Soon Every Social Media Platform Will Look Like Every Other One

– by David Bloom

If this year’s VidCon is any guide, its very busy organizers will soon have a much less difficult time deciding which of the many social-media platforms it should feature in coming editions of the conference. At the rate things are going, all the sites will look alike anyway.

As it was, this year’s online influencer gathering featured tens of thousands of fans, dozens of panels and performances, and all the usual big platforms alongside newcomers such as LinkedIn and Twitch. Many platforms had news to tout, but too often, their “news” sounded very familiar.

Video? Check. Long-form video? Check. Disappearing posts? Messaging? Live Video? Monetization tools? Check, check, check. And yes, check.

Call it the Big Schmear. The “cream cheese” of content and services on your favorite big bagel of a social-media platform will soon be festooned with pretty much every ingredient that everyone else has on theirs. And if anyone comes up with a new idea, everyone else will be quick to take a bite, by buying or copying it.

Everyone Wants To Be Everyone Else

That creeping, slightly creepy convergence was a constant source of conversation among those I talked with throughout the show. We were all discussing the implications of recent news like:

– Instagram announced IGTV, a standalone (though tightly integrated) mobile app for video posts of up to an hour. The goal: to be more like YouTube, and because it’s a mobile-friendly vertical format, Snapchat.
– YouTube announced more and more widely available monetization tools for its creators, including merchandising, subscription memberships, and event ticketing. The goal: to be more like Twitch. Musical.Ly and others with plentiful ways for creators to cash in on their audiences. .
– Twitch owner Amazon debuted its Merch merchandise fulfillment service, and spotlighted licensed goodies from veteran online stars Hannah Hart and Shane Dawson. Amazon also sponsored an “industry lounge” on the show’s top floor that fed and watered many brand and online-video executives. The lounge showed off even more Amazon offerings, like Handmade, a product service that seems a lot like Etsy.
– Snapchat extended its Shows, short-form episodic videos used heretofore by big publishers, to creators such as makeup guru Patrick Starrr. Snapchat also will begin sharing ad revenue with its influencers. The goal: to be more influencer friendly, like YouTube and Instagram.
– Facebook launched FB.GG, which gathers the site’s game-related creators and content in one place. The goal: to be more like Twitch and Gaming.YouTube.

These are only the latest lurches toward feature convergence. Most notoriously, of course, Facebook and its various holdings have been shamelessly copying every useful bit of Snapchat. In a minor moment of karmic justice, the copying hasn’t forestalled the flight of teens from Facebook.

In the past couple of years, Facebook also launched Watch (to be more like YouTube and Netflix) and Live (to keep up with Twitch, YouNow, LiveMe and similar players). More recently, Facebook commissioned CNN, ABC News, and other traditional media sites to create Watch-specific news shows. This may be another Facebook copycat move, given the notable, if uneven, success of news outlets on Snapchat Discover.

I’m dubious about all these #IAlso initiatives. It doesn’t take much innovation to straight copy Snapchat Stories, especially when your version even uses the same name, as on Instagram. Conversely, fans haven’t punished Instagram, which announced that it now has 1 billion users, up 200 million just since last fall.

Does More Make You Better?

The bigger question, of course, is whether adding everyone else’s features makes your favorite platform any better, or any more of a destination, or for that matter, any better a place for an influencer to ply her trade, or to cut a deal with a brand.

Every successful platform to date was built on its own unique DNA, the user interface and mechanics that made it work for the audience it created and the influencers who rose to prominence there. Doing a Jurassic Park on that DNA, extracting and bolting on the features of another platform to create some bellowing hybrid beast, doesn’t automatically translate to new fans or a better experience for anybody.

Now admittedly, not everyone at VidCon was as concerned as I am. One panel of industry notables was asked, “do all the platforms have to evolve to do everything?” Maybe not, some said.

