For Brand Engagement, Visuals Rule [INFOGRAPHIC]

What was the last thing you shared on the web? There’s a good chance it was either a photo or a video. And increasingly, that shareable content is originating from brands.

Companies are quickly learning that visual media is one of the most effective ways to share their stories. In a study of the top 10 brands on Facebook, users liked photos twice as often as text updates. And they shared videos 12 times more than photo and text posts combined.

The world’s biggest social media properties have quickly made visual content a huge priority, often designing or re-designing their entire platforms to nurture such media. Pinterest proved that stunning visuals generate monumental engagement, and YouTube continues to produce hoards of original content in response to user demand.

Brands, take note.

M Booth partnered with social analytics company SimplyMeasure to measure engagement data and produce the following infographic. M Booth recently released Framed, a storytelling tool that helps brands create visual content to engage their digital communities. Read more…

Updated Facebook Messenger Likes Smileys, Hearts And Other Emoji

Just over a day after updating its official iOS client with better speed and performance, Facebook has also updated Facebook Messenger with a number of improvements.

Facebook Messenger is the popular social networking site’s standalone messaging app optimized for iPhone. It lets you send messages to a select group of Facebook friends or start a private conversation with just one.

One clear advantage of using the app is that you get to have access to Facebook’s messaging capabilities on your iDevice as well as on your computer. Also, since it’s an app dedicated to messaging, said access is made easier than in the main Facebook iOS app.

To be sure, this most recent update to Facebook Messenger pales in comparison to the app’s last couple of updates. Through those updates, such useful enhancements as read receipts and in-app notifications were introduced to the app.

That is not to say, though, that this current update is by no means useful.

Aside from bringing the obligatory bug fixes and an improved “new message” sound, the new version of Facebook Messenger delivers several new features.

Facebook Messenger now supports the insertion of smileys, hearts, and other emoji in messages. Just tap the plus button to access the app’s collection of special symbols.

Also in the new version of Facebook Messenger, clicking your friend’s name at the top of your conversation lets you view his or her Facebook Timeline. As well, the app now allows you to see who’s active, letting you and your friends know how soon to expect a reply.

The new version of Facebook Messenger is available now in the App Store, and it’s free.

Let’s hope the next version of Facebook Messenger finally brings native iPad support and video chat, among others.

By Aldrin Calimlim for AppAdvice

Email Beats Search and Social for Cart and Conversion

Email, Search and Social Media — think of them as three sisters in the Marketing family.

Social Media is the young one. She’s always on trend. She’s popular and has lots of friends. She’s the one you turn to when you’re looking to have some fun.

Search is the middle sister. She’s not as flashy as her little sister, but she’s plenty popular and she’s reliable. Well, as long as you make it worth her while, then she’ll help you get the job done.

Email, she’s the older, wiser sister. She’s not as popular as her younger siblings, but she puts in a good days work and if you approach her right, she’ll surprise you.

Now, if you’re really good at what you do, you can romance all three sisters and benefit from the unique reach and point of view of each one. But if you find yourself spending too much time with only one, particularly the young one, you might find yourself out of pocket with little to show for it in return. Read more…

Is Your Brand Ready For ‘Generation S’ (Screen)?

Every generation experiences advances in technology that change people’s lives and expectations; children are almost always born into a different technological world than were their parents. This is particularly true when it comes to how they discover, consume and share content and information.

Children born in the last three to five years are what I call “Gen S,” or “Generation Screen.” They came on the scene during one of the most significant technological revolutions in the digital age. According to NPD, 27% of all TVs shipped in the first quarter of 2012 (almost 14 million) were internet-ready. Gartner estimates there will be almost 60 million tablets sold this year, doubling total users. And, Goldman Sachs estimates almost 2 billion smartphones will be sold this year around the globe.

These youngsters are growing up in a world where screens are used for everything from entertainment, communication, education, shopping and transacting. It makes the world much smaller and more accessible — and at virtually any time, on demand.

Who is Gen S?

Gen S will never know a world without screens, without being connected, without touch and swipe, or gesture control, or without cameras to capture, interact, share and connect with others, instantly. We’ve all witnessed toddlers navigating a smartphone or iPad better than we can, or swiping a TV or laptop screen expecting it to react to their touch, only to be dismayed. The keyboard and mouse are foreign to them, and soon may be remote controls. Will wallets, credit cards or even cash have any purpose for them a few years from now?

How will marketers, brands, retailers and publishers stay relevant to this audience that expects to transact nearly everything on a touch screen? First, they need to be where the consumer is and ensure a relevant brand experience irrespective of how the content and information were discovered.

That means creating and redesigning sites to render appropriately and dynamically for different screens and operating systems. How will brands facilitate seamless transaction and communication with these new consumers, who will only have the expectation of such an experience?

Brands are behind

Today, 45% of Fortune 500 companies do not have mobile-optimized websites, according to a recent study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. But now is not the time to sit back and watch this all happen through the looking glass. A number of apps have been created for parents and kids alike to experience brands and content in new ways. Examples include learning and literacy apps from education companies like Scholastic or Penguin Books; the Whole Foods “Awesome Eats,” which teaches kids about patterns and sorting while promoting nutrition and a healthy diet; the Band-Aid “Magic Vision” app that helps take a child’s mind off his cuts and scrapes by letting him interact with the Muppets; the Crayola ColorStudio, which allows kids to draw and “color” on their tablet using a stylus that resembles a Crayola marker; and the American Museum of Natural History app that brings the dinosaur exhibit to the palm of a hand.

It’s still early innings for this screen-driven world, and there are many other avenues to still develop and explore (i.e. banks tackling financial education and the importance of saving). Now is the time to get involved, to experiment and learn, to collaborate with partners and help shape GenS media platforms and experiences. It will require investment and patience, but will best position brands to be prepared for what comes next . . . which we can only imagine and likely will arrive even faster than before.

Adam Shlachter is Managing Partner, Practice Lead, Digital at MEC, part of GroupM.

Supermarkets Add Mobile to the Shopping List

Grocery shopping seems like a great fit for mobile because it enables consumers to always have a shopping list and coupons handy on their smartphones. However, while supermarkets have moved slowly into mobile so far, there are signs this is beginning to change.

The number of grocery retailers with a mobile presence increased 110 percent in the first half of 2012 as these merchants, according to MyWebGrocer. While the increase is off of a small base and many of these are tests, more grocery retailers are expected to jump into mobile this year and next.

“There’s been huge growth this year in grocery retailers building a mobile presence for the first time,” said Rebecca Roose, senior product marketing manager at MyWebGrocer, Winooski, VT. “We noticed a big spike in Q1 2012 – there’s been a 110 percent increase in grocery retailers with a mobile presence year-to-date over 2011, and that’s just in the past six months.

“Most supermarkets have not adopted a mobile presence yet and the majority of those who do have the basic mobile features,” she said. Read more…