Fidget Spinner: From a Trend to a Fad

Fidget-Spinner title image.jpg

This is a guest blog post written by Sooraj Divakaran

Henrik Vejlgaard, author of best-seller ‘Anatomy of a Trend’ defines a trend as a social process in which style or taste changes. For a new style or taste to trend it has to be accepted by many different trendsetters in groups. Fidget Spinner quickly grew into a worldwide trend this year.

Fidget Spinner is a small handheld device with a stable middle disc which is encircled by two or three paddles containing ball bearings that can be spun. In short, they spin that’s all they do. We have always been obsessed with toys. In 1980 it was the Rubik’s Cube, Tamagotchi in 1997 and Zhu Zhu Pets in 2009.

Fidget Spinner has existed for nearly 25 years now but exploded into world’s attention in 2017. After the initial fascination with Fidget Spinners, most are now passing it out as a fad. Fads, unlike Trends, don’t result in cultural shifts. Trends are usually slow moving shifts in cultural values. Adopting a right trend at the right time can lead to a lot of value for content marketers.


“A micro trend starts with your early influencers and moves to mass adoption within one to two years. These trends are important for fashion companies, but tend to be smaller scale realizations of the desires underlying macro trends”
– Kim Mannino, Senior Trend Consultant, WGSN


A macro trend, by contrast, spans at least five years and impacts a variety of industries from technology to finance. Macro trends operate on a continuum and evolve from season to season, year to year.

Journey of A Fidget Spinner

Fidget Spinners gained popularity in December 2016 as an article from a leading media publication recommended Fidget toys as a Christmas gift. Fidget spinners popularity was short-lived as it lost its prominence and was dismissed as a fad in June 2017.

Google search popularity of fidget spinners
Google search popularity of fidget spinners

EARLY ADOPTERS

The initial adopters of Fidget Spinners were children’s and teenagers who started using it in schools. They even began trading and selling spinners. In some cases, teachers had to confiscate spinner from students. Naturally, spinners became the highest selling item on Amazon’s toys and games category.

THE INFLUENCERS, HIGH FASHION, AND MEDIA

Fidget spinners soon caught the attention of toy manufacturers, media outlets, and influencers. The demand was outstripping the supply. In fact, as Time Magazine writes Toys “R” Us had to use chartered jets to ship spinners to its store.

Schools meanwhile had either banned spinners in the classroom or were contemplating to take the decision due to adverse usage. Manufacturers, however, were touting therapeutic benefits for students with autism, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

DEATH OR HIBERNATION

As time passed, spinners started getting negative coverage due to injuries resulting out of usage. In some cases, use of spinners also resulted in death. Most districts in the United States have now banned spinners in classrooms. The journey has now ended for Fidget spinners but fidget toys still have a space in consumers’ shelf.

That’s it for today. Till next time, keep being awesome 🙂

 

New metrics from Facebook – Better measures for ROI and Engagement

 

New Facebook metrics - better roi measure.png
New Facebook Metrics Launched

 

Remember all those times when you ran campaigns, put all UTM parameters, later realised in Google analytics that the no. of users who landed are less than the ones showed in Facebook insights. I strongly feel majority of you must be thinking “Yes” it did happen with me and I couldn’t do anything to improve the situation.

Not anymore. Facebook announced a few metrics releases on 29 June 2017 that will really help marketers to put context in perspective. The objective – capturing new types of interactions with your ads or page.

One of the biggest concerns in recent times has been – How can I expand into new audience targeting and also know whether they were new visitors or interacted with my ad before? The interaction may happen on their app or website.

To solve this conundrum Facebook is introducing Pre-impression activity breakdown. It is a new metric that shows the number of people who have previously engaged with an advertiser’s website or app v/s new visitors.

How is it determined? In Facebook’s words – “Based on whether a site in recent weeks fired a pixel or triggered an app event associated with a business.”

