By Adam Fraser
It was probably the single most important marketing (if not business) decision I have made. I had been a passionate podcast consumer for many years – it remains today my number one method for learning and staying abreast of current news and trends – but the plunge into podcast production was absolutely a leap into the dark. No media experience, no audio production experience, no interviewing experience….
Fast forward approximately two and a half years and I have just surpassed 120 podcast episodes. I have met and interviewed some incredible, inspirational and extremely knowledgeable people. Some of the brightest minds on the planet when it comes to all things social, digital and martech. I have learned a huge amount along the way with my audience.
So Why Write an eBook on Social and Digital?
The podcasts had thrown up so many astute and interesting points in relation to the strategic landscape of social media, digital marketing and marketing technology.
I kept thinking if I could blend all the insights from all episodes in one spot (metaphorically – no videos of iPhones being crushed here) – what were the key take outs? The headlines and must know points? The exec summary of 120 episodes of 45-50 mins each?
The seed of “Podcast Gems” was born. A “coffee table” style eBook. Key insights presented in a visually captivating way across a range of topics. Straight text podcast transcripts would be hard to digest for even the hardiest of social media analyst but cool pictures, infographics, break out quotes, bullet point summaries – sounds good!
Spoiled for Choice
When you have been lucky enough to have the who’s who of social media and marketing thought leaders on your podcast – how on earth do you pick 5 to base a book on?
Not easy. Not easy at all. A nice problem to have but still very difficult!
In the end, I plumped for expertise by theme to offer a breadth of insight across different social and digital topics, namely:
- Customer retention marketing – Joseph Jaffe, author of Flip and Funnel
- Marketing technology and a world of 5,000 marketing tools – Scott Brinker, author and writer at chiefmartec.com
- Influencer Marketing – Scott Monty, former head of social at Ford
- Social Media Landscape – Jay Baer, best-selling author and key note speaker
- Social Customer Service – Dan Gingiss, author of “Winning at Social Customer Care”
Why Read This Book?
- It looks incredible! Beautiful imagery, visually focused, digestible takeaway points.
- The deepest thinking and insight from genuine thought leaders and subject matter experts in the social media and digital marketing sectors.
- Punchy conclusions across a breadth of topics.
- A great way to understand current trends, key insights and best practice tips for the social media and digital marketing landscape in 2017.
Some Teaser Quotes
To whet your appetite, some examples of the great insights in the book from each of these leading thinkers:
“Twitter should be acquired by the United Nations.”
“You can’t use the absence of perfection to justify becoming a Luddite!”
“Facebook is the swiss army knife of tools.”
“Great content succeeds, mediocre content does not.”
“People complaining about your brand is not something to be scared of, it’s something to learn from.”
How Do I Get Podcast Gems?
I am glad you asked J.
Whilst perfectly readable on a phone, the best experience with the Flip Book digital format will be on your desktop or laptop.
Either way, the book can be downloaded via http://echojunction.com.au/ebook-3/
A Few Words of Thanks
I was really just the conductor here….
Huge thanks to the 5 wonderful podcast guests who collaborated on this project with me, and to the brilliant marketing team at BNY in Sydney who managed the design and production process.
I hope you find value in the book…
By Adam Fraser
Snapchat continues to experience a bumpy ride as a listed company.
As I previously wrote, it disappointed the market with its first quarterly results as a listed company. This pattern continued as it delivered its second set of quarterly numbers – the already troubled share price fell a further 17% and now sits well below the initial IPO price.
If you want to dive into the details, you can check the detailed financials, investor presentation and press release around the quarterly numbers. If you want a quick summary, the 10 key takeaways from the Q2 2017 results are below:
- Daily Active Users (DAUs) grew to 173m from 166m in the prior quarter (4% growth) and 143m a year ago (21% growth).
- Average revenue per user was US$1.05 compared to $0.90 in the last quarter and $0.50 a year ago – this is well below the levels achieved by Facebook.
- Revenue for the quarter was US$182m compared to $150m last quarter and $72m a year ago.
- The user and revenue growth was under the level expected by the market, leading to the negative response in the share price.
- Net loss was $443m for the quarter, compared to a massive US$2.2bn in the prior quarter – note this figure was inflated by the expense associated with stock issues related to the IPO.
- Instagram stories reported in the latest Facebook announcement, that it had 250m users, showing the extent to which Instagram is successfully taking Snapchat head on via imitation of its key features.
- USA DAUs were 75m, representing 43% of global users, a ratio that has been broadly consistent for the past 12 months
- The USA, however, drove 81% of global revenues, showing the more rapid advertiser adoption in the company’s home location compared to the rest of the globe.
- Capital expenditure for the quarter was $19m, broadly consistent with the past 12m when the quarterly amount has varied between $16m and $20m.
