Friday Wrap #187: Ford tweets debate, Twitter opens Moments, MS kills standalone Yammer, and more

Friday Wrap #187I extract items for the Friday Wrap from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow. To make sure you never miss an issue, subscribe to my weekly email briefing.

WEBINAR ANNOUNCEMENT: EMPLOYEES AND CRISIS COMMUNICATION

One of the items I share this week reveals the marketers aren’t taking advantage of employees, a huge majority of whom use social media during their work days. During a crisis, tapping into employees could improve transparency and authenticity. It could also increase the odds of ongoing problems. I’m hosting a webinar next Friday, October 7, to help you plan to get the best results from engaging employees during a crisis, as well as the best means of keeping them informed. It’s a mere $89 to participate. You’ll have access to the video replay and you’ll be able to ask questions during the session. Register

News

Nobody’s talking about blockbuster report on FDA media manipulation—One of the world’s most respected scientific journals, Scientific American, released a stunning report on techniques used by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to manipulate journalists, including the use of “close-hold embargoes”. The report notes that the success of the FDA’s strong-arm techniques is leading other organizations to adopt similar tactics. The takeaway: Read the report and make sure your organization is not employing these techniques. It’s the opposite of transparency. Why this report isn’t getting broader attention is a mystery to me. Read more

Twitter record set at first presidential debate—The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was the most-tweeted debate in Twitter’s history. Nielsen’s Social Content Ratings reported 17.1 million interactions, about 7 million more than the Denver-based debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney produced in 2012. Those numbers were dwarfed by Facebook interactions, which numbered nearly 66 million. The top moment: Trump’s assertion that he has a good temperament (also the biggest moment on Facebook). The biggest retweet was of Trump’s 2012 tweet claiming the Chinese had fabricated global warming, which Trump denied having said during the debate. The takeaway: Clearly, social media has emerged into a forum for discussion during key political (among other) events. See the next item for an idea of how companies can participate without appearing opportunistic or irrelevant. Read more

Ford’s and UAW’s Twitter engagement during debate was brilliant—During the first presidential debate this past Monday, Republican nominee Donald Trump once again used Ford as an example of jobs fleeing the country, a central issue in his campaign. Ford and the United Auto Workers responded via Twitter in real time, rebutting Trump’s assertions. “Ford has more hourly employees and produces more vehicles in the U.S. than any other automaker,” the company tweeted, adding a graphic showing it had added 28,000 American jobs in the last five years. A more direct tweet from the UAW said, “Ford is not moving jobs out of Michigan. our agreement secures future product commitments for affected plants.”  The takeaway: The key to the effectiveness of this effort was being prepared. Both Ford and the UAW knew it was likely Trump would mention Ford during the debate, and they were standing by with information. It’s not real-time marketing, which is losing its sheen. It’s real-time PR and any company should be prepared to execute it. Read more

Lowe’s opens an “Open House” newsroom website—Lowes has debuted “Open House,” a news-focused website designed to provide a behind-the-brand look at the company from four perspectives: serving communities, inspiring people, fresh thinking, and inside Lowe’s. The site, where the company hopes to “build a deeper connection to the customers and communities we serve,” uses a combination of feature stories and rich multimedia content. The takeaway: It’s a really interesting idea. Whether customers will make the trip is another question. I didn’t see any reference to how Lowe’s plans to drive traffic to the site. On the other hand, if it’s a hub for content to be distributed through other channels, it could be a winner. Read more

HP backs down on blocking third-party cartridges—HP printer users were surprised when they got messages telling them the printer was rejecting their third-party cartridges. After all aftermarket cartridges are a big industry and cost way less than the pricey HP-branded ink. The backlash was severe. Not only did social media light up, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched a petition demanding a reversal. HP has now reversed the decision, but only because they communicated it so badly. The company maintains the cartridge authentication update was necessary to protect the printers “from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges that do not contain an original HP security chip and that infringe on our IP.” The takeaway: Expect a lot of people to buy a competitor’s printer next time they need one. This is not a customer-centric move, especially for people who have gotten used to using aftermarket cartridges without a problem. Read more

Moments for all—Any user can now create their own Twitter Moments using the website; the functionality will be rolled out soon to mobile apps. Previously, Twitter staffers curated the collections of tweets based on common themes, mainly related to news that people were tweeting about. Twitter opened Moments up in August to selected influencers, brands, and partners. The takeaway: Letting individuals curate tweets is a great idea. Whether users will take advantage of it—or peruse others’ Moments—is another question. Read more

