Blender #13

Fake Followers, Bad Influencers

A month into a new year. How’s it going? Getting into the swing of it? Trying some new things? Wondering at what point it becomes inappropriate to wish people a happy new year? Hey, it’s what we’re all working through.

And here’s a glimpse of a few other things we’re working through, and generally being inspired… by. It’s The Blender.

Buying Twitter followers: a thing you can do, but shouldn’t do

Ever seen a tweet and wondered “Wow, how did that get so many retweets?”

It could be that there’s no accounting for taste or judgment on the internet. Or it could be that the retweets were the work of fake followers.

Supplying fake followers to celebrities, business leaders, politicians, and social media influencers is a flourishing industry. The New York Times delved into it, revealing how one company has created at least 3.5 million automated accounts, which are now responsible for more than 200 million Twitter follows—without any real people behind the names.

Buying followers might tempt a lot of people out there. Higher numbers of followers, likes, and retweets builds a sense of credibility, which can boost actual follows. But there are a lot of problems with it.

  • Many automated accounts are built on identify theft: the real photos, names, and bios of actual people. These end up associated with ideas and content they’d never support.
  • It doesn’t build real engagement, which could end up hurting your reach, particularly as social media companies improve their algorithms to prioritize the best content.
  • You risk a real hit to your credibility from investigations like the one linked above, or just from people taking a closer look at your follows.
  • It’s plain ol’ dishonest.

It may take a little more work, but we thoroughly recommend above-board efforts to build your social media following. It has the benefit of giving you actual, real-life people who might buy your product or service! Our social media strategist Julie can set you up for success on that front.

Influencers: make sure you get the right kind of attention

In other social media influence trouble… well, where to begin on this one

  • A YouTuber/Instagrammer with about 80,000 followers on each platform contacted a Dublin hotel about featuring the hotel in social media posts in exchange for free accommodation.
  • The hotel owner posted the email on their 185,000-follower Facebook page, with identifying details redacted. It was accompanied with a scathing reply rejecting the offer, essentially noting that social media exposure won’t pay the bills.
  • Followers of the hotel identified who the influencer was, and started in with negative comments and abuse.
  • The influencer then released a 17-minute YouTube video addressing the situation.
  • Followers of the influencer, and online influencers generally, bombarded the hotel with negative comments and abuse of their own.
  • The hotel owner banned all “bloggers” from staying at the hotel.

And it’s kind of continued on in a negative spiral from there. It’s drawn both parties a lot of publicity, but made an awful mess while doing it.

Some lessons from that?

  1. You can get a lot of media coverage and attention from this kind of online drama, but unless you’re really good at it, it will probably backfire.
  2. Influencers should be careful about initiating contact to request freebies—particularly if they haven’t researched the social followings and personality of the brand.
  3. Brands should be careful which influencers they partner with, and how—or even if it’s appropriate for them to do so. The right influencer with the right following can open you to new audiences, but if there’s any question of their credibility or authenticity, it could be a futile or even harmful endeavour.

Thinking of extending your social reach? Julie‘s your superstar.

SKOPE Refrigeration: the coolest website going

This week, our partners at SKOPE launched their new website, designed and developed by our teams here at TimeZoneOne. This has been a big and exciting project for us—nearly everyone in the New Zealand office has worked on it in some way—and we’ve really loved working with the SKOPE team. Take a look at the slick and speedy site and be inspired by the world of commercial refrigeration.

Travel in an age of anxiety

A recent AdAge Q&A drew our attention to Skift’s takes on “Travel in an Age of Permanxiety”.

The idea behind this is that in today’s age of terrorism, security worries, geopolitical issues, culture wars, and social unrest—and being connected to it all the time via our devices—a lot of us carry around some level of near-constant anxiety. Travel has traditionally been an escape from the daily anxieties, but nowadays travel can bring those anxieties front-of-mind: think airport security, and information and option overload.

So how can we lower that anxiety? A lot of it is about what you should do for your guests and customers anyway: understand who they are and what’s going on for them, and find ways to connect with them.

But you could:

  • Talk about the relaxing qualities of your activities and destinations
  • Encourage the kind of travel and travel habits which reduce the risk of stress, and friction at your destination.
  • Keep your touchpoints simple, straightforward, and welcoming. Make it easy for them. (Consider your website’s user experience.)
  • Give your guests and customers certainty. Tell honest stories of what they can expect. Soothe their anxieties. Share clear, simple, elegant information which persuades them to travel, and prepares them for it.

You can download an entire magazine on this from Skift, or browse individual articles in their archives. It’s well worth a read to get the full range of perspectives and ideas.

North American travel trends, habits, and behaviors

Our partners at Expedia have released some great research about how Americans and Canadians travel. It’s an interesting, easy read throughout, but here’s a few things we thought particularly interesting.

  • Most travelers booked their last online-booked trip less than three months ago.
  • 65% of travelers usually book within three weeks of deciding to travel—but it’s not an immediate action.
  • When they decide they will travel, most North Americans are still tossing up between two or more destinations—so you have to do a great job of persuading them your destination is the one!
  • Searching for deals is the most important step for most travelers, but informative content from destinations and reviews are very close behind. You have to give them the story of your destination.
  • Amazing activities and once-in-a-lifetime experiences are more important considerations than price. Show them why your destination or attraction is a must-visit. Worrying about the price will come later.

Download the full results here.

New Zealand spending habits

Switching over to our New Zealand, updates to the consumer price index (CPI) basket of goods, used to measure inflation, show how kiwi’s travel and spending habits are changing.

The “basket” features products and services New Zealand households are likely to buy. As society changes, so does the basket: things people buy less are removed, and things they buy more are added.

The big additions include:

  • Private accommodation rented from others (Airbnb and other sharing economy services)
  • Fresh herbs and food prep appliances—getting more serious in the kitchen!
  • Ride sharing added to the taxi fares category, reflecting new spending
  • Five extra destinations in the international flights category
  • Craft beer into off-licence beer purchases
  • Overseas accommodation prepaid in New Zealand
  • Massage
  • Zoo admission charges (because why not?)

But dropping out are:

  • In-car satellite navigation (superseded by smartphones)
  • Domestic package holidays—likely now replaced by buying individual components (e.g. flights and accommodation separately)

A few interesting rises and falls in expenditure between 2014 and 2017:

  • Restaurant meals and ready-to-eat food increased from 4.35% of average household spending to 4.99%
  • Grocery food decreased from 7.04% to 6.58%
  • Overall food spending increased from 18.8% to 19.3%
  • Recreation and culture increased from 9.4% to 9.51%

In summary: it looks like kiwis are spending more on recreation, eating out, and indulging themselves than a few years ago.

Facebook’s News Feed tinkery

The way Facebook displays posts in the News Feed is changing. If your business is on Facebook, you need to know about it.

Lucky for you, we’ve got all the low-down right here on this blog. Check it out here, if you haven’t already. Or if you have, check it out again. It’s the second-best read you’ll have today, after this.

The EU GDPR: a must-review if you market to the EU

Speaking of great reads that are elsewhere on this blog, you won’t want to miss our Guide to EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for Marketers Outside the EU. Despite it’s name, it’d be a total page-turner, if turning pages on the internet was a thing. If you market to any EU citizens, you need to know about this development.

And finally: cats and snow

Wow, it wasn’t all good news there, was it? Let’s leave it on something delightful.

Firstup, Keeping Up With The Kattarshians, the Icelandic livestream sensation which follows four orphaned kittens living in an oversized dollhouse. Aww.

And this beautiful, relaxing video of a snowboarder surfing powder to the dulcet tones of “Clair de Lune”.

Ahh. That’s better.

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