Social Memo: 3 Facebook NewsFeed Changes You Need to Know


Facebook has once again made major changes to it’s newsfeed algorithm in a effort to optimize the content experience of the platform. Facebook’s Blog post  highlights three major changes being implemented:

1. More content! According to Facebook, 40% of people’s time on the social network is spent in the Newsfeed. Facebook had previously limited the number of times users saw a story from the same publisher (friend or page) to once per session. However, since the majority of time is spent in a user’s Newsfeed, there started to be a shortage of new content. Now Facebook will display more content including multiple posts from the same source as long as the user is still engaged with the Newsfeed. For brands, this means a potentially greater reach as highly engaging content may appear twice (two different posts) in one Newsfeed session.

2. Friends first! Facebook will start prioritizing your friends’ updates before Pages’ stories. This could be seen as a potential decrease to Brand’s reach as these posts will be featured lower in the Newsfeed. It should be considered that if users are seeing more of their friend’s content they may be spending more time in the Newsfeed thus providing brands with potentially more reach — despite the lower positioning. Only time will tell how this change will change a brand’s reach.

3. Less is more! Facebook is lowering the rank of stories created from friend’s likes or comments on a Page’s post (in some cases choosing to not deliver the content at all). This is the biggest, most impactful change that brands will experience. The organic reach of their content will significantly decrease as the “virality” of posts are reduced to stories created only on Shares. While brands can expect to see their aggregate total reach drop, they may experience an increase in Engagement Rate as content will now be served to less interested parties.

It’s a common theme across the new Newsfeed changes that Brands will see less organic reach, but more focus on reaching people likely to engage. So while aggregate numbers may decrease if you are analyzing your content performance by rates (e.g. Engagement Rate) you may start to see a positive increase in metrics. The key takeaway here is to not focus on increasing reach, but instead to focus on increasing engagement and making sure you are publishing relevant and creative content.

Facebook Brand Battles: Coke Crushes Pepsi, Burger King Gains Ground on McDonalds, And More Epic Rivalries Revealed


If you’ve followed our blog over the years, you’ll know that we love diving into the Facebook Advertising Platform to analyze and report on everything from Facebook Demographics to Fascinating Social Media Statistics. This year, we’re releasing a quarterly report on key brand rivalries on Facebook, looking at their quarterly growth and share of Brand Affinity, i.e. “people who have expressed an interest in or like pages related to a [Brand]”.

Check out the Q1 report & key insights below, and stay tuned for the Q2 update this Summer!

Brand Battles Final

Top Insights:

1) Burger King crushed McDonalds in terms of “% Q1 growth” with 50% growth versus 10% growth. Burger King still lags far behind McDonald’s in overall percent share of brand affinity but The King is gaining ground quickly.

2) While Starbucks remained stagnant, Dunkin Donuts grew by almost 19% in Q1, closing the gap on share of brand affinity as well.

3) Coke maintains its dominance over Pepsi, with 70% share of brand affinity and more than 2x Q1 growth and overall brand affinity.

4) Domino’s saw a sharp decline in brand affinity, likely due to their rebrand from Domino’s Pizza to Domino’s, as affiliated pages of “Domino’s Pizza” were altered and no longer roll up into the top line number reported here.

5) Visa’s impressive Q1 growth (36.4%) also comes around the same time as its Costco deal (supplanting American Express as the retail warehouse giant’s credit card partner). Well played. 

NOTE: As these #’s are pulled directly from the Facebook Advertising platform (In January and again in April 2015), we can’t account for potential factors such as fake profiles, timing of algorithm changes, deactivated accounts, or accounts of the recently deceased. Email if you want the complete data set.


The Top 10 Things I Learned Interning @ ISL (as Expressed in Drake GIFs)


I never thought I’d learn so much from a single internship as I’ve been taught working for ISL this spring. I felt spectacularly lucky to be chosen to join my favorite agency in DC, and I feel even luckier now that I can call so many of them friends.

