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Facebook’s Next Big Bet Is Making Your Phone’s Camera Smarter

Facebook has gotten us all to share text posts and photos, and is seeing a lot of use of video. Now, it wants to turn is all into live streamers, and use advanced technology to aid our use of our phone cameras: That’s the gist of an outlook that Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox gave at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference in Laguna Beach, Calif. Tuesday.

Cox said that Facebook has already seen 400 percent growth in live streaming since opening it up to all of its users in May. Not all of that is coming from users watching broadcasts of major media brands, he explained, adding that the number of small broadcasters — teenagers that stream to just a dozen of their friends — was a surprise even to Facebook itself.

Key to Facebook Live’s future growth will be technology that adds to the live broadcast experience, said Cox. He showed off one example that Facebook is currently experimenting with in the lab: An app that automatically takes the camera input and in real-time renders it in the style of famous painters like van Gogh using neural networks.

The bigger idea behind experiments like this is to turn the camera into an advanced tool that unlocks live streaming and augmented reality experiences, said Cox. “This is going to help take the technology to the next level.”

Cox was joined on stage by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who argued that Live is an evolution of free expression on Facebook, complete with the challenges that come with it. The company has been in hot waters in the past for overzealous removal of content, and suggested last week that it was ready to relax some of its guidelines for acceptable content.

“Facebook is a platform for all ideas,” Sandberg said. “We also want to be a really safe community. Those two things can come into conflict.”

As Facebook is making decision what content to keep on its platform and what to ban, it often finds itself confronted with criticism that it is exercising editorial control — a charge that Sandberg and Cox denied. “A media company is about the story that it tells,” said Cox. “A technology company is about the tools that it builds.”

Source: Variety, article by Janko Roettgers (http://variety.com/2016/digital/news/facebook-chris-cox-sheryl-sandberg-live-1201900331/)

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5 Overlooked Features of Your LinkedIn Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn has proven to be a winning platform for many B2B companies. But while the professional networking site holds major potential for amplifying thought leadership, boosting brand awareness, and generating leads, success on the site isn’t a given.

Maximizing your LinkedIn presence requires mastering the ins and outs of the platform and its many offerings as a piece of marketing technology. Here are five of the most overlooked features of your LinkedIn marketing strategy—plus a few tricks to jump-start your efforts.

1. Engage Your Employees

Your company’s LinkedIn page is a great starting point for your marketing efforts, but a company page alone won’t guarantee an audience. Encouraging employees to share and amplify your company page content will help spread your message far and wide, hitting the types of people who might be interested in your company to begin with.

A proper LinkedIn employee engagement program starts with getting employees excited about the platform and everything it can do for them personally and professionally (not to mention what it can do for the company). Explain why participation can improve the visibility of the company, thus increasing exposure to potential customers and leads. Companies in service-oriented industries have an added incentive to used LinkedIn; the talent behind the company is as important as the product or service offered. Empower staff to build stellar profiles (complete with links to the company page and a logo), and encourage them to share company content—blog posts, videos, images—to increase the reach of your message. Content marketing on LinkedIn grows exponentially stronger when engaged employees share content with their connections.

2. Test Your Content

Sharing posts from your company page and encouraging employees to do the same will bring content to users within those networks. But if you want your content to hit users outside your networks, LinkedIn can make it happen (albeit for a fee). Direct Sponsored Content allows brands to test multiple variations of their content, while maintaining control over what is posted to their company page.

LinkedIn’s marketing technology allows companies to test the headline, intro, teaser text, and thumbnail image of a post to see what garners more clicks from users. By finding out which variable resonates the most, marketers can optimize content so that the people they want to reach—industry leaders and potential customers—are more likely to click.

LinkedIn offers metrics for organic posts, too. Companies can see which posts are performing better, allowing them to tweak their content strategies to woo more followers. Top-performing organic posts are good candidates to receive a sponsored boost, allowing the content to go even further.

3. Utilize LinkedIn Pulse

Motivating your employees to use LinkedIn is a key piece to LinkedIn marketing success. Take these efforts to the next level and recruit your in-house company experts to author their own posts and share them to expand your thought leadership marketing. Richard Branson, Virgin Group founder and innovator, adorns his LinkedIn page with posts about entrepreneurship, business success, and work–life balance. The posts offer easily accessible business insight—while also consistently referring and linking back to Virgin, helping the brand boost its industry cred.

Any LinkedIn user can publish to LinkedIn Pulse, which functions as its own self-publishing platform within the LinkedIn site. Simply click “Write an article,” add a photo and write a headline, and you’re on your way to accessing the millions of LinkedIn users who browse the site for insight or advice. Pulse editors help curate the content users see on their Pulse feeds, but trending content and content that users in your network have Liked also gets highlighted. Once again, the more employees on board and sharing content, the further your content will spread.

