes for walls, floors & furniture.

Tech-sture

Colour palettes that draw from innovations in tech are already making waves in Silicon Valley and Austin – think pixelated oranges, digital blues and greens, and high-definition yellow. These palettes are modern and playful and are great for punctuate any room. Tech geniuses are all about the future, so it’s no wonder their style is so on trend.

Convenience gardening

The UK is becoming a nation of tech savvy consumers with millions of homes now using robotic mowers to take on the garden. The Flymo 1200 R robotic mower and McCulloch ROB R600 and R1000 mowers operate in a similar way to robotic vacuum cleaners, making their way around the garden 24 hours a day, trimming the tips of the grass to let micro clippings form mulch to feed the lawn. Without human intervention, they return to their docking station to charge, then off they go again around the garden working within their boundary wires for a consistently perfect lawn. Robotic mowers are quiet, theft-proof and emit no fumes but the most popular feature is of course that you never have to mow the lawn again.

And finally…

Indoors and out, it’s all about ‘Instagrammable’

Making your garden Instagram worthy was on the tip of most people’s tongues at GLEE. The unicorn trend is hugely popular in the beauty and fashion world and this colourful trend is crossing over into the garden with playful accessories and planting. It was all about flamingos at Grand Designs Live with everything from plant pots to soft furnishings rocking these colourful birds. The demand for all that glitters, shimmers and glows doesn’t look like it is going to slow down in 2018 – look out for colours including mango, fuchsia pink and purple sprinkled with sparkling magic dust. If it looks good enough to eat, it goes.

Brands like Firemizer, an eco-friendly fuel saving gadget, even offers to make your log burner more Instagram friendly by spreading the flames evenly and creating a picture perfect fire every time.

It seems that even the most dedicated DIY-ers are looking for simple solutions to get the best results with a short cut. Experiences are more important than the purchase – it must look good (for the ultimate social media feed), feel good (to spend time in and enjoy) or do good (limit effects on the environment around us).

We’ll be watching out for how these trends develop in 2018.

O represents a wide range of homes and gardens clients across PR, blogger relations, social media and digital content – to find out more contact us at letstalk@opr.co.uk

SOCIAL MEDIA RECORDS SMASHED AT BRITISH MASTERS

The O team was excited to be the regional agency behind one of this year’s biggest sporting events in the region as the British Masters arrived at Close House in September.

British golfing stars to join Lee Westwood at this year's British Masters

The event achieved over 22m social media impressions – the highest ever for the British Masters – with almost 70,000 spectators attending the tournament and £472,552 raised for the official charity Graham Wylie Foundation.

Our social media team were there throughout the event to capture the excitement running campaigns across Instagram and Facebook whilst our media team worked with the European Tour to ensure a consistent stream of breaking player announcements, local partnerships and PR stunt activity kept our regional media abreast with event news. Working with the regional press, O secured their support throughout the North East and Northumberland and as a result, media coverage was widespread in all key publications, online and broadcast.

A number of successful campaigns saw British Masters’ takeovers on Metro Radio, adverts placed on Classic FM and Smooth Radio, and full page print promotions appear in the likes of The Journal, The Chronicle, Sunday Sun and further afield in a variety of Cumbria-based titles.

The noise around the event created over 8 million page views on EuropeanTour.com and three times the Sky Sports Golf viewers for the Presidents Cup Sunday coverage.

To watch all the behind the scenes action from our OSoSocial team click here

10 Social Media Statistics You Need To Know Before 2018

Social media is perpetually living in the fast lane. New statistics are brought out frequently regarding usage across the world. This is partly due to business reasons (publicly traded companies need to divulge this info to the stock market for example). It can also be released so that agencies and brands can then make important informed decisions regarding their own marketing efforts.

 

With this in mind here are the most important stats you will need to know before the New Year from across the social media industry.