Facebook at Work launches in November—After a considerable amount of time in tests with some partner organizations, Facebook will launch its version of an intranet—Facebook at Work—in the next few weeks. Pricing will be a per-seat model. Unlike other intranet products, Facebook at Work is basically just Facebook but confined to employees. The idea: Employees already know how to use Facebook, so using a mirror version for work will be drop-dead easy. The takeaway: If companies can get past the idea that an employee on Facebook isn’t necessarily wasting time, it’s a great idea…especially given the next item. Read more

Microsoft killing Yammer Enterprise—A lot of companies use Yammer but as part of its move to make Office 365 a standard, Microsoft announced it is ending the Yammer Enterprise service tier on January 1. Yammer isn’t going away; it’ll just be available for integration with Office 365 services. That’s great for companies using Office 365. For those that rely on a simple Yammer network, though, it’ll probably make for a rough transition. The takeaway: To be clear, Microsoft will no longer sell or support Yammer as a standalone service. If your company uses it, start now to find an alternative and make transition plans. If you do use Office 365, get up to speed on the integrations and start communicating with employees so they don’t give up using Yammer based on the inevitable confusion. Read more

Twitter wants your input to tweak its algorithm—Twitter has launched a feedback tool that lets you tell twitter you didn’t like a tweet. The data Twitter collects will help make sure you see more of the kinds of tweets you like. The takeaway: I prefer a timeline untouched by algorithm. I don’t know how many people want Twitter to block tweets based on a formula. I also question how many people will ever pull down the menu where the option resides. Twitter’s struggle for relevance continues, though if it’s acquired (by Disney, Microsoft, Salesforce, or Google, all of which are exploring an acquisition), we could see big changes. Read more

Research

Brands ignore potential reach of their own employees—Even though 67% of employees use social media at work, nearly 60% say their marketing departments don’t give them guidance on how or when to advocate for the brand. Half of employees feel discouraged from using social media at work, and more than half think the marketing departments fail to make it easy for them to advocate for the company. The data comes from a Bambu by Sprout Social survey of 1,000 online respondents. The takeaway: Engaged employees are ready and willing to support their companies’ marketing efforts. The development of a full-fledged ambassador program isn’t required to make it easy for employees to share or support marketing efforts. Read more

Consumers sour on brands that fail to deliver CSR—Even if product and service quality are high, consumers can turn their backs on brands that don’t live up to their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expectations. Ninety-one percent of shoppers will switch to brands that support social or environmental causes while 90% are ready to boycott companies engaged in irresponsible business practices, acording to a study from Cone Communications and Echo Research. The takeaway: Is this beginning to sound like a theme here in this briefing? It’s serious, folks. The attitudes of Millennials and GenZers toward corporate accountability for environmental and social causes is going to have an impact. The companies that get it will make sure they are about more than making a buck. Those that don’t will suffer the consequences. This isn’t do-gooder talk. It’s sound business, given what we know about consumers’ changing attitudes. Read more

Social media now a go-to channel for wedding planning—Wedding brand The Knot has released survey results that show brides are increasingly relying on social media for all stops on the wedding journey, from announcing the engagement to connecting with vendors to posting honeymoon videos and photos. Sixty percent of brides announced their engagement within 24 hours of saying yes, 70% use social media for wedding planning more than any other resource, and personalized wedding hashtags are on the rise with 60% of couples (a 49% increase from 2014) using or planning to use a personalized hashtag. The takeaway: My daughter relied heavily on Pinterest in planning her wedding, so this isn’t a surprise to me. What it indicates is simple: Social media is weaving its way into all aspects of life. The question for brands and organizations is how to you weave itself into these activities. Read more

Marketer content has tripled while engagement has remained flat—Content marketing is alive and well, with brands tripling the number of content pieces they have shared in the last year, including video and images shared in paid and unpaid media. User engagement, though, hasn’t increased at all. A mere 5% of content produce d90% of consumer interactions. “In other words, 19 of 20 pieces of content get little to no engagement,” acccording to the report from marketing analytics and software firm Beckon. The takeaway: This is why I don’t believe in content shock. There’s so little content that’s actually any good—worth engaging with—that if you can produce content that does inspire interaction, it’ll rise above the ocean of crap. Read more

McDonald’s creating 5,000 pieces of marketing content—Just to reinforce the previous item, it’s worth noting that McDonald’s is doubling its content output this year to 5,000 pieces while challenging itself to make that content relevant to customers. The company has created geofilters for all 14,000 restaurants; they’ve been used 12 million times producing 308 million views. The takeaway: If you can do quality and quantity, you’re golden. Read more