4. Vary Your Content Mix

LinkedIn is building a niche as a go-to platform for long-form content. LinkedIn readers have a high tolerance for in-depth pieces—as long as the content is interesting.

Despite the conventional wisdom that shorter is better, on LinkedIn, longer posts seem to perform better than their shorter counterparts. Posts between 1,900 and 2,000 words gain the greatest number of LinkedIn likes, comments, and shares, a study from OKDork found.

The key here is variety. Offer followers meatier pieces with an in-depth analysis of an industry conundrum. But it’s okay to share shorter content, too. A great infographic may do the same work of a 2,000-word thought piece.

5. Publish Solutions to Your Audience’s Challenges

“If you build it, they will come” is the wrong mantra to have when it comes to LinkedIn marketing. Before posting content willy-nilly to your company page, think about the audience you want to reach and the pain points they are experiencing within their industry. This is where you, the industry expert, can add value. Need ideas about what’s bugging people in your industry? Scour LinkedIn’s Groups Directory to find out what challenges people in your industry are facing, and create content that speaks to those challenges.

Marketers can use LinkedIn’s built-in analytics to get a better feel for who is viewing and engaging with your content. The content created should help this audience solve a problem, learn something new, or empower them with advice. Avoid clickbait like the plague, because users will see right through it. Only relevant, compelling content will resonate with LinkedIn’s professional audience, lending you legitimacy as an expert in your industry.

Source: Skyword, article by Krystal Overmyer (http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/marketing/5-overlooked-features-of-your-linkedin-marketing-strategy/)

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How marketers are distributing 360-degree videos beyond YouTube and Facebook

When you read The New York Times’ technology section today, you will see an ad from Google at the top of the page featuring a 360-degree video clip on the left and a still image with a “Come Explore” button on the right. Clicking on the button, you will be directed to an in-browser 360-degree series titled “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.”

There, you can watch a glacier recede at Kenai Fjords in Alaska, fly over an active volcano in Hawaii or ride horseback through the Bryce Canyon in Utah.

This is one of the latest examples on how marketers and advertisers are tackling the distribution issue in virtual reality: pointing people to a 360-degree video experience with a teaser clip or display ad on a big publisher. Viewers don’t have to buy a headset, download a separate VR app or go to YouTube.

Jack-In-The-Box, for example, promoted its Brewhouse Bacon Burger last month with a contextual ad on Twitch linking viewers back to a 360-degree video around its juicy burger. Sarah Bachman, vp of mobile strategy for Horizon Media, the agency behind Jack-In-The-Box, declined to disclose how her team measures the campaign as she is not authorized by the brand.

Still, it’s unclear if serving teaser content on a major publisher can truly help brands extend the reach of their VR efforts. At the moment, there is no single scaled VR solution, so it requires a varied but deliberate distribution plan and lots of testing, said Bachman.

The prevailing approach for distributing VR content is through a mobile app like Google Cardboard or via YouTube and Facebook. The former requires downloading the app, which is an additional barrier to consumer adoption, while the latter requires embedding the content back on a website. This amounts to a broken 360-degree experience, explained Michael Rucker, co-founder and chief operating officer for VR company OmniVirt that provides the technology for the two campaigns above.

“Publishers should be able to power VR experiences right on their own media property as they have been investing in this space. But rendering a 360-degree video across all of a publisher’s different platforms is a difficult technical challenge,” he said.

Teaser content on major publishers aside, agency Arnold Worldwide has been testing out the organic reach of new distribution platforms like Littlstar (via an unpaid partnership) and Samsung VR (think of both platforms as the VR equivalent of YouTube) since this past April in its “Instant Caribbean Vacation” 360-degree video experience for Carnival Cruise Line.

“On these two platforms, we are focused on organic views only right now. That, in part, will help justify any paid media support we opt to put behind those platform placements down the road,” said Sean Will, vp and director of digital production for Arnold Worldwide. “Content-wise, I think we need to build more embedded interactions. For example, Google has created some nice experiences with its street map technology, like the VR tour of Dublin.”

Since those methods could help consumers get more familiar with 360-degree videos, brands are less hesitant to invest in VR. The distribution issue of real immersive VR experiences like Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, however, still remains unsolved, according to Dave Meeker, vp of agency Isobar’s U.S. operations.

“Remember, 360 is just an entry point to VR. If a brand wants to do VR, there’s no clear path to success at the moment. The question is, do I go for scale, or do I go for big impact?” he said. “We are still at an early stage, but the potential is absolutely here. We are not limited by the technology, but we are limited by the adoption of the technology.”

