Updated Controls for Facebook News Feed – Boon or Bane?

If you are chasing your “million likes on Facebook page” dream, drop it! as soon it may become a futile exercise.

According to the latest update from Facebook, they are making some deep changes to its news feed which would make it difficult for brands to reach out to their page followers.

Over the years, Facebook has modified and transformed the way we consume content on our wall through its News Feed. News Feed is where you go to catch up on what’s happening with your friends and find the content that matters to you.

What you do in News Feed helps determine what you see in News Feed. You decide who you want to connect to, and what Pages and public figures you want to follow.

Needless to say that Facebook has become a universal choice of brands & businesses around the globe for reaching out and engaging with their target audience.

Facebook revenue has continuously beaten all expectation in the past and still going strong. In this process, what has really happened is that the average number of pages liked by any individual on Facebook has gone up significantly.  Here’s a graph from Social Bakers that demonstrate the fact quite clearly:

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

Average number of Facebook user likes per country

 

In India, on an average 22 pages are liked by each Facebook user (which is much smaller compared to 70 in the US). Now add to that, the unstoppable Facebook feeds of your friends and the newly added content feeds of publishers. How much of a chance does any brand has to make an impact and grab your attention?

Updated newsfeed control can potentially kill your Facebook campaign

In their latest update to newsfeed, Facebook has provided the users the option to prioritise the kind of feeds they want to see first. They can chose their best friends, their favourite branded content which would appear first in their timeline.

In their statement, Facebook clearly mentioned that they are allowing people to select the kind of content they want to see and engage with.

News Feed is a personalised stream of stories that you build from the people and Pages you’ve connected to on Facebook. The goal of News Feed is to show you the stories that matter most to you. To do this, we use ranking to order stories based on how interesting we believe they are to you: specifically, whom you tend to interact with, and what kinds of content you tend to like and comment on.

But this could be a bad news for the businesses who’ve spent precious marketing dollars for getting those page likes. It would seriously impact the content engagement rates in days to come across all brand pages.

Facebook-Newsfeed-prefrences

Here’s what Greg Marra, Facebook’s product manager has to say in an interview given to Mashable on the Facebook News Feed:

Feature was modelled after News Feed’s “unfollow” feature, which allows people to choose not to see posts from specific pages and people in their feed. “The thing we were constantly hearing was: ‘there’s a few people that I really care about and i want to make sure I don’t miss stuff from those people.

This could be a positive move from user experience standpoint, but brand pages would soon feel the after effects of this change.

Also Read: Here’s why Facebook likes should stop bothering you

Conclusion

While the average total likes for Facebook Pages went up in many cases in February 2015, very recently Facebook Inc. made a new announcement for business pages due to which a lot of pages saw a dip in their average page fans by 3 to 4%.

Facebook is not been able to balance its priorities in the recent times, and with this recent change, it may face significant backlash from advertisers around the globe.

Digital Marketing Course ‘Squared’ is now in India

 

For all those who wish to enter the Digital Marketing industry in India, these are truly fascinating time. Google has just launched their much popular and award winning online learning platform “Squared” in India as well. Squared programme has been crowdsourced by leading employers to meet the need for high calibre digital talent and leadership.

I seriously wish if something like this existed when I started working 10 years ago in the Digital Advertising space. There was a huge vacuum for freshers like me. Most of that learning happened on the job itself. There were very limited trusted resources to know more about digital marketing as a science.

A clinically crafted course by Industry experts, squared is an ideal for Marketing managers, advertising leaders, Digital Talent Hunters ( I think they badly need this one as they have limited clue about the profile of candidates they are looking for). One of the most critical features of the course would be collaboration, which, to me is the best form of learning in today’s times.

Squared was first piloted in Britain, where more than 300 employees from 60 agencies and advertisers participated over a period of time.

“Digital is an integral part of any successful brand strategy today, yet finding people with the right skills on digital is a constant challenge. Squared focuses on addressing this need,” said Punitha Arumugam, head of agency business (India and SEA) at Google.

Google will kick off the Squared programme on June 22 in India.

 

Digital Trends : 14% CMOs anticipate mobile spends to rise upto 50%

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) recently released “Marketer Perceptions of Mobile Advertising” report, which surveyed more than 200 marketers, found that more than three-quarters of marketers believe that programmatic mobile is important, or at least somewhat important.

Surprisingly, only 27 percent of the marketers surveyed had actually purchased mobile ads programmatically.

The good news for the programmatic industry, and for marketers as a whole, is that the technical hurdles that once prevented programmatic targeting on mobile are now largely a thing of the past.

