The Wilbert Group Blog

Posts by Meredith Pierce

May Digital Updates

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Instagram continues to pull ahead of Snapchat.

On the heels of a disappointing first earnings report for Snap, a new report indicates that the photo-sharing platform is having trouble attracting new users. Downloads for Snapchat in April 2017 fell about 16 percent, while Instagram downloads were up 19 percent. This is significant because Instagram recently unveiled a stories feature its CEO openly admitted was a Snapchat copycat, and it’s proven wildly popular and pulled Snapchat’s heavy Gen Z fan base away. In fact, Instagram announced this morning that it is introducing augmented reality facial filters in yet another Snapchat copycat move.

#2 Facebook celebrates Mother’s Day with a new reaction.

Facebook launched reactions over a year ago, allowing users to let content creators know if their posts made them feel happy, sad, angry, etc. Typically, the reaction options don’t change for holidays or seasonality like, for example, stickers on Instagram, but Facebook broke that pattern for Mother’s Day. About a week ago, a sweet, purple flower emoji appeared among the reaction options, and Facebook rolled out additional options for showing Mom love on her big day, like custom photo frames.

Mother’s Day wasn’t an arbitrary holiday for Facebook to test this feature: People thanking their mothers drove more posts in one day than any other topic, with more than 105 million Mother’s Day posts in 2016. This just goes to show that more people are taking to social media to celebrate special days, and brands need to have a strategy in place to get the most out of a holiday.

#3 Twitter wants to be your 24/7, go-to news source.

 If you’re a casual user, you might not realize that Twitter is struggling, but its shareholders are very aware. In what’s being called an effort to change market perceptions, Twitter is upping its live-streaming game. This move is behind the rest of the market, as Facebook and Instagram have been urging users and brands to “go live” for months, but it appears that Twitter wanted to take its time and make the move into live video carefully, in a way that appeals to both users and advertisers. They’ve struck 12 live streaming content deals with outlets like Bloomberg, Live National and the WNBA to begin this fall, hoping to appeal to millennial cord cutters. For individual users, Twitter and Periscope recently unveiled a new analytics dashboard for live videos in hopes that brands will get on board.

April Digital Updates

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Instagram takes on yet another rival network: Pinterest.

Instagram is already encroaching on Snapchat’s territory with its popular Stories feature – which succeeded in stealing Snapchat users – so it makes sense that the photo-sharing giant is now going after Pinterest with its latest update. To the joy of its users, Instagram introduced the ability to save posts earlier this year. Now, you can sort those posts into “collections” that are eerily reminiscent of Pinterest’s boards. This update makes it more important than ever for content creators to create truly valuable, save-worthy content to allow it to live a second life for a user, whether it’s a recipe, design inspiration or a secret menu dish at a restaurant. As Engadget sums up the opportunity for businesses: “If you can create your ideal outfit by saving posts into collections, you might be more likely to buy that outfit.”

#2 LinkedIn continues to undergo a complete makeover.

LinkedIn’s facelift is in full swing. While there isn’t one noteworthy update to include here on the blog, I wanted to touch on this because, as social media managers, we’re constantly learning and relearning how to keep our client’s content fresh as LinkedIn shifts seemingly every day. Important changes for content creators include: The ability to use video, new photo sizes and filters and a new algorithm for the feed. LinkedIn also plans to revisit its publishing tools, including the ability to save articles for later and improved tagging, ultimately making the blog posts look much cleaner and full of dynamic content like photos, block quotes and graphics.

#3 Snapchat is reaching an increasingly older demographic.

Snapchat isn’t just for millennials anymore. The app – which recently made its IPO – is experiencing increased usage in those ages 25 to 44, far from its typical younger audience. Forty-one percent of users ages 25 to 34 used the app more often today than during Jefferies’ first survey last June. Forty-four percent of the 34 to 44 demographic use Snapchat more now, the firm said.

