September 2020 - E1Media

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What’s New in Social Media?

We bring you some of the most important new developments in the world of social media and digital marketing so you can stay the cutting-edge of the industry.

1. Facebook Removes 20% Text Rule in Ad Images

Anyone that’s ever used paid social will know how much of a big deal this is. Facebook is contacting advertisers informing them that “we will no longer penalize ads with higher amounts of image text in auctions and delivery”. Social media expert Matt Navarra revealed this last week:

This is great news for digital advertisers. The <20% text rule was initially introduced by Facebook to encourage businesses to take a ‘show, don’t tell’ approach after finding ads with less text perform better. However in our experience, we’ve found the rule to be overbearing and frustrating, often having to completely restructure ads to meet Facebook’s demands.

We can only speculate as to why Facebook have decided to remove this rule. In the age of COVID-19, governments, health bodies and businesses need to communicate safety guidelines en masse. Less ad restrictions mean more flexibility to communicate key messages.

2. Facebook Encourage the Use of Hashtags

Continuing on with Facebook, there has been evidence that Facebook are steadily incorporating hashtags back into the platform. Hashtags have always been available to use on the platform, but are far more prominent on Twitter and Instagram. 

However, this prompt started appearing for some Facebook Business users a month ago:

Now, as part of the new Facebook desktop interface, hashtag suggestions and usage stats appear for all users:

Bearing a strong similarity to sister platform Instagram, this appears to be Facebook’s way of bringing the two closer together. Mark Zuckerberg has previously stressed the importance of building an online global community, and hashtags allow exactly that. As we discussed in a previous blog post, hashtags are being used as a hub for important social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter or #WeMakeEvents. This adoption by Facebook shouldn’t be a surprise.

This is great news for businesses, as hashtags can now be used across all the major platforms. Our own research has found they can improve post reach by over 10%. On a larger scale, hashtags can be used to tie together marketing campaigns and lead to a more cohesive social media presence across your channels.

3. LinkedIn Introduces Stories

The platform have followed the way of Instagram, Facebook and YouTube by introducing a version of the ever-popular stories format. Like Facebook, professional networking site LinkedIn is getting a visual overhaul (though the two now look remarkably similar):

Following months of testing in selected countries, Stories have began rolling out worldwide on LinkedIn’s mobile version:

It’s yet to be introduced in the UK, but early feedback from the US & Canada is positive. LinkedIn Stories functions much in the same way as IG Stories – only those following you can view them. It will be interesting to see what kind of content creators and businesses come up with on the platform.

The monumental rise of Stories is hard to ignore. The vertical format has grown exponentially with the rise of smartphones, and the popularity of TikTok and IG Reels speaks for itself. It goes without saying that businesses must have a mobile-first approach in 2020.

4. Pinterest Expands ‘Pin Stories’ Launch

Visual discovery engine (and pseudo-social media) Pinterest has also expanded its roll out of ‘Pin Stories’.

“Story Pins is an all new type of Pin and publishing option that gives creators a way to tell dynamic and visual stories with videos, voiceover and image and text overlay. We’re making it easier for creators who are eager to share their talent, passions and creativity to flow back directly into Pinterest without the need for a website. For Pinners, this means the ideas within a Pin will be more engaging and actionable.”

So once again, it works much like Instagram Stories, who themselves adopted the format from Snapchat several years ago. The key difference is that Story Pins don’t disappear after 24 hours. This is Pinterest’s response to the rise of ‘social commerce’ – the purchasing of products directly through social media without the need for a website. Facebook has FB Shops, Instagram has Shoppable Tags. If your e-commerce business hasn’t incorporated social commerce into your sales strategy yet, now is the time to do it.

5. Sir David Attenborough Joins Instagram

The national treasure broke a world record by acquiring 1 million followers in just over 4 hours, beating previous holder Jennifer Aniston by 33 minutes. His first post, an IGTV video, has viewed 17 million times already:

The account was created to promote his new documentary, ‘A Life On Our Planet’. Despite not being managed by Attenborough directly, it has already attracted just under 5 million followers. Himself and his team understand the importance of reaching younger audiences where they spend their time. The team have taken full advantage of Instagram’s formats, with a mixture of longer IGTV videos, 60-second snippets and photos.

