When Instagram announced the removal of likes on the platform, we mourned the easy access we had to an influencer’s top line engagement metrics; concerned about what it would mean for social media and influencer marketing.
Three months on, Facebook has now decided to trial the removal of likes in Australia. This is a bold decision for the social media giant who made the ‘thumbs up’ a globally recognised symbol of online popularity and approval.
When Facebook announced the major platform change on Monday, the social media giant cited similar motivations that led Instagram to remove the like count. Mia Farlick, the ANZ Director of Policy at Facebook said, ‘the test aimed to help people focus less on likes and more on telling a story’. From this, we can conclude that it’s a way of harnessing the social elements of the platform and shifting away from the popularity contest that negatively affected the mental health of many Australians.
Three months on, we also believe this change has also benefitted the world of social media and influencer marketing.
Here are 3 reasons why we should be celebrating the removal of likes:
We can measure what matters
While likes are a great way to measure how engaged your audience is with your content, it has been known to overshadow more important metrics, like driving traffic to a website. Now that this ‘vanity’ metric is hidden, it gives us the opportunity to explore other measurement options that are likely more important for a client’s bottom line.
It could lead to more authentic content from influencers
The removal of likes allows influencers to experiment with new types of creative that break away from highly curated feeds and ‘polished’ content. This could be beneficial for brand collaborations by making their endorsements carry more weight due to the influencers not being so dependent on the validation of likes.
It could create more genuine communities
By removing the like count, we can use social media platforms to create more conversation. This means encouraging comments and creating a space where a consumer’s opinions are valued. Perhaps this change will entice consumers to write a comment or send a DM instead of hitting the like button, creating genuine consumer-brand relationships.
At this stage, we don’t know if the removal of likes will become the platform’s standard operating procedure. But we’re hoping this change is here to stay.
At Keep Left, we don’t necessarily buy into the stereotype that PRs love to a throw a party – but we aren’t against a night of New Zealand wine, if it help us tell our story.
Last month, we celebrated the start of winter with a collaborative event highlighting Kathmandu’s first ski range, Styper and Tourism New Zealand’s 2019 ski season with more than fifty media, influencers and key stakeholders in attendance.
Held at the Kathmandu Bondi Junction store, the launch event, resulted in an initial social media reach of 350,000+ and over 20 pieces of social and media coverage, with editorial coverage still pending throughout the winter.
Sydney lifestyle, travel and parenting media across online, TV and radio were in attendance including The Daily Mail, Lifestyle.com.au, Sunrise and NOVA along with freelance travel writers and influencers like Brittany Hockley, Shaun Birley and Matt Doran.
The launch of the Styper range could have been achieved with a standard sampling campaign, but we decided to take it to the next level with Tourism New Zealand and use it an an opportunity to speak face to face with travel and lifestylemedia– you only get to launch your first snow range once! And what better way to take on the amazing NZ ski slopes than by wearing gear tried and tested by experts on the very same mountains.
In terms of event management, everything as far as the eye could see was inspired by the mountains of New Zealand.Guests were treated to authentic New Zealand wine and a grazing table created by chef Justin North.
For entertainment, there was live music from New Zealand artist, Brendon Hui and an open photobooth encouraging guests to photograph themselves in the New Zealand ski fields wearing Styper gear.
Speakers at the event included Kathmandu Ambassador Nomadasaurus, Darren Barry from Kathmandu and Andrew Waddel from Tourism New Zealand.
All guests also went into the running to win two return flights to New Zealand with Virgin Australia and a four-day lift pass to the mountain of their choice or a Kathmandu Styper Ski Pack.
Every attendee also left with a gift bag with Kathmandu product. Now that sounds like a party we can get behind.
While we remain hopeful that the digital outlet will find its feet, we must ask ourselves: where would our media landscape be without mass listicles, click-bait quizzes and meme-driven blog posts?
And, should we have to live without them, how can we mould our content strategies to suit the incoming status quo – now and over the next few years?
