Top 7 digital trends in mobile, social and artificial intelligence in 2019Nitin Karkara
The era of vertical video
Stand up straight. Something we all heard as a kid. You could call that the first vertically- inspired performance, which may or may not be the precursor to vertical video.
Vertical video, that is, a video we consume in portrait mode on our mobile device, has certainly come of age. The term was coined by Snapchat but has been popularized on Instagram and Facebook, and now it’s gaining even more traction with IGTV. IGTV is Instagram’s take on longer form vertical programming.
The shows can be up to an hour in length and well-produced, which means brands need to create higher quality vertical video content. Instagram even created a handbook for social video creators. They offer tips on apps and tools, how to capture and edit, what accessories you’ll need, and how to upload from mobile and desktop.
Vertical video is an anathema to film enthusiasts because of its small, narrow screen. You don’t get to see what’s on the edges. But even the well-respected BBC, which, as a television broadcaster, produces most of its broadcasting for the wider screen, developed a vertical format for its app knowing that nearly half of its digital news videos are watched there.
94% of us hold our phone vertically when we’re recording videos, and three-quarters of Millennials watch videos vertically on their mobile device. Aesthetics aside, if you wanna engage your customers on mobile, you need to embrace vertical video. Our eyes may take in the widescreen when we’re looking around us, but on smartphones, it’s not a panoramic view. It’s more of an up and down.
Marketing in micro-moments
Does this sound familiar? You’re in the middle of one thing and all of a sudden you have an urge to grab your smartphone and find out something else. And, we’re not alone. 91% of us exhibit that type of behavior.
Google calls these short bursts of interest micro-moments, and they divided them into four main types.
1. I wanna know moments are when we wanna learn or discover something.
2. I wanna go, focuses on location.
3. I wanna do is when people are looking for ideas.
4. And of course, when you’re ready to purchase, that’s an I wanna buy moment.
So what are we looking for? It could be anything. Say it’s the middle of winter, and we just feel the need to get away somewhere warm, that’s an I wanna go moment.
The key is for brands to create mobile-friendly content that’s helpful, relevant, and accessible when your customers want it. In micro-moments, we need to shift the way we reach our audiences by understanding their lives, rather than just focusing on demographics.
In fact, researchers estimate that brands are missing out on seven out of 10 potential customers if they just use traditional targeting. For instance, 40% of baby products are bought by people who live in households without kids.
And 45% of home improvement searches are done by women. Home Depot used this insight to create a series of mobile DIY how-to videos. They anticipated customer intent and were there to solve an unmet need.
But that’s not all, as many as 2/3rds of us switch to another site if there are too many steps to purchase or find the info we want. So you need to make your user’s experience seamless by integrating design with their needs.
Go real-time & live with your mobile
A friend of mine recently published her first book. When the advanced copies arrived, she wanted to share her excitement in a live unboxing video on Facebook. The trouble was, her camera was in landscape mode, so for the next 15 minutes, she was sideways. It was painful to watch.
That’s why it’s so important for marketers and creators to test and rehearse before you go live.
Here’s a roundup of what’s new in a video from Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Twitter Timestamps lets users share the exact moment from a live video, they wanna point you, rather than just a link, to the entire feed. That’s great for customers who may be interested in a specific part of your video or creators who can highlight key ideas, stories, or themes. Imagine an influencer is being featured in your live brand video.
Timestamps let them share the exact moment they’re on with their followers and it gives their followers an opportunity to engage and amplify the content that matters to them.
That’s similar to what YouTube’s premier feature offers creators. It lets them prerecord live videos and then set the launch date and time. And during the broadcast, creators don’t have to focus on production, but can actively take part in live chats or Q&As.
Never one to be left behind, Facebook’s opening its original content, Watch Hub, to pages and giving brand videos a new change for exposure. Facebook’s also adding polling and gamification to live and demand videos.
In a social video, your show is simply the first point of entry. To engage your audience, companies have to be just as creative when they interact.
Social media trends and updates
As Facebook moved away from breaking news, Twitter’s continued to embrace it, and now their customizing the Explore tab to user’s interests. When Twitter thinks a particular news item is right for you, they’ll send a notification. For companies, this provides another opportunity to create timely content tailored to your audience.
And speaking of the Explore tab, Twitter’s created a new paid offering called Promoted Trend Spotlight that features a visual card with a brand’s ad at the top of the Explore feed. And now, down to business.
LinkedIn’s embracing multimedia with its new Sponsored Content carousel ads that let organizations tell a story in up to 10 interactive and swipeable cards. If you’re a B2B marketer, think about how to use the new format to build a content flow that both engage customers and moves them further down the purchase path.
Are you feeling a bit more emotional watching friend’s stories on Instagram? That’s because the brand is letting users add popular songs and music to their content. Not only that, you’ll be able to select a specific point in the music to set just the right mood. Google rebranded its ad products and organized them into three separate units. AdWords is now called Google Ads and its AI-powered smart campaigns will be the point of entry for small businesses to help them target more effectively.
The marketing platform is focused on ways brands can integrate various Google tools such as Google Analytics and DoubleClick’s audience insights. And Google Ad Manager offers programmatic tools to help marketers manage their brands.
And finally, Snapchat’s pushing further into commercial AR with shoppable lenses. Brands can now create augmented reality experiences that drive users to make a purchase without leaving the app. This offers Snapchat a way to keep people on its app longer and brands an opportunity to link marketing efforts directly to ROI.
Stay tuned with ItsECampus for more social media news and trends updates.
