The Week’s Digital Highlights – 30 June

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 9.59.22 pmWith the South East of Australia in the midst of winter, our attention turns to Europe where things are heating up for Google. The search engine was hit with a record Euro fine for anti-competitive behaviour totally 2.42-billion-euro ($3.57 billion AUD) for abusing its market dominance. Google has been accused of prioritising their Google Shopping ads at the top of Google search results over their competitors.

EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager described the action as “illegal under EU antitrust rules“. EU regulators took action after receiving scores of complaints from rivals including Yelp, TripAdvisor, UK price comparison site Foundem and News Corp. Competitors complained Google was manipulating results to benefit their shopping ads. In response, Google stated that online shoppers want to find products quickly and easily, and their Google shopping ads provided this service.

Google Shopping offers users a quick selection of the best prices for a particular product, advertisers pay to be featured in the results. Competitors, including comparison sites which offer a similar service, were claiming their website listings are being pushed all the way down to page four of the search results. As we know the majority of Google search users don’t click past the first page of results. Google’s ego has taken a battering over the allegations and is fighting the charges.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 10.00.04 pmThe other digital news to grab my attention this week was Facebook’s continued push into live TV streaming. Facebook has signed an agreement with Fox Sports in America to broadcast live Champions League Football (soccer) games next season.

Soccer is the most watched sport on Facebook. Last year 3.7 million users tuned in to watch a Wayne Rooney-sponsored charity match. The recent Champions League final attracted 34 million people who had 98 million Facebook interactions. These numbers are pretty impressive, but it would be good to understand how long users viewed the videos. What is surprising is that I thought NBA or NFL would have larger audiences on Facebook than football. Amazon’s Prime is live streaming Thursday night NFL games next season. They paid $50 million for 10 games, which was five times more than what Twitter paid last season.

Last week I wrote about how Snap and Facebook are becoming more aggressive with their live TV streaming services. The above news by Facebook is more proof that social media websites are becoming media channels. It will be interesting to see if users will embrace watching live TV on Facebook, Snap and YouTube in the same way people use Netflix and Amazon Prime.


The Week’s Digital Highlights – 27 May

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 10.25.08 am

Everything was put in perspective this week with the bombing in Manchester, and there was also one in Jakarta. The senseless loss of innocent lives will scare families, friends and communities for a lifetime.

There were 2 things from the digital world that stood out for me this week. The first being trolls who circulated fake images of people missing from the Manchester bombing and that 43 children were been held at a Holiday Inn. I can’t understand what possesses people to do these wicked acts of cruelty. While social media gives users an opportunity to voice their opinions and have positive conversations, it’s also used by some to spread negativity and pain, I suppose that’s a reflection of our society.

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The other thing to standout this week was the publishing of Facebook’s content moderation guidelines. The Guardian got their hands on 100 internal documents detailing how Facebook moderates content from child abuse to revenge porn, suicide and terrorist related content.

Looking at the documents, it does raise eyebrows on how things are moderated, and the time moderators have to review things (10 seconds to make a decision). With 2 billion users, the amount of content Facebook has to oversee is insane, so it’s not surprising some things slip through the cracks.

Facebook claims not to be a publisher just a conduit platform for users to share content. It would be a minefield if Facebook had to manage all the content from all the different languages and interpret local government laws.

Facebook plays a tightrope of protecting freedom of speech while protecting the innocent and vulnerable, particularly children. Facebook’s global policy management boss, Monika Bickert, says that Facebook is committed to providing a safe environment and encourages users to report inappropriate content. It will be interesting to see if any of the moderation guidelines or processes are change based on the publishing of the leaked documents.


What I’ve learned in 3 months using Snapchat

Back in February I wrote an article about Snapchat, I had been using it for 3 weeks and was pretty excited by the platform. The excitement surrounding Snapchat reminded me of the buzz Twitter was getting 8 years ago when I was living in New York. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr were all getting started and Twitter was winning the battle. We all know what happened in the following years.