I feel like I started from the bottom and now my whole team’s here. #sorrynotsorry #yolo

And what better way to express these feels than with reactions from the boy? Here are the top 10 things I learned (though there are so so many more) as illustrated by the Internet’s treasure trove of priceless Drake GIFs.

1) Feedback that’s difficult to hear is the best feedback.


Another set of eyes is arguably one of the most valuable things on Earth, especially if those eyes come with an intelligent mind. ISL’s key cultural strength is the high value placed on honest feedback, including praise and criticism. Everyone here works for the best product for each client; often that means many (many) rounds of revision. But it’s all worth it for amazing final outputs like the Facebook Mentions Box.

2) Writing copy is a weirdly great way to learn new things.


Researching a brand’s products and associated cultural significance is key to writing relatable, effective copy. I’ve learned way more about barbecue, appetizers, engineering, and cocktail mixing than I ever would have expected from working at a marketing agency (and loved every second of it). Also, I got free whisk(e)y sometimes. So…there’s that too. 

3) Choose a better starting point than scratch.


Starting from zero is daunting. But at ISL and most other accomplished agencies, there’s usually a previous project you can draw on for inspiration, if not a solid foundation. Synthesizing ideas from past projects may seem like a cop out to being creative; it’s precisely the opposite. One needs inspiration to be creative. Capitalizing on the best pieces of projects-gone-by is an excellent technique to doing even greater work this time.

4) The team should have your back.


ISL accomplishes astounding work in short time frames thanks to a thorough task assignment system and amazing support staff. There’s a workflow for every deliverable, which means nothing is ever lost and everyone knows what’s up on a project. It also helps to have an office culture built on trust and responsibility! 

5) Take impossible tasks in stride.


I can’t even count the number of times a strategist approached me with a task I had no idea how to accomplish at first blush. So I just said yes. Lo and behold, I figured it out. Expect to be stunned by the seemingly huge mountain of work agency assignments require, and sometimes how to blow up those mountains (in a good way).

6) Accept that everyone knows more about projects, clients, marketing, and life in general than you do.


If you’re interning at an agency, you’ll almost certainly be the youngest person at the company. Expect to be overwhelmed by the circles your co-workers will run around you and ask them to explain what they’re doing (all the time).

7) Ask for help before banging your head against walls.


Remember those impossible task mountains (and subsequent explosives) from number four? The only way to tackle them is to enlist the help of your experienced co-workers. Experience counts for A LOT in client projects ranging from experiential stunt planning to social media analytics, so make friends and have a chat about that new assignment. There’s a solid chance you’ll get it done in one hour instead of six. 

8) Never coast.


If you want to constantly grow at your internship, no matter where it is, complacency is not an option. I try and ask for different kinds of assignments as much as possible and to ask questions even more. It’s how I pursued interesting work like drafting content, writing case studies, and creating pitch decks.

9) Work in your own way.


ISL does a wonderful job of embracing different work styles, so getting your stuff done well is all that matters as an intern (and an employee). But it’s important to say what you need and how you work so the team knows what to expect. Knocking assignments out from the couch? No worries, just make sure they’re awesome.

10) Being yourself is a lot better than being “the intern”.


Being yourself in a company full of strangers is hard, especially in your first few days. But at ISL, you’re hired for you, and encouraged to act as such, nerdiness and all (I played trading card games semi-professionally for a while). My passions didn’t make me “weird”; they made me human. Plus everyone at ISL is kind of a super nerd for something or other, so you’ve got nothing to lose. It’s a beautiful thing.

Bonus: GIFs are important.


So is smiling :)

-Spencer Swan, @spentronswan

Note: Spencer was ISL’s strategy intern of Spring 2015. You can now find Spencer crushing it in Texas for Facebook’s Community Operations Division. #LikeABoss  

Cultural Strategy: How Brands Can Become Cultural Icons

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Cultural Brand Strategy is the link between creative and strategy that can elevate brands, campaigns, and creative work to achieve a culturally iconic status.

These creative executions side-step conventional marketing value propositions and categorical benefits — in favor of positioning Brands to address, disrupt, and resolve specific cultural tensions in a social context.

