Instagram Adds New Editing Tools

Instagram Editing Tools

If you’re like the rest of the human population, you’re probably on Instagram everyday 🙂 Well, good news for the platform’s users: new photo editing tools.

Earlier this week, the popular image sharing social platform rolled out a new set of tools to help edit photos even more, including the ability to change an image’s contrast, warmth, saturation and more. With many IG users already turning to additional apps to help edit pics, it only makes sense for the platform to provide its users with tools they really want and need.

Instagram stated, “You take a photo to capture a moment, but often what you see in the photograph doesn’t feel the same as what you remember. From brightening up a photo of your dinner party to better capturing the warmth of a sunset portrait, these new creative tools help you bring out and share the beauty of the moment as you remember it—right inside the same simple Instagram you already know.”

Although it may not seem like a drastic change in the application, for many this means cutting out the middle man — or other editing apps like the popular VSCO Cam. Similar to how IG added video capabilities after Vine was launched through Twitter, this new addition will make many folks happy and consequently, continuous use of the platform.

Have you tried the new IG photo editing tools yet?

— Samantha

Three Ways Brands Successfully Use Vine

When Instagram introduced their video feature, many thought Vine would soon be on its way out. While Instagram may have the advantage when it comes to number of users, we still see great opportunity with Vine, especially for brands. Vine offers a fantastic platform for brands to connect with their audience in a whole new way. Below, we have highlighted three such ways brands are successfully tapping into their Vine following.

1) Announcing New Products

New product promotion is always incredibly important to a brand. After all, whats the point of developing the latest and greatest if nobody knows about it? Here are two examples from Twitter and Puma of how to effectively promote a new product in six seconds:

2) Behind the Scenes

People love seeing behind the scenes footage. Whether it’s from the Super Bowl or the Grammys, audiences love exclusive material that the average consumer might not get. Here is a Vine from a Kate Spade fashion shoot and one from an XBOX event:

3) Straight Up Entertainment

One of the best ways to succeed in social media is simply create content people want to share. Regardless of topic, the more people linking your content, the bigger audience you reach. Here is a cool video from Urban Outfitters on glow-in-the-dark body paint and another one from Oreo, who may have just revolutionized your ice coffee:

-Mike & Samantha

Top Social Platforms Among Teens

We recently brought you an article on a 13-year-old claiming that none of the kids her age used Facebook. It got us wondering: If teens don’t use Facebook, what are they using? According to this chart by Statista, Facebook is still the top dog when it comes to teens, despite what our friendly 13-year-old said.

2013_08_16_Social_Teens-1People say that Facebook is losing its younger audience, but looking at numbers like this, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The drop from #1 Facebook to #2 Twitter, is huge. Sure, this data is looking at 2011 to 2012, and the numbers from 2012 to 2013 may be slightly different, but Facebook has a long way to fall before we start talking about any other platforms taking over.

We do agree that many teens are converting to the latest and greatest platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, but Facebook has such a lead over other competitors that something drastic will have to happen before we ever see a new #1. The ability for one platform to cater to teens and adults alike is no easy task. Teens will always try and distance themselves from their parents and social media is no different. We agree that teens seem to be trending away from Facebook, but we also believe Facebook is here to stay. Even though teen usage numbers may decrease, we don’t think it will be by much or for very long. Ultimately, we would not be surprised to see them figure out a way to bring those teen users back, stronger than ever.

-Mike & Samantha

Facebook Releases New User Data

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We had recently done a piece on how Facebook is getting ready to sell video advertisements on their platform. In order to create some hype among advertisers, Facebook released some recent user data for the U.S. and UK. Get ready for this:

More than 128 million people in the U.S. visit Facebook at least once a day. That’s a third of the population! Also, in the UK, about 24 million people visit the social media website everyday.

Of course these numbers are pretty staggering on their own, but another important thing to take away from this announcement, is that this is one of the first times Facebook has released regional data. This is significant to TV advertisers, who rely heavily on those breakdowns. Facebook is trying to show all the advertisers out there just how many people they can reach on a daily basis.

At $66.3 billion estimated to go towards TV ads this year, or 39% of all advertising spent in the U.S., there is some serious money to be made by Facebook. Although these daily user number are no doubt impressive, advertising analysts would like to see more granularity before they can really put a value on Facebook’s reach. For the first time ever, researchers say the average time spent on digital media will surpass TV viewing this year.

We can all see where  TV advertising is going and it is no surprise that Facebook is on the forefront. Sure there will be some backlash from user over having video ads in their newsfeed, but after seeing the potential revenues for Facebook in this new field, we expect to see them take TV advertising head-on.

