What’s Trending for 2017? Look to Snapchat.

whats trending for 2017 snapchat

The beginning of the year is the time everyone starts reflecting less on the year past and more on what is to come, especially in the world of social media and marketing. If you’re curious what kind of things we can expect in the social media landscape, however, you need only look to the direction of one app: Snapchat.

I know, I know. You’ve heard a ton of hype around this app, and you may or may not have adopted it—especially with Instagram nipping at its heels and fighting feature-for-feature with Snapchat. But I’m not trying to convince you to hop on board. I’m simply pointing out some of the features this app has implemented that are steering the direction of what we can expect from social in 2017 and beyond.

A constantly changing landscape

If Snapchat has been anything this year, it has been ever-evolving. Adding some functions, taking others way, and even making some simply temporary. The constant iteration of facial recognition filters, and now augmented reality filters, keeps users on their toes wondering what is next. It is also a way to find out (via clamoring when they’re gone) which ones users are particularly attached to. This constant evolution keeps the app fresh and new, giving them plenty of press and making each update something to look forward to. Iteration like this, or simply keeping your company fresh and in the spotlight, will be a challenge brand marketers and app developers will need to be prepared for in 2017. This ain’t going away.

A convenient aspect of an ever-changing landscape is the ability to push the boundaries, sometimes to a weird place. Let me tell you, there have been some absurdly odd facial filters on Snapchat. And since they’re only there temporarily, it gives Snapchat the ability to experiment. One bonus to this weirdness though, is that it creates virality. People appalled or amused by some of the filters are more likely to screen capture and share on other social sites, leading to more popularity potential for Snapchat. In a sea of weird selfies, brands will need to figure out how to stand out, how to experiment, and ultimately how to stay relevant.

Augmented reality and interactive media

In Q4 of 2016, we saw Snapchat do some really ingenious things with AR and their filters. One that really stood out to me was the ability to turn your own face into an old school slide puzzle game (see below), with only 10 seconds to successfully solve it (since Snapchat videos are only 10 seconds long). Entire apps are created around a game like this to pass the time. Snapchat put it IN their app. How will brands create interactive experiences that make customers and prospects feel like they are part of the fun?

There was also a skiing game, reminiscent of the old Ski Free game on Windows computers (for those of you my age) that put your face on the skier. You had to tilt your phone to move the skier and avoid obstacles. You literally become the game, and could share it with your friends to find out if they could do better than you in 10 seconds. A messaging app became an interactive game with AR functionality. Whoa.

Chris Pratt mindblown gif from Guardians of the Galaxy

Bringing people together

While this isn’t necessarily a new thing, going from one-to-one chat, to one-to-many chat has taken off (live video anyone?). Snapchat does this in a few ways. The Snapchat Stories feature isn’t anything new (and has also been copied by Instagram), but the ability to do two-person filters and face swaps encourages you to take more than selfies—ussies, perhaps. A new feature Snapchat added this year is group chat for up to 15 people, which still disappears after 24 hours as has been their M.O. This builds friendship and community through a chat app while still staying true to itself. Want to stay top of mind in 2017? Be the hub for your community.

Snapchat holiday filters reindeer
Just my lil sister and I at holiday time, filtering around.

I read an interesting post claiming that Snapchat’s non-intuitive interface may actually work in its favor by encouraging collaborative learning. By actually learning how to use the app from another (possibly younger) person, you’re forming a relationship with them via the app. Now this claim hasn’t been substantiated by Snapchat, nor would it be. Some have claimed this would never work for another app, and it only works because Snapchat has buzz behind it already. I can agree with that. But it’s an interesting perspective to consider, and there is a lesson here. If you can find a way to encourage your community to help each other, with you being the connection point, you’ve just become vastly more valuable to both teacher and student.

Adapting to the way people use the product

Listening to your customers? Whoda thunk it? Snapchat has done a really good job of paying attention to which features and filters people use and love, and how people use the app. For example, people were often taking screen captures of their own content, so Snapchat added the ability to save to camera roll and in the cloud in a section called Memories. Then people wanted to be able to upload photos from their camera roll and edit them, so the functionality was added. Actually, there are even a special set of paintbrush filters specifically for images pulled from your camera roll, like below.