Is this the 1st step by Facebook to match attribution feature launched by Google? We will know this for sure over the course of next year.

This update is useful in case of dynamic ads. This is what Facebook had to say about dynamic ads at the start of Jan 2017:

“Now, if someone has been browsing for furniture across multiple websites, Facebook may infer that this person is interested in buying a couch, and they may be a good candidate to serve a dynamic ad for furniture.”

…it continues further…

“The broader point here is that dynamic ads – which has primarily only been used for remarketing – are now becoming much better at predicting intent by allowing advertisers to use multiple signals for targeting, including activity on Facebook such as Likes and ad clicks, and also activity off Facebook such as website visits.”

To put it in a nutshell – dynamic ads are great for those who have hundreds of products and can’t customize each ad. But customized ads will always have a greater impact.

Page engagement holds a very important status in a marketers ROI game plan. There are 3 new metrics which are introduced by Facebook:

1. Follows: Page admin can see total number of people who are following the page. The new update will allow the admin to see rise and fall of followers over time.

2. Previews: While browsing Facebook on desktop, user may not click the page link every time. Page’s information can be accessed while hovering over page’s name. This number will be showed under the head “Page Previews”.

3. Recommendations: Here is how a recommendation looks when you get suggestion or advice from friends, family or local groups on Facebook.

recommendations in facebook

Now page admins will be able to see the number of times a page has been recommended by family or friends.

All these will be available in the Overview section of Page Insights.

The most important announcement is Landing Page Views.

For an advertiser it is important to have clarity on click engagement. What I mean is after a click whether user landed on the page or not. In last year Facebook has separated clicks into:

  • Link clicks: All clicks on links, including Facebook destinations
  • Clicks (all): All clicks on an ad, including those not on a link
  • Outbound clicks: All clicks that drives user out of Facebook

This is useful but not helpful. Just like a situation we spoke about at start of this blog, advertisers see a difference in numbers when they see clicks on Facebook insights vis-à-vis landing page traffic on Google analytics. Apart from this marketers can spot likely issues in mobile optimization and page load time.

In Facebook’s words: “This new metric will help businesses realize the importance of optimizing for a better mobile web experience. Businesses will be able to choose to optimize for landing page views when they use the traffic objective, finding more people who will actually arrive on their landing page after clicking on their ad.”

That’s it for today. Let me know how you have made use of these features or better – found out something new.

Till next time, keep being awesome 🙂

F8 2017 for marketers – Part 2 (VR – Facebook Spaces)

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“How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

Can you guess who made the above statement?

In 1999 an iconic movie came, it changed the perception of how we see the real world and perceived world. That movie was “The Matrix”. Directed by The Wachowskis, starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, this movie pushed the scientific and technological boundaries. I wondered if this will be possible one day and looks like it will be in some capacity now.

With the advent of technology and AI, VR has been at the forefront of creating novel experiences for end user but none of it has been implemented at mass scale. In this blog we will look at what Facebook announced at F8 and how it will be beneficial for marketers.

The platform is in beta version but Facebook did give us a good peek inside this new VR platform that can be accessed as of now via Oculus Rift VR gear.

The name of the platform is Facebook Spaces (FS).

FS will allow us to hang out with our family and friends who are not physically nearby. What does that mean? Let’s answer it with 3 scenarios:

  • A friend and you are planning a trip to a place and you experience it in 360 environment through FS.
  • You are moving in a new apartment and want to show it to your best friend. It’s possible. Both of you can enter the FS environment and can also decide the furniture position and design if you have the specs.
  • It’s a friend’s birthday but you all are in different cities. No fear, FS is here. All of you can get on to FS and plug-in those friends who can’t via video call. Friends who are on a video call will experience VS via video.

Now all of this and more is possible with FS. All you need is a virtual avatar (you can design it yourself) and you are ready to roll.

But this still doesn’t answer the main question – how is it benefitting Marketers?

