Billion

Instagram Lite quietly launches to find a billion more users abroad

Instagram’s future growth depends on the developing world, so it’s built a version of its app just for them. “Instagram Lite” for Android appeared today in the Google Play App Store without any announcement from the company. “The Instagram Lite app is small, allowing you to save space on your phone and download it quickly,” the description reads.

At just 573 kilobytes, Instagram Lite is 1/55th the size of Instagram’s 32 megabyte main app. It lets you filter and post photos to the feed or Stories, watch Stories and browse the Explore page, but currently lacks the options to share videos or direct message friends.

Instagram Lite addresses many problems common amongst mobile users in the developing world who are often on older phones with less storage space, slower network connections or who can’t afford big data packages. Users might not have to delete photos or other apps to install Instagram Lite, or wait a long time and pay more for it to download.

Screenshots of Instagram Lite

The release follows Instagram’s revamped mobile website that launched last month, also designed for the developing world. At the time I wrote, “The launch begs the question of whether Instagram will release an Instagram Lite version of its native app.” The answer is yes. Mobile analytics service Sensor Tower tipped off TechCrunch to the release.

When asked for comment, an Instagram spokesperson confirmed that Instagram Lite began testing in Mexico this week, and provided this statement: “We are testing a new version of Instagram for Android that takes up less space on your device, uses less data, and starts faster.” The company wouldn’t say whether ads would be included. Later this year the app will expand to more countries, and get messaging and video posting capabilities.

The “Lite” trend has picked up steam recently. Facebook launched Facebook Lite in 2015, and it had 200 million users by 2017. That paved the way for the launch of Messenger Lite in April 2018, and Uber glommed on to the strategy with the release of its own Lite app earlier this month. Users have clearly been craving Instagram Lite, as a fake/unofficial Facebook Page with that racked up more than 2,000 Likes.

Instagram announced last week at the IGTV unveiling that it had hit 1 billion monthly active users. It’s been growing at roughly 100 million users every four months, with much of that coming from the developing world. Snapchat neglected international markets to focus on U.S. teens, leaving the door open for Instagram and WhatsApp’s clones of Snapchat Stories to grab big user bases in countries like India and Brazil.

With this new growth tool in its belt, Instagram may see even swifter adoption in emerging markets. It could potentially score revenue straight from Lite if ads are included, then as phones and networks improve, hope to shift users onto the full-fidelity version. Now, eyes will be on Snapchat to see if it builds its own Lite app. Otherwise it risks continuing to slip further behind the Instagram juggernaut.


Social – TechCrunch

Uber and Yandex merge their ride-sharing services to form a new $3.8 billion company targeting Russia and neighboring markets


Here’s a bolt out of the blue: Uber is partnering with Yandex, the Google of Russia, to launch a new standalone company that merges their respective ride-sharing services to target Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, and Georgia.

The new company, tentatively titled “NewCo,” will be 59.3 percent owned by Yandex, 36.6 percent owned by Uber, and 4.1 percent owned by employees. Additionally, Uber will roll its UberEats food delivery service into the new venture.

Though Yandex is perhaps better known for its online technologies across Russia and nearby regions, it has actually operated an Uber-style taxi-hailing app for a number of years already, and it recently announced it was slashing its prices to stay ahead of the local competition, which includes Uber and Gett. Uber, for its part, has faced stiff regulatory hurdles in Russia and though it was given the green light to continue operating in Moscow last year, it was restricted to only using licensed taxi drivers.

As a result of this new deal, Uber is investing $ 225 million into NewCo, with Yandex only stumping up $ 100 million and the post-money valuation pegged at $ 3.725 billion.

That Uber is putting more cash into the new company, yet is only gaining a little more than one-third of the ownership, indicates that Yandex holds a much larger share of the local market, and Uber has effectively failed to overturn the incumbents. Indeed, according to a set of slides issued by Yandex, it is currently on track to do 285 million rides in 2017 across the various regions, while Uber is on for more than half of that, at around 134 million.