A variety of solutions have emerged to solve mobile’s cookie problem: client log-in, app SDKs (Software Development Kits), and mobile Web behavioural data to name a few. Tie a shiny bow around all of that with geo-location, and we’ve begun to master mobile.

Here are some of the key digital trends from the report:

  • Marketers expect that their spending on mobile advertising will increase over the next two years: 14% anticipate it will rise by more than 50% while 57% expect it to rise by less than 50%. 
  • About one-third of mobile advertising spend is substitution from other channels, with print media hit hardest (58%), followed by PC digital and TV. 
  • Marketers in our 2014 survey show a high level of satisfaction with the results of their mobile marketing activities. The majority is either satisfied (50%) or fairly satisfied (37%) while a further 8% completely satisfied.
  • Marketers show a strong interest in mobile programmatic, as 41% agree that it will help them reach target audiences. However, relatively few are actually buying mobile inventory programmatically today: 18% via private exchanges and 17% via open exchanges. 
  • Marketer uneasiness over potential data privacy issues is pronounced. 37% of respondents in 2014 cited privacy as a very important issue compared to 22% in 2013.

Ranking for Mobile Advertising Inventory

  • Mobile websites continue to take a central role in mobile advertising, with 22% of respondents ranking these as the most important type of inventory for their mobile campaigns.
  • Sixteen percent of respondents prioritised mobile search as most important for their mobile campaigns.
  • Mobile optimised social media campaign is gaining its popularity slowly and steadily, with 14% audience placed their bets on it.
  • Mobile rich media is losing its popularity due to diversity in type and size of devices in the market.

Here is a short summary presentation of the 2015 IAB Mobile Advertising Report:


Digital startup naming mistakes that everyone should avoid

Imagine, you’ve got a fantastic business idea with great prospects, clearly defined audience and the revenue model is crystal clear too. You are absolutely bullish about its chances to become “the next big thing”.

Suddenly, everything comes crashing down because your billion dollar dream domain is not available.

Any why not, the world consists of nearly 6,500 spoken languages. Thousands of new, weird words are coming to life every year. No matter how smart you may be, there is no way of knowing all of the words in the world or who, in the online arena, has used them before you.

Choosing a name just like that is absolutely out of question because the name you’ve chosen may have a negative connotation in the real or virtual world. It could be a bad omen in certain specific cultures or a slang used in some absurd social context. You would obviously want to avoid all those options.

Here are simple tips to help you avoid some of the startup naming mistakes.

Research

Google your desired brand name. What results are in the first page? Anything suspicious there? Are people complaining? Answer these questions by following these steps.

  • Should your new brand name sound like a generic word, evaluate the strengths of the first 10 results and make sure you will be able at all to rank for it. Use the Mozbar to check the Domain and Page authority of each result.
  • Check your new brand name in Google’s Keyword planner. Are there search volumes shown for your new brand name in exact match? Then it must exist somewhere, so you need to Google for it better.

Also Read : 7 Tips to name your company

Domain doesn’t matter

In my experience as a startup consultant, I’ve seen founders losing their night’s sleep over not being able to get the exact domain name as the business name. Frankly speaking, domain name doesn’t matter at all. The name itself matters much more than having the same domain name. Pick a great name, go with a tweaked domain name. Pick a great name, then add something to get a domain name. It really doesn’t matter all that much – whether you get the domain later or don’t. Then get building!

Also Read: Does your company name matter?

Don’t pick too creative names

The problem with having a name like Naymz, Takkle, Flickr, or Speesees is that you will forever have to spell it when you say it, because it isn’t spelled how people hear it. Most importantly, with voice recognition devices like SIRI or Google Now, you would never be able to get your brand search on the top.

Don’t play mixology with your company name

If you invent a new “word” for your name, be careful that it doesn’t sound unnatural. Mashing two words together or mixing up a bunch of letters to form a new word rarely appears or sounds smooth. And be cautious using trendy suffixes to make up a new word. Startups names like Learnyst, Hotelogix, Intelliber, Mobiefit are such examples.

 

4 Digital Marketing sins in the Real Estate

According to an ASSOCHAM survey:

Real estate firms throughout India spend about Rs 2,500 crore annually on publicity across different media and digital marketing accounts for about 25 per cent with a share of about Rs 625 crore.

According to www.emarketer.com, overall online ad spend is projected to steadily increase year over year:

  • 2013- $42.5B
  • 2014- $47.8B
  • 2015- $51.9B
  • 2016- $55.2B

If the real estate industry simply maintains its current share of overall online spending, using www.emarketer.com data as a baseline, the relative yearly spends would equate to:

  • 2013- $15B  +9.7% Year over Year (YoY) growth
  • 2014- $16.7B  +19.2% YoY
  • 2015- $18.1B  +8.3% YoY
  • 2016- $19.3B  +6.6% YoY

 

With a series of new startup companies like Housing.com and Commonfloor entering the space, real estate has suddenly made a grand comeback to the digital marketing. Naturally, with the kind of VC cash at their disposal, these startups are all set to disrupt the space pretty fast. It could well be a comeback for the Real Estate vertical to the digital marketing mainstream.

