Social Media Report - Friday 27th May 2016

Hot Topic...

X Factor hopefuls can now audition on Facebook Live

For the first time ever, aspiring music artists can audition for The X Factor through Facebook Live. Returning presenter Dermot O’Leary revealed the news in a video announcement on the social network. He told potential contestants they need to register before 27th May to book an audition place with show producers in closed groups on 29th May. Hopefuls will perform their chosen song just as they would in the face-to-face selection process but will be able to watch Facebook’s reaction to their performance, complete with crying face emojis and cheers of support, as they sing into their mobile phones or tablets. Those who get through to the next stage could be put through to the judge’s auditions in June. The ITV talent show is co-produced by Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment and FremantleMedia UK. Mark Brittan, Global head of commercial at Syco Entertainment, said: ‘Facebook Live is a brand new platform for us and we have high hopes that it will prove invaluable in unearthing new talent.’ Kirsty Hunter, acting MD of FremantleMedia UK’s digital arm Shotglass Media noted the live video auditions will give applicants ‘a new way to be involved in the show using the latest technology from one of the most popular social media platforms.

Meanwhile, La Liga will become the first European football league to broadcast a match on Facebook Live, after agreeing a deal with the social network’s official live streaming partner Grabyo. The Spanish Women’s first division fixture between Atletico Madrid and Athletic will air on 28 May in TV quality with no geoblocking. Chief executive of Grabyo Gareth Capon said the deal is ‘a great example of a major sports rights holder using the reach, engagement and viral distribution on social media platforms to distribute their content’.

PR and Marketing in Social Media...

Chiquito launches #SayFreeze Snapchat Snapbar

Chiquitos is rolling out a virtual cocktail bar on Snapchat to encourage more people to visit its outlets and create a buzz around its new frozen cocktail summer menu. The Tex-Mex brand has launched the Snapbar with the hashtag #SayFreeze and fans will be able to tune into live cocktail making sessions as well as discover the menu, win prizes and take part in influencer parties. Chiquito’s marketing manager Emma Humphrey identified the ‘significant growth’ of Snapchat within its target millennials market, which has led it to ‘further innovate socially’. She added: ‘We are meeting our guests on a platform where they are most engaged and entertained, therefore bringing the brand to life on a new social level.’

The Mexican grill is hoping to repeat the success of last year’s frozen cocktail campaign, which it claims had an organic social reach of over seven million people.

Social Media Brands...

Twitter relaxes 140-character limit

Twitter will no longer count photos and videos in its 140-character limit, as it implements changes that will alter many of the rules its users have come to take for granted. Tweet length will be the biggest difference, when it is switched on, with media attachments not counting towards the limit. Neither will names included at the start of a reply. This means conversations which have grown to include a lot of people in one chain, known as ‘canoes’, will soon have plenty of room for discussions to unfold. As Twitter describes it, there will be ‘no more penny-pinching your words to ensure you reach the whole group’. Other changes include the ability for users to retweet and quote tweet themselves rather than having to make awkward self replies to push their tweets back into the feeds of their followers.

Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey said the social network’s priority this year ‘is to refine our product and make it simpler’. His focus on simplicity highlights the reason the changes are being introduced, to dispel the perception that Twitter is too confusing for newcomers and is therefore harming the platform’s growth. The death of the .@ function emphasises this goal. Twitter is ending the convention by which users put a full stop at the beginning of a post to ensure a message being sent to a specific person or persons, instead goes out on their full timeline. This arcane feature has long been cited as confusing to new users.

Facebook updates Trending Topics

Facebook will change the way it runs it’s Trending Topics feed, following an internal investigation into allegations of political bias, which suggested conservative viewpoints were being suppressed. The social network wrote to Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, revealing its probe of 3,000 reviewer decisions had found ‘no evidence of systematic political bias in the selection or prominence of stories’. Thune said he was impressed with the seriousness with which Facebook has treated the allegations, noting its ‘desire to serve as an open platform for all viewpoints is evident and encouraging’.

However, Facebook is now making changes to how editors find trending stories because it could not rule out ‘isolated improper actions or unintentional bias’. The social network will provide more training for staff and the feed will no longer rely on a list of news organisations, including the BBC, Washington Post and Buzzfeed News, to validate subjects.

Facebook creates virtual reality team in London

Facebook has set up a team of virtual reality experts in London, establishing the first European base for its flourishing Oculus division. Mark Zuckerberg believes virtual reality will be one of the next major technological leaps, and the new team highlights London as a key location in the growing sector. Facebook bought Oculus for £1.4bn in 2014 and in the last six months has substantially grown its UK team of engineers and developer relations workers. The division is headed by Mike KeBeau, a former senior engineer at Google, who said in a Facebook post at the beginning of the year, ‘we’re going to build some really cool stuff’, suggesting the UK base will be central to developing the social network’s technology. An Oculus spokesman confirmed it had a small team based in London, promising ‘we’ll have more to share on our international plans soon’.

The Oculus Rift headset was unveiled earlier this year, but despite the hype around the launch, Facebook’s chief marketing officer David Wehner does not expect it to have a ‘material impact’ on the social network’s revenue this year.

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