Ivana Kirkbride, GM of OTT for Verizon’s Oath unit, insisted that “every platform serves a specific purpose.” Even look-alike functions manifest in different ways on different platforms, she said. “Facebook Watch is a very different experience” from YouTube, Netflix, Snapchat, traditional TV or even whatever IG TV becomes.

I’m certainly willing to accord Kirkbride some deference, given her run as a top executive at YouTube and Vessel before taking over Verizon’s Go90 unit and now all of its over-the-top video initiatives.

And long-time media critic and journalism professor Jeff Jarvis suggested that we’re only beginning to see what’s possible with online video, as it transforms nearly every corner of the media business, bringing lots of opportunity for more features and engagement in the future.

Things Are Looking Good For Influencers, But Diversification Still Key
I do expect, however, that the coming convergence means a lot more work for influencers themselves, and probably far less clarity about where they should devote their efforts.

Late on Day 2, I slipped into a standing-room-only workshop on branded content featuring influencer Brent Rivera and WhoSay Executive VP of Talent Harvey Schwartz. The workshop detailed the kinds of clever cross-platform posting and marketing strategies that influencers and advertisers must use in an era where, as Schwartz put it, “organic reach is dead.”

The highly technical conversation was not for neophytes. But it reminded me how far the industry has come in just a few years. In a conference room far above the milling crowds of pre-pubescent fans on the first floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, two of online video’s more prominent members talked about the science of online influence.

read more here: tubefilter.com

Video On Instagram Goes Pro

Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo and video-sharing app, is going pro. Last week, the company launched IGTV, a new long-form video app, which will also be viewable inside the main Instagram app.

IGTV features much longer videos than those on the main app, with a heavy emphasis on ones from professional creators. As with Snapchat, the videos will be in the vertical format which is increasingly becoming the default on mobile.

Instagram has tremendous scale, but it saw room to grow in the video ad market.

It’s hard to ignore the opportunity. According to eMarketer, U.S. digital video ad spending will rise to $17.87 billion this year, up 22% from last year. It is expected to jump 19% again next year. Meanwhile, 181.7 million Americans will watch video on their smartphones at least once per month, up 6% from last year.

“Instagram’s new video hub is all about stealing mobile video views away from YouTube and Snapchat, while making Instagram the preferred choice for all creators,” Eric Lam, CEO of the influencer marketing platform Revfluence, tells Digital News Daily. “It’s in line with Facebook’s mission to be king of the hill on mobile video, especially given video’s unparalleled importance to brands today and the shift by younger audiences from Facebook to Instagram.”

Instagram itself is on an explosive growth streak, and the expansion into long-form video appears designed to keep that going. Per eMarketer, Instagram will generate $5.48 billion in U.S. ad revenue this year, up 70.4% from last year. It has nearly 105 million users, up 13% from last year.

That scale is very appealing to brands, influencers and professional video creators looking to reach that massive audience. A dedicated app for long-form premium content, combined with a vertical for that content in the main app, could provide new prime real estate for marketers looking for a brand-safe place to advertise on the mobile platform.

Of course, influencers, creators and brands should also be ready to jump to another platform should the need arise, Telaria CEO Mark Zagorski tells Digital News Daily.

read more here: mediapost.com

Teens leaving Facebook for YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat

Until recently, Facebook had dominated the social media landscape among America’s youth – but it is no longer the most popular online platform among teens, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Today, roughly half (51 per cent) of US teens ages 13 to 17 say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

This shift in teens’ social media use is just one example of how the technology landscape for young people has evolved since the Center’s last survey of teens and technology use in 2014-2015. Most notably, smartphone ownership has become a nearly ubiquitous element of teen life: 95 per cent of teens now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fuelling more-persistent online activities: 45 per cent of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31 per cent) or mostly negative (24 per cent), but the largest share (45 per cent) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.

These are some of the main findings from the Center’s survey of US teens conducted in March and April 2018. Throughout the report, “teens” refers to those ages 13 to 17.