It’s not atypical for older users to follow typically young early adopters to new platforms – just look at Facebook and Twitter. However, that migration sometimes drives the younger users away because the platform isn’t cool anymore, or because grandma and grandpa are now able to view their content. This shift may be a ways off for Snapchat, but something the app should consider moving forward. Hopefully, they can continue to provide content – from news stories to fun face-altering filters – to keep their original base happy while expanding to new audiences.

March Digital Updates

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Yet another Snapchat clone arrives via Facebook.

First came Snapchat. Then, Instagram Stories. Now, Facebook Stories is rolling out to users in Chile, Greece and Vietnam. The feature was first tested in Ireland, and its expansion shows that ephemeral photos and videos resonate with users across different platforms, even though other apps already possess this service. While some users grumbled about yet another Snapchat clone arriving (and they have a point – who has time to post short clips three separate times?), it makes sense for brands constantly battling Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm. Brands can’t post more than a few times on the day on the platform if they want to keep a high position in newsfeeds, but Stories would allow them to share content throughout the day and keep constantly atop their audiences feed. If this feature expands to the U.S., it could mean that Facebook will be able to bring back their share-happy younger audience (the average age of an American Facebook user is 40) and brands will be able to up their content game.

#2 Apple throws their hat in the video ring with Clips.

Apple has unveiled a new iOS app called Clips, a content creation platform reminiscent of Snapchat, Facebook Live and video editing software like iMovie. It allows users to stitch together videos and photos and add filters to create a “story” (are you sick of that term yet?). The app’s most unique feature is the ability to insert a soundtrack, making it easy to edit higher-quality video content from your smartphone. Clips will not launch alongside its own dedicated social network, but will allow users to post their creative content on Facebook or Instagram. This is great news for brands that don’t have many resources to dedicate to video editing but need to post that kind of content on social media. Video is here to stay, and brands need to get on board.

#3 Twitter prepares to launch live video.

On the heels of the popularity of Facebook and Instagram’s live video features, Twitter is preparing to launch a live video API with more powerful integrations than the platform’s existing Periscope tie-in. This move raises the question of whether Twitter will stay committed to keeping Periscope its live video app, or if it will roll more of the broadcasting and livestream browsing into its main app.

Twitter makes more sense as a home for live video than Facebook or Instagram, so it’s important they do this right and make it easier for users to share and interact with this type of content. Journalists love Twitter, and millennials and Gen Z use the platform to get their up-to-the-minute news and for coverage of major events rather than tuning into CNN or a traditional broadcast outlet. In fact, 59 percent of Twitter users rely on it for news, so this could make it easier for media outlets to get live video content to an audience of cord cutters and smartphone addicts.

Digital Updates | February

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Super Bowl posts on social media are up from last year, but didn’t top 2015’s record numbers.

Super Bowl LI may have made history as the first NFL championship to go into overtime (which in turn made for a somber morning here at The Wilbert Group), but it wasn’t the most socially engaged Big Game. 2015 still holds that title, though numbers are up from last year. Twitter reported over 27.6 million Tweets using #SB51, and 64 million people posted on Facebook. What is notable about this year is the role mobile and video played. Over 90 percent of Facebook’s interactions took place on mobile, and Super Bowl-related videos were viewed over 262 million times. This was bolstered by big players like NFL and major sponsors using Facebook Live and video content to bring viewers closer to the action and give users a chance to replay their favorite ads. Also interesting were three surges in Tweet counts during the game: One during the Patriot’s game-winning touchdown, one at the end of Lady Gaga’s spectacular halftime performance, and one when Danny Amendola tied the game. I was too busy pouring another glass of wine to tweet during that milestone. #RiseUp?

#2 The New York Times has eight people working on its Snapchat channel.

When fun, filter-heavy Snapchat first hit smartphones everywhere, who would have guessed it would become a popular platform for news media? It turns out the app’s millennial base loves the visually-pleasing, easily digestible news stories from outlets like CNN, Vice, Cosmopolitan, ESPN and Food Network. The New York Times recently announced the launch of their own Snapchat Discover channel based on the newspaper’s Morning Briefing. They currently have about eight people working on the channel, which will provide visuals from the newsroom along with animation and a distinctive design framework in the hope of reaching a younger audience and experimenting with digital storytelling.

