Social Pathshala: How to Drive Engagement on Facebook

Facebook has its largest user base in India, with around 270 million active users (Statista). And, it’s considered the primary platform, used by marketers, to reach consumers, possibly due to ease of use and familiarity with the interface. Facebook, stories are widely popular and have captured the attention of more than 300 million users per day.

On social media, trends come and go, faster than you can say “let’s come up with a campaign for that”. In fact, sometimes they’re over so quickly that a 24-hour window is enough for them to rise and fall. Trend-jacking, or “moment marketing” as creators like to call it, is becoming increasingly challenging.

A brand has to be on a constant lookout to find conversations that have ‘viral’ potential. Marketers have to create, quality check, publish and amplify each piece of content, as soon as possible, to capitalise the trend. A deep understanding of the platform algorithm is crucial to support the creative input invested in making a piece of content.

Just like the internet and its userbase, Facebook has also evolved as a platform over the years. In 2018, Facebook summarised its strategic focus with a simple phrase: “meaningful interactions will be prioritized”.

What does the algorithm categorise as ‘meaningful’?
  • Commenting or liking a person’s photo or status update
  • Average time spent on content
  • Completeness of the user’s profile page
  • Sharing links over Messenger
  • Engagement with a brand post shared by a friend
  • Multiple replies to people’s comments on a video
  • How informative the post is
  • Engagement
In a Nutshell: Authenticity is Central to the Growth Story

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The platform algorithm is focused on finding genuine conversations and rewarding them with more visibility. Meanwhile, also hiding conversations that are self- promotional (i.e. they have a call-to-action stated or implied in the content), fake or irrelevant. Consider the changing use-case of the following metrics:

Organic reach: It has been a while since the phrase ‘Organic reach is on an all-time low’ has been a go-to sentence. However, with viral content sprouting every day, organic reach remains a content creator’s conceptual holy grail. Aim to get everything exactly right, and compelling organic returns remain possible, albeit not always, but a sure possibility.

Authenticating users: Facebook rewards content from users with detailed, credible profiles. The algorithm seeks to encourage engaged, active communities, but it’s also because fake accounts are frequently characterised by poor attention to profile detail.

Click Bait: Often online publishing houses, media channels, and many brands overuse clickbait to drive traffic from social media to other channels. This practice is not ranked well by the algorithm because it takes the traffic away from the native platform.

Native content creation is rewarded and an 80% native content to 20% external content split is ideal. As soon as externally linked content levels push past 20%, the algorithm is likely to penalise you. Over time, the reach and visibility of this content drop and it stops appearing in feeds. So the next time you see that a link in your Facebook posts perform well, remember to consider this correlation!

Native content, influencers, and communities: Understanding the Facebook business use-case helps demystify the algorithm intention. Facebook wants to retain as many users for as long as possible. As a result, it rewards users who add to the platform with authentic stories.

A video/image upload on the platform gets more views and reach than a link to the same media on a different platform, like YouTube. Also, a community where users are actively engaging with each other helps your content get more reach and visibility. Simply put, influencers are getting more influential because social media algorithms actively recognise the power of their communities.

The content an algorithm shows you can be personalised: Once you understand how an algorithm works, you can personalise the content you see. You do this by only clicking on content that genuinely interests you, and engaging authentically in personally or professionally meaningful conversations.

If you set the tone, the algorithm will follow. Posts are initially only served to a small percentage of users within a network, and the algorithm watches their reactions carefully. Vigorous engagement is rewarded, but if users don’t engage – the content gets a low score and easily disappears from view.

Dot your Is and cross your Ts

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  • Content that stimulates conversations within personal networks is prioritized.
  • Links shared over messenger are also prioritized by the algorithm, as this activity is a clear marker of strong engagement.
  • Long comments rank better than short comments because length indicates strong engagement.
  • Clickbait is punished, as are all obvious forms of self-promotion, especially those explicitly asking users to like, share or comment.
  • Live video is rewarded because it reliably delivers great user engagement.
  • When a user likes a page they are effectively asking the algorithm to treat the content provider as a ‘See first’ entity. Updates from this brand won’t be subjected to the same rules as general content, because the user has actively asked to see the content.