- Adjusted EBITDA (removing the impact of stock based compensation) was a loss of US$194m for the quarter, the highest quarterly loss in the period reported (which went back to Q2 2016).
Snapchat is learning what Twitter has learned over recent years – analysts will focus obsessively on short term user growth almost to the exclusion of every other metric, making long term strategic planning a challenge to execute in a listed company environment.
Still valued at US$15bn whilst significantly loss making, Snap Inc is learning that when investors price perfection, even small disappointments will lead to the harshest of share price responses.
Snapchat is growing its user and revenue base. But its losses are also growing. And the glare of the public markets can be an uncomfortable environment to innovate, evolve and pivot whilst also attempting to drive profitability.
Snapchat has by no means completely lost its luster and its loyal, engaged millennial audience remains highly attractive to marketers. However competition from Facebook and Instagram is fierce, and much of its IP has been easily imitated. The road ahead does not look to be an easy one as Snapchat attempts to justify what remains a massive valuation relative to its actual financial performance.
By Adam Fraser
Twitter has delivered its Q2 2017 results, and the green shoots of hope evident last quarter seem to have disappeared pretty quickly.
Whilst the financial results have always been weak, most significantly, monthly user numbers plateaued after increasing by an encouraging 9m users in the prior quarter. The market didn’t like what it saw, however, with the share price declining by around 13% on release of the results.
If you want to dive into all of the detail, you can check the financials, investor presentation, shareholder letter and investor conference call. If you want the key highlights here are 10 key takeaways:
- Monthly active user (MAU) numbers were stable at 328m in line with the last quarter and 313m a year ago (5.3% growth); this is the biggest concern for analysts. Despite the President of the USA using Twitter as his primary means of communication,
- 21% of Twitter’s MAUs (68m) are based in the USA; this is an increase from 67m in the prior quarter, noting most of the user growth is coming internationally
- Attempts to drive greater engagement and more regular usage on the platform are working, with Daily Active Users growing at 12% on prior year v 14% last quarter and 7% in Q3 (interestingly the company does not reveal the absolute number of DAUs and actively refused again to release this in the face of formal queries).
- Total ad engagements increased 95% year-over-year, driven by a continuing mix shift toward video ad impressions as well as higher click-through rates, as a result of better targeting and ad relevance
- Historically, a significant Achilles heel for Twitter has been trolls and abuse on the platform. The company noted it had continued to make meaningful progress in this area. now taking action on 10X the number of abusive accounts every day compared to the same time last year. This very important.
- Revenue at $573m was up 4.6% from the prior quarter of US$548m and, more significantly, 4.8% lower than a year ago when ad revenue was $602m. The revenue trends are not convincing
- The breakdown of revenue for the quarter showed 85% of revenue coming from advertising and 15% (versus 14% in the prior quarter) coming from data licensing/other (the ‘big data’ aspect has huge potential for Twitter).
- Twitter made a loss of US116m for the quarter but also discloses “adjusted EBITDA which showed a profit of US$178m after adjusting for stock based compensation, depreciation and amortisation Twitter ended the quarter with US$4.1bn in cash so despite the regular “Twitter is dying” headlines we see, the business is solidly funded.
- Live video remains a key focus. In Q2 Twitter announced approximately 40 live-streaming partnerships, including two 24×7 networks and 10 international deals, extending their total live streaming content deals to well over 200 premium content partners across Live video and Amplify
- Video remained Twitter’s largest and fastest-growing ad format in Q2, reflecting strength in their First View ad format and in pre roll and mid-roll In-Stream Video Ads. Twitter also made a very strong debut at the 2017 Digital Content NewFronts
Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO said “We’re strengthening our execution, which gives us confidence that our product improvements will continue to contribute to meaningful increases in daily active usage. We’re also encouraged by the progress we’re making executing against our top revenue generating priorities as we focus on making Twitter the best place to see and share what’s happening, where you can see every side and perspective.”
Jack has had a positive impact since returning as CEO, delivering a tighter strategy and a more communicative approach to market updates. The absence of monthly user growth is the key negative (especially in the context of the massive earned media from the US President’s ongoing use), whilst of course large, continuing quarterly losses. Whether Twitter can convert its undoubted public utility and societal importance into a viable profitable business still remains to be seen.
By Adam Fraser.
Another stellar set of quarterly results from Facebook. The juggernaut powers on based on pretty much any metric you can look at.
If you want to dive into detail, you can find the detailed financials, investor presentation and management conference call. For those without the time to digest all of this, here are 10 key soundbites from the results:
- Monthly active users have reached 2.01bn from 1.93bn last quarter (3.6% growth) and 1.71bn a year earlier (17.2% growth)
- Daily active users hit 1.32bn from 1.28bn last quarter (3.2% growth) and 1.13bn a year earlier (17.5% growth)
- Instagram now has over 700m monthly users, with over 250m using the Instagram Stories feature daily (making it larger than Snapchat Stories). Interestingly WhatsApp Stories also has more than 250 million people using it daily
- There are now over 70 million businesses on Facebook and over 15 million Business Profiles on Instagram.
