tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/facebook Latest Facebook content from Econsultancy 2018-01-19T10:58:25+00:00 tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69738 2018-01-19T10:58:25+00:00 2018-01-19T10:58:25+00:00 What marketers need to know about WhatsApp Business Patricio Robles <p>But Facebook has proven adept at monetizing not only its own social network, but another popular service it acquired for a ten-figure amount, Instagram, and the social media giant's efforts to turn WhatsApp into a revenue generator are becoming more apparent by the day.</p> <p>Case in point: WhatsApp yesterday <a href="https://blog.whatsapp.com/10000637/Introducing-the-WhatsApp-Business-App">announced</a> the launch of WhatsApp Business. Here's what marketers need to know about it.</p> <h3>It's an Android app</h3> <p>WhatsApp Business is an Android app designed for small businesses. Using the app, businesses can create and manage business profiles, which are like Facebook Pages for WhatsApp. These contain basic information about the business, such as a description, email address, physical address and website URL.</p> <p>The app also provides messaging tools that enable businesses to more easily communicate with their customers through WhatsApp. These tools include the ability to set up automated greeting and away messages, as well as to define quick replies for common requests.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/resized/0009/1771/replies-blog-flyer.jpg" alt="" width="350"></p> <h3>Using WhatsApp Business unlocks desktop functionality</h3> <p>Businesses that use WhatsApp Business won't need to use the Android app exclusively to send and receive messages. Instead, they'll be able to use a WhatsApp Business web application, making it possible for them to manage their WhatsApp presence from the desktop.</p> <h3>It's available in several countries to start but will be available globally soon</h3> <p>WhatsApp Business can be downloaded through the Google Play Store in the U.S., U.K., Mexico, Italy and Indonesia. WhatsApp says that the app will roll out globally “in the coming weeks.”</p> <h3>WhatsApp will provide analytics data</h3> <p>To help businesses better understand how their WhatsApp Business activities are working, WhatsApp will give them access to analytics data, such as the number of messages read. While it sounds like the analytics functionality will be fairly rudimentary to start, given Facebook's experience in this area on its core social network and Instagram, expect this to be one area it develops over time.</p> <h3>Business accounts will be designated as such</h3> <p>Businesses that set up profiles by using WhatsApp Business will have their profiles labeled as business profiles so that WhatsApp users who interact with those profiles understand they're interacting with a business. </p> <p>WhatsApp is also verifying some business profiles by confirming that the phone number on the account matches the phone number of the business. Verified businesses feature a label indicating that they've been verified.</p> <h3>Businesses can't communicate with all users</h3> <p>Businesses using WhatsApp Business won't be able to contact WhatsApp users at their leisure. Instead, users must opt in to receive communications from a business. This means that businesses wanting to put the messaging platform to good use will need to develop marketing and engagement strategies that promote such opt-in. </p> <h3>Paid features are likely coming</h3> <p>Last year, WhatsApp chief operating officer, Matt Idema, <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-tees-up-whatsapp-to-make-money-1504609201">told the Wall Street Journal</a> that the company eventually plans to launch paid features for businesses. Idema did not reveal what those paid features might be but it's logical to assume that, at least initially, WhatsApp will target paid features to larger enterprises that are more likely to pay for such features.</p> <p>While WhatsApp Business is designed for small businesses, WhatsApp is also allowing larger companies like KLM Royal Dutch Airlines to interact with users by integrating their own applications into the WhatsApp platform directly.</p> <h3>So should businesses jump on the WhatsApp train?</h3> <p>WhatsApp is an incredibly attractive platform for businesses. With more than 1.3bn users, it's larger than Instagram, which Facebook has developed into one of the most popular social platforms for marketers. WhatsApp users are also incredibly engaged, sending more than 55bn messages each day.</p> <p>With usage like that, it's no surprise that <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/68695-how-brands-are-using-whatsapp-for-marketing">some marketers are finding success using WhatsApp</a>. For instance, Morning Consult says that 80% of small businesses in India and Brazil that are on WhatsApp indicate that the messaging platform is helping them communicate with their customers and grow their businesses.</p> <p>Of course, WhatsApp is a messaging app, so it's not quite like Facebook and Instagram and shouldn't be treated the same way. It's also more popular in some countries than others, which will realistically influence just how successful any particular business will be on the platform.</p> <p>For instance, WhatsApp is far more popular in India than it is in the U.S. So the ability of businesses to gain from their use of WhatsApp Business will probably be based in part on the popularity of WhatsApp where they're located.</p> <p>While business use of messaging platforms in the U.S. and Europe isn't as robust as it is in, say, Asia, because of its size and Facebook backing, WhatsApp is a logical platform on which Western businesses can start experimenting with messaging and WhatsApp Business will make it easier for them to do that.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69725 2018-01-15T14:37:00+00:00 2018-01-15T14:37:00+00:00 Facebook's News Feed update is more significant than you know Depesh Mandalia <h3>Facebook is maturing</h3> <p>It's growing out of engagement and going back to its roots:</p> <blockquote> <p>“People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.”</p> </blockquote> <p>That's part of Facebook's... no... Mark Zuckerberg's vision statement. </p> <p>Facebook is moving from teen to adult stage. This means it's not just about how long people stay on the platform but how meaningful their time on the platform is.</p> <h3>Facebook primarily cares about you</h3> <p>That's the 'user' version of 'you'. The person that joined Facebook some time in the last decade, to explore connections with other people, keep in touch with friends, connect with like minded people and explore new opportunities.</p> <p>Go back to when Facebook first started serving ads. It wasn't a priority for Mark but a necessity for Facebook – in order to achieve this vision he needed to fund it. </p> <p>Ads were introduced, along with the IPO in order to accelerate Facebook's growth - they've delivered the world's largest and most unifying digital platform, bought fast growth  companies (for example Instagram, WhatsApp, Masquerade) and merged them into the Facebook family, they're trying to shift us from two dimensional digital social interactions to virtual worlds built on social principles, developing a system to connect more people in the most remote locations to the internet and much much more.</p> <p>All of these come back to the underlying goal; to create more meaningful connections with each other. With your friends, family and the human race.</p> <h3>Facebook subversion is a risk to humanity</h3> <p>Whoa there, big words right? If the Russian scandal is as true as we're to believe, then a few hundred thousands dollars in ad spend were enough to swing the US vote - through Facebook Ads. </p> <p>$100k or even $200k is not a big sum of money to spend on ads. To swing a nation of over 300 million with $200K - damn, I take my hat off to them. Truth is they must have been working with bigger budgets to have pulled this off but the fact remains that if true, a foreign government gained an upperhand by influencing an election through social media. </p> <p>The reality is this - over 2 billion are active on Facebook every single month (based on 2017 figures). There are over 7 billion people on Earth right now.