Knowing the medium is knowing the ecosystem. The last bit of advice is to keep a lookout for everything new Facebook launches if it is new – the algorithm will be pushing it forward. To know more about how to Understand the ecosystem read this e-book!

Social Giving and Online Gifting Trends for Your Business to Buy Into

 

Over 150 years after his birth, Mahatma Gandhi remains an iconic figure many admired the world over, especially in the cut-throat world of business, where social giving inspired by his ethos of equality and uplifting entrepreneurial independence is on the rise.

It’s a growing trend among the philanthropic set, as it places the flavour of the month, Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR, front and centre of your marketing strategy. Here’s how you can get involved and do good for the rest of the world through online gifting, even if you’re not holding the purse strings in the C-suite.

Think of Bapu, the Father of the Nation and you’ll likely recite one of his more inspirational business sayings – Entrepreneur credits him as the ‘source of inspiration’ to the ultimate global change-maker, Nelson Mandela.

With such world-improving quotes as: “You must be the change you want to see in the world,” rolling off the tongue of almost everyone in these socially aware times, it’s easy to see why.

But actions speak louder than words, and despite the best intentions we often don’t know just where to start, so end up endlessly postponing our new business mantra of ‘doing good business by doing good. That’s why in order to accurately follow in Gandhi’s footsteps, you first need to clarify your own philanthropic purpose and the CSR strategy your business lives by.

Points to Consider in Defining Your Philanthropic Purpose

It may seem an unnecessary step, but The Philanthropy Roundtable says clarifying your philanthropic purpose is actually a vitally important step in safeguarding donor intent, as you finetune your altruistic desire to improve human welfare.

After all, Investopedia shares that philanthropy dates back to Greek philosopher Plato in 347 B.C, where Plato’s will instructed his nephew to use the proceeds of the family farm to fund the academy he had Plato founded.

To follow suit, Bridgespan says to be clear on not just your values and beliefs but also the factors affecting the social problem you’re aiming to solve.  You’ll need to invest not just money but also time and other resources in the cause at hand, so take time to clarify the steps needed along the way.

You’ll also need to hone in on what you’ll define as success in this regard – you’re not merely presenting a cheque to a charity as a photo opportunity, as that quickly comes off as a positive press-seeking mission. Besides that, a one-off anonymous donation for X amount hardly ever does the trick.

But note that hat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make your intentions to do good business by doing good, public. To do so, follow the example of Wipro chairman Azim Premji. He famously signed The Giving Pledge in 2013, a campaign started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in which he promised to donate at least half of his wealth.

YourStory confirms that Premji has already donated $21 billion to his education-focused non-profit Azim Premji Foundation.

Setting up a Philanthropic Business Arm as Part of Your CSR Strategy

Philanthropic purpose clarified, you’re ready to further benefit society and truly get involved in the social giving movement, YourStory says to follow the example of India’s top 10 billionaires who donate money for social good. In contributing their money and expertise to fields like education, healthcare and job creation they’ve gone the Plato route in ensuring their own wealth extends beyond their family bloodline.

These include the likes of magazine’s riches Asian for 2018 Mukesh Ambani, MD of Reliance Industries, and wife Nita head up the Reliance Foundation, which has a strong focus on rural development as well as urban renewal, art and culture.

Or take Piramal Enterprises chair Ajay Piramal, who makes giving a family affair along with his wife and children involved in ’s philanthropic arm the Piramal Foundation, which covers project in the realm of healthcare, education, livelihood creation, and youth empowerment.

If your pockets aren’t quite as deep as that, don’t despair – you can start on a much smaller scale, in changing the way you do your online shopping. There’s a reason Alibaba is top of mind when it comes to e-commerce platforms, which is taking things a step further in firmly tying a big bow around the concept of philanthropy in online gifting…

The philanthropy of Green Online Gifting and Social Giving

In line with founder Jack Ma’s Gandhi-esque belief that ‘to earn respect we have to do good for the world,’Entrepreneur explains that Alibaba’s UCWeb, on behalf of its philanthropic arm, Alibaba Foundation, recently hosted its second philanthropy forum in India. The forum’s aim is to support education in creating a responsible content ecosystem that helps narrow the digital divide and create jobs. 