Often ‘snuck in’ by agency creatives and missing from explicit client creative direction — Cultural Strategy provides the basics of how to identify, create and execute creative in a more consistent, culturally relevant way.

Originally advanced as academic theory by Douglas Holt in How Brands Become Icons, he partnered with Douglas Cameron to create Amalgamated Marketing Agency to apply those concepts for real Brand campaigns, and provides case studies in the follow-up text Cultural Strategy.

Often ‘snuck in’ by creatives, Cultural Strategy isn’t typically outlined in existing Brand positioning statements or conventional marketing vision. Rather, powerful narratives — ‘cultural myths’ from ‘populist worlds’ — capitalize on cultural values, tensions, and collective ideologies to deliberately position Brands at the center of a specific cultural context.

In this presentation, learn how brands like Corona, Coke, Nike, Volkswagen, and Red Bull play the role of ‘cultural activists’ to advance an iconic brand story.

Famous ads like Coke’s ‘Hilltop’ (1971), Nike’s “If You Let Me Play” (1995), and Volkswagen’s “Lemon” (1959) provide a historic context for how Brands have executed on cultural strategy in the past — and examples like Red Bull and American Apparel show current brands that co-author cultural and advance cultural myth on behalf of the Brand.

Read more in the deck above, or click to view and download on Slideshare.

Social Memo: Facebook Organic Reach Isn’t Dead – 5 Tips To Increase Your Reach!


Before we begin, if you missed last month’s social memo, give it a read as it lays the foundation for this next installment. Here we go!

Facebook Organic Reach is not dead. Here are 5 tips you can use to increase your reach. 

1) Stop producing promotional content.

If you’re currently filling your Facebook Page’s content calendar with coupons, direct sales, or highly promotional content then it’s time to stop.

2) Learn what your fans actually like.
If you are creating content just because you think you should, with no real strategy and no conception of what your fans will actually respond to, you’re doing it wrong. Page Managers need to periodically perform social audits to see what type of content is generating the most engagement.

Additionally, Page Managers have access to Facebook Audience Insights — a tool that gives great information on fans’ demographics, occupations, locations, and other relevant Facebook pages. Use these resources to your benefit and leverage the data to generate content that will better resonate with your fans.

3) Utilize Influencers
You need to start valuing the impact an Influencer can make on your social reach. Influencers are social media mavens that have created a strong following in both quantity and quality. Influencers can really add to your efforts towards expanding your social presence as that Influencer has already done so much work to create their following and develop trust with their fans. So, when they share your content those fans will at least give it a chance as it was pushed to them from a reliable source.

4) Make sure your fans are following you
Have all of your email subscribers liked your page? What about your Twitter followers? What about repeat customers? You are most likely missing out on some organic reach because not all of your fans are Facebook fans. Send out an email to your most loyal customers asking them to like you on Facebook. See if you get a increase in likes. If you do, you are increasing your potential organic reach!

5) Buy Ads to Increase Fan Affinity! 
Whoa whoa whoa! We are talking about organic reach, right? Right. So why am I telling you to go and spend money? Well, you need to understand how Facebook works. One of the key elements of Facebook’s Edge-rank algorithm is the principal of Affinity. This is essentially how connected a fan is to your page and content. If a fan is constantly liking or sharing your content they will have a higher affinity for your page and thus continue to see your content.

Lets say you haven’t done the best job pushing quality content to your page and/or you’ve been spending too much of your time publishing overly-promotional advertisements. This has created a lower affinity for your page. Now you’ve learned the errors of your ways and are ready to create some killer quality content (possibly based off the data you gained from learning about your audience, read: Tip 2). That “bad” content has done some serious damage to your page’s affinity score, so even though you are putting better content on your page, your fans may not see it. This is because of the amount of inactivity they have had towards your page’s previously poor content.

This is where a smart ad-buy can get you back in the game. By putting money behind your best content and targeting your audience, you can rebuild the affinity with your fans thus increasing your organic reach.