Frankly speaking, real estate is a funny space in India. As a digital marketer, you can only do so much and there are much bigger factors at play throughout customer’s purchase funnel. It would be fair to say that property guys never really got a complete hang of the digital space.

For a long period of time, most of the real estate people thought that Google is only way they could generate leads and hence, they splurged thousands of rupees in getting their website’s SEO. Even today, getting your real estate project’s website with strong SEO is considered to be a huge priority item for every builder.

As quoted by Indian origin Pritesh Patel, a real estate marketing consultant in UK:

There used to be a time when Google would release a major update to it’s algorithm twice a year. Now it’s like almost every month. There used to be a time when you could pay someone, or an agency, who would build you 50 links per month, regardless of where those links are placed and there are thousands of such SEO and web design companies across the country.

After their recent algorithm changes, Google released a Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines against poor SEO practices. All those marketers who were earlier using link building strategies through paid sources lost their page rank significantly.

The REAL Trends 2013 Online Performance Study reveals some shocking statistics around how the greater real estate industry effectively throws its online advertising budgets to the wind.

Considering that:

  • 90% of consumers did online research before they bought their last home
  • 45% of consumers expect an initial response from an online inquiry within 15 minutes
  • 56% of consumers expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes
  • 89% of consumers said response time was very important when choosing their agent
  • 45% of inquiries on real estate websites never receive a response.

Billions of dollars of real estate marketing money is getting wasted on digital marketing products and services.

Here are some of the most commonly committed sins by real estate companies in digital marketing:

1 Million Facebook Likes Syndrome

Concept of generating likes for your Facebook page has become the latest fad for all real estate marketing teams. Almost as if it is a Bollywood box office release which is aiming for a 100 cr box office collections on the opening weekend. Feeding property updates to your thousands of ‘friends’ on Facebook, even those that live thousands of miles away is clearly a waste of precious marketing dollars. ( Also read : Why you should not worry about Facebook page likes )

Email Nuisance

I can already foresee a time when people would stop using emails because of so much spam hitting their inboxes. Unfortunately, Real Estate industry does not understand the meaning of data segmentation or personalisation. All they know is to blast emailing your entire database just to stay ‘top of mind’ or Tweeting incessantly because, you know, the first place people go to when they think of buying a house is Twitter.

Making 100 project websites

Often I’ve seen real estate companies creating 100’s of domains and sub domains (often one for each project), in order to generate visibility for these projects and garner more number of eyeballs for their brand. I believe it is a poor strategy as you are spending money every time you launch a project. Instead focus on building a strong brand name and keep adding success stories under your belt.

Lead generation is Dead!

A lot of you might be thinking that I am going mad. But trust me, you’ve read the heading correctly.

But how can I even think of doing marketing without lead generation? You can’t, but read the above heading again, what I am saying is that Lead Generation is dead, but Demand Generation is now in.

I’ve seen how madly real estate companies are generating leads to sell their properties. Incidentally, generating hundreds of leads is no good enough. The decision to buy a house takes much longer than what it used to 5 years ago. You are not just supposed to generate a lead but actively see it through till the end. Generating hundreds of leads which are not followed or not managed is a waste of precious money.

Top 6 reasons why digital startups fail

A few months ago, I wrote an article on global trends of failed startups, and guess what, last week I stumbled upon one ex-founder of a failed startup company who has now gone back to his full time job and doing quite well in his new role as a business head.

The pace at which new startups are coming up is less bizarre compared to if you see the pace at which they get shut down.

Question is, why?

Since 2011, 70% of the companies having raised less than $5M overall are dead. Statistics like these can scare the hell out of any young, aspiring entrepreneur. We all read those beautifully written PR stories around few people receiving millions of dollars of funding by VC firms or angel investors, what we miss out on is the list of companies who failed after receiving those funding.

Last year, CB Insights shared below list of top 20 reasons for startup failure which were based on the post mortem done with 100 failed startup founders.