</p> <p>If you want to influence entire populations where do you go? In the US alone there are between 100-200 million people accessing Facebook each month. That figure is even higher in India which has the largest number of active users on Facebook.</p> <p> That's true power, possibly more than any human or company should be responsible for?</p> <h3>With great power comes great responsibility and Zuckerberg knows this</h3> <p>It was reported that <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2018/01/05/mark-zuckerberg-is-right-to-explore-the-potential-of-the-blockchain-for-facebook/" target="_blank">Zuckerberg is looking into blockchain</a>. For those that don't know what blockchain is, its the core of what makes cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin so good. It decentralises power away from a bank, government or institution and therefore out of the control of higher powers. </p> <p>Reflect that back on a platform where nearly 30% of Earth's population dwell and you kind of realise how this power could be used for evil purposes and why, perhaps even Zuckerberg feels as sense of responsibility to remove himself and Facebook away from core parts of the service.</p> <h3>Facebook want us to stay connected with friends and family...</h3> <p>...to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.</p> <p>Can you honestly rate that statement with a thumbs up experience based on your newsfeed in the last 12 months? Facebook know exactly how to keep you hooked onto the platform. Those little red notifications on your phone and desktop (DOPAMINE DOPAMINE!), to knowing which content to serve when, Facebook knows so much about you. Millions upon millions of data points on when you access Facebook, when you respond best to different types of content, your interactions with people, pages, ads and groups, which websites you visit outside of Facebook (thanks to the tracking pixel all sites that run ads end up using) and lots of external data from providers such as Axciom and Epsilon which use various data collection methods to add even more insights into ad targeting.</p> <p>Yet despite all this, are you left feeling satisfied after using Facebook? It goes beyond engagement to positive impact. There's so much content to consume yet Facebook have recognised that passive, zombifying content is not what leads it towards it's goal of meaningful social interactions. There's an image of a post-apocolyptic world with people wedged into their sofa, drip-fed their food and pipes taking away the waste, glued 24/7 to their mobiles watching endless videos whilst the world around them collapses. Ok so we're some way off anything like the Matrix but just think how much brainpower has been lost across the world with meaningless use of Facebook.</p> <p>However, the news is not gloom and doom for everyone. Being a business owner that relies on Facebook like many of you, I take this news with a huge amount of optimism.</p> <h3>Place emphasis on Groups</h3> <p>Facebook made many moves in 2017 to focus on and elevate groups. It's not the big thing of 2018, it already was the big thing of 2017 and if you're not already thinking about how your brand needs to react to this then now's is definitely the time. Groups allow Facebook to provide users with virtual walls within which to have focussed meaningful interactions. It's a way of creating a secondary newsfeed if you like, and a place you can go to mingle with like minded people.</p> <p>The prominence of groups allow people to form their own tribes and followings, to move out of the reliance on the newsfeed for everything. Where once Pages were a way of creating a place for your fans to gather and show their appreciation, it was generally a monologue.  </p> <p>Groups allow those same people to instead create a dialogue, which creates a stronger affinity with your tribe and ensures people are kept both engaged <em>and</em> satisfied.</p> <p>There are rumours that ads will begin to appear inside of groups. Perhaps on the right hand side to begin with but it makes sense to monetise a piece of real estate that probably has far more dwell time and engagement than the newsfeed. What would this mean for your business? </p> <h3>Facebook is waaaay beyond a direct response channel</h3> <p>Don't treat Facebook only as a direct response channel, whether running organic or paid campaigns - comparing Adwords directly to Facebook ads, as is common, is not the right approach.</p> <p>Instead add value, build relationships and go back to marketing principles of taking customers through a funnel from awareness and consideration through to sale or lead. Facebook have a wide range of tools available to make that journey work, including a good offering of campaign objectives (from brand awareness to lead generation through to engagement and conversion), deep analytics tools with their newly updated <a href="https://analytics.facebook.com" target="_blank">Facebook Analytics</a> tool, new Events manager to improve tracking and a whole range of targeting and creative options.</p> <p>Want to find new audiences? Run a video ad to a fairly broad audience and retarget those that view a certain percentage. Want to improve email marketing response rates? Load your list into Facebook and ensure they see your message when you need them to. Facebook is a marketing behemoth and whilst the platform itself should be part of a wider portfolio of marketing channels, it still delivers huge revenues for many companies and will continue to do so in 2018.</p> <h3>Share content as a marketer that you would as a user</h3> <p>If you wouldn't be comfortable sharing your ads or organic updates with friends in your own newsfeed, it's probably not good enough for your Page, Group or ads as a business. There will always be loopholes and hacks to gain engagement but, as an example, the crackdown Facebook is taking <a href="https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/12/news-feed-fyi-fighting-engagement-bait-on-facebook/" target="_blank">demotion for engagement baiting</a> completely seriously.</p> <p>There aren't many magic formulas to Facebook beyond targeting the right audience and creating content relevant for them. It's easy to get caught up in the technicalities of bidding and optimisation but at the core of what Facebook are trying to deliver, it pivots around user satisfaction. Creating those meaningful connections for users on the platform should be a big consideration in your creative execution.</p> <h3>Pages are about engagement through community </h3> <p>How many Pages on Facebook create a monologue with no response or interaction? No amount of paid or unpaid marketing is going to help a page that is disconnected from their fans. Organic reach began dropping around 3 years ago for Pages and the latest update would seem to be a big stake in the heart. But that's not completely the case since the message from Zuckerberg mentioned bringing more content into your newsfeed from communities - these come in the form of Pages and Groups.</p> <p>If your page is highly themed and niche, like a specific sports team then it makes sense that it may be something you're interested in. However Facebook are looking for engagement from those page and so creating conversation and keeping users engaged will be more important than ever before for Page owners.