  1. Facebook currently has over 2bn users worldwide as of June 2017. (Source: Facebook). This represents a 17% rise year on year. Basically this means Facebook is too big to ignore. 5 new profiles are created somewhere in the world every second!
  1. 96% of users who discuss brands on social media do not follow those brands’ pages (source: Brandwatch). As a result brands need to go beyond their own channels to gain insight into brand loyalty and perception. It also means there are lots of conversations happening about your brand already, you just have to go and find them…
  1. Video is still King! As well a hugely engaged with digital content type, social video content just keeps on growing. On Facebook over 8bn video views occur every day (source: TechCrunch). It is even more on Snapchat where 10bn video views happen (source: Bloomberg).
  1. 85% of all Instagram users in the UK are younger than 45 yrs old. (Source: NapoleonCat). With 17m users in total in the UK, 56% are female. If that encompasses your audience, its time to up your ‘gram game.
  1. More than 60m businesses currently have a Facebook page (Source: SproutSocial). That means, clever and relevant content is more important than ever if you want to make real connections on Facebook. It also explains why an ‘always on’ Facebook advertising strategy is worth investing in to keep your brand front of mind.

     

  1. Everyone on Facebook is no more than 3.5 Degrees of Separation apart on average (source: Facebook). Understanding this is key to brands wanting to increase their organic reach. Creating content worth sharing is therefore important as if friends and family share the content it can go viral.
  1. More than 20k photos are shared on Snapchat every second (source: OmnicoreAgency). It would also take you 10 years to view all of the photos that have been published on the platform within the previous hour. The audience may not be as big as Facebook but they are very active!
  1. 87% of Pinterest users have purchased a product after browsing on the platform (source: Omnicore Agency). This is a staggering statistic, if you’re an ecommerce business then Pinterest could do a lot of the hard work for you.
  1. There are over 10m active jobs on LinkedIn currently (source: LinkedIn). Even though Facebook are making moves to challenge the job marketing sector, right now, if you are looking to hire someone over social there is only one place to be.
  1. Snapchat is the number 1 network for teenagers (source: Piper Jaffray). However, it is worth noting that Instagram comes in second followed by Facebook.

 

The constantly shifting landscape of social media means these numbers are likely to change as 2018 progresses.

We’re excited to see how rumoured new products and companies attempt to enter the market in the coming months. To stay up to date, sign up to our weekly O So Social newsletter.

TOP SOCIAL TRENDS THAT WILL TRAVEL INTO 2018

As the summer season draws to a close, we return to work and the nights draw in – thoughts of 2018 holidays start to enter our minds.

Our Instagram feeds begin to change from snaps of sandy beaches to pumpkin spice Starbucks lattes and colourful autumn leaves.

But 2018 holiday planning starts early so the time for inspiration starts now.

Our social media team look back at the big travel trends that took off in 2017 that will keep cruising well into next year…

Photo of a young woman with a backpack, wandering around in nature and relaxing

LOCAVVELLERS – wanting to be part of the local area is a growing trend, especially among millennial travellers who increasingly want life-enhancing experiences on holiday over a beach and book. From staying in locals’ own homes (see 3. IRL holidays) to doing volunteer work, or meeting local artisans and tucking in at backstreet eateries on the locals know about. Discovery is the biggest souvenir for this audience.

Happy backpacker traveller stay in high quality hotel

LUXE-PACKING – more and more Instagram feeds are filling up with business class flights to a backpacking tour, or budget airline travel to a luxurious 7 star-resort. The days of luxury and budget being for two separate types of traveller have gone and people are displaying split-personality holiday choices.

Young woman using smart phone on vacations, travel concept

DIGITAL RETOX – despite the evidence showing a digital detox is good for you, it seems the annual vacation is not the time people are ditching their iPhones – quite the opposite. Gone are the days when people said “I’m not taking my phone on holiday OR ‘I won’t be posting any pictures to my Facebook until I return from holiday” – people are now choosing to document each day, if not hour, on their Stories.

To receive our full eBook of the top 10 travel trends heading into 2018, please email letstalk@opr.co.uk with the subject TRAVEL EBOOK.