Above: Uber vs. Yandex

The announcement also echoes a similar move Uber made in China last year, when it chose to be swallowed by local etaxi giant Didi Chuxing in a $ 35 billion deal rather than continue to haemorrhage cash in its efforts to infiltrate the local market. The more modest nature of this latest tie-up with Yandex reflects the smaller market in question, but it also goes some way toward improving Uber’s balance sheet.

“Combining our business with Yandex will give us a very significant stake in a new company which will initially serve more than 35 million trips each month and operate in an incredible 127 cities in six countries across the region,” explained Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head for EMEA, in an email sent to employees. “Uber will also have three of the seven seats on the new company’s board and — together with the $ 225 million cash investment we are making in the new company — our 36.6 percent ownership stake will be worth almost $ 1.4 billion.”

The new company — which will be headed up by Tigran Khudaverdyan, who currently serves as the CEO of Yandex.Taxi — will also tap Yandex’s existing technologies, including maps and navigation.

Once the transaction is complete, which is expected to happen in Q4, riders will be able to use both Yandex and Uber apps, but the driver apps will be integrated, “leading to shorter passenger wait times, increased driver utilization rates, and higher service reliability,” according to a separate Yandex statement.

It’s also worth noting here that Uber’s and Yandex’s boards of directors have already approved this deal (as you’d expect) and shareholder approval isn’t required — the only potential sticking point would be regulatory approval.

Social – VentureBeat

Microsoft to acquire LinkedIn for $26.2 billion

At the Microsoft Build developer conference in San Francisco on March 31, 2016.


Microsoft has announced that it will acquire LinkedIn in a transaction valued at $ 26.2 billion.

Once the deal is complete — which is expected to be sometime in 2016 — LinkedIn will continue as it currently is in terms of “brand, culture and independence,” the announcement noted. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner will remain at the helm of the new Microsoft subsidiary and will report directly to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Founded out of California in 2002, LinkedIn today claims north of 400 million members globally and, with 105 million unique monthly visitors, has emerged as the de facto social network for professionals. The company went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2011 and claimed around $ 3 billion in revenue last year. But there is only so much room for growth in LinkedIn’s world, which is why selling to a major technology company may make sense — monetizing social networks isn’t an easy job.

While LinkedIn has built a good, solid business from connecting professionals, many have complained that the service has become cluttered and unusable and has even lost its way. Being acquired by Microsoft may give LinkedIn the breathing space to regain its footing.

For Microsoft, the deal represents its biggest acquisition by quite some distance — its next-most-valuable acquisition came back in 2011 when it snapped up Skype for $ 8.5 billion. Microsoft also paid not much less than that for Nokia’s mobile phone business. So why would it pay more than three times its previous biggest acquisition amount for LinkedIn? According to Nadella, the company wants to create synergy between LinkedIn, Microsoft Office 365, and Microsoft Dynamics, its enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software suite.

“The LinkedIn team has grown a fantastic business centered on connecting the world’s professionals,” said Nadella, in a press release. “Together we can accelerate the growth of LinkedIn, as well as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics as we seek to empower every person and organization on the planet.”

How a world in which LinkedIn merges seamlessly into Office and Dynamics will look remains to be seen, but for $ 26.2 billion, Microsoft isn’t messing around here. In an email to employees, Nadella gave further hints as to the thinking behind the acquisition, noting that it “brings together the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network.” But he also discusses the broader economy of buying and selling things — looking for work, gaining new skills, marketing products, being productive, and generally succeeding in business — noting that this “requires a connected professional world.”

It requires a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics. This combination will make it possible for new experiences such as a LinkedIn newsfeed that serves up articles based on the project you are working on and Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete. As these experiences get more intelligent and delightful, the LinkedIn and Office 365 engagement will grow. And in turn, new opportunities will be created for monetization through individual and organization subscriptions and targeted advertising.