</p> <p>There will still be Pages large and small able to create good levels of interaction for free but I expect this to become harder with the latest updates. If you weren't already paying to boost your Page content to all of your fans then now's definitely the time to start experimenting with this. Expect to pay increasing costs as the newsfeed becomes even more expensive than it already is. </p> <p>Except if you're in the fastest growing Facebook countries with cheap CPMs such as India, Brazil or Indonesia. Sure, they might be your ideal market now, but there are probably other monetisation opportunities still to be explored in emerging markets like this. </p> <h3>Facebook are putting extra effort into new product development</h3> <p>On the flipside there are a growing number of product placements Facebook are developing. For me, 2017 was more the year of Messenger and in particular, bots. There's still a huge untapped market for bots and its not too late to jump on the bandwagon, both to advertise on and through Messenger.</p> <p>Then there's Instagram, where Stories became the latest growth opportunity where many have seen success. With Facebook recently announcing plans to include WhatsApp in paid marketing (Facebook warmed it up recently with a click to WhatsApp test) and other products Facebook might be working on, it could mean more advertising placements for advertisers to take advantage of.</p> <h3>Advertising on Facebook can still be profitable in 2018</h3> <p>There are over 5 million advertisers on the platform with Q2 2017 spend coming in at $9.3 billion. With more advertisers its easy to fear-monger the demise of  paid Facebook ads. Yet Facebook are clearly telling you what you need to do:</p> <p><em><strong>High relevance score = lower auction costs = more opportunities to have your ad placed in front of your target user.</strong></em></p> <p>Facebook rewards advertisers for a great user experience. But now, you need to look beyond engagement and click bait, and look at aligning yourself with Facebook - add value, create meaningful content, be purposeful. That means using the full-suite of tools at your disposal on the Facebook platforn and complementing it at least with paid search and email to attract, engage and convert.</p> <p>The world is rapidly evolving, in tech and with our closeness as a human race; there is the realisation of just how intertwined we really are on this immensely large, yet universally small planet.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69721 2018-01-12T13:08:01+00:00 2018-01-12T13:08:01+00:00 Why the Facebook News Feed update might be the wake-up call that marketers need Matt Owen <p>Before I go any further, I’ll hedge my bets and throw in a caveat. This announcement came out while I was in bed last night, so these are very early thoughts. Expect a slightly unformed brain-dump rather than a social strategy. </p> <p>Whenever Facebook makes one of these announcements, marketers see it as something that needs to be fought. We need to combat these changes so we don’t lose out. </p> <p>This might be the wrong reaction. We should probably be thinking more closely about why they are making these changes, and what opportunities they represent.  </p> <p>In order to frame this, we probably need to think about the history of big brands on social platforms a little bit. </p> <p>I've been lucky enough to work with some very interesting businesses in all sorts of sectors, many of them with a genuine commitment to the customer at the heart of their activities. But even so, very few of them have really (and I mean *really*) been willing to 'do social properly' – to take a long time, and build a very strong audience with lots of interactions. This isn’t an attack by any means. Lots of businesses have legitimate reasons for this. In some cases, it just makes sense for social to be purely customer service. In others, social is just too extensive to maintain a solidified presence across markets. The list goes on. </p> <p>But it’s safe to say that a lot of organic reach declined because we just weren’t providing content that was ‘social’ enough. We swamped platforms with mid-level, bland stuff that led to content shock among audiences, so we had to start paying to reach them. But jumping the line with paid meant that we didn’t really have to stop and reconsider our content strategies.</p> <p>On top of this, many businesses just didn’t have the patience to slowly build their audience. They want ROI, and they want to know what it is right away, so again, we fell back on tried-and-tested advertising approaches. In many cases, we threw money at the problem, paying our way to the top. Essentially, we ‘cheated’, and got into people’s feeds by paying, rather than because they genuinely wanted us there. </p> <p>So what has this got to do with the latest update? Well, if all that paid content won't show up anymore, what will?</p> <p>Content shared by friends and family.</p> <p>We need to start making content that people not only want to share, but want to share with commentary. Inviting their friends and family to comment and discuss it. Think of this as something akin to 'Quote Tweet'. That's a form that (broadly speaking) indicates a far higher form of engagement than a simple retweet. It's the same with shares on Facebook.</p> <p>Does someone sharing your cool video really count as major engagement? What if they send it directly to a friend with "Hey bro, check out this - are you still looking for a new car/vacuum/grocery service? This is ideal" attached.</p> <p>So it's word-of-mouth marketing. It's genuine discussion and deep interest. It's real relevance. It's also influencer marketing, from the most powerful influencers in people's lives: Friends and family.</p> <p>This is tough to do, especially if you are a business that deals in low-interest categories. It's harder to get messaging across. But it is an interesting opportunity, because it means social (or at least, Facebook) could be moving away from the glossy sexiness of traditional advertising, and could possibly become something separate. In some ways, it might be comparable to SEO, another area where you have to really commit to strong content, over an extended timeline, if you want real, ongoing success.</p> <p>A lot of this decision is based around Facebook's desire to be A Trusted Source. To bury 'Fake News'. I'm on the fence about whether it's really up to platforms to police the nonsense spewed by users, but I'm certainly willing to admit that being able to spread claptrap about the Earth being flat isn't doing anyone any favours. In order to cut through, you are going to have to come up with content and messages that fulfil certain criteria:</p> <ol> <li>It should be verifiable. Research and sources need to back up your claims.</li> <li>They should be <em>damned</em> interesting. Not just to read, but to talk about.</li> <li>They shouldn't rely on paid to support them. They should spread on their own merits.</li> </ol> <p>Of course, there is the question of Facebook's huge ad revenue. It doesn't want that to go anywhere, so it is unlikely to be punishing people who throw hundreds of millions of dollars at it every year. So it's also quite possible that this is a way of pushing brands into using new formats. <a href="https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2017/08/introducing-watch-a-new-platform-for-shows-on-facebook/">Facebook Watch</a> for example, is a massive opportunity for brands with the budgets to produce it, and increasing this content will help make Facebook more of a true media platform, with a sideline in connections. Facebook is not a company that can be accused of not playing the long game. Users are all over video, so this would be a commercial strategy that makes sense.</p> <p>Overall I think this is a good thing. As brands we're often slow to adapt to challenges these changes throw at us, but overall this feels as though it'll mean no more hiding places for bullshit clickbait, and a 'less but better' approach to content.</p> <p>Or maybe we'll just be able to buy our way around it.