Business Today adds that Alibaba’s UCWeb content platform model, set to include short videos and movie ticket sales, is intended to promote and support other online shopping and e-commerce firms in India instead of competing with them. UCWeb is said to have had 1.1 billion user downloads worldwide, of which half of its global installs are from India, where it has 130 million monthly active users.

That’s why YourStory confirms that the Indian e-commerce market is expected to grow to $200 billion by 2026. And while the global gifting market is estimated to be $475 billion, Qwikcilver’s research shows that India is expected to emerge as one of the most influential contributors in the next five years.

Yahoo Finance further colours in the story in sharing that Qwikcilver, as the single largest end-to-end service provider in the pre-paid, gift card space in India, attributes much of the recent increase in mobile and Internet-based commerce to millennials. But drilling down further, beyond the mobile generation, it seems it is customer appreciation gifts more than last-minute anniversary or birthday presents being purchased, as Seeker’s Time adds that the corporate gift market has 80% of the current share, with the personal gift market at just 20%.

YourStory adds that emerging corporate gifting market is an extremely loyal one, with up to 60% repurchase rate after the first successful online transaction.

In addition, the tailor-made options go beyond having your client’s name emblazoned on a coffee mug – in today’s environmentally aware age, the ‘green gifting’ trend of sending office plants – the type that need watering and TLC, not the pretty bouquet of flowers that will be in the compost heap next week –is now seen as more meaningful than that easily consumable box of chocolates.

Facebook Philanthropy: Enter the Social Self

These are all steps in the right direction of reaching the Gandhian goal of better social equality and inclusivity – making it an active decision to take part in social giving moves the needle on becoming a more giving global society, as technological development further blurs geographical boundaries and brings the physical world online.

“Promoting social welfare, supporting causes and communities that we believe in, and feeling confident about where the money goes are all becoming easier, thanks to accessible innovations that empower us to do so.”- GivingCompass

Inc adds that it’s as easy as logging onto your social media accounts for the day, as Facebook’s ‘birthday wishes’ options now include invitations to donate to a charitable cause on their behalf. That gels perfectly with the millennial mindset, as The Balance credits the ‘giving generation’ with demanding a website’s information be as transparent and up-to-date as possible before they will sign up to do their giving online.

Once convinced, they’re in for the win and will gladly stand for the cause and will, in turn, try to convince their peers to do so in sharing on social media that they’ve donated to a cause they care about. This is less a vanity project than it is the most visible aspect of the ‘social self’ millennials painstakingly curate with their every online post and interaction.

If Facebook sounds like a good starting point for your philanthropic activity, you’re in luck as Facebook itself explains under the Charitable Giving tab of its Social Good page that there’s a Fundraiser API, through which you can connect off-Facebook fundraisers to Facebook, to help participants meet their fundraising goal.

For example, AdWeek reports that a highlight of one of Facebook’s most recent Social Good Forums included an overview of the blood donation tools Facebook debuted in India a few years ago, where more than 4 million donors signed up. The tool works both ways, like hospitals, blood banks, and non-profits can create voluntary blood donation events on Facebook, and nearby donors are in turn notified of the opportunities to donate blood.

That’s a true case of using social media for the benefit of society. So join the trend of doing good for good business – do your research, give of your time, give of your money, and give back however you can.

The Stats Are In: India Loves Branded Video Content

Indians are hooked to videos, and consumption of video content is on the rise. With subsidized data packs and growing cellular penetration, India is one of many user-bases across the globe.

In 2019, Indians have spent 4 hours and 59 minutes, per day, consuming media. 29.9% of this time is spent over the internet while 58.7% of the time is spent watching TV. YouTube boasts of an active viewership of 265 million, Facebook stands tall at 300 million and ByteDance at 300 million (across TikTok, Vigo and Helo).*

*Source: eMarketers.

Here is why your brand should invest in apps like TikTok, ShareChat, and Youtube

We know that YouTube is the most used platform in the world. What adds to this popularity, apart from a first-mover’s advantage? The vernacular languages that reach large and invested audience segments. Therefore, while urban Indians use YouTube for entertainment, many new-to-digital, semi-urban and rural Indians are supplementing their education by learning new things from YouTube.