#3 Brands should be using emojis on Instagram.

To emoji or not to emoji? For social media managers, the decision to introduce emojis into business Instagram strategy – especially if there is B2B aspect of the brand’s PR strategy – has been a tough call. There hasn’t been much research on the subject, and emojis tend to have a bad reputation with those unfamiliar with them as they can appear childish or unprofessional. However, according to a recently-released report from Quintly, over half of all Instagram posts use emojis, and use of the quirky miniature graphics can lead to better post engagement. Posts without emojis had an interaction rate of 1.77 percent, and posts with them had 2.07 percent. Luckily for us, the emoji library is rapidly expanding, allowing for brands to find and use the emojis that align with their key messages, whether its Domino’s taking full advantage of the pizza emoji or Starbucks using different colored hearts to launch a new product line.

Media Moves

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As former journalists, we still love to get —and share— the latest newsroom scoop, especially when it involves recruiting a great reporter over to our team. In Media Moves, we highlight the latest happenings in journalism and media, and this is an especially exciting edition for us.

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Bisnow Gets a Boost from Forbes, Huffington Post

Big news from CRE pioneer Bisnow this week – the “(almost) never boring” publication’s content is heading to Forbes.com and Huffington Post online. This partnership means up to 100 million people will be able to access Bisnow stories.

Announcing the deal, Bisnow editor-in-chief Mark F. Bonner said, “Expanding our reach is at the heart and mission of Bisnow. And in an effort to strengthen that vital muscle, we are joining the forces of two of international media’s most vital and well-read outlets: Forbes and The Huffington Post. That alliance takes shape today in the form of two syndication deals that will give our content the potential to reach upwards of 100 million readers around the world. Though Bisnow is far from unique in forging syndication partnerships, this represents a coming of age that gives our team a crucial opportunity to wade into a deeper pool.”

Over the next 90 days, Bisnow’s stories will begin to appear on the Forbes and Huffington Post websites. This is a great scenario for real estate PR pros, and gives our clients an opportunity to reach a wider audience.

Creative Loafing Editor Headed to Atlanta Magazine

Per a recent tweet from his account, Creative Loafing Atlanta news editor Thomas Wheatley will join the Atlanta Magazine staff as articles editor on Jan. 18. Of the move, Wheatley tweeted, “After years of working with great journalists and friends, I’m packing up at @CL_Atlanta and joining the talented crew at @AtlantaMagazine.”

Wheatley, an Atlanta native and University of Georgia graduate, covered transportation, the environment, urban development and state and local politics for CL. Prior to joining the publication, he was a staff writer at a weekly newspaper in north Fulton County and Flagpole in Athens, Ga.

Digital Updates | September

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Snapchat experiments with wearables.

This week, Snapchat – now known as Snap Inc – released Spectacles, a wearable technology that allow you to record 10 seconds of video at a time and sync it to your phone to post on Snapchat. The glasses retail at $130 and have quickly drawn comparisons to Google Glass, the failed hardware venture from the tech giant. However, Snapchat has already shown savvy with its slow release and reference to Spectacles as a social “toy” rather than a sophisticated technology. It will be interesting to watch if Spectacles catch on; if they do, wearables are sure to be the next big trend in social media tech.

#2 Facebook wants you to go Live.

Since its debut, Facebook Live has been a media phenomenon, with news outlets, celebrities and other influential users “going live” to a large audience. Facebook Live works for several reasons, and the most important is a generation of millennials that are watching their phones and tablets instead of television. And publishers have jumped on this opportunity: Hearst is producing 200 Facebook Live videos a month, and Mashable has pledged 35 hours of video per month. For us PR folks, it opens up a new avenue for pitching for our clients since media are actively looking for content to broadcast on Facebook to fill these quotas.