</p> <p><strong>Subscribers can download Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide">Social Media Best Practice Guide</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-social-media-advertising">Paid Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide</a>.</strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69720 2018-01-12T11:01:44+00:00 2018-01-12T11:01:44+00:00 Facebook updates News Feed again: The detail Patricio Robles <p>Here's what marketers need to know.</p> <h3>Facebook wants to prioritize content “that spark[s] conversations and meaningful interactions between people”</h3> <p>Currently, Facebook looks at engagement metrics such as the number of Likes and comments a post receives when determining where that post will appear in users' News Feeds.</p> <p>These metrics, of course, can be gamed, so Facebook will now aim to predict which posts will lead to “meaningful” interactions between users. </p> <p>“These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to – whether that's a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook's News Feed chief, explained <a href="https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/01/news-feed-fyi-bringing-people-closer-together/">in a blog post</a>.</p> <p>While Mosseri didn't provide any details about how Facebook will predict which content is most likely to meet this criteria, it seems logical to assume that Facebook's updated News Feed algorithm will be more discerning.</p> <h3>Friends and family will come first</h3> <p>One thing Facebook did reveal is that it will be prioritizing content from friends and family over public content posted by brands and publishers. This shouldn't come as a surprise to marketers given that Facebook <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68022-what-marketers-need-to-know-about-facebook-s-latest-news-feed-update/">has been moving in this direction</a>, but if it wasn't apparent to brands before, it should be apparent now.</p> <h3>Brand Facebook Pages are far more likely to lose out</h3> <p>According to Facebook's Mosseri, “showing more posts from friends and family and updates that spark conversation means we’ll show less public content, including videos and other posts from publishers or businesses.”</p> <p>This means that brands active on Facebook “may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.”</p> <h3>But they can potentially mitigate the fall-out</h3> <p>Fortunately, brands that produce the right kind of content may have the potential to mitigate the effects of Facebook's update. Specifically, brands that produce content that users react to and that sparks interactions between friends could still see their content featured prominently in the News Feed, whereas those that publish content that isn't so engaging will likely suffer.</p> <p>As such, brands will want to evaluate the content they have been publishing to date through this lens and make changes if necessary to ensure the content they create for Facebook going forward aligns to what Facebook is looking for.</p> <h3>See First will grow in importance</h3> <p>Brands can still ensure that their Facebook posts are seen if users select the See First option in their News Feed Preferences. </p> <p>The challenge, of course, is that many if not most Facebook users don't know about these preferences and even if they do, it's likely that most brands won't have enough sway to convince their Facebook followers to set their preferences </p> <h3>Brands will likely be incentivized to pay for reach</h3> <p>To the extent that Facebook's News Feed update reduces the organic reach brands can achieve on the social network, expect some to respond by spending more money boosting their posts.</p> <p>Of course, with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68290-brands-too-dependent-on-facebook-organic-reach-study">organic reach</a> in what seems to be a perpetual state of decline, savvy brands will evaluate just how much it's worth paying to reach their audiences on Facebook.</p> <p><strong>Subscribers can download Econsultancy's <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide">Social Media Best Practice Guide</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-social-media-advertising">Paid Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide</a>.</strong></p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69716 2018-01-11T09:22:52+00:00 2018-01-11T09:22:52+00:00 Why fashion and beauty brands are still betting on chatbots Nikki Gilliland <p>So, is this investment in bots paying off, and if so – how come? Here’s more on why chatbots are proving a popular tactic for fashion and beauty brands.</p> <h3>Try before you buy</h3> <p>We’ve seen many brands launch chatbots in the hope that social media users will naturally want to interact and engage with them in one of their most frequently-used channels – i.e. Facebook. However, it’s clear that occupying this space is simply not enough, as many bots have failed to offer users anything of real value, or a reason to come back after an initial conversation. </p> <p>Take the Whole Foods bot, for example, which replies to emojis with recipe ideas. It's a bit of fun initially, perhaps, but is it enough to overtake regular search for serious recipe-seekers? Probably not.</p> <p>For fashion and beauty brands, chatbots can solve a much more tangible problem, and something that has always been a barrier for ecommerce. That is the issue of not being able to try a product before ordering it online. This is especially pertinent in the beauty industry, where matching to skin-tone and colour also comes into play. </p> <p>It is through the integration of <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69388-ar-is-on-the-brink-of-a-breakout-thanks-to-new-platforms-from-google-apple" target="_blank">AR</a> into chatbots that beauty brands are able to solve this, with bots able to help users find the right shade of lipstick or foundation based on a photo.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1590/estee_lauder_lip_artist_2.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="489"></p> <p>Estee Lauder’s lip artist chatbot is one decent example of this technology. By giving the option of a lip shade (and showing what it might look like in real life), the user is naturally prompted into making a purchase. This mirrors the in-store beauty experience, whereby trying out a product provides reassurance and instils desire.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1585/estee_lauder_lip_artist.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="540"></p> <h3>An online stylist</h3> <p>For fashion brands, the ability to ‘try before you buy’ is limited, with AR and clothing proving a much trickier combination. However, one way fashion and ecommerce brands can tap into consumer need is by offering personal styling tips and advice. This also means that brands can combine general customer service with personalised recommendations, which again aims to replicate what an in-store employee might provide.</p> <p>There are limitations to this of course, with success largely depending on how advanced or slick the technology is. The best examples tend to be those which – instead of offering users a general selection of products based on broad categories – help consumers to narrow down to one specific item.</p> <p>One example of this is the Levi’s Virtual Stylist, which asks users questions about size, preference of fit etc. in order to suggest the right pair of jeans.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1587/levis.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="537"></p> <p>Another benefit is that it uses True Fit technology, which is designed to increase the chances of retailers providing customers with the exact fit, which in turn helps to <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68477-how-six-online-retailers-are-combatting-wrong-size-returns" target="_blank">reduce the likelihood of returns</a>.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1586/Levi_s_true_fit.