Other free digital outlets are showing similar cause for concern, with Conde Nast rumoured to be putting up paywalls on all their US titles, and free online news sites taking knocks in all corners.
In the wake of these changes, brands need to be able to bring understanding of their audiences in-house and avoid simply imitating trending media formats – in other words, learn to stand on their own two feet. Here, a renewed focus on what the people want, and how best to give it to them, is imperative.
A few things we learnt from the red giant
BuzzFeed’s growth story is a real crash course in digital disruption, altering their offerings and constantly improving their content for search optimisation and mass engagement. They played into the waiting thumbs of young audiences around the world. What do the people want? Cat GIFs. What are the people going to get? You guessed it. Cat GIFs.
At some level, they helped to invent a new media landscape: the biggest-scale digital model for revenue production they could come up with. And then they kept evolving.
They branched out to feed the outliers, with more sophisticated platforms like the Pulitzer Prize-nominated BuzzFeed News. They saturated the social media space – when Facebook became all about the video, they did too, and very effectively at that. And they partnered with brands to create bespoke native advertising, providing an “authentic” means of talking to millennials when brands didn’t know how to.
Their agility has been remarkable, hinged on a dedication to understanding their audiences’ interests. But with so many shifts in consumer perception, brands can’t just outsource their audiences to the big players.
Know your audience, and how best to speak to them
These days, in a world of increasing automation, algorithms and fake news, consumers are craving the one thing that we won’t likely lose in a hurry: genuine humanity. Authentic stories told by real people that really connect and provide value to the reader are the way forward in a market where consumer trust is hard-won and cut-through is nigh on impossible.
According to Danone CEO Emmanuel Faber, millennial influence is a key driver of this shift: “They want committed brands with authentic products. Natural, simpler, more local and if possible small, as small as you can.”
In fact, a study showed that big brands in the US were losing $22bn market share over only five years owing to the audience’s favour of small companies. And VICE’s new youth survey The Big Shrink surveyed 3,700 16-38 year-olds, finding that avoiding stereotypes and hero-ing credibility and authenticity is the only way forward for media in the 21st century.
So, yes. The “Which Melancholy Vegetable Matches your Personality?”quiz will always be great for a mindless scroll on the morning tram commute (I’m a ‘downcast cabbage’ if anyone is interested). But in a world now over-saturated with this kind of viral celeb-centred content, and fraught with global disaster, readers are beginning to want to know more about real stories and real value closer to home.
Blended, owned content strategies are the future
The news of BuzzFeed’s potential diminishment in the market signals a need for organisations to build blended content strategies, where their owned assets (such as a website, content hub or, god forbid, a database) live at the centre of their publishing priorities.
This is firstly because we clearly can’t rely on the digital media gods (Vice, Vox, Refinery and more) to provide their services in perpetuity, or rely on the fact that their model will be relevant in perpetuity. They are as prone to market weakness as anyone is, and shouldn’t be leant on in place of internal innovation.
But it’s also because a healthy mix of owned and quality earned media will prove more sustainable in the long run, and paint a more holistic view of your brand from the outset. By tapping into your own amplification and distribution channels, you can engage your (well-defined) audiences on a more intimate level amongst their daily highs and lows to truly create resonance and connection – rather than relying on a third party or superficial templated posts.
Owning and creating your own brand of storytelling with authentic, engaging and actually interesting content that caters to the right audiences, is a sure way to weather the digital storm.
Change is inevitable, but real stories last forever.
Keep Left has been awarded the creative and content account for Coles Local, an exciting new retail offering from Coles Supermarkets.
Coles Local is designed to inspire a love of quality food and provide a tailored, in-store culinary experience for the local community.
The first Coles Local store opened in Melbourne’s Surrey Hills on 13 November. The smaller format supermarket features 100% Australian grown fresh fruit, vegetables, meat and fresh seafood. It also boasts an in-store chef and exclusive products from speciality and artisan suppliers such as Meatsmith, MoVida, Brunetti and Laurent, with a strong focus on the environment and local community.