In essence, we can reinvent ways to make professionals more productive while at the same time reinventing selling, marketing and talent management business processes. I can’t wait to see what our teams dream up when we can begin working together once the deal closes, which we expect will happen this calendar year.

It’s also worth noting here that this isn’t just about boosting Microsoft’s own services, the company clearly sees a great deal of value in LinkedIn as a product. Certainly, it’s a social network with a significant amount of interaction and activity.

“Our companies are the world’s leading professional cloud and network,” added Weiner in a separate statement. “This deal will allow us to keep growing, investing in and innovating on LinkedIn to drive value for our members and our customers. Our members will continue to develop their skills, find a job and be great at that job, using our platform. We will continue to help our customers hire top talent, market their brand, and sell to their customers.”

There are many ins and outs to this acquisition, but one notable facet of the terms mentioned in the SEC filing is worth focusing on. It says:

The Merger Agreement contains certain termination rights for the Company and LinkedIn. Upon termination of the Merger Agreement under specified circumstances, LinkedIn will be required to pay the Company a termination fee of $ 725.0 million.

Though the board of directors at both companies have “unanimously approved” the all-cash deal, shareholders haven’t. There’s nothing to suggest that the acquisition will be voted down — after all, the deal doesn’t seem too bad for LinkedIn shareholders — but if they did reject it, LinkedIn would have to pay a termination fee of $ 725 million.

Whether this deal turns out to be a catastrophic failure or an astronomical success, it represents one of the biggest technology acquisitions in recent times. In fact, in terms of tech-only acquisitions, it’s second only to Dell’s $ 67 billion purchase of EMC last year.

Here’s Nadella and Weiner’s prerecorded video discussing the deal.

 

AI. Messaging. Bots. Arm yourself for the next paradigm shift at MobileBeat 2016. July 12-13 at The Village in San Francisco. Reserve your place here.

Social – VentureBeat

How to Win on Facebook: 8 Lessons Learned From Analyzing 1 Billion Posts

facebook

If you want to know what works when it comes to marketing, you need to study the competition.

This includes the tough competition, but the weak competition as well.

By doing this, you can determine why the best succeed, and why the others fail in their efforts.

To do so effectively, you need to look at one particular area of interest.

The BuzzSumo team decided to compile as much data as possible on marketing on Facebook, and then complete an in-depth analysis.

Overall, they analyzed over 1 billion Facebook posts and came up with findings that will change the way you market on Facebook. 

They were kind enough to share their data with me, and allow me to walk you through it.

I’ll break down the findings, and let you know exactly how you should use them.

But first…

Why Facebook? Why not any one of the hundreds of other social networks?

While it would be worth analyzing other networks as well, Facebook is the place to start due to its size.

Want to be a winner in Facebook marketing? Then follow these 8 lessons I learned from analyzing 1 billion posts.

As of the start of 2016, Facebook has 1.59 billion active users per month. That’s over 20% of the global population.

This means that customers for just about every imaginable business are on Facebook.

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Finally, no other social site drives even close to as much referral traffic as Facebook. It’s a unique platform because users are more than willing to click on links to visit content on outside websites (like yours).

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Okay, so we have the right network, and a ton of data.

Let’s look at the findings.

1. The best time to post isn’t when you think it is

When you make posts on Facebook, they are shown to some users that have already “liked” or followed your page.

The exact number (or percentage) will depend on your organic reach.

Your organic reach is determined by a bunch of different factors. The most important ones are the amount of engagement you get on your posts, as well as how much competition there is from other posts.

Competition is a crucial factor. If there are tons of posts made from friends and other pages a user has liked made around the same time, Facebook can only show so many of them. The more competition, the less likely yours will be shown.

Intuitively, it makes sense to post when the most users are online, which is during the day. That way, a greater percentage of your followers could potentially be exposed to your posts.

But the BuzzSumo analysis actually found the complete opposite.

The red line in the following graph represents your competition; the amount of other posts being made around the same time.