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="482"></p> <p>As well as providing helpful advice, the chatbot also effectively saves the user time, taking away the need to browse on the website or look around in-store. </p> <p>Does it matter that the bot is clearly a bot – i.e. that it does not sound like a human? If it offers something of real value, which the Levi’s example does, I don’t think users will linger over this disappointment for very long. </p> <h3>Better integration</h3> <p>One of the biggest barriers to chatbot success has been the fact that many consumers do not know they exist. Many brands have <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/68805-are-brands-failing-to-properly-promote-their-new-chatbots" target="_blank">failed to promote their bots</a>, instead relying on users to stumble across them on Facebook or seek them out themselves.</p> <p>Recently, however, Facebook has launched a new plug-in which could help to combat this issue. It allows businesses to integrate Messenger into their own websites, allowing users to interact with the chatbot on mobile, desktop, and tablet devices.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1589/Bodeaz_bot.JPG" alt="" width="780" height="388"></p> <p>In some ways, this negates why Messenger chatbots exist in the first place (with the idea that users spend most of their time in this channel), however it certainly means that bots will become less of an isolated medium, and users will become more aware of the service as they naturally browse on brand websites.</p> <p>Plus, it also means that users will be able to visit Messenger at a later date to re-read or continue the conversation. With regular live chat on brand websites, users are typically required to start over again if they click away or end the conversation. </p> <p>Lastly, Facebook has also taken steps to help users discover chatbots in its own platform, with the launch of a new ‘Discover’ tab within Messenger. By suggesting recommended brand chatbots, Facebook is clearly placing a renewed focus on the medium, hoping that users begin to look to bots for problem-solving rather than fun and entertainment. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1588/chatbot_discover.JPG" alt="" width="296" height="545"></p> <p>So, will other brands (other than fashion and beauty) start to invest as a result? Perhaps, but with aforementioned benefits of AR integration and personalisation – it’s clear why these industries in particular are still intent on reaching out to consumers in this way. </p> <p><em><strong>Related reading:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68732-what-makes-a-good-chatbot-ux/" target="_blank">What makes a good chatbot UX?</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69146-five-things-we-learned-from-launching-a-facebook-messenger-chatbot" target="_blank">Five things we learned from launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot</a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69682 2017-12-19T09:30:00+00:00 2017-12-19T09:30:00+00:00 Social media trends in 2018: What do the experts predict? Nikki Gilliland <p>For more, check out these additional resources:</p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide" target="_blank">Social Media Best Practice Guide</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/topics/social/" target="_blank">Social training</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-social-media-advertising/" target="_blank">Paid Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide</a></li> </ul> <h3>Trouble ahead for Twitter?</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://willfrancis.com/" target="_blank">Will Francis</a>, co-founder and creative director, Vandal:</strong></p> <p>I’m sad to say that 2018 may be the year Twitter’s cooling off turns into terminal decline. Their product increasingly lacks focus and is unwelcoming to newcomers, whilst stagnant user growth and internal issues remain signs of trouble ahead.</p> <p>The recent doubling of the character limit is a classic tech product death rattle, achieving nothing more than further blurring of the proposition.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1216/twitter.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="373"></p> <h3>Greater focus on messaging apps</h3> <p><strong><a href="https://joandcompany.co.uk/" target="_blank">Joanna Halton</a>, founder, Jo &amp; Co:</strong></p> <p>Chatbots/OTT messaging are coming of age. The last year or so has been all about the hype and innovators, but now businesses are seriously working out what value they can offer them and how they can incorporate them into their current systems and processes.</p> <p>The results may be less sexy than some of the fun campaigns we've seen previously, but big players are banking on the technology making them big savings, especially from a customer service perspective. Juniper research forecasts that that this technology could save businesses $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022, up from $20 million this year.</p> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/tompepperlinkedin" target="_blank">Tom Pepper</a>, head of marketing solutions UK, LinkedIn:</strong></p> <p>I think 2018 will bring something of an advent in the way marketers use messaging apps. We’ve already seen a growing trend for social media messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger - and even a rise in chatbots - but next year some of those tools are likely to be completely reinvented, giving brands a route to effectively communicate with audiences throughout every step of the marketing funnel.</p> <h3>Ephemeral content </h3> <p><strong>Will Francis:</strong></p> <p>As more people and brands adopt Instagram Stories and Snapchat, these fleeting photos and videos become increasingly the default language in digital. 2018 may be the year that ‘traditional’ social media posts start to feel stiff and corporate - just another marketing channel - whilst disposable content is where brand personality is crafted and true love and engagement earned.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1215/ephemeral_content.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="344"></p> <h3>Augmented Reality</h3> <p><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></p> <p>We're going to see a lot more from AR next year. Not just from the likes of Snapchat's dancing hot dog that got more than 1.5bn views. But brands starting to look how they can use the technology in a way that suits them and their customers.</p> <p>An example of this is BMW's latest foray where users could see what a new X2 would look like on their driveway without having to visit a garage. When the newest Apple devices incorporate special features and promote their ability to support a technology, like they have with AR, it's worth keeping an ear to the ground about where it's going.</p> <p><strong><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/depeshmandalia/" target="_blank">Depesh Mandalia</a>, founder and CEO, S M Commerce:</strong></p> <p>The two big waves to ride in 2018 are influencer marketing, which has seen a continued year on year rise in importance for brands, and potentially augmented reality taking video to the next level. Instagram and Snapchat are investing heavily in the video experience.</p> <p>This opens up opportunity for brand engagement in more novel ways, putting control into the hands of the end user to create new, rich, immersive experiences.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1214/snapchat_hotdog.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="359"></p> <h3>Platforms and publishers working together</h3> <p><strong>Tom Pepper:</strong></p> <p>Looking ahead to the coming year, I believe that we’ll continue to see social media platforms using assets like live streaming and original content to keep users hooked. In particular, I’m excited to see more partnerships formed between social media platforms and publishers.