-Mike & Samantha

Teens No Longer Interested in Facebook

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Leave it to a 13 year-old to tell us how things really are. In this article, I’m 13 and None of My Friends Use Facebook, on Mashable.com, Ruby Karp explains how teens now see Facebook. It is no secret that Facebook has been losing part of its youngest demographic. They have been making up for these loses with additions from the older generations, but as we all know, without the youth on-board, Facebook’s future is not looking so bright. We are really impressed how Ruby was able to explain Facebook’s problems in such simple terms. For example:

Part of the reason Facebook is losing my generation’s attention is the fact that there are other networks now. When I was 10, I wasn’t old enough to have a Facebook. But a magical thing called Instagram had just come out … and our parents had no idea there was an age limit. Rapidly, all my friends got Instagrams.

We think this is an often overlooked fact. People seem to forget that when Facebook came out, the teens of today were not allowed to have accounts. Of course, when a teen is told they can’t have something, it makes them want it even more. However, now that this group is old enough to have a Facebook account, they have already moved on to the latest and coolest platform, as Ruby explains:

Now, when we are old enough to get Facebook, we don’t want it. By the time we could have Facebooks, we were already obsessed with Instagram. Facebook was just this thing all our parents seemed to have.

Facebook is now so popular with the parents, and even grandparents, of today that kids don’t want to be involved. Besides the obvious fact that what parents do is never “cool”, teens are afraid of the Big Brother effect Facebook can have. With people constantly sharing and over-sharing every aspect of their lives on Facebook, it is only a matter of time before a teen’s parent or grandparent sees something they shouldn’t have. Ruby perfectly sums that up by saying:

All of our parents and parents’ friends have Facebooks. It’s not just the fact that I occasionally get wall posts like, “Hello sweetie pie!” But my friends post photos that get me in trouble with those parents. 

Imagine your own teenage years if your parents could see your every move online, pretty scary thought huh? No matter what they are doing, innocent or not, no teenager wants their parents in on every aspect of their lives, and if not having a Facebook account can help keep that secrecy, the choice is obvious.

The final topic that Ruby brings up is Facebook’s ever-changing interface:

Look at something like Twitter, where it’s four buttons — people like the “simple” design better. In the end, Facebook has been trying too hard. Teens hate it when people try too hard; it pushes them away. It’s like if my mom told me not to do something — I immediately need to do it. When she forces something on me, I really don’t want to do it. 

We all get annoyed when Facebook updates their platform and overhauls the user interface. Just like Ruby said, we like simple and we like familiar.  Every time Facebook makes you relearn how to use their platform, it turns people off and forces them to other, more simple, platforms.

Will Facebook figure out a way to win back the teens? We think they probably will. You don’t get to where Facebook is without being able to adapt and solve problems. It will be very interesting to see how they do it, and what tactics they will use. Social media is built on trends, and nowhere is trending more important than with teenagers.

-Mike & Samantha

Better Facebook Posts in 10 Easy Steps

One of the most common mistakes businesses make on Facebook, is underestimating they strategy needed for a successful post. In order to achieve a truly engaging post, a business needs to do a certain amount of research and understand the best practices involved for each post. The infographic below, created by Shortstack, highlights 10 simple, but effective, ways you can improve your Facebook status updates.

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-Mike & Samantha

Facebook to Launch Video Ads

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Facebook users will have a whole new reason to complain any day now as the social media giant plans to roll out video ads on your Newsfeed. As if your Newsfeed isn’t already cluttered enough with various ads and promotions, Facebook’s new video ads will be 15-second commercials that automatically play as soon as the site is loaded. Thankfully the ads will be muted as a default, but we are not so confident this convenient feature will last for long.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook is planning to charge between $1 million and $2.5 million for each 15-second ad, per day! Prices like that put these Facebook ads on the same level as the most notoriously expensive advertisements in the world, Super Bowl commercials. With the average 30-second commercial costing $4 million during the 2013 Super Bowl, Facebook’s pricing seems to be right on track. Is your Newsfeed as valuable to marketers as the Super Bowl? According to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandburg, with Facebook getting 3 times the viewership of the Super Bowl, EVERY DAY, it most certainly is. Now are you and your friends going to gather around your Newsfeed in anticipation for clever ads like on Super Bowl Sunday? We would think not. However, with the sheer numbers advantage alone, Facebook has a lot to offer its future advertising clients. 

Like any change on Facebook, there is sure to be complaints from its users. We think these video ads will create a larger backlash than normal, primarily depending on how annoying and intrusive Facebook allows these ads to be. However, like all the other changes Facebook has gone through over the years, give it a little bit of time, and most users will eventually accept it as normal.

Is this the right move for Facebook? With growing discontent among its users, we think it is dangerous for Facebook to continually hurt the user experience it has prided itself on since day one. However, on the other hand, we can see how saying no to the profit Facebook will see off these ads would be hard for any capitalistic company. Only time will tell if the monetary gains outweigh the potential loss in users due to this advertising decision.