A look at Snapchat's paintbrush filter

As more companies become agile, listening to feedback and acting on it will be key to success. Snapchat exhibits this approach very well. While some companies will find an agile approach daunting due to bureaucracy and red tape, being able to quickly pivot and make changes based on customer feedback can be another key to success in 2017.

So, what do you think? How will these shape up in 2017? Where do you stand? Are you already on Snapchat, and if so, what is your favorite newer feature? Tell me in the comments. Also, feel free to follow me by snapping a photo of my code below.

Robzie81 on Snapchat

Why I’m Not a Fan of Instagram’s New Feature

Instagram's new comments like features

Instagram has been making some major changes lately, likely as an attempt to curb Snapchat’s popularity and maintain users. I’m actually a fan of many of these new features, including disabling comments, easier reporting of abuse, ability to zoom in on photos, and the constant updates to the stories feature, it’s biggest jab at Snapchat. However, the ability to ‘Like’ comments to me is just pointless, especially for brands. Let me explain.

Engagement, you say?

This update to Instagram’s comments simply maintains a status quo. It turns the comments on Instagram into exactly what Facebook’s comment system is. Now, I get that perhaps it could be useful for establishing affinity, but I think it fails us in engagement. On Instagram previously, you’d have to reply to a person and either thank them for a comment or reply with an emoji or two. I feel the ‘like’ is going to make brands (and people) lazy. It’s going to minimize that conversational element in the comments section because now it is just easier to tap the little heart and move on than to give an actual reply. They’re saying it will increase “engagement”, but is that the engagement we really want?

Don’t you dare do it, Snapchat

I’ve seen many people saying that Snapchat should emulate this and follow Instagram’s lead. That is something I wholly disagree with. Snapchat has changed the game, and the expectations, for social. They removed the constant vying for ‘likes’ and the public social proof rat race of how much “engagement” your snaps get. Now, nobody knows how many views your snap story gets but you. People are less inclined to post that perfect photo and create content that is a bit more off the cuff. Responses to snaps can be silly, snarky, or stupid, without worrying about them living indefinitely on the web. AND, you never have to focus on whether or not everyone else likes what you just said. I think that is moving in a better direction.

This update to Instagram simply maintains the status quo of vying for ‘likes’, inflating our egos, and lazy engagement. Of course, if people wanted it, I’m sure Instagram was simply fulfilling the request. But in terms of innovation, I think it’s a step backward, or at minimum, no step at all.

What do you think? Comment below.

By the way, follow me on Instagram or on Snapchat (by snapping the image below) if you like.
Robzie81 on Snapchat

Do you wanna hear a podcaaaaast?

Oh, man. Come on Robzie. An outdated Disney’s Frozen reference? Really?
You’re right, dear reader. My apologies. But guess what?? I’m BACK FROM THE DEAD.
Ok, p-put the knife down. I said back from the dead, not undead. Whew.

podcast, microphone, video marketing

Anyway, guess what again? There is so much that has happened since we last spoke. Firstly…

I’ve started a podcast (as you could probably gather from the title) with a couple of friends. It is called the Why Are You Talking? Podcast! It’s a podcast about life (especially around us millennials [Collective groan? Or maybe valuable market research? You decide.]), relationships in the digital realm (because I’m single, and it’s not as sunshine and rainbows as one would think these days), and of course, digital dweebery, because I’m involved. We treat it very much like a conversation among friends. And we’d like for you to be part of the friend circle.

We’re seven episodes in, so you could even binge listen if you wanted to. Not that I’d expect you to, because I know you’s busy peeps like me. But still. You do you. Check out episode seven below to get an idea of what we’re doing! I’d love your feedback. Mind you, we’re new to this and have been evolving the whole sound and feel.




Also, I’m trying to do more video this year. With so many apps and options, I really want to get back to creating content in the videosphere. I’m not sure if I’ll go into full-on vlogging, but below is my most recent video, which I put together for MarketingProfs (where I work, shameless plug). In it, I offer some tips on how to make sure your video doesn’t suck. It’s a video about video! So meta.

So there are my recent exciting endeavors.

What are you up to these days?

Tell me what new projects and ideas you’re working on. I’d love to check them out and share them. I hope to start blogging a bit more consistently again so maybe we can have conversations like the olden days, and there is DEFINITELY a redesign coming in the near future. Until next time, dear friends.

Now go get your social on!