O PR ACCOUNT MANAGER TAKING A HIKE

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In December 2016 I found myself with two weeks of free time between leaving my former role and becoming part of the O PR family. During this time I was lucky enough to volunteer with the incredible fundraising team at Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle upon Tyne where I found their team working hard to promote a charity trek to Costa Rica in January 2018. Coming from a travel marketing background I was tasked with helping the Marie Curie team to promote the event in the North East, encouraging everyone from intrepid explorers to coach potatoes to climb seven volcanoes in seven days to help raise funds to provide a better life for people and their families living with a terminal illness. Easy right?

Coming from the North East, knowing family and friends who have been affected by cancer, I have always been aware that the hospice was an incredible organisation but I had not fully appreciated the passion, time and love that goes into making the hospice a place of peace, and a celebration of life. After two days surrounded by the boundless enthusiasm of the fundraising team and hearing stories of how Marie Curie nurses truly touch people’s lives when they are needed most, I had to get involved.

So, from the 20 – 28 January 2018 I will be hiking the volcanoes of Costa Rica to help them continue their invaluable work. This challenge will be physically tough but completely worth it to contribute a small about towards their aim to provide a better life for people and their families living with a terminal illness.

Last year their dedicated doctors and nurses cared for more than 600 patients at a cost of £4.6 MILLION. That’s incredible. It costs over £6000 to keep the hospice running for just one day and my aim is to raise just half that by the 3rd November 2017.

From car boot sales, baking and beauty days through to a frankly hilarious tea party for dogs, my brilliantly supportive family, friends and colleagues have smiled and nodded politely as I spouted endless nonsense at them over the past year, before digging deep and helping me every step of the way.

Everyone knows the people of the North East have the biggest hearts and so far they helped to raise over £1,500 which is enough to pay for a portable oxygen system that will relieve distressing symptoms wherever the patient happens to be, so they aren’t confined to bed.

A donation of just £20 will pay for a Marie Curie nurse to care for someone with a terminal illness for an hour. £130 pays for someone with a terminal illness to attend the day therapy unit at the hospice and £400 pays for someone to stay in a Marie Curie Hospice for 24 hours, so that they can receive the hands-on care they need in their final days.

All the money raised through fundraising over the next year will go directly to the hospice – travel, accommodation etc will be covered at my expense. Though if you have any spare mosquito repellent, I won’t say no…

It’s really easy to get involved and pledge your support, simply text LARI58 £5 to 70070 or visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/regan-ingram

Lava you, Lauren Regan-Ingram

Account Manager

The Future Of Co-Branding on Instagram

Up until recently, the way influencers and celebrities revealed their content on Instagram had been sponsored by a brand was by using the hashtags #ad or #sponsored within the post copy.

More often than not, the sponsored hashtags were buried within other hashtags at the bottom of the post.

This could be seen as an attempt to mislead followers into thinking the post is an organic and authentic post from the influencer which is something the Advertising Standard Authority discourage.

Aside from the legal implications of misleading followers, the content strategy from both the influencer’s point of view and Instagram as a channel, needs to remain authentic. We’ve all scrolled through Instagram and spotted a co-branded post which feels totally alien to the influencer’s personal brand. It can lead to disengagement with the influencer and the platform itself if every other post appears to be a covert advertisement.

Co-branded activity isn’t new and is something consumers are used to in all other forms of advertising (print, TV etc.) so it was only a matter of time before Instagram took on a more sophisticated way of harnessing co-branded content.

In comparison, Facebook’s existing ability to tag in brands into posts has meant when influencers and celebrities co-create content they are able to be more transparent with their partnerships:

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Now, Instagram is bringing this simple element to its platform by allowing influencers to tag in sponsored brands in their posts.

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This tagging feature is now being rolled out on Instagram after testing with select partners since June.

Although this is seemingly just a small tweak, it will no doubt diminish any transparency issues encouraging more collaborations and engaging co-branded content.