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.

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 .

WhatsApp Facebook? Buy the Competition or Diversify

So this week saw the quite surprising news that Facebook is set to acquire messaging service WhatsApp for a reported $19 billion, not much then! But for me it does pose the question in the social media and mobile landscape of whether Facebook’s major acquisitions are simply a ploy to buy the competition, or diversify into other areas and markets.

Taking that first theory, Facebook has a reputation of trying to buy out mobile platforms, most notably their successful acquisition of Instagram and again a few months ago with their failed bid for Snapchat. So you could argue that Facebook sees WhatsApp as a threat to their Facebook chat service, or any potential mobile platform that they might be developing in the future. Therefore, instead of sitting idle and watching WhatsApp rake in the money and become a competitor, they simply buy them! I mean it’s clever of Facebook to do this, as they clearly know what the market is doing and what’s (App) popular with consumers, and growing. But is this strategy a good one? I do feel Facebook is trying to become too embellished and wanting to become too much, and have their finger in all these pies. This could come to their detriment if they take their eye off their main channel, and basically the one thing they’re known for. So I suppose the saying would be. ‘If you can’t beat them, buy them’!

However, another school of thought is that it’s quite ingenuous of Facebook to buy out these companies, as they don’t have the skill, nor the user base to compete or create something such as a messaging app, or a photo sharing app in the case of Instagram. Facebook has tried and failed to diversify its platform into photo sharing and messaging, so the next best thing is to buy an established player. Acquiring WhatsApp is a smart move as here you have a very popular service that’s used by millions and growing everyday. Facebook doesn’t have to invest in R&D, product development or marketing, as the value of the WhatsApp branding  will do that automatically for them. Thus, these diversification strategies increase Facebooks market presence and tap into knowledge and well-established brands to take them to the next level.

But what of the future of WhatsApp. Facebook say that nothing will change, and it will remain as it is. Well, it’s maybe only a matter of time before advertising comes into the picture! I do actually believe Facebook a bit when they say they’ll keep everything the same, as they’ve not radically changed Instagram, as so many thought they would.

To finish, here’s one final thought. Apparently looking back on the founder of WhatsApp’s tweets, Brain Acton was turned down by Twitter and Facebook for a job in 2009. Oh the irony.

Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment. In the meantime please follow this blog and me on Twitter @DigitalStuart