Three months later I’m still using Snapchat, and are excited by the new advertising features which really opens up the platform to advertisers.
A quick recap, Snapchat is a mobile App that allows images and videos to be sent. The messages last between 3 and 10 seconds, and then it disappears. Points are earned for every message sent and received, and there are trophies for rewards. To enhance snaps, you can add funny filters and text to images and videos. These filters are one of the reasons why the platform is so addictive. I got hooked using the filters and was actively sharing photos and videos with my wife’s friends, who in turn shared content with their friends. Before long the whole group was using it.
Snapchat figures are impressive for a platform that has been going for about 4 years. Snapchat has 200+ million users, 100 million are active daily users with Australia having 2 million active users. More than 60% of US 13 to 34 year olds Smartphone owners are Snapchatters. Users spend on average 30 minutes a day on it. Snapchat is dominating video with 10 billion videos watched daily. To put it in perspective, Facebook has the same number of video views, but are 10x times larger!
Why do people love the platform? Snapchat is giving users a platform to creatively express themselves to the world. We can share content (our own) with friends, celebrities and people located anywhere in the world (very similar to how Twitter was used to connect with people from anywhere, Facebook was more of a closed environment). And we control the frequency of interaction. Snapchat is the perfect platform to be continually sharing Snaps from our busy lives. The Snaps are a reflection of how we are feeling in the moment.
Interesting to note, all content on Snapchat is viewed vertically, which means it gets maximum eyeball attention on mobile. Studies have found that mobile users were not turning their phones when viewing content, resulting in landscape content been underutilised. This could be one of the reasons why Facebook has recently launched Canvas ads, to take advantage of the full vertical space.
So how do the brands get involved in the platform? Like with everything, there’s the organic way and the paid option. The organic way is to create stories on a brand’s profile. This does not mean replicating Facebook and Instagram content calendars onto Snapchat. The content should be quite separate and unique. Snapchat content is a lot rawer and does not require the same high creative production. However, it still requires some planning otherwise a brand’s profile will be full of random images and videos. The brands doing it well are telling a story, checkout NitroCircus for inspiration. But building an active community is quite labour intensive due to the content disappearing after 24 hours, so you have to be continually creating new stories.
Snapchat’s paid options allow brands to get involved without having to invest as much manpower, but there are still considerable costs to advertise on the platform. In Australia we’ve had limited access to advertising options, but this has changed recently.
One of the first paid options introduced by Snapchat was the ‘Discovery’ brand channel, which is a place where brands can publish curated content. This option has been only open to a small number of brands with very deep pockets (in the US prices started from $750k per day, apparently it’s now around $50k).  In Australia some brands using Discovery channels have included Fox Sports,, BuzzFeed and MTV.
Another option for brands to participate in is the ‘Live Story’ section, which occupies prime realestate just below the Discovery section. It’s a combination of user generated, branded and Snapchat curated content from live events from around the world, it’s a bit like a modern day documentary. A lot of the content is from behind the scenes at fashion shows, music and film awards and sport (the NBA finals has been featured a lot).
To get a sense of how big Snapchat is, America’s ABC recently broadcasted the American Music Awards, it got 3 million TV viewers aged 13-34, while a Snapchat Live Story about the event drew 11.5 million. Advertisers will be climbing over themselves to be featured next year.
Snapchat also features Live Stories from cities around the world, yesterday Reykjavik was featured. Not sure if there’s an option for cities to nominate themselves. Snapchat’s team based in LA and NYC sift through thousands of Snaps to curate the content and mix in their own content (with people on the ground at events), and add in ads (brand stories). To create ‘brand stories’, prices start from a very reasonable $20 for every 1,000 views. Yesterday I saw a 5 second Hungry Jacks ad video.
Quickly becoming a popular option for brands to participate on Snapchat is sponsored ‘on demand’ Geo-filters. Users can add branded graphics to selfie photos and videos based on Geo-locations. We’ve had community driven filters in Australia (e.g. Melbourne) but recently we got access to ‘on demand’ filters. McDonalds was one of the first to use the filter on a national scale. Recently in the office we created a filter for an event, we geo-fenced it to our building for about an hour, and it costed about $5USD (very reasonable). Thoughts of hijacking events spring to mind, so it will be interesting to see how Snapchat manages this going forward.
The last 3 months have certainly been fun using and discovering more about Snapchat. If you want to learn more, I’ll be co-running a Snapchat workshop this Thursday afternoon. We’ll be Facebook Live streaming the workshop, so like our Facebook page to watch it.

