Get the latest on what makes M—the Facebook approach to Siri—different and worth trying. You'll also get an early glimpse of how Instagram ads are faring, how Snapchat's wooing back-to-schoolers, and how to conduct a results-bearing social media audit. Skim to stay in the know.

All About M

This week in the Bay Area, Facebook launched its virtual assistant M. Its pilot capabilities include making restaurant reservations, finding birthday gifts, and suggesting—then booking—vacations. Users must download Facebook's Messenger app to use it, but messaging products VP David Marcus hopes to compensate by making M more powerful than any other personal assistant app.

M differentiates itself from people-powered TaskRabbit and tech-powered Siri or Cortana (Apple and Microsoft products, respectively) because it's a hybrid between technology and employees (labeled "M trainers") who ensure every request is answered.

Marcus hopes M becomes a one-stop shop for people planning to make purchases of any kind—simultaneously boosting mobile use and creating a new revenue opportunity. Eventually, M will be a gateway to get businesses to boost their customer service and overall presence on Messenger, and as a possible route to partnership with Facebook (if you're getting a lot of orders via M).

When the new service opens to you, you can send a task to M via Messenger, the same way you'd message anyone on Facebook. M will ask follow-up questions if necessary and send you updates as the task is completed. You won't know whether your task was completed by a robot or human, and M has no gender. The service is free and will eventually roll out to all Facebook Messenger users.

 

1. Snapchat's back-to-school channel: a boon for youth advertisers

Snapchat's created a "Back to School" video-streaming outlet for students returning to college and high school this fall. Advertisers creating content for it include Pink, Coca-Cola, and the movie "The Visit." This is the first year Snapchat is targeting back-to-schoolers specifically, responding to an issue advertisers face on the platform: It lacks the targeting ability to deliver messages to certain audiences. But this is a start in guiding brands to a demographic of choice, in this case folks under 25, during a critical marketing moment.

Students themselves are sharing videos that show them walking to class, studying, moving into dorms, and more—all of which help Snapchat solidify its hold on college students especially. Additionally, it's doubling the number of universities with dedicated Live Story feeds. 50 US colleges will have their own feed, available only to on-campus students. Brands can pay 2 cents a view for sponsored videos to appear in Stories.

Snapchat also expanded its media-hosted Discover section to include Mashable, Tastermade, and IGN—all great college-facing brands.

 

2. How are advertisers doing on Instagram?

Salesforce, an Instagram launch partner, provided early performance numbers on how Instagram ads are doing for a handful of clients across different industries. Overall CTR is 1.50%, compared to a CTR of 0.84% in Q1 2015 on Facebook—reinforcing Insta's position as a premium ad type for mobile that is highly engaging.

Costs are reasonable: In the six markets where Instagram launched ads (US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and Australia), global CPM costs about $6.29. CPC is $0.42, which is two cents higher than all Facebook ads. To ensure an optimal user experience, available ad impressions on Instagram are much lower than on Facebook (which also works hard to minimize exposure to ads on Newsfeed). But considering 40% of all Instagram engagement is one-way (customers following brands, vs. brands pushing to non-followers), the likelihood of engagement is higher, because following is like a natural opt-in for brand content.

Instagram will represent more than 10% of global Facebook revenues by 2017, and 28% of all US mobile revenues. If you plan to advertise, though, ensure your content is high-quality: Locowise found that follower growth and engagement went down in July, which may reflect saturation.

3. Facebook updates: customizable music videos, new story formats, a Donate Now button

It's been a big week for Facebook updates and test launches! First off, users of its Moments app can now create customizable music videos featuring shared photos. It also added a Donate Now button for non-profits, who can add them to page posts or link ads (shown below). Finally, it's testing a story post format that lets you convert a series of photos into a slideshow on news feeds. It will be similar to its "Year in Review" posts, but if it launches formally, you can use them for vacation photos or campaign highlights.

If you're looking to amp up your Facebook savvy, here's a step-by-step checklist for creating Facebook ads.

 

We are excited to introduce a new "Donate Now" call-to-action option on both link ads and Pages. Now, it's easier than...

Posted by Facebook for Business on Monday, August 24, 2015


4. YouTube Gaming: a Google response to Twitch

YouTube Gaming went live Wednesday, featuring over 25,000 pages for game titles with their own livestreams, promo vids, gameplay footage, and more.

The site is a response to the popularity of Twitch, where gamers congregate to chat, swap footage, and discover new games. Its search feature is also more gamer-oriented; for example, a search for "Call" will feature an autocomplete for "Call of Duty" instead of "Call Me Maybe." Like on Twitch, people can chat during livestreams, monitor app comments, and share streams with custom URLs.

5. What can you learn from Netflix about customer engagement?

LookBookHQ created an infographic that details what you can learn about Netflix about engaging with people on social, or in general. A few insights: "Scheduled marketing forces your audience to engage on your timeline, not theirs," says LookBookHQ. "Moving from scheduled to on-demand marketing leads to higher engagement—and engaged prospects will self-accelerate through your funnel." Personalization is also a big priority: Netflix channels vary based on niche to ensure the right content gets to the right people (based on past behavior).

6. Need a project management tool?

Here's 45 of them, divided by need, from better communications to tech ticketing. Now you'll learn the difference between Asana (great if your team is anti-email) and Basecamp (great if you love Gantt charts). Jump in!

7. A social media audit that can improve traffic by 300%

The Next Web promises that taking the following steps can improve your traffic by 300% or more, because it'll enable you to optimize your social presence to meet your marketing needs. The first step? Document your presence, including the platforms you're already on, your URLs, who has access to your accounts, your fans and follower numbers, and more. (Yes, this is going to be a lot of work. But it's worthwhile!). Next step: Understand your space, including where your competitors are, whether they run paid ads, and more. Step 3: Identify your own key metrics, which will obviously vary based on what you want to accomplish on social.

To do this right, and if you can't do it yourself, delegate a meticulous, social-savvy person to the task and give him or her ample time to conduct a proper audit. A good timeline may be two full working weeks, after which you can refine based on the results.

8. We'll wrap with something geeky: Star Wars nerds unite!

As part of a super-ambitious Lucasfilm partnership, Target is collecting and sharing the memories and tributes of Star Wars' 147 million fans around the world. Share the Force asks people to upload videos and photos with captions on the site, then categorizes those memories into "galaxies" in the shape of beloved characters. When the campaign ends, as all must, the site and all its contents will go to Lucasfilm for permanent archiving—so your memories will never fade.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Angela Natividad
Angela Natividad is a social media strategist, copywriter, and journalist based in Paris. A Bay Area native and lover of vending machine candies, she co-founded AdVerveBlog.com and is a frequent guest on marketing podcast The Beancast. You can follow her on Twitter at @luckthelady.