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Crystal Ball 2019: Year of authentic and unfiltered social stories

With 2019 ramping up, expect new trends throughout the news, social media, technology and more. At APEX and ruckus digital we will be sharing our predictions on some of these trends that we think will define 2019 (or at least part of it).

Katie Boland, account manager at ruckus Digital, shares her view on the growth of social stories.

It’s time to move on from fake news, fake followers and fake photos. It’s time for us to start being real on social media. My crystal ball prediction for 2019 is that it’s the year of real, authentic social stories.

I believe you’ll see the rise of people sharing imperfect pictures and videos in a new way that is different from the traditional news feed sharing. I think pre-sets, filters and perfecting the picture Instagram picture will be the exceptions in 2019.

Stories started with the disruption of Snapchat as a new channel for audiences to share content privately. Then stories were adopted by Instagram, which brought audience growth and expanded features. Now in 2019 stories are rolling out to Facebook and YouTube.

Stories generally disappear after a day and are focused on more real-time sharing within the moment. These photos or videos fill the entire mobile screen in a vertical format and allow consumers to focus on the content in front of them, rather than scrolling through a social newsfeed.

Consumers are rapidly moving to the stories format with more than 300 million daily active users. Of those daily users, 47 per cent feel that the format helps them be more authentic with friends and family.

This new format has changed the average engagement from the standard “like” or “comment” engagement we’re used to on social platforms, to adding polls, questions and emoji ratings to allow individuals to feel more connected to each other, brands or celebrities.

In fact, it could be the year my mom uses Facebook Stories to share pictures of her cat rather than just keeping an eye on my social networking activity.

Katie Boland is an account manager at ruckus digital. Check out more of our Crystal Ball series to know what other trends to expect in 2019. Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line. 

Five takeaways from Social Media Week Toronto

From algorithm adjustments to the ever-changing video formats. Social media is constantly evolving, and as digital strategists it’s important we keep on top of these changes to better optimize our content for any platform.

The ruckus team had an opportunity to attend Social Media Week Toronto, which brought several leading social media marketers together to outline what’s new and upcoming for social media marketing. 

This piece highlights our key takeaways from the conference and what inspired us the most:

1. Select influencers that matter to your message

Brands often select influencers based on their reach with a goal of getting their content in front of a large audience. However, algorithms are customizing social feeds based on user behaviour and the most relevant content users engage with and brands need to adapt. These four considerations are the key to selecting the right influencers for your brand:

  • Relevance: How often does the influencer talk about topics and information that are relevant to your brand?
  • Resonance: How well does the content resonate with the influencer’s audience? What is their engagement rate?
  • Reference: How big is their influence? Do other key influencers follow them as well?
  • Reach: Make no mistake, reach still matters, but the above considerations are far more important to maximizing your campaign’s results.

2. Don’t count out other platforms

Facebook is a very cost-effective medium and it’s easy to funnel all your social marketing here. Especially if you’re a new brand or a new product, it’s a no-brainer to reach as many as 75 per cent of Canadians. However, this platform might not be the only platform depending on the audience or marketing objectives that your brand could explore.

Platforms like Reddit and Pinterest were profiled as platforms to reconsider for your marketing strategies for these reasons:

  • Reddit has a community of strong opinions and could be a place to help drive traffic – however beware of the content leveraged here and speak in reddit-lingo to engage better with this audience.
  • Pinterest is full of lifestyle content with a strong base of users looking for wedding inspiration or meal prep ideas. Advertising on the platform has been getting easier and just as sophisticated as Facebook – they even launched a Toronto office!

3. Prepare for and embrace the chaos

To keep on top of the high volume of engagements during election night, CBC Toronto built a control room entirely for social, and an equipped team of social media producers to fill it. This amount of preparation and support benefited CBC as their team was able to:

  • Ensure that things ran smoothly.
  • Bring questions from online to their team of reporters, at the venues throughout the city to get answers by the candidates themselves.
  • Respond to each comment and reaction in real-time, which played a huge part of their live-coverage success as CBC’s Digital Producer, @vvalido explained, “it really helped to keep people interested.”