Watch out – Gen Xers are on Snapchat

Username: Jimmy-Coleman

It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve started playing around with Snapchat and there’s no going back!  Move over Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat is the new kid on the block.

As a Gen X-er, I was keen to understand what all the fuss was about with the platform that has captured the imagination of the Millennials. Also, how can brands use it as a marketing tool.

Snapchat is a mobile App that allows images and videos to be sent to users. The catch is the message last between 3 and 10 seconds, and then it disappears. For every message sent and received, you receive points, and there are trophies for rewards.

To enhance snaps (videos and images) a bunch of very funny filters and emojis can be added. These filters are one of the reasons why the platform is so addictive. Updated daily, they encourage users to keep checking back.

The platform is all about capturing and sharing moments.  Why send a plain text message when you can communicate via an image or video (a picture is worth a thousand words). While we all use Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and SMS for instant communication, Snapchat has turbocharged this form of communication by adding a game element to it.  It’s all about sending creative Snapchat messages, very similar to memes. Snapchat also gives an insight into a user’s daily life, as videos and images can be uploaded to a profile in the form of a story, which lasts up to 24 hours. Uploads are stitched together to make a story.

While it’s been a great tool for having fun with friends and spying on celebs, but how can brands play in the space?  From my research, it’s only recently that Snapchat has opened up the platform to advertisers. There looks to be 3 ways brands can get involved. The first is the discovery section where publishers / brands can upload highlights from the day in the form of videos, images and GIFs. The next is sponsoring a filter; Samsung recently used a filter in Melbourne. The third way is creating stories on a brand’s profile, the organic way.

From a reporting perspective, things are pretty limited. You can understand how many views and screenshots content has been received, but there’s no way to benchmark performance with other brands.

It’s very early days for me with Snapchat, but early indicators show it’s a fun platform to use. I’m looking forward to exploring it more from a business perspective. Don’t forget to follow me!   

What’s the Point of Social Customer Care?

It’s been a busy couple of months since my last blog post! I’ve moved house, done a mini renovation, work got crazy, had an engagement party and the soccer season started!

I also had some interesting social media interactions with some leading Australian companies that left me questioning the point of using social media for customer service.

Social Customer Care has been a popular catch phrase used by marketers recently. In theory it should help resolve customer queries via social media in a timely manner.

However there is a gap between traditional customer service and the dynamic nature of social media. Traditionally customer queries were dealt with behind the scenes, but now they’re visible for all to see. Giving a standard politician response (dodging answering the question) to a customer query on social media is not going to cut it anymore. Users want answers!

Another challenge is the speed. Social media happens 24/7, and users expect answers instantaneously, which can be challenging to manage. As a result, businesses have had to extend their hours of operations.

Staying anonymous or hiding behind online personas makes it very hard for companies to know who they’re dealing with. This is a tough one, but no different to someone calling up a radio station with a secret agenda.

What got me frustrated recently was how 2 large companies (check my Twitter feed for the interactions) dealt with my social media queries. In both situations they couldn’t resolve my query and wanted me to call them. With the bank, I had already spent 20 minutes on hold and gave up. I asked them to call me! The same happened with my telco interaction, I had to either call or use the live chat, which we used the night before and got nowhere.

I understand there are privacy concerns, with companies calling, but if we’re sending private messages via Facebook or Twitter, how is that any different from sending an email with our phone number?!

Kudos to companies who respond quickly to customer queries on social media, acknowledging is the first step in addressing the problem. But if you can’t do anything, it leaves the customer frustrated and the issue is still not resolved.

To make Social Customer Care really work, a re-think of how businesses use it is required. Get it right, and companies can save money with customer service departments and ultimately the customer is happy!


World Cup Facebook Stats update

SocceroosWow, what an awesome start to the World Cup! The Brazilian way of playing football must be rubbing off on teams as we’ve seen some high score lines.  I think we’ve already had more goals than the last World Cup. Australia’s Socceroos have performed gallantly and hopefully will finish off with a strong showing against Spain later tonight.

