fbpx

Category : Insights

HomePosts in Insights

Crystal Ball 2019: The significance of word of mouth in the era of information overload.

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).

Vy Do, Digital & Creative Content intern, shares her view on how people are influenced and the power of word of mouth in 2019.

Bookstores are the main place where I learn about which books are most popular, which genres they belong to, which ones are staff picks; but, ironically, none of this information contributes to my purchase decision.

I have heard about “Educated,” “Becoming,” and “Small Fry” – all of them are from notable women, but I didn’t really pay attention to the praises they received on social media and in the newspaper.

Instead, I was influenced by a stranger on a subway who devoured “educated” in the early commuting hours.

I was influenced by my friend on “Goodreads,” the world’s largest site for book recommendations, who gave the book five stars.

I rely on these people because they have nothing to gain from suggesting a book.

When presented with so many choices, people seek advice from those they trust because it is too risky to listen to someone who may have received incentives for promoting something.

People are influenced by their friends of friends, too. Something like “I haven’t tried it but my friend Bobby said that…” may be just enough to be taken into consideration. Word-of-mouth is the oldest, yet most effective form of marketing.

We are bombarded with too much information daily, including fake news, so I believe people will turn back to people they know for advice.

Social content and paid ads may raise awareness for a product/service, but user-generated content and communities/forums are where consumers will test what they see and read.

So what is the implication for advertisers?

Care about what your audience may think and feel about your product. Spending money promoting something is not enough, think about how anyone your audience comes into contact with could influence your customer’s ultimate purchase. 

Vy Do is a Digital & Creative Content intern at APEX Public Relations. Learn more about what influences consumer’s purchase decision by visiting our website or emailing us at

bigger@apexpr.com

Check out more of our Crystal Ball series to know what other trends to expect in 2019.

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. 

2019 Crystal Ball – Brands creating real action in 2019

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).

Ella Singleton, director, creative strategies at ruckus Digital, shares her view on what will happen to brand campaigns this year.

There will always be those brands that are fast to co-opt the latest causes the media has rallied behind. They do it and are then either applauded, debated, despised or awarded (or usually a mix of all four) by consumers and industry peers.

But can brands action change for the good of our planet and humanity in 2019? Can they move things forward in a tangible, results-driven way, versus creating statements only to gain short term press headlines?

The question is what defines real action? What are results? 

Is it a campaign that lives in the media? Is it a story trending in your social feed for a week? Is it a hashtag to rally behind and track conversation?

Is it increased sales first, or social change?

Historically, by positioning ‘change’ in that way has been counterproductive. Conversations driven by brands is great for awareness, but has it ever really changed policy or human truths and behaviours?

What it has done is spike insincere, ineffective social action and then inevitably exhausted the masses shortly after.

The shift in thinking for major brand players in 2019 is what I am beginning to see in my crystal ball, and I see inklings of it. Foundational change is being discussed at the top. Thought leaders are realizing what will and will not move the needle, for their business and social responsibility.

False pretense of action is in the past — donation matching, co-opting conversation etc.

Actionable and innovative thinking in a business model is the only way forward. For example, the coalition of some of the biggest players in CPG moving to a zero waste platform is going to revolutionize how other brands think and act.

How can brands move beyond the false pretense of action to drive real and sustainable outcomes? Well, let’s see.

Ella Singleton is a Director, Creative Strategies at ruckus Digital. Looking to real action for your brand? Visit our website or email us at info@ruckusdigital.ca

Check out more of our Crystal Ball series to know what other trends to expect in 2019.

Crystal Ball 2019: Video killed the television star

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).

Amanda Carreiro, community manager at ruckus Digital, shares her view on what will happen to video this year.

We’ve all noticed our attention spans shrinking significantly over the last five years, and for marketers it’s become increasingly obvious. With all the information swirling around on social media feeds and news sites, consumers have adopted the feeling of needing to consume as much of it as possible (I blame the phenomenon that is FOMO). Because of this, digital content creators began producing content that sat in the ideal timeframe of 1 minute long – which was later reduced to 30 seconds, then to 10 seconds, then to just six seconds.