6. IGTV Now Provides Automatic Subtitles

Instagram recently introduced automatic closed-captions for IGTV videos, as we can see below:

IGTV has had a mixed reception since its introduction in 2018, doubling-down on the potential of long-form, vertical video. We feel the addition of automatic subtitles will be a major boost to the format, as users often watch videos muted. Could David Attenborough usher in a new era for IGTV? More importantly, when will we see our first David Attenborough IG Reel? We wait in anticipation.

Also:

  • IG Reels gets a new update, allowing for longer videos (The Verge)
  • TikTok reveals insights into how it’s algorithm works (Social Media Today)
  • Instagram could introduce paid links in posts, suggests new patent (The Verge)
  • Snapchat publishes insightful Generation Z report (Snapchat)

Why Green Marketing Is More Important Than Ever

In 2020, consumers expect the businesses they deal with to make a positive impact on both society and the environment. The ongoing pandemic has primarily shifted public attention towards our own health & wellbeing, including the environment we live in. What should brands do about this? The answer is green marketing.

What is Green Marketing?

Green Marketing, Eco-Marketing, Environmental Marketing – it has many names but essentially it’s the act of selling products or services based on their environmental appeal. This ranges from how products are manufactured to initiatives such as tree planting. Deforestation, air pollution, plastic waste – these are the issues that increasingly influence a consumer’s purchasing decision.

The pandemic has only exacerbated these attitudes. Months of lockdown and have made consumers more appreciative of their local green spaces and parks. The rise in remote-working is driving flocks of office employees away from the cities and into the countryside, in search of bigger gardens.

The idea of a post-pandemic ‘green recovery’ is rising in popularity.  In fact, one report found that many people are willing to continue recent lifestyle changes to help tackle the climate emergency. Social distancing measures have led to more commuters cycling to work. People are spending more time at home, preparing home-cooked meals rather than grabbing a pre-packaged sandwich in town. Staycations in the Cotswolds have replaced city breaks in Barcelona. All these changes are making us more more appreciative of our natural spaces and incrementally shifting consumer attitudes towards environmentalism.

As we outlined in our piece on pandemic shopping behaviour, these lifestyle changes will inevitably influence where consumers purchase products and services moving forward. The age of the social-media led 24hr news cycle only encourages this further. Powerful images of wildfires raging in the US and flooding in South-East Asia draw attention to important environmental issues. Consumers don’t want to purchase from companies that support the deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, or fill the oceans with 18 billion pounds of plastic each year.

This doesn’t just apply to large, multinational conglomerates. Whether a small retailer or a local music venue, independent businesses are increasingly expected to ‘do their part’ in protecting our planet.

How can your business get involved?

Contrary to belief, you don’t have to make massive changes to your business to buy into the ‘green marketing’ movement. Before 2019, 4.7 billion straws were being used in England every year alone. They’ve since been formally banned, but the phasing-out of plastic straws initially driven by the businesses themselves, on the back of customer feedback. Whilst legislation does work (the 5p charge saw plastic bag usage drop by 90%), it’s better to be a leader when it comes to environmentally-beneficial changes. It’s one way to stand out in a highly competitive market.

Customers and businesses are often shocked at the sheer amount of plastic used in daily life. The world has become extremely reliant on synthetic materials in recent decades, and you’ll find it almost impossible to become a completely ‘plastic-free’ business.

A much more achievable goal would be to abstain from using single-use plastics, particularly on the consumer-facing side of your business. Set an example to customers by steadily omitting plastic bottles, takeaway containers and bags from your premises.

For E1MA’s new clothing project, Living Thing, environmentalism forms a key aspect of the brand. From the outset we understood the expectations of our target audience. All our products are made-to-order to reduce waste and made with 100% organic cotton. Even the packaging is plastic-free and fully biodegradable. The key takeaway here is to back-up your words with actions.

Communicating your green credentials

Modern consumers are very perceptive when it comes to ‘green-washing’. A relatively new term, green-washing is designed to “make people believe that your company is doing more to protect the environment than it really is”. This can have the opposite effect and cause customers to distrust your brand – honesty is the best policy.

Genuine changes are beneficial for the planet. They also can be folded into your communications strategy and help attract these environmentally-conscious audiences. 

Show your commitment to the cause by setting environmental targets for your business and how you intend to meet them. Noisily Festival has their ‘Looking After the Woods Initiative’ with the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral festival and sending zero waste to the landfill. Every year they publish a Sustainability Review for all to see, and are transparent regarding progress.

The seriousness of a sustainability report gives authority to your words and builds trust. Other long-form content types such as blog posts can provide information to customers in a more colloquial manner. This is the approach our friends at Kapara take.