4.   Cannabis is here to stay – even if you can’t market it

At a session with Josh Lyon of Tokyo Smoke and Amanda Marino from Herb we learned the background of marketing in cannabis (even though you pretty much can’t). To begin with, did you know that the word “cannabis” is politically correct – and that we shouldn’t use marijuana? Regardless, both agreed that education is the key for cannabis in the future, how they reach their audiences and promote their brand is done in a different way.

  • Tokyo Smoke – Working for a company that sells paraphernalia and cannabis products, they are unable to promote their brand on any social channel. They are not allowed to use images or videos that show people using their products – Tokyo Smoke can show their shops and pictures that may help people learn about cannabis, but none of their products. Since they can’t advertise, their social media and coffee shop methods are a great place to educate.

5.      Herb –Their social media accounts are all about improving the image of cannabis and its users, while also being educational. They mainly play on YouTube, where they have both fun and educational videos – whether it is moms getting high and playing Fortnite, to learning about the history of 4/20. They try to use a lot of comedy as they say people always like to laugh. LinkedIn is In

LinkedIn is often thought as a networking tool rather than a social platform with capabilities beyond job hunting and connecting with peers. After Goldie Chan’s Unpacking the LinkedIn Influencer session we saw LinkedIn as a platform that can add value to any social campaign, especially in the B2B sector.

6. LinkedIn is In

LinkedIn is often thought as a networking tool rather than a social platform with capabilities beyond job hunting and connecting with peers. After Goldie Chan’s Unpacking the LinkedIn Influencer session we saw LinkedIn as a platform that can add value to any social campaign, especially in the B2B sector.

This is LinkedIn at a glance:

  • It currently has 565 million users worldwide, 40% of which are daily users
  • 57% of its traffic is mobile
  • 44% of LinkedIn users make more than $75K USD annually

LinkedIn users have a deep understanding of their industries and will engage with highly-targeted and in-depth content, making it possible for brands to hyper-specialize their messaging to respective audiences.

Working with influencers on the platform has also a proven successful. Consider partnering with LinkedIn influencers to build brand awareness for a B2B company, amplify a B2C product launch or to grow a company executive’s brand.

Finally, here are some individual profile LinkedIn tips from the session:

  • A professional headshot is a must
  •      Optimize your profile copy for SEO and include links to your other social accounts and websites
  • Post content that is specific to your industry
  • Include high-quality video in your strategy
  • Improve your SEO with strong written content
  • Add a personal note to your connection requests

 

Katie Boland, Amanda Carreiro, Vivian Kwong, Nicole Pomeroy and Kevin Behar are all a part of the APEX/ruckus digital team. Need help with your social strategy? Drop us a line. 

 

10 AI tools for communicators

Marketer, strategist and entrepreneur Ross Simmonds was the featured opening keynote at the Canadian Public Relations Society national conference in Charlottetown, PE May 27-29, 2018, to help answer the vital artificial intelligence (AI) question:

Will robots take over my job?

While robots such as Google Assistant can impersonate a human to make a hair appointment, the reality is that instead of replacing jobs outright, ‘artificial intelligence’ – or ‘augmented intelligence,’ as Simmonds prefers to say – will simply enhance the work we do.

So, no robots, will not replace you – but they can help to make you better.

To show how, Simmonds provided a list of current AI tools, to help make our jobs in communications easier.

  • Assistant | Get an AI assistant for your email
  • Clara Labs | Have interviews scheduled based on email discussions
  • Lumen 5 | Create a video from text in minutes
  • Captain Growth | Extract insights from your data
  • Press Hunt | Find a journalist who is talking about your topic
  • Articollo | Quick start writing an article
  • Persado | Determine language your audience cares about
  • Crystal | Get insights into personality/behaviour
  • Voila Norbert | Determine a likely email address for a contact (be aware of Canada Anti-Spam Legislation compliance however)
  • Dialpad Voice AI | Get real-time voice sentiment to know how a call is going

Need help making sense of how AI is impacting your business? Drop us a lineDiane Bégin is VP, social marketing & brand communications. Follow her @dibegin.

