RETAIL WATCH: The social media changes that the retail industry needs to know about

By Sammy Sadler, Agency Marketing Manager.

Social media is constantly evolving and changing the way we interact with everyday life and that certainly hasn’t slowed down in 2018. In retail specifically, social platforms are adapting to accommodate online purchases through their channel, shortening the purchasing journey and making it simpler for the customer.

From the rise of hyperlocal influencer marketing to Facebook’s Collection ads that can showcase a range of a retail products in one place, social media is exposing users to more brands than ever before.

So what are the most recent changes in social media that the retail industry should be aware of?

Shopping ads

Last week, Instagram looked set to follow in Facebook’s footsteps as they began testing Collection ads on the platform. The photo-sharing app, which is already a popular option with fashion and beauty influencers, is looking to allow consumers to browse and purchase products without leaving the platform.

Big players in beauty and fashion industries including Birchbox and Revolve are amongst the first to test the new feature that will blend video with catalogue pages to promote products.

No word yet as to if/when this will roll out further but it’s one to watch for those with a product catalogue to showcase.

instagram-cell-phone-tablet-device-163148 retail

 

Paypal invoicing and payment options

Last November, Facebook and Paypal announced that they had launched an extension for Messenger to allow sellers based in the US to invoice buyers directly through the Messenger app.

Ideal for use with Facebook marketplaces, the invoicing option provides a convenient way for smaller business transactions through private messaging.

Although the extension is currently only available for US users, Facebook did introduce UK peer-to-peer payments last year through Messenger so fingers crossed.

 

Snapstore

snapchat retail
Earlier this month, Snap Inc. launched a merchandise store through Snapchat which sparked conversation around a potential e-commerce platform within the app.

By scanning the Snap Code with the Snap Chat camera, users are able to browse the Snap Store and complete purchases without having to leave the app.

As of yet there has been no official comment on whether this option will be available for brands using the platform, however it could prove an effective way to reach a teen audience with ease.


Pincodes

Hosting collections of images ranging from fashion and beauty buys to travel infographics and DIY hacks, Pinterest is a visual dream for consumers hunting for their next purchase.

Already a popular option for retailers advertising their product catalogue, Pinterest expanded their features with the addition of Pincodes. A unique take on QR codes, Pincodes unlock specially curated boards created by brands and publishers that feature special collections and additional content.

Aside from Pincodes and their impressive visual search option, Lens Your Look, Pinterest does already offer users the opportunity to buy products via a partnership with ShopStyle. Through Shop The Look, consumers are exposed to more than 5 million products across 25,000 brands from fashion to home décor.

If you aren’t currently using Pinterest then 2018 should be the year that you start.

Liked this post? Check out our recent blog looking at the upcoming changes to the Facebook news feed and how they can spell opportunity for brands. 

 

WHY FACEBOOK’S NEWS FEED CHANGE SPELLS OPPORTUNITY FOR BRANDS

By The O Social Team.

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 influencer 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 and it’s 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 scale-up

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.

 

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.

What Solar Eclipse? How Taylor Swift Won At Social Media Without Posting Anything

Forget the solar eclipse, the buzz on our social feeds has been all about Taylor Swift. But it’s not about her latest #selfie or shocking celebrity clap-back that’s made headlines.

Instead of posting a piece of new content the singer’s social presence completely wiped itself clean seemingly overnight. On August 18th (which conveniently coincided with a solar eclipse in the USA 2 days later) all of the existing messages, tweets, posts, etc from every social channel owned by the singer were wiped from existence. Even her website was replaced by a “Blank Space”.

Taylor Swift fans immediately went into meltdown trying to decipher what the meaning was. Some fans commented wondering whether it was in response to her recent court case and wanting to “Shake it Off”. More likely, it is an upcoming album launch.

Since then the first posts on the singer’s social channels after the blackout have now gone live and feature ominous teaser snake videos.

A post shared by Taylor Swift (@taylorswift) on

Whilst not everyone here at O is a big-time a Swiftie fan it certainly got us thinking about how you would even go about deleting everything from your social platforms. This isn’t like when Ed Sheeran or Kanye West decided to delete their channels, as the accounts are still very much intact. Taylor Swift had close to 1k tweets on her Twitter channel before the social blackout. That would take a while to wash away especially without someone from her audience noticing what was happening.

Of course, it is highly plausible that members of Taylor’s team were hired to delete or archive the posts en masse however that would be a huge undertaking. If we extrapolate that it takes about 3 seconds give to delete one tweet that would be an equivalent of 50 minutes of solid deleting just on Twitter.

There are apps available that enable you users to delete activity in bulk. It is therefore quite possible that this would have been the easier way to manage this mass clear out quickly and quietly. Apps like Clear or Xpire are designed to search through your previous social activity and delete posts that may be embarrassing. This could then be extended to delete all tweets and photos so it wouldn’t be too much a stretch to see this happen.

The true nature of Taylor Swift’s sudden change will probably become apparent as more of this story develops and, while the genius of the PR buzz this has generated is undoubted, it does raise a few interesting points. So much of our lives exist on social media for the world to see, it may be worthwhile every so often to curate our own online personas. We are very careful to see how we look in real life so why would we not be as careful online? Companies now look at social profiles when hiring so maybe more of us could do with wiping our more embarrassing posts out of existence. Some of today’s politicians could definitely do with taking more care over what they have say in online.

Of course Taylor Swift could have just been hacked…it does seem unlikely though.