Many social and environmental movements gain traction on social media. Communicating your green credentials on your channels involves your brand in the wider conversation. Using the right hashtags and associating your brand with an awareness day (e.g. World Earth Day) to reach new audiences or remind current fans of your environmental practices.

Concluding Words

The world through a period of immense change and uncertainty. Depending on your business’ circumstances, this could be the best or worst time to change how it operates. It’s easy to become intimidated by terms such as ‘environmentalism’ or ‘green recovery’ but as we’ve discussed, you don’t need a complete transformation. Taking small steps towards being more sustainable will not only protect the environment, but will help retain and attract conscious customers.

Should You Be Using Hashtags in 2020?

Hashtags took the world by storm in the early days of social media. They offered a simple yet effective way of joining on global conversations about a specific topic. But do they actually need to be a part of your social media marketing strategy in 2020?

Background

The #hashtag was initially popularised by Twitter in the early days of the platform, but was later adopted by Instagram and to a lesser degree, Facebook.

First ever use of a hashtag on social media, by Twitter developer Chris Messina.

Now over 125 million #hashtags are used on Twitter. They are ubiquitous across social media, from Instagram and Facebook to Snapchat and TikTok. They allow users to add context to ambiguous tweets or become part of a wider conversation. During the coronavirus pandemic they’ve been used to rally support for important causes, from #BlackLivesMatter to #WeMakeEvents.

From a business standpoint, hashtags can also be used to drive marketing campaigns (e.g. #ShareACoke), align your business with an awareness day (e.g. #ThrowbackThursday) or observe how consumers feel about your brand.

Using Hashtags in 2020

It’s clear that hashtags have a wide variety of applications. In the ever-changing world of social media, they have remained a stalwart feature since the very beginning. But as social media companies continue to restrict organic reach in favour of paid advertising, are hashtags still worth using? 

The short answer is yes. We selected and analysed a few of Noisily Festival’s recent Instagram posts. Each post used between 8 – 12 relevant hashtags, such as #festivalseason, #goodvibes and #festivalinspo:

On average, hashtags improved post reach by 10%. Over 12% of the total impressions came from accounts that don’t follow Noisily. This means these hashtags are helping the festival reach and attract new audiences. By increasing your discoverability, you could increase the amount of followers you have and in turn, the amount of sales you generate. Through Sprout Social we can see our top-performing hashtags are #FestivalInspo, #Festival and #musicfestival. This illustrates the importance of tailoring them to your industry.

Hashtags: Best Practices

How many?

The amount of hashtags you should use varies between social media platforms. Twitter is widely known for its restrictive 280 character limit. The platform recommended no more than 1 or 2 hashtags in a recent blog piece:


These tips may be from Twitter, but can be applied to all social media channels.

On Instagram you can use up to 30 hashtags, but we don’t recommend doing this every time. The main argument for not using them is that it can clutter your message, look spammy or simply present your brand as desperate. For Noisily Festival, we find that 10 – 15 is the ideal amount, but this will vary from business to business.

Which ones?

As we’ve mentioned before, make sure the hashtags you are relevant to the content you’re posting. Using them incorrectly could actually reduce your reach. If no one is engaging with your content via the hashtags, Instagram’s algorithm may deem this as ‘undesirable’ content and hide your posts from the Explore feed.

Aligning with trending hashtags are an excellent way to generate reach for your posts. Anything from weekly classics such as #ThrowbackThursday to annual events like #NationalPancakeDay are opportunities to put your profiles in the spotlight. Add to the conversation with your own unique spin and convey your brand’s personality.

Where should I use them?

A question that pops up frequently is whether to place the hashtags in the caption or the comments. We’ve found it doesn’t make much of a difference, but we prefer the comments section as it makes the caption look cleaner. No one wants to press ‘see more’ and be greeted with a 30-strong block of #hashtags.

A lot of hashtag work is based on experimentation. Research the top hashtags in your field, and use different ones to see what works. You can see how much reach they’re generating in within Instagram:

Concluding Words

Whilst hashtags aren’t as important as they once were, they are still worth incorporating into your social media strategy. Twitter and Instagram should be your focus, but a recent leak suggests hashtags will start to play a more important role on Facebook:

And let’s not forget about LinkedIn, IG Stories or TikTok. It’s clear that hashtags still have their place in 2020. They have the potential to improve the reach of your organic posts by over 10%, can weave your brand into trending conversations and turn wider communities into followers.