#3 Twitter opens its Moments feature to all users.

 Any Twitter user can now create a Moment, the popular feature that brings news and trending topics to the forefront of the user experience. At launch, only Twitter itself and media partners like Buzzfeed and The New York Times could create a Moment, and they have slowly expanded the feature since then. Today, all users were given the ability to do so. It’s a bit early to say for sure, but this could be an interesting tool for clients announcing news, hosting an event or rolling out a campaign. The feature allows users to pull in a variety of tweets on a subject and it can be embedded on a website.

Digital Updates: August 2016

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Instagram finally unveils analytics.

Since Facebook bought Instagram four years ago, social media pros have been wondering when The Social Network would introduce its sophisticated analytics dashboard to the photo-sharing app. This month, they finally delivered with Instagram for Business. The new tool allows businesses to promote posts with ease, view valuable information about their followers and measure engagement and impressions. These changes are particularly beneficial for small businesses with great photos trying to reach the millennial audience that calls Instagram home.

#2 Instagram takes a page from Snapchat with stories.

Instagram Stories, an identical sharing platform to Snapchat where photos disappear after 24 hours and can be enhanced with filters, debuted a few weeks ago. The social media community was in uproar, and questions emerged. Would this be the nail in Snapchat’s ad-heavy coffin? Would people actually use the feature? How will it differentiate itself from Snapchat? For clients, Instagram Stories is a great opportunity to test the waters of real-time sharing before making the plunge to launch a Snapchat account. Additionally, it provides a way for brands to push out a constant stream of content without bombarding fans’ timelines. While this feature is in its infancy and the jury is still out, it looks like Stories might just overtake Snapchat in the future.

#3 Facebook’s narrow targeting a problem for large companies.

Facebook advertising is, for the moment, king. We often suggest to our clients – mostly small or mid-sized companies – that in order to work with Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm and get all-important eyes on their posts, they need to spend money on targeted ads. However, some large corporations are shifting their paid Facebook strategy. Proctor & Gamble recently announced that they are moving away from Facebook’s highly-targeted ad suite, stating that the program’s narrow targeting based on both demographics and psychographics doesn’t work for most of their needs. In response, Facebook is offering better tools for large advertisers to target their wide audience while still generating qualified leads. For the time being, P&G won’t cut back on Facebook spending, but will re-evaluate their strategy to increase their reach.

Digital Updates: May, 2016

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Facebook live allows for interactive journalism.

The New York Times has been using Facebook Live to share news in real-time, from weddings to travel features to interviews. The publisher hired a team of six full-time staffers to develop the videos and produced a total of 90 in just one month. Louise Story, the leader of the team, shared her findings from the bold venture. Here are the highlights:

  • It’s not just video, it’s live journalism. The two-way street of streamed video and comments in real time allows offers a meaningful dialogue via the comment section and thus, a better story.
  • It works best when there’s an element of suspense. From light-hearted pieces like attempting to explode a watermelon with rubber bands to something heavier like awaiting a legal verdict, videos should keep viewers on the edge of their seat.
  • Get outside – in more ways than one. Facebook Live videos can exist outside of the regular content of a publisher; they don’t need to be tied to a story. And while indoor interviews are good content, they best content takes viewers outside to a place or event they can’t experience themselves.
  • View counts aren’t everything. Judging success for Facebook videos is difficult, but Story and her team look to the comment section to reach a verdict.

#2 Snapchat lets you buy movie tickets.

In advance of the release of the latest X-Men movie, 20th Century Fox teamed up with Snapchat for a total takeover of the app, changing all filters to make users resemble mutants and letting users buy tickets to see the flick directly from the app. This could be a signal that Snapchat will follow Pinterest and other platforms that have embraced a buy button as a way for brands to link back to their website or an affiliate like Fandango. This means that, in the future, brands could use their Snapchat story to sell products without dedicating a lot of money toward ads.

#3 Twitter retools character limits.

