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10.05.18

The Future of Voice, Artificial Influencers, and the Increasing Popularity of Meme Accounts

by Miró Cassetta

Hear Ye, Hear Me!

Voice assistant usage is skyrocketing and it’s time to figure out how your brand fits in with this landscape. Search is one of the top voice assistant activities, so how can you make sure that your business stays ahead of the curve if many voice assistants only present four or fewer search results at a time? Think about every time you ask Alexa to check the news or find the nearest coffee shop. How could similar searches affect your business’ visibility?

Your first thought might be advertising. At the moment, there are no AdWords-style advertising options specifically for voice assistants like Alexa and Google Assistant. You can’t bid against keywords or run sponsored ads. You’ll need to prepare your brand to stay relevant by making sure your current SEO plan is also optimized for voice search.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MARKETERS

Here are a few ways to expand your SEO program to be inclusive of voice assistant search:

Create long-tail keywords that include natural language search terms. People use voice assistant search the same way they talk to their friends: by asking a full question. Instead of typing “lunch Austin TX” a user might say, “where are the best places for lunch in Austin?” To capture these searches you will need to make sure that your site’s keywords include long-tail and natural language keywords. For example, add “what is” or “near me” to your keyword profile. This could even be location specific like, “sandwiches in Austin near me.”
Add a schema markup and microdata on your website.  Schema helps improve the way search engines read and represent your page in the search engine results page. This makes it much easier for Google to understand, which can boost your site’s visibility. It’s also one of the most powerful, yet significantly underutilized, SEO practices. For example, this can be important for content like recipes. A lot of cooking blogs will tag terms specific to that recipe on the post’s page for increased discoverability.
Enable location extensions for Google Ads. Google Ads’ location extension is a powerful way to ensure your ads are being displayed to those motivated, on-the-go shoppers. Enabling location extensions allows you to have your business’ address, phone number, and directions to your business displayed alongside your listing. This is especially important if you want to show up in those strongly commercial “near me” searches!

#Spon Con? The Next Frontier is Artificial Influencers

Social media influencers…they’re just like us but with more ’grammable lives, right? Despite never having met them, 38% of people trust an influencer’s opinion more than a brand. But would they trust an influencer if they knew they were fake?

Artificial Influencers first appeared in our feeds in April of 2016. They’re the same as real influencers. They’re just…not real.

Meet influencers like Lil Miquela and Shudu. Lil Miquela is a 19-year-old from LA who has over 1.4 million Instagram followers, has partnered with Prada and has a hit single on Spotify. Shudu is “the world’s first digital supermodel” and has 144k Instagram followers. She has worked with makeup brands such as Fenty and magazines like Cosmopolitan. According to Cameron-James Wilson, Shudu’s creator, she’s a virtual influencer who is “challenging the notions and significance of reality on the internet.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MARKETERS

In the marketing world, this opens the doors for brands to create their perfect influencer, one that combines the most appealing features of real-life influencers and has the same interests as the audience they want to engage. On the one hand, having control over the kind of content you get out of a partnership can be incredibly valuable. On the other hand, CGI can be incredibly expensive to produce. Other questions that have come up are: Who has ownership over the influencer? Should a brand create their own or work with someone like Cameron-James Wilson (Shudu creator) or Brud (Lil Miquela creator)? The meaning and material make-up of influencers are always changing but there is one thing that remains the same, and that is the strategy a brand creates for their partnership.

What Do You Meme?

Whether you are looking for Kardashians, dogs or even dad-specific memes, there’s an Instagram account for it. Many accounts have anywhere from 1 million to nearly 14 million followers. Some of the larger meme accounts like those under Jerry Media have partnered with brands like Dos Toros Taqueria to create social mascots such as Pinto the Burrito, as a way “to inject humor, playfulness, on-trend jokes and memes into [their] social voice.”

Compared to influencers, meme accounts’ engagement increases proportionately to their follower growth, making them prime candidates for increasing brand awareness. These are some of the fastest growing Instagram accounts because memes themselves are designed to travel, meaning they are made with the intent to go viral and reach the hands of millions of users. They don’t need a CTA to engage or prompt the user to perform any further action. Instead, memes are easily editable, allowing users to quickly repost the photo/video with their own cleverly crafted caption.

Legally, a meme is considered derivative work and the only person with the legal rights is the copyright owner. However, this is no catch-all, because if the meme’s creator makes “fair use” of the copyrighted image, that doctrine can be used as a defense if someone claims copyright infringement. The Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that true parodies qualify for fair use because they are deemed commentaries.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR MARKETERS

(Potentially) Better ROI: Meme accounts have quickly ascended into power. Some claim that influencers are no longer producing the same results as in the past. Accounts with smaller followings have a high engagement and may cost less than influencers. Although there could be an impressive ROI, it’s important to be cognizant of the potential legal ramifications that could come with creating memes for brands.
Legal Implications: “Fair use” and true parody cases have won in the past, but it is best for marketers to be safe rather than sorry when working with meme accounts. We recommend that marketers exercise caution and make sure that any memes created utilize all original copy and artwork to prevent any potential legal ramifications.
New Distribution Platform:  These accounts are revolutionizing the industry as they are transforming into a “new form of native advertising” because a specific look and feel and humor is created, instead of using an individual’s influence. Memes are easily digestible and can be shared within seconds, aligning with the primary nature of social media. These accounts are a unique medium marketers could explore as a test-and-learn.
Miró Cassetta