The blue line shows you the engagement that posts receive at different times in the day. Engagement includes commenting, sharing, and liking posts.

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The pattern is extremely clear.

Posts get the most engagement when the total amount of posts is at its lowest.

Conversely, there’s too much competition during peak times (during the day), which leads to low engagement.

The conclusion from this data is to post between 9 and 11 PM in the timezone that most of your followers lives in.

BuzzSumo mainly looked at U.S. pages, but you can apply the findings for any timezone.

Why? Because they tested it for another country – France.

They found that posts made between 11 PM and midnight had the highest average engagement (240.06 shares). Likewise, posts made from 10 AM until noon performed the worst.

Almost identical trends.

2. Certain types of posts perform over 5 times better than others

There are 6 main types of posts you can make on your page as a business:

  1. Questions
  2. Image posts
  3. Videos
  4. Links
  5. Giveaways
  6. Coupons/Discounts

As part of the analysis, BuzzSumo looked at the performance of each type. Note that interactions means the same thing as engagement (total number of likes, shares, comments).

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There’s one type of content that isn’t on the graph that actually performs better than all of them.

No, I didn’t lie to you before, there are only 6 main types. But there are a few different subtypes of each of the types.

Most importantly, the BuzzSumo team dug in different types of question posts, and found something huge.

Question posts combined with images resulted in an average of 616.70 interactions. However, questions posts that were only text only received 144.45 interactions (terrible).

Finally, the analysis didn’t just look at the total number of engagements. It also included the breakdown by each type of engagement (comments, likes, and shares).

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There’s a few interesting points of notes on that graph:

  • videos get the highest number of average shares (83.87)
  • giveaways get the highest number of average comments (33.91)

While the high number of comments is interesting, keep in mind that comments are usually required to enter giveaways, and are almost always low quality.

A more practical analysis would need to look at the average length of comments for each post type (maybe an idea for a future research project for BuzzSumo).

Overall, we can make the conclusion that images and videos perform best when it comes to overall interaction, while videos are best if you’re looking for shares in particular.

Additionally, combining questions with images (or videos) will yield the best results; do so whenever possible.

3. Sunday is a special day, especially for businesses on Facebook

Not all your posts will be as important as others.

You’re going to want to make sure that important posts (like links to your website or product announcements) are as optimized as possible, so that as many people see them as possible.

We’ve already determined a time range when you should post, but we haven’t looked at the best day.

The analysis revealed that posts on weekdays all receive nearly the same amount of interactions (on average).

However, posts on the weekend receive a significant amount more:

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Sunday is the best day to post, with an average of 401.75 interactions, followed by Saturday at 365.30 interactions.

The research didn’t reveal the reasons why this happens, but you can take your own guess. Perhaps people use Facebook more on weekends, or businesses don’t post as often (less competition).

Regardless, you now know that posts on Saturday and Sunday will get more engagement than the weekdays. Save your important posts for the weekend.

4. The optimal length of articles for Facebook users is…

If you’re using Facebook as a business, you’re going to be linking to your content (you better be).

And as I mentioned at the beginning, most Facebook users are happy to consume content on other websites.

However, it turns out they have a preference for this content.

BuzzSumo found a strong correlation between the performance of a Facebook post and the length of the article that is being linked to.

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As you can see, when a post linked to a short article (of under 1,000 words), it received the fewest number of interactions (171.65).

Posts that included 1,000-2,000 word articles performed the best (277.37 interactions), followed closely by 2,000-3,000 word articles (274.06).

The most interesting finding to me is that posts with articles of over 3,000 words performed about 18% worse than the other in-depth articles (225.02 interactions).

Since I use Facebook heavily for Quick Sprout, and most of my posts fall into this final category, I might not be getting the most out of Facebook.

This post (that you’re reading) falls under 3,000 words, do you like it better?

The bottom line is that Facebook users enjoy in-depth posts, but they also don’t want to spend hours reading one. Keep your posts between 1,000-3,000 words when possible.