-Mike & Samantha

The Most Engaged Brands on Twitter

You have heard it before and you will hear it again, an engaged brand is a successful brand. Out of all the social media options out there, Twitter has become one of the go-to platforms for customer engagement. Twitter is a fantastic channel for brands to create a conversation with their fans. Of course, a large number of fans and an increased tweet frequency has a lot to do with the success of a brand, but as we can see from the infographic created by Nestivity below, it is not a direct correlation. Having 10 million followers sounds like an impressive number, and it is, but if that following isn’t engaged, it doesn’t really mean anything.

A few of the more interesting facts we gathered from this infographic are:

  • More followers did not correlate into a more engaged brand
  • A higher tweet frequency also did not correlate into a more engaged brand
  • Tweets sent between 2pm and 5pm generated the most engagement
  • 76% of shared tweets contained a photo

Remember, engagement is king. Take notes from the top brands on this list and try implementing similar tactics into your own Twitter campaign.

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-Mike & Samantha

Instagram Vs. Vine

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Instagram vs. Vine, Facebook vs. Twitter, it has been quite interesting watching the battle between the two social media behemoths for mini-video supremacy.  When Vine was released in Jan of 2013, it was heralded as the Instagram of video. 5 days after being introduced, Vine had more shares-per-day at 2.5 million, while Instagram was only generating 2.2. These are very impressive numbers for a service only 5 days old, it appeared Vine was coming in strong and here to stay.

Fast forward 6 months later to June 20th, the date Instagram added a video service to their app. Vine shares-per-day plummeted from 2.5 million on June 19th, to 1.5 million on June 20th. In the same month, Vine links on twitter also dropped by 70%, not a good sign for Vine.

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Personally, when Instagram launched their video service, we at Sike immediately went and deleted our Vine apps. After all, why would we want to try and manage 2 separate video sharing apps? Since we already had an Instagram presence established, it was an easy choice to stick with Instagram, rather than start again from the ground up with Vine. If someone was to tell us that the fate of Vine is a slow death, you would not hear many objections, but maybe, just maybe, we have Vine all wrong.

The first thing we have to realize is the fundamental difference between Instagram and Vine. While Instagram’s success was based on the huge number of users uploading and the volume of uploaded content, Vine should not be measured in the same way. This is because of the simple fact that pictures and videos are very different things. The complexities of creating a great video are going to inhibit the casual user from creating and uploading a video to Vine, after all, it is much easier to upload a cool sunset picture than create a 6 second video people will actually want to watch. This will, in turn, skew many of the Vine users into consumers, rather than creators. This is bad for Vine right? Not necessarily.

The best way to see the potential success of Vine is to view it as a mini YouTube. YouTube is a consumer-centric service, much like Vine. Chances are everyone you know has seen a video on YouTube before, but how many of those same people have actually uploaded content? Consumption far exceeds creation on YouTube. It is estimated that 30% of the videos uploaded to YouTube account for 90% of total views. This simply shows that people are consuming YouTube videos MUCH faster than creating them and we feel this is the direction Vine will be going.

We have already seen numerous big brands take advantage of Vine, creating brilliant 6 second advertisements. With the money and resources to create quality videos, we see Vine as a fantastic avenue for brands to get fresh, new content out to their fans.  We all know consumer attention spans are shrinking, and nowhere is this more prevalent than online. It is only natural to see the progression to shorter advertisements, and Vine is a perfect avenue for that content.

We are very interested to see where Vine ultimately goes. It is obvious that Instagram has a huge advantage over user-generated content and it would be a big mistake for Vine to try and go toe-to-toe with them. We would like to see Vine aggressively target advertising partnerships, bringing more creative and quality content to its platform. Give us a reason to re-download that Vine app on to our precious smartphones.

-Mike & Samantha

Twitter Pulls Away From Rivals in Social Curating

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We are all aware of the major social media platforms out there, from Facebook to Twitter, a successful brand must utilize them all. Each platform has its place in a successful marketing campaign, but new research shows that businesses are favoring one platform over the other, Twitter. According to social software startup, Livefyre, 93% of business are curating real-time, social activity from Twitter, while only 89% are using Facebook. Continuing down the social media ladder, 50% of business reported generating content from YouTube, and 41% are using Instagram. 

Why are these numbers so important? One of the biggest challenges for brands today is creating great content. A company can post content over all the social platforms 24/7, but if that content is not relevant to their target market, it is just a big waste of time and resources. Utilizing platforms, like Twitter, allows a brand to see what people are already saying about them organically. Once these trends are identified, a successful brand can leverage them to market themselves in a very authentic and poignant way.

Data from Livefyre’s research shows that:

  • 82% of businesses have increased user engagement from curating social activity.
  • 88% of the businesses leveraging real-time social applications, have increased user engagement.
  • 41% reported an increase in site traffic as a direct result of making their websites more social friendly.

We all know how critical it is for a business to monitor social media in order get a true feel for the public sentiment on their brand. What may not be so obvious, is how important social curating is to content creation. It is so important for a successful online presence to have relevant, engaging, and consistent content going out to its target market. What better way to create this content than leverage what is already out there, supplied by the customers themselves.

-Mike & Samantha