Facebook Frustrates Brands by Cracking Down on Unpopular Ads

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Facebook has seen a lot of news stories in recent days, but probably the one that would have the biggest impact for Facebook users is that the social network is now limiting the number of posts in your news feed that come from web ads.

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How will this effect brands that regularly employ Facebook, like Campbells Soup picture above?  Well, it is a frustrating matter, but brands will now have to work harder to create more interesting content to have their posts show up in Facebook news feeds.  According to the Facebook blog:

For years, we have given people the choice to hide an ad so they no longer see it in their News Feed. We’ve also looked at these hides and used them as a signal that other people on Facebook might not want to see that ad. Now, we are going a step further by taking into account the specific reason they didn’t want to see that ad, and use that as a signal to inform whether or not we show the ad to other people.

Brands my find themselves pulling away their ad spend from Facebook and onto new platforms as they feel they are getting less reach on their advertising campaigns.

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The way it works is like this: if an ad is getting consistent negative feedback from users, the ad will start being consistently hidden from news feeds.  This will clearly frustrate brands who will not see their ads reach the amount of people they would like to reach while motivating them to work hard to create ads that will not be hidden.  What will be more frustrating to advertisers is that Facebook will not tell them which of their ads are being hidden and how that is affect their reach.

As someone with intentions of going into the social media industry I find this an important development in my views on how to use Facebook for adverti

Facebook’s New Threat to the Journalism Industry

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Looks like Facebook is giving the waning news media a scare, by announcing recently ambitions to become a personal newspaper for the billion plus members currently using Facebook.

Already Facebook has become a huge source of news, with its trending stories at the top right of the home screen.  I already find myself going to Facebook to get a lot of my news.

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But early this month, the CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg announced his plans to make Facebook “the perfect personalized newspaper for every person in the world”  Because Facebook understands your user habits, your interest, you demographics, your likes and dislikes, it can now deliver personalized news in your feed along with updates from your friends and family.

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This in effect would make Facebook a dominant player in the news media. I recently had a conversation with a few friends about this topic.  And a lot of them agreed that Facebook might as well be a newspaper since they get so much of their news already from trending stories on their Facebook page.

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As a former journalist, I do find this a big threat to the journalism industry which is already struggling to survive as newspapers lose readership to the huge number of available and free news sources online.  I find myself getting more and more of my news from credible blogs and less from paid news sources.

The future of this remains to be seen.sing.

Girl Scout Get Tech Savvy with Selling Cookies

Girl Scout cookies are an 800 billion dollar brand and now they’ve gone digital so you can buy all your Do Si Dos Thin Mints and Samoas online.

Girl Scouts are no longer relying on word of mouth to build buzz for their brand of sumptuous cookies.  They now have a strong presence across social media networks including Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

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The Girl Scouts currently have 267,000 followers on Facebook with another 43,000 on Twitter.  Their Pinterest and Instagram accounts boast 21,000 followers.

No wonder the Girl Scouts are getting even more tech savvy with selling.

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Now..under the new digital cookie program.  You will be able to order girl scout cookies on your phone via mobile app or through a girl scout personal website.   The girls can either choose to sell their cookies view mobile app or website. They cannot choose both.  Then they create profiles or personalized sites that will allow them to take and fulfill orders.

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The Girl Scouts of America have already been working to join the social media conversation.  Most recently, they released an animated thin mint video do get in on the conversation around Saurez’s World Cup biting incident.   The video shows a Somoa cookie biting into a thin mint.  This video went on to get 1 million Youtube views.

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Girl Scout cookie were originally sold in 1917 to raise money for a girl scout troop in Oklahoma.

On a personal note, I am extremely excited for this.  Nothing like a fresh box of Girl Scout cookies will make my day.  Who cares that each cookie is about a million calories.  I love my thin mints, my Dosi Dos and my Samoas.. And who doesn’t delight in opening a fresh box of Peanut Butter sandwiches or ordering a new box of Caramel Delites.  Most recently I’ve come under the spell of Dolce De Lech.

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Kudos to the Girl Scouts of America for making the buying of Girl Scout cookies easier, while turning Girl scouts onto digital entrepreneurship.

Check out their digital cookie intiative here

Great Ad Campaigns That Got in on the Halloween Social Media Conversation

I always like to see what  different brands are doing during the Holidays.  From Instagram, to Twitter, to Facebook and Vine, to Pinterest and most recently Snapchat, brands are getting creative with their Halloween marketing.  Here’s a selection of cool Halloween campaigns.

