Twitter Intensifies its Rivalry with New Features

Twitter recently announced plans to introduce a few new features for its users to increase the usability and interface of the social networking site. These new features include group messages when sending Direct Messages and the ability to capture, edit and share video content that’s up to 30 seconds in length. So what do these enhanced features mean for Twitters user base and their rivalry with other social networks.

Now being able to send messages to a group of people means Twitter is competing more against other established apps such as Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp. One of drawbacks of Twitter was that their Direct Messaging system wasn’t that useful and was really there just as other social networks have it and because people might use it. I personally don’t really utilise the Direct Messaging feature on Twitter as there are so many other uses like Retweeting, Favouriting and discovering trends that I use it for. For brands having this new update could save them a lot of time when contacting users to tell them something such as they’ve won a prize. Twitter has always been behind when it comes to messaging but now as they’ve placed greater emphasis on it, their competition against the other networks might increase, and see Direct Messages being used more.

Twitter’s new video feature for me is one of the best things they’ve done for some time as it was frustrating recording a video then not being able to upload it onto the network. If you wanted to upload a video to Twitter you’d have to do it via their app Vine, from YouTube or another video streaming site such as Vimeo. But now users can record them, edit to a desired length, then share to their audience. This is a great move for brands who can add more creativity to their content and not feel restricted to just status updates with words or images. Vine is a wonderful tool for 6 second videos on loop, but now being able to record 30 second ones means more can be put into it and edited to something that’s of a higher quality…rather than a rush. The engagement rates for brands will also increase due to the improved content quality and variety in posting, something which us social media people love to monitor. For the rivalry of Twitter this is an essential feature due to Facebook and Instagram now both allowing autoplaying videos, so this feature has never been so crucial for them.

Both these new updates for Twitter illustrate that the social network has got some good plans to keep its competitive edge on the other networks out there, which is needed having recently seen Instagram having more active users than it. For me Twitter has been quite lazy recently as they don’t seem to be evolving as much as other social networks. You look at Instagram for example, they’ve introduced many new features, as have Facebook and Snapchat, but Twitter does seem to be quite reactive. Looking at Twitter now and a year ago, there’s not many changes in terms of functionality. The interface has changed a lot, but the new features are the first for some time.

So the new features Twitter has installed have been a welcome change to users and marketers a like. Let’s hope this is the start of many.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget to follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more social media and digital marketing news and views.

Is the value of a Snapchat Ad really worth $750,000 per day?

This month Snapchat announced plans that they’re going to start charging brands the astronomical figure of $750,000 or about £500,000 for ads on the platform per day. For this amount of money brands get to show an ad to the social networks youthful and teenage audience…which will promptly disappear in 24 hours. So let’s break this down further. That means a brand would be paying $31,250 an hour, or $520 a minute or $9 a second. For me the figure that is most telling is how much brands are paying a second, as Snapchat ads, stories and messages only last up to 1-30 seconds. So if you’re posting an ad that lasts 30 seconds, you’ve just coughed up $270! Of course there’s no guarantee that the recipient will see out the whole ad, as they might just delete it, thus money wasted!

The other drawback of Snapchat’s ads, if the cost hasn’t already made you faint, is the fact you can’t target them to specific users. So it literally is a mass Snapchat message with no personalisation or anything. I mean for something generic like food this might be ok, but for something specific such as womens clothing, I personally don’t really want to see that (my days of wearing womens clothing are behind me). So the fact you aren’t able to target is a big issue. But I guess the cost is the reason for this. If Snapchat decides to release a targeted ads system, the cost I presume might be lower as you are hitting fewer users. Although it might actually be higher as you’re targeting more specifically!

The question to ask is why and how can Snapchat ask for so much from brands. One of the reasons is that it’s one of the fastest growing apps and social networks around with over 30 million users and this isn’t showing any signs of slowing down as more people sign up and brands look to exploit it. Also there’s a high value to get ads to people’s smartphones and through Snapchat’s ads brands can achieve just this. That’s because when you receive the snap, this is the only ad you see, as it’s not like a website page with loads of banner ads, it’s one ad that takes up your screen. Some might compare this to Instagram’s ad strategy too.