5. Users aren’t on Facebook to read

There are 2 main components to a Facebook post.

There’s the description of the post (the blurb you type), as well as any link or media you attach.

It turns out that the shorter your description, the better the post will do.

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It’s clear that posts with 0-50 characters (that’s about 0-10 words usually) get the most interactions by far (411.16).

The number of interactions a post get go down as the number of characters in a post increase.

The simple takeaway is to make your descriptions of posts as short as possible. Leave any detailed explanations in the content that you link to instead.

6. Whatever you do, don’t post YouTube videos

As we saw earlier, videos get a good amount of engagement on Facebook (and the most shares).

However, there’s a certain type of video post that far exceeds the others.

There are 2 popular options:

  • Embed YouTube video:
  • Directly upload/embed a video on Facebook:

You wouldn’t think there’d be a big difference, but the results from BuzzSumo’s analysis showed otherwise:

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When it comes to the number of interactions that video posts get, embedding a YouTube video only gets an average of 140.75 interactions, a fraction of the 951.48 interactions that direct embed videos get.

You might suspect that there’s not a sufficient sample size of directly uploaded videos on Facebook, but BuzzSumo accounted for that.

For this particular segment of the analysis, they analyzed over 53 million YouTube video posts, but also over 25 million direct embed posts. While that’s not as many, it’s a great sample size.

The bottom line is that if you make video posts on Facebook, take the time to upload the source video onto Facebook itself.

When you’re making a post, click the “upload photos/video” tab at the top of the text area, then choose the file from your computer. Then fill out the options like adding the title.

7. Facebook users like Instagram

Facebook integrates nicely with other social networks.

If you use Instagram as well, you can check the Facebook option while posting a photo and it will also be posted to Facebook.

It looks like a normal Facebook picture post, with a small difference of saying (“from Instagram”).

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You wouldn’t think this would make a difference, but the analysis proved otherwise.

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Pictures that are posted on Facebook through Instagram received 23% more interactions than images uploaded directly on Facebook.

I honestly don’t know why this happens (theories welcome in comments), but the data is clear.

If you’re posting pictures on Facebook, and also use Instagram, use the post to Facebook option that Instagram offers.

8. The effect of hashtags probably isn’t what you expected

The final big area of the massive analysis looked at the effect of including hashtags in posts.

You know what hashtags are, right? Any tag that is preceded by a “#” is a hashtag (e.g. #QuickSproutisgreat, #GamesofThrones).

In the past, hashtags almost always improve the amount of engagement that you get on most networks.

Well, the research says otherwise on Facebook:

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You can’t argue with data: Posts without hashtags received 34% more interactions than posts with hashtags.

Unless you have a specific reason to include a hashtag, leave them off  your Facebook posts.

Don’t apply these findings until you read this

There’s one key thing that you need to remember to apply these findings effectively.

Understand that these findings are correlations. They look at the average effect of different variables.

What this means is that the findings are best practices.

If your audience behaves significantly different than the average audience, your optimal Facebook posts may look different.

These findings are great starting points, but they may or may not be right for you. Start by implementing them, but then test other options as well to confirm if they are the best or not.

If you need help to do that, read through my guide to optimization.

Conclusion

Let me quickly summarize the 8 best practices that came from BuzzSumo’s research:

  1. The best time to post is between 10 PM and Midnight of your audience’s local time
  2. Posts with questions and images get the most engagement
  3. The best day to post is on Sunday
  4. Posts that link to articles between 1,000-3,000 words get the most interaction
  5. Short post descriptions get by far the most interaction
  6. Directly embedded videos get over 6x the interaction of YouTube videos
  7. Images posted through Instagram get a 23% boost in engagement
  8. Posts with hashtags get less interaction than posts without hashtags

These are all backed by an insane amount of data, and are great best practices to follow for your Facebook marketing.

If you have any questions about the findings or research, leave me a comment as usual below.


Quick Sprout