In one of the most compelling will-they-won’t-they sagas since Ross and Rachel, social media professionals have been waiting for months for Twitter to announce new rules around the staunch 140-character limit. And today, Twitter delivered. While the 140-character limit will stay, certain popular tweet items will be exempt for the rule. Tagging users by their handles and adding photos, GIFs and videos will no longer count against the limit, encouraging the use of more interactive content. There’s no official timeline for the change, but Twitter says it will roll out in the coming months.

Digital Updates: April, 2016

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

#1 Snapchat’s Bob Marley filter provokes outrage.

bob marley-snapchatSnapchat’s filters have revolutionized the art of the selfie, using animation to transform users into puppies, flower crown-wearing festivalgoers and, most recently, reggae musician Bob Marley. On April 20th, Snapchat created a special lens that made users resemble Marley, complete with a crochet cap and dreadlocks. The internet exploded, with people accusing Snapchat of creating an offensive blackface filter. Surprisingly, instead of removing the filter, Snapchat kept it up throughout the day, pointing out that the filter was created in partnership with Marley’s estate. Still, Snapchat undoubtedly lost loyal users over the debacle and will likely be more sensitive when choosing special filters in the future.

#2 Instagram increases focus on video sharing.
Instagram has added a video channel to its Explore tab, a move that comes on the heels of another shift: last month, Instagram rolled out 60-second videos for users, a major change from the previous 15-second limit. This channel shows users videos they might like based on personalized preferences (mine was spot-on with baseball highlights, hair styling tutorials and, of course, puppies). This presents a great opportunity for brands to get more eyes on their content if they push out high-quality videos that resonate with their audience.

#3 Facebook might add a virtual tip jar to posts.
Facebook users looking to profit from their posts may be in luck; the social network is thinking of adding a digital tip jar to posts. Apparently, Facebook users aren’t sharing as much personal information as they used to, with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat becoming the go-to space for glimpses into friends’ lives. In order to encourage more activity on the platform, Facebook sent a survey to verified users asking how they would like to profit from posts, with options ranging from branded content to the tip jar function. This is good news for retail brands and nonprofits, which might soon be able to make money simply by posting good content.

Digital Updates: March, 2016

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We’re all about keeping up with the digital world at The Wilbert Group and leveraging the newest technologies to help our clients tell their stories. Here’s the latest:

instagram-algorithm#1 Instagram follows Facebook’s lead with a new algorithm.
To the chagrin of many users, Instagram has announced that it will begin prioritizing posts with an algorithm similar to Facebook’s. Ideally, this formula will place the content you want to see at the top of your feed, but the move has been controversial. Many users say they only follow users with content they care about and don’t want prioritization, while brands are concerned their content will be pushed in favor of that of friends or celebrities. In response, Instagram says that users miss about 70 percent of posts on their feed, so an algorithm is necessary. The switch won’t happen until later this year, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on the feedback from users and brands in the meantime.

#2 Need to reach college students? Snapchat is the answer.
Companies are actively targeting the sought-after Millennial group, who are known for being social savvy and seeking an authentic relationship with brands. Researchers at Cornell have determined that college students are using Snapchat more often than other social platforms due to its informal nature and ease of connecting with both friends and feeds from around the world. Brands like Amazon, COVERGIRL and McDonald’s have jumped on the opportunity to reach a new audience on Snapchat, and it’s likely more will follow.

#3 Commenting on current events on Twitter could be catastrophic.
Whenever there is a crisis or news story that gains traction on Twitter, like this week’s attacks in Brussels, at least one brand is typically vilified for being insensitive in their response or simply having bad timing. This mistake often occurs when brands try to use a trending news topic to promote themselves rather than offer their deepest sympathies, like this cringe-inducing tweet from Kenneth Cole:

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Alternately, some brands forget to check their scheduled posts during a crisis and make a poorly timed error, such as this unfortunate tweet from the NRA just after the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting:

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The lesson: when tragic news is trending online, offer simple condolences and double-check any scheduled posts to avoid embarrassment.