Source: Digiday, article by Yuyu Chen (http://digiday.com/agencies/marketers-distributing-360-degree-videos-beyond-youtube-facebook/)

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Why Small Businesses Need Online Marketing

Small businesses with limited marketing budgets are competing with national brands when it comes to advertising. Due to the online nature of commerce in this era, local businesses have no other option but to compete with corporations that have marketing budgets much larger than merely a couple of years of revenue. The online attribute required of companies demands that small businesses compete on a larger scale, but how do entities do remain competitive?

Small businesses can best stay relevant through online marketing. Thanks to the rapid growth of the internet, small businesses are better positioned than ever to compete alongside big companies through the utilization of an online marketing strategy. However, many small business owners believe that online marketing is ineffective and useless. Many owners will say things like “My customers aren’t online,” or “Online marketing is a fad.” Some go as far to say that, “Online marketing doesn’t work for me.”

The truth is, a company will never gain new online customers— and even in-person consumers— if the business does not have a strong online presence. There are close to five billion Google searches a day and over one billion active Facebook users. It’s hard to argue that at least some of those users won’t be interested in searching for a local products or services. With online advertising alone, small businesses can target specific demographics and geographic regions; reaching hundreds of potential customers online.

The rapid growth of online marketing can be most evidently seen in the retail sector. In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, online retailers were found to be the overall drivers for retail sales for more than a year, while traditional department store sales declined.

Online marketing is, in fact, a necessity. Here’s why:

1. Consumer expectations have changed
When most consumers hear of a new business, they immediately look up the website and social media accounts to learn more. To find you, they plug your address into their smartphone and use Google maps to get there. People expect you to have a website. If you cannot be verified digitally, individuals searching out information doubt your existence and legitimacy. Also, more consumers are increasingly searching for products and services on the web and these trends are expected increase exponentially.

2. Your competitors are online
You might not have launched an online marketing campaign yet, but your competitors mostly likely have. Michael Priyev, manager of new york web design agency, Toggle Web Media, explains that, “The reason why online advertising doesn’t work for so many small businesses is that their websites do not engage or connect with potential customers online. It’s not a question of how pretty the website is designed, but rather, how effective it is in converting online visitors into customers.” Priyev adds, “Providing a unique brand value proposition, user experience (UX) design, and click-to-action (CTA’s) buttons on a site are key to a successful digital marketing strategy.”

Online marketing is essential for small businesses today and is a cost-effective way to increase revenue, customers, and brand presence. Consumers are now online, and online marketing is only growing more important.

Source: The Huffington Post, article by Kara Mulder (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kara-mulder/why-small-businesses-need_b_11869800.html)

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Social Media Lessons from 6 Must-Follow Brands on Facebook

Sometimes the best way to learn how to do something is from example. If you are seeking advice for your business’ Facebook presence, you can adopt this same mentality. There’s no better way to boost your Facebook strategy than looking at how successful brands are using the site for their own businesses. To see what the pros are doing, we explore six must-follow brands on Facebook who are doing great things on the network.

6 brands to follow on Facebook
1. Target

Top Takeaway: Provide quick and effective social customer service

Target, one of America’s largest retailers, has an equally large Facebook presence totalling over 23 million Likes. With this big of a following there are sure to be countless customer service inquiries. If you look at the comments of any of the Facebook content shared on their page, you’ll find that the majority are not reactions to the post, but unrelated customer service questions and complaints.

Although the volume of messages Target receives on their Facebook page seems overwhelming, they handle them with grace thanks to a few tactics.

They address each customer by name in their responses to ensure they are delivering personalized service.
The customer service representative signs their own name at the end of each response to show that they are actually people and not robots providing automatically generated responses.
They provide a direct phone number to the customer in case they want to speak to a person offline.
They provide a response in a timely manner (less than 24 hours, with some responses as fast as under 10 minutes).

Take a page out of Target’s book and boost your own Facebook customer service efforts by applying these effective techniques.

2. Teva

Top Takeaway: Show lifestyle-centric rather than product-centric content

Your fans aren’t following you on Facebook to be constantly sold to, which is something that hip footwear brand Teva clearly knows. Instead of simply sharing image after static image of shoes and Teva products, the brand uses their Facebook page to showcase the lifestyle surrounding their products. They show the people who are using their products, and the (aspirational) lifestyles that they lead. Teva recognizes the type of customer they attract, and align their Facebook content accordingly.

While of course they don’t ignore their products, Teva balances creative product-centric content with lifestyle-focused posts to provide an engaging mix for their Facebook audience.

Follow in Teva’s steps by making sure you:

  • Don’t put your product front and center in every post
  • Share lifestyle and aspirational content
  • Show your product in the real world, rather than solely in a studio photoshoot
  • Showcase the customers who are using your product or service
  • Keep your customer and their desires top of mind

At the end of the day, think about why you follow certain brands on Facebook. You aren’t looking to make their product the center of your life, but rather build a lifestyle that happens to include their brand. Brands don’t exist in a vacuum, so give your product the context it needs with your Facebook content.