—Robzie

Why vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

I have a friend who recently wrote a blog post for the agency she works for. It was a great post: well written, included graphics she made herself, was helpful and offered takeaways, and had a title just interesting enough to garner clicks without being click bait. Then, the CEO had her take it down. “It might give the wrong impression.” (It didn’t.)

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing-title image

Vanilla is the worst flavor of marketing

Maybe you love vanilla ice cream, or vanilla pudding, but no one likes vanilla content. To make an impact among the overly crowded digital marketing space, you need to do something to stand out. You have to take a position. You must offer helpful information while not turning your content into a snooze-fest lecture. With the concept of Content Shock looming over all of us marketers, you have to write something worth reading.

Maybe try chocolate instead

Embrace a deep, rich, and possibly darker side of content. Piss someone off, start an argument, take a stand. But be willing to back up your argument with informed points and a reasoned point-of-view. Don’t just troll the world. In Jay Baer’s “Jay Today” video series, he goes on some pretty serious rants—calling marketing and service mediocrity where he sees it. Some people may disagree with him on some points, and that’s ok. His definitive, and sometimes angry, perspective is visceral and real. People remember it and share it if they relate to it. Do you have a viewpoint in opposition to the status quo? Talk about it! I did in this guest post, and things got pretty hairy, but I stood by my points and even helped some people in the process.

Vanilla marketing click to tweet image
Click the image to share this post

Don’t forget the savory bits

My choice would be salted caramel, but you do you. Ahem, I digress. Give people definitive takeaways and sharable tidbits in your content that they just can’t help but share with their friends and followers. For example, provide a click-to-tweet takeaway image (like above) that makes sharing those points seamless (something else Jay Baer does really well with his Social Pros podcasts). Try putting some key takeaways in bullet points to visually sum up what the reader should get out of a post. Before you hit publish, seriously ask yourself, “What exactly will someone reading this post/article/blog get out of it?” If the answer isn’t clear, fix it.

What’s better than regular ice cream? A sundae.

Don’t be afraid to mix up your content. Slap on some toppings, mix up some flavors, and create a tantalizing piece of content people can’t help but share. Here are some examples of how you can incorporate different media to see what resonates with different audiences.

  • Embed a slideshare in a blog post to reinforce the points you’re making.
  • Record a video clip to break down a complicated concept rather than writing a long-form post.
  • Try embedding tweets surrounding a hot topic you’re discussing to show its relevancy and highlight important points-of-view.

Your content has to have some character, something uniquely you. There are likely other posts in the world on the same topic you’re writing about, so what makes yours different?

Admit it, you totally want some ice cream now, don’t you? Sorry about that.

Now go get your social on!

Learn to create content like a boss with the #ArtOfSocial

I recently had the opportunity to read and review The Art of Social, the new book from social media powerhouses Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book early). The short of it: if you’re getting started in content creation, or just need some great inspiration, this book is definitely worth your time.

Art of Social by Guy Kawasaki and Peg Fitzgerald content marketing book

If you’re already comfortably familiar with social media platforms, you may find yourself glossing through some of the basics in the first couple sections. I actually advise against this. You’re likely to miss the many gems of knowledge inserted among these tips. If you’re reading the digital version rather than the physical edition, you’ll find tons of linked examples that are worth taking a peek at. Some of these offer step-by-step guides you’ll want to keep around. (For example, how to embed social content into a blog post.)

The book is a pretty easy read. Guy’s voice (which is the point of view that most of the book is written in) is casual yet informative, entertaining yet frank. You’ll likely find yourself chuckling, while also taking note of a really useful tidbit.

Peg and Guy

If you’re anything like me and love to check out the latest and greatest tools, you’ll be drooling over this book. Guy and Peg offer up a plethora of tools they recommend for social posting, monitoring, listening, content creation, and curating. Some you’ve likely heard of, but I almost guarantee there will be some new ones on your radar after reading The Art of Social.

The book also goes beyond simply talking about social media platforms and strategies for posting content to them. There’s an entire section on how to successfully run an event (including an extensive section on holding Hangouts On Air events) and make it a socially shared success. I really, really recommend this chapter if you have an in-person or virtual event you’re planning for 2015. You’re nearly 100% likely to find at least one piece of advice you’ll incorporate into your plans.