WHAT THE O TEAM DIDN’T DO BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media, has become an integrated part of our every day life. A world where egos and even happiness relies on virtual likes, and let’s face it, is something we all struggle to live without.

The rise of Instagram especially has welcomed an influx of influencers on a global and hyperlocal level, advertising everything from makeup to fashion, holiday destinations to local experiences and beauty to food and drink. The power that these influencers have goes beyond just having thousands of followers, they can communicate with their audience through a whole range of creative, eye-catching content and regularly engage in conversations with those that are following them.

As well as the addition of influencers, we can communicate with our own network more than we ever have been able to before. Whether that is checking in on Facebook to let everyone know you are off on holiday, asking for recommendations of services in your area or simply video calling a family member in another country, it has never been easier than it is today. Most social media platforms offer free options to call and video chat your friends and you can even get creative with live video streaming to your whole profile network. Features such as Stories over on Facebook and Instagram are a quirky way to share your updates beyond a text post and Snapchat is rolling out more filters to transform your selfies as each day goes by.

But what was life even like before social media? Alongside the glittery stickers, hilarious GIFs and dog ears in a selfie, it’s hard to think how social media has actually changed our daily behaviour.

We decided to find out what members of the team here at O didn’t do before social media existed, to really see how it has affected our lives.

What did/didn’t you do before social media? Tweet us @OPRtweets and join in the conversation!

GO GREEN IN ’16 – LOVE OUR ENVIRONMENT

Who would have thought social media would have such an impact on our environment? A Like for a Like makes the whole world blind and seeing as it’s almost Valentine’s Day we want everyone to fall in love with our Earth again.

As a nation we are coming to terms with the effects of our footprint on the world. We’re recycling and reusing as much as we can to try and save our planet from the devastation caused by the rates of consumption.

As we grow, the world resources deplete – so going digital seems like the ideal solution? Offices have become paperless, DVDs obsolete and the Internet of Things means driverless cars no longer hold their place in Sci-Fi movies but instead take their place on the open road.

But according to a recent article, going digital isn’t always the answer.

For every activity we take part in on the Internet whether it’s a download, a Like or simply following someone – there is a consequence. Each use of data needs to be stored and it is the current storage of that information which is raising concern. For once it’s not about privacy rights…

 

environment greenpeace

A recent report by The Independent’s Environment Editor Tom Bawden revealed that the way we currently store data is unsustainable in the long term.

Did you know, 2% of the world’s greenhouse emissions is caused by data centres? Did you know that these data centres also consume 3% of global electricity?

Governments across the globe are starting to put into action new measures which will help reduce our carbon footprint, such as housing data centres in cooler climates which will reduce the masses of energy it takes to keep them functioning.

At the rate of accelerating change, investing in green building is another. This being something Apple pledged in 2011 after Greenpeace named them the “least green” tech company. Since then Apple have given their green image some much-needed TLC and now power their data centres on 100% renewable sources. What’s good for the planet is also good for business.

Taking it one step further, Microsoft wants to build data centres under the sea. Water and electricity together, usually not such a good mix but this vision looks surprisingly promising.

So what can we do to help?

A full-time digital detox is in order. Downsize your follow list, unsaturate your news feed and cleanse the digital-sphere one finger-tap at a time.

Read the full article here.

The Body Coach: Not Just Your Average Joe …

Getting a hot body by eating the food you love and exercising less are the things dreams are made of, right? Personal trainer-come social media influencer-come bestselling author Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, has emerged as one of the most talked about men in the UK as we enter 2016 thanks to his ditch the diet mantra, showing us how to get Lean in 15.

2015 saw the rise of Instagram fitness stars come to be the go-to gurus for diet and exercise inspiration, becoming a new breed of celebrity, as we planned our meals around their snaps of healthy ‘clean’ grub and attempted to imitate their HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout videos.

The social media platform has had a huge positive effect on people’s attitudes towards health and fitness, in a world where previously, celebrity fitness DVDs and health magazines were the places people often turned to when looking to shape-up. Instagram opened up a gateway to a different side of fitness, giving users looking to make lifestyle changes for the better a can-do attitude, as they looked to people just like them for guidance and a little help along the way.

Throughout this fitness evolution emerged Joe, the self-titled Body Coach, a personal trainer using his free time to share quick and simple recipes via 15 second videos on Instagram to help people get lean and rescue those looking to shed a few pounds struggling on low calorie diets. Within a few months, hundreds of thousands of people were following along, copying these recipes at home and sharing them online, seeing The Body Coach become the king of the fitness social media community, growing a following of over 635,000 on Instagram, a Facebook community of over 500,000 and almost 100,000 Twitter followers.

This rise in popularity led to the creation of The Body Coach’s 90 Day SSS (shift, shape and sustain) Plan, a tailored 90 day meal plan bespoke to individuals, helping people see results and maintain them. As client’s body transformations went viral on social media, the huge demand for personalised 90 Day SSS Plans forced The Body Coach to step away from his personal training career to play his vital role in the nation’s health and fitness journeys.

The power of social media has also seen The Body Coach go from one man in his kitchen to bestselling author, claiming the number one spot in the UK book chart. In its first week, The Body Coach’s debut lifestyle guide, Lean in 15, released on 7 January 2016 is already breaking records, beating Delia Smith’s record for the amount of cookery books sold in the first week of sales by shifting over 77,000 copies – wow! Sales definitely aren’t slowing down, with 111,000 copies sold in its second week, showing the nation is keen to get lean.

So will 2016 be the year you get Lean in 15 thanks to The Body Coach? A lot of our office is certainly hoping so!