How do you monetise dark social platforms? That’s the poisoned chalice with which Facebook are currently grappling, and this week they made a significant first step. This week Facebook began testing ad placement into messaging feeds – looking something like this – with all the functionality we’ve come to expect from existing Facebook mobile and Instagram ads (in-stream ads, click-to-expand, in-app page opens, all the good stuff).
It wouldn’t be a story about Facebook developments without us asking where the enormous pile of money is likely to come from, and here the answer seems clear. The Facebook messenger app is currently used by 1.2bn people – a pretty punchy number on its own. Consider now then the addition of 1.2bn WhatsApp users (yes we know there is likely a huge overlap, but still, big numbers), and we’re talking about quite the audience. Add to this the news that WhatsApp is recruiting its own team to focus on platform monetisation, and we can see that Facebook means business.
With promised slow rollout and integrated payments likely included, this could be a remarkable next step in revenue for a company which generated in a respectable £7.09bn in Q2 2017 (87% of which comes from mobile). Pushing ads between private messages offers its own challenges, namely intrusiveness and consumer fatigue (the very reason Facebook has turned to messenger apps as delivery mechanisms). If they can solve that, this is a potentially gargantuan revenue stream for them, and another direct-to-audience channel for organisations looking to reach the right people.
KENYA’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE: 360 AND LIVE
We’ve talked a fair few times in recent months about 360 videos, singing its praises when used to great effect.
We’ve seen it used to great effect by the NYT in their daily 360 series, National Geographic’s interview with would-be Martian explorers, and even this rather unusual series from Manchester United’s global partner Swissquote
Well politicians and broadcasters in Kenya have obviously been reading the Friday Download with keen interest, because on Monday the dedicated Presidential Debates Kenya Facebook page shared a live 360 video capturing a 30 minute Q&A with President Uhuru Kenyatta. While many applauded the increased openness and willingness to engage directly with the public, many criticised an apparent decision to ignore questions from the comments section.
With engagement opportunities like this increasingly central to many political campaigns, we’d say it’s important for your spokespeople to commit to transparency and accessibility, even if it’s after the fact (think reflective wrap-up LinkedIn articles or blog posts responding to the main questions). Taking advantage of social media as a communications tool means respecting the rules of those channels too.
Celebrity figureheads can be a funny bunch. In particular, they can create laughter for the public, and headaches for campaign managers. This week’s final story comes courtesy of Manchester United’s most handsome defender Daley Blind – a lighter story with a serious lesson for your next influencer campaign (imagine an after-school special for communications) .
With Manchester United launching next season’s kit, the comms team sought to take advantage of the extensive and relevant reach into communities that their players’ social channels hold. But when it came time to post, young Daley gave us peek behind the curtain, including “hi mate, would you be ok posting this image on your social channels with the following copy?” with his Instagram post.
He’s not alone – even among footballers – joining Victor Anichebe and Christian Benteke in the social media hall of shame, while girlband Little Mix also didn’t proof before posting. The message (aside from proofing before you post!) is that briefing and process are central to the success of any campaign (influencer or otherwise), especially when your spokespeople are time-poor high achievers..
ALSO THIS WEEK
- Philippine president admits he used an army of social media trolls while campaigning [Mashable]
- Microsoft Paint was scrapped … then saved! [BBC, Windows]
- Facebook shares hit record high as mobile ad sales soar [Reuters]
- Microsoft will pay you up to $250,000 for hacking Windows [The Verge]