Through the miracle of the moving image, see how today’s @OreoLab nomster was born!

A post shared by OREO (@oreo) on

Last year Oreo created a mashup of popular horror movies and released a Vine.  This year, Oreo celebrated Halloween by releasing a bunch of short movies on Instagram called the “Laboratorium”.  The Oreo brand used animation to create experiments on Oreo cookies creating what they called “nomsters” inspired by popular Halloween monsters.

Disney came out this holiday with a rendition of One Republics hit song featuring celebrated Disney Villians.  Familiar faces like Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, Scar and Jafar populated the music video with the caption “Disney Villain-loving teens ask themselves: is Scar the most evil Disney Villain? Watch their version of “Counting Scars,” inspired by OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.”

The viral youtube video racked over a million views.

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Arby’s this year decided to create #trickormeat offering customers free bacon to their orders if they said trickormeat when they ordered their meals..  This was an interesting way to participate in the social media conversation around Halloween.

If you’re not getting bacon, you’re doing Halloween wrong. #TrickOrMeathttps://t.co/iI7n4qQQw7 — Arby’s (@Arbys) October 28, 2014

The campaign ran actively across twitter with one tweet racking up nearly 3,000 retweets and favorites.

2014-11-02_2-00-56Target went to Instagram for a virtual trick or treat experience.  A fictional neighborhood called Halloween Hills was created. Users got to choose between selecting a “trick” or a “treat”.  Those who selected treats got things like Halloween themed recipes.  Those who chose “tricks” were led to fun do it yourself projects.  The campaign was also put onto Pinterest and ran on its own blog. The campaign racked up 5,000 Likes on Instagram

What kind of potion do you want me to make you? Comment with #SPKsour or #SPKsweet and I might send ya a message. 😉

A post shared by Sour Patch Kids (@sourpatchkids) on

Sour Patch Kids created a series of videos on Instagram . Each of the 9 second videos were a bunch haunted house themed clips starring the Sour Patch Candies themselves.   The campaign was pushed across all of its social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to its Instagram page. One of the captions from its Facebook page read

Sour then sweet is SO much cooler than trick-or-treat. Get to my Instagram NOW or you’ll miss the awesomeness!!!
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Perhaps the campaign to get the most attention was SnapChat’s very first ad.  The ginormous social network is currently valued at 10 billion dollars, but so far has served us up NO ADS. Not until Halloween. Snapchat’s first ad was an ad for the film Ouija that hit theaters on Halloween Night, and opened to number one at the box office with an approximate 12 million dollar gross.

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How effective was the media campaign on Snapchat for the film – one can only presume it helped a lot. Speaking from my own first hand experience as a Snapchat user, I immediately noticed the ad, and was immediately aware of the film.  In fact a couple friends mentioned to me that they had seen the trailer for Ouija on Snapchat.  One can only imagine just how many people saw that ad, givem the hundreds of millions of daily Snapchat users.

Well, those were my favorite, but there were many other brands capitalizing on Halloween with cool and creative campaigns, and here are some I’ve chosen as runner ups…in terms of creativity and the ability to get in on the social media conversation around Halloween.

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….those included a cute Capital One Video that ran on Vine and received over 178,000 views.

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… and a bunch of Slim Jim videos inspired by popular horror movies like Saw, Paranormal Activity, and Scream in a search for the most Killer Snack.  Above is a short video they ran on Facebook called the Slim Jim Chainsaw Meatsacre.  That video racked up over 26,000 views and more than 100 likes on Facebook.

… Chobani Yogurt took the prize for least scary Halloween ad –but most adorable — with a Youtube video featuring dogs dressed up in Halloween Costumes eating Chobani yogurt.

PepsiMax took home top prize for the scariest Halloween campaign with a YouTube video that involved Scary Pranks, Clowns and creepy Monster Masks.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Is Facebook Really in Trouble with Trendy New Social Network Ello?

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Recently, my Facebook feed exploded with comments something along the lines of “Anyone have an Ello invite??!!”

Ello?? What?? Why don’t I know about this?? A simple search on the web for the word Ello brought about hundreds of articles from Forbes to USA Today talking about the latest trendy social network, and everything you needed to know about it. ELLO!

According to the NY Times, Ello has grown from 60 users to 1 million users in three months.  What’s more staggering is that there are currently 3 million – yes 3 million – people on the waiting list to get an Ello invite!