Chatting about chatbots
How many chatbots do you know? If know is even the right word, and by that I mean, how many chatbots do you interact with on a regular basis? And what’s your experience been? But before you respond, let’s step back to understand what a chatbot is and does. Chatbots are AI-powered conversational digital assistants that automate responses between customers and brands.
You can subscribe to a bot for news and entertainment or flight info, order a pizza or find out the latest weather forecast. But right now, it’s not really a two-way conversation. It’s more like you ask, it answers, most often in the text.
We’ve checked out news outlets like TechCrunch and the story customization does get better over time as it learns my preferences. We’ve asked about flight arrival times on Instalocate and that’s been pretty good, but we haven’t had anything close to what we’ll call a business relationship with a chatbot.
Maybe that’s because most of them are single-purpose and don’t give you the richness of an interaction with a digital voice assistant like Alexa or Google Assistant which, in many ways, are chatbots themselves. But as more get developed and tested with richer consumer data, they’re bound to improve, and soon, many of our first interactions with brands will be person-to-machine, voice-activated, and based on deep learning algorithms.
So, should your company set up a chatbot right now? That’s one of those questions where the answer is, it depends. Does your business have a lot of repeated questions or interactions that you can automate?
How will doing that affect your relationship with customers and how can you ensure your chatbot will effectively represent your brand character and voice? There’s certainly a lot of buzz about chatbots, and they aren’t going away, but they’re probably at the peak of the inflated expectation stage in the Gartner Hype Cycle.
That is, performance and results aren’t meeting expectations. And if you haven’t developed an effective strategy and execution before you launch, you might turn off customers before the chatbot reaches its potential.
Here’s one way to get started. Set up a company-wide chatbot discovery group. Make it cross-functional and include people from customer service, sales, marketing, and PR.
Encourage your team to test and learn about different chatbots from other organizations, including your competitors. You can find a wide selection by searching for Facebook Messenger. Have your team report back on what worked, what didn’t, and which actions you could develop to help enhance your customer experience.
That way, you can create a concept, conduct initial tests, and launch your chatbot when it’s ready for primetime.
Focus on voice search
OK, Google, I’m writing a script on voice search. Any suggestions? Alexa, how about you? Siri, do you have an answer? Help! Joking aside, voice search is becoming an important channel for brands. Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins said that Google voice recognition is about 95%.
Pretty much the same as humans. And estimates are that in the next couple of years, half of the search will be voice activated. That’s a lot of talks.
70% of the voice speaker market is currently controlled by just a few companies, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Samsung. And because the platforms and hardware are mostly proprietary, organizations need to develop skills or actions for each app they wanna work with. So, what are skills and actions? Essentially, they’re customized interactions performed by digital voice assistants.
Google calls voice searches as actions, and Amazon calls them skills. Here are two examples. Laundry detergent Tide created a skill that lets users ask Tide how to remove stains. An allergy medicine Zyrtec skill gives people an area-specific, customized pollen and weather report. The common theme here is that both brands thought about their customers’ needs and how they could help in a branded, but less promotional, way.
But in a competitive environment, any allergy brand could develop an interaction similar to Zyrtec’s and pay to have it come up at the top. That’s one of the biggest challenges in voice search. Users will no longer be presented with 10 results They’ll likely get one or two. And whether those results are organic or paid is still up in the air, and up to the Googles and Amazons of the world to decide.
That’s why the first step to mastering voice search is to understand the principles of SEO and create content that answers your customers’ questions better than anyone else.
Start with your brand voice and imagine what it might actually sound like. Then, look at the world from your customers’ perspective. What, specifically, are they looking for? What are they likely to ask? But don’t just create idle chatter. Craft helpful interactions that reach your customers when they wanna hear from you. Literally.
Commercializing voice search
Hello, are you still there? I can imagine a time in the not-so-distant future when that question will be asked by a digital voice assistant if it thinks we’ve forgotten it in the middle of a request. And while we’re not there yet, many organizations are experimenting with voice search, learning and creating new experiences and apps.
Here are four examples.
1. Google and Target partnered on a voice-activated coupon with benefits for customers and both brands. People access the offer with a command on Google Home or by typing it into the Google Assistant app. Once activated, the coupon customers a $15 discount off a Target purchase if they placed their order through Google Express, the search giant’s home delivery service. It’s like a voice- initiated a call to action.
2. VaynerMedia, the firm created by high profile social media marketer Gary V., recently launched a voice AOR, or Agency of Record division, that helps clients develop programs using conversational AI. One of the first clients to try it was JPMorgan Chase. The agency was charged with helping the venerable financial company figure out how to produce Alexa skills based on questions their customers might ask. Like, if I keep saving the way I do now, how long would it take me to buy this house? I’m sure both bank and agency know that when proprietary financial information is involved, customer privacy is more important than ever, especially in the age of GDPR.
3. There’s a start-up in San Francisco that’s taking the concept of brand voice to a whole new level. Voices create human sounding vocalizations for companies that express emotion and don’t sound like a synthesized machine. Imagine a chatbot conversation with your favorite brand where the response on the other end sounds just like a real person, complete with empathy, personality, and even a sense of humor.
4. Now Google has developed its Duplex AI, where a human-sounding digital assistant makes a restaurant reservation, complete with ums and ahs. Of course, Google learned about the need for disclosure and transparency the hard way after an outcry on social media. The second iteration of the app that’s still being tested has a digital voice identify itself and what it is. It’s still early days for voice search and voice-activated marketing.
That means we’ll be seeing lots of news, tests, and failures, and as companies try to monetize voice interactions, they’ll need to put ethics, culture, and privacy front and center. In other words, brands will have to walk the talk.
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