YouTube Viewership in Regional Languages in billion views. Languages used - Telegu, Tamil, Punjabi, Malayalam, BhojpuriYouTube content viewership distribution across tier 2 & tier 3 cities of India. 60% of YouTube watch time comes from outside the six largest metros. 95% of vernacular content access comes from Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities. 1200 YouTube creators in India with over 1mn subscribers.

“The first 100 million users on YouTube were primarily from the metros, coming on the platform predominantly for entertainment,” says Satya Raghavan, YouTube’s Director of Content Partnerships in India in an interview with Economic Times. He further shared that, “The next 100 million were not just from metros, but also cities, towns, and villages, and they are using YouTube for information and education, apart from entertainment.”

Today, ByteDance has around 300 million monthly active users in India, across its suite of three products — TikTok, Vigo and Helo (also an India-specific social content product). Statista, a German database firm, says TikTok alone has 200 million users, of which 120 million are active monthly. India is a prime market for TikTok, as it comprises of a quarter of the global downloads.

Many of India’s TikTok stars live in small towns or villages, have either never made it to college or dropped out, and speak their vernacular language. The app is available in more than 10 Indian languages, which has helped TikTok reach the most remote corners of India. Let’s understand ByteDance’s journey, in India:

ByteDance in India. Started mid-2018. Apps: TikTok, Helo, Vigo. Users around 300 million. 200 million from TIkTok individually. User Profile: 85% adults. 25% aged between 15-18 years. More than 50% non-english users in India. App is available in 10 languages. Investment so far: $ 100 million. Plans : Launch a 4th app- focused on entertainment. Invest $1 billion in next 2-3 in India. Investment in local data centres, infrastructure and R&D. Plans to crease 1000 jobs in India. Expand Content moderator team in India. TikTOk is a popular app, video sharing is on the rise. Organic growth of Influencers.

*Source: Economic Times

Talking about the vernacular user, the ShareChat app sees over 60 million people accessing its platform every month, in 15 Indian languages. It has a steady engagement per user of close to 30 minutes per day. They cater to a market-based of users who are mostly from semi-urban and rural markets. These users prefer to consume content in regional languages. They have an annual spending power of $300bn making it a huge opportunity for local and national marketers.

Video content is here to stay and it is snackable, addictive and extremely engaging! The stickiness of video content hasn’t gone unnoticed by brands. Eager to engage with mass-India even the bigger OTT global players, like Netflix, are capturing the Indian market with special mobile subscription packages.

Growth-hack your video engagement with consumers

Video Length:  About a decade ago, content was created in time bands of 30 minutes (TV shows), 60 minutes  (news and long-form shows) and 180 minutes (movies). However, the proliferation of social media has led to an increase in snackable, short-form content. The smaller and punchier your videos – the easier it is to convert to ROI.

Back in 2012, apps like Vine became famous with 6-second videos! Today, apps like Instagram let you make videos ranging from 3 to 60 seconds, and have IGTV for long-form content. Meanwhile, TikTok allows users to make 15-second videos. People love watching these small nuggets of content. They’re so addictive in fact, that, on average, Indians spend 35 minutes on the app, per day!

It is important to note is that platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc. have an agenda in place for growth. These apps have a vision to become more video focused. Therefore, the APIs encourage more videos over static content in organic reach. What does this mean for your brand? Make videos, considering that a video is going to be more visible and pushed forward by the algorithm over a static post. The organic push, coupled with the fact that a video can engage a user visually as well as auditorily – leads to more conversion.

 Trending Hashtags: Hashtags are a common, accepted tracking and cataloguing format across all social media platforms. But, each platform has an entirely different ecosystem around hashtags. Users on Facebook, employ hashtags to categorise information, Instagrammers use hashtags for search.

Also, it is important to use platform-specific hashtags to make your content more visible to those who check the feed. On TikTok, using trending hashtags is the best way to drive ‘views’ on stories. All the content is categorised by hashtags and the description becomes the base for whether someone would click to open or not. It pays in engagement for you to research the right keywords for your hashtags.

Regional Influencers: The story Israil Ansari’s stardom is one of many from tier II and III cities of India. For those who don’t know, Ansari is 19 and comes from a village in Uttar Pradesh in northern India, one of the poorest parts of the country. Until recently, he did not own a smartphone, lived with his parents, grandparents and 11 siblings. His fami