This is still the format adopted by most brands today. In fact, studies show that consumers register information from video content within the first second, and that the ideal spot for your brand’s messaging in a video is within the first 3 seconds.

With decreasing attention spans and the evolution of our brains taking in information faster, you may think that short form content is the only way to go, but think again – long form video content is making a comeback.

The reality is, that while consumers need a brand message served to them in 3 seconds, longer form content can grab and hold their attention just as well.

Take Vice Canada for example – as a major video content producer, they are regularly publishing social media videos that are anywhere between three to 10 minutes long; and according to Nina Sudra, General Manager of Vice Canada, it’s working for them.

Even Tasty – the food content experts who found their success online by posting quick 1-2 minute long video recipes – has now started to create longer form video content that ranges from 5-12 minutes long.

The television audience has been shrinking dramatically for years as consumers have shifted their attention to online streaming platforms. You see, when content is left to studios to create you end up with some good content, but mostly lackluster shows that you’ve never heard of because they only got one season on NBC. YouTube and Netflix have created a whole new generation of creators and viewers who know quality content and only want to be served that.

This trend, paired with the additional introductions of long form content platforms like IGTV and Facebook Watch, make it so that consumers now have more outlets to view the long form content they’re interested in.

Throughout 2019, brands will need to start changing their 6 second video strategy, to creating long form video that is relevant and interesting to their audience. They’ll need to reconsider the existing platforms and find new ways to serve their message – think a YouTube series for example.

The goal however remains the same, brands need to create engaging content, and this will be even harder now that there’s more view time to fill.

Amanda Carreiro is a community 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 video strategy? Drop us a line.

5 tips from Facebook PR Agency Day

The APEX and ruckus teams had an opportunity to visit Facebook this month for their Facebook PR Agency Day, which brought several leading PR and social media agencies together to outline what’s new and upcoming for Facebook and Instagram. 

Here are our top five key tips on what communicators need to do to get the most out of Facebook and Instagram in 2019:

  1. Measure by business objectives over engagement: 91 per cent of a social media post’s brand impact is from those who never engage, that’s a large percentage of your audience from which you’re not measuring impact if you just focus on engagement. Before starting any programming review your business objectives and select the social platforms that will align to those business objectives.
  • Get influencers to follow Facebook’s creative best practices: The average person scrolls through 300 feet of content per day (that’s the height of the Statue of Liberty!) When building influencer programming, educate influencers to consider the following best practices from Facebook user behaviours:
    • Design for sound off as 85 per cent of video is viewed without listening to audio
    • Design for vertical video as 90 per cent of smartphone users hold their phones vertically
    • Capture attention quickly as consumers can process a thought in 0.013 seconds
  • Select a publishing option to match video consumption habits: People engage with mobile video in two different ways: on-the-go or captivated viewing:
    • On-the-go viewing is typically seen in Stories or within the news feed
    • Captivated viewing is typically seen in FB Watch, FB Live (watch parties or premieres) or IGTV
  • Know that #sponsored doesn’t impact consumers trust: The rise of influencer content comes from audiences not trusting traditional advertising, however consumers are open to the small everyday influencer being a spokesperson as they trust their recommendations more than traditional ads.
  • Extend content to the right audience: Organic reach, even for the influential, only goes so far.As the usage of social platforms increase, the need to have paid media support becomes even more important to meeting objectives.

Contributors to this piece include Katie Boland, Amanda Carreiro, Vanessa Cuartas, Marc Dodsworth, Vivian Kwong, and Nicole Pomeroy. 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. 

 

What podcasts are we listening to?

When I first listened to a podcast I loved how personal it felt. The experience was like listening to a private conversation with people I admired. As a PR student, I attended a live taping of Inside PR at PodCamp Toronto and it made me feel excited about this industry and that I could listen to leading professionals and their recommendations for students like me. However, that was almost ten years ago!