Facebook is no longer the dominant online platform among teens

The social media landscape in which teens reside looks markedly different than it did as recently as three years ago. In the Center’s 2014-2015 survey of teen social media use, 71 per cent of teens reported being Facebook users. No other platform was used by a clear majority of teens at the time: Around half (52 per cent) of teens said they used Instagram, while 41 per cent reported using Snapchat.

In 2018, three online platforms other than Facebook – YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat – are used by sizable majorities of this age group. Meanwhile, 51 per cent of teens now say they use Facebook. The shares of teens who use Twitter and Tumblr are largely comparable to the shares who did so in the 2014-2015 survey.

For the most part, teens tend to use similar platforms regardless of their demographic characteristics, but there are exceptions. Notably, lower-income teens are more likely to gravitate toward Facebook than those from higher-income households – a trend consistent with previous Center surveys. Seven-in-ten teens living in households earning less than $30,000 a year say they use Facebook, compared with 36 per cent whose annual family income is $75,000 or more.

It is important to note there were some changes in question wording between Pew Research Center’s 2014-2015 and 2018 surveys of teen social media use. YouTube and Reddit were not included as options in the 2014-2015 survey but were included in the current survey. In addition, the 2014-2015 survey required respondents to provide an explicit response for whether or not they used each platform, while the 2018 survey presented respondents with a list of sites and allowed them to select the ones they use. Even so, it is clear the social media environment today revolves less around a single platform than it did three years ago.

When it comes to which one of these online platforms teens use the most, roughly one-third say they visit Snapchat (35 per cent) or YouTube (32 per cent) most often, while 15 per cent say the same of Instagram. By comparison, 10 per cent of teens say Facebook is their most-used online platform, and even fewer cite Twitter, Reddit or Tumblr as the site they visit most often.

read more here: advanced-television.com

Engagement with Instagram Videos Is Surging

Savvy publishers are finding success on Instagram with video, a format the social media platform added to its app back in 2013 in a move that seemed revolutionary at the time—and still may prove to be.

According to new data from social media analytics firm NewsWhip, photos are typically still generating higher engagement levels than videos among Instagram users. (NewsWhip counted a “like” or a comment as engagement, which it also called a “content interaction.”)

But engagement numbers for videos posted to top media publisher accounts worldwide increased by 53% year over year in May, surpassing the 46% growth rate seen for photos over the same timeframe.

Some news and media organizations appear to be taking note of video’s appeal among Instagram users, and a select few have been adding such content at a furious pace. Sports Illustrated, for example, posted just eight videos to its Instagram account in May 2016, but upped that figure to 325 this May. ESPN, for its part, more than doubled its number of Instagram videos over the same period.

Sports-focused site Bleacher Report outpaced any other publisher by posting 479 videos on Instagram in May 2017. The Turner Broadcasting System-owned site seems to have figured out a winning formula for driving engagement on the platform.

NewsWhip found that Bleacher Report logged more than 74.5 million content interactions in May—more than 10 times the second-place finisher, Fox News, among the platforms it examined. BuzzFeed News also saw an impressive improvement in its content interaction figures, with engagement levels increasing by 687% between May 2016 and May 2017.

There’s an obvious reason for the spike in the number of videos posted to these media properties’ Instagram accounts: Publishers have increasingly been turning to video ads to bolster their bottom lines. According to a forecast from Dentsu Aegis Network, worldwide ad spending on digital video will jump 25.4% next year.

The trend of increased social video advertising is reflected in sentiments expressed by those overseeing ad budgets. An April survey of marketers in the US carried out by cloud-based video creation company increase spending on Instagram video ads over the coming year.

read more here:
https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Engagement-with-Instagram-Videos-Surging/1016454

YouTube’s Teen Viewers Complain of Too Many Ads

YouTube is accessed daily by more US teens than any other social platform, but these viewers also say it has too many ads.