VR shipments will skyrocket in Q4—Expect to see a surge of shipments of VR-enabled smartphones and devices bundled with gaming consoles during the fourth quarter. Digitimes Research says shipments of smartphones with built-in VR video functionality will reach 70 million units this year, equal to 5% of global smartphone shipments. Sony will ship more than 3 million PlayStation VR devices in the fourth quarter. The takeaway: The VR skeptics are wrong. Interest is growing, the number of titles and files available is exploding, and VR will become a routine option for video watching and game-playing. It’s also becoming a popular marketing platform. It won’t be long before we see PR and corporate communication—even internal communication—case studies. Read more

Trends

Liquor brand shows one way to tap into voice-activated AI—If you’re not thinking about how voice-activated AI assistants can fit into your communication activities, take a look at Johnnie Walker’s approach, a “skill” for the Amazon Echo. Once you activate the skill in the Alexa app, all you have to do is say, “Alexa, open Johnnie Walker.” Alexa will answer your whisky questions or help you find the right blend based on your tastes. The brand has also introduced a Facebook Messenger bog that will (among other things) deliver cocktail recipes. The takeaway: AI assistants, for both voice devices (Google is close to introducing its Echo competitor) and chatbots, will soon be a more common way to access information than opening an app. You don’t want to be late to the table. Be sure to read the “Research” item about Gartner’s post-app era projections. Read more

The post-app mobile era is near—Gartner Research is warning companies to prepare for the post-app era in which the convergence of devices, bots, things, and people leads to the delivery of services through bots and virtual assistants, leading people to use fewer and fewer apps (although apps won’t vanish). “The post app era means that there will be more data and code in the cloud and less on the device,” according to a Gartner spokesperson. The takeaway: I’m not saying you should stop building apps, just that you should start thinking about how to deliver services via bots and standalone devices like Amazon’s Echo that work through natural language processing (NLP). Read more

Fiat Chrysler answers search queries—Consumers use Google—particularly on mobile devices—to ask questions about the cars and trucks from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Rather than just dish up the usual Google ad in response, the company is answering some 4 million various combinations of these questions. Questions about truck-towing capacity or the number of miles a vehicle will last now result in specific answers—what the company calls “Q&A-content-as-ad-copy.” The tactic has produced a 33% uptick in website visits. Since customers come to the website from the ad, the company knows who they are and what they’re looking for, letting the company “pull them in on the next best action.” The takeaway: Adopting an approach like this requires a rethinking of how you measure search advertising results. Just measuring clicks isn’t enough. You now have to measure what the customer was asking for. Read more

Airlines are listening to social media rants—Compared to other industries, U.S. airlines are paying attention to customer service inquiries and complaints delivered over Twitter and Facebook. Ninety percent of U.S. airlines respond to at least half of the tweets or posts that refer to the company. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines stand out for their responsiveness. Alaska is the fast to respond while Southwest is the msot responsive. The takeaway: I know people whose issues were resolved because they tweeted, even after calls to customer service failed to produce the desired result. Customers increasingly want to use social media for customer service across all industries. Being set up to satisfy that preference is no longer just an interesting idea. It’s a requirement. Read more

What will measurement look like in 2025?—Pretty much what it looks like today: focused on age and gender demographics, according to Nielsen. Not everyone is happy about the prediction, with some lamenting that we’ll still be focused on the same old thing and others sure that business outcomes will be the most important metric. The takeaway: I hear more and more about psychographics for targeting, but not much about using those breakouts for measurement. Gender is still important (especially if you’re paying attention to the presidential race here in the U.S.) but age demographics seem less and less important from where I sit, since so many trends now cross multiple age groups. Read more

Email still preferred channel for promotional content—Email for one-to-one communication between individuals may be fading in favor of messaging tools, but as a channel for receiving promotional content from companies, people still prefer it. MarketingSherpa research found 72% want to receive such content by email; only 17% prefer social media. And nearly half of consumers want to get those emails weekly. Now, companies that have built the trust of subscribers are making money directly off their emails by injecting relevant and interesting ads into them. The takeaway: This idea doesn’t come without risk, but since your subscribers already find your content value, adding valuable ads can turn marketing email newsletters into revenue generators. Read more

Mobile

Meerkat’s back (sort of)—You may recall that Meerkat was the first app to introduce mobile social live video streaming, but it fell to competition from Twitter and Facebook. Now it’s back with an app for group video chat called Houseparty for Android and iOS. While Meerkat was for public broadcast, Houseparty is for small groups of friends, topping out at eight participants per room (though you can have as many rooms as you like and swipe between them). The takeaway: I see real utility for marketers to have brand-focused conversations with small groups of customers—especially brand fans—for exclusive information and just plain fun activities. The potential for quick focus groups is also intriguing. Read more