Peta Allsopp, Head of Local & Special Projects Marketing at Coles, said the support of a creative and content agency that understood storytelling was essential to help differentiate the Coles Local brand in Australia.
“Coles Local is here to give local communities the convenience of a supermarket, with the character and experience of a speciality store and to make shopping, cooking and eating a joy.”
“We were looking for an agency with a strong strategic, creative and digital skillset to help us launch this new brand in Australia and were impressed with Keep Left’s integrated offering.”
Keep Left’s scope of work includes creative and content production, including OOH and print advertising, bespoke magazine content and design, hero video production, always-on social creative and management of biddable media across Facebook and Instagram.
Keep Left Acting CEO, Caroline Catterall, said working with Coles Local had provided a great opportunity to road test the agency’s new in-house kitchen studio.
“The Coles Local magazine shoot gave us the chance to put the space to the test and I’m pleased to say the feedback from the photographers and stylists was very positive,” said Catterall. “It’s a real bonus to have a fully-functioning kitchen in our Melbourne head office that we can use for recipe shoots, flat lays and to generally produce high quality food creative at a competitive price.”
With a concentrated media landscape, it’s never been more important to take an integrated approach to client storytelling.
Since formally expanding our services to include content production two years ago, we have met a number of talented creatives who visually bring our client’s key messages to life. One of those artists is Kate Tartsus, an experienced video producer with a passion for visual storytelling and multimedia production.
Today we took Kate away from the computer to talk about the power of animated storytelling and how businesses can use this tool to effectively communicate complex, boring or sensitive ideas in a visually engaging way.
Tell us a little bit about yourself Kate
Where do I begin…I was born in Estonia and moved to the UK in my early twenties to complete a Public Relations degree at University of the Arts. When I graduated, I started working as a film publicist at a global communications agency in London. This is where I discovered my passion for visual communications. The company I was working for helped me enrol into several courses and before I knew it, I was a qualified video producer who knew she had found her calling.
What is animated storytelling?
It’s a design technique that puts storytelling at the heart of animation. You can tell a story by shooting a live action piece or create a whole world from scratch, using animation. Shooting live action is fun, but sometimes there are elements that are totally out of your control such as lighting, location availability and talent. With animation, you can design, light and animate characters however you choose.
While each method has its own challenges, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing your vision come to life after hours of toying around with different character rigs. You have complete creative control of how a message is visually portrayed which means everything is there by design and nothing is left to chance. For a brand it means that every character move, every bit of typography, colour or shape is intentional, and part of a bigger picture.
Why should businesses embrace animated storytelling?
We have used animated storytelling initiatives for a variety of our corporate and consumer clients over the past 6-12 months. It is a great option when there are elements of your video that you cannot capture using live action such as when you are making a forward prediction or want to communicate a futuristic concept. It can also be effective when you want to say something sensitive in a way that your audience can easily digest.
When done well, I believe animated storytelling adds an extra layer of satisfaction to a viewer’s experience.
Orthodontics Australia by ASO explainer animation
What are your tips for animation?
The most important part of your animation is the script. At Keep Left, we work with a team of very talented copywriters who perfect this part of the workflow before production begins. For a designer, it can be tempting to jump right in and start devising visuals, but you need to make sure you have a strong, clear and logical script first.
Another thing I always say to our clients is to make sure they focus on one or two key messages. When it comes to visual communication, you don’t want to bombard your viewer with superfluous information because they won’t be able to grasp what you are really trying to say. As a rule of thumb, stick to one or two key messages per 30 seconds of visual information.
Something that often gets overlooked when it comes to animation is the quality of sound. I recommend hiring a professional audio producer as having someone who is specialised in sound can make a real difference and elevate the creative work.
FlickPay explainer animation
Any final words?
Animation brings together the strengths of multiple communications specialists, but we always build on the foundations of storytelling by leading with a strong character and helping a brand connect with their audience in a meaningful way. We create commercial films that take viewers on a journey with a brand’s product or service and when it comes to content marketing, there is nothing more powerful than that.