Since then, the industry has been maturing with 76 per cent of Canadians familiar with podcasts and 18 per cent of Canadians listening weekly, a growth of 20 per cent over 2017. This growth has shown great value for brands to have personal relationships with their customers or niche audiences. This content can be focused on specific conversations in a longer form than traditional channels like radio or television ads that can be limited to 15 seconds.

Looking for a new podcast for your way to work? Check out the APEX PR and ruckus Digital teams favourite podcasts:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be even more meta, check out our latest ruckus makers podcast about podcasting with podcast panelists Amanda Muse, Hannah Sung and Jessica Moorhouse.

 

Katie Boland is an account manager at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.

So, what is User Experience Design?

After much reading, research and attending the UX Design Bootcamp from Miami Ad School Toronto, I could tell you that User Experience Design can be defined in many ways.

It all comes down to one common theme –the interaction and value that a product will provide to the user when using the product. Whether it is a website, tablet or even an app the user’s satisfaction should always be the main focus when developing the end product.

 

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Steve Jobs

 

What needs to be included in User Experience Design?

There are different facets or qualities of user experience according Peter Morville from Semantic Studios. Peter developed what we call the user experience honeycomb.

The 7 facets of the Peter Morville Honeycomb are useful, usable, desirable, findable, accessible, credible, and valuable.  This honeycomb helps brands define their products’ priorities, therefore providing a good experience for the user.

 

What is the User Experience Design process?

The User Experience Design process has different phases that are repeated, to help evaluate the design of the end product. A good example is the Double Diamond Design process, which has four steps: discover, define, develop and deliver.

Through the Discovery phase, a lot of research takes place, including primary and secondary research, competitive analysis, stakeholder interviews, user journeys, and more.

In the Define phase all the information from the Discovery phase is gathered and narrowed down to a creative brief.

Then comes the fun part, the Development phase where ideation takes place to come up with unique concepts based on the creative brief. These concepts are created, prototyped, tested and iterated. This is the part where the ideas are also refined to what works and what doesn’t.

After a lot of trial and error comes the last phase, the Delivery phase, this where the project is finalised and launched.

In the end User Experience Design is all about the customer needs versus their wants.

 

At this point in experience design’s evolution, satisfaction ought to be the norm, and delight out to be the goal. Stephen Anderson

 

Following a good design process such as this one, will not only help you have a great product but a valuable user experience.

Vanessa Cuartas is an integrated media designer at ruckus Digital. Need help with design? Drop us a line.

3 improv lessons that made me a better community manager

With brands like Wendy’s constantly “winning the internet” with clever social content and humourous banter with users, it’s becoming increasingly important for community managers to bring a level of wit and quick thinking to the job.

To sharpen my wit and perfect my ability to create content that resonates with target audiences, I spent 6 weeks taking improv classes, and I think anyone in the creative industry should do the same.

In case the idea of attempting to entertain a room full of strangers triggers your anxiety, here are 3 key takeaways I can share for anyone to apply to their day jobs.

  1. Let go and commit

In improv, the best performances are the ones where the actor fully goes for it. Hesitation or insecurity is obvious to the audience and can hinder the performance. As a creative thinker, when working on your next big idea, it’s best to stay away from the “but” and focus on the “yes, and” (a rule-of-thumb for improv).  When you don’t focus on potential limitations or obstacles, it’s easier to elevate your ideas.

  1. Act naturally

On the first day of class they say, “don’t try to be funny.” It may sound counterproductive, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s a lesson in being natural. Consumers can often tell when a brand is trying too hard to be “relevant”; the best content fits naturally into a brand’s voice.

  1. On the other side of panic is somewhere you really want to be

Just like improv, the creative industry is a fast-paced, ever-changing environment that can get overwhelming. Feelings of panic can impact the way you perform – but if you can ride the waves, push through the panic, and give your best effort without fear, the outcome is worth a standing ovation.

 

Amanda Carreiro is a community manager at ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line. 