The Art of Social is a really great book. The only downside to writing a book on social media is how quickly things change (and there are already a few things that have changed since the book was written). In an awesome interview on the Social Pros Podcast, Guy and Peg mention that there will potentially be sporadic digital updates to the book, which leads me to recommend the digital version over the physical one (plus, you’ll have access to all those helpful links).

Couple this book with Ann Handley’s Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content (full disclosure, I work for Ann), and 2015 will be the year you completely rock every aspect of social media and digital marketing content. Your fans will thank you, your boss will thank you, and you’ll probably sleep better at night knowing you’re consistenly putting out great content thanks to the guidance you’ll find here.

You can purchase The Art of Social here.
Pick up Everybody Writes here.

Now go get your social on!

How to provide epic customer service

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I’m not really a fan of pointing out FAILS unless they really irk me. Rather than posting precautionary tales of what not to do, I’d much rather point people toward examples of what to do. Coming from a customer service background has given me an affinity for wanting to point out people and brands that get it. The ones that make you feel like an individual rather than one in a giant number of social media followers. Here are a couple that stood out to me this week.

How to provide epic customer service

Misfit Wearables

Anyone who knows me knows I really get into two things: technology and exercise. During SXSW last year, I came across a fashionable and lightweight fitness tracker called the Shine, by Misfit Wearables. I love it. It’s minimalistic and not clunky, attaches nearly anywhere, and I get asked about it by people all the time.

So you can imagine my disappointment when mine suddenly stopped working a couple weeks ago. Meanwhile, a buddy of mine just picked up a high-tech Microsoft band and was trying to get me to convert. When I find something I like, I’m typically pretty loyal, so I decided to post on Misfit’s Facebook page asking for any recommendations on what I could do to try and get my Shine working again.

Their page boasts over 21,000 fans at the time of this writing. That’s no small number. Their posts to page section is a constant stream of comments, both compliments and complaints, and my question easily could have been overlooked. But it wasn’t. Instead, I was directed to private message, where they asked for my address to send me a new shine. No twenty questions, no asking me to send in my defective product. They fixed it for me. In my preferred color. Like customer service bosses. And now I’m writing and sharing about it. Social listening, folks. Do it. Your customers will love you for it and you’ll be respected because of it.

Misfit Wearables fitness tracker wearable technology
My shiny new red Shine

More importantly, they kept me from leaving. Had I received no response, I’d have likely started shopping around for another fitness tracker to see what was out there. By keeping me with them, they kept me from meandering. Nicely done, Misfit.

Buffer

There isn’t a single bad thing I can say about the folks at Buffer. Their app is solid, their content never ceases to amaze me, and their people are genuinely the nicest on the entire interwebs. When I see their logo, I don’t see a brand. I see the smiling face of someone who genuinely gives a damn. They also happen to lead a weekly #Bufferchat that continually engages and informs their audience around consistently interesting topics.

I recently jumped in to a #Bufferchat that they held. It featured my very smart friend DJ Waldow (who actually inspired my last post), and turned out to be a great discussion. Afterward, I received a DM from Nicole, the Community Champion at Buffer (ps, I love their titles), asking me if she could send me some stickers to show her appreciation of my participation. One thing you should know about me is that I’m kind of a swag whore. Gimme all those things. Naturally, I was geeked.

Buffer social media scheduler customer service
The folks at Buffer are pretty swell. Their sticker game is strong, and they really appreciate their community. Plus, just look at that handwriting!

What I received was a premium-stock card with a handwritten note (in very fancy handwriting, might I add), plus two high-quality stickers. All because I actively participated in a chat. You want to talk about building community and making your fans feel special? Nailed it.

Now, some of this could be chalked up to an influencer marketing strategy. I get that. I’m not what one could call a high level influencer (my followings aren’t that massive comparatively), but I am very vocal about things I’m passionate about. And you can bet I’m going to continue to be vocal about my affinity for Buffer and Misfit.

Good customer service also isn’t just about handing out freebies. The main points of this are to listen to what your customers are saying, solve their problems, let them know you appreciate them in whatever ways you can, and don’t treat them like faceless entities in an online crowd. Hats off, Buffer and Misfit. You won the week.

What are some examples of amazing customer service or community-building that you’ve experienced from a brand? Share your story in the comments below.

Now, go get your social on!