Facebook launches Messenger Lite, targeting users in emerging markets

Our round up of this week's social media news and insights:

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Facebook launches Messenger Lite for slower phones

Facebook is offering a light version of its Messenger app to people using older phones or with low internet connections, as the social network targets users in emerging markets. Facebook Messenger Lite offers the same core functions at the traditional app, allowing users to send photos, texts and stickers, while taking up less memory on their mobile device, with better functionality on slower telecoms networks. While Messenger has over 1bn monthly active users, it is Facebook-owned WhatsApp, that has gained popularity in developing countries. Head of Facebook Messenger David Marcus insists it is not planning to detract from its stablemate’s popularity by introducing the light version for emerging markets. ‘If you look at countries like Brazil, WhatsApp is definitely preferred but Messenger as a product is used a lot because people are sharing content from Facebook’. He added that the Lite app may also be beneficial for people in developed markets who cannot afford the latest costly smartphones. Facebook Messenger Lite will first launch into Kenya, Tunisia, Sir Lanka, Malaysia and Venezuela, before release into other markets over the coming months. Its roll-out is the latest Facebook effort to make the internet more accessible globally. The social network’s Free Basics initiative, which is part of the Internet.org scheme, allows users in certain countries to access a limited selection of web services for free.

As the social network continues to develop Messenger into a fully-fledged platform, it has been experimenting with chatbots and third-party apps to expand the service’s functionality. Marcus hopes it will eventually act as a user’s ‘go-to-place’, imagining the Messenger of the future as a ‘remote control for everything you’re trying to do in your life’. With this in mind, it makes sense for Facebook to make sure some form of Messenger is available worldwide. 

PR and Marketing in Social Media

Spar UK plans 12 Deals of Christmas campaign

Spar UK is bringing back its 12 Deals of Christmas campaign this year, kicking off on the 6th October for 12 weeks, backed by a raft of marketing activities and supported by social media to include posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The inaugural 2015 campaign was a huge success, and this year’s offers will again feature leading brands from suppliers including Smirnoff, Coca-Cola and Budweiser. Digital activity to support the promotion will include engaging online videos, while Facebook and Instagram will host ads on weeks two, three and four of the 12-week campaign. These will champion the products in a modern and simple style and feature brands such as Smirnoff, Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Spar brand products. On Spar’s in-store radio, there will be a dedicated advert each week for each new deal, as well as Christmas sweepers, reminders, sound effects and classic Christmas tunes. Finally, retailers will receive in-store POS with an advent calendar theme, to create a magical feel to consumers and highlight the new deals every week.

Andy Burt, Spar UK senior marketing manager, said: ‘The return of our ’12 Deals of Christmas’ promotion this year is backed by a host of marketing activities to help our retailers deliver consumers the best possible savings on key Christmas brands. As retailers are fighting for extra footfall, these deals will drive even more shoppers to Spar stores every week from early October until Christmas!’

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Instagram campaign with a hidden message about addiction goes viral

The Instagram account of young Parisian woman Louise Delage quickly attracted over 44,000 followers in two months, thanks to the pictures and videos of her fun-loving, enviable lifestyle. Snaps of Delage posing in the swimming pool, going to the beach, shopping and spending time with friends received over 50,000 likes. But all was not as it seemed. On closer inspection, in every shot of the glamorous young woman there was some form of alcohol visible, from a glass of wine in her hand, cocktails on a table during a night out and even a bottle poking from her bag. Easily distracted by the cool, aspirational images, her followers failed to notice the signs of alcohol misuse. In fact, Louise Delage is not a real person, the Instagram account was created by Paris agency BETC for Addict Aide’s ‘Like My Addiction’ social media campaign to highlight how difficult it is to spot alcoholism among millennials, and even family and friends. The woman featured in the account was played by a model, and the snaps were cleverly staged to get the message across. However, the Instagram reaction was entirely real.

Last week the Louise Delage Instagram account posted a video revealing the truth to her followers, explaining that not only can people miss signs of a person’s addiction but inadvertently encourage it with ‘likes’. BETC president and creative director Stephane Xiberras Paris said: ‘’Sometimes it seems like in this era, the more people stage their ideal life on social media, the more that serves to hide a not-so-ideal reality.’ 

BT survey finds men needier than women on social media

A survey for BT ahead of the launch of its new Smart Hub finds that being liked, picture-perfect and recognised on social media is increasingly important to most Britons. Some 68% of people said being recognised on social media was ‘important’, with over half (52%) envying others with more successful posts, tweets and shares. Users are spending as much as two hours and 12 minutes a day on their Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, and will agonise for about 11 minutes over taking a perfect picture. On average, respondents considered anything less than 33 reactions, shares or comments on a single post to be a disappointment. And men were needier than women, expecting 40 likes on average to feel happy. Women can get by with 28 likes. Men also check their posts for recognition more than women, approximately once a minute for a whole 19 minutes, versus once a minute for a quarter of an hour for women. Commenting on the findings, psychologist Becky Spelman said people needed to be careful not to forget real life relationships with friends and family members. ‘Social media channels work for us when we use them as a tool to communicate, not a way to judge our self-worth,’ she added.

David McDonald, Director of Broadband and Bundles, BT commented: ‘We know that 85% of people spend most of their time on social media at home and being continually connected is really important.'

Facebook unveils Marketplace for local buying and selling

Facebook has launched a new online Marketplace that allows users to buy and sell items locally, as the social network continues to innovate to encourage engagement. The feature will appear as a ‘shop’ icon’ at the bottom of the Facebook app, allowing users to list or search for items on sale in their neighbourhood. To find something specific, filters can be applied to sort results by location, category or price. People can also browse what’s available by category, such as Electronics or Apparel. When a user wants to buy an item, they can send the seller a direct message from Marketplace to make an offer. The buyer and seller are then free to work out the details of the exchange themselves. The social network will not receive any money from the transactions, nor will it facilitate the payment and delivery of goods.

The new service has suffered some teething problems, with Facebook issuing an apology after a number of inappropriate items were listed for sale, including a baby hedgehog, on the first day of its operation. Facebook blamed the problems on a glitch that prevented the proper screening of posts and reassured: ‘We are properly identifying and removing violations before giving more people access to Marketplace’. The social network will also use its image recognition technology to detect any illegal products photographed for sale.

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