- Video continues to increase in importance as a medium. COO Cheryl Sandberg confirmed “More video is being shared and watched on Facebook than ever before”
- Total revenue was $9.3bn (exceeding market expectations) versus $8.0bn in the prior quarter (a massive 16% increase) and $6.4bn a year earlier (44.8% growth) – generating a net profit of $3.9bn (reminder – in a single quarter!)
- Facebook has reasonably balanced global spread with just under 50% of revenue coming from USA and Canada, a ratio that has remained reasonably consistent over the past 4 quarters
- Average revenue per user increased by over 11% in one-quarter, hitting $4.73 from $4.23 last quarter and $3.82 a year ago; note revenue per user is significantly higher in the USA/Canada ($19.38) compared to Europe ($6.28) and the Rest of The World ($1.48)
- Facebook ended the quarter with a cool $35bn in cash – enough to buy Twitter approximately three times over
- Some interesting random stats: Facebook has over 20,000 employees, 43% higher than a year ago; both Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have over 1.2bn active users; mobile ad revenue is 87% of total ad revenue; Facebook data on a brand campaign showed 6 second ads outperformed 15 and 30 second ads in terms of brand metrics; there are 5m advertisers on Facebook and 1m on Instagram.
Note, mobile usage of Facebook has now become so prevalent Facebook no longer separately discloses mobile users – whilst it did, the number of users accessing via a mobile device was consistently over 90%
An interesting quote from Mark Zuckerberg on AI:
“AI can help you figure out who will be most interested in [an ad]. You don’t even need to target now because AI can do it more precisely and better than we can manually. This makes the ads you see more relevant for you and more efficient for businesses.”
With revenue growth, user growth, strong margins and consistent cash flow, this is another incredible set of quarterly results.
Possible clouds on the horizon? Ad revenue is 98% of total revenue hence there is no diversity in income types. if ad blocking technology ever penetrated Facebook’s walled garden this clearly would be a massive threat to Facebook’s earnings.
Privacy stoushes always loom large but never seem to bite.
For now, it’s all blue skies.
By Adam Fraser
That new Snapchat feature, Instagram’s latest ad product, Twitter’s user numbers last quarter. Etc Etc. The media focus in the marketing space seems to be dominated by short term results and current tactics.
It can be hard to see the wood for the trees and elevate to see longer term trends and strategic perspectives.
Hence I really enjoyed the recent Medium blog post from Bob Knorpp on “The Fallacy of Digital Marketing as a Discipline”. It’s a reasonably short piece (unlike the excellent long form Doc Searle’s article on AdTech that I also recently recommended), but it is thoughtful and insightful around the challenges digital marketing faces, and the reasons why these have transpired over the past 2 decades. My favourite line (I am sure with programmatic in mind) is; “we’ve traded in meaningful interactions for nuclear-bomb levels of reach and frequency.”
One of Bob’s points on why digital has failed affirms a key thread in my recent podcast with Jason Kint of Digital Content Next – in the world of digital marketing we seem to have gravitated to a direct marketing flashing neon Vegas style “buy now” approach and forgotten about the brand building techniques used in more traditional media like TV, radio, print and outdoor. As Bob says; “marquee brands have been conditioned to treat digital as they used to treat coupon circulars, buying as a commodity, rather than as a considered brand-building choice on the now-dominant media.”
In the chaos and rapid change of social, digital and martech, a great 5 minute read to elevate up and consider longer term trends and the strategic landscape.
By Emily Kucukalic
Everyone has a digital device at their fingertips, 24/7 in 2017. This has translated to consumers increasingly demanding more customised, personalised products, services and experiences – delivered straight to them. While this leads to challenges for marketers to think of new and innovative ways to cut through and have impact, it is the PERFECT time to start thinking about your personal brand.
Brand engagement is more than the number of Likes a page receives. It is how well the brand is perceived as a whole. According to Forbes.com, the proliferation of digital devices and the ability to access information, products and services in an instant has led to consumers feeling more empowered and bolder when it comes to making choices.
So, if all roads lead to greater emotional engagement and more individual choices, what better way to emotionally engage with someone than person to person? At some point in any business dealing, customers buy from people; either in person, over the phone, via word of mouth or what image they personally project by buying that product.
Albert Mehrabian (Professor Emeritus UCLA) conducted a study on people’s power to influence others in the 1960’s that has never been disproven. In short it states that your ability to influence people is based on the following: 7% what you say; 38% your voice as you say it & 55% what you look like saying it. Be aware of all of these elements and understand that people are increasingly looking for things that stand out from the crowd. Now is the time to focus on your personal brand!