</p> <h3>Alignment with IoT</h3> <p><strong>Depesh Mandalia:</strong></p> <p>In an ideal world I'd love to see social media converging with the internet of things to create an intelligence that's connected across your life. Imagine asking Alexa or Google Home for ideas of what food to order for home delivery, and recommendations based on your social connections or what others have recently ordered in your local area.</p> <p>The potential implications are huge for both the end user and for brands. Perhaps this is where we may see AI converging right down the middle to give us faster, better options to the age-old question of what to eat tonight.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/1219/Alexa.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="405"></p> <h3>Better measurement</h3> <p><strong>Tom Pepper:</strong></p> <p>Measurement is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment but, beyond that, we really need to help marketers truly exhibit the great work they’re doing.</p> <p>I’d love to see marketers step outside their comfort zone and not just measure what they know through traditional marketing metrics, but focus their efforts on measuring business value too. Doing so will allow marketers to prove the impact their activity has on a business’s bottom line.</p> <h3>Variety within video</h3> <p><strong>Joanna Halton:</strong></p> <p>It shouldn't come as a shock to anyone, but video is going to continue to grow as a predominant medium across social and digital overall. The predictions vary, whether it's Cisco's 80% of internet traffic by 2019 or Mark Zuckerberg's estimation that 90% of Facebook's content will be video-based by 2018.</p> <p>Further supported by the launch of Facebook Watch and the success of Live. But either way, it's becoming the main way users prefer to consume content - especially mobile video. Marketers should consider that, according to the latest GlobalWebIndex report, mobile has now taken over as the primary way to access social media.</p> <p>Brands will need to work out how they can use the variety of different video formats effectively as part of their content marketing plans.</p> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:Report/4680 2017-12-11T17:35:00+00:00 2017-12-11T17:35:00+00:00 Social Quarterly: Q4 2017 <p>The <strong>Social Quarterly</strong> is a series of presentations by Econsultancy, which curate the latest trends, developments and statistics in social media. The reports focus on distilling the most recent data and trends, aiming to provide a guide to what's happening now in social media and what you should be keeping an eye on.</p> <p>Social media evolves rapidly, and the <strong>Social Quarterly</strong> provides an overview of the latest trends in the industry. It contains information which can be integrated into your own documents, allowing you to prepare a pitch or use internally at a moment's notice.</p> <p>The Social Quarterly examines the current social media landscape, trends and updates on various social platforms and considers what will happen next. Updated four times per year, it will help to quickly surface statistics and trends you can use and react to immediately.</p> <p><strong>This edition of Social Quarterly includes</strong> stats about ROI from talent-led influencer campaigns, <strong>Instagram's</strong> two new ways to make Stories last longer than 24 hours, a look at Facebook's <strong>Messenger Kids</strong> and five new ways to use <strong>visual search on Pinterest</strong>, among other innovations.</p> <p>Bringing to life data from the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-statistics">Internet Statistics Compendium</a> and the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/">Econsultancy blog</a>, the Social Quarterly is the best of social in an easy-to-digest format.</p> <p>The Social Quarterly will allow you to:</p> <ul> <li>Stay up to date with regular developments across multiple social media platforms.</li> <li>Present and pitch at short notice with clear and effective data.</li> <li>Pinpoint areas in which you want to find out more and use the linked Econsultancy resources and blog posts to do this.</li> <li>Spot potential ways your company could be using social media but is not currently.</li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69627 2017-12-04T09:30:00+00:00 2017-12-04T09:30:00+00:00 Battle of the Christmas chatbots: Why M&S beats Lego & ASOS Nikki Gilliland <p>The basic premise is nothing new – gift guides have been around on retail websites for years. However, they’re now moving into Facebook Messenger, allowing social users to engage and interact with brands and (theoretically) find the perfect gift.</p> <p>But are they actually any good? Here’s a run-down of three new Christmas bots for 2017, from ASOS, Lego, and M&amp;S.</p> <h3>ASOS’ Gift Assistant</h3> <p>With over 80,000 brands and tonnes of new products added to the site daily, shopping on ASOS can be an overwhelming experience. The new Gift Assistant bot is designed to combat this, asking users a series of questions in order to find the perfect gift for someone without spending hours fruitlessly browsing.</p> <p>The bot begins by asking who you are buying for, i.e. your family, best mate, or Secret Santa etc. It will then ask about budget and a few more general and seemingly random questions relating to the person’s character or interests. </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0816/ASOS_1.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="565"></p> <p>For example, it asked me what the name of my boyfriend’s autobiography would be, before giving me five (frankly non-applicable) answers. Of course, I had to pick one, so I ended up choosing “I run this show” because, well, he likes to go on a run every three to twenty weeks... </p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0817/ASOS_2.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="537"></p> <p>I soon realised that I wasn’t going to find the perfect gift for anyone, but I went through the motions anyway.</p> <p>The rest of the experience was equally unconvincing, with the bot largely steering me towards certain products rather than actually asking intelligent questions to inform creative recommendations.</p> <p>ASOS also seems guilty of stereotyping its audience here, boxing ‘millennials’ into number of predictable personality types. And while it could have come across as clever target marketing, the limited number of options means it just feels a bit lazy.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0818/ASOS_3.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="578"></p> <p>The design is a little disappointing, too. The images are large and overbearing in the messenger interface, and even when you’ve stipulated a category like womenswear, for example, the returned suggestions might show something else.</p> <p>While ASOS is clearly going for a retro vibe with its use of emoji, some icons on desktop Messenger are confusing, such as these ones which attempt to highlight how my best friend might like to spend her Friday night.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0819/ASOS_icons.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="336"></p> <p>Overall, I would have expected better from ASOS. The product recommedations I got seemed quite random, and I could easily do a much better job of finding a gift by using the main site's filtering tools.</p> <h3>Ralph by Lego</h3> <p>Lego is another <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69592-examining-lego-s-social-success-and-how-it-boosts-roi">social brand</a> that is using chatbot technology to help narrow down the gift-buying process. I was slightly baffled when I heard this, because I can understand it from the perspective of a multi-category retailer like ASOS, but just how many Lego products are there to narrow down?