Top reasons startups fail

Top reasons startups fail

 

Let me expand some of these and add some more from my side based on my startup consulting experience:

Single Founder Startups

Let me rephrase the above statement, single “active” founder startup. Incidentally, I’ve worked with couple of them in my career, being a single startup founder is one of the most difficult things in life. Does the destiny sympathizes with these heroes or lady luck favors them? Not really, in fact, it is even more harsh for a single founder to take off their dream. Though there are some nice plus in this situation for e.g. decision making is much faster as the startup is almost like a sole proprietor firm, but considering the single founder cannot be an expert in every single aspect of the business, it sometimes takes a lot more than it should. And sometimes, it may lead to business fatal decision making.

Focused on Niche

If your startup business model targeting a very small segment of audience, you might want to re-look at your business strategy. A lot of founders pick up ideas focussed at a niche audience in order to avoid the competition and carve a stronghold in that segment. But this can be suicidal as it will increase your marketing cost of audience acquisition and if your idea is not strong enough and/or your product experience is weak, a bigger player might just gobble up your segment as well despite yours being a unique idea.

If you make anything good, you’re going to have competitors, so you may as well face that. You can only avoid competition by avoiding good ideas. ~ Paul Graham ( Y Combinator )

Bad Hiring

Also read: How to hire for your bootstrap startup?

One of the most obvious and perhaps the most important reason as to why a lot of startups fail is ‘PEOPLE’. Today, every single early stage startup is going through the worst nightmare of hiring the right people for their idea. There is no doubt that startups need people with a different set of skill sets and more importantly attitude. Needless to say, you cannot filter these people using any job portal. At times, startups end up hiring people in a hurry to get the ball rolling, especially when the investor pressure is high to deliver and scale up. This can also happen when startups hire people based on their background and not the skills they are actually looking for. Result is quite obvious, wrong people get on the bus that leads to project delays and eventually, product failure.

Too longer proof of concept

Also read: 6 Stages of a Startup

Call it a personality issue but some startup founders get themselves into a zone when they spend just too much time in building their product prototype for the proof of concept. It could be because the pandora box of ideas within the parent idea becomes just too much to handle and they just don’t know what to test within their MVP, but this causes massive delay to the project launch and at times so much so that it leads to losing the first mover advantage in the market.

Poor Marketing

This is typical to all B2B startups who raise funding based on their unique product idea which looks really fancy on the presentation, but it is equally difficult to engage audience on that concept. More often than not, there is no clear strategy to build brand as B2B companies focus on customer acquisition without thinking about future growth. Net new customer acquisition becomes increasingly difficult and after a point and lack of repeat business or up-sell starts hitting the bottom lines.

In Fighting

With so much of blood and sweat being put into building a startup, they are extremely prone to ego-battles within the founding team. Once that happen, Decision making becomes increasingly difficult on key issues, positive energies starts to disappear and the balance sheet starts reflecting the reality. This reaches a point where founders can’t see eye to eye and the startup failure becomes increasingly imminent.

Digital Strategy Template – for startups & small business

Prologue

Building a Digital Strategy Template, is on the wish list of almost each and every individual in the digital advertising business, every tech entrepreneur, existing startups or marketing communication teams in corporates.

But can we really create a generic strategy template? Lets find out.

People in the traditional advertising would definitely know about the role of a “strategic planner“. They are the genius brains (inside every advertising agency) who create the “brand story”, who add their midas touch by wearing a strategic hat and making sure that each and every part of the brand messaging goes through a quality prism.

The problem is, there was no such concept of a “Digital Strategy Planner” for a very long time. Fundamentally, planning & strategy in the online space was restricted to “Media Planning”. The ad agencies & the marketing team never really thought about “digital strategy” from an integrated customer outreach standpoint. It was more of a “media oriented approach” where the only objective was to optimize cost per user acquisition.

Unfortunately, social media ended this madness but added some new madness of its own. With Facebook & Twitter taking over the digital world like a storm, conventional media publishing models got massively disrupted. Audience started discovering new content on the social platforms and as a result, a lot of small publishers had to shut down their operations as bulk of the marketing spends started to move into social platforms because client’s objective shifted from just acquisition to engagement.

The Need

As a digital marketing consultant, I’ve heard this from so many aspired entrepreneurs in different startups meets, there is no single approach using which they can prepare their digital strategy to promote their SAAS product or to increase their app downloads or prepare a basic customer acquisition plan while they are bootstrapping it.

A lot of startup marketing teams see “Digital Strategy” in silos and not as an integrated marketing approach which is critical to build a consistent communication & brand experience across all audience touch points.

Who can use this document?

  • Early stage – Mid Stage startups
  • B2B Marketing Teams
  • Digital Ad Agencies
  • Digital Marketing Managers
  • App Developers

In this presentation, I’ve tried to cover very practical approach on how to break down your digital strategy process into stages that cuts across identifying & segmenting your target audience, choosing the right digital marketing channels and creating the marketing metrics to track your performance.