Prague Diary: Audiences and Influencers

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Sunshine scrubbed dry the watery skies over Prague as the day dawned on Engage 2018, the international social media summit hosted by Socialbakers. The first order of business: A wrestling match between CEO Yuval Ben-Itzhak and the gorilla in the room.

Cambridge Analytica didn’t change anything

“Cambridge Analytica didn’t change anything on Facebook.” So said Ben-Itzhak, a claim supported — currently, at least — by healthy Q1 earnings, and unfaltering activity and engagement. That wasn’t the first bump in the Facebook road this year. Ben-Itzhak told me back in February that Facebook’s renewed emphasis on engagement rather than sponsored content in the newsfeed was counter-intuitively good for brands. That’s because conversations with customers are of demonstrably greater benefit than one-way messages.

And then came the scandal. After Cambridge Analytica, “Everyone went into the bunker. Didn’t want to talk about data any more. Today that’s behind us. Facebook has showed us that social media is here to stay.” 

Ben-Itzhak, a year into his current role, was doubling down on a bet Socialbakers made when it was created ten years ago. “We started our journey when social was so small,” he said. “We had a vision that all conversation would move to social.” It’s the vision that social is on an inevitable path to becoming the prime channel through which brands will communicate with customers. A proposition which comes wrapped in risk, because customers can communicate right back.

Not that social is a monolithic channel: It’s a wide range of channels, of course, and it’s rapidly evolving.

Pay attention to…

  1. New formats all the time. The Internet/desktop environment was static for a number of years. Social/mobile changes at speed. Ben-Itzhak asked the audience to pay attention to insurgent formats: Images on Instagram, live video on Facebook, and the explosion of stories. “Stories are really important,” he said, with half a billion people participating in their creation daily
  2. The velocity with which the audience adopts new formats. With investment by Facebook, Google, and Samsung, AR is arriving fast. 3D posts and VR are further down the road
  3. Different outcomes from different channels. Marketers looking for massive reach will consider Facebook; Twitter offers high user activity; Instagram excels at engagement
  4. Authenticity. Fake news, ad blocking, user fatigue…the audience wants to consume authentic content, from voices they trust, about things which are happening now

Trusted voices implies influencer marketing, but influencers don’t have to be at a Selena Gomez level of celebrity. “It might be the chef at the restaurant around the corner,” said Ben-Itzhak. If Gomez, Beyoncé and the Kardashians are macro-influencers, the time of the mico-influencer is upon us. There are millions of them. In fact, Socialbakers has a list of some 20 million micro-influencers, and a record of who they influence, and how.

Audiences and Influencers

Social audiences, and users who influence them, are locked in a beautiful waltz, not unlike the two lithe towers of Prague’s famous Dancing House (see picture). Socialbakers today announced platform enhancements to reflect that insight. Socialbakers Audience Analysis connects social data with other digital data (demographic, geographic, affinities with other brands, and online behavior) to create interest-based personas. Integrating these profiles with the platform’s established social listening capabilities means surfacing content of interest to highly defined personas with one click. Reviewing the content being consumed by those personas in real time can inspire brand content teams to create new and highly targeted assets. If that results in higher engagement — as Socialbakers believes — cost per action goes down. To put it another way, ROI on increasingly expensive Facebook ads goes up.

If there are 20 million micro-influencers out there, how do you find the best dance partners for your personas? Socialbakers’ new Influencer Marketing solution uses algorithms to surface Gingers for your Freds with one click. “Now is the time to look on content as the true digital currency between a brand and its audience,” said Ben-Itzhak. Getting the right content to the right audience, supported by the right, authentic voice — at scale? That’s a job for the algorithms.

“Fascinating Algorithm.” That’s was a Ginger and Fred number, wasn’t it?

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