Ello was profiled in Fortune, National Public Radio and TechCrunch among many, many places. News and blogs were reporting that Ello was getting 40,000 new users to sign up every HOUR of every day.  Even Jimmy Fallon weighed in on the pros and cons of joining Ello.

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I admit I was CURIOUS. The idea of an anti-Facebook social network was pretty exhilerating.  The premise of Ello was the sites like Facebook collected all of your data, your purchasing habits, your ethnicity, your age — everything and then sold it to advertisers so that they could put sponsored ads in front of you.  That is the Facebook business model. The premise of Ello is the exact opposite of Facebook – a social network with no ads, no data mining. Thus earning the nickname the “anti-facebook”.

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Aside from the lack of ads and data mining, Ello is basically like Facebook — you can post status updates, photos of your friends.  You can comment on friends posts.  There’s also a section called “Noise” that lets you showcase online art.

So naturally, after reading all about Ello, all over the web, I decided to sign up.  And this is the message I received.

Ello has gone viral and we are temporarily freezing invitations for new users. This allows us to make sure that Ello remains stable as the network continues to grow. Check back here for updates — we promise to give you more invites as soon as we can!

I found this pretty surprising because, you would think, that any company that is trying to start up a social network would be trying its hardest to sign up new users.  And how many companies out there want to be the next Facebook?? And how many companies would love to have the amount of traffic headed to their site and a tidal wave of publicity in the news headlines referring to it as the potential NEXT Facebook?

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But apparently, Ello wants to do it right. They want to have the critical internet infrastructure in place so that when people sign on, they will not have trouble loading pages and experiencing a lot of glitches on the website.  They want people to have a seemless experience.

So while I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an Ello user, since I’m still waiting for an invite, I have been reading about the waves of news articles about Ello in the past month.  That includes the fact that it has already raised 5.5 million dollars from an investment firm.

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The CEO of Ello Paul Budnitz has already hit the media circuit, commenting on how he feels about Facebook, telling Re/Code in a Q&A “We are not here to compete with Facebook. We don’t actually consider Facebook a social network. We think of it as an advertising platform. We’re doing our own thing. When we started creating Ello we actually tried to erase anything we knew and start from scratch and just tried to build what we wanted.”

All I can say is that people have constantly been talking about what would happen to Facebook if someday everyone decided to flee Facebook and go to another social network?  Just like what happened to MySpace a few years back.  Facebook would collapse just like Enron — only without the scandal part.

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Remember MySpace?  It happened to them. Perhaps that is little of what is driving the hoopla around Ello — that there could be a new Facebook Killer.  But speaking as a marketer, Facebook allows companies to target people in the digital space.  At the same time Advertisers are getting fed up with Facebook because over the past couple months they have seen a dramatic dip in the amount of users they reach.  But obviously if Facebook falls apart at the hands of new social networks like Ello. Then where are advertisers to go?

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I honestly don’t think Facebook is going to fall apart. I feel it is too big of a company with too much money that will put too many resources behind not allowing themselves to fall apart.  As sad as it sounds, I think they will do everything they can to make sure Ello does not succeed.  In fact, they’ve already launched a new ad free social network called Rooms that is a throwback to chatrooms of yesteryear that is gaining traction.  Facebook is also acquiring companies like Instagram and Whatsapp for billions of dollars so that if people start to flee Facebook in large numbers, they will continue to thrive.

I don’t believe advertisers will stop using Facebook to advertise.  As long as it is a way to reach people across the digital space, I feel they will continue to use Facebook.  But, instead of solely relying on Facebook for social media advertising, I do think we will see more companies creating their own advertising websites, or microsites, to push their own products.

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EA Games successfully did this recently by pushing their advertisements from Madden 15 to their own microsite called The Giferator, where you can create your own GIFs of different football players on different teams.

Anyway, getting back to Ello.  I don’t know if I’ve peaked your curiosity on Ello, but I’ll leave you with Jimmy Fallon weighing in on the pros and cons of Ello

PS – A month has past since I’ve signed up and I have only gotten a few e-mails from Ello telling me to hold tight, that a new round of email invites would be coming soon. You can give it a whirl at this link .  Good Luck!

Update – I emailed my blog post to the Ello CEO and asked for an invite. And the next day I had an Ello invite in my inbox!! I will keep you posted on my experiences using Ello.