I’ve been curious to see what’s been happening off the pitch on Facebook. Looking at a bunch of countries Facebook pages I’ve done a quick breakdown.

Top Fan growth

Mexico’s Facebook page has had the biggest fan growth in the last 3 weeks adding 600,000 new fans, followed by Italy with 370,000, England with 350,000 and US 141,000 fans.  The Socceroos have added 42,000 new fans.
fan growth

fan growth chart

Engagement rate

All the action on Facebook has occurred in the last week. Mexico’s page from a pure numbers perspective is most active with 1.3 million people engaged (19.3%) on the account. Italy is a close second with 1.2 million (50.6% engagement) of its fans active on their page.



In my next blog post I will analyse which Facebook posts have resonated most with fans.

Data provided by Social Pulse



Global Marketer Conference – Highlights – Sydney 26th March 2014

AANA - GMCLast week I attended the Global Marketer Conference in Sydney hosted by the Australian Advertising Network of Australia (AANA). The event was attended by marketers from all over the world. A cocktail party with views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge kicked off the event in style. But, the global line up of speakers was what everyone came for, this included Marc Mathieu from Unilever, Michael Birkin of Acer computers, James Thompson of Diageo Reserve, Michelle Froah of Kimberly-Clark, John Kearon of Brainjuicer, Ed Sanders of Google, Colin Currie of Adidas and British advertising legend Sir John Hegarty of Bartle Bogel Hegarty (BBH).

Like at all events, there is always so much going on and lots to take in. Looking back at my notebook the scribbles resemble something you would find at a kindergarten. Luckily the insights were memorable making it is easy to document.

The underlining theme of the event was to remember we’re marketing to ‘humans’ not consumers.

This point was repeatedly mentioned by the speakers one-way or another. Making human beings the ‘hero’ (central focus) of products is a big focus. And personalisation should not be just for the rich and famous. James Thompson from Diageo Reserve mentioned that users are looking for meaning from mass produced products. Online content is one way brands are making this personal connection with clients.

Having a purpose other than monetary was another big talking point at the conference. Purpose motivates human behaviour. Marc Mathieu from Unilever said ‘A brand without a purpose is just a billboard’. Unilever’s Dove soap helps women feel more self-confident and empowered in much the same way Lynx’s deodorant does for men. In Lynx’s latest TV commercial, the brand is encouraging peace not war.

Behavioural science was another area discussed. John Kearon from market research company BrainJuicer challenged our thinking that humans don’t actually put a lot of thought in to our decision making. In reality, we think less then we think. In time sensitive situations we are more inclined to revert to our instincts (unconscious behaviour) and use our left-side of the brain.

John challenged the marketers in the room to look at things differently. Consumers thought process is made up of 3 steps:

  1. Framing – no decision made out of context. Luxury car makers sell more cars at boat shows because cars seem cheap compared with boats.
  2. Copying – we copy everything/ everyone (herd mentality). E-commerce websites do this very well with ‘recommended buys’.
  3. Feeling – if people feel nothing, they will do nothing. The importance of brands having a purpose. It’s important to make people feel something.

Sir John Hegarty closed out the conference with his insightful and entertaining talk. It was refreshing to hear him say that he doesn’t understand why marketers don’t want to make things better! John left us with 5 tips:

  1. Broadcast – branding is remembered by the person who doesn’t buy your product.
  2. Risk – forget the word, it should be exciting.
  3. Consistency – avoid changing the message.
  4. Tell the truth – self explanatory.
  5. Passionate – believe in the product.

Sochi’s Winter Olympics – Is it Social?

Like many lovers of snow, I’ve been watching the winter Olympics with much enthusiasm. Coming from Australia we don’t get a lot of snow so maybe that’s where the fascination with snow comes from. Actually we’re currently in the middle of a summer heatwave so shots of snow-covered mountains are very soothing!

London was named the first Social Media games with 150 million tweets and 1 billion Facebook impressions. While the Winter Olympics are niche, I was curious to see how Sochi’s Winter Olympics compared.