A few scenarios:

  • Interior decoration – furniture or paint brands can create try-out scenarios before actually buying the products.
  • Retailers – fashion, accessories, and apparel brands can let the customers try products and create their own virtual avatars.
  • Education – interactive classes about complex subjects can make learning very fun.
  • Real Estate – A few players have done this in some capacity but the level can be taken up a notch more.
  • Entertainment – A very good example is recent film Kong. They did an immersive VR experience of a scene from the movie and let me tell you it was awesome. Check it out here.

The list can go on and on…

But how can marketers create immersive experiences – is there a gear available that ticks all the boxes? The answer is “Yes”.

Facebook has introduced Surround 360 technology. The FB newsroom states – “The newest designs for the Surround 360 technology allows people to produce amazing high quality videos for VR. The new x24 and its smaller counterpart, x6, create some of the most immersive and engaging content ever shot for VR. The new camera technology lets you move around within the video scene and experience the content from different viewing angles. This means you can move your head around in the world and see it from different angles — what’s known as six degrees of freedom, or 6DoF — bringing the feeling of immersion and depth to a whole new level.”

surround 360 camera Facebook.JPG

Well that’s about the gear but let’s come back to the FS platform. If you want to know more about it, you can sign up for updates for either of the following categories:

  • I want to try out VR apps
  • I want to develop VR apps
  • I want to build VR content

Click here to sign up.

That’s it for today. Till next time keep doing awesome work 🙂

 

 

F8 2017 for marketers – Part 1 (Augmented Reality)

augmented reality header.JPG

I have never felt the kind of exhilaration for any movie before as I felt it while I was watching Baahubali 2: The Conclusion. Brilliant piece of work. Rajamouli has done something which people didn’t think was possible for any Indian filmmaker. Not only production wise but box office wise too, INR 1200 crores and still counting…

I will draw a similar analogy for what Mark Zuckerberg and his team has done with AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality) at the recently held F8 in San Jose, California.

But, here is the million dollar question – “What does it mean for me (mainly talking from a Brand custodian’s perspective)?”

In this blog series I will try to shed light on all announcements that happened at F8 and how marketers can take advantage of it. Let’s go through each one-by-one.

Augmented Reality:

People have been talking of AR for the longest time but no one was able to give it mass level adoption. Exception to this was snapchat with its filters functionality.

In the words of Mark Zuckerberg –

1 AR camera.jpg

Do you remember Pokemon Go? I bet you do. May be you were able to catch Pikachu after all.

The point being, all cool camera features that FB has been launching is moving towards integrating AR in social media.

How? The demo showed by Mark Zuckerberg clearly shows that AI being used can identify the object in the screen of the camera – the image can be converted into a 3D scene, objects tagged can pop-up info about the product, objects tagged can have their own animations e.g. after tagging a plant pot and clicking on the cloud, an animation was created where a cloud was showering rain on the plant pot.

Another example – you can see at the start of this post an image which shows how a boring meeting table became an exciting video game battle ground.

Coming back to the question – How?

Imagine you have a T-Shirt brand. The new design is tagged with a frame that depicts a bat-copter flying out of the t-shirt and the person has a batman mask saying a dialogue from the movie. The user will be very interested in knowing how much does the T-shirt cost. And that is the first window of opportunity for a sale. But it also means that the frame effects and mask effects can be used by other Batman fans to do awesome stuff. And that too will give the brand a viral reach.

Let’s see how these camera effects platforms could be used. There are two main products – Frame Studio and AR Studio.

Frame Studio – Design frames for a special event, to show your support, or just for fun. Your frames can be used in profile pictures or in the new Facebook camera.

Frame studio image.jpg

AR Studio – Create advanced effects for photos and videos, including expressive masks, animated frames, and augmented reality that feel like magic.