What’s the story with Upstairs Amy?


RUCKUS DIGITAL AND APEX PR ARE COLLABORATING WITH WALMART CANADA AND INTERAC® FOR AN ORIGINAL DIGITAL SERIES, UPSTAIRS AMY, PRODUCED BY SHAFTESBURY

From the producers of global phenomenon Carmilla, Upstairs Amy is a scripted comedy that will also feature real-life digital influencers curated by APEX Public Relations.

The grass is always greener on the other side – or, in Amy Zhang’s case, on another floor.

 

Upstairs Amy follows the lives of three millennial moms on a journey through friendship, motherhood and self-discovery. When Amy’s apartment floods, she, her husband Dean, and their toddler are forced to move upstairs while the damages are repaired. There, Amy meets her captivating new neighbour Kaavya, the “it-girl” from the 26th floor. When a white lie turns into a new life, Amy and her best friend Veronica find themselves surrounded by Kaavya’s world of beauty, glamour, mystery and men – and so begins Amy’s transformation from average accountant into social media superstar “Upstairs Amy.”

 

ruckus Digital knows brands need storytelling and relatable characters that resonate with their target audiences. Before, commercials were the standard way of serving content to consumers. Now, consumers are in control – they decide when and how to interact with brands. This is why we are so excited to be working with Kin Community and their talented group of influencers, whose participation in-show will extend to their own channels and beyond. The influencers will be posting weekly content on their own channels relating to each week’s episode. ruckus Digital will lead the development on media buying and social content for the series.


The series is scheduled to launch
in November 2017 on a dedicated Upstairs Amy YouTube channel.

Drive engagement through Millennials ‘early onset nostalgia’

With fierce competition from other leading online and bricks and mortar retailers, the holiday shopping season is the most difficult time of the year to capture a customer’s attention. Walmart Canada needed a creative approach to break through the noise and entice Canadian shoppers to choose Walmart for their Black Friday (in-store and online), Cyber Monday (online) and Boxing Week (in-store and online) shopping.

According to Digiday, experts say that factors such as the coming of age during economic turmoil has meant millennials end up romanticizing simpler times – even times they weren’t around for – which the industry has diagnosed as millennials’ ‘early onset nostalgia.’ (As seen in Throwback Thursdays or Wayback Wednesdays online conversations.)

Building on this ‘early onset nostalgia,’ an IABC Silver Leaf award-winning illustration and animation series was developed with a nostalgic twist to get millennials ‘ready for their big shopping day’ through retro-styled workout stretches.

Industry best practices indicate short videos improve audience engagement. A more recent move has been to look at platform-specific variations to improve impressions. According to Mobile Marketer, consumers spend 98 per cent of their time using their phone in portrait mode. Square videos also perform better on certain platforms.

A 10-second square video animation series was created for Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, while vertical videos were pushed through Snapchat. YouTube videos were also added to the mix. The videos included exercises in retro gear with workouts such as squats (i.e. to lift your big-ticket in-store purchase) and finger stretches (i.e. to tap for your online purchases).

Since Black Friday and Boxing Day offered in-store shopping experiences, five in-family day-parted Snapchat geofilters were designed for each day for individuals to share their Walmart-inspired shopping experiences through a selfie.

The video campaign targeted millennial Twitter followers, Snapchat users, Instagram fans, Facebook fans and YouTube users.

The campaign allowed Walmart Canada to maintain its leadership position during these peak shopping days during the holiday season. The geofilters also ranked within the top worldwide on the platform – the only Canadian brand to do that in Q4 (even beating out the 2 US presidential candidates’ geofilters per capita).

Need help targeting Millennials through your social content? Drop us a line.

 

 

How to add a fresh twist to your social media content

Have any of your married friends or those in committed relationships ever asked to play with someone else’s dating apps (just because they were curious)?