More than four in 10 teen YouTube users ages 12 to 17 say there are too many ads on the platform, according to a January 2017 survey from Forrester Research. eMarketer projects that 23.2 million 12- to 17-year-olds will watch digital video monthly this year.

Snapchat and Instagram were tied as the two platforms teens were least likely to feel had too many ads. Just over one in 10 teen users of each platform complained about excessive ads.

But a heavy ad load hasn’t deterred teens from using YouTube. The study also found that 77% of teens use it daily, compared with 55% who use Facebook, the second most popular social network among the demographic.

Teens appear willing to put up with ads on YouTube, along with other services like Facebook, which 26% of users said had too many ads.

The type of ad being served may have an effect on whether or not teen users notice how plentiful those ads might be.

“Teens might think there are too many ads on YouTube because YouTube ads are pre-roll or sometimes mid-roll video ads that users have to either watch, or click to skip after a few seconds,” said Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst at eMarketer.

“They may be more likely to skim right by ads that appear on Facebook or other social platforms, as the ads are native to the service,” she said.

An earlier study by IPG Media Lab and YuMe found that pre-roll ads—the kind commonly served on YouTube—were considered the least interruptive video format by US internet users overall.

read more here:

https://www.emarketer.com/Article/YouTubes-Teen-Viewers-Complain-of-Too-Many-Ads/1016436

Will Snapchat’s Data Play Fend Off Competition?

Wall Street investors seem undecided about whether Snapchat is indeed the wave of the future or just a flash in the pan.

But one month after its IPO, the messaging app’s execs are doggedly focused on broadening Snapchat’s appeal to brands—notably direct response-minded companies.

“Snapchat has a perfect opportunity to become a direct response powerhouse, especially for location-based marketing to millennials,” said David Deal, digital marketing consultant. “Though Snapchat needs to mine data about millennials more effectively to beat Facebook and Instagram.”

To that end, effective April 3, millennial marketers will be able to zero in on Snapchat users who are most likely to download their brand’s app, targeting slivers or swaths of the platform’s 160 million users who have shown interest in either the brand or the functionality it’s offering. These app-install ads allow the marketer to set cost-per-download goals in a measure that’s designed to get app marketers of all budgets into Snapchat’s business client pool.

Snapchat, part of Snap Inc., has ramped up its machine-learning and audience-segmenting capabilities for app installs since its beta product went live in October—to date, it had offered only rudimentary targeting tools to a select number of brands. The new system charges ad buyers on a cost-per-thousand-impressions scale that’s based on auction-style, competitive bidding. “[It’s a] cost-efficient way to drive app installs right from Snapchat,” explained Peter Sellis, Snap’s director of monetization product.

Also today, brands can serve follow-up ads (re-marketing, in industry parlance) to those who have interacted with Snapchat’s sponsored lenses, geofilters or videos. Such behavioral data can be employed to reel in everything from a fitness app download, to a test-drive appointment for an automaker to a shoe purchase via ecommerce. The company believes advertisers will want to take aim at consumers in what direct response practitioners call the “consideration stage.”

“We’ve been listening closely to direct response advertisers,” Sellis revealed.

He’s listening for good reason: eMarketer’s latest figures for 2016 had the U.S. app-install advertising space valued at $5.7 billion. Facebook has reportedly, at times, seen up to 20 percent of its ad revenue, which totaled nearly $26.9 billion last year, from app installs. Google is increasingly a huge app-install contender, and Pinterest just last week rolled out its own app-install ads system. So, Snapchat’s competition is fierce.

“Right now, Snapchat doesn’t move users outside its own environment, so we would expect a longer time for user behavior to adapt,” remarked Emmy Spahr, media director at SapientRazorfish. “Pinterest, on the other hand, actively works across other websites and shopping experiences, so users are already engaging with the platform and websites—adding app downloads here would be seen as a value add.”

read more here:

http://www.adweek.com/digital/will-snapchats-data-play-help-fend-off-competition-from-facebook-and-instagram/