AR studio image.jpg

That’s it for this time. Will keep things coming in future parts. But if you really want to see what Facebook’s vision is, check out the road map below:

f8-10 year roadmap.png

Till next time, keep doing awesome work…

8 (Mostly Free) SEO Tools To Improve Your Website Performance

This is a guest blog post written by Mandy McEwen , Founder of Mod Girl Marketing  

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SEO is one of my favorite parts of marketing.

Part of the reason is because it’s an even-playing field: whether your business is small or massive, you have the same search engine access.

Still, you need the right tools to perform well. Here are 8 of my favorites – and nearly all are free. Which SEO tools do you use?

1) Übersuggest

Übersuggest is a terrific tool for developing better long-tail phrases. After you use it to develop a list of keywords, run them through the Google Keyword Tool to get a feel for search volume.

Keep in mind that 0 searches doesn’t mean 0 potential! Some of the most profitable keywords I’ve found have been the low-hanging, long-tail fruit.

💡 Tip: Install the KeywordEverywhere extension for Chrome/Firefox and you’ll get search volume and CPC for free.

2) Anchor Text Over-Optimization Tool

Google has really cracked down on keyword-stuffing. That means over-optimizing can keep you from showing on search results – even if it’s not on purpose!

Anchor Text Over-Optimization Tool lets you check keyword density so you can easily modify them or remove some of the backlinks.

3) Pingdom Speed Test

If your website takes more than a few seconds to load, you’re losing customers.

To make sure a site is loading quickly, I use WebsiteOptimization.com. Simply enter the URL of the page you’d like to check for a detailed listing of page size, composition, and download time.

4) Google Analytics Academy

What better SEO tool than the one offered by the search engine you’re looking to rank for, right?

If you really want to get on top of everything Google Analytics has to offer, you want to take courses through the Analytics Academy. My favorite is the Tag Manager class – a huge time saver!

5) Google Search Console

Again, it’s always a good idea to go to the search engine itself! Google Search Console is a free service that allows you to monitor your site’s presence on Google search results.

Learn the exact phrases people search when they come across your site, how your rich search results (like prices and events) appear, which sites link back to you, and more.

6) Screaming Frog

Screaming Frog is one of my most-used SEO tools. At Mod Girl, we use it to crawl, analyze, and audit client websites for:

  • Broken links (404s), redirects, and server errors
  • Page titles and meta descriptions that are too long, too short or missing
  • Duplicate URLs, titles, descriptions or headings and low content pages
  • URLs blocked by robots with noindex or nofollow tags
  • Files that are too large or slow-loading

The free version lets you check up to 500 URLs!

7) AHREFs

Simply enter the URL into AHREFs to receive a report on how many backlinks you are getting and losing each day. Checking your backlinks is a great way to identify top-performing content to help you create future content.

8) Raven Tools

Although Raven Tools isn’t free, it’s a powerful resource. Plus, they offer a 14-day free trial, so you can make sure it’s valuable for your agency.

At Mod Girl, we use Raven Tools to:

  • Research content and link-building opportunities
  • Find and prioritize keywords
  • Audit local search listings

Which SEO tools do you use? Let us know in the comments!

(Mod Girl Marketing is an inbound marketing agency that helps healthcare, technology and B2B companies transform their businesses online. Check out some amazing array of digital marketing content on their Facebook group.)

Content AI: Artificial Intelligence for Content Marketing

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This is a guest blog post written by guest blogger Sooraj Divakaran

Right this very moment, someone somewhere is writing a headline for an article that they have penned down after painstakingly spending hours to research the facts. You know how that feels if you are into the content writing business. Could a Content AI be the answer to our problems?

8 out of 10 times what you feel will work with your audience just skips their eyeballs. That’s not a researched fact but based on the 80/20 rule which states that 20% of your content will bring in 80% of your views. The tricky part, however, is to identify what will work and make it into the 20% league.