Is there actually any benefit in paying this amount of money? I mean is there actually any value in it, will you get a decent return or any if that. It’s quite hard to determine the ROI of these ads, and a lot will depend on the call to action. If it’s ‘opens’ then this isn’t really a great metric although clicks or website visits/sign ups might be a better determinant of success. Either way it appears Snapchat hasn’t really thought about this yet, nor really has any brand.

So only time will tell whether brands pay the handsome sum of $750,000 for an ad, or will Snapchat rethink this cost strategy. Thanks for reading and please do comment on your views of Snapchat’s ad cost. In the meantime, please do follow my blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart for more digital marketing and social media news.

My Marketing and Social Media Predictions for 2015!!!

First of all let me take this moment to wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! In this blog I’m going to highlight some of my predictions for 2015 in the social media and marketing space.

Instagram to Continue its Growth 

I recently wrote how Instagram now has more active users than Twitter and in 2015 I expect the photo sharing app to continue its growth in users. It wouldn’t surprise me if Instagram introduced many new features in the coming months of 2015 in addition to the recent ones. Also Instagram for business will increase as brands look to take advantage of Instagrams growing audience.

Social Advertising Spend

Many brands are now allocating funds for social media usage whether that’s for Promoted Posts on Twitter, Facebook ads, or investing in creative content, I expect more money to be spent on this growing trend. Brands are now spending more money on digital marketing activities such as social media, search or mobile, meaning greater focus is on these areas rather than traditional marketing.

The Rise of Snapchat

2015 should see the mobile app Snapchat increase it’s presence on the social media space. At the moment Snapchat only allows you to send photos but recently they announced plans to introduce a payment system called Snapcash, so more new features could be added to the app. I expect Snapchat to add greater enhanced features such as profile pages, more filters on Snaps and possibly a greater messaging system. Of course these are features that would enhance Snapchat’s service.

Mobile to Grow Even More

Every year we say that mobile will grow in the coming year, and you kind of think how much more can it grow?! But 2015 will once again see brands and consumers presence on mobile increase. This rise will see brands spend more money on mobile whether that’s creating or developing a mobile optimised site, introducing mobile payments or releasing an app, this sector is rising. Additionally, mobile advertising will grow as brands try to secure the screen on smartphones, as apps such as Twitter and Facebook enhance their advertising platforms. Also more people now have smartphones so brands are seeing this opportunity to advertise to a whole new audience as well as offer their products and services online.

Wearable Technology All The Rage

Wearable technology is going to rise even more as the year progresses through releases such as Smartwatches. This could see more watches that now offer users the chance to send texts, access email and other apps…oh…and maybe it’ll tell the time too.

Big Data will be…Big

Gone are the days of looking at data from your customers and ignoring it, but now these figures are becoming even more vital to gain great insights into a brands audience. 2015 will see social media and marketing managers analyse more data than ever to really find out who their audience is and what they like. This will see an increase in brands using analytics tools to see for instance what interests their social media followers are in to, where they are from, who they follow, whether they’re male or female and a whole multitude of other stats. All these demographic, geographic and psychographic insights will enable brands to create content that is more tailored to the audience, thus increasing engagement.

Content is the King of 2015

The marketing term that has been banished round for some time is ‘content’, and how ‘it is king’, and this will continue to be the case in 2015. There’s never been a more valuable time for brands to create and post content whether that’s a photo, a video or a status update which is interesting, shareable, creates awareness, is fun and of high quality. That’s why brands will invest money in developing this content whether that’s in house designers or outsourcing it to agencies.

Real Time Marketing (RTM) is the REAL Deal

More brands are now taking the opportunity to exploit internet trends and popular news stories with creative and humorous content. I’ll take you back to the summer when Apples ‘Bendgate’ was in full flight, and brands quickly jumped on the bandwagon. This is a classic example of a news story creating a massive influx of hilarity and fun from brands. I’ve previously written about how Real Time Marketing is the way to go as it illustrates to a brands audience that they’re current and at the same time keeping an eager eye on what’s going on in the news. I fully see more brands allocating time and money to creating great RTM campaigns in the year to come.