3. Dollar Shave Club

Top Takeaway: Share user-generated content

Nobody is more important to your business’ success than your customers. They’re the ones on the ground actually using your product and know it best. Razor and personal grooming products company Dollar Shave Club uses Facebook to build meaningful relationships with their customers by regularly showcasing content created by them. As our post Content Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses explains, “people trust content created by their peers 50 percent more than other media.”

User-generated content (UGC) is a great option for branded Facebook pages as it not only puts the spotlight on your all-important customers, but provides you with unique and cost-effective social media content.

Dollar Shave Club’s #UnboxDSC campaign is a great example of user-generated content at work. The #UnboxDSC campaign asks customers to share photos unboxing their Dollar Shave Club products on their social media channels. If the company reposts a customer’s photo, they receive a free t-shirt from Dollar Shave Club.

This campaign has been successful for Dollar Shave Club because they:

  • Pay attention to the content their Facebook audience is already sharing and align their campaigns accordingly
  • Made the process of sharing user-generated content easy for their customers
  • Highlight those who share creative and unique images so that the quality remains high
  • Feature use-cases and the product in action

User-generated content invites your customers into the conversation around your brand, and allows them to feel as if they are part of a greater community. Incorporate UGC into your next Facebook campaign with the above tips as a guide.

4. A Mighty Girl

Top Takeaway: Inform and inspire your audience.

As the “world’s largest collection of books, movies, and music for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls,” A Mighty Girl is a unique brand in the Facebook marketing space. Rather than blatantly pushing the products they sell, the organization shares ideas, debates, news articles, and content aiming to inspire and educate their audience. They recognize who their audience is and the information they are seeking, and create content that satisfies these needs.

Some approaches from A Mighty Girl’s page that you can apply to your own Facebook presence include:

  • Consider your audience and their interests, and build content that pertains to these
  • Only push your product or service when it organically fits into the conversations happening
  • Rather than using it as an advertising platform, turn your page into a community hub for those whose interests and values align with your organization’s.
  • Facilitate unbranded discussions and share content that is relevant to the values of your audience and business
  • Think about the problems your audience is facing, and provide information that can solve these problems
  • Have industry experts and thought-leaders share information, inspiration, and their expertise with your audience

By creating a positive space for your customers to engage with your brand and one another, you invite the opportunity for a community to build—something that will become irreplaceable to your audience.

5. Netflix

Top Takeaway: Optimize Facebook video

If it isn’t a part of your social media strategy yet, now is the time to focus on social video. As our post A Guide to Social Video, and Where it Fits in Your Marketing Plan explains:

  • 72 percent of businesses who use video say it has increased website conversion rates
  • 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 is projected to come from video
  • Facebook has 8 billion average daily video views from 500 million users
  • Facebook sees 100 million hours of daily video watch time

For Netflix, using Facebook video as a part of their social media strategy was a natural fit. The majority of the content they share on Facebook is video, including new show trailers, highlights from current programming, and throwback or topical clips (i.e. scenes from Elf around the holidays, etc). To optimize your video content for Facebook just like Netflix:

  • Ensure that your videos are created with silent playback in mind. Digiday found that 85 percent of Facebook videos are watched without sound, so check out our guide Why Your Facebook Videos Need to be Optimized for Silence to find out exactly how you can do this.
  • Share sneak peeks and teasers for upcoming product launches. Netflix shares clips and trailers of soon-to-be-released shows and movies, but you can easily apply this method to sharing short videos giving your Facebook audience access to your future product launches.
  • Build your brand voice through the videos you share. Video naturally conveys more emotion than text or images alone, so ensure you use video to not only align to, but enhance, your established brand voice.

Like Netflix, you can use Facebook video to support your social media strategy— and contribute to your overall marketing objectives.

6. The Honest Company

Top Takeaway: Provide special incentives and content for your Facebook audience

While you could just share the same content to all of your social channels, you will provide your audience with a much more dynamic experience if you can offer customized content for each platform. I’m not saying that you need to create hugely different campaigns for each social network, but provide slightly tweaked content that makes sense for each platform. The Honest Company works with this principle by offering the following through their Facebook page:

  • Discounts and Facebook fan-only coupon codes
  • Exclusive contests for Facebook fans
  • Behind the scenes content
  • Expert advice
  • Product sneak peeks

You need to give your Facebook audience a good reason to follow you, and the above incentives are a great start. By knowing your customers and what drives them, you’ll be able to offer incentives that will be of interest and value to them.

One of the best ways to learn is to take note of what leaders in your field are doing right. Follow these six brands to continue seeing prime examples of how organizations can use Facebook to increase customer engagement and find business success.

Source: Hootsuite, article by Dara Fontein (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-lessons-6-top-brands-facebook/)

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