</p> <p>After giving the chatbot a go, it became apparent that perhaps the point of Ralph is more to help customers speed up the buying process. This is because, instead of manually researching what products are suitable for what age ranges, etc, Ralph does the leg work for you.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0820/Lego.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="533"></p> <p>The first question Ralph asked me was the age of the ‘builder’, plus whether they prefer to play with toys that create excitement, speed, are related to super-heroes etc. He also asked what kind of things the child likes to build, e.g. worlds and stories, wacky, or a ‘freestyle’ creation, before offering up a selection of four product recommendations.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0821/Lego_3.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="572"></p> <p>I was slightly disappointed that the entire process centres around just these two questions. Surely Ralph could have delved a little deeper into the personalities of our young Lego-loving companions? </p> <p>That being said, it offers a basic but functional chatbot overall, helping users perhaps unfamiliar with the brand to decipher between the dizzying array of Lego sets and figurines, and importantly, to determine what products are suitable for a specific age range.</p> <p>One stand-out incentive is the inclusion of a free-shipping code at the beginning of the conversation, which cleverly prompts users to carry out their purchase through the bot.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0822/Lego_4.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="572"></p> <h3>M&amp;S Christmas Concierge</h3> <p>Earlier this year, Facebook admitted that it had seen a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68868-facebook-scales-back-on-chatbots-what-does-it-mean-for-brands" target="_blank">70% failure rate</a> of brand chatbots on its platform. As a result, it launched the Facebook Creative Shop Christmas Hackathon – a competition for innovative use of Messenger at Christmas. Grey London’s ‘M&amp;S Christmas Concierge’ was one of the shortlisted entries – a Messenger chatbot designed to help users plan the perfect festive period. </p> <p>Unlike the ASOS example, which solely focuses on gifts, the concierge helps users find presents, plan food, and receive decorating and cooking tips.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0823/M_S_1.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="582"></p> <p>So, does it do as promised?</p> <p>Right from the get-go, I was impressed with the amount of choice presented to me. Do I want food tips or other Christmas inspiration? Going for food first, I was asked a few cooking-related questions, such as whether I want to be a top-chef or go for canapes or classics. The bot then returned a menu suited to my tastes, e.g ‘relaxing on Christmas Eve’ before the option to see all products or order from the M&amp;S site.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0825/M_S_5.JPG" alt=""></p> <p>The decision-process feels more natural here than on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68636-pizza-express-channel-4-and-tfl-three-examples-of-brand-chatbots/" target="_blank">other chatbot examples</a>, as there is no shoehorning users into specific (and often mis-judged) categories. You don't need to be either a novice or a top chef - there are suggestions to suit everyone. It also helps that if you’re given a menu or a tip that you don’t think is relevant, you can easily choose another or move on.</p> <p>One aspect I particularly like is the integration of video, which is not something I’ve often seen from chatbots before. When I asked for general Christmas tips, for instance, I was shown a video on how to create a festive wreath.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0826/M_S_7.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="567"></p> <p>Another good feature is that the concierge regularly reminds users to subscribe for the tips they are interested in, clearly hoping to open up regular communication with customers rather than offer a one-time only interaction. What’s more, it allows users to choose what time of day they’ll receive these messages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/0827/M_S_6.JPG" alt="" width="600" height="568"></p> <p>All in all, the concierge feels much more customer-centric than other chatbots I've tried. Instead of pushing consumers down a purchase funnel, it is much more geared around providing inspiration, and increasing the amount of time people interact with the brand.</p> <h3>In conclusion…</h3> <p>While Lego offers a slightly better chatbot experience than ASOS, I can’t help but think both might be in danger of falling into the 70% of failed Messenger bots. </p> <p>In contrast, with a focus on what users really want from this kind of brand interaction (rather than merely jumping on the bandwagon) M&amp;S has managed to create a far more engaging example. </p> <p>By widening it out to provide general Christmas inspiration, and also integrating video, it feels like a valuable and natural extension of the brand’s content strategy – not just a flimsy experiment. </p> <p><em><strong>Related reading: </strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69146-five-things-we-learned-from-launching-a-facebook-messenger-chatbot"><em>Five things we learned from launching a Facebook Messenger chatbot</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68732-what-makes-a-good-chatbot-ux/"><em>What makes a good chatbot UX?</em></a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68934-how-chatbots-and-ai-might-impact-the-b2c-financial-services-industry/"><em>How chatbots and AI might impact the B2C financial services industry</em></a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69623 2017-11-30T13:04:33+00:00 2017-11-30T13:04:33+00:00 How will Snapchat's redesign affect branded content? Patricio Robles <p>So Snapchat is reinventing itself and Wednesday announced a redesign that it clearly hopes will not only differentiate it from Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, but restart its growth engine.</p> <p>The redesign, however, looks to have a significant impact on brands as at the center of the redesign is a new separation between real people and professional content creators, including brands.</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nx1R-eHSkfM?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>In its announcement, Snapchat <a href="https://www.snap.com/en-US/news/post/introducing-the-new-snapchat/">explained</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Until now, social media has always mixed photos and videos from your friends with content from publishers and creators. While blurring the lines between professional content creators and your friends has been an interesting Internet experiment, it has also produced some strange side-effects (like fake news) and made us feel like we have to perform for our friends rather than just express ourselves.</p> </blockquote> <p>The company's solution: “[separate] the social from the media.” To do that, the new Snapchat will place Chats and Stories from users' friends on the left side of the app and Stories from others on the right side of the app:</p> <blockquote> <p>The new Discover page to the right of the camera includes Stories from publishers, creators, and the community. Your subscriptions live at the top, followed by other Stories you might be interested in watching. Over time, Discover will become uniquely personalized for you. While the Stories on Discover are personalized algorithmically, our curators review and approve everything that gets promoted on the page. We believe that this balance of human review and machine personalization provides the best content experience on mobile.</p> </blockquote> <h3>So how will brands be affected?