According to a Google Consumer Survey ruckus Digital commissioned in spring 2017, about a quarter of Canadian millennials know someone who has. This insight gave us the perfect opportunity to get fresh (groceries, that is) with our Walmart millennial audience.

Dinnder was a 10 to 15-second social media video ad series (throughout spring/summer 2017 long weekends, including Victoria Day, Canada Day and the Civic Holiday), created to improve Walmart’s quality perception and spread awareness about its new 100% Canadian AAA Angus Beef.  Delicious cuts of beef were paired with attractive sides made with Walmart’s fresh produce.

How: By drawing a connection between a dating app and the brand, we piqued consumer interest in a brand new way – cutting through the long weekend clutter in both English and French Canada – as people were stocking up for their long weekend get-togethers.

The vertical video series (to align with the vertical orientation for swiping on popular dating apps) ran on Facebook and Snapchat. The series was among the top pieces of social content for Walmart in summer 2017.

As marketers, we constantly have to rethink how we reach consumers/audiences and stand out in the crowd. Take a look at our Dinnder videos and let us know what you think!


Need help with your paid social media strategy and targeting? Drop us a line.

Walmart Canada brings you into the dorm with Facebook 360 photography

Excitement for virtual reality continues to explode and with Facebook 360 photos. Users can expand the canvas of their images to new dimensions. Facebook 360 provides the ability to create 3D, panoramic-like views of your environment, similar to how people experience 360 videos.

This feature was launched last year, and has continued to be very popular with brands – over 70 million 360 photos have been shared on Facebook. In addition, people gaze 5x longer at video than at static content on Facebook and Instagram, so it is safe to assume the use of 360 photos will also establish a longer gaze and demand more attention than a fixed image.

Challenge

Students spend hours daily on digital channels and view advertising differently than their parents. They want to be in control of advertising and appreciate short and quick messages. With this in mind, Walmart looked to provide an inspirational digital execution to help students visualize a decked out dorm room with Walmart’s full assortment of home, technology and apparel products.

Solution

Using Facebook 360 posts, Walmart’s 2017 Back to Campus campaign allowed viewers to immerse themselves in four different dorm rooms. Instead of being a flat image, the 360 photos are much more inviting – drawing viewers into the scene and allowing them to feel the experience of being in a dorm and making sure their favourite desk will fit!

The posts were published as Facebook Collections (also a first time for Walmart Canada), which allowed users to go directly to Walmart.ca to purchase. Our ruckus Digital team was responsible for the campaign from start to finish including strategy, production, media buying and reporting/measurement.

Results

These Back to Campus 360 posts were the top performing posts within organic streams across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram during summer 2017, producing an 18 per cent increase to organic reach and exceeded benchmarks for online conversions.

Need help with your social content strategy? Drop us a line.

Use ambassador videos to tell your brand story

It’s estimated that in 2017, video accounts for 74 per cent of online traffic. Combined with the fact that 55 per cent of people watch online video every day, video should be part of your brand’s integrated story.

Husqvarna Canada has been working with ruckus Digital since 2015 to build and sustain an engaged social media presence.

From timely branded holiday content (i.e. mock Father’s Day tie below) to #FanFriday user-generated content, momentum continues to build with Husqvarna Canada’s audiences on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

To take content to the next level, we created a Husqvarna PROfiles video series with industry professionals at Parkwood Estates (film location for movies such as Billy Madison) in Oshawa, Ontario.

The long form video content (approx. 2 minutes each), gave Husqvarna ambassadors the opportunity to tell their industry stories in an authentic and meaningful way – with the integration of on-site product use. This approach continues to perform well online with its intended audience.

Need help telling your brand’s story through video? Drop us a line.

ruckus Digital at DX3 Canada

ruckus Digital was at DX3 Canada, Canada’s leading technology, digital marketing and retail event, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this week.

This year, #DX32017 brought in speakers and industry leaders from big players like Walmart, Pinterest, IBM, Corus Entertainment, American Express, DAVIDsTEA, Lululemon, BMO Financial Group, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and many more.

See below to check out some of our live tweets from the two-day event!

Need digital help? Drop us a line.