Content AI: Content powered by Artificial Intelligence

What if we leave this 20% to artificial intelligence? Sounds unlikely today as most businesses continue to rely on in-house content writers or agencies who struggle to find new content ideas. All this is about to change in next 5-10 years as newer technologies evolve which will potentially disrupt the way content writing business functions today.

Atomic Reach is among the handful of companies which has spent the last three years working on understanding the content marketing business. Atomic Reach with its artificial intelligence powered platform can identify the impact and measure language characteristics in your content. The platform also analyzes the reading behavior of the audience which most platforms don’t track today to customize the content further as you progress.

Artificial Intelligence already drives most of the content in your news feed today. Facebook was among the first to customize news feed based on your behavior and later launching features like story bumping which moved any content that you read or engaged with to top of your feed. So it wouldn’t be wrong to say that artificial Intelligence has already invaded our lives when it comes to content.

When asked how AI would factor into Facebook’s plans going forward, Zuckerberg said there were two main areas he was looking at.

“The first was an AI that could identify visual content (a photo or video, for instance), understand what it was seeing, and then decide if you as a user would be interested in it. And you can imagine that today, we consider putting things in your News Feed that you’re connected to in some way, right, that are from a friend or from a page that you are following or that one of your friends liked.

But there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be able to match you up with any of the millions of pieces of content that might be interested that get shared on Facebook every day, except for the fact that we don’t have the AI technology to know what those are about and that they match your interests today.”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, Facebook

Facebook is working on Lumos its artificial intelligence platform to understand the visual content better. The algorithm will be able to identify objects within an image. The platform already distinguishes between faces of people, time of the day, location and other details.

Content Marketing & Artificial Intelligence

The use of artificial intelligence can also be attributed to how content strategy itself has evolved due to omni-channel integration. The team at Contently has been able to decipher the omni-channel strategy in the below infographic.

omni-channel-content-strategy.jpg

If we have to divide artificial intelligence broadly and its applications to content marketing it has already made inroads into the following:

  • Grammar Check & Proof Reading: Grammar seems to be the most common problem bothering marketers. We use Grammarly extensively for Digital Uncovered. Besides Grammarly, you could also check other tools like Ginger, Hemingway App, White Smoke, etc.
  • Content Intelligence: Content Intelligence today largely relies on a keyword or topic-based research to identify high performing content from competition or even for scouting for new content ideas. Tools that are currently available for content intelligence include Storybase, Buzzsumo, SpyFu, Answer The Public, etc.
  • Content Distribution: The term content distribution itself has got different connotations based on the context. Content distribution includes content management systems (WordPress, Blogger, Tumbler or Drupal), platforms/websites (Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter), Content Discovery / Paid Promotion platforms (Outbrain, Taboola, Vocus).
  • Content Performance: Content performance tools measure the effectiveness and impact of content marketing activities. Tools currently available for content performance include NewsCred, Contently, ContentWRX, TrackMaven, etc.
  • Account-Based Marketing: Account-based marketing solutions help you to align & personalize your content marketing strategy for prospects. Tools that are currently available include Demand Base, Terminus, Engagio, Bizible, etc.

The lines are constantly blurring into what a solution will enable you to do with most high-performing platforms pivoting to become marketing clouds powered by artificial intelligence.

Content AI & Creativity

In Japan, a novel co-written by an artificial intelligence program made into the first stage of a literary contest. The judges on the panel weren’t informed which of the co-written entries were from an artificial intelligence program. Although the novel didn’t go on to win a prize, it’s a precursor to what could be on the timeline ahead for Content AI.

The novel couldn’t get the character descriptions right but these are early days for the technology and you will hear a lot about artificial intelligence & its applications to content marketing in the days to come.

What is AMP?

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On an average a user will wait not more than 3.5 seconds to see content on any page on mobile.

The answer to this dilemma could be AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages. What are accelerated mobile pages?

Many have asked me this, when the term AMP was mentioned in discussions with reference to the effects of Pigeon update introduced by Google .