</h3> <p>Already, there's speculation about the impact Snapchat's redesign will have on brands.</p> <p>One possibility is that brands could come out ahead, as the separation of friend content and professional content will help professional content stand out. As Marketing Land's Tim Peterson <a href="https://marketingland.com/snapchats-major-redesign-algorithmic-feed-means-brands-229329">observed</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>People's Stories feeds may have previously been so full of their friends' Stories that brands' Stories were overshadowed. Now friends' Stories will be separated into the Friends tab, and the Discover tab's algorithm will take into account whether a person follows an account when ranking its content. As a result, brands stand a better chance of being discovered.</p> </blockquote> <p>On the other hand, it's also possible that the separation will hurt brands if users don't frequent the new Discover page as often. In effect, Snapchat's redesign will reveal just how big a pull brand content is and will force brands to be on their content game.</p> <p>As Mary Beth Keelty, CMO of PMX Agency, <a href="https://digiday.com/marketing/marketers-need-know-snapchats-redesign/">told Digiday</a>, “It's really going to test publishers and brands to deliver that content experience, when users have the choice to stay within the Friends tab.”</p> <p>Doug Rozen, chief digital and innovation officer at OMD had a similar thought. “By aggregating all brand content into a separate experience, it is essentially putting pressure on all performing content to be high quality. This will accelerate the need for brands and agencies to address media and message at the same time,” he stated.</p> <p>Finally, to the extent that Snapchat's redesign makes it more difficult for brands to capture attention in the app, it could also have the effect of pushing brands to shift more of their Snapchat investment dollars to paid offerings like sponsored lenses and filters as well as its new Promoted Story ad format.</p> <p>Of course, paid ad offerings are only likely to remain attractive if Snapchat remains a social media star and that will largely depend on how users react to this new redesign. As such, brands will want to pay close attention to Snapchat in the coming weeks and months.</p> <p><em><strong>Further reading</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-best-practice-guide">Social Media Best Practice Guide</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/paid-social-media-advertising">Paid Social Media Advertising Best Practice Guide</a></li> </ul> tag:www.econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69609 2017-11-27T15:00:00+00:00 2017-11-27T15:00:00+00:00 Should brands be worried about the possible repeal of net neutrality rules? Patricio Robles <p>While the most talked about concerns relate to consumers and bandwidth-intensive services like Netflix and YouTube, some are suggesting that the changes should worry brands. For instance, Joshua Lowcock, the U.S. executive vice president and chief digital and innovation officer at agency UM, told AdWeek that the changes could impact ad prices and viewability.</p> <p>AdWeek's Marty Swant <a href="http://www.adweek.com/digital/marketers-fear-the-fccs-plan-to-kill-net-neutrality-could-increase-advertising-prices/">explained</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>Lowcock said brands might have to start paying a premium for quality bandwidth or be pressured to go with one media company owned by an ISP versus another that isn't.</p> <p>For example, in an environment where net neutrality is absent, an ad being served on a website might not load at a reasonable speed for a consumer, prompting them to skip ahead and therefore messing up a campaign's metrics.</p> </blockquote> <p>Is this scenario realistic? It's hard to say.</p> <p>Obviously, sans net neutrality rules, ISPs will have far more leeway to experiment with and implement different service models, but that certainly doesn't mean that they will or that they'll take their efforts to hypothetical extremes.</p> <p>For their part, in the wake of protests aimed at convincing regulators to keep net neutrality rules, major ISPs have argued that they will still have to adhere to rules that demand transparency and forbid practices that are anti-competitive or deceptive. And one of the country's largest ISPs, Comcast, has made its own net neutrality promise to customers.</p> <p>Not surprisingly, many people don't trust ISPs and there are certainly arguments to be made that some level of mistrust is warranted.</p> <p>But back to brands and the net neutrality concerns specific to them. Let's look at two of the biggest.</p> <h4>Competition and innovation</h4> <p>According to AdWeek's Swant, “With user experience and online accessibility a top priority for many brands, creating a barrier where some larger brands can afford top speeds and others can't could create even more barriers for challenger brands or startups to compete.”</p> <p>This isn't a totally illegitimate concern. But the reality is that challenger brands and startups already face significant barriers. The <a href="https://www.econsultancy.com/blog/69381-the-google-facebook-duopoly-extends-to-mobile-apps-what-can-marketers-do">duopoly of Google and Facebook</a> is stronger than ever and absent a regulatory crackdown, is only likely to get stronger. Facebook, for its part, <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/facebooks-aggressive-moves-on-startups-threaten-innovation/">has proven its formidable ability to thwart competition</a> from startups through acquisition or copycatting.</p> <p>Other dominant companies, including Amazon and Apple, have also proven they're capable of doing the same.</p> <p>While this doesn't mean that brands should pretend net neutrality is a non-issue without the potential for impact, it's also important to recognize that forces hostile to competition and innovation are already at work and these are creating significant challenges that aren't merely hypothetical. </p> <p>If the brand world is going to fret about the repeal of net neutrality and its potential impact on competition and innovation, it would also be wise to consider how it's funding the very forces that are already diminishing competition and innovation in the digital economy.</p> <h4>Ad performance</h4> <p>When it comes to concerns about ad performance – the aforementioned concern that “an ad being served on a website might not load at a reasonable speed for a consumer, prompting them to skip ahead and therefore messing up a campaign's metrics” – there's an irony that shouldn't be lost on brands: it's their digital advertising that has played a large role in the degradation of web page performance.</p> <p>Tired of ads that bog pages down and interfere with user experience, consumers have embraced <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68502-three-creative-ways-publishers-and-advertisers-are-combating-ad-blockers/">ad blockers</a>, creating a crisis that has even forced the world's largest digital ad player, Google, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69326-google-to-start-warning-sites-about-bad-ad-experiences">to take action</a>.</p> <p>Frankly, consumer dislike (or even disgust) for advertising is the biggest threat brands face and if brands are really concerned about ad performance, there are actions they can and should be taking today. </p> <h3>So what should brands do about net neutrality?</h3> <p>At the end of the day, the possible repeal of net neutrality rules is important and brands will want to make sure they're voicing their concerns and trying as best they can to protect their interests.</p> <p>But they should also recognize that the fight over net neutrality is but one battle, and they have other opportunities to promote and defend the principles behind some of their biggest net neutrality concerns.</p>