Snapchat passes 60 million North American daily users—Snapchat now has about a third of the number of North American users as Facebook, passing the 60-million mark. The takeaway: I continue to hear from communicators who haven’t even installed it yet. Look, you don’t have to like it, but you do have to understand it. Its influence is growing and knowing how to reach people through Snapchat as part of a broader content strategy is important. Look to examples like Cisco’s employer branding effort, WeAreCisco, for examples. Read more

Messaging apps to host branded emojis—A startup called Emogi is launching Wink, a product that marketers can use to offer branded emoji and GIFs through the text fields on Kik, a messaging app with 300 million users. “For example, if someone is messaging a friend on Kik about wanting to gert coffee, the term ‘coffee’ could automatically trigger a banner of coffe-chain-branded stickers to appear above the text field for the user to select.” The takeaway: The use of emoji will explode as people see options to replace the words they text. Emogi is talking to dating apps and other messaging apps about adding the service. Read more

WhatsApp tests group chat invite with shareable links—Facebook-owned WhatsApp is rolling out an update for its Android beta app that lets administrators add users to their WhatsApp group through a new “invite to group via link” button. When you tap the button, a unique URL is created you can share with others via a third-party app, a QR code, or a physical NFC tag. The takeaway: Messaging app groups will become as big a deal as social network groups. Messaging apps dominate mobile usage. Companies must figure out how to make the transition without losing the value of social media groups that already deliver value. Read more

Snapchat introducing Spectacles—Google Glass wasn’t a enough of a cautionary tale to disuade Snapchat from introducing a trendy-looking pair of video camera-equipped sunglasses under the label Spectacles. They’ll cost $129 and will let Snapchatters shoot 10-second videos to share on Snapchat. The takeaway: A couple differences from Google Glass could make these glasses more successful. First, a light flashes on the front to alert people that video is being shot. People didn’t like the idea that they might be subjects of videotaping by people wearing Glass and knowing for certain might make it more palatable. Second, they’re actually attractive (to a certain demographic younger than me). In any case, the Internet of Things just keeps getting more and more interesting. Read more

Instagram trademarks “gram”—It’s a good thing you can’t send a Western Union telegram any more, or Western Union might wind up owing Instagram some cash. Candygram may be in a similar situation now that Instagram’s lawyers in Germany filed a trademark application for the word “gram.” The rationale: Stop competing services from leveraging the recognizable word, notably brand-abusing services like Flipagram. The takeaway: I get it, but appending a word with “gram” is nothing new. Will NBC owe Instagram every time the SNL Land Shark video is played? (Yeah, probably not.) Read more

Video

YouTube enables offline viewing—YouTube Go is a new app, developed with users in India in mind, that lets users save videos to view offline; it also lets users share videos locally without using data. The app is currently in tests in India. The takeaway: Bandwidth is limited and data rates high in some parts of the world. It makes sense to create tools that lets users overcome these issues and still use YouTube. It also means brands need to create videos that are worth saving. Expect to see other data-intensive services follow suit. Read more

Publishers refine Facebook Live approaches—Publishers who live-stream content via Facebook Live are grappling with the question of how often to stream. Some, like The Daily Beast, have been scaling back their frequency, opting to use the service when they have the “interesting/unique” content that makes it worthwhile. Others are scaling back, too, choosing not to use live streaming for its own sake but to take a quality-over-quantity approach. Some, though—like Fusion—are upping the game. Hearst has said it will produce 200 Facebook Live videos per month; Mashable shares 35 hours of live video monthly. The takeaway: While Facebook wants all the live streams it can get—so there’s always something live to watch—how you use it should be based on strategy, not pursuit of a shiny object. What advantages do live streams give you over other channels? Be sure to see the live-streaming item in the “Good Advice” section below. Read more

Good advice

Must influencers use a hashtag to show they were paid?—Yes, and the only two that count are #ad and #sponsored. Outside of Twitter, where character counts aren’t an issue, those hashtags work fine, but you can also start off a caption (on Instagram) or post with “I’m partnering with…” Either way, it’s more than just a good idea to use FTC=approved hashtags. The takeaway: The FTC is coming for influencers and companies that flout the rules. This post does a good job of summarizing them. Read more

Live-streaming is becoming a useful marketing tool—Facebook Live, YouTube Now, and Twitter Periscope are becoming dependable marketing tools. Along with that evolution, best practices are emerging, including posting a teaser, creating a rough script, maintaining fresh content, keeping your brand in mind, making sure you’re using the medium to convey emotion, and enticing viewers with deals and specials available exclusively through the live stream. The takeaway: Live-streaming is free and ripe for experimentation. The guidelines in this piece are a good starting point. Read more

This week’s wrap image, from Dan Lundberg’s Flickr account, features a vendor wrapping bamboo leaves around pork knuckles braised in a red sauce at a stall in Zhujiajiao, China.