Social Media Report - Friday 15th April 2016

Hot Topic...

Facebook Messenger planning 'chatbots'

Mark Zuckerberg has revealed Facebook’s ’10-year roadmap’ will begin with the creation of ‘chatbots’ that will allow businesses to communicate with customers using artificial intelligence. The social network’s founder announced the launch of Messenger Platform at its annual developer conference, F8. Software will enable businesses to link to Facebook Messenger, allowing customers to interact with them in the same way they do with friends. While chatbots have been around for some time, they have recently become a hot topic, as advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence offer the potential for them to play a key role in how consumers communicate with businesses. Zuckerberg claimed people do not like calling a business and showcased examples of how the new development could benefit users, such as ordering flowers by contacting a seller through Messenger and sending conversational responses. Facebook has launched chatbots with several partners, including cable TV network CNN and ecommerce site Shopify. Messenger chief David Marcus also stressed that Facebook has taken steps to prevent hackers abusing the bots.

Facebook also used the conference to present its new 360-degree camera which will allow videos to be watched in virtual reality. The social network said it had ‘no plans to get into the camera business’ but intended to make the hardware and software available for all developers and manufacturers to use.

PR and Marketing in Social Media...

Forever 21 reaches out to fashion and music fans on Tumblr

Fashion brand Forever 21 is hoping to harness the buzz around music and festivals this summer with the launch of #F21xMusic, a new Tumblr page dedicated to music-related content. The company made the move after identifying its customers top two interests are fashion and music and noticing there are not many brands covering the space. While the page’s emphasis is on brand engagement, it will also feature links to products, such as shopping for festivals and concerts. ‘We want our customers to be able to access our fashion at great value and therefore will provide direct links to shop on posts with artists wearing Forever 21 products or music-orientated campaigns with models wearing Forever 21’, a spokesman for the fast fashion retailer revealed.

Forever 21 is aiming to invest more in visually engaging platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram as well as enhancing its strategy on other social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. The move echoes the decision by heritage brand Hunter to pull away from London Fashion Week in favour of building its relationship with festivals to develop year-round dialogue with its customers. It also announced plans to partner with Snapchat for activations around Glastonbury.

Social Media Brands...

Danny Willett’s brother masters Twitter

Danny Willett’s performance to come from behind to take victory at the Masters, may have been eclipsed by his brother PJ, whose tweeting in the final hours of the tournament has propelled him into the spotlight. His posts included light-hearted swipes at rival Jordan Spieth and contained swearing, references to drinking as well as untempered emotion, which captivated the Twitter audience and propelled his followers from 312 on Sunday afternoon to over 17,000 and rising. The brotherly ribbing in PJ’s posts delighted the social network. Highlights include messages such as: ‘Green makes you look fat, refuse the jacket’ tweeted using the #bbcgolf. He also joked: ‘If the boy does what he should, I will be able to say I’ve shared a bath with a Masters winner’. However, they all conveyed the teacher’s complete joy at his brother’s outstanding performance.

Willett’s tweets became so popular they started trending, and won fans across the platform such as comedian and TV presenter Dara O’Briain who directed his followers to PJ’s timeline. Willett summed up his social media performance by coming up with a put down for unruly pupils when he was too tired to teach a good lesson the following morning. ‘I’m just gonna smile and say ‘I won Twitter’ *drops mic’.

Dotcom pioneer joins Twitter board

One of Britain’s most successful web pioneers is joining the board of Twitter. Martha Lane Fox announced the news in a tweet, claiming it would be the ‘best job ever’. She began her digital career in 1998 when she launched with co-founder Brent Hoberman. When they sold the company in 2005 it was valued at £577m. Baroness Lane Fox became the UK’s Digital Champion in 2013, the same year she joined the House of Lords. She recently founded Dot Everyone, an organisation that champions digital innovation.

Pepsi chief financial officer Hugh Johnston is also joining the board as Twitter continues its efforts to turn the company’s fortunes around. The social network announced losses of £54m in February, with Richard Holway from TechMarketView consultancy claiming ‘some pretty major changes’ are needed to make it ‘relevant and, in particular, profitable’. Twitter’s executive chairman Omid Kordestani tweeted he was ‘thrilled’ by the appointments. Lane Fox said her appointment to the board would help Twitter to focus on ‘inclusion and diversity’, arguing representation at this level is crucial to sustaining and advancing performance.

Stephen Hawking a star on Chinese Social Media

Professor Stephen Hawking acquired over two million followers within hours of launching an account on Chinese microblog network Sina Weibo on Tuesday. His first message was a greeting to his "friends in China" posted in both English and Chinese, followed on Wednesday by a post describing interstellar project Breakthrough Starshot which he is backing. Both posts were quickly flooded with excited comments expressing admiration and awe and his first message was reposted more than 200,000 times, garnering more than 180,000 comments and 380,000 likes. Prof Hawking has enjoyed a substantial following in China, and was described on his last visit in 2006 as having "a cult status among Chinese youngsters much like that of Tom Cruise." More than 230 million people use Sina Weibo, China's biggest social media platform, every month, and a growing number of international figures have joined it in recent years to connect to a Chinese audience. The professor’s success is all the more striking because it comes after many users had already left Weibo for the more feature-rich and less-overtly censored confines of messaging app WeChat.

The current top figures on its celebrity chart for China are members of the popular teenage band TFBOYS, entertainer Lu Han, and actor Huang Jingyu.

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