Summer Roadtripping with Facebook

On July 24, 2018, Facebook Canada held a #FBroadtrip session to outline what’s new and upcoming on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Incidentally, earlier this year, we asked Canadians what companies Facebook owns – to test whether news events would impact usage on it or other platforms.

What we found is that just over a quarter of Canadians know that Instagram is owned by Facebook and less than 1/5 know that Facebook also owns WhatsApp. (Facebook does not own any of the other companies listed in our survey, although some Canadians think they do.)

What companies does Facebook own?

Source: Google Consumer Survey by ruckus Digital April 14-18, 2018, sample = 1,000 Canadians

In that light, this piece highlights a few areas from this week’s Facebook session, as it relates to the Canadians’ expectations and equally importantly, as it relates to three key questions we’ve also been getting:

 

  1. Should our company reconsider being on Facebook?

If you’re there already and it makes sense for your audience, our opinion is no. When you’re looking at the numbers, the reality is Facebook-owned platforms still cater to the largest masses:

  • 24 million Canadians are on Facebook each month (larger than any social platform, 3x larger than Canada’s largest mainstream media outlet)
  • 14 million Canadians are on Instagram each month (larger than Snapchat)
  • 18 million Canadians use Facebook Messenger each month
  • Add +16% in audience reach when you add the Audience Network:
    • A larger external network using Facebook ads to display on third-party sites such as Maclean’s, CityNews, The Ottawa Sun, Breakfast Television, The Huffington Post, Slice, SportsNet and Driving.ca.

Facebook reiterated its commitment to making its platform “positive, safe and valuable” especially considering recent ‘delete Facebook’ initiatives and the flood of fake news.

While as communicators you may be getting similar pressure to rethink Facebook, Facebook’s commitment extends to these four areas:

  • Foster meaningful interactions |to give its audience more opportunity to connect with the people and passions they care about
  • Reduce the spread of false news | introduction of new policies to help tackle inauthentic activity
  • Be transparent and accountable | giving users more privacy controls
  • Equip for brand safety | providing more tools to help advertisers control where their ads are seen

 

  1. How are things changing for our audience?

We all know in today’s communications environments, consumers are in the driver’s seat. But one of the most important things that is changing for our audience is that they’re evolving themselves.

Because we live in a mobile world, we’re able to process info much faster than we used to. The MIT ‘In the Blink of an Eye Study’ showed that over a 13-year period we’ve gone from processing a thought in 0.30 seconds to

  • Processing a thought in 1/10 the time: 0.03 seconds
  • Processing an image in even less time: 0.013 seconds

Facebook reps added people “expect businesses to provide fast and frictionless mobile experiences” because

  • Consumers spend 1.7 seconds on average on with any given piece of content
  • 40% of people abandon a site if it doesn’t load after 4 seconds
  • 49% of people would purchase more on mobile if it was easier

Ultimately, our work needs to be better than these benchmarks to even resonate with our audiences.

 

  1. What should we care about with ‘what’s new’?

While Facebook has many new initiatives coming out across all its properties, the most exciting revolve around three areas:

  • Direct Response (DR) products “allow advertisers to get customers and potential customers to take action online, in-store and in mobile apps,” and will be expanded within Messaging apps including Facebook Messenger, Instagram Direct and WhatsApp (in a non-intrusive way, including video)
  • Dynamic Ads for lead generation including contextual targeting of house listings, for example, which will show up in Facebook Marketplace because of an individual’s similar online searches (note: Facebook Marketplace is bigger than Craigslist in the US)
  • Video will also include dynamic insertion of most relevant creative based on an individual’s online activities, the ability to gather info (name, email, phone) for follow up, while vertical video’s prominence will continue to grow (thanks to the popularity of Instagram Stories – 40% of stories are video – with 100% full-screen experience)

BONUS: While there isn’t the ability to advertise (yet) on the recently launched IGTV (up to 1-hour long vertical video on Instagram), Chris Loves Julia was an example mentioned of users successfully launching on the channel. Be sure to check them out.

Kevin Behar and Diane Bégin are with APEX Public Relations and ruckus Digital. Need help with your social media approach? Drop us a line.