Over the last 7 days the keyword Sochi has had 2,680,262 Social Media mentions followed by Olympics 909,311 and #sochi 497,603. Traffic peaked during the opening ceremony with 283,763 mentions.

US Olympic TeamAmerica is winning the Social Media gold media race. USA has produced 2 million Social Media mentions followed by Canada with 200,000 mentions. In Australia we’ve only had 27,000 mentions, which probably sums up in interest in the games here. Team USA’s Facebook page is the most active with 200,000 engaged users. Their opening ceremony post had 27,800 likes and 8,800 shares.

Granted the figures are not as impressive as London, but we’re only 4 days in and we still have the popular sports still to come, including Snowboard Half-pipe, Downhill Skiing, Ski Jumping and Ice-Hockey.

Go Aussie! Bring home a medal or two!

The above data only includes public Facebook posts.

Bitcoin is everywhere, even in Tasmania!

PX Tapas - bitcoinI just got back from a 2 week break in Tasmania. The island is an amazing place. The scenery, wildlife, food and drink are all divine. I was last there when I was a wee lad so was excited to visit the place and it didn’t disappoint.

We were lucky enough to catch the end of the Taste of Tasmania. In its 24th year the food festival celebrates local produce. Working in the digital industry I was excited to see the promotion of the event’s hashtag #tasteoftasmania it was posted on all signage. Instagram looked to be the most popular platform with 1,411 posts. A suggestion for next year’s event is to have free wi-fi and run a photo competition.

Driving around Tasmania I wasn’t expecting the state to be fully digital. But I nearly fell off my seat in Launceston when I saw the cafe (PX Tapas on George st) I was eating breakfast at was accepting Bitcoin. Not sure if many people know much about it, but it was great to see the sticker! ABC’s 730 TV show had an informative segment on Bitcoin last week and featured a couple of cafes and businesses in Australia using the digital currency.

With limited tourism budget, Social Media is definitely the channel the Tasmanian government and local businesses should be utilising.  Now that I’m back on the mainland I’ve researched some brands using Facebook and there are some tourism pages doing a good job posting fan photos, but overall it seems to be underutilised. With so many tourists from all over the world, the opportunities to get free/low cost publicity is untapped. Sure you will need to spend some money on advertising, but this will help with the reach of content. While it’s fresh in my mind I will write a couple more posts on my Tasmanian trip.

Facebook Performance Report June 2013

Facebook Performance reportIt’s been a big couple of weeks at work with the release of our latest Australian Facebook Performance Report – June. Produced quarterly, it’s become the benchmark report for Australian brands on Facebook. Using Social Pulse, data was analysed from 20 industries for the date range 13th May – 10th June. The report looks at fan growth, engagement rates and share of conversation. The learnings from the report can be applied to any brand worldwide.

Travel, TV shows, FMCG and fast food restaurants dominated the Top 30 largest Australian Facebook pages by fans numbers. The ‘Australia’ tourism page topped the list with 4 million fans followed by the television show Bananas in Pyjamas with 2 million fans. Snack foods brand Pringles Australia tops the FMCG list with 1.3 million fans and fast food restaurant Domino’s Pizza – Australia came in 7th place with 850,000 fans.

For the first time, the Facebook report includes a breakdown of the top performing posts (by likes, comments and shares) by industry.

Tourism tops the list for Facebook posts that generate the most Likes. A post by the Australia page generated 66,000 likes followed by Sydney Australia’s page which had 53,000 likes on one of its post. Both posts included images of iconic Australian landmarks and the post copy was 185 characters in length.

Fast food restaurant KFC with its Hot & Spicy post attracted the most comments with 10,600 followed by the Sydney radio station 2DayFM’s post which had 4,600 comments. KFC’s post asked fans which state was the biggest fan of its new product release.

The Australia page had the most shares with two of its posts, both showed cute images of a Wombat (11,600 shares) and Koala (8,300 shares). Outside the tourism industry, television show The Biggest Loser – Australia post had 6,700 shares for a video post. A popular post used by brands, ‘memes’ were also popular for shares with a meme posted by 2DayFM had 5,500 shares.

Click the link to view the Facebook Performance report. If you know of similar reports from America and Europe please post the links in the comments section, it would be interesting to compare the data.