Of course, RTM isn’t always the best strategy to take as if you, and your competitors are all doing it, it doesn’t make it unique anymore. Thus it’s very important to have the first mover advantage of getting there before anymore else and getting something out quickly. However, always be aware that misfortune could happen to anyone…so it was Apple one day, it could easily be you another day…

Storytelling

When we say storytelling we aren’t about to tell you a fariytale…or maybe we are depending on the brand, but this is how brands can differentiate themselves by telling us a story of their brand or campaign. Take for instance John Lewis’ successful Monty the Penguin Christmas advert. This told us the romantic story of Monty and Mabel the penguins and their search for love and to spend Christmas together. These stories add emotion to us as viewers and in some cases make us relate with the narrative…maybe the love side, not being a penguin! Having a great story behind how your brand started or your campaign attracts the audience and creates fantastic social media content!

Personalisation

Brands more than ever are not trying to just post content that is targeted at the masses, but now is aimed at niche and specific people who can then in turn relate to it. The upcoming year will see brands trying to be much more personal with their activities. Obviously this won’t mean posting 100,000 different Twitter status’ for 100,000 followers, but a greater number of posts will target a brands audience. This comes hand in hand with big data and analysing a brands audience, as when they can see who their audience is, personalisation becomes easier.

There’s a lot of Talk about Chat Apps

One thing I’ve noticed over the past year is how much chat apps such as WhatsApp and We Chat have grown, and 2015 won’t see this stop. However, brands haven’t really exploited them yet, maybe because of their nature, but I’d be excited to see how brands in 2015 will use these as the apps audience base grows.

A New Social Network? Is it needed?

There’s always one social network that suddenly grows and takes the social media landscape by storm. 2011 was Google+ (more a drizzle), 2012 it was Pinterest, 2013 was Instagram and 2014 was Snapchat, so who will it be in 2015? There might be a growth in current networks but could an entirely new one come to our attention. But is another social network needed? I mean I work in social media and am amerced in it everyday but even I struggle to follow what’s going on, on my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and all the others, so how someone that doesn’t work in social media copes I don’t know! I don’t think my life at the moment needs another social network. I’d maybe prefer it to replace a current one. However, if the new network was unique and did something completely different I might find time for it!

So there’s some of my 2015 predictions! I’ll probably be writing a blog post in December to see if any of these happened…or if my mystic meg abilities are totally wrong! if you have any predictions for 2015 please feel free to comment. For more digital marketing news follow this blog, and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart .

Is Snapcash a Wise Move for Snapchat?

Earlier this week Snapchat announced ‘Snapcash’, a new feature that’ll enable users to make payments via Square. This will allow users to send money to each other through the messaging app after Snapchat and payment-processing firm Square unveiled their latest partnership. Square already has a similar platform on its app where friends can make payments to each other, and is called ‘Square Cash’. Ah so that’s where the name Snapcash comes from!

The service will initially be available to US users that are over 18, although for me there are two questions that this new feature poses. Firstly, is it secure? And secondly, why has Snapchat introduced this feature before other potential new features.

Snapchat has had security concerns before, such as users data being leaked, so it surprises me that they’ve introduced probably one of the most security sensitive aspects there is in the exchanging of payments. If simple data like your password is getting hacked, who knows what could happen to crucial bank details. I’m personally slightly sceptical, and wouldn’t really feel conformable about firstly exchanging money on Snapchat, and secondly via a mobile app in general. Additionally, with the problem of sexting and inappropriate images being sent between users, the chances of vulnerable under 18’s getting their bank details stolen rises.

Although having Square built into the system will add authenticity and quality to the security element and give the feature much better safely and control. Also it’s quite a bold move by Snapchat which they should be commended for, as not many mobile apps have this feature so early on in their existence.

For me it’s strange that Snapchat has decided to introduce this payments system before any other major improvements. Obviously they’ve developed new features such as Snapchat Stories and Messaging, but there’s no sign of other aspects that might improve the app. These could include having longer snaps that you can save, creating a profile page or having a commercial platform on it. But the nature of Snapchat is to send snaps to your friends, so why not send payments, it’s still the same C2C theory.