To answer the question – these are web pages designed to load instantly on mobile which will contribute to a great experience for publishers, brands and users.

Well how do they work – they are just like any other HTML page but with a limited technical functionality, governed by the open source AMP spec. Plus there are third party companies who cache the content on cloud so it is available to users mobile immediately. Google has said that it will provide cache that can be used by anyone. All AMPs will be cached by Google cache. If companies don’t want to use the one from Google ,they can build their own cache.

Here’s an interesting video about AMP, should be able to clear the air on basics at least:

https://youtu.be/WrpkFROqR0Q

Moz has a nice rendition about the AMP as follows:

moz-amp-image

(Source: Moz.com)

The type of content that can work well on AMPs can be anything – blog, GIF, video, image or a news story.

Now if you have a wordpress blog then you can implement a WordPress AMP plugin from Automatic.

If you want to keep both the Amp and Non-Amp pages then you can refer the following snippet from http://digitaluncovered.com/.

On any non-AMP page, reference the AMP version of the page to let Google and other platforms know about it:<link rel=”amphtml” href=”https://www.example.com/url/to/amp-version.html&#8221; />

On the AMP page, add the following text to reference its non-AMP canonical version:<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/url/to/regular-html-version.html&#8221; />

For standalone AMP pages (those that don’t have a non-AMP version) the AMP page should specify itself as the canonical version:

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/url/to/amp-document.html&#8221; />

(Source: http://digitaluncovered.com/)

You must be thinking “what about analytics?” – Chartbeat and Parse.ly, two publisher analytics providers, are participants in the project and help you to collect data without compromising the AMP file speed or size.

Chartbeat reference links –

http://support.chartbeat.com/assets/img/amp_dash.png

http://blog.chartbeat.com/2015/10/07/chartbeat-and-the-google-amp-project/

 

Parse.ly reference links –

http://www.parsely.com/tour/?blog_cta=cta_2

http://blog.parsely.com/post/2617/parse-ly-joins-googles-accelerated-mobile-pages-project-to-improve-the-mobile-web/

https://www.parsely.com/help/integration/google-amp/

Many of you must be thinking how can I show ads on my blog or AMP page because eventually traffic will start coming from mobile. Lots of it…

Well the objective of the AMP project is also to provide support for various ad formats, ad networks and technologies to ensure ads in AMP files are fast, safe, effective.

AMP uses following techniques to give superior content discovery feel without compromising the monetization aspect of your webpage:

1) Content first. AMP loads ads after the rest of the content, so ads would never slow down load time.

2) Containment. AMP strictly manages the area of a page that ads can access and control to a well defined rectangle. Among other things this avoids pages “jumping around” as ads pop in.  

3) Mitigation. AMP mitigates against various JavaScript worst practices often found in ad tech such as `document.write`, by limiting their effect on the ad itself vs. the entire page.

4) Intervention. AMP slows down timers such as those used for animations for ads that are not currently visible, so that ads use much less battery and CPU when they aren’t being seen. Firefox, Safari, Opera and Chrome have recently started doing this by default.

These measures, together with AMP’s aggressive optimizations for general web content, significantly improve both page load time and lessen effects of the ads on the user experience. The fact that content always loads first guarantees that ads are never in a user’s way on a given page.

A little glimpse in the future tells us that the following things are possible:

1) Ads will be statically analyzable to be safe and behave well,

2) They will be able to use a common set of functionality to significantly reduce bandwidth consumption,

3) CPU usage will be limited to on-screen ads, maximizing battery life,

4) Ads will be coordinated with the page making sure that primary content and functionality can always be buttery smooth at 60 frames per second.
Finally all the resources that you need from a developer and beneficiary perspective could be found on Github, so do check it out.  

That’s it for today. Hope all of you liked it.

Do let me know your feedback and any topic that you may be struggling with. Till next time – Be Awesome 🙂