So it’ll be interesting to see whether Snapcash takes off in the US, and then internationally. Will people trust it? Will it bring a whole new market and way of paying people? Or will it be a flop or just a basic feature we forget about.

Thanks for reading, please let me know your thoughts on Snapcash.

For more digital marketing and social media news, please follow me on Twitter @DigitalStuart 

Social Networking Sites at a Glance

Here for your enjoyment is a quick glance at some social networking site facts!

Facebook

Launched: 2004

Founders: Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes

Headquarters: Menlo Park, California, USA

Number of users: 1.19 billion (active)

What can you do?: Create a profile, share status updates, photos and videos, create events, post on someone’s Timeline, Like pages, join groups, send messages, hashtag trends

Twitter

Launched: 2006

Founders: Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Number of users: 500 million (200+ active users)

What can you do?: Create a profile and bio, share status updates (tweets) in 140 characters, follow and be followed by users, follow hashtag trends, retweet, send direct messages

LinkedIn

Launched: 2003

Founders:  Reid Hoffman, Allen Blue, Konstantin Guericke, Eric Ly and Jean-Luc Vaillant

Headquarters: Mountain View, California, USA

Number of users: 259 million

What can you do?: Create an online CV, connect with fellow professionals to increase your network, search for jobs, follow companies, join groups, send messages, search for news stories, update your status

Google+

Launched: 2011

Founders:  Owned by Google; their founders: Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Headquarters: Menlo Park, California, USA

Number of users: 540 million (300+ active users)

What can you do?: Create a profile and bio, add users to your circles, create hangouts, join Google+ pages, join communities, +1 something, share photos and videos, create events, hashtag trends, use Google search, message users

(For the pros and cons of Google+, please see: ‘Google Plus or Google Minus’)

Pinterest

Launched: 2010

Founders: Paul Sciarra, Evan Sharp and Ben Silbermann

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Number of users: 70 million

What can you do?:  Create a profile, create ‘boards’, ‘pin’ photos of your hobbies and interests on those boards, follow other users boards and repin their posts

Tumblr

Launched: 2007

Founder: David Karp (Owned by Yahoo!)

Headquarters: New York City, USA

Number of users: 216.3 million monthly visitors

What can you do?:  Create a profile, write blog posts, follow and be followed by other users

WordPress

Launched: 2003

Founders: Matt Mullenweg and Mike Little

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Number of users: 73 million

What can you do?:  Create a profile, write blog posts, follow and be followed by other users

Flickr

Launched: 2004

Founders: Stewart Butterfield and Caterina Fake (Owned by Yahoo!)

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, California, USA

Number of users: 87 million

What can you do?:  Create a profile, share photos and videos

YouTube

Launched: 2005

Founders: Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim (Owned by Google)

Headquarters: San Bruno, California, USA

Number of users: 1 billion

What can you do?:  Create a profile, share videos, follow other users channels, have others follow your channels

Instagram

Launched: 2010

Founders: Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (Owned by Facebook)

Headquarters:, Menlo Park, California, USA

Number of users: 150 million

What can you do?: A mobile app that enables you to create a profile bio, share photos, follow and be followed by other users, hashtag trends, send direct messages

Snapchat

Launched: 2011

Founders: Evan Spiegel and Robert Murphy

Headquarters:, Menlo Park, California, USA – (Stanford, California)

Number of users: 350 million

What can you do?:  A mobile app that enables you to create a username, send photos and videos whilst adding text and drawings to them; the snaps are sent like text messages and will be accessible for one to ten seconds

Vine

Launched: 2013

Founders: Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll (Owned by Twitter)

Headquarters: San Francisco, California, USA

Number of users: 40 million

What can you do?:  A mobile app that enables you to post short video clips for a maximum of six seconds

So there you have it. That’s a quick overview of the details of all the main social networking sites. Hope you liked all those facts! Please follow my blog for more digital marketing posts or my Twitter account @DigitalStuart

Thanks for reading 🙂